Moving to Brooklyn :-)

So it’s a quick update, but I took a job as a librarian in Brooklyn starting next month, and the G-Man got a contract to work abroad too!! I don’t think it will be a permanent move to the US, it really depends on the G-Man (who I’m quite certain will never ever ever want to give up his awesome job and stupendous German benefits, and I can’t blame him, the benefits rock). But we will decide after 8 months what we’ll do. Now we’re getting all the pieces of the puzzle together; the apartment, childcare, making lists of things we need, making budgets…. there is a lot to get done in a short span of time. It’s exciting and happy, and also makes me a bit nervous; I haven’t had a professional job in years, AND I have never gotten to work my dream job either. So whoaaaaaa….. what an experience coming up!! I’ll still write here and there, probably still about Germany as it will most likely be our forever home. Please stay with me on this big ole’ adventure 🙂 227823_854684867935_3659642_n

Allie

To The Moon and Back

So my computer died back in June.  It came into my world with a bang, and out with a whimper. It was the first computer I saved up for, splurged on, and never regretted buying although it rang in at a whopping $1800. But I was beginning my second year of graduate school, and my second year without my Mom. It was time to start taking care of myself and giving myself what I wanted (because I realized then that no one else would)<— some friends called that irresponsible. But hey, I couldn’t afford therapy after my mom’s passing (weirdly, just a few sessions cost a lot more than I imagined without insurance), but I could afford new shoes and some nice nights out for sushi and movies here and then. Anyway, that was almost 7 years ago. Fast forward to now, and the circumstances have changed quite a bit.

I’m married to a German, living in Germany, speaking German albeit more poorly than I’d like, with a dual citizen baby running around causing mayhem. If you would have told me then what my life would be like down the line, I would have scoffed. I had big, fat plans. But plans change, and so did I. I’m a jobless weirdo with curly hair in desperate need of a haircut that I’m too afraid to get, with no real disposable income to call mine and mine alone, and I’m not as fat as I used to be, but not as thin as I used to be either. I may not have the wrinkles, I definitely cannot pretend to know it all anymore (wait, did I ever?) and the world has left a mark on me that will not, can not, be erased but I’m learning to cope.

You ever notice that when you resolve to be the best you possible, people tend to remember the old, developing you and try to make project that back at you again? I remember one friend telling me she could read me like a book she read twice. Now, she wouldn’t even know the book. I reached out to a cousin to explain a problem we had in communication, and she told me iStock_000020617874XSmall-352x198that I’m a self-victimizing and drama-ridden dullard and she would not be contributing to my hysteria any further. I spent weeks obsessing over that. Am I self-victimizing? Gooooood question. I felt like I was from time to time. I fell into a pit of depression over the past few years and couldn’t remember that the sun could shine through the clouds. Every misstep felt like a failure, and every failure felt like I was incapable of ever reaching success.

Germany has taken a lot from me, and given it back to me in a very different way. My confidence was never up to what it should have been, but here? It’s almost non-existent. I started to run that 5k and left it midway because people were calling me names and made me feel worse about myself. I’ve been spit on, pushed aside both physically and intellectually here, and have not been strong enough to push back. I’ve questioned myself constantly, and wished to be less sensitive…. ultimately less me. See? THAT’S my problem. I could never articulate it properly. I don’t feel like I can be myself here and because of this, I have lost my “me”ness, my Allie-osity, my inner joy with the world. I don’t know anyone down here that looks like me, and because of the depression, any possible friends I may have made up north in Berlin that do have dropped me like a hot potato, somewhat deservedly too. And I don’t know many people here that are interested in a deep, meaningful friendship complete with absolute silliness and spending time together doing nothing special. Perhaps it’s the age now, or perhaps it’s because people already have their best friends and aren’t looking to add to their circle. I don’t know but I understand.

I lost a few friends back home, and although I miss their presence in my life, I don’t miss the intimidation I felt around them to not say something stupid, or the constant judgment and outright bullying. That was just another way that I wasn’t being myself to fit in. And I can’t do it anymore. It’s not healthy and it makes me uncomfortable.

But I do want best friends, I do want to fit in and belong. I want to sing and dance, and laugh like I used to. And I can feel it inside me, wanting to come out. It’s not Germany’s fault that I lost who I am, it’s my own for not being strong enough to keep myself from drifting away despite different surroundings, people, culture and language. Am I self-victimizing? I’m stubborn, overcoming depression, maybe a wee bit dramatic sometimes but only for laughs, sensitive, and exceptionally honest. But no, to be self-victimizing you would have to blame everyone else, the world, anyone but you for your own failures. You have to believe that the odds are always against you, and that you cannot control your own life. That’s not me. Weeks ago, months ago, I may have said yes because I wasn’t sure of who “me” was, and I would take just about any insult thrown at me and internalize it. But I have to be stronger, I have to be me again. I know it’s the path to my happiness. I’m not hysterical, not blaming the world from my problems, and I’m certainly not a dullard. No, I’m learning again, breathing deeply and pursuing the future with a new interest in what role and purpose I might choose to play in it.

