On muscle ache and stupidity

(from late October – needed very little doing to it..not sure why I didn’t post it back then)

They say you can’t cure stupid.

You can’t really cure muscle ache either, but you can live with it. Usually.

I’m learning, slowly, how to move without yelping.

I’m also learning to live with stupid.

***

I spent Saturday reorganising my furniture and planting my balcony boxes. That involved, respectively, tugging and pushing and heaving sacks of compost in and out of the car and up the stairs to my flat.

I spent Sunday cleaning and reorganising xDB’s aquarium*. That involved stretching and pulling and scrubbing and heaving waterlogged wood.

I am incredibly unfit.

I don’t remember ever being as unfit as I am at the moment, unless you count 6 months ago, where I was almost exactly as unfit, but a few kilos heavier.

Whatever.

The weekend of “strenuous exercise” meant that this morning I crawled out of bed and hobbled down the stairs where I fell onto a chair and refused to move.

Eventually I had to. Needs must, work called and all that..

I hobbled out to the car and drove an hour and a half across Berlin to my flat. I needed to feed my fish (I hadn’t planned to stay the night so I hadn’t arranged for anyone to feed them). I also needed to change out of my aquarium washing clothes and into something work-worthy. And I needed to do it fast. I was already late for work when I pulled into the yard.

5 minutes later I was back out in the hall, ready to head to the workshop.

<click>

Was there ever a more ominous noise than the door shutting at the exact same moment as you realise you don’t have your key?

Argh.

Then I brightened up. All was not lost. I have a spare door key in my car.

My car key was on the wrong side of the door, but since moving out of Berlin I hardly ever lock my car if I’m not going to be away from it long, like the minute and a half it takes to carry shopping upstairs and come down for the next lot. I live in a fairly rural place, compared to say, central Berlin, or even where xDB lives, and I have a parking space behind my house (off the road). There’s never much worth stealing in it, and it’s old enough not to be worth anything in its own right so I kind of assume it’ll still be there after 5 minutes.

This morning I’d locked it. I must have still been in Berlin-mode.

Argh..

My bike, luckily, was still outside from my last trip.

My landlord had a spare key for my flat from when he was doing some renovation work. Not that I could phone to ask him to bring it over because my phone had died.

I went to his office instead. He was out somewhere, but his secretary was in. She unfortunately couldn’t find the key, but she did lend me her coat which was kind of her 🙂 I’d left mine in the car. She couldn’t do much more than that. Unfortunately she’s at least a size smaller than me, so I couldn’t do it up or stretch my shoulders, but it was at least warmer than nothing ;).

She also asked one of the other employees if he had any gloves.

“Do you have any gloves?”

“Umm… Only filthy, sweaty and gross work ones.. What do you want them for?”

“Jesska’s locked herself out..”

He was completely bewildered and it was difficult to explain the connection without making everything more complicated, and I didn’t really fancy wearing his gloves anyway if they were as gross as he said they were.

***

I cycled to work and back in the drizzle.

I don’t like drizzle, although it was probably better than a downpour or a blizzard. I am most definitely a fairweather cyclist. Besides, I could only just about walk, and all movement hurt. Cycling wouldn’t have been on my list of ways to spend my morning. But I didn’t have a lot of choice.
I’d only cycled to work once before. It had been sunny and I’d cycled slowly, along the river and along a main road into town. I’d had my phone to guide me. This time I had no helmet and no gloves and no battery life left on my phone. I’d decided last time that I needed to find a new route because the main road was scary but I hadn’t really thought about it since and certainly hadn’t cycled it. I didn’t want to use the same route as before because cycling through Berlin on the road with no helmet felt recklessly irresponsible.

I set off along the river, with a plan to choose smaller roads parallel to the main road I’d ridden along previously. This proved to be a better idea in theory than in practice.

Yes. I got lost.

After cycling round in circles for a while I found myself on the road I usually drive down.

