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My Thoughts on This Election/ The 2016 United States Election

I was asked to live blog for the election from Die Zietung, but I am no longer in Berlin. I still had an opinion on this election. It is hard not to given the constant barrage of news about the two major candidates that the Democratic and Republican parties are running this year. Both have high un-favorability ratings, and both will have major consequences going forward for not only the United States but the World.

Before moving to Berlin, I was not really into politics. I watched the news; I watched the Daily Show, and Bill Maher’s Real Time. I was the typical California liberal woman. I did not know much about our foreign policy. I had some experience with the domestic policy given I did major in Economics, and there is a lot of interesting history, but I had not yet read A People’s History of the United States, or even really heard of alternative parties. After the crash in 2008, when I was working for AIG, and Obama was about to be elected, I started to try to learn more about these elections. Occupy was around, but I never mustered up the courage to go down there to see what it was all about. Moving to Berlin completely changed my outlook on the world. Not only were these people talking about very liberal or progressive subjects, they were actually living in some cases. People recycled, people were active in their communities, and there were many demonstrations and protests. Although I never learned enough German to become fluent, I tried to follow what was going on in Berlin, and back at home. I started watching Democracy Now and going to demonstrations that ranged from Pro-Refugees issues to protesting Obama and his policies.

When I faced with coming back to the States, I was energized to be back and participate fully in the process. I learned more about our terrible foreign policies, our trade deals, and our decimation of privacy. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are disconnected from the decisions they make. I moved from California to Georgia. The vibe is different here in the Bible belt. There are no cans to recycle, most people are polarized in their political leanings, and many don’t seem to care about the wars we are waging in the Middle East. They know what their side tells them. They get their news from their side and only talk to people who agree with them. There seems to be no real concern about Climate Change, the corruption of our political systems, the amount of money we spend on defense, while people at home suffer. Most people do know, however, about the latest Kim Kardashian robbery, in great detail. Most of our energies are channeled into media gossip and reality TV.

Our elections are closed off to the average person to run. You basically have to raise a war chest of money just to compete. Third party candidates like Jill Stein go largely unnoticed. Candidates like Bernie Sanders, while still flawed are systematically eliminated. We have a woman candidate who is a war-hawk, and another candidate who by all accounts seems to be a liar. He has tapped into the anger, distrust, and frankly, racism of the Average White American. They have a right to be angry by the way, they have been hurt too by our trade policies. He blames our problems on rampant immigration, and corrupt politicians. I can agree on the last part. Washington is wholly owned by our corporations. Our media, news, and entertainment are run by only a few corporations who control the narrative. However, I do not feel that this man is the person who can lead us out of these problems. I am not sure if he thinks he is either. With so much money and corruption in our politics, it is hard to imagine working within the system to change anything.

There needs to be a change in the States, that’s for sure. We need to really be informed about the decisions we are making and how they may affect others. The longest war in our history drains our budget when we could be using that money for education and our crumbling infrastructure. We have to be aggressive in getting off the need to use fossil fuels as we seem to be in the midst of a 6th extinction. We have to get back to nature, and eating correctly, so we can manage our health, and implement a single payer program for our health care system. We have so much work to do. This year, as I am on my journey to balance and achieve the life that I want, I decided to vote with my conscience. I voted for the Green Party candidate, and down ballot, for the most progressive candidates, I could find. Being swayed by the lesser evil is no longer an option for me, I need real change. Unfortunately, we will probably elect Clinton. Trump would be a PR disaster for the States, and a nightmare to the corporations. The powers that be will not allow him to be President. But I believe we can hold Clinton’s feet to the fire, hopefully, through non-violent resistance, and continue on the path to real change.

My theme song for this election

Thank you for reading.

