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 http://www.rte.ie/player/de/show/centenary-30003958/10552342/ 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.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Blood sugar diet - day 2

After reading the book, The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet (website here), at the end of January and thinking it was just what I needed to get kickstarted again, I've made it past the middle of March and only now actually started it in earnest. I decided yesterday was the day as I knew I'd be feeling very much like having some clean living following Paddy's Day last Thursday and the last day of the 6 Nations on Saturday. As it turned out, Thursday wasn't as late or as boozy a night as previous years and on Saturday, although I did spend the day in the pub and did drink a fair amount, I left at eleven and resisted the temptation for "just one more".

Detail from front of notebook
It took me a few hours to actually get out for the walk I had planned to really get me going yesterday morning, but I did it eventually. And I went to the pub quiz last night and stuck to drinking water. Had my dinner as late as possible before leaving for that so that I wouldn't be tempted to get pizza or chips during the break. I have to admit I did need to go outside for a few minutes during the break when someone else at my table got chips.

Today, I planned to go for a shorter walk but kept somehow getting delayed and then decided I really needed to finish some work and get it sent out before distracting myself from it with a walk. It was five o'clock before I actually got out but I'm thrilled that I did it. I'm hoping tomorrow to get out much earlier. I'm going to a friend's house at two o'clock so ideally I'll go out walking first thing and then come back and have a big brunch omelette to see me through the afternoon. We'll see.

I received a beautiful notebook as a birthday present last December and hadn't yet found a use for it so it has been called into service as my (very old-school) tracking device. I'm glad that I'm not working at the moment as it gives me plenty of time to look up calories and try and plan what I'll be eating. I wasn't quite organised enough to do a full meal plan and it will take me a couple of weeks to get used to not deciding which starch (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread) I want most and planning my meal around that. Although a small amount of alcohol is included in the BSD guidelines, I'm going to go off it completely until June. I never feel good drinking alcohol on a regular basis and I think in future I'll probably continue with some variation of abstaining completely for a couple of months at intervals throughout the year. One thing I'll be doing is using up some things that I have already prepared (bolognaise yesterday, and bean burgers I have in the freezer, for example) and I will be guessing calories there to a certain extent. But I'm also not going to stress too much if I don't quite make it to just 800 calories in a day. I haven't managed it in the first two days but I still think I'm doing pretty well.

It's half-nine now so I think I can safely say that the first two days are done and, while it hasn't been easy-peasy, it hasn't been too difficult either. I was hungry yesterday at the quiz, or seemed to be, but actually, it was mostly the fact that I knew I needed to have a difficult conversation with somebody afterwards that had my stomach in knots. I ate a Silvermint and that was enough. The conversation went off okay - I didn't get any response I really wanted but I was glad that I had brought it up rather than allowing something to fester and potentially destroy a friendship. Whether that friendship will survive the breaking of trust, I'm not really sure but at least I was able to say my piece. I wonder if I'll ever get over feeling like honesty is the most important thing there can be.

At any rate, this afternoon, because I left for my walk so much later than planned and am currently walking a bit slower than I used to, which meant I took longer than planned, I was hungry by the time I got home and sort of starting to feel a bit panicked that I'd get too hungry and derail myself before I managed to get dinner ready. Then I remembered I'd bought a new jar of bouillon powder recently and when I got in the door I just put the kettle on immediately and a couple of minutes later I had a steaming hot cup of something tasty to tide me over. It was more than enough to see me through sitting down and resting for a while and then preparing dinner. I haven't really drunk enough water today but I'm going to go and make myself a herbal tea now and that will be that. There's trying to drink plenty of water in a day and there's having to get up three times in the night to pee and I know which of those things annoys me most!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Escape Everything!

A few years ago there was a post on clickclackgorilla about The New Escapologist, which I think was the first time I'd heard of it. I'd already read Tom Hodginkon's How to be Free and How to be Idle and was delighted to have another source of inspiration. Maybe if I had enough inspiration one day I'd actually manage to do something about that vague (and sometimes not at all vague) feeling of being trapped and thinking that life was somehow supposed to be more! At some stage I also started following their blog and so when crowdfunding for Robert Wringham's book, Escape Everything!, began, it didn't take me long to convince myself that it would be money well spent. Unbound publishers work in such a way that writers can basically pitch their ideas to the internet. The book is only printed if and when the minimum number of pledges have been made. I really like the concept and especially the fact that more of the price of the book goes to the author than in traditional publishing. A few weeks ago, my copy of Escape Everything! arrived and last week I finally got around to starting it. It was the carrot I used to make myself finish the stick that was last month's book club book.

