Week in Review: Skipping Carneval

I started off this week in bed with the kid, still. We were supposed to be escaping Carneval on skis but after that terrible flu, there was no way I was making Diva hit the slopes; she could barely stand up for days after her fever finally went down and so even though she was technically well, we both thought it in her best interests to stay buried in blankets instead of hitting the road or staring at the shitshow that is the Rosenmontag parade. Die Zeit said that the festivities employ over 40,000 people in Cologne full-time but they seem to have hired more sweet sweepers than style-makers. Always in bad fashion, that event.

I hit the local kids’ parade on Tuesday where we were showered in gummy bears and swapped the ibuprofen out for Smarties, which seemed to work like all other homeopathic pills: you forget you’re sick long enough to actually maybe feel better. Especially when there’s this much of it:

carneval candy

I got over myself and dug further into reading Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle books and am pretty glad I did. He’s fabulous with words and a fantastic viewer of everyday banality and it’s only his lack of action that makes him so tough to read.

I don’t like to talk about my work here but this week was a fucking headache in that department, partly because it’s Fashion Week everywhere this month, which makes my work explode, and partly because I didn’t get enough work done while Diva was sick and the city was shut down (the shitty part about living in Cologne is that you have no kindergarten for 4 days but your clients in Berlin DGAF about Catholic holidays). But every so often, I get a perk and this week, that perk was an interview with some super talented musicians and an amazing amazing concert and then that made it all okay, I guess. I’ll be back to hating work tomorrow.

Finally, I found this You Tube sensation @Flula whom I had never encountered before and haven’t been able to stop laughing all week. This one’s for all my German friends who love basketball and that fact that Dirk No-irgendwas proved Wesley Snipes wrong. White Men Can Jump, though they sure really can’t rap (however, as Liv has pointed out, they sure do have a great sense of humor about their lack of rhythm). Enjoy your week, folks!

P.S. Don’t forget to send your questions for Dear Divorcee to me!


Week In Review: Sleeping Late and Staying in PJs

I am testing my newfound ability to remain positive under all circumstances pretty hardcore this week, shrugging off a whole lot of bullshit while maintaining some calm. I figured, if a dude held hostage for nearly three years by Somali pirates can keep himself calm with some yoga despite the nearby grenade launchers, my life ain’t all bad, is it?

I started the week by picking up a very sick kid from her papa’s house. Although she had gone to his place with a fever and a warning that all her Kita friends had the flu, nothing prepared me for the Diva that I had to carry like a newlywed under the threshold up four flights of stairs. She couldn’t even keep her eyes open on the car ride home because the sun was too bright.

I canceled her birthday party against her father’s wishes (it’s in a gymnastics room, you can just lay her on a mat and she can watch, the twat said, the last I heard from him all week), put her to bed with a fever nearing 40 and waited impatiently all week for it to go down on its own. Yes, she got ibuprofen to deal with the pain but Jayzus, this flu she had was awful and the fever just did not quit. It’s still there, inching back each evening just before bed. 14 of 16 kids at her Kita and a bunch of the parents got it and by the time we finally made it to the doctor on Thursday, it was confirmed to be “just a virus, but a very long-lasting one.” You’re telling me.

I decided to fend off any germs by sleeping 10 to 12 hours a day and cuddling the kid all week, never changing out of my pjs except to put fresh ones on. When was the last time you suckers did that? The first two days it felt good. Now I just feel like an obese sloth but now that the chocolate cake intended for Diva’s birthday party has been polished off and no one brought me chocolates for Valentine’s Day, that may change.

I realized, too, this week, that contrary to what every other expat says about Germans, some of these countrymen are fucking phenomenal. When we ran out of sugar drinks to keep fluids in Diva, I texted 2 neighbors and within minutes, our fridge was restocked. Take that isolationist Americans with your big ass fenced-in yards and tinted car windows that keep you from knowing your neighbors.

While convalescing, I read a number of books… “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown (which is terribly written but has been one of the more helpful self-help books I’ve read in ages), the trashy “Schwerelos” by Ildiko von Kuerthy, and a couple of pages from Book One of the “My Struggle” series by Karl Ove Knausgaard, who is a superb writer but who is so narcissistic I kept wondering if the urge to vomit I had meant I was getting the flu.

Now here comes the bummer part:

I canceled our planned ski vacation scheduled to coincide with Karneval, also known as get the fuck out of Cologne time, for the second year in a row. Diva is devastated but we’ll just have to go to Switzerland to make up for it soon. Anybody got some gold needs depositing?