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featured/ random thoughts

6 Habits I Picked up Living in Berlin

I have been back in the United States for 5 months now. I moved to a new State in a new region, and it has been interesting to say the least. I spent the last portion of my 20’s living in Berlin. It certainly had a profound impact on my very being. Many of the habits, I have taken with me. Some are good, and some are bad. I often have to remind myself, that I am no longer in Germany. Trust me, that is not hard, given that I moved to the South. It is like night and day in some cases. Humans are creatures of habit. That is how we have survived. I am no better than any other human in that case. It is tough to learn one thing, be uprooted to learn another, and now go back to the previous environment. I compiled a list of the habits I have formed and inadvertently taken with me back to the States.

1. Recycling everything– I am originally from the State of California. Growing up, we recycled in my home. My mother was insistent on it. When I moved to Berlin, I got my hippie wake up call, as I like to put it. Germans recycle far more than Americans do, which is a shame, because we really could affect real change if we did what the Germans do. I still place my wine bottles at the door, and other bottles. I forget that the grocery stores no longer have places to recycle my bottles, and that there aren’t specific trashcans dependent on the color and type of trash I have.

2. No small talk– In a region of the country where people pride themselves on being friendly, and very religious, I might add, I find it hard to cut my small talk down to not include absolutely everything that is on my mind at the moment. When someone asks me how my weekend was, I am expected to say: “It was fine,” or “It was good” and leave it at that. They don’t need to hear about my most recent excursions to Little Five Points, where I found the perfect item for my budding crystal collection. I realized, that in Berlin not to many people asked this question, without actually wanting to hear it all.

3. Drinking tap water (with NO ice)– The tap water in Georgia is NASTY. Now, that I think of it, the only good tap water I ever remember tasting in the States was in New York State. I tried to pull that here, and immediately was grossed out by the amount of chemicals I tasted. I ran to the store to get a gallon of water, and vowed never to drink it again. I am honestly afraid a filter won’t work either.

4. Using random German words– German is super efficient when it comes to conveying an emotion. Despite a heavy German population in the South. Many of these folks, never attempted to speak it. It’s useless to say words like “Achso” or “Genau” when no one really understands you. It’s tough to let them go, they are so efficient!

5. Carrying cash with me– I got into the habit of carrying cash in Berlin, because there were several establishments that simply didn’t take it. Here, everything can be paid with a card. I mean everything.. Car wash/bar/convenience store, parking lot.. Everything. I forgot about the convenience, but the German in me always thinks that I would rather not be tracked of all my purchases, and I still would rather pay cash.

6. Bringing my own bag to the supermarket– In California, this is so not a problem, because people have to pay for their own bag in some cases. I swear the look on the bag lady/guy’s face when I start packing my own bag’s is priceless. I wonder sometimes if they actually WANT to pack them. Just trying to do my part. I can’t believe that other people do not do it.

7. Time– I swear to god, Americans are really lax about time in some cases. I have been waiting for more than 5 minutes, and I get a text saying they will be 15 minutes late. I am fuming… why did you not just tell me you would be 20 minutes late in the first place? Why are you even late? I have to remember where I am sometimes. ‘Murica.

8. Love of Good Bread– I used to wonder what the deal was with the bread. My German ex or my friends always complained that the bread in the States tasted awful. They are SOOO right. I cannot stress enough that bread in the States is not in fact bread. Not sure what they are serving us. I have been going to deli in the back of the store for fresh bread at this point.

9. Food Quality– I had only been back to the States once in my entire time living in Germany. I decided to go back home, and eat a bunch of my favorite things. In N Out, Taco food trucks, just all around horrible food right. I am a vegetarian now, but it started only as a way to not get sick. After I returned, I had a horrible bout with food poisoning. I did some research, and discovered that the meat production standards are far different from those in Germany. Generally, anything out of the States tastes better. I can taste the chemicals on everything. Everything has too much sugar in it, and not enough actual flavor. I cook now mostly, or rarely go out. Even the juice tastes like chemicals.

I honestly hope to never lose these traits. I can definitely relax with the time issue, but I honestly feel Berlin made me a more aware person. I am happy for the experience. What about you? Any habits you developed while in Germany that you took back home with you?