I'm not very far into the book yet but even the small amount I've read has already given me several moments of "yes, yes, yes" (not quite Meg Ryan levels but still, definite enthusiasm). I might end up giving in and end up marking this book. Maybe if I just use a pencil and not a pen or highlighter I might feel better about it. I could always look on it as improving a skill which I currently don't really have (the ability to draw a straight line).

I'm still very conflicted about the struggle in my mind between wanting to escape and the need to have money. Although I've made some moves towards getting out of ordinary paid employment of the office variety, I'm not good at coping with the uncertainty of income level. There have been some parts of the book so far which at least make me feel that trying to change the environment I'm working in is at least a good step in the right direction. It's probably a very good thing I'm reading it now as I'm starting to get nervous about not having a job yet and it's a good reminder to not give up just yet.

Here are a few of the things from the book that have struck me so far. The book is still available from Unbound or also on other popular book-selling websites and presumably in bookshops. Or ask for it at your local library. Even if they don't have it, perhaps they'll consider getting it if people are asking. :-)  I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it immensely.

From the foreword (by David Cain)
Page xiii: For all the financial prosperity of the modern world, there's a certain poverty in our willingness to take pay to perform activities that have, typically, almost nothing to do with our personal values.
Page xiv: Limiting your freedom in some kind of token solidarity with the truly oppressed is like avoiding exceptional health simply because the chronically ill can't have it.

From the introduction
Page xxii: If it were possible to escape such physical shackles [it's a bit about Houdini], would it not also be possible to escape the socially constructed ones that bound millions of normal people to modern lives of alternating consumption and toil? After all, social shackles aren't even really there.

From chapter one
Page 3: When you work full time, every vacation, weekend, bank holiday, nightly sleep and stolen moment is but a recovery from work. We don't occupy those moments in their own right any more: we use them to recover from work.
Page 4: Just because I've never enjoyed a job, it does not defy belief that there might be good ones out there: well paid, altruistic, satisfying jobs with daily variations and the opportunity to do something worthwhile and well. [I know it's not quite there but this is kind of what I'm aiming for when looking for a job in a college rather than working for accountants.]
Page 10: ...I choose Escapology over utopianism. It's something I can do by myself.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Well, that didn't work (and Escapology)

My last post didn't end up being quite the motivator I thought it would be. I spent the best part of last week in bed. Not depressed really, but I've been very emotional and crying on and off. That, coupled with the acne I seem to be developing every month, means that I'll be having a longer than normal conversation with my gynaecologist at my next check-up in a month or so. There were a couple of other reasons for me to be emotional this week but nothing that really should have stopped me in my tracks to start crying. I was up early on Monday morning to go to my last counselling session. I'm glad about that but towards the end of it I did talk about meeting my cousin a couple of weeks ago and her talking about my mum, which was a bit upsetting. My mum died thirty years ago this year so it's just one of those things that's a bit more present perhaps. Because contact with my extended family tends to be sporadic it does often happen that they will start talking about Mum and how great she was and how much they miss her. As if I didn't know how wonderful she was but with the added salt in the wound that most of my cousins are a good bit older than me so they got to know her for years longer than I did. At any rate, a more emotional and upsetting session for my last counselling session than I had expected.

Then in the afternoon a friend, who hasn't spoken to me for about eight months now (for no reason I have ever known about), phoned for a very strange rant about something (still not entirely sure what the exact point was) and when I mentioned that she hadn't spoken to me for months and has even flat out blanked me on several occasions, she insisted that wasn't the point because we were never really friends anyway and don't have much in common. That hurt and I was very upset, as, even though we only met a couple of years ago, we spent a year and a half of that time doing a lot together and, I thought, had actually gotten quite close. I have to admit though, it hasn't taken me long to get over it and, although it stings a bit, I'm happy enough to cut her out of my life. It just didn't really help last week. Let's just say Monday was a bit of a wash.

