Welcome, traveler. Thank you for visiting. Now take a few minutes to browse, to enjoy and show that you were here with a comment! And, just to add a little extra interest:
Just thought I would mention it in passing, for those who haven’t seen the ‘sticky’ post at the head of my blog, but November 30 is the final day. After Sunday you probably won’t have another chance and then, for all I know, you will be kicking yourselves for having let such an opportunity slip through your fingers.
There is an alternative, of course: there is always an alternative. You can go to the ‘sticky’ post at the head of my blog – that’s the main page for those who are wondering – and click-through the link. Or, if you happen to be reading this after November 30, and are one of those who didn’t get there in time, didn’t react quickly enough, didn’t seize the opportunity with both hands, you can click on the link in the right hand menu.
What’s it all about? Well, I thought you would have checked it out by now! Up until November 30 I’m giving away two free copies of my short story The Temptation of Words, which was published earlier this year. Is there a catch? Of course! You have to click on the link – and be a Goodreads member – before November 30!
Oh, and I’d really like someone who actually reviews what they read this time, and is prepared to tell me what they think of my work. So, what are you waiting for?
Finally, if it is after November 30 when you get to read this, all I can say is: you should come here, to my blog, more often. Now you’ll just have to click on the link in the right hand menu and buy a copy to make up for your tardiness.
Love & Kisses, Viki.
Someone wrote, many years ago, that you can tell the character of a person by their handwriting. Someone else decided that it was the state of their workplace, another person which animal they own, another…. you get the idea.
The thought about handwriting came to my mind the other day when someone, who was not reading over my shoulder and correcting my English for once, tried to take a look inside one of my many notebooks. I keep notebooks for a wide variety of things, but mainly to hold the ideas which come to me at all hours of the day and night which I can’t write down immediately: impressions of places; people’s actions; incidents along the way; quotations from books and elsewhere. I also have a handwritten diary, which I must admit to having neglected recently. Somethings are too intimate, too personal even for a private diary!
He commented that he’d never have thought, looking at me, that my handwriting could be such an illegible scrawl. Apparently I am seen by many – according to him – as being prim and proper, neat and orderly, a paragon of virtue and innocence. Obviously you can’t judge people by their appearance either, or at least he can’t. What he had expected, he claimed, was neat, legible, ordered handwriting from a real fountain pen in navy blue ink.
Photo Credit: Abizern – Creative Commons
All I can say is, there is no way that I am going to wander about college, Bremen or anywhere else with a fountain pen in tow. Does anyone have an idea how much a good pen costs these days? I have a Waterman which I dearly love, which I have had for many years, and which stays in a safe place on my desk at home. With my Waterman, which is used for writing personal letters, I can write neatly, orderly and legibly. But that is because other people have to be able to read what I have read.
Apparently my handwriting should be all rounded and big, with little hearts instead of dots above each i. This is what is expected of a woman my age, and nothing else is right, or proper, or acceptable. I think I have burst someone’s bubble with my spidery scrawl. The thing is, I can read it, and I don’t need to hide my true character behind feathery writing to convince myself of who I am. I already know what kind of woman I am, and pretty-in-pink handwriting just does not do it for me.
The next thing I am likely to hear is that I ought to be coming to college in a kimono or wearing a typical schoolgirl sailor uniform. That would really hit the generalization nail on the head.
Love & Kisses, Viki.
What is it about this work which reminds me of an IKEA store? It might have been the fanfare which accompanied its release, a novel written in spare moments by a former cleaner at the Brighton Pier on his mobile phone. Perhaps the very idea of someone trapped inside a wardrobe and then making his way around the world, not that I can see all that much excitement in the concept; it’s not as if someone trapped inside a wardrobe gets to see a great deal. Perhaps, and this strikes me as most probable, it was the title which first caught my attention. There seems to be a tendency, amongst some publishers, to go for longer titles, after years of just three words.
Photo Credit: anitacanita – Creative Commons
Whatever it was, I regret it. I have never been a great fan of the guided tour of IKEA to find that one, small kitchen utensil. The stores strike me as being bland, contrived, lacking in any real humanity. There is not even an attempt to create individuality. With IKEA, you know that what you are buying has been produced in massive quantities and that everyone who shops in IKEA is likely to have one or more item that you also have. There is a certain shallowness about the stores, and that is what I found in this novel too. The wordplay, especially upon various names, was contrived and shallow; despite adequate descriptions, I couldn’t get into the characters at all, the seemed to be taken out of an ordinary box and only partially constructed.
The storyline could have pulled the whole together but, here too, I found it wanting in description and depth. What could have been a very humorous, touching investigation into the plight of those illegals caught on the border of one country and sent packing off to another they have never visited before, lacked the wit, the charm, the sarcasm needed.
Published by Vintage. ISBN: 978 0 09 959979 1.
- Viktoria Michaelis.
Of course I still keep up with the news from back in the States, who wouldn’t? I am sure there are plenty of people who leave the country of their birth, the land they have called home for their entire lives, and still need to look back, to see what is going on, even stay in touch with the way things are, if not with the people who now belong to the past. No one can just drop everything and disappear to a new life without glancing back now and then, no matter what they may claim.
