Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pork and Beans

Freaking out, just a bit...
-find a new apartment in Munich
-find a new job in Munich
-pack and clean current apartment
-get rid of a bunch of once expensive, now almost worthless kitchen and electronic gadgets
-open new bank account
-switch over cell phone service
-forward mail to unknown address
-track down background checks and EHIC cards
-file for tax refund
-set up internet in new apartment
-fill out a million forms so Ryan and I can reside legally in Germany

We leave on Sunday and have about a million balls in the air at the moment. I'm a bit stressed and erratic at the moment. I alternate between cooing over and threatening my husband, I think he's learning to hug with one arm while grabbing for a weapon with the other. We're both a bit stressed, but we're doing ok.

In semi-related mental health news, I may have pieced together another part of the cure for depression, this video:

Yes, it's post-sellout Weezer and yes I don't care for any of these internet sell-ebrities, but it's true, "Everyone likes to dance to a happy song." and dancing around in my underwear to Weezer might be the key.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thousands of Babies...

I've been reading a lot of articles this week about the raid on the FLDS compound in Texas and how botched it was, that the government had no right to intervene on behalf of the children's welfare. I can't believe this. While not all of the children were in immediate danger of being sexually assaulted by a relative, many of them were. After reading articles and books about the FLDS ("Under the Banner of Heaven" is a great one) I can't believe these children weren't being abused at least psychologically. These girls are told to shut up and put up. They are treated as property, and I can't believe that in the US we still allow people to do this to each other.

I know the experience of being removed from the only home you know is a traumatic one, but so is being forced out of such a community, as many young men are. It would have been easier if they had some anti-brianwashing facility to transition the children in, but alas we lack the technology. Most of the children are due to be returned shortly, but I hope in this interlude they have seen that the world is not an evil place and will consider their futures in it.

In other weird religious news, I signed Ryan up for a newsletter after reading an article on "The Quiverfull Movement" . This is a Christian group who believes that birth control is wrong, and basically God wants you to pop out as many kids as possible. The most famous example of this are the Duggars- a family that is pregnant for the 18th time and has their own TV special. Anyway, I thought it would be hilarious to sign baby-phobic Ryan up for their newsletter. I had to answer a few questions on his behalf, and schmoozed about the glories of having a million children. I waited 2 whole weeks, excitedly checking his emails over his shoulder, but nothing! Apparently he was rejected. Don't get me wrong, I think basing your lifestyle on a single Bible verse is pretty crazy (see the guys who went after Galileo, etc), but I'm mad that they rejected me none-the-less.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Chocolate Meltdown

It's been 18 days since I cut out chocolate and almost completely eliminated sugar from my diet. I have felt more stable energy-wise, and lost an inch off my hips, and probably experienced other health benefits. However, my month-long quest was derailed yesterday. Below are the emails chronicling the break down.

2:38pm Ryan!!! Angela just gave me a giant bag of chocolate Maltesers as a thank you for the questionnaires I handed out! Aaaagghhh! I think it would be rude not to eat some, right? They look so delicious, darling.....what should I do???

2:45 Is she watching you? Don't eat them. Say your saving them for later. Don't eat them. You will have to start the month over again!!!! Eat them in June.

2:48 I don't know...they're sitting right here. June is sooooooo far away. They will probably melt.....they will probably get confiscated by customs.......I should probably put them some place safe in my tummy.....

2:59 AND CHOCOLATE CAKE!!! UPSTAIRS!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA this is too much temptation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm freaking out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3:15 This is actually not very good chocolate. *wave of my hand* This is not the chocolate you are looking for. *wave of my hand*

3:20 I'm not sure I can be held accountable for my actions in the face of overwhelming chocolate-osity.

I ended up giving into temptation. What can I say? I'm only human. But today I'm extraordinarily grouchy. Coincidence? Everyone offers me explanations and solutions, but no one seems to grasp how complicated depression is. Diet and exercise and positive thinking. It all seems ridiculous some times. I will try these "positive affirmations" even though I actually think they're quite stupid. Maybe that will have to be my first affirmation "Positive thinking has made me peaceful. I believe in the power of positivity." barf.

Friday, May 16, 2008

12 Minutes in an NHS Walk-In Centre

12 ears full of earwax preventing patients from hearing me
11 half-completed surveys
10 non-English speakers who want me to solve all their problems
9 phone calls asking for directions
8 squeaking chairs
7 drunks (even though it's only noon)
6 computer crashes
5 screaming babies!
4 teenage girls seeking emergency contraception
3 hours of children's television blaring
2 bosses yelling at me because of
1 dog under a chair in a corner by the door that I failed to see

Friday, May 9, 2008

Caress a circle, it will become vicious.

The title is a quotation from "The Bald Soprano" an hilarious play by Eugene Ionesco. The play is absurdist and contains long strings of nonsense statements with little consideration given to "plot." Ionesco was inspired to write it while attempting to learn English. I always thought, what a silly book he must've used.

Most language-learning CDs and books teach you typical touristy things. "Where is the harbor?" "I would like an orange juice." But my new favorite website gives you words and sentences based on estimated usage. The words are pretty typical: articles, business jargon, weather talk, but the sentences are crazy! Here is a sampling of today's sentences, along with translation.

Ungefähr 30 Leute sind wegen der Hitzewelle gestorben.

About 30 people have died in the heatwave.

Ein Versprechen ist ein Versprechen.

A promise is a promise.

Sie war ein sehr schlimmes Kind.

