Category Archives: Personal

5 Observations about Afghanistan

Ok, well, before I bury myself under a huge pile of shit I’m gonna backpedal a little and make my claim not about Afghanistan as a whole, but about my very limited impression of its capital city – Kabul. Now I’ve been here for about four weeks, so it is of course high tide for my oh so valuable evaluation of the situation as a whole (meaning only certain very random aspects of it. of course.).


Dust: Everywhere.
Oh, the hell. Think about all the images of Afghanistan you have seen so far (try to dismiss the ones about war) and tell me what you think of. Forests and green pastures? Rivers and flowers and shit? Yeah, no. Most probably not. Cause land is bleak, y’all. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is very beautiful, but in a very grey and beige sort of way. Kabul looks like it had been a desert in between some rocks and people decided: nice place for a city! So a city is. But it seems like all rocks and stones and earth and stuff want to remind you: we’re still playing desert here. And there is dust EVERY-effin-WHERE. Often it is visible in the air, but you mostly notice because it creeps in everywhere. Literally everywhere. After a few days everything is covered in a thin layer of grey/beige dust. Even inside of a box, cause this dust here knows how to find its way. It’s partly impressive, partly annoying (not to mention you have to wash your hands a gazillion times a day cause every time you touch something you, well, touch dust).

actually my garden

Gardens: Hidden
The color green (color of Islam, y’all) is kinda missing in action here in Kabul. At least that is what it looks like at first glance. Houses, or rather compounds, present themselves as mini-fortresses all walled and fenced in picking up the ever popular color-scheme of grey and beige and brown. Bu-hut! Once you enter a compound usually a pretty surprising oasis awaits you. Our compound hides a beautiful garden in the backyard. Complete with flowers, zucchini, apple trees and a lawn. And it is very common, several houses that I’ve visited so far exhibit the same secret garden within the confines of their compound walls. There is a beautiful restaurant called Le Jardin du Taimani where you have to pass by 5 or 6 walls ‘til you find yourself in a vast and lush garden (and I was told that most restaurants have that, some even more beautiful).


Burqa: Not all women in them
I guess when most people think of Afghanistan, they think of women wearing the burqa. Granted, I see some of them every day, but not wearing a burqa is way more common. Also granted, there is no women not wearing the Hijab, a veil to cover her hair, at least partially. Indoors at the office e.g. you will meet Afghan women without the veil, but not so on the streets. I suspect that once you get into more rural areas the sight of a woman on the street and of a woman on the street not wearing a burqa will be much rarer. But for Kabul, there is little burqa but much suspicion on my part that the image of women in Afghanistan that I constructed in my head – and the ideas that I had been fed with throughout several conversations and trainings – needs a substantial adjustment. I’m very “better don’t start a conversation cause it might be misinterpreted” (really, you have no idea how much every sort of training and book and documentary etc tells you as a western man that you should absolutely not randomly start a conversation with an Afghan muslima) so especially in the office I still have trouble figuring out what is acceptable and what is not. And my impression is: there is a lot more acceptable than I initially though. So they probably all think I’m really weird. And coming here with a head full of feminist ideals it feels really weird to be all cautious and gender-segregating. I’ll monitor the progress of this shit and let you know.


Violence: Lurking (apparently)
Ok, besides dust and burqa the most prominent images of Afghanistan are those of war and Taliban and death. And just a few days ago on Massoud Day (a Mujahedin who advanced to national hero status, read more HERE) a suicide bomber killed five other people while people of Pashtun ethnicity celebrated, went into a quarter where mostly people of Hazara ethnicity live and killed a shopkeeper because they didn’t find it appropriate that he would not close his shop in honor of Massoud. They just gave him a blow on the head with a wooden stick and he was dead and then of course the Hazara went after them and killed a policeman (I think). I heard gunshots, sitting on my terrace, because we were not allowed to go out. That’s called “white city” which pushes all my wrong buttons concerning racism and colonialism, but the hell.
It’s just really crazy to hear that and hear about what happened. Cause let’s face it – these people have witnessed basically nothing but war for the last 30 to 40 years. With three quarters of the population being under 25 that means that all Afghans basically know nothing but war or at least times of violent conflicts. I don’t encounter it personally – except for armed guards at my office and the supermarket I shop in, and the streets I drive through, and the hotel-restaurant I go to… ah well, you get the point – but it is kinda scary to wonder about basically everyone you meet how far they would go if a conflict would occur. One of my first days here I saw a kid of maybe 15 beat another one with a wooden stick. These were obviously two groups of school-kids and stuff like that happens between boys of that age everywhere in the world. But how often does it happen here? I’m afraid that it is very common, and for me coming form basically safe old Germany that is plain crazy.