There’s no official cycle path for most of it, at least in one direction, so I rode a lot of the way on the pavement. Illegally because I’d rather be illegal than dead.

***

My landlord was still at work when I got home, so I parked my bike and went for a walk round the fields behind my house. That was the perfect setting for an “important phone call” involving long convoluted histories of he said she saids. A walk is the best background occupation for such conversation.

… 2 ½ hours later …

Once I finally got back and picked the key up from my landlord, he suggested he come back to the flat with me to fit the smoke alarms he’d been meaning to put up since I moved in….. Eeek! <Insert slight panic> Luckily he decided against it, in favour of coming an hour later. That gave me an hour to make the place presentable. Which I did. Instead of collapsing into a small heap.

And that was the end of a very busy day…
* It still has some of my fish in it..

On failure and other misfortunes

(Warning: contains a small amount of blood and a great deal of frustration)

***

On Sunday I admitted failure. 

I had failed to finish the book in time to send it to the printers before leaving to catch the plane, despite staying up all night to work on it.

I was quite miffed (ok, a lot miffed)..

There’s not a lot of point being miffed if you aren’t in a position to change anything. I decided to look up instead.

On Monday I was so busy looking up, that I didn’t notice the small piece of volcano sticking up in the middle of the otherwise even path.

..and that dear readers, is why looking down isn’t always a bad thing…

Luckily I was equipped with water and tissues and DB had a plaster with him.

Onwards and upwards!

That evening, on the way to get dinner, I missed the step onto the pavement and stubbed the same toe, removing the plaster and the flap of skin I’d created earlier.

Back to the apartment for a new plaster.

I don’t particularly appreciate losing skin, so I gave up on looking up, and decided to look down, and watch what my feet are doing instead. 

That worked well for a day or so – until I went to the toilet while the window was open. And even that was fine until I stood up…

An almighty yell and a lump on my head later, and I was convinced that looking down doesn’t help much either.

***

I think I’m going to keep my feet up and my head down, and get on with my revision. Maybe I should even look forward to the exams?!

On the first weekend of Advent…

…thou shalt decorate thy house.

It doesn’t matter what else needs doing, 

all will be dropped, it’s time for decorations.

Do not miss out any  opportunity to put lights up

No space is too out of the way for a statue or two…

On not talking about Christmas

It’s the 25th of November.

That makes it exactly a month until Christmas.

I am ignoring that, and all other Christmas related things.

Between now and then, I have:

4 exams to revise for

a book to finish compiling and find pictures for and format and send off in time for printing

3 aquariums to look after, including water changes, getting rid of the duckweed and reinstalling a pump/filter

a 10 day holiday which DB wants to cancel because I’m planning on revising through it and he thinks staying here and working is more efficient…

I think I might not acknowledge that Christmas is even a thing until the 23rd when I will already be on the way home, and passed caring too much.

On writing it out

– or “don’t write back in anger”

(Written yesterday; I fell asleep in the middle if the last sentence..)

Yesterday (Monday) I was mad at a situation involving several people and several opinions.

Today (Tuesday), I wrote them all an email. It took me a good part of the morning to get it into something that I could send, but work was out of the question as long as I was still cross. Glass, hard and brittle as it is, is very susceptible to feelings.

***

I took a copy to my favourite secretary to proof read for me. I needed to know if it was still too aggressive for posting. She asked lots of questions about the situation in general, and pronounced my email adequate for the circumstances.

I left it for a while, and when I came back to it and reread it, it made more sense read backwards, so I changed it round a bit, added a couple of new sentences, took out others and pressed send.

Finally it was gone, and with it, most of my anger.

***

I am now a whole lot calmer, and no longer feel the need for pointy instruments or punching bags.

I read the mail to DB when I got home. he said he wouldnt have been able to write it as well, and he’s German. 🙂

***

So far I have received two (or three if you count two from the same person separately) emails from people who support me, my plan, my ideas and my way of getting stroppy while staying mostly neutral.

