Marcel Winatschek

A Single Moment

A Single Moment

Sometimes it only takes a single moment, an unintended word, a fleeting thought and I fall again. If I have just felt happy because something has worked out the way I always wanted it to, or at least, for a change, I had no reason to hate the world and every single person in it, a second later I fall back into the same old, worn-out abyss, from which it’s a little more difficult to get out each time. I’m either drenched in the happiness of existence or nothing makes sense and it would be better if I disappeared from the face of the earth here and now.

Why did everything suck again now, even though things were going so well just a few minutes ago? Black and white. Emotional poles. There’s nothing in between. No rope, no false bottom. I fly or I crash. What I thought was safe, good, and unaffected by negative thoughts is now being put to the test again. I start to ponder. To doubt. Questioning everything that I had already taken for granted. The mistrust then envelops me like a leaden cloak that wraps itself smoothly around my body and then slowly presses me to the ground - where I belong.

Was a random comment by the girl I like really meant to be nice? The emphasis was a little too ironic, and the look was a little too mocking. Could it be that all she has ever said to me and about me wasn’t meant seriously? Was there any proof that we really got on well? She’s probably just making fun of me. In the end, she’s just like everyone else. And I have no choice but to get to the bottom of it before it’s too late. Sometimes it starts if the girl doesn’t reply immediately to a message that is totally casual, funny, and not at all dripping with self-doubt.

Nobody would have noticed that the spontaneous-looking message had been painstakingly crafted in a specially opened text editor for hours and decorated with the perfect mix of inside jokes, punctuation marks, and colloquialisms in order to come across as humanly normal as possible when I sent it at the optimal time. Not everyone is as much of a psychopath as I am. Then I find myself back on the same rollercoaster ride I’ve been on thousands of times before, with the familiar thought loops that I keep trying to break. Without any success.

In every mental decision I stoically take the direction I have always taken. So I rattle through all the stations of inner turmoil again with my rusty wagon of questionable metaphors and at the end of the journey, I come to the one realization that I have always come to. That I’m not worth it. I’m not worth having friends. I’m not worthy of love. I’m not worth being attractive. I’m not worthy of being taken seriously. I’m not worth being successful. I’m not worthy of being equal. I’m not worthy of being allowed to be happy. Everyone else is. Except me.

I Don’t Know Where You Are Tonight

I Don’t Know Where You Are Tonight

Music is a big part of my life and I can’t even imagine what it would be like without it. And although spring, disguised as summer, has suddenly appeared where I hang around, I’m still stuck in a never-ending winter melancholy, dominated by soft tones, slow beats, and unhappy lyrics. Armed with them, I walk through the ups and downs of this world, desperately trying not to take too much damage from my surroundings. In my ears, these weeks are all about heartache, despair, and traumatic experiences from people who seem to be just like me.

Nobody wants to bleed, but everybody hurts, Lykke Li whispers quietly to herself. So Sad So Sexy is the Swedish singer’s fourth studio album after Youth Novels, Wounded Rhymes, and Never Learn and my love for her remains unbroken even after all these years. Her emotional and gorgeous sadness is palpable through every single song. Lykke Li is the embodiment of erotically attractive depression down to a tee. My favorite songs on the record are Hard Rain, Better Alone, and, of course, So Sad So Sexy. My marriage proposal to Lykke Li is already on its way.

Although everyone thinks that James Blake was much better back then when he started, I personally couldn’t do much with his early works. He was far too whiny, boring, and insignificant on his debut album. It was simply terrible. But since his duet with Rosalía at the latest, everything has changed. Friends That Break Your Heart speaks completely from my soul. I have haunted many photographs, in the background, in the fore. And as many loves that have crossed my path, in the end, it was friends who broke my heart. Je suis James Blake.

If these two recommendations weren’t depressing enough for you, you can cry yourself to sleep to King Krule’s fifth album Space Heavy. I don’t know where you are tonight, my lost love. I searched all day and through the night, and up above, philosophizes Archy Marshall. I asked the florist for a light, outside a club. He told me maybe you’re inside, But no luck. Night was warm, but it’s late. When I want to sink into absolute despair and cozy, warm self-pity, I listen to songs like That Is My Life, That Is Yours, From the Swamp, and Our Vacuum.

Maybe I should switch to some sunnier and more cheerful songs in these sometimes very abruptly rising temperatures before I splash around in the pools of mental abysses for too long. That may be quite refreshing from time to time to ground myself and become one with my inner feelings a little bit, but in the long run I might lose my mind in my own inadequacies. And that would be bad. From now on it’s just songs about sandy beaches, fruity cocktails, and blonde girls in way too skimpy bikinis. This change of lifestyle will definitely make me happy.

Going Places

Going Places

Although life feels as if it will drag on forever, and I’m convinced of my own immortality anyway, a bitter truth hangs over my head like the proverbial sword of Damocles: I will die. Perhaps sooner rather than later. Nobody knows when. I’m not sick. At least I hope so. But the day when I die will come without a doubt. How am I supposed to deal with this bitter realization other than slipping into paralyzing apathy in pure panic? Because my weltschmerz weighs me down? Exactly: I make the best of the time I have left on this planet. Or at least I try to.

This resolution doesn’t always work. Sometimes I prefer to lie in bed for cycles of days and nights and let life’s opportunities pass me by unused. Like some idiot who doesn’t even know what fear of missing out means. Maybe I watch a show on Netflix, scroll passively through Reddit, Instagram, or other websites disguised as social media, or press bored on the buttons of my Switch. But on days when I have enough energy, curiosity, and hope inside me, I step outside my front door, first one foot, then the other, and actively face the universe.

I want to experience something new. An adventure. Fresh people. Something I haven’t seen before with my very own eyes. It doesn’t always have to be the next big thing that I open the door into my life. Sometimes it’s enough to give new small things a chance. Then I visit an unfamiliar place that I’ve never been to before. A café, a store, or a lake near me. Or I talk to people I’ve just met or at least haven’t interacted with much before. Sometimes they’re funny as fuck. Or I confront problems and fears with novel methods to solve and kill them for good.

I’m often so blinded by my routine, everyday life, and self-created traditions that I don’t even think about choosing one of the countless alternatives. Coffee? Black. Sneakers? White. Girls? Blonde. Sometimes, however, I deliberately don’t actively choose something unknown because I’m simply afraid that this inconspicuous choice will throw me into a mental chaos that will take a lot of effort to find my way out of, only to end up clinging to the tried and tested again. Stuff like that happened way too often to me before and I just can’t ignore the risk.

But perhaps it’s precisely this one new thing that was given preference by me on this seemingly inconspicuous, but, in reality, fateful day that was the key to a whole new life. Because no matter how small and unimportant this one possibility may seem, each of them can hold great potential. My life isn’t always determined by the big blows of fate that can hardly be planned, no, even the smallest changes of path can take me to a new destination. Somewhere on this playground we call earth. And who knows what uncharted wonders await me there.

The Death of Social Media

The Death of Social Media

When websites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter emerged in the early 2000s, allowing you to connect with like-minded people from all over the world, I was fascinated by all the possibilities they brought into my life. Whether I was chatting with close buddies, flirting with cute girls, or discussing the latest episode of One Piece with hardcore fans from the Philippines, social media turned the internet into a giant marketplace where strangers could become acquaintances and acquaintances could become friends - no matter where they came from.

Social media has, without exaggeration, made me what I am today. Facebook brought me to Berlin, Twitter to Japan, and Instagram to America. I enjoyed the benefits of this permanently connected universe and watched with regret as these websites gradually took over the internet and increasingly became the gathering place of hate, stupidity, and depression. Suddenly, social media was no longer fun. But I didn’t want to give up hope of a communicating world. Especially because there were still people in it who meant something to me.

For far too long, I ignored my inner voice that kept telling me it was time to say goodbye to the hollow corpse formerly known as social media. Perhaps I was simply too cowardly or secretly hoped that I would find a reason or two to continue denying the inevitable. But the longer I held out, the more I felt out of place amidst these angry voices, blunt propaganda, and false promises. So I only had one choice to finally get rid of this mental baggage that burdened me for years: Delete social media. And that’s what I’ve now done. It’s over. At last.

My understanding of minimalism is taking on alarming traits. Subtraction seems to have become my purpose in life. Less is more, they say. But that’s wrong. Nothing is more. I will deduct until there isn’t anything left. Not even myself. Only then will I be satisfied. When nothing is everything. Beside my retreat from social media, I’ve started to communicate without emoji. In emails, chats, and text messages. I have deactivated the buttons that allow you to decorate your thoughts with colorful little pictures on my phone and computer.

