Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I'm off...

It took a while but in the last few weeks all of a sudden I started getting invitations to interviews. Had six lined up over the course of two weeks! And then the first one was the charm - I was invited to a second interview a week later and it turned out they didn't so much want to interview me as they just wanted to offer me the job. Contingent on me spending a couple of hours there that afternoon just to make sure that I was happy and comfortable with the person I'll be mostly working under. Because, hold on to your hats, I've found somewhere to work where they attach great importance to the chemistry between people being good! I wasn't sure that existed in Germany! Hang on, that's worth more than one exclamation point I think!!!!!

So, now it's all go. The sensible thing to do would have been to wait and go to all my other interviews this week but I was very enthusiastic about this job after the first interview - the place, the tasks, the people and the type of graduate program I'll be supporting (sustainabililty-related! - I'm not going to name it though as it's quite specific and I like to cling to the notion that I'm still not completely identifiable from this blog. Quaint, some people might call that.)

I did go for one interview at my local university before I got this offer and haven't heard back yet but to be honest, I wasn't 100% certain about the professor I would have been working for. He seemed nice but also seemed like he could easily wear more than one face and I've learned to be careful about people like that. At any rate, I'm thrilled with the job I've gotten and only one other that I was called for interview for was similarly interesting and that would have involved either a long commute or a move to a town that's not particularly attractive. I cancelled that interview and instead, I will shortly be moving to this lovely place....
This is obviously one of the nicest views and there are parts of the town that are just as grey and horrible as any town but look...hills!

So even though the job I've gotten is only a part-time job (20 hours a week, increasing to 30 hours a week next year if they get funding) and is restricted to two years (so I have two years to try and wangle things to get a permanent position - something not at all easy to do in the public sector), it feels so right that I am going for it. I've already put out feelers to a recruitment agency in the area and am feeling very positive at the moment. That changes hourly though. At the moment I'm feeling pretty good because I had an unexpected but very welcome request via the National Association of Translators on Saturday which led to a nice bit of work on Monday and yesterday. Tough job but I think I did alright. Am just waiting for some feedback from the agency now and hoping that they were satisfied with it. It was a job just the other side of my comfort zone but when I got down to it it wasn't too bad, I think. Would be great to have made another contact that might lead to work every now and again.

Another aspect of working for the public service means that things can take a while. They would like me to start as soon as possible but it will probably take at least four weeks for the contract to go through all of the various departments and councils it has to go through. Still, starting mid-May or the beginning of June is very, very short notice in Germany. Bear in mind that if I hadn't already left my job and was just handing in my notice now, I wouldn't be free to start work anywhere else until the end of September and even if I would have been able to negotiate an earlier release from my contract, it would have been at least a few months.

The entire country seems to be predicated on a three-month cycle though, which means that although I did the sensible thing and left my job first (although that might work against me when I'm trying to find a new place to live and can't show income slips from an employer for the last few months), everything else now has to be worked on pronto. I've been trawling the websites looking for an apartment and have managed to arrange two appointments for Friday. Really hoping one of those is suitable and works out. I have to give three months notice on my place here, which means paying rent here until July. I'm really hoping that if I can find someone to take my place one, they'll let me out of my lease earlier. Need to phone now and find out. And organise to move. And cancel a million and one other things. I started making a list and it already covers one and a half A4 pages. Some things are just a change of address but some are things that have to be cancelled. Most are three-month cancellation policies but may have exceptions if you're leaving the state (which I will be) so I have a whole lot of paperwork ahead of me.

I may end up not blogging much at all over the next couple of months or I may end up blogging multiple times a day. It really could go either way. I'm excited and so happy to be feeling this level of enthusiasm for something though. Heidelberg here I come!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


There are so many things I could say about Ireland and 1916 but, as always, I'm not organised enough to have properly gathered my thoughts. Particularly since, as with so many things to do with the place I'm from, those thoughts tend to be full of conflict and paradox.

At any rate, I know some who read this blog are interested in all things Irish and I thought you might like to watch Centenary. I've only watched a small amount so far but it looks and sounds great. And it certainly got rave reviews all over twitter last night when it took place. It's available now on the RTE player, but only for a month so if you'd like to see it, click before 27 April. Hopefully that link works. If not just google RTE player and type Centenary into the search box. I suspect it may become the top viewed programme for the next while so it shouldn't be too difficult to find. Enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2016


It's funny writing in my tracking notebook and seeing that it is already day 9 of my blood sugar diet adventures. That means it's also day 9 of having managed to go for a walk every single day. Just as I planned to do starting in November as soon as I had finished work. But I've recovered from work enough now that I really do seem to be able to just get up and head out, without it requiring too much of a mental workout to get me there.

