I just had the Intouch magazine pocketed and put it back on the shelf.
Alright, you have no idea what that means, so I will explain. It means I am stronger than I anticipated, it means that in my darkest hour (alright, not my darkest hour but a dark-ish hour), I was able to restrain myself from going on the spiral slide downwards and return something which isn't good for me (well, until I stopped at the candy shelf and bought a box of milky way rolls which I now all devoured in one go - but hey, success should be measured in small steps).
Now, for the few blessed who don't know what the Intouch magazine is, it is the lowest, foulest rank of gossip magazine there is, seriously, the language is lame and seems to be written by a fourteen year old with grammar problems, the pictures are so shamelessly taken out of archives and, altogether, the quality is to cry about. However, I have been reading it regularly on and off for years now, don't ask me why, but it proved to be some sort of weird escapism method for me into a world which is so shallow and, in fact, like a bad adult picture book that it somehow soothed me - only that it didn't. Like with every drug in our lives, it appeared to make me happier when it only dragged me further down into the abyss.
Wow, very dramatic. Anyhow, I put it back and managed to get myself together.
Today wasn't the best of days, which was mainly because I slept too long and couldn't get myself assembled in the morning. Additionally, I didn't leave the house until late afternoon, which is never a good start. AND, I downloaded the last season of PLL (Pretty Little Liars) and am henceforth fighting the urge to watch it all in one go (and failing).
I was in a foul mood the past hours, believe me F.O.U.L. - until I went out, got a smile from the till lady and breathed in some fresh air - weird what can turn everything around, isn't it? So, for today I can say, get out, smile and get smiles back because even if you're shouting and screaming at the world in your head, there is nothing more powerful than a genuine smile.
First of all, Merry Christmas! I hope you are with your families, friends and other people you like.
I am sitting in front of my parents's huge Christmas tree, overlooking the garden and typing these words.
Whenever it's Christmas, there is the old question: is there a Santa Claus? And should you tell your children there is one or not?
I don't have children yet so I am spared this discussion; however, it didn't stop me from thinking about it. Yesterday I watched the movie "Miracle on 34th Street" in which the question whether Santa Claus exists or not even reaches the court of New York (as it is a Christmas movie, they, of course, acknowledge the existence of Santa Claus in the end and everyone is happy). It made me think as the reason why the judge is eventually conviced to declare Santa Claus as reality is because he is handed a one dollar note with the words "in God we trust" written on it. So, if the state and the banks can acknowledge the existence of God, why not of Santa Claus?
I believe this is true and have been a defender of people who believe in any such things for a long time. I have always critcised that religious beliefs have to be protected and you have religious freedom (ideally); however, if you start to believe in unicorns, eleves and magic, you are a lunatic who needs to visit an asylum. Why? Why is one concept accepted without any hesitation altogether and the other one doomed as madness? In the end, it is pretty much the same, isn't it? All of these creatures are invisible and only strong because people believe in them. All of them dwell in places invisible to the human eye and none of these creatures's existence can be proven or disproven, so, actually, neither party can argue. In the end, it is about believing and, to drift off into a completely philosophical direction, doesn't the belief in it make it real as well? When my little girl in England asked me once whether unicorns existed, I asked her 'do you believe in them?' and she said yes, I told her they would exist - at least in her head and therefore, there was such a thing as a unicorn.
Also, there are even scientific theories which suggest that everything we see and experience is only in our imagination, so probably we are not good enough at imagining so that unicorns, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus could exist.
Of course, there is always this religiously versed person who argues with utterances like 'but Santa Claus is a marketing concept of America, so how could he be real?'
Well, probably God was a marketing concept, too, the best an institution named church came up with.
But I am digressing here as the last thing I want to do is either offend religious people or believers of any other concepts. I don't believe that any of these concepts exist in the very way we believe; however, I think - whether they exist or not - if they help us get through life and do not make us harm other people, why would it be a problem? If praying to God makes you a better person, perfect. If the believe in Santa Claus or unicorns fills your heart with glee, go for it! I just believe - especially at times like these and because it is Christmas - that we need escapist worlds in which we find comfort; however, there seemingly are two kinds of people - the believers and the sceptics. So many people have told me I need to stop dreaming and that living in a dream world can only do harm in the long term and wouldn't prepare you for real life.
