Mar 25, 2017

An Open Letter To Those Of You Who Will Meet My Daughter

Hannah is six months old today. She is a bright and bubbly baby. From those of you who will meet her, I have a few favors to ask:

First and foremost, before anything else, please, please, please, don't comment on her looks. She may or may not grow up to have a big nose and big feet, a larger body or a smaller one, thick and wavy or thin, lifeless hair. It mustn't matter! Growing up in our society as a girl is literally sickening, with children as young as four wasting precious lifetime worrying about whether they are pretty enough to deserve love and affection. Eventually, these kids will fall ill with torturous self-doubt, constantly trying to live up to impossible beauty standards instead of enjoying their school years. As much as I can, I want to shelter Hannah from oppression and diet culture, from women complaining about their thighs or pregnancy weight, from people who are cutting sugar and "unhealthy fats" out of their diet under the banner of health. I want Hannah to know that health is possible at every size, and I want her to be allowed to eat intuitively. If you are having her over for dinner, let her eat as much as she wants (as long as everyone has had enough, of course), and don't comment on how little or much she is eating. She will be raised in a house where we do not distinguish good from bad foods, just as we do not distinguish between good and bad people, and where having dessert, if available, is her own free choice.

Secondly, and this is important, too, please do not randomly gift her stuff. I understand that you are meaning well, but already at six months of age, Hannah doesn't need more material things. For now, she has everything her heart desires. If you would like to give her something, kindly ask us what would be helpful to have. A few ideas: one, experiences. Come and visit us or take us on an outing. She loves looking at the world around her. Two, help us save for her education. In Canada, there is a government savings plan where the state contributes up to $700 a year once a certain yearly amount has been saved. Three, if you insist on giving her items like toys and clothing, please check in with us to see if we need them. We have received the same books, clothes and stuffed animals multiple times (again - thank you!), and I'm sure Hannah would be happy to pass on duplicates to charities and local libraries.

Last but not least, if you are a man, do not harass her. Don't whistle at her on the street, don't talk down to her because she was born female, don't expect her to hear you out when you have nothing to say. Don't bore her with your ideas of what a woman should and should not do. Don't tell her where and how to birth her child, should she choose to have one. Should she choose to have an abortion, let her. Don't expect her to settle for less than what she deserves, less pay for the same work, less recognition for the same achievements. Don't expect her to say yes due to a lack of options, she will have plenty. Let her wear what she wants, swear if she wants, say what needs to be said without fear of rejection.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Sep 12, 2015

How I Beat Bulimia, One Therapist At A Time


Trigger warning: This article and pages it links to contain information about eating disorders which may be triggering to survivors. If you are currently suffering from an eating disorder, please call the National Eating Disorder Information Centre ( for North America, the Netzwerk Esstörungen for Switzerland, Germany and Austria, or a similar service in your area. In case of emergency, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (or any similar helpline in your area).
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. All opinions expressed are personal, my own and do not represent the views of my employer. No statement made in this article should be considered official or sanctioned by Sheena's Place
tldr: I suffered from bulimia for eleven years, and have been fully recovered for ten. Therapy, Yoga, food management and feminism helped. There is hope! 

Falling Ill

The first time I threw up on purpose, I was still a child. It was the fall before my twelfth birthday. My parents were at work and I was home alone, watching TV and eating my late lunch of choice: a doner kebab and a pack of toffees. A program came on about eating disorders. A woman explained that she hated the feeling of food in her tummy. She said that she made herself sick after meals: "Like that, I get to eat whatever and however much I want, without a hint of guilt." I sensed that her logic was flawed, but figured her method was worth a try. I, too, liked my food, and I, too, hated feeling guilty. 

It was 1995, Kate Moss had just risen to fame and I was very much concerned with admiring her. I thought if I looked more like her, I would be cooler, more popular, and, paradoxically, better able to express my true self. I was convinced that with just a few kilograms less on my bones, life would be better. The only time that I was happy when I was alone was when I ate. Sugar made me feel sharp and alive - a pleasant change from my familiar depressed state. 
At that point in time, of course, I had never heard of our cerebral reward system or dopamine levels. I had no idea that sugar has similar - if not quite as strong - addictive effects on the brain like heroin. Sticking a finger or two down my throat seemed like a fair compromise. Eat what you want, feel a little uncomfortable - because really, who would waste all this food and money, you don't deserve any better! - lose some weight while you're at it... Little did I know I was embarking on an eleven year long journey that would land me in hospital, damage my teeth, esophagus, stomach, cardiovascular system, and memory, and that I would require nine years of therapy before abusing myself was no longer a necessary coping strategy. And while there was no magic trick that did away with my agony, I found the following factors crucial to my getting better:


In 2015, I have been symptom free for a decade. I am writing this article from a place of mental health that I thought I would never reach. I was certain that bulimia would always be there, waiting to take the edge off a stressful day, just like a drink. That puking was a bad habit that I was to keep, because it was mine, and mine only, and because in all likelihood I would be dead before thirty, and what did it matter? Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illness indeed; if sudden heart attacks, multiple organ failure or other consequences of malnutrition won't kill you, suicide will
Until I hit my late twenties, I was never much of a team player. I was under the impression that I knew exactly how the land lies, or, if not, then that I would be best equipped to figure it out. And yet, surrounded by a family of mental health practitioners, it wasn't long before I clued in on the fact that my eating disorder was nothing I could fix myself. My ability to concentrate was lacking, and my parents' divorce didn't help. I asked for my first therapist at age thirteen. I saw her once a week for two years, but we didn't make too much progress. Surely, part of the problem was that I spent entire sessions just staring at her, like the kids in the movies, without saying a word.
Before I moved away for university at eighteen, my mother and I made an attempt at seeing a family therapist. While I found those sessions utterly nerve wrecking, they were helping. I didn't need to throw up after every meal anymore, and I went weeks without purging after I had settled into my program of study. A compulsory year abroad was bad news, though. A classmate and I shared a flat in a city a twelve hour plane ride from home, and while she fell head-first into the hellhole that is anorexia, my depression returned with full force. Soon enough, I was drinking too much, restricting my food intake, exercising, and barfing again. According to Ann Kerr, a Toronto-based eating disorder specialist at the WaterStone Clinic and the Founding Program Director at Sheena's Place at the time, 40% of bulimics will abuse alcohol at some point in their lives (source). Something needed to happen, and fast. 
Right upon my return, I found myself a new therapist and a support group for girls affected by eating disorders. I still had no interest in planning a future, but I urgently needed someone to talk to, if just to get through the day. It is impossible to say what happened exactly, but by the time I finished university, I was excited enough about life to pursue my writing and apply for a master's program in the UK. I enjoyed meeting people who shared my interests - war and terror, of all things - and I was looking forward to returning to a heady literary scene back in Berlin.
Nevertheless, there was no denying that my depression was severe, and that I was in need of serious treatment. I found my psychoanalyst by looking at a list of recommended names and calling the funniest one. We clicked right away. I credit my psychoanalysis with much of my ability to want a future. It taught me how to set boundaries in a respectable way. It helped me leave constrictive environments and experience what people call emotions.