I also had to cancel a bunch of engagements that I really wanted in on, including going to Milan, and in doing so, realized that my biggest client is more batshit than I am and that is no small measure. So after a week of doing absolutely as little as possible, I will be all adult next week to see what I can salvage of this mess I call my life.

First up: a trip to the career coach who keeps reminding me that “finding a sugar daddy” is not a legit objective to be putting on my CV.

Whatever, I’m still getting my hair did right afterward, although let’s be honest: $30,000 a year and a Louis Vuitton bag ain’t really worth my time.

What’s your week ahead look like?

And if you haven’t had contact with this killer flu, a word to the wise: quarantine yourselves now. It’s about as fun as Weiberfastnacht at 2 a.m., minus the torn-up costumes.

Week In Review: Ein Irrglaeubige Woche ( #dailydeutsch )

I’m writing this from my bed, where I have spent the last two days cocooning with Diva. She’s got a high fever and is miserable and only wants her mom and so here we sit, me huddling beneath the comforter while she sweats beneath a wet washrag. I remember very little of my childhood but that is one memory that always sticks with me… the wet washrag to chill my fevers, the glass of ginger ale on the side table. The only thing missing, thankfully, is the chalky taste of Pepto-Bismol.

This flu has knocked out three-quarters of her Kindergarten simultaneously, and it’s done so on the weekend we were supposed to be celebrating her birthday. It’s not as sad as you might think — we’ll be celebrating again once Karneval has left Cologne — but I have learned my lesson from this experience. I will never again try to celebrate a birthday before the actual day. Just like I don’t count my chickens before the eggs have hatched. Or spend my paycheck before it’s been deposited.

I flouted this Irrglaube — this German superstition, or directly translated, crazy belief — the same way that I flouted the keeping my kidneys warm thing and look where that’s gotten me: in bed with a sick kid. The other kids with warm kidneys are also sick, but whatever. I don’t walk beneath ladders for fear of bad luck so I won’t flout these either anymore, I guess. At least not when I have other plans I want to keep. So my first question on Ihr Deutscher should be then, I guess, what other crazy beliefs am I flouting by not knowing about? I know now that I have to light candles on her birthday cake to keep the evil spirits away but what about these other everyday things? Do I have to throw salt over my shoulder here, too?

But this week hasn’t been all bad.

I learned how to pole dance with a group of friends as a belated birthday present to myself. I’d post pictures but we promised to not embarrass ourselves online with them so you’re going to have to hack my phone if you wanna see ’em (good luck with that — I refuse to use iCloud, which my phone reminds me of constantly). It was great fun and I’d love to do it again but with a different teacher. Ours seemed really disappointed to get a group of nearly 40s women and it showed on her face when we all failed the strength test at the beginning. When she tried to convince us that our cores would get a good work out if we just tried to hang upside down, I think we were all like, uh, yeah, I flunked out of my Becken-Boden Kurs, so we just stuck to the basic fireman move … which we all rocked better than Bridget Jones.

To keep me entertained in my insomniac hours, I downloaded both seasons of the hilarious show, Party Down, which brings back so many awful memories of my college days spent catering weddings but still, after multiple showings, has me in stitches. I think it was recommended by Natalye over at Deutsch Bitte, so would love to get more recommendations from y’all. I’ve gone through all three seasons of Bored to Death without getting bored and need a few more comedy series to keep me entertained in the wee hours.

Week in Review: The Supermodel Life

I woke up Monday morning totally ready to hit the day like Beyonce and sing, “I woke up like this, #flawless,” but instead I fell to the ground because of the unexpected, searing pain in my heel. Guess who has plantar fasciitis? This girl right here. As if I wasn’t not exercising enough already, I’m now on another running verbot, indefinitely.

Surprisingly, I am not yet insane from the lack of sport. Instead, I am, as mentioned on Twitter, spending more time at the gym again, watching the young naive ones throw themselves at the resident muscleman trainer who will turn them down because he’s not all that into women half his age who page through fashion mags while pumping their feet up and down on the elliptical, careful not to sweat up their neon-pink sports bras and bright red lipstick. I’ve started carrying Kleenexes with me for the inevitable tears in the locker room to come but cannot wait to get back out onto the cold, snowy trails where the only asses in the air I see belong to the swans.

2014-03-18 16.22.42

That gym membership was the only thing adding regularity to an insane week in which I changed my plans every fucking hour of every damned day. At one point, someone mentioned that I have to at some point sometime soon be in Milan but no one’s really sure yet just when or where or how but maybe definitely I will some day need to be in Italy for something. All week this went on, and not just with Italy and not just with one client. This was every conversation I had with every person I encountered this week and I realized I need a damned agent to handle those kinds of conversations. Or an assistant. I have zero patience for the wishy-washy and I am too important to be bothered to keep my own schedule. I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. I’ll be in the sauna if you need me.