Anyway, super personal post aside, thanks for sticking by me everyone while I worked this out. New posts should be exciting, and heeeeeeey new computer!

Thanks!

A Sad, Humiliating Tale

So. This will be a short and not-so-sweet but hopefully, relatable post. Here goes. I signed up for a 5k. Me, that weird, big black lady living in Germany. Because I wanted to take myself seriously, I wanted to reach new goals and feel good about myself. I wanted to exceed expectations, break the image of stereotypical fat people…. I wanted my daughter to be proud of me, my husband to see that I can do anything I set my mind to— but mostly, this was about me. And in every possible way, I failed and it fell apart. It’s ok to laugh about it, I’m honest enough to admit that I failed in fashion. Logo_-DP-LadiesRun-01 I got a bag full of goodies the day before the run. It included a XXL shirt (I ordered that size hoping it would fit), vitamins, tea… my number and my chip. The shirt didn’t fit. Now in American sizing, I wear about a 14/16 top size, maybe an occasional 18. The XXL was a Euro size 44, or size 12 American, and the lady told my husband that the shirts run a size smaller, which means that the biggest size you can get is a 10. So that was off-putting to begin with, but I didn’t let it get me down, I mean who wants to wear a bright yellow shirt anyway, right? So I wore my own thing.

The night of, the family upstairs decided to sleep-train their child (the same age as O) with the cry-it-out method. Needless to say, everyone in our building and perhaps beyond was up from 2:15- 4:30, and then again at 6:30-7:30. Obviously, I felt bad for the parents, but was rather miffed about my own lack of sleep. Whatever. I spent the first half of the day thinking about the run to come. An hour before, I ate a half a sandwich, drank some vitamin water and ate a banana. I was ready to go. I stepped outside into the sweltering heat and was like, yeah, this isn’t ideal but I can still do it. When I got to the area filled with runners and family members, I noticed the stares. The looks of pity. I went to an attendant and asked if there was a locker for my stuff. She smiled politely and told me she didn’t understand the question. Well, ok. No problem, I could carry my stuff. Turns out, one of the moms for Mother’s Group was there and told me to drop my stuff with her husband. Task completed. The time was winding down and there had to be maybe a 100 ladies, but I really have no idea. It was packed. And almost everyone was in good shape; only three (including myself) were not wearing the t-shirt. One of them was a lady in a sports bra, mohawked with wireless headphones, so she was legit. And of course as soon as the run started, she took off like a cheetah through a herd of gazelles. header_nuernberg2-Kopie-626x482 I was the only walker. Yes, there were nordic-walkers all around me, and yes they hit me with their sticks. Also they too laughed at me (I’m not even kidding), so I let them pass. I was alone at the end. I held my head up high and tried to jog a bit, but I got too distracted by the jeers and laughter by a group of teen boys. People were watching me, a lot of them looked at me with a look I’ve experienced my entire life: the knowledge that I don’t belong there. Now, this is where you are probably thinking that I’m overly sensitive and maybe prone to social anxiety. Perhaps you are right on both counts. But I’m also extremely honest, and I know when I’m the brunt of a joke, every person who has ever been on the outside does too btw.  I made it a third of the way through before the stares, the laughter, this guy calling me a pig, and the anxiety of putting myself in the spotlight caught up to me.

Now, at the beginning of the race, I stashed my phone in my sports bra because, well that’s a safe place for it. I pulled it out much to the surprise of a few elderly onlookers and called my husband.

“I can’t do this. They are all staring at me. I’ve never been so humiliated in my life.”

Tears were threatening to splash the cobblestones underneath my staggeringly fast walking. My mouth was dry from the heat and embarrassment. Don’t let people see you cry, you hold your head up.

I zipped up my sweater— yes I was wearing a sweater because I’m really shy about my big flabby arms, even in the heat— to block out of my running number so maybe that would stop people from noticing me. That’s what my life has come to. Would I do it in the US? Probably not. But here I’m usually one of the biggest people around. And in Germany, you have to accept that people are going to stare at you if you are only a little bit different. And  I am a whole lotta different (say it like Foxy Cleopatra!). I met my husband and daughter, and I nearly collapsed into them. I dry sobbed. I wanted, at the moment, to get into a portal with them, and live a life of solitude on a lonely, tropical island in a beautiful beach shack never to see or be heard from again. The Island Life. running-a-race-clipart-black-and-white-cuzins-on-the-run-md We walked the long way home, so that by the end, I really did do a 5k and didn’t feel like such a failure. The Husband was a supportive beacon of light as always. These last few weeks I’ve been rather depressed, and to say that this was not the outcome that any of us wanted is an understatement. I had resolved that when I got home, I would give myself time to sob about it; to come to terms with one of my personal nightmares becoming a reality. But instead, here I am writing about it. Because I know I’m not the only one who has done something like this. I know people can relate. I know some of you will get it.

