Friday, October 2, 2015

Saying Goodbye: A Day of Departures

When I sat down at the desk in our bedroom and opened up the computer, I had planned on writing an entire post about how we got here - to Birmingham, England. What decisions we made, the actions we took, and the unbelievable amounts of stress that we endured trying to get where we are today.  I'm sure that post in its entirety will come eventually, but I realized that I'm not quite ready to relive all that drama yet.  In the weeks leading up to our departure, despite our planning and best efforts (and copious amounts of money thrown in), we still had yet to receive our visas and - with those precious documents - our passports. We had to call our state senator's office for help with that. Sure, we could travel there without a visa for a certain number of days, but we couldn't leave the country without our passports. I'm getting stressed out just thinking about the mess of it all, and the result was definitely one very stressed-out couple.

As a physical manifestation of that stress, on the morning of our biometric appointment, I had pains in my stomach so bad that I couldn't stand up straight and I could hardly breathe. Mere days before we left, I had an ear infection and it was all I could do but lay around for two days - NOT what you need to do 72 hours before you leave the country for two years. That's just a teeny picture of the shape I was in before we left - the result of months of trying to fight our way through the process of getting to Birmingham TOGETHER, in once piece, on time. Forget trying to find a place to live. Ugh, that's a different and equally frustrating story. 

By the end of it all, I stated, "I'm pretty sure the British government does this so they can filter out the idiots. We're both smart, resourceful, responsible adults with college degrees, and we can hardly get this crap accomplished!" I know that I don't know what the process is like for those coming to live in America long-term, but I have a new appreciation and empathy for those who do. What a nightmare.

So, with that very brief overview, I'm going to leave the details of that saga for another time... a time when I can sit down to relive it all without my chest tightening as I type. Seriously.

Instead, I want to recap the start of it all - the real start of this journey - when we had to say goodbye to everything we knew in order to say hello to our new reality.

- - - 

September 1st, 2015

Packing Up

The morning hours came far quicker than they should have. It was 6:30am, and I had 40 minutes of sleep under my belt. Yep. Forty minutes. We were close to being all-the-way packed, but not close enough. We were supposed to pack up the van at 8:00am for the trek to the Dallas airport if we were going to check in by noon for our 3:40pm flight. Pack up the van at 8... ha!

There are so many problems with packing and moving abroad that I won't go into on this post, but I cringe at thinking about how much STUFF we were trying to take versus how little weight we were allowed on the airplane. I thought we had done a really good job of paring down everything we needed to fit into our minimal amount of luggage, but we were still over our weight limit and I was throwing things out of our suitcases left and right that morning.

The space bag of my pajamas? Gone. They can be shipped later; I have a pair to last me a few weeks in my carry-on.
My bible, journal, Walks Around Birmingham book, other paper-based essentials? Gone. They weigh too much. (Oh, how it pains me!) Again, we'll have our parents ship them later.
Spare toiletry items? Gone. BARE MINIMUM, GIRL.
Socks? Ha! You have a few pairs. Suck it up and wait! Gone.

The truth is, I don't even remember what else I left behind at the last second. I was beyond tired, and my best planning had failed me due to nearly two days of having zero amounts of energy. Dang ear infections always ruin everything and make me so... blah. I get nothing accomplished when I have them.

Eventually, it was time to start packing up the van. It was a little bit after 8am, and my mom was on her way. I was okay with that, because I needed a good 15 minutes to make sure everything was set. It's all a bit foggy, but somehow everything was ready to go for the trek to Dallas. Patrick's parents decided to take a trip to Florida to visit Jonathan, Rachel, and Greysen that day, so the luggage of 5 adults was loaded up into what I affectionately like to call the Gargantu-van. Big James left before we did, so we made sure to say goodbye to him as we were packing up.

Leaving Our Baby

Thinking about saying goodbye to my fur baby makes me cry every single time. Oh, how I miss that sweet ball of fluff of ours. I feel a bit silly saying that I miss my cat so much that I cry, but the truth is that Chloe is the sweetest little thing, and I miss her constant companionship when I feel so very alone. She is truly a people-loving cat, but she only loves her people.

