The Pickled Mushroom

A Mix of News

July 5, 2009

A bit of stuff has been going on – for one, I took part in the absolutely terrific tooth brushing flashmob in Düsseldorf. I’ll do a separate post for that later.

I’m also on holidays now – summer holidays, in case my Aussie friends didn’t know. *wink* It’s good to not have homework and instead a lot of time to read and draw, especially the latter. I’ve neglected my art shamefully in the two months since coming back to Germany, so it’s good to be back on track. It’s a bit sad though having holidays because I’m also done with Latin – forever. I’ve earned the Latinum, which is like a certificate confirming that I have completed my five years of studying Latin. My marks aren’t outstanding, but alright, considering that I have only been here to be marked for two months.

On the topic of art again, I intend to spend heaps of time drawing during the holidays, preferably two hours or more a day. (Lazy thing that I am, I’m aiming for one and a half first, but we’ll see.) Looking around on the web, also among others my age, I’m amazed at all the incredibly talented people out there. It’s going to be hard work trying to catch up and reach the level to work as a professional artist, but I’m positive that with persistence and a good attitude I’ll get there. Looking at other artists’ journey from amateur to pro is greatly inspiring and shows me that even they have once been at the point that I am at now.

To have an additonal motivation I went back to my account on Concept Art and opened my own sketchbook. If people here are interested in my drawings, have a look over there! It’s still very pitiful, but I’m doing my best to improve. (And one day, some day, I’ll surely have a working scanner to not have to take photos of everything. Grrr.) Right now I’ve got two things in the work, a sketch of the armchair in our living room and a small still-life I set up on my table, including my beloved Innocent World headbow. Both are on hold right now, though, as the lighting (natural sunglight) changed too much for me to continue. Since I’ll be working all during the week, I think I can only continue them on the weekend or such. Pity.

Ah, yes. Work. I’m very happy to be helping in a holiday work shop for disabled children from Monday to Friday, some of them I know already from helping in a Friday afternoon group. The pay isn’t bad either, so the perfect holiday job. I hope, by the way, to get a mini-job at my favourite cosmetics brand Lush when I’ve turned 18. They’re free of animal testing, environmentally friendly, have awesome products, great customer service… Figures I’d love working there. It’s only 11 more days till my birthday.


Ten Things I Like – Number One

June 27, 2009

Inspired by Dianne Sylvan’s lists on Dancing Down the Moon. She’s one of my great role models and since a big box from Australia finally arrived with my copy of The Body Sacred (which is outrageously good) I’m rereading it currently and just found out about her blog. I want to be a bit more mindful again of the things I’m blessed with, so here we go with my first list.

1. Sailor Moon. I loved the series as a little girl and I’m right back into it. I never really realized how truly good and danceable the first German intro is. (And the video! The video!) She will always stay my heroine, somewhere in my heart. I hung up two old posters on my wall.

2. The sky clearing up after it’s rained.

3. Pink. It’s not a colour people associate with me and I don’t wear it, but it’s such a beautiful colour. I’m talking about dusky rose here, beige pink, peach blush… Not the Barbie kind.

4. Online TCGs. I only know German ones and currently play Gekko Yume (where I used to be webmistress, back when I was still known as Dorinka) and Whispering Secrets.

5. Steampunk. Victorian fashion. Jules Verne. Brass. Goggles. Air kraken. Need I say more?

6. Sherlock Holmes. I don’t think I can ever stress enough how good a read Sherlock Holmes is.

7. Animals. There’s nothing that makes you more accepting of everything fate might throw at you than spending some time around animals. Have you ever seen the calm dignity in a cow’s eyes?

8. The sea. I don’t even like it so much to swim in it, just revelling in its sight and smell and feel as it caresses my feet is enough.

9. Flashmobs. They are reintroducing chaos, senselessness and fun for the sake of fun to a world that’s ruled by an “eyes on the prize” mentality where everything has to have a purpose: to make you rich or famous or successful.

