Friends and Followers,
Comedic Grievances has moved to its very own personal space in the blogosphere! To read today’s post “Why I’m Learning Baby Talk” as well as continue to follow along in all of CG’s stories and grievances, do go to www.comedicgrievances.com.
With much love,
P.S. – A baby bump status report via photo awaits your arrival at www.comedicgrievances.com.
After weeks of perpetual nausea, fiery heartburn, cancelled appointments and unbelievable exhaustion, I find myself finally able to make my fingers write again without collapsing on the sofa with my OKC Thunder blanket over my face. Man, growing a human inside your body is loads of work.
Yes, you read right. There’s a baby Kooi on the way! The internet says Baby Kooi is the size of a peach, and it’s doing great at 13 weeks. We’ve known since late January, though Will guessed it about two weeks earlier when I started doing things like eating 3 bowls of homemade chicken noodle soup followed by 3 giant pieces of birthday cake just to feel full or accidentally making his birthday blueberry muffins with a dash of cat food. When he suggested I might be pregnant I didn’t believe him. But when my suddenly racing heartbeat woke me up in the middle of the night and nausea set in and stayed day after day, we figured I was either indeed pregnant, or extremely ill. Thankfully it was a tiny 6 week old baby making all the racket instead of the other option, and we’ve been on Baby Cloud 9 ever since. Mostly.
My first trimester was a total of 40% fun, the fun part being finding out about the baby, telling family members and watching their reactions, pretending a bump was forming when it was really just extra air blowing me up like a hot air balloon, and waking up each morning knowing there are now 4 of us in bed (me, Will, tiny baby, cat). The other 60% was the very not fun stuff I said at the beginning like nausea, heartburn and exhaustion, plus an extra heavy dosage of weepy emotion. I mean whoa-levels of weepy. Some days I didn’t cry at all while others I cried up to 4 or 5 times, usually over seemingly nothing. Here’s what I can remember shedding tears over:
1. Will made an amazing looking turkey sandwich and I wanted to eat it but couldn’t.
2. I didn’t know why I was crying.
3. I was totally over feeling nauseous.
4. The 10th Doctor misses his planet so much and it kills me!
5. I watched a heartwarming Doctor Who interview of this adorable little boy actor who loved his Doctor Who acting experience.
6. I was too tired to put on makeup while standing so I sat on the bathroom floor instead.
7. Our baby was the size of a blueberry at Week 7 and I was overwhelmed by its cuteness.
8. I watched one of my favorite movies and thought of my future baby watching it with me. Had to hug a pillow to get through that one.
9. The 10th Doctor’s “I don’t want to go!” line. The only thing worse I could’ve watched during this time is the “Abyssinia, Henry” episode of M*A*S*H.
10. There’s A LOT to read about babies. And strollers. And diapers. And other stuff.
So if you’re in your first trimester, don’t watch your husband eat food, do realize you’re weak and there’s nothing wrong with that and stay away from movies and shows to which you’re emotionally attached. And if you’re a Doctor Who fan, I’d recommend not watching anything Doctor Who related, specifically in the David Tennant era, until you get past this emotionally fragile stage.
One more thing that’s still making me cry is the pregnancy announcement Will and I put together. We disguised it in one of our Vienna update vlogs but were purposeful in telling our friends and family to watch it to the end. If you’re interested in seeing our announcement you can watch it below. Skip to 2:30 if you want to bypass our German-speaking updates.