My quiet little shadow followed me wherever I went, silently moving from room to room so she could be with me. The same was true for Patrick. When both Patrick and I were home but in different places, she situated herself so that she could see us both at the same time, no matter where we were. If Patrick was in the bedroom and I was in the bathroom, she sat in the hallway. If I was in the kitchen while Patrick was sitting on the couch, Chloe was in the dining room. If both of us were on the couch or bed, though, she was right there, usually situated so she was touching both of us at the same time. When we were out of town and left her at home, she would cling to us even more when we got back; it was as though she was trying to soak up all the love and affection she missed while we were gone. Chloe became lonely without us there, but she was extremely wary of anyone (even my mom, who she lived with once upon a time) who came over to take care of her.

So, you see, when I think about how we had to just leave her at Patrick's parents' house without being able to explain to her what was going on, that I was sorry for having to leave her behind, that it was better for her to stay, that I wished more than anything that we could bring her with us, it tears me apart.

There's a scene in the movie Sweet Home Alabama where Reese Witherspoon's character is talking to her dog at his grave, and she is crying, apologizing to him for leaving him behind, and I can 100% relate.
"Like when everything went pear-shaped, you never left my side. And then I just left you. I bet you sat there wonderin' what you done wrong."
Guys, it tears me apart knowing that my sweet fur baby, who is so incredibly loving and attached to us, was left alone to wonder when we were coming back, not knowing that we aren't coming home for a very long time. I know that she is in extremely loving hands with my wonderful in-laws, but my heart hurts just the same. I've contemplated paying the outrageous cost of a plane ticket to go home and snuggle her in the coming months, but I'd probably never come back. Not an ounce of me is kidding.

That morning, all of those feelings were rushing at me as we had to say goodbye to our sweet little companion. Chloe knew something was up; she didn't hide like she normally does when we're flying around, trying to pack and load the car. I picked that little ball of fur up and held her close, muffling my sobs in her soft, warm coat. "Our baby," is all I could say to Patrick, and, by the tears in his eyes, I knew that he was just as upset as I was to leave her. We set her on the bed, grabbed our backpacks, and got into the van.

The Trek to Texas

Charlie (my father-in-law) was driving, Bernice (my mother-in-law) was in the passenger seat, Patrick and my mom were in the seats behind them, and I plopped myself onto the row of seats in the back and tried to catch a few minutes of sleep while we made our way from OKC to Dallas. It was probably for the best, too, because I was trying my hardest not to break down and cry at the prospect of leaving the place that has become my home, so sleeping proved to be the best option.

I remember turning my phone on airplane mode during the drive to save battery. I remember receiving so many loving thoughts, prayers, well-wishes from the best people in the world when I turned the reception back on. I remember being extremely uncomfortable, trying to situate myself around baggage and vehicle fixtures. I remember being hot to the point of sweating (my airplane outfit had me wearing the bulkiest items, including my lace-up boots, wool socks, long-sleeved shirt, hoodie, and knit scarf on that 95 degree day; we'd get off the plane at 6:55am the next morning and have a 30 degree temperature drop).

I remember the five of us trying to navigate through the Dallas/Fort Worth airport entrance... ha! That was funny. Our flight was through FinnAir, but American Airlines operated it... but it was an international departure... via American Airlines. By the grace of God (seriously), we just so happened to end up at the exactly-right curbside drop-off entrance. I remember unloading our suitcases, hyper-aware of everyone around us, careful not to let anyone near our items as we got organized and said our goodbyes. I remember being at this extremely weird crossroads of emotions as we had to hug Patrick's parents, say words of love and thanks that fell so short of what we wanted to express, at the same time that I was trying to stay focused on our task of getting checked-in and through airport security, all while being both excited and terrified at what was about to come (something I'm sure my sister-in-law Rachel can completely relate to).

Arriving and Departing

Somehow, we made it. We were checked-in successfully, our checked bags were under the 50 pound weight limit, and PRAISE GOD they didn't weigh our waaaaay-over-the-limit carry-on bags (we were allowed 17.5 pounds TOTAL for our carry-on suitcase and personal backpack... combined). While we were checking in, I recall trying to joke around with the workers, to somehow make them crack a smile, in the hopes that they wouldn't be so strict in case they did decide to weigh our carry-ons. I had my sob story of "we're moving overseas and this is all we're taking with us" all prepped, but I'll never be sad that I didn't get to use it! We made it through airport security without any hiccups, the prospect of which always stresses me out. However, I was rather bossy when it came to the speed and efficiency of getting our items unpacked, through the scanners, and re-packed, all while trying to make sure no one stole anything.