10. Lying in bed reading while the rain is pouring outside.

The Fool

June 24, 2009
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The Fool

Pointy shoes, the tips turned up
Coquettish rests the jester’s cap
Upon his curls, his copper curls
As in a tune his fingers snap

A merry jingle follows him
As vultures do a dying man
He’s not in chains
But still he’s trapped

 “What can I play for you today?”
He banters with a witty smile
“The flute, the harp, the drums, the pipe?”
The king is still
The jester knows, the web is tight

 The smile that’s painted on his face
Does well to hide his harried eyes
He leaps and rolls and twists to please
The man that holds him like a vice

 There is no smile to coax today
From the king’s wine-sodden lips
His reddened ears, without a doubt
Follow not the joker’s wit 

The fool despairs, he knows too well
The end is not to please the king
He leaps the higher, twists the more
And yet it is to no avail 

A sad thing is a jester’s life
As fragile as his bones
The turn of thumb will signify
If he’ll see the next dawn’s glow
From his rooms
Or from a cell 

Balanced on a tightrope
He has but the king’s pleasure
To measure
His life.

A poem I wrote for English class. Jesters and clowns are a recurring theme in my drawings, so I thought I might write about them too.

Fresh Cherries & Cocaine

June 17, 2009

After the business of the last weekend I’m glad to relax a bit. It was Japan Day in Düsseldorf, a huge annual event, and there was a skirt to be sewn for the lolita meet-up I was going to attend. It was fun and I saw many absolutely gorgeous outfits and met really nice people. There was a fashion show on done by CD Japan, featuring two drop-dead gorgeous outfits by Victorian Maiden and Beth. Also, a freeze flashmob! It was a bit unorganized though, but maybe it’ll be better next year.

Now that it’s over, I’m happy sitting back and reading. As posted yesterday, I read my way through Body. Leben im falschen Körper by Christine Fehér and am now devouring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, the complete novels and short stories in two volumes. I’ve started reading the first book before and got as far as The Adventure of the Crooked Man before I stopped reading for some reason – I think it was during a holiday and cannot for the life of me remember why. Right now I have finished A Study in Scarlet which I think is absolutely brilliant, and am at the beginning of The Sign of Four.

I adore the old-fashioned language, all the “my dear fellow” and “I dare say”, the foggy streets of London filled with cabs and street urchins, the sitting-room fireplaces and gentlemen. It takes me right back in time and makes me wish to travel into this London that is so morbid and homely at the same time.

It also intrigues me how closely light and dark go together. Holmes, while being highly intellectual, sensible and a master of deduction, is also arrogant, almost cold, and sharp. Not to mention his cocaine addiction, which I have to confess fascinates me immensely. I have the deepest respect for Watson’s disdain of it, seeing that in the times of Holmes cocaine was freely available and not considered unhealthy in any way, so Holmes’s dependency on his “seven-per-cent solution” thrice a day is not thought of as bad by society in general.

Watson in general is a wonderful character that is reduced way too often to a clumsy dimwit, another Oliver Hardy to make Holmes look even more intelligent by comparison. While it is true that he lacks the sharp skills of observation and deduction that Holmes possesses, Watson is in no way lacking in wits, he simply cannot win if compared with his companion. (But then, who can?) He himself has considerable skills and knowledge and is a renowned medical expert, which I think speaks of his qualities. He’s also the filter through which the reader may see Holmes without being put off by his cold sharpness.

Just last night I read an excellent essay about the two as a possible couple, and while this is of course debatable, there have been a lot of scholarly studies, essays and analyses concerning Watson and his women, Holmes and his lack of women, Watson and Holmes. I personally quite like it since having read a few good texts on the subject. To each their own, I suppose.

In philosophy class yesterday we talked about Peter Singer and what he says about vegetarianism being the way to go. Since I am almost vegan now (I do still eat products with dairy or eggs in them occasionally, but try to avoid them) I had to explain myself again to classmates as to why, etc. While I have no problem with that, I do find it amusing how often I am asked, “What do you eat?” Heaps of stuff, actually, but nobody seems to believe me when I say that I eat lots of yummy things everyday without having to resort to animal products. Strange, that. (Mind you, I was actually munching on a delicious vegan muffin while explaining, so… I don’t know, maybe they didn’t consider muffins a good example of nice foods. I can’t fathom why.)

Today my grandmother went to the market and bought fresh cherries and strawberries. I love strawberries, but cherries are more expensive and one of my favourite treats! There’s nothing better than reading a good book or essay and slowly eating up a great bunch of sweet, fresh cherries.