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Book Review” German Men Sit Down To Pee & Other Insights Into German Culture” – By Niklas Frank and James Cave

I had the pleasure of being sent a book by the name of German Men Sit Down To Pee & Other Insights Into German Culture” sent to me by the author. I have a couple of humorous books about German culture, and I will definitely add this to my collection. The book was to the point, and very well explained. I actually gained some insight into some of the behaviors I witnessed in Germany.
The Author describes the books as:

German men sit down to pee… is a tongue-in-cheek guidebook to German culture that highlights the ‘rules’ Germans consciously and unconsciously follow, and tries to make a little sense of it all along the way. Why, for example, mowing your lawn on a Sunday will mean getting an earful from your neighbour, but lie naked in the middle of a public park and nobody will bat an eyelid.

Before you dismiss this as another book of tired stereotypes, he does use a disclaimer. We all know that not ALL Germans behave like this, but every country seems to have their own distinct culture, and the Germans are no different. They explain why German men sit down when they pee, German breakfast, and Doener kebabs. All subjects I knew about, but in the style of writing the authors made me chuckle. I had no idea about all the drink mixes. Beer and Cola? Yuck!

For the price, the book is a steal, and a nice little coffee table addition to your collection. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Buy the Book Here
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What’s with this black American dating crisis? -By Joy Outlaw

As an author whose work overlaps the Women’s Fiction category, I’m aware that the Interracial Romance genre has been a quite popular one for some time now, and interest is growing. If Barnes & Noble hadn’t changed its Fiction display so that you can no longer see Women’s Fiction, Afro American Fiction, Romance, etc., grouped separately, you’d more easily notice all those virile young black American women swirling with white/Latino men on many of those covers. (Not so many depictions of black women with, say, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, or African men—‘sup with that?) The idea has become quite public. And while I wouldn’t say that it’s mainstream, advertisers are all over the black girl white guy pair now in commercials and print ads.

What bothers me is all the statistics and negative labels that complement this steady flow of images, and the scarcity mentality that insists that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a black woman to find a suitable mate. I’m one of those weird mind-over-matter types who believes in the idea that what you think and expect are what you get. And I’m not convinced that Black Women are in dire straits or that we should allow a barrage of that kind of information to make us believe that. Why the heck would I, of all people, want to buy into that?
I recently checked out that movie Frustrated: Black American Men in Brazil (I know I was late to discover it, but it was insightful nonetheless.) It told the stories of dissatisfied black American men traveling to Brazil to escape “drama” with black American women and find love and/or sex. I immediately caught on to the sense of scarcity, doom and gloom conveyed by the elements of the film, even down to the relentless, pathetic piano music.
In a resulting blog post, I responded with this:


“Maybe with one more push we’ll just evaporate into thin air. We’re already so much more likely to be uneducated, uncultured, unemployed, poor, obese, sick, diseased and without good healthcare, imprisoned, financially illiterate, just generally illiterate, divorced or never married to begin with, the product of single parenthood, parenting single, or likely to become single parents eventually, on drugs, raised by somebody on drugs, robbed by somebody on drugs, shot by somebody selling drugs… Whatever the atrocity or misfortune, we are most likely to suffer it.
“We get a steady diet of statistics that prove our inferiority. And it’s not some grandstanding Klansman or Fox News anchor giving them to us. It’s CNN. It’s NPR. It’s W-something-something-something, your local news station. It’s our community leaders and folks who are on the front lines daily trying to help others get ahead. It’s our own brown-faced beauties, in whom we take so much pride, shoveling the Pitiful Black Folk statistics down our throats every day.”

 
And it’s all such B.S. As noted in that Clutch Mag Online article entitled “Is Europe the Single Black Woman’s Promised Land”

“For the past few years, the media has seemed to be on a campaign to convince African-American women we are the unhealthiest, least educated, most undesirable, and least likely to get married women on the planet. And while the numbers don’t bear this out (we are kicking ass in college, and by 35, 75 percent of sistas are married), the media keeps harping on our supposed crisis… To be clear, marriage rates are down for everyone.”


Need I also mention the recently populararticle
debunking the myth of the absentee black father? Says the writer,
“In fact, in its coverage of the study, the Los Angeles Times noted that the results ‘defy stereotypes about black fatherhood’ because the CDC found that black dads are more involved with their kids on a daily basis than dads from other racial groups.”

