Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism


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Feeling comfortable

Buying clothes was such a battle around here. First off, the sizes are different, and even if you think that the sizes are the same as the US sizes (say, it says “medium” on the label), believe me, they’re not the same. You’re in for an epic session of trying stuff on. But the worst thing, by far the worst, was when I had to go shopping with friends.

Shopping by myself was kind of easy. I simply never bought anything because everything I saw was too revealing. Simple as that!

Now, despite my friends’ knowledge of my background, they were unable to internalize what “modesty” meant for me. They didn’t get it, and even when I explained why something was not okay, they didn’t see why it wouldn’t be ok.

I remember a shopping trip with my best friend who picked out some things for me (because I was unable to find anything that I thought I would be able to wear). She had picked out a cute pink shirt that has some flowery ruffles on the shoulders. I tried it on and felt terrible. It had a revealing neckline – two fingers below the collarbone. I told my friend, who was waiting in front of the curtain for my signal, that I couldn’t wear this.  She was surprised to hear that I found the neckline too deep, but because I’m so skinny, she didn’t per se question this – she wanted to see it. So she lifted the curtain just a bit, which caused me to hiss at her viciously and pull the curtain closed with a violent force that hurt her hand, all while screaming “What are you doing?!”. I was convinced that once the curtain was lifted, all men (in the H&M women’s section, lol) would immediately stare at me. Kind of like zombies in a movie, when they smell blood, you know?

When I think back to those times, I usually don’t remember the negative feelings as much. I rather feel regret at not buying a particularly nice top, or dress, or skirt. I once didn’t buy a dress that I was convinced showed off my back too much. Now I sometimes wish I had bought it, because it was unique and pretty. Ah well.

It’s funny how similar yet different we all are. After reading Melissa’s post on clothing, I realized that I’m not like that at all. I love things that are typically considered “feminine”. I think the most important area is make up. I wasn’t allowed make up growing up and have developed a sick passion for it ever since moving to Germany. I love dark eye make ups and red lipsticks. I love looking vampy, or “femme fatale”. I love changing my hair – colors, cuts, styles. I don’t believe this is due to my upbringing, I think it’s more of a rebellion sort of thing. But in a way, Melissa and I are still the same. We don’t care about what others may think. Being yourself, doing things that are fun to you, make you feel good, even when it’s not conforming with norms is really what it comes down to. I like to showcase my obscenely red lipstick at 2 PM. Screw your social rules. I’m happy with it, and if you’re not, you are free to look the other way.


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I’m not special!

The last weeks have been filled with positive experiences, especially when it comes to my high school degree.

When I started school I was very afraid I’d be a “weirdo”, I’d be labeled stupid and lazy because I didn’t have a high school degree in my early 20s. I wrote a post about how I found out that I wasn’t an “exception” and how great it was to go back to school – to be accepted as one of many going this way later in life.

The school system is simply different here, allowing people to leave school at the age of 16 (called a “mid degree”) if they wanted to do jobs you don’t go to university for. A carpenter for example, sales people, office jobs, lower career bank and lower career police jobs and so on. So not everyone has a high school degree – basically only people who want to go to university get it. Of course, it is possible for everyone to get a high school degree and go to university still. There are many who got their mid degrees, went through 3 year training to be, say, a lower police officer, and then want to go back to school for a higher police officer career. Hence it’s not looked down upon at all – it’s very normal for a 30-year-old to go back to school to improve his/her career!

And exactly this thinking people have here made me feel like I achieved something great. When people ask me what I do these days, I’m able to proudly say “I just got my high school degree so I can go to university!”. NOBODY, literally nobody!, looks at you funny. People nod and say “Oh great!”.

The main reason why I love this so much is because now, nobody asks me why I didn’t have any training. Everything I did in my life career wise becomes unimportant, because people think it’s great to learn something new. They don’t wonder, they don’t ask why I was a “stay at home daughter”. It’s all unimportant now. I’m not the “weird American fundamentalist girl” anymore. I’m the girl who went back to school in her 20s.

A few days ago Daniel’s Mom invited us over for afternoon coffee and cake in her garden. It’s actually a very common thing to go for coffee and cake at 4 PM. Many do it every day. Mrs Daniel’s neighbor was working in her garden and came over for a quick chat. Daniel’s Mom introduced me and the neighbor asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I just finished high school, she looked at me, nodded and said “Oh my, you went back to school? That’s great!” Then she told us the story of her nephew who did the same at 26 and is now an engineer. She finished by padding Daniel on the back and saying “Smart one you got yourself there!”. I smiled, simply happy that she didn’t know, didn’t ask about the past.

Finally, finally I’m not so strange any more. Yes, life is so good when you can make your own choices!


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Lisa has a nervous breakdown!

