Personal

playing tourist- central Florida and the Bahamas

The old irony–that one can live in the same place for 10-20+ years and still it takes a visitor or special occasion (like a hurricane) to actually see some of the things people come from all over to see–is true.

In the past, it took guests visiting us (or one very special birthday) to head up to Walt Disney World, family friends (my dad was in the Air Force) going up in space ships to see Cape Canaveral, and Hurricane Irma to actually take a cross-Florida trip. I used to take the trip across Alligator Alley every other week when going to school, and a few times I would drive with family or friends through the state to visit other family in Atlanta, SC or NC. However, despite taking all kinds of trips in Europe, it’s been a while since I took a trip in the US.

This past Spring Break- well, my mom’s spring break. I had more of a semester break, if you will-, my mom and I had a kind of wild time. The first goal was to visit a friend in Tampa, and then see where we get from there. We’d crossed New Orleans off the list (south Florida to Mississippi and back in 4 days? N’uh uh) and even decided Tallahassee would be a bit too far. Instead, after a nice evening walking around Safety Harbor, a neat little city on the Tampa Bay, we headed east towards Winter Park, planning a stop in Winter Garden to check out the West Orange Trail. This was after realizing that we wanted to go to Winter Park, not Winter Haven. Honestly, you’d think Florida in winter was some kind of thing.

Turns out, it’s hard to travel with a decades old GPS, faulty notes, and little sense of direction. What should have taken 2 hours turned into 4 and just as the afternoon sun had more than peaked, my mom and I landed in Winter Garden, which was a surprising little town. It’s actually quite beautiful and the West Orange Trail was quite put together, even if in hindsight it was all very Disneyish. There was also very little actual nature along the trail, which was a shame. Admittedly, actual nature in Florida gets pretty nasty, so maybe that was okay. If you can make it, do find a way to drive through Winter Garden on your next trip through Florida.

After a surprisingly eventful bike ride due to a flat tire and no spare, my mom and hopped in the car and tried to make it to Winter Park before dark. The question was whether we would try to book it back home that evening or spend an extra night. After stumbling upon a Quality Inn and the historic district, and then a Trader Joe’s, we decided it would be worth spending the night rather than driving tired and arriving home exhausted.

Turns out the idea was good, except the hotel location clientele made for a creepy experience. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone except to someone I didn’t really care about. So that’s that. Also, public service announcement, if other hotel guests warn you to bring the bikes up to the room and not leave them locked outside, listen to them.

All in all, it was a bit stressful of a trip, but good considering that we basically waited until the morning of before we decided to even go.  And it meant I got to see some more of my home-state. I think my favorite part was driving up the 471 through the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve and the Richloam Wildlife Management Area. There was just such a feeling of old Florida and it took me down memory lane. It reminded me of a time in fourth grade where I was in charge of explaining all the flora on my elementary school mini wildlife preserve. I really enjoyed that. I even won a young maple tree for an Earth Day design contest once and it’s hopefully still in the yard of my family’s old house. If I ever go back there, that’s what I’ll go to look at.

Anyway, it was really cool to do something like this with my mom and connected me back with Florida. Just when I was thinking it was the last place I’d ever want to go back to…

Another cool thing I got to do with both my mom and dad (hi Papa!) was visit the Bahamas. More specifically, we visited Grand Bahama. And even more specifically, we visited Freeport. But most specifically, we spent more time on the boat than any of the Bahamas. It was okay, though.

My parents and I decided that next time we would visit one of the other islands, and we noticed that we were rather isolated on the trip, spending an hour on a tour of the city, where some pretty cool things were pointed out, but I also almost laughed out loud when Wendy’s and Burger King were pointed out as attractions; I’m glad I didn’t, though. Apparently, the city was hit hard by the past few hurricanes and the economy has been suffering for a while, so it was actually a bit of a sad site. After the bus tour, we were dropped off in Port Lucaya and were the only people there, other than the vendors and shop keepers. The beach was beautiful, but had one too many locals to give a firm “no” to, so that was slightly too uncomfortable to enjoy properly.

All in all, it actually reminded me a lot of Florida, except people drove on the left side of the road and the people seemed nicer. The weather and the flora was very similar to what we had just left. However, we made a point to eat the local dishes: conch, stewed fish, sheep’s tongue and we even drank some “Bohemian bears”- which is what it sounded like when the tour guide said Bahamian beers. The sheep and fish was better than it sounds, and while the conch was a bit disappointing, I wonder if it would have tasted better in a salad. I’d definitely try to find the Sand’s beer again.

