Blogging World

Sea and See here, time for some time off


Or not. That expression looks/sounds a bit funny. Anyway, hi.

Last time I posted I was preparing for my mom’s visit, and now she’s here and I’ve been splitting my time between academic work, work work and family time. I’ve been struggling to get some running and blogging time in there too, but since it’s been tough and is only going to get more difficult once my Dad joins us as well, I’ve decided to post the yearly “off on vacation, laters” post now and catch you all when I come back in August-ish.

I’ll continue doing some traveling and cool stuff in Berlin, so there’s something to look forward to reading about when I’m back.

Before I go, I need to tell you about how my mother, brother and I did hit it off right away by visiting the Berlin Zoo.


Entrance to the Berlin Zoo 

I have mixed feeling about zoos, since I am opposed to the idea of a bunch of animals twice as big as me occupying spaces not much larger than my home in the States, animals not following their hunting or gathering instincts, or how things like agreements for panda bear twins being loaned to the Berlin Zoo can make German citizens forget about human rights grievances in China. On the other hand, it was a nice day in Berlin, the animals could all be outside, and the zoo is a historic feature of Berlin. Still, history shows us that we’ve been able to let go of some barbaric practices… and it’s about time we realized that zoos could go the same way as gladiator fights, slavery, etc.. my idea: rather than allowing more animals to be bred in zoos (which I’ll admit seems a bit cruel, too-but may be the best we can do at this point), allow those domesticated to the point that they wouldn’t survive in the wild to live to a ripe old age and then re-purpose the space for something else cool, like a playground or a park. I did visit the zoo, so I can’t get on my moral high horse. It was a family decision and I didn’t want to spoil the chance to do something nice together. The good news is, we walked ourselves off our feet, and everyone declared they didn’t have to go to another zoo for at least another 10 years, so perhaps by then it won’t even be an option anyway.

Something I had no moral qualms about was a visit to the Baltic Sea. German geography knowers will be aware that Germany borders the North and Baltic Seas to the north. This played a huge role in German trading and wealth through to the 20th century, and one can find imperial wealth along these shores as well. But mostly, one can enjoy beautiful landscapes and amazing bike ways- which is what we did, along with sun bathing, and even a few runs. 

We spent some time on the east and west shores of the German Baltic. The pictures below are from Heiligenhafen in Schleswig-Holstein – the northwestern-most state of Germany. The boardwalk into the sea, Strandkorbe (literally sandbaskets) and dunes are standard for the Baltic and classic features of Germany seaside towns. The idea may sound strange for people used to lounge-chairs and cabanas for the beach, but a Strandkorb is a glorious way to have a place to hang out on the beach, off the sand but able to enjoy sun and be sheltered from the wind. It’s still too early in the season for the beaches to be full, but the weather was gorgeous and I’m looking forward to some summer days on the coasts these next months as well.

I’m sure many of you have beaches in sights soon, as well. Or mountains! At least some sun and fun. Hope everyone has a good summer and I plan to keep-up with your blogs in-between life. Just apologies in advance if I don’t comment.

Stay cool!


Yo, my star sign is capricorn

Hi, I’m a Sunshine (State) Blogger…

and I’ve just been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by James from A Tolkienist’s Perspective. Thank you, James!


Now, granted, I’ve been spending my time not in Florida, and there hasn’t been too much sun here lately. But I like to think we bloggers are people who give a bit of sun- both positivity and perspective- in each other’s and other readers’ lives.

I usually do the things the blog award rules tell me to do of my own accord, so it’s not a big deal to follow them. Rule following comes naturally to me…maybe that’s why I get along so well with the Germans–though I did get muttered at yesterday by an older guy about riding my bike on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the road. *Sigh.*

The rules:

– Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
– Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
– Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
– List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

So check, check… okay. I love the questions James asked, so here goes.

  1. What books on your shelf are begging to be read?

Depends on which shelf we’re talking about. I have my “dissertation shelf” and “bed-time reading” shelf. One is above my computer in my desk. The other is in my bed-room. I’ll let you guess which is which. Since both shelves have far too many books I haven’t gotten to yet, but really want to, I’ll name the two I want to get to finish first. One is Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert [How the Soldier Repairs the Record-Player] by a German-Bosnian writer Saša Stanišić. The other is Orality and Literacy by Walter Ong. I actually have a blog site devoted entirely to my textual pursuits, in case anyone is interested!

