Archives

Oh, How My Life Has Changed

When I met Tony, I had no idea how this man would end up changing my life. I thought I was just lucky to meet a man I had so much in common with and would actually sit and talk with me for hours.

When he asked me to marry him I said yes without a second of hesitation even knowing it would mean moving away from everyone and everything I knew. It was scary, it still is, but very exciting at the same time.

I still deal with a lot, a LOT, of guilt about moving away from my Granny and my parents. My Granny was 98 when I moved and my parents are both in their 70s and starting to need more help. I had been there for all of them my entire life and it was so hard to leave them.

I thought it would be hardest to tell my Granny about my plans to leave, she was bedridden in a nursing home and her only regular visitors were my mother and I. I went and saw her every week unless I was sick. Surprisingly,  Granny was extremely supportive of my decision and only said, “it’s your turn to take care of you.” She lived to be 99 and a half years old. I will forever be grateful to my husband for sending me home to surprise her for her 99th birthday. There are not words to ever express how much those memories mean to me.

Being so far from family and friends has been hard but I had Tony here with me. To give me some more company he got me a dog, Shaggy. He is my little fur baby and, yes, I am one of those people who loves their animals like part of the family. I am native and all I see when I look at him is another spirit. You may think I’m a crazy hippie and you’d be right. I own it!

Having my husband and my dog here with me made things a little easier for a while but then Tony was assigned a new project at work and now he’s gone for 4days and 3 nights every week. It was hard being in a foreign country before but now it’s so much harder.

Do I still think my life has changed for the better? Yes! Just because life is hard does not make it bad. It just means you have to work harder to find your bliss. I do love living here in Germany and the people are great. Once I get to where I can speak German better I know I will make friends and be more social. Until then I will keep focusing on keeping in touch with as many people back home as I can, my writing, my dog, and my husband.

 

The Things You’ll See

Yesterday, I went out shopping. I bought a new rolling grocery cart because the one I had was held together with Duct Tape and was too easy to tip over. I found a construction dumpster and tossed the old one.

As I was walking to the train station I saw something that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a Porche. Now, it’s not unusual to see expensive sports cars here. You see can see Porsches and Ferraris just about any day, especially if you are down near the Altstadt where you find the more upscale stores. But this Porche was different, and not really in a good way.

 

free-shipping-Custom-pink-color-chrome-full-shell-for-PS4-Controller-Hydro-Dipped-Chrome-pink-color.jpg_640x640

This is the best example of the color I found.

Now, this is of course just my opinion based on my personal tastes, but this car was nice in many ways. It had a great body style, the engine sounded amazing, but the color made me cringe. I’m not sure I can describe it well enough to get you, my reader, to feel the actual physical discomfort I felt while looking at this automobile.

 

I had to wonder what on earth would make a person, who could afford such a magnificent car, choose such a color. It was a shiny metallic pink color, like teenage girl nail polish metallic pink, like 70’s disco dress kind of metallic pink, like a Hot Wheels car kind of metallic pink. It was just weird to see this on a real street legal Porche.

 

s-l1600

 

Hot Wheels is a trade marked product of Mattel – Maybe they were part of the Gleam Team.

 

If you Google metallic pink chrome Porche you will find different models in this color. It’s obviously a somewhat popular paint choice since you can find so many examples of it. It’s just all a matter of personal taste. As for me, it gives me chest pains to see it.

 

The second thing I saw that I was sure was a sign of the end of days, was a nice family sitting at a cafe eating ice cream. Now, I’m sure you are wondering what on earth could be wrong with this?

As I was walking past this cafe, I noticed a very nice looking family of a man, a woman, and a small boy about, maybe, five or six-years-old. The man and the woman each had an ice cream cone. It was a very humid day so there were many people on the streets with ice cream cones. The man was eating his cone and the woman was sharing her’s with the little boy.

 

 

 

4ffc972fcf2ac.image

 

Susan Walsh, Associated Press – President Barack Obama eats mint chocolate chip ice cream at Deb’s Ice Cream & Deli in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

 

None of this is odd so far, the odd part was how the woman was eating her ice cream cone. The usual practice with an ice cream in a cone is you hold the cone in your hand and lick the ice cream. That is not how this woman was doing it. She was holding the cone in her hand but she was eating the ice cream out of it with a spoon.