New Habits

Before Yoga, I perceived my body as unnecessary ballast that my mind was forced to schlep around. I found no joy in movement, as it usually gave me migraines. My limbs were without purpose. For the longest time, I had been preoccupied with negative thinking. I got into Yoga because I craved stillness. I just wanted my thoughts to shut up. Moving through a random set of poses was the only way I knew to be at peace with myself. Over the years, I tried a bunch of different styles and even had a daily practice of Ashtanga Yoga. Currently, I mix gentle Vinyasa Flow with relaxing Restorative. Through Yoga I learned that my body doesn't need to be looked at, it needs to be purposeful. My body needs to be sensed. I no longer perceive it as a prison, but rather a vehicle.

For most addictions, the crucial part of recovery is eliminating the drug of choice. Unfortunately, those of us suffering from an eating disorder can't not eat. Instead, we have to form a new relationship with food. Since the advent of the iPhone, apps like Recovery Record can help log meals and teach coping skills. When I was recovering in 2006, smartphones weren't around. Contrary to the common idea of how bulimics go about their business, I rarely bought large quantities of food to have in one sitting. Rather, I would randomly throw up whatever I had to eat as soon as I could. And then return to eat more. One day, exhausted and in pain, I stopped counting after fourteen times. I was lost in space, and without a plan or structure. In order to get better, I needed to pay more attention to my physical needs, and to set priorities. I looked into the relation of food and mood, and for the first time understood that a well nourished brain makes for happier times. Nowadays, I make homemade meals a priority (which, by the way, saves a ton of money!) and I ensure that I won't go too long without having a healthy-ish snack. 

For many years, insomnia added to my distress. When I was still sick, I had trouble falling asleep every night. In one particularly bad week abroad, I didn't sleep at all in five nights. Recovery from my depression led to improved sleep almost immediately. Likewise, treating insomnia may result in improvements in mental health. This is because the brain systems involved in sleep and psychiatric disorders tend to overlap. Insomnia, like depression, is a female disorder. The prime risk factor for it is being a woman. ad for #NOdietday
I had to turn twenty-six before I first paid attention to feminism - I really wish I would have done so sooner. Grasping the extent of the constant exploitation of women's minds and bodies helped me make better choices in life. As Naomi Klein writes in The Beauty Myth
"A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.” 
And as Dr. Blake Woodside says in the clip I added below:

"If this were an illness of middle aged men, like prostate cancer, there would be a treatment centre in every hospital in this country." 

It suddenly dawned on me that wasting my mental and physical energy on bulimia had effects not only on myself, but the society I was a part of. Every minute I spent with my head in a toilet bowl was a minute I missed making a difference. I didn't want to live my life like that. Feminism taught me that my throat is good for more than throwing up and blowing men: I have a voice I get to use in any way I please. 
Owning Bulimia
Eating disorders are hard to talk about. I had all sorts of ideas about what would happen if I would tell someone. Nothing much ever did, but I also didn't quite tell anyone. In fact, most of my friends and family probably don't know that this is something I struggled with, and over so many years. But I am no longer ashamed. Eating disorders are not a choice, and they are not about food. It's ok to let people in.

Feb 1, 2015

Drawing the "Underwaterdawn" Winners - Congratulations!

Hi guys, thanks everyone so much for your interest in my poetry collection - I'll be in touch with the three winners shortly! :)

Dec 13, 2014

We Poets Know Nobody Cares (plus Giveaway!)

Poetry is a lonely endeavour. Not just its writing and editing, also its publishing. I once heard that the average German poetry collection has a first edition of 200. And even if these 200 sell out, their production cost won't be covered.

Poetry is the expensive tapestry that no one values; it has been hanging in the weekend house, collecting dust, and yet it is too precious to discard.

Most of the people I know who like poetry write their own, too. The audience of a poetry reading consists of these friends, other poets who hope for a reading, the hosts, perhaps a publisher, and, if you get lucky and there is no cover charge, one or two regulars. We poets know nobody cares.

I understand. Or, rather: I oscillate between a fair amount of sympathy for the public disinterest in my art form and its utter incomprehension. Editing line breaks is a quaint - albeit oddly satisfying - activity. And yet I'm still surprised to see that Google Maps knows of only one poetry museum and only one poetry library, in Washington D.C. and London respectively. Bookstores are dying, and with them narrow shelves of dated volumes. Soon, Plath and Hughes will be a distant memory. Already it feels like poetry never happened.

The educational system and the mainstream media don't help. To the wider public, poetry still is a country estate ruled by dying old white men, catered to by minority groups with immigrant accents.

There is a disconnect between what people see and poets say. No wonder that contemporary poetry remains unknown and, by extension, tragically irrelevant. Unless we add some music and a sexy dress, our work will go unnoticed.

And while we might be comfortable in our corners and desk chairs, we aren't comfortable in our inconsiderableness. By the inaccessible nature of our art, our influence on society is frustratingly limited. To the audience, we are not painters or photographers. More often than not, our peculiarities are too peculiar for the front page.

I can only speculate about the origin of this estrangement. A lack of visibility, perhaps a perpetual missing of the right place and time in world history, and no real opportunity for dialogue.

Let's talk. Let me approach the indifferent among you by sharing the story behind my new poetry collection's opening poem, "narcoses".


i walk out on you for
watching you sit is unstayable
forehead of yours and my eyes
as if glued to your chest and
in mine still a fear of the
three different types of narcosis
this moment so long still
you lie on our night when
you wallow like blood through
the cells (and space is but
the darkest blot on charts)
me walks away from you for
staying is unsitable and
thinking of sharing myself
with myself here won’t do me
like you.  

Narcoses is a poem about consciousness. And a hot anesthetist I met over dinner one night. A mutual friend had invited us out for Korean. I was still relatively new to Berlin, in the final stretch of a relationship with a doctoral candidate and I could use the distraction.

The guy sat down opposite me and we started talking. Amongst other things, he told me about the three different ways he puts patients to sleep: by oral medication, gas, and injection. In a surprising pang of attraction, I regretted that he was off-limits.

I went home soon, pondering life in an alternate universe. The delta of chance, appeal and restraint was a little too much; the enigma of life too mysterious.

In its German original title, "narcoses" is "three kinds of numb". Clumsy sounding words throughout the poem ("unsitable", "unstayable") mimic the uneasy situation I was in. While last three lines, "thinking of sharing myself with myself here won't do me like you" are intentional  references to masturbation and intercourse, I was actually referring to a notional connection between strangers.

