Ventral Striatum Stimuli

“Do you know any jokes?” – “I know one, but I forgot how it goes”. This conversation is always the same with me.  It’s annoying. I have so much useless information stored in my brain. I’m not saying a joke would contribute to the useful side, but I’d rather be able to tell a joke than list all cast members of Two Broke Girls. Or Baywatch. Or Community. All cancelled. But who knows when those might come in handy… I’ll keep them in a dusty drawer for now, just in case.

Did you know that comedy and horror are closely related? For one, in both genres, the viewer looks toward the protagonist to overcome a difficulty over the course of the movie, relatable to real life. Also, if you watch those around you if you’re not jumpy during a horror movie (like me), people usually scream, followed by a relief of laughter. We could get into the whole social function of comedy and laughter, but it would take a bit longer. The “relief theory” is quite intriguing.

But this only on the side (and in an attempt to justify my love for horror and comedy without outcasting myself). What makes me laugh and slap my knees or any knees that are available to me:

5: Any kind of comedy really. Louis C.K. is currently one of my favorites. It’s gotten so far that I’m expecting him to make me laugh and when five minutes go by and I haven’t, I’m just waiting for it… But he rarely disappoints. Physical comedy as conveyed by Jim Carrey, the late John Ritter or Robin Williams appeal to my comedic understanding like no other. I love going to comedy clubs for the entire evening experience and admire the artists for not being afraid of judgement whatsoever… Most probably are, but they’re doing a very fine job concealing/ dealing with it.

4: I’ve been looking for a certain location in LA for a few years now… four years, to be exact. For a photo! A photo that everyone has probably already taken, but I want one too, damnit! I’ve been searching whenever I saw photos taken from that location and finally figured out where it is. The photographers don’t like to reveal that spot because it is pretty sweet, and so I’ll keep the peace as well. Since I’m not there right now, and it was bugging the heck out of me, I asked a local LA friend for advice. It sounded a little bit like this: “Watch ‘Falling Down‘ with Michael Douglas… No… No… watch ‘Falling motherf*cking Down‘ with Michael Douglas””. It made me laugh out loud because it showed so much passion and conviction and was just so natural. It wasn’t the location though… but I see where he got it from.

3: Plays on words always get me. As do bad puns. In that sense, I’m a 70-year-old grandpa who desperately tries to reconnect with his grandkids through bad jokes. Exchanging the first letter of each word (which I do all the time without intention… but people don’t find this funny, it really is just me I’m afraid). I normally keep this to myself… for a reason ;).

2: Seeing or hearing other people laugh. It’s contagious. If someone has a very deep and hearty laugh, you just can’t help but chime in.

1: Whose Line Is it Anyway: I know, it should be part of number 5, but it totally deserves its own category. I adore Ryan Stiles. He doesn’t even have to say anything and my eyes start filling up with laughter tears. All performers’ timing, intonation, humor and general attitudes are just so on point. They never disappoint.

I like “clean” comedy. My friend (the one from number 4) wants to send me to see Bob Saget… I don’t think I can handle it. But I survived Tim Allen at the Laugh Factory… And I’ll watch him once more any old day, gladly. Can’t wait to hit the clubs again.

PS: The ventral striatum is the part of our brain mainly responsible for comedic understanding and laughter.


Day 24: Post 5 things that make you laugh out loud

Run, Baby, Run!

When you’re getting ready to run a race, it’s more than preparing for the distance. You watch your nutrition, schedule, sleep, accommodation, etc. prior to race day. The last thing you want to think about is how to get to the start line, but it’s necessary. After all, there is a good chance your legs won’t let you drive post-race plus the stress of finding parking is something you don’t want to deal with right before the run.

I seem to be out of luck when it comes to Taxi or ride-share drivers. I also never learn. A Lyft-driver in Hollywood picked me up at 5.30 am (race start at 7). After we had dropped off a passenger who was getting sober from his party night out, the driver urged me to take a seat in the front. Here’s the thing: Early runners coincide with late party returners. If you ride share, it’s not pleasant for the early risers. AT ALL!! If there is one thing that screws me up, it’s dealing with drunk people… before a race… or ever. But I digress. I quickly got over my unpleasant ride-sharer after he had been dropped off, obeyed my driver and planted my runner-butt in the front seat. As soon as we started moving, the Lyft driver wanted to take a photo of me and declared me his future wife. Not necessarily in that order. This is not arrogant, this is scary! One of the scariest situations I have been in. Hollywood Blvd was empty at this time of night and if you’ve been there, you know it’s not a good area to just get out and walk. Especially right before a race – you want to rest as much as possible. I should’ve gotten out. But I played along (except for the photo… there is really no reason to take a photo of someone at 5.30 in the morning unless his name is Leo DiCaprio and you somehow wake up next to him on his yacht… or George Clooney and he just left his wife for you… or… you get the point) until I got out, and made a run for it… literally.