I couldn't disagree more. I find the world to be place which can hold dreamers as well as sceptics. My man, for instance, is a sceptic. Through him I came up with a theory, I would like to share with you. I believe people are like everything in the universe: there are the Suns and the Earths. Some people are like the sun; they are grounded, remain and shed their solidity on everyone around; some people are like earths, they circle around the sun, exploring, flinging around, yet always remaining in their orbits (and I know this metaphor is a little twisted, but you get the gist, right?) Without my man being the solid rock he is, I wouldn't be able to circle around him, never rested, never settled and without me, he wouldn't explore the rims of the plate of life and starve in his solidity. Only Earth and Sun together can create the miracle of life - and so can they as people. We need people who are grounded, who are solid and reliable; however, we also need people who believe in visions including concepts which are beyond the understanding of the human being up to this point, otherwise there would only be solid standstill.
Alright, this became really philosophical, I know, but I what I wanted to say is that today, as it is Christmas, we should leave our doubts behind and believe - in whatever it is we want to believe - but first and foremost, believe in the possiblity of miracles and forget reality, as we want to see it, for a night. To loosley quote the movie: 'What is better, a lie which causes a smile, or a truth which sheds a tear?' I don't think it is a lie to believe in something that has never been disproven, so believe and have a very merry Christmas!
Click here to watch my latest video on Youtube on Austrian Christmas, our own traditions and what the difference between Santa Claus and St. Nikolaus is.
You might wonder why I tend to such a topic, as I am a woman but I think it is highly fascinating.
I am in a relationship, as you know, and I couldn't help noticing that with male groups, there is apparently a clear hierarchy with alpha and beta males.
Remember these times at school when people would say "boys are so much easier, they probably fight for a moment but then they are friends again whereas girls lead constant, back-stabbing fights with another". Remember? Well, I do and I can relate to it. I think women can be far more vicious in their evilness as they are subtle and can still smile broadly while stomping you into the ground.
However, I think the reason for that is the insufficiently clear hierarchy within girls' systems. Apparently, women do not as easily subordinate as men do and there is a permanent battle going on as to who is the queen bee. With men, it seems to be easier. Remember the fight I mentioned earlier? (if you don't do now you should see a doctor as it was literally in the previous paragraph) We say boys fight once and then they're friends again but that is because they fight for the hierarchy, apparently, and one then subordinates and the alpha male succeeds. I know, it sounds as if I was talking about animals, but aren't we all animals within?
The men I know are prime examples, take a group of three. Two beta males, one alpha. They don't even seem to question it - that's the assigned hierarchy and there you go. No trouble, one is the leader, the other two subordinate as if it was the most natural thing on the planet.
Is that good? Is that better? Well, probably many people would argue it is easier to decide for a hierarchy once and then be good with it instead of ongoing fights about the queen bee position...well, maybe...but aren't we humans to rise above the primal instincts of hierarchy and alpha/beta males? I can just say that I think alpha males are considerably obnoxious and horrible but having a man as partner who is permanently shying away from another man isn't the dream for most women either, I guess...
So what are we to do? There has been attempts in the world of feminism and femininity to erase the constant battles and rather support another than throw stones in each other's ways, but to be honest, I'd rather throw stones than subordinate to a malign, narcissistic alpha who thinks he/she owns the world, right?
But what about the men? Couldn't there be a third party? The gamma man? There actually is such a thing (who would have thought?), but couldn't we just all get rid of the stigmas and be who we are - whoever we are? You cannot tell me that the beta males genuinely enjoy being pushed and shoved around by the alpha males and that a woman actually looks forward to her next cat fight with her peers, right? Huh, you can sense where this is leading back to, right? Of course, it's me, so we're talking school education here YET AGAIN. At school we are taught - from day one - that hierarchy is everything. Teachers are above you, students from higher years can do with you whatever they want and so on and so forth...
So how on earth are we supposed to get rid of the labels of these stigmas and become kind but independent and charismatic people when the earliest institutionalised system of our childhood tells us that is totally OK to stigmatise people according to their behaviour and that a hierarchy from top to bottom is absolutely acceptable? I demand a revolution against these stupid systems as they suppress everyone - even the alpha males. It must be absolutely terrible to never have anyone talk back to you and never find the limit along which you want to orientate yourself. I remember a time when I was a child. I had three friends, two of which who did everything I wanted; one which sometimes talked back. Over the year I became crueller and more horrible to them every day because I wanted to find the border they wouldn't show me. See? I have been on both sides and it sucks - the alpha side probably even more.