 

 

I am going to turn 49-years-old next month and I can honestly say I have never in my life seen anyone eat a normal sized ice cream cone with a spoon. I have no idea why this struck me as so odd and objectionable but it did. It’s not like how she eats her ice cream is going to cause the seventh seal to be broken and bring about the end of times and yet I still wanted to walk over and ask her if I could explain how ice cream cones work.

Now, if it had been one of those huge cones that are more like a bowl, where they give you three or four scoops of ice cream, then I could see it. But this was a small cone with just one scoop of ice cream on it. Maybe she just didn’t want her and her child licking on the same cone, I don’t know. It will have to remain one of those great mysteries of life.

While this post may make me come off as being judgemental, I really don’t care what color car you drive or how you choose to eat your ice cream. Do whatever you want to do to make your life worth living and I will totally support you. As long as you use your turn signal and the turn lanes when driving and you are polite to waitstaff and don’t drop your napkins on the ground and leave them there. Those are the real things I will judge you for, as we all should.

Feeling Drained

IMG_7776These last few weeks have been … well … hell. I started this blog to talk about the things that are different when you go from living in a mid-west town in the U.S. to living overseas in a foreign country but life has been getting in my way lately. (I will get back to my original plan soon, I promise.) Things have been a bit sidetracked since Tony started consulting for a new client.

He used to consult with one here in town but now every Monday Tony has to fly out to Zurich, share a rental car with co-workers to Konstanz, Germany where he works until Thursday afternoon, then flies home. So, after being single for 46 years, I get married and move to Europe with the man of my dreams only to end up living alone again for 4 days a week in a country where I do not know anyone else and do not speak the language very well.

Now, I have met people since we moved here, of course I have. But I have not become friends with anyone who actually lives here. All the friends I have made since moving here have been in my language classes. Unfortunately, most of them were only here to learn German and went home again after their class was over. The few who are still here are mostly 20-something males from Syria. While we always say hello when we see each other on the street, we aren’t the kind of friends who go to the movies and get gelato together.

To make matters more stressful right now, our dog has been very sick and I have had to try taking care of him on my own, navigating the trains and taxis with a sick dog and trying to communicate in a language I do not speak very well. Let’s just say, Thank God for chocolate because I’m not much of a drinker anymore.

I would like to point out the people I have dealt with while trying to take care of Shaggy have all been wonderful. The people at the animal clinic are amazing and I feel very good about the care they always give Shaggy. But when you are alone in a foreign country and don’t feel secure in your knowledge of the local language and customs, any crisis like this is extremely stressful.

Tony has tried to do everything he can even when he’s in Konstanz. He makes calls to the vet and other people for me when my level of German isn’t enough to understand each other.

I had been in a German language class I loved this summer but the teacher left the school. She is going to be teaching in a new school in September. I need to call today and see about getting into the new school and when her class will get to module 3, where I left off, and set up for me to join the class at that time.

On the up side of things, I will be able to complete my German lessons well before my deadline of August 2018, even if I have to start over again at the new school. The ice machine I ordered works fantastic and I have been living on ice teas this week. When everything is going to hell, it’s the little things that keep you going.

 

 

Who I am and Why You Should Follow Me

The first part of this is easy enough. I am a middle-aged woman who got married for the first and only time at the age of 47. As is typical nowadays, my husband and I met on a dating website. A co-worker had met his fiance on Plenty of Fish and suggested I try it too. I had five dates and the fifth would be my last first date ever, I met the man I would marry.

 

482951_4254342848499_300130885_n

Just your average Kansas girl.

I was born, raised, went to college, and lived in Wichita, Kansas practically my entire life except for a few short moves to Oklahoma and Missouri. While I had traveled to different countries, the visits were never more than a week a two. My husband, however, was born and raised in Chile, went to college in Germany, and has lived pretty much all over the world. How his life’s journey managed to land him in Wichita, KS, I will never know but I’m grateful it did.

 

I fluently speak English and have studied Spanish, Russian, and American Sign language but can barely have a basic conversations in them. My husband fluently speaks English, Spanish, German and can have basic conversations in Italian, Portuguese, and French and knows some Danish and Chinese.

I am the first person in my family to go to college and I believe I am still the only one with a degree but defiantly the only one with more than one degree. I have a degree in journalism and an associated degree in forensic criminology. I have taken numerous business and management classes and had started another degree in nutrition but after meeting my husband, my future plans changed. I do hope to finish my nutrition degree one day. It is very important to me.

My husband, on the other hand, comes from a family where college is expected and many people have degrees. He himself holds five degrees. I believe it’s two undergraduate and three master’s but, honestly, I can never remember for sure.

