Sunday, 5 February 2017

Perpetual Confusion

Whenever I return to Germany for a visit I find myself utterly confused about where exactly it is that I belong.
Having left Germany about twelve years ago to live abroad, I struggle to figure what who I am. My passport says German but after having lived in Ireland for the better part of eight years, I find "European" a more fitting label, which I lately, after nearly four years of living in China, have also begun to question.

When in China, I mostly follow local customs, but then there are those times when things get so utterly intense that I find myself rejecting all that is usually norm for me, an inner rebellion if you will. I compare everything to familiar places such as Germany and Ireland, and unable to cope with the oppressing avalanche of a completely different world, I find myself deciding that a European lifestyle suits my needs, is easier to stomach and most of all comprehensible.

Then, ultimately the moment passes and I find myself embracing the different culture I chose to adopt. I master it better than some expats around me, stubbornly find ways to deal with all the nonsense and then -all of a sudden- find myself so at home that those very things that drove me nuts just a few days before, become perfectly normal.

Until... Yes, for there's also a but! Until I find myself suddenly ripped out of the familiarity of a life full of unfamiliarity. I find myself on a plane, bound for Germany, a long overdue trip home to see family and friends. Once off the plane I'm oddly confused. I mumble to myself in Chinese, my eyes drink in the familiar bilingual airport signs... Those peculiar German words fail to make sense and my tired eyes drift to the English signage, ah yes now that's easier. In a dazed state I follow the crowds, grab my suitcase and find my sister. For the next few days I proceed to speak an oddly familiar language where I have to translate half the words from English because I simply can't remember them. A few days later I find myself in a Vorlesung (lecture) at the University of Applied Sciences in my hometown, dragged there by my best friend, and while I understand every word, on the whole it makes little sense. Maybe it's because I lack the expert knowledge, though I presume it's because my brain is utterly confused about which language to use... 
The words mix together, forming a sticky, unusable mess. As the days advance, things slowly get easier but unless directly spoken to my mind thinks in English, my fingers type Chinese. Someone asks me count to 30 while watching me closely as I administer CPR to a plastic doll and my brain goes into overdrive because I don't know in which language to count, it's maddening. German? No too difficult... Chinese? No I might forget a number, get confused and mess up my compressions. English then! Well, yes, surely that's the safest bet, isn't it? I'm so torn up about which language to chose that I decide to leave it up to the adrenaline and once I start those compressions I naturally, without much thinking, count in English in my head.

Then there is that familiar sense of belonging brought on by being surrounded with known things. Yet, it doesn't feel quite right. Something's off. It's all a false sense of security. It's all unfamiliar. I find myself sure-footedly walking the streets I grew up on yet at the same time asking for directions to places that should be familiar, that I should know, that I couldn't possible have forgotten, yet I have. A night out? No clue were to go. Park the car? No idea either. Busses to surrounding smaller cities? Friends will surely know the answer. Doctors, pharmacies, shops, supermarkets? I ask a million questions, a habit I adopted in China, instead of just doing my own investigation.

A few days later it then all comes back, like an avalanche, dragging my feet from under me, throwing me off key, and I'm left more confused than ever!

Where do I belong? Where is home? I've no answer...yet.




Friday, 27 January 2017


I'm in need of words, yet I have none.
Some hazy connections flirt constantly my mind, but they never stay long enough to grasp.
There are half-baked ideas and yearnings, insatiable cravings for words yet none are worth coming.
One might think I'm short of words but I think I'm just full of the wrong words.
It's frustrating.
The more I want the less I get.
Or is it that I don't want enough?
Blasted words.
So much to say, yet no start.
I'm stuck in a maze.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Fiction: It Started On A Foggy Winter Afternoon

It Started On A Foggy Winter Afternoon

Author's Note: The best feeling in the world is when inspiration strikes right out of the blue and lingers long enough for you to get home to indulge in it. I'm not sure if this is going anywhere, but I like it and I want to share it. Ideas, suggestions, criticism...all is welcome. 

She stared out over the lake, or at least pretended to. The world around her was shrouded in a heavy, unyielding cloak of fog. It was so dense she could barely see beyond the few leaves stubbornly refusing to give into winter’s unforgiving chill. She could smell it though, the familiar scent of the murky waters wafted through the air, mixing with the freshness of the drizzling rain that had been falling all day. A gust of wind made her shudder and she pulled her hood further down into her face. It was cold but she wasn’t budging. She clenched her hands into fists, trying to somewhat warm her frozen fingers. Her thin, woollen gloves weren’t doing much of a job at keeping them warm. Her thoughts drifted, clinging to nothing in particular. She shuffled her feet and let out a sigh, quietly asking herself for the umpteenth time how she’d managed to get herself into such a royal mess. “So...” His low, deep voice, albeit familiar, made her jump involuntarily and it resonated in her mind over and over. She sighed again. He’d been patiently standing a step behind her, not too close but definitely far enough. She couldn’t see him but she didn’t need to. She didn’t want to either. Not right now. Besides, his face was etched in her memory and the scent of his aftershave was one of a kind. She felt she could pick it out of a crowd with ease. “So what?” She replied, drawing out the obvious. He didn’t respond, silence settled and she continued to stare out over the lake she couldn’t see. A few minutes past, she ignored him as he cleared his throat, then abruptly turned around and faced him. “Give it to me,” she said with conviction and he handed over a small, black pouch. It was somewhat heavy and she could feel its contents moving about. She squeezed her hand around the it, holding on to the precious cargo. For a moment she contemplated tossing the pouch out into the invisible muddy waters but since that wouldn’t solve her problems, only add to them tenfold, she dismissed the idea almost instantly. Instead she slipped the pouch into the pocket of her thick winter coat. “Thanks. I knew I could count on you.” His voice was lower than before, yet not submissive, and she nodded in acknowledgement, then walked away without a backward glance, heading into the impenetrable fog. She was out of sight within seconds yet she felt as if she was being watched. She shuddered and walked faster, suddenly eager to get out of the cold wet and into the warm safety of her small apartment. Somehow her rendezvous had taken longer than anticipated and dusk was settling in. It was getting darker by the minute and she didn’t feel like lingering out in the open for longer than necessary. Her gloved fingers tightly clasped around the pouch in her pocket, and she marched on, heading towards the main street and the nearest bus station.