Day 07: Top five favorite historical figures.

As you might notice from the portraits above, I’m quite a fan of the late 19th, early 20th century. All my favorite historical figures lived at this time – the beginning of the modern spirit and the start of psycho-analysis.

  • Sigmund Freud. I discovered Freud when I was about fifteen or sixteen, after visiting his apartment at Berggasse 19 in Vienna with my older sister. The era around the turn of the century had fascinated me for some time by then and I had discovered especially the art of this time. Freud gave my view on this special decades a second, deeper relevance. I started to read his biography, tried to understand a little bit more about psycho-analysis and was deeply intrigued by its modern spirit, or by the fact that our present-day life was so much influenced by him and his work. He of course also is, as most of the big minds in history, also a difficult and critisized person. But I wouldn’t want to think about, what our life now would be without him and his work.
  • Vincent van Gogh. My admiration for Gogh came a little bit earlier on, as you get in contact with him and his work quite easy nowadays. He is more or less everywhere. There are postcards and fridge magnets with his art, books about his life and people with “Starry night”-printed umbrellas on the streets. Van Gogh’s art always was very approachable for me and I love the clarity in his work, even though he brought twirly lines to perfection. And his life also fascinated me very much – the archetypel struggling artist who, in the end, just couldn’t manage life even though he cherished it so much with his drawings and his work.
  • Gustav Klimt. I just notice, that my selection is quite Austria focused – but for my defence, at my favorite era Vienna was an important and thriving center of art and culture. So it’s not really a surprise that many of my favourite historical ficures come from that time. Even though it may be the other way around, which would leave me a little narrow minded, but I don’t think that this would be the case. But now to Klimt – as much as van Gogh I also admire his work a lot. Again he is very clear and also very playful in his art and this seems to be something that really speaks to me. He is one of our greatest minds and we can be very proud to have him.
  • Oscar Wilde. At first I have to say, that I surely know too little about this amazing character. I mostly know things about his life, read his biography and soaked in every film made about him. His life is popular material for movie plots and books because it was so dazzling and tragic. I always related to him very strongly, because he was such a fragile and beautiful human being and he knew how to live his life well. But sadly the time he grew into wasn’t ready for him and chose to destroy this special man.
  • Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria. Maybe my fascination for this man is kind of an strange monarchic impulse embedded deep into my Austrian soul. I really don’t know. But I know that Rudolf, son to Franz Joseph I of Austria and his infamous wife Elisabeth was one of the big modern minds of that century. He was very interested in foreign countries and had liberal views and ideas that didn’t match to those of his conservative father. But he also lived a wild life filled with affairs, alcohol and drugs which finally lead into suicide. Again a misunderstood and very free spirited character that had to leave this earth much to early. And all this holds a deep fascination for me and makes him to one of my favourite historical figures.

Day 06: Top five things that happened to you this past year.

I think that’s a great question for this time of the year, when the old one isn’t too far away yet. And because 2011 was a quite eventful year, this question also isn’t too difficult:

  • Our wedding. This of course has to be number one and will be for a very long time to come I guess.
  • My dad fully recovering from his heart attack. Nothing else to add here.
  • Seeing my first Beatle. This was really a major event for me. I’m such a big Beatles fan, and it was one of my biggest dreams coming true. Hopefully I will see Paul soon too.
  • Got back in contact with a lost thought friend. A person that’s very dear to us stepped back into our lifes – this rocks big time.
  • Our Prague visit. One of the best holidays ever and one beautiful city!

Day 05: Top five places you’d like to live.

Finally I’m back, taking care of my 30 days challenge. So let’s talk cities and here are my top five:

