Writing101 – I am not finished yet

Writing101Day 20 – Last day of Writing101

Yes, I was determined to post every day and do each and every one of these assignments. And I will do it. But not by writing every day. I am simply not able to. I have a problem finding the time and the energy for it.

I usually blog only on weekends. Then it is the first thing I do in the mornings after having walked the dog. Usually I need at least two hours for each post, sometimes even more. First I quickly write down what I want to write about, then I reread it, shorten it, rearrange the text, look at it a second time, alter some passages until finally I feel it is ok to show it to the world. But each time I post something I am nervous about the reactions. Will anyone even look at it? Will they like it? Is there a meaning to what I am blogging about? Do I reach my personal goals, giving people a glimpse into an ordinary life in North Germany?

Most weekends I feel there was not enough time to do all the things I would like to do. I am often frustrated on Sunday nights, feeling that now the precious time where I can do all the things I enjoy is over. However, I do love my job, I find it challenging and the constant exchange with other people helps me to grow personally.

I will do every assignment of this course,because I found each of them challenging and inspiring. Some of the assignments I will do in German, and some in English. Today  I will give you a glimpse into an ordinary day of mine, at the same time doing assignment 14 and 9:

Day 14: Recreate a single day:

05.00: the first alarm is ringing. I hit the snooze button, going back to sleep easily.

05.05: the second alarm is disturbing my dreams. Again I hit the button, continuing that interesting dream I just had.

05.10 – 05.30: see above. I am never ready to get up this early!

05.30 am: leaving the bedroom, being enthusiastically greeted by my dog, cuddling her, putting on whatever clothes are lying around and stumbling out into the dark.

05.40 – 06.10: walking the dog. There are three different routes around the village; I let the dog decide which one she prefers that day.

06.10 – 06.50: feeding the dog, putting on coffee, having a shower, do a quick yoga-exercise, drink a cup of coffee, put on make-up, blow – dry my hair, search for my keys and leave the house.

06.50 – 08.50: being stuck in traffic. In winter there is stop and go for at least 15 km each day, the traffic lights in the city are always on red. Listening to the news on the radio, making a few phone calls on the way (I do have hands-free!), filing my nails while waiting for cars to move.

08.50 – 17. 30: doing my job. I am head of a team of 13 social workers and psychologists. So there are conferences, case meetings, emails, counselling of clients, paperwork, reports to read and to write and of course phone calls. I am either talking or writing all day.

17.30 – 19.20: driving home, traffic is a bit better at this time, having a quick stop at the supermarket to pick up groceries.

19.30 – 20.00: being enthusiastically greeted by the dog, less enthusiastically by my partner, taking the dog on her evening walk. My partner has health problems and difficulties walking longer distances, therefore I am the one walking the dog. Besides that, one does need some exercise, doesn’t one?

20.00 – 20.30: talking to my partner, checking the mail, fixing dinner.

20.30 – 22.30 or later. having dinner, watching the news on TV, thinking, I would really like to do some blogging/painting/ring my friend, finding the energy to go to my computer, check Facebook, the emails, wanting to write but finding my head empty, putting out the clothes for the next day, brushing my teeth, saying good night to my partner.

22.30 – 23.00:  reading, until I am dropping off to sleep.

I will now tell you how I would like to live and I am sure that most of you working blog-lovers would like to live in a similar way.

Day 9: “….if you could step into a machine that gave you more time, how would you structure your day? What would you write with this extra time?”

07.00 – 07.20: getting up, being enthusiastically greeted by the dog, putting on my jeans, having a glass of juice, taking the dog on her walk.

07.30 – 08.30: walk in the woods, take some photos, let my thoughts flow, and enjoy the fresh air.

08.30 – 10.30: have a lot of coffee, reading the  papers, sitting at my desk, blogging or writing.

10.30 – 13.00: doing household chores, do the grocery shopping or work in the garden. Take the dog on a small walk.

13.00 – 13.30: have lunch; check my mails, look, whether there are comments on my blog.

13.30 – 16.00: do some voluntary work, for example teach German to refugees, do some free counselling or help a young family with difficulties to cope. Alternatively: paint.

16.3o – 17.30: go to a Yoga class, or to the gym, or take a swim in the local lake or maybe do some more voluntary work or meet a friend.

17.30 – 19.30: walk the dog and fix some really nice dinner, trying out new recipes, use only fresh products and then have a really nice meal with my partner. Find the time to talk without being tired out.

19.00 – until I get tired: go to an evening class about painting, art history, drawing or creative writing. Alternatively visit friends, ring up friends or family, watch some nice movie, have a glass of red wine and chat with my partner, go back to the computer, maybe write some more, work with my photos, read. Stay up as long as I like!

Every now and then my partner and I would leave our routines behind, get into the camping car and take trips North and South, East and West, travelling as long as we feel for and I would come back with a lot of pictures to show you.

Coming home


It is cold and quiet He doesn’t mind. He is content just to sit there. Nobody is disturbing his thoughts. He is not a believer. Religion and church has never had a meaning for him. But he likes the place. Empty, cold, sad and lonely, just like him. An old house, abandoned, forgotten and not needed anymore.

