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What’s the opposite of a lullaby?

On dark days like these, we northern hemisphere dwellers can use all the help we can get when that alarm clock goes off in the morning.

All though I am actually very much a morning person, motivating myself to push back those warm blankets, leaving the world of dreams and pillows behind, is so much harder when the world is dark and cold. I like to take my time with that horizontal-to-vertical start up process.

My Wake-Up light helps me out by slowly lifting me out of my deepest sleep before setting in the bird sounds, signalling the moment I should really open my eyes.

My boyfriend needs some more persuading. For him, I have made a playlist of songs with uplifting melodies and lyrics. You know, the kind of songs that you can’t help but bob your head (or knees) along to? Those are the songs I want.

Our current list consists of about 15 tot 20 songs, but our personal favorites can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand, with Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime” lonely at the top.

This song is so catchy and positive and motivating and I don’t mind if it stays around in my head for the rest of the day. I mean, who doesn’t want to be encouraged to “turn their magic on” at the break of dawn?

Anyhow… As much as I love this song, I am always afraid of over-playing it and having its magic wear off.

So that’s why I am constantly looking for new songs to add to my “Wake up Songs”-playlist. And what better way to do this than to call on the wisdom of the WordPress oracle?

What song helps you open the curtains and makes you wanna dance around the room? Which song turns your magic on?

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Mystery Blogger Award!

One of the big upsides of participating in the Blogtober challenge, is finding inspiration in posts by other Blogtoberists. The amount of topics obviously vary enormously but it’s so motivating to read fun, creative pieces from all over the world! One of the treasures that came across my path was Tsetsewaa’s notes. She also happens to be the one that nominated me for the Mystery Blogger Award. So thanks again for that, Kukie!!

Questions for me to answer

The question she came up with for me and my fellow nominees are listed below, along with my answers:

  • Who inspires you?
    • I was deeply inspired by the interviews and speeches Michelle Obama gave during and after the US electoral campaign. She comes across as such an extremely balanced person, managing to be warm and kind as well as strong and determined. She stands for women’s empowerment but without ever letting go of her husbands hand (figuratively speaking). She rocks.
  • What were you like as a kid?
    • I’m the youngest of three and the only girl, at that. I was definitely spoiled in some ways but was raised pretty strictly when it came to manners and politeness. I loved climbing in trees and goofing around with animals. Knees were permanently scarred or green from ages 4 to 12. I was probably a pain in the ass for my brothers, but they always had my back when necessary.
  • What’s the best advice you’ve given anyone?
    • Stop drinking.
  • What’s your least favorite household chore?
    • This in an unrankable category. All household chores are annoying and I can confidently say I pretty much suck at all of them… Sorry mom, I know you tried.
  • Describe your favorite shoes!
    • I once owned a pair of beautiful brown leather flats that were not only super comfortable but also fit in at any occasion. My current shoe collection (or the part of it that I actually wear regularly) consists of palladiums, leather army boots, desigual ballerinas and running shoes. I’ve been trying to find a nice pair of neat and comfy shoes for a while now, but my small feet and picky taste have not led to success as of yet.

Mystery Award origins & rules

Happy as I am with this nomination, I do have to mention that there are a few strings attached. The rules are as follows:

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

OMG, I’ve only read the first rule and I’m already stressing out… Where is the logo? What does it look like? Every other nominee I’ve visited seems to be adding a different image… Ok, I’ll just pick one from Google images then…

The Mystery Blogger award itself is the brainchild of Okoto Enigma, meant to bring interesting blogs out of the shadows and into the light for more people to enjoy! So I give thanks to you too, oh award creating being!

Rules 1 through 4: Check! On to the next.

Three Epi Facts

  1. I really feel letting up balloons should be forbidden.
  2. I’m allergic to shrimp, since I ate a a bad batch somewhere in my teens. It’s unfortunate as I would love to be able to eat a beautifully BBQed gamba skewer or a fresh seafood paella.
  3. There’s a robin in my garden who I have named Patrick. I get worried when he doesn’t come out for breakfast when I sit down by the window and have my own.

