And then everything changed

Freitag, 24. Juni 2016

Book recommendation: The Circle by Dave Eggers

First of all: I recommend this book to everyone, especially to members of my generation, the Millenials, or younger generations. If it were up to me, I'd put this book on the lesson plan for 11th graders, so that everyone had to read it.

Nevertheless, the story in itself is not so convincing. In fact, the plot is in parts so unimportant to the bigger picture, that it took me a really long time to figure out, what the plot was. This is because primarly The Circle doesn't tell a story but a movement, a trend, a state.

What it's about

Through help of a friend, Mae receives a job at the successful company The Circle. She works in the customer service department, or how it's calles at The Cirle: customer experience.

What does The Circle do? The question is rather: What doessn't it do? The Circle is a social network like Facebook but the employees work on projects in all kinds of areas: technology, entertainment, biology, psychology, safety, science, etc. They use the technical revolution to f.e. prevent child kidnapping, to explore deep sea fish, to catch criminals, and much more.

In the beginning Mae finds it hard to keep up with the pressure of being socially active all the time. Because everything is graded and published, not only her successes at work, but also her Parti Rank, which shows how active she is within Social Media. But soon Mae turns into one of the most active employees and into the face of The Circle.

My opinion

Wow, what a book! The most fascinating thing about it is that we see everything through Mae's point of view, who's a bit naive but all in all has a positive attitude towards The Cicle. There's no moral message, The Circle is not condemned. As readers, all we can do is observe and form our own opinion. That's why The Circle is not a dystopian novel. It doesn't show the pitfalls of society, there's no protest, no revolution. It's more of a prophecy.

That's why I found the book really upsetting. It was emotionally tough for me to read it, most of all because I could find our society in The Circle and myself in Mae. The book was in a hidden way disturbing, so much that I could only manage to read a couple of pages at once and that I even dreamed of it. Because it's actually not so easy to form an opinion. Some of The Circle's projects make a lot of sense (sometimes when I hear about crimes in the news, I think, this wouldn't happen in The Circle), but on the other hand, I had a growing feeling of unease while reading the book. The pressure to always be socially active is vast, so much that as a reader we come, at the side of the characters, close to a mental breakdown. And the surveillance it shows is unnerving.

Dave Eggers combines our society with a possible future and with ideas and concepts, so well that we start to forget what's right and wrong and see the world through a new point of view.

When I had only 30 pages left to read, I waited for two weeks to read them because I just wasn't emotionally ready to read it. I don't want to spoil the ending but I can say that the book was not what I expected and the story didn't develop the way other authors would develop it. Nevertheless, in my opinion the story is consequent and logical and most of all realistic.

Freitag, 17. Juni 2016

Curiosity gets you places

Almost two years ago I did a 5-day-internship at a publishing house. It was ridicolously short but it lead to a job offer some months later for a position at this publishing house which I'm still holding to this day. Sometimes I still don't understand how I ended up here (especially as I had no prior experience in this line of work) and I wonder why I got the job. It's not like I'm really good at what I'm doing, I pretty much didn't have a clue what I'm doing. I'm not very smart or charismatic or charming either. What I am is I'm curious.

During the 5 days of my internship I wanted to read all the books, and learn all the stuff, and participate in all the projects. Life is full of oppurtunities and I want to waste none of them. There are so many chances and I want to take them all. What I learned is, that it doesn't matter so much what grades you have or how educated you are or how good you can talk on a telephone. If you show real interest in other people's projects and passions, they will want you on board. The best you can be is curious and interested and excited and passionate. If you have these qualities, then all else will follow.

Here are just a few things I am interested in: literature, journalism, astrophysics, music, art, physics, microbiology, archeology, movies, travel, photography, poltics, sociology, entertainment, coding, spirituality and so much more. I am pretty much interested in everything. You want to go see the exhibition on dinosaurs? I'm in. You want to visit the Japan festival? I'm in. You want to attend one meeting of every political party at your university? I'm in. Because almost always it turns out to be interesting, if not even extremely fascinating.