This time, I signed up for a race at Walt Disney World. It seemed like such a magical idea. No way something like this would happen twice, right? Yea… I meet very, very strange people. Always. I also meet very awesome people though… it’s a good balance. Unfortunately, this one would fit the former category. I should just be on the phone whenever I board a car in the future. This driver was from Kentucky. I didn’t even ask. After I had closed my door (this time at 3.30 am… race start at 5.30), he whipped out his cowboy hat. I really wish I was joking. From where I live, it’s a good 30-minute-ride to drop-off. In those 30 minutes, the driver told me about his dead daughter whose remains he carried around his neck and which he pulled toward me to touch (as I’m writing this, it sounds extremely ridiculous). She was murdered by her boyfriend. And don’t get me started on the ex-wife. I cannot repeat the words the driver continued to call her and him as we almost touched the guard rail on a fairly empty Interstate 4. It’s essential to keep a positive attitude pre-race, by the way. I swear I was about to put in my headphones, but I was too afraid that he would get offended and kick me to the side of the road, toss me a plastic bottle and yell “it puts the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again” (Do you think I watch too many horror movies?).

Good girl that I am, I placed the figurative lotion in its proverbial basket and just played along. We arrived on time and I had a ways to walk until the start line. It took my mind off of the taxi-ride from hell. Good thing I was wearing a sweater in nearly 30 degree Celsius weather (I’m not used to these temperatures this early in the morning and usually, you freeze at the start line). I had to dispose of a perfectly likable sweater for nothing.

I’m starting my next training plan… this time for the big one… and another half on the way. Like I said, I never learn…


Day 23: A challenge you’re facing

Those Six Words

An assignment we received in the writing class I’m currently taking was actually fun and comes in handy right now. I remember way back in Middle and High School (either country, Germany or the US), I wasn’t a huge fan of writing assignments, but once we were allowed to be creative, I almost couldn’t stop. Hemingway created the six-word story, which is exactly what you’d think it is. You’re supposed to tell an entire story using only six words. Not nine, not four, exactly six. This way, you’re supposed to jog the creative side of your brain. I still find his example incredible:

“For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” —Ernest Hemingway


“Longed for him. Got him. Shit.” —Margaret Atwood


So here is my contribution:


  • Slurred words in sleepless nights. Forever.


  • Returning in darkness; pink neon signs.


  • Dried the rainy road with blood.


  • Turned to see myself. No reflection.


  • Walked the dog; not my own.


  • He left. Me: Wanted for murder.


  • Skin on skin: Fried chicken Thursday.


  • Turned up radio, drowning basement screams.


  • Sun in my face. Almost alive.


  • Tonight, you get to be me.


  • I approach the surface. Frozen lake.


  • Follow for follow, like for hate.


I noticed that most of these are dark or dramatic – probably the most fun or intriguing as a writer when it comes to these exercises. It’s incredibly difficult to form entire stories because you have to think yourself into the mind of the receiver/ reader and assume that he knows or doesn’t know the context of your thoughts. You can’t just assume that he knows or understands, but you can’t suggest he’s an imbecile either and spell everything out for him. It does help jog your creative thinking, however.

  • Give it a try! No regrets. 😉


Day 22: 6-word stories


We try to manage, every day. To be who we are, the best we can be, improve, work hard, work out, make life worthwhile. Everyone has their package to carry… We call it baggage, a checkered past (with a negative connotation) or skeletons in the closet if you will; things to deal with. Here’s a snippet of what I’ve learned so far:

Whatever is easy is not worth having… or not worth keeping

Whether it’s a person, a relationship, a job, a toy, a cup of coffee… Wait, an easy cup of coffee usually leads to great adventures. You should never turn down an easy cup of coffee! However, if something seems too easy to get (or too good to be true), it probably is. It’s in our genes to fight for something and to have to earn our most essential necessities: Hunting for food, courting for attention, working to sustain. I’m not much for playing games – either you are hard to get and worth keeping or you’re not. Simples.

