The end. (Or the beginning?)

Exactly 1 year ago today, I left the United Kingdom after living there for over 3 years. It’s hard to even type that.

One of my dreams as a kid was to live abroad, whether for a long time or for good. That dream came true when I was given the opportunity to work in the United Kingdom. That dream came to an end, and not in the way in which I wanted. I even planned to return, but to no avail.

Were it up to me, I’d still be there. I wanted to get extra professional experience, dual citizenship, extra chances to travel, and a new life. I wanted things to end on my terms; I wanted to leave when I was ready. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I lost almost everything; my dream went down the drain. I came back to the United States with only a few suitcases holding a bit of clothing, a few books, and a few treasured items. Meanwhile, those that fucked up my dream continue on as if nothing happened.

I was ashamed because even though it wasn’t my fault, I came home with nothing to show for my time there (or that’s how it seems). I came home to couchsurfing, no job in sight, and very little support – family included. I lost a lot (and gained nothing but pounds). Family turned on me. Friends – scarce. And retelling my story over again – not an option. I have to live it and that’s painful enough, so why the hell would I want to repeat it?

1 year ago today marked the end of an era, the end of my dream as I had it planned and hoped it’d turn out. It’s still a bit painful, still bittersweet. I miss traveling. I miss my Meetup groups and the experiences that came along with them. I missed living abroad. I experience nostalgia sometimes, and I miss the few dear friends I made, so much. I miss what could’ve and should’ve been.

But maybe… just maybe… the end was the beginning of a new part of my life journey. Only time will tell. And as far as that country, I’m not yet done with it. I still have unfinished business there to handle, and most importantly, I still have a few dear friends there.

I needed to get this out. Thanks for reading/listening. And please stay tuned; I still have a long road ahead.

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Gratitude? (Not much for August.)

Today 08.26.2014:

I’m feeling: exhausted. Drained. Tired. Sleepy.

I’m listening to: mostly silence.

I’m thinking about/wondering why: traveling. Going on a real vacation. Sleeping. Anything other than paperwork. This month being over.

I’m reading: not much now, but already looking at Kindle prices & models to decide which one to get.  That’ll hopefully happen by the end of the month.

I’m looking forward to: reading again once I get my Kindle. Having this Friday & Monday off. August being over.

I’m learning to/practicing to/working on/embracing: properly delivering bad news from a SW perspective. Paperwork for credentials. Myself, always.

I’m enjoying: The First 48.

I’m creating: …

I’m grateful for: second chances at life. The lives of those who are no longer with us. Employment. Observation. Discernment. Social support.

Around the house are: uniquely flavored Oreo cookies to mail to a friend of mine in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In the kitchen: tilapia & rice noodles. The tilapia recipe is from SparkPeople.

I’m planning this week to: take time for & to myself. Distract myself over the long holiday weekend. Continue exercising (even though it doesn’t seem like anything is changing). Possibly meet up with an old friend who I haven’t seen since my time overseas.

 

I don’t have any quotes this week. I’m not inspired enough because this hasn’t been a good month.  Since 07.30.2014, I’ve had a family member die, another family member have 2 major medical emergencies, another family member attempt suicide, and a client death last week (likely by suicide).  Add to that Robin Williams’ suicide, Eric Garner (my hometown, by the way), Michael Brown and the disgusting yet unsurprising racism & racists (which I refuse to read; why give myself a stroke?), and countless other issues going on worldwide, and you can stick a fork in me because I’m done.

So instead, I’m dedicating this to the memory of my family member instead. Rest in peace, Aunt Jean 1926 – 2014.

Here’s to hoping that September – hell, the rest of the year – is better than this.  Take it easy & take care.

Today’s gratitude.

Today 08.06.2014:

I’m feeling: okay.

I’m listening to: mostly silence (for once).

I’m grateful for: seeing my sister & stepmother this past weekend.  Having Friday off to visit them.  All of the gluttonous food I ate while there.  A weekend of relaxed fun.  The ability to travel again for the first time in over a year.  Employment.  Being true to myself. Ridding myself of toxic people online (and offline).

Bacon cheeseburger pizza

Bacon cheeseburger pizza

If this is a medium-sized cone, imagine the large.

If this is a medium-sized cone, imagine the large.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Strawberry cheesecake flavored ice cream (cup); tropical orange flavor burst (cone)

Strawberry cheesecake flavored ice cream (cup); tropical orange flavor burst (cone)

I’m creating: a newer physical body (hopefully).  An improved & stable life (hopefully).

