14: Ask San Anything Vol. 2

I am doing NaBloPoMo this month. 30 blog posts in 30 days. Come join me. #nablopomo2022

More AMA questions answered. Have you been enjoying these kinds of posts as much as I have? So fun to learn more (random) things about you all.

From Meike: If you could live anywhere, where would you be?

My favorite city is Boston. If no other factors needed to be taken into consideration, I’d move to Boston in a heartbeat. The runner-up would be a beach house somewhere on the California Coast.

From Stephany: Why did you start blogging and what keeps you blogging all these years later?

I started blogging back in 2002. Blogging was all the hype back then and I thought it would be a great way to stay in touch with family and friends back home. I think my first blog was set up on Yahoo Pages and then I had iterations on LiveJournal and Xanga (do you remember Xanga?) before I moved permanently to WordPress. I originally blogged in German (because it was mostly for my friends and family back home), but in 2004 I started to also blog in English and quickly found an online community.

I used to be an avid letter writer as a teenager and young adult and transitioning to blogging just seemed like the natural progression. I realize that letters are more personal than blogs, but blogs reach a lot more people and the community aspect is just wonderful, especially when you live far away from family and friends and don’t have a large local network. I also just simply enjoy the writing process – and having some kind of “record” to look back through – and connecting with like-minded people. No doubt, I’ve made some lifelong friendships through blogging.

From Birchie: Have you ever had a pet? and NGS: I know you don’t have any pets, but would you ever want one? What kind? If not, why not?

I know it’s hard to believe and kind of sad, but no, I’ve never had a pet (unless you count the three weeks I owned a budgie when I was six. My great-aunt had given my sister and me a pair of budgies for our 6th birthday without getting consent from my parents. They were not thrilled and arranged it so that when we got back from our Easter skiing vacation a few weeks later, the budgies – which “stayed with friends” while we were away – never returned home. Cruel!).

I’d definitely like to have a pet, it just hasn’t been feasible for one reason or another in the past. Jon and I have talked extensively about getting a cat (which seems less work than a dog, although I love dogs as well), but we currently live in a rental where pets aren’t allowed. We’ve also talked about if a smaller animal (e.g. a guinea pig) would be a possibility, but my biggest worry – and what is really holding us back, I think – is that I wouldn’t know what to do with the pet when we travel. We don’t really have a local trusted circle of friends who we could ask to take care of our pet if we’re going to Germany, for example. I think this is the biggest reason why we haven’t pursued harder getting a pet over the years because it is a responsibility I’d take very seriously. I also have a lot of respect for pet ownership. While Jon did have some smaller pets when he grew up (a guinea pig, a tortoise), we both aren’t experienced at all.

Also from NGS: Do you ever reread books? What book have you reread the most?

I have reread books. Not very often, but there’s a few I have reread. One of them is “Olivia and Jai” by Rebecca Ryman. I actually want to reread again, because it’s been such a long time. I usually opt to read new books though (there are too many that I am interested in), but sometimes there’s a good reason to revisit one that I have already read in the past. It’s also fascinating that sometimes your perception and reception of a book can change. I definitely think that with books timing can play a huge role.

I am currently rereading the “Outlander”-Series. When the newest book – book 9 of the series – came out last year, seven years had passed since book 8 had been published and my memory had gotten fuzzy on people and the timeline of events. So I decided to reread all the books in the series (which are all tomes!) before picking up the latest book. Needless to say, it’s been taking me a while getting through them but I’ve been enjoying it very much. There’s so many details I had forgotten about.

From Zenaida: You mentioned in a comment that you almost became a teacher too. What happened? Why didn’t you?

I received a Master’s Degree (with teaching credentials) in Geography, English, and Physical Education from a German University. I would have probably gone into the second part of (in-school) teacher training if I had stayed in Germany, but since I moved to California after college, I used my MA to pursue an internship in science. I don’t think the teaching credentials would have transferred easily and I would have had to do more schooling here to become a teacher in the US system. My heart wasn’t set on teaching, so I was happy I could switch gears and pursue science instead.