My words have to work without faces, objects, and fireworks that sometimes even cover the entire screen. And if they don’t, then I’ve failed as a writer - and as a decent human being. Of course, emoji, as well as animated images or short videos, have their purpose. They are meant to save what words alone cannot. Without them, there will inevitably be misunderstandings, arguments, and, in the end, wars. But I don’t care about that. As always, the world should revolve around me and my decisions, no matter how arbitrary and illogical they may be.

Unrequited Expectations

Unrequited Expectations

I firmly believe that expectations are the evil of all interpersonal relationships. Expectations can only disappoint. Always. No matter who or what they are directed at. At situations, at goals, at hopes. But mainly at people. If I speculate that someone who means something to me will act in a certain way that I expect, then I have already lost. Then I will fail with these expectations, to the extent that I have set them. There is no exception to this cruel law of life. Because even expectations that appear as if they have been fulfilled are actually lies.

Why can people I have put my expectations in only disappoint me? It’s not as if they do it on purpose. It’s that they have their own set of expectations of situations, goals, and hopes. But mainly of people. They are playing the same game that is doomed from the outset. Just with different characters. They don’t know what’s going on inside me, what thoughts and worries I have, why I’m happy or sad. And they don’t have to, don’t need to, and don’t want to know. Because they have their own thoughts and worries. And they are busy enough with them.

So is the logical conclusion that I should never place any expectations in anyone or anything again? Yes, perhaps. But maybe it’s also enough not to make my entire emotional world dependent on these expectations and to break down inside as soon as something doesn’t go the way I imagined it would. I should be so strong in character, so at peace with myself, that the actions of others don’t throw me off course. Because the more satisfied I am with myself, the more I tolerate not being the focus of other people’s attention. And that’s a good thing.

I have to be really careful not to fall into the same traps that many other people who think too much about their life, their relationships, and their dreams have fallen into before me. After all, unrequited expectations can tip over in the blink of an eye, leaving me not only with the sad certainty of an unfulfilled accommodation but also with the ruins of a friendship that has turned to dust and ashes. And this, of course, should be avoided at all costs, otherwise, the depressing journey will end not only with empty hands but also with a wounded soul.

Unrequited expectations are a bittersweet gift from which I can draw insights, get inspiration, and gain lessons about myself and the people around me. Facing people without expectations allows me to enrich my own life with the experiences of others that they so trustingly share with me, without anticipating anything at all. I shouldn’t close my mind to this chance, but approach it open-heartedly. Even if, or perhaps because, I will probably never reach the actual goal of becoming a part of the world of the one to whom these expectations apply.

The Boy and the Murderer

The Boy and the Murderer

Mr. Long is not a man of many words. In fact, he hardly speaks at all. His skills lie more in... let’s say... craftsmanship of a special kind. Mr. Long is a Taiwanese contract killer. One of the competent kind, someone who asks no questions when you give him a place, a time, and, of course, a victim. Mr. Long then does what he has to do. And he’s pretty good at it. Most of the time. After his mission to go to Japan and kill a local yakuza boss goes horribly wrong, Mr. Long finds himself stranded in a run-down settlement on the outskirts of a remote town.

With only five days to scrape together the money for his trip home, he receives unexpected help from a young boy named Jun and the unsuspecting townspeople who have collectively fallen in love with his culinary talents. The man begins to make himself at home in the foreign surroundings. With a makeshift food stall set up by his friends, he starts cooking and successfully selling Taiwanese noodle soup in front of the local Buddhist temple. His main tool is a knife, which he now uses to turn the ingredients Jun has dragged in into delicious meals.

Jun’s mother Lily has also been through a lot and became addicted to heroin. When Mr. Long gets to know her better through her son, he uses brutal methods to force her to go cold turkey. Is it love, Mr. Long is feeling? Or gratitude for the chance of a new life? Misfortune befalls the unlikely troupe when a drug dealer tracks down Jun’s mother Lily and, through her, Mr. Long. But despite the inevitable confrontation with his past, Mr. Long will find it difficult to give up his new life. A hitman is showered with altruistic love and forced to surrender to it.

Hiroyuki Tanaka has mastered the art of combining the normal with the unexpected. Mr. Long begins as a glamorously photographed bloody night-time piece, only to fade into the thoughtful realism of arthouse cinema. With his work, the Japanese director has created a drama that is amusing, tragic, and shocking in equal measure with its unexpected scenes, at moments when you wouldn’t expect it to be. When you think you have the movie figured out, around the next corner is either a clown, a sliced onion, or a knife that can’t wait to stab again.

You wish for a happy ending for Mr. Long, Jun, and Lily, a place where they can be happy and be left alone by the merciless world. But the little patchwork family’s past catches up with them just when you’ve finally started to stop resisting the wet tear ducts. In the end, you turn into one of those cliché viewers who laugh and cry at the same time - and you don’t care. When Mr. Long looks out of the café window across the street and his life suddenly takes on a new meaning, you are glad to have accompanied him on his turbulent journey of few words.

Burning Bridges

Burning Bridges

While you’re lying in bed with your boyfriend late at night, watching some show on Netflix, letting him dive into you, and now, not a single thought wasted on me, falling asleep snuggled up close to each other, I’m standing at the train station after some boring party in the rain and with two cold cheeseburgers from McDonald’s in my bag, waiting for the last train home, only to indulge in the one pastime I was determined to avoid: Thinking about you. I’m a good human being. At least that’s what I tell myself in order to not go completely insane.

I don’t want to interfere with the other person’s romance at all, no matter how broken and certainly insanely unhappy I think she must be. This sneaky attack would not befit me and would also be deeply misanthropic. And possibly also very stupid. Besides, it would bring me nothing. I wouldn’t be the brave hero who rescues the helpless princess from the clutches of a painful relationship, no, I’d be a run-of-the-mill asshole who’s been on a bad trip way too long and has decided that his only chance for happiness is to ruin someone else’s.

No one wants to be with someone like that. Nobody wants to have anything to do with someone like that. Never in a million years. Especially not the girl on the other side of my crumbling world, whose grin I see in front of me when I close my eyes. Her happiness should be untouchable. Even if she has decided that I aren’t allowed to be a part of it. So there’s nothing left but to scrape together the last remains of my own mind, my own reason, and maybe a little bit of my own pride and to come to the only right decision, which is worth following.

I have to tear down, burn, and blow up these bridges built in the wrong direction as fast as somehow possible, in order to turn around and finally walk on the ridge of mental health again. Before it’s possibly finally too late. The fact that I feel love at all somewhere in my atrophied soul, which has been freed of all empathy, is proof that I haven’t yet completely closed myself off to the world, that I’m not yet dead inside, that there’s still hope for not drowning in my minimalist melancholy at some point for good and without any prospect of rescue.

This emotion can turn into a treasure trove of ideas with a different perspective. I have to draw the correct conclusions and not operate in outdated thought patterns. Maybe the other nice faces aren’t empty shells. Maybe one of them can evoke the same feelings in me as the black-clad, slim girl with the white sneakers marked by life. Maybe one of them is just as pretty, smart, and naughty, if only I give her the potential to do so, instead of waving it off. And if all goes well, I’ll even forget why I was so fascinated by this one impudently grinning girl.

Self-destructive Tendencies

Self-destructive Tendencies

Hello. My name’s Marcel and my hobbies are reading, cooking, and sabotaging my own life. Then I chase away friends, put obstacles in the path of my own success, and sacrifice myself for irrelevant beliefs. While normal people know when enough is enough so they don’t have to keep starting over and over again, I go the extra mile and crave the unnecessary drama. All I reap with these self-destructive tendencies is disappointment, hatred, and loneliness. The worst thing about it is that I even know it’s sometimes better to just keep my mouth shut.

Then situations wouldn’t escalate completely. And the people involved wouldn’t have to push me away to not get hurt. But something inside me wants to see my world go up in flames time after time. Maybe with this attitude, I simply want to subject people to a completely pointless test that they can’t or even want to possibly win. Just to prove to myself that these friendships were doomed to fail from the very beginning. That it was clear. That I’m much better off without them. All alone and on my own again. Because they who rely on others are lost anyway.

Thanks to my superior mind, I’ve saved time, which I can now solely spend with myself and my self-destructive thoughts again. Hooray. Because there’s no more entertaining diversion than getting trapped in your head without any chance of escape. Additionally, I find it hard to tell who is my friend and who just happens to exist in the same place. Who is forced to spend time with me and looks for the next best opportunity to get away. And just when I was surrounded by people to whom I devoted thoughts, dreams, and hopes, I suddenly feel alone again.

Then I ask myself why I should bother making contact with other people in the first place. If these relationships are only of short duration and shallow depth anyway and collapse like a house of cards with a few wrong words. I could save myself some time and invest in myself. In my body. Or in a new hobby. Or at least in a dubious conviction, which I could use to waste some weeks without achieving anything worthwhile. Then I wouldn’t have any false expectations that could disappoint me. And even if they did, I would only have myself to blame.

