Friday, March 22, 2013

in which I do three things

Guys, I think I should write a self-help book. It will be called "How to not suck at life (even when your life sucks): a guide for the barely functional." It will be marketed to those of us beyond the point of saving by the seven habits of highly effective people, or whatever. The main demographic of purchasers will be well-meaning relatives who give mildly insulting gifts. Like, the same people who buy you gym memberships you don't ask for. Those guys.
And then after the raging success of my book, I'll follow  it up with a workplace speaking tour entitled "Teamwork, B*tches." It will be equally successful, of course.

Nah, I'm just kidding. I'm pretty sure if you move back in with your parents and switch from a four year university to community college you kind of take yourself out of the running for writing self-help books.

But if I were to write one, this would be among the primary advice given: do three things you're proud of every day.
They don't have to be big things, or resume worthy accomplishments. Just...three things that you yourself are proud of. If you can do that, the day is not wasted.

On the super dark days, when playing the role of self-loathing wrapped in misery, brushing my hair, brushing my teeth, and changing into daytime pajamas totally counts as those three things. If you've been there, you know what I'm saying.

So, with today being on the lower end of mediocre, here are my three things:

1. I finished making a baby blanket. I'm planning on donating it, so double bonus points for me there.

2. I went swimming.

Obviously instagrammed photo of my feet and the pool. And yes, my toenails really do sparkle. That's why God made diamond shine topcoat, friends.
Everyone should swim. SCIENCE DEMANDS IT.
So that's technically a minor exaggeration, but I read a study once that stated the meditative benefits of both running and swimming, and it's totally true. The quiet and repetition of movement clear your head like nothing else, plus it's a killer workout. Okay, I've been told running does the same thing, but running just makes me wheezy and sweaty and gross and it's pretty impossible to prentend to be a mermaid while running, guys.
 (Also I swam 80 laps which is 2 kilometers. DID YOU SWIM TWO KILOMETERS TODAY? NO? GUESS I'M JUST AWESOME.)

3. I wrote this blog post which was both uneventful and unfunny and I un-care, because BAM three things.

So. Today is officially a success.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

In which there is an excess of projectile vomiting.

So, quick medical background info: my insides are still kind of a pill. I mean, I'm pretty much living my life normally now, complete with an excess of JUST DANCE 4 and running up stairs like freakin' Rocky. Occasionally throughout the day it feels like a small animal is trying to tear its way out of my stomach ala the movie Alien, but since it's only occasionally I can totally deal.
The only thing that is not back to normal is eating- I'm still having a crazy hard time with food. Anytime I eat anything, or even drink anything that is not water, I know sucky times are on their way. So right now I'm pretty much living off of two fist fulls of food a day, and that seems to be (sort of) cutting it.

I've also decided to go vegetarian- not that big of a deal for me, I was veg all through high school and vegan in most of middle school. I have several reasons for going back to this lifestyle- first and foremost, if I'm only eating a lil' baby bit, I dang well want to get the most nutrition out of those calories. I personally can accomplish this easier when vegetarian. I'm also pretty paranoid eating anything out of Africa, but as man cannot live by imported doritos alone I figure I can cut down on my parasite risks by cutting out the meat. Additionally, I've been reading a lot on how a plant-based diet can help bring down cancer, and while I'm not entirely sure I buy into it I'm dead serious about getting my 20+ years of living time, so I figure I'll give it a try.
(It should also be noted that when your boyfriend says he's got beef, I'd like to tell him that I'm a vegetarian and I'm not freakin' scared of him without it being a lie. So there's that.)
So I'm once again a fully fledged, menu-planning, sprout-growing, meat-abstaining vegetarian. Yay.

Like everything else in a third world country, maintaining a vegetarian (or any!) diet is hard. I've been back in country for five days now, and the thing I miss most so far, other than my new Germany friends, of course, you guys are awesome and I love you, is the grocery store. O! Commissary, with thine aisles of delectable treasures! May your bounty never run dry!

Getting food here remains to be expensive and a general pain. No news there.
But yesterday.....yesterday, we found broccoli.
You guys, I freaking love broccoli. I'd write a short poem about how much I love it, but  I feel like after that bit about the commissary it would be overkill. So suffice it to say...I really really love it.
As I've mentioned before, broccoli here runs super expensive. The last time I think we had it was on my birthday, because it tends to sell for between eight and ten dollars a stalk. Multiply that by a family of seven and it adds up fast. But this broccoli was a mere six dollars, so we decided to splurge.

I'm not going to lie to you guys, it was delicious. I had a massive helping. B decided she was not feeling the greenery, so I greedily scooted her serving onto my plate.

That's about the point when I noticed the worm.

I love you, so there will be no worm pictures. Instead, here is my face of abject horror/hiding in my shirt picture. Unrelated note, I can't stop wearing my ugly comfy clothes and it's making me feel like a huge hypocrite but they're just so comfy?