I’m a thirty-four-year-old, college-educated, black woman married to a brilliant and hard-working, black man. Other men that I dated in the past included, black Americans, West Africans, Caribbeans, and one white guy. I studied abroad in Tanzania during college, and while I did not date a Tanzanian man, there was plenty of romantic interest to go around among us all.
I’ve played the dating game. I’ve had bad experiences, from dishonesty to cheating to physical assault. But I’ve also had many experiences that I can only describe as blissful. An Individual’s dating life can contain myriad experiences. And Kimberly truly hit the nail on the head when she said in a February 2013 post: “Sometimes the reason you are single is your issue, not the men.” The same is sometimes true when you continually have problems with a partner.
I’ve come to learn that love has to be approached from a mindset of abundance and with a certain degree of detachment from our highly tailored (and sometimes petty) expectations, not from a scarcity mentality and a fear of being left without. I had to ask myself why I was choosing to believe that I was at the bottom of some proverbial dating barrel, as some vehemently claim black women are. I had to leave generalizations behind—the belief that “Italian men loooove them some black women” or that “all West Africans are hung”, for example.
My conclusion: If a lasting, loving relationship is what anyone wants, it will serve them well to be open to it wherever they might find it. Travel? Hell yeah—it’s one of the most enriching experiences you’ll ever have. But, be leery of any advice that paints with a broad brush, even if it comes with a sobering statistic or a promise of love-at-first-sight.

Joy Outlaw is an author and blogger at www.joyoutlaw.com
. Her debut novel, Pretty Little Mess: A Jane Luck Adventure can be found here.

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featured/ random thoughts

Lessons in Berlin: Black Experience

Living in the USA, African Americans are the dominant Black population in America. Sure we have a lot of others, but I did not have many Black friends from other places while growing up in California. In fact, I can only remember two: one from West Africa, and the other from the East. I knew little about their experiences. I learned more about the experience while living in Berlin in the super minority of people who were of African descent living in Berlin. I learned that things were certainly not all good for those who had the unfortunate circumstance of having the “wrong passport.” The hassle of not being able to get a job, finding a place, down to traveling within Europe. It all seemed much harder. Some of my African American friends would try to separate themselves from the African community, but I could not ignore the glaring differences in treatment by Europeans after they discovered I was from the USA. I had times where I was questioned relentlessly at airports, before my passport was ever requested, then as soon as I took it out, their whole demeanor would change. I started to wonder how would I be treated if I didn’t have the coveted “blue book” or the “red book” for those from the UK.

There were times when before I would even speak, people would place me in whatever box. Only one person has ever guessed correctly where I came from. (A Turkish man at the Farmers market- I was shocked). In the States, it is about race, but here there certainly is a divide in culture, and national country of origin.

I met many people from the continent of Africa while living in Berlin, which always made me wonder where people were looking when they said they did not notice a larger African community in Berlin. Trust me, it is here, but I also found many people here self segregate on racial and nationalistic lines. The largest group seems to be coming from immigration, but there are many people who were born and raised in Germany. Every group had their gripes. I sat at meetings filled with Afro Deutsch people, where I learned calling someone biracial is extremely offensive, because in German race translated into breed, and of course no one wants to be thought of in that respect. I met a few that knew nothing of their African side. I learned that there was not even a non offensive term from people who were both African and ethnic German until the 1980s. I met groups of guys here while hanging in Goerlitzer, that were here just trying to make enough money for their families back home, or to simply survive. Stories of long boat trips, stints in jail, all the for opportunities found in Europe, which many found upon arrival were few and far between. I met central and S. American Blacks who ranged from old rastas to college students. I met old Black American jazz musicians, living here for 20 or more years. All with interesting stories on how they found their way to Berlin.

I also learned that my issues with the country were not just figments of my imagination. People complained about staring, about other Germans being surprised that they spoke German, despite living here their entire lives. Their thoughts of not feeling accepted by both groups. It was nice to hear about the lives of others. I had to check my own privilege, and realize that despite even the worse experiences, that I still had it better than some. That just made me want to change that, rather than find some sort of pride in my condition.

