The Exorcist and the C(o)unt: or How I got the Luxembourgish nationality 

IMG_3329Time has arrived to look back on my personal experience on becoming Luxembourgish. I applied for the Luxembourgish nationality in 2016, pre Brexit and before the new law.

For this, I studied Luxembourgish for 3 years. But don’t you schwätzt wann ech glift méi on me! I can do small talk in the language of Rodange and Dicks. However, small talk is something I generally hate, so … I rarely use the language.

However, I know enough to to understand hate comments on the RTL website, especially those articles about foreigners’ right to vote or Flüchtlingen. Funny thing is that I also know enough to see that those comments about how one cannot use his own language in his own country! are 90% of the time not grammatically correct.

Luckily, this is not representative for real Luxembourgers. In fact I found here more acceptance and more freedom than in any other place where I lived. I was blessed to know a few exceptional Luxembourgish  to whom I am and will always be grateful for their support, kindness and open-mindedness.

I truly think that knowing at least a few words in the language of the country where you live is a must. However, it takes more than this to make a nation: culture, history, etc.. In the process of learning this language and during my 9 years here, I discovered music, traditions, expressions and the UNITED ZOHA*. And I made friends.

The second challenge on the way is the civil right classes. I had to attend 3: Human Rights, History and law and an optional. Now the system changed and there are more hours of courses to attend.  Back then the class would have around 25 people. Now they do it in amphitheatres. Thank you Brexit and Trump!

During my 3 classes I came across the same people, a colourful crowd from all over the world. Each class had its share of peculiarity, but by far the one that marked my spirit for a loooong time was the Human rights class. It became a tale of dark humour and awkward cultural misinterpretation.

Introducing the characters, people who were in the room:

  • O, a Romanian woman with an identity issue on the edge of falling asleep. Ok, that’s me.
  • Islam – an intelligent man from Bangladesh cursed with this surname
  • English guy (this was pre Brexit) with red cheeks who was holding his eyes with his hands in an attempt to stay awake
  • German woman with a superiority complex
  • The pedantic Danish couple who already knew all the laws
  • The American – a Jewish older guy with glasses who could at any time play Woody Allen (if old Woody ever stops doing films)
  • Two African men dressed in white robes with kufis
  • A Belgium woman who winked at me after the class

And last but not least, in the leading role: the teacher.

I walked into a room and I wondered if I needed an eye control. The first thing I saw was a woman at a desk. It came to my mind the time when a photographer gave me a tip: don’t combine dots and stripes. How about combining dots, on the sleeves, stripes all over and checkers on the margin in all colours of the rainbow? This was the teacher. She had white hair that gave a literal meaning to the expression: “A bad hair day”, but, but… very important: she had a Vuitton bag… and a bright pink expensive brand coat.

The class began and everyone had to introduce themselves in spite of the class “only” being two hours long. The teacher addressed us with the speed of snail going up a window and warned us that her English skills were not so good, because English was her fourth language. She also told us that her ancestors were Prussians who came to Luxembourg because they were fed up with Prussia.

So why did everyone want the nationality? First, we all agreed that the Luxembourgish passport makes travelling life easier.

Then there were other reasons. The German woman was in search of her true national identity, which was in-between English and Luxembourgish. I would have asked her if she wasn’t in search for her manners too, because she spoke with her feet on the table. The Asians and Africans obviously wanted  to live here without paying visits to the authorities every few years. The Danish couple wanted their children to be part of national sports teams. Yes: they were good looking and smart and their kids did performance sports! Plenty of reasons not to like them! The American because in Europe there’s a thing called “social protection”. The Englis was concerned about the (yet improbable at the time) perspective of Brexit. At least this I think he meant when he said that he was afraid to lose his own nationality. Or maybe I was in the wrong institution.

After all these, you probably won’t believe the reasons why I wanted the nationality. Besides the passport, I wanted it because of pure selfish pride, stubbornness and rebellion. I refuse to define myself through one nationality. Without disrespecting my origin, we do not have only one identity. Out of the numerous identities one can posses, some are not even cultural. And secondly because I sincerely love this country. I came to this place because this was where I wanted to live and I made this place my home. Being Luxembourgish is a symbol of all that, and it’s my story.