2. How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?

Because things keep happening in my life that I want to share with the world. One can see from the way my blog was a bit neglected while back in the US, that I make many more observations that I think are worth sharing while here in Germany versus back at home.

3. What was the most recent compliment you’ve received and savoured?

Being called a real-life-friend by two fellow bloggers. I am someone who has a pretty difficult relationship with virtual realities and social media, so knowing I’ve built a relationship with people through blogging, even if it’s only through words… means a lot to me.

4. What’s your favorite season?

Not deciding. Right now. I’m really enjoying Fall. However, in Winter I’ll love winter. Spring makes me happy and summer is amazing. Though summer in Florida is awful. I guess I can decide that.

5. What’s something that amazes you?

How all the theories in the world connect and how they all make sense to help make sense of the world, even when they seem like they should be paradoxical. Also, since this needs to be said: How far optimism can bring a person.

6. Do you have a catchphrase?

In my head I do: “it’s a bitter-sweet symphony, this life” taken from The Verve song, of course. Also, “why is the rum always gone?” mostly because I never seem to have any in the abode when I’d like some. That’s probably a good thing.

7. What do you like to do on a rainy day?

Watch how the rain falls and figure out how to get my run in anyway. Or ignore my laundry. Or read a good book.

8. What’s your all-time favourite town or city? Why?

Don’t have one. But I really like Berlin… though that may just be because I’ve crossed an ocean to get here and done a lot of work to be able to stay here. And it’s just pretty cool. But I also believe any space where people have settled and created lives is worth exploring!

9. Where would you like to be in blogging five years from now?

Still blogging is the obvious answer. Still have readers is another… a few more readers, maybe.

10. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Since I don’t eat ice cream anymore (story for another day), I don’t have a current one. My favorite flavor used to be peppermint with dark chocolate chips. I called it Wicked ice cream.

11. If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be?

Right now, it would be Jame Joyce. Nah, it would probably always be James Joyce. But maybe I think I’d be having dinner with Harold Bloom? Actually, I would like dinner with Ralph Ellison.

Now, I would also like to nominate these blogs for this sunny award:

  1. A Pilgrim in Narnia (ha! Double nomination! but it just so happens you’re on both my and James’ radar!)
  2. Never a Dull Bling
  3. 50 in 50 Marathon Quest 
  4. running in t shirt 
  5. Slow Runner Girl 
  6. Fit Recovery
  7. Mice Notes
  8. Pip in Motion 
  9. Simply Aging
  10. Writing By Ender
  11. Jane Runs Wild

Dear authors, if you would like to accept the nomination, please answer my kind of carefully thought out questions:

  1. What do you associate the word “sunshine” with?
  2. Do you have an analog planner/agenda/calendar? Or is it all on a digital device? Or do you just not have something like this?
  3. Do you think you could live abroad for a year in a foreign country where you kind of knew the language, but just barely? I’ve been thinking about this one myself lately. Honestly, I don’t know if I could!
  4. Do you set apart a certain time each day for a specific activity? What activity?
  5. What motivates you to keep blogging?
  6. What is the primary feeling or “thing” that you associate Fall with?
  7. Do you have a particular scene that runs through your mind at a given moment? For example, when James explains what got him started blogging, I couldn’t help but think of a certain Sherlock scene in which Anderson says: ” I founded the Empty Hearse so like-minded people could meet, discuss theories… ” 🙂
  8. Which do you do more: enjoy Sunday evenings or dread Monday mornings?
  9. What book are you currently reading?
  10. What was the last country you traveled to?
  11. If you had all the time and money in the world, what would you do to help “enhance” your blog? Or, alternatively, would you do nothing different?




Shaky streaming quality for a while- on my relationship with WordPress

Before I address the content implied by my title, I offer this video as small mice-present-left-by-cat-on-doorstep. I think it’s a form of showing my affection for readers. 🙂 :

I like to show this video to my students, and to view it myself as a reminder one should be invested in the effects words may have.