It takes courage to stand your ground and take the road less traveled

Sometimes it’s difficult to explain to people why you made the choices you’ve made… Until you realize you don’t have to explain anything. I’m not talking about crimes… I’m talking about “everyday people”, like myself. People usually ask you about your decisions because it never crossed their mind to do something differently than they’re used to. You can try to explain your lifestyle or past or present or intentions, but don’t expect anyone to understand. It’s always ok to inspire though.

You have to break the rules sometimes

I’m all for following the rules, obeying the law, living according to what the big bad society has cooked up for you. You know what, rules aren’t so bad and they are there for a reason. If I say “break the rules”, I don’t mean “break the law”… I’m way too goody-two-shoes and also don’t care much for disobeying the law. However, breaking the rules and choosing a path that normally people wouldn’t go down is very liberating and encouraging. If you have to make ends meet, do what you gotta do. Just never look back and never regret, no B-lines, no U-turns, endure and go for it.

Sharing moments and things with people is worth more than the actual thing itself

It’s a lesson I’m still learning. I like things… But I like sharing those and my experiences with others even more. I like working for nice things and having them as a goal. But once I get them, it’s the best thing in the world to share them with your family and friends. So once I have my pool, I will most certainly sit in it with my mom first of all.

Don’t worry what other people may think

This is a tough one. I’m very self-conscious and think twice or three times about things I post, what I write and details I reveal. If it’s out there, I meant for it to be. It is partly because I am afraid of being judged; I think we all are (some more than others). I admire those who are so self-confident that they don’t have to think about stuff like that… they just put themselves out there. So in a way, this lesson will be an ongoing process for me. I’m adapting though.

You may have more than one soulmate

It started with an episode of SATC (Sex and The City), where the girls decided to be each other’s soulmates if they hadn’t found theirs at a certain age. I then realized that I had already met several soulmates in my life. I think it’s too much pressure to have only one soulmate… the ONE… Plus, then I would’ve already messed that up. I believe you can vibe with several people and recognize a soulmate like a piece to a broken mirror… each piece reflects you in some way but also shows you a side of them and you that you haven’t seen before.

Early hours are the best hours                                          

I love getting up early. There is something about being the first one up that makes you think you are the only person on earth (have you read “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”?). I get a lot done in the morning, I feel refreshed (even after a bad night’s sleep or overthinking). Early hours are yours and nobody can take them away from you. I also like to stay up late, but I will always get up early. Keeps me on the edge.

In conclusion, go with your GPS, and trust your instincts when it says “recalculating… recalculating… recalculating…” because eventually, you will arrive… You just need to trust yourself.


Day 21: Write about lessons you’ve learned the hard way

My Friend Paul

It was the summer of 2010 and Germany had just lost its semi-final soccer match against Spain. I was pissed. I was also in Germany where we have a soccer culture that will sweep you off your feet. Women can suddenly explain offside play and give you the lowdown on each player’s astrological compatibility. When it comes to soccer, we stand behind our team as one. Every time. And always stronger.

So I was pissed because we lost and I had just moved from Spain back to Germany. It’s funny, but in terms of soccer, there are no excuses. You stand with your country (in a friendly, peaceful way), no matter where you live. And I needed to distract myself, so I went for a walk along the Hansaring (one of the circular streets that make up Cologne).

My mom had mentioned her former colleague Paul a few days back and the fact that he lives close to me. She probably never thought I would go and meet him, but curiosity always kills this cat, so I went. My memory isn’t too clear on what or how it happened, but I believe we spoke briefly, he informed me of his address and invited me over for a glass of wine. It was the beginning of a friendship that I could never explain in its entirety and would never want to miss.

Remember when I wrote about “something that you miss”? And I mentioned “meeting new people”? Paul was one of those encounters. Not that it can ever be repeated because there is only one Smelly Paul. Yes, Smelly… with a capital S. I’ll make the U-Turn back to this, I promise.

He invited me into his apartment and we had a glass of wine (as promised) on the balcony overlooking the city. I was comfortable from the very beginning which surprised me. There was no agenda on either side, it was just two friends having a conversation, which with our differences, a lot of people wouldn’t think is possible. It has never crossed my mind. It’s been 7 years now and he has been with me (mostly via Skype and Whatsapp) through tough times in Cologne, good times in the US, and all the times in between.