Still being on the parasites will kill you/worms are nastay freak out train, I had a little baby melt down with some swearing and out loud wondering if this continent is trying to kill me, etc. Admittedly cursing at the dinner table in front of the impressionable little babies is not a cool move, but I did apologize and in my defense I still think it was dramatically less cussing than the situation actually merited.
So: to sum up, ate some broccoli, it was delicious, found a lil' baby worm, had a lil' baby freak out, calmed down.

And that's when we noticed the rest of the worms.

The broccoli, for lack of a better word, was infested. At this point my darling father nobly launched into a speech about how in parts of this very continent, worms like these were a delicacy! Many a time had he eaten such worms before!
He also went on to purposefully eat some worms, theoretically in an attempt to normalize the situation and convince the rest of the family (we were all freaking out at this point) to please not abandon him in Africa like we're always threatening to do. In reality I think he just did it because he's a boy and boys like to do things to make girls squirm, regardless of age.

However, I missed most of this because by then I'd realized just how much of the broccoli I had eaten and was projectile vomiting up the entirety of the food I'd consumed today. I've said it before and I'll say it again, generally I'm a pretty graceful lady-puker. I could probably give lessons at this point. Tonight, however, was a holy-crap-I-hate-myself-and-also-Africa-and-also-worms-which-I-ate-so-gross-ew-ew-ew fast and furious, out through the nose upchuck. Never before have I thrown up so violently, and hopefully I never again will.

The moral of the story here, guys, is that sometimes when you think you've given up animal protein, the universe surprises you with juuuust a little bit more.

Also I replaced the lost calories with some old-fashioned FDA approved Ritter Sport, because feelings, guys.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

in which I briefly touch on my body issues

27. What is your favorite part of your body and why?

This is so awkward- I've literally started this over three times now. 

I have no idea how I feel about my body. 

Let me just say that this is not a thinly-veiled request for compliments. Don't get me wrong, I love it when people say nice things to me, but now is not one of those times. 

I just..I don't even know. I regard my physical appearance with a mixture of apprehension and confusion.

For one, I cannot remember what I look like.
The way my brain processes visual information simply does not allow that to happen.
I can describe myself on paper very easily- my waist to hip ratio will always be drastically different from my waist to bust ratio, my middle and pinky toes point into each other, there is a scar on my bottom lip, a birthmark on my right forearm, a freckle on my left cheekbone, less eyelashes on my right eyelid, etc, etc, etc. I know all that. I can visualize each of those statements as they actually appear on my body. However, I cannot string them together in a way that I can remember. And because of that, each time I look in the mirror I'm genuinely surprised by what I see. Ultimately this oddity proves more uncomfortable than anything else: I can't look at myself for any period of time without feeling like I'm having a staring contest with a stranger. It's just...uncomfortable. There is no other way to say it. Anyone who's ever witnessed my getting ready may recall that I cannot do so without cocking my head slightly to the side; I do this because I feel it gives me a more nonobjective, disembodied viewpoint that makes so much mirror bonding time possible.

This is what I look like today- you know, slightly cropped and from an angle.

Furthermore, this also applies to other people- I'm great with names, but I can't remember faces for the life of me. If I really like you, or if I'm attracted to you, I can generally commit one feature to memory for recognition purposes, but that's about it.

I'm also never sure if I'm "pretty" or not. This is in part because of my having been raised in several drastically different cultures: what some people consider the socially acceptable standard of beauty, many others do not. Additionally, I've come to learn that when someone says you're pretty, they are rarely stating a fact- in most cases they want something in return. That is no longer an exchange I care to engage in.

I've also noticed that most appearance compliments are based off of fluctuating features- a hair cut, a weight loss- and that also confuses me. Am I supposed to like myself better now? Or before? Do I want to lose more weight? Or grow more hair? Which parts of myself am I supposed to hate? Which parts am I supposed to like?

And then there's the inside of my body- a collection of organs and bones and blood all libel to fail at any given moment, topped off by a chemically imbalanced brain I've never trusted. I feel like a machine that can only function when properly balanced, and that balance is so hard to maintain that I'm falling apart more often than not. Even though that may be the case, I'm still amazed at what it can accomplish.

This is what my stomach looks like today- you know, slightly cropped and from an angle. Softness and scars included, I'm pretty pleased with what it does. 

So I guess what I'm saying is this: I have a body. It baffles and overwhelms me on a daily basis. So while I don't have a favourite part of it in particular, I'm glad it's there.

Monday, March 18, 2013

in which I am back in Africa

Last look at Europe.

There's something indescribably emotional about airplane rides for me. 
Well, not indescribable.   Just complicated.
Because every flight, no matter how short, has to encompass the entire process of mourning the place you are leaving, and swallowing down the apprehension you feel towards your destination. 

I've had a lot of panic attacks on planes, but not because I'm scared of flying.

Ultimately this one wasn't so bad until about ten minutes before landing, when I kind of lost it. 