Interesting linguistic note: “Sorry” is widely used in Germany right now as an expression of excuse without the same sentiment of culpability the German equivalent “Entschuldigung”carries. “Entschulding” is an expression that asks the target at whom the phrase is directed to relieve the speaker of the guilt s/he feels or should feel for whatever transgression s/he committed. I have a feeling, if our word had the root “guilt” in it, we would want to replace it, too.

But I do mean it. I am sorry that I stopped being very active on my blogs without at least providing a “pause” message. What I really want to apologize for, though, is for suddenly disappearing from other people’s posts. I was very active for a very long time in communicating with my small blogging community, and then, from one day to the next, I just stopped.

I would like to explain this.

I have a bad track-record with social media. I know that the millennials run on social media, and many of us spend an hour or more on social media sites posting, editing, updating, commenting, whatever. I’m not one of them. I got Facebook two years after all my friends did, and then quit it sophomore year of college. I haven’t looked back. I had MyFitnessPal for a while, and used it as my social media site for a while too, until I recognized similar patterns in myself that I had with Facebook. WordPress became a new start. Initially, I used it purely to get my ideas out, and that was it. After a month or so, I noticed though, that one way of getting more interaction was reading, “liking,” following and commenting on other people’s posts. So I did it. I became very active on WordPress because a) it was a great way to procrastinate on daily school/house work, b) I thought I was being a good community member, and c) I started to become addicted to the feedback I got in my comments and on my posts.

See, while we all say that we post for ourselves and would write whether we are read or not, a part of us does feel good when we see people react to what we write. Even the small “like” is a mini-high that, like with any other addictive substance, we look for more and more. What happens when no “like” appears? Some of us end up doubting the value of what we post, especially when we see how much feedback other bloggers get.

I can’t speak for everyone, nor do I mean to. I suppose there are people out there who really don’t care whether someone reads their posts or not. I mean, they really. don’t. care. However, a lot of us share our work for a reason, and we do want our writing to make a difference, somehow, even if it just prompts someone to think a millisecond longer about something that they otherwise would not have. Then, we also want to know about it.

Still, my issue really lies more with the way I participate in the blogging community. WordPress is a great idea. Bloggers can read each other’s blogs, find new ones to read, see what’s “Freshly Pressed,” and so forth. Then, though, one can follow a blogger and be updated on all his/her posts. One can “like” and comment. Through this, one gets to know the blogger, is updated on his/her ups and down and the cool things he/she is doing (most of us don’t blog about the bad things). I got to know other bloggers more and created a social network that’s not as easy to check out of as when I decide to stop reading the Washington Post for a little while. Thus, while 108  days of not posting on my main blog site is something I feel bad about, I feel even more guilty when I don’t hold up the communicating I do with other bloggers. It gets to the point that I’ll read a few posts, but be afraid to “like” or comment on any, because I won’t comment on all, and I worry that someone who reads the same blog I do, someone on whose blog I usually comment, will wonder why I commented on blog “A” but not his/hers.

It would be easier to run a blog site that has no “like” or “comments” section, and then just keep writing and posting. However, I am someone who feels a responsibility about my presence on the internet and to my readers, and I like the interaction and support fellow bloggers give. But sometimes, I need to check-out, and so that’s what I did. The good news is, unlike Facebook or MyFitnessPal, I feel more invested in my writing on my blog than I did with my shorter communications with friends or fitness mates, so I can’t just delete my blog. Recognizing my weakness, I am going to take a few leaves out of the books of fellow bloggers and not feel bad for reading without “liking” or “commenting.” If, in the future, you notice that I’m not being active again, it’s not that I don’t read your posts or like what you write. It’s just that I think it goes without saying that I was intrigued by your title and enjoyed the post. I hope this makes sense. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but because I feel this way, I also felt like I had to write this post.

Thanks for reading this far!

In other news, for a while, I really was too busy to keep up with WordPress. While I read my Reader at least once a day for almost seven months, I just didn’t have time to even log-on at the end of April; end of semester grading papers, my own finals to prepare for and pass, and then cleaning up a semester’s worth of crap on my computer and in my room took care of life through the middle of May. I also got a pretty cool mini-job assessing student’s writing and helping to evaluate my university’s writing program.

