You will not be able to extend your life by even a second

Encouraging Words by  Zen Master Guishan

Lake

“Someday you will die.

Lying on your sick bed about to breathe your last, you will be assailed by every kind of pain.

Your mind will be filled with fears and anxieties and you will not know where to go or what to do.
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In another life, I’m a Tumblr.

I suppose & Swedish summer

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I suppose people change and relationships end, despite of what best-selling novels and Hollywood Christmas movies would like me to believe. I suppose life doesn’t always come with happy ends. Diseases aren’t cured, and distances aren’t overcome. Fathers die and don’t make peace with mothers. Promises and plans of a future life together disappear in nothingness. I suppose that’s a dismal, yet somewhat realistic view of the world. The thing here is this. I really don’t want to be realistic.  Continue reading

What Balinese rice fields can teach us: Life lessons in emerald green

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Take a walk through Bali’s rice fields, and you’ll find yourself bathing in a sea of emerald green. Part of the paddies’ magic might be that they are located just a few hundred meters from the traffic jammed, hot, sticky roads. In the rice fields, you find yourself in another world, one that offers calm and a gentle breeze of fresh air. The endless rice paddies are speckled with scare crows improvised from bamboo sticks, as well as rusty huts that give barefoot farmers a place to doze off. And then, far away on the horizon, glistening in the sun, still partially under construction, you’ll see a three story hotel complex that could as well be on Ibiza for all you know.

What does it mean to live in a country like Indonesia? Continue reading

Bali, Hashimoto, and other things with foreign names shaping my life

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I’m on Bali. Bali is one of over 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia. Yes, that’s 17 thousand and not a typo. Did you know Indonesia is the 4th most populated country in the world with 245 million inhabitants? I did not. Bali is about one and a half times the size of Mallorca. Unlike most other places in Indonesia, it is predominately Hindu, rather than Muslim. What do I do here, you ask? I am staying in what one might call the cultural capital of Bali, Ubud. The city is nestled in the rice fields that line the beginning of the island’s central mountain terrain.

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The rewards of climbing volcanos (may or may not include banana pancakes)

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We got up at a time of the night that is neither late nor early. My cell phone alarm had gone off at 2 am, I wasn’t sure I had slept the hours before. Maybe I just dozed off. I slipped into my clothes, we got on the mini van. There were more people than seats. That seems to be the case often in Indonesia, but they make it work somehow. After a one hour drive through the night, we arrived at a parking lot, where thin tea was served with even thinner instructions on how to climb volcanos. The tour operator promised banana pancakes with chocolate sauce once we reached the top. And so the mount began.  Continue reading

Bitter Sweet Everything

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With Bali it is as with most things in life. Some smiles are genuine and sweet, some are a labor of duty. Some roads give views on rice fields lush and green, some irritate your sinuses with exhausts and pollution. Some meals are raw, fresh, and delicious, some send you on a 24 hour hospital stint with a bacterial infection. Just like most things in life, Bali is a little bitter sweet. Continue reading

Sparrows are my spirit animals

tumblr_lmnc4iDe9b1ql8r31o1_1280The other night I was at a dinner party at my co-worker’s house, who happens to live on the same street as we do, but we still had to take a cab there, because it’s pretty far. Amidst dishes heaped with pasta and roasted cauliflower and salad with avocados and meatballs and most likely some other delicious California-chic culinary creations I cannot recall at this particular moment, someone at the table asked if we knew what a spirit animal is. We didn’t and so she explained it to us – a spirit animal is a type of animal that you have had a spiritual, magical, or mystical encounter with. She cited the example of a girl with dreadlocks that had an extraordinary experience with some animal I can’t recall in some field maybe and it all sounded too crazy and nonsensical for me to tell the story that was burning on my inside:  Continue reading

The day Paul Walker died

DSC01935The day Paul Walker died we were in New York City. We had dinner reservations at Acquavit that night, where we found ourselves indulging in everything tasty Scandinavia may have to offer amidst warm light and warmer service. There were plates that married tapioca pearls and quail egg, langoustine and sea urchin, sardines and elderberries, foie gras and radish, cod and sunchoke, squab and apple, white chocolate and a bird’s nest, smiles and hands holding each other across the table. Continue reading

It’s happening

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Now it’s happening, and it is all official, and you heard it hear first. I am moving to the USA. I will work at the online fashion company Cuyana. Are you excited? Continue reading

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Echo

I’m at the gym

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I think we can agree on the fact that going to the gym is among the stranger activities humankind engages in. The whole concept of going to a closed room to move and sweat and be physically active, in order to make up for the rest of the day spent in other closed rooms where you don’t move and don’t sweat and aren’t physically active is somewhat bewildering. But then there are two places in the world where going to the gym arguably exceeds this level of general weirdness.  Continue reading

Memories I take with me

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When I get up in the morning at 6.30 am it is still dark outside. I jog downhill to the gym through San Francisco’s moist and cold, and it smells of fried bacon on some street corners, and burnt wood on others. I hold my maze spray in hand, because – you never know.