From Elisabeth: What is a go-to mood booster in your life?

I realize that this might sound cliché, but my biggest mood booster is getting out for a run. If I feel down, I know that moving my body and spending some time outdoors will fix whatever is bothering me. Or, if not fix it, I will definitely feel a lot calmer upon my return. Running clears my head like hardly anything else. I can prove this with the happy smile that running puts on my face after (almost) every run (see above). For me, the endorphins are very real.

Also from Elisabeth: What’s the best life lesson you’ve learned in the last year?

Wow, that is a good question. I think one of the best life lesson from this last year is that you have to accept people for who they are. I could give a few examples, but the most recent reminder was when I traveled this summer with my family and Jon opted out of the road trip. I would lie if I said that I wasn’t disappointed. I wanted him to be part of it, but I also know that he would have been miserable. As much as he loves my family, this type of intense travel wouldn’t have been his thing. People are different and we have to accept that, even if it’s not always easy, or what we’d prefer. It was kind of an “aha”-moment for me when NGS shared that her ideal vacation was one without her husband.

Also from Elisabeth: What’s your favourite song right now?

I am currenty loving contemporary piano music, especially these two pieces: Chance Harbor by Mark Pinkus and Meditation 22 by Riopy. (The latter is used by Peloton Instructor Kristin McGee in her meditation classes and I loved it so much that I downloaded it to my phone, so I can listen to it whenever I want.) I’d really love to learn to play both of these pieces on the piano some day (when I have access to my piano again).

What is your favorite song right now?

You can submit more questions here.

  1. I love these posts! It’s as fun to see what people ask as to read your responses!

    What attracts you to the sciences? And what exercises would you turn to if you were suddenly unable to run?

    1. I’ve always been interested in science, questioning how things work and theories behind it. I also had a very good geography teacher in high school, who probably was the reason why I ended up studying geography. She was just so enthusiastic and explained things really well.

      I’d be very sad if I wasn’t able to run anymore, but I also cycle, do yoga, strength training and I think I’d just shift my focus to that.

  2. My favorite song right now is “Mastermind” from Taylor Swift’s new album. Paul loves it, too (he’s a big TS fan). He has a knack for picking up song lyrics so I have to be very careful about what I play in the car with him!

    1. I have to admit, I haven’t even listened to the new album.

  3. I am really loving these AMA posts!!

    I didn’t realize that traveling without a spouse was weird or controversial until my SIL pulled
    me aside to mention that some people in the family were concerned about the state of our marriage because I travel without him! Ha!

    I agree that going outside is really the crucial piece to getting me out of a bad mood. I don’t necessarily need to go for a run, although exercise helps. I get to take the dog out for three walks a day, though, so I usually get outside plenty during the day. I do understand why you don’t have a pet if you don’t have a consistent pet sitter. Getting someone to watch our girls is always a top priority before we ever make vacation plans and that’s not always easy.

    1. Honestly, I am glad that you’re also someone who travels with her husband, because people have definitely inquired why I am not traveling with Jon. (It’s not like I never travel with him, but I definitely travel alone a lot more.)

  4. I’m currently listening to Chance Harbour – it’s gorgeous!

    I love upbeat music with lyrics that I can play really, really loud. It’s odd, since I’m an introvert that needs calm and quiet to recharge, but playing music loudly (I mean, not so that it hurts my ears, but so that it just surrounds me) is one of my biggest mood boosters.

    Currently loving:
    Joy by Andy Grammar
    Wake Up by Run River Run
    Larger Than Life by Pinkzebra
    It’s Okay + Sharks + Symphony all by Imagine Dragons
    Weird Goodbyes by The National/Bon Iver
    Living My Best Life by Ben Rector

    Phew – that’s a lot more than one…but wow I really love music.

