Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Writing about Writing – a philosophical blog post

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Dating to the beginnings of my keeping a notebook, and in between travel tips and small high school anecdotes, sometimes I write about writing. About what it feels like, why we do it. Why I do it. Just as a coincidence, it was my WordPress anniversary on June 12th, and since these 2 years of writing, it is high time I write. About writing.

“I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. I still don’t. I also don’t know why. Writing has never particularly been a favorite with me. I don’t write stories for fun, or keep a diary (although this is similar)… When I write, it’s with enthusiasm about all of the words I’m shaping into moving snapshots of the places I’ve been. Or into the tapestry of my thoughts. Or into the rising and falling sound of my feelings. But I don’t think of myself as a writer.”

-Written on the train from Xi’an to Taiyuwan, China. April, 2012.

Since then I guess this has become a diary. But a sophisticated one I hope, lacking the stereotypical “dear diary” nonsense and the endless ramblings of a simple day and instead, my thoughts.

“I love how writing makes time stop still. It captures that moment, that snapshot, and keeps it present for the future. But that could be said about all art – about photography and song. Writing has something different though. It is not a visible representation of all we see, but a collage of words, the ultimate catalyst to communication, to relationships, to the sharing of your soul and your thoughts.”

“I just finished Earnest Hemingway’s “For whom the bell tolls”. I don’t pretend to understand all of it – but it is about more than war and the Spanish culture. More than the endurances of the soul and the acceptance of the passing of life. Its chaotic writing style that is neither one way or another and its constantly evolving point of view almost mimics the human soul. It mimics the way we think – a chaotic mess that is impossible to follow, and yet provides us with all we need to know.”

“Sometimes fewer words provide you with more. And when they don’t suffice to describe exactly what you mean, the writer must just trust, trust in the hope that the reader understands. Such as now. That is why we write. To make our feelings shareable, understandable. It is useless we all know. Feelings are indescribable. And maybe it is this acceptance and thereafter utter denial that provides us with the most beautiful art.”

“You sit down with the intent to write what was in your head so beautifully, and instead write about something completely different – it is like the lines of the page spur a landslide of thoughts, and this time, just this once, you pen is as close to your thoughts as can be in the chasm of time.”

-Written in Berlin. Yesterday.

It’s official – we are Berliners!

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It’s official – we are Berliners!

A couple of days ago we happily celebrated my mother’s birthday. The number attached will remain confidential. However, age is just a number. I may not see this the same way when I am older, but I think this somehow will still hold true. Age, like time, is a perception, created by our own minds. Some people age much faster, and some are still a kid when they turn 30. My mother says I’ve been 21 since I turned 11… Maybe that’s why those years all seem the same to me when I reflect upon my maturity. When you think about the whole wide world and all there is to see, I know that with more age comes more experience, and thereby more life.

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After only 9 days here in Germany, we have already gotten pretty far. We are now officially living here, in case you didn’t know already, according to the Bürgeramt. Our German passports now display Berlin as “Place of Residence”, Chicago crossed off viciously and orderly with permanent marker. Not only have we registered ourselves with the German state in an efficient German manner, but also managed to find an apartment for a price that is, as the broker stated, “just not found anymore”. He also shared with us that he recommended us to the owner as future renters, because of our likeable nature and because, as he confidently shared with us, Asians are always the best renters anyway. We found that last bit to be hilarious. It is large enough, in a beautiful old building, and has a character that really suits us. It is close to the school that we signed the little ones up to, which is complete with ponies thrice a week and bunnies to take care of, and close to mine as well. The Cecilien Grundschule, which Emilia and Josephine are attending, apart from having ponies and bunnies, is a great school with a quality education, and its Schwerpunkt, or focus, is reading and promoting peace and responsibility, hence the ponies. Emilia, who would become engrossed in any book you give her, almost got left behind in our tour of the library. It is an all-day elementary school (until 1600), so their schedule encompasses a lot of free-time in-between instruction time. Not only that, but the playground across the plaza is stellar. 🙂

Taking a small break as the adults sign the rent contract...

Taking a small break as the adults sign the rent contract…

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At 9 days in, we’ve made quite a lot of headway in the official world of registering and final decisions. A family friend jokes that at this rate, in 2 weeks my mom will be running for mayor. Maybe one day, but currently all of our belongings, still in the middle of the Atlantic, will provide enough stress when they arrive and we try to help the movers bring them up 4 flights of stairs. Until then, we’ll let time catch up with our thoughts and preparations.

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It's a dog's world in Berlin... check out my father's blog to see how our new dog, Duke, is becoming a true Berliner!

It’s a dog’s world in Berlin… check out my father’s blog to see how our new dog, Duke, is becoming a true Berliner!