After that introduction round that lasted a small eternity, we started the class. I fell under a sort of sleep state.

I was waken up several times: one time when the teacher exclaimed: “I’m so glad that people exorcise Luxembourgish at home”. She was wrong: this language is nowhere near being exorcised. This language will haunt us for a long time, especially if Brexit happens and all the Brits living in Luxembourg will have to learn it. This language will haunt us through the new generation of kids who will stay home until they will be 30. It will haunt us through parents will have to learn how to communicate with the kids schooled here. This language will haunt us through the motto of resistance to change (mir well bleiwe watt mir sinn). No, dear, this language will not be exorcised! Still, I imagined the scene of an exorcist coming into a dark house, looking around and saying: A strange language has gone into her. I think she is possessed.

The second time I woke up was when she was giving us a lesson of history. Luxembourg was founded by a cunt. In fact several “c unts” have come to Luxembourg trying to settle with their horses, but one particular “c unt” named “Siegfried” managed to stay here. Most people in the room didn’t notice the mispronunciation. Just the Serbian next to me smiled. The English guy and Woody Allen were both playing with the phone. In the end most of us came in this world through a “c unt”, so what’s the big deal.

The lesson continued through the history of the women rights in Luxembourg, at which point the two African men interrupted her with a question. It was the first question of the evening. She was so happy to have finally a question that she didn’t come back to the subject. That question was: Is it true that they plan to increase the minimum salary? Of course, no, answered the Danish instead of the teacher. Everyone simply ignored the sudden change of topic, considering normal that minimum salary to be discussed at the same time as women rights.

And finally, towards the end, there was time to talk about the integration of the foreigners. The discussion turned to the Portuguese. And here, there was a phrase from the teacher which capture the whole essence of Luxembourg: “Since there was a migration in the 17th (she wanted to say 70s but I forgive her) we are trying to sensibiliticize them to learn the language. But it is very hard. Very, very hard. Because… men work outside and women work inside”. To be mentioned: there was no Portuguese in the room. They were probably having the same class in Luxembourgish.

Now, there’s one thing that I want to make clear: I don’t hold anything against the teacher. I’m sure she did the best she could to give that class. Everyone does fashion mistakes. I do plenty and my hair on a usual day looks awful. I also do funny language mistakes in English, not to mention Luxembourgish. Thank God no one cared so much, when by mistake I directed people to the “horny lady” instead of the “golden lady”.

I am certain that she didn’t have mean intentions. I’m sure that for her it was something normal, inoffensive to classify all the Portuguese in the country into housewives and construction workers. I’m also sure that if she ever reads this she will feel offended, but, I hope that she’ll understand that this text has a satirical scope.

What I would also want to say is that she is wrong again. The new generation of Portuguese speaks very well Luxembourgish. As well as the Italians who came before them. They are (as a friend said) very ambitious and they will succeed where the old generations of Luxos won’t.

And of course, I don’t see the problem with men outside, women inside, when they obviously won’t learn Luxembourgish from each.

Towards the end Islam raised the most intelligent question related to human rights. I was so concentrated trying not to laugh about the exorcist and the cunt that I couldn’t listen to the answer given by the Danish couple.

But please, don’t think that all teachers are like this or that these classes are useless. I learned important information from each of it, especially from the history and politics. These classes introduced me to the overly complicated voting system. Learning the history confirmed that Luxembourg was not actually founded by a cunt but by a count. I learned that there were other capable men and women who made this small country a place where people want to join the nationality.

And in the end, how would you exorcise fear and obsolete ideas imprinted in the conscience of a nation with an identity issue, if it’s not through … humour?

* United Zoha , also called the N rule is a grammarian oddity in Luxembourgish (that most native speakers don’t know as such) consisting of adding N at the words ending in E, when the following word starts with U, N, I, T, E, D, Z, O, H or A. Simple, isn’t it?  

