Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Leaving



I checked in for my flight today. I am leaving Glasgow. For Germany.  

Taken out of its real context this would be when at the "Goodbye Deutschland" TV show the sad trombone sets in and then a dramatic melody starts playing in the background to indicate drama and failure. 
Well - not so much. The music that is soundtracking my departure from Scotland sounds way more like this:



For all German readers: Click here for Warner Music Germany to watch the video.

And no, I'm not homesick or in any other type of trouble. I'm just leaving Glasgow for three days to travel with the one and only Biffy Clyro to  ... Münster. It's so immensely considerate of them to play this one-off-out-of-the-blue gig in Germany in exactly the city where my family lives (and I used to live many years) and to choose the weekend when my niece has her 3rd birthday, too. Thanks guys, well done! 


All excitement aside (and I am very very very excited because new songs and all that) I thought about leaving Glasgow and how that feels when I typed my passport data into the airline booking system. That is one of the most usual things for me to do as traveling is part of my nature and routine, but it felt different because now I am equally excited about going away as I am about coming back and that is surely new to me. 

I also realized that my last blog post was a lot "and then I did this and then I did that" but not much about my emotional state - besides marking the points of my biggest desperation when I was emotionally hitting ground during the packing process. 
Now the first month in Glasgow comes to an end and I am trying to figure out how I feel. I had very good days, normal days and also a few not so good days just like everyone has. Everything - all the small things of daily life - still feel very new but get slowly more and more normal and I like it. 

Last week though the weather was really nice and and after work I hopped on a train to watch the sunset over Arran - something I always wanted to do after seeing it a couple of times from the train or bus. I know that for everyone who grew up here it is completely normal to be close to the sea but for me it is not. For me it is almost surreal and going to the beach just BECAUSE I CAN was amazing. I love it so much. 
There are also a few more things that I love: being close to people I like a lot, the gorgeous flat I scored, the fab gigs I already went to in the short time I am here, walks around the Botanic Gardens and the River Kelvin, being just a few minutes away from a pretty decent record shop, very fast broadband, fresh nan bread and unlimited access to Irn Bru. And the sky. The sky is simply amazing especially in the evenings.
So today when checking in for that flight I came to the conclusion that I am happy. Small word, big deal. It is not like "Bring the Champagne" type of happy, but a general change of vibe and it changed in a very good way. That might wear off one day, maybe it won't - at least not totally. We will see  ... for now I take it as it is and it feels like I did the right thing. 

Lots of people in the last few months / weeks said something like "You are really brave" or "That's a courageous thing to do."  I can tell you that right now it does not feel like this (anymore). I am sitting on my sofa wrapped in my fave blanket eating nachos with guacamole and typing this blog post. It definitely does not need any courage for that at all. It is obviously just half the story though because I definitely had severe doubts and panic attacks along the way and was everything but fearless. 
In hindsight that was another round of proof that what is in our head is usually way more scary than most of real life (there are exceptions - I went through some of them and I wish that to no one).  The scenarios our brain can come up with when it does not know what happens next can be very, very frightening. Uncertainty and fear are evil twins. 

I think that the point is not to become more courageous or fearless but to take your own fears seriously and resolve them as good as you can (I did a lot of that in the last few months in Germany) and then ... move past it. That costs a lot of energy, but there is no other way to initiate change. And there is no progress or improvement without change.

I will finish with some lines from a letter my friend, the wonderful German-Croatian author Marica Bodrožić, sent me a few days ago. It is a bit sad that I need to translate her stunningly beautiful German into my clumsy English but I'll give my best as her words might encourage the one or the other to make a decision along the way: 


"Only very few can do that (following a new life path / initiate change), instead most people are holding on to the old things, to the old patterns around them and when then all the old disappears (And it has to. It is its job to do so) they still cling to it and that brings misfortune, grief, loneliness and forlornness." 


And nobody wants that, right? 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Catching Up

I did not write about the move for such a long time that I have trouble to figure out how to do it. I need to find a healthy middle between just posting "Made it" and writing a book. So let's try.

I think I left you when I got the "go" for my flat, didn't I? Feels a lifetime away.

The commute between Glasgow and Munich went for another round after that and it felt weirder and weirder - like living two parallel lives. Every time I went back to Munich I just slipped back into my old life with all the familiar things around me and Glasgow felt so far away. Same for the other way around .. barely out of the airport Glasgow felt normal and Munich far away. Transition times are strange and emotionally draining.

It was mid March when I came back here (Glasgow) to pick up my keys and get the flat ready to move in. While I was in Munich I had tried to plan the furnishing but that is quite difficult without a floor plan and exact measurements. That's why getting all the hard facts was the first thing I did when I had the keys and went to the flat. My flat is magical though (in many ways) - it shrinks inside your head. When I was in Munich and tried to plan in my memory it seemed to be small and I was so not sure if everything would fit in and I planned for various scenarios panicking I would not get it all set up properly. When I came back into the place for real I realized it is really big. I think now we look at about 70 qm while my studio apartment in Munich had a bit more than 40 qm (and only one big room). It is definitely the biggest place I live in since I moved out my mom's age 19. I might finally do some adulting ... kind of.

