BERLIN STORY (A Berlin Bookshop)

A couple of weeks ago ago I talked about a book called The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell which, in my opinion, is a must-read for every book lover out there!
Some of my my favourite shops I’ve listed in the mentioned post, and everytime I go somewhere new I take this book with me hoping Jen knows a place for me to go. And she nearly always does. (Isn’t that very lovely of her!)

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In May my mum and I went to Berlin for a short holiday, and it was pure awesomeness! The weather was gorgeous, we went out for brunch everyday and I ate more chocolate than I could digest. The bookshop Jen Campbell mentioned in her book is called BERLIN STORY. It’s a store dedicated to books about or set in Berlin. It is located very close to the Brandenburger Tor, so it’s hard to miss if you’re going along the tourist route.

The store, however does not have a very bookish atmosphere to it; it also sells a big variety of souvenirs, so it’s really more of a tourist shopping attraction. However, it’s definitely a go-to place if you’re looking for literature on Berlin.

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Berlin is one of my favourite places on earth, mainly because so much has happened to and in this city, and it’s still standing strong. It has been the center of German social and political life for centuries now; every important person in history has visited at least once, every story told is unique. There used to be a wall separating families and friends and lovers, and in the end they didn’t tear it down – they used it as a gallery and they sell ist pieces to tourists. There is so much life to Berlin. Like a wallflower desperately blooming in the shade and growing through cement. I don’t know how anyone can not love it.

BERLIN STORY is a fine representation of what the city itself holds. There’s autobiographies from people who had breakfast with Prussian Emperors over Jewish women who tried to hold their families together during the Nazi regime, up to modern-day fathers who describe their everyday life putting up with sodding toddlers in the roaring city of Berlin. There’s crime, romance, YA novels, guide books, photography bibles, history books – it’s everything that makes Berlin. It’s the past and the present, it’s the drug-dealing children at the Bahnhof Zoo and the man who lives with a communist kanguruh – it’s everything, and there’s a lot of it.

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I could tell you endless stories about Berlin – Döner tours, attempting to drown a friend in a fountain and having ice cream at midnight with Anna… but for tonight I’ll leave you with this one. The BERlN STORY, if you so will.

What is your favourite city? And is there a favourite bookshop of yours?

Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

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My new old Tumblr Blog

This is just a little post to let you know that I’ve created Tumblr. I made the account about a zillion years ago and then never got the hang of it. But now, if you wish to follow me or just have a general snoop every now and again, there shall be posts.

I’m planning on really just reblogging things that I care about, so it won’t be the same amount of reading material you find on here.

The blog is called NAY SIMPLY WALKED INTO MORDORNay being Samantha’s nickname for me, and the rest was seventeen-year-old me’s brilliant idea. Don’t judge.

And that’s it! Give me a follow if you want to – and remember: Sharing is caring! 🙂

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Much love,
Nay who simply walked into Mordor! 😉 xoxoxo

The Disney Tag

Helloooo people wasting their time on the internet! How’s it going? Anyone feeling like a miserable cow? Well, worry not, for I am here to cheer you up!

While I was studying for my Polish exam recently I got distracted by Youtube (because searching the internet for Polish youtubers apparently has side effects ^^), and found this gem of a video by Gary C and Petesjams where they answer Disney related questions. It was a sold deal, really. Like, last year I bought Into the Woods on DVD just so I would get a free Olaf action figure. I love Disney a great deal, so of course I’m going to answer Gary’s and Pete’s questions myself! Rejoice!

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 A scene in any Disney movie you wish you could experience…
Okay, in the video Gary points out that he’d like to steal Arielle’s voice, and I am SO close to agreeing with him – BUT Star Wars is now Disney, too! So I would much rather take Leia’s part and KISS HAN SOLO! Oh yeah…!

An unforgettable experience/moment at a park…
I used to point and laugh at people who claim that meeting Mickey Mouse made them cry. But now that I’ve been to Disneyland and met Mickey, I have to admit that I was a complete wreck! I know it’s just a man in a costume, but I just got so excited! It still feels magical in my memory!

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What NON-Disney song brings back memories of Disney?
Lost Boy by Ruth B.

Who are your favourite Disney Princesses?
I think the princess I identify with the most is Belle. She lives in a small town and wants to get out, I used to live in a 200-soul village and wanted out; she left, I left too. She’s a bookaholic, I am a bookaholic; she marries the beast, I’m… focusing on my career, so that one day I can buy my own castle (?)

