February 2018

Found

  • What I hadn’t been looking for.
  • 5€ in the street and left them there.

Wrote

Watched (or saw)

  • The void
  • Belle and Sebastian live

Overheard (or said)

  • “You should really get onto teleportation. It helps with so much.”
  • “Another friend just got engaged. I think I only need another ten casual dating scenarios and I’ll be ready to settle.”
  • “Have two shots for me tonight!”
  • “This relationship is just an attempt to figure put how long it takes us to get absolutely sick of each other.”
  • “:donut: :donut: :donut:!!!!!!” 
  • “I won’t return to Berghain. I just disliked the customer experience. The music was too trashy also. The people were strange. Lots of folks from Brandenburg. But the sound system was nice.”
  • “I’ve developed some tolerance for being made feel like I need to apologise for wanting to order a coffee in Berlin cafés.”
  • “I don’t want to spend 350€ on a Christmas party DJ.”
  • “I didn’t laugh at you, I was laughing with you. — You just hadn’t gotten the joke.”

Was

  • Out late
  • In organising mode
  • Running after a bus at 2am
  • Out very late
  • At the animal shelter
  • Very sad
  • Very excited

The best pictures

  • The day the sun came back
  • The snow at 5am
  • A reflection in a lightbulb
  • The sunrise at 6:25am
  • This GIF, open in a browser tab on the side of my monitor:

First times

  • Making spring rolls
  • The 2018 Grand Thai Curry Fiasco

Did

  • Not travel for a whole month, for the first time since May 2017
  • Lean out the window
  • Miss someone
  • Jump
  • Anti-sadness-Karaoke
  • Turn a conversation with a stranger into the script for my first movie
  • Jump the shark

I did…, although it was a bad idea

  • A lot of things, actually. Too many to list here.

Had

  • Board games night
  • Homemade Thai curries
  • Risky Whiskey
  • Homemade pizza
  • Lots of time with good dogs
  • Heart-shaped pizza
  • Conversations about Alpacas
  • Plans
  • Heart-to-heart conversations
  • No coffee for 7 weeks in a row. By accident.
  • Puppy time
  • Breakfast (with coffee)

Read

Books I finished

  • None. Reading game not strong this month. (But I sorted my book collection, if that counts.)

Learned

  • A sad phone call with a crying puppy in the background really helps the mood.
  • Some things about feedback

Overheard (or said), pt 2

  • “I’d relocate to San Francisco just to troll you.”
  • “Marriage is also kind of a scam.”
  • “There is a micro universe in your tool box.”
  • “You should start your own moving company.”
  • “You negotiate like you were North Korea.”
  • “I think we’d just bore each other.”
  • “Negative anecdotal data is one of the strongest forces in the universe.”
  • “I’m taking the ‘confident mediocre cis white man’ approach now. It really helps!”
  • “You have style, and I don’t.”
  • “It’s always kind of impressive to see the limitlessness of entitlement in action.”
  • “I’m pretty sure you learned English through reading poetry.”
  • “What’s your name?” – “Lena”. – “Like my mother. I should call my mother again.”
  • “Friday night is no time to be fearful.”
  • “I’m impressed and a little scared.” – “You should just be scared.”

Listened to

  • Flunk — Only You (Yuleboard Live Version)
  • Albin de la Simone — Le grand amour
  • Phoebe Bridgers — Funeral
  • The Killers — Run For Cover – Naderi Remix
  • Abay — THE QUEEN IS DEAD
  • Alex Turner — It’s Hard to Get Around the Wind
  • Wolf Parade — Lazurus
  • The Czars — Paint the Moon
  • Lost Horizon — She Led Me
  • Oneohtrix Point Never — The Pure and the Damned
  • Belle and Sebastian — Show Me the Sun
  • Lambchop — In Care of 8675309

Thought about

  • Gracefulness
  • Choices
  • Performative feminism of cis white straight men online
  • A theory: at any given point in time, someone somewhere in the world will play Amazing Grace.
  • Learning
  • Growth

Have a lovely March, and wonderful adventures!