Then, I had to start preparing… packing, collecting all my research notes and info from and about books that I can’t justify lugging thousands of miles, all my doctor’s check-ups, etc.

Soon, I’m heading back to Germany, first for vacation, and then to start my PhD at the Freie Universitaet zu Berlin. It’s one of Berlin’s three main universities and the only one where I can pursue a PhD in comparative literature the way I’d like. I’m excited, but also  feel some trepidation about the project and being able to afford it (and then there’s all the self-doubt I’ll spare you from reading about). For now, I have minimal support from the university and scholarships, so until I can reapply for a better position and/or scholarships, I’m living off savings and whatever small job I can get. I know the situation will be improved by January, but right now, things don’t look rosy-pink. STILL, I’m excited and super ready to do the project.

I’ll also have more to post about, again.

After I arrive in Germany until mid-August, though, I’ll have sporadic internet access and likely won’t use it to be on WordPress a lot. This time, I hope I’m giving you enough fair warning about my “shaky streaming quality” so that you stay-tuned for when I get back! I have a few people who regularly read my blogs, and I hope you continue to want to when I’m regularly posting again.

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a great summer,




Gopher the two-for

premiodardosI have to say, the word press community is really incredible for getting/sharing ideas from/with many different people in many different life situations and locations. I think it’s also the fact that I can “follow” people who usually have much different views than I do, and even if I don’t always agree, I can broaden my horizons a bit. I guess my writings reflect that, and I guess that’s why I’ve been nominated for the Premio Dardos award by marjma2014, writer of a beautiful blog about writing and reading – two of my favorite pastimes – Kyrosmagica. Thank you!

Premio dardos

Some bloggers I think also worthy of recognition for their contribution to cultural awareness and giving me some kind of access to a new part (for me) of the world are:

The Traveling Trini (who most recently wrote about homophobia in Trinidad and Tobago), The Classic Cosmopolite (most recently posted a helpful set of tips for traveling on a budget), Foreign Sanctuary (recently posted a few funny stories of her relationship with her Taiwanese husband), Storytime with John (most recently posted about an escapade in his kindergarten class in South Korea), India and Society (some critical pieces of Indian society), Glittering Wanderlust (usually posts some great photos of her adventures abroad, recently finished a semester in Spain), and Adventures Across Borders (who wrote a really good post on cultural self-awareness).

I encourage you to check them out!

As for the Real Neat Blog award I was nominated for by marjma2014 as well, I am equally excited. I just have this thing called a thesis to finish, so I can’t really accept it at this time. However, I know a few other neat blogs, and so I’d like to nominate these bloggers whose posts I always look forward to:

Aging Runnah, the blogger of Mice Notes (really neat mice comics of anything from university work to opera to Benedict Cumberbatch). BlissfulBritt (coffee and chemistry), Walk to Rio 2016 (he says his main goal it to make it to the 2016 Olympics in speed walking, but I think he likes to make everyone have a good time while he does so. A lot of really great European city exploring goes on to), and 2write4health (this one really gets me thinking about what I eat in a non-judging reasonable way- plus she always has great recipes!).

If you want, please accept my nomination by answering these 7 questions! they’re from marjma2014 . I hope she doesn’t mind.

Then, you get to nominate some bloggers too.

  1. Do you have any unusual pastimes such as pot-holing, or ball-room dancing?
  2. Have you ever fallen in love at first sight?
  3. What kind of books do you like to read, and do you have a favourite?
  4. If you had a choice to listen to a  music concert, go to a film, or the theatre, or an art/photography exposition, which would you choose?
  5. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?
  6. What is your favourite and your least favourite food?
  7. Are you good at keeping secrets? (these two below probably aren’t)

Observation of the Day: German PhD Application

I was humming along through my third semester of MA studies, getting together application material for continuing studies at schools in the U.S. and Germany, and I then I find out something that shifts the trajectory of my life a bit. This shift has to do with difference between PhD applications in Germany and in the U.S.