  • New York. Maybe it’s a little bit premature to put this city on top of my list, given that I’ve never been there and my first visit to this town is weeks away. But – I really, really, really believe that I will love it there, having spent nearly all of my life learning about this town in songs, books, movies and from people who’ve been there. In my mind, I’m stuck with a mixture of an Woody Allen/John Lennon/Sex and the City/Andy Warhol kind of place. I see it like old black and white pictures in shades of grey with a little bit of colouring here and there. It’s a romantic, wild, artistic, free and also dangerous place for me. And I can’t wait to see it.
  • London. This was always my big love from my childhood on. All the music, books and art I grew up with evolved around this magic city and I feel so warm about this place. I’ve been to London several times now and it never disappointed me. I would love to live there, but I hardly think that would be affordable. But the dream stays and of course always the possibility to go there if I’m feeling too homesick.
  • Stockholm. I’ve been to Stockholm with my dear partner in crime when we did our big Scandinavia round trip. We’ve seen lot’s of cities then, but I kind of liked it best, even though I felt really drained from our long journey and all the impressions. I get a really good feeling when I think about it and I hope we will go there soon again.
  • Prague. This town is so near to Vienna and it’s almost a crime, that I didn’t go there earlier. Sebastian and I spent our holidays last spring there and we surely hoped for the best, everybody telling us what an amazing city this is for months. And I imagined that it would be nice there – but we both hadn’t been ready for this. Prague is absolutely breathtaking! I’ve seen some cities now but there surely isn’t one more beautiful. Everybody, please go there! Don’t miss that!!
  • Vienna. And, last but not least, my beloved hometown. I’m really happy to live in this charming and lively city that has so much history and still keeps defining itself new over and over again. There are many lovely cities in this world, but I guess we can be very pleased to live here in the heart of Europe.

30 days delay.

As you see my 30 days challenge experiences a little break at the moment. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to start something like this in the middle of Christmas time – which of course always is not the most peaceful time of the year. There is some kind of  party or get-together every other day and the rest of the time I spend trying to make my mind up about Christmas presents, decorations, invitations and bakery.

I’m a little bit cross with myself that I just couldn’t manage to keep doing my challenge every day – but, then I thought, why has it to be 30 days in a row? It also could be just 30 days alltogether. Okay, maybe that’s a cheap excuse now, but there’s no other way.

So I go back to my eggnog, wrapping paper and christmas tunes and hope you all too have a real peaceful Christmas time! ;)

Day 04: Top five favorite things about the internet.

First of all I have to say – internet, I’m a real big fan! Don’t listen to the people who’d like to banish you and try to make you into something evil and dangerous. I don’t get those discussions about the many risks of this amazing medium. Of course, not everything people contribute to it is fluffy honey pie. But for me it’s just a mirror of the world: You have to find you’r place in it, meet people you like, build a community and like in the real world – stay away from dark alleys, sleazy contemporaries and choose wisely who to trust or better not.

It’s not the internet who’s a danger to us. It’s the way people handle it. Everyone has to be educated on how to act around here and yet so many elective adults keep giving creditcard numbers to the wrong people or loose money on shady tricks. I could go on about this forever I guess, but before I bore you too much, here is the much more interesting question: What do I love about the internet?

  • Number one is the possibility to get every information immediately. I want to learn more about art nouveau or Sylvester Stallone or which library is nearest to me? It’s all there. Of course not everything on the internet is informed as a good dictionary but it gives you a good ground to start from. People often argue that the internet only gives us half-truths and that, by all means, you should avoid to try to get real information out of it. That’s only half true of course and even if many things aren’t always as funded because this medium is so immediate and keeps rewriting itself, it’s just okay with me. You have to treat things as what they are and only because they have flaws that doesn’t make them wrong.
  • Number two: This social thing has been out there for a while and it took me some time to even think about getting a facebook account. I guess I’m on it now for about 2 years now and I it’s fun and often practical. Sure, nobody could name 300 indivduals if you ask him over coffee with what crowd he hangs out. But that’s not really the point of it. I think there are four groups of people in your life: 1) close friends and family 2) friends you see now and then but you’re not really close to 3) people you get to know on some distinct occasion and kind of like to keep track of, just in case 4) people you where close with in the past but never see anymore.
    Before facebook number 3 and 4 was just lost. Sure, every ten years a former classmate would manage, after weeks of research and phone calls to get nearly all of your old class together for a big reunion. But now it’s possible to be much more  educated about what goes on in peoples lifes, if they choose to share it with you. And I think it’s a nice thing to know that that girl from back then has two children now or that the guy who played in the school’s band still makes music. We don’t have to talk to each other if we don’t like to but we still care to see what’s going on in each others lifes. And that just gives me a very good feeling.
  • Number three: The possibilty for everyone to express themselves in every way they like and on top of it the freedom blogs gave us. Everybody can have a blog nowadays although the majority of it isn’t very interesting. But nonetheless it gives us a way to write about the things we care and fortify it with pictures or videos or music. And this doesn’t play into the hands of this “everybody can be a star” thing that goes on on TV – not at all. It just means that we all can get creative if we like to and extend our every day lifes and all the “real” things we do with this additional way of communication. And through this you maybe meet other people and get a chance to read about their thoughts and hopes and dreams – even if they’re living on an other continent. And that only can be a good thing.
  • Number four: This has to be – instant communication through whatever way you like to. E-mails are great to get in touch with people easy and fast. And it’s not that I don’t ever send handwritten letters anymore or don’t care to read things through before I hit the send-button. But if you have something urgent to tell to somebody or just use it to chat with someone who’s far away this just is the best way to do it. It’s fast, it’s cheap and it’s immediate. And that gives us the opportunity to get closer together, from my point of view.
  • Number five: Last but not least the girlie in me breaks through and it really cares about shopping, but to be honest, who doesn’t? So one of the best things about the internet has to be webshops. Even though I’m not the kind of woman who buys her clothes or shoes on the internet (yet), I love shopping for foreign or handmade stuff. And if you, for instant, are looking for a special kind of sprinkles to top your cupcakes for Mum’s birthday or want to give your friend a real special necklace for christmas you’re quite well advised to check out some American or English or whatever webshop. It may be not too good for your creditcard, but that’s another story.