It should be stated that international travel is not the ideal scenario for type-a people with anxiety issues. Sigh.

We eventually made our way to our gate, and it was only then that I was able to start relaxing. I even got a bit excited. "We're going to London!!" I whispered to my mom and Patrick with wide eyes and a smile. I was the only one of us who hadn't been there before, and I was finally allowing myself to enjoy the prospect. Ready or not, the time had come.

There were a few hours to kill before we were allowed to board our plane, but we had no trouble finding things to do. We came prepared for that and the 9 1/2 hour flight ahead - sudoku, playing cards, magazines, books, etc. were sure to keep us occupied. We found our gate, settled into some chairs near outlets, got some food (and coffee), and waited until the throngs of people signified that it was time to board our plane.

The Long-Awaited Flight

The flight to London was extremely tight - not an empty seat on the plane. Thankfully, we had thought to call FinnAir way back in March or April and had them "request" reservations for three seats together, because I don't know if any of us could have sat through that flight that close to strangers.

It didn't help, either, that the only person on the entire airplane that reclined his seat to full-capacity for the entire 9+ hour flight was the man in front of Patrick - the middle seat of the row in front of us. I kid you not... the ONLY bloody person on the plane. Oh, the rage!! Poor thing, he did his best to endure the claustrophobia for as long as he could, but it eventually became too much and my mother graciously traded seats with Patrick. Even when he got out of his seat, this stupid man left his chair fully reclined. UGH! And when I had to get out (I was at the window), I literally had to climb over the back of his chair to get out - but, rest assured, I was careful to make sure I rattled his chair as much as I possibly could without getting punched in the face. There were a few coughs that I conjured up and sent his way, too, since this man's face was mere inches from mine. Heh... sucks to suck, dude. This man was clearly annoyed but completely oblivious to the fact that he was causing so much distress to the row behind him; his wife, however, made me more mad because she was 100% aware of the situation, but did she do a dang thing about it? Absolutely not. I could have clawed her eyes out, despite the fact that she was at least a foot taller than me. SIGH.

During the flight, I read my magazine, did some sudoku, watched American in Paris (I thought it was fitting, and it was Gene Kelly), and eventually tried to get some sleep. I don't normally have trouble sleeping on planes, and I didn't think I would have problems with it during our flight due to my severe lack of sleep the night prior, but I guess moving abroad versus traveling abroad are different, and this flight had me all sorts of anxious. I would go to sleep (thank heavens for that wonderful sleep mask I bought on Etsy), catch a few z's, and wake up thinking that several hours had passed - haha NOPE. I only slept about an hour at a time, and caught three - maybe four - of these little cat naps before I decided that I needed to wake up. After all, I didn't want to screw something up at customs or have any of our carry-on baggage stolen because I ended up sleeping too long. Unfortunately, yes, this is how my brain works - anxiety much?

As I looked out the window over Ireland, the Celtic Sea, and England, it began to become real to me. Gazing through the dirty window, the reality of what we were doing was settling in, but I was kind of excited about it. After all, what I was seeing was beautiful. Surely, I was going to be living in a beautiful city in the middle of a gorgeous country on which I had never set foot. Talk about a thrill. Talk about overwhelming.

The in-flight breakfast came, as did our forms to fill out for the customs officers. The flight seemed to take so much longer than 9 1/2 hours, but then, all of the sudden, there we were - just outside of LONDON.

And Lord Almighty, was it beautiful!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

That's a Laugh

Do you ever have one of those mornings when, after only being awake for an hour or two, or even a few minutes, you realize that you should probably just go back to bed and start all over tomorrow?

I've had one of those mornings today.

It probably has something to do with the fact that I woke up around 3am and couldn't fall back asleep until about 4:30, only to wake up three hours later.  My inability to make more than a single cup of coffee at a time doesn't help my disposition either. Whine, whine, whine - but the truth is, it really has been a rough couple of days for me for a lot of reasons that I won't delve into here, mostly because it just isn't worth it.

