Friday, March 28, 2008

The end of the great official DrJ Going Grey Experiment 2007/2008

Last year I decided would be a good time to get my grey out. I had a couple of comments - I believe one was "You'd totally rock grey!" - which convinced me to let the beast loose. With the silvery shine my part would show only a mere three weeks after my last dye job I was positive I could become a ashen beauty if I just gave it free rein and let it gallop away with my scalp.

So I did. For the past ten months I haven't dyed my hair. I have let nature run it's course. Displayed my badge of wisdom for all to behold. Shown I'm not afraid of ageing.

Which I'm not actually. Well, except for the idea that old people aren't allowed to have sex anymore because that ain't something I'm giving up anytime soon, thank you very much. And I don't care how much it may embarrass any future offspring. Yes, your father and I shag. Deal.

Depressingly, however, I discovered that my much admired regrowth turned into much blerghed full growth. In the wonderful portraits of my new do I am actually as grey as it is currently possible for me to be. So, yeah, there's a few around, quite a gathering over my left eye in fact, and the back of my head is certainly not to be sneezed at by any advanced-age afficiando, but not enough to look halfway decent in a resplendent sterling sort of way.

So I've called it quits. the experiment is over. Done. You may now call me DrJ Longstocking if you'd like.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

where oh where did the nice people go

I had an interesting email exchange today with a person who was protesting a statement I made elsewhere. She had very reasonable points, is considerably more knowledgable in that field than I am and I was happy to hear her input. So I wrote back, thanked her, discussed my views a bit more, took hers on board and all was good and happy.

But what really struck me was that she responded to my response with a thank you for being gracious. Which made me think - do we really expect all answers to our critiques to be rude? Did she really think I was going to snap at her for daring to point out that I may be wrong?

Actually, yes she did. The internet and it's supposed anonymity has allowed people to be rude and snide and nasty. But it's perhaps unfair to blame it entirely on the internet. Most of us have trouble accepting when we're wrong, or when we've been heavily criticised. But even if it's tough to swallow, sometimes you've gotta take it, and take it well. I would have thought that was part of being a grown-up.

not sure if it was the best decision ever or the start of a spiral into insanity

We dumped our TV.

Okay, so we didn't dump it, we loaned it to SuperCoolMatti for an unspecified amount of time. Probably around a month, because I'm really not sure I'm going to survive this.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I tend to take my lunchbreaks in front of TV just because it's there, and resisting the siren call of daytime television is well beyond my puny self discipline powers. So I lose 30 minutes to an hour a day sucking down any amount of ridiculous rubbish and can slowly feel my brain dissolving. Evenings aren't terribly much better and I think I've absorbed all the possible crime storylines I can without starting to develop a serial killer presonality of my own.

So that was it, we decided. The television must go. And so we drove it across Berlin and lugged it up five stories, then put a big armchair in it's place with a pile of books ready next to it.

Last night we had dinner on the dining table and had a conversation - an novel experience. Apparently I married a kinda interesting guy. Who would've thought it? After working for a while, we then pulled out a board game and played a few rounds. Won one, lost one, but that doesn't really matter because we can play it as often as we want now.

But the question remains: will our marriage survive this much contact?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

fire away

So Easter here, at least in the villages, is a fun event full of flames. Every spare stick of wood gets heaped into a bonfire in a paddock on the edge of town and as the day starts to darken towards evening it's set alight. The entire village normally turns up to the event and drinks. A lot.

I was introduced to the Easter fire my first easter in Germany, way back at the very start of this millenium, and boy does this sentance make me feel old. I'd made a friend a few days before, a lovely young German chap we'll call Klaus, who'd taken pity on the prospect of me spending the holidays alone working in the lab. So he dragged me back home with him to enjoy the festivities.

Now what I wasn't aware of was that I was apparently the first girl he'd ever brought back to meet the folks before and so his parents, siblings, great aunts and various and sundry neighbours all assumed that I was THE ONE. I was greeted by half the town when I extracted myself from our piles of chip and lolly packets in the car. I was given pride of place at the table, had food constantly foisted on to me and everyone tried their best to communicate. At this point my german was still incredibly bad, but Klaus's parents had recently done some evening courses in English, so we were muddling along.

Now Klaus didn't actually say anything to dissuade his parents from their assumptions of our level of intimacy. Having known him only three days however, I can assure you that we weren't terribly close. In fact, I think he was rather happy to have produced a chick that found some approval.

So I shouldn't have been really surprised when later that night, standing around in a field observing a bonfire and getting drunk on cheap apple schnapps, Klaus's father stumbled his inebrieated way over to me and in heavily accented and broken English said:

"Klaus's mother and I, we're getting old. We want grand children."

