LangeTwins-4717

Thanksgiving aka the best holiday

Once Thanksgiving came, Mom opened up more and we secretly played French music when Dad wasn’t home. We danced to Edith Piaf’s songs filled with struggle and bitter love; or at least that’s what the internet said they were. I helped her with our Thanksgiving ritual; browsing through old recipe books to find the perfect Turkey stuffing recipe.- Jenna Gunner

Controversy aside, Thanksgiving for me is THE day for family. THE day to stop for a second and realizing where everyone in your life is. THE day to realize what you have and what you lost. THE day to realize the changes are happening around you. THE day to be grateful.

No other country in the world has Thanksgiving. Sure, they know the “commercialized” movie version of it where we all spend hours in the kitchen, begging the turkey to turn out right and we all end up laying around with unbuttoned pants on the couch. I mean, it happens. But there’s nothing better than giving thanks for all that you have. Because every time I hear myself say all my thanks out loud, I realize how lucky I am; how much I have- and all the stuff I want to have are exactly that, wants. The needs are covered- and I should be more than grateful!

Thanks for reading my blog! Leave a comment, tell me how you feel about Thanksgiving!

P.S1: You can get my book for FREE on Amazon only on Thanksgiving!

P.S2: Gobble, gobble! ;)

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Carnival Ecstasy

The secret lives of the cruise ship staff

You’re not supposed to talk to the staff on a cruise ship and they are not allowed to talk to you. But you see, I’m no Lady Mary material. Despite my status of the guest, I talk to the staff. I feel for the staff. And above all, I like to chat with the staff. Some are terrified when I approach them. They don’t want to be seen talking to the guest about anything else but guest-related topics. But I come back. Maybe when the store is not so busy, or when the buffet is fully stocked. I may be terrible with languages, but I know some basics. I know enough to communicate.

After the initial reluctance, they tell me things. I ask them about how life on a cruise ship really is. Are they happy with the work they chose? Do they ever think of giving up?

“They work us like slaves,” Józsa tells me. She’s a thirty-something Hungarian working as a server. She’s smoking a cigarette like it’s her last. We’re standing at a “staff only” hidden smoking corner. I am not supposed to be there. I am getting ugly stares from the Asian crew. I don’t know Chinese or Tagalog or Siamese to calm them down. They don’t know English and they don’t like my presence.

“Don’t worry about them,” Józsa notices my stare. “They’re good guys. You see Emmanuel?” She points to a short Filipino whose luscious hair is tied in a bun. “He’s dating Jana, a girl from Poland. They met on one of the cruise lines and now they are trying to work on the same ship at least, you know.” “Where is she now?” I ask. “I think she has a year contract for the Western Caribbean that will expire soon. He’s been doing everything he can to get her here. They’re really cute together.” “Oh, do you know her?” I ask. “No,” she responds. “But I’ve seen pictures. Anyway, where was I? Yes, they treat us like slaves. Our rooms are tiny and we have to share shower areas. There’s no privacy at all. We work 12 hours a day minimum. It’s shit.” I watch her frowned face. She looks so unhappy. “Will you return to Hungary?” I ask her. “Maybe you have a better chance there.” She almost giggles. “It’s same shit there. I am just paid less. Here I can at least save some money.”

Next day, sometime after my fourth slice of pizza, I notice a tall, handsome man with a chiseled jaw of Orlando Bloom. He is “Luka from Croatia” his tag tells me. I find out he’s always wanted to work on a ship; he even went to a special maritime school in Dalmatia. “I love this job!” he tells me. “Isn’t it hard work? Don’t they work you hard?” I ask. “It is, and they do,” he says and grins. “But I love it! I’ll tell you a secret, Leah, are you paying attention? The secret to this job is that you must love the sea! If you don’t love the sea, you won’t be happy. I get to see places I have never been, I don’t have to pay for my room and I make more than I would in Croatia. I love it!”

And so I meet the photographers, the waiters, the cleaners etc. I find out the jobs no one wants are taken by Asians; if you speak English at least somewhat decently you get to work at a cruise shop. The captain is (of course) a guy from Western Europe or something like that. It’s a hierarchy of positions based on your country of origin. Less third-world you are, better your chances of making good money. There are people who can’t wait for their contract to be over, and then there are those that want to stay. And those that stay, hope to save enough money to go back to their home country and maybe buy a little tiny place they can call home.

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Fashion-Closet

It is ok if:

  • You don’t have the latest car model
  • Your house/condo isn’t decorated with fancy furniture
  • You don’t get your nails done every week
  • Your kids don’t wear branded clothing
  • Your kids wear hand-me-down clothing
  • Your co-workers see you wear the same shirt twice a month
  • Your hair grows out and your natural color shows
  • You don’t buy a round for your friends at a bar
  • Your friends are buying a house and you are still renting
  • You don’t have the latest phone
  • You don’t have twenty pairs of shoes
  • Etc.