This morning I didn't really want to get up and was thinking I'd have a nice lazy morning and early afternoon in bed reading and then go for a walk in the late afternoon. For no particular reason, however, I checked the weather forecast. High likelihood of rain all day. Oh. So I checked the rain radar app on my phone and saw that within about three-quarters of an hour of so, pretty persistent rain was going to start. Instead of telling myself I'd go for a walk in the rain, I just got up and went straight away. I figured I'd get most of the way to the halfway point before it started and would be really glad once I got home. It did rain a bit on the way back but wasn't too bad and I really am glad that I've already done it. Apart from about half-an-hour of sunshine a little while ago it has been a very grey, drizzly and miserable day and it is lovely to be tucked up at home. I've lit a few candles and am bundled up in a cosy cardigan. Because I wanted to get out and beat the rain, I didn't eat so I was ravenous by the time I got home. I made vegetable soup yesterday and had a huge portion of that, with two eggs poached to perfection in it. It was just right.

This week will be a slightly different one as I have an interview in Heidelberg on Thursday so I'll be on the move all day. I'm thinking that I'll bring a big salad with me for lunch. I can leave a bag in a locker at the train station and pick it up after my interview. That way I could also bring my walking boots and get a walk in before heading back. Around the town and maybe up to the castle.

Apart from the obvious benefits of the exercise, I've always loved walking as an aid to pounding out whatever thoughts are circling in my head. Sometimes I might not be thinking about anything much but eventually whatever it is that's particularly on my mind will surface and I can get to grips with it a bit. It's so wonderful to have this time to do that without having to stress about only having an hour before I need to be doing whatever other thing is next. I am spending the best part of my day cooking, eating and walking at the moment but it feels good.

I'm using the mapmywalk app on my phone to keep track of how far I'm walking. At the moment I'm just focusing on that and not deliberately trying to increase my speed. They send an email with a summary of workout every week and this was the first time that I got an email with more than one or two walks. In fact, I'm even missing one from this summary as I forgot to switch on the app when I was walking home from the quiz on Friday. I had decided to make that my short walk day so just had the slightly more than 2km walk home, since I was running late and didn't manage to also walk there earlier in the evening. Other than that, here's what I did do from 20 to 26 March:

Total length of time: 11:39 (I pause the app when I stop for a break so this is just time spent actually walking)
Total distance: 50.1km

I'm really pleased with that. Long may it continue. Every day I manage to stick to the diet and every day I manage to go for a walk, is a day closer to the person I want to be.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday shopping

A post not about BSDing and it's a boring shopping one. Don't worry, I'll find other things to ramble about soon I'm sure. Obsessing a little is helping me keep on track at the moment so I'm going with it. Luckily for me, if your eyes are glazing over at this stage, I can't see it and can continue on in happy obliviousness. :)

I had four things on my list when I headed out this morning and bought six. Not too bad. One of those two items was a packet of lentil for the storecupboard and the other some fish, as it turned out the supermarket was doing 50% off all fresh fish today. For this month and next, while I'll do my best to stick to my usual regional, organic, fairtrade, sustainable methods of choosing groceries, price will have to play a bigger role. I've been mostly avoiding fish for a while now, as it's such an environmental minefield. I did get some tins of tuna and sardines to stock up the storecupboard a while back but that has been about it. But for the duration of the BSD at least, I'll have to be a bit less discerning - when all is said and done, fish is a very good source of relatively low-calorie protein. I'm also trying to make sure that I have plenty of variety at the moment, which isn't something that's always at the top of my priority list.

Today, I even managed to remember to bring my empty bottles with me so after a quick stop at the bottle bank for the non-deposit ones, I continued on to the market.