The German Original
Click here for the German version of this article including a German recording of the poem and its written German original.
I am giving away three copies of Underwaterdawn. If you'd like one, send an email with the subject line "Underwaterdawn" to mail [at] anninaluzieschmid [dot] net before 31 January 2015. Don't forget to include your full name and mailing address.
Support and Buy
Underwaterdawn can be ordered at the cost of 16,90€ plus shipping at any bookstore (ISBN-10: 3981506197 or ISBN-13: 978-3981506198), via my publisher’s online shop, via email (recommended when ordering from outside Germany) or via Reviews on Amazon would also really help. Other than that, a share of this article will be greatly appreciated. Thanks you.

If you are a blogger or member of the press and would like a reviewer's copy of Underwaterdawn, please get in touch with my publisher. We would love to hear from you. 

Wir Poeten wissen, dass sich niemand für uns interessiert (plus Verlosung!)

Poesie ist ein einsames Unterfangen. Nicht nur ihr Verfassen und Redigieren, auch ihre Veröffentlichung. Ich habe gehört, dass die durchschnittliche Erstauflage von deutschsprachigen Lyrikbänden bei 200 liegt. Und, dass die Produktionskosten nicht gedeckt sind, selbst wenn sich diese 200 verkaufen.

Poesie ist der Wandteppich, den niemand wertschätzt. Er hängt hinter dem Sofa im Wochenendhaus, verstaubt, und ist zu wertvoll für den Sperrmüll.

Die meisten Leute, die ich kenne, die Gedichte lesen, schreiben selbst ein paar. Das Publikum bei Lyriklesungen besteht aus diesen Freunden, anderen Dichtern, die auf eine  Lesung hoffen, den Gastgebern, vielleicht einem Verleger, und, mit viel Glück und bei freiem Eintritt, ein bis zwei Stammgästen. Wir Poeten wissen, dass sich niemand für uns interessiert.

Ich verstehe das. Oder sagen wir: Ich schwanke zwischen Verständis für das öffentliche Desinteresse an meiner Kunstform und totalem Unverständnis desselben. Das Verschieben von Zeilenumbrüchen ist ein wunderliches - wenn auch überraschend erfüllendes - Hobby. Google Maps kennt weltweit nur ein Lyrikmuseum in Washington D.C. und eine Lyrikbibliothek in London. Buchläden sterben und mit ihnen ihre schmalen Regalecken, in denen die Lyrik üblicherweise versauerte. Plath und Hughes werden bald eine vage Erinnerung sein. Schon jetzt fühlt es sich an, als hätte es die Poesie noch nie gegeben.
Das Bildungssystem und die Medien helfen kaum. Für die Öffentlichkeit ist Lyrik noch immer ein Landsitz weißer alter Herren, dem Minderheitengruppen mit Einwandererakzenten zuarbeiten. Es klafft eine Lücke zwischen dem, was Menschen in Lyrik sehen, und dem, was Poeten sagen. Kein Wunder, dass die Gegenwartslyrik weitgehend unbekannt ist und, folgerichtig, schmerzhaft bedeutungslos bleibt. Sofern wir unsere Gedichte nicht mit Musik und einem verheißungsvollen Kleid unterlegen, bleibt unsere Arbeit unbemerkt.

Wir mögen uns wohlfühlen in unseren Ecken und Schreibtischstühlen, aber nicht in unserer Unerheblichkeit. Die mangelnde Zugänglichkeit unserer Kunst bedeutet, dass unser Einfluß auf die Gesellschaft frustrierend gering ist. Für das Publikum sind wir nicht Maler oder Fotografen. In aller Regel ist unsere Absonderlichkeit zu absonderlich für das Titelblatt. 

Ich kann nur spekulieren, worin diese Entfremdung begründet liegt. Mangelnde Sichtbarkeit, vielleicht ein ewiges Zuspätkommen im Verlauf der Weltgeschichte, keine wirkliche Gelegenheit zum Dialog.
Ich möchte meinen Gleichgültigen Leserinnen hier die Geschichte hinter dem Eröffnungsgedicht meines neuen Gedichtbandes anbieten. Es heißt "drei arten betäubung". Reden wir.

drei arten betäubung

ich geh dir jetzt weg weil
dich sitzen zu sehen
nicht zum ausbleiben ist
deine stirn und die augen nicht
von deiner brust und in meiner
die angst vor drei arten betäubung
heut abend noch lang wenn
du dich in die nacht legst und
wendest wie liebender atem

(der raum ist der dunkelste grund
auf den ältesten karten)
mich geht dir jetzt weg weil
zu bleiben nicht aussitzbar ist
und mich selbst mit mir selbst
hier zu teilen nicht wirkt wie du mir.

drei arten betäubung ist ein Gedicht über mein Bewusstsein. Und einen Anästhesisten, den ich eines Abends in einem koreanischen Restaurant kennenlernte. Ich war 2009 noch recht neu in Berlin, in einer sich auflösenden Beziehung und konnte die Ablenkung gut gebrauchen.

Er setzte sich mir gegenüber und wir unterhielten uns. Unter anderem erzählte er mir von den drei Arten der Betäubung: Einnahme, Gas, Injektion. Ich bewunderte ihn und bedauerte, dass er tabu war.

Ich machte mich bald auf den Heimweg, über das Leben in einem Paralleluniversum sinnierend. Das Delta aus Zufall, Anziehungskraft und Selbstbeherrschung war ein bisschen viel; das Rätsel des Lebens zu mysteriös.

Die leicht ungelenk wirkenden Wortspielereien des Gedichts spiegeln mein Unwohlsein in der realen Situation. Die letzten zwei Zeilen, "und mich selbst mit mir selbst hier zu teilen nicht wirkt wie du mir", sind zwar absichtliche Anspielungen auf Masturbation und Geschlechtsverkehr, tatsächlich spreche ich aber von einer geistigen Verbindung zwischen Fremden.

Die englische Übersetzung
Hier gibt es die englische Version dieses Artikels, der auch die englische Übersetzung des Gedichts sowie eine tonale Aufnahme dessen enthält.
Ich verlose drei Exemplare der Unterwasserdämmerung. Wer an der Verlosung teilnehmen möchte, schickt bitte bis zum 31. Januar 2015 eine Email mit dem Betreff "Underwaterdawn" an mail [at] anninaluzieschmid [punkt] net. Bitte nicht vergessen, den vollständigen Namen sowie die Postadresse anzugeben.

