End of Day

The evening has started and I’m curling up with my TV quiz shows. I used to think that only “old people” watch those… which is probably true. But shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune do help in language learning. Since I’m done studying (for now), I don’t make enough time for acquiring new language skills (actively). Of course I learn and practice every day through interacting with native English and Spanish speakers, and I feel that English has become more than a second language to me. When I first started watching Jeopardy, I didn’t even understand the questions… and they are sometimes still over my head, but I’m getting better and am ecstatic whenever I know an answer the contestant doesn’t. Even if I have no idea what drawer I had to pry open in my brain to find that kind of information.

Speaking of old… I got Chinese takeout the other day and the fortune cookie reminded me that age is a matter of feelings, not years. What a stupid thing to put in a cookie! I expect legitimate wisdom, not something I already know. And not enough with that, but I made sure to throw the message out with its Chinese leftovers. Apparently, I wasn’t thorough enough: After the dishwasher was done gurgling and splashing and puffing, I put the dishes back in their respective resting places. One fork had a message for me though… It was like the fortune cookie had looked at me while I read it the first time and thought to itself “No.. nope… She didn’t quite get it yet. She thinks she has, but… we have to take a different approach here”. So it attached itself to a utensil and survived several cleaning cycles. What a trooper! When I pulled out the fork, I saw that cookie message looking up at me, in hopeful expectation holding its imaginary arms open, yelling “Tadaa…Huh?! Huh?!” Yeah, well, fork you too!

I watch a lot of Netflix shows as well. Most of them in English, some in Spanish since I don’t want to lose what I’ve worked on for so long, but a lot of idioms and structures comes back quickly. Most of my languages I expanded passively by listening to and watching shows (after I had built a good basis abroad). I don’t have to interact with my Netflix shows (although I do) and I have yet to finish The Walking Dead, Twin Peaks, Bates Motel, and The Killing (perhaps a bit one-sided at this point). But at least I was able to scratch Haters Back Off and Saving Banksy off my diligent Virgo watching list.

Reading… yet another list. I’m still working on Stephen King’s IT, but should finish it within the next week or so. I’m really hoping it will end better than it is now… I’m fighting through each page and just hanging on after 500 pages because I’ve committed… I can’t abandon it now that I’ve gone past the half-way mark.

Running, Body Pump, workout classes in general and cycling: My bike has been broken for a couple of months now and I dearly miss it. It’s sitting head up in a room with the washer and dryer and waiting for its destiny. That bike has carried me across LA several times (Pier to Disney Hall and back), up my favorite streets, along the beach as well as to work and back. He’s my buddy and I will fix him (said every girlfriend ever).

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 27: Something that makes you feel better

BaLAncing Your Passions

If you had asked me a decade ago what I was passionate about, I wouldn’t have had a clear response. In my early twenties, I was concerned with my studies, improving my foreign language skills and a marriage that eventually turned cold. Don’t get me wrong, that phase was necessary. Some things need to go in order to make room for new passions.

Movies and TV shows have always been my go-to. In the 80s and 90s, I recorded my favorite sitcoms on VHS cassettes and the first movie I watched at the theater was The Little Mermaid, I think. Back when grown­­­-­ups were allowed to smoke in movie theaters… in Germany. There was a button at each seat – if you pressed it, a waiter would come running and take your drink order. We always had Fanta Orange Soda.

That passion hasn’t changed. With the oversupply of shows and movies available through Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc., it is tougher to pick out the right ones, but when you’re determined, the right ones will find you.

Besides getting lost in those virtual representations of life, I liked being active. Physical education was one of my favorite subjects in school and I grew up playing tennis. I played all throughout High School and still occasionally pick up a racket, but my focus has turned to running and fitness in general. There is something about scraping at your physical threshold and pushing to become better. It’s frustrating when you feel that you’re not advancing, but so rewarding when you overcome that mental block. Just in time for the next one.

Writing about all of what has happened has helped me over the years, but I was mostly active in journaling and writing for our school newspaper (way back when). I still consider it a passion because it’s something I like to do and would like to improve.

Three years ago, I held my first DSLR in my hands and a new passion was born. Not right away because I had to figure out how it works and get over the frustration (that and passion seem to go hand in hand). I remember I went to a photo studio in Germany this one time to have my portrait taken to put on my resume. The photographer invited me back to have more photos taken with a friend of mine (my upstairs neighbor). It turned into the most hilarious event ever. The poor photographer had something else in mind and was aiming for a more erotic shoot. Little did he know that he had two absolute hyenas in front of his lens, laughing every time he instructed us to do something we clearly didn’t want to do. We thought we’d go with it, but it turned out anything BUT erotic. It was still fun and we laugh about it to this day. This is not how I got into photography though. Oh boy.

Each person is different behind the camera – that’s what makes it fascinating. Sometimes you look for something to be different on purpose, just to capture it and say “see, it’s not all the same”. I like how versatile it is. You can be in a crowd or by yourself. You can use the camera settings or edit post-shooting. You learn to be detail-oriented and shift your focus (hah, get it?!).