Yes, I’m still having one! It might just be a permanent condition by now!

I’ve been a bit MIA lately. I didn’t really want to post about it because, to be quite honest, I was afraid of posting it before it was over, afraid of people saying “awww I’m sorry” cause I can’t stand people feeling sorry for me. I was really afraid. But now’s the time to say it…

My written exams are overrrrrrrrrr!!!! Wooooh!

Yes, my last, final, super important exams. Over. This is so weird. I never thought I’d say this.

I studied a lot the last few months, I’m sure you could tell I took a lot of time off blogging due to math and german and the other stuff I really had to work hard to get through. The last few weeks have been so hard.

I studied 12-16 hours a day. I developed the strangest eating habits. I lost 15 pounds, which is bad because I’m already on the skinny side and I’m not looking good right now. My friends were very worried but I just forgot about eating!

Some days I cried for hours while I studied, thinking I couldn’t possibly pass. My friends couldn’t convince me to take breaks, and if they managed to get me out, I was close to tears afraid I’d lose too much time. I felt like therr couldn’t possibly be enough hours in the day to study.

On one occasion I called Daniel at work – I used the “emergency number” where I actually end up with their in-store hotline, so they could call him into the phone room. Obviously he turns off his cell at work. When he got to the phone he sounded really worried. This is how the conversation went:

D: What’s wrong sweety?!?!

Me: I have a huge problem. *sob* I…. *sob* I have to staple some of my papers together *sob* so they stay orderly *sob* and I can’t find any staples *sob* I just canT find any, or anything else I could use… *sob*… baby I don’t have staples! What do I do now?! *cry*

D: …. What?

Me: Staples… I don’t know where to get staples to staple my papers together, you know. I need them! I can’t do anything without staples! I’ll fail if I don’t find staples! But there are none at home!

D: *giggles* Ok, go to the grocery store.

ME: How?! I don’t know!

D: *giggling some more* ok, go get into your car, drive to the grocery store, take your stapler with you, and ask them to give you some. Buy like a thousand just to make sure.

ME: What if they don’t have any?

D: Then you come here and I’ll let you have one of the work staplers. But try the grocery store first.

Can you believe how much better I felt after this conversation? I took my stapler with me, found an employee at the grocery store, wiped my red eyes and muttered “…need staples…” and pushed the stapler at him. I bought a thousand pieces pack.

I feel much better talking about all this now. Even though I don’t have my grades yet, I know I passed. I just know I answered enough on every test to at least pass. Now all I have to do are the oral exams, two of them. They’re mandatory, so even if you can’t improve in any of your subjects, you have to take two. I don’t know what I’ll be doing since I don’t have my grades yet, but I’m not really afraid of that anymore. Everybody says they won’t let you fail there anymore as long as you show up.

Now it’s finally the time I can look forward to something else I never thought I’d have…

Prom. Yup. We’re going to have an all-american-styled prom. Pretty dresses, dinner, and a little party. I can’t wait!!! I’m going to go dress shopping next week or so. I don’t have anything particular in mind… well, I’d like a long, sleek, tight-fitting black dress… maybe an open back or something. Not too much bright color or a lot of ruffles and stuff. We’ll see!

Now I’m off to enjoy this beautiful hot day, go to the lake, relax a bit and spend some time with the people I pretty much ignored the last few weeks!

Oh, and by the way, I’m happy to announce that the staples I bought will probably carry me through university. After all, I have 999 left.


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My Mom, school, life

Phew, there’s been a bunch of changes and events in my life lately. I though it would be a good idea to write about it for a little bit.

The first thing is that I’m extremely thrilled that my Mom actually called me yesterday to “chat”. Like, out of the blue! There’s no special event or special day or any other occasion that would give her a good enough reason to call me. She actually called me just to talk. And the great thing is, she didn’t have any news to tell me! Why’s that great you might ask yourself now. Well, our calls have been nothing but an exchange of major news ever since I left. The few times we talked there was always an important reason for her to call me. But this time there was nothing up at all! So she must have called me because she just wanted to talk to me and that’s great. She called me “Häschen” which means “little bunny”, she used to call me that when I was younger but not much any more ever since my courtship, actually. I guess she felt it wasn’t appropriate any more. She asked me how I’m doing in school and about my job and my friends and all that. And not in an annoying “you’re doing the wrong thing and I disapprove of your lifestyle” way. Just sounded like genuine curiosity. We also talked about the possibility of her visiting me and she said she is working on it, seeing if she can make it and asked me if there was enough room to bring the smaller ones along because she doesn’t want to leave them back. I really really hope that works out.

Something that… well… seemed a bit strange, to say the least, was the fact that she didn’t speak very nicely of Dad. I asked her what he would say if she came to visit and she told me that she didn’t care and that he’s “in sin” lately. I do not know what she could possibly mean, there’s so many options of what that could be… I guess I’ll find out.

