Sunday, October 23, 2016

Moving on

Trying not to let myself get caught in a downward spiral and moving on. Except that I really think I'm sick. Nothing definite, but just not quite right. I've almost had a cold for a good few weeks but managed to keep it at bay. Then last weekend I was miserable with an ear infection but by the time I got to the doctor on Tuesday it was mostly better except for the slight dizziness so there was nothing to do really. On Friday morning my temperature was quite low, 35.5 rather than the usual 36.1 or 35.9. Since I started taking my temperature on a daily basis a few years ago I've noticed that my temperature often sinks when I'm not well. And then yesterday morning it was all the way up at 36.5, which is very close to feverish (if you take fever as being half a degree above your normal temp), during the day it got up to 36.7 and in the evening it was back down to 35.9. This morning it was back up to 36.6 again. Just to be on the safe side, I'm going to dig out a spare thermometer and check with that, too. But I've had a bit of a headache for a few days, too. So I don't know. Just one of those cold/flu-like things that come around sometimes. Undoubtedly not helped by the fact that my diet over the last few weeks really hasn't been particularly healthy.

I know that needs to change anyway so despite not feeling great I did actually get up eventually yesterday evening and made some bolognese sauce. And today I made some leek and potato soup and boiled the rest of the potatoes to have with the bolognese sauce. Finding it hard to get enthusiastic about pasta at the moment. So it's back to babysteps in cooking properly, trying to take it easy and just kick this thing once and for all. I have next week off work so that's something, although I hate "wasting" time off being sick. I took the week off to use up the overtime I built up during our summer school week in August so at least I'm not using holiday days. I have a dentist appointment on Thursday so will be spending a couple of days in Dusseldorf. I've replaced just about every doctor but I'm still hesitating on the dentist. I'm not the easiest patient so having found such a great dentist (for me), I'm reluctant to go looking for a new one here. I know I have to because adding 80 euro in travel costs to every visit to the dentist is just silly but for this first time, I said I'd do it. It'll allow me to catch up with some friends while I'm there. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Looks like I'm a bit too late

I have been overweight for, at this stage, most of my life. Looking back I wasn't half as fat or as heavy as I thought I was when I was a teenager but for various reasons (my toxic stepmother being the main one), I thought I was huge. While I did have a lot of weight to lose, it was still just "normal" overweight. If there is such a thing. During my late teens and twenties it fluctuated. I'd keep trying and do well for a while and then the next crisis or the next bout of depression would hit and my overeating would get out of control again.

Coming up to my 30th birthday I kept saying it was definitely time, had to do it, now or never, at least my skin would still have some elasticity so perhaps I won't have quite as big a problem with loose skin after I lose weight as you see in those tabloid stories. And I did have another phase of losing a bit, making some progress (I was in therapy at this stage so working on other issues but also on the mental side of overeating as well), backtracking a bit, making a bit more progress. And then I moved to Germany.

Weightwise, I actually did pretty well for the first few months and of course then everything went pear-shaped and I ended up having to move to work in the department with the mega-asshole-bully for a boss and, although I did attempt it once more, weight piled on rather than dropped off. Over eight years in total (four working for the bully), working in a very high stress environment, more often than not struggling with depression and generally not doing well at all I ended up gaining about 16kg (about 35lbs, or 2.5 stone for those who don't do kilos).

Once I finally quit that job I really wanted losing weight and getting healthy to be at the top of my list for things to do. At my very heaviest my knees were starting to complain a little bit, although that did go away when I lost the first 3kg. It took me longer to get over that job than I thought it would so that really it was already March before I started seriously going for walks and paying more attention to what I was eating. I wasn't too bad in January and February I don't think but it was all a bit haphazard.

In April then, I got my new job and was thrilled. A move, a close to dream job, a new start, a new life. It might now be more than ten years since I said, "Yep, definitely have to lose the weight now, while my skin is still elastic and all", but maybe it wouldnt' be too late to at least set myself up for a decent quality of life when I get older. I'd have very little money but not working full-time would give me plenty of time to exercise and cook properly every day, once I'd lost a bit of weight I could start a pilates class, lose a bit more weight and be able to start yoga. I might be later starting than ideal but my 60-year-old self would thank me for it. And then the move happened.