Photo Credit: JMS2 – Creative Commons
My looking back, at the moment, brings strange thoughts with it. I keep on thinking about the weather back in the States, all the people who are snowed-in, who have been cut off from the outside world, and then I take a look here. We had the meters read this week, to see how much fuel we’ve used up, and the man who visited us simply sighed as he wrote down the numbers. Fuel consumption is down all over his area, he told us, because of the mild weather. No one really needs to heat that much when temperatures don’t even bothering slipping down into single figures.
So we will be saving on heating this winter – if you can call it a winter with all this mild air – as we do on the costs of air-conditioning during the summer. You want a cool breeze during the heat of the day? Open two windows, one on each side of the house, and sit in the middle. I must admit, though, I do not miss the snow. It was fun as a child, to play in, when we were still allowed to throw snowballs without being sued, but now? Now it seems to get in the way, perhaps my innocence has gone with it. No snow this year, perhaps, or, if at all, just a light scattering. That suits me just fine.
Love & Kisses, Viki.
Yesterday I wrote about the questions leveled at me, about the pointlessness of staying on in college, going back to the States, living a life of comfort. Today something which I have been giving a lot of thought to in recent weeks: staying here. Now, by staying here I do not mean the same as yesterday, staying in Germany. Rather, staying in this small town where I live at the moment.
There are several things which have struck me about living here, some of them good, some of them not so good. For many this is a small community town with a grand history; those that have any notion of the history are proud of it. The trouble is, most here don’t know anything about where they live and, even worse, are not interested in either finding out about it, or getting out and living in it. All have the televisions, their football on a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, a few friends for a beer and a chat, the children in the school, grandma and grandpa in a home and a dog to walk mornings and evenings.
Amongst the good things, the peace and quiet. The fact that I can travel into Bremen easily both for college and for a good night out. The ease of shopping and ease of access to other towns with good shopping facilities. The high standard of cultural events held in the town. And then there are the bad things, one of which really annoys me no end.
Photo Credit: Himbeerdoni – Creative Commons
You need to have ease of shopping access in other towns simply because the supermarkets here have killed off much of the local trade. Hardly anyone is going to buy groceries from a real grocer when every single market – and there are four major ones in town – has a grocery section. The same goes for clothing and, sad to say, electronics. With the latter, they offer computers, televisions, radios and all the rest at good prices, but only as a short-lived offer. There is no background service, no real repair or selling knowledge. And the people buying look at the price, not the later costs. There isn’t a furniture store here. If I want to buy a mattress I need to travel to another town, or take a chance and order online.
The main bad point, for me at least, is the fact that this town is a cultural wasteland. There is a cinema, there are musical concerts, theater performances, art and photography shows, comedians, discussion groups, all manner of things every single day of the week. And yet it is, for me, a cultural wasteland.
It’s a strange question to be asked, and yet someone thought it a good question, one that had to be asked, without knowing the background to my life or my interests: Why are you still here? Why didn’t you stay over there, in the United States, once the estate was settled and live your life there? Why travel all the way to Baltimore, have everything sorted out for you, and then take a plane right back to Germany and carry on with college and a life that you no longer need?
I believe some people have the wrong idea about what life is. Some, it appears, believe that I could have just dropped everything here in Germany, left things as they stand, that I do not need, or no longer need, all the hassle and stress of completing a series of college courses and ending up with a piece of paper at the end. Fair enough, this piece of paper, the title that it will bring with it, is probably of no use to me at all. Who needs me? Why shouldn’t I just go back and live a life of ease and luxury back in the States?
The answer is not quite so easy to frame as the question was to pose. It has a great deal to do with reality, with personality and with expectations. To be honest, I would have considerably less in the States than I have here in Germany. Here I have built up, over the last few years, a real life with a real relationship which means more to me than anything else. Here I have a purpose as well as friends. I never lived in Baltimore, I was born and bred in Wichita, where I have no connections any more. No contact to those I grew up with, attended school with, neighbors or whatever.
Photo Credit: betta design – Creative Commons
Yes, but… the questioner might have continued …all the hard work you’ve got in front of you with learning and examinations, why bother? It’s not as if you need them any more.
Someone, I fear, has the wrong idea about a person, about me in particular. There is a common belief, it appears, that I have inherited vast sums of money and could live a life of luxury with no cares in the world. Even if this were so, why would I want to give up all that I have here and sink into a life which has no meaning for me? Why should I stop attending college, just dump all the learning – which I greatly enjoy – and live life from the couch, so to speak?
The inheritance, well, I’m not going to give out facts and figures. I could live, let me put it that way. But would it be living the life that I wish to live? Is starting all over again, in what is now, for me, a foreign country, the way that I should go just because a few pennies came into my hands? I would rather not have had the inheritance, small as it may be. I would rather have the person, the man, the support that my Dad always gave me. Money cannot replace it. And, above all, I have something that I wish to do: I want to study; I want this worthless piece of paper, this useless title at the end, not because it is a title, not because it will set me above someone else, but because I have worked to gain it.