Something´s happening in Luxembourg

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Yet another Nationalfeierdag has passed with fireworks and crowded places. The bridge is healed, the tram is getting ready, constructions still rise everywhere and the population of Luxembourg is growing. I saw yesterday a sea of people, much more colourful and diverse than 8 years ago when I arrived here. Luxembourg is changing, is growing. There are so many cultural activities, networking events that flourished in the last year that I heard many times people saying: “something´s happening”.

Though a part of me already lingers for a piece of lost paradise, the lost paradise of quietness and long walks on empty streets on a Sunday evening, some other part of me tells me that now is a good time: a time for renewal, for hope. Something´s happening, and I think that what we feel are the tectonic movements of our society moving towards a new decade. I heard this somewhere, that the cycles of the world last for about 10 years. And somehow it’s true: why else would we talk about the 90´s, the nostalgic 60´s, the lost 20´s? Though in the core of it, human nature doesn’t change, we indulge in the hope that society does.

I remember also a story of my own about cycles. It was probably 2006 and I was friends with a woman who used to work for the library of the university who had a passion for astrology. She wasn’t the naïve horoscope reader, and, in spite of what one may think, she had a lot of knowledge about stars because her father was an astronomy professor. She was just throwing a symbolism on the astronomical events. So, one day, at a coffee in this old room smelling like old books she read my natal chart and she told me that Jupiter (or Saturn) was about to move in my sign in the following year and this is a cycle that will last for about 12 years, that soon I will undergo a huge change in my system of beliefs. Right, I said… and I moved on. However, as Saturn (or Jupiter) started to move towards the constellation of Scorpio, I did start to change beliefs. I was in my 20s and, as I found out later, there is a psychological equivalent for what was happening to me, and it´s called the “social identity crisis”. Just to give you an example of beliefs that left my constellation that year: the belief that God only resides the Orthodox Church and that he counts the number of times you do the sign of the Cross, the believe that the entire world has something against my nation and the belief that we are all soo different, the idea that sex is shameful, that moving to another country will be a failure.
The fact is that I didn’t just changed. It was part of a process, part of a journey. All that helped back then though, was to take the changes from the environment and try to swim on the wave. That year Romania joined the EU, the economy was up and things were looking good. And then the financial crisis came and we were faced with new challenges. I remember the wave of concern. Where I was working it was like the end of the world was coming. And yet we survived.
And yet the prophecy turned true, not because of Jupiter or Saturn (or maybe, who knows) but because it was time to.

And this is how I felt on the evening before the National Day in Luxembourg.
I attended this play by Serger Tonnar with refugees about refugees: Letters from Luxembourg. This is an emotional journey through concepts like “freedom”, “God” or “home”. It shows the human face behind this term “refugee”, with satirical glimpses on the bureaucratic system. It shows people who miss their loved ones, who ask themselves questions of identity and escape a sea of water to drown in a sea of paper.

But the simple fact that this play was put in place is a step ahead. I watched the dedication and the emotions of those people through the glass of my own becoming and I feel grateful to be the receiver of this artistic act. I am grateful to see people putting a piece of their heart out in the world, expressing, creating in spite of tough things they went through. Having the chance to do so, is already a seed of freedom that we can grow.

Yes, something’s happening. We now have a comedy scene starting, a poetry scene coming behind a little bit more shy, we have festivals, art events and open air concerts. For me they all are linked by an invisible thread which is the need for expression and creativity. In this part of the world where our basic needs get met, the need for meaning starts to show its shy head. I know that still the majority lives in the hamster wheel of “eat-work-sleep”, but there are more and more people who reach out for more, for something to feed their soul with.

If I say that it’s already a very positive thing, because you don’t know it but I was born and raised a pessimist. Me acknowledging that there is hope for our generation is like an acrophobian saying that he might consider sky diving in the coming year. At least this is the effect that these tectonic movements had on me: they turned me into an unexpected optimist. Don’t worry, there is a downside to optimism: since I’ve become an optimist, I tend to go out without an umbrella. Which not always works.