That six weeks was honestly one of the most physically and mentally demanding times I have ever been through. I completely overdid it but, on the other hand, there was no other option. It all had to be done and it was just my tough luck that I lived on the fourth floor with no lift. Once it was all done I hoped that a couple of weeks of taking it easy would be enough to get me back to normal so that I could get on with things once and for all. It took more than a couple of weeks but I was determined to give my body all the time it needed to recover and since the weather was so hot anyway, not moving a huge amount was fine with me.

When the cooler autumnal temperatures finally started to arrive a few weeks ago I was thrilled. Finally. I'd be able to get out and go walking. Maybe I'd even give the bike another go. I still started off slowly, incorporating smaller walks into my day. Getting off the tram a couple of stops earlier and that kind of thing. And then I decided to walk to my new choir from work as the bus connections aren't great. It's a 4km (2.5 miles) walk down the river and I enjoyed every second of it, even if it did take me nearly an hour, slower than I was walking back in March. But my body didn't really seem to like that too much. I dialled things back for a week or so but then not only my knees but also my back started complaining and I decided that it really was time to just go to the doctors. Hoping they wouldn't tell me I'd actually torn or damaged something during the move.

After a visit to my GP last week I finally had my appointment with the orthopaedic doctor today. Really happy that I was able to get an appointment in just a week, even if I did have to wait a long time when I got there (about 45 mins after my appointed time then another hour or so inbetween seeing him, waiting, xray, waiting, seeing him again, waiting, and finally getting imprints taken for my new orthotics (since I was there anyway - I've overdue a new pair)). Unfortunately it seems like my grand plans of a new life and a new me and finally getting things under control before my body breaks down are coming just a bit too late.

The move probably did end up being the final straw but it's not anything simple (joke!) like a tear in the meniscus or anything. Nope, it's the beginning of arthritis. I should definitely lose a lot of weight as soon as possible but even so, I'll probably need to have knee replacements at a very young age and basically, will just have to put up with the pain as best I can. Obviously if it got bad enough that I couldn't walk, they would do something but it's all basically just a degenerative thing, too many years of too much strain (due to my weight) and that's that. At least I know that I am allowed to move, I'm not going to prevent something from healing if I do start walking again. It'll just always hurt a bit. He has recommended cycling and swimming as the best activities - they will apparently help more of the naturally occuring joint fluid to be produced. Cycling more than swimming, which is good as I already have a bike and swimming costs money. I could also get injections of hyaluronic acid, which are supposed to supplement/replace the missing joint fluid but unfortunately they are not covered by health insurance and cost €230 for, I can't rember, perhaps six shots? More than I can afford at any rate.

I'm finding it a bit hard to deal with to be honest and am desperately fighting feelings of just wanting to give up. I need to lose weight now more than ever and can't afford to let this throw me. But my old perversity is rearing its head a bit and I just want to....well, mostly I just want to cry and sulk and for somebody else to come and just kiss it all better. Knowing it's all my own fault doesn't make me feel any better about knowing that it's entirely up to me to improve things now. Even though losing weight and getting fit is what was on the plans anyway. Now that I have to do it... My brain is definitely its own worst enemy sometimes.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Still have a few boxes to unpack, although I'm not really planning on finishing all of that anytime soon. This evening, though, I had a yen to rewatch Buffy and so I tackled the box that I knew had my small collection of DVDs in it. I don't have the whole set and some of what I do have is on video but I do have the first series on DVD, so I'm good for now.

