Tuesday, September 04, 2007


You might know that Germans have a very intimate relationship with their cars. We like them. Most of all, we like to drive them fast. On our Autobahns, people check if their Mercedes really can do the 250 km/h as advertised. There's tailgating, there's swearing and cussing, co-drivers (women, of course) shaking their fists at you and copious amounts of adrenaline being discharged.

Unlike the French or the Italians who partake in risky driving with a nonchalant elegance, we take it all very seriously. You insult my car by driving too slowly in front of me? You're one BAD person, you have no RIGHT to be there, you should be REMOVED. In the monthly magazine of Germany's automobile club, I once saw a (photoshop)picture of that terrible car, that hideous obstacle in front of you being taken away by helicopter. The caption read: A dream come true.

And now, I have been to Scandinavia. The maximum speed on Norway's highways is 90 km/h. 90. That's VERY SLOW. The country has more automatisk trafikk-kontroll thingies than other places have traffic lights. And fines for speeding are high, presumably starting somewhere around 100 € - which results in a religious compliance with the speed limits. Snails' gallop, JH called it as we slowly, slowly passed forests and lakes and forests and lakes.

In Norway, people drive in a very civilized way. I'm sure they have very few traffic accidents there. Everyone keeps a safe distance to the car in front of them. No swearing, no adrenaline. Once or twice, we saw people going too fast, and I said to JH: Look, he's going over the speed limit! And together, we watched the exotic figure disappear in the distance with maybe just the smalles bit of envy, and homesickness.

Monday, August 20, 2007


We are back in Oslo. The last week was spent in Hørte, about 20 km South of Grimstad in Southern Norway. It is an area where the places have the same names as the people: Hørte is also the name of the family of farmers who supplied us with fresh water and ice for our "fridge".

We lived in a small wooden house on a hill amidst the trees. No electricity, no running water. Lots of silence, wild raspberries and blueberries to pick. Lakes with clear water that was so soft it made my hair all curly. Aggressive moscitos and kind people who came by with cars and, one time, a horse to see us, who told us about life as farmers in a remote place, who listened to what we told them about our lives. My daughter, who finally found the courage to swim with me, clinging to my back. And Rømme, the fresh, thick cream that is had with jam on flatbrød.

Norway is beautiful in a way that Germany just isn't. We don't have pristine forests like the ones I saw, we don't have wilderness or areas where there are no well-marked paths to guide you. Unpaved roads are unheard of, too. We don't have stretches of countryside where all you see are forests, and lakes, and red and white houses - seemingly similar, but so rich in their differences.

I was happy in Hellelandshaugen (this is the little house's name). I felt at peace like I haven't for a long time. There were difficulties, of course. My daughter got on my nerves. JH (aka The Lover) had to, has to get used to being so close to me, and to a little sucker-upper of energy. In the beginning, my daughter was really worried about there being no houses around - but she got to like our little house. I could get tearful in a second thinking about the fireplace, and the view of the wooden shed from the front door, and the taste of those berries. So I will try to make it into a place in my mind that I can return to when I want, wander up the hill, into the front door and through all the rooms, smelling and seeing and returning to a feeling that touched me so deeply.

And since you asked: yes, Oslo is stunningly beautiful, too.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Dresden to Rostock, ferry from Rostock to Trelleborg in Sweden, Trelleborg to Lund where we stayed at my friend A's beautiful flat. Somehow, Sweden seems to be even more orderly and well-organized than Germany: the highway are sparklingly clean, even what looks like public housing estates are well-designed, and the sign-posting is unsurpassed.

Yesterday, we drove further North. The landscape change from hills to rocks, finally views of the ocean, and fjords - and we had made it to Oslo. The Lover's aunt is an architect an owns a gorgeous house right on the Oslofjord. We went swimming when we arrived, played cards with a handful of female cousins. Watched the full moon hanging above the water as The Lover smoked his last cigarette (he says he's going to quit at least until the next holiday, so I'm not sure if this is a definite decision).

These two days of driving have not been without strain. I have to get used to caring for my daughter all day long. The Lover has to find his place between her and me, between being my partner and something-not-yet-defined to her. And really, hours in the car with a three-year-old just aren't fun. But the sum of these many parts is positive, tired yet happy sums it up I guess.

We will drive on to a place that I think is called Hogen today, to said little cabin in the woods. And continue our experiment in threesomeness.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


The longest day at work is the day before your holiday starts. It is another 7 hours until I get to leave not just for the weekend, but for TWO WEEKS! The Lover, my daughter and I will be going to Norway. Tomorrow, we will be taking a ship from Rostock in Northern Germany to Trelleborg in Sweden and then continue in a West-Northerly direction.