Unterstützen und kaufen
Die Unterwasserdämmerung kann in jedem Buchladen für 16,90€ bestellt (ISBN-10: 3981506197 oder ISBN-13: 978-3981506198), im Online Shop meines Verlages bezogen, via Email bei meinem Verlag angefragt (für Bestellungen mit Versandadresse außerhalb Deutschlands empfohlen) oder auf gekauft werden. Dort würden mir auch Kundenrezensionen weiterhelfen. Das Weiterleiten dieses Artikels würde meine Arbeit ebenfalls unterstützen. Vielen Dank.

Wer einen Blog betreibt oder für die Presse schreibt und gerne über die Unterwasserdämmerung berichten möchte, ist dazu herzlich eingeladen. Bitte melden Sie sich per Email bei meinem Verleger. 

Dec 10, 2014

My Most Important Albums

Me in 1997, between Trailer Park and Bambule.

The other day, Trotzendorff blogged about important music in his life. He listed ten crucial songs and albums and invited his readers to share their own. Challenge accepted.

To build a little bit of suspense, I thought I would list my ten most important albums here and make a playlist of my 16 most important songs for this year's Christmas Letter (a single-purpose, free of charge, yearly newsletter I send out to friends and readers detailing the highlights of my year; feel free to sign up, if you like!).

1975: The Köln Concert - Keith Jarrett 
Sometimes I just prefer songs without lyrics.
1985: Brothers in Arms - Dire Straits 
My first ever CD, given to me by my dad.

1991: bloodsugarsexmagic - Red Hot Chili Peppers 
My boyfriend of the time's favourite album. Hated it at first, but there was no escape and I learned to appreciate it.
1995: Jagged Little Pill - Alanis Morrissette 
Poet, feminist, role model. I also came to really like the acoustic version of that album.
1996: Trailer Park - Beth Orton 
Major influence on my taste of music. She rarely plays concerts anymore, but I saw her live in Berlin in 2012, at an awesome, intimate gig. Felt like meeting an old friend who has no idea you exist.  

1998: Bambule - Absolute Beginner 
German hip hop at its best. Soundtrack to getting drunk in parked cars before going clubbing.
1998: The Miseducation of - Lauryn Hill
On repeat wherever I went. A whole year's worth of music got drowned out by the awesomeness that was Lauryn Hill.
2000: One Touch - Sugababes 
Teenage angst in musical perfection. I felt so understood.

2003Frank - Amy Winehouse 
Amy's best album, because she wrote it all by herself. I stumbled across it when it came out and played it incessantly. 

2011: Every Kingdom - Ben Howard 
I can always listen to Ben Howard. I even hung his album poster in my bathroom.

Nov 14, 2014

Why It is Important to Think Critically

In light of the current heated debate surrounding my post on Why I Stopped Practicing Ashtanga Yoga (do note that I didn't call it Why YOU Should Stop Practicing Ashtanga Yoga), I came across this awesome video by my friend Veronica today. She runs a YouTube channel where she discusses literature and related issues, and this clip here on why it is important to reflect the culture you're surrounded by and think critically every now and then is a true gem! In case she talks a little too fast for your liking, you can watch the clip in half speed at Soundslice. A well invested seven to fourteen minutes.

Nov 11, 2014

My New Link Saving Addiction - Introducing


I will not lie: It took me a while to wrap my head around why I would need Tagpacker. To be perfectly honest, I thought of it as yet another social network with no chance in hell. And yet, these days I am not only happily employed there, I'm addicted to it. I don't have the slightest idea how I got by without it.

The concept in a nutshell

Tagpacker lets you save, organize and share your favorite content. It's a bookmarking tool as well as a social network, and of course it's free of charge. It's useful for everyone, but especially people who deal with large amounts of information: Bloggers, writers, students, researchers, journalists, scientists, and anyone with a hobby.

>>At Tagpacker, we believe that managing information should be fun. An easy drag and drop technology coupled with a genius search engine and a revolutionary tagging system will make you love your life just a little bit more.<<
Unlike all the other social media tools out there, Tagpacker will actually increase your productivity instead of waste your time. One of the key features from my perspective is its awesome searchability. There's just nothing like it, and if I were Google, I would buy us out.

How it works 

First, you sign up for free. Personally, I sign up with Facebook, but that's not mandatory at all, just convenient.

Then, you fill in your profile and start saving links.

-> We've made a First Steps on Tagpacker video to walk you through the process. Essentially, we'll provide you with a bookmarklet for your toolbar. All you'll need to do is surf to a URL that you like and hit the PACK IT! button. While saving links, you'll get a chance to comment on them or edit how you would like them to appear on your profile. Now, and this is the important step, you tag the link with whatever key word ("tag") you find suitable, and hit save. There's also the possibility of importing preexisting link collections in HTML-files.

You can find out how this process works in more detail by watching Tagpacker's YouTube videos, by reading our how-to page, or simply by checking out my Tagpacker profile and taking a good look around.

Why it's fun

Over time, you’ll notice that patterns emerge. Thanks to Tagpacker, I now know that while I  thought I was collecting articles on blogging, I am really a sucker for how-tos and recipes. Who would have thought?

And because we only just started out, everything smells brand new. The platform is wide open and all your favorite usernames are still available. Anyone can establish themselves as an expert in their field by collecting links they were going to save anyway.

The catch

The only two things to keep in mind when setting up your profile are:

As of yet, all user profiles are public. This might remind you of when Pinterest started out. The good news is that we’re already working on private settings.

It’s highly addictive. #getpacking and you will know what I mean! Once you're beyond your first fifty links, you won't want to imagine life without it. Plus you'll get to see all the stuff your friends and colleagues care about.

Help us succeed

Like any other startup out there, we depend on your support. If you like our platform, please tell your friends that you do, and please give us honest feedback. We're at least as interested in your opinion as we are in your Facebook and Instagram likes, and Twitter follows. Should you have any further questions or concerns, get in touch via mail [at] tagpacker [dot] com. We’d love to hear from you!

Nov 8, 2014

Why You Should Write A Book Sooner Rather Than Later

Image: New Old Imagery

 Ah, the excuses! My favorites include:

“I don’t have time.” Right.
“I have no desk. I mean, I do, but I can’t work there.” Riiiiiiight.
“I have nothing to say and no one will care.” Big societal trap, especially for women. Most definitely untrue!

Whether you are a blogger or a journalist or neither, here is why you should write your book sooner rather than later:

Your ideas matter

It is hard to believe, and it might sound outrageous, but it is actually true: Your ideas matter! If everyone had kept mum about their beliefs and desires, men would never have procreated. There would be no science, no culture, and no one at all to look up to. Also, we need way more famous female writers anyway.