My husband kept repeating that he was proud of me for doing something that is totally outside of my comfort zone. Sure, I didn’t succeed but I tried. It wasn’t the exercise, it was the exposure. I could have done that 5k. I know that with my heart. I’ve been training for it; I’ve been really trying to meet my goals even and especially through the depression. Then he, The German, said something that made me stop. “In the US, you would have had other people walking next to you, cheering you on. The same level as you. You would not have been alone.  But they don’t do that here. They are afraid, wouldn’t have the courage to do it. They wouldn’t even try.” Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s the same as when you ask a German to speak English and they say no, no I’m terrible. And then eventually they speak and it’s perfect. Maybe it is the same. But I won’t be trying a 5k again. It’s not who I am. I can achieve goals in my own comfortable way. Whether it’s more challenging work in pilates/yoga or jogging, or if possible, tennis (I love tennis!). I failed, and I’m embarrassed. And I’m disappointed in myself. But I will get through this. It’s just another part of life, right? Thanks for reading….

Baby’s Log: 18th Month of Existence

For giggles, written in the perspective of my18-month old. If you don’t like kids or you only want to read about living abroad, this post is not for you! 

Baby’s Log: Nearing Month 18. Life in this world is a routine, but mostly fun. The day begins with either Dada (think that’s his name) or Mommy (love her!) coming in to hear my delightful morning scream, which they don’t seem to enjoy for some strange reason. And that’s if they haven’t spent the night sleeping next to me. I know this seems selfish, but I’m also keeping an eye on them while they sleep to make sure that they are ok too. I am nothing if not thoughtful. Unknown-2Then they dress me, which I protest for a bit, just to show them who’s boss. Then müsli, which I insist upon feeding myself very messily. After all that, and a nice sippy cup of water that I MUST drink on someone’s lap while I pinch their necks, I get to watch some cartoons. I don’t actually enjoy tv, but I really like hitting it to get some attention. And now that they’ve realized that I just don’t dig it, they do some fun animal game on this large phone thing. I like this thing, I’m quite certain it’s mine and that I don’t have to share it with anyone, or hand it over when asked. Plus it has taught me to make weird noises and the word pig. I like to say PIIIIIG and then oink, especially at older women at the grocery store who tell me I’m a cute boy even though I’m wearing sparkly pink shoes and coat. Whatevs. After a very boring hour of entertaining myself because I don’t want Mommy to play with me, but I also don’t want her to do anything other than watch me play (I really want her to relax too), Mommy decides to take a shower. I could give her some space and privacy but I really enjoy draping myself over the bath tub with my arms and head down letting the water soak my clothes and flood the floor. Sometimes she pulls me in and then I’m really happy; I love taking a nap on Mommy’s shoulder during shower time, and bonus, she can’t do anything in there besides hold me! After that, we get dressed to go outside. I’m excited by this because I never know where we will go! For about twenty minutes, Mommy runs around collecting sippy cups and snacks (sometimes I take one of the sippy cups out just to mess with her) and then finally, we go outside. I like being outside unless it’s really sunny or windy. I hate the wind and will stagger cry loudly at random intervals until it’s over; it’s important to me to express my opinions. Sometimes we go to a play group, sometimes the park, sometimes shopping, sometimes to a breakfast buffet. I enjoy all of these things for a while until suddenly, I hate it, I hate everything, and I will throw my juice at anyone in my near vicinity (usually mommy). Then Mommy looks sweaty and shaky, and she takes me home where I can take a nice nap with a bottle of milk, while she lays next to me (where she belongs!) reading some thing. screen480x480 And then nap time is over, and I announce my excitement to continue the day by giggling loudly until I’m picked up. If I don’t get picked up at any point during the day despite my directness, I will shriek as if someone is murdering me. For the remainder of the day, we do various things after lunch like: music class (love it!), playgroup, the park, shopping, play date or have an epic dance party. Mommy starts to look haggard by this point, especially when she tries to clean and I undo everything she does just for fun. She doesn’t laugh about it though, so I kiss her to make up for whatever she seems “upset” about. (I’m quite good at this trick, and I use it with Dada whenever he gets grumpy about me taking off his glasses and throwing them). Then when she’s cooking, I crawl between her legs and try to get into things I shouldn’t just to keep her on her toes. Then while dinner is on the stove, I might (I’ve only done it twice because it’s really hard to escape Mommy’s gaze) sneak into the kitchen- while Mommy picks out a book to read, and turn off the stove. I have no idea why this is so fun, but it usually elicits some reaction from her. When that situation has calmed down a bit, we read a book while listening to classical music. I’m only half interested in this because I’m getting tired and hungry. So this is what Mommy calls “The Terrible Time” where I scream off and on for a half an hour. Say what you want about it, but I feel like screaming is extremely therapeutic before dinner.tired mom The Dada’s home. I like that for all of 15 minutes and then I remember that he clips my nails, gives me a bath and puts me in my schlafsack, and I don’t like him again. We eat dinner together, which is loads of fun because I get to fling food around. I see that I have my own plate of food, but I’m quite certain that Mommy’s is better than whatever she gave me. Therefore, I will not be content unless I eat her food.  After this, Dada and Mommy spend a lot of time cleaning me and the floor. I try to run away but they always catch me. SO unfair. Then we dance, read another book and when Dada walks off, I know it’s bath time. I do NOT want to take a bath, so I jump on Mommy and wrap myself around her head to the point where she might have difficulty breathing. While in this position, Dada and I have a conversation about bathing. He makes some compelling arguments and then I agree to go. After a few moments in the bath, I remember that I LOVE baths. When it’s time to get out, I’m rather grumpy about it and try to kick Dada. Y6585-bedtime-buddies-projection-soother-d-2 After I’m all ready for bed, I see Mommy coming down the hall with a glowing, mesmerizing bottle of warm, delicious milk. To make her hurry up, I say mommy, Mommy, MOMMY! This usually works. And then I lounge against her, drinking my milk when sleep takes me to pleasant dreams about fountains of milk and rainbows. You know, typical baby dreams. But just to make sure they don’t forget me, I wake once or twice at unbearable hours. —————————————————————————————————————-

