Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Another Auld Lang Syne...

Here it is, another year come and gone. Time again for reflection.

I cannot say that I am all that sad to see 2014 go. This has truly been a year for trials. The year started with a new boss and the challenges that new staff, especially new management staff, brings. On top of regular work stress, I switched to a half online/half in class version of the class I've been teaching. Then, the end of March was the whole scary ordeal with my dad and his emergency brain surgery.

This fall semester was murder! I could hardly keep up with all my coursework and was so stressed by the end of the semester I was certain I needed to commit myself. It has taken me a week and a half to get all the weariness and stress out of my system and i have been a little frustrated with myself that I have not been "tough enough" and done more. (Honestly, no one is harder on me than I am.)

But, 2014 has not been all bad.

The end of July I was able to take a class in Edinburgh, Scotland. After my two-week class, mom came over and joined me for a noter week. We stayed at Dalkeith Palace, took a Highland tour, took a train down to London and spent the night, then spent 5 wonderful days in Ireland.

There has also been one other good thing to come out of this year. About this time last year I decided I had to send something to a very special friend in Belarus. (We've been pen pals since I came home from there in 1999, but for several years letters hadn't gotten through.) Honestly, I was head over heels when I was in Belarus, but I was never sure that he felt more than friendship. Well, I sent a Christmas card last year and got quite the response. We have been writing letters back and forth like crazy this year and are trying to find a way to get him here. For the first tim n my life I actually consider myself in a relationship!

So, what have I learned this year?

I've learned that you never know when someone might not be there anymore, and that you should always make sure those you love know it!

I've learned that I need to take care of me. I need to be as forgiving of myself as I am of others. I need to eat healthily and exercise because it will help me.

I've learned that I am super strong, a great leader, and a caring, intelligent person.

And I am learning that it doesn't matter what others think, I am enough, and I am worthwhile.

In the new year I am going to try and take it easier on myself. I'm going to try and find ways of easing the stress. And I'm going to get healthy!!!

Here's looking to a new year, a new beginning. May it hold new adventures, love, joy and rich blessings!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Missing the Hee-lands

I still have to finish blogging about my time in Scotland, but I have been missing it terrible lately. Never has a place gotten so under my skin. So, for a wee bit o' nostalgia--some photos and a song.

And a song...

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Wow! The past eighteen months have been a very introspective time for me.

I feel that I am finally figuring out who I am. At some point in the last year I took a personality test which was very enlightening. I have always felt like a fish out of water, felt so different from everyone else and could never really understand myself, but after taking a Meyers-Briggs based test, many things became much clearer and I discovered there was an explanation for things like the fact that I hate calling people. I can call the people closest to me, but I even have a really hard time calling my grandmother.

It also explains why I feel so fragile emotionally, because I feel things so deeply. I have the fairly rare personality type INFP which stands for Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving. (Read more here.) On it gives an overview of INFPs:

As an INFP, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit into your personal value system. Your secondary mode is external, where you take things in primarily via your intuition.INFPs, more than other iNtuitive Feeling types, are focused on making the world a better place for people. Their primary goal is to find out their meaning in life. What is their purpose? How can they best serve humanity in their lives? They are idealists and perfectionists, who drive themselves hard in their quest for achieving the goals they have identified for themselves.
It also explains part of the reason I am so hard on myself.

I have to say that I have started to feel a lot better about myself and a lot more comfortable in my own skin. I understand myself better and how my emotions work, and I can see that being so emotional is not bad. It can be hard, but it is not bad.

I am just going into another phase of learning--this time about my physical self. As a teenager I was diagnosed with Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome, but at that time there was very little information about it. It was pretty much "you are insulin resistant and your periods are messed up--here is metformin and birth control, good luck." Recently, I started to do some research again on PCOS since I have been wanting to find out ways to help my body work correctly (and to figure out if that is even possible), and there is so much new information I am almost, no I am overwhelmed.

Before, I thought that PCOS was just a few symptoms which affected just a few systems of my body. I am beginning to see differently. I am starting to see that PCOS affects my entire body, and it has made me realize that maybe things are more serious, and challenging, than me just trying to lose some weight. While searching on Pinterest for tips and sources of info I found the below graphic and that is when it really hit home: this is a syndrome, an illness, no different than if I'd been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or cancer.