My daughter, of course, has no concept of what a holiday is. She understands that I have bought salami, chocolate and drinks that cannot be consumed until "the holiday". She also understands that I won't be going to work, that she won't be going to her Kinderladen and that we won't be at home. And she thinks about The Big Ship a lot, the ship which will hold not only the three of us but where The Lover's car will also be parked. What kind of icecream will it have, she wonders? She has taken ships on the Elbe with her grandmother twice, and they had different kinds of icecream. We discussed this yesterday: maybe the Big Ship will have blue icecream, she suggested. Or cucumber icecream. Or, best of all, vanilla icecream.

Me, I have never been to Norway. In my mind, I have patched together things I have read, things I have been told, places I have been in other Scandinavian countries. We will be staying in a cottage in some remote place. I haven't asked The Lover all that much about what it will be like, because I want to picture it in my mind: lots of wood, very quiet. Beds that have to be pushed together to create a double. A veranda. A view over hills and forest. Personally imported wine drunk from the bottle.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Mondays are very special to me. My daughter stays with her father each Monday. Which means that for one day a week, I come home after work and it's quiet. It's a beautiful thing.

Yesterday, I cleaned, sweeping the floors, picking up toys - and because for once, it was done without thinking that really, I should be playing with my daughter and not do housework, it was fun! On all the other days, I have about 3 hours I get to spend with my daughter after I come home from work and before she goes to bed. This is her time, and I always feel slightly guilty if I do things that aren't part of what she wants to do. After all, I could always do laundry and dishes and whatelse after she's gone to bed. At which point, of course, I am tired, want to spend time with The Lover or just sleep. It's a dilemma. But anyway: yesterday, cleaning all by myself was great.

Then I spent time listening to The Lovely Bones, an audiobook that Radmila generously sent to me. The internet is a generous place: she sent me these 10 CDs, and more, just because I mentioned that I liked audiobooks! The Lovely Bones is a wonderful, touching story. I would never have thought that it could work, a story told from the perspective of a murdered girl, watching earth from her personal heaven. Sounds cheesy, doesn't it? But it's not, it's delightful. Thanks again, Radmila!

Finally went to see Supersize Me with my friend JM. JM lives on sweets, his drawer at work is full of plastic sacks with colourful candy inside. As far as I know, he never eats fresh fruit. He loves fast food, and all through the movie, as the protagonist shoveled mountains of disgusting foods into his mouth, he kept saying Oh man, that looks great! I feel hungry now! Mm! Ah! I had kind of hoped that the movie would, maybe, somehow, reform him, show him the error of his ways, but that didn't work out at all. Not at all at all. JM, I should add, has an enviable body, firm and muscly, broad shoulders, slim hips, a flat stomach with ripples in all the right places... somehow, the world isn't fair.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


What is happiness, we asked ourselves last night. You didn't laugh much today, he said. You were quiet, you didn't seem very happy. But I was!, I said. I was so glad I didn't have to do anything, just watch you and my mother and my daughter. I am a quiet person, a serious person, I don't giggle all the time. I am also frequently very tired. But neverthelesse: I'm happy.

This is a happy time in my life. Not happy as in I-feel-good-today, but happy in a more general sense. Happy as in content, as in maybe-this-will-turn-out-right-after-all. I never quite know what I want to be when I grow up, but lately, worrying about that has retreated into the background as I enjoy what is here right now: people I love, a job that challenges me, my homesweethome. Difficulties aren't scary obstacles that threaten to shake the foundations of my being. Anxious thoughts about the future come and go. I seem to do things right at work at least part of the time. My daughter only shits her pants but doesn't pee them any more. And I haven't smoked in four days.


The clinic has its own nursery (for plants, I mean). There are two adjoining greenhouses and a big garden full of flowers and vegetables. Patients work there, some very slowly, some seemingly not at all, but the two from my ward who go there every day feel a lot of pride in their work - there's nothing like seeing things grow to make you feel better.

It's a place I have loved to visit from the very beginning. You can wander around the grounds through the grass and the mud, touch the flowers, feel the soft ground underneath your feet, ask for the names of plants, smell lavender and roses. Then you can ask the guy who runs the place to pick you a bunch of flowers, that one and that one and a few more of those over there. I don't have a garden of my own (yet), so this one is a sensuous delight to me, a special treat for a few minutes each week.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Went to pick up my new sofa yesterday, a stylish red thing I bought on ebay. The Lover and I picked it up in Plauen, about a 2 hours' drive from Dresden. The sofa's description had been done very professionally, so I was surprised when the guy who sold it led us to a house where he stores all kinds of junk - and said sofa. He claimed that he had moved in with his girlfriend, now they have two sofas and don't need this one any more... But then again, he seemed to have no idea of how to assemble the sofa, he didn't seem like someone with a girlfriend (although that is, of course, hard to tell), and the sofa looked suspiciously new and unused. I guess it was one of those fallen-off-the-back-of-a-lorry type items on ebay where it's better not to ask too many questions. All I need to know is that the sofa is lovely, can be folded out as a guest bed and can accomodate two people sitting up or lying down.