I’m enjoying: the silence.

I’m thinking about:  how I can help a loved one medium- to long-term.  Calling someone back about my professional hours because they haven’t called me back yet.  My next professional steps.  Whether or not to sit tight at this job for a bit longer; don’t want to upset my current semi-stability until necessary.  Getting a ticket to go back to England to handle unfinished business (hopefully November, if the price is right).  Visiting my stepmother & sister again in a couple of months.  At least one leisure trip to take later this year (hopefully).  That recent tarot reading (yes, still) because it was that insightful.

I’m reading: the same book from the last post.  Should finally be able to get a Kindle by the end of this month.

I’m looking forward to: relaxing a bit this weekend.

I’m learning to/practicing to/working on/embracingbeing independent & self-sufficient again.  My professional credentials (slowly but surely).  My debts.  My boundaries.  Embracing myself.

Around the house are: bags of recycling due for pick-up tomorrow.

In my kitchen: some pasta that aunt made.  Some pizza that uncle ordered (and I haven’t touched).

I’m planning later in the coming week to: research another professional credential.  Call the person back about my professional hours.  See what kind of Kindle I want.  Check flight prices to London.  Attend that doctor’s appointment.  Continue working out.  Buy a measuring tape to keep track of inches lost (if any).  Find a book-bag/backpack to hold my gym clothes, instead of my current flimsy bag.  Cook – haven’t done so in over a week.  Group gathering with a Facebook person who became a real life acquaintance/friend to a few of us in the Facebook group.

My quote/verse for the upcoming week is: If we are to have true peace in the world, we must find it within ourselves. DailyOM

I’m wishing you: a good & healthy week ahead.

Delaware Water Gap

Delaware Water Gap

Week in review 06.15.2014.

Today:

I’m feeling: a little relaxed, physically. Otherwise, so-so.

I’m listening to: (or more like watching) Investigation Discovery channel.

I’m thinking: hopefully this week will be better than last week. Last week was rough & disappointing, in my professional life and my personal life.

The weather wasn't much better.

The weather wasn’t much better.

I’m reading: on the internet to try catching up with current events.

I’m looking forward to: joining Planet Fitness later this week. Taking another kickboxing class (planning to do this once per week or once biweekly). My sister’s birthday. My uncle’s birthday.

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I’m learning that: friendship is fleeting. It’s not always me, it’s you/them. No matter what one says or does (or doesn’t say or doesn’t do), one can’t satisfy everyone. I can’t take on others’ personal issues. I must look out for myself because no job no friend no relative no one else will.

I’m enjoying: not much this past week, unfortunately.

I’m creating/planning: my next steps professionally and personally. A trip somewhere – don’t know where, but the travel bug is back again and it must be addressed with an overseas trip (hopefully within the next 12 months). The expatriate bug has been biting on & off too, so who knows what’s next…

I’m grateful for: spending time with my friend’s family on Friday evening – they’re the American version of the Mauritian family in England. Someone online who not only offered me an ear, but followed through and lent it to me – too many make promises and don’t keep ‘em, do things only if it benefits them and if it’s reciprocated even more than what they gave.

Around the house are: my boxing gloves for kickboxing class.

In the kitchen: a Carvel ice cream cake for my uncle for Father’s Day and a quickly-planned lunch for my uncle (nothing fancy, but hopefully he’ll like it).

I’m planning this week to: schedule other appointments with referred doctors. Cook once or twice. Take kickboxing class again. Join Planet Fitness. Figure out my next professional steps. Figure out how to get to my stepmother’s graduation barbeque. Rethink all friendships. Rethink myself. Try staying focused on rebuilding my life because unfortunately, what that borough did to me still reverberates throughout my life to this day.

My quote/verse for the upcoming week is:

“Even when we’re quiet and don’t know what to say, we can be heard. Even when we are wordless, we can be understood.”

(Introvert Spring)

Reblog/Re-blog: The Neurotic’s Guide To Relocating To A New City

Thought Catalog:

This post sounds about right to me. Personally, I found myself nodding my head in agreement while reading this. Fellow expatriates, take a look. Do you identify with the original post, or was yours a different experience? Feel free to comment & share.