January 2018

Found

  • The dog
  • A better understanding
  • Shells
  • Stones
  • Sticks
  • Not what I was looking for

Wrote

Overheard or said

  • “I accidentally hit him with my pineapple.”
  • “Are you fighting the coconut again?”

Read

A few links to articles I enjoyed reading.

Was

The best pictures

  • The sun shining a bright light onto the forest on the hill, with a backdrop of a very dark sky.
  • The hills in twilight.
  • A sky so full of stars.
  • Opening the curtains and seeing the sunlight through the olive trees.
  • Sitting on a wall, having gelato, watching the sun set over the hill.
  • The view of the city from the top of the hill.
  • Piña Colada on the beach.
  • The jungle, after coming out of the cave.
  • The fire show that ended before it’d really begun.
  • The time I almost accidentally blew up a gas station.
  • The lighthouse.
  • Butterflies, bigger than the palms of my hands.
  • Standing on the boat, the wind blowing the wind into our faces.
  • The rainbow-coloured fish. The corals. And the turquoise sea.
  • The time we got into a fight with a monkey gang.
  • The time someone™? fed the monkey with papaya peel.
  • The time a monkey peed on my shirt.
  • The dinner in the restaurant that was likely not actually a restaurant.
  • Floating in the warm ocean water in the dark, looking at the lights on the beach, the moon and my favourite constellation above my head.

Did

  • Take a horse-fie.
  • Find out that there’s a version of my face without dark under-eye circles.
  • Lock myself out of my suitcase [sic], three hours before a long-haul flight.
  • Forget my wallet at home.
  • Build a LEGO tower to represent myself (it was made of Duplo, had a turtle as foundation, and included a polar bear and an airplane carrying a tiger, a dolphin, and angry superwoman).
  • Drive a scooter for the first time
  • Have the best pineapple of my life
  • Wear a helmet (and we’ll never talk about the ordeal of finding one again; also, let’s all pray that the pictures of that helmet, that was mostly on top of (instead of on) my head, never end up on the internet)
  • Snorkel.
  • Swim through a cave
  • Save a guy from the jungle (not kidding)
  • Make decisions
  • Climb a mountain

Had

  • The most wonderful New Year’s eve with a treasure hunt, outstanding food, and lovely people.
  • The best pasta in the world, cooked by the 87-year-old Nonna.
  • An anxiety attack over the thought of my vacation ending.
  • A very dirty car.
  • A good cry while driving to the airport.
  • Oversized luggage because too many edible souvenirs.
  • A breakdown on a Monday morning.
  • Drinks with dog.
  • Six nights at home.
  • Tim Tams.
  • Tepache.
  • Chinese cucumber salad for life.
  • Thai food every day.
  • Pineapple and fresh coconut all day every day.
  • An in-depth conversation about dragon fruit.
  • Thai pancakes. And sticky rice with Mango!
  • A good conversation about caring, and what happens if you don’t.
  • Another good cry while driving to the airport.
  • The worst cold in combination with a long-haul flight.

Books I finished

  • (having quite a few in progress is also important though!)

Heard

  • The wind in the olive trees.
  • The city.
  • Tongue twisters in three languages.
  • The waves.
  • The honking scooters.
  • The strange birds.
  • The loudest crickets alive.
  • The humming of the machines.

Watched

  • This is Us: Season 1&2 (FINALLY)
  • Grace and Frankie: Season 4
  • Rita: Season 4

Listened to

Thought about

  • How things end

On community

As I’m writing these lines, I’m sitting at Munich Airport. I’m waiting for my flight home after spending the last two days on a pretty spontaneuos trip to Munich for JS Kongress. Despite knowing of the event, I hadn’t even thought about, let alone planned to go, since I wasn’t feeling very well (and even less social). Only in early November, I learned that a very lovely friend was going to be there, and suddenly had a chance (and a very good reason) to go as well. The conference itself was great, and there was a bunch of talks that I really enjoyed.