Excitement: Small things
I’m not allowed to walk in the streets. Not even down the street to buy a Pepsi. I am picked up by a driver in a car no matter where I want to go. Sneaky as I am I kinda bent the rule on this one and had a little walk with Afghan colleagues from a lunch-restaurant to our office. It was basically two minutes walking down the lamest of streets. But lemme tell y’all: I was super excited. Both in a “oh, that’s how that looks and feels” and a “hopefully I don’t get shot” kinda way. Of course I didn’t get shot, because while I think there is a higher tolerance for violence, I think that 95 percent of the population have no interest in seeing me killed whatsoever (and the other 5 percent probably aren’t either). But such a random thing like just walking down a block becomes such a delight all of a sudden – it’s kinda heartwarming. And batshit crazy.

And yep, that’s my sum-up: Heartwarming and batshit crazy. Xept for some stuff, I really kinda like it here.


Lame Excuses! For Free!

You’re welcome. For my lame excuse that I am about to present to you as to why NOT THAT MUCH is happening on this very blog lately.
Turns out Mr. Me has to act all adult and pursue an internship. I will not bore you with the gruesome details, but suffice it to say that moi gets even lazier than usual when moi’s ass returns to the apartment in the evening feeling like this:

Heehee. Loved this one for like ever. In case you’re wondering, it’s by the wonderful AK Tettenborn. You can find it here, but the fantastic Fudge That Sugar blog is discontinued. Luckily she is still active over at Twice Shy (click HERE).

In the meantime, no tears, kids, I will force myself to post something this very week!
Ta-Dah! There was a promise, just made from scratch. I’ll try to be more regular, so you don’t have to. Not that this even makes any sense.

And out.

Anniversary! Me, all over the place is now 1 year old!

Can you even belive it? Cause I sure can’t.
25 August 2010 I started this whole blog-thingy and now one year past that point I can celebrate the anniversary with my 100th post! I’d say: what a coincidence, but really, I had to kick myself a little extra in the butt that it really became post #100. And yeah, how cool is that?

Me, all over this post

Care for some statistics? Lemme break it down for y’all:
1 year.
100 posts.
2 subscribers (you guys rock!!).
5 comment subscribers.
20 facebook followers.
8941 views in total until now, equalling
24 views per day on average
93 views on my busiest day, 14 June 2011.
1 happy blogger.

One year ago I was sick and glued to my couch at home, having toyed with the idea of starting a blog for some time I finally said: what the fuck? and just started one on wordpress. So here I was, and while I was very ambitious in the beginning realism has kicked in a little. Meaning: One post a day is just nothing I an handle. Also: Limiting my word count especially on reviews is something I struggle with (and always lose that struggle, mind you). Nevertheless, I of course love it and intend to continue. Even intend to to so more regularly, cause really, lazy-ass me.

I’d say I have three personal highlights when it comes to this blog in the past year.

#1 would be my “Alien is February month” scheme for february 2011, becuase there I really challenged myself to create meaningful output within a tight schedule and managed to make clear to myself why I love the Alien series to much and what I think about underlying issues.

#2 would be the fact that this blog even attracted corporate interest, which is something I’d never have thought in a million years, cause: really? This little corner of the interwebz?

#3 would be the comments I get from people on some of my posts. Some are just one-time comments, others comment regularly, and be assured: I appreciate them all and am giddy with excitement when somebody likes my posts, or re-blogs them, or posts them on facebook, or as I’ve said above, just comments on them and shares his or her thoughts on the issues at hand. Thank you so much!