Don’t get me wrong: there are still a lot of problems happening around. There is still hate, there are crimes, stress. There were 3 major accidents on construction sites and there are still refugees welcomed with suspicious looks. There are still poor people on the street and there are those who get fired without explanation. There are still burnouts, oh there are more burnouts than ever, in fact. But I also found more people rising from their own ashes than ever. As I noticed from my life experience, for someone or for a structure to grow, either one has to learn from the others (and how do I know, most people don’t have the capacity to do so as we are never encouraged to), or to get to a place which is so uncomfortable that one starts to feel the need to get out. Sometimes we need to go down to hell, like Dante, to walk our way up, through purgatory to paradise.

And the road from hell is a long road uphill. Like these valleys that surround Luxembourg and its plateaus. Sometimes you seem to have reached the peak but you didn’t and you get down again, deeper in a new valley, and then you go up again on the old fortification towers and so forth and so on.

But when something seems to be happening, we can still look with curiosity towards the future and maybe… maybe if we have the courage, to look for what we can contribute to this change.

You know it’s October in Luxembourg when…

My first Jack-o'-lantern

Pumpkin missed its chance to become soup

Did you hear? Autumn is in town, blowing it’s redhead temperament over the Grand Duchy and its countless forests, and you might still not want to believe it… Well, good or bad news, October is here and it’s planning to stay at least 3 more weeks. As for me, I find it difficult to explain (to others) but fall is my favorite season, and October is it’s high time. It’s a good month to draw some lines, start some projects, let some creative thoughts kindle the inner Jack-o’-lantern.

However, if you happen to be in denial, here are some hints about how to identify the month of October here. So, here we go.

You know it’s October (or simply fall) in Luxembourg when:

… Everyone get nuts about going to the nut fair Vianden, a perfect occasion to buy nut liquor while moving along in a sea of people.

…When people start panicking that WINTER is coming!!! even in those years when we’ve been blessed with an Indian summer. You hear the first people setting appointments for the winter tires and women whispering to each other: “I have to admit it… I could no longer resist it. I know I shouldn’t have done it but…. I did it. I turned the heating on. …. Did you?” “Oh yes, I’ve sinned too!”

…When expats complain most about the depressing weather in Luxembourg.

…When Cineast starts. In case you do not know, this is a film festival bringing Eastern European productions to Luxembourg. The subjects of these films are limited to a manic-depressive sphere. We have deranged family drama and revolutions (Romanians are the specialists here), deranged politics with a glimpse of religion (go Poland!), Czech films with jokes about Slovaks that no one understands, war drama and tragedy (any ex-Yugoslavian country excels in this) and obviously, immigration and poverty which are the two topics that unite us all in the Eastern + Baltic bloc.
To break the bitterness now and then comes a Balkan music concert or a comedy (usually dark comedy on the above topics) and culinary events.
And despite all the drama and the depressive tone, the festival (which I LOVE by the way) seems to expand every year with new selections, new countries and to last longer. Maybe in a few years it will cover the entire month of October and all cardinal points.

…When you start planning the month of December and you realize that you no longer have any day left without a End-Year Party, Christmas party, charity party or team dinner, friends gathering dinner, let’s-go-to-the-Christmas-market-dinner-lunch-or-Sunday-afternoon-party and you start thinking with horror how you are going to run for Christmas presents between the 21st and 24th of December.

…When Auchan sets up a mushrooms stand and Cactus starts selling stollen (traditional Christmas cake).

…When you’re panicking because either you don’t have any more holidays left or you have too many. In any case you’re not allowed to complain because you’re in Luxembourg and you have more holidays than the rest of the world.

…When you understand that soon you’ll do most of the things in the dark or artificial light.

…When you start looking for flights to places where it’s sunny.

….When in your office you have arguments about whether it is ethical for someone who coughs to come to work or not.

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A Jack o’ Lantern called O. October.

As for me, I knew it’s October when I realized that I had received this mini pumpkin in September. It was a gift from a friend’s garden and it was supposed to become part of some soup. Instead, by the time I got to my kitchen a month has passed. So, I assigned it a new destiny and it became my first  Jack-o’-lantern, to lighten my balcony.

A tribute to the lake of Esch sur Sure


Esch sur sure

I rarely write or read poems, usually over a glass of wine or a cigarette, and both happen quite rarely. That night they must have happened simultaneously, because I still wonder if it is me who wrote it.