At and around the conference, there was also this very friend, as well as a few more wonderful women who I’ve known for a while, some even for years. Most of us live very far apart, and if we ever meet at all, we only ever meet at conferences. This conference was a chance to reconnect with them over walks and hot beverages and breaks between talks, and an opportunity to exchange stories: from our work, our public speaking, our lives. It left me with a very warm and fuzzy feeling, and, most importantly, with the feeling of community. These few days with these people were a tangible version of some thoughts that have been on my mind for a while now—thoughts about hard times, and about community.

This is what this post is about.—


This year of 2017 has been a pretty exhausting year for me (and as much as I wish that these remaining six weeks will turn everything around, I have a feeling that’s not going to happen). It’s been one of these years that start out pretty okay, until, suddenly, everything is very much not okay anymore. I had a bunch of heavy personal things going on, and was already pretty underwater by the time I went through a big role change at work, which by itself was more challenging for me than I’d expected. This change also meant not working so closely with my amazing team anymore (and there’s another story in here about what happens when, suddenly, you don’t have 14 direct reports anymore, heh), and instead started focusing on and building out my work with a whole new team of awesome team leads. All of this was incredibly exciting and a wonderful opportunity, but: change is hard, and it’s even harder when you’re already stressed out.

In the past, during times of stress and overwhelm, I’d go into survival mode: I’d bundle all my remaining resources, shut down everything that was not absolutely necessary, and retreat to myself in what I’d call cave mode. This would also mean that I’d cut any social ties, to the extent that friendships heavily suffered. For a long time, I’ve been working hard on combatting this behavioural pattern. But cutting back on social ties, neglecting friendships and companionship, is still something I easily fall back into in times like these.—

The realities of this industry don’t help with finding companionship: being a woman in tech in a management role can sometimes be a pretty lonely place to be in. There are still just not that many of us, and this also means that there’s only so many people who share our experiences. And while I interact a lot with people on a daily basis, I also work remotely (and from home), so social interactions don’t just happen, but need facilitation. Lastly, there’s the sheer reality of my work: my work is about 60-90% emotional labour, and this amount of emotional labour, together with some personal things™?, easily results in what I was for most of the last months:

a pretty weak basket case, mostly held together by carbs, Netflix, and anxiety.

Two months ago, I noticed what was happening: It had been ages since I’d looked into one of the countless community Slacks that I’m in, or chatted with someone in a role similar to mine, or even just joined one of my local Women in Tech groups for a night out. It was a time when I was struggling (with) myself, and found it incredibly hard to get out of my survival mode and engage with others out there. I was missing the feeling of connectedness, companionship, and community. The people I met at this conference were a wonderful reminder for me of how important community is.

The bad thing with systemic issues in an industry like the tech industry is that they’re systemic. The good (okay, “good” is a strong word, but you know what I mean) thing is that they are systemic. In societies where so many of us have been taught from early on that we’re less than, where we’ve been taught not to trust ourselves; in spaces where we’re pushed to work twice as hard to get half as far, and where we’re told that only the toughest make it through; and in an industry that keeps diminishing our experiences, qualifications, perspectives, identities, and us: community can also be about reality checks. Like so many of us, I too have inhaled and internalised the societal beliefs that there can only be so many of us that are “successful” (by whatever definition of “success” that you apply here), and that there can only be so many of us that “make it” . It took me a while to learn that all of these beliefs are fundamentally false, misleading, and that they’re robbing us of the greatness and wonderfulness that we can find when we overcome them—and it took me another while to understand how this needs to apply to my work.

For many of us, this is of an industry that we’re in regardless of (the crap, the bullshit, the microaggressions, the *-isms, the setbacks…), and, at the same time, because of (our strengths, our experiences, and all that we are). The people who are here with us are a reminder of the because. The companionship of people who have been or go through similar struggles as we do is a reminder that we’re not alone in those experiences, that we actually are all in this together. Under circumstances like these, there’s great consolation in community. Just the reminder of not being alone in all this can already take off the edge.