One thing that I did also find, however, was tucked away in a shoebox that was also in that bigger one. I can't remember exactly from when it is, I think probably around when I was sixteen or so, possibly even a year or two later. I may have had it done at the annual post-xmas funfair in Dublin called Funderland, or it may have been a one-off stand in the local shopping centre. Like horoscopes, I think this kind of thing seems terribly accurate if you're a bit susceptible (which, let's face it, as I teenager I really, really was) because it's so general it fits everyone and you can always find something positive in it. Actually, I'd kind of like to do something like this again now to see how similar the results would be. At any rate, here you have it, the results of a computer generated analysis of my signature (my signature is surprisingly similar today, which is why I think it's possible that I may have been a year or two older than sixteen - the only thing that has changed really is that the "J" at the start of my name has become much more the rounded shape that I wanted it to be):

"You have a dominating personality. You are not inclined to take many chances. Others see your personality as clear and sharp. You possess a sympathetic nature. You have a distinctive and original personality. You tire easily."

There are two graphs at the top of the page as well. One is supposed to show, using the angle of your signature, whether you react more with emotion or with logic. Mine is mostly straight up, with just one letter slanting towards the logical side of things so, as in so many things, I'm average again.

The second graph shows variously different traits and a bar of where you land above or below that line. The two longest positive lines on mine are happiness and communication. After that there are four slightly shorter ones: aggressiveness, judgement, responsibility, stability. And then energetic is only about half the length, with certainty half again as short. Appreciation barely shows above the line but doesnt' sink below it either. And composure is about as much above the line as that but also sinks a good bit below it, too.

So there you have it. "Insights" into my personality, courtesy of an early 90s computer. :-)

Friday, October 07, 2016


Just a quick one. Not long after I moved here I met a woman who is involved with the local foodsharing team. This is a voluntary organisation that collects food from supermarkets and shops that would otherwise be thrown out, and organises collection points where people can come and take some of that food. The supermarkets save a little on their rubbish charges, less food goes to landfill, and a few people get to (partially) feed themselves for free.

Looks like relatively little?

Yesterday, I finally managed to call to one of the collection points at a time when I knew she would have just been to a weekly pick-up. Now, I know that food waste, especially the amount of food thrown out by supermarkets is a big issue but still. actually seeing the quantities up close was a bit sobering.

Bear in mind that the organiser at already taken out quite a bit, as she has a few families who can't make it to the pick-up at the time but need the help, so she keeps stuff aside for them. So, there were a few boxes worth of stuff already gone.

 I couldn't even fit it all into one photograph and although some of those boxes don't look full, there was quite a lot stuffed into each one (the fill the box as much as possible method of transferring a lot rather than the don't damage the produce method of packing).

It does leave me a little bit torn as very little of this was organic and I don't think any of it was local. However, not wasting food is so important as well. And honestly, this kind of suits my budget at the moment so I really shouldn't cavil. So I did bring home a big bag full of stuff and will have to spend a few hours in the kitchen tomorrow cooking.

Peeking out at the back, you can just see the corner of a 500g packet of organic tomatoes. Then there are two packets of two lettuces with the roots still attached in a soil plug. A basil plant (this was the only thing that is very close to past its best, with several blackening leaves. However still plenty to make a batch of pesto for freezer with). Scallions, which are absolutely perfect and nowhere close to needing to be dumped. A packet with three passion fruit. Three bananas, which will be perfect for making banana muffins in the next day or two. A huge butternut squash (1.8kg!). And another 1.2kg of loose tomatoes.
If I had been faster and less takenaback by the whole thing, I could also have gotten some carrots or broccoli.

I won't be there next week as I'll be travelling for work but I will definitely try and make it back about once a month. That feels like a good way to supplement my budget without feeling too much like I may be taking from others who might need it more. But seriously, we live in a mad, mad, mad, mad world!

Monday, October 03, 2016

Keeping track of money - September 2016

After doing so well with tracking almost every single day's spending in August, I managed to do it for a big fat five days in September. And really, it was only three because on one of those days I forgot and afterwards couldn't even remember what I had spent where and on another one I never left the house. I'm glad that the start of October has been a weekend and that I've seen other people posting financials for the end of September as it was a good reminder to me to really try and get on top of tracking again this month. I've just spent the last three days at home (it's a bank holiday here today) and have done just about nothing other than reading, watching a film or two, and a bit less than the bare minimum of housework needed (however I have managed to get washing-up back under control and have cooked two days in a row, which is progress compared to most of September).

