January 7, 2019
I decided to apply my eyeliner differently. My line style hasn’t changed since college, but seven days into the new year, I still hadn’t set any of my bigger goals. An entire week in and I didn’t know what I was going to focus in the next coming months. That was not like me.
For my birthday and the year 2019, a good friend gave me one of those trendy goalsetting calendars-slash-journals, and I was feeling mixed about it. She’d given me one last year, and previous calendar was mostly unused. And now, again, the clock was ticking and I needed, no — I wanted to fill in something by the end of the day.
After two hours thinking about it and one giant, overcooked cup of coffee, I gave in. “Don’t rush this,” I said to myself and promised to return to my future on paper later.
I wanted to look and feel “different” on this grey, rainy Berlin morning— hence, the eyeliner. I put on a high-waisted knee-long skirt, high heels and rainbow scarf to fight The Grey as well as The Rain. A week before I had bought all of them specifically for this purpose. It worked. I was smiled at a few times by men on the street. I returned the favor and hoped the men would pass by me without wanting to follow this fleeting cheeky moment. I felt “romantic.” Was that romance? I forgot what that felt like. Usually I wear clothes so comfortable, sometimes I forget I’m even out of bed.
Most weekdays, I board at Adenauerplatz at 8 a.m. and watch the train fill and empty for around half an hour. But that sluggish Monday morning, I boarded two hours later. It changed a lot. While the car’s population on the early train is usually either still asleep or frantically switching between Spotify playlists during their daily journey to work, most of the 10 a.m. people read physical books.
I took a couple of secret pictures of them for my second Instagram account I had created a few weeks back. The theme: subway poetry.
When I started the account, I thought I was catching the last analog unicorns who decided to hold something other than their cellphones on their commutes. There were so few of them that I felt poetic about my little account. But now I knew I had been arriving to Adenauerplatz too early all this time. The analog unicorns board the 10 a.m. train.
Unsurprisingly, the very first day back at the office after the long break was uneventful. One of my colleagues, who is turning 54 this year, showed me videos of her and her husband at a techno party in Munich where she had danced her way into the new year. She looked so happy and confused.
My 31-year-old colleague had stayed at home for New Year’s Eve, playing Monopoly with a group of close friends. I had done the same thing and for the first time in a long time really enjoyed my December 31st plans.
At lunch, I opted for the vegetarian option and filled my plate with cauliflower, mushroom, eggplant and lots and lots of salad. I forgot to get diet soda and caught myself craving it in between bites. I saw a man putting pepper on rice and eating it.
As we finished, my colleagues walked past slash skipped the optional stop-by at the cafeteria, my favorite part of lunch. I didn’t want them to think that I wanted to kill time, so I skipped it too. Afterwards I regretted that decision for an hour. In the afternoon I sifted through dozens of unread emails and New Year’s greetings from colleagues I hadn’t met before. It’s likely that I never will.
It’s hard to describe what I do. I was a social media manager at first. Then my job looked more and more like speechwriting. Starting in April, I’m going to join the lobbying department. Corporations are good at human chess.
I left the office on time at 6 p.m. The plan was to get some groceries, cook something — anything — with chicken in it, watch a few episodes of The Office and then head back to my calendar session which I had abandoned earlier.
On my way to the supermarket, I went inside a furniture store and bought a designer lamp for a-cheap-price-I-still-cannot-believe. I took it home, with my dinner: yoghurt and bread. I decided to get chicken the next day instead, my first to-do for 2019.