Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Still Packing and Freezing

I spent most of today trying very, very hard not to completely lose my mind. That fine line between sanity and insanity or composure and nervous breakdown is coming into view more and more. Moving is stressful...there is no two ways about it. Even starting early, even being one of the most organized people on the planet, even when the circumstances are positive...I think I can I think I can...

As the days go by, there is less and less furniture around. The closets are gone, so the clothes are in suitcases. I am proud to say that I got all of mine in one suitcase, and there is still room. Now that is an achievement for any woman I tell you. But we will be maxed out on our luggage when we fly....that should be pretty fun. Schlepping two kids is a challenge for any sane and motivated person, much less 6 suitcases, a stroller, 2 carseats, and a travel crib. And we're mailing some boxes too. Toys, good cooking gear, journals, paintings, cds, etc. While sorting through all these boxes and boxes of every letter and card I have ever received, it dawned on me that people don't write letters anymore. I don't save every single email, why do I feel like I have to save every single letter? I don't know, but I do.

So, there is still a month to go and quite a lot to do. Only a little can be done each day. There is still work and children and cooking and cleaning....but we are getting there. I am having a hard time waiting...this limbo is a kind of hell. When some of the bigger logistical things are in place, I think I will sleep better at night.

And if you have been following the weather, you will know there is something pretty extraordinary going on right now outside. Today, with the windchill, it was minus 26 degrees c. It is supposed to get a little better tomorrow, but worse next week. Yesterday, when I willed myself to the grocery store with a baby who was emitting soft moans the whole way, I actually saw a woman with frost on her cheek and like these little icicles in her hair. That was fucking weird. Then later on in the day yesterday, a friend of mine actually said, "Wow, its beautiful today." She was talking about the sunshine. You see, we are so sun deprived, that we think it is beautiful out when the sun shines, regardless of whether or not it is minus 24 outside. Pure craziness.

Everytime I run into someone I know they say something about how it is too bad that we couldn't move a little earlier and spare ourselves this extreme weather. But my response is that I like it this way. It makes it much, MUCH, harder to have any regrets. If it were summer in Berlin right now, I think we'd be doubting ourselves over and over. Summer in Berlin is beautiful. The flip side to this equation is that I am not having much of a nostalgic parting. Instead of, "Oh I will miss such and such bakery, it is more like, "What the hell date is it and how many more days until I can leave?" Being the professional escapist that I am, the latter is much easier. But those moments will still come...emailing with friends and hearing about the births of their babies, unpacking boxes and remembering where the things were placed in our Berlin apartment, etc.

Time to get some sleep. Love to all, Mama Jens

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sleeping Well in No Man's Land

We've really entered this weird limbo. It feels like one foot is already gone. People stop calling. The house might as well be empty. In my mind, I am already wearing skirts and drinking iced tea. It is very hard not to perceive every interacton or event in relation to the fact that we are leaving. If its good, I will miss it. If its bad, well, I won't have to deal with it much longer.

I wonder how my perceptions of life here will change once we get to Chapel Hill. Will it be so exciting to be getting things going in a new place that Berlin will be easily forgotten? Will everything be compared to how things were here? And how does it work with memory? How will reality now be seen five months, a year, two years from now? Will the memory be realistic? Will it be idealized or dismissed? Will it be exciting for a little while and then that itch to move will return again? That has more or less been the pattern our lives have followed up to this point. Having children in school might anchor us a little more...but you never know. Our escape plan involves NYC. That is, if we totally freak out about small town life, we will just head north after a short time. Somehow though, I don't think that will happen.

It is such a strange feeling to know that life will be so different, down to the air we breathe and the food we eat. At times it is a relief, at times it is scary. There are moments when I feel like a runaway or that I won the lottery or that I am going undercover...all of these kinds of situtions where there is a fresh start, a clean slate. It isn't easy of course, but it is amazing, and very humbling, to see how easily life can change if you want it to.

And its interesting to hear the reactions of people when we tell them we are moving to the U.S. I'd say that 8 times out of 10, the expression is something like: "Now, why in the hell would you wanna go and do that??!!" People are openly very critical of the U.S., which of course I can understand in many ways...but I also want to hear positivity, reassurance...hearing all the negative things, when I know in my heart this is the right decision, is oddly confusing or maybe just frustrating.

