Plan for blog

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

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

 

 

‘Twas the Night before the Race- HaSpa marathon

I’m starting to think that I only need one site, not three. The problem is, I will probably annoy everyone who subscribed to my other blogs (running and reading) just to read about those things. However, I’m getting to the point where I don’t care, especially for this post, since it is the juncture where Hamburg study-abroad meets my running passion: the Hamburg Marathon (more on that later in the post). In reflection, all my passions juncture with one another and I think I may be more successful (a term I define for myself in this context as reaching as many readers as possible) if I consolidate all my writings into this one blog to create a better platform for me to express myself.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately. There are creative writing projects blooming in my notebooks and I am about to complete my third marathon after a two year injury-healing cycle. I consider today a little like the day before my birthday, the night before Christmas where the anticipation slowly builds for what the next day will hold.

This poem from goneforarun.com comes to mind:

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I am choosing to celebrate that excitement with changes.

I have decided to drop my other two sites to focus on this site. This means that I will be able to produce higher quality posts, rather than a spread of posts, and I can bring more of my reading-nerd and running-nerd self into my writing.

I have also decided to completely own this blog. That means, I will open up myself up and claim responsibility for what I write and for the impressions (if any) these writings make. Putting myself out there is something I was afraid to do for a long time, largely because I fear the conflation of virtual and physical reality, and the loss of personal privacy with online social media, but I’ve also grown to learn that if I want to become a writer and be published in journals, newspapers, or bound books, then I need to get used to attaching my name to print (or whatever we call these 0s and 1s now-a-days).

So, hello readers. My name is Dorothea Trotter and this is my blog where I write about my experiences abroad with the Federation of German-American Clubs scholarship program in Hamburg, Germany, my excursions into the literary world, and my running lifestyle.

This year abroad is over in the middle of July, and I am not entirely sure what I’m doing then (perhaps I’m afraid of thinking that far ahead), but I am sure I will continue having things to write about.

Now, onto the main purpose of this post today, to share my excitement for the Hamburger Marathon!

Tomorrow, April 26th, while many runners will be getting ready for the London Marathon, I’ll be starting in Hamburg’s 30th annual marathon.When I signed up back in December, I knew I was heading into something big.

However, as January saw me plagued by bad plantar fasciitis in my right foot, and January and February were struggles to the death with my MA thesis, training fell to the wayside. I was still running, and I tried to get in at least 25-30 miles a week, but I wasn’t able to get long runs in.

Then, as the thesis fog cleared and my feet itched to get out, I slowly got into serious marathon training. The first few days in March I spent researching whether I would even be able to train in time (less than two months), but I decided to just get started and see how far I could get.

As opposed to the last two marathons I started training for, but got injured during training, I did not follow a plan and was extra attentive to the signs my body gave me. This time around, I also had a foam roller, ice packs, regular cross training, and orthopedics in my regular day-shoes on my side.

All in all, starting February (where I was doing regular 11 miles, so not completely unfit) my long runs progressed like this: 12, 13, 15, 16, 20, 8… 26.2

It was a bit of a (read: a huge, what was I thinking?) risk jumping from 12 to 20 miles in five weeks. However, I only took the risk because I needed the confidence boost. Since then (two weeks ago), I have been extremely careful (ha ha, not really… soccer game last Sunday?), and very laissez faire. This past week, I’ve been feeling a bit run down, and I did not expect differently. I skipped the run I wanted to go on Thursday, and feel better about that decision. I realized at that point that pushing myself out the door was not as wise as just laying back to put forth my efforts tomorrow.

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Packet pick-up hub-hub

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It may be difficult to tell, but the row for the men to pick up their packets was twice as long as it was for the women (at the end).

Gah! Tomorrow? Yup, tomorrow, I run a marathon. Yesterday (Friday) the expo opened. Being the impatient dork that I am, I made sure to get there right away.

The best part about visiting a race expo in Hamburg is that I get to see two important corners of the city: the convention center (Messe) and the famous park (Planten und Blomben) that borders it. (the pictures I took were with my iPod,  Excuse the crookedness, please!

 Fueling with white asparagus (Spargel) in the days leading up the race. It's a customary German dish with potatoes and hollandaise sause (that has nothing to do with Holland) 

Fueling with white asparagus (Spargel) in the days leading up the race. It’s a customary German dish with potatoes and hollandaise sause (that has nothing to do with Holland)

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IMG_1108 Hamburg Messehallen (convention center)

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Blomben

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Some beautiful forehead wrinkles and tents set up for the race

I met up with a few fellow soccer players at the expo, saw a girl who is going to the U.S. next year through my same program (two VDAC students will be running!), and exchanged some nervousness.

Also, I was interviewed with the others by a German TV station (SAT.1). Who knows if they will use that excerpt? But how cool is that?!

Finally, I spent yesterday and this morning getting some excellent German carbs in my belly (if I do well tomorrow, then it’s only because German Broetchen are the best in the world).

One thing the Germans don’t do as well however, as I noticed yesterday, was that they don’t give away as many free things. The expo yesterday had one table with free alcohol-free beer (not bad stuff) and a table with free tasters of Cliff bars (I noted how US products appear and are promoted in German spaces), but otherwise the pickings were fairly dry. I’m too excited by other things to spend a lot of time thinking about that right now though. I just thought I’d note it.

In conclusion, I feel fairly well-prepared for tomorrow. I am very excited that there are many of my dorm-mates who will come out to support me, and that this time tomorrow I’ll hopefully be finishing (reach goal is 3:45). One obstacle I’ll still have to overcome is that I’ll have to think in terms of kilometers rather than miles! Geez… 42 sounds much scarier than 26.. but it is what it is. Cultural experience number five million.

All the best to anyone racing tomorrow!

Tl; dr: I am a little kid, anxious for race day to get here because I’m excited about all that it promises to hold. Also, I am merging my blogs. The end.

Cheers,