Monday, August 29, 2011

New Schedule

I have been told that my erratic publishing schedule (that is, my inexistent publishing schedule) makes it hard for my readers to keep up with the blog. Sometimes I publish all too often and readers fall behind; sometimes I have too long a break and readers forget to come back and check if something new has been posted.

So, in order to strengthen the loyalty of my current readers, and with the aim to gain the loyalty of new readers, I shall establish a publishing schedule: Every Monday, a new post will be published. I wished I could also state a time, but I don't want to make promises I know I won't be able to keep. But Monday, Monday I can commit to.

Yeah. That's all. Stay tuned for Monday's blog. I think it will be awesome.

*I hope*

Monday, August 22, 2011

True Story

It was in that moment when she realized that she had to make a decision. Right then and there. There was no time for stalling or doubting or waiting. A decision had to be made, and she was the only one who could make it. It had to be her decision, because it would change her life forever. Yes, it would of course also affect the lives of the many people who surrounded her, of the many people who surrounded her because they loved her - because they love her. Yes, their lives would also be affected by her decision; but they would not be woken up in the middle of the night with the question, "Did I make the right decision?" circling in their heads. Their lives would too be affected, yes, but with time they would forget, the pain would go away, the anger would fade, the incomprehension would wither. But not for her - no, most definitely not for her. This decision, the one that she was facing in this very moment, would transform her in ways she had not even become to fathom. This decision would shape her. A small part of her would die, yes, because she would have to give something up whatever way she leaned. To decide, said once a wise old man, is to renounce. The moment she made her decision she would be using her freewill to consciously renounce to something else. There was a bittersweet irony in this renunciation, however, because regardless of what choice she made, she would still be renouncing to herself.

Yes, in order to make her decision, she had to give up a part of who she was, she had to let it go, she had to succumb to what others wanted and expected of her. But that was also what she wanted. She wanted to please and be pleased, she wanted to love and be loved, she wanted to accept and be accepted. But life is unfair, thus both could she not have. And she knew that. And because she knew that, she was willing go give a part of herself up, she was willing to let go of who she was to become that which she was expected to become in order to achieve a little, just a tiny little bit of harmony.

But that was not the decision she had to make - that decision she had already made. The decision to give up a part of herself was made the moment she realized that she had to make a bigger, more important, more intricate decision, the decision that startled her right in that moment. Which part of me do I give up?, she asked, half rhetorically, half hoping, wishing, that someone would give her an answer. None came.

Which part of her should she give up? Her past? Or her future? Which part of her should she give up? Who she was? Or who she is? Which part of her should she give up? What she became? Or what became of her? What part of her should she give up? That which she loves? Or that which is loved by her? Is that not the same anyway? Is it not all the same? The past makes up the future, does it not? Who you were makes up who you are, does it not? What you become is what became of you, is it not? That which you love is also that which is loved by you, only differently phrased, with a varying emphasis, with an ambiguous direct and indirect object, with an exchangeable accusative and dative subject. It is all the same. But still, it is not. And one of it has to be let go so that the other may continue to be.

Yes, a decision has to be made. But how to make it?

And as she was there, standing in the long line, people behind her anxious to move on, she held her ticket on her left hand and her passport on her right hand, and she dared to ask, with no tears running down her face, yet one more question:


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Have my cake and eat it too

I don't know why I used that phrase - I hate it, and I'm not sure I quite get it. But I'll give it a try.

Why must we (or is it only me?) have the need to have our cake and eat it too? Why can't we just let the cake be, knowing that the cake is ours. Why must we eat it?

To not make the analogy more complex than it needs to be, why do I want to get married?!

I live with a wonderful guy who loves me, who cooks deliciously, and who pays for all my expenses while in a foreign country (that last bit of information is sadly important, right?). Yes, we live in sin. But for all intents and purposes, we're married. Minus the document from the Holy Church. We do what married couples do: we sleep together (fully clothed, of course, just in case my parents are reading this!), we eat together, we go out together, we don't see other people, we don't behave ourselves inappropriately with other people; we go shopping together, sometimes I even manage to dress in the same colors as he (without him noticing, of course. When he notices, like every normal man, he freaks out!); we brush our teeth together, we cook together (when he cooks; when I cook, he's either not home or playing in his PS3, like any other normal man...); we argue, we quarrel, we sometimes don't talk to each other. We're normal. I think.