That’s my life right now. I hope this made you laugh a bit and wasn’t too tedious. Before I had this delightful child who definitely marches to the beat of her own drum, I never thought seriously about a Stay-At-Home-Mom’s routine or life. Now that I’m living it, I have so much respect for all Moms. It’s hard work, and although sometimes it seems harder doing it in another language and in another country that doesn’t always feel like home, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts! Thanks for reading and sorry if this put any of you off. Until next time,

Allie

Thinking BIG

Parenting is all-consuming, at least for me it is. I love it absolitely, but I wish I had more hours in my day to reply to emails, talk to friends, take time out for myself, shower…. but slowly little pockets of time start to combine into a newfound freedom that I’m exhilarated to use and experience. At 6 am on *most* days for the past week, I’ve got a good half an hour to myself. images-1At first I used it to browse Facebook, get connected to the world again in somewhat useless way. Facebook drives me crazy sometimes and I’m quite convinced that no one is truly as they seem there. Anyway, now I write on little personal projects and I’m able to get some quiet happy time.  Well as quiet as I can get if only the little boy upstairs would stop dropping his toy from 5am-7am nonstop over my head. Ugh.

But this is not the only improvement in my life; I’ve begun exercising like never before. Trying to get into shape, taking time to myself to feel healthier and better. And I owe it to my girl H over at Pilates Studio Nürnberg! If any of you are in NBG and like pilates/yoga/exercise, go check her out! I’ve had about 5 physical trainers in my life, and she is by far the only one that makes me feel like I can do it. I’m a chubtastic lady, and while I know I always will be, I’d like to shed some of my fluff, not only for health and all that jazz, but because buying clothes in Germany sucks unless you are thin and have normal sized thighs.

Germany is…. ok. It’s weird. On one hand, raising my daughter here is/will be awesome. So many benefits, good education and all that. But on the other, neither the G-Man or I feel like this is our home. Maybe it’s because we don’t have a house we can paint or a garden to run in, or because we just feel like Bavarians are a wee bit cold. It could be all of those reasons and more. But we want to settle down soon and find our little spot in the world. That’s the plan. Find somewhere in Germany to love, and failing that, think of other places to go. I’m hesitant about going back to the US and I know that’s strange. I’m just not sure I can guarantee that O will get as many life goodies there as she does here. Here, she could walk herself to school, Unknown-1travel more, be exposed to all sorts of foreign languages, see her parents more too, and we can afford that life! There, she’ll get an American childhood (which, hey! I had and I’m alright!) that we’d both be working through, and our vacations would dwindle down to what? 2-4 weeks vacation a year? We get like 8-10 weeks here. Cost of living is lower here (where we are now), quality of life is higher, and I can dedicate a lot of time to my own creative pursuits. I’m just so torn about it. There is NOTHING wrong with the US, well there is, but it’s not like Germany is without faults either, you know what I mean?

I just want O to have the best, and I know somewhere inside of me that this isn’t dependent on where we are but rather how we are, but still…. it’s hard to think big long-term when you are making decisions that affect someone else, also known as parenting. I need to feel like I can give her things I never had. Believe me, I’m already succeeding based on the amazing amount of Lego DUPLO littering our floors (those suckers are sharp eh?). But yeah, we were poor growing up. Second hand clothes here and there, rice with butter for dinner, food stamps, welfare…. you name it. It was my mom raising us while harboring a disability from a stroke, and man, she was a strong woman! I’d like to think I’m strong like that, but I doubt it. I need to— I want to, take it easy in life. And when you are given the opportunity to live a life where you can travel 8 weeks a year, you get money to raise your kids 2013-06-07-PedrazaJavolemaloregardless of your income, and you feel like the government works for you, it’s hard to turn away from it. But then, will I ever be a working librarian? Wouldn’t she be proud to see me as a librarian working after school? Can I only do that in the US? Achhhh!! Thoughts are driving me crazy. Where is best? What is best?