But as stated, the trip was short, only 6 hours off the boat. It was my first first cruise, so I kind of enjoyed the experience on board as much as off. And once we got back to solid land, it was back to normal routine for my parents and some normal Florida sun ray catching and running (and even a bit of working!) for me.

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Call this post a prosaic ode to Florida, if you will. The weather wasn’t always perfect (a bit too hot and humid for March) and the normal life stresses can get one down, but a visit home is always nice, there are enough things to do, and it’s kind of wonderful to call Florida home (until the next local news pages just make me reconsider).

Cheers!

 

Sea and See here, time for some time off

Hidyho!

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.

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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!

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Yo, my star sign is capricorn

100 posts and there are green leaves against blue sky outside my window

Well, it certainly feels like it’s been at least a year since I last posted, but it’s just been a month and a few weeks. Time is a funny thing.

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In this time, I turned 26, flew more than 10,000 miles, was invited for a scholarship interview and had that interview. Went from part-time to part-part time work (i.e. 8 hours versus 20). Celebrated Easter with my family. Celebrated my birthday, a friend’s birthday, and my cousin’s birthday. April babies= best babies; no bias there. Basically I lived and celebrated living.

In the meantime, I wanted to write a kind of special post. Seeing as this marks the centennial edition of my humble beginning in July 2014, I decided to reflect on blogging and what it means to me, and why I find it worthwhile to continue. Basically, I’m here to say “I’m back! And even if I take breaks, I will likely always come back.”

First of all, I thought long and hard about why I write. There are a lot of reasons, but in the end, I noticed blog writing is about celebrating ourselves and our productivity as writers. I see a level of egoism in this and a kind of consumerism, but on the other hand, I value the positive things blogging can bring, so I will focus on that.

I write to:

  1. motivate myself to get something done by asking for some implicit accountability
  2. share experiences I’ve had and things I’ve seen or thought, partially as checkpoint for others taking the same or similar journey, partly to record these things for myself. I do occasionally go back and read posts and am often surprised by the person I was then, and how I still understand this person like it was me, but see her as separate from me. I can always learn something from this person
  3. inform the few family and real life friends who do check up on me with this blog what I’m up to and that I’m still alive. I’m not as bad in staying in contact as I tend to make myself seem, though. Most of my family and friends don’t rely on my blog to know what I’m doing or how I am. That’s what coffee dates, Skyping, and lengthy personal emails are for, still these kinds of readers are at the back of my mind when I write
  4. find affirmation for the choices I’ve made and the person I present myself to be
  5. for therapy, I can work through certain fears and challenges by writing them out, but also benefit from the comments made at the same time… because otherwise, honestly I could just focus on my hard-copy journal
  6. gain practice in writing. 10000 hours, after all

Of these six reasons (too bad it’s six, but I didn’t want to fake a 7th for the sake of a nicer, for me, number), the one thing I learned over the past month(s) is that I don’t need to write for number 4 anymore. I mean, I still have my insecurities and brand of ego to share and fuel, but I don’t really think I have to anymore.

Of these six reasons, I plan to whittle the list down the reasons to 2, 5 and 6.

In other news, a three month construction project started in my apartment building, which has meant power-drilling at 7 AM and maybe is helping me wake up earlier even if I still have jet lag and need to work on getting to bed earlier as well. My mother broke her second bone in 5 months, got operated on, but is on her way to full recovery, I may finally have financial security to stay in Berlin for at least three years as of the Fall, I am moving forward with my dissertation, barely run more than 10 miles a week and have found my peace with that, and a lot of other things that will slowly become relevant as I post regularly (for me, it’s meant about 2 posts a month) again.

I still read a lot of WordPress even if I don’t post myself, but I don’t mind if you tell me one (or three) significant things that has happened since I last posted. How do you deal with in-house construction at what feels like o’dark thirty on a hangover? Do you do mental checks with yourselves to refigure out why you’re doing something?

Cheers,

Dorothea

My name and the number 69

Of course I can’t mention that English speakers tend to mispronounce my name without actually saying how to pronounce it. Sorry about that!

