I’m in Miami, Babe [sic]

I’m still in the learning process with this WordPress Blog and finally figured out how to turn the „like“ button for each post back on. Yeih!  I get a little lost sometimes. Thanks for hanging in there! :)

During my Florida experience, my center has been the Orlando area with Daytona being my sunrise spot. I had the chance to drive over to Clearwater, Tampa, and Sarasota. All have incredibly beautiful beaches and accommodating warm Gulf Coast water. But a remark pops into my head that I actually hate… “I could never live here”. It’s what I said about Spain right before I moved to Madrid. It’s what I said about Los Angeles when we had a layover there some 20 years ago… I’ve lived in LA for several years. I’m not sure if I ever said it about Orlando when we went to Disney World around the same time (maybe 22 years ago), but I’m sure I must have… it’s a thing. Careful what you wish for!

Daytona Beach

When I visited Miami years ago with my parents, we stayed at the Hyatt Hotel where I befriended the barkeeper and had a crush on the bellhop. I think I was 12, but just as curious as I am now… I’ve just learned to pick my battles since then ;). I wanted to see the city again… just one more time. Even if it’s just to make sure I’m not missing anything. Talk about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)!

The drive from Orlando to Miami is about 4-5 hours, depending on traffic. After a breakfast stop in Fort Lauderdale, we proceeded to Miami and booked a hotel on South Beach. Fort Lauderdale itself is cute. I didn’t remember it like that – I went there with my parents in 2013, we had lunch and just looked around for a while. This time, I was closer to the beach and it’s a very harmonious, unproblematic city.

OJ in FL
Fort Lauderdale Ocean Front

Miami is crazy. I can’t handle Miami, but I was only there for two days this time and we drove around a lot. I like to visit filming locations (movies or TV shows) – it’s my way of exploring new places and the first thing I look for. I also prefer to walk or bike, but for cities like Los Angeles or Miami, you need more time to plan those exploration days without a car, with only public transportation.

Hotel :)

Miami has a very different vibe than the West Coast. The weather feels more humid even than in Orlando, but it was quite the opposite (at least according to my phone data). Florida is just very humid in general. Period. People keep saying that and I want to say I appreciate it because it’s much nicer to breathe and better for your hair and skin. Yeah, no. I thought I could handle it, turns out, I can’t. Or I don’t like to.

Miami beach is beautiful, but crowded. I particularly liked the colorful lighthouses – they stand out. Ocean Drive is alive and bustling.

Ocean Drive

Downtown Miami is busy, hectic. The Hyatt has changed a lot. My mom said it hasn’t changed at all… Funny how you remember things differently. There were no bellhops this time. The inside lobby has changed completely. At least from my memory.

Hyatt

A friend once told me “Miami is good to live in when you’re done”… meaning when you’re either retired or have a lot of money to spend and don’t need to bother anymore. Or not as much. Ideally, both fall within the same time span. Although two days wasn’t much, I got a little bit of a feel for the area and I have to agree. I could see myself living in South Florida much later in life. Or travelling back and forth between “here” and there, “here” being a relative option.

South Beach

I’m glad that I got to see the city again. I visited Miami’s hot and not so hot spots and discovered for myself that I’m not missing anything; that it is not for me right now. At this point in my life. I needed that.

Standing on the Corner

The night was restless. I tossed and turned, and my room upstairs had exactly two heating options: freeze or burn. Flagstaff is cold in the winter, and I opted for the burn since the motel blankets (both of them) weren’t enough to keep me warm through the night. I woke up several times to adjust the temperature, looked out the window to see if my car was still there and in the same shape that I left it in. It was. My nose started bleeding from the dry air by 5 am and I was relieved that it was almost time for me to leave.

Motel cuppa

After a quick shower and improvised breakfast (instant oats and a Styrofoam cup of coffee), I headed out. Except the car had other plans. Of course I had negotiated with Hertz forever in order to get this car and not another one that was more convenient for THEM, so after an hour, I was ecstatic that I even received this one. Right now, it requested for its tire pressure to be adjusted. The air at the Flagstaff gas station was broken, and I headed over to the Pep Boys auto repair, where everyone was very quick and helpful and had my tires checked and aired up in no time. Beautiful. Minor hiccup. Let’s get back on the road!

The in–drive entertainment for that day was Enigma’s Fall of a Rebel Angel, followed by the podcast Serial: This American Life, the first season.

Well entertained, I made it to my first stop: the Meteor Crater off of Route 66. It doesn’t have a name; it’s simply called “Meteor Crater”, conveniently located on “Meteor Crater Rd”.

On the way up to the crater

It was cold, but I came prepared. The friendly cries of a crow on top of the administration building fascinated me and showed me the way. It was more of a screech followed by a cough… maybe the crows are different up here.

I was by myself on the rim of the crater for a good 10 minutes. It was eerily quiet, like time stood still. No evolving, no change, just stillness.