Oh, Smelly, right… He earned that nickname when he was an Aromatherapist. He can tell you what oil is good for what and where to get it, the concentration, where to rub it and for how long. That alone is impressive, but he did that on the side. His main field of expertise lies in Aircraft Technology (as an Aircraft Electrician) – (I was never one hundred percent sure, but I asked… just in case… so sorry if I’m messing this up, Smelly, please correct me); he has a degree in Biology, Physiology, and Biochemistry. Oh, apologies, I stand corrected: He also has a degree in massage, anatomy and aromatherapy. When my parents made it possible for me to become a fitness trainer, I had to learn human physiology and anatomy, among many other things. Paul always had an answer. And if he didn’t, he knew where to look for it.

He worked for the Royal Air Force (oh, Paul is a Brit, so we speak English, and he was more or less a neutral companion in the Germany-Spain incident), then became a design engineer in Automotive with Ford in Germany and China, and a lot of other things that I cannot even begin to understand, but you get the picture. He did more than would fit into one lifetime. And people like him (which there are very few) fascinate me.

What I admire about him is that he has been through so much, worked hard all his life to achieve different things in different areas, always eager to learn and master a new craft, but makes it look and sound so easy now.

He inspires me because he encourages me to keep going, persist, push through, but also stand my ground. He is the kind of friend who stays with you until the end, but also doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Still, he’s on your side. If you have a friend like him, you can consider yourself very lucky.

I look forward to the day that we get to meet again, maybe… or hopefully in London next time. I’d love to see the houses that he’s working on (now that he’s retired) and just catch up in person. He has also rowed over 1 million meters and is one of the few people who virtually follow me for all my half marathons. I know I’m lucky to have someone like him in my life. And I’m deeply grateful.



Day 20: Write about someone who inspires you

Once In a Lifetime

I don’t think death is something anyone likes to talk about. Especially if it concerns those close to you or even yourself. There are few who haven’t experienced the loss of a loved one or even witnessed a death of someone they barely knew or didn’t know at all. I had two of those encounters fairly recently. It makes me feel very uncomfortable to talk about death because you realize (again) that life is so short; we are more fragile than we think we are (even those of us who are tough cookies), and everything can change in an instant.

The first tragic death I remember was in Cologne, Germany. I lived on the first floor of an apartment complex with my windows facing the interior courtyard, where one of my neighbors from below had her terrace. One afternoon, she was yelling at her children to hurry up and get dressed since apparently they were preparing to go somewhere. I know this because the courtyard echoed her pressing pleas and her children screamed and frankly, were getting on my nerves. My window was open and I was watching shows on my laptop and doing translations (homework). A loud yet dull boom was followed by a disturbing silence. I was waiting for a child to scream because obviously it had knocked something down. It didn’t. Instead, what felt like a minute later, the mother’s deafening cry must’ve echoed throughout the entire city. It gives me goosebumps to this day. One of her children (they were twins) climbed onto a marble statue on their patio and knocked it over and onto itself. The paramedics were there within minutes. Then another cry and everyone who was home knew what had happened. He couldn’t have been older than 5.

The other event was just last year. I drove to work on the 405, merging onto the 101 North in Los Angeles and took my regular Northridge exit. I didn’t stop for coffee this time. I slowed down when I saw people at a bus station standing up with their jaws dropped and clutching their belongings. I followed their gazes and saw a man lying lifelessly in the middle of the intersection. His motorcycle was several feet from him on the ground and totaled. He was not moving. The police and paramedics hadn’t arrived yet. There was someone kneeling next to him on the road – clearly they had tried everything and were now waiting for help to arrive. I decided to keep going since people quickly started pouring in. I later read in the news that he had died. It was a hit-and-run and the driver who hit him came forward a few days later. I drove past that intersection every day until I quit my job. Every day, twice a day, I looked at that telephone pole where his loved ones had hung photos, placed flowers, lit candles.