The times when we need this community the most will often also be the times when we don’t have the energy, time, emotional resources to engage with it. (And self care needs to take top priority no matter what—but I also needed to learn that there are also times when self care can mean longing for community, and working to find this community.)

All our perspectives and past experiences will differ, but more often than not, the realities we’re in will not differ so much, but will still be similar enough that we can lean in onto each other, learn from each other, move forward with each other.

But community is not just sitting around all our trash fires together to keep warm (while desperately trying not to get burnt)—it can also be this same community that shows us paths forward, give us perspectives for how it can be done (or at least ideas that may be worth a shot), that becomes about being and working together, building things together, and moving forward together.

I have been thinking about all this for a while now. I’ve also been working on incorporating this more into my work—connecting with women and non-binary people, to be in this together, and find ways to support each other and lift each other up. Practically, I asked women colleagues for chats over coffee (yes that also works in a distributed team), and am making a deliberate effort to work with them more closely whenever possible. I reached out to another woman in an engineering management role, and got a chance to speak with her. And I made an effort to reconnect with other women and non-binary people who I hadn’t been in touch with in a while—to move beyond my own old patterns, but, most of all, because I was wondering how much others were experiencing, feeling, the same or a similar way.

This was supposed to be a short, more philosophical note, and now turned into something much longer and vulnerable. It’s taken me a long time to accept my own vulnerability, and even more time to embrace it. What I’m working on now is being with this vulnerability at and in my work (but that, again, is another story for another time).

So often, we’re so caught up in treading water, and don’t notice the others around us doing just the same. For a long time, I haven’t really understood the joy and wonderfulness of community, and the power that comes with it. Now that I’m starting to understand it, I’ll keep trying to find my community. The sense and feeling of community, of connectedness, can change our perspectives. I still have a long way to go, but it has changed mine already. And I greatly hope that, no matter who you are, where you are, and what you do: I hope that, if you want, you will find yours as well.

March 2017

Now that the server problems are fixed and I secretly snuck the February blog post out in the open (potential oxymoron? Let’s not think about that, maybe), we’re officially back on track with a look back at March.

March was the month of added time zone headaches, and an overall interesting month – one of these times when photos are, as so often, not more than barely functioning frames to help us hold on to something at least. Even if that something is not more than a few pixels, optimised for web.


Found

  • More signs of spring.
  • A plant where no plants would grow.
  • Something funny just around the corner.
  • Great book stores.
  • My new favourite outfit.
  • …out.

Wrote

Read

Books I finished

  • None this month, focused on re-reading bits and pieces from books I’d read over the past months. Started some great new ones though.

Watched (or saw)

  • An extremely fluffly dog

Heard or said

OHs of the month

  • “The problem is that men are men.”
  • “You’re ours now.”
  • “What would the deer do with money?”
  • “If you come here wearing something like this, you get free coffee all day.”
  • “Just call it an adventure. Sounds better.”
  • “I have visualised my emotional situation with emoji and it is not pretty.”
  • “The next days will forever ruin my last.fm stats.”
  • “We should write a song about it!”
  • “It’s a shot show.”
  • “When Netflix is down, I call you instead.”
  • “This is Silicon Valley meets How I Met Your Mother meets Fast And Furious.”

Was

  • At a concert.
  • At another concert.
  • At the airport.

Did

  • Buy flowers.
  • Take screenshots.
  • Bring pizza home.
  • Laugh about robots with friends, and then again at home.
  • Come back.
  • Photograph a menu, a mirror, a castle, a hill, and shoes.
  • Swear at airlines.
  • Feel weird about buying an easyjet upgrade.
  • Take the best selfie.
  • Walk through the park.
  • Pet a dog.
  • Close my eyes and listen.
  • Not let go.
  • Upload a video.

I did…, although it was a bad idea

  • Nothing and everything.