 I nominate…

Cagedunn, Bonnywood manor, Deutscher wanderwulf, A lot from Lydia, broadsideblog, Notesfromcamelidcountry, Stoner on a Rollercoaster, Observing Hermann, Travel with Intent, psychologistmimi, sarcasticbohemian.

…and I have the following questions for you:

    1. Which animal matches your character and why?
    2. What’s your absolute favorite dessert?
    3. What is an opinion you have but don’t (always) dare say out loud?
    4. What would you save from your burning house, if you could choose only one thing?
    5. What does your alarm clock sound like?

 

The posts I enjoyed writing the most are:

I realize that the blogs I am most proud of are all quite heavy on the morality scale and not exactly feel-good posts… I apologize for bumming you out but I am glad if it made you think about the world and your position in it.

What you do, say and write matters, I’m convinced of that.

Rage against the tangerine

If I were to describe what my absolute best day would look like, it would always include several hours of brainless surfing on the internet. Time spent this way is the ultimate chill-out for me. If someone were to ask me to tell them what I had been up to during ultimate chill-out time, I wouldn’t even be able to explain. Not out of shame or lack of words, but because it’s the time my brain is in partial shut down. I watch and read stuff but don’t really bother to store any of it. Straight in-and-out. I recommend this to everyone.

brain memory abstract.jpg

I must admit I haven’t been getting enough of this brain downtime in recent weeks. This has resulted in me having a slightly shorter fuse and my jokes being a tad more cynical. The upside? Today, having a whole day (until my bf comes home) of absolute me-time, there is a treasure of unwatched videos to binge on.

The Daily Show is one of my go-to channels during brain chill-out. It does require some brain activity (compared to, let’s say, the daily squee), but I estimate that of every ten hours of video footage I remember no more than 15 minutes of it. Excerpts of these fifteen minutes will then pop up randomly during conversations as “witty” quotes or in blogs like these.

All I’m really trying to do with this incredibly long introduction, is explain why the title of this blog is referencing something I saw only yesterday but is actually from a Daily Show episode late last month…

The reason why this particular vid stuck with me, is not only because of the fact that its Rage Against the Machine reference made me laugh out loud. It was also because the realization set in that last week was the one year anniversary of Trump’s election.

trump tangerine

Earth has somehow managed to complete a full rotation around the sun without slinging out of orbit or exploding, since he came crashing into the control room.

The video above shows how the Republican party itself is still trying to come to grips with this and that not everyone has been able to accept this new status quo. I’m not saying this out of epicaricacy (I just learnt a new word!!) but because I think it’s a very interesting process that could lead anywhere.

It may end up redefining GOP entirely, as all moderate, non-racist politicians head for the life rafts and abandon the ship. This may actually restore stability within the party. Or it may result in an out-of-control ship, incapable of staying on course.

Happy anniversary, POTUS.

 

BloPoMo conclusion

I’ve run out of October days, which means Blogtober is over. And just like the time I tried to post a blog a day a couple of years ago, I found it really hard. I don’t understand how other people do it…

At this point I am satisfied I managed an average of a post “(almost) every other day”.

As far as work stress is concerned, I probably should have chosen a different month… I’ve been really tired after work, feeling like I never get enough sleep, even though I did usually manage my 7-8 hours of shut-eye.

C&H timeout.gifSo maybe I should give it a go again in the new year, when things have settled back down at work and my energy levels are restored.

To all of you that completed the Blogtober “blog a day” goal: you are awesome!!!

 

Oh hi there, November… You sure sneaked up on me. Make yourself comfortable, old friend. You are most welcome here!

 

Help me understand Björk

My boyfriend and I often play songs for each other in the early morning. It has become an occasional part of our morning ritual, especially on those mornings when waking up is just that tad more difficult or when getting up just isn’t necessary just yet.

This morning, he grabbed my phone (he is one of those rare ones without a smartphone) and I watched as he typed “Venus as a boy” and I couldn’t help but blurt out “Oh god…”, which in turn made him raise his eyebrows at me.

I let the song play (almost) until the end, which I thought was quite an achievement… I just can’t handle Björk very well… 

I tried to explain why and I noticed how I started to raise my voice and was completely failing at giving him a good explanation. I think I just used a lot of words, starting with “What does Venus as a boy even mean?!” and ending with my piece de resistance: “she just weirds me out”.