So is the ultimate solution to my recurring problems to stop new people with a wave of my hand when they dare to come into my life? Because there’s nothing else to do but spend a little time together and then say goodbye again shortly afterward forever? Perhaps. But maybe it isn’t even feasible to form a deep friendship with every single encounter out there. Maybe sometimes it’s enough to keep each other company for a little while until we move on again. And maybe it’s okay to dedicate thoughts, dreams, and hopes to these people as well.

A Balm for Depression

A Balm for Depression

Sure, sex is all good. But have you ever watched all the episodes of K-On! in one single sitting, only to feel such a big hole in your heart afterwards that you started all over again to even begin to fill it? Exactly. K-On! is pure joie de vivre, a declaration of love for the cheerfulness, the carefree spirit, the plans and hopes we all had at some point. Anime offers a variety of experiences, from epic adventures to heartwarming tales of friendship. Amidst this rich tapestry, K-On! has proven to be a powerful ally in the fight against depression. And I must know.

When Yui starts high school, she resolves to finally get off her lazy ass and join a school club so she won’t become a loser. But which one? Fortunately, the school band is looking for a guitarist. This could be the beginning of a wonderful friendship and a great music career for Yui. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know the first thing about playing the guitar and has zero stage experience. She also gets distracted very easily and as soon as she learns something new, she forgets something else. This will be a very hard task for the other band members...

K-On! is no epic legend, au contraire. It’s about Yui, who is so warm, lazy, greedy, clumsy, naive, and cute that it’s a joy to watch her go on her adventures. And about her friends Mio, Ritsu, Tsumugi, and Azusa, their shared quest to become the best rock band in the world, and about the cute turtle Tonchan, who’s always busy swimming back and forth in the background. And about Yui’s little sister Ui, without whom nothing would run at all and whose self-sacrificing devotion will undoubtedly become a case for the nearest psychiatrist at some point.

For those seeking an antidote to depression, K-On! is the perfect prescription. With its heartwarming narrative and an endearing characters, it serves as a reminder that there is always hope and that a brighter tomorrow can be found in good friends, sweet music, and the simple joys of life. If you ever feel alone, depressed, and abandoned by the whole world, just watch an episode of K-On! before you reach for the booze, the pillbox, or even the rope. And then another episode. And then another episode. Until, at some point, you start all over again.

K-On! lets you understand what life is really all about. About overcoming fears, gaining new experiences, and finding friends for life. And maybe you’ll even rediscover your love for light and fluffy pop music. No matter how much your soul is eaten away by cynicism and the general weltschmerz, after an intense K-On! cure, you’ll automatically feel more content, happier, and in a more positive mood toward the entire universe. Because Yui’s, in the truest sense of the word, carefree attitude rubs off on even the most sarcastic sourpuss. I guarantee it.

The Wandering Mouth

The Wandering Mouth

We are at a party. It is night. Strange and familiar faces hover around us. They are drinking and bawling. Cheerful music is playing. The garden where we are celebrating is colorfully lit up. You are having fun. Wander from one bottle to the next. From one taste to the next. From one mouth to the next. Your laughter lights up the place. I try to concentrate on the stories of those who want to share them with me. But your search for amusement distracts me. You are loud. The glances are waiting for you to go beyond your limits. For something to happen.

Life doesn’t seem to be enough for you. You’re getting out of control. The mood changes. It’s not fun anymore. Nothing really is. The night turns darker. You fall down. Lie on your back on the grass. Laughing. From you and the faces. Your top has slipped up. You show a lot of yourself. I walk over to you, cover your exposure, and pull you up. It’s hard to tell if you’re laughing or crying. You want to kiss me. I avoid your head, press it on my shoulder, and hug you as tightly as I can. I love you very much, I whisper in your ear. Silence. I love you too.

Your mouth floats above my bed at night, my own private moon, Björk whispers as you nestle your head softly against mine. The vague scent of beer, salt, and cigarettes that dominates your breath enters my nose. Hair to hair. Skin to skin. Pulse to pulse. Just because the mind can make up whatever it wants, doesn’t mean that it’ll never come true, won’t ever happen. Please, could I change that? I can feel your slim body lying next to me. Just because she can. Nothing is more important than this very moment. Whatever happened?

The darkness betrays your every move. You’re up to something. Your plans are running ahead of you. But I give up, I give in. To you. Is that the right thing to do? Oh, I just don’t know, I just don’t know. You slowly turn your face towards me without moving an inch away. Let me introduce one to the other. The dream and the real, get them acquainted. Just because she can. Introduce. A mouth to a mouth. Your face becomes mine. I taste your lips, your tongue. Your breath enters me. So warm. Beer, salt, and cigarettes. And a bit of loneliness.

Are the many reasons why we can’t be together suddenly gone? Reality doesn’t allow me to be happy. I cling to my lies. The dream and the real, get them acquainted. If I keep my eyes closed, hope surely will be victorious. Can I just sneak up from behind? I beg. Now please, can I kiss her? I shout. Is that the right thing to do? the void asks back softly. Oh, I just don’t know, I just don’t know. There’s a line there, I can’t cross it. I wake up. Am lost. Can no longer deny it. Your mouth floats above my bed at night, my own private moon.

If I Can’t Be a Part of Your World

If I Can’t Be a Part of Your World

I can’t always have what I want. That would be far too easy. My own happiness sometimes collides with the dreams and wishes of others. And it’s not my place to harm them just because I have the questionable opinion that I must be the main character in every story told. Every once in a while, I have to admit to myself that I’m only a supporting role in a play and that the spotlight is on someone else. No matter how difficult that may be for my own ego. Sometimes I’m neither Romeo nor Juliet but just some fruit seller suffering in the background.

When the black-clad, slim, and impudently grinning girl, with the white sneakers marked by life, whom I like, with whom I want to spend time, with whom I want to experience adventures, forge memories and together resist the perils of the world, already has just such a person by their side, the correct path is the one that leads away. Away from this charming girl, away from her supposedly radiant happiness, away from the creeping pain to which I have become accustomed in the past out of pure ignorance towards myself and a bit of masochism.

The main goal is to get away from the inner urge to maybe still, by some miracle that comes along and completely contradicts the logic of this universe, get the knowledge to become a part of this slowly dissolving hope. Before I cause irreparable damage. To myself and to the girl I actually wanted to win for myself. Because all I can achieve through this desperate plan is hatred, anger, and an almost unimaginable loneliness. And I certainly don’t want that. Unless I’m already lost. But then it’s all too late anyway. For me and everyone else around me.

I could spare myself these mental scars by following the advice of others. That I should distract myself. That I should talk to the nice but uninteresting faces. That I might find someone who can burn herself into my own emotional world just as much as the girl whose attention I’m trying to draw to myself with every conceivable means. But I don’t want that. Because all the others are just empty shells. And although I know damn well that this isn’t true, it’s far easier to regard this lie as a set truth and thereby melt away undisturbed in my own self-pity.

Heartbreak is much more fun when you renounce all hope. Because this way of dealing with grief is much easier than having to face the uncomfortable reality that I may not be infatuated with the girl per se, but with the false expectations I pumped into her from the very beginning. After all, what do I know about this girl except the isolated stories she has so graciously shared with me and the connections I have been allowed to spin together for myself? Nothing. And realizing this fact is the first step out of my own broken head and into the real world.

Art Makes Me Angry

Art Makes Me Angry

I’m standing in front of a wall. It’s big, bright, and largely empty. Two framed pictures are hanging on it. I’m trying to look at them as concentrated as possible, but that doesn’t change the fact that just a few stick figures were drawn on the white canvases. They are staring back at me. A sun in the corner, some grass on the ground. Everything’s black and white. The gallery owner is sitting on a wooden chair, quite bored, typing apathetic on her iPad. Connoisseurs, patrons, and buyers are buzzing around me. I want to scream. Art makes me angry.

People are lingering in front of the installations. They are talking about what they see there. Discuss, praise, and criticize. What the artist was thinking with choosing this color. With this material, with this angle. While some nude guy is jerking off on a flickering television screen behind me, I’m staring at a picture with stick figures. It costs around 2,000 dollars. Would it be worth it to me if I ripped it off the wall right now and beat up the gallery owner with it until someone can give me an answer to the only question I have right now: What?

Then I feel like a New York Post reading Fox News viewer who votes for something with xenophobia on Tuesdays and would prefer to rip the balls off child molesters, but at night, when his wrinkled wife is asleep, masturbates to photos of his underage niece. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate art turns into a junk food eating, lettuce discarding redneck with a Windows PC at home. It’s all artificial. They’d rather watch soccer than go to a museum, prefer sugar to vegetables, beer to wine, cunts to muses. Too stupid for art, too conventional for beauty.