Dorothea

The two biggest issues are that English speakers like to pronounce their “th”s and don’t do well with hard “r”s. My name has both, plus four syllables, so I get why it’s an issue. Also, when you look it up on Youtube, you’ll get this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE2H-ldObAI. It’s not how to pronounce my name, though.

Here’s a sort of guide to how the name is pronounced, give or take a few stresses, nearly everywhere except by a mono-lingual English speaker:

doe (a deer, a female deer)-roe-tay-ah!

The exclamation mark afterwards is optional. So, it’s more like this: https://forvo.com/_ext/ext-prons.js?id=824150

Hope that satisfied some of your curiosity! Thanks for the interest.

In other news, this morning, I accidentally stumbled upon the stats for my wanderwolf blog and noticed I had a new “views” record for the blog. I had been staring at the previous record of 56 (or 57?/can’t remember) for about two years and wondered if it would ever be broken.

Turns out, it was broken by a number that I’m not too fond of: 69. It may seem immature, but I learned about what the number could reference late in my high school years and found it an awkward number ever since. I skip it on the treadmill in the gym (so no 6.69 paces for me) and I try not to include the use of the number in writing or speech. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to keep it away from me. It was part of my student ID for high school, studying abroad in Hamburg, and my pre-determined pin for several debit cards. Good thing I could change most of those (and the ones I couldn’t change I no longer have, so there).

So, while I think it’s really neat my site was viewed so often within a 24 hour period, I hope I don’t have to wait two years to change it again. Also, I’m aware of the irony that I decided to write about my disdain of the number 69, prompting the most I’ve ever used it in my life.

Thus concludes personal random facts day two for me. I hope to return to my regularly scheduled programming soon.

 

Diligence 

Can one still wish others a happy new year? I think one can, especially as long as I’m still writing 2016 for the date. 

So, happy new year. I notice that one usually wishes other things besides happiness for the new year, such as health (a biggie), peace, and strength to meet one’s goals. That’s what I wish for myself and you all as well.

The joke, though, is that while we all wish each other a happy year, there’s a parallel movement to say that January is the worst month of the year. Its winter weather gets a lot of people down (unless you’re in Florida) and unprepared resolutions make life as one knew it a bit miserable (i.e. a new diet, fitness plan, quitting smoking). Add to the list the impending apprehension of a new political leader in the US, and this year seems especially düster –a particularly useful adjective to describe a somber sort of darkness. 

On the other hand, one cannot deny the thrill of a new start. Sitting in a plane, miles above the Atlantic Ocean, I couldn’t deny that the new year marks a possible renewal. The date may be arbitrary (and I’m a fan of making changes at any point they seem necessary, not just the new year), but the period just after holidays filled with celebration, interaction, and lack of routine can bring one to reflect on things one normally does not notice. 

Under such conditions and awarded space and time to reflect on my way back to Berlin after a short stay home in Florida, I thought about what I had done in 2016 and was waiting for in 2017. 

Running was easy to reflect on, since that which was in my control I did pretty well, and I learned a lot. There is perhaps the least room for improvement in this area, but that actually means I need to work on not allowing it to be a priority. That is, I need to be more diligent about being flexible and recognizing that if I don’t do well in my running, it is not as bad as not doing well in other aspects of my life. I tend to procrastinate with the gym, and put more energy into running or weights because the stakes are lower. These are not the years for that. 

Academics for me in 2016 were hills and valleys of accomplishments and disappointments, and I am still waiting to hear about a few applications I submitted in the last year. More than I hope for anything else, I hope for a change in my financial situation that will allow me to focus my energy on PhD work. Furthermore, I have a lot of good habits and ideas for producing good work, but I need to be more diligent about enacting those habits. This includes making the effort again to write something at least everyday, and to do more reading that can be considered in light of my PhD project. This means, unfortunately, that I will likely do less blog reading. I have to; I appologize in advance. 

Health and character wise, diligence is the theme again. I have a lot of knowedge and good habits in regards to nutrition and taking care of my body, but I need to work on enforcing these habits. I have made a few changes in my attitude towards stress eating, which is the biggest road-block to my physical and mental health. I am also working on being a more generous person, and offering my time and resources a little more freely (within reason) without first having the anxious thoughts about how this will ruin my routine and plans. I need to be more flexible. At the same time, this work includes continuing to learn when and how to say “no.”