Your experience is both unique and universal

We are going through life on our own, but also together. You might be the only gay person from a minority background in your provincial hometown, but you are not alone in your country, and certainly not in the world. Chances are that if you have found ways of dealing with depression, other depressed people are dying to find out how you coped. Even if your situation is complicated and your circumstances are special, the rest of us will know how to distill advice from what you said.  

You will have ideas you never thought you could come up with

Writing will make your imagination run wild. One thought will lead to the next and then, before you know it, something amazing will happen, whose mastermind is: you. It's pretty magical. 

Nobody else will

There is really just one way to get it right, and it will be your way. Stop wasting time pondering someone else’s ideas - unless, of course, you are planning on discussing them in your book. Vice versa, unless you are putting out (and I am very much using a figure of speech here), no one will waste their own precious brain cells dissecting yours.

It might get published

It took me 17 years to publish my first poetry collection, counted from its oldest poem to the day I was asked to submit my manuscript. Was my book worth the wait? Absolutely. I love how it feels, smells, opens, and closes. And yet, I was a writer before I got signed, and I will remain one, whether or not I will ever be published again. There is no shame in not getting published, only regret in not trying.

Speaking up is important in the grand scheme of things

Yes, jobs, kids, and dogs are important, too. But surfing the Internet hours on end? Not so much. All these interesting articles will still be there when you are done writing. With the only difference being that you used your time on earth creating something that, perhaps, will survive you. One hundred years from now the people we see on the street will have disappeared. There will be a different crowd walking around. It is on us, today, to pay forward the good and the bad and the ugly.

It will be worth it

The journey is the reward, not the money you will not be making. Published or not, writing a book will prove to yourself that you are a writer. You will learn facts about things you never even knew existed. Writing 500 words per day will get you a novel in under four months. Or 250 in eight. Even to a chronically half-blocked writer like myself, that sounds doable. In any case, you’ll gain a reputation. At least in your family circle.

Oct 27, 2014

Why I Stopped Practicing Ashtanga Yoga

This post first appeared on Yogannina.

I have been out of the Yoga loop for a good six months now. Before I left my studio and mat, I was an avid and dedicated practitioner of Ashtanga Yoga: I had a regular, six day a week practice, had completed 150 hours of Yoga teacher training as well as a massage and injury prevention certificate, was an assistant teacher and wrote a popular enough Yoga blog. I was a vegetarian at first, then a vegan, and in the middle of developing an interest in macrobiotic cuisine. I was part of a dedicated community and a student of a well-known teacher. I even found myself a Yoga teaching husband. I thought that whatever would happen, I would do Yoga.

And then, weirdly, happiness happened. And by happiness, I mean the kind of contentment that will let you rest and relax. Calmness and ease unfolded, and I started seeing my daily practice in a different light. Here are some of my thoughts:

Ashtanga Yoga is a relationship outside of your relationship

It has become my conviction that anyone who practices Ashtanga religiously, and by that I mean six days a week, all year, every year, is missing something vital in their personal life. These people - and I know I was one of them for a long time - are looking for something they will not find on their Manduka mats. Ever.

Exercising on more than four days a week is unhealthy

Studies like this one show that exercising on six days a week for a prolonged period of time is actually detrimental to your health. Every health professional, coach and personal trainer on the face of the earth would agree. No wonder Ashtangis look skinny and tired and hurt themselves all the time.

There is no wisdom in practicing through injuries

No wisdom at all. When you are injured, you need to rest, and probably anti-inflammatories. Surely you can stretch your legs while dealing with a wrist injury, but you should definitely not put any weight on your hands. Again, any health professional would agree. You only have one right knee, one left shoulder, one set of lower back vertebrae. There is a reason why doctors suggest you should rest. There is also mass intelligence. If Ashtanga really had all the answers, everyone on the face of the earth would be doing it. Guaranteed. You are the only expert on your condition, and if something hurts, you are telling yourself to hold off.

Ashtangarexia is alive and happening

The definition of addiction, as I have recently learned during one of Emory University’s online lectures on coursera, is: “A repeated behavior with a negative impact (causing distress of some sort or health problems, for example), where you are unable to stop, require an increased frequency or dosage, and display symptoms of withdrawal avoidance.”

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but after a certain point in my practice, I could check off all of these indicators. I had lower back problems, the pressure to maintain my daily practice caused distress, but I wasn’t able to stop, either, because I was too afraid of taking a day off and losing all the ‘progress’ I had made. The fact that my practice had turned me a into an ascetic hermit without a real social life wasn’t even something I worried about at the time. With hindsight, however, some of what you say and do as an Ashtangi really is a bit cuckoo. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves: You can’t balance your chakras by chanting mantras in a language you don’t speak. Eating garlic when you’re healthy doesn’t make you a bad person. Be kind to yourself. Don’t fall into the rabbit hole of Ashtanga obsession, only to never be seen again.  

If you know you have an issue Yoga cannot solve, seek help

Very maybe, you are trying to work through some intense trauma. Perhaps your upbringing was terrible, or maybe you suffer from an eating disorder nobody knows of. Yoga can have amazing positive effects on our mental health, but there are certain situations in life that point you towards professional help. Both you and your teacher need to admit that while Supta Kurmasana might release day-to-day stress, it’s not at all an adequate treatment for PTSD. Neither are shopping sprees at lululemon.

Authorization equals a frequent flyer reward

This is a line my husband came up with, and he is so right. These days, it seems, what you have to do to get recognized as a teacher is go to Mysore often enough (read: pay enough money), and someone will bestow upon you the reward in form of authorization. This is irrespective, of course, of your level of experience or teaching skills. On average, if I’m not mistaken, authorization will be granted after four or five trips of several months each, at a monthly cost of €400 or so. There are so many students going through the shala these days, that Sharath himself can’t keep track anymore. I have heard of people who were offered authorization twice. Not for free, of course, the authorization itself comes at a price. Later, there’s the added cost of certification, and psssst, it’s expensive. While I understand that everyone needs to make money, a hierarchical fee scheme seems pretty… unyogic.

The tradition isn’t evolving, it’s arbitrary

Sunday as the new Saturday? Changes in the sequence just so that the student traffic in Mysore can be handled more efficiently? Come on! No problem with making changes to your own organization, but why does the whole world need to follow? If you are serious about your Yoga, you will not brag about what pose you’re on, how many trips to Mysore you have taken in the past, how many you will be taking in the future, or how many people came to take your class on any given day. On that same note:

Teaching Yoga isn’t a profession - it’s a side job

I have been warned about this, and I will do my duty and warn you: Do. Not. Quit. Your. Occupation. For. An. Unlikely. Career. In. Yoga. Don’t do it! Yoga is like blogging. It is something that is best enjoyed in small, fun doses on the side. Unless you will be moving to a town where there is not a single Yoga teacher within a radius of at least 50 kilometers, do not open a Yoga studio. You will be losing all your money, and you will be left with no perspective after 35. Do yourself a favor and trust me on this one.