The biggest dilemma for me is that I'm not immortal and that I can't learn all the things I want to learn and can't do all the things I want to do and can't be all the things I want to be. I'm still hoping that by the time I'm 70, medicine will be advanced enough that we'll all live for at least 300 years.

Once I was the typical too-cool-to-care teenager and I'm still bummed out about all the exciting vacations with my parents which I didn't enjoy because I was too busy being grumpy. But after graduation I thankfully stopped being so close-minded and I stopped caring about being cool (and anyway, being passionate about stuff is way cooler than not giving a damn!) and I started being interested in everything. Since then life has become a lot more fun. And yes, curiosity got me places.

Sonntag, 12. Juni 2016

My 10 All Time Favorite Game of Thrones Characters

I already did a post on the Game of Thrones characters I still care about but why ignore all the wonderful characters which are already dead. Just because they're not on the show anymore, doesn't mean that they don't deserve any credit. That's why I decided to make a list of my All Time Top 10. Obviously, this post will contain spoilers.

1. Robb Stark

I'm the only person I know who will put Robb Stark on place 1. But I adored him. I loved season 2 and 3 so much because those were Robb Stark's glorious days. He was brave and rightous and honest and honarable. He was strong and he was winning. Also, he was really hot. But he risked and lost it all (including his own life) because he married the woman he loved instead of the one he was promised to and this makes him even better. Robb Stark was the unappreciated hero of the show. What can I say, I'm a fan of heroes, I fall for the good guys.

2. Jaime Lannister

Jaime Lannister is the perfect example of a character you absolutely hate in the beginning, then start to love. (By the way: To be fair, the still living characters have a much bigger chance to develop and proove themselves which is why most characters on this list are still alive.) In season 1 I didn't really care for Jaime. I didn't hate him because he threw Bran out of the window but he was just so shallow, the good-looking evil knight, that I didn't think twice about him.

season 1

But the more I observed Jaime and Cercei, the more I grew to love their relationship. Yes, they're brother and sister and they love each other a lot mor physically than they should, but you can't deny that they're the most stable couple of the show. Jaime's love for Cercei never wavered. Cercei was the only woman he ever loved (both emotionally and physically). For the two of them, it was always them against the rest of the world - and it still is - and that's the most romantic story you can find in Game of Thrones. That's love, people.

season 6

But the point were I started adoring Jaime Lannister was when he stood by Tyrion's side during his trial, when he was willing to even marry (which meant that he'd have to be with another woman except Cercei) to save his brother and when he finally risked everything and betrayed his beloved Cercei to set Tyrion free. Though everyone around him looked down on his dwarf brother, Jaime always stood by Tyrion and he cared about him enough to risk his own happiness.

This shows that for Jaime the world is really separated into his family and the rest of the world. If you're not family, Jaime Lannister won't care about you, he won't hesitate to throw you out of a window to protect the ones he loves. But if you're family (which means his siblings Cercei and Tyrion, or his kids Tommen, Myrcella or even Joffrey) he will do everything (inculding killing and being killed) to protect you.

3. Jon Snow

I have to admit that I grow a bit bored by Jon Snow in season 6 so far but after Robb Stark died Jon Snow was the next better thing. He too is brave and strong and sexy and he will do the thing he believes to be right, even if it will end in him being stabbed by his own brothers of the Night's Watch. The moment Jon Snow won my heart, was when he saved the Wall (with help from Stannis Baratheon). He's best when he's in battle with his leader mode turned on. But lately he's even more grumpy than before. Still, I'm intruiged by the thought of him and Sansa going to war.

4. Sansa Stark

Which brings me to place 4 and my favorite female character. Sansa too is a character who developped incredibly. She started out as this naive, arrogant girl but then she turned into a real badass. Sansa had to go through so much awful stuff, more than almost anyone on the show, being engaged to Joffrey, then watching as he killed her father, brother and mother, enduring his bad treatment, marrying Tyrion, being played by Littlefinger and then marrying Ramsay and being abused by him. And she didn't fight or kill someone or throw someone out the window or sleep her way to freedom like every other Game of Thrones character would do but she took it all with her head held high. She suffered but she got through it and it made her stronger. That's why Sansa Stark is my biggest inspiration in the show.