Had

  • Tapas
  • Brunch
  • Dumplings
  • Scones
  • The usual Olives & Pizza date
  • Burgers
  • So much brunch
  • Breakfast at 4pm
  • Biscuits (!)
  • Schnitzel
  • First ice cream for the year!
  • Pastel de Nata (finally)

Listened to

Heard or said, part 2

  • “You can still turn everything around and into a telenovela.”
  • “That’s the nature of all tragedies: the hero dies, but the story lives on forever.”
  • “I just wanted someone to share my cookies with, and then things escalated from there.”
  • “I am grammatically outraged.”
  • “It’s basically a car wreck in the making.”
  • “Do you only like me for the adrenaline rush?”
  • “I’m going to make an executive decision about the berries now.”
  • “Let me mansplain this to you.”
  • “First thing you always ask is: is this food?”
  • “Love or lasers?” – “How is that even a question?”
  • “Now, about that flame thrower…”
  • Take your heart by the hand and run.”

Thought about

  • The total inability to grasp the realness of things.
  • Timing.
  • Eyebrows.
  • Being meant.
  • About becoming the person I want to be.
  • The inevitable light.
  • A giant pancake.

February 2017

Now that it’s April and slightly sunny more than once every two weeks, why not think back to February for a bit? Think back to those dark, dark days in the middle of another seemingly endless Berlin winter?

I can reassure you, it wasn’t all that dark though. But publishing didn’t work out earlier. – Originally, I’d even sat down to write and publish this post as soon as February was over. Then I ran into (in order of appearance): server issues, lack of interest, new priorities, spring, server issues.

So here we are, in April, with another roundup of my favourite links, books, music, and OHs.

Also, if you want at least bits of this in visual form and on a more regular basis, follow me on Instagram (this is the space on the internet that I’m currently using the most). 


Found

  • Signs of spring
  • More signs

Wrote

  • Emails

Watched (or saw)

  • The snowfall
  • The sun
  • The first spring light
  • A beautiful sunset outside the office
  • Clingy panda video

Said or heard

OHs of the month.

  • “I just turned my standing lamp into a will-never-stand-again-lamp.”
  • “Did you just order 12 moustaches? – “Yes. We have to be prepared for Valentines Day.”
  • “I have hormones, I don’t need rum.”
  • “Is this the tall ladies area?”
  • “I haven’t kissed anyone all year!” – “It’s February.” – “So what?”
  • “You may take my seat, but im going to require you to watch my magic trick.”
  • “You’re taller every time I see you.” – “That’s the result of all the pizza.”
  • “But the big question is: do they live up to your high standards in organisational skills?”

Was

  • Nervous
  • Nauseous
  • At a vernissage
  • Wearing a moustache

Did

  • Get a shoe rack
  • Pet a cat
  • Change coffee preferences
  • Buy too many books

I did…, although it was a bad idea

  • Keep counting.

Had

  • A party hat
  • A fine dog
  • A very weird Valentine’s Day
  • Emotional fallout on a Friday night
  • Bird poop on me (again)
  • A pizza-vs-purse-situation (again)

Read

Read Books

  • Kate Tempest: Hold your own
  • Iain S. Thomas: I wrote this for you
  • Jamaal May: Hum
  • Carolin Emcke: Wie wir begehren

Listened to

Said/heard, II

  • “Will you marry me?”
  • “I followed your inspiration, and I shouldn’t have.” — “That’s what I’ve been telling you.”
  • “Are you ready to dedicate your life to pizza?”
  • “Your cauliflower brings all the firefighting boys to the yard.”
  • “Wait a few hours until I send you drunk texts telling you how much I love you.”
  • “How many twitter accounts do you actually have?”
  • “You know the best magic tricks.”
  • “As long as we have cats and pizza, we’ll be together forever.”
  • “Was that a flirting attempt?” — “No idea, but without a dog, they don’t stand a chance anyway.”
  • “This is the year 1881, and you’re the hottest guy at the party”.

I thought

  • About the realness of the chicken
  • About how some puns never stop – even after decades.
  • About how sad it is that some puns only work in one language.
  • About people with giant balloons on trains.
  • About what number of fake proposals per month is normal.
  • About what happens when you’ve been holding your breath for so long, and suddenly get to breathe again?