07-17: A month to remember

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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!”)  Continue reading

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:

 

A cross-country ski marathon…because “why not”?

Cross-country skiing plus shooting – Biathlon – is one of my favorite winter sports to watch. I always wanted to cross-country ski, but every time I am close to mountains downhill just seemed so much more appealing.

A couple of weeks ago, after I walked my marathon and realized how much I love long weekend training sessions, I decided to sign up for a cross-country ski race. Not just any race, the “American Birkie“, the US version of the Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet, a cross-country ski marathon.

The only – not really logical – reason for me signing up for a ski marathon is: Why not? It will be a great motivator to go out and explore the beautiful North-East more, we have a great group of grad school friends  all doing it and a good story never started with “I don’t think I can do that.”

My first time on skate skis

As you can imagine I am awaiting snow this year more than ever. While you can train endurance and stability in the gym it does make sense to ski as often as possible. Last weekend I was finally able to put on skate-skis for the first time in my life. I should mention that my first challenge was to attach the skis to my boots, but once that was taken care of and I started skating, I realized: this is not as easy as I thought it would be. But it is a lot of fun! Especially if you find yourself in the middle of the forrest on a beautiful sunny sunday, skating alongside your boyfriend (who was crazy enough to sign up as well).

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Whether I’ll be able to actually ski 50km at the end of February does not really matter at this point. What matters is that I finally did what I have always wanted to do and I am learning something new. I will for sure keep you posted.

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.

It’s a beautiful country, after all

Last week I was walking through my Boston, feeling bestranged. Noticing, maybe more than ever, how much I am not American, sensitized towards differences. Factually, nothing has changed really after the election of Donald Trump, at least not yet. And not for me anyways – as a white Western European. My feeling has, though.

Last week my feeling towards this country has been deeply challenged. I have known for a while now that my appreciation for the United States stems from the fact that it presents me with great career opportunities and a way of going about life that is harder to find in Germany. Settling in a part of town that could easily be mistaken for a European city, spending my leisure time with other immigrants, and ultimately dating an immigrant enables me to be very much European in the America.

Last week I was, once again, amazed by the beautiful landscape & hospitality this country has to offer. Driving through the states of New York and Vermont, tasting Pinot Noirs, hiking Green Mountain trails, replenishing.

I have long accepted the fact that while Germany is my home, it is not the place where I am home. Yet last week it became very clear that I also do not belong to the US. And that is ok. Ok for now, especially after such wonderful fall memories of 2016:

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The Head of the Charles Regatta. Don’t let the sun fool you, it was bitter cold!

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This is a shot from the Mystic Fells, just north of Boston

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What a sunrise. I still get up every morning and admire the beautiful skies Boston suprises me with

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If it rains, it rains…But November has this power of creating a mystic mood. 

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This is my colleague on Halloween. He eventually realized that working in this will be hard…

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German “Abendbrot” with Eliza for the last presidential debate…who would have thought…

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After New Hampshire’s White Mountains, we discovered Vermont’s Green Mountains last weekend. It was just the right temperature, and as always, a beautiful sunny day. 

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Wine Tasting at a lonely winery in upstate New York. Lots of fun! 

 

 

 

They know you, and they still like you

Today I was talking to a woman from El Salvador about our experiences living in the states. She asked me if I had moved here with my family. When I explained to her that my entire family lives in my home town in Germany she looked at me and asked whether I was very lonely…

Maria Rita and Zdenka just left my apt after a what we call ladies’ night. It’s not really what society associates with it. It is time carefully carved out of or our busy lives with no phones present, with listening to whatever the other needs to and wants to share. It is my therapy session, my reality check, my place to giggle, to cry, to lay bare fears, to be weak, to be argumentative, to be honest, to be judgy.

And then I realized – that night out that got completely out of control, that after work conversation, that call to China at 5AM, that what’s app group in which everyone randomly shares absurd life pictures, the postcards from Germany, that fierce discussion about politics, that moment not needing words, that text message screaming words, that ease of being with someone that does not require you to put on an identity, that outspoken yet deeply felt respect, that really blunt advice, that insane laughter – that I am blessed with wonderful,kind and exceptional people in my life and it humbles me.

Thank you!

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“Friends are those people that like you even after getting to know you.”

Wanderlust 

 

WanderlustAuf meinem Rueckflug von Vegas nach Boston habe ich am Flughafen diese Tasche entdeckt. Noch immer bin ich erstaunt darueber, welche Worte sich im Englischen behaupten konnten.

Gestern habe ich lange mit meiner Mama telefoniert. Viele Leute haben mich in letzter Zeit gefragt, wie ich es so weit entfernt von meiner Familie aushalte und irgendwie hat mich das zum Nachdenken gebracht: Sollte ich zurueckkehren? Vernachlaessigt man automatisch seine Familie und Freunde, wenn man weit weg ist. Pauschale Antworten auf diese Fragen gibt es keine.