On Tuesday I slept late and only got up because I had a dentist's appointment to get to. Thankfully everything is fine so after making an appointment for my next cleaning and check-up in six months, I left feeling a bit more lighthearted. But when I got home I couldn't find the energy for much other than making and eating a bit of lunch and I more or less spent the rest of the day on the couch. Wednesday was the same with the only difference being that I have choir rehearsal on Wednesday evening so I had to get up and go to that. Our quiet drink after rehearsal turned into two of us staying out until three o'clock. It was nice to have the long chats though and three beers spread out over the evening wasn't doing too badly. The late night meant that Thursday was definitely a bit of a washout. I did get another application finished and sorted out some medical insurance papers (so that I could find the form I needed to submit a claim for a refund of the fee for the cleaning at the dentist - amazing what an incentive the chance of getting money back is!) And then I worried and stressed about a letter I got from the dole office.

Friday morning started out nicely, with a text from my sister to let me know that my niece had her baby early in the morning. A happy, but obviously also emotional event, given that her mum is no longer around to have experienced the birth of her first grandchild. It's a bit mad to think that I'm a great-aunt now. Unfortunately, that was followed by twenty minutes on the phone with the dole office trying to figure that letter out and I still don't understand it, although she did almost manage to convince me that I may not have to pay anything back/have money deducted from future payments because of my side income. I'm due a callback next week to clear up the rest of it. After all that Friday was a washout, too. I finally dragged myself out at five o'clock to get a bit of shopping and then met a friend to go to the cinema. I wanted to go and see Spotlight but my friend at the last minute told me he really needed something more upbeat so we ended up going to see Deadpool. In German. It wasn't as bad as the review I'd read of it. And I did like the bit with the second mask at the end.

This weekend is mostly taken up with choir and rugby. We had rehearsal yesterday all morning and then I rushed to try and get to the pub to watch the Irish match, stayed to watch the Welsh one (very exciting in the last fifteen minutes - the Welsh crowd there were so fun to watch) and then grabbed a bit of dinner before heading back to the pub to offer moral support to a friend who was hosting her son's 18th birthday party there. That was fun actually. We had more than one conversation (among the older people there) about how we all still felt about the same age as the majority of people there. Only the mirror shows the difference! I didn't stay too late and was home before midnight. Had to get the pork into the slow cooker before bed, you see. One of my friends from choir is 40 today and I promised her months ago (jokingly, but not really) that I'd give her a present of pulled pork. She loved it when I made it for a gathering at my place last year and has mentioned it often. She also happens to be the one who's driving me to the concert we're singing this afternoon so I'll be able to bring it to her at her home and she can put it into the fridge if she wants rather than carrying around all day.

Wow, that ended up being far more of a brain dump post than I was planning on. I'll save my comments on the book I'm reading, Escape Everything!, for tomorrow. I'm only on Chapter 1 and I've already had three or four moments when I've wanted to underline something. I loathe writing in books but this is one with an awful lot in a very small amount of space so I may just have to get over it. As a matter of interest, though, how do you feel about writing on books? Fiction or non-fiction, do you ever read something that you want to highlight or make notes on? Does it irritate you when you're reading a book and it has been written in, even if you're the one who did the writing?

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Time to move on

A new month and time to get my act together and just get on with things. I've spent a good part of the morning on the phone. With the social welfare office to check whether the money I received yesterday (unemployment money for February) already took into account the side-job earnings for January, information I sent them two weeks ago. Of course it doesn't. With the health insurance people who sent me the information on what they have submitted to the tax office on my behalf, as it didn't seem to add up. Turns out the amount I was refunded as part of the bonus program last year was almost exactly the same as the amount I was refunded just last month for the extra payment I made in December. Glad I phoned to clear it up though. And then with the agency which has given me most of the translation work I've done so far. There's another big project coming up and since there doesn't seem to be a rush on it, there's a possibility I might get the entire thing myself and not end up sharing it with two others. That would obviously be fantastic. It's a lot of work though so I really do need to get myself organised. I have another client who has sent me the first section of their masters thesis to proofread, too.