It has to be mentioned that the lake of Esch sur Sure is our main source of drinking water in Luxembourg and a great source of natural beauty. The water is clear. It’s a delight to swim there on the rare days when it’s not too cold. Unfortunately there were a few contaminations in the last years.
One summer day, I saw a big greenish oily stain spreading on the lake and it remained in my memory as an uncomfortable feeling: a bad premonition, the image of destructive actions, and more often non-actions, we inflict on both nature, our source of life and personal relationships, our sources of happiness.
I wrote this poem during a cold night on my balcony as a souvenir of summer.
 The lake
Grey-blue reflections
were troubling the water surface.
The lake was just the excuse
for a lonely encounter with the past.
I wished I were in a cooler place
but I was where I was supposed to be,
in the heat of the last day
of the summer when I left you behind.
It was a prime day
as no other day of the year
was as hot as that one.
The sun was spreading over the rippled surface
and I, and you, and all the world
could only think about heat.
There was a forest behind,
dark and cool and it made us all afraid.
Laying on the shore of the lake,
I touched you and you looked away.
A young girl in a dotted red swimsuit
was floating on her back
making angel water wings with her arms
and from the river, a dark oily stain
spread on the water
until it reached her and the shore
and I knew that afternoon
that nothing would ever be the same.
The lake was just the excuse
The stain was the ache of the lake
And we were all just dots
On a young girl’s swimsuit

Ech welle GUER NET bleiwe watt ech sinn

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I do not, in any case, want to remain what I am.

Did you know that Luxembourg is one of those countries which has a national quote. Fancy, right? It sounds extravagant and intellectual. It states Mir wir bleiwe wat mir sinn. I hope I spelled it correctly and in accordance with the last rules of grammar, because Luxembourgish grammar is younger than the quote.
It means We want to remain what we are and it originated (at least that’s what wikipedia says) in 1859 around the building of the first railways connecting Luxembourg to the neighbouring countries. In a time when mobility was increasing and people from other countries were coming to visit easily, the Luxembourgers wanted to show that they exist on the map, they have been there since some time and want to remain what they are.

Fast forward to World War 2. The Luxembourgish citizens were forced to declare that they were speaking a German dialect, not a language of their own. This time not only was their identity mocked and questioned (as it has always been and still is the case today), but it was literally denied. It was a tough time, and it even went as far as to deport people who would refuse to sign it.
So, in those circumstances,  it made perfectly sense to say: we want to remain what we are.

Fast forward to the 60s or d’Sixties (the name of a documentary about the golden decade in Luxembourg). Luxembourg was negotiating being founding member of the European Union (which didn’t exist). At that time the population of the country consisted mostly of farmers and metal industry workers, so basically it was a poor country. A handful of people formed outside the country came with the ambition to make Luxembourg one of the three centres for EU institutions. For that purpose the Grand Duc and Grande Duchesse gave the permission to transform Kirchberg which was only fields and forests into a modern quarter and to put a red bridge to connect it with the city.

When I saw d’Sixties I imagined a peasant sitting on a stone, looking at his field, looking at the clouds gathering, letting a sight go because the crops seems to be compromised and a group of people passing by asking: “Hey, dude, what would you say if Luxembourg would be part of this new thing called European Union? What would you say if Luxembourgers would host European institutions?”
And the peasant looking at the clouds again, looking at his crops, shifting on his seating stone, thinking “This stone might be a little edgy,  it might hurt my butt a little but at least I’ve been sitting on it since years looking at my crops” and saying “Ne! Mir well bleiwe watt mir sinn“.

Fast forward another 40-45 years later, during the economical boom. Luxembourg was a country with the best salaries and the banking system was flourishing, companies were blooming and there was work to be found, cross boarders arrived from all three corners of the country and there was cheep alcohol and cigarettes. Luxembourgers finally had time to create a grammar and to implement the written language and in the mean time there was a general opening towards languages and foreigners. They were building museums with plans made by famous worldwide architects and Luxembourg was becoming the European Capital of Culture.
No one gave a damn about mir well bleiwe watt mir sinn. Even some farmers became rich by selling their land to investors.

