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Shades of meh

In July I have a conference in Germany. I’ve wanted to go to Germany since I was 12, when I took my first German class. It must have been the inspirational singing of German folk songs accompanied by Frau Whatshername’s autoharp. Nothing stirs the soul like an autoharp!

My husband is coming with me. This is not a great idea in terms of making sure I network, but I don’t care. I want my husband! The conference is near Berlin, but we’re spending a few days in Frankfurt, mainly because I want to do a day trip to Heidelberg. As an undergrad I worked on a weird study in which I had to pretend to be a computer giving tours of the city of Heidelberg. That’s right, I pretended to be a computer. (That’s what we call Doing Science!) This weekend we were selecting hotels and buying guidebooks and looking for good restaurants–we’re totally going to the place where you eat in total darkness and are served by blind people. So I should be pretty excited, huh? What I feel is an odd species of mildly intensified meh. You know, something like, this meh is a little more…vivid…than the normal meh. I wanted to find a way to represent this graphically. So here’s my attempt. On the left of the image you’ll see a selection of events that might occur in the average woman’s life. Then you’ll see two scales. One represents the typical range of human emotion, from deep sadness, in blue, up through great joy, in red. There’s a white, neutral space in the middle, where you’re just feeling kind of normal. The right scale represents my range of emotion, from deep sadness, represented in black, up to whatever, I guess I’ll keep on living, in dark grey. There is no longer a neutral space, just a lighter grey. Things that might ordinarily make me feel a little glum now plunge me into blackness. And instead of a warm red glow, there’s just a slightly darker grey. So yeah, contemplating what should be a fun trip is a relatively intense shade of meh.

(I’m totally exaggerating, of course. I know anhedonia is a real thing that I am not experiencing, as is clinical depression.)

So it’s time to bust out the German music. I gots to practice my German, and what better way to do so than with catchy music. You might like this one–catchy, and the German is around the level of a three-year-old, thus perfect for me.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great visual. I know what you mean about things that used to bring you down just bring you down even deeper and into a blacker space these days. I think for me the hardest part is not knowing what these triggers are as they seem completely unpredictable. I feel like I get pummeled and blindsided by the most innocuous things yet can stand to bear some of the more painful sh*t life has to throw at me.Anyway, I do hope you have fun in Germany. I lived there as an exchange student back in college and haven't been back in a looooong time. I wish I could see it in the summer – all my visits and studies happened in autumn and winter.

    April 6, 2010
  2. What fun! I hope your "meh" turns into "YAH" by the time you go. I studied a little German in college (because my family name is German). I always wanted to tour Germany too. The closest I got was being in a German airport and seriously patted down by one of security guards. Lots of fun!I hope your blahs go away.

    April 6, 2010
  3. Yes, well what happens if you put "get pregnant with actual baby" on that chart? Because I doubt having your boyfriend propose would be all that exciting right now, and once you've gone through a couple of paper acceptances, the giddiness does wear off (to be replaced by a disgruntled, "It's about time! Stupid reviewers!")… so maybe your rewards are just outdated. I do relate to this graph in general, though. However, Adele's story of the dead husband really got to me, so the thought that E is alive and well put me in the pink yesterday.I love Germany– I know what you mean, though, E and I have 2 summer trips planned, and neither one seems all that exciting. But if you like beer and sausage, boy! are you in for a treat!

    April 6, 2010
  4. I took 3 years of German and FROZE when I tried to talk in Germany. I made a detour when we went to Italy to make sure I went to Germany at least once in my life. It was one of the best trips I've had. Very few folks learn German, so use it. They will be happy that you try. It took too long for me to warm up so dive right in and swim. Beer! Sausage! MMMmmm.I think of the IF thing like one of those cartoon pianos that fall out of windows, you are walking along happy planning for the future and whammo! pain from out of the sky. But, it's not anything anyone can lift off of you afterwards. You sort of have to get back up and carry that piano. It pushes your happiness meter too far below your previous low that you sort of inch your way back up to just okay. I'm hoping that the load gets lighter over time and that meh can get to a HELL MEH! (as in hell yeah!) soon.

    April 6, 2010
  5. I hope the meh turns into excitement by the time the trip arrives. I really relate to the varying shades of grey part. It really doesn't take much to send me plunging into the darkness these days.

    April 6, 2010
  6. JC #

    Yay for the trip to Germany!!! I'm sure you'll be more excited once you're there. But I totally get your graph and the "meh-ness". I took German throughout high school so it was my thing back in the day. The teacher was kinda hot and played guitar and sang to us…that's really why I took it but whatever ;).

    April 6, 2010
  7. So great that you're going to Germany and I know you'll have fun with your hubs there to share the experience. I hope the meh subsides…but I do understand as I felt pretty "meh" about my trip to China and vacation.

    April 7, 2010
  8. I think you'll feel a little less meh as this trip approaches, Bunny. I took a trip to Munich and Heidelberg when I was 16. I mostly remember that the parts of Germany I saw were insantely clean. Not a scrap of litter to be found. And I would totally take my husband, too! Networking = overrated.

    April 7, 2010
  9. Thanks for the illustration of the meh. Excellent. I get it totally.You'll like Germany when you get there, as my mother used to say to me about the Brownies. No, really! It's fascinating.

    April 7, 2010
  10. I'm no stranger to the feelings behind your "Meh Graph," though I must admit the incredible spring weather is helping turn the meh to yippee (in a very tiny voice). I really like sunshine and birdsong.Heidelberg is so lovely, you will enjoy it a lot! I visited when I was 18 and had some delicious wheat beer and walked around a lot.

    April 7, 2010
  11. I adore this graphic. I think you should copyright it. Honestly. The gray continuum. I know that geography well.And Germany! Land of wurstl and weissbier and oom-pa-pa music! I’m glad you’re going with your husband, and to hell with networking. I’ve been at too many of those things alone. I never made any really and truly important contacts but I sure did spend a lot of time wishing I was elsewhere. I hope Germany throws the meh-o-meter open wide. (To get in the mood, watch some Franka Potente! She always brightens my mood).

    April 7, 2010
  12. I think you are utterly brilliant for providing a visual that we can relate to, this one smacks of the life of an infertile. I too have noticed that as time goes by I can't enjoy things that I used to be able to. I would previously have described myself as a happy person and now sometimes it feels like weeks go by without me laughing or cracking a smile. Its quite a gradual process and it sneaks up on you but when you look backwards you realise how much you've changed. It sucks, but Germany does sound like a lighter shade of grey and thats still a whole lot better that the deep dark pit of blackness at the other end of the scale.PS – I sent you an email in response to the comment that you left on my blog with the link to the article. I hope you don't mind me emailing you. x

    April 8, 2010

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