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Adventuring since 1986.

Posts tagged with ‘words’

What Happens When You Live Abroad

Travel to learn and grow. I moved to Europe to “escape” but I was really trying to escape myself. Surprise, surprise! You can’t escape yourself! I moved to Berlin and my same ole’ problems followed me, but now they were in a German accent. I ended up realising that 1 1/2 years into living abroad and only then did I really start to “live” while in Berlin. I also *found* myself abroad and wish I had known earlier why I wanted to move to a whole new country.

I wasted so much time at the beginning feeling defeated by my pre conceived expectations of what living abroad would be. I thought everything would be perfect and easy and I thought my life would be glamourous..etc. It wasn’t and I had to work hard to feel at home. I wiped that all clean, though and now I embrace every second trying to soak up as much knowledge/culture as I can from the people around me. 

Bottom line: Expectations are killers. Travel is wonderful. And, living abroad is great, just don’t do it to escape. (in my opinion)

Also, Pico Iyer has some great opinions on traveling and being an expat:

Cascais in the Spring

I sat eating sandy plump strawberries in the late afternoon sun on the small stretch of beach close to the Cascais train station. Sun bathing in a town just a train ride west of Lisboa that dips its toes into the cold Atlantic. 

It felt like home. It always had here and the aesthetic was hard to beat. “Stockholm with a tan,” is what I always say. 

It had been hot and sunny all day and the sky and water were an unreal deep blue. My body had turned the color of a lobster. I forgot sunscreen and fell asleep with my hands on my stomach so there was a kind of tattoo sunburn in the rough shape of my hands that remained. 

I looked like a total tourist with a red neck burned bright and my DSLR camera dangling from my neck. Wearing vintage torn Levis that fit me short with a high waist. On my feet were New Balance sneakers. I must have looked like I was spit out of the 80s. I guess I was.

I buried my feet in the soft grainy sand and listened to the Portuguese women next to me laugh loudly. They were drinking Super Bock and their skin was white, not yet tan from the sun as Spring just arrived. Dark lovely black hair flowed down their backs.

I looked like an alien in comparison, probably; an outsider. Not in a bad way and I didn’t feel like that but, everyone stared at me as I walked by tall, blonde and foreign. I hadn’t felt so different in a while but I didn’t mind it at all. 

The sun was still shining, burning hot at 6pm and I was in my bikini. I positioned myself west towards the setting sun. An older German couple spoke to each other quietly near me but, I couldn’t understand them. So I listened to the Portuguese women and their words did some flips and somersaults and they finally landed somewhere near my ears and I kinda drank in their sweet sentences. 


"ola querida"

"de nada"

"barrio alto"

Simple words that flowed and slipped off their tongues with such fervor. 

And, the sand was between my toes and I felt such a feeling in my heart that made my eyes water a little. But, not out of sadness. It was a comfort. It was a memory of a feeling I hadn’t felt in a while. It reminded me of California; a place I sometimes miss, especially in the Winter. It was soft and it enveloped me. And, there were no clouds — only the sun above me slowly setting in the west.

The tide started to swallow up what remained of the slowly deserted beach. I didn’t want to get swallowed up as well, so I packed up my things in a sandy heap and stuffed them into my bag.

The sun melted into the mountains to the west and I drank a cold beer on the moonlit walk home — my body still warm with the memory of the sun.


A day of adventure at Tempelhof with Natalie. There was talk of sunshine, souls, and Plath, the latter only making a brief appearance at the airfield. I forgot my gloves and made Natalie buy me some cheap fuzzy purple ones from a shop around the corner. We also creepily sat in the dog park taking photos of dogs and quietly clucking and whistling at them, beckoning them to us so we could pat their heads and kiss their faces. 

(Source: heyabigailmae)

What were you doing when you were 22?


I’m nearing the end of my first full year out of college, and I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, especially over the darkest winter Germany has experienced in 43 years—can you say existential/artistic crisis? I think I’ve been grappling with the same things every other freshly graduated 20-something out there is, and inspired by this Splitsider article about what 50 famous comedians and actors were doing when they were 25, I posted on Facebook,

There’s a lot of lousy Thought Catalog essays out there about the experience of being a 20 something in today’s culture and economy, and there’s quite a bit of trite, eye roll inducing advice people like to give their generational successors (I mean, sometimes I eat that drivel up, but c’mon.. it doesn’t really help. People do the same thing to teenagers, and we might be “babies” to you, but we know a tired schtick when we see one). 

I wanted to know—what were YOU doing and thinking when you were specifically 22? Is there anything you wish you’d done differently? 

I received a few interesting responses from friends. If you’re around my age, maybe you’ll appreciate the stories of our predecessors too. I think they’ve got a lot to teach us.