Finally, I want to be more diligent about taking advantage of the fact I am in Berlin. I can pursue academics in any ivory tower, but I came to Berlin convinced that I would be more inspired by the city’s history, social and literary life. I will make sure to visit at least two events every month. I think that’s a reasonable goal. I am visiting one today: a touring of world famous acrobats. It may not be intellectual, but visiting the MercedesBenz stadium is something I can only do in Berlin, so… 

This will also be the year that I finally make it to England. Date is tentatively set for sometime in the Spring. 

In writing these notes, I don’t share my (potentially boring) goals for the new year with you as much as I suggest that it is the recommitment to old goals that we celebrate in the new year. Time is marked by changes, and I think it’s neat how even small changes can lead to a shift that makes Dec. 2017 different than Dec. 2016. This effect can be dangerous, of course, but also motivating. 

Let me remind you that good things happened in 2016 as well by linking to this surprisingly useful Tumblr post. It wasn’t all bad, and we can still do the work to make 2017 better. 

When I see a lamppost in snow, I think of C.S. Lewis. When I think of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I wonder if Narnia as allegorical space can tell us something about a world doomed to perpetual winter. What needs to change? Can we change it?

A little bit of democracy: Election Season

A few weeks ago, I participated in the Berlin elections. Because Berlin is a city-state, this election was the equivalent of a US state election. I had received my voters invitation in the mail back in August. In the meantime, I watched how the city became smothered in campaign posters, each more eye-catching than the last. Every few days, volunteers for the parties would hand out fliers and pens or free cloth shopping bags to lure people into considering their party. Perhaps, because one does a lot more moving around the city in Berlin, one sees a lot more people and posters. It also helps that Germany has a thriving multi-party system. Unlike the US, with its winner-gets-it-all system, Germany’s national and state parliaments  are made up proportionally by the number of votes a party gets. There are certain rules, like you have to get more than 5% of the vote to get in- a rule put in place since WWII that may have prevented the Nazis from getting into parliament in 1932. However, the system means that even if you don’t vote for the popular party, your vote isn’t wasted. Unfortunately, that’s how many voters in the US feel, which is why we can’t get out of our stupid Republican/Democrat binary.

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns in Germany either. Interestingly, German campaign posters almost always include a representative’s profile picture, as if how the person looks will affect if they are voted for (unfortunately, it kind of does work that way). There’s also a rising right-wing party that can actually get power in this country and white supremacists and nationalists get a voice again in a country where it shouldn’t happen again. In the name of democracy, we are supposed to let them have a voice too… so that’s also an issue.

However, the voting process itself was a neat process. Despite all the parties, it’s not as complicated as one imagines. In fact, the ballots are about just as long as in the US. The difference is that one doesn’t ignore everyone beyond the first two lines. Libertarians get considered, conservative nature lovers get considered, socialists exist and get considered… it’s a very diverse ballot for which citizens actually have to prepare themselves and inform themselves. That’s not to say that many people still don’t vote the two largest parties- Christian Democratic and Social Democratic, but these parties rarely get the majority of the vote at the state or national level, and that’s a good thing!

So, when I went to vote (and voting happens on Sunday in Germany, giving everyone- even people with 10-hour jobs- the chance to vote!), I parked my bike outside a historic music school, got in line with the other voters of my district, and pulled out a book. I had a bit of a wait, but soon enough I got to hand over y ID and voting invite for inspection, and then I was in a voting booth with my papers and a pen. I guess I was surprised that the ballots were not electronic, and I didn’t expect that I would be voting for my district representative as well. I was also amused that when voting for the representative, a little note of advice happens below the representative’s name saying: suggested vote: (insert representative’s party name here). I won’t say who or what part(ies) I voted for, but I will say that I was able to vote two different parties at the state and district level and feel good about it. I think that the German systems allows for more representation of all the different values a person can have… and I’m a happy voter in Germany. I can’t really say the same about the upcoming presidential election in the US.

Now starts a part of my post where I’m going to add my two cents to the discussion about those up for election in November. For those who have had enough of this, I understand if you don’t want to continue reading. For those mildly curious for what a 25 year old with degrees in literature has to say, I promise I’ve put thought into this post and I’m reasonable, someone who looks for compromise rather than antagonism.

