Saturday 8 September 2012


Every era is about envying people for some things and despising for others: 'Awww....the good old times', 'We back then didn't have a thing...', 'You back then didn't have anything...', ...

I think we are all fighting for this little bit of space of our present existence that confirms that we are worth being here, and we use comparisons about the past to underpin this value. 

Why I am writing this? Oh, I was in a club the other night. The first time after almost 30 years of sophisticated married lifestyle, I went out with friends to the equivalent of what we in our teen days would have called 'A Disco'.

And now I have a project: I have to test more of those clubs! Yes, unfortunately I have to sacrifice myself for this research, because I am confused.

Either we had it soooo much better back in our days, or this club was not such a good one, or it is a cultural thing and the English do things differently.

Don't get me wrong: I had a fantastic time, including the broken voice and the headache in the aftermath, but...

.. and no, I am not going to complain about the music. It is very techno, and I actually qite like this DJ thing, in which a real human butchers the recent hit records. It is not so far from what we had with hard rock and heavy metal. It is all about getting as many beats as possible into a second. Dance style wise: The same. You either would move as fast as you can to follow the beat - only very few would do that - or you move at a toned down speed and try to look as cool as possible; theses days version has a lot of dirty dancing, so this is quite simple, too. Of course there are some who are naturally cooler than others, but the dance floor is so cramped that it doesn't really matter. Well, and if you are a girl and you know how to shake your booty, than not even age seems to get into the way of catching a few looks.

But! And that it the big BUT I will have to explore...

It all starts with two question: Why do people go to those places, and do those places accommodate those needs?

Apart from getting drunk as quickly as possible, which seems to be a very English thing, I can think of only one other reasons for going to a club: finding a mating partner; and this is a very subtle game which massively depends on the ambiente and the role you have. As mentioned before, there are the cool, the not so cool and the seriously uncool ones.

The not so cool ones have to play the role of wing man. Their job is to let the cool ones shine even more next to their sad existence, and they have to keep the not so cool guys/girls of their backs. They are a little bit like admin staff. Once in a while and out of desperation, the wing people will fall for each other, while still hoping to get promoted to cool and to land a hit - and be it in a drunk moment. 

Or, now I am just pursuing the girl's perspective as that's the only one I know, one has a boyfriend who needs to be shown off, observed closely to see which of the other bitches has an eye on him and who he might have an eye on, and of course a lot of making out had to take place to mark the territory.

I usually was a wing man. I had been chosen to be servant to the coolest twins and top girls at school: blond, blue eyes -and that already lifted me up the ladder above the seriously uncool ones. It was hard work and I embarrassed myself ever so often to aim for the cool guys they had thrown off the cliff, but as soon as they were in relationships I had a bit of time for myself. These were the times when our - German, old fashion - type of disco came in handy. 

They were dark! One could flirt and do a bit of deliberately unintended touching without anybody noticing. It was of utter importance that once a guy showed just the slightest bit of interest that none of the cool girls would see me flirting. They might despise each other, but they are using each other to fend off dangers in regard to losing their wing man assets, spreading rumors or even flirting with the bloke themselves while telling me how he tried to seduce them and that I would deserve better than him.

Oh, those lovely almost pitch black corners in the gaming area, and then the best of things... slow dance round. It would appear out of the blue, light goes dark and... well, one had to be smart to be on the dancefloor with the right guy. The tactics and suspense of when to tease a guy on the dance floor... too early, he might have left by then, too late... that was it for that day, as slow round only happened once or twice per night.

If the club I visited this week is exemplary to all clubs these days, I really do pity the kids. They have it so much more difficult to play their games subtly - and the fun of seduction does lie in the subtlety and the suspense that goes along with it. I admit that our lifestyle has become faster, everybody has to have everything straight away, but let me tell you... there is noting better than a slow round on an almost dark dance floor, whily gently negotiating a new relationship: feeling the other one breathe, fingertips sweating, a bit of pressure here, a bit of touching there until eventually cheeks stay together for that little bit to long, and...

