Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Feeling Lighter

Two more days...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Coping Strategies for the Last Days

Today is our last day in our apartment. A week from today, we will be on the airplane heading toward our new home in Chapel Hill. Oly Sheet.

This has been an emotionally confusing time - the excitement highs and nostalgia lows, the bursts of confidence and waves of fear. Our apartment has been turned inside out and our taken-for-granted comforts have been slowly replaced by things like sleeping bags and paper plates (trust me, Mama Jens does not like camping). I have gone back and forth between feeling like I am doing a great job preparing the children emotionally for what is to come and at the same time feeling guilty for exposing them to a slow process of their world breaking down around them. The happy part here is that the moments of feeling totally crazy are usually balanced in the end by the Mama Jens intuition (very strong) that, despite the short term chaos and inconveniences, this is still the right decision. It is time to move on. People are resilient. Everything will be fine.

So, its nuts, its crazy, its paper plates, but we have to get through it...it is, in some ways, just a matter of time. In a couple of months we'll be settled on the other side of the pond (and hopefully not trying to figure out a way to get back to Berlin...eek!).

Coping strategies have included:

Eating. We went out last Friday to this amazing restaurant, tucked away on August str. between Große Hamburger and Rosenthaler called Al Contadino. For a decent price, you can have their five course menu...incredible. I highly recommend it...but make reservations, the place books out early.

Films. I have seen a couple in the last few weeks = good reality escape. Being Mainstream Mama when it comes to film, I saw Match Point and Walk The Line. I'd recommend both...but if you go to Match Point, take a friend along so that you have someone to talk to afterwards about how disturbed you feel and how you will NEVER cheat on your spouse.

Friends. I went to see a friend of mine sing, along with 175 other choir members, Bach's Mass in B Minor at the Marienkirche. This was amazing. After years of not going to church, I was amazed to find out that I still remember every line of the traditional Catholic liturgy. I guess if you say something 88 million times it is with you for good, Latin or no Latin. It was beautiful and peaceful.

Conducting Public Experiments. This is a fun one. This would be doing things like hiding one of your baby's shoes and counting how many strangers in a 15 minute period tell you that one of your baby's shoes is missing. Or driving your bike during the day with the light on, and counting those people, and so on. Counting cars and trams have a similar effect. When you're preoccupied with something like that, it is much more difficult to obsess over other things.

Watching the Olympics. This has been very entertaining, and the ice skating, very soothing. Of course my husband is always chattering in the background about how they should do an "all skate" and how for every event there should be just a normal guy that is included seriously in the competition (think Napolean Dynamite). After watching Sasha Cohen win the short program a couple of nights ago, I said, "When we get to the U.S. this is the girl that will be on the box of corn flakes." My husband replied, "Yeah unless she loses, then she'll be on the box of shit flakes." Now call me nuts, but this made me laugh my dang face off for about 30 minutes, and let me tell you, laughter is GOOD, even if it is a little hystericalish.

Packing. We have been doing a lot of this lately, but it is oddly soothing. Going through each and every item in your house and deciding whether or not it is worthy of going further with you in life takes time and emotional energy. The really important stuff gets the UPS treatment. This would be things like paintings, camera equipments, etc. And then there are the really, really important things that will stay even closer by being in our luggage...important documents, quilts my mom made, vases with my childrens' hand and foot prints... The other soothing thing about packing has been the mountains of bubble wrap. Whenever you hit a weak spot or a confused point about what to pack next, you can just pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Nice.

And here is my cute child story of the week...a couple of days ago, the five year old ran into the living room and said, "Mama Mama !!! We figured it out!!!" I said, "Figured what out??!!" She continued, "We figured out how to think about nothing! You just close your eyes and says mmmm..." Awesome! This is the same child who a couple of months back, when we asked HER to tell US a story, said, "Once upon a time, there was nothing. No people. No houses. No trees. No animals. No lights. No air. Nothing."

Have a lovely weekend. Love, Mama Jens

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Trying to Get Perspective in A Confined Space


I am still hibernating. This has been such a long winter so far. I've spent so much time inside that I actually feel like I am experiencing the world with an objective eye and a fresh perspective when I do go out. That is a sure sign of lack of outside stimulation. I have, however, been trying to go out once a day, for "fresh air." This has for the most part been freezing, icy, snowy, and rainy, but the fresh air is pretty essential. It helps me to remember why I have been staying inside. And so the cycle goes...

