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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Gazing Over My Cuppa Tea


A few months ago I got a message saying, "Tiddles and Shindig need you in May!" So here I am revisiting my first housesit. Greetings from Great Malvern, England. After a wonderful but uncharacteristically chilly and rainy stay in Germany, I told the homeowners that I was looking forward to going to England for some warmth and sunshine. I said it jokingly, but it's been surprisingly accurate.

It’s the first day since my arrival in England that I’m getting stereotypical English weather. Undulating shades of white and grey shroud the skies that were sunny, bright and blue yesterday. It isn’t exactly raining, but the air itself can’t seem to decide if its oxygen molecules are solo or married to dewy hydrogen.
My eye is drawn up from my “cuppa” tea to the clematis bursting with cheerful, pink stars pushing aside tiny, white clusters on the bush it embraces.  I smile at the profiles of two wood pigeons; their heads bobbing in unison, propelling them forward like a child’s toy along the mossy tile roofline.

Sprawling burgundy Japanese maple complements the column of chartreuse cedar behind it. The jaunty, handlebar mustaches of the hemlock seem to taunt the droopy cedar fronds that imitate an old man’s unkempt beard gently wagging under the muttering breeze.
Sharply dressed magpies come to visit each morning. Drinking from the birdbath that’s clad in the same ruddy-brown moss that covers the roof. One struts upon it, pecking the moss, looking for food or maybe he’s just being contrary because he can.  The magpies exude a cockiness that is absent in the bumbling of the pigeons and doves.

Behind it all are the Malvern Hills.  For a Kansas girl, “hill” is an incompetent word to describe the enormous, green-blue shapes hulking far taller than the tallest trees or church spires. It seems unreal that those white speckles at the very top are sheep.  I still remember my sharply aching knee and shortness of breath from the meandering hike to the peak last fall. The patchwork view and the conversation with my elderly hiking companion were worth the effort ten times over.  Raining or not, it’s good to be back in jolly old England.

***Note - photos were taken when the sun was shining!!! 😁




Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Time Flies When You Follow Your Dreams


It’s been one year since I boarded a plane with a one-way ticket for Scotland. Not long before my last day at work, a coworker told me that others were placing bets about me. 

“Oh really?,” I asked, “Betting on when I’ll be back?”

“No, betting on whether or not you’ll be back at all.”

Shivering in the Edinburgh cold and watching a light blanket of snow coat the city seems so very long ago. Yet, it doesn’t seem possible that it was over a year ago that I sat at my desk and fired up Excel and Outlook. Time has a way of stretching and compressing and fooling us with its trickery. 

Setting out, I had this naive hope that everything would magically fall into place by circumstance and chance during these twelve months. I would know what I wanted to be when I grew up and maybe I would even be heading on that path. I would have used the boundless amounts of time to complete my book and with any luck I'd be on my way to being a best selling author. My photos would be selling well on stock photo sites.  I’d be proud of that my (door) Knockers of the World book would be gracing coffee tables near and far. I’d have found where I belonged and building my future there. And... just maybe I would have met Prince Charming and be living happily ever after. 

None of it has happened.  None of it. 

All that time I thought I’d have? I was so wrong. As mentioned previously, time plays tricks.  Turns out full time traveling is a job in itself. Don’t get me wrong, and sorry Garmin, it’s a much more fulfilling job to be sure, but it can be exhausting having so much fun! Not knowing where I’m going to be sleeping a couple weeks from now and making sure I get the best value so I can stretch out my travel as long as possible takes way more time than it should.
Some things that I was freaked out about before I left home ended up being no big deal: 
  • Living out of a suitcase for so long.
  • Wearing the same outfits every day. 
  • Not knowing when I’d make money again. 
  • Not having a place to call home.
  • Not having a full social calendar.
  • Not being able to go shopping.
  • Traveling solo and being alone in a city of strangers.
Unexpected annoyances that I didn’t anticipate or thought would get easier:
  • Packing deserves a two-part complaint: 
    • Staying below the weight limit is always a worry. Absurdly, my belongings fluctuate in weight just like I do. 
    • Suitcase Tetris - sometimes things fit easily and other times, I have to sit on my suitcase and swear in order to get it zipped up.
  • Button-press-o-phobia - Yep, I’ve still got it.  Finding the best deal on lodging/car rental/airfare and getting the dates right and pulling the trigger takes way more time and mental energy than I thought it would.
  • Choosing where to eat - Everyone can agree this is an ongoing universal struggle.
  • How long to stay - It’s impossible to get right, it’s either too much time or not enough.
  • Not being able to find Cover Girl Makeup or good Mexican food. 