Book: Christine Fehér – Body

June 16, 2009
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Title: Body. Leben im falschen Körper. (= Live/Living in the wrong body.)

Author: Christine Fehér

Date of publication: 2003

Original language: German

“Wie war das für dich, als du erfahren hast, dass ich… nun ja, also körperlich ein Mädchen bin?”

“Na ja, ein bisschen geschockt hat mich das schon. Schließlich war ich verknallt in dich.”

In meinem Hirn rattert es. Verknallt? Julian hat sich in mich als Jungen verknallt?

“Dann bist du also…”



“What was it like for you when you found out that I… well, that I’m physically a girl?”

“Well, truth to be told, I was a bit shocked. I had a crush on you, after all.”

It’s working in my brain. A crush? Julian had a crush on me as a boy?

“So you are…”


The Art of Anne-Julie Aubry

June 10, 2009
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“Anne-Julie is a distant dreamer, a sleepwalker on the lookout, a traveler from the shadows who loves labyrinths and unanswered enigmas, fairy tales and girls with white socks (Alice and her direct descendant, Ofelia, Pan’s Labyrinth heroine). At night, her heroines are lost in a nebulous kingdom full of dragonflies and flakes…” Danielle Chou

I have just recently discovered and instantly fallen in love with the art of Anne-Julie Aubry. She was born 1980 in France.

Her art is divided into two basic categories, Dark and Whimsical. I personally am deeply in love with both. Her pictures are like so many of my fantasies and day dreams of a strange fairy tale come true, it is easy to look at her work and not look away again for a long, long time.

The simplicity of the shapes and compositions used underline the childlike appeal of this weird wonderland she sends her heroines into, a world of dreams and mirrors and keys to nowhere, where two-headed girls walk their pet dogs on wheels.

Aubry’s art is refreshingly simple but beautiful, weird but genuine, dark but childlike. My fingers are itching now for my watercolours, just looking at her works gives me an incredible boost of creativity and makes me want to explore those strange worlds with my own brush and colours.

Anne-Julie Aubry’s Homepage

Her blog “Ma petite theiere”


Anniversary Treats

June 9, 2009

It’s time to celebrate! Sunday was not only full moon, but also the day that I’ve been vegetarian for a month and a week now. I’m very happy and proud of myself. I’ve heard that the first month is the threshold, so I consider myself safe now 🙂 However, I don’t want to annoy my non-vegetarian (which will be most of you) readers by going on and on about it again, but instead I will post the recipe of the vegan brownies I made on Saturday to celebrate. I did go by a recipe, but I modified it quite a bit, so here’s my own version of it. Enjoy!

Vegan Walnut Brownies

500ml flour*
470ml sugar**
235ml cocoa***
235ml soy milk
120ml vegetable oil
2 handfuls of walnuts, chopped roughly
200g block of dark cooking chocolate
1 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift flour into a large bowl. Add sugar, cocoa and baking powder.

Melt chocolate in a small bowl that you put into a pot of boiling water. Add some margarine if you like. In another bowl, mix the milk, oil and vanilla. When liquid, add the chocolate.

Pour the mixture into the bowl with the flour. Mix well, it will be quite thick. Add milk or flour if you’re not content with the texture yet. Add the walnuts.

Pour the dough into an oiled and floured square pan.

Bake for 30 minutes at 180°C. See if it’s done by stabbing into it with a knife or a fork – if it comes out clean, it’s done.

Guten Appetit! (That’s German for “enjoy your food” and is said before eating. Like “bon appétit” for the French or “itadakimasu” for the Japanese.)

* I used whole grain wheat flour, but if you don’t like the “healthy” taste of it, just use plain white flour.
** I used unrefined cane sugar, but as above, plain white is okay too. I also want to experiment with agave nectar and maple syrup to get the brownies a bit more gooey.
*** I used drinking chocolate powder because I didn’t have pure cocoa, but it worked out well. However, it might be that less chocolate is needed when pure cocoa is used.

They turned out very nice, my family loves them. My friends at school were also very surprised at how good they although they are vegan, it was quite amusing to watch their reactions.