But I think the princess I otherwise like the most is Rapunzel. That dress…!

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When was the first time you went to a Disney park?
Last July I went o Disneyland Paris with Samantha, and she got me a Merida doll and a Cinderella hairbrush, and put up with a lot of squealing and photographs (thanks, hun!)

If you could choose any of the characters to be your best friend, who would you choose?
PETER PAN! Is that even a real question?

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Name a scene/moment in any Disney movie that never fails to make you cry.
Five minutes into the new Junglebook movie I was crying, and didn’t stop until we left the cinema. Same thing with the latest Cinderella. And Lilo & Stitch. I don’t think there is a movie that doesn’t reduce me to tears.

What is the first Disney movie you remember seeing?
I think the first movie I ever saw was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves; but after, like, two years of relentlessly watching it I became scared of the witch, so I got myself hooked on The Aristocats instead. And, literally, only just now have I realised why that is the title of the movie. IT’S ABOUT RICH CATS! Oh my! HOW DID I NEVER GET THAT? Seriously, I’ve been wondering that for, like, a while!

What is your favourite Disney movie?
The Emperor’s New Groove. I’ve seen it again and again and again, and still think it’s hilarious when Kronk talks to a squirrel.

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Best Disney Villain?
Yzma!

What is your favourite Disney song?
«Iiiiiit’s SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS!»

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I’m not tagging anyone but feel free to answer the questions and let me know if you have done a Disney tag yourself, so I can come and fangirl over your blog!

Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

Top Tips for Exam Season

I. have. No. Time. To. Blog.
I don’t. The time is 00:20 hours, and I have just given up studying for tonight. Anyone else feeling those exams drawing closer and threatening to suffocate you? Can you already smell the failure? You have ended up on my blog, and if you’re still reading it probably means two things: 1.) you have exams coming up preeetty soon, and 2.) you haven’t really figured out how this studying thing works, or else you’d be off a blog that has a unicorn in the header image. Just saying.

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Everyone revises for exams differently, and I highly doubt that uniquely following my lead will help you pass your finals. But the way I see it, it really helps to try out new techniques every now and again. So I’ve provided a little list of things that help me revise and actually do get me through. Just pick what you find helpful and create your own study environment!

Get dressed!
I have the tendency to stay in my PJs for entire weekends. It’s comfy but I never get much done unless you count going through an entire series of Doctor Who on Netflix an achievement. So try not to feel like a slob and put something on that you haven’t slept in recently. If you’re anything like me, you’ll go for the most comfortable thing your wardrobe has to offer, like a fresh set of pajamas. You can even leave out the bra, but dress up a little.

Eat Eat Eat!
Last month I did a sugar detox and it made me realise how very often I just leave out a meal and have a chocolate bar instead. Don’t do that while preparing for exams. Even if you’re behind schedule, take your time to have a proper breakfast. You need energy to stay focused, and studying with an empty stomach sucks.

Clean your room!
Having dirty laundry lying around on the floor and empty yoghurt cups stacking on my desk destracts me very much from studying. It’s just not a comfortable environment to work in, so before you get started clean up your mess. It also gives you a feeling of having achieved something already and that’s a motivating starter!

Have no unfinished business
What I mean is, before you get started check your social media one last time. Text your crush, post an emoticon in that group chat, go through your Instagram feed… whatever it takes to be up to date. Then turn off your notifications! Nothing groundbreaking is going to happen in the next two hours, and Facebook and co will only distract you. I missed two calls from my boss yesterday, and I assume he called because he wanted me to take more shifts over the summer. This seems fairly important, but he will understand.

But social media aside, also remember to feed your pets, pay your bills and let the cleaning lady in before you start. It’s those small chores that will distract you later when you get stuck somewhere.

Don’t let the sun come in
It’s almost summer, and that means that it’s sunny outside and warm and if you’re living next to a camping place, like me, you might be hearing lots of cheerful voices and that annoyingly feel-good latino music. And it makes you want to be out there and live! Well, you can’t. Here’s what I do: I shut the blinds to get the sun out. I then turn on the soundtrack of the 5th series from Doctor Who and pretend I’m working on a master plan to save the world. Alternatively you can also use 007-background music or whatever else catches your fancy. Believe me, it feels so good!