I love the art world. I really do. The large-format magazines, the old books, the breathy red wine, the intellectual chatter, the absurd prices, and the girls armed with burlap bags roaming galleries alone on Sundays, positively brimming with impetuous introversion and buzzing sexuality of a cute student living somewhere in an old apartment in the middle of Kreuzberg who you can fuck only after talking to her for hours while sipping on whiskey on a Saturday night. It’s just the art itself I don’t get. But that’s the main point of being here, isn’t it?

The inhabitants living in this parallel universe are better dressed than most Fashion Week attendees. The big and bright buildings that were once train stations, workshops, or factories and now serve as a parallel universe to a world torn apart by war, hate, and poverty, are simply beautiful. Even if 99 out of 100 things I see make me angry, they still flood my thoughts, energize me, bring back memories, joy, and a whole lot of hate. Why, I ask myself then. How, I ask. Where, I ask. And particularly: What on earth are you trying to tell me?

Meeting a Master

Meeting a Master

This semester, we took part in a workshop with the popular Hungarian artist István Horkay as part of our Werkwoche at Technical University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg. His collage posters are famous and have been exhibited in galleries all over the world. István Horkay embarked on his journey by graduating from the School of Fine Arts in Budapest. Following this, he was offered an opportunity to enrich his skills at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts. And he taught us exactly that: The fine arts.

István Horkay's art is epitomic in the double meaning of the word. A fragment, an incised part of something that already exists, and, because of this incision, a violation of the finished surface, the tangle of writing or a finished picture. This is based on the experience that people, by transmitting themselves through signs, feign a kind of meaningfulness. In István Horkay’s work, this textual meaningfulness always appears differently, as contrasting colors appear on the surface in separate places. His posters are not only experimental but life itself.

It was a great experience to work with István Horkay and his lovely wife and design some works under his personal guidance. I was allowed to design a total of three posters, which I called The Book of Love, The Bachelor of Arts and Jazz. The workshop was complemented by an exhibition that took place together with a display of the most beautiful German books. The Werkwoche was a great opportunity to creatively break out of the daily routine of studying and try something completely new. I’m looking forward to taking part again in the near future.

Additionally, I’d like to share with you the grades I got this semester in my studies of Interactive Media. In Digital Media Theory I have a 2,0. In Digital Accessibility I have a 2,7. In the Basics of Software Development I have a 3,0. In 2D Animation I have a 1,7. In Advanced English Professional Communication I also have a 1,7. And in Interface Design I have a 1,0. I know these grades aren’t top-notch but I don’t care. I’m just glad I had a great time and met new people or got to know old acquaintances better. That’s what college is all about. At least for me.

In the semester after next I have the chance to spend it abroad and was asked to choose a university in a country that interests me. After some thoughtful consideration, I’ve narrowed down my options to Japan, Taiwan, and Lithuania. In a few weeks, I will know where my journey will take me. I would agree with all the choices. Simply because each of them offers opportunities that I will never have again. Let’s see where destiny will take me to. Until then I’m looking forward to my fourth semester with new courses, new people, and new adventures. Yeah.

When We Became the Past

When We Became the Past

No matter how far away we may find ourselves, in the crowded streets of New York, on the hot coasts of Australia, or under the high ceilings of Berlin’s old apartments, we return home sooner or later. To our city. To a world in which time seems to stand still. And we feel superior. Because no one there dared even come close to what we have achieved. The streets of the small community are still the same ones we rode down as kids. We know them inside and out. We still dream of the time when these alleys were the veins of our childish existence.

As I walk down the main street, my thoughts go wandering. They float up, over the city. And memories pop up everywhere. When we broke into that trailer and used helium stolen from the fair to turn our voices into Mickey Mouse. When we threw up and called the ambulance because Maria had crashed into the fence of the open-air swimming pool while sledding and blood was streaming down her face. When we sat on the slide of the nearby playground and Paula pulled up her white shirt, waving her middle fingers around, to shock the neighbors.

When I come to my senses again, I stand on a small bridge a little outside the city. We ruled this place, made it shake, and made it tremble. We passed through its gates at night, we kissed, ate, beat, cried, came, shouted, laughed, and drank. Loudly. Energetic. Courageous. So that we may perpetuate ourselves. So that our deeds would still cause murmurs a hundred years from now. So that we could not die, even though we had long since passed away. But our graffiti faded. Our legends were silenced. Our markings were erased. Time turned us into victims.

The generation that wreaks havoc in these streets today has no idea of what took place here. What we risked. Who we touched. How many enemies we made and how many friends accompanied us. It doesn’t matter to them. They don’t care about our names. Our places. Our sorrows. Our songs. And then we realize that we don’t have a single reason to feel superior. Because we have accomplished nothing. Our memories only haunt the city as vague shadows. They have no effect, no desire. But they serve as proof that we have been replaced.

By people who consider us irrelevant and write their own legends in the places that served as a backdrop for our memories. But this generation will also return to this place. And they will become aware of the fact that none of their actions, no matter how rad and passionate and dramatic, will result in eternity. That their life is a copy of a copy of a copy. And that everything falls apart once they turn around. All that remains as consolation is the dream of doing something that no one before us has ever done. Because there’s nothing else we can do.

Time to Grow Up

Time to Grow Up

Since the beginning of my college attendance and the subsequent move to a new city, my entire circle of friends consists of my fellow students. That wouldn’t really be a problem. After all, they are all great people with their very own dreams, hopes, and goals. And I’ve grown very fond of some of them over time. We’ve partied the night away together, sunbathed by the lake, cooked delicious food, danced, played tabletop role-playing games, watched old anime shows, and had profound conversations about the greater meaning of it all.

The time I spend with these people means a lot to me. But I’m slowly realizing that the age difference between me and them is leading to interpersonal difficulties. After all, I am now 40 years old and most of them are around 20. And, let’s be honest, that’s not a very healthy relationship. When we celebrated my birthday in a trendy bar in the city center a few days ago, we had a lot of fun. Expensive drinks, loud music, and a few colorful drugs. Everything you need to have a good time. But of course, I noticed that I was the oldest person there.

I couldn’t flirt with any girl there because otherwise, I would have felt like a creep. And that’s not all: I’m generally not allowed to develop feelings for my fellow students that go beyond friendship. No matter how much I would like to sometimes. Because otherwise, I feel like I’m abusing their trust in me as a friend. But since I would like to be in a romantic relationship again because I honestly miss that in my life, I now feel a little trapped in this adolescent world. Reality, once again, shows me that I can’t hide in my imaginary shell forever.

I have therefore decided to finally grow up. At least partially. I need to expand my circle of friends. Get to know people who will help me grow. Mentally. And with whom I have the chance to develop intimate relationships that are not possible in my current environment for various reasons. However, I don’t yet know how I’m going to do this. Because I neither have the energy nor the strength to dive into completely new surroundings with unfamiliar people and adventures. It’s hard enough to survive my day-to-day life without sustaining casualties.

Maybe I should find a new hobby. Like, I don’t know, join a book club, search for gold coins, or feed the homeless. Or go to places that are frequented by people of the same age. Like jazz bars, horseraces, or wine tasting events. Or perhaps it’s enough to walk through the world a little more consciously and be more open to new folks. Smiling could help. But not too much. Because that’s weird. The important thing is not to get too comfortable in my present surroundings. Otherwise, I will deny myself opportunities that are currently hidden from me.

Midlife Crisis Outfit

Midlife Crisis Outfit

As of today, I am 40 years old. So it’s about time to talk about my midlife crisis. Strictly speaking, I’ve been in it for four decades now, but in order to have a good starting point for today’s topic, let’s just assume that it’s reached its peak today. My midlife crisis manifests itself internally through constant reflection, wavelike depression, and self-destructive tendencies and externally through continuous optimization of my, at least in my eyes, perfect outfit. I’m a great advocate of a single appearance for every occasion life has to offer after all.

While normal people wear a different wardrobe every day, consisting of all kinds of colors, shapes, and brands that they have orderly stored in their bedroom closets, I have made it my highly dubious mission to find the ideal piece of clothing for every single part of my body. And, yes, I know that this behavior is the result of some error in my head. But let’s call it minimalism. This way I don’t feel too insane. I quickly realized that the majority of my individual uniform had to be black. That way I don’t have to worry about any color combinations.

