culture

Rio 2016- the most authentic Olympic games

For the last couple of months there has been an absolute uproar over Rio being the host of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Even I was against it at first- like many, I raised my fist with the rest and roared: “Say no to bribing! Say no to corruption! Say no to human rights violations! There are people starving while the corrupt politicians and officials make money! It’s disgusting!”

But after seeing the picture of favelas illuminated by the fireworks coming from an Olympic stadium in the background, I changed my mind.

The Rio Olympics represent the cruel reality of our society, of our world really. The games represent the best but also the worst. We cannot protest only when our athletes are not treated right. What about all those people living in poverty, crime and hunger on a daily basis? Why are we not making a bigger deal out of that?

No matter what you hated or loved about the Rio Olympics, at least it was not pretending to be something it was not. It was real, dysfunctional, dangerous, exciting, sad and challenging at the same time. It was not the pink-eyed version of our world, but rather an authentic one. Even athletes, many of which come from destitute backgrounds, gave us their best and their ugliest, their rawest, just like our world really is, in case you forgot.

 

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Area dog more than happy to be a couch potato

“Would you look at her,” said Tanya with a hint of despise. She was referring to her dog Stella who was stretched out across the couch in the living room. “I think when she dies we will bury the couch with her.”

Tanya and I nonchalantly took a seat next to Stella. “Is it really that bad if a dog enjoys being on the couch?” I asked Tanya. “You love the couch as much as the next person.” “I do,” she responded and took a bite of the grilled cheese sandwich she made inspired by the one seen on America’s Test Kitchen. “But this dog, she almost abuses the couch. I’ve never seen anyone so happy just spreading across the thing in multiple ways. She lays on her back, her belly, her side- you name it.”

I looked at Stella. Her eyes gave away content and a sense of bliss. Soft cushions were supporting her big head as her butt was slowly sinking into the couch. This dog was happy, so happy to be a couch potato.

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Billy, 25, just barely got himself to “like” his Dad’s ZOO photos

Sarasota, FL- It is bad enough our parents know what Facebook is. It is even worse that they have befriended us and have the rare access to our public internet Facebook life. Their presence means only two things- posting embarrassing comments to our photos and postings and/or them posting embarrassing photos of themselves in a public or private space.

Billy, 25, has been friends with his Dad on Facebook for more than four years now and he has unfollowed his Dad’s post feed a long time ago. “He uses humor that is very typical for his generation, you know. The pictures he takes and the ideas he shares are from Ronald Reagan times and well, he loves the Three Stooges type of humor, you know, the one with physical farce and slapstick and I just find that incredibly dumb. All the old people he knows find it hilarious but I just can’t get myself to like any of it.”

Billy does try sometimes to like his Dad’s photos. “Well, I don’t want to be the son that doesn’t like anything on his Dad’s Facebook. Just the other day I liked his ZOO photos. He went there and took selfies with the giraffes and found it hilarious when monkeys were doing it in front of him and posted a bunch of photos of it. Like, it’s not that funny but I love him anyway. So I “liked” the album but I won’t “like” anything for a while.”

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Watching the world burn

I wonder. Is the world really always so close to falling apart or is the availability of the modern communications, internet etc. just a practical tool that allow us to follow its (almost) collapse so closely?

Of course, Greece is the hottest topic this week, at least in my more financially motivated circles. Greeks just said a big f*ck you to poor Angela Merkel who was just trying to get them to start paying more taxes and hire less relatives in government offices.

More bombings in Iraq, self-explosions, abuse of XX (I mean, really, you name something and there is a sick somebody abusing it)…. People starving, suffering, killing each other….And I just wonder? Do we really enjoy nothing more than watch the world burn? Is this brutality just part of nature, but the Western world is so distanced from it that it becomes unexpected? Is nature really meant to be this gruesome?

Because the world nowadays is awfully similar to the one in Game of Thrones. The reason I chose this show is because I am always reluctant to watch it because of its brutality. But, hey, it’s just me being a softie! People are having their heads chopped off in the Middle East (heck, even in the UK), women are being raped and even good ole incest apparently still happens. Constant battle for ruling, for dominance… and for survival?