Saturday 11 August 2012

Another Bucket List

Tonight I met with friends for dinner and one of them asked: What is it that you guys are still clinging to in life? Everybody was thinking hard, but nobody came up with something substantial, while my head was buzzing from ideas. And then something weird happened: Yours truly, the one who always is at the forefront with her blabbermouth, didn't feel like sharing.

I remembered that two years ago I had written a column about my bucket list, the film had just come out and it was a nice thought experiment. What I could not remember was the items on the list; I only knew that back then I was happy to put them out there, and that now I wanted to keep them secret, undiscussed and mine.

How lucky I am that I have put my life in blogs, the search engine is really good. In all my pamphlets I found the one, and here is the list from back then:
  • I want to give a proper speech to a big audience
  • I want to be on a stage
  • I would like to be able to dance well
  • I would like to be able to sing without being embarrassed
  • I want to have my own fashion line
  • I DO want to publish a book (the writing part is already done)
  • I would like to win a prize or an award for something I have worked for
  • I would like to have an exhibition with my own paintings and sculptures
  • I want to own my own business and
  • I want to be successful with it
  • I want to walk in the footsteps of the great Jane Goodall and do field studies with primates
Turns out that I actually did quite a few of those things. I did go on stage, I did win a prize, I e-published a book, the dream to publish on paper remains, the business didn't happen yet, but I have founded a charity, and although I am not doing field studies I am travelling to Sumatra regularly to help build an English school. Not too bad actually, for just two years gone past. 

The new bucket list however is a different one, less about achievement than fun. It has things on it like learning how to ride a horse, I have lessons since two weeks...Well, and the other stuff I am not going to tell you either. This time I will get things done first and then I will report back. They are mundane things and more unreasonable. See, the above are things which if they work out are fine, like giving a speech, and nobody believes anyway that I ever would start my own fashion line. Hence the above list did not get questioned. Either it's harmless stuff or unthinkable anyway. But starting to climb a horse at age 51... She must be bonkers! Proper midlife crisis! Hope she doesn't get hurt from such a silly thing!

This is my last chance to doing silly things, and I want to have fun with them, and people telling me that it is silly, is taking the fun out of it. Of course my hard core readers would never judge me, but there might be others... so, bshhhhhht! lips sealed!
night night - sweet dreams about your bucket list!

Friday 3 August 2012


... No! Not the Olympic ones... well, maybe, even...

This morning I had one of those mind floating moments and wondered how - or if - playing games shapes our characters, lifestyles or relationships. Or changing perspective: If I see you play, do I see how you live?

According to Wikipedia games are 'attested as early as 2600 BC, games are a universal part of human experience and present in all cultures'.

So, gaming seems to be deeply embedded into our most inner self... why then do I hate it so much? We live in a world of the biggest variety of games and I just cannot be tempted to play any of those. I think I decided at age of 6 to never play again. Oh, I did the mother and child play, mud soup cooking and those sort of things, but board games were off limits.

I am losing my temper all to easily, I get drawn into my darkest of sides, in which I am running out of control of myself. As soon as competitiveness is spurred on by others doing the same as I do, I reach that moment when it's not funny anymore. At age 6 I threw the board including the stones into the room, parts never to be found again, we suspect the dog ate them... I was told off, was horribly embarrassed about the severity of my misbehaviour and decided to just not play again. The trade-off between excitement and fun and the effort to keep myself at bay always stayed on the side of effort.

I hate losing so much, that I don't like the winning either. At age 18 I was group-forced to join a card game. I won a few rounds and felt awful assuming that the others hate losing as much as I do; it was me causing this feeling, so why should I be happy about the win.

I always wondered why games portrait a world of black and white? One is either a winner or a loser! C'mon this Olympic stereotype that it is already an honour to take part is a bit of a farce, isn't it? We want to see gold medals, nobody ever talks about the silver winner again, or only in a very pitiful way when the loss was an unfortunate circumstance.

