Stream of consciousness

I wake up at 4am, start my laptop and wait. Most polls have closed in the U.S. by now. Despite the 6-hour time difference to the American East coast, there must be some semblance of a projection out there, I think. There isn’t. Romney is ahead but not by much. None of the swing states have been called. I find livestreams of CNN and C-SPAN and NBC News online, mute them, and watch and wait. For a terrible 15 minutes I entertain the possibility that Americans may actually vote Romney into office, and I’m surprised that this turn of events never seriously occurred to me before. From over here in central Europe – from almost anywhere else in the world – the choice seems so devastatingly clear.

“Don’t forget”, my mom likes to say, “This is the same country who voted Bush in for a second term.” But it’s not the same country at all, is it. Too much has happened, and a younger generation is making their voices heard. It wasn’t that America in 2008 and it sure isn’t now. It’s past 7am when they announce that Obama has been re-elected. The First Family looks beautiful; his speech is disappointing, recycled, same old same old. Maybe I’ve just been watching too many rallies over the past few months. I close my eyes for another half an hour. I breathe a sigh of relief.

***

I sip my cappuccino and put on some mascara. I have yet another appointment at the social services agency. These are check-up meetings, usually, but this time I’m also finally turning in the paperwork of my welfare application. It’s not the happiest feeling. But it’s cold and windy and rainy outside – that fine November rain that seems to go on for weeks and creep into every crevice – and it’s 9am and rush hour no longer crowds the subways, and I’m just happy to be out in the real world. I love this weather. I love this city. In all its gray and dirty autumn sadness, I love it.

I hate Lana Del Rey’s dumb face plastered all over everything. It’s an H&M campaign. She needs to GTFO of town. Give us David Beckham back. Or, you know, someone who’s actually naturally beautiful and normal.

The guy at social services grins as our appointment is over. “I hope to never have to see you here again”, he says. He says that every time.

***

I dread having to come up with ideas for food. I sit at home for two hours, growing hungrier, Googling ideas, avoiding the issue. I finally walk to the grocery store across the street and roam the isles, and my stomach needs something but nothing looks good because everything has too much fat and too much sugar. No taste is good enough to justify its calories. I’m in this rut again, and I can’t get out. It makes me wish I would never have to deal with food at all. I end up buying a ready-made pasta thing; small portion, just 99 cents. Add hot water, stir, enjoy. I stand in my kitchen and I look at it, the plastic-y sheen on the sauce, and I can’t eat it. My body won’t benefit from processed food. I can’t remember why I bought it.

I start from scratch, and my stomach protests. I find spaghetti in our pantry, left-over pizza cheese and left-over mini tomatoes. I steal an onion from my roommate. I boil the pasta, cut everything up, pre-heat the oven, add olive oil and spices. The tomatoes bake for 35 minutes; 10 more once the cheese is added. It’s delicious. It’s late now.

***

I stop at the hair dresser to make an appointment. My short do needs a trim. The girl behind the counter is all hipster: ironic tshirt, big glasses, asymmetrical bob of straight black hair, cherry red lipstick, immaculate make-up. She speaks with the thick dialect of the Cologne region. It makes me smile.

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Zucchinis are good for something, after all

Zucchinis are good for something, after all. And so is Pinterest. I never expected to actually go back and use one of the recipes I had pinned a hundred years ago but I did. And a zucchini recipe at that.

I should tell you right up top that you only need this if you are a crazy person like me who tries to cut as many calories and as much carbs from her diet as possible. If you are a normal person who can eat pasta without feeling like a failure, just proceed with your happy existence and don’t even bother. Except this did in fact turn out to be delicious!

Zucchini Pasta + Oven Roasted Tomatoes for 2
2 zucchinis
3 carrots
15 mini tomatoes or 6 regular ones
3 small onions
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

1. Slice up the carrots, halve or quarter the tomatoes, dice the onions, mince the garlic, and throw it all into a big casserole dish. Add seasoning and a generous amount of olive oil (everything should be well coated).

2. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C (400 F) for around 60 minutes. Keep checking in, and stir the mixture around a bit if necessary.

3. Cut the zucchinis in thin strips. Or julienne, as the pros say. (Or use a mandoline, if you’re even more of a pro.) Cook the strips in lightly salted water for about 5 minutes.

4. Then just act as if you had just cooked yourself spaghetti and a regular old pasta sauce, and enjoy!

This is an accurate case study of how I spend my Sundays


I was having whole grain pasta for supper today, and when I got the box out I noticed that the text on it wasn’t only in German but also in Swedish. Fullkorn. That’s Swedish!


There was so much Swedish on the box, in fact, that I may have stupidly grinned to myself longer than would be socially acceptable. There was no one else around, though. (This is really why this post exists in the first place.)

I understand how it happened, technically; that they probably also have boxes with, say, French and Dutch on them – depending on where in the EU they will be shipped. But this was still a sweet surprise that, NATURALLY, distracted me from any legit real life concerns.

So I ate my pasta, and then researched flights to Sweden, cried a little really hard at the realization that it’s so close and yet so unreachable right now, Googled images of the Stockholm archipelago in August, cried some more, listened to some Swedish music, sobbed because my favorite Swedish radio – with the original commercials and news bits – is no longer streaming online, browsed Sweden pins on Pinterest, got a sweet message from my friend Maria who is in Sweden right now for at least another 3 months, punched a hole into my laptop screen the air, contemplated watching any Swedish movie I could find online, and ended up watching Alex Skarsgård clips on YouTube for 45 minutes 3 hours instead. Then I didn’t vacuum my apartment.

You would be surprised how normal a Sunday this is for me. Although if you follow me on Twitter, you would probably argue that just about any day of my week appears to consist of the above right now. You would be right, of course. Give or take a plate of fullkorn pasta.