My biggest passion of all, however, is Los Angeles. I know, it only took me three blog posts to get back to my favorite topic. I love exploring LA, finding new places and just noticed that it rolls all my other passions into one: I run through it and exercise, love TV show recordings and movie premieres, write about it and take photos of it. LA can’t be explained. It just lets you be… And do your thing. You can blame the city all you want for your failure or praise it for your success; it won’t judge. It will just be there. Which is exactly what I like and need.

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 13: 5 Things you’re passionate about

Mind the TV gap

Ever since Breaking Bad, True Blood, Dexter, How I met your Mother, The Office, and the L-Word have ended, I’ve been on the prowl for a new show to binge on. Netflix is a wonderful companion, but if you’re already subscribed to it, you can also spend an evening just browsing through what you could be watching without actually watching anything. Which can turn out to be extremely frustrating and you have no idea how the last couple of hours passed and you didn’t develop an addiction to any new shows. It’s a bit of a let down.

If you’re in the same predicament or just curious about what I’m doing with my free time, here are some shows that I started watching in order to fill the void that Walter White and Dexter left in my TV-loving heart. For all shows, I usually wait until an entire season is out because what’s binge watching without the binge? Here’s what’s happening with the following:

  1. Orange is the new Black

Three seasons are out so far and I just completed season 3, which was released this summer (feels like the wait has been forever). The show is a crime/comedy about Piper Chapman, a woman in her 30’s living in New York City. She is sentenced to a year in prison for smuggling drug money. Getting accustomed to the daily life in a woman’s prison, she makes “friends”, learns the hierarchy of power and has a shift in personal priorities. Love this show, but season 3 was “meh”.

  1. House of Cards

I just started watching this one, but it looks like something I could binge on, especially since season 3 is released tomorrow! House of Cards is a political drama series in which Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) becomes the US Secretary of State and then looks to achieve an even greater level of power. Underwood directly addresses the viewer, which is a technique that no other show currently applies, and reminds one of a higher level Saved-By-The-Bell-Zach-Morris talking to the camera. The conflict is mainly political, moral, human, and how far one may go for power.

  1. Bates Motel

If you read my previous post about Universal Studios Hollywood, this show is a logical consequence. It’s closely related to Hitchcock’s original Psycho, where Normal Bates takes the center role and together with his mother Norma, moves to Oregon to run a little motel. Norman’s eerie performance is magnificent – he kills and smiles; the show has twists and turns and keeps you on the edge. The characters are versatile and keep you watching.

  1. Homeland

My favorite show right now, and unfortunately not on Netflix. Season 4 was released in 2014, and the show has been renewed for season 5. If you haven’t watched it – you need to catch up! The political thriller revolves around Carrie Mathison, a CIA agent with bipolar disorder, fighting for her country and against Al Qaida to catch the head of the operation, Abu Nazir (season 2 mainly). All summaries of the show sound rather dry, but this show is amazing and really worth watching – Claire Danes is superb!

  1. Californication

I’m not a big fan at this time, although I love David Duchovny and Evan Handler. This show is extremely LA and California, but for my taste, too vulgar and makes me depressive. It follows Hank Moody (Duchovny), a writer in Los Angeles, who looks to relieve his writer’s block with alcohol, drugs, and loose relationships. Some people are really into it; I never got past episode 7 of the first season, but may try again.

  1. Scandal

I haven’t checked it out, but hear that it’s worth it. Similar to House of Cards, Scandal is a political thriller revolving around Olivia Pope in Washington D.C. and her crisis management firm. There are 4 seasons so far and it looks like it will be renewed for season 5 as well.

  1. Heroes

The good news: It’s on Netflix and there are 4 seasons ready to be watched. It’s a SciFi Drama about regular human beings who discover that they have superhuman abilities. It is based on American Comic books and was filmed in Los Angeles, which is nice since you recognize a lot of the sights if you live in the area or have visited. Worth a try!

  1. American Horror Story

Jessica Lange is worth watching just by herself. So far, each season has had a different theme, but after a little research, we find out that all of them are secretly connected. The latest season that’s out on Netflix is Coven (Season 3). Season 4 is currently airing on FX with its current theme “Freak Show”. This one is based on a circus of freaks and “unnatural talents”, who make it a point to keep to themselves and want to be recognized and accepted. You don’t have to watch all seasons in sequence, but it’s nice to be familiar with the characters and to see how versatile they are. Definitely a must-watch!

  1. The Walking Dead

Another one I came to watch thanks to Universal Studios Hollywood and their Halloween Horror nights. Each year, they have a Walking Dead zone where you are chased by zombies and fight for survival. Naturally, after experiencing that, you gotta watch the show. It’s about a guy named Rick who loses everything and almost everyone in a zombie apocalypse, gathers the last survivors on earth to rebuild what was originally his/human. Must watch as well, especially the first 2-3 seasons!

  1. The Fall

A new crime drama series with Gillian Anderson (the X-Files). If you like The Killing, this show portrays a similar mood – gloomy, rainy, mysterious – wonderful! Two seasons are out so far, and it’s worth watching. It’s set in Northern Ireland, where Stella Gibson (Anderson) is a police officer, investigating murders in Belfast. Her target so far is a serial killer played by Jamie Dornan (50 Shades of Grey). Worth a try!

Which one is your favorite or has intrigued you? Feel free to make your own suggestions :).

(#My500Words Day 11)