A Long-Winded Rant… with props to the Universe who didn’t take this opportunity to kick me while I’m down

So I’ve been gone for a bit. What’s the deal, you ask? Depression. It stops me from being able to communicate in any form. It stops me from leaving the house, from leaving the bedroom and as I have absolutely no reason to get out of bed (work, for example) except to feed the cats, days have a way of passing without notice.

Not to say that I haven’t done anything. I have.

Sparky took me for a romantic birthday on the Rhine with a stay at my favorite castle. This time we stayed in the Chamber of the Seven Virgins. Every room in that place is exquisite. It was how I was meant to live. When I said that to Sparky the next morning as we dined with a full silver set and the best breakfast I have ever had, he choked on his hot chocolate.

I had a fabu party. A BBQ. It rained, poured and eventually the hail put out the briquettes. So we did it indoors and von Tauber’s hubby saved the day by making the burgers in the oven.

Sparky and I went to Liechtenstein and I collected another country my siblings will never collect. Liechtenstein has by far, the best flag of any country world over. It’s so pretty and regal. In real life the blue looks more like purple.


We drove through Switzerland on the way and took a gondola ride up the side of an alp (singular for Alps). This particular alp was littered with rabid cows pretending to graze and kamakaze horse flies. We even stumbled upon two escape goats and a mini donkey.

It was amazing. One can’t really appreciate exactly how steep those Alps are without tying to get down the side of one. Halfway down, I had to walk backwards because my legs got too shaky. And I even though the cow did not attack like I thought he would, I knew he knew I knew he wanted to, but he just didn’t want to have to walk back up the damn mountain. I was too much trouble and really, he had more fun with no effort watching me watch him and maneuver the mountainside and cow patties.

I really do live a charmed life in some regards. Comparatively, I have nothing to complain about except that I live in a country I really don’t like, dealing with a culture that confounds me. The more I figure out, the less I know. Dealing with assholes on a daily basis and having to scrounge up enough courage to go out into this Deutscher world that is really not all that warm and fuzzy and friendly and nice. I miss random acts of kindness that Americans can be counted on to perform. Its like Germans are too fucking stingy to give away a random act of kindness, yet they depend on the kindness of others.

I avoid my nosey neighbors because they are constantly asking me when I’m going to learn the language, what did I buy at the store, where am I going? Then tell me its been ages since they’ve seen me, where have I been? I swear to god, I’m going to go freakin’ postal on the next German who asks me or tells me that I need to learn the language. Really.

“Wow, I have never heard that before. I mean, it would never occur to me on my own. Thanks, that a really good idea. If it weren’t for you, I might never learn this frustrating, spit filled, monotone way of communicating that is considered an actual language. I was wrong, Germans are capable of random acts of kindness.”

I miss my family, I miss my language and I miss the ease that comes with actually understanding every word that is said automatically. I miss understanding the cultural mores and folkways as second nature. I miss my country and the independence I had. I miss my name and I hate how Frau is constantly put in front of my married name. I’m just Jen or Jennifer or to my family Jenny. I do not want the Frau. You can keep the Frau.

I miss not having to defend my weight, my clothes, my car. I miss people being happy for you when things are good. I miss common sense and personal space and people who move their grocery carts out of the middle of the god-damn aisle because they know they are not the only fucking person in the world. And to that effect I miss smokers smoking in guilty pleasure, knowing that at any moment a non-smoker can read them the riot act unapologetically because smoking really a filthy habit. I used to smoke. There are two kinds. The kind that is aware of other people, smokers and non-smokers alike and the rude assholes who don’t give a shit as along as they can smoke in every hospital, gym, day care center and café. I’m sick of smelling like smoke.

I need to feed my spirit right now. It has been force-fed a diet of German verbs, manners and fashion taste for the last three years and frankly, I’d rather eat flax seed for a month.

See the thing is, this expat shit is really pissing me off. The longer I stay here the less I like Germany. I’m here because my heart is here and my heart has a mother that I would never allow to be abandoned. So to that effect, we are here for the long run. And that long run, recently, looks really, really long.

So I just shut up and hole up and my natural tendency towards depression takes it from there.

What happened today to break my silence?

Sparky needed a ride to the train station and my cat needed to go to the vet. I forced myself to get up and get out, one foot in front of the other. And from there the universe gave me the gentle nudge I needed. The scale was kind in solid “try-it-three-times-to-make-sure” numbers. The jeans I was hesitant to put on after the wash/dry shrinkage effect fit and are actually loose. My eye-make up went on perfectly, both eyes even. My hair worked with just a brush through and the blouse I put on, not expecting it to work, worked. And my extra courage leopard print bra was clean and could be worn under said blouse. I felt almost pretty leaving the house.

I took the cat to the vet for her allergy shot. (I hope someone sees the irony in a cat needing an allergy shot.) I got in and out in five minutes without waiting the hour I usually wait.

I went to my Dr. for my B12 shot. Again, no waiting. And the nice nurse did it. The one that speaks English without the lecture about the merits of learning German.