PCOS Symptoms & Signs
Graphic borrowed from

Let's just say that after I say this, shit got real.

I've been under a bit of a cloud recently, and I think this is partly why. I've realized that I HAVE to get healthy, but I'm not sure how to do it. I try and it goes okay for a little while, then I fall down. Now I am realizing that there is more to it. It's like I've been trying to walk into a room but there is an invisible door there which just became visible and I can now see that there is nothing wrong with my effort per se, there are just obstacles in my way with which I don't know how to deal.

A friend and I went to an informational session on weight-loss surgery. I have really mixed feelings about it and am really struggling to figure some things out. Either way, surgery or no, it is going to be a huge commitment and struggle and I have to figure out from where I will get the strength to get through this even without anyone there to cheer me on.

More to come on the surgery debate. In the meantime, homework. :(

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I feel fine!


Well!  Since coming back from Scotland I have been running to catch up.  I promise to post more on that soon.

I have to say, surprisingly, I have been feeling pretty fantastic lately.  Scotland was a big challenge for me; I knew that it would be.  I kept up with the rest of the group pretty darn well, even though most of the time I was walking twice my normal speed.  I felt really proud of that.  The walking really didn't get to me, other than the stairs the first few days.  I didn't really watch what I was eating there, but I walked it all off.  AND, I wasn't snacking all the time, and didn't want to.

When I came home I had lost five pounds!  Pretty darn good for having eaten ice cream everyday.  No, seriously. Every day.  Several people told me I looked smaller, and indeed I felt smaller.  I that was a pretty spectacular result from three little weeks where I wasn't trying to lose weight.

Since I've been back at work people have been really glad to see me, given me hugs and asked all about my trip, which makes me feel pretty awesome.  People missed me!  They love me!  They really, really love me!

I've noticed in the past couple weeks that when I look in the mirror, not only do I no longer hate myself, but I think "hey, you've really got a nice face."  This is so strange for me!!  I don't know what is happening, but I hope it continues.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Well, here I am!

I arrived today at Dalkeith Palace just outside Edinburgh, Scotland.  So far everything has been great.  The four of us girls are in one room and getting along quite well. Three of us arrived at the airport within an hour of each other and shared a taxi from the airport.  It was quite exciting--we were barely out of the airport when we got into a accident at a roundabout.  Ok, it wasn't really an accident, but that sounds way more interesting!!

There was a little old manin the car in front of us who apparently couldn't get his car out of gear and slid back into the cab. It all took place at the super high speed of two miles per hour.  After our very nice, Polish driver got out and sorted things out, the little old man hugged him, then we were on our way to the house.

We got here and couldn't get in, but finally did and then we walked into town with Glen to get some breakfast.  We ate at Cafe Troy and it was good!  I had fresh orange juice, bacon, egg and chips.  Then we walked through town.  We stopped at the Salvation Army where I bought a fascinator, then we went to Morrison's which is a grocery chain.  I bought some water and Jammie Dodgers and us girls admired the alcohol isle with its cans of hooch, etc.

We came back to the house, took a nap and then walked around the grounds a little before supper.  For supper I'm not sure if she said Scottish Pie or Cottage Pie but it was delicious.  After a brief class session we were all off to bed.

Day 2

We all slept pretty well, though it is pretty warm in our room.  We got up, bathed, went down and met the others for breakfast. Then Dr. Joyce Miller came in to give us a brief history of Edinburgh.  It was really interestinf to find out that being called a burgh was really an econmic staus.  Our co-leader, Jessica, then told us about the history of Dalkeith Palace.  We broke for lunch and a walk into Dalkeith to buy two-week bus passes.  Then we had a free afternoon and I walked around to take some pictures, but it started to rain.  It didn't rain for long and we went out for a walk down to the stables and past the orangerie.  It was not a real stressful day, but that was nice because we were all pooped out.