I had taken €20 out of the bank and had 64c to put into my sealed pot and 50c for my 50c pot when I got back. For that, I got the following:

From Bio Thees
Oakleaf lettuce, 2 small heads (312g @ €10/kg): 3.12 (but the round down so only paid 3.10)
Red lambs' lettuce (100g @ €22/kg): 2.20

From Naturhof Etzold
Onions (1kg at €3.50/kg): 3.50

From SuperBIOMarkt
2 tins cannellini beans (€1.49 each): 2.98
1 packet yellow split peas, not lentils after all, I picked up the wrong packet. Sigh. (€4.98/kg): 2.49
Refund of 30c for two returned bottles

From Kaisers supermarket
2 salmon fillets (416g. normal price €19.90, today €9.95/kg): 4.14
250g butter: 75c
Refund of 30c for two returned bottles

I've already left the salmon poaching, will have a small bit now perhaps and them have the rest cold tomorrow or Monday.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Blood sugar diet - day 6

Going well so far but just wanted to post a short note about last night in case it happens again. After going to bed I was really cold. Shivery cold. I had my normal nightdress on with a fleece over it as I'd been sitting working until late and was a bit chilly anyway. And my hat, of course. I kind of miss my hat when the weather gets too warm to wear it. Anyway, all of that wasn't enough so I pulled a blanket (folded double) over the duvet. I was still cold. I even got up to check whether the temperature outside had sunk low unexpectedly but it hadn't and was hovering around the 8 degree mark. I was worried I had a fever but my temperature was normal (35.8, which is normal for me, I usually hover between 35.9 and 36.1 according to my current digital thermometer). I added a shawl around my shoulders and that seemed to finally do the trick but it was all a bit strange really.

I don't know if any of these things are at all related to the BSD but I'm going to continue making a note of them. It could be that I'm just noticing things because I'm trying to pay a bit more attention to my body. I'm currently trying to figure out if I'm finding it easier to get up in the mornings. Today, I think it was, despite the grey murky day outside. I'm so grateful that I almost never have to set an alarm at the moment. I've definitely been waking a bit earlier over the last couple of weeks so I don't think it's just down to the diet, the brightness is helping, too. But this morning I didn't lie around for long and, more importantly, once I did get up that was it. I almost (but not quite) sprang out of bed and once I had gone to the toilet, didn't even for a second contemplate going back to bed. I had some work to do but still, that's unusual for me, even if I have something to do I'd usually have at least a couple of minutes of pondering whether or not I could get away with another few minutes in bed. Wow, me becoming one of those people who just gets up and that's it? That's weirder than everything else for sure.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blood sugar diet - day 5

Well, after a difficult day 3, yesterday turned out really well. I was quite nervous as I have choir rehearsal on Wednesday evenings and wasn't sure how that would work out. My friend had to cancel lunch so that made my day a whole lot easier, I have to admit. I'd had porridge for breakfast an cleaning the floors and clearing up the sitting room were shelved. After a quick trip to the market for some salad (they had oakleaf lettuce! Small heads of it admittedly but that, more than anything, makes it feel like spring has truly sprung), eggs and quark, I chopped up some apples for my snack/lunch and headed off on the tram again for another long walk. Half an hour later, I got out and walked down towards the river, passing a small market which also had a fish stand. They're there every Wednesday so I might take a trip back next week to buy some fish.

I walked back home, this time pusing myself a little to walk to the bench past the big bridge before taking a break. It's not a big difference really but I want to try and push myself a little bit from time to time. Otherwise, I just walked along, enjoying the occasional ray of sunshine through the mostly white clouds. I walked the last bit a slightly different way simply because the traffic lights were against me and so I walked on to cross over at a later stage and I actually cut a short distance off the walk but it was still just over 11km and I am very pleased that I've done two long walks this week. I'll do another shorter one today. I wasn't really hungry by the time I got home, even though I hadn't even finished all of the apple. I rested for a while and then before going to choir I fried the chicken I had bought, as well as some bacon bits I wanted to use up (fried the entire packet but only used a small amount) and made up a huge salad with the meat on top. Totally delicious and it really filled me up. I even went for a drink after choir (water, obviously) and wasn't feeling too hungry at all. I was kind of glad that everyone decided to have an early night though. Once I got home I had the rest of the apple. It turned out to be a great day foodwise.

