Monday, 9 November 2015

I fell into some kind of...

I wish I was a rock person, with tattoos and piercings and unnaturally coloured hair.

Oh, I could get tattoos, and piercings, and dye my hair (it's been blue, and the only reason for the lack of the others is my chronic indecision and puny fear of stabby kinds of pain.) I could listen exclusively to rock and metal.

And it would all be stupid because it's not me. It never has been me. My favourite kind of music is the kind which starts with an acoustic guitar amongst silence and has delicious melty kinds of harmonies in the singing and emotion in the voice and usually sings about something which is surreal or metaphorical at best and nonsensical at worst. I like rock. I love rock. But I always come back to the indie guitars, because they speak to my soul.

I'm not confident. I'm not a risk taker. I'm rubbish at make up, and anyway, I'm too lazy. I like smoking but I'm too scared of the health risks for "looking cool" to be a factor any more, and so it just doesn't seem worth it.

I want to be a hippy, a free-spirit running free, living in some kind of nomadic camp with seven half-related children and braided hair and bare feet and some kind of livestock, which we'd name and never be able to kill. Eschewing everything and throwing out the rules and just leaving. This isn't me either. I love technology, medicine and science. I am not overly comfortable with getting too close to nature. I am actually not a natural mother. I dislike wearing skirts. I get antsy holed up in a small space with other people for too long and I can sometimes explode in frustration.

I literally want to be a freaking punk rocker with flowers in my hair. Even though that is not a thing I somehow simultaneously want both. How inconveniently uncool and ridiculous of me.

I don't know why I so obsess over having some kind of tribe and instead don't just accept that I am who I am - indie guitar, unbrushed mousy hair, stripes and hoodies and comfortable clothes in non flashy colours and lack of accessories to boot. I read too much (mostly online, these days) and I will forget random things that you tell me, and give you information that you already know because I'm totally incapable of resisting the urge to be helpful, especially when it isn't needed, apparently. When I'm at home, I play Sims. No, I don't want to play a game that is cooler. I don't say the right thing at the right time. I'm much better at translating my thoughts to type than to speech. I guess I don't need a tribe, because I'm actually fine. I just wish I didn't feel this huge irrational jealousy at anybody I perceive has things way more together than I do.

Oh my god just literally click any moment of this and tell me how anybody could not find it hauntingly beautiful. (Except I actually don't think the first song is a great starting point.)




(I have set an alarm to at least work on a post once every three days, so we'll see where that takes me.)

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

We has a car

We finally got a car! Woohoo! This tastes like sweet, sweet freedom after roughly 2 years (3.5 for my husband) of being confined to using the tram system.

It is a 21 year old Vauxhall Astra, dark green, wobbly, with manual windows and a retractable aerial (state of the art in the mid-90s; I remember when people used to snap them off for seemingly no reason at all, so it was perfectly normal to just stick a wire coathanger into the socket and drive around with it like that. If you were really lucky, your disgustingly cute boyfriend might bend it into a heart shape for you. Yeah, the past, it was a different country and all that.)

Anyway, it is super exciting to us. We can drive to France on a whim! Visit waterfalls! Go to the supermarket and buy as much food as we want rather than being limited to how much we can carry or fit into the wheeled trolley thing.

Of course, it broke down two days after we picked it up. Husband and son stranded on the side of the motorway in 33 degree sun with no shade and only one bottle of water. That was when DH discovered that he had no idea of the procedure for calling ADAC, the German breakdown people. Faced with a recorded message in German, he panicked, tried to leave me a facebook message (which I didn't get for about an hour) and, eventually, sat and waited.

Eventually, I wondered where he was, checked my messages (did I mention I also left my phone on a train this week, so I also had no portable way to contact him?) and ended up asking my boss for advice. She was stumped that the ADAC hadn't worked, as they are the only one in Germany, so she called a local garage for us. They towed the car, for €200, taking an hour longer than promised, to a garage. We went back on Monday and they fixed it, but it cost even more money. However, we now have a working car! And when we calculated the repair costs on top of the money we paid for the car, it was actually still within budget, so not too bad.

We have a freaking car.

(And I found my phone.)

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Schedule time!

I went to my doctor this morning to ask about ADHD and some excessive tiredness I've been having at the moment.

It seems that the system here is very different to the British one. When I asked my English GP about tiredness, he sent me for blood tests. My doctor here took the two aspects together and advised me, very Germanly, that I just need enough "frischer luft", sport and sleep. (Fresh air, sleep and exercise.) She said that there are neurological centres which deal with ADHD (ADHS in German) but she doesn't feel it would be hugely beneficial for me to get a diagnosis (I disagree; it unlocks treatment options such as medication and specialised therapy/occupational therapy). However, she was sympathetic. She wants me to try sticking strictly to a schedule for the next six weeks and report back. This idea sounds HELL to me, but I'll try anything at this point, so I'm giving it a go. It fits pretty well into my idea to try and capsulise things so that when I forget/get off track, I can more easily jump back on again, because it's already up and running.

