2011-07-02

don't hang around 'cause two's a crowd

I was already starting to miss my daily Emerson prompt. As much as the frequent repetitions of subjects bugged me in the three weeks that I have participated in the Trust 30 challenge, it was also nice to be prompted daily.

In December 2010, I committed to daily blogging throughout 2011. Most of the days I find things to write about without having too think too long about it: my daily pursuits, general happenings in the world, or something which amuses (or annoys) me. There have, however, been days where I was more or less out of ideas. Today, it would probably have been about procrastinating the tax declaration for the nth time (yes, Barbara, I know), and instead cooking delicious jam from 3kg apricots and 3 mangoes which I got for a steal at the Rotterdam market this morning; or complaining about the new free Hipstamatic lens which is called Hornbecker and is very dangerous for taking portraits with its high-contrast features, as you can see on on the left - but honestly, who wants to read this? On days like this, it's nice if someone gives you a prompt and you can then make something of it.

To my surprise, I received another e-mail today from the Emerson website:
The feedback on #trust30 has been so great that Amber has volunteered to continue the prompts as a personal project. The hope is that these daily emails will guide you on your writing journey, and help you to look within and get to know yourself. To kick off this new leg, here’s a prompt from Seth Godin:
Find something that happened on the day and date you were born. Write about it.
Not only that I was very pleased to read that the prompts will continue to trickle into my inbox, I was also very very happy to see that the subject focus is going to broaden. While I love Emerson, a lot of the past prompts were much alike - life goals, values, visions, deficits, barriers -, so I am grateful to receive a task as straightforward as this.

I've been following Godin's blog for a while already. I do see him critically more often than not (some of his ideas are interesting, but in the end, he's a marketing consultant, which implies giving other people advice on how to sell more stuff - something which the world, seen from the perspective of fading natural resources, really doesn't need), but I liked this prompt because it fueled my curiosity.

Doris Steiner Bernscherer and her awards
I googled a few minutes and found a couple of things which happened on my birthday - which, by the way, I seem to share with the English snooker player Nigel Bond (who had the peak of his career between 1992 and 1999, while I was finishing my masters, split up with my spouse of 8 years, moved from Mannheim to Karlsruhe, did my PhD, started a new relationship which would last 12 years, moved from Karlsruhe to Frankfurt, and began working as a corporate whore) and the German swimmer Stefan Pfeiffer (who won Olympic bronze in 1984, while I was partying after graduating from high school and panicking because I had no idea what life outside of school could look like; and silver in 1988, while I was busy studying psychology and running an offline non-profit social media platform/ communication magazine with a couple of friends). I had neither heard of Bond nor of Pfeiffer before, but both of them have Wikipedia entrances. I also share my birthday with a female Viennese master butcher named Doris Steiner Bernscherer, who is married to Franz, has won several medals for homemade blood sausage (which, being a vegetarian, makes me shudder), and has two children, the first of who was born in 1986, the year I started my psychology studies (which makes me shudder too, thinking about how completely immature and insecure I was at that time). But now on to some major events on or around my birthday:

LIFE coverage of the November 1965 blackout
The North American East was just recovering from a major blackout which had occurred a few days ago and had lasted for 12 hours in Ontario, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, and New Jersey - due to a human error which caused a safety relay to be set too low.

Battle of la Drang
(Image from Wikipedia)
At the other end of the world, the first major battle (the Battle of la Drang) between the US Army and the People's Army of Vietnam (depicted in the 2002 movie We Were Soldiers with the racist, homophobic and wife-bashing Mel Gibson in the starring role) was fully underway, claiming something between 554 (Vietnamese figures) ad 1,519 (US figures) Vietnamese and 234 (US figures) and 2,974 (Vietnamese figures) US victims, with a disputed result: both sides claimed victory. In this context, I also stumbled across this animation of the battle. Apparently, there are people out there who spend their time chronicling past war battles in online animations - one more thing I wasn't aware of before today.

What really struck a personal chord though is a rather boring legal document which was drafted on my birthday in The Hague, a stone's throw away from Rotterdam: The Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters. Its goals are 'to create appropriate means to ensure that judicial and extrajudicial documents to be served abroad shall be brought to the notice of the addressee in sufficient time' and 'to improve the organisation of mutual judicial assistance for that purpose by simplifying and expediting the procedure'. Who would think that it would become relevant to me 44 1/2 years later, when I had to present our marriage certificate and apostil from Iowa to the Dutch immigration authorities in order to get a residence and work permit for Joey, a farmers' daughter of 8 years in Iowa back then who was not yet able to lift the buckets of feed off the ground (which was the indication of when children on the farm had to start working) when I was born,  to live with me in Rotterdam?

And so, another circle closes.

PS - The Number 1 in the single charts on my birthday was this:


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