Seriously, it’s OK! So stop buying what you can’t have/don’t need with money you don’t have.

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IMG_8844

Do you really know what Eiffel Tower looks like?

Ah, the one and only view of Eiffel Tower! The most famous of them all, the beautiful latice, the majestic iron hiding among the streets of Paris! Majestic beauty of architecture!

Well, actually this is not the Eiffel Tower. This is the Funkturm in Berlin- quite a deceiving little fella. Here’s the actual Eiffel Tower:

Look at this beauty! The stormy sky highlights its structure, the lean design and one can only say: “Quelle beauté il y a dans cela !”

Well, you thought wrong. That’s a fake replica Gomez Palacio, Durango in Mexico.

And there’s roughly 40 more replicas around the world. But it’s funny how people don’t actually know the real Eiffel. I showed a picture of the Funkturm in Berlin to quite a few people and they all assumed it was the Eiffel tower.

So the symbol of France is actually quite unrecognizable. Here’s another example of a replica:

Lovely, isn’t it? Or is this the real one? It’s hard to tell anymore, isn’t it?

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Wise-Women-by-Nomi-Melul-Ohad

The Pre Mid-life Crisis

I often consider moving away from Western culture, perhaps to find a new life somewhere in Asia, purely for the fact I wouldn’t have to deal with the obsession of youth. 17-year olds  jumping around me with their perfect not wrinkled faces, wide smiles, and bodies to die for. I can’t stand it!

I’m getting older (early 30’s, woah there!) and no one views me as wiser in this country, just older. I want to be the Senex, the Sage, the Sophos when I get older! (The only result a wise woman title showed up on Google was a “wise woman botanical supplement”, so yeah, I am taking the wise men titles, pardon me).

I want to have something to look forward to. I spent my youth obsessing about my weight and appearance. Now that I am finally somewhat comfortable with myself, I am getting older and that’s all people see me as. Just another old(er) fart. I dread the next 20 years because the trend seems to be “just let yourself go.” Of yourself, your goals, your ambitions. They don’t matter because you’re just getting old and less capable.

So call me a Senex, find my knowledge useful. If I have to deal with the loss of youthfulness, at least appreciate me for my distinguished wisdom and sound judgement.

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sad_woman_by_sempronski-d672eda

The Mother of excuses

My entire left I felt bad for my Mom; she always made it sound like she was the victim of the (whatever) situation she was in. Whether it was because she didn’t have any money, had problems at work or something else. I, as a very sensitive and observing child, felt bad and guilty. I wanted to help her and it saddened me she was miserable.

Sometimes when I wanted to play dress up, she let me try on her “skinny” clothes (the ones she couldn’t fit in anymore). Every time she looked at the smaller jeans or M-size sweater, her face turned into a regretful facade, and she almost whispered a new promise of trying to lose weight again. Even if just a couple of pounds! I gladly backed her up, and hoped that this time she meant it.

Fast-forward to yesterday, she messaged me on Facebook that she is going to the gym. “Is that the gym where you lay on your back and you have the machine massage your fat?” I had to ask. She joined that scam fitness a few years ago. Obviously, it didn’t do anything for her but provided her with an excuse that she was “trying.”

Twenty made-up facts later, she was determined that she is “too fat” to go on a running machine and can’t possibly run. I wanted to send her the video of The Biggest Loser or something like that. But I didn’t. I decided I was done. Done trying to help her. Done trying to support her. Since I have known her, she has every excuse not to lose weight. She won’t accept other people’s help. She won’t listen to anyone but herself and the lies she makes up in her head. I won’t listen to her stories about bad investments she has made and lost money. I won’t listen to her complaints about how everything is wrong at work and she can’t do anything about it. I’m done. DONE.

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IMG_96892

The sugary temptations here till Sunday

8 am. I head over to the coffee machine. I have to start my day with coffee otherwise I am a bigger mess than usual. As I grab the sugar container, I suddenly realize. I promised myself to cut down on sugar. “Put the container back to where it was. You, miss, are done with extra sugar. But coffee doesn’t taste like anything if I don’t put any sugar in it? NO! No sugar.”

I head over to my lovely cubicle. I type away, but my mind can’t stop thinking about sugar. I need it. I’m craving it. My emergency stash is intentionally empty. I look around. Linda always has a jar full of candy. I get up to head to Linda’s desk. Halfway there I change my mind. Am I really going there just to ask her for candy? How pathetic am I? I go back to my cubicle again and wallow in misery.