I have seen many amazing things and met many wonderful people. I traveled enough to circle the earth 1.6 times this year.  I visited 14 countries, stayed in 51 cities and met up with 26 existing friends and made countless more new friends. 

Things I’ve learned:
  • To say yes to more experiences and shrug off social anxieties and preconceptions.
  • Isolation brings along his friends depression and self-doubt.
  • House sitting rocks!
  • People around the world are more similar to each other than not.
  • Car rental companies are the worst swindlers of the travel world. 
  • It’s impossible to answer the question, “Where is your favorite place you visited?”
  • Yoga & meditation are wonderful salves to ease a turbulent mind.
  • Everyone is braver and more capable than they realize.
  • The things you have the lowest expectations for often turn out to be the most amazing.
  • Getting started is often the hardest part of any activity worth taking.
  • Your worst fears never materialize as imagined.
  • Being in an amazing place doesn’t guarantee happiness.
  • Positive attitude, an open mind and the knowledge that everything will be ok can get you through just about anything.
As might be evident from this list, I alternate between being in awe of my experiences and wallowing in self-doubt and depression and everything in between.  These questions plague me whenever I stop long enough to listen to my inner critic. What do I have to show for this year of travel? Am I being irresponsible in spending all this money? What am I doing with my life? Why didn’t I accomplish more?  What should I do next? When is enough enough? Am I hopelessly ruining myself?  How will life after this adventure ever measure up? 

I don’t have answers, I may not ever, but I’m still on the road to find out.  I’m not done and for now, I’m going to keep on rolling down that road, following my dreams with the knowledge that whatever happens it’s all gonna be alright.


PS - Regarding the question, "What's next?" I'm heading on a quick tour of Vietnam after my Thailand housesit is over. After that, I'm excited to be heading back to Europe. I'm really glad that I visited SE Asia a bit, but Europe still has my heart. I'll be in Germany for two more housesits in April, then revisiting my first housesit to care for Tiddles and Shindig for the month of May. I've got a few weeks in June where things are up in the air before I return to the United States for a family reunion in Oregon at the end of June. Following that, I'm excited to be housesitting in Slovenia for the month of August.  I'm happy to report that I've been able to stick to my budget more or less (sometimes more, sometimes less) and I have the luxury of keeping on my path.  Maybe the puzzle pieces I've been seeking (and more magic) are waiting for me in year two!

PSS - Regardless of all else, I'm so extremely glad that I took the chance to do this. This chance to live this dream. Insurance against regret.  A chance to prove to myself that I could. I am eternally grateful to everyone that offered me support and encouragement and the biggest thanks of all to Stacy James for giving me the courage to get started. Getting started was the hardest part. The rest has been easy in comparison. I highly encourage any of you reading this to take the risk and find what makes you happy, what makes you glow with joy.  In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take.

Image result for life is short live it now

Saturday, February 23, 2019

HSFTW! (House sitting for the win!)

Way back when Stacy and I started scheming our adventure, we discussed saving money by house sitting. We applied for a couple sits on TrustedHouseSitters.com but never heard a peep in return. It didn’t take much to discourage us since we hadn’t tapped into our reserves yet, so we just moved on and Airbnb’d it. 


When Stacy went back home, I threw our original plan out the window and spent three months in Germany writing, contemplating, wondering what I was doing and what to do next. As luck would have it, I had a string of friends who had planned trips to Europe and gladly set my schedule to match theirs.  With all this running around planned, it felt like a good time to give house sitting a try again.