Only a few times I was happy playing. At age 25 my father-in-law gave me a beautiful wooden box to test. A colleague of his was researching co-operative games and this one was just beautiful. One would play with a partner to finish the board. It was about strategies each player had to pursue individually, but if one would be too greedy the board would not finish and no one would win. This was my heaven. I knew such a game already; it is called 'Patience'. Quite often it is referred to as 'Solitaire' as it can be played by a single player as well. But I prefer the two player version in which co-operation is key to neatly put the cards onto their piles. I used to play this game with my grandma every Tuesday during a school break. I was about 14 and she had to gently nudge me into playing. Now those are my fondest memories with her.

I am wondering if this kind of play always was in my character, or if she played a role in forming me into this person. We all have our individual ways of tackling challenging situations, sometimes boisterously barging through, sometimes running away, and sometimes co-operating to get the best out of it for everybody. Sometimes one has to give up a little to gain a lot. Giving up is ever so often perceived as losing - I don't care! Giving up without knowing if there will be a win is risky, but it is a risk I am willing to take, anytime! The prize to be won is just too valuable!

Sunday 22 July 2012


Such a long time I haven't been writing and so many things on my mind. Thoughts about things that I have seen and moments that I have lived seemed to be connected, but the puzzle just wouldn't fall into place, and now I got an idea and I will have to see where it will lead me.

The question hanging there is: Why is life so difficult at times?

Well, there is illness and death, the quite inevitable things, but there are so many other occasions in which life is so darn hard and I was wondering if it has to be like that.

We are educated the way our culture requests it, there are individual aberrations but generally in the Western world sex is preferably to happen within the marriage, but before is kind of ok-ish, after marriage only if you are young enough, basically meaning able to reproduce; in other cultures the rule set might be tighter or more lose. We have dogs, cats and rabbits as pets yet we eat rabbits. The Chinese put dogs on their dinner plates, yet we find that disgusting. We have rules about what to eat, what to learn, how to learn it, for how long to work, haw fast to drive and how to raise our children, rules which we are taught from early on to be able to fit in. 

Some of the rules make sense, or at least made sense historically, some made their way into law, but most of them are in people's heads, being passed down the generations. Rules pretend to be a moral framework promising safety to the ones who stick with it.

It is hard to do so, though. Things don't always pan out, do they? Married partners might find each other boring or even unbearable to live with, but no.... you took the decision to live with that person as a youngster some quarter of a century back and now you have to pay for it: Social convention will brand mark you should you dare leave. Oh yes, we are allowed to divorce by law, yet the label 'devorce' will stick and even if you re-marry this will not change. I got a speeding ticket recently; yep, went 57 miles in a 50 mile zone. At 56 miles nothing would have happened. It was an empty two lane road, at night. I consider myself a relaxed driver, I don't have road rage, I flow with the traffic, and yes, if the conditions are right I like to go fast. This 50 miles sign makes sense during day time, then this is a very dangerous road with heavy traffic. The technology to install adaptable signage exists, but is expensive, so for the policing of rules it is easier to just convict. If an enraged person would have tried to push me off the road at less than 50 miles, the rules would not have caught him.

Don't get me wrong: Societies need rules! But how we apply those rules can make life very difficult.

One might think that rules which made it into law are the most difficult to change, I however believe that the ones in people's heads are the most difficult to eradicate. I find myself ever so often judging others for something that is not my business. Why is her skirt so short? Shouldn't she be better at school at that time of the day? Funny that his car is rarely parked in front of the house! Looking like that he shouldn't eat that burger!

I measure myself against others to determine my own place within the social framework. If there are others who are worse than me, than I must be on the good side. And at the same time it scares the shit out of me that something might happen that makes me 'them'. That there might be others who judge me the same way.

The culprit that makes life so difficult is 'social convention'. It makes everybody offended so easily. People snogging in the street, boobs on magazine covers, celebrating your religious beliefs in the open while being in the wrong culture, breast feeding in a restaurant... the list of potentially offencive things is endless. We are trained from the first day of our existence to not offend others.We learn how to second guess when somebody might be offended, as a matter of fact I feel that I have been second guessing my entire life. The framework of social convention which is supposed to give me safety in rules actually only ever provided me with a pool of uncertainty. 

I am wondering: Wouldn't it be much easier if we would change perspective and just take less offence?

And thus I am taking a new motto: Be generous to those around you!