His children are gone. His wife left many years ago. He didn’t mind. He had his job, his buddies at the bar, his beer and his Bourbon, TV, his car, every first Sunday dinner with his sister. Once a week a quick trip to that apartment where he could fulfill his other needs. It felt enough. He had been content. He didn’t need anyone.

Then, just five years ago he became a pensioner. It felt good in the beginning. Now and then he visited the other guys at the warehouse, where he had worked all his life, but after a while he felt he was standing in their way. They were too busy to talk.

He had a small house and started tending the garden. Went fishing with the neighbor every now and again, fixing things in the house. It felt great not getting up early. In winter he started watching TV at midday, snoozing on the couch. The evenings got longer and sleep was harder to find. He thought about getting a dog. Instead he started writing long emails to his children, getting short ones in return. Found out that he had a grandson, already three years old. He looked at his photo on Facebook and didn’t feel anything.

After a while there were fewer emails and eventually they stopped. He didn’t mind much.

Then, one morning he woke up and realized that he couldn’t remember when he had last talked to another person. He hadn’t left the house for days. He put on his good leather jacket and went on the bus. Got off after 30 minutes, not knowing where he was. Walked a bit, passed that old church and noticed the doors were ajar. He went in.

Now he has been sitting on that hard bench for hours. Alone, but he doesn’t mind. It is peaceful here. Somehow he feels welcome and less alone. Maybe he will come back.

Writing101 This was written  for day 4 of   Blogging University Writing101

Eavesdropping: Gloom and Doom

I like eavesdropping, When I am on the train or out in a cafe I find it fascinating to catch a brief insight into someone else’s life. Once, on the tube in Berlin, I  overheard a man holding some wilting flowers on his lap, begging his girlfriend on the phone to let him back in. Apparantly she had  turned him away at the door, and he kept going on about how much he cared about her, pointing out over and over again that he even bought her flowers and that he  had done nothing wrong, had he, except not turning up on time for her birthday, and after all, she should know that he loves her anyway.

Looking at him, I hoped she had sense enough to kick him out for good. Even while being on the phone he was checking out every female in sight.

I found this small drama entertaining and even if I had wanted to it was impossible not to listen to his loud booming and half drunken voice.

But I remember other voices, the hushed voices of my relatives long gone. Back when I was maybe five, six years old and had just mastered reading.

My grandmother had two brothers, who still lived in the big farmhouse she grew up in. Her brother Heinrich and his wife Alma had remained childless, but her brother Willi and his wife Berta had a son, who with his young wife Emmi also live in the  house. Those two were still childless and my brother and I were the only children on my father’s side.

Every second Sunday my mother and us children were expected to accompany my  grandmother to visit them for coffee and cake.

At that time the rooms in farm houses were  small by today’s standards and the living room was dominated by a massive, dark oak cupboard. On top of it a big clock ticked away the seconds, chiming loudly every fifteen minutes. The sofa was standing at the wall and in front of it was a square oak table that could be pulled out to give place for  ten people. It was set with a white table cloth and the “good” china, a big creamy cake on its center. The windows were always closed.

While the grown-ups talked my brother and I were supposed to be quiet, only speaking when we were asked. My mom, usually the youngest at the table, was not supposed to say much either, she was there to look after my grandmother, who was in ill health.

Talk around the coffee table revolved around the weather, the neighbors and the gardens. I can’t remember ever hearing  any laughter. Even my Mom had a serious face on those Sundays.

After the cakes were devoured, us children were allowed to get up from the table, but we were supposed to stay in the room and sit still. My aunt did not like us to play in the garden, since we might  have destroyed some of her flowers.

So, while the grown-ups talked and my brother played with his toys I would usually sit in one of the plush chairs, browsing through magazines. They were of the kind that had sad stories like “Mother of five suffering from cancer is left by her husband”  or “Young woman lost both legs in an accident and is now suffering from MS” or “I gave all my money to my husband and now he has left with a young girl, leaving me in poverty”. At the same time I picked up some of  the grown-ups conversation. When my younger aunt Emmi wasn’t around they were often talking about her. I heard snippets like “she is trying again and can’t get up” or “she almost died with  the last one”. It was much later that I understood why pretty Emmi had always been so sad. She had lost six babies in later stages of her pregnancies. They blamed her for it.

My relatives spoke in hushed voices and I knew I wasn’t supposed to listen. Maybe it would have been better if I hadn’t.  I overheard stories about the sicknesses of people I didn’t know, heard that the woman down the road was acting strange, found out that someone had been to hospital and was now dying.  The voices were serious, sentences accompanied by sighs and now and then there was heavy silence in which the clock ticked even louder.

The air in the room seemed to get heavier and after a while I began to feel apprehensive and uneasy. Often, at this point my mother would make an excuse and take us out for a walk. Breathing fresh, clean air and running through the woods the feeling of being suffocated would slowly fade.

Still, fear of sickness, a feeling of impending doom accompanied me through childhood and adolescent. Even now, almost 50 years later, I have a strong dislike of clocks ticking away, heavy curtains and dark furniture. Even today there is a lump in my throat when I think of these afternoons in the  old farmhouse and its unhappy occupants.


Written as a response to the weekly writing challenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/overheard/