Meine Mama sagte dazu gestern etwas, was mich erstaunt, mit ganz viel Dank erfuellt und bestaerkt hat, sie sagte:

“Dein Vater und ich haben Dich doch nicht erzogen, damit Du bei uns bleibst. Wir haben Dich erzogen, damit Du machen kannst, was Du willst und immer weisst, wo Deine Heimat ist.”

 

 

 

Hier bin ich, und hier bleibe ich!

Seit Wochen schreibe ich Blogideen in mein Notizbuch: Wie es ist, in einem Startup zu arbeiten, wie herrlich die ersten Strandtage in Neuengland sind, wie ich mich gefuehlt habe, als ich mein Arbeitsvisum erhalten habe. Aber alle Notizen nuetzen nichts, meine Schreibmuse hat mich voruebergehend verlassen…oder ich ziehe den Strand dem Schreiben vor. Deswegen starte ich heute einfach wieder von vorne, und zwar mit Bildern, Bildern der Woche, Bilder des Tages…und was sie mir bedeuten:

Schon wieder ein Sonnenuntergang (Gaehn…) 

Jeden Abend andere Farben, andere Wolkenspiele, eine andere Stimmung. Und jeden Abend halte ich kurz inne, atme und laechle, weil ich hier sein kann, und will. Der Himmel ist bestimmt auch in Berlin oder Kassel oder Stuttgart manchmal so gewesen. Aber hier zieht er mich in seinen Bann, jeder bloede Sonnenuntergang…ich habe letzte Woche mein H1-B-Arbeitsvisum erhalten, gueltig bis 2019. Erst wollte ich weinen, dann lachen. Dann war ich einfach nur dankbar. Und seitdem erfuellt mich eine gewisse Ruhe. Dass ich jetzt einfach erstmal hier bin. Und hier bleibe, bis ich nicht mehr hier sein will.

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Beacon Hill, 4.Juli 

Ich habe am 4.Juli einen langen Spaziergang durch Boston gemacht und einfach nur die Stimmung in mich aufgesaugt. Ein heisser Sommertag, viele Flaggen, Hunde mit US-Leinen, gegen Nachmittag Horden von Menschen mit Bier und Decken auf dem Weg Richtung Charles River, um nachts bei Konzerten und Feuerwerk den US Geburtstag zu feiern. Dieses Bild ist bei mir zu Hause und es zeigt sehr gut, wie Beacon Hill ist. Beschaulich, sauber, ruhig, wie ein kleines Dorf in einer Stadt.

 

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Tooi hat Losglueck, ein Schritt weiter Richtung Arbeitserlaubnis

***Visums-Neuigkeiten***

Heute habe ich die Nachricht von unserem Firmenanwalt erhalten: Meine Bewerbung um eine Arbeitserlaubnis (oder vielmehr die Bewerbung meiner Firma) hat es durch die Lotterie geschafft. Auch in 2016 gab es wesentlich mehr Bewerbungen als Plaetze, 233000 Bewerbungen fuer 65.000 Plaetze. Fuer mehr Informationen lohnt sich ein Blick auf diese H1-B Webseite.

Am 13. April war die Losung und Tooi hatte Losglueck ;-). 

Was heisst das? Nicht zu frueh freuen, aber ein wichtiger Schritt. Ab jetzt ist es in der Hand der Firma und nicht mehr abhaengig vom Losglueck. VMTurbo muss beweisen, dass ich besser fuer die Stelle geeignet bin als Amerikaner.

Drueckt mir die Daumen!

 

The small things

I have this sunny saturday Boston tradition: After my 90′ endurance workout, while walking towards the Boston market along the waterfront I am usually on the phone with my Dad or Mom or sister, catching up on life. It is a scenic walk with a brisk ocean breeze in your face, almost always sunny. At the market, you can get veggies and fresh caught fish and by now the people at the market know me. As much as I love the anomity of a city, the fact that the farmlady calls me “honey” and knows what I am buying makes me feel very much at home!

Yet as of lately, since I learned that I would have to cancel my trip back home, every time I get off the phone with family in Germany, I have this lump in my throat. And although I love freshly shucked oysters, all I want right now is fresh German bread with German (or Irish) butter, a Hefeweizen and all of that while I am sitting outside :-).

When I first felt that way, I thought I was homesick. But the longer I think about it, I subconsciously feel trapped. Although it was my dream to find a company to sponsor my H1-B application, the very fact that I am not allowed to leave this country without giving up that chance feels like a deep cut into my freedom of movement.

And that makes me realize that I do not function as well as I am used to functioning when I feel this way. At the same time, it makes me appreciate the small things: That I will be able to go back soon, that I receive packages from Germany with my top ten list of things that I have a very hard time living without, that I can live stream German radio all day long to get a sense of what is going on in Europe (something that is not captured well in the international news) and that despite the distance I have a wonderful family supporting me.