I come from what would be considered a lower middle-class American family while my husband comes from a more aristocratic upper-class Chilean/German family.we couldn’t come from more different backgrounds and yet we are so similar it’s scary.

My husband and I both love to learn new things, cooking, and are both admitted crazy geeks who love all things Star Wars, Star Trek, Lego, Comic-Con, etc. I don’t think we could ever find anyone with whom we could be more compatible. We love traveling and trying new things and are not shy about sharing our adventures.

While I do use fictitious names because of Tony’s job, I am pretty honest about every other aspect of our lives here. I hope you will find out journey as interesting as we do.

Things are Looking Up Again

13900357_10208876501981516_8409685883745070408_nAfter we got Shaggy home from the vet clinic he was doing good for two days then he took a turn for the worse.

After finally eating well again, Sunday night as we were going to bed, Shaggy began throwing up again. He threw up so many times and by the end was just dry heaving. The poor boy was so tired he just laid there and looked at me. It was so hard being that helpless.

The next day he refused to eat anything, can’t say that I blame him after the night he had. I tried just giving him boiled turkey and rice but he wouldn’t touch it. Finally last night, I gave him a boiled egg. He ate it so fast I had to take it away from him and hand feed it to him so he wouldn’t make himself sick again.

Today, I tried the turkey and rice again but he still didn’t want it so I gave him another boiled egg. I had an idea and, for lunch, I made Shaggy an omelet of one egg, turkey, and rice. He loved it so much I again had to take the food from him and hand feed it to him. I’m being careful not to feed him too much today until we know for sure he’s feeling better.

One thing I am so thankful for is the way animals are treated here in Germany. The vet we go to is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year just like the hospital for people. Watching the doctors with Shaggy has made me feel so much better. You can tell the people in there really love animals. Some people even bring their own animals to work with them.

Here it is more the norm for animals to be seen as part of the family and not an accessory. Dogs go to the mall with people, to restaurants, on vacation, they go everywhere people go except grocery stores. It’s amazing.

Even the shelter we went to looked like a pet resort. They had an agility pen with ramps and tires to jump through. They had even just built a new area for rabbits. It was pretty nice.

It’s comforting to be somewhere I know the people I need to go to to help my dog will care as much about him and his well-being as I do.

Things Got Better …

13895007_10208856101431515_6922223854521551881_n

Shaggy was dehydrated so they put him on an IV first thing.

After getting Shaggy to the vet, things got better, until they got worse. Shaggy was doing great  for a few days but when Tony got home, Shaggy took a turn for the worse. I’m glad Tony was here to help!

Shaggy had gone two days without being sick since I took him to the vet. But Friday Shaggy started throwing up again and this time he was showing signs of dehydration. Tony and I took Shaggy back to the vet.

The first thing they did was set up with an IV to rehydrate him. Then after a few more tests they found out his intestines were filled with gas.

Now, you should know that last month I took him in for allergy testing. We had not gotten the results yet. So while we were there this time, we asked about the results and it turns out our dog is very allergic to pork and beef. Who would have ever thought a dog could be allergic to pork and beef?!

For months we had been buying Shaggy big ham bones as special weekend treats. Who knew we could be killing him with that. So for now, Shaggy is on a diet of chicken and rice and, after a while, he might get lucky and get a few more veggies mixed in.

As for me, I’m tired!

So, This is How Today Went …

13726668_10208648792968933_731683325503284684_n(WARNING: Ridiculously long note after an incredibly insane and stressful day. And, only one of us ended up getting good drugs, it wasn’t me.)

 

Shaggy was sick yesterday. He started throwing up about four hours after Tony left town, of course. He didn’t seem to feel bad. He was still running and playing and bugging me so I figured he just ate something that didn’t agree with him. I was keeping an eye on him for signs of dehydration or getting worse. I figured if he wasn’t able to eat today I would take him to the vet tomorrow or if he would get worse I would take him to the vet ASAP.

 

Shaggy was still doing okay today. He did get sick this morning but by the afternoon he had been able to eat a little and keep it down. I though the was on the mend. I was wrong.

 

This evening about 6:30 Shaggy came running to me panting and shaking. I felt his nose and it was hot. I was very worried so I tried calling the vet to see if they were still open. I have never had any luck trying to call anyone from our landline. I don’t know if I’m dialing too many numbers or if I’m not dialing enough but I usually end up either hearing odd tones or recorded messages in German I do not understand.