I saw this blog link up via Life With A Double Buggy and decided to give it a shot. Here are my 5 things I love about my expat life:
A Wide Variety of Successes and Failures
Nothing has made me swell with pride or turned my face an embarrassing shade of red like the expat life I lead in Austria. Just today I had the 5th or 6th humiliating experience of not understanding how a restaurant’s bathroom sink worked, and in that moment it occurred to me that this happens to me way too often, and I couldn’t help but bust out laughing – by myself – in the restaurant bathroom. (I did eventually wash my hands in said bathroom.) Being an expat has provided me with the ability to just laugh at myself when I fail at figuring out a sink or butcher every sentence I attempt to say in German. But because I’ve discovered this ability to laugh when I fail, it makes my successes that much sweeter. Once, my husband made me – nay, FORCED me – to go to the Apotheke (pharmacy) by myself to retrieve a receipt I had forgotten to get. I was terrified and had zero faith in my German pharmacy-speak. I nervously prayed the whole, slow walk there for strength and for me to not faint at the counter from fright. But I shouldn’t have been so scared. I spoke to “Herr Doktor” and explained the mix-up from the week before, and he understood me and I got my receipt. I was so happy that I ran the entire way back home and cry-laughed while I told Will how it went. When I compare my success and failure stories to ones I’ve experienced in the States, I see how way-too-seriously I took myself over there. And I can further appreciate how my expat life has pushed me out of my comfort zone, torn down my barriers and taught me to laugh.
A Family on Both Sides of the Ocean
My biggest fear in moving to Austria was that I would make no friends. I’d arrive, appear strange, scare people off with my loud voice and immediate hugging reflex, and be friendless forever. And that is not the case. I don’t mean that to say I have one thousand and one friends because Austria was so drawn to my loudness and hugs, I just mean – I have found a family here made up of the most amazing, caring and loving people. They took me in, weirdo and all, and helped me feel at home in a place where I was originally afraid would never feel like home to me. On the flip-side, I’ve experienced the fear of not feeling connected to my original family in the States, yet that too has not been an issue. We stay connected and go about it with great purpose. Seeing my friends’ and family’s faces on Skype always makes my day, and having the chance to embrace them is all the more exciting. And because of these two families, I have two places to call home on both sides of the ocean.
A Healthy Attitude of “Doing Without Thinking” and “Think First”
The expat life almost requires this healthy balance and it takes a while to develop. One can either jump right into a new cultural experience too quickly and do some damage, or one can overthink an experience and miss out on it entirely. A very light example of acting too quickly is actually my one of my top pet peeves of people who visit Vienna, and that is when they TALK SO LOUDLY EVERYWHERE THEY GO AND YOU CAN HEAR EVERY WORD THEY’RE SAYING LIKE HOW GOOD THAT WEENER SCHNITZEL THING WAS. Yikes. One way to not make any new acquaintances around here is by doing just that; that’s why I learned very quickly to study my surroundings first, then act. And also not saying “that Weener Schnitzel thing”. So if no one on the U-Bahn is speaking, I don’t speak. If everyone is speaking in a gentle low voice, I speak in a gentle low voice. My expat life has made me a student of my surroundings in order to not offend or attract attention to myself (unless I can’t figure out another bathroom sink). But my expat life has also made me jump in the water without testing it first, like eating Leberkäse (literally translates to Liver cheese and not my favorite dish) with everyone else or playing the German version of Taboo and failing miserably at describing “Taschenhund” to your Austrian teammates. Sometimes this life requires you to just do and see what happens, though I can promise I will always think too long about and definitely miss out on eating blood sausage. Can’t do it.
A Greater Appreciation for Experiencing New Cultures
Before moving here, my husband and I trained for close to a year with two families who had prior experience in living abroad. We were told about people who move to other countries and essentially wind up creating a mini version of the US with other American families within their new city of residence out of fear for the unknown. Their children go to English-speaking schools, the families visit English-speaking doctors, they hang out with English-speaking people. They do what’s familiar and only that – an easy temptation to give into and empathize with. While I definitely have days where I wish the US would just arrive at my front doorstep, mainly for Chik-fil-a and burger reasons, my husband and I have never been drawn to a mini United States of America. We try to love and appreciate every new thing we encounter, like the beauty of the German language or how everyone and their dog goes outside the second it’s warm enough. The expat life is meant to be lived, not kept in a snow globe of familiarity.