Still, life is here for now, and I am trying to stay aware of that. Less than two months to go.

A couple of random thoughts to close:

Do you think a child's cuteness is in direct proportion to his or her dependency on parents? Are older kids less cute to their parents? Are really old kids, like myself, totally uncute to their parents because they are more or less totally self-sufficient?

My husband did the infamous sleep program last week with our 15 month old. She went from self-service at the breast all night long to sleeping totally perfectly all night in her bed in three nights. Hats off to the papa.

In addition, we have begun to bribe the five year old so she'll stay in her bed too. So, now we have had a couple of nights of totally childfree, uninterrupted sleep, and MAN DOES IT FEEL GOOD! The last couple of nights in bed I have felt like I was on an island wellness retreat for one. Stretching out in those sheets any damn way I please and not having someone sucking on one breast and tweaking the other is GREAT! More rest=more energy=crazier mama. Wahoo!

That all for tonight. Good night. Love, Mama Jens

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy New Year!

It feels like ages since I last posted. But here I am. We were in Garmisch for Christmas - a beautiful, wintery, gingerbread town with icing on top. Skiing, huge meals, pajamas, Santa Claus...very cozy indeed. Skiing had to be one of the most liberating feelings in a long time. I hadn't been in years, so was a little worried about my ability. I wasn't so confident about my strength either since all I do is breastfeed basically. But, it came right back, bicycle style, and as for strength...I am one strong bitch I tell you. I might look like a stick, but I have muscles of steel. Must be from weight-lifting kids all day....not to mention schlepping strollers, groceries, etc. all around town like a friggin' madwoman. But back to skiing, (supermama moment), it was awesome. Its so Quiet up there on the mountain. And so beautiful. White. Apart from sharing ipod headphones with my brother on the t-bar (Krunk hits...eek!), it was a blissful couple of hours of silence. I dug it completey. I did not want to leave the mountain. I promised myself right then and there that next Christmas, I will con my parents into coming along for another ski holiday so they can do some babysitting action and I can ski much more than a couple of hours!!

Anyways, now we are back, and it is Count Down Time...57 days to be exact. We can't believe it. So much to do, and so little time...so what have have we been doing? Watching "Lost." You see, for Christmas, my brother gave us this show - 24 whole episodes. And now we're hooked. I am not a TV person...sitting still in front of the TV has never been one of my strong points...but this show has me running to the couch as soon as the kids are in bed. So now the packing is on hold until we finish this box set. Should take a couple of weeks. No, really, it is like therapy...the only way my mind is totally occupied by something other than the list of a million things I have to do.

Otherwise, the Berlin cold has set in in a big way. When I came inside just now with my two bundles of joy, my first thought, after "Holy Fucking Shit," was "Note to self: Never live in a cold place like this again." Berlin is not just cold. It is not, oh sweet, snowy wintery wonderland cold. It is not let's get cozy by the radiator hot chocolate cold. It is Moscow. It is East. It is ice on your cheeks, fire in your bones cold, grey, windy, and DARK. It makes you forget summer exists. It makes you sad that you have to give your children Vitamin D drops. If you think I'm joking, I dare you to spend a winter here.

So, anyways, I am happy to be inside right now. There is bread, milk, baked goods, coffee, and of course, Pringles. I'm not leaving now for another 24 hours.

And yesterday, we got our plane tickets!! That was a big one in the reality-check sort of way. The itinerary is so simple. We go. We stay. I like.

And so now, after we finish Lost, we have so much to do. The most challenging part is getting rid of our stuff - STILL. But I am very liberally going through closets and cupboards. Its amazing how little one needs when it comes down to it. And all the extra stuff...well, I've been sort of piling it in anticipation of another flea market day...but my husband has talked me out of it. (We've been debating it for weeks). He said my time (not to mention my health - hello, Cold!) is more valuable than the 250 euros or so I'd make in a day. So, look out Humana, here we come.

More later. Gotta go. Happy Thursday and Happy New Year. Love, Mama Jens