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.

Half a decade

The boyfriend and I have been together 5 years today. Five whole years. I can hardly believe it!  OK, it might not sound like much to some of you, but to me it’s ages. It’s a fifth of my life you know. And we have now reached the point in our relationship where we’ve actually spent more time living in the same country than separate ones. Only just mind, but it’s a start.
So in honour of our ‘anniversary’ (I always feel a bit odd calling it that… I mean, it’s not like we’re married. But I know of no other word) Jan had flowers delivered to me at work today. Madness! I wasn’t sure whether to be incredibly embarrassed or ridiculously pleased, so I settled for grinning like a maniac while blushing the deepest shate of red imaginable. The flowers then spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in a tupperware tub (we had no other containers) before being dragged all the way home on the tram with me. Poor things! Currently they are sitting on my desk in a glass salad bowl full of water, which is slightly better but still no vase (I do not own one ok!) I must say they’re rather nice. There are 5 red roses – one for each year – then some other red flowers, some white flowers, some greenery… I think maybe it would be best to just uplaod one of the crap pictures I took of them for posterity…

For those that are interesting in the flat situation it looks like I may be in with a chance of getting the last one after all, but that’s a topic for another blog post. Today’s is dedicated to my one and only boyfriend and a bunch of flowers.
It’s on days like these that I believe we are in with a chance of making it after all.

And in case anyone was wondering, yes I did use half a decade in the title to make it sound like even longer than it really is. You totally would have too, I know it! 😉

Happy Birthday Paddington!

Google UK just told me Paddington, the marmelade loving bear featured in the books by Michael Bond, is 50, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to say Happy Birthday to one of my favourite bears.

I used to have a Paddington Bear when I was little. He was about 15 centimetres high with a red hat and a blue duffle coat that could be fastened with real wooden toggles. He was brilliant. I knitted him a scarf once. I was about 6 or 7 and someone had bought me a kids knitting set for Christmas (with red plastic needles). It was probably my Grandma – she was always into knitting. I got some bright pink wool to go with it so I decided I was going to knit a scarf. I had only knitted a tiny, miniscule scarf (maybe 10 centimetres long) when i got bored of it, so I announced that it was going to be a scarf for Paddington, as if that had been my intention all along. And so it became Paddington’s scarf. Not too long after that both Paddington and scarf went missing – I suspect it happened during our move from Northern Ireland back to England. Lots of stuff went missing during our various moves. I was quite upset about losing Paddington. After all, I had loved him enough to knit him his very own scarf.

Now I have a new Paddington. I spotted him at Heathrow airport the week before last and told Jan, who doesn’t know the Paddington bear books, the story of how I knitted my Paddington a scarf and lost him. I must have sounded pretty nostalgic because Jan promptly counted out the last of his English money to go towards buying me a new Paddington. Naturally I chose one with a red hat and blue duffle coat – some had them the other way round but in my memory Paddington’s coat was blue! My new bear is holding a briefcase and has a label round his neck – “Please look after this bear”. His toggles aren’t real, but that’s ok. I still love him, and I love my boyfriend for spontaneously deciding to buy him for me.

Happy Birthday Paddington Bear! May you continue to eat marmelade sandwiches for another 50 years.

A sort of anniversary

Four and a half years. It sounds like ages doesn’t it?
That’s how long the boyfriend and I have been together today. I know it’s sad to count the months, but half years are ok, right? And it’s not like we’re celebrating (that will come in February when it’s 5 years). Just acknowledging it.

I still can’t quite believe it’s been over 4 years since I drunkenly kissed him in the bar. We had spent pretty much all of that week together and been so obviously flirting with each other, then after a few beers I decided to take the plunge. I guess now it’s fairly safe to say it worked.

I love you Jan. Here’s to the next four and a half years.