I’m not so much afraid of dying as I am of losing someone close to me or missing out and not living (FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out), which I guess is kind of like dying in a way. We all fight our own battles every day and are trying to “get through” what we have on our plate. I’ve read up on the topic and a lot of people seem to be afraid of the instant before dying. When you know you’re about to go and can do nothing about it. I imagine that to be peaceful though. But I’m in a different place… I have amazing parents and loyal friends; I have always gone for what I wanted, worked for my goals and enjoyed most of what I did (not everything; I believe you HAVE to do some things in order to be ABLE to do other things and other times you just make mistakes… It’s all ok). But in the end, whenever my life will end, I have absolute trust in that it will be my time. No doubt about it. Hopefully it will be when I’m old and wrinkly and calm and peaceful. For what it’s worth, I’m looking forward to a lot of things. I can’t wait to thrive in my career(s), work for what I want, travel, travel, travel, pictures, pictures, pictures, running, cycling, laughing until you cry and surprising people. I love surprising people. So, before we can talk about what scares us about death, we have to get through this thing called life (Prince paraphrased). And that’s something you don’t want to miss. I promise!


Day 19: What scares you the most about dying?

Saturn Suicide

It’s been four years since I’ve had to change my flight from Los Angeles to Cologne. Reason being that my Master thesis on particle therapy wasn’t so well received by my secondary professor. She failed me, hence my primary professor preferred to slap a fail across my work rather than jeopardize my overall A-average. Errr… thanks?! I still call bullsh!t since the secondary prof seemed to have had a problem with my person and my preference of US-American over British English, but this is not what this mission is about. We don’t hold grudges, no! We complain, we fight, we sit down, we do it again, and we shine. At least that alternative worked pretty well for me; and my primary prof did make damn sure I was taken care of this time around.

My new flight was in July of 2014, right before my oral defense. My new thesis carried the prominent title “Translation of selected texts from English to German about the exploration of the Saturn system by the Cassini space probe with a factual comment about the current state of the mission”. I leafed through my papers on the plane, double-checked my facts and tried to get some shut-eye before landing. My parents had frantically printed my thesis (the US has different paper formats than what was required from by German University… plus, I had a full-time job and no vacation days… my parents truly saved me). They did, however, have to do it twice since I didn’t pass the first one – so the second time around, they already knew the drill.

Cassini and its buddy probe Huygens were smoothly projected into space on October 15, 1997. On that date, I was 15 years old and had just finished my first year in High School in Connecticut. I barely spoke English. I was a sulky teenager. And people explored space. The tandem was launched from Cape Canaveral… only an hour away from where I am now. I should really go and visit. It took seven years for Cassini to reach its final Saturn-orbit-home. Seven years! It is an unmanned mission – no human being on board to repair the sophisticated technological “gadgets”. It has been nearly twenty years and it is absolutely baffling to me how ESA, NASA and ASI were able to invent such a genius and long-lasting probe ensemble.

Cassini is now on its suicide mission, meaning its last months of recording data and photos, flying in and out of Saturn’s rings. Huygens had landed on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005 and its last contact to earth was on January 15 of the same year. Cassini’s very last plunge (to death) into Saturn’s atmosphere will take place on September 15 of this year. In the meantime, it is still alive and kicking and attempting a series of 22 weekly dives between Saturn and its icy rings. The decision was made so that it wouldn’t crash into Saturn’s moons. You can even follow the mission via NASA or Cassini on Twitter (updates daily).

Until then, I have yet to visit Cape Canaveral as well as JPL in Pasadena (operations). I’m not sure if there are any live photos available on a JPL  visit, but simply standing where Cassini is operated from (JPL) or took off (CC) would mean so much to me. I received an A for my thesis and oral defense which officially proves that I’m a nerd. Yeih! I’ll miss the little spacecraft.


Day 18: Write about something for which you feel strongly

Subway by Day, Tapas by Night

When you get to move around a bit in the world, you have the privilege of diving into different cultures. I love travelling and trying different “lives” on for size for a while. There are quite a few things I miss from my “previous lives”. But it wouldn’t have been worth it if I didn’t have to leave it. Obviously, Los Angeles was my previous and will be my next destination (so God or Higher Forces will), so the following memories will center on other locations. I refuse to make something a memory that isn’t over.

Cologne, Germany

The summer of 2009 was a memorable one. I had just been on vacation with a man I had looked up to for years and who ended things (have you kept up with this blog?). I studied hard for my tests and just received positive results right before our Uni summer break. Michael Jackson had just passed and with things like that, you always know exactly where you are. I just realized now that this was all in one summer. I was in line at a Subway Restaurant in Cologne and a man stood behind me. I turned around and the resemblance to MJ was uncanny. I kid you not- it could have been him. So you understand my surprise when he ordered his sub in English. I know I should’ve left running, but curiosity killed this cat…  He had the same soft voice, the mirror aviator glasses, curly hair and fragile built. He has risen, I thought. Of course I was curious and we started talking and got drinks at a place across the street. Turns out, he’s one the most famous professional MJ impersonators. We continued to talk and a friendship developed.