 

I couldn’t call from my cell because Tony has it set up on a plan through these guys at the train station and we normally just stop in there and buy the phone minutes when we are on the way somewhere, I was out of minutes. I could, however, use the wifi and text Tony in Whatsapp and tell him to call me, which is what I did. I gave Tony the number to the vet and asked him to call them and make sure they were still open and could see Shaggy. Turns out, this vet is open 24 hours a day, hallelujah!

 

Now, we have been to this vet a few times and I’ve even gone there with Shaggy by myself but these previous visits were all just to get him set up with a local vet, get puppy shots, and have him checked for allergies because he was scratching a lot. It was nothing like this where I’m practically frantic.

 

Shaggy is shaking so hard I don’t think he can walk to the vet. He’s not good on a leash as it is but with the way he’s feeling I’m thinking this is not going to be good. We do have a soft-side dog carrier you can hang over your shoulder like a duffle bag. I opted to carry my dog, knowing full well I will be paying for this tomorrow.

 

Shaggy isn’t fond of the bag and starts fighting me, to make a long story short, by the time he’s in the bag, I’m crying, Shaggy’s panting harder and all sweaty and I’m contemplating just calling a cab, but then with my phone situation, how?

 

I get to the train stop in my neighborhood and I’m sitting waiting for my train talking to Shaggy trying to keep him calm because he really doesn’t like being out where there is traffic. As I’m talking to Shaggy I start smelling burning paper. I look up to see the trashcan by the train stop is on fire. Sure, okay. Nothing is phasing me at this point.

 

We get on the train and get to the main station. Here, I have to switch trains to get to the vet. I can’t remember the name of the street the station is on where I need to get off to get to the vet but I know I take the train toward the airport and get off at the first stop.

 

I check the departures board and it says there is a train leaving for the airport on platform 17. Shaggy and I get there and catch the train. As the train keeps picking up speed, I realize it’s not making stops. I got on the express train to the airport.

 

Once there I check the boards to get back to the main station. From what I read it says platform 6 but I’m so frazzled I do not trust myself and I go find someone wearing a Bahn (train) vest and ask them just to make sure. He tells me the next train to the Dusseldorf main station is leaving in two minutes on platform 4. I think, thank God I asked! I do not want to delay Shaggy getting medical help any longer that I have. I get to platform 4 and the train is just pulling in. I look up at the board that tells you where it’s going and it’s not the main station, at least, not in Dusseldorf. It was going to a different town. I look over at platform 6 and I see the Dusseldorf train pulling out. I want to cry.

 

I go over to the correct platform, number SIX, and sit on a bench and wait for the next train. For several minutes I go back and forth thinking I should just go to the airport and take a cab but I don’t have the address and since my phone is out of data and phone minutes, I can’t call anyone or even look anything up. I can’t even use my translator to ask anyone for help if they don’t speak any English because my German is only about a kindergarten level. If being able to say in German I am a vegetarian, the color blue is pretty, or I am 48 years old could help I would have been golden but it didn’t and I wasn’t.

 

Finally, a train for the Dusseldorf main station comes and it’s another express. I get to the train station and just head straight to the phone guys to buy some minutes so I can call Tony. I tell the guy behind the counter I need buy more time and he begins to name off all the packages they have. I have never wanted to yank anyone across a counter by their throat so much in my life. I’m sure he could tell I was trying very hard to control my anger because after he looked up he quickly got me set to make calls. I can only imagine the look I had on my face.

 

I tried to politely thank the man for his help but I’m not so sure I was convincing. I go outside and call Tony. It took three calls and a text to get a hold of him. It was very hard for me to not use the F-word about every other word when talking with him. I know this is not his fault but he’s not here so … it’s his fault for not being here. Yes, I know that is not fair, or true, but I’m freaking out about my dog and I was not thinking straight and I knew it. As I talk to him, I notice I am saying “sweetie” in such a way that it sounds, at least to me, like I’m saying asshole.

 

So, I ask Tony to please text me the phone number to the vet. I was planning on taking a cab to their office at this point and I needed to get their address. Tony begins to tell me he will have to go back to his hotel and get their number where he wrote it down. I told him no he didn’t, since he called from his cell phone the number will still be in his phone and would he please, sweetie, just text it to me. He says he will and hangs up.

 

I go lean up against a wall and try to take some of the pressure off of my back where it’s being pulled very out of whack with a nine pound (yes, he’s still underweight), shaking, sweating, drooling, panting dog hanging, basically, from around my neck. He had sweat and drooled so much the canvas carrier bag was soaked through in places, and so was I for that matter. Part of all of the moisture was from Shaggy and I’m sure some of it was my own sweat from running all around Dusseldorf carrying him.

