Clearing out

Recently, I have finally faced up to the very real possibility that, come January, I may be moving out of my lovely flat.
It’s been five months since the boyfriend and I had one of the worst conversations I’ve had to initiate in my life, and so far not much seems to have changed. Despite Jan promising in July that he was going to make an effort with our relationship even if he couldn’t bring himself to do so in any other area of his life, nothing much seems to have changed. We have been arguning less, but honestly I think that has more to do with the fact that he’s been even more busy with work than he usually is, and it’s difficult to have an argument with someone who isn’t actually there. He did say he had missed me and the flat felt empty when I went to a four-day seminar for work a few weeks ago, but that’s not exactly a declaration that he wants me to stay. and conversations about the future are still, well, non-existent if I’m honest. So I decided it was time to start mentally preparing myself. But rather than focusing on the fact that moving out will mean the end of my relationship (I’m not quite that brave yet… even typing those words was difficult), I’ve been concentrating on how I’m going to fit all my posessions into a place that will probably have much less space. And I came to the conclusion that I probably couldn’t… I’m sure I didn’t have this much stuff when I moved in here. Where did it all come from?! (Actually I know the answer to that one – the Internet mostly. I knew I shouldn’t have found myself a new hobby that involved buying things and storing them at home!) It was time for a clear out! So two weeks ago I went through all my clothes, ruthlessly sorting out things that I knew I was never going to wear again and had only been holding onto for sentimental reasons, throwing away holey socks (including the ones with the rubber ducks on that I loved. That was a bit of a heart wrenching moment… and yes, I’ve just admitted to get emotional over a pair of socks). This week, it was the turn of my books. Those of you who have been reading for a while will know how I feel about books. I LOVE them! While other girls dream of walk in wardrobes and entire rooms full of handbags, my ultimate aim in life is to have my very own library. With soft read sofas and chairs, a mahogany desk, beautiful shelving and books, books, books. But books are heavy, and so some of them have to go. I’ve been gradually taking books off the shelves, rearranging the bookcases and moving things into a carrier bag all week, and gradually I’ve got to the stage where everything actually fits on our three bookcases, whereas before things were piled up on top of the neat rows of books, stacked in front of them etc. Then, today, I placed a number of books into a smaller carrier bag (there’s no way I could have carried the larger one!) and walked around the corner to where there’s a public book cupboard (an excellent idea by the way!). There, I deposited the 11 books I had brought with me and returned home with a much lighter load, but a heavy heart. Getting rid of books is like cutting ties with old friends – not pleasant! But now that a few hours have passed I’m feeling a little better about things. I know those were books that I didn’t really enjoy that much and probably wasn’t going to read again any time soon – I won’t say never, because you never know. And I can always buy more books, sometime in the future. Instead of being a crazy cat lady I’ll be the mad old woman who filled her entire house with stacks of books. And maybe when Jan sees all my stuff gradually disappearing he’ll realise I’m seriously and actually start start trying to figure out what he wants.

I think I’m really starting to understand the meaning of the phrase “hope springs eternal”…

The boy done good!

Not being a fan of the forced romance that Valentine’s Day seems to bring out in people (who needs a boyfriend that only says he loves you once a year?!), I didn’t want any gifts from the boy yesterday. My only request was that he be home by 8 so we could actually eat together – a rare occurence, unless it’s the weekend.
Not only did he arrive home a whole two hours earlier than I’d asked him to, but he also turned up with these:

Despite my “who cares about Valentine’s anyway?” stance, I have to admit I was pleased. Maybe I am a cliché after all!
Happy belated Valentine’s Day everyone!

The other girl

Here’s a poem I just wrote. I’m not sure whether I like the last line, but couldn’t think of a better one. Maybe I’ll change it at some point, when I’m feeling inspired. Thought I’d post it here anyway since I don’t have anything else to say.

The Other Girl

It’s me you go to bed with,
And me you call your girl,
But I know there’s someone else you love.
She looks like me,
She talks like me,
She even shares my name.
But try as I might,
I can never compete,
With the version of me that you see when you sleep.

Written by me, today (12 February 2012). No stealing please.

Six years

The boyfriend and I have been together for six years today.

We met in 2003, when I was in Germany for the year abroad that I had to do as part of my degree. At the time I was with someone else, but that ended in January of 2006. 10 days later, Jan and I got together. After six months, when we were just starting to get beyond that honeymoon stage and settle down into a “proper” relationship, I had to go back to England to finish my degree while Jan went off to America for a year. Neither of us was sure about the whole long distance thing, but neither of us wanted to end things either, so we agreed to try. I visited him once, for a week over new Year. Other than that we didn’t see each other for a whole year. And phone calls to America were expensive. Somehow we kept our relationship alive via texts, MSn messenger and the (very) occasional phone call. Then Jan came back to Germany to finish his degree and I moved to Vorarlberg in Austria to be a British Council language assistant. Closer, but still long distance. For 10 months, we survived on weekly phone calls and an average of one visit a month. Then, in November 2005, I received a letter from British Council telling me I could stay on as alanguage assistant for a second year. I decided to do it, but instead of sticking with the schools I was in I applied for a transfer to Germany. I put down Baden-Württemberg as my first choice, with a specific request for Karlsruhe in the comments section. In March 2006 I got the news that I had been assigned to Baden-Württemberg. In mid-June I had leftAustria and was  staying with Jan for a while when I was given the exact location of my school… a small village in Pfinztal. We looked it up on Google maps and found that it wasonly a 45 minute tram journey from Karlsruhe! the next step was to go and see the head of the student residence Jan was still living in at the time and ask whether I could have a room. Mr. Z asked me how much I would be earning, then told me he would arrange something. I was in! A few weeks later, I returned to England for a few months to see the family then, on 1st September 2006, I officially moved to Germany. No more long-distance relationship.
3 and a bit years later, here we are, still together. And we’ve finally reached the point where I can say we’ve been in the same country for longer than we spent apart. I know I wouldn’t have been able to put up with me for six years, even if two of them were long distance, so I’ve no idea how Jan does it. But I’m very glad he does.