We went to an appointment at the bank yesterday evening to apply for bank accounts; Patrick left with his set up, and I am not even close to having one (a long, convoluted mess of a story, like just about everything else here).

As we were leaving, I asked the bank employee a question:
"Have you ever moved abroad?"
[pause] "No," he replied.
"Don't," I said, without a moment of hesitation.
He laughed heartily, and we chuckled along, but I wasn't kidding in the least.

Moving abroad has been the biggest pain in the butt I've ever experienced. I'll talk about the reasons why later, but let it suffice to say that NOTHING about moving abroad is easy. Nothing. Is it worth it? I'm sure I'll say it is later, but I'm not quite at that point yet. I'm outrageously human and slightly bitter. Just give me time.

The days are long and overwhelming and completely frustrating, especially in the beginning, but it is getting easier to go about our day-to-day business without more than one or two catastrophes. However, there are plenty of moments every day where we just have to laugh because things are so ridiculous.

So often do I find myself saying, "It's always something. It's never easy. Why can't ANYTHING be easy?"

Yet we laugh, because we have to survive - somehow. My dear friend Grace was the first one to tell me, so long ago, that sometimes you laugh just to keep from crying, and I cannot tell you how many times that has been true for us thus far.

What can you do when, at the end of a long, tiring, confusing, overwhelming day, you're just trying to flush your stupid toilet and you don't know whether it will take 1 or 5 flushes for something to happen? (True story, folks.) You laugh.
What can you do when you try to get to the grocery store with just you and your memory, get lost from the get-go, and just end up walking a really ridiculous, backward route to your destination? (Again, true story.) You laugh.
What else can you do when you get lost inside your own apartment building? You laugh. (Keep reading for more on that...)

Laughter is the best medicine, after all, and sometimes it's all you can do to keep from crying. So we laugh.

- - -

Now, I have a little story for you, because that's just what I had to do yesterday morning. I just had to laugh.

Tuesday morning, September 29th, 2015.

Patrick left for school at about 6:45am, and at 7:00 I was totally awake. Because I enjoy my mornings best when they are slow, quiet, and undisturbed, I contemplated getting up to make myself coffee and breakfast; however, I put my sleep mask back on and fell asleep (I have to wear a sleep mask because I can't sleep if the room isn't pitch-black, and there is so much light that comes through our window from the apartment complex's parking garage below us).

I don't sleep well at night here for a lot of reasons, so 8:30 came along while I happened to be dreaming that a ginormous, furry spider fell out of my shorts (I don't even begin to question my dreams). During the midst of this slightly-traumatic dream, I was suddenly thrown out of this deep sleep by someone ringing our flat. There's a phone-type system where someone at the outside door presses the number of your flat, and there just so happens to be a phone in our bedroom which you can answer and/or open the front door. This phone is RIDICULOUSLY loud, folks. I swear to you, it could wake the dead.

So here I am, in the middle of trying to figure out whether or not I have been bitten by a poisonous spider that fell out of my shorts, and this death-defying alarm rings, shoving me out of my sleep, practically making me jump out of my skin. I hesitate, not sure if I should answer it because I'm not really sure if it actually happened, and then it hit me - my mom's package should be arriving today! I throw myself out of bed and lunge at the phone.
"Hello?" Groggy. I'm so tired.
"Delivery," a muffled Indian voice tells me.
"Yes, I'll be right down." Hang up.

Stupid. So stupid and tired was I that I didn't remember the fact that I was locked inside the apartment. We only have one key to share, so I had to ask one of my roommates to open the door for me. But first, I HAD TO GET DRESSED.

Now let me give you a bit of a picture to go on. I am completely drowsy and feel drugged at this point, because I am nothing remotely close to a light sleeper. My hair is greasy and matted because I planned on washing it the night before but put it off until that morning. I'm in my sleep shirt (which is super cute, by the way), but golly I need pants! And shoes! I scrounge around the room knowing that my black pants from yesterday are somewhere. I find my pants, turn them right-side-out, pull them on, scrounge around the closet for my black Toms, and slip those on. Oh, and I have my big, thick-rimmed glasses on my very sleepy, acne-ridden face (not one of my favorite parts about moving here).