There’s still room for improvement, though. They turned out a bit floury, but that might be due to the use of drinking chocolate instead of pure cocoa. They’re not overly sweet which I think goes very nicely with the slightly bitter taste of the walnuts. Also, a bit crumbly. Ah well. I’m working on it. Maybe I’ll revise the recipe once I’ve done some experimenting.

I’m also thinking about another name change. Yet again. I know, I know.

Book: Kai Meyer – Frostfeuer

June 1, 2009
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Title: Frostfeuer

Author: Kai Meyer

Date of publication: 2005

Original language: German

Der alte Mann saß auf einer Bank vor dem Winterpalais und fütterte die Schneeflocken.

Neben ihm lag ein kleiner Lederbeutel, aus dem er dann und wann eine Hand voll silbrigen Staubes hervorzog und mit einem leisen, glücklichen Lachen vor sich in die Luft streute. Die wattigen Flocken, die seit Tagen ununterbrochen aus dem grauen Himmel fielen, schwärmten sogleich aus alles Richtungen herbei und ballten sich um die glitzernde Wolke. Wenn sie am Boden ankamen, war der Staub verschwunden. Die Schneeflocken hatten ihn aufgezehrt.


The old man was sitting on a bench in front of the winter palace and fed the snowflakes.

Next to him lay a small leather bag out of which he took every now and then a handful of silvery dust and sprinkled it with a quiet, happy laugh into the air in front of him. The cottony flakes that had been falling out of the grey sky for days immediately came swarming from all directions and clustered around the glittering cloud. When they reached the ground, the dust had gone. The snowflakes had eaten it all up.

Chaos out of Nowhere…

May 31, 2009
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So. Today was the big “Banana Bang” flashmob in Düsseldorf – and it was MASSIVE. The whole square (which is admittedly not sooo big, but it still was around 70 people or more) was crammed with mobbers, and everyone had a blast. For your information, here the instructions: (translated from German)

Date: 30.05.2009 Time: 3.15pm

Where?: Düsseldorf, around the main entrance of Schadow-Arkaden (like a mall)

What?: Banana-Bang!

What’s that?: Inspired by this ad:
a flashmob with bananas has evolved, like here

We’re doing this!: We’ll meet at the time named generously around the main entrance area of Schadow-Arkaden in the inner city of Düsseldorf. Keep the bananas hidden! There’ll be two initiators that will encounter and draw the bananas. Wait for that moment, then pull out your bananas and aim at each other (just aim, don’t shoot!). Be creative, make something out of it. 😉 We’ll stay like that for a few moments and then one of the two initiators will let loose the first banana shot. Now you can start shooting. Of course everyone doesn’t have to go down immediately, but it shouldn’t take much too long. When everyone is “shot” lying on the ground, wait 30 seconds (count to 30 slowly) and then stand up and act like nothing happened! Scatter in different directions and enjoy the banana. 😉

A few more “suggestions”:

  1. Please DON’T stand around in attention-drawing little groups. Walk along normally, go into shops, whatever. You can also stand aside a bit and come running at the right moment.
  2. Please pay attention to the bordering streets. Don’t block them!
  3. Please try to stay serious during the mob. A banana shooting is not funny. 😉
  4. DON’T CLAP, DON’T LAUGH, DON’T TALK ABOUT IT at the end! The flashmob is supposed to disperse as quickly as it appeared. If the “audience” claps, that’s okay of course.

Sooo. It was realllly good, there were so many people! It was hard not to look suspicious somehow, seeing that there just wasn’t enough space to casually linger around. I had a hard time trying to find a shop front to look at inconspicuously.

There were several videos recorded:

So far I haven’t spotted myself in it, but I wasn’t right in the middle of the throng.

My little Table is my Joy

May 25, 2009

Having my own little table under the window in my room and finally having bought a new sketchbook has given my creativity a nice boost. I can’t wait to fill my sketchbook with drawings from life!

Philosophy class proved a real test for me as we discussed ethics in dealing with animals and, especially, vegetarianism. Needless to say that I had a bit of a hard time as the only vegetarian out of a class of twenty-five.

And Düsseldorf is getting pretty active concerning flashmobs – I took part in one last Saturday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Germany’s constitution, tomorrow I’m in a “banana bang”.