And then, by the time I got to Luxembourg, days before I start my job, a big bank crashed in the US and it created a big economical crisis.

And here we are in Luxembourg these days, where the unemployment rate is still acceptable (at least compared to other countries in Europe) and the prices of housing continue to raise artificially because of locals selling their parents houses and moving in France or Germany and some referendum tries to open the rights of voting to the foreigners, out of the sudden, again, the Luxembourgish resurrect the national motto.

Now, I consider this country to be my home. I was more welcomed here than anywhere in the world. I found incredible people, my best friends are here. I appreciate the life in Luxembourg. But why on earth, why why why would you like to remain WHAT you are. 

Why WHAT and not WHO?

Actually the WHO we are? is the BIG question in Luxembourg and is equally a theme for the locals, for the 2nd generation of Portuguese and Italian, for the expats, for the cross boarder workers, for the immigrants. Who we are, us who live here?

If I wouldn’t have asked this precious question “Who am I?” years ago I would for sure wanted to remain what I was.
And I am a lot like Luxembourg, in a way. Just a glimpse of personal memory here: what was I some time ago? You might not know so let me tell you.
3 years ago, the woman writing these lines had already passed the big challenging of integration and had a nice job, a boyfriend and a bunch of friends. Life was comfortable sitting on the stone and watching the clouds that were gathering. 3 years ago the woman writing these lines was terrified by the idea of change.
She was afraid and unable to climb a few stairs without stopping in the middle.
She was afraid to go for a run.

She was afraid to express her thoughts.
She was afraid to step out of a relationship which was breaking.
She was (at least in her opinion at that time and for many domains of life) worthless.

Back then if you would have asked me, I was damn sure that I wanted to remain what I was.

But I didn’t. One day I realised that WHAT I was didn’t define me, that I was asking myself the wrong question. WHO I was had nothing to do with the WHAT I was, because who you are is that thing in the middle of our soul that defines our values and shapes our personality. What we are can be changed.
So I changed! And that’s the thing about change: it’s addictive. I’ve become something else. I don’t know how it look to the outsiders, but from here, from inside it’s far better.

I also understood that we do not have to limit our identity to one thing. One can be Luxembourgish even if one has an Italian and an English parent (a situation that I saw in Luxembourg)… and be Jewish on top, who cares.

So because Ech well NET bleiwe watt ech sinn, I will apply sometimes in the future for the Luxembourgish nationality.

And because Luxembourg didn’t remain what it was, we now have the possibility to live in a country where important decisions are taken, where we are still not afraid to walk in the streets and where we can have a happy life (because we have more than we need to have a happy life). We also have the opportunity to live among hypocrisy and fear and xenofobia and whatever. But are not doomed to remain what we are. We also have the chance to live among people from all the corners of the world and learn from our differences. We can change for better!

Yes we can!

The day when I took a nap

SOMEtimes all you need is agood sleep

Since we get close to the big event, I feel that I have to confess that I don’t really like December (this is what I’ll celebrate on the New Year’s Eve: its ending).  It’s a month with a lot of pressure: buying presents, social events, finding ideas for season’s greetings (at which I suck, by the way). There’s also this delusional deadline we put on all our small achievement, the father of all deadlines: before end of year. Buhuhuuu! (guess why I’m writing on the 30th!)

It’s also the month with the winter solstice, the darkest of the year. I noticed that the older I get, the more sensitive I am to the solstice. I might be in denial but my body knows it. So, as we approach the solstice this wonderful body of mine starts to send signals of exhaustion: muscle pain, bad sleep, dark shades under the eyes. From time to time, it just shouts: have a break!!!

This reminds me of a day when I took that break. It was a day (in December) when many urgent stuff started to cumulate at work in a short amount of time. Most of my colleagues were on holidays. I couldn’t sleep the night before.

At the coffee machine two people told me that I look “really sick”. I did my best to deny it and smile. As the morning progressed, I started to fall deeply into stress. With every new email that seemed to be urgent, my hands were shaking. With every new file I was trying to work on, I was doing more and more stupid mistakes. Then I would realise that I saved and closed and that, like Sisyphus, I needed to start over again to correct and I would do another mistake.

