“Phoneless hours” would be more accurate. But since that’s also true for every time we sleep, the duck and I decided on a more dramatic title because, let’s face it, writing about how we went out without a phone once is a bit overdramatic, anyway. Some people and ducks unplug for days! We just went to a place with super strict security, which meant that we had to leave a majority of the things that we usually carry around with us at home, including our phone. Still, venturing out without a phone did make us think about how reliant on it we have become throughout the years. See, the duck and I pride ourselves on not being regular “phone people;” we hate writing messages on our phone and aren’t that big on social media, either (I wouldn’t consider this blog “social media”). We do, however, use our phone to study and listen to podcasts a lot. And that was the first thing we noticed when we mentally prepared for traveling sans phone: We wouldn’t be able to access our usual means of travel entertainment.It seems that we are phone people after all…:
Lazy picnic ideas: An illustrated guide
It’s summer, the season of hot bedrooms and outdoor entertainment! The duck and I are lazy and prefer to spend most of our time inside. But we have been invited to a few outside exploration or catching-up sessions in the past that we thankfully accepted if we had the time. Whenever an outside activity includes a picnic or a general sharing of snacks, the duck and I usually try to come up with something simple and foolproof to bring along. We are decent bakers if we get to follow a recipe and only a minimal amount of decorating is involved. However, when it comes to cooking or improvising the results are usually hit-or-miss. To reduce our thinking-hard-about-what-to-bring-that’s-not-only-edible-but-actually-somewhat-enjoyable time, the duck and I decided to make a list of ideas to come back to if we want to contribute to the food situation at a picnic without betraying our laziness too much. And, because we’re generous, we decided to share it with you: Continue reading
Several people who have met me in a more professional setting will tell you that I am mature and reasonable. While I might somewhat agree with the “reasonable” part, the “mature” is very much a result of my being relatively sensible and wanting to appear professional whenever necessary. I have tricked quite a few people into seeing me as a proper adult and a serious conversation partner. In reality, I think that being addressed by my last name is weird, and watching children’s movies and TV shows, endlessly browsing the internet, drawing pictures of dancing cookies, and having animated discussions with the duck about whether there is such a thing as a business sneaker that you can wear to formal functions, or if we need to invent and popularize it ourselves, are the way to go. Granted, all those are things that many real adults do, too; I’m sure that I’m not the only one who wants to know who wronged the person who then invented business attire as a payback. However, I still cannot relate to those who prefer to talk about their latest investments, fancy restaurants, or a mutual acquaintance’s relationship status rather than funny videos, roller coasters, and ice cream for breakfast. I’m not that kind of adult. Whenever I stay up too late, it’s because I spent too much time on Netflix-
until some nights ago, everything changed: I was trying to figure out a formula in Excel (well, OpenOffice Calc, because I’m cheap like that) – more or less for fun! – and couldn’t stop until I had found a way to get the desired result. Yes, I was wearing my sweatpants in the process. But I also enjoyed working on a spreadsheet more than I did the video game I was currently playing. Maybe that was my first step from having limited success at grownup-pretending into proper adulthood (not only on paper).
When children finally take me seriously, I know I will have succeeded (I think the duck just choked on three cookies from laughing hysterically). That’s when I’ll buy a fancy suit, invest in a few stocks and sign up for a wine tasting!
Mystery phone box
The duck and I still go for little walks whenever we feel like we’ve gotten a bit too lazy (or when the weather is particularly nice). On one of them, we walked past our favorite phone box and remembered what it was like when we first came across one of those. In 2021 it’s more common to have a cell phone than a landline, and even if you get lost and your phone’s battery is dead, it is more likely that you will find a kind stranger who carries disinfectant phone wipes and will lend you their cell phone to look up your route or call someone to let them know that you’ll be awfully late than it is to find a payphone in the streets (being a spontaneous criminal in Germany who doesn’t have a burner phone must be exhausting these days). Can you imagine the duck and my surprise when we espied a phone box that hadn’t been there the last time we’d walked that route?