When I was here to furnish timing was everything because I had only one week to get basically everything done and so I had phoned the Ikea customer service beforehand to see if my plan would work and they said yes. And here is how I did it:
Monday - keys and measuring
Tuesday - a good half a day at Ikea to buy basically everything (except for that Oliver Bonas bedside table which HAD to happen and did).
Wednesday - running places for getting internet set up organized and such things
Thursday - Getting everything delivered from Ikea
Friday - Getting everything build by Ikea assembly service
Saturday - Another shopping trip to Ikea with my lovely friend Emma for lamps and all those many wee things & flying home

That all happened and also lots of cleaning (it was pretty clean but you want your bathroom done by yourself) and sitting on the floor in the empty flat trying to get a feel for it and realizing this is home now. 


Crazy thing is ... the plan worked 100% and I am super impressed with the service culture here. Germany is always praised for being efficient, but in direct comparison things are REALLY good here as well and in some cases even better. Virgin wins anytime against Deutsche Telekom and the Job Center where I had to apply for my NINo beats every German public institution when it comes to waiting times and quick processes. I was in and out in minutes. PLUS ... everyone so far is friendly and helpful. I did not expect beforehand to be so pleased with those things, but I really am.
But back to Ikea ... I had another delivery this week with more lamps, chairs, coffee tables and some more smaller stuff that I of course assembled myself, but for the big stuff I had booked the before mentioned assembly service. That is not cheap, but so worth the money. It took the two guys about 3.5 hours to build a king size bed, a 5 chest drawer, a small table with chest for the hall, an expendable dining table, a TV bench, 2 bookshelves, 4 CD shelves, a sleeper couch, a sleeper chair, an office table and an office chair. Magical. Just try to think of how long that would take a normal person and how much nerves that would cost. I did not regret it for a second.

Once the flat was ready I went back to Munich to work and pack. That I think was the worst part of the whole process. I am my father's daughter. I am all for adventures as long as my base is okay and my home is nice and comfy. If that is not the case I am not in a good place and when you pack all your stuff to move across Europe that of course consequently breaks up home and packing is not "comfy" in any way. I was also extra stressed because the movers picked my stuff one day earlier up than planned. It was pretty horrible and there were tears and lots of last minute questioning if this was the right thing to do well knowing it was too late for any plan changes. I worked day and night - literally. I also went to see my local friends to say good bye and that is always emotional as well. I felt exhausted on every level at the end of this.


Shit got real when my old flat was empty and the real estate agent came and I handed her my keys. After twelve long years in the same flat (16 in Munich) I left the house with a bag and a huge suitcase and no chance to go back in. Scary.
For the last night in Munich I had booked myself and my sore bones a fancy hotel in the city center and that was very smart. That huge and super comfy bed was worth a million - as well as the final Schnitzel dinner with friends and the next day pizza lunch with my colleagues before I went to the airport.
The trip itself felt like just another flight to Glasgow and I had to remind myself there was no flight back. Strrrrrange,
I arrived Thursday night (31/3) and on Saturday my boxes arrived (37 of them) and with it the second round of a shitload of work and making a flat a huge mess. I dreaded it so much that we escaped to a gig (Chvrches / Twilight Sad) and to Ayr. I really needed the sea to take a deep breath and gather some energy for that final phase. 

In the meantime (two weeks) - while working full time again btw - all boxes were unpacked and everything found its new place. Some smaller things like hanging my art still need to happen but other than that I am done.
At the moment I am sitting wrapped in my comfy blanket on the couch watching Download Festival bits from the past years over my super fancy high speed broadband on TV. The flat is amazing - I was really SO lucky -  and I am very happy.

So far ... life is good and I love to be here.

PS: Appropriate and amazing soundtrack for this transition chapter was and is the fantastic new album by Frightened Rabbit fittingly named "Painting Of  A Panic Attack" - I had my fair share of those over the last months. Interestingly enough the record is mostly about being away from Glasgow - so kind of reverse action.
I had the pleasure to attend the album launch instore here in Glasgow and after years and years of trying and failing for diverse reasons FINALLY my first proper Frabbits show in Dunfermline and ... it was so damn good. I am still buzzing. Can't wait for the proper tour already! 




You know what is great as well?  NO MORE GEMA BLOCKED YOUTUBE!  (Sorry to all German readers who might not be able to watch this.) 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event


Today’s post comes from Erin of Don't Forget To Eat - a wonderful travel, food, health and lifestyle blog - and is part of the Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event 2016.  I am very honored to participate in this amazing blog exchange although I am not Pittsburgh based (but still and always in Pittsburgh love). You can see my post over on From Farm To Turntable, where I talk a bit about the massive life and lifestyle change I am undergoing just now.