So I come out of my room as described above, and I realize that I've just come out of our room with my shoes on. I stop and contemplate taking them off, remembering that our landlady prefers us to only wear our shoes in the entryway, but I shook that thought away because the delivery guy was waiting. Who knows, he might leave! With my package!

I lightly rapped on Gustavo and Ursula's door, and Gustavo opened it. He took one look at me and was clearly confused. Somehow, I mumbled out the gist that Patrick has the key and there's a delivery downstairs. Everyone knows that we're waiting for my mom's package, so he understood immediately. He then asked me why I didn't just let them up, but to be honest I didn't even know that you could do that; I just said that I was asleep and didn't think about it.

Gustavo opened the door, and I raced into the hall and tried to find the heat-sensitive pad to call the elevator. The large metal doors opened, and God only knows what buttons I pressed... I remember thinking, "I'm not sure if I pressed the right buttons," but I shrugged it off and got out when the doors opened.

Oops. I was definitely not on the right floor! As I exited the elevator, I lunged through the small hallway and opened the door that would normally put me at the main entrance/exit, but I had no idea where I was. Guys, I was so groggy. I lunged back into the hallway, looked around, still had no clue what floor I was on, got back into the elevator, then quickly realized that I had no idea how to get to the ground level from this floor (it should be mentioned that this is a really, really weird elevator and I hardly know how to use it). I got back out of the elevator, looked around, and decided to just take the stairs down. Now, we live on level 2, so I thought I would just have to go down one flight of stairs... I went down three before I arrived... I think.

Whatever. I SEE THE DELIVERY MAN!! I raced through the door and down the last set of stairs, but I didn't see a box. No matter, it's probably around the corner of the doorway where I can't see it. I pressed the bulbous green button and opened the door. Of course, I immediately apologize to the delivery man for the wait because I have no earthly idea if this man has waited seconds or minutes for me since I answered the phone. Still, I see no box. Then, as he is finagling the electronic signature thingymajig, I see it... an envelope. Oh, no. He hands it to me. It is definitely something for our roommate/landlady Shane. Sigh. I started to sign, realized that I was signing for something that was not mine, and got all squiggly with my signature.

As I walked up the stairs, I looked at the envelope. It was clearly some sort of passport. What a bust.

Because I was a bit more clear-headed at this point, I was able to get back to our apartment without getting lost. After I walked inside, I went to the living room (where Shane lives/sleeps), and called out to her. She's an adorable Taiwanese woman in her late 30s, but she looks at least a decade younger than that. Shane has been sick, so her accent was even more adorable.
"I think this is for you."
"Oh, thank you! I think this is my passport. I have been waiting for it. Thank you!"
I smiled. "Yeah, no problem."

Oh. My. GOSH. I went back to my room, shut the door, and collapsed my grease-ridden, groggy, exhausted self onto the bed... and I just had to shake my head and laugh.

I swear to you, this could have been an episode of Friends. Picture it: the angst-ridden, homesick Rachel is waiting and waiting a package from her parents to arrive. She is in the midst of a deep sleep, is thrown out of bed by a delivery, tumbles her way to the front door, gets the package, realizes it isn't for her, comes back to the apartment, and gives it to a sickly Phoebe who has been listening to Rachel go on and on about how excited she is for this package to arrive from her parents. "Oh, thanks! I've been waiting for this!"

I'm telling you, my life is turning into a sitcom. Hah!

- - - 

To end this post in good fashion, and to do a bit of documenting, I'll conclude with a few photos from our journey where we - you know it - just had to laugh. Enjoy. :)

Our first day in Birmingham with my saint of a mother. We were completely lost at this point and just wanted to find dinner.

The mess that is public transportation. My mom and I were heading from Birmingham to Dublin, and the train/ferry tickets came out in a jumbled mess. We had NO idea how in the heck to sort them! We figured it out eventually, but reading, sorting, and following them wasn't easy since we hadn't seen anything like them before. Whew!

Public transit in Dublin was outrageously confusing and we never actually stepped foot onto a bus there. We just said, "Forget it!" and resorted to taxis or our own two feet for the whirlwind trip. Haha! Oh, that bus system was such a mess.