Believe in the magic of colours
If stationary excites you like it excites me (a helluva lot!) then buy some new, shiny sharpies and use them! I waste a lot of time drawing graphs and highlighting words very carefully, and I realise that a lot of this time could be invested otherwise – but I need that. I like my notes to not only look tidy but also pretty. Colours supposedly help your memory, so go all the way!

Don’t force yourself
Last weekend was supposed to include hours and hours of revision; but fate had it that I should wake up with a headache and sore throat that saturday morning. I ended up spending three days pretty much asleep. My health is more important than any exam! That’s your mantra! Even if you’re not sick with the flu, remember that you are allowed to take breaks. If you’re really stuck, don’t go on Youtube or Tumblr, take a conscious break – go for a walk, take a nap, even watch an episode from The Big Bang Theory; anything to relax your brain!

 Plan ahead
To-Do lists really help keeping track of what you want to and can achieve in a day. Make sure you know what you need to be prepared for, then decide what you want to study for just today!

 Decide what to study for
Ah yes, if you are anything like me you are lagging behind. I have to say, though, that I have not been massively procrastinating fort he past 3 months; but having two jobs and planning to write a theatre play and having filled my curriculum to the brim with courses, I just never had the time to get anything done properly. There is no way I will score exceedingly high points in any of the exams to come, but hope is not lost. If you find yourself in a similar situation, pick a number of subjects to really focus on and leave out the rest. That way you’ll feel more confident during the actual exam as well; better to know a few things well than know a little bit about everything.

Summarise!
Don’t just read something and go, «Yup! Got it!» Chances are, you didn’t get it. Writing things down helps your memory and makes you sort out the important facts.

You will be fine, I’m sure! Because the primary thing to remember ist hat failing an exam is not failing life! Let me tell you a little story:

Fifteen-Year-Old Me was very worried about getting into a really good high school. But because Fifteen-Year-Old Me had been to three different secondary schools within the same year, there was no way she would achieve the grades to get in. So Fifteen-Year-Old Me did another year with the bullies and hateful teachers in that silly old secondary school and decided again to try for this high school she wanted to go to. Fifteen-Year-Old Me was pretty smart, I think in retrospect, because this time ’round she made it. But instead of starting that school right that summer, Fifteen-Year-Old Me went on exchange to New Zealand, something she would not have been able to do otherwise. The friends I found I am still in touch with today. I learned English which comes like a first language to me today and has opened so many doors for me; heck, it made that blog possible in the first place! I did eventually go to that high school I’d applied for, just when a new history teacher started, who made me want to study the subject. It was the same summer Anna started her career there, as did many other lovely faces that I might not have otherwise noticed.

I failed an exam, but I won at life!

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Good luck to anyone who has exams over the next couple of months! I hope this offers a bit of help and guidance.

Lots of love from the revision pit!
xxx

My Weird Obsession With Dinosaurs

It’s confession time! I don’t know why I have the urge to talk about this now, but I think I need to come clean at some point anyway: I have a weird obsession with dionsaurs. *awkward background chirping*
To be fair, who doesn’t! Dinosaurs are awesome – they are real life dragons, they are massive, and evolution turned them into FRIGGIN’ CUTE LIL BIRDS! Way to go, T-Rex!

My love for dinosaurs derives from the children’s movie series The Land Before Time – whose hero Littlefoot was as much a rolemodel to me as Snow White or Aladdin (I thought he was a babe!). Every toy dinosaur I owned was essentially called Littlefoot because Littlefoot is not only bloody cute, he’s also very loyal and wise and good with the advice. I mean…

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Please bare with me on this post, I feel like it’s 99% a virtual word vomit.

I think it’s fairly alright for a child to obsess over things – I did, after all, discuss at length the beauty of Eragon’s hair with a twelve-year old recently. But I can’t deny that I have a slight tendency to go over the top. I pretty much forced my friends to visit the dinosaur museum in Switzerland when I was sixteen and made them take all sorts of ridiculous photographs  of me posing with the fossils. I’m pretty sure they’re still hating me for this.

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But, it’s just – there are so many great movies about dinosaurs! Growing up, every other movie was a dinosaur movie: The Land Before Time, Dinosaur, Dinotopia, Dawn oft he Dinosaurs, One of our Dinosaurs is Missing – and it is totally legitimate to watch The Good Dinosaur while waxing your legs! I AM THE EQUIVALENT OF ROSS GELLER, DON’T JUDGE ME! I’m just not as smart. My knowledge about dinosaurs ends with the distinction between T-Rex and the rest of ’em.