These feet are made for walking…

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These feet are made for walking…

Approximately 50 hours… Since landing in Berlin, that is approximately the number of hours we have spent walking. If, in the off chance, you would ever find yourself in this city, just know to bring good walking shoes. Or if you are, in the off chance, a sane person, you would know to set a reasonable goal for yourself. Not that we have been unreasonable; I would say we have merely been ambitious… After conquering Schöneberg by foot, we have extended our front line to the neighborhoods of Wilmersdorf, Schmargendorf, Charlottenburg, and Friedenau. Although they lie close to each other, each neighborhood has its own dynamic that is just not perceivable through Google street view. The differences are very slight, and although not a massive amount of people are outside, just by walking around we got a good understanding of the type of neighborhood we were in, and most importantly, whether it was the dynamic where we would feel at home. It is a large struggle of compromises; we want a safe neighborhood that is abundant with families, has an elementary school we feel is right for my sisters, is quiet, and provides us with that comfortable aura. Here, there are many neighborhoods that have their little plazas, second-hand shops, small grocers, and cafes (and of course ice cream shops as well) but some have compromises too large to make, and so we’ve slowly crossed out areas of our discovered territory. Of course, the school is the largest deciding factor. After finding one we liked, we narrowed down the apartment search, which began with full gusto.

Charlottenburg - Wilmersdorf: Check!

Charlottenburg – Wilmersdorf: Check!

Random street art is always appreciated, unless it is tasteless graffiti.

Random street art is always appreciated, unless it is tasteless graffiti.

On Monday completely exhausted, we collapsed after 11 hours of walking. Starting at 8 that morning we traveled back and forth with a variety of public transportation, first visiting a school and then viewing 3 different apartments. When these apartments find themselves in different parts of the city, racing from one to the other in order to be there on time isn’t easy, or relaxing. Then, they occasionally have to find themselves in the same area, which you’d think is easier, but in actuality just requires more walking. It felt like House Hunters International – each apartment had some pros and cons, and each were thoroughly covered, requiring more walking and standing and waiting. It was all quite taxing. Then, after 11 hours of walking and waiting for trains and buses and people to be finished talking, we arrived in our little abode. Flopping down onto the couch like a lump, I vowed there was no way I was going outside anymore… until my sisters jumped up and down saying they wanted to go play soccer with the soccer ball we had just bought at Karstadt Sports, whose visit by the way probably ate up an entire hour of aimlessly looking at sports equipment.  Certain they had gone insane, my mother and I asked them repetitively whether they were quite sure, and as always, they were. Because they had been complaining about all of this walking, I can find no logical solution for this energy boost. But then again, I contemplated going running, so I think by that time we had all gone quite insane.

On the weekend, when schools were not open for viewing, we were tourists for the day, and introduced Emilia and Josephine to the Berlin Wall, busy shopping street of Kurfurstendamm, and the Brandenburger Tor. Having visited those places last year, for Audrey and I it was a review of the rich history Berlin has to offer,  but for my sister Emilia a much anticipated visit. And for the rest of us, more walking.

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Stay Happy

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Life travels by so fast… I realize now as I write this that everything I worry about one moment is suddenly unimportant the next. Is life merely a flashing of images and moment after moment? Is there nothing that carries us from one moment to the next, that is constant throughout and forever? Perhaps that’s why relationships are so important to us. On a different reflective tone…

Chicago as a Family

My International Baccaleureate program is going very well; today I just recently finished mid-terms exams and am finally relaxing with a bowl of ramen noodle and a computer (all you need for college right?). My travels have not flown entirely from my memory; the thousand years of European history we have covered pull the memories back from the jumble of my brain, which is currently filled with bits of Shakespeare sonnets and facts about what happens in the thylakoid of a chloroplast.

On top of the world!

I’ve realized to an even greater extent than while I was traveling that travel has broadened my view incredibly. As the list of countries I’ve been to lengthens, so does the one of my “go-to” places! I’d like to grab a sail-boat and sail the Mediterranean, visit India, South-America, or buy a Range-Rover and drive around Africa (the last one was my father’s wish). It is a truly wonderful and enlightening experience to be exposed to others, to other people and cultures. There is a realization that the world is so large, that you are merely a speck, and that everybody in each of your memorable pictures is not only a frozen photo but is living their own life as you speak. Maybe that’s what makes everything in life seem so trivial once you sit back and watch the world carry on around you.

September brought the CPS strike, October a family wedding, November a hostful of birthdays, and December a quiet holiday with family.

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In January I sat down in between a number of other activities and quickly scrawled down a new year’s resolution: stay happy. Of all things, I am not sure why I chose that one… I have realized that I don’t need to worry as much as I do, not only about small things in school, but also about our future in Germany. Life changes. That’s what makes it unexpected, exciting, emotional even. But as long as I try stay happy, I think my life will be a good one, one that makes a difference, and one that is simply happy, regardless of how it plays out…

Fall in Petosky

Jumping towards the future...

Jumping towards the future…

Remember – smile! 🙂