Day 03: Top five names you wish were yours.

This was a really hard one. I thought about it for some time but there simple is no way I could come up with five names that I wish were mine. That’s partly because I’m quite fond of my own name “Manuela” by now (yes, I know  I’m using a pseudonym around the web – but first of all, I started using the internet when nicknames were a big thing and secondly I just really got used to it and quite like the idea of this second persona, so get over it) and partly because there always was just one name that I literally adored: Julia.

And that’s how I can turn every question into one about the Beatles – who could see this coming. It’s of course no coincidence that John Lennon mother is named Julia and that he named his first son Julian Lennon. There also is a song by him called “Julia”, by the way. So as a early on Beatles fan I came across this name soon and I just really, really like it.

It’s hard to divide your feelings about something you like into little parts to look on every one individually. I guess I also like the name Julia so much, because I really like the sound of it (in English as well as German), I even think it looks nice because all the letters fit so nicely to each other (can’t turn of the graphic designer) and I never really had a relative or a friend called Julia – and this especially always kept it fresh and beautiful for me.

So I guess it’s the first major setback in my 30 days challenge, that I couldn’t come up with 5 great names that I whis were mine. But, to be honest, I think it’s better to give one real good one than five you don’t believe in.

Day 02: Top five favourite books.

Day 2 of my 30 days challenge – books. This decision also wasn’t too hard to make because there are some books that will always have a special place in my heart:

  • “High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby – I think the movies made me start reading Nick Hornby’s books but I don’t think “High Fidelity” was the first. I really love the movie and I equally appreciate the book. Hornby is one of my favourite authors whatsoever and it maybe not fair to put one on top of the list – but it has to be one.
  • “The World According To Garp” by John Irving – My beloved partner in crime introduced me to John Irving’s books. By now I have read some of them but the first one was “The World According To Garp”. Sadley my English wasn’t too good back then and I read the German version – but nonetheless it really moved me. I remember reading it more or less in nonstop for some days and crying in my childhood-room through the last pages of it.
  • “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac – Around the time I met my husband I wrote a lot of small poems myself and was constantly on the search for other writers on the, back then quite new, internet. I met many vibrant personalities and many of them were enthusiastic Beatnik fans. So it wasn’t long until I read “On The Road” – the Beatnik bible if you like so. And it really gets to you when you’re seventeen and wild and full of dreams – and it stays too.
  • “The Sorrows Of Young Werther” by Johann Wolfgang Goethe – One of the book we had to read for school when I was about fifteen. I wasn’t too keen about it in the beginning but I really fell for it. It’s the best book a teenager with all the heartache, wild dreams and hopes can read and also the worst. Because it really hits you in the guts and I don’t wonder why so many young lads killed themselves back then when it was first published. I’m not a big fan of the classics but I admire Goethe a lot for this book – mostly because it seemed so fresh and up to date to me back then and I guess it always will be for all the haunted teenage souls out there.
  • “Chart Break” by Gillian Cross – This isn’t a classic or very popular book but it was the book that acutally started me reading. When I was around thirteen I didn’t read a lot – everything else was lots more interesting. But my mother kept throwing books at me, everything that she could get hold of, in the hope that I would read more. She really had a hard time with me but then by luck she came across “Chart Break” and gave it to me, maybe for Christmas or a birthday, I don’t remember. And I loved it. It’s about a young girl in England that meets a punk rock band and falls in love with one of the guys. It’s about changing from a child to a young adult, it’s about dreams and hopes, about rejection and love and about a wild, unpolished punk scene back in the early 90s.