Bananas and Books

May 18, 2009

I am very excited: on the 30th of May, there is going to be a flash-mob in Düsseldorf. I love flash-mobs! In case you don’t know, flash-mobs are quite senseless activities organized to take place in a public place suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, to then disintegrate again just as quickly. For example, a pillow fight in front of a well-known building, or freezing in place for a few minutes. Important is that this activity is completely without any deeper motivation behind it, flash-mobs are never meant to be political or for activism, otherwise it’s just a campaign. Look it up on Youtube, there’s tons of really good flash-mobs there.

So, it’s going to be a banana bang: everyone will bring a banana and there will be two people acting as “triggers” – they will pretend to start a fight and draw their bananas, aiming at each other. This is the signal for everyone else to do this as well! So after a very tense moment of everyone taking aim with their banana, one of the two triggers “shoots”, shouting a loud bang. Here is where it gets fun, because now is the time to really act it and get shot and “die” as dramatically as possible. When everyone is one the ground, there’s waiting for about half a minute, then everyone gets up and leaves like nothing has happened.

I once organized a small flash-mob which consisted of blowing bubbles. It really was quite small, but fun, and this one should be a good deal bigger, and as mentioned before, I’m very excited.

Last Saturday, I was at a small book market, trying to sell some of my old books. (Some? Boxes of them! I just have too many. Or rather, too little space.) I made 11€, which is not much, but okay. However, I found a real treasure among the old books and bought it: a book on soccer, written by Fritz Walter who was a very famous soccer placer and also player in the national team of 1954 when we won the world cup in Switzerland, this is now called the “Miracle of Bern” because Germany’s victory was completely unexpected and it helped give the whole nation a big heads-up in the great post-war depression. So, I found this book by him – and it is signed! By Fritz Walter! There was also a signed autograph picture in there and someone’s old school graduation report from 1938, the writing is so old-fashioned I can hardly read it. Amazing!

Currently I am working on a blouse for Henrietta, and it’s pretty tricky, but I’ll get there. It’s all pretty straight-forward so far, except for the darts at the bust. Oh dear! Something’s really wrong with my concept there, I’ll have to get myself some advice.

I think I’m finally getting over my “I’m not bonding with my doll” blahblah – when I took her measurements, I fell in love with her all over again. Even unpolished as she is, she is such a beautiful work of art already. I love her beautifully sculpted hands, her perfectly moulded ears, her delicate shoulder blades, her tiny toes. And that she is so unfinished only means that she still has so much potential! I cannot wait to finally have the time to work on her again. This week I have school only Monday and Tuesday, I will surely be able to do something about it in the five free days.

Today I also wrote a letter to the company that makes my favourite liquorice – I don’t want to eat it anymore now because it contains gelatine, which is made from animal bones, skins, hooves and horns, and I do not feel comfortable eating that anymore as a vegetarian. However, other products of theirs use agar-agar as a thickener instead of gelatine, and I wrote to them asking for the reason, and if something can be done about it. It probably won’t help much, but it’s a good feeling to have at least tried to do something.

Speaking of food, I’m going to make another post today to keep things neat, and in it I’ll put my recipe for potato soup. It’s really simple and absolutely delicious! I froze the leftovers from last time I made it and I’m going to have them tomorrow together with cucumber salad. Yum!

A Love Letter to the Poisonous Earl and his Butler

May 17, 2009

Just last night I finally finished the last volume of Kaori Yuki’s God Child and I find, as so often after finishing something that leaves me emotionally very drained, that right now I’m not in the shape to read anything else just yet.

One day I’ll surely do a proper review of the series, but at the moment all I’m capable of is a long (!) rambling about my two favourite characters, Riff and Cain.

Spoilers ahead!

Life’s A Doll House

May 14, 2009

Besides a bit of a Latin rant, there’s a lot of talk about ABJDs (that is, Asian Ball-Jointed Dolls) today, so if you’re not prepared for seeing how doll-loving I am, don’t read on. Some words about art and my current reading as well.

Art, Roses and Vegetables

May 11, 2009
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Thanks to all my Aussie friends for keeping writing to me, your mails/comments always make my day 🙂 I hope we’ll always stay in contact.

