147/2024 – “Running Out of Labels for Our Messed-up Minds”

Lyrics: “Lost Again” – Pet Needs, 2022

Labels and words and emotions…. Or at least words for those emotions. It’s a bit weird. I don’t really feel depressed or sad or hopeless. Just a bit overwhelmed with stuff. Not with life as such, just parts of it. I don’t know.

Yesterday morning I spent about 90 minutes “at work”, which was basically being around a thing and able to explain stuff and answer questions. I headed to another city for some shopping after that. Unsuccessfully as the stationary stores didn’t have what I was looking for. The one department store which I had thought would carry larger sizes womens’ clothes obviously didn’t. The larger sizes clothes store had clothes in my size and while I might buy some in their store in Cologne on Friday, I was a bit underwhelmed with the options. Lots were very colourful, like a modern art painting. I know some people might think those will catch the eye and thus distract from the size of the person inside the clothes. But I don’t usually worry much about people seeing me – larger size person, so I’m fine with regular uni colours. Lines maybe or plaid. But not several colours all over. I was a bit grumpy after that and hope shopping on Friday will be a bit more successful.

Friday afternoon and for another hour this morning a fellow Green and I were out putting up the last of our EU election campaign posters. We mostly had luck with the weather. On Friday we got rained on before we got finished (hence the hour today). At one stop I managed to bump my the temple or rather the area around my eye socket into the corner of the passenger door. Good thing I missed the eye itself, I guess. It’s not too bad either, no bruise, no black eye, just an annoying slightly sore feeling when I touch it or when I rub / squint my eyes.

This afternoon it was another downpour around here, but what else is new?

Raindrops on a window pane, seen from the inside
It’s raining again…

I’m staying in. Reading. Lots and lots of newspapers / news magazines.

Photo of several newspapers: "Der Spiegel, FAZ am Wochenende, Süddeutsche, DIE ZEIT
Lots and lots of news

I might have gone a bit overboard, but I thought if I buy them and have them lying around I will read those and not spend all my time on my phone, doom scrolling, procrastinating, hiding from my thoughts. That hasn’t worked out quite as planned yet, I’m afraid to say.

Yesterday I’ve also been listening to a very good news / politics podcast in German: Denkangebot: Host Katharina Nocun with the guest Stephan Anpalagan and they talked about racism in Germany, racial profiling amongst the police, how skewed crime statistics are and why…

Leitkultur-Debatte, polizeiliche Kriminalstatistiken und poröse Brandmauern

I also need to finish the latest edition of “A Muslim & A Jew Go There”, but my phone hadn’t downloaded that one for some reason, so my podcast app didn’t let me listen to it without a WiFi. I might listen to that tonight, while I “doodle” some more and try to keep my mind away from all the annoying thoughts bumping around in my head. Here is my latest…

Random lines in two shades of blue, the spaces in between in squares, some of them filled in blue
Latest Doodle

145/2024 – “I’m Far From Perfect and I’m Still Tense”

Lyrics: “Imperfect Tense” – Frank Turner, 2008

In My Head 1 | It has been a crappy few days for me mental health wise: Losing focus from time to time and then ruminating way too much, not knowing when or how to stop it. I was working from home the last two days, which gave me some structure at least, but also not enough obviously. On Wednesday all day I was either busy with work or busy ruminating and didn’t eat or drink enough during the day. Which ended up with too much junk food by the end of the day. Thursday went better, but not by all that much. I’m a bit of a mess. I’m sure or at least hopeful, that this too shall pass, but it’s not been a lot fun with all the guilt and self-flagellation that is always included when I’m in this state of mind. I wish I could explain what makes me act/react like that, but I can’t, because I’m still working on finding out for myself. I feel overwhelmed and out of my depth a lot recently, but I’m not sure I actually am or if it’s just in my head. It probably is just in my head. Which doesn’t make the feeling go away, but at least gives a little bit perspective.

Ruminating also included making (silly?, expensive ?) plans to just get away for a night to be in a different surrounding in hopes that this might help me clear my head. I did that on occasion in the past few years when it all felt too bit much (pandemic, my mum’s declining health). Going back and forth if I should and how and when and where. In the end – while typing the first part of this – I finally made up my mind and decided to spoil myself and booked two nights in Cologne next week. Not a spectacular place to be, I know, but I’ll be at a gig on Wednesday night and need to do some shopping as well, which I will do on Friday. Thursday is a public holiday and I either spend that with my camera roaming the city or as silent meditation retreat in my hotel room. Maybe a bit of both. I don’t know yet.