Black always fits, looks good, and is also slimming as hell. No other color has so many wins at once. Wow. What’s more, my outfit has to be cheap, basic, and available everywhere in the whole wide world. Even if, for whatever reason, I end up in Guatemala, I need to be able to go into town and replace a used item of clothing there. That’s why I’ve chosen a few international companies whose products I use to present myself to a global audience. Of course, I always adapt this decision. After all, my outfit is alive. Like me. I’m not dead. At least not yet.

Most of my clothes are from H&M. Because the quality is good, the price is reasonable, and availability is guaranteed. I would have loved to go with Uniqlo, because Japan famously rules, but their stores are too widely scattered. One plus point is that the basics at H&M are not printed with logos. They are simple, modern, and have a good shape. I can also dye them if they are washed out. So I’ve bought the same black pants, T-shirts, hoodies, sweaters, jackets, underpants, scarves, and gloves several times so that I can change them every day.

You can’t wear too many nameless basics or you have no character. That’s why my cap printed with the New York Yankees logo is from New Era. And since black only looks good with white accents, because otherwise you seem like a mortician, I’m wearing a pair of white Nike Air Force 1 with white Nike Everyday Cushioned Training Crew socks. It’s the default right now. My outfit is rounded off with black Jisco glasses, a vintage Casio watch, and the latest Apple AirPod Pros. Done. This is how stylish a midlife crisis can be. At least in my mind.

I Lost My Heart in Tokyo

I Lost My Heart in Tokyo

Japan is not only the land of cultural traditions, technological achievements, and historical, social, as well as geographical challenges, but for many enthusiasts a nation of big and small wonders to discover and explore. In recent decades, Tokyo has become an international hotspot for pop culture, from fashion to music to art. Kyoto has the most beautiful temples, Osaka the most delicious delicacies, and Yokohama the most vibrating nightlife. And if you make it to Okinawa, Hokkaido, or Tottori, you will experience Japan in its most multifaceted form.

In anime and manga, wide-eyed space pirates, domineering swordsmen, and brave magical girls come to life. In J-pop and J-rock, the beautiful as well as the shady sides of life are sung about. And in numerous novels from Banana Yoshimoto to Haruki Murakami to Mieko Kawakami, quiet as well as loud heroes just seek happiness. Japanese pop culture is full of love, full of lust, and full of passion. It seems to burst away in every conceivable direction, and every loud bang brings to life a new discovery, a new story, and a new potential passion.

I want to celebrate Japanese pop culture. No matter if it’s fashion, art, music, movies, books, games, travel, technology, or food. No matter if it’s anime, manga, or J-pop. No matter if it’s known far beyond the borders of the Far East or has long since burned out as an eternal insider tip in its homeland. I’m going on a journey into the distance, in search of an alternative world, whose energy you can feel up to here, whose courage you can smell up to here, and whose love you can feel up to here. I want to grasp, understand, and press it tightly against me.

I sit in the cockpit next to Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop, save the world with Asuka Langley Soryu in Neon Genesis Evangelion, and roam the ghost-populated forests of a long-forgotten world with Ginko in Mushishi. I immerse myself in the noisy hustle and bustle of Takeshita Street in the heart of Harajuku, get intoxicated by the kids gambling in front of flickering screens in Akihabara, and sit down in a well-hidden jazz café in Shimokitazawa to listen to the bouncy sounds of Ryo Fukui, Casiopea, and Soil & “Pimp” Sessions over a cup of matcha tea.

If you like to think outside the cultural box, are always on the lookout for new, exciting, and surprising things, and are not afraid of getting lost forever in a labyrinth of otherness, you’ve come to the right place. Join me in discovering the most imaginative side of Japan, time and time again. In my articles about the land of the rising sun, I look forward to going on an unforgettable expedition with you into the depths of Far Eastern ingenuity and together recovering one or the other lost treasure hidden in the depths of Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka.

Beer, Beer, and More Beer

Beer, Beer, and More Beer

The second semester of my studies in Interactive Media has just said goodbye to me. Officially it doesn’t end until the end of September but with the semester break starting in the next few days, I can justifiably say that my first year at college is now over. At the end of last semester, I told you the grades of the exams I took, and I want to stay true to that tradition this time as well. So I got a 2,7 in the basics of interactive design, a 1,7 in the basics of audiovisual design, a 2,0 in the basics of programming, and a 3,0 in the basics of web technologies.

It has been a year full of new people, experiences, and joy of life. I have learned, designed, and programmed. We made our own movies, build machines, and create animations, tried our hand at programming languages, and almost single-handedly destroyed the university’s beverage budget in the form of beer, beer, and more beer. I joined the design student council and a Dungeons & Dragons club, helped out at events in front of and behind the scenes, and spent some nights at the campus because I missed the last train home more than once.

While a few months ago, I was still convinced that I wanted to devote myself entirely to visual wonders and thus pursue a Bachelor of Arts, in recent weeks I have come to the decision that I would like to try my hand at the Bachelor of Science after all and thus prove myself in the world of bits and bytes. The good thing about this plan is that if it fails, I can still crawl back into the art world the following semester. Possibly because the physics-soaked math has taken the fun out of it for me. I would then only have to make up a few missing modules.

In the next semester, we will have to try out various elective modules in the areas of design, computer science, and gaming and decide in which country we would like to spend our semester abroad. I’m currently leaning towards Japan, Finland, or Estonia, but I still have little a bit of time to think about it in peace. Besides, I have to be accepted there first, and this decision is, sadly, not mine alone. But let’s see in which part of the world I’ll end up in the coming winter.

My versatile studies have given me, and I’m not exaggerating, a sense of life again. A reason to get up early in the morning. To come to campus with joy, smile at familiar faces, and experience new adventures with people I already know or just met for the first time. And for that, I want to thank everyone who has shared this journey with me so far. I’m really glad I decided to apply at Technical University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg last year for being able to have this opportunity and excited to see what challenges await me next semester.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Walking

What I Talk About When I Talk About Walking

I love walking. Set me down anywhere on earth, give me a direction and I’ll start walking. And when I talk about walking, I don’t mean jogging, running or sprinting, but the most relaxed form of human locomotion: Strolling. Over the past few years, I have gradually increased the amount of walking I do. Some time ago, my daily step count was still in the one to two-digit range, but I was able to keep increasing my limit. Three digits soon became four. At some point, four became five. And five might even become six. If that is even humanly possible.

I can now easily manage the scientifically completely irrelevant figure of ten thousand steps a day recommended by a Japanese company for advertising purposes. I’m currently averaging around twenty thousand steps - like a top athlete. My success, which should inspire every single person in this world, is based on three pillars of success: boredom, routine, and distraction. After all, I have nothing better to do. I only do things when I’m used to doing them. And I only persevere with something if my thoughts are occupied with something else.

Whereas with real sporting activities, such as jogging, I spend every single second of the agonizing and seemingly never-ending progress hoping that some confused hunter will mistake me for a graceful deer or at least a half-submerged wild boar and shoot me in the forest so that I’m finally over with it, when I walk I am often surprised that I have been doing it for two, three, sometimes four hours without actively noticing. Then I fly through towns, across fields, along the lake. Past cars, people and nice-smelling cafés, boutiques and kebab stands.

I walk to a café, treat myself to a beverage and a bit of laptop time and then take a walk through the textile district, the park and the old town before heading home again. And I do the same thing, every day, over and over again, like a robot that has no life. But it works. Because it’s routine. Because I like the varied route. Because I know exactly where I can rest, where I can access the internet. and where I can go to the toilet on my route, which seems random to outsiders. And it is this certainty that mentally disadvantaged autistic people like me need.

While I’m preaching about the walking lifestyle to you, I’m just trying to make it clear that if you need more exercise in your life for whatever reason, you just need to find something that doesn’t completely fuck you off while you’re doing it. That’s why I’m going to put on my smelly sneakers, listen to a five-hour podcast about the best Super Nintendo games from the nineties and then go out into the wide world like Hänschen klein. If I do get run over by a bus, at least I’ll have died doing something I really, truly love. And not everyone can claim that.

The Empty Heart

The Empty Heart

If I want to, I can become friends with many people in a very short time. No matter in which place, no matter in which situation, no matter with which counterpart. Then I’m funny, rousing, and open-hearted, as if we knew each other forever. I share intimate stories and secrets, confess my biggest sins and fears, and make them feel like I understand them. I would leave no stone unturned, no matter how unattainable, to make them happier just by having met me. Even though we’ve just seen each other for the first time five minutes ago.

I used to pride myself on being able to shut down my shyness, lethargy, and social phobia and have it turn into the complete opposite. Thanks to a trick I call mental distraction, which works by thinking of something different just before doing something illogical, I do the bravest, craziest, and most likable things without being able to reflect on it beforehand. These deeds then feel natural and not wrong at all. And I’m always glad that I dared to do it because it allows me to get close to people who would otherwise have remained inaccessible.