Day 3

Four of us chose to go along with another group to St. Andrew's.  It was our first time out of Dalkeith so it was nice to go with a group.  We took the bus into Edinburgh, took a train to Leuchars, and then a bus to St. Andrew's.  We walked around town and saw the cathedral ruins, the castle ruins, and then ewent to the golf course.  One of our classmates really wanted to get a picture on the bridge on the 18th hole, so we did that.  Then we went and watched the Highland Games.  That was fun, but by the end my poor ankle was getting sore, and come to discover I had a blister on my arch.  We stopped at Morrison's on the way home and had a little picnic on the grounds.  Though I couldn't care less about golf, I enjoyed the sea breeze and the quaint town.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Gettin' Serious

I've been thinking a lot about my weight.  While I'm very proud of the progress I have made, I always seem to get so far and then just stop.  Looking back, I told myself that I was not going into my thirties this unhealthy, and now here I am--33 and still fat and unhealthy.

I know I can lose weight, I dropped seventy plus pounds in Moscow, but I just never seem to do it. Someone recently, again, asked if I'd ever considered bariatric surgery and I said no, I hadn't.  I've never considered it because I know that it won't fix the problem, which is in my head.  Until I fix my relationship with food, there is no point in surgery because the same habits will be there.

I've been thinking it over, though.  I always felt that surgery, a drastic option, was cheating somehow and that I should be able to do it on my own.  I also didn't want to have my bowels completely rearranged and my stomach made so small that I would have to constantly be eating (isn't that my problem to begin with??) Then, the other night I was sitting there thinking that I can't keep dragging this on.  I have relatively few health issues now, but as I get further into my thirties, things are going to start going down hill.

I also wonder if I'm against having the surgery because then I would have no choice.  I think somewhere deep inside I'm still telling myself I don't deserve to be healthy, and I'm scared because if I'm rejected after I've lost all the weight then I can't blame it on the weight.

It comes down to this, I need to get the weight off. Period.  So, I'm giving myself until the end of the year, and if I don't make significant progress, as in at least thirty pounds, then it will be time to look at surgery.  I have to look at the long term.  Before I know it I will be 39 saying that I can't go into my forties like this.

Ok, so today I redoubled my efforts.  In order to get a little jump start, and to prove to my mother that she can survive on her points, I am fixing breakfasts, lunches and dinner for both of us and I will be eating her number of points, almost half of my points.

Ok, I can do this.  I am worth this.  I deserve this.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Birthday Shenanigans.

So, Saturday was my birthday.  My mom and co-worker and I all went down to KC and had a girls' weekend.  We started by visiting my bestie, fixing a ginormous (you think I'm kidding) pot of borscht (why is there a t on the of borscht?), pelmeni and later homemade ice cream and feasting at Lins' house.  I got to play with Charlotte, the most adorable child EVER, and just chill with my girlies.

Saturday, Mom, Jazz and I went to the Russian store and stocked up on goodies, then had lunch at Oklahoma Joe's.  Seriously, the most amazing BBQ.  EVER.  Then we walked around the Country Club Plaza, but it was hotter than a mo-fo and we called it quits by about 5:00.  We went back to the hotel, watched TV and ordered pizza.

By Sunday we were all pretty much exhausted, but we stopped at the Kansas City Farmer's Market.  It was neat, but we didn't hold up very long in the 96 degree heat.  We finally decided to make our way back home.

It was a great weekend.  I wish I could have seen Lins and Charlotte more, but I was so thrilled that Charlotte seemed to remember me and was happy to see us.  I got lots of hugs in and she even told me "night" when she was getting ready for bed.

Now, the fun is over and I have to finish two papers this week, get prepared for my Scottish Archives class and keep figuring out how I am going to bring the love of my life (I'm pretty sure...) here from Belarus.

But to end on a positive note, I am apparently making strides in my quest to like myself.  I took this selfie at Oklahoma Joe's and I said to my mother "Huh, that's a pretty good picture," and thought to myself "Wow, I really am pretty."