Happy six years sweetheart! ♥

Snow is falling…

It’s difficult to know how to continue after a post like yesterday’s. Do I act like it never happened, go back to telling you all the mundane, everyday stuff that nobody really wants to hear about. Or do I comment on it again, try to explain myself better. Answer your questions, defend my boyfriend (I don’t mean to make him out to be the bad guy in this!). I just don’t know. So we’ll have a bit of both. I would like to thank those who commented on yesterday’s self-indulgent rant anyway. I know it’s something that needs to be sorted out between Jan and I, and it’s not like we don’t talk about it, but it seems we always go in circles while standing in one spot. Or else we take a few steps forward only to gradually slip and slide right back to where we were as soon as we stop paying attention. I don’t want to sound too dispairing though because mostly things betwen us are pretty good.

So, it’s been snowing non-stop today. It doesn’t seem to cause much of a problem around here though – despite the BBC’s claim that German households have been advised to keep three or four days worth of provisions and only travel if they really have to. I don’t know which part of Germany they’re talking about, but I certainly haven’t been told anything like that! So I went to work as usual this morning. My train was only delayed by 15 minutes (and the one coming home by 10) Pretty good considering other trains had delays of up to 85 minutes due to adverse weather conditions (Deutsche Bahn really don’t like to use the word ‘hour’ in their announcements – as if informing us of a 75 minute delays makes it sound any better!).

I saw a mouse while I was waiting for my train home. I guess he’s living under the vending machine at the train station. He kept popping out, sniffing the ground then scurrying back in. A threw him a piece of crisp and was perhaps a little more pleased than necessary when he came out and fetched it. I tried to take a picture, but Mr. Mouse was speedy and I didn’t want to scare him by getting too close so the best I could do was a blurry brown blob with a tail. I know what it is though and that, I guess, is what matters.

I wish it were simple but we give up easily*

long-distance-relationshipJan and I will have been together six years next month. Six whole years! I was practically still a kid when we got together. In those six years we’ve gone from being “in a relationship” to “in a long distance relationship” and then back to where we started. While every other relationship I was aware of has either moved on or ended we seem to have come to a complete standstill. Of course there have been changes in both of our lives, but they seem to have only happened to us as individuals, at different times as if we were two entirely separate entities who just happen to know one another (well, obviously we are two separate entities but you’d think there would be some mutual stuff in a relationship as well, right?)

So while all my friends are moving in together, buying houses, getting engaged, exchanging vows and having babies the two of us have moved out of our student residence and got our first flats separately, attended engagement parties and weddings as “boyfriend and girlfriend” (in what seems to me is the same sense of boyfriend and girlfriend that is uttered by 15 year olds) and bought dozens of gifts for other people’s children.

It’s not like I even want to get married and have babies at this stage in my life. I don’t even particularly want to get engaged yet. But it would be nice to feel like some day it might be my turn. What I would like is for us to get a flat together. I mean, I adore my flat, it’s the first place I’ve ever lived that was truly mine and it really is a nice place but only being able to have my boyfriend with my for some of the time… well, it gets a little lonely sometimes. I want to be able to wake up beside him every day (not just when he happens to be staying at mine). I want to know I’ll see him in the evening without having to ask. I want a bed that’s not mine, but ours. Is that really too much to ask?

quarto-desarrumado
Would he want to live with me if I cleaned up more often? (Photo: nanquimvirtual)

Sometimes I’ll find myself trying to work out reasons why he might not want to live with me, despite the fact that he tells me he dosn’t even know why. But it’s as if I need to have a cause so I can start trying to fix it. A while ago I got the idea into my head that once I had a proper job he would want to stay with me. Except then I found a proper job, moved into a flat (by myself), lost my proper job again and found a new one… and I’m still living alone. Now I occasionally think that maybe once I’ve got through my probation period things might start to happen. Then there was the time that I decided I needed to give him a reason to come home to me every night, so I started making sure tea was ready when he came home and he always had something clean to wear. He tells me he likes cooking with me though, so I guess that one’s backfired. A recurring theme (and something that I guess is always is that back of my mind) is thinking that he doesn’t want to live with me because he’s seen the state that my flat gets into, so every few months I’ll make a vow to myself to keep on top of the housework. Unfortunately, as I keep telling you (I am the proverbial stuck record!) my housewifely skills leave much to be desired. So I’ll clean and tidy the entire flat once and manage to wash the dishes immediately after we eat for maybe three days in a row, but then I get bored and the thought of the dishes waiting for me in the kitchen just makes me want to cry, and so I stop and once again Jan has to come home to a messy kitchen once again.