I’m a ghost. An empty heart wrapped in flesh without any hint of empathy. The only reason I make friends so easily is because they mean nothing to me. And if I do get a crush on someone, I analyze her intensely until I finally get to the bottom of her maddening fascination, only to drop her like a hot potato afterward. I practically suck people dry and then move on. Like an unscrupulous emotional wanderer who just feels, celebrates, and fucks amid his loved ones and the next moment, when no one’s paying attention, suddenly disappears into the void.

I wonder if I’m just a soulless shapeshifter who only ever echoes what brings him as close as possible to his current target. Preferably into the favor, thoughts, or genitals of his opponent. The question of who I am is is as old and clichéd as life itself. I’m probably just a Frankenstein’s monster cobbled together from book quotes, TV wisdom, and sayings I picked up from someone I once thought was cool, who merely pretends to be human but is nothing more than a parasite somehow kept alive, feasting on the fears, dreams, and problems of others.

Like a predator, I pounce on the first victim that crosses my path, rip it apart, and gorge myself on its remains. A new body, a new thought, a new warmth. But the satisfaction lasts only a short time and then disappears as quickly as it came. Because nothing can fill this endless void within me, especially not someone who only wanted to be loved, held, and saved, and is now not much more than a vague memory in my continuous bloodlust. Then I move on to the next pretty face, hoping that this time everything will be different. For sure.

The Modern Diet

The Modern Diet

I don’t even know why I’ve been eating less meat lately. The cafeteria serves a portion of French fries with ketchup and mayo for a buck. Vegan salami is actually quite good. And an avocado, hummus, or pickles with a cheese sandwich: Best. I’m not concerned about health, climate, taste, culture, or even the animals in my newly discovered meat reduction. But I can think of reasons why I don’t have to think of roasted pigs, fried chicken, and freshly butchered cows all day long, because I stuff myself with nothing but fruit, vegetables, and cereals.

I’ve reached a redemptive point in terms of nutrition, where the focus is on coffee. And everything else is second to seventh priority. I don’t give a fuck whether I’m shoving a veal cutlet or some soy wheat bean mash-based alternative pudding into my mouth - as long as it doesn’t make me throw up. It also makes me feel above everyone else. When I put the vegan cold cuts on the conveyor belt at the checkout in the supermarket and the guy behind me has his mixed mince for 2.99 dollars, I think to myself that I’m the more modern person of the two of us.

But the most important reason of all is that I’m deeply inside a random trend follower. You just have to tell me certain things often enough, and eventually, I’ll believe them. When I watch more or less secret recordings of some redneck slaughterhouses, where chickens are trampled, piglets are castrated, and cows are mistreated, then it has at most a short-term effect on me. But the more often I witness such things, the more I think to myself: Okay, okay, from now on more cucumbers, tomatoes, and potatoes should suffer instead of animals. I get it.

I don’t buy meat and sausage produced from cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys or, I don’t know, monkeys. But I do eat these meals when they are offered to me by people. I’m also not a vegan. It doesn’t matter if it’s milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, eggs, honey, or whatever else you can squeeze out of animals: It ends up in my mouth. And I eat fish. Salmon, pike perch, dorado, trout, halibut, herring, scampi, tuna, clams, crabs, eel, squid, cod, mackerel, oysters, shrimp, and sardines. Whatever is crawling around in the sea, I will find it, catch it, and inhale it.

As I write this, I’m stuffing myself with some more or less healthy cheese sandwich with the last vegan salami slice that was still lying around in the fridge at home and some mayonnaise on top, and I just can’t find a reason why I should have bought the ones with cows, pigs, or horses in them instead. But maybe this is just the beginning of my latest life-changing journey. I will eventually evolve into a superior higher being who can live on nothing but sun, air, and coffee. And probably only then would I be truly satisfied with myself and the world.

The Terror of the Underworld

The Terror of the Underworld

When Arano steps out of the station, his fate is already sealed. The young man came to Tokyo to make his dreams come true: It should rain knives. Preferably into the hearts of the yakuza, on whom he cultivates an inexplicable hatred. There are too many superfluous elements in this world, is the credo he keeps muttering. Caught in the crossfire of two rival gangs, the otherwise taciturn Arano befriends club owner Kamijo and skater Alice and joins their chaotic world. But the bonds he forges are torn apart by greed, revenge, and arrogance.

Pornostar is a mixture of drama, thriller, and gangster film, covered with a bucket of fake blood, and sprinkled with a touch of love story, all within the restless backdrop of Tokyo just before the millennium. The movie is full of splatter, violence, and death. And yet it all happens so crudely that you almost have the feeling of sitting in the same room and witnessing how one human life after another is extinguished, only to stand on the street again afterward with a cigarette in your mouth and squander your hard-earned yen in the nearest arcade.

The story lacks sympathetic characters. Arano’s motive to rid the world of the yakuza can be guessed at but remains hidden. Kamijo’s fatal step into the clutches of the underworld happens just as casually as the last meeting with Alice, who might have been a way out for Arano and his dream of gory knives. We don’t want these people to find happiness. They have chosen to participate in this game and maybe even earned Arano as an avenging angel. And with the first murder, he also plunges into an abyss from which there must be no escape.

Pornostar is the debut work of Japanese director Toshiaki Toyoda, who continued with movies like Blue Spring, 9 Souls, and The Blood of Rebirth, and cannot claim at least one thing: to be normal. It reminded me of Hideaki Anno’s Love & Pop, released the same year, without having anything in common other than being set in Shibuya. But the handcrafted, raw, almost documentary style of shooting by both directors could almost be two sides of the same coin. Except that one side is full of naughty schoolgirls and the other is just... well... corpses.

When you watch Pornostar expecting to be satisfied, inspired, or even happy after the credits finally begin to roll, you’re mistaken. The film takes no prisoners - even quite the opposite. You would indeed begrudge one or the other character to experience the Grand Summer of Love on Fiji and thus slide blissfully into the year 2000. But as it is already said in the Bible: He who takes the sword shall perish by the sword. And to resist this holy prophecy seems to be almost an impossibility in this heartless world. Especially when people like Arano live in it.

The Meaningless Love

The Meaningless Love

As she makes her way home, I shout the first stupid thing that comes to my mind. The black-clad, slim person with the white sneakers marked by life turns around once more, grins, shouts back, and raises her hand. The smoke from her cigarette dances in the otherwise clear air. I look after her only very briefly, open the heavy glass door, and once again enter the building which is bursting with dreams of strangers and in the past months has turned into our refuge from the mostly noisy, chaotic, and abandoned by all good spirits world outside.

There is no worse feeling than being in love with someone I shouldn’t be in love with. Because there are just too many differences between me and the person on the other side. Because the person of favor already has someone who fills the position that I’d like to hold myself. Or because the person I have to think about again and again, at the most impossible times, just doesn’t share the same emotions that I so exceedingly vulnerably extend to them. And when things go really bad, all of these points apply equally and hit me all the harder.

This love has no meaning, no future, and thus no value. I try to find arguments for why it would be much more logical if I had no affection for the impudently grinning girl. But there is nothing to be said for not wanting to dive into this body. How could I resist this person’s sober, disarming, and perceptive charm? She’s pretty, she’s smart, she’s sassy. She always has a silly saying in store, either glowing with energy or apathetically sinking into her thoughts, and every time I talk to her, she opens up like a man-made grab bag of interesting stories.

I collect every new detail about her life, like pieces of a puzzle scattered all over the globe, which, when assembled bit by bit, create a lovingly decorated and partially scarred treasure map that I can use as a guide to discover ever more adventures, memories, and inspirations. I listen, marvel, and travel with her to those fateful moments that made her wonderful the personality she is today. And no matter how great, meaningful, and varied I think my existence is, it’s nothing compared to the plays that are playing out in front of my mind’s eye.

There is no worse feeling than being in love with someone I shouldn’t be with. But I’m happy about it. This emotion can turn into a veritable treasure trove of mind-expanding ideas. Meaningless love is a bittersweet gift from which I can gain a lesson about myself and the people around me. And hope, no matter how small, puny, and unrealistic it may be, dies last. Sometimes that’s all I need to keep going in this mostly noisy, chaotic, and abandoned by all good spirits world that is waiting for me out there, in front of these light-flooded halls.

God Is Chill

God Is Chill

To do justice to my offensive openness, I don’t want to withhold from you how I fared in my first semester of the Interactive Media program at Technical University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg. In the Basics of Visual Design course, I passed with a grade of 1.7. In the Basics of Three-Dimensional Design course, I passed with a grade of 2.3. In the Basics of Computer Science major, I passed with a grade of 3.3. In the elective Japanese 1, I passed with a grade of 1.7. In addition, I got a few credits for nude drawing and a trip to the Bavarian Forest.