I have already started from the beginning, more times than most people know. There is nothing exciting about giving up and starting again. There is a lot exciting about starting afresh, but not the running away part, I don’t need that, I don’t want it either. I am staying, I am continuing with my studies because I want to, because that is what makes me what I am, who I am. Is that so difficult to understand?
Love & Kisses, Viki.
Just the other day I commented here about the selective sexism surrounding men and women film stars and other celebrities. This is where men are generally photographed looking nonchalantly into the camera, hands in pockets, photographed from the front or, rarely depending on where the photographer has his or her position in the throng, the side. Female celebrities, on the other hand, are often asked to turn and look into the camera over their shoulders. This gives a perfect view of their butt which, possibly, is far more interesting to some than the front view with a smile, unless they happen to have a very low-cut top on. Some journalists in the media have commented on this form of sexism, but it is so prevalent no one has really taken it up, and most of the female celebrities seem to find it acceptable.
Photo Source: unknown, via Tumblr
I say ‘seem’ because it is part and parcel of their work. They have to present themselves; they have to be well dressed with the latest fashions; they have to look good from all angles. Most appear to accept their role in the world of stardom as a form of model, rather than pointing out that it should be their acting abilities which hit the headlines, and not the cut of their dress or the flow across their butt.
We, however, as ordinary mortals without the advantages and disadvantages of fame and the red carpet treatment, are fascinated with our own butts. Perhaps because we don’t get to see them directly, just in passing, or with the aid of a camera / smart phone. Not that we can tell how good it looks until the image is blown up in all its glory, or until someone leaks it on the Internet and we get one or two sensible responses amongst all the catcalls and vilification.
I don’t know if it is the same for you but sometimes when I come across an article on the Internet, I begin to wonder where all the information contained comes from. Is it an original piece of research, where the writer has gone out and explored for themselves, or have they taken something already written and simply changed a few words? Plagiarism is nothing new, we have seen it across almost every single news medium as well as in the dissertations submitted by high-ranking politicians – something which caused several German politicians to lose their jobs not all that long ago. We see it in learned journals as much as in newspapers and magazines, in books and, undoubtedly, in more than a few pieces of homework sent in during High School.
I was caught up with this article on the Smithsonian Magazine site this evening. The idea of having reusable beer bottles seems to make sense, not just that they can be refilled, but that they could also be used for other things too. In this case, as building blocks for housing in poorer nations. We all know that when it comes to building, poorer folks are more likely to buy beer than bricks, it stands to reason. In fact the idea, even if my take on it is a little strange, is a very good one. In India (if I remember correctly) skylights have been made of water bottles to bring light into homes, where windows are few and electricity a rarity. So why not build a complete house out of bottles?
So, yes, it makes sense, but let me get down to the main area of my post: masculine and feminine marketing and, of course, plagiarism or rewriting.
What’s in a name? When it comes to the Internet, everyone and their dog wants to have a domain name which matches either themselves, or what they do. Competition for the best names is high, if not bitterly fought, and there are plenty of court cases, court judgements, which show just how bitter a fight it can be, especially when it comes to brand names.
Outside the business world, in the real one where we live, there is also a form of bitter struggle going on: one where we all try to keep up with the latest technology in order not to be seen as so last year by our friends and work colleagues. Laptops, Tablets, Smart Phones, Software, you name it, we need to have the newest, the fastest, the most up to date imaginable, and that before everyone else.
Now let us combine the two and find us a company with an excellent name for their services, possibly thought up by a marketing company, which brings the appeal of modernity, advancement, speed and connectivity instantly to mind. For those who wish to be right up there and constantly available to everyone whenever they are needed, even in the bathroom:
Screenshot Source: Constant Contact
Or not. Sometimes a name can be a good indication of a service. Sometimes, as in this case, it can bite you in the butt.
Love & Kisses, Viki.
Having hinted at the idea that hiding a natural part of a woman’s body seems to me to be a little strange – in my post from yesterday – I thought I might go one step further today and, perhaps, justify it. Perhaps not justify in that I propound a general freeing of all barriers, of all modesty, but more an idea of what reality is and why we shouldn’t be so cut up about what other people wear, what they show and how they act as a person. There are, naturally many aspects of a person’s character which we do not have to appreciate or accept – I could list homophobia, racism and many more here, but I’m sure you, as an intelligent reader, know exactly what I am referring to – but also many which are banished from normality by society and by a prim and proper attitude, in public, which do not match our true feelings or desires.
Photo Source: unknown, via Tumblr
The first thing is, of course, why should a woman be embarrassed, or made to feel embarrassed, by her body? Why should she be subjected to jeers, to catcalls and all the rest – we all know about the videos showing sexual harassment on the streets, and not just of women but also of those with a disability – when all that she has, her body in this case, although there is a good deal more, is natural and normal? Why is she forced to hide herself away from view but, at the same time, can see all the celebrities with their fashionable see-through clothing being lauded along the red carpet of fame?