TrustedHouseSitters.com works kinda like a cross between a dating site and Airbnb. Start with a profile describing how absolutely awesome and sane you are and what an amazing (animal) lover you are. Lots of pics of you and your pets to make you attractive to homeowners in need of sitters. From there, you put in a date range and a city or country and what types of animals you want to watch, find an attractive home and send a message designed to convince them that you’re the best match for their beloved home and pets. If you get chosen, you get a free place to stay and the homeowners get a free sitter.  Win - Win!

I found a two-week house sit in a small town I’d never heard of not far from the charming Cotswolds area in the UK.  In case you’re not familiar with the Cotswolds, it’s pretty much the epitome of quaint English fairytale villages. Buttery yellow stone homes each boasting a cute garden overflowing with hollyhocks and roses, many with black-thatched roofs set against rolling green hills with white sprinkles of sheep.




A few hours after my application, I got a message requesting a video interview. I was way more nervous than I am on a first date.  I set my camera to selfie mode and did practice runs in various rooms with different lighting and different outfits; imagining what questions they might have for me and coming up with a few of my own. All there was to do now, was sweat in the Berlin summer heat, twiddling my thumbs for a couple hours till I got an incoming video call.

After hello’s, the homeowner said, “Oh good, you look just like your photos.”  Guess she’d gotten catfished before, too! She asked me some easy questions and showed me around the house a bit as she held the phone up to the cats who were possibly even cuter than their profile photos.

Not long after, I got an email saying that they’d love to have me watch Tiddles and Shindig, so I booked my tickets for a couple months in the future; perfectly dovetailing with my other travels.

Once there, I found that staying in someone’s home was even more comforting than I imagined. I spent the first few days blissfully doing nothing more than petting cats, writing, and eating pre-made shepherd’s pies and Cornish pasties.  Tiddles informed me that she’d always aspired to be a writing assistant. I admired her persistence though her skills were pretty limited.


House sitting took me so far off the radar of touristy destinations that even my English friends didn’t know of this town. I was charmed but didn’t feel a pressing need to run out and “do all the things”.  I could slow down and just live. Live in a space that was actually lived in, with a kitchen people actually cooked in and best of all, KITTIES!!!



As my housesit in Great Malvern neared an end I found that I wasn’t ready to gallivant off elsewhere… I wanted more time with pets and a “real” home. Plus, there may or may not have been a certain boy that made it hard for me to leave.

I found another house sit in the area - this time with an even more amazing garden and two adorable Siamese cats.




Next, I found another at a home with two dogs (Fleur and Nell), one elderly cat (Tisha) and 14 sheep.  While there, a friend of the family offered to join me for a walk with the dogs.  We chatted like long lost friends and she invited me to her yoga class that evening. I liked it so much that I went again the following morning and happily accepted her invitation to dinner the following night! What a delight to make an unexpected friend.  She had a daughter in Australia that she’d be visiting again in December.  I’d always wanted to go to Australia so she graciously shared loads of insider tips.

My new friend informed me that Fleur would be devastated if she didn’t make it into the blog, so here she is. :-)



This home had been a barn in the 1700s and converted into a farmhouse somewhere along the way. I had fun learning how to use the AGA cooker.  It’s always on.  Two hot surfaces with covers to be lifted when in use.  Three ovens at differing temperatures, burning, warming, and roasting. It warmed the kitchen as well.  Fleur would stick her nose in the towel on the right when she was cold.



Though someone else tended to the sheep, I enjoyed giving them treats and petting them. They quickly recognized me and bleated whenever they saw me come out of the house.



By this time, fall had descended upon the Cotswolds and with winter looming, Stacy informed me that she was ready to escape the cold of Kansas and come travel with me again.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of the whole world being my oyster, so it was convenient to use Stacy’s distaste of winter as an excuse to chase the summer.

I found a gorgeous house sit in Perth, Australia over Christmas and New Years. We were enamored with the idea of spending Christmas on the beach.  Again, it was in a town outside of the main tourist destinations near the super cool, funky town of Fremantle which we never would have known about were it not for the house sit. The home was as comfortable and lovely as the photos and the owners and cats were a joy.  Van and Nala are possibly the most photogenic cats I’ve ever encountered and were very entertaining.
 