With all these exchanges with my fellow melanated brothers and sisters, I felt a since of belonging. That despite our differences, we faced similar circumstances, and we can create safe spaces to uplift each other no matter where were from in the world.

featured/ Food/ random thoughts

Carnival 2015

Hey Folks,

It feels weird to think of things as my last time I will do this or that, because frankly I cannot guess what the future will bring, or whether or not I will be back in Germany at any point in the future. With that said, this is my last year celebrating Carnival as a resident of Berlin.

I was excited to go this year, most years I really have not been in the mood to navigate the crowds. I prefer going with one or two people, but I ended up with two big groups. That was annoying, because everyone wanted to do everything.. all at once. I wanted to drink, to chill, and make sure I get some good west African food before I left.

I attended Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was the frustrating day. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. This is Berlin, it is not going to be a perfect experience of order. It is a bit chaotic. People pushing through everywhere, long lines. I am used to it though. I bring my own water, my own booze, and plenty of coins for the bathroom or napkins if I have to be creative. I know the places I want to be, but most of my group did not. I separated myself from that and actually was in bed by 9pm the first night. This was not on purpose. This was too much rum.

I decided to attend on Sunday with a smaller group and accomplished what I needed..west African food. That was frustrating experience just because those lines are the longest, but the end result is always worth it.

I cannot believe I have been going to this thing for 3 years. May 1st is the only other place I have been going to for 4 years. I will miss it, but maybe one day I will be back myself.

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featured/ random thoughts

The Big Dick Berlin Show

Hey folks,

I had the pleasure of attending this show here in Berlin at the popular Greenhouse located about 15 minutes by bus away from Hermannstrasse. This even caught my eye after seeing it listed on my facebook suggested events. The title seemed interesting enough. I was not sure what to expect. I have been to many sex themed shows in my life, but this seemed to be more about artistic ways to appreciate the penis. Here are some pictures below of the show.

They taped this woman to the wall, and removed the bench. I would pass out.

They taped this woman to the wall, and removed the bench. I would pass out.

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The golden cock.

The golden cock.

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These look like old school dildos

These look like old school dildos

A wall of pictures of penises

A wall of pictures of penises

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Courtesy of: http://www.concept-of-elegance.com/elegance/en

Courtesy of: http://www.concept-of-elegance.com/elegance/en

Courtesy of: http://www.concept-of-elegance.com/elegance/en

Courtesy of: http://www.concept-of-elegance.com/elegance/en

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random thoughts/ Uncategorized

My Ayahuasca Experience

I came to Berlin trying to pursue something I thought would make me happy, at the time it was a partner and eventually a child. After that, I thought I would need to take a step back and think about a career in earnest. As time passed and my views developed, I started meeting some interesting characters who to me were always so happy and seemed to have everything I wanted. I started to ask around, and someone suggested that I try Ayahuasca. Me being the cautious joiner, decided to ask around and look for every article that I could find about the experiences of others. I thought maybe this substance can help me clear out the thoughts that could be blocking me from my happiness.

I found a group that would be in Berlin, the price was descent and as soon as I got some extra money I signed up. I had no idea what to expect. The group is legit, but my day to day friends as I call them and the ones telling me to try ayahuasca were no were to be found in actually signing up. I had the former looking at me as if I had lost my mind as I explained what the substance was. Simply put it is a psychedelic substance made out of plants that can be consumed by drinking. I have limited experience with psychedelics. My father, yeah him, would reminisce about being young in the 70s and everything he tried. Then I got older, I experimented with mushrooms and MDMA. I admit, I never really enjoyed MDMA because the come down was terrible, but mushrooms were always a nice chill way to spend my Friday nights once a year or so.

I thought my experience would be similar to mushrooms, plus I would hopefully have some sort of epiphany that would open my mind to its true purpose. I think I had far too much expectations. Growth and change never stop, and there is no miracle drug or action that will make everything all of a sudden clear, it seems like it is a process to it all.