I postponed the exam of Basics of Programming to the next semester because I had not prepared for it sufficiently and had lost faith in humanity after our computer science exam. But praying with my fellow students did help. And that was even though I had learned that you should never demand from God but only ask. And: If you only ever take from God in a crisis but don’t think of him when things are going well, he is first busy forgiving you before he helps you. But apparently, God is more chill than you think. So all I can say is: Thx. And: LYL.

While I’m pleased with the results, I’m also aware that I’ll only be able to master the coming years if I can squeeze the content I need to learn into my head more consistently, more regularly, and with much more commitment. Through the right mix of Anki, repetition, and the Pomodoro technique. I’ll focus on those three strategies. Maybe. I’ve also realized one other thing that I hadn’t finally decided at the beginning of my studies, and that’s what degree I’ll be pursuing. Bachelor of Arts or Science. We have to know that by the third semester.

If the computer science exam gives even a small glimpse of what’s to come, then I’ll try with all my might to cling to the Bachelor of Arts. Otherwise, I might end up empty-handed. You can always justify good or bad art, but computer science is like an out-of-control killer robot. It knows no mercy, only zeros and ones. Pass or fail. Life or death. And I know which side I would be on. Apart from that, I can say that Interactive Media is a lot of fun, rich in variety, and should be interesting for anyone who feels at home in both the artistic and technical worlds.

Most of the entertainment value comes from fellow students with whom you struggle through lectures, trainings, and exams. Unfortunately, I can no longer claim to be a freshman. This temporally very limited term, in connection with my no longer quite so dewy person, had always led to wide eyes and the one or other stuttering in people facing me. I’m excited to see what new adventures await us in the second semester and will spend the next few weeks reviewing the basics of programming to get through the postponed exam just fine as well.

You Can Have Alone Time When You’re Dead

You Can Have Alone Time When You’re Dead

My biggest concern when I started college wasn’t about the courses, the professors, or future fears about what I would do with the degree once I had it in my pocket, but how the other students would react to me. After all, I was twice their age in my late 30s. Most of them could have been my children. I was already mentally preparing myself to spend the next few years in isolation. While the president of the university gave a speech, the campus was packed with young people scurrying back and forth, equally confused and full of nervousness.

In between the guided tours, through the buildings, the city, and the room where the beer fridge throned, I got into conversation with my fellow students. Gradually, the more or less fashionably dressed puppets turned into interesting characters with names, pasts, and humor. I realized that they were just normal people, each of whom also had their fears, hopes, and dreams. And they were all as excited as I was, just for different reasons. A week full of parties, I no longer felt any fear of not being able to make friends because of my advanced age.

When I entered the cafeteria the following Monday, the first familiar heads were already smiling at me. Hey, Marcel! I heard from one of the tables cheerfully call over. I grinned back, followed the hustle and bustle, and sat down on a free seat amid my new companions. Of course, I’m still the old fart. Just like Kerstin is the stoner, Jonas is the farter, and Dana is the one who got mounted in a fire truck. I’m not the only one who gets stupid looks from other students I don’t know yet, no, everyone has to carry their baggage in whatever way.

Since that fateful first week, various friendships have emerged from the hundreds of encounters that have taken me all over the city, to buoyant apartments, clubs, and bars. No matter where I go, I catch sight of familiar faces everywhere. Not only from my university, but also from friends, roommates, and relationships of those who didn’t avoid me because of my difference, but, on the contrary, invited me into their lives with open arms. Of course, I still have to listen to one or two stupid comments from time to time. But that’s just part of it.

As we stumble out of Iveta’s apartment, hooting loudly, and smelling of tequila, wine, and popcorn schnapps, into the nearest convenience store to buy a few more road beers, I glance down the brightly lit street. People are streaming through it. There is laughter, singing, and dancing in the buildings. I am, now, at this moment, part of this backdrop, this ensemble, these stories. Because I have dared to do something and have not closed myself off from the unknown. Since one truth is certain: You can have alone time when you’re dead.

Feelings Without a Name

Feelings Without a Name

In the most unexpected situations, I meet people whose existence fascinates me so much that I can hardly comprehend it. It’s not like I’m overwhelmed with love, hate, or pity. Because the affection I feel for the person doesn’t fit into the emotional template into which I’ve squeezed all previous encounters. It’s not love because I’m not consumed by jealousy, desire, or grief. It’s not hate because I finally feel a touch of empathy again. And it’s not pity because any supposed fragility I see in the other is merely a reflection of my own inadequacies.

The more interesting I find another girl, the more I naturally want to know about her. Even the smallest banalities that no one else is aware of, become significant, important, and even overrated. The intangibility of a different being can drive me crazy if I’m not careful. Not only can’t I find a definition for my own sensations, no, I don’t even manage to file the other person away in shelf-like categories. Because every encounter brings new insights and I feel compelled to shatter again the theories of the previous day that were already set in stone.

Maybe I project too much into the breathing body in front of me. Maybe there is nothing over there. Maybe it’s just a normal girl who wants to cope with herself and the chaotic world around her and has enough to do with that alone, and I just imagine being just a little bit infatuated with her and her secrets, because I can thereby ignore the complexity of my own life for a short time. I can only receive the happiness of myself when I have found out how the other person defines happiness. After all, reality will be able to wait that long for me.

I rack my brain over the question which emotion I feel now. If I could think of a name for it, it would be easier to find a way to deal with it, to put it aside, to cope with it. I’m not even sure if it’s a real feeling that’s buzzing around in my head, or if it’s just a figment of my imagination because I’ve got too much time to think about it. The feeling without a name is too strong to ignore but too weak to deal with it. So I carry it around out of a creeping habit and wait anxiously for the moment when it knocks again on the door of my world of thoughts.

The worst thing about the nameless feeling is that I may have no right to it. I’m nothing more than some random guy in the background. Maybe it doesn’t even make sense to find a meaning for it. Because it can disappear as quickly as it came. Soon the girl has moved on again. On to new scenes, people, and stories. While I linger in the backdrop that has just been abandoned by the spotlight and is about to dissolve, gazing after the once so disarmingly smiling silhouette, only to have forgotten shortly afterward that the feeling without a name ever existed.

A Student for Life

A Student for Life

After the more or less sudden end of AMY&PINK, I felt lost. For fifteen years, I had put all my energy into a project that used to be full of fun, passion, and hopes at the beginning and towards the end was just a slowly languishing burden. I sank into idleness. The days passed me by. Was today Tuesday or already Friday? February or September? What year was it anyway? I couldn’t get myself up for anything productive and spent days, weeks, months scrolling through Reddit, YouTube, and Pornhub by turns. From sunrise to sunset. And vice versa.

By my late 30s, my life seemed to be already over. What was there to come of it now? Except a heart attack from too many frozen pizzas, too little exercise, and too much jerking off to dubious porn. The only things that kept me alive were the interminable voicemails from my good friend Hannah, who probably knew me better than I knew myself at this point, the programming course that the employment office forced on me so that I wouldn’t be completely useless to society, and the fact that I was much too lazy and cowardly to commit suicide.

On a hot summer day, I went to Munich. After I had bought a coffee-table book about Japanese pop culture in a bookstore, I sat down on a free bench on my way back into the center to leaf through it a bit. I noticed that I was in front of the city’s university. Young people were milling about the grounds, chatting, laughing. Some were in a hurry, others were sitting on the grass. There was a boisterous mood. The large buildings watched over the small figures, most of them scurrying around frantically, whose future would be formed in them.

Two fashionable women had taken a seat next to me. The blonde proudly told me that her little sister had registered just in time for the entrance exam for the upcoming winter semester. The brunette marveled somewhat exaggeratedly. I hope she gets in! For sure! I found it a little sad that I never had the opportunity to also lead the exciting existence of a student. When I got back home, I was interested in what I was allowed to study with my qualification. Communication design. Graphic design. Interactive media. The last one sounded cool.

I filled out the application form from the nearest university. After that, everything happened quickly. I was invited to the entrance exam. I was invited to an interview. I was sent the application for enrollment. Then I was a student. A few weeks earlier, I had thought that my life was over, that there was nothing more to come, that all my dreams had been dreamed and all my hopes buried, but suddenly I found myself in a new story, with new goals, new tasks and new people. An unexpected adventure had begun. After all, I’m a student for life.

People Who Stare at Streets

People Who Stare at Streets

Yusuke looks out the window. Under the voice of his late wife houses, trees, and the sea fly past him. He doesn’t notice that another person is sitting in front of him in the red Saab 900 Turbo, while he fills in the sentences’ gaps with his own words. Misaki will soon get him to a place where he can finally find himself. I watched Drive My Car by Ryusuke Hamaguchi last night. The movie, based on Haruki Murakami’s short story, recounts the experiences of two people whose fateful encounter no one could have foreseen - least of all themselves.