And I am not saying that everyone is the born leader and that some people aren't happy if others make the big decisions, but there is a huge difference between subordination and choosing to support someone else whose decision-making we admire and trust.
So, men in the world, stop being alphas and betas and be who you are. The alphas are allowed to give in control a little and the betas can say if they are unhappy with a situation. Women, stop fighting and embrace the diversity and beauty of our sex. We are all queens and no one of us is a bee (and for the few who actually want to be a bee...well, there is nothing I can do for you...). Let's make the sexes great again! (did I steal that from somewhere...feels kind of familiar...if only I knew where it came from...)
First of all, I LOVE MY CHRISTMAS TREE! Every year I am so in love with it that I would like to cuddle and marry it - if that was legal (and my husband wouldn't wither away within weeks...).
This year, however, I found a special exemplar of a Christmas tree. I don't know how it is with you, but I get this warm feeling and a zing when I see the right tree - it is like love at first sight: if it's not on first sight, it isn't quite right. My man and I strolled through a couple of Christmas tree stands until we returned to the one where we buy it every year anyway, and there I found it. I must confess, however, that turning down the other trees isn't easy for me. For me, going to a Christmas tree sale is like going to the animal shelter. You have a bad conscience towards every tree you don't buy and the worse it looks the worse is your bad conscience.
Anyhow, we found a little tree (I am actually a HUGE Christmas tree person but our flat is so little that we are stuck with the little ones at the moment) which looked as if it had exploded from the middle. It looks like a pom-pom - you know, these things cheerleaders swing around. And it is headstrong, at least that is what I feel about it. My man says I am nuts to associate a character with a tree but that is how it is. Last year we had an elegant and reticent tree but this year it's headstrong, cheeky and a slightly bit nasty. It started when the guy wanted to pull it through this net-application-machine and the tree just wouldn't fit through the one for small trees. It refused straightforwardly and soon the guy had to surrender and pull it through the one for the big trees. Look, headstrong, as I said.
Then we put it up and I decorated it with a style I call "overload with style". Honestly, whenever my Austrian friends see my tree, they nearly keel over as it is so colourful, overloaded and blinky. To my defense, I have to say Tyrolean trees are like the most boring way you could decorate a tree - believe me, it doesn't get any worse unless you just put a tree amidst your living room and be done with it. Here people put straw stars on their trees and still real candles (which is nice but a safety hazard in my opinion and I wouldn't be able to admire my tree without a fire drencher in my hand). But that isn't the worst thing. Most people's trees are just so terribly skeletal that you can virtually look through them and the people don't even seem to put up any effort to hide the holes with baubles or fairy lights or anything.
Enough of complaining, my tree is what it is and I love it the way it looks. Every year I buy a special bauble or decoration for my tree and this year it was an owl bauble. It has a funny story to go with (alright, it's not soooo funny, but worth telling anyway): I was on the Christmas market in Austria and saw the owl bauble. I asked the sales person how much it was and he said it was fifteen Euros but that this very exemplar had a mistake as the felt eyebrows were missing. I told him he couldn't abandon the poor owl just because it had a mistake and said I wanted to have the faulty one - half the price, of course. He agreed with a smile and so I got my odd owl and I LOVE IT!
Now to the donkeys. Have you heard of the theory about a donkey who would starve to death if he was put between two equidistant piles of hay? No? Well, it pretty much says that if you put a donkey between two equidistant piles of hay it would starve to death (which I highly doubt as donkeys aren't as stupid as people and also, I tried it with my dog and she didn't starve. However, it would be interesting with two donkeys, as animals are terribly food-greedy and don't want to share any food, apparently).
At the moment, I feel like this donkey (and NO there is no hay involved in this, it is what I call a "metaphor"). I feel I am between this equi-cool choices in life and instead of moving towards one of them, I stand in the middle, paralysed, unable to move. As soon as I have decided to move in a certain direction, my mind gets off and ponders whether something else wouldn't be better. I think it is the problem with humans and making decisions as making decisions means taking up responsibility for it and people dread responsibility more than a tank of sharks. So, as long as I remain in the middle - even though I am starving - all options are open but as soon as I decide for one pile of hay, the other one disappears and I cannot have it anymore. However, if I don't move anywhere, I will slowly starve and have nothing in the end, which is really stupid.
Well, we'll see.