Today is presenting challenges once more. It's actually related to something I was contemplating the other day: I'm not sure how well I would be managing the blood sugar diet if I had to be going out to work every day. As it is, I have far more flexibility in when and what I eat at the moment, which is a big help. I did get in a translation job yesterday evening, however, which means that today, I'm at my laptop working. And within a few minutes of sitting down, I found myself getting something of a craving for sweets. Not a bad physical craving but more like a force of habit kind of thing. I'd just eaten a late breakfast of two scrambled eggs with cress and thought I just needed to let that digest properly and I'd be fine. But after a while (about forty-five minutes, I was keeping an eye on it to make sure) I was feeling hungry so rather than risk the craving getting worse, I decided to have the rest of the chicken. I just ate it cold as I was working, it was delicious and seems to have satisfied me better than just the eggs had. I suppose every day is different and I'm going to have to be careful to pay attention to what my body (and my psyche) needs at any point in time.

Browsing the Irish Times earlier I also noticed a photo of some Easter eggs and I'm glad I'm here and not in Ireland. I think resisting the type of Easter eggs I grew up with would be far more difficult than resisting the various things they have over here for Easter. Don't get me wrong. I love German Easter stuff, from the chocolate bunnies to the amazing pastries, breads and cakes. I just don't feel the same connection to it as to, for example, a Button's egg (Jesus! You really can find anything on youtube!).

So we'll see how the rest of the day goes. Dinner will be another big salad, although with fewer extras since I've already eaten the chicken. Perhaps I'll make another small portion of spiced dahl. I also want to put on some beans to soak so that tomorrow I can have beans and rice. Really looking forward to that.

And just to finish off so that I have written it down somewhere, yesterday and the day before I noticed a strange pain. Almost like the beginnings of stitch except higher up and more to the centre of my body. I wondered if I had strained something. For a brief second I was worried that maybe I've left it too late to lose weight and get fit and my heart was complaining. But it's too low down to be my heart. It has gone away today but if it comes back, don't worry, I will go and check with the doctor. What I thought was interesting though, is that I checked a diagram to see what exactly is in that part of my body. Biology lessons are a very long time in the past and never one of my best subjects and I really just couldn't remember. At any rate, it seems to be the area that my liver is in that was hurting. The interesting part is remembering the following from the BSD book: "Once your visceral fat levels start to drop (and this happens within days), the fat clogging up your liver will also beging to melt away like snow under a hot sun." It may be a bit fanciful but I'm wondering if my liver is protesting having to relinquish the warm and cosy layer of fat it has been encased in for years now (even though I don't think visceral fat is so much fat around the liver as it is in the liver, that just doesn't work as well for my fanciful image). So there you have it. I weighed myself yesterday on the way out. I had weighed myself in the early afternoon of day 2 (chemist that has the scales I use wasn't open on Sunday) and by yesterday late morning, I was 1.1kg down. That's pretty good going and was definitely good motivation to keep me walking yesterday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Blood sugar diet - day 3

Just a quick one tonight as I want to try and keep a record of a few things. Third day today and although it felt like I cooked and ate a lot more food, I was hungry in the afternoon and again this evening. I did go to the cinema this evening though and although I ate not long before I left, not getting home until just after midnight means it's a later night than usual and enough time for me to have gotten hungry again. I walked home though and feel slightly better for that. I'm not so hungry that I won't sleep but definitely feeling some hunger. I'm going to leave porridge soaking overnight and have that in the morning. I'm enjoying eggs for breakfast but don't want to just keep having the same thing and I think the porridge will be a good psychological boost.

A friend is coming over for lunch tomorrow, which I had completely forgotten about. So, I need to get my ass in gear tomorrow to get the place cleaned up a bit. I decided to do a salad with chicken. I might buy a couple of bread rolls so that she can have that with her salad if she wants and if not, I can chop them up and pop them into the freezer for using as croutons at a later stage. That means that I do need to get up early tomorrow and get out to the market. My veg box delivery is coming a day early this week because of Easter, which would have worked out perfectly if I had remembered that that also meant the deadline for adjusting or adding to the order was a day early. Salad, unfortunately, wasn't one of the picks for this week so I'll get that from the market and need to be back in time for my veg delivery.

I'm curious to see how this plays out over the next few days. I was surprised that the first two days seemed to go relatively easily, with few cravings or hunger pangs. The book, or perhaps the website, mentions it taking a few days or even a couple of weeks for cravings to fade away so perhaps I'm just going through some of that. Regardless, for tonight, my plan is to keep going tomorrow. And then we'll see.