Of course, you might argue that good stuff happened recently: the U.S. Supreme Court and its ruling of same-sex marriage nationwide. Or the women’s soccer team winning against Japan! And if you read the Humans of New York posts on FB…man, is this world filled with love. That’s all good news. Great news! But when I see the other 90% of the world burn, then I wonder… is the world always supposed to be burning while some good souls are trying to put out the fire?

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Reclining seats in crammed spaces

Whoever thought a reclining seat was a good thing to have in a can of sardines type environment must have been a complete halfwit- or a true optimist in regard to human spirit and selflessness.

There are many annoying things when taking a flight somewhere, but reclining seats on an airplane/bus should be banned. Forever forbidden! Never to be given to humans as an option ever again!

Most people travel in economy class which means one gets a tiny little square of space to sit on through the next X amount of hours. Seating by the window tends to be a little better, but if a seat is reclined in your face the anger is equal to that of a isle seat or the middle seat.

Jerks who recline seats in crammed spaces truly show the type of people they are. It goes without saying they are self-centered and selfish. But what is worse are the problems they cause for the person sitting behind them. Because not only do they make one feel like their presence is not worthy of any respect at all, but they put one in a bad spot.

Now, the even more uncomfortable individual must:

1) Talk to the person who reclined their seat OR

2) Recline the seat themselves

3) Justify and apologize to the person behind them who is now unsatisfied with the new seating situation

It becomes like a domino effect. First jerks reclines the seat, and then everyone else has to do it in order to feel like they are not crammed as a packed commuter train in Tokyo. Now, a third person is mad at the second person because of something the first person did. I know, many times life works this way, but come on, let’s end this madness when we are all suffering in a tiny seat.

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Is life without bread worth living?

I have been trying to eat no carbs (well, let’s be honest- LESS carbs) and I truly am struggling.

In the mornings I find myself confused, puzzled and almost sad because I used to always start my day with bread. Grilled cheese sandwich, PBJ sandwich, omlette with toasted bread, toasted bread with butter and honey, garlic bread with cream cheese, baked ham and cheese rollups…. I mean the list goes on, people!

Now, I stare at the fridge and I can not possibly think of things to eat in the morning without bread! I consulted a few recipe websites, and boy oh boy, no bread breakfast requires cooking. I hate cooking! And I hate cauliflower! I do not want to eat cauliflower hash! And who in their right mind eats vegetable miso soup with chickpeas for breakfast? Have people lost their minds?

The suffering continues through lunch. Like my Grandma, I always dip my bread in soup and wipe the plate with it. Now I can’t do that anymore. And how can I turn down endless bread sticks at Olive Garden? Am I supposed to wait for other food to come out and not indulge myself in warm bread sticks? How?

As the night falls, my bread-less life proves to be a challenge. Pass on the sausage bread, Leah! Forget about the pita bread pizza, Leah! Don’t touch the pretzels, Leah! Agh, end the misery!

I love the simplicity of bread, its practicality and its deliciousness. And as I (try) to live my life without it, I ponder…. Is life without bread worth living?

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Quality chocolate for .50 cents

Alright, alright. You can’t get it in the American stores. For many reasons, chocolate in U.S. is not only expensive but the presence of cacao is terrifically low and sugar content abysmally high. But that’s how we like it I guess.

I liked it that way too until I discovered a German store called Lidl (Lidl is pretty much a copycat of Aldi or kind of like Dollar General with better quality products). There are many things in my life that bring me joy and finding great chocolate for the price of a hamburger at McDonald’s on Wednesday’s is one of them.

Lidl is/was a shabby-looking store with a strong warehouse feel. Nothing fancy or classy about it- but Germans love it. Almost instantly as I walked in, a 100 g (3.5- Ounce) of chocolate caught my eyes. Wrapped in an appealing, yet simple wrap tempted me from the shelves. Milk Chocolate for 50 cents. (Mind you, this was like two years ago so the price really hasn’t gone up at the time of writing.) This chocolate wasn’t expired or poisonous. It didn’t give you painful diarrhea. It wasn’t like godawful Hershey’s with their butter substitutes and whatnot. This was genuinely good chocolate. Because it was so cheap, I had to hoard it. I couldn’t pass on such a deal! I bought different kinds: the alpine milk one, the one with nuts, raisins, the white chocolate kind. I thought I died and went to heaven.