So then he said: “you know what? maybe you should write a blog about it…”

Man, he knows me so well, doesn’t he?

So yah, I’m struggling here… Why does Björk annoy me so much and why is it so hard to put it into words?

What I’ve come up with so far:

  • her music is uncomfortable to listen to
  • it’s pretentious and unnecessarily complicated
  • I feel like it’s a “Emperor’s new clothes” situation, where nobody dares say they don’t like it, out of fear of being labeled musically dumb.
  • It just sounds like someone was doodling around with different electronic melodies and riffs and then accidentally added the audio of someone singing in the shower.
  • She always looks like she’s on the verge of a psychotic breakdown.

Luckily, there are more people around that “just don’t get it” and have turned to online discussion forums and blogs to vent and inquire. Some of the explanations people have given for appreciating Björk are:

  • Her (seemingly) very organic, unrestrained approach to singing, combined with the fact that her grasp on the English language is shaky at best, give her vocals a rough spontaneity that is refreshing in an art-pop artist.
  • You don’t have to be crazy to like Bjork but it helps. So do mind altering chemicals.
  • I loved the drama, the glitchiness, Bjork’s amazing vocal range. I find the combination of strings and the urgent, insistent song structure of Joga absolutely mesmerizing.
  • In a nutshell, “understanding” Björk is beyond my ability to explain. I’d just say that it starts with her voice. That’s the gorgeous lighthouse that you follow through the wonderful storm of her ever-evolving music.
  • [In a review on 2015 album Vulnicura] I’ll be the first to admit that, as a huge Björk fan since the late 1990s, I’ve often been at a loss with her music: I adore her experimental, deeply passionate approach to music, but my own appreciation of her music has become increasingly challenged.
  • [In a review on her 2017 video of the Gate] You know when you’ve been out all night, and you’re really fucked, and you finally decide you should try and sleep, so you curl up in bed, dry mouthed, and close your eyes for a second? And then suddenly all this weird shit starts spinning around your brain? Like geometric shapes and faces you don’t recognise and other, intangible stuff you couldn’t even explain to someone with words? Well, Björk’s new video for “The Gate” is kind of like that, but better, because it stars Björk.
  • Her eeeeks, and shrieks turn this little freak into a feisty contender for one of the most unbelievable performers of my generation. Bjork started off as somewhat of a meme in apartment 320, but I submit to you that I have rethought her status as just a meme. In fact she is, nay she will forever be one of the most interesting artists in this game of life we all play.

Hmm… none of this is really helping. Or maybe it is? It’s making me feel that I will never get it and that I just don’t belong in Björk club. But do try to convince me otherwise!

Odd Jobs #5 – phoney me

When I wrote my first “Odd Jobs”-blog in September 2015 I was just starting to settle in at the job I currently still work at and was still very much in the honey moon phase. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my job and am not planning on leaving any time soon, but things have changed since then, which is logical and good for my development (or so people keep telling me).

full-caterpillar-to-butterfly-transition

Looking back across my CV and the different jobs I’ve done, I see one big trend: the telephone. The odd one out in that sense, is my time at the notorious tax office (aka the most miserable you have ever seen me). And thinking about it now, I think I only said yes to that job because it involved no phonework whatsoever and I had decided I needed to take a big and conscious step away from call centery work if I wanted to move forward.

When I started taking my frustrations from work out on my favorite people, I changed my mind quickly and ran back to the first phone I could find.

My current job involves picking up the phone but is very un-callcenter-like in every other aspect. My previous work experience made this part of my job a walk in the park and very gradually shaped me into the company’s unofficial “phone coach”, as a surprisingly large group of people is either not very good at this or genuinely afraid of the ringing machine… Helping my co-workers find their telephone courage taught me several things:

  • Maybe, perhaps, probably, possibly, could and should are words that express doubt and avoiding them not only makes the person on the other end of the line feel more confident about the message you are communicating, but also has a positive backfire-effect on the person who speaks them.
  • “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer (when it is true) and is more helpful than offering a solution you are unsure about.
  • A sincere “I am sorry to hear that” is sometimes all that is needed.
  • Words are powerful things and should not be underestimated.
  • There are many ways to say “No”.