 

After several minutes passed, I tried calling Tony again, I got voice mail. Eventually, he called back and started to tell me the number. I had to tell him I didn’t have anything to write it down and he would have to text me the number, sweetie. In the next minute or so, Tony got me the number and I called the vet. I got one of the women who speaks English very well and told her my husband had just called a little while ago about me bringing our dog, Shaggy, in but I was lost and wanted to just take a cab and would she mind telling the cab driver where to take me. She said, yes, not to worry.

 

So, we get a cab, the lady tells him where to take us and we finally make it to the vet. On the way, the driver rolled down my window for me and I’m not sure if it was to give my panting dog air or if we both smelled like wet dog mixed with a little dog vomit and he’s just airing out the cab, either way, it was a good thing. I would get away from our smell too if I could have.

 

At the vet’s, I let shaggy out of the carrier and see if he wants some water, he didn’t. He never likes to drink or eat when we are out in public, too nervous. We get in to see a doctor in less than twenty minutes. She speaks English very well and starts to examine Shaggy. She squeezes his tummy and he basically projectile vomits toward me but misses me, thank you, God.

 

After the exam, she says he has gastroenteritis. Basically, he has the flu. She gave him three shots in his hips and he was not happy about it. Poor baby had such a rough day and now we still had to get home. I go to check out and Shaggy also got pills I have to give him the next three days. If he gets worse or keeps throwing up I have to go back. I’m taking a cab from home if I have to go back. I’m not going through all of this again with a sick dog.

 

Luckily, the pain meds seem to be kicking in and Shaggy is fairly calm for the trip home. I keep thinking, I’m so glad I have some Valium at home and I just want to get him to bed and take one. But it was not to be.

 

So, we finally get home and I realize I went off and left laundry in the machines. I need to go get Shaggy situated and then go to the basement to finish my laundry because we are not the only people who use the dryer. I get in and let Shaggy out of the carrier. He shakes then runs straight to the extra bedroom, where I had forgotten to close the door, and promptly crawls under the bed to hide, which is why we keep that door closed.

 

It takes quite a while but I finally get him out from under the bed and out of the room. I feel like I’m covered in dog spit, dog sweat, possibly a little dog vomit, and maybe even a little dog pee. Shaggy pees when scared. So, after I get him bedded down, I go straight to the shower and dress in my PJs. Then, I remember I still need to go get the laundry. Now, normally I do not go walking around the apartment building in my PJs but at this point, I think (and pardon my language here but,) fuck it.

 

I go down and take the sheets out of the dryer I need to make the bed up so I can go to bed later and (OMG! A large spider just ran across my lap while I’m typing this. Thank God, there a loveseat next to me because my laptop went flying onto it as the throw on my lap got flung to the floor. Thank God the spider was on the throw and not me or I probably really would have been startled. Shaggy came to see what was going on and sat on the throw. Now, I can’t find the spider. I think I will be finishing this in the bedroom. WTH is going on with today?!)

 

Okay, so, I go to the basement to switch my laundry at about 10:30 PM. I am tempted to just take the laundry out of both machines and bring the wet stuff up to put on the drying rack but I decide to go ahead and stay up and dry the last load. This is quite a commitment as the machines here take two hours per cycle. Yes, you read that right, it takes four hours to complete one load of laundry. Laundry day is pretty much JUST laundry day. Doing three loads, which is normal, takes eight hours to complete.

 

I go to put the laundry in the dryer and catch my arm on the latch on the dryer door and rip my skin and start bleeding, Luckily, I just happened to be doing a load of reds and didn’t worry too much about staining anything.

 

Now, I go back to my apartment and I hear Shaggy hack but he doesn’t throw up; a good sign. He signs he wants food (yes, I taught my dog some sign language), another good sign, so I give him a little boiled chicken and rice I had fixed him earlier. He ate some and, so far, has kept it down. I had not yet picked up his water and he started drinking like a madman but I got it away from him before he overdid it. I replaced the water with ice chips. All things the vet suggested.

 

I called my mom to vent a little because I was just too wound up after all of this. My alarm has gone off letting me know the last bit of laundry should be done so I can go get it and eventually go to bed. I still have to make the bed though just laying on the sheet pile on the bed sounds good at this point. Getting any sleep after all of this is another thing entirely!

 

So, how was your day? Better than mine, I hope!