When we got the project started I told Erin, that I am suffering because I could not travel to Pittsburgh in a long time and that I see the city changing on social media but cannot see all the new things and visit all the new places especially in Pittsburgh's super fast developing restaurant scene. So to ease my pain Erin wrote this little guide for me - and YOU - who hopefully come to Pittsburgh soon or want to explore some great new restaurants in town: 

5 New(ish) Places To Eat In Pittsburgh This Spring


Pizza Taglio


This isn't the newest of the new restaurants on this list, but it is fantastic and I hope it will be here for a long time to come. If you love a true Italian pizza, then this place is for you. They serve Roman-style pizzas and also offer a few starters, desserts, and coffee. Pizzas are to be ordered one per person and hopefully you'll be there with a few people who don't mind sharing because all of the pies on the menu sound delicious. My personal favorite is the Carbonara - a white pizza with pecorino bechamel, pork cheek, and egg yolk. My husband prefers a classic Margherita with tomato, mozzarella, and basil. The food is simple and delicious, the atmosphere is casual, and you can BYOB.

Prairie


If you've been missing Verde, well, Prairie is nothing like it, except for the fact that it's in the same location and has the same owners. The new restaurant serves dishes from the American Heartland. The menu is nothing if not comforting.
I always loved brunch at Verde, so I'm excited to see a brunch menu for Prairie as well. My husband is going to fall in love with the Pecan French Toast. I'm stoked for the new cocktails like the Woodford Lil' Mule. (But maybe if I ask nicely I could get the bartender to make me one of those fabulous Verde margaritas?)
There's no lunch menu for the winter, but one should be coming this summer. For now, though, a stop in for dinner will have to do. I don't think you'll be disappointed as the menu features things like Bacon Wrapped Bison Meatloaf, Grown Up Grilled Cheese, Cider Braised Pork Shoulder, and Kettle Corn.


Muddy Waters Oyster Bar


Oysters in Pittsburgh? Yes, that's right. And from everything I hear, they are amazing. I haven't made it here myself yet, but I cannot wait to pop in for dinner. You can get raw oysters from the East Coast and West Coast purchased per oyster or by the dozen or even as a tasting where you get to sample each of the oysters on the daily menu.
If raw oysters aren't your deal, then you'll be excited to hear that Muddy Waters also offers hearty Southern fare like po' boys, shrimp and grits, and gumbo. Plus, the cocktail menu includes classics like the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz.





Smallman Galley

"Pittsburgh's chef incubator" is home to four restaurants from up and coming local chefs. Each restaurant will be in the Galley for 18 months. They are in charge of every detail of their restaurants. On Mondays, the chefs learn from industry leaders. And during their last six months, the folks who founded Smallman Galley help the chefs find a permanent location in Pittsburgh.
Current restaurants are Josephine's Toast, Aubergine Bistro, Provision PGH, and Carota Cafe. Josephine's Toast offers the oh-so-popular avocado toast, meal-size toast plates with meats and veggies, and sweet items like a classic brioche French toast.


Adolfo's Italian and Venezuelan Cuisine

Why open an Italian and Venezuelan restaurant? What do the two cuisines have in common? Well, if you are Adolfo Vaccarello it doesn't matter - the two cuisines are part you. Adolfo's father is Italian and Adolfo was raised in Venezuela so opening a restaurant in Bloomfield featuring the two cuisines was a no-brainer. 

Adolfo's is a great place to take a group because the menu is so varied and it's all delicious. Nowhere else will you find a dessert menu that features both Tiramisu and Torta Tres Leches with confidence that both will be fantastic. And if you think that's a tough choice, what about the food that comes before it? Lasagna or Arepas? Cochino frito or chicken piccata? They're all options. Over the course of your meal, you can mix and match Italian dishes and Venezuelan ones. Just have fun and enjoy your complimentary glass of sangria.



Here are all blogs that participate in the Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event - check them out for TONS of awesome blog posts: 

Harvest + Bloom // Yes, Wear That! // jelly jars // Glam and Graffiti // To The Streets // In Pursuit // Pittsburgh & Pearls // Beezus Kiddo // Goodness Madness // Last Minute Panic // Steel City Intrigue // Crank Crank Revolution // Amanda Narcisi // Pittsburgh is Beautiful // From Cats to Cooking // Yum Yum PGH // Breelicious Bites // Parmesan Princess // Coffee & A Blonde // The Steel Trap // Wavy Alabaster // everybody loves you… // Eat with Emily // Don’t Forget to Eat // Sloping in the Sky // From Farm to Turntable // Secrets in the Wall // Red Pen Mama // Feedback Soup // The AP Collection // Blog Or Die PGH // Pittsburgh Happy Hour // Friendly Fitness Foodie // Small Town Dad // Josh’s World // Geeky Sweetie // Sean’s Ramblings // Lunges, Long Runs and Lattes // Try it and You May! // lil Burghers // Orange Chair Blog // Ya Jagoff // Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents // Melissa Firman