On a more serious note, a friend’s husband died, which puts me now solidly in mid-life. I will write more about the feelings this brings up, about the crises everyone around me are dealing with, but to help me cope, I broke out my copy of “Tiny Beautiful Things” again and downloaded the Dear Sugar podcast. Cheryl Strayed sure does know how to say the true things that will make you cry and so I did a bit of crying this week, too. No shame in that. Especially since I can recover from the tears more quickly than in the past, and recover I did, thanks to keeping this tune on rotate.

Enjoy your week! And let me know what keeps you moving… it’s going to be a long, crazy month in the Lederhosen home.

Week in Review: The Faultier Hibernates

It snowed this week. This is big news for everybody in Cologne, Germany’s warmest city, which though lacking sun nearly year-round, rarely hits the freezing point. Of course, when it snows, it never stays. I don’t wanna complain — I left the Arctic temperatures of my hometown behind very happily — but it is frustrating that winter here just feels like three months of cold rain, bookended by four months of moderately warmer rain. I grew up with a snowboard attached to my feet so whenever it snows, I am on it like black stripes on a bee. Though my original plan was to spend every day of this weekend in my sweatpants on the sofa, I broke it up with an hour-long trip to the sledding hill (in which I was allowed to keep my sweats on, yes!).

2012-12-07 17.11.30

Even before we got to the sledding hill, there was no white stuff left on the ground because it got too warm. I didn’t realize what a luxury it is to live here until we went to Berlin in November and nearly got frostbite while waiting for train back…. when we disembarked in Cologne five hours later, it was downright tropical and Diva and I had to stuff our hats and mittens back into our pockets. I don’t really want to complain but seriously, two hours of snow is not enough.

In addition to sitting on the couch, reading everything Danish child psychologist beloved by all German mummis, Jesper Juul, ever had to say about how we’re all fucking up our kids, I baked cinnamon rolls because fuck diets; hibernating bodies need fat. In fact, we need that fat in the same way that kids need compliments (so fuck you Juul and your parenting techniques that follow the Law of Jante and teach some of the emotionally coldest mothers on the planet that praise is not to be given out to children). Which is to say, we are not starving in the Lederhosen household, neither physically nor emotionally, and we are not, despite my love of all things Danish, engaging in Danish childrearing techniques.

I read the Robber Hotzenplotz in English to Diva because I finally needed to figure out what is up with all these puppet shows starring Kasperle and I did not give up even though she corrected my pronunciation of Kasperle every.single.time. Couldn’t they have just Anglicized his name?

Speaking of Anglicisms, Diva’s getting really good at trying to figure out English words by herself. At Kita she learned about Sabre-Zahn Tiger and came home telling me all about the Sabre-Tooth Tiger. This was a big step for her… she usually doesn’t try to translate German words she doesn’t know. But she’s had her missteps. Like this week, when I was dawdling too long to get out the door and she called me a foul animal. For a second, I thought she’d been hanging out with some Brits and did the checklist of English-speaking kids we know who might have taught her to call someone foul (which, btw, I find an awesome curse that I underuse) before realizing she was calling me a sloth. A faultier. Which was a nice false friend… the literal translation would’ve been lazy animal and I couldn’t fault Diva for calling me that. Where has all my energy gone?

Finally, because I’m not just a big loser mother who hangs out in sweats licking cinnamon sugar from her fingers, I downloaded the new Bjork album and you should, too. Another damned good singer and feminist and I really hope these asshole reviewers stop bugging her about her divorce. A woman can exist without a husband, you know. Thrive, even.

Week In Review: Cleaning House

I went into this year fresh on a positivity kick. Feeling pretty confident that the minute I gave in to negativity, I would get the urge to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head again and I emotionally and financially cannot afford to do that, I was all hurrah, let’s look for all the bright spots in my life so we can keep functioning even after not having seen the sun for 183 consecutive days.

It helps, in that regard, to have a kid. Because kids, if you let them, will remind you of every damned little beautiful thing out there in the world. They get excited about dandelions (weeds) and puddles (mud) and, hell, Diva even lost her shit because the rain coming down on the walk to Kindergarten one day was maybe almost cold enough to be snowflakes and with excitement like that, who can’t look at all the little things and smile?