Meeting time. Oh, how lovely! Our boss brought cupcakes. Everyone has to take one. No, thank you. Questions arise. “But why don’t you want a cupcake? They are fresh! Look how good they look!” Peer-pressured into taking a cupcake I take one and set it next to me. I get odd looks from everyone else who is eating the cupcake. Why aren’t you eating a cupcake? I feel like I am on trial. People are reaching for their second, and look at me, miss Picky, not even touching the first one.

Meeting’s over. I have to take the stupid cupcake with me back to the desk. I can’t stand to look at it so I throw it away. Now I feel bad. I threw away food because I have no self-control and can’t say no. Is it lunch yet?

Lunch time. I give in a little. “I’ll get diet coke, please. No, no dessert.” Yes, your key lime pie looks amazing but I don’t want it, you hear?! I’m getting even crankier. I get a chicken salad and hope the day will be over soon.

I come back to the office. An anonymous left a bunch of homemade cookies in the break room. Chocolate-chip, my favorite! Before I grab any, I leave in a haste. I angrily slam the keyboard, feeling my body getting weak because I haven’t had any sugar.

Finally, work’s over. David surprises me with my favorite cheesecake. “I told you not to buy sweets!” “I bought this for you.” He’s unhappy with my reaction. I feel like he doesn’t support me in my mission to lower sugar intake. We both get mad at each other. I storm out and he ends up eating half of the damn cheesecake.

I go to bed early. My stomach is telling me I have to eat something sweet but I am resisting. I cover myself with the duvet and hope for this nightmare day to be over soon. How am I going to start this again tomorrow?

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Berlin-2-2

Fall of the Wall

Berlin celebrated twenty-five years since the Wall came down. The media reported with an abundance of pictures of the before and after, and Merkel made a glamorous speech on how dreams do come true.

Where were you when the Wall came down? Do you remember it? Was it a memorable event for you?

I wasn’t phased by it as much as some of my German friends but I am fascinated by the stories. This idea of putting a wall up to separate people… is crazy. I asked Jutta, now an older lady who lived in the West, how come the people didn’t mind the wall? I can’t imagine passing a wall by every day and not think of people on the other side. Not being bothered by this limitation of the world. “You get used to it. They had heavy guards and even if you wanted to wonder about the other side, you were best off not to.”

I can imagine a life in that time, and I hope a wall like this will never again be erected…and if it is, we know that it will come down because human spirit will not accept it.

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Transport

The travel jitters

Furthest my mom has traveled in the recent years has probably been Georgia and New Orleans. My father has never been outside United States. When we were younger my mom booked us tickets to England and we left, without him. He refused to come along.

I never could truly understand the mindset of being unable to travel to new or different places. To me, that’s part of the excitement, to Dad, it’s unpleasant. Now that he’s retired, he goes to same places each week and talks about them like it is his first time there.

Since I am embarking on an overseas travel soon, I can’t tell you how excited I am (btw, I offered to pay for Dad’s ticket but he merely responded he’s not the traveling type).

There’s something about traveling I always loved. It’s the anticipation, the planning, the preparation. Sometimes the process before going anywhere is even more exciting than the trip itself. I get to imagine my own scenario of how the place I will go to will turn out. I browse for restaurants I will eat at, local desserts I will stuff my face with, the historical places I will visit.

It’s a beautiful thing to have travel jitters and I wish my Dad could share them with me. I feel like he’s missing on a part of his life but at the same time he seems to be content. So does it matter?

Well, I can’t force him into anything and I can’t wait to pack my suitcases!

P.S: Thanks for reading my blog. Like, share or comment! :)

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Freedom car travel concept - woman relaxing with feet out of win

Taking a semester off

“I took the summer semester off to go on an adventure with Timm. The plan was to spend the next three months together, travelling around the States.”- Jenna Gunner

Taking a semester off is a dangerous matter. Jenna feels like she will get back to the studying rhythm in no time, but it is not always that easy. Once you leave school for a semester and go travelling, it is ridiculously hard to return back to a routine which doesn’t allow you to do whatever you want.

Even if you leave school for a semester to work more or earn more money, the rewarding paycheck coming in every two weeks makes it much more tempting to not go back to school and spend money on overpriced text books and university fees.

I will always support taking a semester off, but make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. Make sure you know how hard it is to integrate in the boring, daily routine again. Because sometimes, people quit school and become wanderers; they don’t want to go back to where they were, but they are not happy with the status quo either. Money eventually runs out or the “good money” you thought you were making with no degree is actually not that good when you realize they are working you for little money but pay someone more because he didn’t quit and finished his/her degree.

Did any of you take a semester off? How did it turn out?

P.S: Thanks to all the visitors of the blog for coming and taking the time to read my stuff!

P.S2: Link to my book on Amazon. Check it out!

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