5. Theon Greyjoy

Some seasons ago, Theon was my second most hated character. He betrayed the Stark family, betrayed Robb Stark who treated him like a brother, occupied their home, captured their brothers and killed many. I thought there's no way he could get back from that. But then Ramsay found him and tortured him until he forgot who he was. The only character who had to endure more than Sansa was Theon. He really went thorugh hell and he didn't endure it with his head held high but he was absolutely broken by it. He truly paid his price. And then at the end of season 5 he finally stood up and saved Sansa from Ramsey. The moment he took her hand and they jumped from that wall, was the most beautiful thing ever. And just some episodes ago he didn't go against his sister to nominate himself as leader of his people (like I feared given his tendency to be a back-stabbing jerk) but he backed her up and supported her. Theon has come a long way and I'm excited about where he'll go.

6. Cercei Lannister

Well, I don't really like Cercei. She's manipulating and controlling and kind of a bitch. But she's also incredibly strong. She doesn't let anyone treat her like shit - and if they do, she'll endure it with pride and make a mental note have them killed later. In the fantastic last episode of season 5 when she did her Walk of Shame she was the strongest, most beautiful woman in whole Westeros and I really respected her for not giving up. Say about her what you want, but just like Jaime, Cercei would do anything to protect the ones she loves.

7. Ramsay Bolton

Just look at that handsome face.

I know, I know. Ramsay is evil and cruel and a borderline psychopath. I agree. But I have to admit that I find him kind of hot. That's really the whole reason he's on this list. I love to watch his scenes, because in his psychopatic, crazy, brutal way, he's really sexy.

8. Tyrion Lannister

I can honestly not say a single negative thing about Tyrion. He doesn't excite me, I don't adore him like Robb Stark or Jon Snow and I don't passionately judge but admire him like Jaime Lannister or Ramsay Bolton, but he's the one. I mean, he's the one who should end up on the iron throne. He's smart (both book-smart and street-smart) and he's brave and fair. He understands politics and the deep, dark souls of people. Yes, he likes whores and wine and sarcasm, but everyone has flaws. Yes, he shot his father on the toilet, but come one, I'm suprised he sticked with him for so many years though his father always treated him like shit. I was always impressed that Tyrion stood by his family though he knew that they were frauds and though he took so much crap from them. And now he rules for Danarys and is already proving that he's a much better leader than she'll ever be. Go Tyrion!

9. Margaery Tyrell

First, Margary is georgous. Second, she's really good at manipulating pretty much everyone but at the same time she still isn't perceived as evil or mean like Cercei. People tend to like her and I do too. It's inspiring how she fights her way through the lies and dangers of Kingslanding - her latest fight against The Sparrow and how she managed to come out of it is just the best example. But the moment I started to really admire her, was when she managed to make even Joffrey, that evil basterd who wanted to see the world burn, like her. When she made him demonstrate his crossbow and then made him give to the poor so that the people would hate him a bit less. Honestly, if you can make Joffrey fall in love with you, then there's nothing you can't do.

10. Ygritte

Okay, it's not like I really like Ygritte, it's more that I couldn't think of anyone else for place 10. The only reason I think Ygritte's kind of cool is that she said to Jon Snow when he left her and stayed loyal to the Night's Watch he'd shoot him and then that's exactly what she did: She shot him several times. Now that's every broken-hearted ex-girlfriend's dream, right?

Dienstag, 7. Juni 2016

Fake it till you make it

You have probably heard the term Fake it till you make it before. And though faking is a word with lots of negative associations - it is usually considered to be close to lying and not being true to oneself, which is pretty much the definition of the life I don't want to live -, I still find the saying to be partly true.