Successful stage actor and director Yusuke lives in Tokyo and is married to the mysterious Oto, a beautiful playwright with whom he shares a peaceful life despite a painful past. When Oto dies, Yusuke is left with unanswered questions and the regret that he couldn’t, and didn’t want to, truly understand her. Two years later, Yusuke accepts an offer to direct a production of Uncle Vanya in Hiroshima. There he learns upon arrival, that for legal reasons he is forced to have Misaki, a young chauffeur hiding a traumatic past of her own, drive his car.

Rehearsals progress, and Yusuke and Misaki develop a routine, with the car increasingly becoming an unexpected confessional for both driver and passenger. Less pleasant for Yusuke, however, is the decision to hire Koji, a handsome young television actor with an unwanted connection to his late wife, for the lead role. As the premiere approaches, tensions between the cast and crew grow. Yusuke’s increasingly intimate conversations with Misaki force him to confront uncomfortable truths and uncover haunting secrets left behind by his wife.

Misaki’s character reminds me of someone I know. Her sober, disarming, and perceptive manner invites me to want to know more about her. What does she believe? Why does she think that way? And who or what made her who she is today? The conversations in Drive My Car are like dances with the purpose of building bridges to other people. Stone by stone, inch by inch. With each new day, the chance arises for two people to open up a little further to the other, only to be rewarded with new insights - no matter how painful they may be.

Only those who haven’t even begun to try to understand Drive My Car would describe it as calm. Every scene is seething, bursting with human emotions and expectations. The movie is adult in the truest sense of the word. Its characters have shed any childishness, any banality, indeed any trace of joie de vivre, and try with their last ounce of strength to maneuver themselves safely through the thicket of painful memories, only to have to admit to themselves at the end that they cannot drive away from the past - not even in a red Saab 900 Turbo.

When the Voice of an Entire Generation Fell Silent

When the Voice of an Entire Generation Fell Silent

Even today, more or less strangers still ask me by email, letter, and shouting through the open window what happened to AMY&PINK. The portal of good humor. The party ship of Berlin’s newcomers. The voice of a generation that never wanted to grow up, partied for three days in Berghain, and woke up one morning in the ruins of their denial of reality. The reflexive answer to the exceedingly individual question of why AMY&PINK no longer exists is: I don’t know. Maybe things just have to end at some point, before they are artificially kept alive.

At the beginning of the new decade, AMY&PINK was the digital destination for rebels, hipsters, and avant-gardists. We were invited by brands like Sony, Mercedes, and Microsoft to events all over Germany, Europe, and the world. New York, Toronto, and London. Rome, Shenzhen, and Los Angeles. Lisbon, Monaco, and Las Vegas. To get drunk with Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams, and Frank Ocean. All because we wrote weird things on the internet, using swear words all the time, and posted vomiting naked girls and swastikas made of cocaine.

The problem became that I continuously maneuvered AMY&PINK into a spiral of what the fucks, from which I soon couldn’t get the site out. While in the beginning, everything was funny, ironic, and over the top, at some point a completely far-fetched professionalization of the content took hold. On the one hand, we had to be more blatant than everyone else to keep readers interested, on the other hand, advertisers demanded less exposed private parts on the front page. At some point, more and more irrelevant articles took over the front page.

If I were even a touch as cool as I’ve pretended to be in my articles, I should have doused AMY&PINK with gasoline years ago, set it on fire, and let it explode behind me in cinematic slow motion as I walked crazily smiling toward the camera. But I’m not cool. And I can’t let go that easily either. After all, the page views continued to be quite good. But in the end, I put way too much time into saving AMY&PINK that I should have rather invested in important things. Getting a real job. Having children, planting trees, building houses, stuff like that.

So one fine morning I sat down in front of my laptop with a hot coffee and purged the server. And I felt nothing. Nothing at all. It was finally over. Better late than never. I’ve learned a lot from AMY&PINK and the people who even had anything to do with it. But now it’s time to let it rest and start something new. After all, the world out there is huge and the possibilities to find happiness are limitless. You just have to have the courage to let go, to reach out to the unknown and let it lead you to new adventures - before it’s finally too late.

Songs From Another World

Songs From Another World

When I finally got my driver’s license in my early 20s and raced my mother’s bright red Seat Ibiza through the streets of my hometown, crisscrossing back and forth, there was no hip hop, no techno, and no Britney Spears blaring from my speakers. No. It was the then-new single by a Japanese pop musician. Kumi Koda was her name. Butterfly was the song. My girlfriend at the time, sitting huddled in the passenger seat, was ashamed of me as we drove past the local ice cream parlor, the school, and the outdoor pool. With Butterfly at full volume.

Of course, it makes absolutely no sense that I listen to Japanese music. I’m, surprise, not Japanese after all. But with songs like First Love, Secret Base, and Rewrite, I can rhyme together own stories in my head. Imagine my own personal closing credits. Fantasize my life on the other side of the world. J-pop exudes the same kind of magic you had as a kid, listening to foreign songs on the radio and not yet having to understand what bullshit was being sung about in them. Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby? Uh, no thanks, I’d rather not.

Japanese music is melodic, emotional, and has an intangible power that can otherwise only be experienced by accidentally standing between sweaty weebs armed with two to seven Canon SLR cameras and a sixteen-year-old girl dressed as Rem from Re:Zero at an anime convention. These songs are the anthems of my own little screwed up world. The Japanese music industry doesn’t care if I listen to their songs. Adore the stars. Watch the music videos. I don’t exist for them. J-pop is a huge personal playlist. Just for me. I can dance to it. Laugh. Cry.

J-pop isn’t cool. Japanese people like Swedish indie bands, American rappers, and British DJs. But not a bunch of pasted-up Yukis who greasy pimp managers threw together into a so-called idol group, and now bounce up and down and back and forth to poppy beats until something inside them breaks. Because they realize that middle-aged office workers want to mount them. And that they are subsequently replaced by younger models after their crisis of purpose, often accompanied by shaving off their hair and crying in front of TV cameras.

I’m fully aware that with the revelation that I love J-pop, I have lost any chance of future sexual intercourse with another human being. Forever. But I can’t pretend to like people like Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, or Ed Sheeran anymore. It just doesn’t work. Their songs. Their stories. Their thoughts. They don’t mean anything to me. Nothing. Instead, I sit here, close my eyes, and listen to Perfume, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and Babymetal with absolute pleasure. As they confidently sing about sekai, dokidoki, and hanabi. And I’m happy. Truly happy.

The Transience of Written Words

The Transience of Written Words

This blog has changed again and again over the past years. From the little diary of a Bavarian media designer to the story collection of creative minds spread all over Germany. From the bible of Berlin nightlife to the tabloid newspaper for hipsters. From a digital news site to a never-sleeping ticker of viral happenings. Until at some point, I was faced with a sheer monstrosity of false expectations and hopeless prospects. This website wanted to be everything but collapsed from not being able to do anything right. For a variety of reasons.

I had forgotten what this blog was really about and wanted to stay relevant at all costs. In this fast-paced media world. With my eyes forward, there was only one choice: Keeping up. Keeping up with the news. Keeping up with the trends. Keeping up with the loud and shiny and flashing. At some point, I was just blindly churning out news, lookbooks, gossip, YouTube videos, shitstorms, and boobs in a completely irrelevant mix. The blog had filled to bursting point with nonsense and bullshit. By the end, all I wanted was for it to be over.

One last night, soaked in cheap wine from the convenience store, I rummaged through the old texts. The ones I had published when blogs were just getting big. When life was still a game. When all seemed right with the world. The ones that had long since been lost in digital nirvana and pounded with a cement block of meaninglessness. I read them. And they were good. Those ten-year-old lyrics about love, dreams, and the expectations of an entire generation, they were better than most of what I had published in the past few years.

I realized that there was only one way to save my blog. And that was to do the exact opposite of what I saw as my task in the past years. I want the writing that appears on this blog to be relevant not just in the next ten minutes, but in the next ten years. Someone in the far distant future, when hoverboards really can hover and we fly to some kind of space spring break over the weekend, should read them and think to themselves: this speaks from my soul. It inspires me to try something new. I should show this to those I like and love.

My blog should once again become a small, peaceful garden amid a jungle full of nonsense. Where everyone has fun, no matter if they want to indulge in the profoundly formulated transience of being or just marvel at a few pretty words about even prettier adventures. Everybody is welcome to look around and take the thoughts and opinions with them that they think are important, right, or simply amusing. I would be happy if I could continue to accompany you as a reader a little bit on your turbulent life, entertain, and inspire - doing it my way.