I got my nails done without forcing myself to workout first. I work out constantly and I hate it and I use getting my nails done as a sort of reward. Well, today I said fuck it. I parked in the gym lot and walked right past it. I got a whiff of stinking non-deodorant wearing-cigarette-smoking-IN-the-gym assholes on my way to Nail and Spa USA and got myself a mani/pedi in a spa chair, American style, by a Vietnamese woman from Santa Barbara.

How is that for a boon from the gods?

I need to get the hell out of dodge and back to the states so I can remember how frustrating life there can be too. At this point it really is the land of milk and honey and streets made of gold or at least filled with shoe stores that actually have cute shoes that don’t have Adidas stripes or are the color of putty. I would kill for a kitten heel Mary Jane and a smooth sidewalk to wear them on. Cobblestones are cute for like 2 weeks then they’re just a broken ankle waiting to happen.

And as you can see, once the damn breaks, you just can’t shut me up.

And thanks Dorian D. for asking. Sometimes that’s all a person needs.

gratuitious cat photo


18 thoughts on “A Long-Winded Rant… with props to the Universe who didn’t take this opportunity to kick me while I’m down

  1. I love you jen. You need this blog, and when you don’t blog for awhile it worries me, so I am so happy to read this post.

  2. Hi jen,
    I live in New York and read your blog all the time. I love to read about your European escapades.

  3. Oh I’ve felt the same pain, darlin’. It gets better. I swear it does. Five years was the time things fell into place for me.

    And honest to God, the people where I live are a millions times less uptight. Shoes are still ugly though.

  4. hi jen, i’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for a while and this post was amazing. i feel i have some inkling of how you feel living in a foreign country. i find it’s a little like being on a rollercoaster and as long as there are more ups than downs, i’m just along for the ride.
    take care of yourself.

  5. Jen,
    So glad your back, and with a vengeance! You see, your blog is special to me because I started reading it about a year ago. My wife and I lived upstate New York working at a large computer company. I liked your blog because it generally made me laugh out loud. Well, not to bore you with details but today I’m typing this in Montpellier France. We (my wife and I) managed to land a 2 year work assignment from our company in the south of France. So I went from reading about a funny expat lady to being a not so funny expat guy. I have only been over here a couple of months but I’m beginning to understand your frustrations. Hang in there Jen (sans the frau.)

  6. Hi,
    i live in Missouri, and have been reading your blog since I found it on Bust’s website about a year ago. I just wanted to let you know I love reading it, and look forward to your posts all the time.

    I hope things get better for you.

  7. Yeah, I live in New England, and the people here are self-centered, too, and all the shoes are dykey. But at least you’re pretty, and have a new manicure, and got to spend the night in a castle. I hope things look up.

  8. I’ve read this about 5 times and it still makes me cry every time. Couldn’t have said it better myself and you KNOW I feel the same way. Does it get better for me the longer I live here? Nope, but I’m dealing with it and YOU have been a great help in that.

    Can’t wait to see both of you in November!

  9. God, you’re a fabulous writer!!!! Can I put you on my feed list? I could only wish to write so well, Jen (not “Frau anything).

    I think I long for Germany like you long for America.


  10. I totally feel your pain. F*ck that frau sh*t. And the total lack of enthusiam about nearly anything except when it comes to schadenfreude. And oh, everything else you said. Yes, I still have my own last name, for crying out loud.

    But, me me me… better, this: Good luck and sincere hope that your outlook improves. It’s so frickin hard to be an expat, no matter how good it is at times. You’re not alone – even strangers like me wish you well.

    Best to you.

    Pam of Nerd’s Eye View (sometimes in Austria)

  11. (I was on vacation, getting my annual dose of home when you wrote this, so I’m coming in a bit late.)

    Jen, you just nailed the greatest frustrations I have with living in Germany. I’m working on year four and although life has become much easier than at the start, the same issues of culture remain. The morning before I got married this year I was alone for an hour, and finally took the time to realize I was marrying a country, life and language, and not just a man.

    That floored me for a moment.

    Your post is a good reminder for me of the fact that international life and relationships are harder work and one is allowed to acknowledge it.

    Chin up, keep fighting, and by all means keep writing.

  12. Depression’s a real bitch… but I find that after pulling out of it I’m often at my most creative. Hopefully you get a little bit of that, too.

    Oh, and getting a mani/pedi makes everything better, it’s one of life’s best guilty pleasures!

  13. hang in there, Jen, your trip home is fast approaching.

    I hate being called Herr (my last name).

    Speaking as someone who is also here for the long run, I can definitely understand what you’re going through – we all know I do my share of ranting from time to time. However, since you, me, Christina, Claire, Belinda and others are here probably forever, I feel that we’ve got a good support group going and we should be okay.

  14. I actually ran across your blog on Expatica your husband had posted it there under a heading on dating a German man. I am glad that I found it, funny how some peoples thoughts and expressions are not worth the time and others are. I think that you are a very beautiful girl with a great talent for writing. Your insight on life as an expat in Germany is very interesting and I will continue to come back and explore it further. Strangely enough we have a fair amount in common(from what I have read so far) I wish that you are feeling better and will look forward to reading more. Take care and all the best.


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