Side note: This post somewhat ties in to the next post that I’ve already drafted (and briefly mentioned in my Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above post). Please stay tuned.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

The reality is (I promised myself I wouldn’t use the phrase “In this economy”) a lot of people have to relocate in order to achieve their desired career/lifestyle/lack-of-total-poverty. This is as frightening as it is exciting. Yes, a change of scenery can be refreshing and can totally alter one’s perspective and approach to life, but it can also make one feel alienated, vulnerable, and generally #dark.

There are some very real stages of acceptance in the transition between cities/lives. I’ve recently gone through this myself, having relocated from Montreal to New York City, but so far so good.

Keep these grounding mantras in mind and you might get through it all right. Not like, “everything works out like it does in the movies” all right so much as “avoiding a panic attack and/or emotional meltdown” all right.

You will want to see all of your friends who live in your…

View original 540 more words

Spinster.

spin·ster (spnstr)
n.
1. A woman who has remained single beyond the conventional age for marrying.
2. A single woman.

Wikipedia definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinster

- Paying extra taxes [don’t forget to file yours (!)].

- Paying extra for travel insurance.

- Paying extra for auto insurance.

- Paying expensive single supplements on my travels & accommodation.

- Being a minus 1 at almost all events.

- “You’re in this country all by yourself?” questions.

- “Why do you live alone? Don’t you get lonely?” questions.

- “Why are you single?” questions.

- “When are you gonna have a baby/some babies?” questions.

- Buying in bulk, with things spoiling, because there’s too much food for 1 person.

The word spinster was originally coined as a negative term for unmarried women of a certain age. I call myself a spinster because the absurd notion behind the word is funny enough for me to take back the word, in a sense, and call myself a spinster in a positive way.

I can testify to the great things about being a spinster/single/solo. I can do whatever I want without worrying about the needs of others all the time. As a single introvert, I can spend time alone without feeling bad or weird about it. I can dedicate my time to whatever I want – travelling, volunteering, work, attending theatre, sleeping, drinking tea, etc. I can focus on paying down my debt without worrying about who else it’ll impact. I can explore the world when I want, however I want. And let’s face it – while being in a good relationship is a bonus, being single and “doing bad all by myself” is definitely a stress reducer in a world where the good pickings are slim.

But the things I mentioned earlier… those things are the typical nuisances that come with the spinster/single/solo territory. And some of those things are costly. For example, when I went to Portugal last year with one of my Meetup groups, one could get one’s own room… for a price. Single supplements are often at least £70.00. That’s the only reason why I opted not to get a single room. (Luckily, my sharing arrangement worked out well.) There are many other trips I’d love to take, but the single supplement alone holds me back sometimes, whether I’m in the United States or the United Kingdom.

And don’t get me started on the social implications. Travelling solo is cool for exploring however one wants to and meeting people… until they start asking “why are you all alone?” or “without your family?” or “without your man/partner?”. (And I just “love” the “I couldn’t travel by myself.” comments [and other variations]). Then come the explanations & justifications, since sometimes a one-sentence answer isn’t enough for some people. (The same happens even when not travelling.)

And small rant do you know how many loaves of bread I’ve bought here, only for them to go bad a couple of days later? Yes… it’s a small gripe, but a gripe nonetheless.

While singles are nowhere near a marginalised group in the grand scheme of things, it’d be helpful for others to realise that being single ≠ rich, wealthy, care-free, or expendable income. We have bills to pay just like non-singles. We pay extra taxes, with no tax breaks at all, unlike non-singles. We have to survive & (try to) thrive, just like non-singles. I hope that the needs of solo travellers & solo expatriates come to the forefront sooner rather than later because damn it, I need a tax break and some extra discounts too.
————
Links:

Onely: Single and Happy http://onely.org/

Onely guest post in Psychology Today http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201006/can-you-name-the-1138-federal-hat-tips-marriage-guest-post-onely

The High Price of Being Single in America http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/01/the-high-price-of-being-single-in-america/267043/

Singled Out (for the Single Supplement) http://travel.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/travel/singled-out-for-the-single-supplement.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

The truth about taxes: Uncoupled singles always pay a penalty http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bella-depaulo/the-truth-about-taxes-unc_b_537861.html

1,138 hat tips (PDF report included) http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-353R

When ‘Married’ Is No Longer the Norm http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eleanore-s-wells/when-married-is-no-longer-norm_b_2864140.html

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color.

(For more about how the Weekly Photo Challenge started, take a look at this link. For more about this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.)