What I miss is that feeling of walking down the street in Cologne, comfortable and proud of myself (for the grades I received) and attracted what I needed (or who needed me) at the time. During that summer, I also got to know my upstairs neighbor Eva (I mentioned her in a previous post about some saucy photos we took at one point). We spent those summer evenings with pizza, wine and Desperate Housewives. It was a great summer.

Madrid, Spain

I had an apartment right next to the Plaza de España at the Plaza de los Cubos, overlooking a park and tremendous sunsets every day. Living in a Spanish metropolis certainly had its ups: I loved the smell of tapas and olive oil at  night. I was on the 12th floor and always left the windows open when I went to bed. The voices echoing off the building walls once people started going out (which is around 11 PM in Spain), provided a safe sleep atmosphere. It made me feel like being part of the scene without physically having to be part of it. But I also loved having visitors over and showing them around. We visited the Templo de Debod with its fountain and a great scenic view. We went bar hopping for Chupitos and would get very drunk on the first night. We didn’t go out any night after that, so the first one had to be all that.

When I still lived in the Residencia with 26 Spanish girls, I came out of my shell and went out with a couple of girls almost every weekend. I miss those days. It’s been 10 years.


Travelling and leaving my comfort zone has given me so many opportunities to make memories. I miss a lot of things from my childhood and from Germany. And especially in my current situation (which I will get to write about hopefully soon), I miss my family and friends like crazy. But I’m also extremely excited. About new things to come, new people to meet, new places to see (maybe even within a place I already know 😉 ) and new memories to make. Life’s exciting.


Day 17: Something that you miss

Banana in the Tailpipe

At some point, you know every note to the Intro. You know which characters appear when. You know the exact mood, timing and intention. A favorite movie has so much responsibility. It’s there to comfort you when you feel confused, defeated, uncomfortable. It’s also there to keep you company and cut through the silence of your living space.

American Psycho was the first movie for which I actively felt that it kept me company. I lived in Spain at the time and didn’t trust in my ability to speak the language much or understand it sufficiently to fully participate. And frankly, it tired me out. I needed to retreat and watch a movie in a language that I was able to not only understand, but that I also tolerated emotionally. English is my second language, and I still adore it. I watched this movie over and over, a crappy burned version because at the time, there were no Netflix, Hulu, download platforms except the shady ones. It’s not a Horror movie to me anymore and I don’t even know WHY exactly this movie, but I guess it was an eeny­­­­­-meeny-miny-moe decision. It hit American Psycho.

American Beauty, certain similarities to the first one, is my other go-to. My first job, as I mentioned in earlier blog posts, was concession at a movie theater during High School. When I graduated and went on to Uni, I also decided to return to Germany. American Beauty had just been released in theaters when I returned and it was the last movie I walked (with a super cool glow stick to check sound and theater temperature) and supervised before I left. Beside it being beautifully written and geniously carried out, I always tie it to my transition into an old life that I never wanted to have again. But I made the best of it, and grew from it.

Away from the Americans, toward German comedy. Otto Waalkes is probably Germany’s most famous comedian. Like so many of his fans, I’ve watched his movies until I knew every word in my sleep. One of my good guy friends back in Germany is also a huge fan and having this in common actually keeps us going :D. Funny, but good comedy really connects. So whenever we talk or text, there is a line from Otto’s movies in there somewhere. There are entire text conversations in movie quotes only. His films helped me and provided comfort (again) when I moved back from Spain to Cologne, Germany.

I first visited LA when I was a teenager. We were there on a layover to Hawaii and I absolutely hated it. A decade later, I returned and fell in love with it. Police Academy (mostly 1-­5) provided comfort on Sundays when I had the week behind me and just wanted to be in my bubble, order Domino’s and be comforted. When I finally moved over there, after all the work and sweat and tears had paid off and everything worked out, Clueless and Beverly Hills Cop joined the favorite movie collection. Of course I had seen them several times before, but I believe you connect differently with movies for which you’ve visited or live in the filming location(s). Which is exactly what I did.