So here is how we have been entertaining ourselves: packing, looking for houses online, watching the kids freak out dancing to the Backyardigans CD, watching downloaded episodes of the new season of Lost and The Office at night when we should be packing, recording new songs when we should be packing, planning photo shoots when we should be ..., and eating loads of candy bars. Ever since I read in a magazine that Tom Ford eats several candy bars a day, I've sort of made it my mission to do the same. This has given me a nice distraction from my total freak out baby while waiting in line near the register at Kaiser's. Snickers, Twix, Mars bars, Kit Kat. Man, no one ever told me how GOOD candy bars are, especially Snickers. I haven't been so much in the baking mood (apart from the Brownies yesterday), so the Candy Bars are a fine replacement for the storm I am usually baking up in the kitchen.

How is the move going? Well, pretty well. We have a nachmieter for the apartment. This was a fun experience of having 3 or 4 realtors going nuts showing the place weekend after weekend. We answered a lot of questions about sunlight in the apartment. Unfortunately, we could only offer them light as reflected off the library across the street coming into the windows. Hmmm.... A family that lives nearby ended up taking the place. It was cool to have met them. We now have faces to put with thoughts of our old apartment once it is officially our "old apartment." They also agreed to buy our kitchen and to spare us renovation, which officially makes them the coolest people on earth. Both of those things take quite a load of stress off right here at international move time. And we've been mailing boxes and doing a lot of ebaying as well. Fun, Fun, Fun. Only a couple more weeks, and we will move into a ferienwohnung for about a week while we finish all the last minute things, clean our apartment and say goodbye to all our friends. I can almost hear the airplane jets...

So, here are some things I will miss:
1. Our friends.
2. German Food (rotkohl, sauerbraten, potato dumplings, schnitzel, apfelstrudel mit vanillesoße, etc., etc. Are you getting hungry???)
3. How relaxed Germans are about very natural things...the naked body, breastfeeding, giving birth, illness, you know...those kinds of things...
4. How loyal Germans are in friendships (you don't mind the sweeping generalizations, do you?)
5. How naturally healthy and free of preservatives and genetic modification the food is.
6. The punk rock pizza place on schönhauser allee (if you don't know this place, it is the BEST pizza served by italian punks on earth)
7. The Prenzlauer Bergian children all over the place in the summer.
8. The Saturday market on Kollwitz Platz (note to self: buy one of those beautiful, handmade cutting boards before I go)
9. The built-in dependability in everything...things run on time, professionals know what they are doing, how to fix things, etc.
10. Small stores (and the lack of choice, which is actually a good thing as far as I'm concerned).
11. Being able to walk or take public transportation everywhere (not necessarily a Berlin thing...just a big city thing).
12. My 70's travel agent dude, my pornstar baker, my Kaiser's treueherzen collecting obsession.
13. The awesome little bioladens.

Things I won't miss:
1. You guessed the first one...the long, dark, icy, grey, foggy, dead winters.
2. The self imposed limitations of perfectly bright people because of a system that requires such and such certificate or education for every fucking little thing, and likewise, the sense of insecurity/big egos produced by an education system that separates the smart-university from the "dumb"-technical at such a young impressional age.
3. Big, Dirty, city living. Dog doo doo. Broken sidewalks. Random nasty things. Germs on public transportation.
4. A lack of a choice in breakfast cereals.
5. The Bureaucracy.
6. The limitations I experience linguistically.
7. Being an American in a world where Americans ain't the most popular kids on the block.

Things I look forward to:
1. A backyard.
2. Sunshine.
3. Speaking English.
4. A sense of possibility.
5. Spontenaiety.
6. Exploring a new place.
7. Coming back to Berlin in the summers.
8. A choice in breakfast cereals.
9. Driving to Ikea in Virginia.

Things I am sort of dreading:
1. Minivans.
2. SUVs.
3. Enormous stores that always incite the flight response in my poor anxious soul.
4. Malls.
5. Packaged, processed food (which I WILL NOT eat).
6. Fast food (which I WILL NOT eat, except for Chick Fil A).
7. Plastic, especially plastic toys.
8. The distances between things.

I am guessing all of these lists will change once we have moved and see what we are really in for. I will keep you posted.

Trying to keep my spirits up, my eyes focused (I can't focus on people when I talk to them anymore), and my children feeling secure through all of my freakout sessions.

Mama Jens