Monthly Archives: November 2009

Smiling through the gritted teeth, not so much, lately

Sez Amy:

I should probably just figure out a way to be pleasant while in crisis mode.

Actually, when we were closing the deal on the house and it started raining in the kitchen, everybody – the plumber, the real estate agents, the insurance guys, the sellers – they all remarked on how cheerful I managed to stay during what was undoubtedly a setback (euphemism, much?). But that only lasted a week or so. We’re in month 3 of Overworked Husband mode now, and I just… my fake-smile muscles are wearing out.

It’s probably also partly SAD, only not SAD, because I’m not disordered. Is there a SAGB, Seasonal Affective General Bitchiness? That’s what I’ve got.

Song du jour of the day: I Hate Myself for Loving You, by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Apropos of nothing, I just already used The Bitch is Back this year.



about blogless yesterday, I was having internet problems (again). Put me in a really foul mood, so if I had blogged it would mostly have been GRAAAARGH! DARRGH YARRGH SNARGLE FYAAAAARGH! and you’re really better off without that.

I don’t know, though, that’s really about all I have to say lately, and that’s bad. DrBob is kind of overburdened at work right now. There’s a lot for him to do, and I try to convince him to rest and take care of himself, but he’s one of those freakishly conscientious people who puts 110% into everything he does. He can’t ease the pressure on himself by just blowing something off (and actually, I’d respect him less if he could), so he is constantly, constantly working. Barely sleeping, sick all the time, exhausted.

I’m worried about him, and what I can do to help is minimal: keep the household running smoothly and the children under control, basically. And I’m actually not very good at that, but I’ve been doing it without help since we moved here, and it’s starting to wear me down – especially since I have this job that’s really hard to do when I keep getting interrupted, so there’s also this constant lurking thought of the work I’m not getting done.

I haven’t gotten to the point of resenting DrBob yet, thank God, because this really isn’t his fault. But I’m starting to get forgetful and snippy with the boys and more prone to blurting out stupid stuff as I forget to think before I speak. I feel really bad about this. He’s a good guy having a rough time, and he deserves whatever support I can give him.

Next quarter should be better, but that’s late January. And before then the weather’s going to get worse and the nights are going to get longer and the holidays are coming and augh. No idea what to do except keep plugging along, but also no real confidence in my ability to do that. Bleck.

So yeah. I’m sorry, but I can’t bother DrBob with this, so I have to vent all over you. You’re welcome!

Song du jour of the day: Smooth, by Lina.

ETA: This cheered me up tremendously.


Got my residence permit today! Actually the letter telling me to pick it up came last week, but this was the first day that I really had time to do it. I went straight from school, across the south part of Utrecht to the Burgerzaken (citizens’ stuff) office, and then up north to the mall to get a baby-gift for a colleague of DrBob’s who has recently spawned, and then further north to fetch the Sniglet from school, and then east to the bank to find out why I still don’t have my bank card, and then home. The four corners of Utrecht! My home, for at least the next five years.

Yeah, it’s a five-year permit, and then I apply for a permanent one. Which actually raises the question, what about my permanent German residence permit? The temporary German one is for two years (or is it three?) and then you get the permanent one and I just thought it was… you know, permanent. Because I wasn’t really expecting to leave. But now that I have, will the whole process start over again when I go back? Hmm, a puzzle.

Song du jour of the day: Once in a Lifetime, by the Talking Heads.

I has a yay.

So a frequent argument DrBob and I have is that he keeps going to all these exotic places for conferences and such, and he never takes me with him! He says it’s a working trip, he wouldn’t be able to spend any time with me at all, and I believe him, but here’s the thing: I don’t need to be entertained in a fabulous foreign city, all I need is a guidebook and a museum card. But when I point this out, he doesn’t believe me. And, just like a man, he doesn’t dare test my assertion by actually taking me on one of these trips, because he secretly knows I’ll prove him wrong.

Anyway, my birthday present this year is he promised to take me somewhere. This isn’t a test of my assertion, because he won’t be working on this trip, it’ll just be one of the little mini-holidays that we do occasionally. First I picked Seville, but it turned out to be too expensive. DrBob kept suggesting places like Cyprus and Tunisia, which I resisted because he’s a total beach-monkey and I am a city-weekend… monkey. I know he needs a break, and a good wife would have lied to him for his own good and said oh no, I love sand fleas and sunburn, and what mosquito allergy? You must be thinking of someone else. But drat it, it was my birthday present, so I held out for something culture-y. And he found a reasonable fare to…


Wheeee! Three days between Christmas and New Years, while the kids are at the Oompas!

Gotta go read my Barcelona books!