Monday, June 16, 2014

Thirty Year Old Teenager

I'm reading a great book right now, A Walk on the Beach: Tales of Wisdom From and Unconventional Woman. The author befriends Joan Erikson, wife of world renown psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, who helps the author get through a midlife crisis of sorts. Ok, the book itself is not life-altering, but the wisdom and inspiration from Joan Erikson is great. The last three years I've really been trying to look inside and figure out who I am and who I want to be, and I am finding a lot of inspiration from Joan.

Something I've really struggled with for a long time is being single. It's not the fact that been single for so long that bothers me so much, but the fact that there just really hasn't been anyone, at all. There was kind of almost someone once, except that he was married and I knew I couldn't go there. I know that lots of people are single for a long time, but most people date at least occasionally.

I've always felt inadequate in all areas of my life, especially when the subject of dating came up. This is something that I am trying really hard to get past. While I cannot quite think of myself as beautiful, I no longer think of myself as hideous.

Now, before you get all mad at me, you have to understand where I am coming from--a place where I was not smart enough, where I was chubby and the words of others took my self-image and ripped it to shreds. You may think it's stupid, but this is where I'm coming from, so I really have made giant strides.

I've always felt that I skipped the teenage years. I often hung around with adults, I mean I basically shadowed my mother, and adults didn't say make fun of me either, so I grew up pretty quickly. I missed out on the teen dating thing, and spent my life into my twenties pretty well cocooned in self-pity. I feel that is all about to change.

 After reading about Joan and Erik Erikson, I've done a little research just out of curiosity and I find his stages of development quite interesting. I think that there may have been some issues clear back in the first stage for me, but I think things really started to go wrong in stage three. This is when children are supposed to start interacting with other children and showing initiative, but if this is hampered, they end of feeling guilty and like a nuisance. My brother and I never had many friends and spent most of our time playing alone or with each other. Then comes the fourth stage.  I think this is really where things went south.

"It is at this stage that the child’s peer group will gain greater significance and will become a major source of the child’s self esteem. "

When your peer group is either non-existent or spends its time hurling insults at you, you are going to have issues.

So, now I feel like I'm getting a chance to go back and do some things over. I've written about my friend Alex, and I am working on getting him here, and of course my mind is racing with possibilities. Will we remain good friends, will we be something more? Will he be the one I marry? That's where my brain goes all split personality and one side says "woohoo! someone likes me and we might have a relationship," while the other side says "I just can't quite picture that, I'll believe it when I see it."

Now I get to experience the emotions of a teenage girl who's got a serious crush (with a 30 y.o. body saying "hey bozo! you're not gettin' any younger here!") and all that goes along with that. I feel giddy on the one hand, but I'm trying to stifle it and be adult about the whole thing. But then I really want to just let out a huge SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!* Yep...30 year old teenager...

Better late than never, eh?

*Imagine Maria from the Sound of Music dancing in the hills.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Get Your Happy On

Isn't it amazing?  Sometimes it's just as if a little switch flips inside you and you find yourself instantaneously in a different frame of mind!

Ok, it's been established that the last few years have been exceptionally crappy.  I was feeling low and nostalgic and missing friends overseas at Christmas time, so I told myself I had to send something to my friend Alyosha.  (Over the past several years I kept starting letters to him and sent one here or there, but was really terrible about it.  But then again, I never got any from him either.)  In order to not delay myself and forget to do it, I found a card and didn't write much and sent it right away.  This was early January because their big holiday in Belarus is New Year.

I didn't think much about it until in February I got a very enthusiastic reply wondering why I hadn't written for 5 years and why his letters had been returned.  In this letter he sent me a valentine and he just seemed so excited, so of course my head was swirly for like two weeks.

Feeling like a teenage girl with a huge crush I wrote him back immediately.   I wrote him many letters, sent pictures, and wrote more.  There was just so much to say.  I floated for a week, until my job brought me back down to earth.  Then came the episode with my dad and I was a little preoccupied.  At about the 6 week point I started to get pretty sad because I hadn't heard anything back.  Then I got busy and kind of forgot about being sad everyday when I got the mail.