Gotta think BIG. I have to make decisions! We need to find our home! What do you guys think? Am I just waxing-poetic? Were you lucky to find a place to settle in, and you couldn’t imagine being anywhere else? My dream place would be a village outside of a city, where there are plenty of parks, loads of nice, smiling, friendly people, the sea, good schools, and it’s not too cold! Where is that?!!

It’s been a long time!

What like, two months?? Things are slightly better than my last post; I no longer have as much time to wallow in my sadness now that Baby is getting her molars (WORST THING EVER), and running around with wild abandon. But it’s just as well, the less time you have to think about why you might be sad, the better it is to find happiness in the tiniest of moments. And I have found many a’ happy moment. I think the most amazing thing in parenthood is how all consuming it is; I honestly have no clue what I did before she came. And that’s ok, my life is much more exciting (and better!) with her following me around, demanding my attention, creating absolute havoc/mayhem/destruction, getting me to do loads of unintentional exercise, and making me laugh more times than not.

If you measure your self-worth by how perfect everything is or should be, you most likely won’t be worth much. But if you measure your self-worth by the happiness you derive from the effort you put into parenting and making your child smile, then I suspect many of us are worth so much more than we could have imagined. I think, as a new parent, you tend to do the former more than you’d like, especially because so many people are throwing comparisons, advice, tips, and expectations at you. And then— to add to some of the anxiety, the cultural differences of German and American parenting come into play. Medicine? Teething remedies? What is she eating? And as I’m the primary caretaker, the Stay-at-Home-Mama, I get really confused trying to find a balance. And I’m saddened by this gloomy, cold weather, my screaming child whose pain I cannot do anything about other than wait for those damn molars to pop through, my homesickness, my need to take a break from

Totally want to go here!
Totally want to go here!

Germany (which comes every year without fail, sometimes twice), my desire to feel more confident in Germany, my exhaustion…. all of this that is no different than any other new parent’s experiences. So I remind myself in these sad moments that I’m so very fortunate for what I have, for where I am, for who I am, and I smile inwardly (even if I don’t quite mean it just yet) because as everyone tells me, this too shall pass.

The future is light and full of promise. If I never felt it before, I can say it now with authority– my daughter is at the beginning of her life and I see loads of laughter, and fun to come. It’s exciting, and scary! And I’m really looking forward to it.  I hope we are able to have some new adventures this year in traveling, anyone have some ideas as to where to go with a tiny (rambunctious) tot comfortably and warmly this April? And I will be less slow with my positing! Happy New Year everyone and as always, thanks for reading!

It’s Gray and Personal

I remember sitting at a psychologist’s office in New York City on a beautiful spring day, with the gentle sounds of piano from a far-off CD player faintly humming in my ears, the scent of my herbal tea mingling with the many complementing scents of the potted flowers and vines lining the open, and large for Manhattan, window. It was a totally comfortable type of place, the interior designer obviously knew their stuff. But I was still a jumble of nerves– not because I was new to talking about my problems, no, but because the first session is always the hardest. You are inviting someone in to look at your life, your feelings, your failings and strengths, and allowing them to make a judgment. That’s nerve-wracking. I had been to 5 imagestherapists/counselors/psychologists in my life- one all through high school because I was caught one too many times eating lunch alone in the library, one for a year at college because I was a very caring residential assistant, another at graduate school because my nutritionist believed I was depressed, another in NYC because my doctor was quite certain I was depressed, and the last in Germany for aiding in my adjustment. So you see, I’ve got loads of experience with this type of thing.

It’s not particularly hard for me to describe what I needed from these professional listeners during those different periods of my life. It always has, and always will, come down to my desire to feel connected to my family. I love family, I’m a family oriented type of person; I want to be surrounded by love through the thick and thin. I need unconditional love, loads of hugs, support and people to share memories with. But as it stands now, I’m more or less estranged from my dad, my Mom (the one who I connected to the most) passed away 7 years ago, and my sister and I have a relationship that is so complicated and convoluted from our clashing personalities, I could make a very tame- but still emotional, Lifetime movie of it. Petty arguments before my time distanced quite a bit of family and that never quite healed, and once I tried to make a go of things, I somehow failed to make strong bonds that could withstand the flimsiest of infractions. As for friends, it’s like testing a batch of pasta by throwing it against the wall; one -maybe two, might stick but the rest fall down leaving little watery traces. And that’s what I tried to say to this guy in NYC, while trying to nonchalantly drink my tea and not let the tears fall. He sat back in his chair and told me that none of this is my fault,  I got a raw deal, I was seeking something that didn’t exist in my DSC_5319family and I was a walking ball of hurt. And then I cried. I cried so much, I never went back.