Let me start off with a fun fact. I grew up in a bipartisan household. One parent carries a Republican voting card, the other a Democratic one. How does this work, you wonder? How can they have been married for more than 25 years? A lot of it has to do with the ability to find compromise, and that the basic values upheld by both my parents are the same.

One of my favorite philosophers is Kwame Anthony Appiah. I’ve written about him before in this blog, but his famous book Cosmopolitanism outlines what he believes should be a global philosophy: that we respect other people’s values and beliefs enough to listen to them and consider them. While the ability to communicate is inherent to this philosophy to work, I believe it is a good philosophy. Often, though, as I see in my own home, this communication often goes astray. One party has a harder time expressing why they do things or value things a certain way. There will always be one group who is louder, more articulate, or more logical. Still, as Appiah outlines in his chapter “The Primacy of Practice,”

Conversation doesn’t have to lead to consensus about anything, especially not values; it is enough that it helps people get used to one another.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve been engaging in conversation with me about Germans and US Americans. I try to share my observations about both countries, often working hard to keep my personal bias and upbringing out of it. I’ve never suggested that one country is the better of the two – such a vast generalization would be absurd, and I can only emphasize how Germans live and love living in the US and vice versa, without having to give up the cultural beliefs or habits they brought with them.

So, if the daily life of a person can be satisfactory, despite constant exposure to difference, why can’t we listen more to each other talking about politics? What happened to constructive debate?

Yes… of course I set up a segue to last night’s presidential debate, which I found less than satisfactory. Spectators are saying that Clinton won that debate, but only because she as able to keep her cool while Trump was revealed for being the incoherent, ill-prepared, narcissist he’s been for most of the campaign. Maybe this means Trump should not be head of state. Even if he supports the values of most Republicans, he’s not ready for the position. Can you imagine the state dinners with Trump at the head of the table? Do people really think the man knows how to be a diplomat? Money is power, and Trump has money. But he has none of the tact, intelligence, or basic human sympathy that we need in our political leaders.

So, that puts the US in an awful position, because while many Republicans of the US can’t vote Hillary Clinton out of principle inspired by their belief in honesty, good character, and following rules, they can’t vote Trump either. Many of these Republicans would also rather see the Republican Party in power, because even if it’s headed by Trump, at least their values will be represented. I understand their wishes for freedom, financial security, and less interference from government in their personal lives.

The funny thing is, I also understand the Democrat’s wish for security and less interference from government in their lives. After all, anti-abortion laws are government interference. Health-care and other “socialist” endeavors are endeavors for financial security for citizens of the US- that’s just addressing the obvious. There are many subtle ways in which the goals of all US Americans are the same- upholding basic human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s how we practice these rights that changes.

In the end, democrats have to compromise with republicans and republicans with democrats, lobbyists put their hand in the pot, and we end up with pretty much the same measures, regardless of who is the main man or woman in charge. What we can choose, however, is the first representative of our country.

Now, I return to the beautiful multiparty system, and ask, why can’t the US get out of its stupid binary? Why is the presidential debate only held between two people? Let’s not forget, there’s the Libertarian Gary Johnson. There will be more than three names on the presidential ballot in November. There’s always the write-in possibility (but, that’s a bit of a misnomer, since the possibility is so small).

My final note will maybe satisfy what those of you who did continue reading were waiting to see: where do I stand? Well, out of my upbringing, education, and beliefs, I think it is my responsibility to help all groups in society have equal access to opportunity and resources. The US party I believe comes closest to supporting this endeavor is the democratic one. However, I struggle with voting Clinton. It is hard to deny that there is something wrong about using personal email servers for state business. Every employee is able to separate the private and professional email. Why couldn’t she? There must be something wrong in her character to do this, and then not want to open up her personal correspondences as well as state correspondence for scrutiny. Right? Well, maybe. Maybe not. Retired army officer M. Thomas Davis (former Republican voter, I’ll bet) wrote a column I personally find convincing, but know has received its share of backlash: “Don’t let Clinton emails dominate debates.”

From here on out, until the election, I’m going to try and leave previous bias against either runner behind, and consider what each of the candidates have to say in response to direct questions about policies, how they will handle national and international security, education and health care reforms, and climate change. I encourage you to do the same with the issues you find important.

Just saying. Those were my two cents.

Cheers,

Dorothea

 

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,

Dorothea