Song du jour of the day: Just Fine, by Mary J. Blige.

a geekmama’s dilemma

Another fab thing about living in the Netherlands is that I can FINALLY watch sitcoms after eight years in the TV wilderness. The kids and I have gotten fond of Malcolm in the Middle, though it’s after the Sniglet’s bedtime, so I have to, um… tape?… it for him. It’s some tapeless feature of our TV-box, is this what Americans mean by TiVo, maybe?

Anyway. That leaves only weekends for me and Ignatz to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer together, because that’s too scary for the Sniglet (probably). I need something Snig can watch with us, and it’s past time to start trying to turn him into a Trekkie. Also, before Buffy, Ig and I watched all of Star Trek: Enterprise, and then we went to see the most recent Star Trek movie, so chronologically speaking, we should be watching the original series next. And therein lies my dilemma.

Ebay has the three original seasons, in the cheezy plastic boxes in bright primary colors. But there is also the recently remastered version, more easily (and probably cheaply) available. But… remastered? Spiffed up sets and enhanced digital effects may be all well and good, but they couldn’t really remaster the acting. And I’m not sure, but I think perhaps William. Shatner’s. Acting. kind of needs the cardboard sets and shake-that-flashlight special effects to go with it, you know?

Hm. Anybody seen the new spiffy version yet? What do you think?

Song du jour of the day: Knights of the Round Table, by Monty Python.

managers, makers and…

Some of you have read this before, because I linked to it on Facebook a month or two ago. It’s an essay by Paul Graham, and it basically divides people into two groups, based on the way they work: in a nutshell, managers deal with people, whether gathering information or distributing it, and their job can be done in 1-hour increments. Makers, on the other hand – writers, programmers, designers – need at least a few hours to produce anything really good, and interruptions can be devastating. Having written, programmed, and designed, I can attest to the truth of this distinction.

However, I’d like to add a third category: mamas. These are people for whom there’s no point in starting anything complicated, EVER, because they are perpetually on call: children fall down, kitties throw up, phones and doorbells ring, laundry needs to be rebooted, husbands feel chatty, and none of this happens on any kind of predictable schedule (except maybe the laundry), and everything else needs to be fit into the cracks between these events – cracks that may be several hours, or several seconds. My favorite are the interruptions within interruptions, where DrBob asks me to proofread something and I’m halfway through when the kids raise a ruckus downstairs and then DrBob gets an infuriating email he has to tell me about right away and then the kids zip upstairs and one of them wants to play computer and the other one’s hungry.

Yeah. This is on my mind lately because I have this part-time job that I’m trying to fit into these cracks. It is proving to be a challenge. I have 500 titles to process, and I think I managed maybe 30 today. Argh.

Song du jour of the day: Sweet Sweet Baby, by Lone Justice.

P.S. Hey, WordPress says this is my 1000th post! Howbout that?

the other thing we did yesterday…

was go to the library! There were a lot of things I didn’t like about living in the boonies. Okay, not the boonies, it wasn’t even a village, claims DrBob, despite the fact that the German word for village is “dorf” and we lived in DORFen, so frankly I think my point is made. No, apparently it was a TOWN. A town of 13,000, with no movie theater, no place to take a dance class, no place to buy not-already-used children’s clothes, and okay they did have a library, but it had, like, 100 books. Bustling metropolis, there.

ANYWAY, Utrecht has a whole library SYSTEM! And some of you may not recall what a complete library junkie I used to be, but I was so excited to be moving to a city with a real library. And then we got here, and I went there once and got a card, and that was it. The Sniglet was with me that day, and was too crabby to let me look at books, so I didn’t check anything out, and I never could get around to going back. I have no idea why, except, I guess, that I’d fallen out of the habit after eight years in Germany.

However. The Sniglet doesn’t like to read, so he doesn’t get a lot of practice, so he isn’t as good at it as a 9-year-old really should be, and besides: how can ANYONE who shares DNA with me AND DrBob AND Ignatz not like to read!? I mean, I just… can’t make sense out of it. You read to your kids, you let them see you reading and enjoying it, you talk about books = you raise kids who read. There is no other possible conclusion. So in a pathetic attempt to grasp at some shred of faith in a logical universe, I’ve decided that we just haven’t found him the right books yet. And I put my foot down and said we. Are going. To the library. Every week. Yes, we are. I don’t care. Yes, now. Put on your shoes.

And there was much resistance. And he threatened to burn down the library and to not like anything at all, EVER, and to shout a lot once we got inside and why did we have to do this and he hates the libr- oo, magazines! Do they have soccer magazines? Cool, can we get this one? Oh hey, here’s a book about Germany, do you think they have one about Mexico?

So we got those, and a book about Egypt, and I explained the library labeling system so he could find what he wanted, and he spotted a novel about a kid soccer team and we left with four books for the Sniglet! And one for me.

Song du jour of the day: Just For Now, by Imogen Heap.