So - do I miss my practice? Sure, sometimes I do. What I miss about it most are its superficial aspects, though: being strong and flexible, looking fit. These days, I prefer to take my dog on forest walks and go for runs. I enjoy the fresh air, and that I get to make my own schedule. When I will return to the mat, it will be on my own terms, in my own time.


Other articles you might be interested in:

Notes on Mysore Rooms, Mindfulness, Feminism and Sex
Why Kino MacGregor's Choice of Clothing isn't Feminist, but a Feminist issue

Sep 20, 2014

5 Must-See Documentaries on Netflix

I'm a big sucker for documentaries. Here's a bunch I recently enjoyed on Netflix:

After Tiller
An insightful documentary that follows the only four remaining doctors in the US that perform late-term abortions after one of their colleagues was assassinated by anti-abortion fanatics. Both the patients' and doctors' stories are heartbreaking, and there's a dire need for successors. 
The attempt at a portrait of the always elusive J.D. Salinger. Thanks to this documentary I know now that not only did he have an interesting WWII biography, he also took a dubious liking to very young women.
Being European, I shake my head whenever I'm reminded that there's no public health care in the US. It's absolutely unbelievable to me that so many Americans still oppose the introduction of medical services for everyone - why?! The Waiting Room does a great job at portraying the physical and psychological distress caused by the lack of affordable public health care.

Brave Miss World
Linor Abargil was brutally attacked and raped a couple of weeks before she won the Miss World title in 1998. She has since become one of the most famous advocates in the fight against sexual violence. The documentary illustrates her struggle, but also how she manages to move forward with her life and finish law school.

The Summit
A K2 exhibition gone horribly wrong... 

Jul 2, 2014

Onto Toronto - Toronto's First Berlin-Style Poetry Collective

Photo: Annina Luzie Schmid

When I first came to Berlin in 2007, I didn't know anyone. I had just quit a depressing internship with a large corporation in Munich. A city that I, on top of hating my job, never warmed up to. Its topography didn't make sense, and to this day the sexist culture that is its yearly Oktoberfest brings tears to my eyes.  Instead of fulfilling nonsensical formatting requests, I wanted to write. I didn't want to move outlines by two millimeters, I wanted to enter short story competitions and blog on Words On A Watch

For a while, family friends had been offering me their holiday home in Berlin as a writing space. They didn't want any rent and said Berlin was the perfect place for young poets. Self-absorbed and clueless as I was, I didn't see the perks of writing groups and didn't believe that Berlin had much more to offer than my hometown Frankfurt. Surely, Frankfurt was famous for its airport and financial district rather than its literary scene, but I had visited Berlin before and could barely remember anything other than Brandenburg Gate and the remaining parts of the Berlin Wall. And yet, I had five months to kill before grad school and nowhere else to go. 

Thus, I moved onto the border between Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain. From there, I set out on long BVG trips to find other writers. Armed with a paper map and the most recent edition of zitty, I travelled from one literary event to the next. After two weeks or so, I found Lauter Niemand, a 'literature lab'. At the time it was headed, amongst others, by Adrijana Bohocki, a fellow poet. Little did I know that Lauter Niemand was the creative hub for a number of now famous contemporary German poets: Steffen Popp, Daniel Falb, Ann Cotten, Monika Rinck, Ron Winkler, and Hendrik Jackson, to name but a few. 

Thanks to Adrijana's encouragement, I spent a lot of time writing. And discussing my writing, too. I had never shared my work with other authors before, let alone with such talented ones. Our weekly workshop sessions helped me understand the importance of continuous advice and support in the development of some one's voice. Writers need encouragement. Female writers especially benefit from the patronage and promotion offered by established networks.  

Last fall, I got the chance to attend one of Donna Stonecipher's poetry workshops in Berlin. This was shortly before I moved to Toronto, and posed another great opportunity to focus on my writing and get competent and valuable feedback on it. 

Here in Canada, I miss a place like that; I miss discussing other people's work as much as the discipline that comes with regular writing homework. In the hopes to find like-minded people, I launched Onto Toronto today, Toronto's first Berlin-inspired poetry and literature collective. Besides frequent writing groups, I would like to teach and host workshops, organize readings, and of course, publish the free magazine that the Onto Toronto blog will hopefully become. 

For this to work, Onto Toronto needs participants. If you are a writer, or know of someone who might be interested in sharing their work, please let them know that we are currently accepting submissions (find out more on how to submit original work here). You do not need to live in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area to be considered for publication - just write a poem, a story, or submit a photo!  

Jun 26, 2014

For German Readers: Neue alte Seite, neue alte Texte

Die Involvierten unter Euch werden es mitbekommen haben: Ich habe überarbeitet und stelle dort jetzt ab und an neue Inhalte ein. Heute Abend "Auf eine coole Weise war ich immer irgendwie cool" aus 2007, bisher unveröffentlicht. Ihr könnt den neuen Feed direkt auf der Seite abonnieren  - und dann bitte nicht vergessen, Euren Feedreader auf "full article" umzustellen, damit Ihr nicht nach der Hälfte des Beitrages auf den Rest klicken müsst.

In other news hat Girls Can Blog vor einem Weilchen die 300'000 page views geknackt, und das ist ja irgendwie auch ganz nett. Danke Euch! Hätte ich früher haben können, jaja, egal. Wenn ich mit meinem ersten Lyrikband nicht so beschäftigt wäre, wäre hier auch mehr los (behaupte ich jetzt einfach). Aber bald ist Manuskriptabgabe und dann geht hier hoffentlich wieder was.

Jun 12, 2014

"Ich will kein Kind" - eine unpopuläre Entscheidung?

Hier nur ein kurzer Hinweis auf eine Diskussionsveranstaltung des deutschen Ärztinnenbundes, die am 24. Juni um 19.00 Uhr im Beginenhof am Erkelenzdamm 51 in Berlin stattfindet. Aus der Veranstaltungsbeschreibung:

