07-17: A month to remember

Kassel – Aalen – Boston – Lake Placid – New York: Triathlons, Cardboard Boxes, Saying “See You later” and a very powerful question that I answered with a yes (well, honestly, it was “Oh my god!” Pause “Yes!”)

Reflection, what a powerful mode. Today, we finally found an apartment in Aalen. Finally, because since interest rates are ridiculous everybody is buying houses, the German economy is doing well and all of a sudden what I thought of as a relatively cheap region to reside in has become quite expensive (still cheap compared to Munich, Stuttgart and let alone Boston). I also will be able to share soon what I have spent most of my time on at ZEISS next week and which excites me a lot currently.

However, as I was sitting down today, intending to journal, I realized what a month a have just experienced in July and that it is time to share it with you. Yes, many of you know that July ended with a very powerful question I was asked, but let me give you a couple of other beautiful moments first:

My first triathlon: 750m swim, 18km bike, 5km run

I LOVED it! I swam way too fast, had to seriously recover on the bike from that, loved how me and my bike are unbeatable descenting, and what shall I say about the running portion of that sport: there is loooots of room for improvement for me :-). I got to do it close to my hometown, my Mom, Dad and sister were there and I enjoyed spending a day racing, hanging out with family and just being happy.

A trip to Lake Placid: Or, watching an Ironman actually involves some stamina

Shipping back from Boston

Well, what can I say: I had lots of Bacon, Egg and Cheese Bagels, Hazelnut coffee, went to my favorite Indian, managed to cause total packing chaos, but in the end Pouya and I had 8boxes, a bike and skies. That is it, and it still makes me pretty proud.

With a ring on my finger 

The last weekend of July I spent in New York City, speakeasy drinks, unique international food  hipster East Village, taking long midnight walks through Manhattan – which is actually quite wonderful during the hot summer days. Somewhere on that island, in the middle of the night, on our way from Alphabet city to Midtown Pouya asked me to marry him. And I did say yes. Until that moment I have no idea how long he had been carrying a ring in his jeans :-).

 

Enough Courage to Come Home

The day I quit my job I called ata cycle in concord and made an appointment for a bike fit: your body gets measured, the data then gets fed into an adjustable bike and while you’re biking the computer spits out recommendations like saddle height. A couple of days later I picked up a white framed, pink handle barred carbon dream. And I named it Tharros, which is the ancient Greek word for courage.

After a couple of hundred miles in New England, Dubai, Germany and Canada (not all of them on Tharros), I have decided to do my first triathlon this summer. And I will do this one at home. After now four years in Boston I am literally taking my courage and moving to Germany. Almost four years ago I wrote a post titled “Danke, Carl Zeiss”. Since then I have been in touch with colleagues, working as a student during grad school, following company news, stayed in touch with many of my former colleagues. And, you’re probably guessing it already, the story continues: I will be joining the Corporate Zeiss Communications team at the beginning of June, ending my funemployment sooner than I would have thought.

While I will leave a great network of friends in Boston, I am more than excited to write that I will be accompanied by the man who has become my partner, wonderful friend, reliable accomplice and travel mate. Pouya will move to Germany a little later this summer, ready for lots of Hefeweizen, sausage, climbing the Southern German mountains on his bike, learning German (little does he know that he will most likely end up speaking with a heavy Swabian accent) and probably also becoming familiar with German neurotics.

I am leaving you, as always, with some funemployment impressions:

 

Yearning for German Christmas Traditions

Yesterday, December 6th, is Nikolaus. The only day I voluntarily cleaned my shoes. Why? Because – that’s the tradition – children put their clean boots in front of the house the night before December 6th, hoping that St. Nikolaus will reward them for having been on good.

As a strong believer that you shall never fully grow up Nikolaus continues to be a very special day for me & my family in December. This morning I woke up to so many Nikolaus messages from my whole family and yesterday I picked up a package filled with Nikolaus goodies from my Mom, just in time.

