Five years ago, I wrote a review on 2006, saying that freelance photography, new friendships, the beginning of the new Elipse/LAST cycling team, and my Physics graduation, all made it a rather special year. One year later, I posted on this very blog about 2007, saying it went further, with my Graduate studies filled with euphoria, cycling victories, trips abroad, language courses, and what not. Then along came 2008, setting an even higher standard, with international conferences, my Master's defense, an epic transcontinental bike ride, and the beginning of my Ph.D. in Germany. One more, and 2009 included visits to Portugal, Brazil, Uruguay, England, and trips all over Germany to Hamburg, Hannover, Düsseldorf, Ulm, Berlin, in adition to conferences and workshops, a great road racing season and fantastic rock concerts.

Now it's time for 2010. This year, I
... moved out to my own apartment
... published my first paper
... bought my first car
... organized a surprise overseas birthday party
... won my first cycling race in Europe
... travelled to Australia
... moved to Waterloo, Canada
... experimented with new food, beverages and sports
... fell in love
... and ran a marathon.

A gallery with one hundred pictures telling the visual story of the year gone by can be found on my Picasa gallery. Do check it out!
- - -
The old adage goes, "once is an occurence, twice may be a coincidence, but thrice is surely a tendency". What's left to say when five years in a row have surpassed each other in setting new marks for incredible achievements? Easy:

2011 will be A W E S O M E.



The lighter side

With just under two weeks back in terra germanica, and given the conjecture of being away for an extended amount of time, returning just before the Holidays, with friends and family coming to visit, I could easily say I haven't yet had the time to settle back in - were it not for the fact that what I define as my usual life is a constant state of exceptional circumstances (or an Ausnahmezustand, as I have noted in a previous post). But those events will be reviewed in a forthcoming post. For the present moment, I just want to collect a few random disconnected thoughts :)

- Shopping in Germany is simply amazing. While I have probably already said that when I first moved over, it's stressed over and over again when coming back after an extended period of time away. I just came back from the supermarket, where, besides groceries for three, I also bought a few spoils to my mother and sister, and it all came to just a tad more than what my basic bread-and-butter shopping would have costed me in Canada. Vintage French wine? Check. Fancy Swiss, German or Belgian chocolates? Check. Exquisite Italian, Danish or French cheese? Check. And all the Nivea creams and lotions my skin could ever want - Yay!

- I've been listening to some new, or at least unbeknownst to me, singers and bands, and as always, it's a great pleasure to find out there's such fantastic stuff out there. Still, I was somehow saddened to find out that one artist whom I just came to enjoy is actually deceased, or that another band has since dissolved, and I'll never have the opportunity to attend a real live concert from them. Nevertheless, and somehow making up for that, my perennial favourites Belle & Sebastian are playing in Germany in April - Yay!

- Snow, oh, the snow! I never had so many snowball fights; and I had never actually managed to build a large-scale snowman - and the last few days more than made up for that. And driving and skidding through the snow has been such fun! Scary sometimes, sure, but I'm thankful the Whiskaswagen has top-notch ESP and ABS brakes - Yay!

- I take some pride on how tidy I keep my little apartment, how good my clothes smell after washing, or how I managed to develop some cooking skills with some not only good looking, but also quite tasty dishes. But with one week of mom taking care of cleaning, washing and cooking, I notice I still have a lot to learn. Oh well. For the moment, I can only enjoy being spoiled - Yay!


Sunset at Toronto Pearson Airport

Exactly four months ago, as Moni and Benja dropped me at Nürnberg's airport, I was handed one little postcard, with a huge smiley on one side, and the following written on its reverse:

"Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne,
Der uns beschützt und der uns hilft, zu leben.
(Herrmann Hesse, 'Stufen')

And so you're off, to climb one more step in a life full of them, a life filled with challenges, achievements, defeats and victories. To follow a path full of rocks, stones, pebbles and boulders, but never any deadlocks.
It wasn't the easiest path, this one you've chosen, but certainly it was the most yours, and the richest of all. Where each experience transforms you and in turns makes your life more and more interesting.
May the magic of the beginning protect you and help you live. Have a great time in Canada and come back some day: we'll be waiting for you!
- Moni"

I'm about to cross the Atlantic for the 23rd time. It's been hard before; severing bounds as I moved from one continent to the other was, and is, never an easily-dismissed circumstance. And yet, the fantastic times I've had in Canada over the last four months, and the fabulous happenings of the past few weeks mean this one is particularly harder. Harder as in falling in unconditional love, and then realizing that one can only fight so much; that part of clinging to someone means letting them go.
Awaiting my departure in Toronto, I believe I've played all my cards. I believe I fought the fight to the best of what my whole life to the present day taught me to. I leave my heart behind, but I fly back with no regrets.

Agnes, ich liebe dich.


Stufen, Steps & Degraus

Stufen (Herman Hesse, 1941)

Wie jede Blüte welkt und jede Jugend
Dem Alter weicht, blüht jede Lebensstufe,
Blüht jede Weisheit auch und jede Tugend
Zu ihrer Zeit und darf nicht ewig dauern.
Es muß das Herz bei jedem Lebensrufe
Bereit zum Abschied sein und Neubeginne,
Um sich in Tapferkeit und ohne Trauern
In andre, neue Bindungen zu geben.
Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne,
Der uns beschützt und der uns hilft, zu leben.

Wir sollen heiter Raum um Raum durchschreiten,
An keinem wie an einer Heimat hängen,
Der Weltgeist will nicht fesseln uns und engen,
Er will uns Stuf' um Stufe heben, weiten.
Kaum sind wir heimisch einem Lebenskreise
Und traulich eingewohnt, so droht Erschlaffen,
Nur wer bereit zu Aufbruch ist und Reise,
Mag lähmender Gewöhnung sich entraffen.

Es wird vielleicht auch noch die Todesstunde
Uns neuen Räumen jung entgegen senden,
Des Lebens Ruf an uns wird niemals enden...
Wohlan denn, Herz, nimm Abschied und gesunde!

- - -

There are translations out there for those less familiar with this fantastic work in its original version; I note but one part:

For in each beginning dwells a special magic

That nurtures living and bestows protection

- - -

Aponto aqui uma tradução para aqueles menos habituados ao poema de Hesse ou ao idioma de Goethe. Deixo aqui somente uma parte:

Em todo começo reside um encanto
Que nos protege e nos ajuda a viver