Natalie Keshlear, writer, at 22. [Works at 37 Signals].

Read More

(Source: heyabigailmae)



you never really know how badly you miss something until you’ve gone without it for a while. or maybe you do, but I didn’t. that’s how I felt about the sun when I saw it again.  it was a 5 month berlin winter, with an interruption of surprise spring — for a moment. It was a kinda hysteria. It took over everyone like some sorta craze and it was almost scary and I kinda wanted to hide in my room and wait until it went away because it was just too much. too much excitement as I stepped into the busy street, blinking and blinking and blinking — staring into the sun.

you could feel it — the city was electric and you could feel it pulsing and you could feel it vibrating and everyone was on fire , ablaze, in heat and a few people were even wearing sunglasses (that made me laugh) and the big ole’ sun was reflecting off those glasses and bouncing, bouncing, bouncing. 

the sun came back and took our breath away. as a city our breath was taken, gulped in, sucked up, swept under the rug and we were given new breath in exchange, and it was fresher and clearer and not just mixed with snow mixed with dirt mixed with vodka mixed with ash mixed with sweat. it was pure heat. and everyone looked a bit more rosy cheeked. everyone looked a bit warmer. everyone looked a bit less on edge. everyone looked a bit more human. 

then the sun set and the snow came in flurries (down, down, down — cold, wet drizzly snow in our hair) and we hid indoors once more. and, the ice crept up our window sills and we turned up the heat. and, we were left with our sunny daydream and it was enough to last for now. until next time.

Berlin. The city that does not count time by days on the calendar or seconds on a clock, but by beats in the heart.

Something I said just yesterday

A Grey Sunday in Berlin

Listening to soft jazz music on a sunday morning. drinking coffee, eating eggs and peppers with salt and tomatoes and a little bit of cheese. soft and warm and comfortable morning.

Listening to the crackle of the record player and outside the sun is hidden behind the clouds and everything is grey but somehow it is alright and it is okay and maybe it is a bit perfect because it allows me to hide away at least for a little while. but really it has been a long while.

The smell of stale cigarettes and old books. It is always in here and I sorta melt into it because it is good. at first it was off putting, like the smell of rotten eggs. but, it is real and baked into this flat. and, the tree in the corner is slowly dying, next to the stacks upon stacks on books (Russian, Swedish and English copies intertwined).

I am up high and everything is muffled and the ubahn is loud with the zoom of the U-1 heading towards the west or the east — two places that used to be so divided but now connected by the river or the canal or whatever you choose to call it. mostly it is connected by people. 

The wall is there too, and it is graffitied and I love to walk along it whenever I can or along that divide at all, especially alone or with a person who welcomes silent moments just as much as me.

Ella Fitzgerald wailing in the background so lovely and raw and the crackle continues and there is more coffee and the smell of this place and the sound of the u-bahn and the realization of my life and it is enough. it is enough and I am high up and i feel all of it around me and it is a sunday in grey berlin and all the sundays in all the cities in the world could not compare.

2013: things I want to do


For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. -TS Eliot

I don’t like making too many plans or really any at all, but I do like to be inspired and I am inspired to add a few things to my routine in 2013.

In 2012 I grew so much as a person. I quit a job (metaphorically and literally), fell in love with Berlin, made some amazing friends, travelled a lot, read some books that made me swoon, got my dream job and much much more. In 2013 I just want to grow more, simplify and learn from my coworkers and friends.

I have some more specific goals/wishes, too.

  • Spend part of April in Paris.
  • Read a book about design.
  • Wake up early, eat breakfast. Minimal electronics after 10pm. Read more before bed.
  • Travel to Italy, live in Portugal for a month.
  • Pay all my student loan payments on time. 
  • Get to A2 level of German. Take classes.
  • Branch out of my Berlin cocoon. Meet new people, become closer to my friends that I have already.
  • Move into my own apartment.
  • Explore Germany more (by train & auto).
  • Embrace the freedom at my job, work harder, work simpler.
  • Take more pictures with my DSLR.
  • Write more. Become a better writer.
  • More people, less Internet.

I hope that I can do all these things and more. Frohes neues! 

Album Art


I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love’s not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I’ll ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time…

Song: “Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy” by The Kinks

iTunes :: Amazon :: Back to Brain Pickings


Soak up the sun when you can. Take in every little ray and devour it. Hold it inside and bundle it up. Hide it away and smother it in your sweater and scarves and winter coats. Take all the warmth you can get and delight in it as long as you can because it might and will be gone as quickly as it came.

That’s what I’ve learned while living in Berlin.

Doing what you love (but maybe you can't get paid for it)

The thing is, it’s far easier than ever before to surface your ideas. Far easier to have someone notice your art or your writing or your photography. Which means that people who might have hidden their talents are now finding them noticed…

That blog you’ve built, the one with a lot of traffic… perhaps it can’t be monetized.