May 12, I finally got another letter--actually, three letters in one.  I had asked him lots of questions, like if his life could be anything, what would he want, what are his favorite colors, and important things like that.  He said he wished that he hadn't had to quit his studies (he's had a pretty rough time of things) and that his ideal life would be to have enough to support a kind wife and kids.  He also explained to me that it wasn't so much that he didn't want to come here, but he wasn't sure he could live here.  He was afraid that stereotypes would be too strong and people would look down on him.

Ding!  A lightbulb went on.  I had the brilliant idea that he could come to the college where I work as a student.  He could finish a degree, work on his English, and of course, well, I'm here. :)  Yesterday, very nervously, I called him.  It was great!  He was so surprised he could hardly speak and then his mom got on the phone to say hello.  I told him about my idea and he said "well, I'm kind of old" (as in 36...)  and I assured him that many people here are going to back to school because of the craptastic economy.  He thought about it and said "I don't know if they'll give me a visa, but tell me what I need to do."

YES!  My life now has a purpose.  I don't know how, but I am going to get him over here!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


It's hereditary.  I have tons of big ideas and plans, it's just the follow-through with which I have trouble.

About two months ago I decided that I didn't want to be one of those people who just never got around to things.  Good intentions don't mean anything.  There are so many things that I want to do but I have always told myself that I can't do those things because I don't have enough money, enough resources, skills, you name it.  One day it occurred to me: so?  What's really stopping me is not lack of resources.  It's fear.

I am tired of being ruled by fear.

I have lived my whole life in fear.  Fear that I was not good enough, I was not pretty enough, not smart enough, not fun enough...not enough.  I call bullshit.  I can do anything I really want to do.  It may not be easy, in fact anything worth doing is not, but if I keep at it, I can do whatever I want.  Maybe not quite in the way I dreamed, but I can still do it.

So, I am adopting a new attitude.*  Just do it!  Whatever it is I want to do, I am just going to do it.  I am going to find a way and do it.  I believe this is the way I will find fulfillment in my life, no more "what if"s or "if only"s, only "how can I"s.

Another goal, or I should say attitude adjustment, will be to be happy.  I'm tired of getting so down, letting people get to me, etc.  My new attitude is to be a beacon to all around me.  I know firsthand the importance of someone simply noticing you, so I will endeavor to say a kind word to everyone I meet.  I believe I can change the world, one kind word at a time.

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."  Leo Buscaglia

I may have setbacks, but I keep making progress.  Go me!  Go me!!  I can do it!

*Dad's little escapade to the hospital put a slight damper on my attitude. OK, I've been pretty down, but that is all behind now. Mostly... 

No one is useless in this
A Single Sentence Spoken At the Right Time Could Change Someones Life Forever

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hopeless, alright...


Well, dad is on the road to recovery and doing pretty well.  He needs to do what he's supposed to... :-\ but I think for the most part he is.

As I was trying to get back into my classes I was just so exhausted and slowly I'm realizing that I can't write four papers, keep up on weekly discussions and materials, work, teach, keep track of dad and his bills.  Thankfully, my teachers this semester have been totally awesome and have agree to give me incomplete grades so that I can take care of dad and then finish my work in a more calm fashion.  As my friend would say "Praise Jeebus!"

So now, after the shock and fear of the situation have subsided, as I complained about in my last post, I've been wallowing (only slightly) in self-pity thinking "why don't I get to come home to someone," "why don't I get to have someone who is there to kiss the tears away?"  (And of course this is all further fueled by a letter from an old, very dear friend.)  And being the extremely intelligent person that I am, I proceed to read The Bridges of Madison County, which I highly recommend, and then watch The Reader (which I read in college in the original German)--two singularly poignant stories of true love which could never be.  (I'm a real sucker for those kinds of stories.)


It's like how you listen to depressing music when you feel depressed...

So, last night I was feeling all forlorn and had myself convinced, practically martyred myself, saying "I will never find someone, I am just one of those people who will never have love, who will always be alone."  Today I am in a slight funk, though part of it may be the fact that Saturday was 80 degrees and today I woke up to snow.

On the lighter side, I have been having a blast sending and receiving postcards with Postcrossing.

So, I'll try not to depress myself any further... :)

Romantic, yes...hopeless, definitely.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Update on Dad

Wow!  The last week is a blur of driving, worrying, imagining the worst, and hoping for the best.