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I have a dinosaur sticker on my glasses and I just ordered an inflatable dinosaur to take swimming with me in the summer, and that’s a little insane, and that’s okay. I bet you have a weird obsession, something that makes your heart beat faster and that gets you excited. We should all be excited more often, it makes for a happier place.

Also, if history repeats itself, then I am SO getting a dinosaur!

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Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

Why You Shouldn’t Follow Me On Instagram

Hello there, folks from the Internet! You see that button down here? If you press that button it’ll take you straight to my Instagram account. But before you go there, it would be wise for you to have a look at all the reasons why you shouldn’t do just that!

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I’ve had Instagram for just over two years, and so far I’ve uploaded pictures without much thinking – until yesterday a porn account started following me! Eew! EEEEWW!

I blocked them, it’s all fine, they can go about their disgusting business elsewhere; but it did make me question all the pictures that I have uploaded, and so I went through them again last night. And, geez! – Okay, there is DEFINITELY NO PORN MATERIAL on my account! No skanky bikini pics, no videos of me taking a shower. – But, geez, WHY DO PEOPLE FOLLOW ME AT ALL? Who wants to see all that crap? If you were thinking of following my account, think again…

First of all, my name on Istagram (and Twitter at that) is _mimion_. When I created my account, a boy I liked always called me Mimi because of my double name Noemi Mirjam, and I felt super creative – which I obviously wasn’t because I had to use underlines in order to make that name work at all!

But the pictures… oh my! No really, OH MY!

The plushy animals selfies

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Apparently, for quite a while I was really into wearing hats and posing with my stuffed toys. I even braided my hair, so I would look more like Anna!

My legs

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I’m not Cinderella, this is the bathroom floor (the lighting was so much better there), and I was not in love. I had just bought new tights, and thought they were fabulous.

Me eating dessert

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There is a disturbing amount of photographs that show me enjoying a cake or a waffle or a chocolate bread roll. THE WORLD NEEDED TO SEE THAT!

Books

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Everytime I start reading a new book I instantly post a picture of it on Instagram; as if a photo taken on my phone in the light of my bedside lamp is better in quality than anything you could find on the publisher’s site! As if you were really curious as to how my socks looked! You can’t read a single word on that picture! It’s so useless!

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Oh, and here I didn’t really want to show anyone the book, I just needed a reason to post that I was in Paris. Thanks, Carrie!

My dog

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I’m not really sorry about that because if you don’t think my dog playing hide and seek with me is THE CUTEST THING EVER, then the problem is entirely yours!

Me hugging Hondurans

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To be fair, Hondurans are a very cuddly people – still doesn’t legitimise the racist remarks!

THAT.

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The comments really say enough, don’t you think? God, I must have been bored!

I’m not saying that I don’t want people to follow me! I’m just saying that you might be just a little out of your mind if you do. And if you’re not a porn producer or animal molester, there is a good chance I might actually follow you back.

So here’s a BIG RED BUTTON for you to press, and if you can resist the urge to do so right away, then CONGRATULATIONS! – Your mental health is complete!

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Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

just to be very clear: I AM NOT A RACIST! I had a Honduran friend who actually introduced himself to me, saying «Hola, soy el Negro!» – My Instagram comment is an inside joke WHICH BOTH PEOPLE ON THE PHOTO THOUGHT WAS ACCEPTABLE!

Sunshine Blogger Award

Hey there fellow bloggers, how’s it going? I have been nominated by Faith from Sublime Reads for the Sunshine Blogger Award! Thank you very much! 🙂 I got to answer a bunch of amazing questions, and I pray you don’t find the answers too disturbing (they may be a little. it’s what you want. let it happen).

Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions you were asked
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers
  • Ask the nominees 11 questions

Here we go:

1. Congratulations! Thanks to Voldemort, you now somehow permanently look exactly like him. You’re forced into writing him a Thank You card. What does it say?

To his excellency, The Man Who Let The Boy Live. The Dark Lord. Our Evil Master.