That non-profit you work with, the one where you are able to change lives… perhaps turning it into a career will ruin it.

That passion you have for graphic art… perhaps making your painting commercial enough to sell will squeeze the joy out of it.

When what you do is what you love, you’re able to invest more effort and care and time. That means you’re more likely to win, to gain share, to profit. On the other hand, poets don’t get paid. Even worse, poets that try to get paid end up writing jingles and failing and hating it at the same time.

Today, there are more ways than ever to share your talents and hobbies in public. And if you’re driven, talented and focused, you may discover that the market loves what you do. That people read your blog or click on your cartoons or listen to your mp3s. But, alas, that doesn’t mean you can monetize it, quit your day job and spend all day writing songs.

The pitfalls:
1. In order to monetize your work, you’ll probably corrupt it, taking out the magic in search of dollars
2. Attention doesn’t always equal significant cash flow.

I think it makes sense to make your art your art, to give yourself over to it without regard for commerce.

Doing what you love is as important as ever, but if you’re going to make a living at it, it helps to find a niche where money flows as a regular consequence of the success of your idea. Loving what you do is almost as important as doing what you love, especially if you need to make a living at it. Go find a job you can commit to, a career or a business you can fall in love with.

A friend who loved music, who wanted to spend his life doing it, got a job doing PR for a record label. He hated doing PR, realized that just because he was in the record business didn’t mean he had anything at all to do with music. Instead of finding a job he could love, he ended up being in proximity to, but nowhere involved with, something he cared about. I wish he had become a committed school teacher instead, spending every minute of his spare time making music and sharing it online for free. Instead, he’s a frazzled publicity hound working twice as many hours for less money and doing no music at all.

Maybe you can’t make money doing what you love (at least what you love right now). But I bet you can figure out how to love what you do to make money (if you choose wisely).

Do your art. But don’t wreck your art if it doesn’t lend itself to paying the bills. That would be a tragedy.

(And the twist, because there is always a twist, is that as soon as you focus on your art and leave the money behind, you may just discover that this focus turns out to be the secret of actually breaking through and making money.)

And from a recent interview:

I wonder why anyone would hesitate to be generous with their writing.

I mean, if you really want to make a living, go to Wall Street and trade oil futures … We’re writers. We’re doing something that is inherently a generous act. We’re exposing ourselves to the muse and to the things that frighten us. Why do that if you’re not willing to be generous? And paradoxically, almost ironically, it turns out that the more generous you are, the more money you make. But that’s secondary. For me, the privilege of being generous is why I get to do this.

-Seth Godin

East Texas skies

I was listening to Velvet Underground / oh sweet nothing and we drove. East Texas was a whole heap of expansive land piled up with hills, oak trees, churches, ranches, fast food joints and miles and miles of yellowish green grass bisected, trisected and dissected by white fences and chicken wire. Some cows, some horses, some tractors, some big tractors, some dilapidated houses, some dead dogs on the side of the road forgotten. God, guns, family, freedom, French fries. All flying by outside the car window. The air outside was electric with thunder and hot, sticky, southern stormy skies. Those rain clouds swallowed me up and spit me out into Louisiana.

New directions

“I looked up the road I was going and back the way I come, and since I wasn’t satisfied, I decided to step off the road and cut me a new path.” Mrs. Annie Johnson

I was in Texas. The day before I had been worlds away- in Berlin, then Stockholm, then New York and finally on a plane west to Austin. For the first time in a long time I felt completely relaxed. Able to read a book, concentrate, focus, really listen to music, write.

I was blocked, maybe by self doubt, maybe by criticism, maybe by distractions. Blocked for so long, swimming in place. But I wasn’t blocked any longer. I felt emancipated from some kinda cage that I had willingly locked myself in to hide away from so many things - reality, what I really wanted, change, new beginnings.

A change in direction can be scary. It can be so fucking scary. I didn’t think twice moving to Germany, I didn’t think twice before moving thousands of miles away from everyone and everything I loved but the reality was that it was hard. It was hard and I didn’t want to do it again. I didn’t want to go through that again. It got good, fantastic even, but it took a long time and it shook me. I had been fragile, I had been weak and I didn’t want to do it again alone so I hid away miserable but safe for so long. The truth was I was scared, but not scared enough to not do something about it.

My life had changed - I got my dream job, I felt the breathe inside me return to normal, I felt up for new challenges. My life was different - I was ready and I was willing and I was happy. For the first time in a long time I felt at peace. I was ready to transform once again, I was ready to be challenged, I was ready to change directions and I was ready to do it alone. I was all alone and it was all happening.