Dogs Are Everywhere

Okay, this one is a literal pet peeve.

How do I start this one? It’s a delicate matter, y’know? Especially on the internet. Whoof, I am sweating. Anyways, here goes nothing.

I am not THAT keen on dogs…

(me; drunk and ruining a date)

There you have it. I don’t like dogs. On the infamous cats vs dogs scale, I am thoroughly on the light side. Mainly because cats have actual character as opposed to being obedient slaves to humans. However, let’s not dive too deep into this. Given a chance, I will live my life pet- and kid-free anyway.

And you’d think that’s fine, right? As long as people don’t actively go around being cruel to dogs, it could be relatively easy to let people have their opinion and preferences.

Not on the internet, mate!

Whenever there are pictures or mentions of the canines, you’ll find a variation of a quote about how dog people are the culmination of man while you should never trust a person who dislikes dogs. And the worst of it: These people BELIEVE this.

Look, everyone likes stuff. I personally think a well-made kebap is as close to ambrosia humans will get. Still, I’d stay away from statements connecting a person’s food preference and their character. So they like to eat little puppies? Who am I to judge? (I only judge people hard that put ANYTHING in their coffee.)

I jest, of course. Maybe, we could stop this bullshit in the future.

After all, Adolf Hitler loved dogs.

Political Scientists

Honestly, I think the worst TV has to offer in the past years is not the never-ending onslaught of daft ‘reality’ formats but political talk shows.

They could be little, important islands of political information. They could be showcases about how to discuss our differences. They could enhance our political knowledge and therefore foster opinions and ways to pragmatically form compromises. And all those compromises could grow into steps. And step after step, we could actually grow. Sorry, I am dreaming aloud again.

Instead, we get shouting matches. Sure, some people hide it behind verbal smoke screens and this drone of words making you forget what the actual question was. Also, in an attempt of misunderstood and misguided pluralism there always seem to be voices uttering opinions that need no discussing in the year 2020 (or 1933, or 1871, or 9 – geez, some views were ALWAYS wrong!).

I am sick of the perpetual parade of silver foxes clad in expensive clothes and world views of the 50s telling young people that their beliefs and dreams are fantasies. Unstable soap bubbles of hope.

See, there is always this one dude. The guy your in-laws wanted for their child instead of you. The pearly white smile, the expensive smart fashion style, the inherited money from daddy’s cigar factory (Mom did not earn her own money.), the personification of every late 80s highschool drama villain.

And he will always tell you about stocks, about stopping the government from interfering with business. The eternal message that if you stop regulating rich people, wealth will somehow trickle down to everyone.

Which is a fairy tale. A soap bubble we popped so often in the past forty years that, quite frankly, it got boring.

To the left of Mr Toothygrin always sits the Hawk. Of course, Mr Neoliberalism will assure us that they do not condone or share the Hawk’s opinions, but we know better. Should the Hawk ever be free of the pesky cage of democracy, Mr Economy will gladly provide the bodies to be sacrificed upon an altar of blood. Most of them will happily wave flags.

The Hawk spins tales of borders. Myths of times when only his kind lived here. Any historian could tell you that these times NEVER existed, but he will not budge. The Hawk will define an “Us”, and all his solutions will exclude “Them”. Irritatingly, sometimes “Them” will wave flags for “Us”. The waters get murky.

Another tall story.

On the edge, of the group – a befuddled clown who has it all figured out. All the world’s woes are caused by vaccines. Or 5G masts. Or the Jews; always the Jews. He blabbers incoherently, waving a flag. Hawk and Neoliberalism smile, hoping no one sees the strings they use to tug the Clown’s arms. Making them flail wildly.

A mad yarn.

And whenever someone suggests we should listen to the people whose future we are debating, they protest in unison. ‘Naive dreamers!’ they shout.

I wish we would invite them; these brilliant, wise and beautiful heads we have among us in this country. We’d be surprised how many of them are called Aishe. How colourful they are! Yet, how, in the broadest Berlin drawl they would sing their dreams. Dreams full of love and hope.

All we’d need to do is: Listen!

Space & Time

It is time to admit that I am at the end of my rope here.

A sharp turn towards a minimalist lifestyle was supposed to free up space and time. It was supposed to give me room – literally and metaphorically – to grow. Well, I’d like to prevent growing in size, but you get the idea. A magic hand trick to happiness. Everlasting if possible.

Alas, it ain’t so.

What now? Abandon the project? Surely not! No, that isn’t going to happen. By the way, you cannot really get back ten bags full of stuff you had previously thrown away. Anyway. Though, what is in order, is looking at the situation at hand and using that fluffy stone in your head. Analyse, if you will.

