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My History of Glasses

My collection of glasses | No Apathy Allowed

I didn’t start wearing glasses until I was in college.  One day I went to renew my driver’s license and was horrified to find out that I failed the eye exam.  As a child I didn’t have any problems with my eyesight, but it slowly deteriorated after many years in front of books and computer screens.  I hated the glasses I bought and wore them only for driving or for seeing the chalkboard in lecture halls (back in the olden days before PowerPoint).   Glasses just didn’t fit the image I had of myself and I didn’t think it would ever be possible to like wearing glasses.  As soon as I could, I made the switch to contact lenses and pretty much abandoned glasses completely.

But due to a funny twist of fate, I ended up working for an optometrist in downtown Seattle for a couple of years before I headed to grad school in New York. Let’s just say, it didn’t take long for my coworkers to help me find a cool pair of glasses that I loved.  And thanks to our wholesale employee discount on frames and lenses, I soon had an impressive collection of at least half-a-dozen pairs of glasses.  They became a fun accessory that I actually enjoyed wearing — who knew?

Over the years my tastes changed and so did my prescription.  By the time I moved to Germany, I had three pairs of glasses with updated prescriptions that remained my favorites — my red Lafonts, my black and white Lafonts, and a mauve pair of half-rimmed Modos.*  But even I have to admit that my frames from the early 2000s are definitely no longer at the height of fashion (surprise, surprise).  Plus, my eyesight had worsened over the last couple of years — should have known that a PhD would destroy it even further — so I bit the bullet last month and finally bought a new pair of glasses.

My collection of glasses | No Apathy Allowed
One of these is not like the others…

After reading about Kate’s awesome experience with Ace & Tate, I played around with the idea of ordering different frames to try on at home before deciding which ones I like best.  But I knew my image of myself in glasses was very dated — almost all my old glasses are cat-eye shaped, if that tells you anything — and that it would be difficult to have an objective view of which frames actually look best on me.  Sometimes it’s just easier for someone who doesn’t really know you at all to help you find something both suitable and stylish — I had experienced that plenty of times from the opposite perspective with our patients back in Seattle.  So I made an appointment at a highly recommended optical practice** in Bremen and placed my trust in their experience.

It actually didn’t take too long to find the pair, although I don’t think I would have stumbled upon them if I had been left to my own devices.   The frames are matte and olive green with a bit of tortoiseshell design that adds a hint of transparence from certain perspectives.  Although it’s a total coincidence, I also love that they’re made by Hamburg Eyewear as part of their Heimat & Hafen (Home & Harbor) collection — just seems so fitting somehow.  The lenses are indeed quite a bit larger than what I was previously used to, so it has taken a bit of time for me to adjust, but I couldn’t be happier!

My new glasses | No Apathy Allowed
The new pair!

I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to update the lenses in my old frames yet.  For now I’m content with having just one pair.  But it won’t be too many years before I’ll start needing reading glasses (yikes!), so maybe I’ll just hang on to them and put them to good use then?!

Do you wear glasses?  Love them or hate them?  Do you bring friends with you to try on new frames?

* This might be a good place to make clear that this post is not sponsored in any way, shape, or form.  Actually, that’s always the case on my blog, but it’s perhaps worth pointing out.

** It works a bit differently here in Germany than in the US.  For new glasses or contact lenses, you visit a highly trained optician, while you save your visit to the eye doctor for dealing with issues related to eye health (glaucoma, infections, etc.).  Admittedly I was a bit skeptical of this at first, but it worked out just fine.

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Five Senses Friday no. 60

Alexander von Humboldt has dropped anchor in Bremen! | No Apathy Allowed
The Alexander von Humboldt has dropped anchor in Bremen!

Wow, another seven days come and gone while I’m busy plotting and planning and dreaming.  Most excitingly, I’m attending an upcoming conference in Lisbon in a couple weeks and you can be sure I will be packing in as much eating and sightseeing as I can manage!  It’s been way too long since my last trip to anywhere other than the usual suspects (Hamburg, Hannover, and Berlin) — could my last real trip have been to Langeoog?  Wow.  Anyway, one week at a time…

Seeing.  In the neighborhood for a flea market, I couldn’t help but notice that the Alexander von Humboldt has recently made it’s home in Bremen’s Europahafen.  Built in 1906 as a firefighting ship, it’s now apparently best known for it’s starring role in Beck’s beer commercials.  Fitting then, that she’s resting not too far from the Beck’s brewery.

Hearing. The birds are also clearly excited for spring!  I swear they’re chirping before I wake up and long after I go to sleep.

Tasting.  Freshly brewed coffee, which I’ve been drinking black these last couple days since I’m apparently too lazy to go pick up some milk.

Smelling.  There’s nothing better than the sea breeze.