I’m totally hurt. I want a family like the ones you see in dramedies; big, complicated but loving. I want someone I can call for advice who can remind me of that time I did that thing that was so stupid and relevant to the problem I’d currently face. I want to laugh and feel like I belong. Especially now— especially after moving to Germany and feeling even more disconnected from the world I knew. Especially now that I have this beautiful bouncy, and busy!, baby and my overworked, stressed out,  but wonderful husband, and I have few people to share the little stories of our lives together with. On one hand it’s my own fault; I could have tried harder to make more friends, I could have pretended that some of the friends I did have (and have now lost) cared about me as much as I cared about them, and I could have been less…. everything. Know what I mean? But on the other hand, sometimes people are just assholes and I can’t change that. I can’t click with everyone, and I can’t force something that just won’t work.

So it came as no surprise when, a few months back, my doctor over here told me I’m suffering from postpartum depression. She asked about my support network (don’t really have one). She asked me who I confide in– I said no one I feel comfortable with yet, not anymore, at least outside of my husband which stands to reason that if my husband and I argue, I have no one to sound off on. She asked if I want medicine (no), and then told me to get involved in mothers groups and do many baby activities. But the thing about ppd is that you are depressed and/but responsible for a tiny human being that you simply adore. The world seems gray and although that baby is a beam of sunshine, sometimes the grayness wins. You are so, so tired– things you used to be able to do seem like pushing a boulder uphill. Now it seems all my energy goes into making sure the baby has the best day ever, every day. And I’m kinda succeeding at that. But taking care of myself just isn’t a motivation when I feel so busy. I am more involved, I’m getting out of the house, and yes, I’m still tired, and there are days when food doesn’t touch my mouth (yet my girth remains unchanged). I can’t plan anything at all. I’ve been without my special shampoo for months, my clothes aren’t hung up in the closet, they are next to my side of the bed where I can go through them and find the least dirty thing to wear, my coat has lost a button months back, and and and…. I’m a new mom to an almost 1 year-old. These things are typical.Following-the-gray-clouds

The most difficult thing though is the constant feelings of doubt, whether it’s parenting or personality,  waves of self-loathing, and just feeling all around overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, there are way more moments when her sunshine breaks through and dissipates the gray, and I smile and laugh and love my life because I have two amazing people that make me honored and special to call my own. But the gray always comes back, and it has gotten better…. but I need more people. I need a network, I need the love and laughter, to be understood and appreciated for who I am and not who I should be. I know this now. I can’t do the casual thing anymore with fair weather friendships and call it the real thing. I just don’t know how to do this, mostly because I just don’t know how/who to be over here at the same time without coming off as a desperate weirdo. There’s got to be a way, right?

P.S. Sorry if this post seemed nonsensical, this has been weighing heavy on my mind now for so long, it was time to let it out. Thanks for reading and for some of you, commiserating and relating.

Copenhagen

unnamed-5Copenhagen is magical. If you haven’t been there, you should go—- in fact, if you had planned on going to Paris, just skip that and go to Copenhagen. Not to say Paris isn’t fab, I’m sure it is, but can you find such friendly and English-speaking delightful people there? Stereotypically, with a heavy dose of generalization, no. But you can find all those things in Copenhagen! AND bagels, open-faced sandwiches with delectable salmony treats, sunshine—not only in the sky– but in the welcoming smiles of the Danes cultural countenance, salty black licorice (the grossest thing ever, but they seem to love it), La Glace cakery, and ugh, it was just amazeballs.

I decided to take baby and I’s first solo trip to Copenhagen to meet up with some awesome friends for 4 days. Let me tell you something, if you ever thought traveling alone with a baby was easy and thusly gave the mom/dad dirty looks for not controlling her/his child, give em’ a break, that crap is hard. Out from Nuremberg, it was two 1-hour flights to CPH, a layover in Amsterdam<—best airport because of noodle place, Starbucks and Cadbury caramellos. I was packed like I would never come home again. 4 days=30 diapers. I had backup stuff for my backup stuff. But of course on flight 1, I ran out of milk and dealt with crying baby until the flight attendants helped a sister out. Approx. 5 minutes of crying but it felt like a lifetime and the angry stares were not so nice either. Flight 2- she slept the entire time. Huzzah! Got into CPH, and we were both pretty excited for this adventure.