Part of the reason for not tracking was some careless spending brought about by me basically freaking out about not having any money. Stupid response obviously but I felt like I was struggling to really not fall back into the habits from the worst of my spendy mid-twenties. And yet, given the amount of stress I have been feeling about my lack of money, I have been strangely ambivalent about finding a second part-time job. I did have an interview at the start of September but looking back, I really didn't do a good interview, and it's not because I didn't find the position interesting (same as now but working in the law faculty for a human rights lawyer - how cool would that have been!?!) but I wasn't simultaneously stressing about money and about having to go back to working fulltime. And part of it was because my current position does want me to increase my hours up to 75% (30 hours a week - it's currently 20 hours/50%), which I told them I was definitely interested in but now I know that the money for that probably won't start until March. At any rate I haven't heard back from that interview and since she wanted to make a decision the week after it, I assume that means she has chosen someone else and is just waiting for the paperwork to be finished before sending rejections for everyone else.

After almost no translation work in July or August (hence the lack of funds - my salary from my office job is not enough to cover any but the most basic of expenses and I had a few non-regular ones come up in August and September), I was very grateful to get a big job from a new client in September. It turned out to be slightly shorter than originally envisaged but a week later they contacted me to translate something else as well. And an existing client turned up with a small job, too. So, I knew there was money coming in but just didn't actually have any. I've more or less depleted by savings entirely, the overdraft on my Irish account was almost up to its limit, and I had to use my credit card to buy groceries where possible, to leave what cash I had free for things that you can't use a credit card for (which is quite a lot in Germany - it's only in the last few years you can even use a credit card in most supermarkets).

I have been obsessively checking my bank account to see if my new client had paid their invoice. It's always a bit tricky with bigger organisations as they can sometimes take a month or more to process an invoice. I know that myself from having worked on the other side. Despite it being a bank holiday today, however, when I logged in, my account was showing that it had been paid. Phew. I really can't describe the feeling of relief. I immediately transferred enough to pay most of the credit card bill (there are a couple of transactions that haven't cleared yet but the amount for the total will just come out by direct debit mid-month as usual - I still prefer to have cleared the bulk of it immediately) and also transferred €500 to my Irish bank account. I will most likely need to withdraw money from that account again, if not this month, then next, but at least that's a bit of a chunk off the overdraft, which I have been finding very stressful to have again.

So, I now have enough left in my normal bank account to cover all of the bills I am expecting for this month and have a bit left over to buy food/drink each week. I will have to be very strict with myself but it's doable. That invoice was enough, so to speak, to cover the shortfall between by salary and what I really need for September and October. Now I need to try and get some work in so that I have something else coming in to cover the shortfall for November. I'm not too worried about December as we get a type of bonus/extra salary paid out at the end of November. It's not quite a full month's extra salary and because of tax, will be a bit less than salary, too, but it'll be enough to cover the shortfall for December. So that's that. We'll see how it goes for October. One thing about not having a lot of money is at least that there's less tracking to do, too.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Appreciating the view

Lazy Sunday morning. Have been reading in bed for an hour and a half and stopping every now and then to take in this beautiful view. Have a few weeks of rushing and somewhat grey mood behind me when I barely managed to even open the blinds most days.
Time to back things up a bit and spend more time being present in the moment. This view deserves being admired more often.

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Blog list

Since blogger, for some reason, seems to have messed up the blogroll gadget I've spent a bit of time today searching through cached pages to try and get it all back. I could easily find the ones I read regularly but I had others on the list that perhaps haven't posted for a while or don't post very regularly and that I don't want to forget just because they don't post frequently. And a few that seem to have since been deleted, too, which always makes me a bit sad because even if someone isn't posting anymore, what they've written is often still worth reading. I hate that some people feel the need to delete parts of themselves. While understanding it from a rational point of view, I just really struggle with it at a more fundamental level. Anyway, in the hopes of not losing this information quite as easily again, I'm posting a list here (and saving it all in a separate document on my computer, too).

These are the ones that are gone or blocked. In some cases I know why, but it's still a shame to me and I like to at least acknowledge them instead of just deleting.