Another thing I want to tell you about is my eternal love to books. Admittedly, I don't read as much anymore as I used to and would like to, but there is still nothing better than walking into a bookstore and inhale deeply, or the feeling when your fingers touch the rough pages and you smell this particular smell which only books have. I have never understood people who ask me "why do you buy all these books? You will only read them once." Well, my books are my closest friends. I have spent the most wonderful hours in my life with them and you wouldn't say "Why do you keep a friend? You will only talk about the same topics as you did last time. Why don't you look for a new friend. You have already seen this one once."
I think it is ok if people think books are a waste of space; to be honest, I can only feel pity for them rather than anger. They will never know what it feels like to have thousands of friends around you without one single real person being in the room. Reading a book I have already read thousands of times feels like coming home and meeting old friends. It gives me security, a feeling of safety and protection as well as the exhilaration of returning to places I loved more than anything else. Whenever I travel I always ensure I have a Harry Potter book and one season of Gilmore Girls with me as these two make me feel home instantly and is there a better feeling than seeing a person you love, a person you know better than yourself, after a long time? Whether real or fictional?
Goodness what times! Been busy, busy, busy lately but I have to tell you about the Irish Christmas Concert I went to with my sister and mum and how AMAZING it was.
My sister asked me whether we wanted to go to the Irish Christmas Concert in Imst (a place in Tyrol) and I agreed, not knowing what I was getting myself into. Said evening, my mum, my sis and I went there by car and after some detours (caused by the navigation system), we arrived in front of a hug hall. It wasn't a theatre but actually a hall in which normally cattle and horses are exhibited and sold and it was called the Arena. Indeed, there was an arena and less space than I had thought, but it was all cosy and nice. Admittedly, I was quite concerned that we had been ripped off for a stupid pseudo-Irish concert with two remotely Irish-looking people doing Riverdance and a violinist.
How wrong I was! First, there was Paddy Keenan and David Munnelly - an accordion player and a pipes player. They were so refreshingly and Irishly funny and absolute experts on their instruments. As soon as they started with the first tune, my heart started to weep and I felt home. This music does something to me which I cannot quite explain. I call it the Magic of Music. Halfway through the first reel, a tap dancer came on stage and did authentic Irish dance, which was beyond wonderful and my sister and I only wept tears of joys. I mean, how was it possible that we found this jewel of the Irish music amidst a rural town in Tyrol?
After the first gig, Aoife Scott and band came on stage and I fell in love. I wouldn't say she is my new Kate Rusby because there is only one Kate Rusby, but she had not only such a beautiful voice, but was also such a power woman with a great deal of humour that you could only fall in love with her.
In the interval, straight after the wonderful Aoife had finished her last song, my sister and I stormed into the lobby and bought her CD which she signed as well. We also had a little chat and I can say she is a great artist and person.
Initially, I hesitated buying her CD instantly because I didn't have much money on me and there was still one more gig to come but we agreed that it couldn't get any better than Aoife Scott.
Weeeeell...it wasn't better but it was absolutely incredible and definitely shared first place with Aoife. I am talking about Goitse here, a band from Limerick which was just mind-blowing! They were one with their instruments and you could see how much they loved playing their instruments and the crowd went BONKERS! We cheered, clapped, laughed and everyone was happy, but me probably the most. There is a reason why I feel so drawn towards English and Irish folk music because it does something to me and reflects perfectly my idea of the music I want to do and am doing. I was so grateful to be there and share this awesome night with my mother and sister and when Goitse, Aoife Scott and band and Paddy Keenan and David Munnelly all came on stage together for a last set, I swear to God, I decided I could die peacefully now because I was truly happy.
Well, at least until I realised I didn't have enough money on me to buy the Goitse CD and fell into deep depression. Then I opened my mother's purse (who had initially said she didn't have any money on her which was why I had to pay my sister's CD) and, alas! there was plenty of money in there! It was a Christmas miracle! Completely at peace with the earth, my sister and I got a signed Goitse CD each as well and drove home, re-listening to everything and repeating ourselves with saying how wonderful it had all been.
So, one of my best nights in my life spent in Imst? Who would have thought that...now I am sitting on the sofa and listen to the wonderful Aoife Scott while writing these lines and without shamefully promoting anyone I can only say, if you are short of gifts to give, get the Aoife Scott CD "Carry the Day" because you can only be joyful when listening to her beautiful voice!
Also, if you're to lazy to read (and I am sorry I am mentioning this now when you have already read through all of this), check out my Youtube channel where I give my reviews via video as well
Writer. Editor. Blogger. YouTuber. Freelancer. Traveller. English fanatic.