In Germany, the value of one’s MA degree (the GPA) determines entry into a PhD program. This makes sense, I guess, since the application officials want to be sure one knows what the heck one is doing, the officials have quantifiable information about the applicant,  and there’s no danger for MA senioritis and having accepted students who don’t end up completing their MA studies. (why don’t we consider that in the US?) In short, in Germany one may not apply for a PhD until the MA is completed.

On the other hand, in the U.S., students in their last year of MA studies are already applying for PhD programs. I remember sitting in my Spring courses and congratulating fellow MA students (who had just submitted their theses) for being accepted to programs in California, New York, and Chicago.

I can still apply for U.S. schools, but since being in Germany, I am convinced that this is where I want to continue my studies. But I can’t apply by Jan. 5th 2015; rather, I wait until Jan 2016.

What am I going to do with this unexpected gap year? Well, stay tuned as I figure that out myself.

Any suggestions? Post them in the comments! I know I’m going to have to find work of some kind, since I’ve got some loans waiting to be paid off :/

addendum to Liebster award

A week ago, I nominated five bloggers for the Liebster award in my own response to the nomination (thank you again Sara Bennet!).

So far, none of the nominees have acted on the award and it makes me wonder if my questions were too personal, whether I showed bad blogging etiquette. This made me wonder if my experiences abroad and my inexperience in the virtual world has made me someone who fails to recognize the mental personal space of others.

I haven’t been on social media platforms for a while, and so I don’t know anymore what sorts of things are shared on social media. I also am confused a bit by the wide range of things shared on WordPress- posts range from personal battles with cancer to accidents while running to dealing with the deaths of family members.

On the other hand, I’ve also lost the feel for what sorts of things are shared “in real life” between people who don’t know each other. Since being here, I’ve been doing a lot of meeting people. Usually, these meetings are with other students, dorm-mates, professors, people waiting for the subway, etc. It’s bizarre how many times I’ve repeated my life story to people… come from U.S. America but speak good German because I was brought up biculturally, have been to Germany many times, studying comparative literature, writing my MA thesis, like to run… In the past month, I feel like I’ve spread my life across more people than this blog reaches, and yet I don’t see most of these people again. At the same time, there’s the desire to want to get to know others deeper, and in order to do that, one needs to take these first steps of introduction over and over again.

However, because I want to get to know people more personally, I wish I could start my introductions with what I like to eat for breakfast, or how I spent my morning so that I can open up a conversation where I learn these things about them too. Yet somehow, that is too personal… I’m a bit confused since I’m actually a reserved person, and yet I need to be open…

So it’s all very confusing right now and I’m sorry if my questions seemed too personal or my own expressions on this blog seem too frank. I do actually censor myself while I write because I write with a specific purpose and an imagined audience in mind, and I think you should know that the person I present on screen is also not necessarily the one you would meet if you ever met me. It’s certainly not the person I am with my family, so I am aware that there are these fine lines of private and public… I just may need to be more clear about it after having been confused via my blog and since being abroad, and I’ll try to be a little more aware of that in the future.

Hope I haven’t thrown anyone off…


Liebster (blog?) Award

Yesterday, I was nominated for the Liebster Award by saraybennet. I can only put the link for her wonderful blog “Glittering Wanderlust” here and hope that you click on it and read at least one or two posts about her adventures abroad in Spain. Thanks for the nomination! Liebster Award

So, let’s get started. First off, what’s the Liebster Award? When I first saw it, I had to think of the superlative form of the word “Lieb” in German. Liebster is a way to refer to your favorite… so I could start a sentence with  “Mein Liebster Kuchen” and you’d be about to hear about my favorite cake.

But really,

The award aims to expose new bloggers and help mark their blog in the blogging world. 

And the rules are as follows:

  • Post the award on your blog. check
  • Thank the blogger who presented this award and link back to their blog. (whoever designed these rules wants to make sure that we have manners) check
  • Write 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and who have less than 200 followers.
  • Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 11 questions.

I decided to answer the questions first, because I figured random facts about myself will be enough of a draw to read to the end of this post (not that I’m innocent of long posts, generally)

Questions from “Glittering Wanderlust” (seriously love the name of that blog!)