Thank you, good Sir, for giving me that precious face of yours. I will admit that it is indeed not what I have been dreaming of all throughout my teenage years when I desperately wanted to be a princess. But having your face and accepting it as my own has truly given my life a new significance and made me realise that you, evilest of evil, are not all that different from a princess. I found your tiara, and it‘s pretty. But, oh Lord, riddle me this: where do you buy your fabulous robes? And do you reckon they would have them in pink as well, as to match the tiara?

Cheers, Volders! I am indepted to you forevermore! xoxo

2. What does the air currently smell like where you are? Describe it while fitting in the word “hairy” somewhere along the way.

It smellls of English Breakfast Tea and my cat‘s body odour and the delicious shampoo I put on my hairy sculp this morning.

3. What are 3 things that make you laugh?

1: Recently my friend Nadine has been making me laugh by repeatedly telling me of her shopping experience at a clothing store called Ciolina (it was as magical as it was disturbing).
2: Princess Consuela Bananahammock. (Need I say more?)
3: My brothaa! We‘re really funny but I‘m starting to think that we‘re the only ones feeling it. Which, you know, is even more fun.

4. If you were a son/daughter of ___________ at Camp Half Blood, what kind of pranks would you pull? (If you’re somehow living under the Earth’s tectonic plates and you’re unfamiliar with Camp Half Blood, tell us your thoughts about the Percy Jackson books even if you haven’t read them.)

Yeah, look, sadly and much to my shame I have NEVER read or seen Percy Jackson. I‘ve been meaning to for the past five years, and I am getting really desperate to find out who Anabeth is (that‘s her name, right? There‘s a thing called Percybeth, am I right?!) and to dive into the depth of this fandom; maybe I‘ll start reading it when I‘m a hundred something and ready to say good-bye to life anyway. On second thought, maybe I‘ll start this summer.

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5. Type as much as you can about one of these topics: your life/your first impression of blobfish/the first thing that comes into your mind in 6 seconds. Keep in the grammar & spelling mistakes and show us what you’ve got!

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*do I literally type this slowly?! I had so many more thoughts to share on blobfish!*

6. Share your favourite joke.

What do you call a black person flying a plane? – A pilot, you racist!

7. What’s the first thing that comes into your mind right now? It can be anything! Here, I’ll give you 3 seconds… great! Whatever you thought of is now related to how your favourite villain or most despised character had died – write about it.

Grapefruit! Don‘t ask me why. And of course Dolores Umbridge loves a bitter old grapefruit with its pink interior matching her own pink costumes. She consumes all the bitterness of this fruit, and thrives on it. J.K. never talks about it in the books, but when whenever she‘s alone in her office she stuffs herself with grapefruits and it makes her evil and happy, and she even convinces Voldemort to try a grapefruit diet, and they live happily ever after (until he dies and she chokes on her own medicine). The End.

8. Try to fit in as many stereotypes about your own country as you can while talking about books.

One of my favourite books is The Lord of the Rings, and I especially love the part where they walk through the mountains and Legolas casually walks on the snow while everyone else is kinda stuck in it. And you know how all the way to Mordor those guys just keep yodelling? (I‘m sure that‘s what it sounded like!) My other fave is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where the kids are forced by the school nurse to eat chocolate! And not to mention Heidi! If you‘ve never read that book you have failed in your literary life because that story may be cheesy, but it will reduce you to tears and tear your soul apart!

9. Tell me, what did Shakespeare shake? Bonus: If you can, quote something from Shakespeare from the top of your head.

He shook some mad grapefruit juice for Umbridge to shut her up, and he shouted happily: «The rest is silence!»

10.  Are you left-handed or right-handed or ambidextrous or another breed of human? (An extraterrestrial, perhaps? )

I‘m right handed and absolutely incapable of doing anything with my left hand. I just have it for the looks.

11. Would you rather get free chocolate every time you get a paper cut or automatically get a free full-proof pass in making someone’s day whenever you read a not-so-great book?

YESSS!

Now I‘m allowed to make up my own questions! Brace yourselves!

  1. Would you rather drink wine with Lord Voldemort (aka Tom Riddle) in his Chamber of Secrets during the sexy ages, or paint mandalas with Professor Snape in a therapeutic session to cure passive-aggressive behaviour?
  2. Who is your bookish best friend?
  3. If you had a book quote tattoo which quote would you pick?
  4. Turn The Hobbit into a hardcore feminist version. What‘s the title? And what happens in the story?
  5. Who are your three dream dinner party guests?
  6. Do you think the seventh sentence on page 77 of the book you are currently reading describes your purpose of existence well?
  7. Imagine you just drank the love potion intended for someone else yourself, and now you‘re in love with your own face. Write yourself a love letter!
  8. Which is your favourite bookstore?
  9. What do you think (or rather, hope!) John Green‘s new book is about?
  10. What book was the cause for your last book hangover?
  11. Do you have a literary mug? If so, what does it say? And if not, what should it say?