So far, my four months of not working have not been very structured. In November, I crashed out a bit, exhausted after finishing work (especially the nearly 150 hours I worked in my final two weeks) but with other commitments to still take care off. It was a double concert month for choir (two of our best concerts ever, I have to admit) so that was rehearsal plus weekend rehearsal plus the weekend of the concerts itself. I finished the translations for the memory/Alzheimers videos, which included meeting with a German friend a few times to double-check some of the German. And I had a couple of other, paid, translation jobs, as well. Not to mention the back and forth with the tax office to get my tax number sorted and the health insurance place.

In December, the first time I actually had a few days with nothing at all to do, I spent three and a half days in bed. And boy, did I need it. I didn't sleep overly much, mostly read or just lay there thinking but I desperately needed a time of as little sensory input as possible. Then followed my birthday weekend, with a lovely visit from one of my best friends. And all of a sudden, a big translation project, which took up a lot of time over the next few weeks, as well as trying to get a handle on the housework and prepare for christmas. My week in Ireland for that was a much-needed break, which felt very strange considering I had just spent the last two months unemployed.

In January, it finally seemed like I would be able start getting myself properly organised. I had another fairly big translation, as well as some smaller ones. Got stuff mostly sorted with the social welfare office. Ramped up my efforts to find a new job. Got back on track a bit with meal plans and cooking proper food.

And I'm not really sure what happened to February. I'm constantly astonished at how quickly the month goes by, even though it's only two or three days shorter than every other month. I did get some things done but it was by no means a powerhouse month.

February did end with a brilliant weekend though. My annual trip to Halle to sing the Happy Birthday Handel performance of Messiah. It was a bit quieter this year, with the most of the late nights ending at eleven or twelve rather than two or three. I was kind of glad the others were doing that, though, as it suited me very well to sleep well and then not be dragging through the next day's rehearsal. As always, I spent the weekend hanging around with my men - a group of retired guys from an Irish choir. I knew one of them in college and then we met again at this event in 2011. It wasn't until the second time I was there, in 2013, that I really got to know the others but now I love spending time with them and I think at this stage they expect me to be with them. It's really nice.

One of my cousins was there, too, and I brought her out for lunch on one of the days. We spent a couple of hours catching up, something we're always saying we'll do but that we never seem to get around to. She's ten years older than me and my mum lived with them when she first moved up to Dublin, so I have to admit to feeling a bit emotional at some of the things she talked about. But it's nice to hear things, too. Now I know, for example, that my mum was the only one of her family to go to secondary school (she was exceptionally bright, apparently. I think as a kid I just always assumed that everyone's parents were clever and then after she died, I didn't really think about it at all). And that when we were younger, she said to my cousin that the one thing she hoped was that when we were older, she and us would be friends, the way her older sisters were with their kids. And that apparently, I am named after a film star. My cousin wasn't certain if it was an actor or a character but it's interesting to know that.

But now it's March and I can't just drift any longer (much as I would love to. I even bought a lottery ticket last week so maybe when I check that later I'll have won a fortune and drifting will actually be a legitimate lifestyle choice for me). So, today, bad start really, I'm taking it easy. I took care of those phone calls earlier and have filled out the form for the social welfare place on my February income. That's that. I'm going to catch up now on some emails and blogs, perhaps watch a small amount of telly and then I'm going to a friend's house. She has been having an extraordinarily difficult time of things and asked me to come and see her. I assume that will end up being the afternoon and a part of the evening, too. Tomorrow morning I want to get up and go for a walk as soon as I do. No hanging around, no lazing (or at least, no lazing until later in the day). Really, I want to start doing that every morning, although I might alternate going for a walk with half-an-hour of stretching exercises for the first week or two. We'll see how it goes.

In the spirit of starting over and moving on, I've also updated my savings totals in the sidebar. I've been lax about keeping that up-to-date and I want and need to start being more meticulous about it. In addition to the accounts listed there, I'm going to use the end of my paper chain to start a small savings fund for something fun. I got to the end of my savings goal with that in one fell swoop at the end, so I never ended up tearing off the last few rings. There are 12 rings left. If I take each one to represent 20 euro, then I have 240 euro to do something with. Perhaps even a cheap weekend away to one of the places on my places to go list. Now that I've (at least partially) sorted my job situation, it's important to start actually living the life I want!