Still, I want to get married. When we were just going out, I was convinced that all I needed to be happy, was for him to call me his girlfriend in front of his family. He did this sooner than I expected. After that, I was convinced that all I needed to be happy, was for him to stay with me in my apartment once in a while. He did this later than sooner. After that, I was convinced that all I needed to be happy, was for us to move in together. Now we live together. And guess what? I'm not "happy".

I say "happy" because of course I'm happy. I love this man! And he loves me too. And we have a great life together. He likes being together with a writer and eternal student, and he supports me to the end. What else can a girl ask for?

A girl can ask for a ring. Because now I am convinced that, all I need to be happy, is for him to propose.

Funny, right?

Funny, because all I want is a document. A piece of paper issued by an institution in which I don't particularly believe, stating that we are committed to each other. Legally, I don't need it. Morally, I don't need it. Ethically, I don't need it. I want it. I want it. And that's the problem. I just can't let good enough be good enough. I have to have my cake and it eat too.


I currently know more happily divorced people than I know happily married people. Not to say I don't know happily married couples - I do. But I know a heck of a lot more unhappily married couples, or happily divorced people. I don't want to be a divorcée. I want to stay with one man for my whole life. And I want to have kids. And I want my kids to grow up with their father, like I did.

So, if anybody out there has a secret cure for ring-anxiety and can send it my way, I'd really appreciate it. Not like I'm in a hurry or anything, since Honey has announced that he has NO PLANS of getting married anytime soon. And the only thing that scares me more than being a Bridezilla, is being a Bridezilla with a guy who has not asked me to be his bride! AGH!

Who knows. In the meantime, I will just lay back and enjoy the wonders of living in sin. Living in sin, yes, but with a guy who loves me, and whom I love. Love can't be that much of a sin, right?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fear of heights, you ask?

When a conversation begins with, "Do you have a fear of heights?", you should already know that whatever comes next is not going to be good. Unless you have the opposite, some kind of acrophilia. Neither are my case. My answer was, "I have fear in general, but not specifically of heights..." --and I should have left it there, but I proceeded to ask, "Why?"

I was then invited on a climbing trip to a Kletternpark, or Hochseilgarten. Of course I said yes, because I was sure Honey would say no; it was to be on a weekday, and Honey works. In my mind, it was a perfect plan. Only that Honey took the day off and, before I realized what the heck was happening, a couple of days later a young, handsome man was asking my name while attaching my harness, my rope and my carabiners.

"You do speak German, right?", he asked, because I was not answering any of his questions (which were, "How are you?" and "What's your name?").

I nodded and looked away again. I looked at what I would be facing the moment he was done dressing me.

Crazy German idea of fun... But all the Germans were so excited, and I was not about to be the scardy-cat Colombian. No siree! I put on a huge smile and pretended to be brave. On level 1.

They have 8 levels, 8 being the hardest. I began with level 1, and did ok. Being that it was my first time EVER climbing and jumping around in the air (always less than a meter over ground), I was screaming in fear.

Level 2 was better, although scarier. This time I was all the time at least 2 meters above ground.

Level 3 should have been my last one, but the group wanted to climb one more, and I was not about to sit down and wait for them all bored and lonely... so I went to do number 4. Unfortunately, there was a long line - but 5 was alone. All alone. Waiting for me. Calling my name. Enticing me. Evil 5.

So we went ahead, two Germans (Meria and Mareke) and me. Meria went ahead first, she is so brave. When she thought she had gotten to the platform, she looked down and said, "Woo-hoo, I made it!" But we burst her bubble: "You still have a long way to go! Look up!" Dude - she still had an eternity to climb. But she did it. Tall Germans.

Then it as my turn. As I was on the second step, Mareke said, "I don't think I'll join you up there - it looks too scary.| Pfff!! Puh-lease! I told her to not be chicken.

 She was a chicken.

In retrospective, I should have been, too.

So I climbed.

The Number 5 course has the most obstacles, that is, it is the longest. Ish. So there comes a moment when it is not so much fear of dying that paralyzes you, but rather total exhaustion. Muscles you had no idea you had ache - and your body weighs a thousand million kilos. Damn German chocolate...

Everything was ok until I got to this obstacle:

This is the point where I am no longer scared but rather tired. And I am so tired, that I let the two KIDS behind me go ahead. The first one, a boy about 10 years old, runs by. Like that--swoosh. Like he had no idea that one can die in these kinds of things! Then a girl, about 10 - she was very polite and asked if I didn't want to go first (chicken!!), she said she could wait. I told her I just needed a few minutes...

Then my turn came, and I did the first thing EVERYONE tells you NOT to do: I looked down.

Look, the only way you know you have a fear of heights is when you look down and feel a very specific fear that paralyzes you as you stand there, facing a possible imminent death 17 meters below you (which of course I will SWEAR was more like 170 meters) and  hanging only by a lame, tiny, totally unsafe rope and carabiners (which, of course, are totally safe).

Yes, I should have said. Yes, I do have a fear of high heights.

I began to cry. At first, only cute little tears. But also, I have recently discovered I suffer from hysterical laughter - so I started to laugh hysterically. I call down to Mareke and ask her to bring a coach-person-thingy to come save me. She runs. From a million meters under, a man yells something unintelligible. Then Mareke replies on my behalf, "Her name is Natalya." He says that there are two choices and proceeds to explain them - for the life of me, I have no clue what he said. When it looked like he was finished, I yelled, "Do any of those options include you coming up here?" He said no... so I let out a huge cry, which of course sounded like laughter, so he laughed. He was kind enough to say he'd climb right away...

So there I am, a gazillion kilometers above ground, hugging a tree, and I realize how ridiculous I look. So now I am not only crying due to fear, but also due to shame. And my muscles hurt, so I am also crying due to pain. That was the only time I was happy to be so far away from civilization. No one really saw me crying. 

A thousand hours later, the guy finally comes to my rescue. Martin. He goes over the two options again, and now I understand them:

1) He will lower me with a safety rope blah blah blah - I stopped listening because my fear of heights kicked in. And I cried.

2) He will climb this and the remaining obstacles with me and blah blah blah - I stopped listening because my fear of heights and my embarrassment kicked in. And I cried more.

But then there was a new option:

3) He will stay on the platform and talk me through this obstacle so that I may go ahead and blah blah blah - I stopped listening because my fear of heights and my embarrassment and my pain kicked in. And I let out a sorrowful yelp.

I think I scared him a little. 

And then this was my reasoning:

Option 1 will not work because I will die in the lowering process. No. Option 2 will not work because - look again at what I had to do:

I had to walk through these wood thingies. And I thought, when I get on the first one, it will swing. Swinging means falling, and falling means death. If the both of us get on the wooden thingy, it will swing more and we will die faster. Yeah - no.

And Option 3 was not going to work because, OMG, I was in so much pain, the idea of having to continue was just excruciating. Might I mention that I was not even half way through at this point, but I was at the highest point of the whole climbing park thingy.

But then I also realized that I had to get a grip on myself because people were waiting to experience the super fun of having near-death experiences!

So I said, I can do it. And I started to cry again. And I continued to be paralyzed. So much for action words.

I said again, I can do it. I looked down. Started crying again. Continued to be paralyzed. Hated myself a little.

I said again, I can do it. 

Martin, by the way, was super cool and super sweet and not at all patronizing. The best coach-person there. 

With this last "I can do it", my foot climbed on the swing and, as expected, the thingy swinged and my whole body was brought onto the swing. This was, of course, melodiously accompanied by my shrieks, which I am sure could be heard in China. Once I was safely on the wooden thingy, still screaming, Martin congratulated me, and I began to cry hysterically, my tears making the people 17 meters below me wet, I promise. And my hysterical cries made me laugh hysterically, and poor Martin didn't know what to do, so he laughed uncomfortably. Honey, 17 meters below me, was being the most supportive boyfriend in the world, telling me he was so proud and he loved me so much. Mareke was also encouraging me. Even Hendrik and evil Nicole (this was all HER idea!!!) were cheering me on.

So there I am, like the lady in the picture above - hanging on to dear life. Laughing and crying. 

And completely paralyzed.

I could not move. I could not go on. I could only laugh and cry. 17 meters above ground, laughing and crying hysterically. 

What a sight.

Somehow I was able to regain movement and slowly, but surely, began my way through the Level 5 hanging obstacle course.

It was scary. It was terrifying. It was a horrible experience. I am afraid of heights. I was in pain for 3 days afterwards. I don't understand how people consider this fun. 

So, Nicole, when are we going again?