An Award for the sexy noodles of the blogging sphere:

Anna from Tiny Trinket
Caitlin from Caitlin Versus Words
John from Storytime with John
Deliah and Lara from Halfway to Broadway
Jonathan and Aaron from Husband & Husband
The girl behind Stash Matters whose name I didn’t quite catch (sorry!)
Allie from Allie’s Life
Khloe Nicole from Domino Effect of Life
Juan-Paul from My Husband & I
Lily from The Lily Notepad
Kat from Book Box by Kat

At this point I’m just going to quote Faith because I was gonna say this anyway, and she already put this so nicely:
«If you feel sad because you don’t see yourself already tagged, just tell me if you want to do this and I’ll add you right onto this list! If you’re one of the “usuals” that we tag/you already have A TONNN on your shoulders, then please don’t feel obliged to answer these questions because SOMETIMES IT’S PRESSURING. And I get it. STRESS AND LAZINESS: I admire your ever-unrelenting persistence. (Maybe if I worked as hard as these guys, I’d actually BE SOMEWHERE. But then again, this is a super ironic statement.) So whatever it is you’re doing, here’s a smile, a hug, and some freshly baked internet cookies! Or better yet, ICE CREAM COOKIE SANDWICHES.»

An Evening with Aleksandar Hemon

On wednesday I was lucky enough to attend a reading with Aleksandar Hemon. Literally, the only reason I went was because one of my professors at uni fangirled all over the place the other day, and naturally I had to see this phenomenon of a writer!

fangirlAleksandar Hemon is a Bosnian-born American fiction writer (as Wikipedia puts it). His stories are largely influenced by Slavic literature and treat the issue of Bosnian immigrants in the United States. He pretty much got stuck in ‘Murrica when he was there holidaying and suddenly a war burst out in his home country. But he‘s still there now, some twenty years later, publishing what sound like incredible stories.

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Despite his native language being Bosnian he writes in English, and he writes a lot! When a member of the audience asked him how he deals with writer‘s block, he replied, «I don‘t get writer‘s block. I have a condition that I call writer‘s diarrhea!» He is currently working on three books simultaneously, while it‘s been taking me six months so far to hand in a 10-page thesis paper! I mean, WHAT?! He‘s so cool that he didn‘t even tell his agent he was writing a book called The Making Of Zombie Wars. Have you ever seen that book in a store? Well, it‘s pretty friggin‘ huge! And he kept it secret until it was finished and he could ask his agent, «So, when would you like something new?» And apparently she went, «Umm… how ‘bout June?» And he said, «Well, how ‘bout right now?» And he presented to her a brandnew manuscript. Look, all I‘m saying is that if an agent asked me to write a book until bloody June, no matter where we stand in the year, I‘d probably go, «Yeah, but you do mean June 2047, right?!» Right. And this is why I‘m not a bestselling author.

e8e6a3b40fa04ee32c1bc0d100bc1995As you can probably guess from all this, and if you don‘t already know Aleksandar Hemon, he has published quite a number of books and short stories and essays, and what have you. On wednesday he read a bit from his latest book, the cheekily written The Making Of Zombie Wars which sounded okayish, and then went on to read from his memoire, The Book of my Lives. And boy, was that a hit. It was beautiful, it was funny, it was smart – and then my fangirling professor went on to say this really nice thing about opening up a new book from Aleksandar Hemon: «It‘s like doing the Ice Bucket Challenge!» And, you know, I believed him. This man can make you feel so much, simply by rearranging 26 letters over and over again. Plus, the other thing my professor said made the books even more intriguing: «You must not read Aleksandar‘s stories to feel better, that‘s not what they are for. But his stories, they do not accept the world we live in as the most acceptable one. They offer us an alternative. Not an escape, but an alternative. And in my opinion, in this world we‘re living in, this is the best literature has to offer us.»