Then what followed were days of fun and adventure and nights where I couldn’t get more than 1-2 hours of uninterrupted unnamed-6sleep. Little Miss was not about sleeping in another bed than her own, naturally. Ahhh! The second day there I can barely remember just from sheer exhaustion. But by day 3, I was somehow accustomed to sleep deprivation. It also helped that my friends were champs and gave Baby O lots of affection and care so I could shower and sometimes eat. We walked around castles and parks, sat at cool cafés, saw the Little Mermaid statue, botanical gardens, touristy sites, went to the best bakery Meyers Bageri, which as my friend told me and I happily confirmed has the best croissants ever…. And I went to the food hall twice, which I can only sum up as magical. I ate traditional open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød, Baby O was in paradise the moment we stepped into the (free!) indoor playground, where the Danish parents could not have been nicer.

unnamed-4I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved and more comfortable I felt in Denmark as compared to Germany. The Danes are sweethearts; just so, so much friendlier and easy-going. Baby O was having a meltdown in her buggy in the middle of a busy street when a mom with two sons stopped in front of us, she bent down and spoke to O, made her smile while one of the sons was patting her arm. O quieted down immediately, smiled…. it was amazing. I mean I can calm that baby down, but when someone else can do it for me? Sometimes, especially then, I needed it. And she commiserated with me, was so helpful and kind. Gosh— what I wouldn’t give to have that sort of exchange here in NBG.

Throughout this trip, people would come up, smile and ask polite questions about O. And I loved it. People were interested in my child and not pointing out (for once) that she has lighter skin than me, or that she sure is small for her age, or asking why her eyes are blue/gray while mine are dark brown. They were sweet, and (again) I needed it. I needed to be reminded that people- strangers can be nice, kind, and thoughtful. They can help you out when you need it most, not just stare at you or push you aside as if you are a burden to them and society. Maybe that’s the central reason I loved Copenhagen. Because even teenagers at Tivoli smiled at O, played with her, and let her crawl over to them (not that I let her, but that kid is quick for a 10 month-old). So, yes, as you can tell by now, I loved this trip. unnamed-7

Flight 1 back was great. I was seated next to soon-to-be Swedish grandparents. Baby O had some sort of special kinship on that flight with the husband; even started to doze off in my arms while holding onto his hand. And he told me that this was heaven for him, he loved her. They told me all about Sweden (obviously going tmy next trip!), and when that flight was over, I wished it was the last because you can’t have greatness twice when it comes to flights. The last flight, of course, sucked. Baby slept the entire time, but I swear these planes are getting smaller and more packed. By the time I got off, my knee was not functioning properly (still hasn’t 3 weeks later).

Anyway, that’s the long and the short of it. Maybe too detailed? Sorry. So yeah, go to Copenhagen, it’s beautiful and makes up for the high prices, promise.

5 German Foods I Can’t Live Without

Remember, many months back, my list of 5 German foods I could live without (find here)? Well it’s about time to say the things I really would miss if I ever were to leave Germany. So without further ado:

 

5 German Foods I Can’t Live Without

1. German chocolate

You know when other kids were chowing down on hershey bars like they were the best thing since sliced bread in your IMG_0195American youth? Nope, not me. I LOVE chocolate. But hershey’s (not including Symphony because sometimes, in a bind, that hits the chocolate spot) and Godiva are sugary and not chocolaty enough for me. I was lucky also to have loads of delicious chocolate while studying chocolate artistry at Pastry School…. but fast forward years later to a care package full of German chocolate from my (then) boyfriend, and it was….. unbelievable. Milka, Ritter…. cheap and good.

 

2. Himbeer Joghurt Cake

It’s magical. Weirdly, as a pastry lady, I’ve never had cake just like this– maybe because it’s a typical German construction of a cake, I don’t know. But it’s perfect.

 

3. Rosinenbrötchen OR EVERYTHING from a German bakery

IMG_9835-BearbeitetI love raisin bread. LOVE IT. But this is even better, and fresh from the bakery down the street. Sunday is incomplete without these treats, and BONUS– it’s something I can let baby eat too. But let’s talk about German bakeries. They open super early, the breads are fresh out of the oven and the smell wafts down the street, and everyone in the neighborhood puts their heads out of their windows (except for that old lady a block down who always keeps her head out of the window so that she can spy on her neighbors and watch people walk by… because this is a typical old person thing to do clearly) and goes forth to buy loads of carb-laden delicacies. So although I say rosinenbrötchen up there, what I really mean is- pretzels, krapfen (jam filled donuts that are a million times better than in the US), küchle, laugenstange, pain palasse…. the list goes on.

 

4. SpätzleP1050628

These teeny egg noodles come two ways (as far as I know)– covered in gravy or with cheese- think mac’n cheese. My favorite is with homemade gravy. I’m sure they have this all over Germany, but it’s really a Southern German thing— which is where the G-Man calls home. Can. Not. Get. Enough.

5. Speck

Smoked or pickled pork belly with meat on it, not like bacon and not nearly the same as pancetta. We usually get ours from Süd Tirol area, which is Italy/Austria. I will put this in pasta, pizza, on bread, and it’s really cheap for good quality. This has not been the best for my diet (nor has any of the above), but it is soooooo good.