And one more shocking thing happened. See, I did not really tell my parents about the fact that I have a boyfriend. I guess I just don’t want them to think I’ve gone completely worldly… But he’s involved in so many parts of my life that I have a hard time hiding him when I talk about my daily life. So I figured I’d just straight out tell my Mom. I meant, if she actually came to visit she would find out anyway and I don’t think that would be a nice situation for her and everybody else, being confronted like that. So I told her “Mom, I have to tell you… I have a boyfriend…” and what she said silenced me for a while:

“Oh, I know.”

My jaw dropped, to say the least! After what felt like a minute of recovering I asked “How, I mean, what?? How??”

My Mom laughed and just said: “You know, my sister has never been good at keeping secrets.”

I’m glad my Mom wasn’t hurt by me not telling her earlier and finding out through my aunt, we talked about it for a little while and while she didn’t seem like she wanted to know details, she asked some superficial questions about him (job, age and that) and his family as well. I guess it went well.

 

As for the rest of the week… I was very excited for visiting days at the different universities around, I still am because I’m going to look at some more schools, but I went to the closest one this week and I had an absolute blast!

There was a very nice mentor, a student herself, who showed us around and explained everything. She is actually younger than me but I felt like the little girl. She told us this was her first time as a newbie mentor and she was really bubbly and fun, and she blushed many times whenever somebody asked her a question, but that just made me more comfortable, knowing I’m not the only newbie. She gave us a list of lectures we could visit, helped us pick some out and told us where to go. I went to a literature lecture on the Victorian age and I had a lot of fun there, the teacher was about 35-40 and he had this funny way of speaking… like, really passionate. He talked about the marriage of Queen Victoria and showed letters and her diary and read them out, and at one point he giggled and squealed “How romantic!” when he read the entry on her wedding night.

After that, I went to a law lesson. Boy that is one tough thing to study! Everybody there looked so fancy – kind of lawyer-ish, haha – and it was A LOT of confusing stuff. I can’t really explain but it was very confusing, so many different laws on the same thing with a lot of cross references to other laws and also the language seems so foreign and intelligent, and really a lot of stuff you have to memorize. I felt a bit overwhelmed and I just heard one lesson, I can only imagine how much they have to memorize for the test! But, I don’t know, I didn’t think I’d say this, but it made me really curious and I’m definitely going to look into law.

After those two lessons, my group met back up with our mentor and she guided us to the cafeteria and had lunch with us. She answered all our questions on student life in that particular city and on university life. She was so sweet and tried to get the fear out of us. She also told us some stories about her first semesters, which was funny and partially embarrassing (for her) but she laughed and told us to wait, the exact same would happen to us.

In the afternoon I heard a lesson in History of Art, it was one on medieval churches. That was very, very interesting but I recognized that the students in there obviously had a lot of background that I didn’t have. But that’s what university is for, right? But hearing about some styles was amazing and it really sparked my interest.

The last I heard was a culture class about the jewish in Europe in medieval times. I heard so much information that I didn’t know before and it was fascinating. I always think of terrible things when I hear “Middle Age”, so it was kind of eye-opening that people weren’t stupid at all, just different. Another thing I was really surprised by!

After the last lesson we again met back up with our mentor. We had a coffee together and just chatted some more. She also gave us some materials about the school and the city and everything.

I was really fascinated by university life. It’s not what I imagined it to be – no sex talk everywhere, not full of people having sex wherever they go, not full of teachers who lurk on stupid female students who are exploited… Just normal, peaceful people who are working very hard.

Wow, if you’re still reading, you really made it through this rant! I guess I’ll finish here, but I’ll be back with more stories and school!


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Thank you, Melissa!

Melissa from Permission to Live recently finished her series of posts in which she talks about a transition in her family. And when I first found out that this transition was that her spouse came out to her, opened up that he was, in fact, a woman, and wanted to live as a woman, I got really scared.

Really, really afraid for Melissa.

Why?

Not because of her spouse, or the transition – at least, not directly.

Melissa’s entire blog expresses so much love for her spouse, always has done, that I was afraid that this story would end with a break up. Yup, that was the only fear I had when I read it.

I love Melissa’s blog. It’s so encouraging and helpful for me and many many others. And I was so happy for her, reading her courtship story, that she ended up with a man who actually, truly respected her. Melissa and her spouse, even if I don’t know them at all, seemed so perfect for each other.

I can’t really explain why I feared that so much. Of course, if things don’t work out, you just have to let go sometimes. There’s no point for either spouse to stay in a relationship they know will never be what they want and need. And yet, I still hoped Melissa had found a way to make it work for her as well.