I can‘t wait to get my hands on one of his books. As always I‘m going to let you in on my oh-so sophisticated thoughts on the matter, but for now I just want to leave you a quote from The Book of my Lives which I thought was absolutely beautiful and deserved a mention here:

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Open Letter to My 15-Year Old Self

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Dear My 15-Year Old Self

I am writing to you tell you just how much I admire you. Going by the pictures, you are really serious about those pink-camouflage pants, and I think that deserves a salute.

I know that you are scared a lot because you feel different and most people don‘t seem to understand. All those nights lying awake and wondering, wondering how they can‘t see that you want to be just like them. Why don‘t they see how hard you are trying? How everytime you fall down you push yourself back up again? – But believe me, being different is not a bad thing. People will always laugh at you, they‘ll laugh at you for any reason. Whether you‘re too ordinary or you‘re too extravagant, they will always find something to mock you about. So be daring, and give them a jolly good reason to laugh. Be different, be ridiculous. Be everything that you are with a power that will knock them down.

So, I noticed you have bit of trouble finding your own style. To be honest, the pink-camouflage pants and the orange T-shirt with the stripes don‘t work very well together (but I‘m not going to mention it). The thing is that people outside of magazines rarely even have this thing called style. It‘s more like a disease, really. You don‘t have to become a demon-slaughtering shadowhunter to wear a leather jacket. You want that jacket, you go for it, girl! You want to wear smudgy black eyeliner and look mysterious? Just do it (although you will probably fail, but I‘m not going to mention it)! Everyday you can change who you are, don‘t you understand? You are not tied to one wardrobe or to one favourite boyband (and since we‘re on the topic, US5 are going to split up pretty darn soon anyway) or one version of yourself. You are never going to stop becoming yourself, because there will always be people leaving an imprint on your soul, places that change the way you look at the world and stories and that transform your thinking entirely. And girl, you are going places!

What is never going to falter is your love for books. Although I‘m glad to say that your taste in storytelling is. No, don‘t cry – Harry Potter and Jane Austen are always king and queen of your universe. But I wish you would stop believing you are Clary Fray. Honestly, that girl has a lot of issues. For a start, you do not need to have your first relationship when you are sixteen. You will, of course, but still; just take a moment here, all right? The guy you are going to meet is a real sweetheart, but he‘s not Jace. He‘s not the love of your life, no matter how hard you want him to be. Clary is a delusional idiot, made up by a desperate middle aged woman who probably has never had sex herself, so why do you think you need to live by the book? Write your own book, be your own superhero. There are more important things in life than having sex before you‘re seventeen and dating people that look like Richie Stringini (although he is pretty hot, I‘ll give you that!).

You are such a cool teenager, do you ever realise that? You read Charles Dickens for fun, your perfect night out is a Harry Potter midnight book launch, and you don‘t drink or do drugs. But I hate to break it to you, but soon that is not going to be you any more, so you might as well stop judging others for getting drunk on the weekends. You are going to love getting drunk! It‘ll take some time to gain control, but if you keep the people you love close to you, nothing bad will ever happen to you.

Growing up doesn‘t sound so bad now, does it? Responsibility is not such a sucky thing once you get the hang of it, you know? Sure, you have to make your own doctor‘s appointments and crying in public is frowned upon. But you still get to go to Disneyland and obsess over dinosaurs. Also, being grown-up means that you can spend all your money on chocolate AND THEN EAT IT ALL ON YOUR OWN! Being an adult, you don‘t stop loving certain things, you can just love them more openly, because you will stop caring what others think. And, OMG, guess what? Being a nerd is going to be totally cool! In fact, all those assholes that think calling you a geek is an insult, yeah, they are going to buy friggin‘ fake glasses to look smarter. And you, my sweet angel face, you are going to buy glasses to see better. Because you are already smart. Never think that being intelligent is a bad thing. Only stpuid people will let you believe that. Nope! Embrace your inner nerd with all your heart! 

You know what I love most about you, My 15-Year Old Self? You are on the verge of taking a massive leap into the unknown, and you are putting all of your heart and soul into it. I wish you would never stop doing that.
There are many moments of doubt still to come. You will find yourself crying on a bathroom floor more than once, and sometimes there will not be enough chocolate flavoured ice cream in the world to make you feel all right again. But I will tell you this: You are going to be happy, and you are going to be fine. You will always be surrounded by people who love you, and you will make many more people fall in love with you.