When I was a child growing up in Western Germany, the names of cities in Eastern Germany had an exotic ring to me:


I knew that they were far away and hard to reach. The farthest away place I knew was Africa, and so I imagined that there were elephants in Jena, palm trees in Plauen, girafes in Weimar and a wide open savanna in Pößneck. We went to visit relatives East of the wall several times, going through frightening broders with mean guards, machine guns and barbed wire - it only contributed to the adventure I associated with the East.

Now that I live here, I am sometimes still disappointed to find that life in these places that once seemed so alluring to me is so very normal, boring even. Plauen was a case in point.

Out of my childhood list of East German cities, Jena is the one place I haven't been to. And maybe I shouldn't go. My mother was born there, and really, I would like to continue imagining it as I used to: an exotic, mysterious, dangerous place just out of my reach.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Commentators on this blog have asked whether the decision to separate from The Husband is a final one. Yes, it is. And also yes, I do not want to try any more. I think that while love and romance are very important for a relationship, at some point, there also has to be a decision: this is the person I want to be with. I will make a serious, serious effort here. I could not bring myself to make that decision, sad as it is.

It is all only a few days ago (four, to be precise). The Husband has been away at work, avoiding me. Which I can understand. Our daughter misses him. Small as she is, she knows that something is up. She keeps asking for her Papa, and she keeps telling me how good he is at making pancakes: Papa kann super Eierkuchen machen.

Laura wrote that "relationship problems are nothing compared to single-mother problems". That has had me thinking a lot, and I will admit that during the long lead-up to this separation, I have had thoughts like that: I will then be a single mother with a small daughter, no time and no going out ever again. Thoughts like that are no reason to stay together, though. And on reflection, I do beg to differ: I will be fine. The Husband will not permanently withdraw from his responsibility as a parent. I have wonderful friends. There are two sets of grandparents here in Dresden. I have a roommate. All in all, there is a finely woven net that holds me and my daughter, keeping us happy and making things possible that may be out of reach to the average single mother.

That said, I sleep badly. When I am on my own, I can't eat. I worry. But no, I don't waver.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I should, perhaps, elaborate a bit. In doing so, I shall refer to a theory one of my friends recently told me about. In honour of her, I will call it Andrea's Three-Pillar Theory of Long-Term Relationships.

The theory states that for a long-term relationship to function, it must rest on three pillars:

1. communication
2. sex/tenderness
3. managing day-to-day life together.

I have personally had relationships that were almost exclusively based on one of the first two pillars: we would talk all the time while the sex was bad and/or nonexistent, or we would have sex all the time with short breaks for futile efforts to communicate verbally in between. In both cases, day-to-day life was my own responsibility.

Now, with The Husband, our relationship has for what seems like a long, long time been based on our managing everyday life together. Which we excel at. We are perfect parents to our daughter, we both go out and see our friends, we always have enough milk and the kitchen is usually clean. All this worked so harmoniously that people often said to me oh, I want to have a relationship like yours one day, you always seem so content! However, we somehow lost the depths and the intensity that keeps a relationship alive. We rarely talked. We haven't had sex in months. Somehow, we drifted apart, slowly, quietly with never a harsh word spoken between us.

I am not writing this to assign guilt. Of course, I could compound lists of where we both went wrong, The Husband could do the same and probably come up with completely different lists. Fact of the matter is that we have long ago passed the point at which we could have made things better. Fact of the matter is that the saddest thing for me about our conversation on Sunday was the realisation that our relationship had been over for a long time, trying to rest, as it did, on only one pillar.

Friday, January 19, 2007


In the end, it was easy to say those words: I don't want to live like this any more. In the end, it was easy to say that while everybody seems to think that we are the most harmonious couple around, this is in fact not the case. I don't want to pretend any more. On these pages, you have so far read a carefully edited version of me , a Katrin who's presentable to the outside world.

While no untruths have been told, the truth is something much more complicated than what I have shown here. Yes, I am married. But no, being married doesn't mean anything to me. And no, I am not a monogamous person. Nor am I completely heterosexual. Yes, I am a psychologist. But no, that's not the only career I can imagine. And no, helping others has not made me a calm, well-adjusted person like I might have hoped. Yes, I am 30. But I feel like I have only just begun.

There you go. An end, a beginning, and hopefully more truth for you to read about in the future.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


To me, there is always one distinctive day when spring begins. This year, that day was last Friday, March 12. The air had a sweeter smell, and even though it was (and is) still, cold, winter is finally over.

This weekend was a busy one, comprising everything from a seminar focused on self-discovery (part of my psychotherapy course), the beautiful wedding I attended with my friend JH, a party where I worked at the bar and a visit from a long-lost friend. A rich, full weekend it was.

My daughter keeps asking me to sing a spring song as if she, too, knew that a new season has begun:

Kommt die Sonne, kommt die Sonne
kommt der Frühling bald,
kommt der helle, der helle Frühling
kommt der Frühling bald.

The sun is coming out,
spring is coming,
bright, bright spring
is coming soon.