And, as she slowly revealed, they did. When I read the last installment, I was literally crying of happiness for her and her wife. It’s so encouraging to hear that things turned out well, that they were even more perfect for each other than I ever can imagine.

I want to use this post to congratulate Melissa and her wife on their new life together. On a personal note – I know how scary it is to go back to school without an idea what will be coming your way. But I’m sure that you have all the strength and support you need to find your way. And, of course, tell your wife I wish her good luck as well with her new career! I honestly wish that I will one day have at least a tiny bit of the strength and grace you two have.


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European life: You just don’t “get” football

A post just for the giggles.

Have you ever wondered what all the fuzz is about when it comes to soccer (or better, football)? Americans just don’t “get” football – neither did I. Until I came here and learned what it’s really about.

Let’s be real honest here: Humanity has invented much more exciting games. Two or three goals within 90 minutes if you’re lucky? Yeah, that’s boring. I get it.

But it’s not so much about the game as it is about the experience. Football isn’t popular cause it’s a good game (it’s not!). It’s so popular because it’s a community experience. An event you can’t compare!

During European and World championships, there will be something called “public viewing” going on. Huge screens will be set up in every city – even the small towns! The entire city, men and women, young and old, come together for eating and drinking and, of course, to watch the game. People will be dressed up in their national colors, wear the shirts the players wear, sing songs and freak out together – or, if they lose, cry together. I mean that. They cry.

I didn’t believe it just how huge it is. Here are some very short videos of what happens if the team wins:

ATTENTION: If you click play, MAKE SURE your volume is adjusted – rather put it too low than too high, these get very loud.

30 seconds: The crowd chants “Lehman”, the name of the goalkeeper. Taken in Leipzig:

You have no idea just how big these events are until you see…

2 Minutes: Same game, penalty shoot, this time in Stuttgart, castle square. Again, cheering on Lehman. Note the crazy reactions at 1.50 mins.

And what happens if they win?

The after party may last up to 2 hours and will block the entire traffic. And what’s the police doing during this???

They party with everybody else. This is a game, kind of cheer, where the crowd repeats what the singer says and sings, until he at one point will ask them to dance the “umpa” dance. Since the police loves to use their huge speakers to sing along, they earned the nickname “green-white party van” (referring to the colors of the police car).

Oh, caught the police again! This time late at night. I wonder if the streets are still blocked…

So yeah, I guess that’s what football is REALLY about. You bet I’ll be there this spring/summer for the European championship!


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The pointless Tuesday: All about Beds.

I’m working on some major homework at the moment and I have about 10 (!!!) posts half finished in my drafts-folder but I can’t concentrate on writing something that actually has a point. So today I’m doing a pointless Tuesday. I present you:

7 pointless thoughts – on beds.

1. My friends find it weird and pointless that I iron all my sheets and bedding. “It’s so stupid,” they say, “it gets all wrinkly once you sleep in it anyway!”. That is true, but I think ironed stuff in general smells like heaven and I like my bedding to smell like heaven! Plus, I might be imagining this, but it feels soooooo much softer once it’s all neatly ironed!

2. I think I wrote a post on this ages ago… I bought this really fancy mattress. When I lived with my family all the ones there were kind of used and not uncomfortable, but also not high quality. I splurged on my own mattress, mostly because I suffered from back pains from time to time. I bought one of those fancy memory foam 7 zones with extreme awesomeness things. Downside: You have to turn it over every 2-4 weeks and it’s so heavy, I always need help.

3. I always sleep on my right side. I can’t fall asleep in any other position. And once I’m asleep, I’m asleep. Seriously, you could have a band playing right next to me, I won’t wake up. I’m used to sleeping with noise in the background. Downside: Now that I’m living alone, I need 5 different alarm clocks placed in places that I can’t reach from a sleeping position to wake up in the morning. Unless my roommate is home and awake to wake me up.

4. My bedroom is a mix of old furniture I repaired and beautified and Ikea furniture. I’m obsessed with Ikea.

5. I do not like colorful bedding. I like things in the bedroom to be almost clinical white. Lots of people don’t like this sterile feel but I love it. Colorful bedding and sheets feel dirty to me.

6. Back to the swedish obsession: Imagine Ikea had a baby with H&M, what do you think would come out? H&M Home. It’s pretty pricy and I don’t know if H&M US has it (it’s not on the American page so I guess not), but I love almost all the things they make. They’re actually really cheap once they’re on sale. I bought these duvet covers in white with 2 different prints, the one on the imagine and one with an china-ink orchid design for 10 Euro each on sale. I was hyped.

7. I make my bed every day. If I forget to make it in the morning, or don’t have time, I will make it the moment before I go to sleep. It doesn’t matter that I’m about to mess it up again. I will make it in my PJs and jump right into it. I can’t stand sleeping in beds that are not made.

Any pointless thoughts to add? =D