Movies are there to carry us away, to take our minds off of our worries. At least for that hour and a half. I admire the way the writers and directors, producers, and actors make something so big out of nearly nothing. All these movies have helped me time and time again. Even if they’re just playing in the background, providing comfort while you cook spaghetti for the first time in a new place.


Day 16: Post your favorite movies that you never get tired of watching

Highpoint of My Day

  • Soft bells jingling me out of my slumber at 6:30am
  • Jump-started my thyroid with some good old Levothyroxine
  • Sat on the side of the bed for half an hour (as long as one is instructed to wait after taking thyroid meds… must obey directions)
  • Popped some electrolyte gummies as quick pre­-run fuel
  • Ran according to my training plan: 10 min warm-­up jog, 4 x 1600 meters at a 7:20 min/km pace, 10 min cool-down
  • Jumped over a turtle:
  • Inhaled 5 spider webs (that’s what you get for running first thing in the morning, before the other runners can get rid of the webs)
  • Traffic jam on the way home, but rocking out (softly) to Blank and Jones on my awesome Pandora station (yes, I rock out to meditation music)
  • Much deserved and needed shower (and diffused some tea tree oil… it works wonders)
  • Wanted breakfast, but headed out en route to Sarasota to see my sister
  • Cranky because I didn’t get coffee
  • Passed the Disney balloon (which just goes up and down, but is otherwise stationary) : instant mood-boost
  • Arrived at the hotel which was very welcoming with its zen scent and pink-and-white pillowed lobby
  • Met up with my sister and brother-in-law by the pool and relaxed for a bit
  • Decided we should head over to the beach
  • Couldn’t make up our minds where to eat, but opted for a Spanish Tapas Restaurant (should’ve gotten burgers)
  • My sister and I chose a Cuban dish “Ropa Vieja” which I suggested since I had it once in Spain and absolutely loved it
  • It was extraordinarily meh (like a soggy beef stew), but the Sangria did its job… Way to go me with my choice of food
  • The waitress dropped off lots of chocolate-covered mint balls though; not sure what that deal was, but she just kept them coming
  • Loaned my sister my second pair of sunglasses since she forgot hers
  • We strolled over to Lido Beach, but didn’t have a place to change into our bathing suits
  • Already at the beach, we debated where to change
  • Turned on our heels, quickly walked back to the car and had a short discussion about an expression involving sand in a female body part, meaning “annoyed” (don’t ask… )
  • Drove a few blocks
  • My brother-in-law just changed in the car
  • The rest of us chose the bathroom of a nearby shabby-chique hotel
  • Walked over to the white sandy beach where we spent a few hours baking in the sun
  • Had a nice talk with my sister, very relaxing
  • A walk turned into a quick swim through a patch of deeper water with strong currents before we climbed onto the sandbank
  • My sister found a sand dollar and we declared her the “SSDFA”, or something like that (again… don’t ask)
  • Made our way back (first to our towels, then to the hotel)
  • Changed clothes
  • Had a glass of wine (my sister had bought and chilled it, planning for tonight… I loved that)
  • Headed to the hotel restaurant in search of burgers (finally :D)
  • We switched the fries for a garden salad to be at least half nutrition conscious
  • My sister and I ran outside at 7:20 PM to catch the sunset
  • We were too early and ran back inside
  • Burgers weren’t there yet
  • Ran back outside at 7:40
  • Caught the sunset
  • We felt chilly, probably got too much sun
  • Burgers came after almost an hour, but were worth the wait
  • Back through the scented and pink­-pillowed lobby to the elevators up to the room
  • Finished our wine, told jokes of pirates and seals and other things
  • Made sure I had my frog (I have a stuffed frog which my stepdad gave to me before I came to the US; ­ I had left it at my sister’s place when I visited her not long ago)
  • I had also left my blanket which didn’t fit into her bag
  • Decided to get a new blanket
  • Not today though
  • We said auf Wiedersehen and promised to stay in touch and see each other soon
  • Realized in the car that I forgot my sunglasses
  • It’s ok, I have my frog back and she has a few days left in the sun
  • Way back home was easy, quick, and my nose is sunburned; I always look like a drunk because if anything gets a sunburn, it’s just my nose… might as well use it, no?! 😉
  • Washed the sand off my feet
  • Caught the intro to Baywatch, then drifted off; ­too much beach
  • Dreams of white sand and Spanish Restaurant chocolate-covered mint balls



Day 15: Bullet point your whole day