Yet, this 2016 Christmas season feels somewhat more intense to me. I was lucky enough to have my first warm Christmas wine, a real German Marzipanstollen (sweet bread with Marzipan, raisins and powdered sugar) and roasted Almonds at the Christmas market in Toronto last week and it felt a little bit like home.

I have not been home for one full year. Funny enough, my chronic complaints about Germany and some cultural features slowly turned into a romantic yearning for everything German & christmas, and I indulge in it (I even had a bread with Nutella for breakfast the other day). Obviously, this might change the moment I touch ground in Frankfurt.

I also have a feeling that this desire has to do with the fact that I will not be returning to Germany alone…and I am extremely excited to show Pouya my Germany during this very special season, including watching Sissi (a trilogy on the Austrian Habsburger queen Elizabeth in the 19th century), drinking lots of calories like spiked eggnog and hot cocoa with rum and eating Goose.

Meanwhile, until we land in Germany, I will hopefully be able to enjoy first snow and lots of seasonal adventures in Boston.

What a month: A perfect New England late summer

Fall has definitely arrived in Boston.Rain, cold winds, hot cocoa time. For me the start of fall also comes with a desire for reflection. I was feeling pretty tired and worn out yesterday and as I was scrolling through my September/early October pictures it is no wonder I am a little exhausted. Late summer is my favorite time of the year, and these last weeks have been as eventful as can be with my parents visiting from Germany and many other splendid moments.

Still learning a lot about myself. Everyday. And instead of complaining, here is my reflection shared with you in pictures.

lighthouse

In early September my Mom was here for my birthday and we did a roadtrip to Maine. This is the picturesque Nubble Lighthouse. Looks more romantic than it is.

 

mama

My mom had not been to the US for a while and although she loved Maine the trip made her realize how much more she appreciates Germany now 😉

uss-constitution

One of my all-time favorite spots: The USS Constitution

century-ride

During one of those “why not”-moments I signed up for the Tufts century ride. The University invites all alumni & students to ride at the beginning of each academic year. It was a beautiful experience…

tufts-century-ride

…with lots of unhealthy food afterwards 😉

jimmy-fund

A week after the bike ride I walked the Jimmy Fund marathon & raised money for cancer research. Not only do cancer survivors walk with you, the Jimmy Fund Walk brought out amazing people…

jimmy-fund_2

…like these two: If you take a closer look at his shirt, it says “20 years and still slicing”. They stood at the famous Heartbreak Hill and provided everyone with sliced oranges, having a blast.

mrb

September was also a long good-bye/see you later for me and Maria Rita. I have grown so used to having many close friends in Boston, but given our hunger for adventure eventually we’ll all move on. Maria Rita is the first to leave to spend four months in South East Asia. I am hoping to meet her in India early next year. This was her good-bye dinner party.

walden_pond

September also brought a lot of magical and romantic moments. This is the sunrise over Walden Pond. Waking up to go swim in a cold-ish lake before 6AM, yup: It was one of the best dates I have ever had.

hidden_concert

Just like this one: I was taken to one of Boston’s “Hidden concerts”. Although you have to get the ticket months in advance, you only learn about the artist & the location 24hours beforehand. 

persian-breakfast

Speaking of magical moments: I was introduced to Persian breakfast: The triangle shaped pieces on the plate are eggs with lots of herbs and this is called kookoo sabzi. If you like omelette, turmeric and herbs, you will love this dish. 

fall_nh

Last week, my Dad was here and we took a roadtrip to New Hampshire to enjoy fall foliage.

papa_hike

This is one of the selfies at the beginning of our hike at Mount Lafayette in the Franconia Notch

mt-lafayette

This is the view into the Franconia Ridge. 

welch-dickey

The Welch-Dickey trail gifts you this beautiful view on a clear day.