Silence

I’m not used to this anymore. I grew up in a small town, but became a city girl somewhere between Madrid and Los Angeles. Cars and neighborhood noises are soothing to me. Except when it’s your direct neighbors and you hear every peep – not a fan of that! There are places out there where you can have absolute silence (the last time I experiences this was in Marina del Rey where I went parasailing). You can’t even hear the wind up there. And everything is tiny, insignificant, quiet, beautiful.

Meteor crater

I enjoyed every moment of the silence, but then headed towards the city of Winslow, Arizona, located in Navajo County along Route 66. It really almost doesn’t get more Route 66 than this. The city became famous via the Eagles’ song “Take it Easy” which has the line “standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona” in it. So I stood on the corner, walked around, had coffee, took my pictures and a few minutes to stretch and reorganize the passenger seat, and moved on out.

Route 66, standing on the corner
Take it easy

The route took me all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Very Breaking Bad. My motel, once again, was one of those typical motels where the doors lead directly to the outside which I have realized I dislike because it makes me incredibly nervous. I didn’t consider this in the planning phase. I went by the price, reviews and location, and it turned out fine. I had a nice talk with the owner while he was checking me in, and he suggested a cozy little Diner which I promptly went to.

66 Diner

66 Diner – one of the most authentic American Diners. Food is good, but the decorations and staff are what made this dining experience unforgettable.

Inside diner
Diner drinks

The sunset wasn’t bad either. 4 more travel days. I’m still alright. It’s December 1st.

Albuquerque sunset

Road Trip Part III

 

If you missed it, read Part I here: http://wp.me/p51E95-qY

Part II here: http://wp.me/p51E95-rk

Never Look Back

Find Road Trip Part I here: http://wp.me/p51E95-qY

I drove past the building displaying the Selegna Sol (Los Angeles mirrored) advertisement in the dark, turned left and followed the car’s GPS instructions from there on out ($17/day, plus Google maps, plus Road Atlas… you see why it was necessary…). And I became the waterfall.

There was nothing and nobody to stop me. Except the on-setting rush hour at 6. The sun came up. I would normally consider myself an enthusiast when it comes to sunrises and sunsets. Especially when I get to get up while it’s still dark and just head out with my camera to enjoy the silence and magic of early mornings. I have never less enjoyed a sunrise. I couldn’t even look back. Although I don’t look back whenever I leave Germany either… Ever. I hug, I turn around, I cry, and I go. Never look back.

The sun rose to my right and I still felt like a foreigner in the rental. The back was completely stuffed with my belongings except for 10 cm of room between the stuff and the car ceiling for me to look back… which I didn’t do until I was well outside of the LA area.

With my snacks, entertainment, and my travel teddy buddy next to me, I was starting to let the incredible sight of the California mountains impress me. I made it a habit to stop every 1 to 2 hours for fresh air and to stretch my legs, and inform close friends and relatives where I was. Barstow was my first stop and I took a break at a Starbucks near the Interstate.

I then continued on toward Flagstaff. The scenery changed from rocky, dry and chilly California to a relatively green, foresty, icy roaded Arizona . I’m not even sure I considered winter tires on the rental (which I was lucky to get as it was… as your experience has probably taught you, rental companies rarely have the vehicle that they advertise in their category).

Mountain sunrise
Mountains
Wild wild cold mountains

 

Arizona winter

I reached Flagstaff after a good 7 hours. There was snow on the road. I hadn’t been in the snow in years, but you very quickly remember why you don’t miss it. I also made it a habit to arrive at all my hotels around 4 or 5 pm before the darkness prevailed.

After a quick orientation in my room, I set out to see the town. I went to the spot where Forrest Gump was running and came up with the idea of “shit happens”. I bought two scones at a local bakery, gave one to a homeless guy at the corner. Dinner was Subway. Once around the block in the snow was enough in my converse sneakers. Time to head back to the hotel and call it a day. It’s November 30th.

Downtown Flagstaff
Shoes on snow
Forrest Gump “Shit happens” ;)
Motel sunset

Road Trip Part II

Easy on the Leberwurst

In order to derail my thoughts from the latest disturbing Black Mirror episodes, I decided to watch What the Health. Expecting a short documentary, it was supposed to provide information I already had and thus give me the impression that I was doing alright: Easy on the sugar, cut down on salt, more veggies, lean meats, and grilled, not fried; everything in moderation is fine, and don’t forget to exercise.

Yeah, no. Not what happened. What hit me was the speed at which I was confronted with information that I didn’t know to place. Slick move! What the Health quickly lists all the things you are not “supposed” to consume, so that the viewer (i.e. me) can’t help themselves but ask “Soooo… what the health am I allowed to eat?”. In short, what we are to avoid: meat, including cold cuts, poultry in general, even fish (due to mercury, fish farms, etc.). The researchers’ and filmmakers’ reasons being that meat especially is a primary cause of illness, without emphasizing ways of animal captivity as a primary reason (but one of the reasons) for not consuming their meats.