Knowing that post-Christmas was going to be a mental shitshow if I didn’t have enough to keep me busy, I scheduled an appointment with a career coach first thing Monday morning and got so many assignments to keep me busy building my “personal brand” (barf) aka, business, that I didn’t even know where to start. It was a great start to the New Year, but a little too great.

So I went for a run for the first time in ages (and by ages I mean days, although seriously, that habit needs to be regulated once again). Because that’s what I do when the going gets tough.

I not only ran, I lifted weights, which is something I haven’t been able to do since August because of a shoulder injury and the lack of iron being pumped is starting to show. My triceps look like a Basset Hound’s muzzle at this point so I’ve not been practicing any princess waves. Returning to the gym in January was not among the brightest things I’ve ever done. Seems everybody’s New Year’s resolutions were to join the gym and meet a new hottie and most people are trying to kill two birds with one stone so like 95% of the equipment at my gym is now taken up by dudes who can’t be bothered to buy real trainers and ladies who can’t be bothered to sweat making googly eyes at each other. Barf some more.

Although the sun actually made an appearance Monday, so too did anti-immigration assholes in the city of Cologne and so we skipped the pre-scheduled ice skating date in the city because there’s nothing I’m afraid of more than my daughter figuring out that people hate us for speaking English. Some dickhead alcoholic in a wheelchair cursed us out this summer, peeling off his wooden leg to throw at us when he heard me and Diva speaking English. It rightfully terrified her and me, and although I usually curse people like that out, because Diva was there, I just told her that I thought the man was ill and badly mannered and hurried on my way. What else was I supposed to do? I don’t know how my other immigrant friends (you know, the ones who “don’t look German”) handle all that hate. Actually, that’s a bit navel-gazing so I’m rewriting it: there’s nothing I’m more afraid of than having Diva realize the serious amounts of nonsensical hatred that exists in this world. I want her to remain innocent, even naive, for as long as possible. Which became a theme later in the week, when I was repeatedly brought to tears by what happened in Paris and spent most of my time with a tv off and offline.

Because I’m not Charlie. Those cartoons don’t represent me or my opinions, nor does the response to them. You can not fight hate with hate and that bloodbath was just, gah!…. But I have been a journalist and newswires have given me numerous breakdowns, and I am watching a few journalist friends going through serious breakdowns at the moment and so I bought Alain de Botton’s new book and spent that extra screen-free time cleaning up all the glitter that the unicorns have pooped in my living room while Diva and I got her Barbie Dream House ready for habitation.

In summary, this week I:

  • ate a metric shit ton of chocolate.
  • started exercising again.
  • cleaned my house and got my 2014 tax documents off to the accountant.
  • read the Brigitte dossier on “Krise & Konflikte: Wie halten wir dieWelt noch aus?” which was zero help to me.
  • took the kid ice skating and her infectious love for the sport grew on me.
  • finally declared myself a member of the Beyhive and resolved to dance around in my underwear more.

This Week in Review: The Latest from Chez Lederhosen

Just got my stats from 2014 and it was grim. I only posted once a month and that’s definitely not enough so I’m going to try something new: a week in review. And since the last week was actually kind of interesting, I’m starting now. Here goes:

The last week of 2014/the first week of 2015, I got a shit-ton of nothing done. As it should be.

I ate rice cakes again after binging on peppermint bark and homemade pralines. Because it’s the New Year and every mother fucker is on a diet so why not me, too. Besides, the gym is off-limits to me now that every dude and his brother is there to flex their abs and meet their winter girl/boyfriend.

I saw Oberwesel for a night on a road trip to show my parents a bunch of castles. It’s a tiny town with nothing to do but it’s a pensioner’s wet dream near the Loreley on the Rhine.

I learned that the train ride to Frankfurt Airport from Cologne is well worth its price because that Autobahn drive is boooooooooring. That newfangled technology in my rental car kept beeping at me because it thought I was falling asleep every time I stopped speeding and it nearly gave me road rage.

I read Die Zeit cover to cover and fulfilled my decade-long dream of being able to understand everything. It helps that I was reading all about myself in an article that was about why so many middle-aged women are still single (Who’s afraid of the independent woman? was a ridiculous title for what we all know should’ve been more like: why are German men so afraid of independent women?)

I listened to the Serial podcast. Finally. I’m not as hooked as everyone else but I am really interested in the questions of memory and psychopathy. Plus, Adnan talks exactly like one of my cousins, who I could totally see being in his hard spot.

I felt the snowflakes melting on my cheeks and remembered why I love winter despite the dark skies.

Here’s an obligatory picture of what my life looked like last week.


What about you all? What have you been up to this first week of the year?