Celebrating the ordinary

There are those random, simply beautiful encounters in life.. Last night at the bar of a restaurant in New Bedford (The Black Whale, extraordinary food) I met an older couple. I thought they were in their early sixties, they looked incredibly happy, chatting the night away with each other. I am mentioning this because we all know the old couples…sitting at one table, sharing a life by habit, but not too many words anymore.

It turns out, they had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. She looked at me, smiled and said: Just make the best out of every moment, however small it is. He then leaned over and whispered: “And know when to not say another word.” They then turned to look at each other, smirking. I can only guess how many flashbacks of moments were sliding through their memories at that moment.

After a mindful weekend with lots of sleep, spontaneity, kick-ass homemade food and engaging conversations I am sharing this idea with you only to have it written down to and remind myself every once in a while. “The ordinary” is so negatively connoted because we sometimes fail to see the beauty in moments that we as a society have coined “ordinary”. Technically, nothing is ordinary, it is our perspective that puts a meal or a chore or an errand into the ordinary box.

I am leaving you with the pictures of another encounter I made when getting the a very New England fall experience: wading through a cranberry bog. Can you see my little frog friend hanging out in in the cranberry pool? cranberry_frog

Defeating a moment’s impermanence

Image

When you least expect it… 

…when you don’t really care, when there’s no pressure, when you’re just content with how your life is going, when you’re absolutely fine with who you are, that’s when you’re open to whatever it is you thought you were ok without. Love, in my case.

This summer, on a humid New England summer night, I walked into a restaurant in Boston’s old navy yard overlooking the scenic waterfront, encountering a man that is adding magic to my world.

fran_profileWhen this photograph was taken I was looking at him. I did not think it would be possible to capture a moment, to infinitely display the intensity of emotions, to actually defeat its impermanence. But it is…

 

 

 

A love story

Today, my grandmother would have been 90 years old. I was reminded today that when she was my age, about to turn 30, she had spent 12 years waiting for her fiance, my granddad, to return from Russia. Their love story is so beautiful, so immense, so unimaginable in today’s non-committal world that I think it is worth sharing with you.

Starting from the end with a funny anecdote: In order to sustain through the Russian-German negotiations in Moscow, by then fairly aged chancellor Konrad Adenauer kept sipping table spoons of pure olive oil. Negotiations in 1955 involved more than a glass of wine for dinner and he knew that he would have to show endurance. Adenauer and his entourage had come to Moscow to initiate diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and West Germany, under one condition: All imprisoned soldiers (roughly 15.000) had to be released.

One of these 15.000 was my grandfather. After Germany’s unconditional surrender in 1945, he had been captured in the Russian territory, was sentenced to 2 x 25 years working camp in Northern Russia. In 1943, when he had been home last, he had asked his girlfriend Waltraud, my grandmother, to marry her. I do not know why they did not get married right away, but I am pretty sure they had not guessed it would take them 12 years to be reunited.

From 1943 until 1955, she waited. They exchanged letters, heavily censored by the Soviet Authorities. I remember them telling me, giggling at that time, how they had come up with a secret language of exchanging information so that the letters would not be destroyed. From age 18 until she was 30, my grandmother upheld the belief that he would come back, that they would have a life together. I have never asked her this because she passed when I was too young, but her friends must have told her that she was crazy.

It was in the winter of 1955 when my grandmother stood at a train station in Friedland, in the middle of Germany, waiting for several trains, hoping that her fiance would be on one them. She did not know for sure, because their letter exchanges had been controlled heavily. My granddad was indeed on one of the trains, and they reunited. 60 years ago. It must have been such an intense moment for the two of them.

I am the proud owner of the ring my granddad gave to his wife for their 25th anniversary. Every time I look at that ring, there is a warm, all-encompassing feeling inside of me that reassures me of the intensity of love. Although I have told my grandparent’s story to a couple of people, I think I only now realize the sacrifice. The willpower, the perseverance and resilience. And the faith she has had in love.