If you are anything like me, than in your mind there is always a battle between two concepts:
1. you have to be a better version of yourself, you have to evolve, to change
2. you should be true to yourself and only do things which you feel comfortable with

During the last months many people have taken personality tests which determine your personality type and which should enable you to choose a career, a partner and a lifestyle which truly suits you. And while I love personality tests and have gladly participated, I am still working in a job and living a life which apparently does not fit my personality type. At least according to this test, but not according to others.

I am one of these weird people who don't know if they're introvert or extrovert. I can be shy at times and uncomfortable with new people but at the same time I do like people, actually I don't like being alone very much, and I rarely am. In my job as a PR person and event manager for a publishing house I have to talk with many people, organize events and even take responsibility. And yes, the part of me who'd like nothing more than to never make a phone call ever again and have noone and nothing depend on me, is terrified.

But I am still doing my job, and yes, as cliché as it may sound, I do think it makes me into a better, namely more confident, version of myself. Because I'm not very confident until being confident is the only option. Then I can be confident as hell. And then I enjoy managing events, and talking with people, and even making phone calls.

How do I do it? The truth is, I pretend to be confident and outgoing and sociable until I actually become confident and outgoing and sociable. I fake it till I make it. And I don't think it's a lie, because both, the introvert as well as the extrovert aspect are parts of my personality, so they both need to be nurtured.

Are you introvert or extrovert? Do you sometimes fake it till you make it?

Freitag, 3. Juni 2016

Picture You

Some weeks ago, I participated in Peace and Chaos founder Cole's 7-day-photography E-mail course "Picture You". It was so much fun and really motivated me to get out my camera and be creative. Here are my results.

Day 1 - Home

The first excercise was to think about what we concider to be our home. The first thing that came to mind was my boyfriend. Because I am not very connected to any physical place or anything materialistic for that matter. I don't care where I live, as long as I am with the person I love. But as my boyfriend doesn't like having his picture taken, I soon gave up this idea.

Instead I managed to find something else which makes me smile whenever I look at it: My bookshelf.

Because I read a lot of Ebooks, many of my favorite books are not sitting in my bookshelf. But of the books which I do have in this bookshelf, my favorite book is definitely "The Beach" by Alex Garland.

I bought it last year in Helsinki.

At the time when I was taking the pictures, I was just reading "Struck by lightning" by Chris Colfer.

The Day 1 exercise also asked us to write down 10 reasons why we love our home, so I wrote down 10 reasons why I love my boyfriend.

Day 2 - Friends and Family

On day 2 the prompt was to take pictures of a friend while they are doing something they are passionate about. I am planning to take pictures of my friend while she is drawing but we haven't had time to do this, yet.

Day 3 - Day-to-day

On Day 3, we were asked to take photos throughout the day and document our everyday life. I took these pictures with my phone which is why they are of a low quality.

Here's me in the morning getting ready for work.

At the bus stop. The sky was truly beautiful on that day.

My desk at work.

At about 6pm I returned home and my workday was over.

My boyfriend was out with a friend that night, so I made myself some pasta and relaxed while watching a TV show.

In case you wandered, I'm watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend which is hilarious.

Day 4 - Career

On Day 4 the prompt was to document some projects we are currently working on. The biggest project I'm working on is my novel. I am writing a youth novel. So far, I have only 4 chapters but I'm making progress. So I documented my first chapter and some notes of my plans for plot and structure.

Day 5 - Body

On Day 5 we were asked to think about our best and worst features and to appreciate our body through photography.

Day 6 - Hobbies and Interests

Here we were asked to document one of our favorite hobbies. As I love journaling and do it very regularily, that's what I photographed. Here is my beautiful diary.

And a page from inside it.

Also I followed Cole's advice and made a list of my hobbies and interests.

Day 7 - Self

On Day 7 Cole invited us to think about our favorite things and to take photos of them. I have to admit that I didn't complete this photo prompt but some of my favorite things were already covered in previous prompts. Here's my list.

The Picture You course was so much fun and I can only recommend it to everyone who wants to get creative and dig into photography!