The weirdest thing was that this wasn’t even a German phone box, but one of those pretty red British telephone booths. I was sure I had never seen those in Germany before. When we came a bit closer, though, we realized what that red booth was actually being used for (no, ‘discount time and space travel’ is not the answer):
2020 resolutions revisited
Last year, when the duck and I were optimistic and oh-so naive, we decided to share our very achievable New Year’s resolutions. Little did we know that not achieving them in 2020 would have been virtually impossible. Let’s have a look at them, shall we?
#1: We will NOT get a gym membership. – We didn’t. And that was good considering that public gyms closed down twice last year, and it’s still undetermined when they will reopen. Maybe we should try to take up running/speed-waddling, though, because I wouldn’t be surprised if 2021 turned out to be the year of the zombie apocalypse. Knowing us, we’ll probably fail, though, like all those other times we tried.
#2: We will keep being stingy. – Apart from a few moments of weakness (for our cheap standards – others might call it regular spending), the duck and I remained as stingy as we’ve always been. With restaurants being closed for a while and us mostly too worried to visit them anyway, we probably spent less money on food than we did in years. We also ate more barely edible food than we have in years.
#3: We will read at least ten books. – We did! In addition to reading Miss Dalloway in a day, we also got to finish several books that our lovely friends had recommended and/or gifted us. In 2020 we bought/received almost as many books as we managed to read so that the amount of books-to-be-read in our bookcase has barely changed. But that gives us plenty more adventures-to-be-had!
#4: We will be true to ourselves. – By that I meant that we would give in to our laziness. And that we definitely did. We did have a few busy months in 2020, but we made sure to sleep a lot during the less busy ones to make up for all that lost laziness.
Weirdly, the duck and I did manage to keep up a somewhat regular posting schedule. I guess there still is a way to increase our laziness. But we might want to save that for another year (or not – we’ll see).
That shall be all for today. Let’s hope that sticking to our resolutions in 2021 will be more challenging than in 2020…
Do you have any new New Year’s resolutions? In any case, the duck and I want to wish you a happy and healthy 2021!
About Advent calendars
This year, on top of helping the duck and me impress others by always knowing the date and, after some slow math, how many days we have to wait until it’s Christmas, our Advent calendar can also be upgraded: By adding a few more treats ourselves it can be used as an end-of-2020-calendar. Isn’t that great?! We’ll start looking for tea bags to add to one of our tea Advent calendars tomorrow! While 2021 will likely continue where 2020 left off it does have a more optimistic outlook, don’t you think? The Advent calendar that the duck is posing with in today’s photo is actually from 2019 when we received it as a gift but decided to hold on to it until this year since we had already bought ourselves another tea calendar and thought that having two different tea varieties to try every day was a bit too exciting for us to handle (little did we know that we’d be given two more tea Advent calendars this year. What to do?). Despite all that tea the duck and I actually are considering getting an additional non-tea Advent calendar, especially since we’re not crazy and energetic enough to do a blog Advent calendar as we did last year (not a fresh one, anyway).
We’ve gone through quite a few interesting Advent calendars throughout the years. And that is exactly what we want to write about today: Continue reading
Of exploding washing machines and friends who help you smell nice
A few months ago, at a time when things weren’t going that great for the duck and me and I had lots of stuff to do, I was waiting for our laundry to be done while I went about my weekend schedule (while the duck was taking a particularly long nap).
As I got to the laundry room I noticed that the washing machine was fuming – did it always do that? As I opened its door I was greeted by more fume and the unhealthy smell of burnt rubber; the washing machine had broken down with the duck and my laundry still in it! Awesome! Another thing to add to my to-do list…
I hung up the laundry in the bathroom, opened the window and hoped that our clothes would smell a bit better after a while. Well, instead, now the bathroom smelled like burnt rubber as well and I was fuming. I didn’t have enough clothes to last me another week until, if we were lucky, the washing machine might get repaired, and, apart from probably gifting me lots of personal space on the train (which is pretty good these days), I didn’t see any advantage in wearing extremely smelly and possibly headache-inducing clothes.