Ich will kein Kind - Eine unpopuläre Entscheidung? 
Das Kinderthema ist ein Dauerbrenner. Bekommen die Deutschen zu wenige Kinder? Oder nur die deutschen Akademikerinnen? Was kann man tun, um die Geburtenrate zu steigern? Was stimmt nur mit den Kinderlosen nicht? Bei dieser Debatte kommt eine Gruppe nie zu Wort: die Menschen, die sich einfach keine Kinder wünschen. Das ist erstaunlich, denn immerhin möchten 23 Prozent der Männer und 15 Prozent der Frauen in Deutschland freiwillig kinderlos bleiben. Sind das alle gefühlskalte Egoisten, konsum- und karriereorientiert, die nicht erwachsen werden wollen und im Alter einsam sind, wie ihnen oft vorgehalten wird?
Dieser unbekannten Spezies geben die beiden Gäste in ihrem Buch „Ich will kein Kind“ – Dreizehn Geschichten über eine unpopuläre Entscheidung“ (Mabuse-Verlag 2013) eine Stimme. Frauen und Männer zwischen 30 und 80 erzählen: Wie sie leben, was ihnen wichtig ist und warum sie sich gegen Kinder entschieden haben. Auch, wie sie mit Vorwürfen aus ihrer Umgebung umgehen und was sie sich von der Gesellschaft wünschen. Die Autorinnen lesen aus den Porträts des Buches. In einer Einführung gehen sie auf Zahlen und Hintergründe ein und räumen mit den üblichen Phrasen auf, die zum Thema verbreitet werden: Nein, die Kinderlosen sind nicht schuld an einer „demographischen Katastrophe“.  Mehr Kinder bedeuten nicht mehr Wohlstand für eine Gesellschaft. Kinderlose sind nicht egoistischer als Eltern, und sie sind auch nicht einsamer, weder in jungen Jahren noch im Alter.

Apr 8, 2014

10 Cool Things to Do in Berlin

My sister will be visiting Berlin this month and asked for insider tips about what to see and do. I compiled this list and thought it might be interesting for some of you out there as well. Full disclosure: All of the places and brands listed here are personal recommendations. None of them have compensated me in any way, shape or form for mentioning them in this post. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comment section!

walk, walk, walk
I love walking around Berlin. My favorite routes include the following, just click on the bold print for detailed directions:

* Prenzauer Berg Tour *
Hackescher Markt -> Mauerpark (≈ 45 minutes non-stop)
See the Hackeschen Höfe, Prenzlauer Berg, Zionskirchplatz, and the Mauerpark flea market.

*  Sunday Walk *
Bahnhof Zoo -> Brandenburger Tor (≈ 45 minutes non-stop)
See Berlin Zoo and the Aquarium, the Tiergarten Park, Goldelse and Brandenburg Gate)
* Hip and Trendy *
Hermannplatz -> Warschauer Str. (≈ 1 hour non-stop)
See the hip and trendy districts Neukölln and Kreuzberg, Berlin's famous outdoor clubs Club der Visionäre,  Freischwimmer, and Badeschiff and explore Friedrichshain.
* Politics *
See the Reichstag, Berlin Main Train Station, government offices, and Friedrichstraße. Walk along Unter den Linden and see Museum Island and City Hall.
* Cultural Tour *
Viktoria Luise Platz -> Potsdamer Platz (≈ 1 hour and 20 minutes non-stop)
See Viktoria-Luise-Platz, Haus der Berliner Festspiele, KDW, Bauhaus-Archiv, Neue Nationalgalerie and Potsdamer Platz.

ride the 100 bus
If you're pressed for time or too lazy to walk, take the bus. The 100 bus is a sightseeing tour for a tenth of the normal price, pretty much. For 2,60€, you can ride from Alexanderplatz to Bahnhof Zoo and view most major Berlin sights. Try for more information on the 100 and more typical things to see and do in Berlin.  

eat lots of vegan food
Undoubtedly, Berlin is Germany's vegan capital. From lifestyle blogs to meaty looking burgers to fashion, fancy dining and even enitre vegan supermarkets, you can get anything cruelty free. Veggie Love is a great resource for vegan trends, Berlin vegan is the community page to research vegan food in your area - they even have an app for when you're on the go! My personal favorite vegan restaurants include Satyam (sooo good and super affordable) and Kopp's (a little more expensive, best to make reservations). I also enjoy the coincidentally vegan vegetarian platter at Abissinia, an Ethiopian restaurant owned by Dantina, the friendliest owner ever.

go to a concert / the ballett / a reading
Berlin overflows with all things cultural. There's really something interesting for everyone! Before I turned 30, I liked to take advantage of the ClassicCard, with which you can go see balletts for as little as 10€. Even when you're over thirty, though, tickets to the Staatsballett Berlin are inexpensive in international comparison.

For booking concert tickets, there are plenty of options, but I always liked eventim: You can buy online tickets with them for (almost) any event, then all you have to do is download, print and bring them. Easy as pie.

Berlin's literary scene is awesome, too. There's the young and hip Literaturwerkstatt in Prenzlauer Berg's event space Kulturbrauerei, and also the somewhat posh Literaturhaus close to Ku'Damm. The Literaturhaus has a nice café attached to it, where Berlin's rich intelligenzia likes to hang out. With plenty of shops around the corner, it makes for a nice stop after a visit to the Gedächtniskirche and/ or the surrounding shops. Three relatively hidden gems in the same street are Umasan (vegan fashion), lululemon athletica's City West Showroom (Canadian sports fashion and free Yoga classes on the weekends) and Thull + Schneider (fine scarves) - neither of these are for shoppers on a budget, though. If you like your readings a little more indie and underground, try Kookbooks publishing for contemporary poetry readings that often include musical performances, too, and usually end with a party.  

see art
After London, Berlin is my second favorite city when it comes to art. There is so much stuff - from ancient to postmodern, decent to crazy. My personal museum of choice is the Hamburger Bahnhof near the central station. The East Side Gallery (art painted on remaining parts of the Berlin Wall) is another hit with visitors. To get an idea of just how many museums there are, try Museumsportal Berlin for more info, exhibition recommendations and up to date news on what's on.  

shop around Weinmeisterstraße

The area around Ubhf Weinmeisterstr and the Hackesche Höfe certainly is one of the most exciting and convenient to shop in. With a cool mix of international brands and national designers, the younger audience will certainly find something to their liking. Famous cafés Barcomis (bagels! chocolate fudge cake!) and St. Oberholz (wifi!) are nearby, too, and if you have time, you might want to explore the small designer shops around Mulackstr and sample Mamecha's green tea selection.   

get a cheap massage
My favorite place to get a massage in Berlin is with the lovely ladies of Bootsabong. 30€ for 60 minutes of traditional Thai Massage is an unbeatable price even for Berlin standards, and quality and service have always been impeccable. While you're in the area, take a stroll around the shops and restaurants on Bergmannstr. and the Marheinekeplatz. Parlamento Degli Angeli has some of the best pizza in town. If you like your Italian food a little more upscale, try the Osteria No.1 at the bottom of Berlin's Viktoriapark. Tomasa at Villa Kreuzberg offers great brunch. Just make sure to reserve your tables, as all three places can get pretty busy.

do yoga!
Berlin offers Yoga for every taste, and most studios welcome travelling drop-ins (a drop-in class usually costs around 15€). There are also plenty of interesting workshops with visiting international teachers - try the Jivamukti events list. With lululemon having set up shop in the city last summer, there are also opportunities to take free classes on the weekend in one of their Showrooms (Mitte and West). For fancy studio time and English language instruction try Spirit Yoga.

get a hair cut
Berlin is renown for it's avant-garde style, and quite a few of Berlin's hair salon's are different from what you are likely to know. Salon Notaufnahme in Prenzlauer Berg, for example, offers a live DJ and loud club music while you're getting your new look. For Rockabilly styling, try Kaiserschnitt and their 1950's inspired shop in Friedrichshain.

spend a night at Kumpelnest or Kaffee Burger
I know Berghain is all the rave, but I've spent some of my most enjoyable Berlin nights in the curiosity shops that are Kumpelnest 3000 and Kaffee Burger. Both places attract a cool mix of locals, tourists and crazies, and should make for unforgattable early mornings. Don't start your nights off there, though, go as late as possible!