04.10.2013 – Like me, he must’ve had a long day at work.  The work uniform signifies that he works in either construction, public transport, or engineering works.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: A Day in My Life.

(For more about how the Weekly Photo Challenge started, take a look at this link. For more about this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.)

I like this Weekly Photo Challenge because it makes people tell a story with photos. Sometimes, words aren’t necessary; as the famous saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. So although I added a few words to the following photos, the photos should tell enough of a story for you to see a day in my life. I suggest viewing the photos from left to right, and hovering your mouse over them for captions (all but 2 or 3 have captions). Enjoy.

04.02.2013 (with a couple thrown in from 04.03.2013 & 04.04.2013)

As usual, the system takes forever to load, so in the meantime...

As usual, the system takes forever to load, so in the meantime…

(Since I switched teams, though, I don’t conduct visits as much as I used to. That has its pros & cons.)

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So every once in a while, something like this is nice.  (Unlike many Britons, though, I rarely drink.)

So every once in a while, something like this is nice. (Unlike many Britons, though, I rarely drink.)

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I try breaking up my week (or weekends) to keep from going insane in this career field to keep myself a little grounded. For example:

So there you have it. Hopefully you’re not too bored with a day in my life. Until next time, thanks for reading.

Keep calm and drink tea.

Keep calm and drink tea.

Sankofa.

Sankofa: “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.” (Wikipedia)

04.02.2013

Today is an old friend’s birthday.  We’ve not spoken in a very long time.  Our friendship never really ended; life happens – work, marriage, kids, military, etc. and our lives took different directions.  Like everyone else addicted to connected to the world-wide web, I got on Facebook and got an alert reminding me about my friend’s birthday.  His settings are such that no one can write on his wall, but can send a private message instead, which I did.

I rarely view other people’s walls or pages, but I decided to be nosy skim through his friends list.  I don’t know 98% of the people on his list, but I recognised a couple of old, familiar faces.  I didn’t click on their names, but it got me thinking about where I was then, and where I am now.

I wonder about those people not because I’m nosy (well, I’m usually not nosy), but I wonder how they’re doing and if they’re still in the same place, physically and otherwise.  I look back and I’ve changed a lot since then.  Back then, I was deep into church yet filled with anger & negativity.  Those people, looking back, were ultra-religious and ultra-conservative.  Now granted, I had some good times with those people – hell, one of them wound up being my longest relationship ever – but that part of my life, and those people, can stay back there.  If I remained where I was, physically and otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  

I’ve done so much since then.  I’ve been through so much since then.  I live in another country, a life-long dream fulfilled.  I’m now agnostic, and aside from my friend, his wife, his sister and another friend, I don’t speak to any of the people from that time in my life.  I’ve seen different places, done different things, met different people, made many mistakes, learnt many things.  And while I don’t miss that part of my life, I appreciate that era for keeping me focused, out of trouble, and on the straight & narrow.  I take those things and carry them with me… not to stay stuck, but to sustain me as I move onward & forward.

Here’s to looking back on life.  Here’s to dropping dead weight distant memories of those who are in your lives for a reason and a season, no matter how short the season.  Here’s to being insane crazy scared brave enough to move to another country.  Without looking back every once in a while, one can’t move forward to new experiences, people or places.  And I’m glad that those things landed me where I am today – in the United Kingdom and in a whole new world.

Cheers.

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How have your experiences in the past led you to where you are today as an expatriate?  Did you ever think that you’d be living in another country?  

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

For more about how the Weekly Photo Challenge started, take a look at this link. For more about this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.
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This is just a small sample of my photos taken in 2012. Feel free to look at my archived Weekly Photo Challenge posts for more.

Shrove Tuesday.

Shrove Tuesday.

How splendid.

How splendid.

View from a doorway.

View from a doorway.

Chocolate vodka chillies.

Chocolate vodka chillies.

Bubacar playing the xylophone.

Bubacar playing the xylophone.

Tagus River & 25 de Abril Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril), one of many views from the castle.

Tagus River & 25 de Abril Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril), one of many views from the castle.

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Oh look. First thing in the morning.

Oh look. First thing in the morning.

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Grandma's essence.

Grandma’s essence.

Fruit stand.

Fruit stand.

Rush hour.

Rush hour.

Free (and purchased) goodies.

Free (and purchased) goodies.

Snail.

Snail.

Strata.

Strata.

Food. Glorious gluttonous food.

Food. Glorious gluttonous food.

Finished product.

Finished product.

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