Fortunately, I had the duck and my favorite Berlin person Sb living nearby who spontaneously squeezed me into her weekend schedule so that I and my smelly clothes could public transport travel over, and Sb and I could watch the last Harry Potter movie, thus finishing our 2020 Harry Potter catch-up series (because she had never seen the movies before) while her washing machine tried to wash away all the terrible smells. The laundry came out smelling better, good enough for me to not worry about getting a headache in my T-shirts, and her washing machine didn’t take on the burnt rubber smell like our bathroom had. The laundry and I traveled back, I hung it up in the bathroom again, but this time the bathroom kept its bathroom smell, and I continued to work through my weekend to-do list. This really made the duck and me appreciate our friends and we learned to never take having a washing machine for granted again – especially now that we regularly need to wash our boring-looking cotton masks.
There is a new kid in town! And by ‘town’ I mean our kitchen, and by ‘new kid’ I mean the duck and my newest roomie: ‘fully automatic coffee machine’ or ‘Coco’ for short. This is not the first automatic coffee machine we’ve been living with, but this one is mint colored and new, so we’re particularly happy. Look at the duck pretending to be coffee! How silly! Before you think we’re completely crazy, let me explain the duck and my excitement:
I’m a lazy dresser. When I pick out an outfit I go by what’s nice enough to not make someone vomit. Don’t get me wrong – I do think that the stuff that I wear roughly goes together and I have received comments on my T-shirt choice once or twice (because, I guess, most adults don’t wear as many silly graphic tees as I do, so people who work in public spaces with lots of visitors passing through sometimes feel the need to comment on a design that they can connect with), but that’s the extent of my stylishness. I do appreciate seeing nicely put together outfits on the street, though. I don’t stare, but I acknowledge. There is one situation, however, that challenges my no-stare-habit whenever it occurs: stylish toddlers! I’m not talking about cute baby outfits, no! I mean those kinds of outfits that, were they many sizes bigger, a proper adult could wear and still look fashionable, not ridiculous, all the while a toddler can sport them and look like a toddler – a perfectly dressed toddler. I mean those kinds of outfits that are considered casual but still look as if the wearer had just jumped out of a movie, the unrealistic kind where everyone is secretly rich and beautiful. I mean clothing where a single piece looks as if it probably cost more than half my wardrobe, color combinations that just look right with fabric so pristine that it must have never been washed… or worn, for that matter. Only when I see fashionable toddlers do I have the urge to dress better, buy higher quality clothes (that, being frugal, I could not buy without crying for weeks because of all that money spent – though I do try to at least buy clothes that are somewhat sustainable, in that they will probably last me a few years), go out more just to showcase how fancy I look. Once the toddler is gone, I go back to being my normal self, wearing a T-shirt that I got somewhere as a souvenir for a reasonable price, and those pants that I’ve had for more years than I’d like to admit. But I don’t mind, because I know that there are fashionable toddlers out there who make up for my uninspired way of dressing. Sometimes I wish that I were the duck; being able to sport a little bow day in, day out, and still somehow being considered fashionable – because I’m wearing something – that is the dream. Life as a lazy duck must be fun! But then, life as a lazy me is okay, too, I guess.
Reading Mrs Dalloway
Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway has been sitting in the duck and my bookcase for a while now. We bought it on a quest to read more ‘classics’ but somehow never got to reading it. Two years ago we watched The Hours with the duck’s very first friend B which reminded us that we still had not read Mrs Dalloway. When we moved to Berlin the duck and I decided that this book had to come with us. Last summer, as we were about to finally read it, we learned that the story’s main action takes place on a Wednesday in the middle of June. June had already passed. So, we put the book back in our bookcase and put a note in our calendar that made June 17th 2020 Mrs Dalloway day. And that’s exactly what we did last Wednesday: We read a book in the perfect circumstances (well, at least when it comes to time. I wouldn’t call 2020 perfect).
We also decided that we would use this special day to have a cup of the Sakura flavored Earl Grey tea that our friend Y got us for Christmas. It’s always nice to have a secondary plan, as well. So, without further ado, here is what we did: