Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cell phone action.

Hi all,

I apologize for the "long time, no writing." My computer is having some difficulties which makes blogging especially challenging. So, I am posting this from my tablet.

The theme of the photos below? FOOD! :-D out and about in Frankfurt.

One of the coolest cafes I've ever been to in Frankfurt, Imori. Thats green tea cake (SO tasty) and cheesecake. Look at the cups and dishes!!! Love it. The little details ;-) Imori is Asian themed with a large array of gorgeous cakes and shabby chic glam decor.

One of my very favorite cafés in Frankfurt, Café Crumble. This dessert is awesome. Their namesake dessert, Apple crumble. 

With the amazing lightly spiced sweet cream poured on top. Mmmmmmmmm.

Splitting a bomb dessert. Almond pastry cake with ice cream on the side. Yum!!! 

All-you-can-eat brunch for FIVE euros. Yes, you heard me right. Not top notch food but still, decent for the price!  
The BEST German dessert, Bienenstich cake. My god. Outstanding. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fifty Shades of F*cked Up...

I saw the movie Fifty Shades of Gray a couple of evenings ago.  This was a tough choice for me.  I was torn.  On the one hand, I was intrigued by what all the hype was about.  On the other hand, I believe this film glamorizes the the abuse of women and I felt semi disgusted at the thought of giving money to something that encourages this way of thinking.  This is exactly the type of thinking that so many people have been trying to combat for decades now.  The type of thinking that encourages degradation, inequality and abuse of women.  This movie makes it glamorous, sexy and even desirable.  I think this movie is a scary thing for people to be watching and taking in.  I fear a response to my fears from many might be something like "Its just a movie, who cares."  People are very easily influenced.  I think its easy to forget this.  Peoples ideas about life, friendship, romance, what is trendy or good, what is bad, etc are shaped deeply by things like their own close friends habits, the media, etc.  So yes, this movie is a dangerous thing.  I shudder when I hear my colleague tell me that she and her friends saw that film and that she listened as her friends talked about "how they want a guy like that."  Frankly, that scares the sh*t out of me.

I began googling and found an excellent article about Fifty Shades of Gray in regards to this subject.  Here it is below:

I will admit it. I have read all three books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

I am not admitting this because I am ashamed of my sexual desires or even because I feel the need to rant and rave about the poor writing quality of these books. (And it is extremely poor. I set my Kindle to count how many times the word "gasp" is used in the third book and the total was more than 70). I am admitting this because I feel the need to share my opinions about what I consider to be the incredibly -- and dangerously -- abusive relationship portrayed in the books.

When I first heard about Fifty Shades of Grey and learned they began as Twilight fanfiction, I swore I would not read them. I have read all of the Twilight books and I did not enjoy them. I found the relationships between Edward and Bella and Bella and Jacob to be patronizing and emotionally abusive, and I also thought the writing was pedestrian at best and boring to read. Why would I devote the limited amount of time I have for reading for pleasure to a series like this?

But as the dialogue about Fifty Shades of Grey increased, both in the media and amongst my friends, my curiosity was piqued. I attended a talk titled "Fifty Shades of Grey - Bad for Women, Bad for Sex" and decided that I should see what all the fuss was about.

To quote the book, I gasped. I rolled my eyes. I even bit my lip a few times. But not for the reasons Anastasia, the protagonist, did. I did out of exasperation, boredom and disgust, but also out of fear. After reading this book series, I am deeply afraid that this type of relationship will be viewed as the romantic ideal for women. And I consider that to be extremely dangerous -- much more so than anything that takes place between Christian and Anastasia in the Red Room of Pain.

Could the character of Anastasia Steele be any more of a stereotype? She is an introvert, has low self-esteem, has abandonment issues from her father, apparently has only one close friend who bullies her and even though she works in a hardware store, she doesn't seem to possess any self-sufficiency aside from cooking for her roommate and herself. She seems to have no sexual identity until Christian Grey enters her life and requests that she become his Submissive in a sexual relationship.

In order to be Christian's submissive, Anastasia is expected to sign a lengthy and detailed contract that, amongst other requirements, requires that she exercise four days a week with a trainer that Christian provides (and who will report to Christian on her progress), eat only from a list of foods Christian supplies her with, get eight hours of sleep a night and begin taking a form of birth control so Christian will not have to wear condoms. Anastasia negotiates a few terms of the contract with Christian (she only wants to work out three days a week, not four), but all of her negotiations are only within his framework -- none of the terms are hers independently. Nothing in their relationship is hers as an independent.

The character of Christian Grey is a rich, superpowered businessman who was abused as a child. He is in therapy, and Anastasia frequently references his therapist, but based on how he treats Anastasia, he doesn't seem to be making much progress. As Anastasia's relationship with Christian progresses, his controlling tendencies affect her life more and more. When her friend takes portraits of her for his photography exhibit, Christian buys all of them, because he does not want anyone else looking at Anastasia. (They weren't even in a relationship when he did this.) When she is hired as an assistant at a publishing company, he buys the company -- to make sure she's "safe" working there. When she goes out to a bar with her one friend, against his wishes, he flies from New York to Washington State that same night, just to express his anger -- and exercise his control over her. When she does not immediately change her name at her office (in hopes of maintaining some professional autonomy, given that he bought the company she works at), he shows up, unannounced, at her office, in the middle of her workday, to pick a fight with her. When she asks why it is so important to him that she change her name, he says he wants everyone to know she is his.

Christian's possession of Anastasia is the cause of much of my disgust and fear of the book's influence on people and how they view romantic relationships. After they exchange their wedding vows, the first words he says to her are, "Finally, you're mine." The control he exercises over her does not reflect his love for her; it reflects his objectifying of her. Christian never views Anastasia as a person, let alone an independent woman. He wants her to obey him, and even though she refuses to include that in her wedding vows, it is exactly what she does. When her mother questions her choice to keep her wedding dress on rather than change before traveling for her honeymoon, she says, "Christian likes this dress, and I want to please him." Her desire to try some of the "kinky fuckery" in his Red Room of Pain comes from wanting to demonstrate her love for him, not her own sexual desires.

Wanting to please Christian apparently includes subjecting herself to verbal and emotional abuse from him 'til death do them part, because any time she tries to stand up to him -- which isn't often -- he berates her, guilt trips her and beats her down verbally until she apologizes and submits to him. After she uses the "safe word" in the Red Room of Pain so he will stop, he bemoans his sad state of mind later, mentioning that his "wife fucking safe worded him." He is not concerned with her well-being or why she felt the need to use the safe word. He only cares about how it affects him.

The question that I kept asking myself as I read the books was why Anastasia stayed with Christian, and the answer I found was that she has absolutely no sense of self worth. She only feels sexy when he says she is, and when he insults or patronizes her, she accepts what he says as the truth. One of the passages that disgusted me the most was when Anastasia was at a club with Christian, dancing and thinking to herself that she never felt sexy before she met him and that he had given her confidence in her body. Yes, being with a partner who frequently compliments you can increase your confidence, but Anastasia went from zero to one hundred thanks to Christian. None of that came from within herself. Because of his influence on her, nothing in her life came from herself -- her job, her home, her way of life, or even her self-esteem.

The co-dependency between Anastasia and Christian is alarming to read and even more to contemplate. When she breaks up with him at the end of the first book, the second book finds her starving herself and wasting away to nothing until he contacts her again. When she thinks his helicopter has crashed in the second book, she thinks to herself that she can't live without him. Their marriage only comes about because he is scared she will leave him, and when she asks what she can do to prove to him she isn't going anywhere, he says she can marry him. Yes, origins of insecurity and desperation are a great start to a healthy marriage.
When Anastasia finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and shares the news with Christian, he rages at her, asking if she did it on purpose and storming out of the house, disappearing for hours. Even though Anastasia thinks to herself that the pregnancy happened too soon in their marriage, she never considers terminating it.

The themes of the novel -- that love alone can make someone change, that abuse from a spouse is acceptable as long as he's great in bed, that pregnancies should always be carried to term even if the parents are not ready to be parents, and the ridiculously antiquated, Victorian idea that the love of a pure virgin can save a wayward man from himself -- are irrational, unbelievable and dangerous.

Our culture has seen a radical shift of ideals moving towards traditional gender roles and Fifty Shades of Grey is a shining example of that. Early marriage to one's first sexual partner, having a baby even when saying neither of the partners is ready to be a parent, and submission to one's husband as the head of the household are all aspects of life that feminists and progressive thinkers have worked to move beyond.

Anastasia and Christian's relationship is not romantic. It is abusive. The ways he tries to "keep her safe" are not masculine or sexy. They are stalking. Fearing one's husband's reaction to an unexpected pregnancy is not normal, because "boys will be boys." It is sad and dangerous and should not happen in a healthy relationship.
Fifty Shades of Grey was one of the best-selling books of the year.

Sex toy classes have been inspired by it, as have new types of cocktails. The film adaptation is already in the works. I sincerely hope that honest discussion will be had about the book and that the Christian Grey ideal of romance is not one that will be perpetuated throughout our culture. The best way that can happen is through open, honest dialogue that leads to healthy relationships of two equal partners. That, in my opinion, is sexier than anything that can happen in the Red Room of Pain.

And here is a direct link to the original article.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Favorite Frankfurt Cafes

There are many cafes I have yet to try in Frankfurt that I am interested in checking out.  However I have been to enough by now that I am definitely able to compile a list of favorites.  One of the things I most enjoy doing with a friend is going to a cafe for a tea, pastry and conversation.  I love this.  I think its relaxing, cozy, delicious and fun.  So, here is my list of most beloved cafes in Frankfurt ;-)

Cafe Crumble

While this isn't literally my favorite cafe in Frankfurt, it is the one I frequent the most.  The interior is fairly sparse and bare, cream colored walls, marble-topped tables and wooden chairs, a long counter top behind which all the drinks and food dishes are prepared, a small assortment of homemade cakes and a little patio area out back during the summer time.  I enjoy coming here once or twice a week during my lunch breaks for a tea, a change of scenery (away from the chaos of screaming children at work) as well as meeting my good friend, Sally here regularly for tea and chats.


This cafe is more on the swanky/sultry side.  During the summer, they have a large, tightly packed patio that is set in the shade along a sidewalk.  The inside has a slightly seductive, red-lit, darkened feeling to it.  The chocolate cake here is EXCELLENT.  The food is also quite good, though pricey.

Cafe Kante

This cafe is a highly recommended one in Frankfurt.  I have been once for one of mine and Judith's meetup group's spots but loved the feeling of it.  The tables are all set in a large, mainly wood interior room.  The cafe has a cozy, slightly worn look and feel to it.  The pastries are all on display upon walking into the snug entrance-way.  The mugs that the tea come in are charming and sweet.  I would love to go here more regularly with a book for a few hours one afternoon.

Bitter und Zart

This is, hands down (at least so far), my favorite cafe in Frankfurt.  Everything about it.  The atmosphere and decor is awesome.  Super elegant, it has a swanky, olden days, tea-room feel to it.  The inside has a luxurious feeling to it as well.  The cake display is colorful, varied and large.  The way your tea is presented to you: one should go there to experience it.  So much fun.  They place your teapot on a little burner to keep it warm.  A tiny sand timer is used to let you know how long the tea should steep for.  The set-up is super cute.  I will be going to this cafe a lot more.  VERY cool place.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Friend Spotlight

This time, I would like to cast the spotlight on not only someone I consider a family member but also a dear friend:

my sister, Lexie.

Lexie's high school senior photo (I took this photo of her in Boston :-))

I was 11 years old on the day my Mom leaned across the restaurant table towards me and said in a hushed, excited voice, "I'm pregnant!"  My stomach did a little flip flop, my heart skipping a beat.  But when she told me I was going to have a little sister, that's when my heart really swelled with thrill and warmth.  A little sister was a prospect that filled me with love and happiness.

From the moment she was born, I have loved this little girl (now a young woman) to the ends of the earth.  My heart expanded to nearly exploding out of my chest with love each time I held her.  As Lexie grew up, I was her main babysitter when needed.  Once she reached the age when the two of us were able to play together (age 6/7/8, around that time), she and I would play together for hours on end.

Holding my newly born baby sister, Lexie.

"Don't touch the ground" was one of our favorites.  A game in which the ground below Lexie became lava, thus she was unable to touch the ground or she would perish.  And the objective: to reach another part of the room, or even another part of the house, jumping from piece of furniture to piece of furniture.

We played lots of other games including wheel-barrel (a game during which I would hold on to Lexie's legs and she would use her arms to race around the house as quickly as possible.  I was a mean big sister, huh? ;-)), we wrestled, we jumped on the trampoline, I created obstacles courses that Lexie and I then had to race through, we played "House", the game list goes on.

My ex, Adam, Lexie and myself also became quite close over the years as a little group of three.  Lexie, Adam and I spent time together often, in all of the ways I listed above and more (going out to dinner together, playing outside in the snow, playing board games, etc).

Look at that cutie!
Lexie told me often as she was growing up that I was someone she adored and looked up to.  I will never, ever forget the moment when I was away at college in Keene, NH and had gone to the mail room to retrieve any mail I might have gotten.  I opened an envelope I had received from my Mom and pulled out a single, hand-written sheet of paper.  The childish scrawl held the title at the top, "The person I admire most in the world" and then the essay began, "The person I admire most in this world is my big sister, Brooke."  I stopped walking in the middle of the busy corridor, my breath caught, my eyes grew wet, as I finished reading the essay.  It took my breath away.  Wow.

I received another one a short while later!  Within a few months after the first one.  Yet this one was titled, "My favorite person in the world," and it was also written by Lexie about me.  It took my breath away just as powerfully as the first one.

This was always deeply meaningful and powerful for me.  Knowing I was a person my sister looked up to and loved so deeply.  I felt honored by this and always tried to set a good example for her.  I loved being able to explain things to her when she asked me questions, give her answers that I hoped were meaningful, and to help guide her in different ways of life when she came to me for guidance.

Growing up and going through her teenage years, Lexie and I talked often.  She came to me about things regarding friends, boys or family.  She told me I was someone she could talk to.  Lexie and I have a deep, close relationship.  We also have a relationship filled with silliness, fun and acceptance.

Lexie is a wonderful woman.  I am so proud of the woman she is, and the woman she continues to grow to be.  She is honest and forgiving.  She is fun to be with and silly.  She is loving and intelligent.  I am deeply blessed to be able to call Lexie my sister.  I feel so lucky to be a recipient of her love.  And I in turn have loved her with all of my heart since the moment she was born.  She is a friend (and sister) that makes my life brighter.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Great article.

I thought this was an article worth re-posting from  I like to think I am generally an emotionally strong person.  However there are a few of these things lately that I myself am slipping on.  Reading this gave me a dose of inspiration.  I hope you might find some in there too :-)

Also at the bottom, photos from this past weekend.  Homemade sushi!!!!  SO tasty!


15 Things That Emotionally Strong People Don’t Do

There is a particular aspect of mental strength that is the deciding factor of whether or not you will have a good life. There are many levels to mental strength and all are needed to be successful and happy. The one particular area of mental strength that has the greatest impact is that of emotional strength.
Emotions are, of course, a part of our psyche, yet nevertheless, can be distinguished from the remainder of mental qualities because they most directly influence our physical body.
They affect the way our body functions and they drive every single one of our actions. Without emotion, we would have no reason to act, to do anything with ourselves.
Emotions are our greatest motivators. Unfortunately, they can motivate us to act in any direction, even the wrong one. For this reason, emotional strength is essential. There are countless situations that emotionally strong people avoid and many actions they never take. Here are 15 of them:

1. They Don’t Beg For Attention

Needing attention is directly linked to emotion. Those who feel the need for recognition only find themselves experiencing feelings of worth when others make them feel needed; it’s as if these people are uncertain of their value, or if they have any ounce of self-worth.
Feeling unsure of your worth is a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you don’t know you matter, then no one will ever believe you do.

2. They Don’t Allow Others To Bring Them Down

Emotional strength requires resilience. This world is filled with haters and trolls. There are jealous eyes lurking around every corner. The unfortunate truth is that often the people who hold us back the most are those closest to us. Getting rid of these people is often the best solution, but also the most difficult.
If you can quietly remove these people from your life, that’s one fewer bridge burned and much less of an emotional trigger.

3. They Don’t Hold Grudges

If you’re holding a grudge, then you already care more about a situation than you should. If a person apologizes genuinely, forgive him or her.
If this person doesn’t apologize, then don’t interact with him or her, but don’t hold grudges. People with whom you seek to alienate and hold grudges against take up too much of your mental energy, doing more harm than good.

4. They Never Stop Doing Their Own Thing

Emotionally strong individuals do what they do because they love doing it. They don’t plan on slowing down or stopping for anyone who deems their happiness inappropriate.

5. They Never Stop Believing In Themselves

Those who love themselves and understand themselves — those who aren’t afraid or proud to be themselves — never doubt themselves. You amount to your own self-worth, not a shilling more.

6. They Don’t Act Like Bitches Or Assh*les

People are mean. But we wonder, why? Being a jerk is only good as an intimidation factor, and if you’re trying to intimidate people, then you better be a negotiator by profession; if you’re intimidating just for the sake of it, you’re obviously overcompensating for a lack of confidence. Do you also drive a very large automobile, perhaps? I hear they make pills for that.

7. They Know Better Than To Let Just Anyone Into Their Lives

The emotionally strong are emotionally strong for a reason: They don’t expose themselves to people who break down their defenses and crush their morale.
Most people in the world are lost and will be more than happy to take you along with them. Don’t let an awful acquaintance ruin your happiness.

8. They Aren’t Afraid To Love

If you’re afraid to love, you don’t have enough confidence in yourself. You obviously think you can’t be in a lasting relationship, but only in one that is doomed for disaster. You don’t want to get hurt again because getting hurt really sucks.
There is no reason for you to get your heart broken again because you are awesome. If things don’t work out, it’s not you. It’s the two of you together. Unless, of course, you are an awful human being; in that case, it is you.

9. They Don’t Lie In Bed Dreading The Day Ahead Of Them

The best part of your day should be the moment you wake up and realize you’re still alive. We take life for granted too regularly.

10. They’re Not Afraid Of Slowing Down

Emotionally strong people aren’t in need of constant action and excitement. They don’t need to run around all day and keep moving in order to avoid their demons.
They appreciate a slow moment because it brings them closer to what it feels like to do nothing but living, breathing. This is not to say that they don’t enjoy excitement in their lives, but they aren’t junkies and are more than happy to just go for a walk and smell the roses.

11. They Don’t Do Things They Don’t Want To Do

We all do things that we don’t love to do, but we should never do things that we don’t want to do. The emotionally strong understand that and almost always manage to figure out a way to focus on what they love, which allows them to figure out what they need to do, in order to do what they love.
Although they may not love every second of it, they like doing what they are doing because it’s bringing them one step closer to what they would love to do.

12. They Have No Problem Saying “No”

If you can’t say “no,” you will get abused. You’ll be considered a pushover and no one will ever ask you for your opinion or take it seriously when you give it. Saying “no” reminds people that they don’t have control over you.

13. They Don’t “Forget” To Give Back

We’re not too busy or too poor to donate our money and/or time. We don’t forget, either. Some people just choose to ignore our responsibilities as human beings.
The stronger you are emotionally, the more you come to appreciate others and life itself. You give life more worth and you begin to empathize with those who were dealt a bad hand.

14. They Don’t Feel The Need To Fit In

The stronger you are emotionally, the more independent you become. You don’t feel the need to fit in because you fit in where it matters: the world.
People form smaller social groups that are often skewed and unhealthy. Wanting to fit in doesn’t say much more than “I’m afraid to be myself.”

15. They Don’t Forget That Happiness Is A Decision

Most importantly, the emotionally strong have learned to understand the power their brains have over both the mind and body.
They understand that emotions are reactions, not reactions to direct physical causes, but to the way we perceive those causes. In other words, our emotions don’t reflect reality; rather, our emotions reflect the way we interpret reality. Understanding this gives us near-full control of our emotions and, therefore, our lives.