I Don’t Know, I Changed My Mind 2 | My thoughts and emotions about a lot of issues are quite ambiguous these days. Especially about the major conflict on our daily news: The war in Gaza. I see and read about the horrifying destruction Israel’s war machine causes in Gaza. I agree that both the Israeli Government and the Hamas should be put on trial for war crimes. I also watched the horrifying few minutes clip about the young Israeli women in hands of the terrorists. I see and read about German Jews fearing for their safety, because of the rise of antisemitism here. I read about German students occupying universities in solidarity with the Palestinian people and try to follow up what their demands actually are. In general I want to be and mostly I am on their side. I also see clearly antisemitic signs and slogans in this context and I don’t know if the students organizing those protests don’t know, don’t care or are actually using those themselves. Many times we all really only see a fraction of what is going on, don’t we? I watch and read and try to understand and to form an opinion and usually don’t say much about it all. My heart breaks for all those many, many families and people on both sides who just want to live their lives in peace.

Outside It’s 1933 3 | I don’t feel any ambiguity in regards to the other big issue in Germany / Europe at the moment: the rise of right-wing / fascist political movements. This morning a video made the round on social media and by now also made it onto the news. This video shows posh, rich, white people filming themselves partying on Sylt island (favourite German vacation spot for posh, rich, white people) while they are singing racist lyrics and performing Nazi salutes. I’m not really surprised, because if the latest revelation about who is funding the right-wing party AfD didn’t show us that there are too many rich, influential racist people in Germany, then we’re beyond help. Of course there are and always have been rich, posh, racists people everywhere. People of colour or with an immigrant background in our country have been telling us about the racism they experience for a long time. We – as society – just didn’t want to hear it. It’s nothing new! The club where it happened now is very apologetic, stating they had no idea, but I doubt that. I don’t know if they are racist themselves, but they obviously didn’t care if their guests are and now they all just got caught. I’ve got nothing more to say than FUCK NAZIS!

Burning up the Miles 4 | This time of day a week ago, I was queuing outside the Molotow club in Hamburg to see Frank Turner play a show. This time of day today Frank Turner is in the USA, he already played a show yesterday, is playing a show at a radio station in a few hours (I can’t be bothered with the correct time difference right now) and will play another one later today. His determination to play all the shows and travel all over the world to do so, sometimes – like right now – still blows my mind. I’m knackered from a three day week at the office these days. Well, also from all the mental health stuff I guess, but still. Part 3 & 4 of his “50 States in 50 Days” documentary were released this week and I still didn’t find the time or rather the right head space to watch it. Hopefully on Sunday.

Rainbow at a harbour in Scotland, with a castle ruin in the background
Scotland, Summer 2012

No reason for this photo, just that it’s been raining a lot today without a rainbow in sight. I was only wearing a T-shirt to the gig last week and the way home at 10 at night.

Anyway, when I started writing this earlier, I had a few more unformed ideas I thought about sharing. But after about 3 hours of canvassing for the Green Party (EU Elections), the last 15 minutes in the rain and my thoughts being all over the place again this evening, I thought I’d better leave it at that.

Prompt Lyrics: 1 Zombie, The Cranberries, 1994 | 2 Get it Right, Frank Turner, 2018 | 3 1933, Frank Turner, 2018 | 4 The Road, Frank Turner, 2009

141/2024 – “Choose To Be Me”

Lyrics: “Choose To Be Me” – Sunrise Avenue, 2006

Time to resume the normal ramblings on here after a weekend away. Time away from the familiar (home, work, people) sometimes help me to get perspective on thoughts or emotions which have been, if not troubling, but at least persistent for me recently. I tried to let my mind wander a bit more and “work through” some issues while I was strolling around Hamburg this weekend.

I already wrote about my perspective on my fangirling. Another matter I came circling back to was how I deal with expectations or perceived expectations and how I feel bad or guilty if I don’t fulfil or live up to them. For example: Besides taking photos of the harbour at night (check)…

…and the “Elphi” – Elbphilharmonie building (check)…

… and thus practicing my photography and of course the Frank Turner gig (check) I hadn’t really made any detailed plans. I was glad to just get away for a bit. But a part of me also thought that some people who know that I was going on this trip will expect me to come back with stories of all the sites I visited and all the new, exciting experiences I made. I see other people share all those in their WhatsApp statuses or Insta stories when they are on a (city) trip somewhere. Part of me thought that I should be doing that (visiting sights, experiencing new things) as well. Was I doing my trip wrong?

It took me a while of rather aimlessly wandering around Hamburg to work through those tangled thoughts and self-imposed expectations. Self-imposed, because I don’t even know if other people expect me to do all those things. I think they might. But I don’t know. Basically it’s all in my head as it is so often. And even IF some might expect me to do all those things, I still don’t have to do them. I just have to do what I want to do. And if what I want to do is sit in a park reading my book and resting my feet, that’s just as valid as visiting an exhibition or doing a boat tour of the harbour. And to the goblin voice in my head who nags with “You paid good money for travel and overnight stays and all you do is read in a park? You could have done that for free at home!” I have to reply: “But I don’t do that at home (as much as I should). And I wanted a change of scenery! STFU!”

Obviously I sometimes still struggle with the whole “Just Do You!” philosophy. But I’m working on it and I feel I’m making progress and am less self-critical and more self-compassionate. Go Me!

Being away for a bit also once again made me acknowledge and appreciate my many privileges. For starters that I can easily travel to a different city on my own, because I can afford it financially and am physically able to do that. That I could afford to rent an apartment instead of needing to share a room in a hostel like I did in Hamburg about 25 years ago. Which is fine in your 20s, but I’m very grateful for my own space these days. Grateful that I could afford to eat out when and what I wanted. I did feel a bit guilty for throwing away some of the to-go / take-away food I ordered, because I misjudged what I was getting or because the cooking unfortunately wasn’t up to my standard.

I wasn’t really surprised, but still a bit disheartened to notice the rise of homelessness and/or poverty in Hamburg. I guess it’s the same in every major city all around the world, I saw/see it in London and even in bigger cities closer to my small hometown. Though I admit when I move through our city streets on autopilot in my regular everyday life it’s easy to overlook the less fortunate and struggling. I strolled through the central luxury shopping area with Cartier, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton showrooms and only a short walk / one metro stop away around the central station saw homeless (?) people asking passerby for some spare change. Which has always been the case, I know, but for some reason the disparity looked even more crass to me this time. I also noticed quite a few people checking the public garbage bins for cans / bottles to collect for depositing them later. People I wouldn’t have expected to, to be honest. Yes, I know, my privilege shows again.

Before I boarded the train home I was buying another coffee and some pastries, when a possibly homeless man cautiously approached me at the counter and asked if I would maybe buy him something to eat? I said yes without hesitating and he seemed quite overwhelmed by that and the fact that I gave him time to let him choose any pastry he liked. He took off quickly with his pastry before I could give him the spare change I had in my pocket. But this also made me start pondering – without a result yet – why I easily give to some people asking for money in the streets and why I hesitate or deny it (many) other times. It’s got a lot to do with my own prejudices and biases and notions of criminal gangs abusing people and all that. More food for thought, probably.

My train ride home went well, even though the train app warned about possible delays due to construction work towards the end of the first leg. We hadn’t really left Hamburg (first stop after central station – across the river), when it was announced that they had some issues that needed resolving, which might also need police involvement, so it may take a while. It quickly turned out it was neither an obstinate passenger nor a fist fight. But rather some issues in the bicycle carriage, where there were obviously more bikes than assigned spaces. Spaces have to be booked and there seemed to be one bike without a reservation and thus that had to be removed.

Yes, at first that sounds like a nonsensical issue and no reason to halt the train. And believe me some people in the seats around me were quite outspoken about that. They started to berate “Deutsche Bahn”, the national rail company for being pedantic and narrow-minded and “incompetent as usual”. And while I agree that there are a lot of things not going well with the trains and tracks and train travel in Germany, I didn’t want and even more couldn’t join the chorus of “let’s diss Deutsche Bahn” this time. Because there is a reason, why you need to book a space for your bike on (long)-distance trains. Bikes are stored in designated bike racks in the bike carriage. There is a limited number of bike racks. Despite what some people might think you can’t just leave an additional bike in that carriage. How should that work? Lay it on the floor? Lean it against the door? Have it slip and slide around the carriage when the train sways on the tracks, slows down and speeds up?

Even though I didn’t even have a clear idea of that the bike carriage looks like, the fact that you need to book a space, made it clear to me that you can’t just have another bike standing / lying around there. So I very friendly tried to argue that case to the people around me. For just a moment, because people so clearly didn’t want to hear a factual argument. They wanted to engage in one of our nations favourite past time: Diss the national rail company! Who needs facts for that? We all are experts in every field anyway, right?

So I quickly put my earbuds back in and tried to ignore the moaning around me. The whole issue only lasted a few minutes and we reached the next station and every station (till my stop) more or less in time. I also managed to not let that “argument” continue in my head. Until I brought it back up again and will now lay it to rest. Some people can’t be helped. They want to moan. I should just let them…

Today has been super, super, SUPER lazy, but that’s ok. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep too well in Hamburg, because there was quite a bit of noise outside the building and I felt too warm and it was a different bed than at home and all that. I slept like a log in my own bed last night and felt quite recharged. But I also didn’t mind that nothing more was on my agenda for today after a friend and I yesterday agreed to cancel plans we actually had made. At least I had time to write all of this down. Start to sort through my photos. Finished my latest doodle. The new pens aren’t really made for colouring in spaces, but more suitable for drawing simple lines, if that makes sense? I tried it here, and I basically like it and have several new ideas.

My latest creation

Ending this post by circling back to the state of my mental health and progress and all: There used to be times, when I would have been bothered by the imperfections in this drawing / doodle. But it’s not supposed to be perfect. It’s not supposed to be art. It’s an easy, relaxing way to spend time, away from screens (well, the TV might be on sometimes), doing something tangible, to focus on something else than my own thoughts and worries. And that always helps.