Friday, March 21, 2008

new do



When I was fifteen I began the tortuous teenage attempt to outgrow a fringe which had, after years of my mother cutting it, slowly overtaken ninety percent of my head. It took me a good ten years to get over the trauma that induced, but now I can't really believe that I had forgotten it so completely that I allowed it to be done again. I mean it's hidden my eyebrows, and they're my best feature after all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I don't know... is it something you're likely to say?

It was late last night when we landed back in Berlin. Oh, did I forget to mention that? We spent the last four days in the UK, going to a christening and visiting DrH's cousin in Telford. Which of course had me reciting Not from Telford after all but from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelguese over and over in my head at every intersection and signpost. And if you know that reference then feel proud because your geek is AT LEAST as big as mine and certainly large enough to warrant wearing a t-shirt with a hilarious mathematics in-joke on it.

Anyway, it was 11pm and we were off to pick up the dog; cruising the Bulli through the tunnel and feeling very chipper, probably because we were back home in a country with water pressure. I can't remember which one of us started it but we began a series of loud duets. A bit of Can't Buy Me Love, segueing into DrH's all-time-favourite Offspring song and me trying to trump him with The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Because I haven't sung it since 1982, and it needed to be let out for a bit of airing again.

So we were idling at a traffic light singing loudly, scaring pedestrians and the guy in the Renault next to us with our atonal crooning. I turned to DrH and said "When we have kids we are SO going to be doing this with them in the backseat with their girlfriend." And DrH got this evil little grin and, in a voice full of expectation and promise, said "Yeah".

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Saturday, March 08, 2008

coming out, so to speak

Most bloggers understand the sense of security you get behind a blogging psuedonym. The feeling of privacy; that you can let loose with just about anything, no matter how personal. This was important to me when I was still in science and using this space to work through my frustrations. They were posts that my current and future employers and colleagues didn't need to see, and I was happy not to have my name connected to them.

However the vast majority of this blog's very small readership do actually know me in real life, and I've written nothing here that I wouldn't say in their physical presence. Now that I have left academic research and am organising my life as a freelancer, I don't have a problem admitting publicly to those periods of depression I went through as I decided to change everything I had planned for my life.

So, the big moment. I can be found in a couple of places around the web with my name attached and I will no longer shy away from telling you guys about them. I won't put my name here directly, because I don't want Google to pick this up that easily and I would appreciate it if you didn't leave my full name in the comments.

Here you go: my new job as a blogger on Berlin for PlanetEye. Feel free to check that blog out- it'll be updated a few times a week and full of juicy tidbits about the best city in the world.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

oh right, THAT was the reason we went away

the ANNIVERSARY thing! I KNEW I forgot something.

So because it was our fourth wedding anniversary, and because two years ago I posted a teaser of one of my wedding photos, today you get the whole thing. Green pants, long red hair and all.





Happy Anniversary DrH.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

walk like an egyptian

Well that was a holiday which involved a lot of sitting around, a topic I'll get into in another post. We did do a couple of day trips out of our tourist ghetto though, including a Jeep sarfari into the desert east of Hurghada.

This meant a lot of time being banged around the back of a Land Cruiser, on bench seats without seatbelts, as our driver attempted to emulate the Dakar Rally with the other sarfari jeeps tearing across the desert. Note to self: In planning for my own entry into the Dakar in a suped up Bulli, must remember to pack a REALLY supportive bra.

hanging in there

The desert was deceptively flat (it looked that way, but my boobs felt every damn bump) for a few kilometres, before rising into jagged hills. These were strange up close: not very large and each hill stood alone. It wasn't a continous line that we had to climb over, instead we just had to swerve around them.



The aim of the trip was a visit to a Bedouin camp. About 30 people lived there, apparently having thrown in the drug and arms running trade which supported them in the past, for the equally lucrative business of towing sunburned tourists around on camels.

going home

I had the village elder guiding my camel, at an incredibly sedate pace which had the others lap us twice before we turned and headed for home. Not that I'm complaining, the man walked with a stick and I have a feeling that walkingslowlyatthepaceofdeath is the most comfortable way of experiencing camel. It was surprisingly easy to mount and dismount, even with the surliest creature in the pack. Funniest Home Videos makes it look a lot tougher than it actually is.



We ate flatbread cooked by a widow and her two year old daughter, who sat there staring silently at us with big brown eyes, rolling small amounts of dough back and forth between her hands. We had dinner heated over a fire of camel dung and watched a dozen young men sing and clap and dance. It was a strange, disjointed experience of silent people with whom we couldn't communicate, acting out the expected roles for the foreigner's baksheesh. And all of us felt so guilty, so filthy rich and obnoxiously voyeuristic that we gave them what we had with us. Took our piece of flatbread and chewed in silent shame.

bedouin