Much Love

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m reading The Circle by Dave Eggers or what but I’m suddenly sick of anyone knowing anything about me.

I like writing, but right now this blog is not a good thing for me. I need to write for myself, live for myself.

So I’m going to take a break. I’m going to continue with my self improvement plan, and I’m going to continue writing and living.

But no blog for a bit.

Much love to you all.

– Mark W.

Days 16-18: Something Wicked This Way Comes

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Day 16 – I have designated Sunday a “free day,” which means I can consume and do whatever I want. The reason this fits into the self improvement scheme is because I need an escape valve, I need at least the option to blow off steam if I want. Though this Sunday I did nothing different, and that was the real victory. I chose to eat well. I chose to not drink. I chose to be good to myself.

It also occurred to me that being my best self might not necessitate cutting everything out of my life, i.e. booze and coffee and sugar. I just don’t want to feel like I NEED any of these things to be my best self. That’s my real fear. I don’t want to feel like I need alcohol to be creative, or cigarettes to be philosophical. It’s also kind of a “screw you” to anyone who can’t take me in my tee totaling, “find myself” state. This is one facet of me that exists, for better or worse.

Day 17 – Day 17’s improvement is “take a class.” I start intensive German on Monday. Three hours a day, four days a week. I love learning and I love learning languages even more, so I’m excited. I will probably be ultra critical of the teacher but hopefully accepting, too. And I hope this class will make my presence in Hamburg feel a little less arbitrary.

Day 18 – It would seem the push-ups are negatively affecting the middle trapezius of my left shoulder. I intend to press on at all costs.

Day 18’s improvement is exciting. It involves making “to-do” lists. Every morning I get up, and before checking my email or seeing how many people liked my selfie ok Instagram, I make a list of the following items: important items I have scheduled, and things I want to accomplish. For example, today I have an English class at 12pm. This is something I have to do. Also, in the evening I’m meeting my German conversation partner, again something I have to do. Then, below this, I have my goals list, which has things like “write blog” and “do lunges in public while grunting.”

In other news, last night made me realize the designation of Sunday as a free day is critical. If I didn’t have it the pressure would build and one of these days I’d probably buy a pack of cigarettes and hang out with the guys who drink beer at the bus station near Wandsbek  (which actually sounds pretty awesome ).

Also, I got new shoes. And I’m still doing the captioning/transcribing job. Why quit when I’ve come so far? When I have so much to lose?

Emptiness.

Days 14 and 15: Push-ups and Stadtrad

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Near Barmbek, Hamburg

Day 14 – Started a push-up regimen. I do one push-up more per day than I did the previous day. Right now I’m at five. By the end I should be able to do 85 push-ups without stopping.

Day 15 – Created a Stadtrad account. Stadtrad is Hamburg’s city bicycle system. It’s fabulous. The first 30 minutes are free and after that it costs 8 cents a minute. There’s locations all over the city. This, coupled with some running, and I should be getting a decent amount of exercise. It also provides incentive to buy gloves, which I needed anyway. And running provides an inventive to buy shoes, since all I have now are leather boots.

In other news, I have had Tom Kha Gai two days in a row and will be very surprised if I don’t have it tomorrow, too.

Also, I met with a conversation partner yesterday. She’s in her upper fifties and for the first hour or so of hour meeting the atmosphere was downright combative. Then we took a walk and it was better.

Now I’m lying on my bed contemplating what to do with the rest of the afternoon.

The struggle continues in Hamburg.

Day 13: I Wake up at 7:51am

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I wake up at 7:51am and lie in bed for a second, looking up at the ceiling.

I wake up at 7:51am, go pee, and then get back in bed and read Stoner. I tap the light behind me twice to turn it on. I want to check my emails but I’m forcing myself not to because that’s usually the first thing I do every morning and I don’t think it’s good. I think about things I “need” to do today. There’s a beginner German conversation group at 10:30 at the central library. I think I’ll go.

I boil water for tea, one black tea bag and one chai tea bag, and eat yogurt mixed with apple in my room. I don’t have english class with Javier today because someone important in his life is in the hospital. “I’m not sure when we can talk again,” he says. “It’s fine,” I say, “talk to me when you can.”

I look over what I wrote yesterday, about “fate” and everything else, and it seems so bad. So light. I don’t want my writing to be light. Well, at times, I do. But other times I want it to hit like a sack of concrete, and the only way you can do this is with time. I’m convinced. Really good writing takes time. And yesterday what I wrote didn’t take long at all.

I scrape the bottom of the yogurt container to get all the 3.8% fat yogurt out, and then rinse it in the sink with hot water and put the plastic container in the recycling. I sit at my desk in my rented Air Bnb room, and think about how to best live the day.

I walk the 3.5 kilometers to the beginner German conversation group at the library. It’s freezing. The ground is hard and I try to run, to “get some exercise,” but the earth is too hard and the little frozen ridges in the soil hurt my feet. Still, I arrive on time. There’s a group of people waiting, and most of them look Middle Eastern.

The man next to me in class is Hamma, and he’s from Iraq. We spend the first 20 minutes talking about how I’m going to help him move tomorrow. Or at least that’s what I think we’re talking about. Also participating in the conversation is Armando, from Colombia. In the class there’s also a girl from Algeria, some people some Syria, and a kid from Afghanistan. I sit studying the kid from Afghanistan’s features for a moment. I realize I haven’t met a lot of people from Afghanistan, or even been in the presence of a lot of people from Afghanistan. And then I turn to Hamma, who’s asking about something. I tell him I have plenty of time to help him move this weekend. Three hours? Of course.

One of the mediators is a young German girl who sits by our conversation group for awhile. I get the feeling she doesn’t really want to be there, like this is part of an internship or volunteer work and while it’s not the worst thing in the world she’s not entirely comfortable, either. Still, she speaks to us only in German. It’s an amazing resource, these free classes. Coupled with a paid course I have lofty hopes for my German acquisition in the coming weeks.

Speaking of the paid course, I must pay for it today to reserve my spot, so I go there after the conversation group, but not before stopping at Thalia to read Dave Eggers’ The Circle for a bit. The heating in the entryway slams into me like a fullback, enveloping me. It’s so nice to be warm. I’ve gone to Thalia everyday for probably five days in a row now. They have comfortable chairs. It’s warm. They have gross quantities of books. I like to be surrounded by them. I’m comforted by two things: books, and getting on modes of transportation to leave. Put me on a plane (leaving, of course) to anywhere, with a good book in my hand, and my eyes begin to sparkle.

After Thalia I pay for my German class. Full commitment. Well, sort of. I pay 10% extra for “insurance” just in case I get a job and need to leave the class early. But if I don’t get a job, I’ll be here at least until the end of February. What will happen that month? What will my life be like on February 27th, 2017? What a wonderful thing, to not really know. Some people would say, No, that’s horrible, I would much rather know where I was going to be in a month. But you never really know anyway. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. The most you can be
Is pretty sure. But it’s true that anything could happen, and I take comfort in that. I need to take comfort in that right now.

Also, if something’s going to happen, I need to make it happen.