Feeling.  My new glasses are digging a bit into my ears, so I’ll have to take them in for an adjustment.  (I’ll be posting about them soon, I promise.)

Feel free to join in if you would like! And for more Five Senses, visit Life Simplistic and Travel with Emily. How has your week been?

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Street Food | The Berlin Village Market

Neue Heimat at RAW

I don’t know about other runners, but after a particularly hard or long run, my body responds best when I keep on moving instead of dropping immediately on the couch for the rest of the day. Even though I usually want to do nothing more than eat and sleep, staying active after the run helps keep my muscles from getting too stiff or sore.

So I was very happy after the Berlin half marathon a couple weeks ago to take a short walk over to the RAW-Gelände with a friend and check out the Berlin Village Market at Neue Heimat, a weekly street food market in Friedrichshain. It’s been around since August of last year, so it’s nothing new to Berliners. But the last time I was at RAW, the two main buildings used for Neue Heimat were either abandoned or occupied by a mega-video game center (glad that’s gone). A former industrial complex, RAW is one of my favorite repurposed public spaces in all of Berlin. When I lived in Friedrichshain, Cassiopeia was my favorite outdoor beer garden/rock climbing facility/outdoor cinema for enjoying the summer weather.

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Neue Heimat at RAW

Anyway, after paying 2 Euros entrance (which had just recently doubled from the previous 1 Euro entrance fee), we were allowed in to the Village Market.*  I immediately zeroed in on the best BLT sandwich in all of Germany and I never let go. I mean, how could you not love bourbon and maple syrup caramelized bacon, cheddar, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and homemade sriracha mayonnaise? SO GOOD you guys. Thanks to the folks at The Future Breakfast for selling this treat. It was the perfect post-race recovery food. (The Süßkartoffel-Kürbis Stampf from another stand was pretty tasty too!)

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The best BLT I've ever had

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The weather that day wasn’t great, so we found ourselves some seats amongst the crowded tables and benches indoors. I was quite tempted to grab a wine or a cocktail to enjoy along with the live jazz band playing, but I smartly stuck to my bottle of water to keep myself hydrated.

All in all, a great post-race afternoon before I had to catch the train back to Bremen.

Have you been to the Berlin Village Market or Neue Heimat before? Any favorite food vendors there? Or are you loyal to one of the other street food events in Berlin?

* Although not expensive, I didn’t love the entrance fee.  Among other things, it seems like a clear effort to exclude certain members of the community.  Which it seemed to do very effectively, by the way, eliminating any real F’hain authenticity (in my opinion.) 

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Five Senses Friday no. 59

Milk chocolate chip cookie and cappuccino | No Apathy Allowed

Friends, I have really gotten out of the habit of blogging and I miss it!  There are a few posts on the horizon, but I thought I would start out nice and easy with a Five Senses Friday, which I haven’t done in a very long time…

Seeing.  I finally just started watching the third season of House of Cards. Such beautiful weather and lots of project deadlines haven’t been conducive to binge watching, so I’m just taking it one episode at a time, like the old days.

Hearing. For the past month I’ve been using an app (Headspace) for daily meditation.  The meditations are guided by Andy Puddicombe, who has this fantastic English accent.  I’m not so great at getting my mind to focus, but I do show up to practice every day, so I guess that counts for something.

Tasting.  At Coffee Corner in Bremen I finally discovered the softest, chewiest milk chocolate chip cookies I have every had in Germany. No disrespect, but I usually avoid German cookies because they’re too crunchy and plain boring. But I have to admit to devouring at least three of these cookies this week alone — which is a habit I cannot sustain, but they sure are yummy!

Smelling.  A neighbor has planted the most amazing flower garden and I just love running by and getting a whiff of all the blossoms.

Feeling.  The sun on my skin!  No explanation needed, right?

Feel free to join in if you would like, and leave a link in the comments — even if you prefer Mondays, like my friend Traci! How has your week been?

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Race Report | Berlin Half Marathon 2015

Race Report: Berlin Half Marathon 2015 | No Apathy Allowed
Geschafft!

Yesterday I did something I’ve never done before — I ran a half marathon without having any idea of my pace. I’ve been training like that for weeks now with the goal of rediscovering my love of running

I had reached a point where I was burnt out on training for speed, as well as a bit overwhelmed with other stuff in my life that required a lot of time and attention. So rather than bail on one of my favorite races, I devoted myself to putting in the training miles, but without the added pressure of trying to achieve a specific pace. I’m a very Type-A person and I love having ALL THE INFORMATION, so the only way for me to do this was to relinquish my GPS-watch completely and instead just run by effort.

Whaddya know, it worked! Suddenly I wasn’t dreading my training runs anymore and I was actually accomplishing all of my planned workouts. Well, until I came down with a(nother) cold during my week of peak training. How frustrating! I missed my longest training run, and it wasn’t until a week ago that I was sure I’d be healthy enough to run the race.  Quite honestly, the Berlin half marathon seemed doomed!  But I wanted to carry this little experiment all the way through to the end, so I made my plans to travel to Berlin and intentionally left my watch behind in Bremen.