I think this might be the way forward. (Loud music – sleep – writing)

On yoga as an unusual form of torture

One I wrote a long time ago (mid summer, sometime) and never got round to sending..

***

Until recently I’ve always been a bit, I don’t know, snotty about yoga.

I first heard about it 15 years or so ago when it was propagated as ‘not a good thing’ by the church youth group. I had no idea what it was or what happened when you went, I just knew it was to be avoided. It had a vague air of being some kind of sect, dangerous and fully unknown.

Years later, I figured out it was basically just a room full of people stretching and twisting themselves into complicated poses. At some point I started discovering that more and more people I knew, even Christians*, went to yoga sessions and treated it as a sport equal to, say, swimming or tennis.

Still, a sense of alien, almost silliness,  hung over my idea of it. It was a bit suspect in my mind, something for modern ‘alternative’ people, navel gazers, the odd ex-ballet-dancer who wants to keep supple, but mostly for the people who have kale smoothies for breakfast and salad for lunch; the ones who have perfect nail varnish and perfect hair all the time. The people who have precise, tidy lives and 3000+ friends on all the sites people collect friends on. The people I don’t really have much in common with. At least not on the outside. On the inside I imagine people are all much the same. Not that I’ve checked.

***

Recently, yoga has been mentioned implicitly and/ or explicitly incredibly often.

It started a year or so ago when I made fun of an advert for Everyday Yoga courses on offer at work. Turns out one of my colleagues’ wife is a yoga teacher, and he thinks that it really would be very helpful if everyone at work actually did practice yoga every day… Oops.

Despite trying hard to backtrack, I wasn’t very successful, and I probably made things worse rather than better. Ho hum.

Then a friend told me how helpful it is for her, followed by several blog-writers swearing by it, followed by another friend leaving a box of yoga-position-cards on the table in the room I stayed in, followed by a friend of DB’s mentioning how amazing he finds it.

Not long afterwards, DB and I went to the friend’s house to talk about something entirely different. Before we left, the friend’s wife told me I should go to the yoga course with her husband because it was SOOO good for him and would be good for me too. Bearing in mind I hardly know her, and that we hadn’t been talking about me having a problem or looking for a new sport, I was a little bit surprised and not at all adequately prepared to say anything sensible – like ‘no, but thanks anyway’ – and change the subject. Instead I mumbled something like, ‘ach, I don’t know……why don’t you go with him?’. She’d had time to rehearse, and had a list of more or less fantastic reasons to back up her choice to spend Sunday mornings at home. Not that I knew it was Sunday mornings at stake.. (and early Sunday mornings at that!)

It didn’t take long for DB (and his friend) to join in, ‘yeah, why don’t you go? You need to get out more’**, and I ended up agreeing to try it once.

***

As part of a semi-major garden reworking, DB and I took the old scrappy hedge out of the front garden. In doing so we won back a decent sized patch of land, enough for a miniature veggie patch. Whatever. That Friday evening we drove a couple of hundred miles and bought 11 box trees as a replacement hedge. On the Saturday, we dug an older tree out, dug a further 11 holes and planted the trees. On the Sunday morning I was up early to go to my first yoga session.

***

I survived the 2 hour session, just about, and came home to tell the tale. I spent the afternoon in the garden, digging and getting rid of the remaining hedge roots

***

On Monday, I felt like I’d been steamrollered. I haven’t had such widely spread muscle ache since the first time I went skiing. Every part of me hurt.

I hobbled to work, I crawled up steps, I tried to make sure I didn’t sit down if I needed to stand up again soon. Similarly, if I was sitting down, I didn’t stand up if I could help it.

I wasn’t sure if it was from yoga or the hedge or the root-removal, I just know it took a week to recover.