Physically, the whole ordeal was a success. The only small hitch is three boxes of stuff that cannot be just thrown away with regular garbage or is better served finding a home elsewhere. Turns out getting rid of these during a pandemic is a logistical problem not to be scoffed at. The easiest way would be to throw money at the issue, but I feel like this is the root of the undertaking in the first place, and well yeah, I don’t exactly sit on a throne of gold either.

All in all, I am happy with that side of things.

Now, mentally this is another magnitude of the issue. I was expecting my brain to be inventive enough to come up with more ways to fill the space left by useless social media scrolling. Turns out there are a billion OTHER ways to lose valuable time in front of a computer screen.

I hope this gets easier, but I will confess that I am addicted. Fuck, I caught myself checking LinkedIn daily. Not actively looking for a new job, but rather to fulfil my brain’s inherent need for connection. Withdrawal sucks, and maybe quitting social media ‘cold turkey’ isn’t the best idea.

Guess I’ll have to stick through it anyway. Because under all these nervous ticks (How often can you lift up your phone to check for notifications without a reason before it becomes comical? I am asking for a friend.), I can feel this is right. It drives me insane.

Maybe the emptiness is compounded by lockdown and ongoing plague. Likely, I am just friggin’ impatient. However, the worst aspect of this vast, empty time in my day is the lingering idea that I just don’t have anything about me to fill it with. The thought I might be a whole lot more boring than I thought, fills me with dread. Did I pack my apartment and my head with this barrage of clutter to fill a void that was always there? Or does my brain need time to adjust? Maybe all it needs is more encouragement to spread its wings.

And fly eventually.

Ex Patria

Look, right, I just hate that they come here, take over half the city, disrespecting the actual locals. Some parts of this city you legit have to speak their language. They only hang out with their own, refusing to integrate, and they expect everything here to cater to them. It’s like London is turning into Little Nigeria.

(paraphrasing a former friend of mine)

In hindsight, I should have known back then the rotten opinion this person harboured. It became more evident over the years and finally led to our friendship dissolving like an Alka Seltzer in a puddle in the backyard. After all, I take the Specials advice on the matter seriously.

However, in a twist only life has to offer, I find myself faintly echoing some of these sentiments. It gets even weirder, it was them who first taught me the word that was to become one of my biggest pet peeves today: expat.

If you live in any bigger city around this globe that does not belong to the ‘anglo-sphere’, you know them.

Expats are the people, who at home lord it over the unworldly cretins that never leave their hometown while complaining about everything that isn’t like home in their ‘adopted’ residence.

Seriously, look up /r/berlin, for instance, and be astonished how many posts one can read in a week full of questions that read like this:
Where do I find an English speaking barber? Does anyone know an English speaking lawyer? Where do I find Poptarts in this city? Why does the cashier in the supermarket not speak English? Any idea where I can get a decent Irish beer here? How dare these people be culturally different? Are there any Australians that wanna hang out tonight?

It does not help matters that almost all of these questions would be answered faster if those people would just google them, but the worst bit is the entitlement. The terrifying assuredness with which many people simply assume the world will provide them with the comforts of home they expect on foreign soil.

Now, let me make two things abundantly clear:

1.) Not everyone from these places acts that way, of course. I am deliberately exaggerating.

2.) I don’t have an issue with foreigners for being foreigners. I think I am usually quite good at having issues with people because they are dicks. You’d be astonished that ‘being a dipshit’ truly knows neither race, religion, nor gender or sexuality.

What gets me the most is the apparent undertone of the distinction between ‘immigrants’ and ‘expats’. In a perfect world, both would be terms describing the same circumstance, but let’s be real here: We know it is not. ‘Expat’ is overwhelmingly used for white people. At the same time, ‘immigrant’ has become so synonymous with (unwanted) coloured people that it might as well be a slur.

Do not get me wrong here. I want Berlin to be a multi-cultural, international hotspot where people of all creeds meet. I ALWAYS want people meeting each other. It literally is how I think we’ll save the world. However, people have to accept that places have history and identity. People should be a lot more aware that making a new home abroad should not mean turning abroad into home.

By far the worst defence for the word ‘expat’ I ever heard, by the way, pretty much sums up the issue. The person argued that ‘expat’ is used for people who move to another country without truly belonging there (sic!).

Tourist….you are describing a tourist. And I’ll end with immortal words of Jarvis Cocker.

Everybody hates a tourist. Especially one who thinks it’s all such a laugh.

(Pulp – Common People)

Edit: Today, (January 26th, 2021) I had the thought that the origin of the word ‘expat’ itself best describes the issue I have with expats. Ex patria roughly translates to ‘out of the fatherland’. But being away from home does not mean you arrived at your new place. And here lies the problem, methinks.