And guess what? I had SO much fun!  Along the entire course I made sure to take everything in and just enjoy myself. I mean, how could I not while running through the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie and all through one of my favorite cities in the world?  I had a much better sense of orientation than I did when I ran it for the first time in 2012,and always knew exactly where we were in the city. Part of that is knowing Berlin better these days, but a lot of it has to do with being constantly present and aware while I was running.

Not to say that the race was a piece of cake, by any means.  I felt really strong and that gave me the confidence I needed to push myself and make myself uncomfortable. It was amazing! It was even more amazing because I didn’t do it to achieve a time, but rather because I was having a blast. There was absolutely nothing else in the world that I would have rather been doing than pounding out 13.1 miles on a chilly and damp morning with tens of thousands of other crazy runners.

Mission accomplished, wouldn’t you say?  Today I’m back in Bremen with some sore muscles, but otherwise feeling good. I’m still reflecting on the experience and thinking about how I can carry this feeling forward into my future running and training. I can’t wait!

P.S. For photos along  the actual race route, check out my race report from my last Berlin half marathon, which was on a much sunnier day!

P.P.S. Here are a few other race reports you might enjoy:

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Hamburg | The End of Winter

Life is all about perspective, isn’t it?  When I first moved to Hamburg from New York City in 2008, the city  with its 1.7 million residents seemed impossibly small.  But I grew to love my first home in Germany with all my heart.  Now after spending nearly a year-and-a-half living full-time in Bremen (with about one-third the population), Hamburg almost seems impossibly large to me.

I especially noticed this on my last visit a couple of weekends ago, when I had nothing more on my agenda than to wander the city.  The buildings are taller! The avenues are wider! And the streets are teeming with people!  (Apparently it’s time to start spending more time in big cities again.)

Although that Saturday wasn’t quite what you would consider warm, true to form, the northern Germans did not let the sunny weather go unnoticed.  The entire city — still bundled up in thick down jackets and scarves — streamed outside for coffee and ice cream at the sidewalk cafes. Proving once again that perspective really is what counts. After a very gray and wet winter, I can’t say I blamed them for wanting to make the most of the sunshine.

On the Alster | No Apathy Allowed
On the Alster
On the Alster | No Apathy Allowed
Eilbek
On the Alster | No Apathy Allowed
Winter ice cream
On the Alster | No Apathy Allowed
Reflections
On the Alster | No Apathy Allowed
On the Alster
Hamburger Kunsthalle | No Apathy Allowed
Weiter entdecken. Weiter staunen.

And now just a week or so later, northern Germany is enjoying blue skies and temperatures reaching 60F/15C!  Absolutely luxurious for the beginning of March, let me tell you.  I can hardly believe that a whole year has already passed since last spring, but I’m definitely ready to get this season started.

Is spring approaching in your part of the world?  Or are you still buried under piles of snow? (Sorry NYC and Boston!)  

You might also like these posts about Hamburg:

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For the Love of Running

Pink house early in the morning | No Apathy Allowed
Totally unrelated photo for your enjoyment

I’m not sure if it comes across on this blog or not, but I like to push myself — personally, professionally, athletically.  It’s a way of making sure that I’m being my best self and living life to the fullest.  The upside is that it nearly always leads to something great: speaking a new language, conquering a fear, running faster.  The downside is that I sometimes forget to sit back once in awhile and just enjoy what I’ve accomplished.

Case in point: after hitting a personal best in the half marathon for the second time in a row, I almost immediately signed up for the Berlin Half Marathon in March, with the express purpose of getting closer to my goal of a running a half marathon in under two hours.

But my training since then has been less than ideal.  For one, it’s winter and although I was really doing my best to stick to my training plan — even in the total darkness wearing an awesome headlamp and fluorescent security vest — my motivation was not high.  I was pushing myself hard at work and I was generally just worn out.  Eventually I came down with a cold and took some days off.  And then in the week leading up to my defense, I basically did nothing but work and sleep.

And now staring down the 4+ weeks left until the race, I know I’m in no shape to race a half marathon.  But I still have this incredible desire to run it, just for the love of running.  That’s something I’ve rediscovered lately and it has been my secret motivation: run just because I love it, without a watch and without any idea of my pace.  Harkening back to my early days of running just for the miles and not for the time.  Right now I’m stretching myself beyond my comfort zone in so many other areas of life — so relaxing into my running and enjoying it for what it is, feels absolutely perfect.

I’ll still be hitting the pavement and putting in the miles to train for Berlin, but this time I’ll be concentrating only on the love.

How do you recognize when it’s time to take a break?  Would you run a race without a watch?