Me, all over the lower part of this post

I’m planning on doing more monthly themes, but it always means a lot of work, so we’ll see how that plan works. I definitely intend to post more movie reviews in the near future, so I hope I won’t get lazy. I’ve been planning to to a comic re-read and a TV-series rewatch regularly for some time now, but as of yet I won’t give away which comic and what show, heehee. I’ve always intended to post some DIY stuff on the blog, but so far the DIY lags behind schedule and thus no posting happened yet. Argh, I’ll just come up with something, don’t you worry.

Top Ten list of places I’d like to be at right now

Granted, I could also just say that this top ten list is made up of top ten travel destinations, which would probably be equally true. However, it is very hot in Southern Germany right now and I have to write applications which is one of those things that sound like little fun and are actually less than you’d have expected. So where would I like to be?


#10 Rome

I’ve never been there, but somehow I think, one should have been, at least as a EU citizen, right? Ok, there is Berlusconi, and ok, it’s probably even hotter over there, but still. Just for some good old sightseeing and pretending to get some educational input while basically really just relaxing.


#9 Portugal

Not unlike Rome, I guess. Never been there, but have wanted to go for a long time now. It’s probably lovely. I imagine beautiful landscapes and quiet country-side scenes, long walks along the shores and laughing with the locals…Well, parts of that at least. I have this “it’s gonna be nice there” image of it and would like to find out if it’s true. But it will also be very hot there.


#8 Paris

Been there, loved it, been there again and was robbed, loved it still, went again and loved it again. So naturally I just really want to go to Paris again, preferably with my sweetheart and do some good old touristy stuff while enjoying the European Metropolis-ness of it all. Without riots, please.


#7 Egypt

Speaking of riots, I assume that Egypt as of now is maybe not the funnest country in the world to be for tourists, but then again it still is Egypt. Never been there, but really want to see pyramids and the nile and alla that, but I am also afraid of being thoroughly disappointed by the “ultimate tourist experience” one is likely to have due to heavy tourist traffic in good old Egypt.


#6 New York

A friend of mine is going in a few days and I could not be more jealous. It’s frickin’ NY and I love love love big cities, so basically NY and me should be a match made in heaven. And there is really no excuse, no political upheavals, no language I couldn’t master, no crazy price-tag to the flight. Still haven’t made it, still want to go.


#5 Kenia

Been there in 2006 and since then the country’s been through a lot. Just recently reconnected with a friend from there (and then) and funnily enough this coming weekend I’ll meet up with two of the women I was there with, one of whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in years (plus: she doesn’t know yet, heehee). I would really love to go there again, revisist places and faces and experience some more of this beautifully awesome country. Though I don’t know if I’d climb Mount Kenya once more…


#4 India

Classical case of Orientalism. I just gotta admit it and get it off my chest. India seems so irresistibly fascinating for the sheer variation in people and lifestyles and I’m always like: no matter what, you can just go there and try to make it. Of course I’d probably wither within a few days, but somehow I feel like I must go there once and try to live it like for real. Whatever that means. Slap me now.


#3 Okinawa (Japan)

I could really just go anywhere in Japan right now (well, except for maybe…), but most of all I’d like to go back to Okinawa and the southern islands and islets again and just enjoy a crazy hot summer with the landscape, fruits and beaches to go with it. Oh and yeah, brush up my terrible Japanese of course. Good student that I am.


#2 Iceland

Also a place that I’ve already visited in the past, and it really was a magical experience. The freedom of camping in terrific nature, surrounded by amazing friends, aww, it was perfect. I really wanna go again, see some more and revisit what I liked best. Also a place I’d like to bring my sweetheart with me, cause he’d really like it too.


#1 Mongolia

How can I have not been to Mongolia? For whatever reason I am totally obsessed with going there. It’d be perfect right now: cool, supposedly stress-free and no computer to remind me of application duties. In my mind it’s basically the most beautiful country on earth, so don’t think I come without expectations, ha. Preferably’d go there by trans-siberian railway, just soak in that wide and empty landscape. Somebody care to give me shitloads of money to buy the damn ticket? kthanx.

So how bout you? Where would you wanna be?

Me, all over the place is now also on facebook. Woohooo!