I was nervous, I showed up to the address provided by the group, and walked into a hall filled with beds and mini trashcans next to those beds. The people seemed like the type you could imagine there, vegans, eco friendly/second clothes, and they all seemed to have known each other. I knew the person that I corresponded with through email. We waited for what had to have been about 60 people to show up and share their experiences with why they were doing it, and what they expected from the experience. I felt like this was too much for me, I still have anxiety in social situations, especially those here I am feeling alone and around a bunch of people who do not look like at all. I am working through it.

We finally got around to the experience, after the shamanness blew a substance containing tobacco in my nose. Immediately my nose was blocked and spent the next 30 mins in the bathroom trying to breathe. We were told that this would open our minds, and it would be painful, but it felt like my nose was on fire. People began to line up for the first dose. I tasted the tea and it was horrible, as I had read. I noticed people sitting in various mediation poses or sitting quietly. I never meditated, and looking back, I wish I took some time to really try to learn how to, so perhaps I could have the tools to allow things to work the way they were supposed to. I took another, and I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. I heard people around me singing, and crying or throwing up. I kept thinking, I hope no one has a bad trip and makes this more crazy than it already feels. I tried to think about all the things that were bothering me, and ended up falling asleep. What I dreamt about was intricate and personal. Something I figured, I would never share.

My takeaway from it all. I honestly do not know. I guess I have some bragging rights in my little “hippie” community since most people around me have done it. It helped me find some other resources to pursue the same lifestyle the people I met seemed to be into. I never did really interact with anyone there, and I ended up leaving rather early to take a taxi home. I wish I was in a smaller environment with personal attention, rather than what felt like a recurring theme that I have experienced while living here, being practically invisible and alone. The feelings I had were certainly a major blocker to what could of been an enlightening experience, but who knows. I will try it again, though, when I feel like I am ready.

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Why I have to leave Germany- Soon

I have been a bit quiet lately. I have had a lot going on. Earlier this year, I received a warning deportation letter.. which seemed like an empty threat once I proved I could be here. Then, I finally got the job of my dreams in Marketing, and I just simply never received a visa. I know this sounds weird, but I went down to the office for weeks, which turned into months, and each time they told me to give them my email and to wait because they needed to see if a German wanted the job first. I signed the contract, and I know my rights but after fighting for years to find a job that I really liked, in English, I was devastated and decided to give up the fight.

Berlin was just starting to get better for me. I moved to the neighborhood I wanted, I figured out now how to get the apartment I wanted. I had carved out friendships. I was relying on my ex less and less. Romantically this city has sucked balls, but I was happy with other things. I had access to cheap organic foods, I could walk to most things that I needed, and I finally got on track in terms of having a career.

When it became clear that I would not be getting that job, due to god know’s why, I decided to throw in the towel. I signed the contract, and I know my rights, as mentioned before, but I just stopped wanting to fight. I came here for love, I met a whole bunch of interesting people, and done a bunch of things. Maybe it’s time to move back. This had always been in my head, however, at that point it just seemed like the right thing to do in my life.

Besides, I had met an American in Berlin, and while he is in the EU often, with my recent “luck,” we decided being near each other and me starting over in my home country might be the best idea.

I am not excited about moving back to America. I am from Southern California, where yes, the weather is nice, but the cost of living is expensive. Not to mention, I would need a car, and a job. Most importantly, that. I mentioned in my Broke Person Expat Tips
post that I do not exactly have parents with money coming out of their pockets for the older kids (which includes me) to stay in Europe. My parents think I am crazy for staying this long and being single.

So with my apartment lease ending, there goes my last ability to stay here. I am sorry. Staying in a shared apartment with a stranger just to stay here and try to wait for a visa, seems asinine, even as an American major city has the National Guard in the streets.

It is time to close the chapter on all of this. I am doing my best to see everyone that I have gotten to meet before I left, and attend as many events as I can afford to. Leaving in the middle of the Summer will not be easy, but I am excited to see what is beyond this experience.