I spent 12 hours driving in 5 days.  Ugh!  Man, I don't know how people spend months going back and forth to hospitals.  It's frickin' exhausting!

Well, Wednesday, when I wrote my last post, he was really out of it and couldn't really talk because of the breathing tube (they really mes your throat up) and I'm sure was overwhelmed.  The doctors just did not sound positive--like if he survived he'd have terrible brain damage.  We went home mid afternoon because hew was so out of it, he just needed to rest and there was nothing we could do.  We came home and checked on the house and then went home.  After running on adrenaline and 3 hours of sleep, we needed rest!

We slept in a little bit Thursday and had to run a few errands.  As we were about ready to head to Iowa City I got a phone call from a doctor requesting consent to do the surgery on Friday.  I thought that must be good news, but mom wasn't sure.  Well, we headed down and dad was sitting up and talking (he still sounded like an old lady who'd be smoking for 40 years because of the tube) and I think he was really overwhelmed by the whole situation.  Lots of emotions crossed his face, but I think he also came to understand how serious the situation was and that this was really the only option.

We stayed till 7 when we left to check into a cheap motel.  He was scheduled to have surgery at 7:15 Friday morning, so we wanted to be there before he went.  We ordered Papa John's pizza (dad's room was in the John Pappajohn center at the hospital, and due to stress and lack of sleep, it was really funny to me to be eating Papa John's pizza...) and painted our toenails before crashing.

It was the worst night of sleep. EVER.  The mattress was so hard...I felt awful the next day.  Anyway, we got to the hospital at 6:15 and sat with him.  An emergency came in and they ended up not taking him to surgery until about 11:20.  We sat in the waiting room, exhausted, listening to some really annoying people.  I was not the happiest of campers.  At 4:45 we were just starting to get worried and the doctor came in and said that he was fine and back in his room.

Apparently the cyst was larger than they expected and they couldn't get all of it out, but they got most of it.  The doctor said he came through the surgery very well.  He didn't want to wake up at all, so about 6:30 we headed home.  I have never been so happy to be in my own bed!  Saturday we got there about 1:30 or 2:00 and he was still pretty much out.  They said he didn't come out of the anesthesia until midnight the night before.  Well, after about two hours we thought it was silly to just sit there, so we called a friend and met for supper at Coral Ridge Mall.

Sunday we went down and he was out of the ICU and in the regular neurosurgery ward.  He was more alert, but not really with it.  I know he was sad that we had to leave after just a couple hours, but we were both exhausted and had to work Monday.

We called him briefly Monday night and then Tuesday my uncle came over to fix the door frames which the police busted.  We ended up taking him home around 3:00 and after we dropped him off, we hopped down to the hospital.  (He lives about half an hour away.)  We weren't going to go back until today, but it's a good thing we went yesterday because a gentleman from Mary Greeley came to talk to him about rehab.  Today dad didn't remember much of the conversation, so it's good I could say that we had talked about it last night and he, mom and I had decided it was the best course of action.

So, this morning at 11:00 a.m. they were transporting him to Mary Greeley.  Now it will only be a half hour drive to go see him.

Much relief.

Is it bad that now that the panic is over I am feeling slightly sorry for myself?  I just keep thinking it's crappy that I don't have someone to come home to to make it better.  I mean I have mom, but it's not the same as coming home to a spouse or partner and having someone to hold you and love you.  I'm just tired of going through all this rough sh*t by myself.  Ok, end of pity party.  I really am so glad dad is ok.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tough Times

Well, this year has certainly thrown a lot my way.  Over the past twelve months I have lost a great boss and friend, carried my workplace (again), found and lost another friendship, and exhausted myself with graduate studies.  But that, it would seem, is not sufficient.

As I write this I am sitting the in the cafeteria at the University of Iowa hospital.  Yesterday, I texted my dad, just stupid stuff.  I never heard back.  Something inside me said "WARNING!"  I realized that we hadn't heard from him since Sunday.  I got in my car, drove to his house and warming bells really started ringing. The lights were off, the truck was in the garage, he wasn't answering any phones.