After our housesit, we flew to New Zealand to meet up with a dear friend from the US and another from the UK and raced across the country from top to bottom, East to West and back again.  It was so lovely seeing them and “doing all the things”, but I’m ready to slow things down again do another house sit, recharge, and catch up on my writing!  So now I'm looking forward to a month-long house sit near Chiang Mai, Thailand with two cats and two snakes!

I’ve always preferred Airbnb’s over hotels (especially Carole's Cinco B&B in Sintra, Portugal, with her lovely cats!). It’s so much more comfortable and makes for a more authentic experience of what it’s like to be a local, but staying in someone’s home and bonding with their animals takes it to the next level. I’ve kept in touch with all the homeowners and they’ve each told me that I have a place to stay even if they don’t need a housesit.  It’s been such a fabulous experience.  It would be super cool if I could make money doing this, but even just having a free place to stay and making friends is so worth it.  Hell, I’ve chosen Airbnbs just because they have cats!  To be honest, sometimes I feel like I should be paying them for the joy that meeting them and their animals has brought to me.

Friday, October 5, 2018

What is Identity Anyway?

95% of the time when we meet new people, they will ask one of these questions and not get much deeper than that:

“Where are you from?”

“Are you married?”

“Do you have kids?”

“What do you do?” (Of course this always means what’s your job, not what do you for fun.)

Generic questions sketch a convenient caricature.  For some, it’s enough.  Enough of their identity is tied to one or more of these things that there’s not much need for questions of a different ilk. I'm not saying that's wrong, but for me these questions are pretty tricky right now.  I’m from the US - but not particularly proud of that with the current political atmosphere.  I don’t have a home, but to say that I’m homeless sends the wrong message. I have been mostly single for 11 years. I am not a mother and never will be. I don’t have a job (and I'm sure not confident enough to say that I’m a writer). 

A few years ago there was a team building thing at work where they asked us to bring in a photo from our wedding or prom.  Gee, divorced and never went to prom, so here's what I came up with. 😂



Though I would say that I worked to live and didn’t live to work, I’m finding that a big part of my identity was wrapped up in my job. I find myself referring to Garmin as “we” still and referring to “my coworkers” instead of “former coworkers”. I had a really hard time reconciling that when I got divorced & I'm struggling with it again now, though with much less pain this time around.




I went to Garmin night at Oktoberfest in Munich last week.  It was good, but surreal seeing many people I used to work with. Enough time had passed that we couldn’t really talk about work much. Since I don’t have a replacement job, it almost feels like I’m on extended vacation rather than unemployed. A few of them said, “You’ll be back, just wait…”  It’s nice to feel that door is open should I care to pursue it, but for now, I’m not missing work and having no trouble filling my time.



One of the cool side effects being in my unique position is that conversations go beyond these easy questions.  I have had a higher concentration of meaningful conversations in the last 6 months than I'd had for years.  When those four basic questions don't have simple answers it pushes us out of our boxes and sometimes our comfort zones. It urges us to question what is truly important to us and think about who we are and what we want outside of those four things. It's really cool seeing people light up when they hear about what I'm doing and get fired up considering that they might be able to follow their dreams, too. 

A bunch of people have asked me what I've learned about the world or what I've learned about other cultures.  I'd been traveling quite a bit before this adventure so I really haven't had new epiphanies about the differences (I find more similarities personally) between Europeans and Americans. I'm learning about myself. Slowly casting off misconceptions I had about myself and what's important.

I haven’t updated my Linkedin profile. What do I change my employment status to? Who am I? A traveler, an explorer, a writer, a vagabond, a professional friend maker/ socializer?  I had to rediscover myself after getting divorced, and build a new “me”.  Guess that’s what I’m on the road to do again. Maybe at the end of this road, I'll figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  :-p

A friend shared this instagram post which I love:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bl4PT_UANGz/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=tnu536atbrh6

My story doesn’t always feel important. 
Sometimes it doesn’t seem worth telling at all. 
Who am I to think my words, life, or experiences could impact someone else?
And then I realize - how self deprecating.
My story may not resonate with everyone. In fact, it probably won’t resonate with many. 
I am simply a human. 
A woman. 
A lover. 
Joy filled. 
Passionate. 
To some, adventurous. 
But I am a steward of this earth. A student eager for knowledge. A medicine woman aiming to heal. A heart cracked open to spread love. And those things are relatable. Those things are important. Those are pieces of magic ✨
So I share my story. Not because I am more important. Not because I am any different from you, in fact. 
I share my story, because I have been lost. And it was other humans’ stories that led me home. 