In my more logical moments I realise that whether he wants to live with me or not doesn’t depend on my job or my cooking or how tidy I am, but my logical moments are few and far between. Before long the crazy catches up with me again and I start obsessively cleaning the kitchen and dreaming up new and interesting dishes to win over my man’s heart (because we all know the way to that is through the stomach). And so it goes on, over and over again.

Sigh I know nobody said relationships were easy, but I wish someone had warned me it would be this hard…

*Title blatantly stolen from the song The Other Side of the World by KT Tunstall

I wouldn’t thank you for a Valentine…

For the third day in a row I woke up to find snow on the ground. It’ll probably be gone by this evening though if the last two days are anything to go by. It seems we have shy snow here in Karlsruhe – it will only fall when no-one’s around to see it.

So apparantly it’s Valentine’s Day today. So the internet keeps reminding me. Facebook, Amazon, even Hotmail. Yep, 14th February and the flowers the boy got me for our “anniversary” are completely dead – I’ll be throwing them out as soon as I get dressed (have to take them outside you see). I wonder if that’s symbolic?

♥ ♥ ♥

I’m never sure what to think about Valentine’s Day. On the one hand it is nice that there’s a day for couples all over the world (or at least those parts of the world where people believe in it) to celebrate their love for one another. Or for shy people to finally tell the person they’ve been lusting after how they feel… anonymously of course, for that is the real point of Valentine’s Day, is it not? Buuuut, on the other hand… all those who despise the day as just another way for the shops to make money are right as well. I don’t know how it was years ago, but these days it really is horribly commercial. And as for most of the gifts the shops have on offer? I’d probably break up with anyone who dared present me with them! However, most years the boyfriend and I do celebrate Valentine’s Day. At least we have on the years we’ve actually been in the same country. We don’t do much, after all it is not even two weeks after our “anniversary” (is there really no other word I can use for the day we got together?!). But we do do something – usually just a slightly nicer meal than usual and I get a box of chocolates. (He gets whatever I felt like buying at the time. Last year it was a magnet with a quote from “The Little Prince”. This year he’s getting the Cookie Sutra because I found it hilarious! (The one he’s getting has a nicer cover than the one I linked to). The meal together won’t be happening though – he went away on Wednesday, first to Düsseldorf to watch Germany play football (apparantly it was a boring game but a great atmosphere) and then to Minden for work. And since he’s up at that end of the country anyway he’s coming back to Karlsruhe via his parents and won’t be home until Monday night.

♥ ♥ ♥

Anyway, in honour of the day of St. Valentine I thought I’d post my favourite poem (and probably break several million copyright laws in the process. (Please nobody sue me – I’ll take it down if you ask!))
Now, I always thought this poem was by Carol Ann Duffy (I swear that’s what it said in our GCSE anthology which is where I first saw it!) but the one copy I found online claims it’s by Liz Lochhead. Either way it’s brilliant and expresses exactly how I feel about this day.  Here’s the poem…

I Wouldn’t Thank You for a Valentine

I wouldn’t thank you for a Valentine
I won’t wake up early wondering if the postman’s been.
Should 10 red-padded satin hearts arrive with sticky sickly saccharine
Sentiments in very vulgar verses I wouldn’t wonder if you meant them.
Two dozen anonymous Interflora red roses?
I’d not bother to swither over who sent them!
I wouldn’t thank you for a Valentine.

Scrawl SWALK across the envelope
I’d just say ‘ Same Auld story
I canny be bothered deciphering it –
I’m up to hear with Amore!
The whole Valentine’s Day Thing is trivial and commercial,
A cue for unleashing clichés and candyheart motifs to which I personally am not partial.’
Take more than singing Telegrams, or pints of Chanel Five, or sweets,
To get me ordering oysters or ironing my black satin sheets.
I wouldn’t thank you for a Valentine

If you sent me a solitaire and promises solemn,
Took out an ad in the Guardian Personal Column
Saying something very soppy such as ‘Who Loves Ya, Poo?
I’ll tell you, I do, Fozzy bear, that’s who!’
You’d entirely fail to charm me, in fact I’d detest it
I wouldn’t be eighteen again for anything, I’m glad I’m past it.
I wouldn’t thank you for a Valentine

If you sent me a single orchid, or a pair of Janet Reger’s in a heart-shaped box and declared your Love Eternal
I’d say I’d rather not be caught dead in them they were politically suspect and I’d rather something thermal.
If you hired a plane and blazed our love in a banner across the skies;
If you bought me something flimsy in a flatteringly wrong size;

If you sent me a postcard with three Xs and told me how you felt
I wouldn’t thank you, I’d melt.

And that… those last two lines… expresses everything I feel so much better than I ever could.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.