After about half an hour of ounding in doors and windows, mom left work early and we decided to call the police.  They took forever.  Well, 15 minutes seems like forever.  Finally, after a second officer joined the first (someone I had gone to school with), they busted in the doors and found him lying on the living room floor, five feet away from where I was knocking--his cell phone was on the desk just a foot away.

He was somewhat responsive, answering some questions but not others. We don't know for sure but we think he had been laying there since sometime Monday.  About 1 a.m. This morning they transported him here to Iowa City.  They told us they would probably do surgery in the morning, so after some debate, we decided to get a little sleep and then head here.

At 6 when mom called to find out where he was, they said he'd just come out of surgery because when he got here it was much worse than they first thought.  What we later found out is that they put two drains in his head to let the extra fluid out.

A couple years ago he found out he had a cyst in his brain that might never cause problems, but it shifted and blocked the flow of spinal fluid.  They think he's been having seizures so right now all we can do is wait.  If they can, if he seems like he is coming out of it ok, they will remove the cyst.  If not...

We continue to wait.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Yahoo!  This is my 100th post!  It seems well timed, almost like an anniversary.

Ok, so random things to catch up on...

Apparently, the past five or six weeks I have had some kind of bug which has totally zapped my energy, made me have various stomach symptoms, and generally feel cruddy.  I went to the doctor and they ruled out mono, and I think that I am finally starting to feel better.

As always, I feel like I am barely keeping up at work, with my teaching and my grad classes.  But somehow everything gets done.  Now that I am doing a dual M.A. in library and information science (with archive concentration) and Russian translation, it's going to be three years before I can graduate.  I'm going to be sooooo busy, but I keep telling myself that it is only temporary.

You know that I simply hate to travel, so it will seriously surprise you that I have applied for a course this summer in Scotland.  If I get to go, I will spend two weeks at Dalkeith House just outside of Edinburgh, and we will travel north up to Inverness.  I'm not excited at all... Of course, I don't know if I'm going or not.

Just over one year ago I started on Weight Watchers, and while I am proud of myself that I have kept 50 pounds off for a year, I am a little irritated with myself that I let things level off.  But I have a new resolve and I am going to kick it up!  My goal is to lose another 43 by the time I would go to Scotland.  (That would put me at the lowest I've been since I can remember, the same that I was when I came home from Moscow a few years ago.)

Lastly, I have a very dear friend who I met as an exchange student in Belarus.  We've written to each other over the years, talked on the phone, and he even came to see me in 2001 when I was in Kiev.  He is not only my dearest friend, he is the love of my life.  For the past five years we have not heard anything from each other.  The Belarusian postal service is not exactly reliable, and I think letters got lost, etc.  I think about him all the time and always mean to write him, but rarely do.  This Christmas I said "Self, you have to send Alex a Christmas card!"  And I did.  Lo and behold, yesterday I got the mail only to see a letter from Belarus.

It was the sweetest, most excited, loveliest letter in the history of letters.  And while I am heartbroken  to be so far away from him, I can count myself lucky to have someone who truly cares about me, loves me for all of me, and truly understands me.  Even if I do feel like Anna in the King and I.

Well, I have made up my mind--I am going to spend the next year scrimping and saving, and getting much healthier (and smaller so that I can sit in an airplane for 14 hours halfway comfortably), and next summer, I am going to go see him.  Even if I have to max out my credit cards.  Whatever it takes, I simply must.

Until then, I gots a lot to do!

Me and Alex, 1998.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


First road trip of the year!

I love getting away for little breaks.  I mean, I love going on big adventures, but let's face it--they are time consuming, usually expensive, and a lot of work.  Last semester I was fortunate to go to DC in September, Japan in October, Colorado in November, and Wisconsin in December.  Wow!  As awesome as that was, trying to work full time, take full time grad classes, teach a class AND travel...wasn't easy.

This weekend, for the first time since June I was able to slip away and visit my KS bestie and her utterly adorable spawn.  It's so nice to just chillax, laugh and play together.  These are the times that make life bearable.

Tomorrow it will be time to head home already...but for now, I'll enjoy some more play time.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Let Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot.