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Special Saturday

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Every Saturday, Nicola and I embark on adventures we like to group under the heading ‘Special Saturday.’ We take turns in deciding what novel activity could fill our Saturday, and have a lot of fun plotting during the week to reveal our plans to the other on Saturday morning. Last week’s visit to the Botanical Garden had been my ‘Special Saturday’ pick. So this week it was Nicola’s turn and he decided we should take a scooter trip to Sausalito. Here we go.

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Kaua’i Part II & other stories

DSC01472California is sunny and hot these days, San Francisco fog clouds nothing but my memories. It has almost been a month since we took off for Lihue International Airport. Can you believe this?

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Kaua’i

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Well, my dear friends, upon our return from what might very well be called paradise on earth, aka the island of Kaua’i, it turned out that we had taken close to 500 photographs while on vacation. That’s as close to an excuse as you will hear from me for the August silence on Monday Notes. Sorting through all those pictures continues to take its time.

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Home again

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I am sitting at the Copenhagen airport, clinging on to what is probably my third cup of coffee this morning—who’s keeping count at this point—in the hope it might heal the current state of pain my brain is suffering after only 3 hours of sleep last night. Memories of the week at home sooth my state of mind. Besides running endless errands, going home in my case always means indulging in delicious meals, indulging in many pleasant conversations with my grandparents, about the past and the future, and about how to live in the present despite them both, and finally, indulging in cuddles with the world’s cutest puppy, Madame Flo.

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Style Crush: Utility, the German Edition

Style Crush Utility

Who knows – maybe this is the effect of being back in Germany? How else to explain my craving for the functional shirt dress depicted above, which somehow reminds of a boiler suit. In a good way. Pair this with some comfy sneakers, and all sorts of tassly, chunky, leathery accoutrements.

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5 years is half a decade

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I remember today five years ago pretty well. I sat in a dark hospital room somewhere in Germany, watching the first red lining in the sky herald the break of dawn outside of the window. It had been a long night with bursts of sudden sleep interrupting my attempts to stay awake at all cost. The chair I sat on must have been immensely uncomfortable, but the pain flooding my body had nothing to do with it.

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Cross-Atlantic departures, of the unexpected type

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Oh, life. One moment things are are steady, the pace of life as per usual, the course of events calm and orderly. The next moment, you find yourself packing a suitcase for an out-of-the-blue cross-Atlantic flight home for document-related matters, demanding in-person-appearance and illustrating the nuisance that is German bureaucracy like nothing else. It’s a routine event shaking up my routine.

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Tofu and roses

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In which I am sending nothing your way but much love, pictures of this delicious breakfast and of this delicious man, who when sent to Trader Joe’s to purchase Tofu, returns with Tofu and a bunch of red roses. Happy Wednesday!

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Froyo, yolo, and that beach body

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Our upcoming Hawaii vacation fills me with a sense of indescribable excitement, joy, and anxiety. Bikini anxiety. Which I write jokingly, obviously, because all of the beaches on Hawaii are so secluded, no one will actually see my non existent abs in nothing but two small pieces of water-resistant clothing, right? Right. Jokes aside, there are more important things to focus on in summer than obtaining the perfect beach body and that’s finding the perfect frozen yogurt place. Because you only live once, and life is too short for icy frozen yogurt, and because of all the other inspirational sayings about froyo.

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Oatmeal bars with strawberries: The chewy, healthy, guilt-free kind

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I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I am a sucker for all things sweet involving oatmeal and fruit. There are few things I enjoy as much as chewy, nutty, wholesome bites of a granola bar with my afternoon cappuccino. Except for that one caveat: store-bought granola bars are either so loaded with fat and sugar they cover a grown man’s daily calorie intake requirements, or–and I’m pretty sure this is worse–they taste of sticky nothingness with a hint of artificial sweeteners.

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Week 29

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If you have previously heard about the concept of Third Culture Kids–people who have spent significant parts of their developmental years outside their parents’ culture, and as a result have developed their own ‘third culture’–then shame on you. How is it possible that no one has ever explained my struggles, relationship patterns, confusion, and general me-ness to me, by pointing out that I am, quite clearly, a Third Culture Kid?

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The best dim sum in San Francisco

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One of my favorite things to do in San Francisco by far is eating dim sum for lunch on the weekend. Dim sum are bite-sized and steamed pieces of Chinese heaven, filled with lobster and water chestnuts and snow pea tendrils and ginger and pine nuts and pork and cilantro and every now and then also carrots. Dim sum is just. So tasty.

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Zucchini flowers stuffed with silken tofu: Surprisingly, this is not only edible, it is delicious

Stuffed Zucchini flowers

I was a bit skeptical, I will admit. But it turns out that stuffing zucchini flowers with silken tofu was a good idea, and one that pleased the palate. But don’t take my word for it. If a man, who considers prosciutto to be a good side for a plate of meat, eats a soy-bean-stuffed flower and asks for more, it’s really good.

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Juan Kattan. The Man

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Remember that friend whom you met in another life, when you lived in other corners of the world? Whom you shared so much laughter and Chips Ahoy! cookies with it gave you slight nausea, in an enjoyable way? A friend, who spends his days surfing and taking photographs on the Caribbean shores of Colombia. No? Well, I do have such a friend. And you should meet him. His name is Juan Kattan. Yes, his first and last names rhyme and this is neither fiction, nor a joke.

Juan Who? >>