  1. What is your favorite way to spend a rainy afternoon? On WordPress with a cappuccino
  2. Do you prefer to travel to warm or cold locations? Prefer mild climates, but I like to explore in shorts and t-shirt
  3. What is the top item on your bucket list? this changes. Right now, it’s the Hamburg Marathon
  4. What is the strangest food that you have ever eaten? Where did you eat it? Labskaus, actually, and it’s a specialty of Hamburg (though can be found in Norway, Sweden, Dennmark, and, oddly enough, Liverpool. It looks like this:

    "Labskaus" im Speisestübchen Eva-Maria Bilder Restaurant Speisestübchen Eva-Maria

    The mush under the egg, sunny-side-up is a mix of salted meat (can be corned beef), potatoes, and onion in beet juice. Then on the side one usually gets roll-mops (herring), pickled beets, and gherkin. A lot of salt and vinegar, the weirdest mix ever… but it tastes quite “not-bad.” I’d even go so far as to recommend it.

  5. Do you like solo or group travel better? I like being in transit solo better, but I enjoy actually being in a place better in groups.
  6. Would you ever go skydiving? If the opportunity presented itself, yes.
  7. What is your dream job? A professor who is also paid to write on the side
  8. Who, if anyone, inspires you to travel? My imagination
  9. Who do you admire most? My mother
  10. What is your favorite book or movie? Right now, The Lord of the Rings books AND movies are occupying a lot of brain space, but I’m also enjoying Wir neuen Deutschen as well. I’d like to do a blog post about it soon.
  11. Do you write your blog with or without music? Since I’m listening to music now, it’d be a lie to say that I don’t. Yep. Listen all the time when I’m doing any pleasurable writing or reading. If I have to read political history in German, I’m less likely to be listening to music. Right now, “Rolling in the Deep” is playing (though not because I picked it.)

Now, instead of posting my facts about myself, l’m going to mention nominees and questions, and then answer those questions myself.

I nominate Rural Running Redhead, pscapp, trying to get faster even as I get older, Cadence Runner and run fast, puke left for the Liebster award and to answer the following questions. I’ve asked them because they’re the folks (sorry, not sorry about using that word) whose response posts I (and maybe others) would like to read.

  1. How much did you run from Oct. 13-19?
  2. Do you have a set time you try to blog, or does it just “happen?”
  3. When you are ready to blog, do you make yourself a drink first? If so, what kind?
  4. What is something you would like to accomplish before the end of 2014?
  5. If you have children, which of your traits are you most happy that they picked up?
  6. Beach or trail run?
  7. If you (and anyone else you with you) were given a travel stipend and a week off, where would you go?
  8. Which language do you think sounds the most beautiful?
  9. What kind of movie would you like to star in?
  10. (for the laundromat-savvy) If there was one machine almost done, and you needed to do a load, how long would you wait for the person to show up before you (nicely) took out their laundry so that you could do yours?
  11. Do you blog with the hope that others read your blog, or do you really not care?

All these questions are optional!

My answers:

  1. How much did [I] run from Oct. 13-19? 47.8 miles
  2. Do [I] have a set time you try to blog, or does it just “happen?” I don’t have a set time, but usually do it when I’m not distracted by anything else pressing.
  3. When [I am] ready to blog, do [I] make [myself] a drink first? Yes, usually a coffee or tea
  4. What is something [I] would like to accomplish before the end of 2014? Feel at home, to some extent in Hamburg. Set a half-marathon PR. Have at least 20 pages of notes for my MA thesis
  5. If [I] have children [which I don’t], which of [my] traits [would I be] most happy that they picked up? My conscientiousness and thoughtfulness
  6. Beach or trail run? Trail
  7. If [I] were given a travel stipend and a week off, where would [I] go? Moscow
  8. Which language do [I] think sounds the most beautiful? I think the Khoisan languages sound neat, but I really like Brazilian Portuguese
  9. What kind of movie would [I] like to star in? I’d love to get the training to be in a martial arts movie with a powerful philosophical message
  10. (for the laundromat-savvy) I would wait 15 minutes
  11. Do [I] blog with the hope that others read [my] blog, or do [I] really not care? I do have a set audience in mind for my blog sites, and I do kind of hope that my posts get read. Yet in the end, it really only matters to me that I can go back and read them myself.