Here it is--day number 1.

Another year has come and gone, and like millions of other people I have been reflecting on the past year and the course of my life.

Two thousand and thirteen was one of the worst and one of the best years of my life.  In 2012, after six months of being the only full-time employee and running the place by myself we hired a new manager.  This past year we grew to be a really good team, and I really liked my boss and respected him.  Then, for valid reasons, he left suddenly the third day of the fall semester.  So not only had I lost a boss who I really liked, but I was again alone--thankfully, though, I had a new co-worker start who turned out to be very sharp and someone with whom I really enjoy working--and this happened four days before I started back to grad school.

Needless to say, this fall was probably the most stressful, disheartening, and awful time of my life.  My boss' departure really hit me hard, and I got behind in my classes from the very start.  I never did catch up, and I was seriously worried whether or not I would pass my classes.  Especially the Foundations class with the teacher from hell.  (I did pass, though, two A- and an A!)

I've also had some new(er) friendships which have been trying at times, but even though they have been trying, and at times added greatly to my stress level, the plus side of this year has been that I've learned a lot about myself.

1. I am nowhere near as pathetic as I thought.
After some of the people I have dealt with this year, I realized that I am not pathetic.  I have things I need to work out, but my biggest problem is just not loving myself.  Some people are in really bad places and just make one terrible decision after another.

2. I am no dumb bunny.
My brother is pretty much a genius, so I always compared myself to him and thought I was of just average intelligence, however, after working in a community college for five and a half years, I've discovered that I am pretty darn smart.

3. I won't settle for less than the best.
While I don't think in anyway that I deserve it or that it will come to me, I won't settle for any less than the best.  I dream big, and I won't go for someone, or something, that falls short.  I know a few people who go for whoever or whatever comes next, and I just can't stand that. I get mad and sad because I know that I will never meet Jeremy Renner (for example), but I'm still holding out.

4. I can't stand self-centeredness.
There is someone in my life with whom I was very close, but I have discovered that this person is very self-centered, and even though I really care about this person, I can't keep up a relationship where the other person uses me, never hears a word a say, and acts like a child most of the time.

5. Quality over quantity.
I put my heart and soul into things, which has brought me a lot of heartache, but also a lot of joy.  I would much rather have quality time with someone than simply a lot of time.  One of my dear friends who lives in Kansas is a perfect example.  I get to see her a couple times a year, and we really don't talk a whole lot, but I know she is always there when I need her and when we are reunited, it's like I saw her last week.  I love her, and I think we have come to the perfect relationship, for us.

Now, something I have learned is that I am a giver--I give, give, give, and am often disappointed when my effort is not reciprocated.  However, I have come to understand that I cannot hold everyone to my standards, they are pretty damn high after all.  I have to evaluate each relationship and decide to what level I am ok giving.  That has helped a lot, but sometimes I still wish a relationship was more than it is.

I have learned a lot of other things, too.  I am one tough cookie.  I can handle a lot, and with class. I am a leader.  I can get in there and get stuff done.  I am smart.  I have excellent judgement and discernment, and I can generally get a good feel for who people really are.  I give excellent advice.  I am worth a lot, and my employer is pretty lucky to have me.  I don't mean to brag, I never toot my own horn and I don't like the spotlight, but I say these things to help myself realize what I am, which is pretty fantabulous actually.

So, this year really beat me up, but I am trying to look at the positives.  My weight went up about ten pounds here in December (the last two weeks of the semester almost killed me...) but, through everything, through crap at work, a hellacious load at school, some rocky stuff in my personal life, I kept off 50 pounds!  I have not reverted back to old ways, but I do need to knuckle down and get back to eating as well as I was.


So, I have just a few goals for the new year.

1. Get back on track with Weight Watchers and lose another 50 pounds so I can go skydiving.
2. Cut out as much artificial sweetener as possible.
3. Eat fast food no more than once or twice a month.
4. Continue to think and feel better about myself.

Here is to a new year, may the happy times be more than the sad ones, let us remember to live, love and laugh generously, and never let the sun go down on your anger (keep those you love close and never let the last thing you say to them be something terrible).

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