***

The session after that seemed even harder – I slumped into a heap when I got home and refused to move for most of the afternoon. The session after that was strange. It felt easier, but when I got home (at 11am ish) I went to bed and slept 4-5 hours solidly. Even after waking up I was in no fit state to actually do anything.

***

That was just after Easter.

I’m still going, several months later.

Not every Sunday, but probably every second or third, on average.

I ought to go more often, given that I go back several paces for every session I miss.

I am still incredibly unfit, and unstretchy, and incapable of remembering a string of positions.

But. And this is a big but (bordering on bigger than mine). I am making progress. I no longer fall asleep the minute I get home after a session. I am able to walk on Mondays. I am able to plank for as long as it takes for the course leader to say, “breeeeathe iiiiinnnn… cobra!” (Which is luckily only about 2 1/2 seconds, but you have to start small, right?), I have been known to balance on one foot with my arms twisted around each other in my own personal impression of half-an-eagle. (I still don’t get the obsession with half animals. I especially don’t know why anyone would want to crawl into the position of a half-baby, even if it is the yoga equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card. But there we go. I didn’t make the rules.)

I still think it’s a form of torture, and I still have a heck of a long way to go before I am in any way graceful or elegant, or even capable of touching my toes without bending my legs, but I’m confident that I’ll continue to get better if I continue to go, and better is gooder than worse.
..Still. it is a shame about the Sunday morning lie-ins!

😛
* writing this now, it seems like a ridiculous distinction to make. At the time the realisation shook my world…

** which is true, but unusual for him to say. Usually I suggest things to do, and he finds reasons not to do them.. maybe I should get his friends to suggest the other things too…. 😉

On German invitations

If you ever happen to find yourself invited to a German party, remember to turn up at least half an hour before the time on the invite.

It doesn’t matter what kind of event it is. Birthday, Barbecue, Leaving do.

In the last couple of weeks, I have been late to 3 different “occasions” despite actually being on time or early according to the invite.

Exhibit A – a prime example of what not to do (as demonstrated by yours truly):

A colleague’s leaving do: Invite said 12:30, I duely arrived at 12:29. Okay, I was cutting it fine, but I figured it was being held in a large hall so I could sneak in at the back if necessary and noone would notice. I though it was odd that there were people coming down the main stairs as I was going up, but I ignored them and carried on. When I reached the top, it became apparent that it was all over. The speeches were spoken, the colleague had been handed his certificates and bouquet and everyone was already halfway through their champagne.

Exhibit B – how to do it properly (German style):

A birthday party: DB wanted to give the birthday guest his present without everyone else looking, so he demanded we go early. I said he was crazy, but it was mostly his invite, so I tagged along on his terms. Leaving on his terms meant arriving over half an hour before the invite said we were invited. That turned out to be the opportune moment because we’d barely got through the “hellos and thankyous” before the next couple arrived – ca. 25 minutes early. The next guest weren’t far behind, and the last couple (who arrived one or 2 minutes “late”) practically had to fight for seats…

***

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

On setting alarm clocks

DB: what time do you want to get up tomorrow?

Me: thinks mid-afternoon would be nice. Around 8?

DB, half an hour later: I’ve set the alarm for 7. You can sleep in the car.

On sleeping in the doghouse

The radio comes on loudly, waking us up the way it does every morning.

DB sits up and looks across at the dog (C) we’re looking after, who’s sleeping on the floor next to his side of the bed.

DB: (excited) Good morning C! It’s time to get up! Yup yup yup! It really is! (Hugs dog.) Now I’m going to get up! And then you can have breakfast! That means I have to get dressed! And you’re standing on my socks! (Starts howl-singing so that the dog joins in. Starts getting dressed, interrupting both his monologue and his dressing himself every couple of seconds to pat/hug/sing to the dog). (Ad infinitum)

Me: Good morning DB.

DB: Good morning Jesska. Come on C! Let’s go downstairs and get some breakfast!

***

Good thing I know my rank in the herd….