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Oddly, I have more German foods I can’t live without— more than I can live without but those are the top 5. What about all of you? Any you just couldn’t part with?

 

Picking a Home

It’s been a while, blogland, but there’s a very good reason for it! I’ve been reflecting on my future and learning this new way of life. Honestly, my way of thinking totally changed when Baby O came into my world. I want to have fun and travel the globe has been replaced by- I want to go where Baby O will thrive and prosper, be happy, have more opportunities than I did, doesn’t have to feel the burden of debt, fear of her environment, has space to move around and explore, have adventures and feels comfortable. And hey! We can still have fun and travel (maybe not the globe right now), we just will do it together and change the format of our trips to suit a newbie foodie and milk connoisseur.

That leads to the question- where is that place? Where can all of my desires for Baby O be met? Germany (maybe somewhere Europe eventually) or US? Let’s do a pros and cons list. *****Obviously, this is not intended to offend anyone or their choice to live in either country, this is all my opinion (thus why it’s a blog post and not a research paper or published article). I also tried not to compare things that are impossible to compare like parks, nature, public transportation, and school buildings. It all depends on where you are.

 Raising a Baby Comparison Germany or the US

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Education–  Germany

Germany is better ranked, and BONUS it’s free.  Higher education may be better back home for me (in Boston) BUT those, without scholarships, have extremely high price tags, which as I know from experience, leads to a future loaded with debt and burden. I’m anxious just thinking about it.

 

DiversityUnited States

It’s called the melting pot for a reason. But Germany is getting more and more diverse, so who knows on this one? The biggest thing is, Baby O won’t find as many people who look like her in Germany as opposed to certain areas of the US. I think this one is hard to determine.

 

SafetyGermany

Better gun laws, less crime, less police violence (time sensitive as it were)—- BUT this is a generalization. Some ares in the US might be totally safe with lower crime rates. But in order for me to pick a clear choice, I had to go with the generalization.

 

Health InsuranceGermany HANDS DOWN Unknown

Our public health insurance covers damn- near everything. We don’t even have co-pays. Glasses are less expensive here too (as some of you know, I keep two pairs of glasses in case one breaks {which it will}, and I tend go through them preeeeeety quickly and that is super expensive). Baby O’s hospital stay was completely covered, and the doctors seem alright.  And BONUS, health insurance coverage doesn’t break the bank.

 

FriendlinessUnited States 

People smile, laugh, and give off such a positive energy back in the US. You talk to store clerks, people ask how you are doing, no one pushes you out of the way for crackers in the supermarket, or cuts you in line. They just seem happier, and happier seeming people tend to come off friendlier. I feel like Germans are all about keeping it real, and openly staring because they just want to. I plan on smiling and making up for the sad-faced Germans with Baby O, just so she learns that this is not the general norm.

 

Maternity/Paternity LeaveGermany

Moms and Dads are both entitled to time off and their jobs once their time is over.  Moms get full pay 6 weeks before baby arrives, and 8 weeks after. Then maternity leave of a year +, which they get 65% of their pay. Dads can get 2 months + off (even with Mom off too). You also get Kindergeld (until your child is a working adult) and Elterngeld (for 1 year), money given to the child and parents for having a baby. Ultimately, it’s a pretty good deal.

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BenefitsGermany, again

Work/life balance is important to many a’ German. 30 days of guaranteed vacation, and numerous holidays amass to quite a bit of time off. Add that to cheaper rates for traveling in and around Europe, and you got some fun urlaub times ahead. And from a family point of view, your child now has the opportunity to experience different cultures and lands with her parents for 6 weeks a year.  BONUS-  where we are now, the cost of living is low and the quality of life is high, benefits that matter a lot to a growing family.

 

Mommy & Me ClassesUnited States

In my experience, there aren’t a whole lot of these going on around here. In the US, you can do all kinds of funky things with a baby- social and different, whereas here, you tend to make your own opportunities and rely on mom’s groups and such. I wish we had more baby gyms (for the smaller kids) and art classes, things like that. Yeah, I can do all these things by myself with O, especially baking/cooking/cupcake decorating stuff, but I like the social aspect.

 

Child FriendlinessTOSS 

There were bathrooms both here and back in the US for nursing, children were pretty much accepted both places… no one really complained here nor there. Breastfeeding is not really a thing over here as it may be over there, and while Berlin apparently has child cafés, that’s not to say you can’t just take your kid to a café or biergarten (I’ve seen loads over here). What do you guys think, which one is more child-friendly in your experience?

 

 

I think the pros add up for Germany, and it’s weird for me to agree with it. Honestly. I love back home, especially in it’s fall-Halloween-and-leaves-changing glory. While I’ll miss the smiling faces, and the cool mommy and me classes, I need the other stuff just slightly more. What do all of you think? Where would you pick? Let’s discuss.