I'll try to keep posting about how it goes!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Seven things that happened this week

1. The six year old learned to ride a bike. My husband said that it was the most like a dad he has ever felt. Apparently strangers cheered. I was sorry that I missed it, but it felt okay. It was my idea to take the pedals off his bike, anyway.

2. The bike is about 20 years old and way too small. So then the husband and I had an argument over whether it's better to buy something new and cheap (him) or second hand (me). The result of this is that I have until Wednesday to scour quoka (German craigslist) for bikes and maybe find one. I have 13 ads saved. Not sure how many of those I will actually go and look at, but it will be really awesome if we do manage to find a bargain this way.

3. I discovered Gilmore Girls, and it's awesome. How have I never seen this before? Total comfort TV. Lauren Graham is also my parenting idol. I am enjoying the fact that she's basically playing exactly the same part as she played in Parenthood. Also, she has not aged in fifteen years.

4. I noticed my ex is back on facebook. Ho boy.

5. I am using some sleep app now, that tracks my sleep. This is sort of depressing, because it says my sleep is really great, yet I still feel tired and find it hard to wake up in the mornings. Plus it gives my husband reason to be upset at me since his sleep graphs look worse than mine. Technology! Improving marriage arguments since 1974.

6. The sleep app tells me that I sleep better when I go to bed after midnight. But also that I need 8.5 hours of sleep. I really wish that I could submit this as evidence of why I shouldn't have to get up until 9 or 10 every day.

7. Oh, and I started running again. I forgot that it actually feels pretty awesome. I hope to make it a more regular thing.

I am doing this format now, once every Sunday, in the hope that it kick starts me into writing again. I apologise because it's pretty boring to read, but it gets me writing and puts some context around when I occasionally post relevant stuff. So comments would be great, but don't feel any great pressure or anything.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

What I learned this week.

I have decided I am going to do a weekly post summarising things I have learned each week, on a Sunday. Because why not. And because Renegade Mothering used to do it. And I think it will give me a reason to write once a week and perhaps fuel more writing in general,which would be nice.

Since it's not Sunday, I'm not doing one right now. I'll just blurt some other stuff out, instead. That might be useful.

I re-learned another Secret of Adulthood, which I keep learning and keep forgetting. It is that when I feel like napping, it really means that I need to work out. This is HUGELY not intuitive, because it's the last thing I feel like doing at that point. Which is probably why I keep forgetting it. But if I write it down, perhaps I will remember.

Every time I think about myself exercising, I feel totally and utterly confused. When did I become a person who exercises? How does that happen? And yet it works. It somehow gives me energy, stops me feeling cold in the 20+ degree house and makes me feel motivated about stuff. I call it my happy pill. Nobody who knew me in high school would believe that. I don't really believe that.

Fourth secret of adulthood: The dentist doesn't actually hurt, and isn't anywhere near as scary as you make it out to be.

I have some thoughts... about parenting, about organisation, about everything. There are some things going down around me which are so overwhelming that I can hardly think about them and yet my own life - totally normal and routine and uneventful - continues to overwhelm me. I need to be in order in case a disaster happens, not just keep hoping for the best.

I want to buy a guitar. I miss singing.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Real life isn't about grades, it's about passing or failing.

I had a bit of a realisation today. It was sort of inspired by a discussion in an online parenting group about always wanting "that A+" in parenting, and coming to terms with the fact that it's not really possible or desirable.

Something that really resonates with me - and I suspect, a lot of people who did well at school but then struggle with adult life, is this feeling that the top grade should be within reach all the time, and a sort of constant bewilderment that it is not. I am not the only person who I have spoken to who has experienced this, but it's like when you are top of the class of your very small school, and then you go to university and here are lots of people who are top of various classes, and somehow now you are just average. It's a strange feeling, humbling. Hopefully, of course, most people go on with this experience, find their place in the world and understand that it's just the way that things are.

When it doesn't really work is when you are going about your everyday life and still trying to get a top grade on things where grading really, honestly, is never going to matter. For the absolute vast majority of things you encounter in adult life, in fact I would argue ALL of them, aside from education, and not even all of that relies on grades, for all of those the imagined "grade" that you get in that area is absolutely meaningless. What matters is pass or fail. That's it. Everyday tasks, individual interactions, pass or fail. Nobody cares if you put your absolute all into something and made it perfect, or barely scraped by. Nobody is going to notice if you have made a personal improvement in something, unless it passes from fail into pass territory. If a pass is a C and anything lower is a fail, it doesn't matter if you get a C- or an E or an F. Same thing. C+ and A+, same result. Pass. Fail. Of course somebody might notice once in a while if you really go all out and pull off an A+ type of manoeuvre, but most of the time they won't, and most of the time it won't make any difference anyway.