Stories are the essence of humankind, and if mine means something to someone, than it’s worth telling. A thousand times over.

--Eva Lousie

Thursday, September 13, 2018

100 days of "Solitude"




Today marks my 163rd day abroad, 100 days of it being “solo” travel. Can’t very well say 100 days of solitude.  My worries about being lonely haven’t had much occasion to be tested. I’ve had visits with friends and family from the US, England, Norway, and Germany and have made new friends here in Berlin.

Stacy told me that I would be fine on my own; that maybe I’d be better off without her. I didn’t really believe her but knew that I wasn’t ready to go home and risk getting pulled back into the comforts of home and abandoning my dreams. After three months on my own, I’m enjoying the freedom of being able to move through life with only my own desires and winds of circumstance guiding the way. I’m finding a deeper sense of independence, confidence and calm as a result of my self reliance. Sure, I have times where I feel lost and lonely and question what the hell I’m doing, but less frequently and less intensely.

One of the unexpected benefits of being on my own is that it's motivated me to put myself out there and make friends with people in a way that I wouldn't have attempted if I had the comfort of a trusted friend to rely on.  Berlin has a fantastic community of people who use Meetup to meet like minded people and explore all sorts of creative and entertaining pursuits.  It's even available in Kansas City, just go to meetup.com or download the app.  Check it out! 

I'm rereading a book which I absolutely adore.  What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman. She talks about how she was a shy little girl until her mom asked her if she'd rather have a vacation with no friends or one scary moment.  My dear step father also liked to say something similar. It's taken a while, but I've finally embraced this way of life and as Kristin Newman found, it has big payoffs for little investment.



I’ve had the pleasure of using Berlin as my home base thanks to the generosity of my distant cousin and her husband’s family. I’ve been staying at her husband’s grandmother’s empty flat for nearly three months now. To say the apartment is barebones is an understatement. I can count the pieces of furniture on one hand, I’ve been sleeping on an air mattress, and there are only two lamps which I carry from room to room if I need more light. 



Early on, I found it depressing. The emptiness of the apartment reflected the emptiness of my life - no home, no job, no cats, no commitments, far from friends and family. Just me. As time has gone on, I’ve been able to shift my perspective. It’s been comforting to have a place to come “home” to. Comforting to learn the public transportation without having to rely on google every step of the way. It’s liberating to realize that I don’t need my tempurpedic mattress, I don’t need much really. Just me is enough really. I am enough. If I can live 3 months in austerity, what else can stop me? (Choosing a new phone plan might break me though!)

My time in Berlin is coming to a close. I need to be out of “my” apartment by the end of September. Berlin has been fabulous for my creativity.  My cousin encouraged me to attend a Meetup group called Shut Up and Write.  We meet and chat for 15 minutes then write for 45 and have another 15 minute break followed by another 45 minutes of writing.  I get more written in the two 45 minute sessions than I do in an entire day of in my apartment. I’ve met inspiring people from all over the world who share their stories, ask insightful questions, offer comfort and encouragement and make me feel like maybe I’m not crazy for doing what I’m doing, or if I am crazy I’m not alone.  Today the lovely bearded barista at Handbestand saw me come in and an eyebrow lift later, my customary iced latte was delivered to my table.



Though Berlin has been good for me and I'm going to miss the friends I made here, it is not where I belong. When I visit many other European cities, I am enchanted by the beautiful architecture and cleanliness.  Berlin doesn’t measure up in those categories. Considering that 90% of the city was leveled during WWII, and much of it was rebuilt in Soviet block style, it’s no surprise that the city isn’t as pretty as other European cities. Quite the contrary, it’s remarkable so much of it has been rebuilt and there is a feeling of resilience here that is tangible. I feel I’m being unfair to Berlin, it is more grand than my home town of Kansas City, but I’m not following my head right now, I’m listening to my heart.