Me: Dude. We're about to land. In Africa.
Me: Uh, yeah, I know.
Me: Because we live there....?
Me: Uh, no. That would be a poor life choice right now.
Me: I'm sorry, do you have a job in Utah?
Me: No...
Me: Or a husband?
Me: Or a bed?
Me: well, not exactly..
Me: But Africa is bad! It's trying to kill us!
Me: Well THAT is not a rational thought..
Me: That's an unreasonable number of consonants. Get a hold of yourself. 
Me: Oh, that doesn't mean anything. This time will be different!
Me: What is it they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results...?
Me: You're having a fight with yourself and you want to question my mental stability right now? Really?
Me: That's impossible.
Me: [string of expletives]!!
Me: [string of expletives]?
Me: [expletive]!
Me: [expletive].

Jumping ahead to the end of this feelings-fueled Gollum freakfest, I'm back in Africa. 
The trip wasn't that bad, actually. While AirFrance seems to be the chosen airline of the French hipsters (ew.) they also have a spectacular cinematic library, so I watched a crapton of movies, including Looper (so intense!) Hitchcock (so adorable!) and The Silver Linings Playbook, which I actually did not think I'd like. I was kind of anticipating it to be J Law as the manic pixie dream girl  who rescues Bradley Cooper with like, bubbles. Or whatever. I'm kind of super over manic pixie dream girls. 
But that wasn't how it went down, so that was good. I can't think of any way to convey how much I loved this movie without giving the whole thing away, so...I don't know, guys. But now I really want to know if all bipolar people chuck books with stupid endings, or if it's just me and Bradley Cooper..?

I'm sure it's normal. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

in which there are pictures of the Mutterland

So on the off-chance you don't follow my every move on facebook, this is what's been going down for the past two months:

In January I got sick. Really sick.
As I've mentioned before, I have a delicate lady tummy and a delicate butterfly immune system, so it wasn't a huge cause to worry in the beginning. After about a week or so, though, I couldn't eat food or stand up so much anymore, so I figured I'd check in with the health unit. Basically all my organs were going to crap. So I had an emergency-ish appendectomy in Dakar, very much against my will. (NEVER HAVE SURGERY IN A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY). I did not get better. At one point I thought my intestines had turned to liquid and were coming out of my incision, which is TMI, I know, and what happens when you get a bad infection at a surgery site. So the health unit patched that up. And I did not get better. Eventually my darling mother and I medevac'ed to Germany, where it turned out my organs were still going to crap and I also had a parasite and also cancer.
So. That was mildly terrifying.
But then I had more surgery and a crap ton of meds and lost 30 pounds and now I'll probably live for twenty years or more.
(Also: if you think 20 years is a short amount of time, bear in mind that's literally the length of my life minus one year, so to me it seems like infinity. And I'm pretty psyched about that.)

Oh! And we also learned that when you take me off the cray cray pills and put me on an excess of percocet, I end up doing my velociraptor impression through the aisles of a convenience store at night. I am such a wildly good time, guys. 

So that's pretty much what happened there.

Anyways, that was really just my transition into what's really important, namely, the fact that we've been in Germany for almost six weeks.

My relationship with Germany is complicated to explain. By my father's definition, which necessitates being born and graduating from highschool in that place, I am "from" here.  However, saying I am from Germany is an inaccurate statement, in my opinion. While I speak decent German, and went to German school,  love German food and the German people, I've really only lived on American bases- which we affectionately refer to as "little America." However, I hold more emotional ties to this country than I do any other, including the one printed on my passport.

I was watching something once- couldn't tell you what now if I wanted to- where the pretentious ex-pat character said that America was their country, but Paris was their hometown.
Horribly pretentious, right?
Now that I'm old and wise and have spent more than a consecutive year or two in my home country, I kind of get it.
America is my country, but Deutschland ist meine Mutterland.

So that being said, here are a ton of pictures of our brief outing to Stuttgart. They're mostly of food, because I love food and people the most, but neglected to tell anyone we were coming.
Sorry about that, friends in the Stu. I was all full of radiation and you really shouldn't have spent time with me, anyways. I'm sorry. I love you?

In our family, if you get a vaccine without crying you can have a candy bar. If you get cancer and two surgeries and a parasite and only cry four times you get to go wild at the Ritter Sport factory.

Field between the base and Plingingen- home to lots of walking and filming and biking and other various activities. 

 Two of my favourite theaters in town- the SI and Kelley.

One of my many bus stops.

I have lived longer in this one building than I have anywhere else in my whole long life. 

 Outside the Imbiss

Getting an Elizabeth burger, AKA the best burger EVARRR. It features potato patties and chocolate sauce. <3<3<3

Favourite couch in the library. On which I have never been reprimanded for PDA. Ever.

Reading the Domino Book of Decorating (again) in the teen section of the library, aka my home away from home in high school. 
Store within walking distance of my Realschule that turned a blind eye to kids cutting class.

BEST gelato- extra dark chocolate, cherry vanilla and lemon. Under appreciated by both of these weirdos.

 Exhibiting six times more enthusiasm than I did the entire time I went to school here.

Nanu Nana!

 Engaging in the sacred ritual that is Noodling.


Basically the Mecca of toys. 

An army of Bessie the Cows.

Playing in the toy store.




Attempting to consume my body weight in Frappucino. 

 A Farewell to Stuttgart.