So perhaps it helps to give some real life examples. Take arriving somewhere on time. You are either on time or you're not; it's still going to piss people off to be left waiting for ten minutes as for thirty. It's a pass/fail. Parenting, discipline issues for example. Look at the outcome - did you manage to communicate the message that this is not an appropriate or acceptable way to act? It doesn't much matter whether you used the super duper fantastic perfect parent way, or the lazy way, as long as the end result is the same: Was this information about behaviour communicated to your child? If yes, pass. If no, fail. Of course, if you get really mad you could pass this one while failing another (Am I keeping my children safe from harm, as far as is practical? or Am I modelling healthy ways of dealing with strong emotions? for example.)

But anyway, I found this realisation both freeing and depressing, in some ways. Hard because it means that except to people very close to you and perhaps yourself, those small steps don't really mean anything at all. They might bring you closer to passing at something, but they are not of worth in themselves to the vast majority of people that you are going to interact with. That's sort of okay, though, it just means don't look for validation for them. Past school age, it ain't gonna happen. Secondly, stop spending time and effort making everything perfect unless it actually brings you significant joy to do so. Passing is what counts. Make it pass, move on to the next thing. Save that energy for the things you don't pass at so easily.

Lastly it's that failure isn't the end of the world. When it's black and white like that, you're not on a treadmill which seems to be getting faster every time you feel like you're getting into the swing. There is no such thing as tiny improvements, there only is, or there is not. When you fail at something (and you will, so get used to that, and don't angst over it. Did I make the point already that real life bears absolutely no resemblance to school?) you should think "Huh, that didn't work so well." work out what stood in the way of it working, whether it was external factors (can you build in anything to mitigate them?) or your own weaknesses (so you build those up, no big deal) or a simple oversight. You won't ever get to a point where you never ever fail at anything, but you can be a lot more successful in general, and a lot less self-punishing if you can look at failures as learning/improvement experiences rather than some kind of proof of your own incompetence.

So that brings my Secrets of Adulthood to 2. I'm going to add a section on my about page.

1. Groceries (and other supplies) can also get used up by other people that you live with.
2. Real life isn't about grades. Most things are a pass/fail kind of deal.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Organisation! Whiteboards! MAGNITZ. And stuff.

I have been marginally more organised recently than previously. We bought magnetic whiteboards (oooh!) and whatever I can find has been stuck to it; a birthday party invitation, details of library lending times and when the books are due back, (Oh. They're late. Well, you can't be organised at everything.) term dates and special occasions for kindergarten. And a calendar hanging up above it, which I hung up in November and have continued to ignore until now when I have just realised why I put it there. The kindergarten dates have all kinds of indecipherable stuff on them like "Pfingsten" and "Gr√ľndonnerstag" but TBH all I need to know is whether they are supposed to be there or not. And I have a meal plan (this week, ignored due to a shopping mistake) and a long-term goals list.

It feels good, not perfect, but good. It took me a while to get back into the swing after new year but I feel like I might be there. And now, I have realised, I need to meal plan again.

This is something which helps: Planning out what will happen and when. It can't be too routine, I despise the idea of routine. I created a document to feed into my RandomStuff DOS program to help me make the meal plan. That kind of geekery, and randomness, pleases me.

Similarly, breaking down long term plans into manageable tasks is helpful. That's something I got from here: an article about how to beat procrastination. (Wait But Why is probably my favourite thing I have ever found on the internet.) No faffing about fancy ways of doing it. No spending hours on research or working out complex time scales. Put that research in as a step. Now break the steps down, write them in a list, and tick them off.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

2015: Year of Future Planning.

So before the new year, I was ruminating on new year's plans and future plans in general.

I've alluded to this before on this blog but I've been feeling over the past 2-3 years like I've just been surviving or living week to week or day to day, very short term. I've spoken a lot online (probably in posts waiting to be finished and go live - more on that soon) about the importance of planning a future and having goals and things to work towards, but I haven't been doing this myself. I've wanted to speak to my husband and plan real futures together but haven't made time for it.

So. Anyway. A discussion tonight lead to this realisation being voiced and we tossed some ideas around and I got a little bit excited again. How can you grow as a person if you don't have anything to grow towards? We need our "sun". I can see a chink of it through the clouds, finally. And again! I'd forgotten that once I did have future plans and I had felt excited and eager for them.

He made me realise that I don't need to be able to picture myself doing something or imagine it, if it feels exciting then we are probably still young enough for it to be possible. He has also banned me from asking for help on open forums (I say banned, he's asked me to try without that first, to see what I come up with.) So far I've found some fun career planning algorithm type things online which seem much better than the ones I had to contend with 10 years ago in school career planning (I'm not sure quite why this surprised me.)

So first, sleep, because I'm exhausted. Tomorrow teaching, seeing friends, working out (I am far overdue) and then some hardcore working out of what I want from life and finding my sun again. And then I can see what steps I might be able to take to achieve it. Exciting times!