She was a very naughty child.

Du verschwendest dein Geld.

You are wasting your money.

Ich schätze deine Ehrlichkeit.

I appreciate your honesty.

Er sagte, dass er mit seiner Alkoholerkrankung sein ganzes Erwachsenenleben gekämpft hat.

He said that he has battled the disease of alcoholism for all of his adult life.

Die Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Israel und Hisbollah zeigen keine Zeichen des Nachlassens.

Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah shows no signs of letting up.

Jemand hat mein Fahrrad gestohlen.

Somebody stole my bicycle.

Es ist nicht deine Schuld.

This is top secret.

What does this tell us about the German people? They are all spies with naughty children who spend extravagantly and abhor their weather? Ryan seems to have stumbled on the holy grail of German sample sentences "These are inhumane conditions we are living in." (I forget the German) The Germans who say such things are either incredibly gloomy or have a very dry sense of humor. I hope it's the latter.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles...

It's official: come June the husband and are Germany-bound, specifically Munich. My family lived in Germany when I was very young, but I have very little memory of it, mostly playing and waiting for my Dad to come home from work.

Germany wasn't on the top of my list of places to live in Europe. It lacks the reputation of Spain, France, or Italy. Jokes here often revolve around Germans' complete lack of humor and dedication to efficiency above all else. Videos and pictures seem to paint it a land of sausages and cuckoo clocks, not like stylish Paris, romantic Italy, or exotic Spain. Edelweiss and beer are all very nice, but in a way they seem too ordinary.

But I am ready for a change. England just isn't a challenge anymore. Even the more difficult Geordie expressions are like 2nd nature and the English quirkyness seems boring now.*

So I've been reading up on Bavaria and what I'm finding is surprising. Munich has endless arts festivals and various strange traditions that started off trying to convince God not to visit various plagues upon them. There are also loads of outdoorsy things going on, not just hiking in lederhosen. Munich is supposedly a great bike city and has weekly rollerblading nights in the summer. (not that I can rollerblade, but maybe someday) So we'll see. I'm going into Germany as a blank slate, ready to be surprised by what we find.

*I should mention that I have recently found a surprising quirk: glamour models. In the US pictures of naked ladies are restricted to Playboy and the like, but here they infamously coat the inside page of newspapers (page 3). There is a new BBC show called "Glamour Girls" that follows the bizarre logic of these women who get their boobs out for cash. Episode 2 featured an hilarious argument between two models about the merits of going topless in lad's mag "Nuts".
-"I'm not gettin my boobs out in the likes of Nuts."
-"em, you did get your boobs out for ____, ______, and _____!"
-"I'm not slagging off Nuts...."
Ryan and I couldn't stop laughing. Unfortunately our Liverpool accents suck.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Chicken and the Egg

Thanks for all the emails and messages, I appreciate your support. Don't be worried, I'm feeling pretty good right now. I'm at work eating a slightly over-ripe pear and not thinking about the chocolate cake sitting in the break room.

The NHS has a computer program that encourages you to examine your crazies and sort of therapy yourself. There is a review of one version here: . Following the logic of this program I've scoured my journal in attempts to identify potential "triggers" of depressive episodes. I've come up with a few so far:

1. weekends, specifically Saturday early evening.
2. money worries
3. sad movies
4. homesickness
5. loved ones' naughty behavior

Some of these clearly make sense and others don't. Why Saturdays? Why do I get so involved in movies? Perhaps the most bizarre is my ability of fitting a minor argument or irritation into a downward spiral of relationship doom.

For example: if Ryan spends a date complaining about how expensive things are, this becomes "Ryan thinks I don't work hard enough" or "why does Ryan try to ruin all my fun?" the illogical conclusions come hard and fast and voila- recipe for disaster. Why does my mind work this way? Why is it so easy to see in hindsight and so hard to recognize in the moment?

I open my brain for discussion.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pharmaceutical Tango

Here's a problem with the US healthcare system: all the medical websites are owned by drug companies. Hence they fail to mention things like withdrawal symptoms. I discovered this downside of antidepressant Zoloft on a family vacation to Arizona. I accidentally left my meds at home and after a few days had zero equilibreum. Turning my head made me almost fall over and this lack of balance made me pretty irritable. Not a single pharmacist I spoke to knew this was a side effect of Zoloft.

Flash forward to last summer. I planned to gradually decrease my dosage without medical supervision. I feel like most doctors just want to prescribe you something that could automatically "fix" the problem. So I decided to scale back my dosage by myself using anecdotal evidence on chat boards (the only U.S. websites I could find with actual withdrawal symptoms, etc)

I was drug-free until last January. My stress levels were maxed out and I was spending a lot of weekends yelling at Ryan for no reason. My depression was reaching level orange. I talked to Ryan, talked to a doctor, and decided to go back on the sertraline bandwagon.

Only this time it was not the night-and-day experience of first taking medication. I experienced the same irritating side effects: jitters, sleeplessness, and most damning, the dreaded sexual side effects. The first month my depression seemed improved but then that tapered off. Now I feel fine, but am still prone to irrational emotional outbursts over silly things.

Does this stuff actually work? It seemed to work the first time around, perhaps because my depression symptoms were more severe. After investigating the NHS website I have decided to seek alternative treatments, namely quitting sugar, exercising, and cognitive behavioral therapy. The sugar fast is going to be a bitch, but overall its gotta be better than the pills which make me jittery and put a dent in my sex life.