Monthly Archives: November 2011

The art of being right

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“Does anybody know what a craniectomy is?”, my next-desk coworker asks.
Silence from the opposite side of the room where the 2 girls in the back are hiding behind their screens pretending to be absorbed in whatever they’re working on.
Even though I’m busy translating a press release that is due asap, I’m not letting this opportunity to show off my medical knowledge slip.
“Yes, it’s a neurosurgical procedure in which the surgeon removes a part of the skull when the brain is swelling, so it has room to expand”, I reply confidently.
“Are you sure? Or should I check back on Wikipedia?”
Suddenly the 2 girls in the back appear from behind their screens.
“I don’t think you need to do that”, one of them says.
“You know that she’s always right”, the other one agrees.
Even though there is no mistaking the hint of mockery in their voices, I chime in:
“I really am. I know what a craniectomy is because I’ve seen McDreamy performing numerous ones on Grey’s Anatomy.”
The 3 of them stare at me. Suddenly the phone rings. It’s my coworker from the next room.
“Trust me, I’m right”, I add while picking up the phone.
“Hey, do you know what M.D. stands for?”, he asks.
“Medicinae Doctor which is Latin for Doctor of Medicine. Like in House M. D.”, I reply, amused by the easiness of this task.
When I hang up the phone, one of the girls in the back suddenly asks:
“Hey, what is 6 times 8?”
“45”, I blurt out. And blush.

Being right is something I’ve been enjoying since I was a kid. I liked to solve riddles, take part in quizzes at school and play Trivial Pursuit with my friends. When we went on summer vacation which usually involved long car rides my mum used to buy me a puzzle magazine. She knew that this would keep me quiet for the next couple of hours because I wouldn’t stop until I had finished every single puzzle in it. And she was right. Not only gave it my parents some peace and quiet during the journey– only interrupted by my occasional bragging when I had solved a really tough puzzle –, I was also totally happy and relaxed when we finally arrived at our destination.

Over the years I’ve managed to perfect the skill of being right. Of course, my specialities have changed over time – from dinosaurs and cartoons to medicine and American TV series. But the goal is still pretty much the same – and it’s actually really easy to achieve. I for one don’t consider myself extraordinarily smart, even though sometimes I like to pretend I am, just for the fun of it. The key to being right is pretty simple: Only act like you are when you’re at least 99% sure of it. That’s what I do – well, most of the time – and it works.

The great thing is that being right doesn’t only help to impress your family, your friends or that hot guy in the fruit section of the supermarket who just asked you about the difference between a tangerine and a clementine. It can also come in handy in business life, especially if your work involves dealing with clients. There’s nothing more imposing than a person that has the right answers to your questions. Of course, you will not always be able to achieve that and you don’t have to. Because the concept of being right is more than that. It also means to emphasize the things you do know if they are only the slightest related to what your client wants to know or is worried about. But be careful: You don’t want to come across as Mr./Miss Smartypants. So you also have to admit when you don’t have an answer at hand – but at the same time show that you’re willing to change that and that you will get back to him or her when you’ve done so.

Now you might wonder why I actually like being right so much. Honestly, I don’t really know. Maybe it’s an inferiority complex, compulsive behavior or just an annoying quirk. All I know is that I like the thrill of someone popping out a question. I love it when my brain starts racing, trying to find the right answer before someone else does. And nothing beats that feeling when you actually do. But the best part about the art of being right probably is that I can drive my coworkers crazy with it. Right!?

One person can make a change

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A couple of weeks ago I was waiting for the bus to take me home after a hectic day at work. I was deep in thought pondering on names for the blog I was planning to start. I had come up with a couple of ideas, but none of them really seemed to capture what I had in mind. As music always helps me to get ideas flowing, I was listening to my favourite Japanese rock band, Radwimps, on my iPod, when suddenly a man appeared right next to me. I jumped with fright and shrieked a little
“I’m sorry”, the stranger apologised, obviously amused by the shock he gave me.
“It’s alright. I just didn’t hear you coming”, I said, feeling a little embarrased.
“I just wanted to ask if bus number 45 has departed yet.”
“I don’t think so. But I didn’t really pay attention.”
“Well, thank you anyway. And sorry again”, he said with a smile and left.
And suddenly there it was. Out of nowhere a word had formed in my head and I knew that it was exactly what I had been looking for all along: Maybeland.