It was inevitable.
The day finally arrived.
Destiny was met.

In a shameless act of self-publicity Me, all over the place jumped on board of that facebook-thingy.

If you want to be up to date on what is happening on this blog (ha!, I know, like every other week or so…), you can like Me, all over the place on facebook, share individual posts on your profile wall and of course comment on things you find comment-worthy.

You can get to the Me, all over the place facebook page by clicking HERE or by clicking the above images. Cheers!

How to non-bullying-ly insult a bully

Obviously, this blog needs to seriousn-up a little.

Surfing the web I came across reports on two new teen suicides in the USA, one of them – again – a gay teenager, and both of them victims of bullying. Coincidentally, last Sunday I ran across a young gentleman here in Berlin, who felt the need to tell me, across the street, from like 10 meters away, that my “outfit looks gay” and “makes me look gay.” I got really angry. I felt victimized, but not to the extent that I was all shameful about my appearance (cause, heck, I love that particular outfit), but because his actions contained the power to make me so incredibly furious.


My lame-ass response was “blöder Wichser,” which translates roughly as “stupid jerk.” And while I believe that this is actually a pretty accurate description of the aforementioned gentleman, it immediately hit me that the reason for me being so angry about the whole thing exceeded far beyond the mere intolerance/ignorance/hate/self-loathing/you-name-it of Mr. Jerky Jerk. I was so angry, because I felt incapable to respond.

My first reaction, and the one that I kinda gave in to, is to blurt some vague non-discriminatory insult back. Huh? you rightfully ask. Because I don’t want to be some intolerant piece-of-shit and just degrade people for who they are, however, I want to make people who do this kind of crap to others experience how that feels. Which is difficult, or should I rather say impossible, because my understanding of what compromising characteristics are is fundamentally different from his, obviously. I am not insulted by somebody telling me that I look gay, cause I don’t think that being gay is something bad, nor do I think that looking – or acting – gay is something to be avoided or looked down upon. He certainly feels different about this issue. At the same time, I think it’s totally terrible if a person displays unfounded intolerance because of bigotry or the incapacity to deal with lifestyles that differ from yours. That, again: obviously, is not something he considers to be problematic at all.


So it boils down to a very thin line: Can I respond by pointing out the complexity of the issue and make him think about what he just did and why it might be considered wrong? Will I be able to do so, feeling that I actually achieved something, therefore content with leaving the situation like that?
I could also just not respond and act like I don’t care. Cause ultimately I don’t care that he tried to insult me, but I do care that he thinks his stupid-ass bigotry is worth parading down the street. And this whole caring about that leaves me angry and hungry for revenge, cause yeah, if he knew what he does to other people, he’d probably act different. Then again, he probably does know how it feels, and this is his response. Copying what he saw other bullies do, thereby displaying a “strength” that will grant him the respect of all bully-dom (but certainly not mine). And while all these thoughts run through my head within milliseconds after the incident I get more and more confused, don’t really know what to do, but don’t want to leave it uncommented (cause I’d feel like giving him the impression that his behaviour is acceptable) and thus come up with some lame-ass insult that will probably do nothing.

Then again it might serve to initiate an argument, which, in the best case scenario might lead to an opportunity to present some of the arguments and thoughts I have on the issue, but it might also (yeah, worst case) lead to me having my teeth kicked in right in front of my house.

So, what’s the point of this whole post? I feel completely unable to present the ideal solution to the dilemma presented, because I just don’t have one. And I guess it is also very dependant on the situation you find yourself in (two weeks ago I got a similar comment from three teenage girls on their way home from school… I don’t think they’d beat me up).
What I’ve begun to think, though, is that I should probably come up with something mimicking the elevator-pitch, a short and concise speech of why I think this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and why I choose to take the high road. I should practice it in front of the mirror and have it handy when the next moronic super-jerk tries to harass me verbally. Now there is a plan.