This one makes me laugh every time I look at it! We were in Wales on our way back from Dublin with a couple of hours to kill before our train arrived, so my mom and I decided to explore Holyhead for a bit. Here, we were at an ancient Roman fortress, begun in the 13th century, that eventually became church grounds and a school... and my mom stepped in some dog poop on our route there. She was so irritated, but I couldn't help but laugh, and this was the first spot of grass that we saw. When I realized where we were and that she nearly scraped off dog poop onto someone's grave, I nearly lost it! I couldn't help but laugh!

Okay. Both train trips to and from Dublin were... interesting. Now, this is no bash toward the Welsh people, but in this instance it was clear to see why the Brits have not held back in proclaiming that everyone around them were/are uncultured. I'm telling you, the majority of our train trip through Wales was spent trying to ignore the people around us and suppress our raised eyebrows.

The trip to Holyhead was spent with a man who was clearly mentally unstable. It was funny at first (we have our fill of crazy in our family so we're all-too-familiar with it), got uncomfortable as he and his dog "Dottie" (who he talked to constantly, rather loudly) were causing trouble, and then we had to laugh by the end of it because even the other passengers were having a tough time surpressing their chuckles. It was ridiculous.

Our trip from Holyhead was on a Saturday night, and boy was that a mistake. We noticed that people were dressed up (if that's what you can call it) for what looked to be a night out on the town. The closer we got to civilization, the more lively the passengers became. By the end of it, the majority of the train was drunk-drunk-drunk and conducting a really terrible session of karaoke. We just had to laugh. I almost punched one of them, though, when he walked up and down the aisle putting his hand on everyone's head - he got my mom, but he tried to touch me and my bitch face scared him away (sorry, that's the only good term for what it is... and I have a good one). We got into Birmingham after 11pm and just had to laugh as we relayed the events to Patrick!

Oh, Stratford-upon-Avon. Patrick and I found this overgrown public footpath as we were on our way to Mary Arden's farm... to which we never arrived. The maps were not helpful, the street signs were non-existent, and the sidewalks disappeared. "This is dumb!" is all I could say, but then we had to laugh at how hungry we were and how ridiculous the situation was. So much for finding a quaint spot to eat our lunch, and so much for Mary Arden's farm!

I just have to laugh and shake my head when I see this picture! This was taken in our last hotel room, about a week and a half before we got to move into our room in our flat. The sun was shining, so we had the curtains open, but the mirror on the wall was shining the sun directly into Patrick's face as we sat on the bed watching television. What did he decide to do? He grabbed those aviators, baby. Ha!

There's a whole post coming in relation to this, but WHAT IN THE HECK kind of soup is this, and WHY must you name it something so suggestive and ridiculous?! There are so many things like this that we have come across, and I just have to laugh like the child that I am every time! 

Tesco. The UK version of Walmart. Apparently they don't understand what "Open 24 hours" means. It took us a while to figure this out, but they're open 24 hours a day Tuesday-Friday; Monday 6am-midnight; Saturday midnight-10pm; Sunday 11am-5pm. Weirdest. Hours. EVER. I can't help but laugh at how ridiculous this is!

We had to purchase towels, and this is the label that is on them. I just had to laugh!

Patrick carrying one of our three trips across town as we moved from the apartment we stayed in for a week to the room that we are currently renting. THIS is why I miss my car, people! I just had to laugh and take a picture of him, but it's a bit blurry because my hands were full as well...

...with this. OY, I do not look forward to moving like this again, but in the moment, you just have to laugh.

When you try to move your drying rack into the sun and it collapses, ruining your careful arrangement and spewing those wet clothes all over each other, you just have to laugh!


Monday, September 28, 2015

Taking the Plunge

To say that I haven't written a blog post in a long time is a massive understatement.

In my last blog post, I talked about the things that I would and would not miss about my first teaching gig. That was at the end of May... in 2014. 16 months have passed, almost to the day. That's a really long time to neglect my blog. Oops.

In the meantime, I spent the summer of 2014 traveling westward to two of my favorite places in the world, California and Arizona, where we celebrated my grandpa's 80th birthday and explored the places I grew up.