An interesting transformation I have seen happening in “newbies”, that I recognize now in myself as well, is the following:

  1. The beginning:
    Internal dialogue: So much new information, I will never get the hang of this!
    I feel unsure / hesitant / overwhelmed / Argh!
  2. One month later:
    Internal dialogue: Customers are not calling to make my life miserable and I actually know quite a bit!
    I feel more confident / proud / relieved.
  3. Getting the hang of it:
    Internal / external dialogue: “Yes, yes, no need to finish your sentence, I know what you want. Probably better than you do. Let me get into my flow and tell you everything I know so you can be on your way.” Next!
    I feel over-confident / impatient / repetitive / superior / judgmental.
  4. Slightly frustrated
    Internal dialogue: I’m quite sure I was giving customers the information they needed but now that I’ve been told to try a different approach I feel like an idiot.
    I feel insecure again. I feel like my words sound insincere and unnatural. I feel rebellious.
  5. Telephone zen
    Internal dialogue: First, I’m just going to listen….
    I feel relaxed / open minded / self-confident / ready

What I disliked about callcenter work:

  • most-important-call-center-metricsScripts.
  • Being evaluated using silly standards such as
    • Did you mention the client’s name the right amount of times?
    • Did you ask the client if there were any further questions (even when the client has clearly said he / she had no further questions)?
    • Did you say all the sentences in the right order?
    • Did you manage to keep your average conversation time under 3 minutes?
  • Strict break times.
  • Good hair days turning into bad hair days after constantly getting entangled with headphones.
  • The constant buzz of people talking around you, for 8 hours straight.
  • The unhealthy air / lighting.
  • The clear limit there often is to the amount of critical thinking that is tolerated.
  • Crappy tea (and apparently also bad coffee, but that doesn’t affect me)
  • The fact that I can’t pick up my own phone without automatically mentioning my employer’s name as well.

What makes my current employer different:

  • No real script, apart from the greeting when you pick up. The rest of the “script” consists of general pointers and tips (that by now have mostly been written by me).
  • Break time is very flexible (up to the point that many of us forget to take a proper one).
  • Relatively small budget, so pretty crappy phones & underlying technique.
  • It is encouraged to come up with alternative ways to do things and every idea will be looked into seriously. Disappointment when your plan disappears into the bin after one (or two) looks, is not really allowed though. You must be able to get yourself together quick and move on.
  • No evaluation (or none that I notice).

What I hope to master in time to come (or at some time in my life):

  • Time keeping
  • Making decision with “the bigger picture” in mind
  • Making a plan and sticking to it.

My final conclusion is that call center work is often seen as the bottom of the career food chain, and yes, any slacker could probably do it… but people that are really good at it need to know so much about so many things, starting out with empathy. I think that it every human being would work in customer care for a while and would really make an effort, the world might be just a little more friendly…

Cocoon crashing in the nineties

When I was in my teens, K’s Choice was one of the bands I listened to religiously.

My love for this band was recently revived after a friend had posted singer Sarah Betten’s singing one of their best known songs earlier this year with one of my other teenage heroes: Skin.

The album Cocoon Crash includes so many songs that I felt very much intertwined with at the time and that still speak to me. I think “cocoon crash” is  probably a very appropriate way to describe puberty in general, and mine was no different.

One of my absolute favorite songs, despite its slightly confusing lyrics is Now is mine.

Other personal faves are Butterflies Instead and Believe. Oh yeah, and If you’re not scared. (Choosing, not my strength…)

A song that still gives me crazy goosebumps every single time, is the live version of Shadowman, one of the few K’s Choice songs attributed fully to Gert Bettens, instead of his sister and lead singer Sarah Bettens. It’s a long version, but I recommend you watch it. It’ll hit you right in the feels.

After having gone their own separate ways for a couple of years, K’s Choice, has reunited and is making music again and I think they’re even doing some tours. So glad to hear that (and not only because it makes me feel young).

Rock on.