    Also, I’ve been home alone with sick kids for almost a week and I’ve only been putting in the bare minimum of exercise (1 km walking/day)…and it is really starting to make me restless. I think they’ll both be able to go to school tomorrow and I plan to walk them there and then run a nice, fast run to get some endorphins again! Food hasn’t even tasted as good…because I’m just not hungry at meals without more walking/running. I *could* have hopped on the treadmill, but it is just too depressing to run inside in the basement when it’s gorgeous outside.

    1. I am so glad you like Chance Harbour – I randomly came across it on a music station and I instantly fell in love with it. Thanks for sharing your list – I will have to check these songs out because I don’t know any of them.

  5. I’m always impressed by the quality of questions people are asking! It’s interesting that your response to where you would live is “Boston.” Not that it’s a bad choice- but it’s interesting that of all the places in the world, you have such a strong feeling about that city. I’m not sure if I could answer that question right now- there are too many choices for me to pick one.
    You know how I feel about the perfect mood booster! Lately I’ve been trying to run on trails whenever possible, and that even takes it up a notch further.

    1. I agree – people have asked interesting and thought-provoking questions. So fun.

  6. Favorite song right now: While My Guitar Gently Weeps from The Beatles. We had a dinner conversations about movies we liked with good music and “Kubo and the Two STrings” came up (which is an marvelous movie not only for the music) and I started listening to that song again.
    Boston is a good choice. It felt very European to me when I visited a friend a couple of years back (actually, must have been over 14 already because I was pregnant at the time with my daughter)and it’s closer to Germany ;)

    1. I do not know that movie – putting it on my list :)

      Yes, Boston definitely feels very European to me too. It was the first city I visited in the US when I was 17 and it has a special place in my heart ever since.

  7. Another Outlander fan here. Although I didn’t do a reread of the books before I read number 8, I had been watching the TV series.

    1. Oh yay, glad to hear you’re an Outlander fan :) I avoided the TV series for a long, long time because I had such vivid images of the characters in my head and didn’t want to ” destroy” that, but I caved last year and have been watching…

  8. I love Riopy and I use it often in my yoga classes.
    I agree on meeting people and accepting where they are. It’s just so much mentally healthier than wishing they were different. Totally agree.
    I am 1000000% into Christmas music at the moment. I’m playing Charlie Brown Christmas on my piano and my Christmas playlist around the house. Two faves on that playlist: Last Christmas and Driving Home For Christmas.

    1. So happy to hear you like Riopy, too… I want to check out more of his work!!

  9. I love Kristin McGee. She’s a big part of why I got into the Peloton class eco-system! I have an old DVD of her and Bethenny from Real Housewives(!) doing a great 45-minute yoga flow. I almost always feel a full body stretch from her routines. My other two faves are Anna G and Nico, although Aditi’s Riopy flow is a great class!

    1. Oh wow, you’re a long time fan of Kristin’s then…. she’s definitely my favorite Yoga instructor on the Peloton platform! Anna, Denis and Ross are great too.

  10. So fun. And I did learn a few new things. Exciting. Now I wonder if I should do a list like this. Seems like it is theme this year…

    1. Ha, I am glad you DID learn something new… ;)

  11. I can understand why you may not want to have a pet, especially with the long visits you take to Germany! Even though my cats are so much less work than my dog was, I do always have to arrange for someone to look in on them when I go on vacation. Thankfully, my mom’s work bestie’s daughter has a pet-sitting business so that makes it so easy for me!

    My favorite songs right now are off Taylor Swift’s new album. It’s so good!

  12. San, thank you SO much for sharing that beautiful music! I absolutely love contemporary piano – started with George Winston (ooh, now that I think about it I need to start playing his December album…) and have been looking for other artists for ever!
    I knew you loved Boston, and it makes total sense that it seems European to you. Moreso than any other East Coast city, in my opinion (e.g., NYC, Philly, DC).
    And I get the pet thing, too – that’s what I struggle with, to be honest. Well, and the fact that my apt. is way too small for a dog (even a little one) and I’m allergic to cats (despite really not minding them too much…).

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