Mar 14, 2014

Image Source:
Immer wieder gut zu wissen, dass es Speakerinnendatenbanken gibt. Was auch immer Euer Thema sein mag, registriert Euch schnell und unkompliziert hier, wenn Ihr daran interessiert seid, künftig Vorträge dazu zu halten. Organisatorinnen sei die Seite aufgrund ihrer übersichtlichen Struktur ebenfalls empfohlen. Man kann nie genug Frauen kennen!

Mar 1, 2014

My Feminist Wedding - 10 Things I Won't Do Just Because

I'm getting married this year, and here are ten things I won't do just because:

Lose weight for a dress
No way in hell will I subject myself to this kind of unnecessary pressure! Everyone knows perfectly well what I normally look like, my partner loves and accepts me for who I am, and the time wasted on counting calories will be better invested in finding an outfit that underlines my personality. And who says it has to be a dress I should be wearing in the first place? No need for white, either. (Although I will probably end up wearing off-white.) There's also the possibility of getting a second hand dress, if you're into vintage. Here in Toronto there's a great charity called The Brides' Project that resells used wedding dresses and donates all profits to cancer charities.

Have a hen night 
Oh, the embarrassment! On average, a group of thirteen women spends their day learning how to mix cocktails, lying around with pieces of cucumber on their faces or running their fingers over some Chippendale's abs. In the UK, the cost of hen nights increased by about 50% from £102 to £157 per person in the past five years alone, with travel destinations becoming ever more exclusive: Las Vegas and Barcelona are the new Manchester and Bristol. And aside from the monetary cost, there seems to be a moral one, too; 43% of British women (and 73% of British men) will lie to their partner about what happened that night. The only way I could see myself bidding farewell to my legally single life - that I won't be missing at all - would be a night in with my friends of all genders. Why limit the fun to my female friends?

Keep my last name just for the sake of it
Within 90 days of my wedding, I will legally change my surname to Oliver's. This is not because I want to become his property, but because I like his name better than mine. Simple as that. If my name would have been cooler, he would have changed his. Since we are a bi-national couple, I believe that sharing the same name will simplify legal matters, especially when we are travelling. Should we ever have kids, I want them, too, to have the same name. However, I will never refer to myself as "Mrs. Oliver Dawson-Clark". I am Annina. Annina Dawson-Clark for friends and family and before the law, and Annina Luzie Schmid for everyone else. I'm eager to continue publishing under my maiden name, because this is how people have gotten to know me, and because a pen name creates what I believe to be a healthy distance between your professional and private lives.

Have my dad walk me down the aisle
This is because the tradition of one man handing me over to another is crazy. I am my own woman. And there is a practical problem, too: I have a biological father that I get along with very well, and also a step dad that I get along with equally well. So, if anything, they would have to walk on either side of me, with my mom and step moms somewhere in the picture, too. Like Jessica Valenti. She and her husband Andrew had both their parents walk them both down the aisle. If I did the same, I would have a procession of five just for myself. Pretty awesome, really. 

Serve meat
I'm sure you have read plenty about veganism and vegetarianism in the past year, so I won't give you the whole rundown on why I think that a vegetarian, mostly vegan diet is the way forward. Thanks to my daily, dedicated Ashtanga Yoga practice, I know of the effects that eating meat and dairy have on my body, and I know that animals do not deserve to die for my indulgence. Given the choice, I oppose serving my guests with platters of death. Veggie buffets tend to be easier on the budget, too, and there are plenty of awesome vegan wedding cakes.

Invite people we don't normally see
There's always uncle Jimmy who your mother has very fond memories of showing her the Roman Basilica in 1973. And your neighbour Cynthia who keeps bringing you cookies because she is lonely. These people sure are nice, but they do not need to be at my wedding. I want to spend the occasion with people dear to my heart. A wedding invite is a lovely gesture, but it shouldn't come from a bad conscience. Our wedding day is not the time to accommodate other people.

Save money on the photographer
My friend Jenn advised me that the one thing we shouldn't economize on is a decent photographer. She had held her own informal wedding in the backyard, with disposable cameras put on tables for people to use... And it didn't go well. Jenn said that while she did get a bunch of nice shots from this, the moments most important to her were lost. Being the photography fiend that I am, it didn't take much convincing; I'm pretty sure the photographer we will hire will end up being the single highest expense in the budget. 

Keep a gift registry
One thing I know is: I won't set up shop as a housewife any time soon. (Even though studies show that most people fall back into traditional gender roles pretty much right after they get hitched.) Rather than pressuring people into spending their money on kitchen supplies we won't actually need, I will ask them for something we will always enjoy: a contribution towards the wedding photos, however small. Like that our guests will help us (and themselves) memorize an important day in our lives. That said, a wedding is only ever the first step of a journey, and never the one goal or defining moment of a woman's life.

Read a gazillion wedding blogs - aaaaaaaaaargh!!!
I have limited myself to two: A Practical Wedding for handy advice and Rock n Roll Bride for a somewhat out of the ordinary approach and pretty pictures. I have stayed away from the other stuff because they tend to reproduce patriarch stereotypes, and also because seeing beautiful things on the Internet has rarely ever done anything for me aside from empty my pockets. I am making sure, too, that it's not just me who does all the party planning and organizing. Oliver and I are in this together, and he has agreed to do his share of the pre-wedding work.

Obsess about every detail
Luckily, when it comes to decorations, my mother-in-law has got it all figured out. She's a table setting tornado with a Master's Degree in Art History, and I won't question her taste. I have not set my heart on a particular colour scheme, flower arrangement or whatever the fuck else it is that other brides obsess about. While I like a good general plan about what happens when as to keep our guests entertained, I trust that some room for happenstance will actually improve the party. Like with anything else in life, really. Letting go usually helps lighten up!  :)

If you would like to get to know Oliver and I a little better, check out our YouTube videos and his tumblr