But what saddens me above all else is the fact, that I can sit here and write all that and believe in it, because I feel strong enough to handle the bullshit that bullies hurl at me. Other people don’t, and recently we all witnessed some of them taking their lives – because it seemed the easier way out, or even the better way to go. That’s horrible. And it is also the reason, why I need to get better. A lot has been said about the “It gets better” campaign, there has been praise, but also criticism. I tend to go with the latter, cause I’m not a fan of listening to celebrities of questionable fame blabbering about how the world will become a better place. Don’t get me wrong, the world will seem to be a better and wider place once you reach a certain point (and once you move on from school) but a lot of it has IMHO to do with the fact that YOU need to get better. Just as I did, I needed to get better at seeing through the insecurities and the ignorance that informs the actions of bullies. I needed to get better at making it not affect my self-esteem. And I still have to get better at responding to harassment. Because you never know who is watching, who you might be inspiring to carry on instead of just giving up.

To end on a somewhat lighter note, I give you a fantastic contribution to the “It gets better” campaign, that is really all sorts of anti, entitled “It gets worse,” and presented by the talented JIZ. Cause who would want to miss out on gay sex, right?

Getting my emo-blah on

Excuse me, while I just begin to get my rambling on. I never intended this blog to become overly personal (yeah, whatever that means, exactly), but I feel like I need to write things off my chest to kind of give myself a virtual kick in the butt. Also, I feel it sort of affects my relationship with this blog. So there.

Now, Christmas is approaching like a train in full motion and I’m in what we could label the final stages of my university studies. Mind you, it took me a while to get there, much longer than anticipated and dragging along longer now towards the end than I hoped, feared, or could bear.

The main factor for this final stage a.k.a. the completion of my Master’s Thesis (which is really the last last step in the whole process) is me being all sorts of procrastinating or simply not writing it. True, I worked for a solid two months over the summer and fall, and therefore didn’t have the time to sit on my butt and pour the knowledge drunken from them books into a coherent text. However, I was planning, besides all the work and stuff, to be done by early September, and now it is almost 2011 and I’m still not done with the thing.

The thing is: I enjoy writing about my topic, I enjoy reading about it, even in Japanese, which is not easy, but still fun. So it’s really not about the thesis itself, it is more about the implications that all of this has. Or to put it another way: I feel lost.

Like, I have no idea where things will go. That doesn’t even only apply to the big “oh-after-uni-time,” but in a more general sense. As I’ve said, I enjoy writing my thesis and think it’s a good topic and I’m up to producing something good, but at the same time I feel like wasting my time. I feel like I’m doing something that I should not be doing, that I should just throw down and start anew with something completely else. Frankly, I have dreams and wishes for that something else, but somehow I end up not pursuing it, and while I’ve read enough self-help crap and alla that over the years enabling me to see how stupid my behavior is, I end up staying on the track anyways. Keep doing what I’m doing cause it feels safe and might not be all that wrong after all. But I feel like I’m eroding, like I am falling apart.

This sounds dramatic I know, and I’ll get to that in a second, but it’s true: I feel like I’m becoming more and more of a shell. And the longer it lasts the more it feels like there is really no one home. That there is no personality in me, and that because there is no personality, there really is no path. What am I good for? How can I get there? Why am I not going there right now? And why do I know that all of this is wrong and still don’t change it?

I kind of feel sometimes like I’ve lost hope in there being something meaningful to do, but that is bullshit, and I know it.

The problem with all of this is, that it is so far into self-pity territory that I start to disgust myself. Like, what the hell? Why can’t you privileged piece of shit just get your act together and stop whining? It is all up to me, that my societal engagement isn’t what it should be. It is all my fault that I am not as close to people as I should be. And it is all up to me to start evaluating me by what I do and achieve rather than by who I dream or fear to be.

Bwah. I warned you, I’m rambling. These thoughts have crossed my mind on a daily basis for months now and I keep getting more lethargic and empty along the way. I really need to stir things up, cause it’s seriously numbing me. Now, I’m not the most temperamental and passionate person to begin with, but I feel so detached from any sort of emotions. And I keep losing interest in things, I only look for diversion without processing it into something productive.

That is what happens with this blog. I was so enthusiastic starting out and I feel how it gets harder and harder for me to find myself interested in writing about something, in digging something up and make something out of it.

So, yeah, I guess, this is kind of my first try to mix things up, to channel all that emo-fuckery into something more meaningful than just whining. Let’s see if it helps.