School is slowly getting normal again, and I am seeing things a bit more calm now, what I like or don’t like. As expected, I find maths and biology frustrating. Biology is a whole lot of chemistry, which I stopped after last year because I just don’t get it, and it’ll be a lot of work to catch up. Maths… well, we’re doing calculus and are just starting local maximums and minimums. Wellll. I’ve done all this with Mrs Angove last year, but here, in German, I just don’t get it. Everything is put into endless, complicated words, when it could all be so simple. The annotation is weird now, and I can’t seem to get back into writing German “1”s again. Oh dear. This might take a while.

I wrote my first German SAC today – I didn’t have much time to get into the topic or anything, but I think I did alright. Hope so, at least. The only thing: what in the world is “contention” in German?!

During the test, I noticed that the peacock is still there. That is, there is a male peacock that lives on the grounds of the neighbouring school and you can often hear him call for (nonexistent) female, and it does get a bit annoying after a while. If you’re lucky, you can also see him sitting on the roof 🙂 Frankly, I have no idea why he lives there, but apparently he likes it.

I am finally back into my art. I’m very excited – I got my first commission! Paid, even! I was asked to draw the horse of someone off a picture. He (the horse) is very beautiful and I am happy and nervous at the same time, because a paid commission is something really big. What if I don’t get it right? What if they don’t like it in the end? I’ll just have to see and work hard.

I’m very happy with my little desk. I love sitting there with my pens and papers spread out, some nice music on my mp3 player and just sketching away. I’ve got a sketch I am working on that I want to work out in watercolours, and I reckon it’ll keep me occupied for a long while. I’ll have to do a lot of research – portraits and anatomy, birds, sheer fabric, shells and fossils, how white surfaces reflect colour, watercolour textures… I am excited. I love art. I wish I could spend all day drawing and painting.

In a drawer, I found my two pads for layout markers, so I can delve back into my box with copic markers again. I feel a bit silly – I’ve spent lots (and I mean, lots) of money on them and now I have 40 of them lying around (which I haven’t used in two years) and the colours all don’t really match. Sigh. That’s so typical of me.

Since Saturday, I share my room with two small rose plants, in pink and white. The pink one is called Latea, the white on Prima. (Yes, I’m the kind of person that gives everything a name. My violin is called Emma, and my sewing machine Lucy, but they’re not named after anyone in specific, although I now know people called like that.) Prima is standing on the shelf next to my wardrobe, while Latea is usually on my desk or window sill, depending if I open the window or not. Latea has a bud that is opening slowly, and I love doing a sketch or two or three every night to document the process. It keeps me inspired.

It had also been a week and a half now since I have become vegetarian and while that is not such a long time yet, I am very happy with it. I eat more healthy, I eat guilt-free, and I learn to cook lots of delicious things. So far, I can make awesome potato-soup (remember me to put up the recipe some time) and today I made minestrone that still needs some working on, but my mum loves it already. It makes me happy to cook for the people I love. I also love making my food from scratch instead of resorting to junk food so often because I can’t be bothered. Especially considering my spiritual beliefs, it is a very satisfying and rewarding process to choose a recipe, pick out the produce myself, take it home, prepare it, cook and, finally, eat it. It gives me a deeper connection with what I eat and what I am. I still could not figure out how to get my pictures on this computer, but I am working on it, promise.

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From Melbourne to Düsseldorf – A Travel Diary

May 9, 2009

Here is, as promised, my travel diary. I wrote it during my journey from Melbourne to Düsseldorf to keep myself occupied, and also to give you people something to read here 😛 It took me until yesterday to get around to typing it, it’s a bit long.

And I want to put a bit of a warning here: I was practically sleepless for over 30 hours, jetlagged, sad because I was leaving and at times just generally grumpy. I tried not to edit it too much typing it, because I wanted it to show what I did feel at that moment instead of prettying it up, because that’s what a diary is about. So if you think, “Oh, she’s whining again!”, yes, I probably did whine a lot. It’s also quite random at times. If you think you can take it, go ahead 😉

Oh, and never mind the wonky times, I couldn’t be bothered to write all the different local times for all three countries. (Australia, Germany, Singapore) If you want me to, I can still edit that, though.


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