The Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Days

fear womanLast week I put together a slide show for a good friend who is leaving Copenhagen. I watched it with my husband, smiling and getting a little teary. As the music faded and the presentation ended with a slick little slide reading “The End”, he looked at me and said:

“Wow, anyone would think we had loads of friends and an amazing life.”

Putting aside for the moment that compared to 99% of the global population we do live an amazing life, he’s right.

Most of us don’t document the shittier aspects of our day-to-day life. I don’t whip out my handy little point and click to take pictures when I’m playing Old Mother Hubbard and my cupboards are bare and so the poor husband got none. I don’t fill my twitter feed tweeting pictures of myself in sweatpants and leg warmers. (Yes, I wear leg warmers and you will never convince me they are not awesome. Take your leg-warmer hatred elsewhere, haters.)

The pictures we post may not be photoshopped but they are the glossy, edited versions of our life. At certain times my Facebook feed looks like I go to parties night after night. Glitter and sequins and dress up. Champagne and toasts and friends and ha ha ha, la di da. It’s probably even more evident if you’re an expat. Albums of parties and vacations, it must seem that day after day is nothing but fun and frolic and friends.

There is a subtext to those pictures of course. Those parties? Lots of them are to say goodbye to dear friends. Those holiday meals? They’re in lieu of the ones we can’t spend with family. Exotic vacations? They’re often cheaper than a flight to Florida from the east coast of the US or the cost of a week at Center Parks. Most of us don’t add that stuff in.


Just as I don’t generally post pictures of myself in the supermarket going up and down the aisles looking for peanut butter because it’s not where I would expect it to be. Or me trying to figure out exactly what cut of pork that is on sale (fyi, pork neck is gross, even when it’s on sale). I don’t post pictures of what I look like after dropping the kids off at school in the Danish rain. Don’t be fooled. The rain does not fall mainly on the plains of Spain. It falls incessantly in Denmark.

We all want to present a glossed up, soup-ed up version of ourselves. Filtered and angled and cropped so we look our best.

But the truth is life is not like Instagram. You can post inspirational quotes until the organic, grass-fed cows come home. You can pledge your allegiance to the flag, to yoga, to cross-fit or to antidepressants. Life it still not going to be like an Instagram feed. Even a sardonic, satirical, sarcastic version of it.

We all have days like Alexander. Terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days.

I’m having one today.

In two weeks a very dear friend is leaving Copenhagen. Christmas is coming and the goose isn’t getting fat, but…let’s just say my jeans are tight. The bank account is getting the opposite of fat. Danish winter, despite the cheerleading exportation of hygge, sucks ass. It’s gray and wet and miserable and really DARK. The entire floor of one room is covered in Lego. I’ve been neglecting my kids, my husband and my friends in order to finish the final draft of the novel, which I did. Only to realize that I’m not really done. Not even close. Last night, staring at yet another round of edits, I gave up. Maybe I’m just not cut out to write a book.

Yup. I’m having a horrible, terrible, no-good, very-bad feeling mighty sorry for myself kind of day.

yell womanNo one wants to hear about the day-to-day crap. Doing the school run on bikes in the rain, or doubting yourself or realizing you’re shouting at the people you love because you’re frustrated. No one wants to see or hear how long it takes you to get through to the electrician because you can’t understand the language telling you which button to press or the frustration of feeling like you’re doing something wrong whenever you step out of the door because you don’t know the rules. No one wants to see pictures of the ratty sweats and the leg warmers or the puddles or the unplucked eyebrows and unbrushed teeth. So we show them the dolled up versions. Not only of ourselves, but our lives.

So, just in case you think I lead a life of glamor, I assure you I don’t.

I am blessed. I am lucky. I work hard at the things that are important to me. Sometimes. Sometimes, despite all that, I feel sorry for myself.

I just don’t generally post about it. But maybe I should, because we all have no good, terrible, very bad days.

Even abroad.


90% of the time


This is the ‘sun’ in Denmark from October to May


This puddle has been here since early November. No lie.


Lego, lego everywhere and I’m still missing that one piece.

yell woman

26 thoughts on “The Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Days

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  1. I heard a writer say, “If you don’t like editing your novel the first time, how are you going to like editing it the 16th?” I hate that guy.
    Living in another part of the world that is dark, cold, and wet; I totally understand this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jeez, J–way to depress a girl even more. This is like the 4th MAJOR overhaul. There have been lots and lots and even more little edits throughout. Can we call it 16 and call it a day? Dark and cold and wet should be reserved for worlds from the pen of Gerorge RR Martin and not real folk like us, don’t you think?


      1. I’m with you on calling it done. I’m just going to continue writing the same three novels for the rest of my life, at least when I’m dead I’ll know I’m done.
        Here’s to longer days. It’s getting closer.