When I got to a 3rd trial of a task, I had an enlightening moment. I took two hours for lunch, went home and had a nap.
That was the first time in my life when I experienced a power nap. I barely had time to throw my shoes off, I dived in the sheets, closed my eyes and the next thing I knew was the alarm that 45 minutes have passed.
I dreamt during those 45 minutes. I dreamt the warmth that was surrounding me, the void in which there was no thought about work or deadlines or emergencies.
And when I woke up, I brushed my teeth, I threw cold water on my face, and looked in the mirror. Indeed, I was looking very bad, but better than before. And most importantly, I could keep going.

 

I was looking in the mirror and I started to recall the other big time when I took a break, despite all the emergency alarms which were shouting at me: You already had enough breaks! 
It was the day when I presented my final project and paper for my Bachelor degree. Stakes were high, and I had had many (unhealthy) breaks. So many that my project and my paper were still not entirely finished at 5 a..m.. in the morning. That’s the exact hour when I came home from the printer shop, which, thank’s God in some countries these shops. are open 24h/24. I was still determined to work until the last minute and started to do a last fine tuning of the software that I was supposed to present and… tadam! I broke it.

 

That’s when, I turned off my PC, confident that I have a backup of the previous version and I decided to take a break. I slept until 10 and I went to have my presentation at 11. It turned out that I had taken the wrong version of my project: unfinished and not working, but somehow, in the torment of my stressed mind, the sleep had made an effect and I pulled out of my ass a joke which saved my presentation. And the most important: I didn’t fall that day in my bathroom and didn’t hit my head on the bathtub.

 

No, that had happened the year before when I needed to submit another project and hadn’t been taking a break. It was the enlightening experience that makes me today listen to my body. I only had a bruise, but I was lucky.

Coming back on the day when I took two hours for lunch. I came back and my phone was flashing red. There were three call backs. I took me an hour to have the courage to return those calls. In the meantime, for all three of them, people had found solutions without me.

The moral of these stories is pretty simple. Sometimes is good to take a break. Sometimes is absolutely vital. Usually your body knows it and the world keeps turning even if you take a nap.

Unfortunately in Luxembourg, in the world of banks, audit, traffic jams,  under a constant threat of losing your job, we can see through the glass building, but not through ourselves.

After I finished my bachelor degree, I’ve never been close to a burnout. That was a question of choice. That morning at 5 a.m. after coming from the printer shop, I took a short video of birds singing and the sun rising over the city and I promised myself solemnly to never get there again. Ever. And I kept my promise.

 

I do know, however, (too many) people in Luxembourg who have been in the territory of burnout. The law does not fully recognise it as a medical condition nor are people very empathetic about it. Like many other things, it’s a big taboo.

For the coming year, that’s one of the things I hope for to change. Among others.

I’m wishing you a hopeful year 2016!

A new blog is born

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I started to write a blog when I came to Luxembourg. I wrote in my native language. It was my personal space where I was sharing my experiences of living abroad for those whom I don’t get to see that often.

It was fun to write, it was something that I enjoyed. I wrote about trivial things: how I arrived here, what I found interesting, my trips, and short attempts of clumsy creative writing. Nothing extremely serious or important, but still a piece of me put out there in the public space. Well, nothing important in appearance. Some good things happened thanks to it. I own my blog at least one friend and a big bunch of courage.

I stopped a year ago because some events diminished my mood for sharing my thoughts.

Then, following a chain of not so pleasant events, my life took a twist and I experienced a series of changes. One was that my social life took a boost and I met many people from all over the world living in Luxembourg, so I decided to write in English and maybe to expand my audience to people outside my circle.

Off course, I procrastinated, because I couldn’t find the right name, the right rhythm, because I was afraid that no one will read it, because I didn’t have the banner that I imagined it would have, in short I postponed it for one year.

Until one day I decide to screw it all, and just put it out there: bad or good name, no banner, no imagine, just my thoughts.

Because it is mostly about me, about how I see life, how I live in this country with contradictory faces and how I perceive the light/dark side of Luxembourg, while exposing part of me.

So here’s how Luxposure is born.