A Greater Tendency to be a Total Cheese Ball
I think my expat life has permanent control of my tear ducts because I’m seriously emotionally overwhelmed by everything culturally beautiful. Sometimes I see an elderly woman or man out and about, trucking along with their Nordic walking sticks like it ain’t no thang, and all of a sudden I’m teary-eyed while inwardly cheering them on as they proudly extend their number of years left on this planet. Or the students! They get me every time. My husband and I have the opportunity each year to interact with different groups of American study abroad students and we get to observe them fall in love with the city. This turns me into mush. As of late the current group has been making numerous videos of their experiences from Vienna and I can’t handle them. They’re too wonderful. I think a switch turns on after you’ve lived abroad for awhile – a switch that not only allows you to be moved by your own cultural findings and experiences, but allows you to be just as moved or even more so by others who go through and discover parts of countries and cultures that you too have experienced. So make sure you have tissues on you at all times.
Before my husband and I were married, we attended a mini-marriage seminar held at our university. The couple who led us in a half-day long class about love and respect and parenting and the always awkwardly-anticipated, awkwardly-discussed topic of intimacy, began our class with this eye-opening thought:
Women’s brains are like spaghetti. Their thoughts are sometimes hard to follow, like a single noodle in a bowl full of tangled spaghetti, whereas men’s thoughts are compartmentalized, like syrup-holding squares in waffles. Spaghetti brains and waffle brains.
My husband had this look on his face like, Nailed it, as if he had been searching for exactly the right way to describe my scrambled, tangled, easy-to-get-lost-in way of thinking for quite some time. But now he had something to compare my mind to – spaghetti. And he was about to say “I do” to an eternity of bowls and bowls of it. Now, nearly 4 years later, I’m still immensely amused by the number of times in a week alone that Will gets raveled up in my thought process. It’s become a favorite hobby of mine – to see how fast I can lose him starting from one end of the “noodle” to the other. But then I started thinking maybe I should protect him a little bit more and warn him about what he’s getting himself into instead of dumping my metaphoric bowl of spaghetti on his head. Because let’s face it, ladies: we’re pretty scary creatures, and I think our awesome minds may be a little too scary for our men sometimes. Cool gift, though.
Here are some warning signs your waffley-thinking man might be a little freaked out by your spaghetti mind:
1. When his face says, “I’ve made a huge mistake.”
Close to 3 years of marriage, and Will still has the insatiable desire to ask me what I’m thinking. He just has to know, which I appreciate, and am usually happy to accommodate him with an answer (unless I’m thinking about something embarrassing, like the mafia breaking into our apartment and stealing our cat). But unless it’s actually something serious, he usually immediately regrets his decision when I say, “Well. It all started when…” Lost him again.
2. When his face says, “Is it almost over?”
Will may regret asking me what I was thinking about, but he never interrupts me. He waits it out, no matter how agonizing it is for him to follow my thoughts as they jump from lilypad to lilypad. His face looks a little pained though… Maybe I should start summarizing.
3. When his face says, “My head hurts.”
I can understand that, because I live with myself every day, and sometimes even I make my own head hurt. It’s a crazy wilderness up there and anyone is subject to get lost. Even you.
4. When he actually says, “Wait, never mind!”
Will does really want to know what I’m thinking, but I think I give off a distinct glimmer in my eye or something when whatever I’m thinking about is in no way urgent and not necessarily remotely important, because when he sees said glimmer, he quickly retracts his statement. He knows he’s about to enter my “Mind Battlefield” (oooh what about that? Good name or keep searching?) and he’s not armored for such a task.
5. When he actually says, “Oh no.”
This is the “please save me” of all warning signs, and is normally reserved for this announcement:
Holly: Will, I’ve been thinking.
Will: Oh no.
I pretend to be really offended by this response, but really I just know he doesn’t want to go through steps 1-4 again. I think a lot; in fact, I don’t think I ever stop thinking. Sometimes I keep myself awake for hours because I can’t turn my brain off. But men? Men are perfectly capable of not thinking. When you ask them what they’re thinking about, and they respond with “nothing”, they’re being for real. They’re thinking about absolutely nothing. I would love to know what that’s like, just one time. Actually I think I experienced it in a yoga class once, but then someone walked in with freshly baked muffins and my meditation was all thrown off.
Our poor guys. Think our spaghetti minds should go a little easier on ‘em?