  2. Leg warmers, love them but I do prefer knitted wool socks that have a long sleeve ( is that correct term for it?) and wear them at home everyday and especially on those terrible, horrible, no-good, very- bad days when raggedy sweatpants and a comfy big sweater are also in order 🙂 I totally get what you are saying btw. I hope tomorrow will be a better day and maybe you’ll get some sun or snow rather than rain 🙂


  3. I dig. We’re made to feel miserable about feeling miserable, like it’s not normal or something. “Why can’t I be happy all the time!!!” Because of life, that’s why.


  4. I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour
    (but heaven knows I’m….)
    I love leg warmers. On women, and maybe it’s because of a video I saw when I was orbiting puberty, with Olivia Newton-John. Thought that might make you smile, anything for a smile…
    I hear you/feel you on this. We felt that dark wet crud descend on us in Scotland. Got to Dublin recently and it’s all changed, it’s like faery land here, no puns intended.
    And I’m envious you’re on #4 rewrite because I’m starting #2 and going to crap myself if I can’t get excited about it. Maybe I’ll ask my wife to get some leg warmers.
    Let’s get into physical! Let me hear your body talk, your body talk!


    1. Must have been the age, I think my husband has a story about Ms. Newton-John as well ;-). Last year we had the same dark, wet crud and on Christmas morning it snowed. The sky was bluebird bright and the sun was shining. It was glorious. I’m just not sure I can wait until then…there’s always the sun lamp, I guess. As for edits. Fuck. I’m just done. I stopped getting excited a round and three ‘polish’es ago. The kicker? I don’t even know what I’m going to do with it when it IS finally done. It’s more depressing than the weather. Hope the sun is shining for you in Eire. Oh, and I highly recommend leg warmers 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I hear you, and that’s ok to feel like this. There will be those non-expats who will never understand what you have so eloquently expressed.
    We left Denmark for “home” 5 years ago – not home exactly but 8 hours drive north of our home city, and I still hate it, have made a few friends, met many hollow people who decided they could befriend us based on a perceived notion of European wealth. People would gush over how wonderful it would be, how lucky and yes, we had a great life and wonderful friends, I miss them all terribly.
    Now I’m “home”, we still had to find a house, suitable school, discover good and bad suburbs, navigate around and unfamiliar city with unfamiliar people and customs, still had to negotiate around unfamiliar supermarkets and wondering if we were paying extortionate prices since we left six years earlier. Same shit, different city.
    Someone asked me (possibly my mother) if I went to all the galleries and saw shows and visited here and there, the truth is I did everything I would normally do at home, just in a country with no knowledge of the customs, the language and the food tasting completely different. Don’t get me started on the cost of lettuce, which is stupidly expensive in the sunniest part of New Zealand. Chin up and go find that lego piece that is never there (yes, 5 year old twin boys and mountains of lego)


    1. I have a sneaking suspicion that re-patting is actually more difficult than ex-patting. You’re absolutely right–we do the same things everyone else does, just w/o speaking the language. Makes for interesting times, that’s for sure. Of course we don’t post the crying in the school parking lot because you feel lonely or breaking the bank to fly home because someone is ill or has passed away. I felt like I lost myself for a long time, but I found a new me. And I like the new me better. Which is always nice. NZ must rival DK in prices!


  6. Well that’s the trouble when people who spend too much time on Facebook and other social media get depressed because they think everyone has a better life than them. The more savvy amongst us know people only put up highlights and nothing is ever as idyllic as it seems


  7. What can I say…you, again nailed it. We all have bad/shitty days but the way you describe it it s always nice and funny so sorry for being selfish on that one…but thank you because you made me smile today while I was having a f…shitty day too. Hang in there in your leg wamers, have a drink and tomorrow the sun will rise and it will be a better day …or not.
    And as for your friend leaving…I can easily understand the pain but expat taught me one thing is that distance does not really affect real friendship…where ever you are, and when ever you ll see your friend again and it will be the same all over again.


  8. i need you.your voice is like my conscience talking to me…and telling me, “you’re not alone.” just keep swimming. love dori a girl fish.


  9. I’d love to show you pictures of the lego invasion in my house, but my phone is in there somewhere, battery long dead, and thus no pictures 🙂 I despise editing too, and Lima is gray gray gray even now when its supposed to be summer (blasted El Nino). The good thing? Even horrible no-good days can’t last forever right? (Right??)


    1. Even in Australia, as the book says. No, they can’t last forever and usually when they are really terrible horrible the very next one feels slightly better…if only in comparison! When you find your phone, send a picture over. We can commiserate 😉


  10. Reblogged this on Wine and Cheese (Doodles) and commented:

    We all want to present a glossed up, soup-ed up version of ourselves. Filtered and angled and cropped so we look our best.

    But the truth is life is not like Instagram. You can post inspirational quotes until the organic, grass-fed cows come home. You can pledge your allegiance to the flag, to yoga, to cross-fit or to antidepressants. Life it still not going to be like an Instagram feed. Even a sardonic, satirical, sarcastic version of it.

    We all have days like Alexander. Terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days.


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