And finally: enjoy the Star Wars prequels while it lasts, because soon you will start to see Anakin for the whiny bastard he truly is and fall in love with Han. Also, don‘t cry because Tokio Hotel are not an item any more, you just haven‘t met One Direction yet. Also, the Sorting Hat puts you into Slytherin. Don‘t let it ruin your day, Draco is going to turn out so much hotter than Harry!

Unfortunately, 15-year old me, we have still not published our bestselling novel or saved the world from evil or married a prince. But we are in a good place. The kind of good place where on some days we go swimming in the Carribean, while on others the best thing that happens is somebody telling us that our dress is pretty. We are pretty amazing, you and I.

With love,
23-Year Old Me

Berta Cáceres

Berta Cáceres was murdered last week.
If we cared about every single person that dies and makes it into the news we would not be able to keep ourselves from devastation. But Berta Cáceres was a beautiful woman who cared quite a bit herself. About her people, about her country, about the land and the dirt and the water. She died because she wanted to live and she wanted her people to live.

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Berta Cáceres was an indigenous and environmental organizer who fought for indigenous land rights in Honduras. Land rights are a complicated thing in Honduras – essentially, what happens is this: Inigenous and Non-indigenous people have been living on those lands for centuries. They are farmers and as such their ethnic background is often of secondary importance. They never needed any titles to rightfully work the lands they were living on, they had formed communities and they had their own systems and treaties. I‘m not saying everything was always well, but all in all it worked. But Honduras is largely owned by oligarchs, meaning rich men who have the money to rightfully produce land titles that up until a few decades ago never existed. Probably the biggest jerk of them all is Miguel Facussé – he‘s rich as fuck (excuse the expression) and basically everything in Honduras belongs to him, at least in part. He and his rich friends now own lands that have been in the hands of peasants for ages, and they shoo the farmers away to build hotels or roads or oil palm plantations. This leads many families into poverty and is only one of the massive problems Honduras is facing.

Berta Cáceres founded the grassroot organisation COPINH (Civic Council of the Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras); since 2012 COPINH‘s biggest fight has been against the establishment of the construction of the hydroelectric project Agua Zarca by the internationally-financed Honduran company DESA. For the Lenca (an indigenous people of Honduras) communities, the approved constructions of over 40 hydroelectric dams presents a great threat; for the Lenca people, the free-flowing Gualcarque River has a special cultural and spiritual significance. Furthermore, the implementation of dams would choke the main source of irrigation and drinking water for the community.  For lack of respect for the rights of the Lenca people, the failure to comply with Convention 169 and the negative impacts of the project on their livelihoods, Berta Cáceres organised and led a peaceful opposition to the project as the coordinator of COPINH. In consequence of their actions, Berta Cáceres and other Lenca leaders have been the target of threats and intimidation. 

What‘s sad about Berta Cáceres‘ death is that it doesn‘t even come as a surprise. She was fighting for her people‘s rights, of course somebody murdered her! Because the rights she was fighting for aren‘t a given. Because rich jerks rule the country and they don‘t care about peasants or tradition or the ground they are standing on. All they care about is their little kingdom that will not fall, even if the world around them does. What‘s also sad is that the murderer is most probably still walking free. It‘s not unlikely that some rich person from DESA or the government or a sympathiser paid someone off to get the job done. Investigations? Better forget about that.

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They buried me, but what they don’t know is that I’m a seed.

But here‘s what leaves me hopeful; the rich jerks, DESA, politicians, they try and denunciate Berta Cáceres as a drama-queen, a liar whose opinion doesn‘t matter. Except that it did. Berta Cáceres did not have to lie to scratch the petty facade behind which all those denunciators are hiding. She merely told the truth, she pointed out the injustice and she had the courage to act and to speak. And it hurt them. It hurt them so much they had to kill her. And maybe, if we ask ourselves why things like this still happen in our 21st century world, the answer is because there are not enough people like Berta Cáceres.

We must not be defeated by her death; we do not live in a just world and if all we can do is stand up to a bully at school, then that makes the world an infinitely brighter place.

Be bold, and be courageous, and remember:

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I feel like I should mention that not every rich person in Honduras is a jerk. I know many wealthy Hondurans who are lovely, caring people and who are deeply shaken by Berta Cáceres’ death. Also, the conflicts in Honduras are not as straight forward as I put them. There’s a whole lot of aspects to be considered, which I simply ignored in order to make this blog post more readable!