Lost Among Europeans

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The year in purchases

It’s been an interesting year for me, 2012. Not always pleasant, but a happening year. Looking back, this year I have bought a bunch of things for the very first time, and they tell a story:

An agenda, in particular, a Moleskine weekly planner. In late 2011, I took an online course, and was dismayed by the professor’s handwriting. It was not that it was ugly or difficult to read. It just seemed the product of a diseased mind. I decided that I couldn’t let my handwriting go to waste like that, and I would use pen and paper more often and more deliberately. I bought an agenda as part of that resolution, and it quickly became indispensable. I tend to keep lists of tasks to do, but the agenda allows me to place some of them in a future time slot, out of sight until then. And writing with a pen, rather than with the staccato motions of typing, is relaxing. I’ve already bought my 2013 weekly planner.

An electric kettle Some friends from work have gotten me into the tea habit. It’s a good excuse for a short break, and it’s also nice to drink something hot, since offices are universally kept colder than I like. I don’t take milk nor sugar with my tea, and I’m partial to rooibos and green tea.

Hats I had long wanted, but never dared, to get a hat (other than sports caps and beanies). In May I got a Panama hat for the sun, and it worked so well I had to wonder what had taken me so long. Having lunch on a terrace is no longer a problem, and spending a whole weekend in the streets of sunny Berlin didn’t require any sun lotion. I like my Panama so much, I’ve bought a black felt fedora for colder weather, and still, nobody laughs.

Salad spinner For a few months this year I felt lethargic, although physically I was still running my weekly 30km without issues. I went back to reviewing my nutrition, and bought an enjoyable book on the issue. Since 2005 I’ve been following a restrictive diet to keep my Crohn’s disease symptomps in check, so I thought maybe I was leaving important stuff out. The nutrition book inspired me to make salads, and my cookbooks taught me to dry my vegetables after washing them. There are other ways of drying leaves, but my salad spinner is seeing good use. On the whole, 2012 is the year I’ve gone back to eating everything.

Beard trimmer Every now and then I let my beard grow, but this year I kept my beard on for a record two months. A key to that was the trimmer, to keep growth in check. It is also a perfectly painless way to shave the beard off once you tire of it. Shaving anything more than 4 days of growth with a razor is quite painful.

Pull-up bar Three years ago, when I lived in Seattle, I was starting to get routine aches in my joints, and in particular my shoulders and neck. I refused to comply with what I saw as old age creeping. I reasoned that the issue was losing muscle tone, leading to bad movements and pressure on my joints. Since then I’ve done push-ups, and it seems to have helped as I don’t have aches anymore. In the past weeks I’ve added pull-ups and chin-ups to the regimen, with a pull-up bar I can use at home. The increase in upper-body strength is also supposed to help my running.

Umbrella I’ve always hated umbrellas because of how poorly people use them. Few umbrella carriers will raise or tilt their umbrella when walking past you. I’m more of a raincoat person, but I have to admit raincoats don’t protect your pants, and umbrellas do, and then there’s the social aspect of sharing your umbrella. I’m a changed man.