Spoiler alert: The greatly overweight people portrayed in this documentary lost a tremendous amount of weight within a short time and were allegedly able to get rid of ALL their medications (for depression, high blood pressure, whatever) by going vegan.

Now, I grew up in a small town with lots of farms. Our neighbors had chickens and brought us eggs on a regular basis, and I’m very used to eating meat. I love meat. I can’t imagine living without it. But today I opted for a veggie sandwich, and made a tomato cucumber salad instead of having fries on the side. Bad fries! That made me feel better, but not completely because now I’m fresh out of ideas of what I’m supposed to be eating.

This documentary comes along and says we don’t need fat. Animal fat! I’ve always learned that we should increase our intake of protein and good fats, easy on the carbs. According to the docu, carbs and protein are fine, as long as they’re not derived from animals. So, the first issue I have: Where do I get my protein from?

Saint Google was able to provide sources other than dairy, eggs and artificial powders that deliver protein, f.ex. : Spinach, kale (ugghhh!!), non-dairy milk (almond, soy, coconut… is coconut dairy? No… wait… ), tofu, nut butter, quinoa, lentils, beans. This doesn’t look too bad. It actually looks entirely doable.

My second issue: How the hell do I cook this? I just barely learned how to make chicken parm or beef stew or a good Bolognese. I don’t know how to cook quinoa… Do you even cook it? What IS quinoa? I know what it looks like and I’ve had it, I’ve just never prepared it.

So, overall, the only deficit in your typical vegan seems to be vitamin B12, and you can take a supplement for that… Hmm.

I’ll be doing more research. At this point I’m just very confused… New nutritional information is “discovered” and brought to light every day and everything new contradicts the old, not even mentioning the moral issues. Which is the point, I suppose.  I’m very much considering at least going vegetarian for a while… “For a while” in case I’m on the verge of starving because I’m unable to prepare vegetables. And tofu. Oh God, tofu. Just thinking about it makes me want to go to the German Deli and get a Braunschweiger. Creature of habit.

Cat Calling The Kettle Black

Body Shaming has become some sort of popular pastime where it seems that everything goes. In a time where everyone posts selfies, celebrates who they are or pretend to be, those who prefer to look on do exactly that. Depending on the day, I am on both sides… Usually more on the preferring-to-look than present myself side (introvert), but on a confident day, I’ll bust out a selfie. And if the lighting is right.

The issue I have with both sides of the judging medal is that people will always criticize. Even if they wrap it in a fancy compliment. I received just that (without the fancy)… One might label it catcalling, which is also a form of body shaming (and sexual harassment at that)… And it made me feel everything but confident. I agree that there are quite a few issues with social media and you have to truly consider what you want to put out there because it will be out there. But then you also have to be confident enough to shoulder the echo like a champ. The remark I received came from a friend (thankfully in a private message, not in public, which I believe he wouldn’t do) and it sparked this entire domino-effect of thoughts in my head.

Do you remember the Watzlawick story of the guy who wanted to hang a picture and needed to borrow a hammer from his neighbor? When he set out to borrow the hammer, he started to have doubts about whether his neighbor would even lend it to him. If the situation had been reversed, he would’ve let him borrow his immediately. And he goes on and on in his head and warps up this entire scenario about what the neighbor might do or think until he is so caught up in his self-destructive unhappiness that he stomps over, knocks on the door and when the neighbor greets him with a friendly “Hello”, he yells “You can keep your stupid hammer”. Well… that’s kind of what happened here.

I was offended at the comment he made instead of taking it as a compliment. The thing is that I can’t take catcalling as a compliment. I beast myself almost two hours a day, five days a week. For me. And only me. On a bad day, even a rude “compliment” can turn into an intra-head back-and-forth discussion of why men these days (generalizing) cannot simply pay a gentleman-like compliment. Why does it always (ALWAYS) have to be “Nice t!its, nice a$$, hot damn”… Catcalling is very construction-site and I condemn it. Deeply.

It makes me feel like I’m working out to be objectified. I don’t believe that even those girls (or guys) who put themselves out there in a lot less than fully dressed aim to be objectified. It’s less likely that they will be receiving honest and polite compliments, and they might even get a kick out of dirty catcalling, but deep down, it’s harassment. And nobody deserves that. And it’s never “OK”.

Rant over.

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 29: It was supposed to be “What is the biggest barrier between you and full honesty in your journaling?”, but I just did that… so, there we go.

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

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…

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 23: A challenge you’re facing

Recalculating

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.

#30DayWritingChallenge

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

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!

#30DayWritingChallenge

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.

#30DayWritingChallenge

Day 18: Write about something for which you feel strongly