I also had my first full year of teaching at the high school that is now so near and dear to my heart, and boy was that year a whirlwind. Thus, the lack of posts here. More on that school year later, mostly because I want to be able to reminisce about one of the best/most stressful and tiring years of my life.

The summer of 2015 was spent traveling the country, again, but this time we traveled both east and west, to Arizona and to Florida, to spend time with family and meet my adorable nephew. Again, more on those later. We also spent the summer selling, packing, and storing nearly all of our belongings, moving out of our house and into Patrick's parent's house, and generally preparing (as much as we could) to take the plunge and move overseas, which brings me to where we are now: Birmingham, England. It's so strange typing that - acknowledging, yet again but on a different platform, this strange, new reality.

It has not been an easy transition for either of us, but I've had an exceptionally difficult time with it. I'll definitely delve more into that subject later as well, because Lord knows I've had plenty of time to do some serious introspection.

I've put off and blogging about this whole process because it's a bit overwhelming to try to break it down into manageable bits; there's just so much, and it all kind of weaves into itself and then all over the place, like one giant bowl of spaghetti (which kind of resembles the ridiculous streets here, too). That being said, I think I'm ready to take the plunge and start chronicling this ridiculous and awesome journey that we're on.

- - -

So the question is, where am I going to go from here? What will I use this blog to talk about? What kinds of things will I be posting, and how often will I post?

As for how often I'll post, that still remains to be seen. Going from not posting at all over the past year and a half to posting regularly will be interesting, but I do enjoy writing, and I need something to do with my time other than work, read, and go shopping for groceries. That being said, if I do it like I should, there will be new posts on a semi-regular basis.

My amazing sister-in-love, Rachel, has gone through a similar process of displacement and is in the stages of their grand adventure winding down. Patrick's brother, Jonathan, has been in Med school in the Caribbean (they're currently in Miami, FL), and they started that crazy journey by moving to the Bahamas. During the past few years, she has written plenty of blog posts about moving from Texas to a tropical island, and I found myself scouring her blog in search for those posts that I could SO relate to. They actually inspired me to get going on MY blog, so I took note of a few of her posts that I will cover in the future. I definitely plan on talking about the following things, but I have a whole list of other upcoming posts as well...
- The decisions that got us here in the first place, and how difficult it was to get here
- Packing and preparing for our move, and things that I wish we had/hadn't packed
- The Apartment Saga (because, believe me, it was a freaking saga)
- Living the nomad life: accounts of living life in a hotel, in other people's apartments, etc.
- What I wish I knew about moving abroad, about Birmingham, about England, etc.
- What I miss most, plus my favorite things about living here
- Our adventures abroad, in lands previously unknown to us, of course!

I asked those who follow me on Instagram to ask me questions about our life in England, and I absolutely LOVE the questions that have been thrown at me! Some of them have really made me think, and that's a really good thing. I'll be addressing them all for sure, but most of them I'm going to try to vlog and post on my youtube channel. I'm sure I'll talk about some of them here, though, so here is a list of the questions that have been asked thus far:
- When did you move to England? What brought you there and for how long do you think you'll be there?
- What mantra do you find yourself repeating to help you remember to stay positive?
- What songs have been on the top of your playlist during the move?
- Do people treat you differently when they hear your American accent?
- How was your first experience of a cheeky Nando's? (I love the humor of my students, by the way!)
- Have you been pretty saucy lately? (Again, I love their humor!)
- In 3 words, how would you describe the move?
- How many Brits have you asked, "You have a lovely accent, where are you from?"
- What's the best thing thus far about living abroad?
- Is there much of a language barrier? ;) (You'd be surprised... can't wait to talk about that one!)
- What do you think the biggest difference is in how Brits live their everyday lives? How is their focus or drive different?
- Are the Brits generally friendly?
- What's the food like?
- What will you be doing with your time while Patrick is in classes?

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I won't be offended at all if you don't read these silly posts of mine; however, if you do make it through my ramblings, I would be tickled pink if you leave me a comment - here, on my IG, or on youtube. The days here, especially the mornings, can be rather lonely, and it brings me so much joy to be able to communicate with people who are dear to my heart.

That's all she wrote, folks. I'm off to begrudgingly drink a cup of tea (coffee is better) and read my book... or something like that. ;)