Needless to say, all that chocolate was gone before I could bring back any to the States (so I had to go back to the store and buy more). I miss that chocolate. I genuinely miss it. It crosses my mind specially as I wander down our Publix section or when I shop on Amazon. Good chocolate for little money does exist. It exist in the world of the good ole Germany. Now, who in Germany is reading this and is willing to ship some over to me? 😀

P.S: Thanks for reading my post! Leave a comment on what product you miss! 😀

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Link to my book on Amazon (since I haven’t posted one in like half a year 😉

The EU Fiasco- thinking in capitalistic terms

Ah, the idea of united Europe. So simple, yet so complicated. Greece has been in the news the last few days, battling the Iron Lady of Germany on their debt payments. “You gave us too much money,” they claim. “We took more than we wanted and now we have no way of repaying it back.”

Debt problems aside, there is a prevailing problem in (Eastern) European countries. Nobody wants to acknowledge it, but EU will have a hard time sustaining itself if it is not fixed. Countries like Greece, (recently joined) Croatia, Hungary, Latvia etc… they all have poor financial background. Croatians lived in socialism for decades. Do you really think the politicians, who ruled in Yugoslavia and have left behind a socialist legacy, know anything about debt? Managing? Investing?

There’s a certain discrepancy between reality and theory. In theory, they are all “educated” enough to make financial decisions. The reality is they are not used to the mind-set of capitalism. In their hearts they carry socialism. They are used to corruption. Nobody gets penalized. Greece has enjoyed creating government jobs for everyone for years, but they don’t see that they won’t survive if they do it again. Even if they leave the EU, the mentality the way people do business/ run the country will be their fall. It will also be the fall of Croatians, Latvians etc. The mentality of people needs to change. Old habits have to die out. They may not like capitalism, but their previous way of doing things didn’t work out either.

The key to EU’s success will be changing the mentality of people to not only accept capitalistic thinking but know how to use it too. Throwing money at countries without fixing their operating structure has never benefited anyone.

Only 2 questions 25+ yrs old women in a relationship get asked these days

It started when my relationship with David became “serious.” You know, he met my family, we moved in and he knew I don’t shave in the winter and was OK with that. Serious. So naturally, Sunday dinners with my family had to become a common place to harass David and I with relationship questions.

1.) So when are you getting married?

I think I heard this question more often than I heard Britney Spears’s “Hit me baby one more time” hit on the radio in 1999. Why do you care if we get married? Why should we get married? Are we even ready to be married? We didn’t have answers to these questions, and we didn’t think about marriage. We liked spending time together and that was enough.

A few years later, my “clock” started ticking- at least in the eyes of everybody around me. I certainly didn’t feel any need to have a child and yet everybody else wanted me to have one.

2.) When are you having kids?

I was probably as annoyed with this question as Bill Clinton was with the question “if he ever had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.” I mean, give it a rest. Am I a woman? Yes. Do I have a vagina? Yes. Can my vagina make babies? Yes. Do I have to make babies? NO! Just because nature gave me a vagina with the ability to use it, doesn’t mean I have to (use it). I don’t make stupid faces and sounds when I see children. Honestly, I find puppies to be much cuter. Fluffier. And less of a hassle. But it doesn’t mean I walk around asking people if they have adopted puppies yet.

Maybe I will get married one day, and maybe I will have kids. But can you please stop asking me these questions? Why don’t you ask me if I have finally decided to volunteer at a shelter? Helped with a singing recital in a home for the elderly? Perhaps if I have helped tutoring English at a local high school? Why are those not more important questions, I ask you?

P.S: Not baby related, but here’s my book on Amazon which tells the story of an American student doing a study abroad in France. Please check it out and thanks for reading my blog!

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The key to everything in life….

CONSISTENCY

Noun.

Consistent behavior or treatment. The key to everything in life. How so you ask?

Consistently being good. Consistently working out. Consistently working hard. Consistently caring about yourself. Consistently caring about others. Consistently making this a better planet. Consistently trying to be a better person. Consistently supporting others.

Once you stop being consistent about the good things you do, you fail. You don’t work as hard, you get bad results. You don’t workout consistently, you get fat. You get selfish. You get lazy.

No more excuses. All the stuff you are not being good at, get consistent with it. Simple as that. Maybe someone will take my advice.

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