This little episode got me thinking about how a single person can actually make a difference in our lifes. Clearly, coming up with a name for a blog isn’t a world-shattering event that is going to change my life forever (or is it?). But if this man hadn’t scared me, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here writing a blog about Maybeland. Plus, there have been people that actually did change my life in a significant way – and they might not even know about it.

3 years ago I went on a group tour through Japan. While travelling from bustling cities to remote villages for 2 weeks, I made new friends and fell in love with Japan – and my tour guide. Being the late bloomer that I am, it wasn’t until the last day of the trip that I actually made a move on him – and surprisingly succeeded. Unfortunately, I had only one weekend left until I had to take my flight back home. And before I knew it, I found myself sitting on a plane back to Frankfurt, full of unforgettable memories, confused and lovestruck. Back home, I tried my best to readjust to my old life. But somehow I had changed. So much so that I didn’t fit into it anymore. And I was ok with it. I had been unsatisfied with my job, the city I lived in, just the whole direction my life was headed to for a while and I had considered the thought of spending some time abroad more than once. I was almost 26, I had joined the working life right after uni and now had a safe job that I was actually good at – but was that really enough? Did I want to go down that path just yet? No! And that fling I had was a chance. A chance to make a change.

Now you might just think that I was a fool for wanting to give up my whole life for a person I barely knew. That my feelings impaired my otherwise reasonable judgement. And I would tell you that you sound just like my mom. And that I was well aware that I was chasing after a soap bubble that would sooner or later burst – somewhere deep down. And when it did, when suddenly that guy ignored me on Skype and didn’t reply to my e-mails anymore after I had focused my whole life on him, I was devastated, sad and angry. But after the pain had faded, there was still something there. A dream that had survived and was waitingfor me to make it come true. So I did. And when I was sitting on the plane to Tokyo just 6 months after my first trip and I saw majestic Mt. Fuji glowing in the light of dawn, I knew that I had made the right decision.

So thank you, Dan!

Have you ever had a person change your life? Share your story in the comments!

Maybe I’ll just start a blog

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I’m at a small sushi bar in downtown Frankfurt with my sister having our usual Thursday night dinner. Except this night is not going to be just a normal night. This night I’m going to make an announcement that will astonish her, that will surprise her and maybe even leave her speechless.
“Today at the cafeteria, hillbilly girl asked me what gnocchi were”, my sister giggles.
“Seriously? Everybody knows what gnocchi are!” I say, shaking my head in disbelief. Then we both laugh until our stomachs hurt and I almost choke on a peace of rice.
“Aaaah, I just love hillbilly girl”, I say, holding my stomach. “I don’t think I’d be able to work at all if she was my workmate. I’d just sit there and laugh all day.”
I try to pick up a tuna nigiri, my favourite, but  I’m already so full of anticipation that my chopsticks are shaking.
“I’m going to start a blog”, I finally blurt out, not being able to stand the tension any longer.
My sister swallows even though there’s no food in her mouth and gives me a blank look.
“You’ve wanted to start a blog before”, she replies dryly.
“That’s not true”, I want to protest.
But then I realize that she is right. I did want to start a blog before – about eating weird and disgusting stuff from all over the world and writing about it. When I was living in Japan, I was known for not being scared of trying new things. Raw liver, fermented soy beans, grasshoppers, pig’s anus and esophagus – I’ve tried them all and I’m not lying when I say that I even liked them (well, except for the esophagus). So I thought, I’d use this incredible skill for creating a blog. I got all excited about it and even started to make a list of all the exotic food I could try. But then I realized how hard it would actually be to get hold of all that stuff. After all I’m back home in Germany now – the country of bratwurst, sauerkraut and the best beer in the world. So I put the blog into my box of discarded ideas where it joined the 3 screenplays and 2 books that I had meant to write and tossed away at some point.
“I’m serious this time”, I insist.
My sister sighs knowing very well that I won’t let go until she finally asks me:
“What is it going to be about?”
I’m looking at the piece of tuna sashimi I’m now gracefully balancing on my chopsticks.
“Maybeland”, I simply reply looking at the fish’s red flesh that is sparkling in the candle light.
I can see a huge question mark appearing on my sisters forehead, so I continue:
“It’s going to be about all the maybes in life. And how to turn them into for sures”, I say.
The rest she will have to find out on her own. And so do you. (^_^)/”