The falling leaves tell me that summer is coming to an end and fall is on its way. Though the rebirth of spring is my favorite, I’ve always enjoyed fall.  This time it’s bittersweet. I reflect on the wonderful things I’ve done and seen, but feel regret for all I never got around to.  I really wanted to canoe or kayak or raft down a European river. The closest I got was a literally breathtaking cold dip in the Schlactensee, a lake near Berlin.




I approach the halfway mark of my commitment to travel for a year. It’s too early to allow the fears of what comes after or whether I’ve accomplished whatever I intended to on this journey. Still, like wolves circling a fire - I can feel the fears patiently waiting for the fire to sputter out so they can pounce.

When Stacy and I first dreamed up this adventure, her intense dislike of cold and winter led us to dream up a route that would chase the warmth. I abandoned our previous plans when she left, but now she’s reached out again and asked if she could rejoin me for a couple months.  Perhaps it’s a good time to pick up our previous plans and pursue those activities that I didn’t get around to this summer. The next chapter is about to begin. 

---Up Next!---

Meeting up with friends in Slovenia, Munich (Oktoberfest!), Avignon France, and my first house sitting gig with two adorable cats!  💗 😻💗

Monday, July 30, 2018

38 Activities From the Last 2 Months (I hear lists are popular)

A few people have gently reminded me that it has been a very long time since I wrote a blog entry.  This is especially embarrassing because I have mostly been staying put here in Berlin lately so in theory, I should have more time to write.  So what have I been doing other than trying to decide if I should write blog entries to catch up on the past couple months or starting from where I am now or something completely different?  I decided to go for the easiest for now. Check below for pics!



Here’s the high level on my activities since my last post:
  1. I took a long ass but stunning hike of the lovely Ronda Spain.

  2. Chased a sunrise.

  3. Spent a couple OMG hot days in Vienna where they don’t have AC because they usually never need it.

  4. Took a bike ride in the Wachau Valley and got caught in a flash flood.  Seriously!  Riding a bike in two feet of murky water after visiting three wineries is a crazy experience!

  5. Rented an Airbnb in a tiny town in Austria mostly because it came with two gorgeous cats.

  6. Saw baby swans!  They look so soft and cute!  The Ugly Duckling story is a lie!

  7. Visited Hallstatt, Austria - the town so incredibly quaint that my mom says it’s the most beautiful place in the world and the Chinese love so much that they have built a replica of it in China.

  8. Met up with my lovely friend David and his parents in Salzburg and had a great time on the Sound of Music tour.

  9. Took the train to Munich and stayed with a former coworker who turned out to be more of a kindred spirit than I realized.

  10. My friend patiently and calmly re-trained me on how to drive stick shift and even let me use her car and I only killed the engine twice!

  11. Had a lovely hike in the Bavarian countryside.

  12. Took the train to Berlin and met up with my cousin who lives there.  I am so grateful to her and her husband for giving me a place to stay.  Such a tremendous weight off my shoulders while I figure things out.

  13. My mom flew into Berlin to visit for three weeks.

  14. We revisited many of the incredible Berlin museums.

  15. Fell in love with the town of Dresden. Even loved the museum of Mathematics and Physics.

  16. Went on a bike tour of Berlin.

  17. Went on a bike tour of Potsdam.

  18. Rented a bike and made our own tour of Berlin with a highlight of the gardens in Tiergarten.

  19. Took the train back to Munich and met up with my friends from the states, Sharerah and Shabnom.

  20. Went on a bike tour of Munich and watched the surfers in the English gardens. Yes, you can go surfing in the landlocked city of Munich!

  21. Visited the fairytale Neuschwanstein and Linderhof castles. 

  22. Had an exceedingly pleasant visit with the first person my mom ever went on a date with and his lovely wife and their bunnies.

  23. Went to the Sommerfest in Munich with Sharerah and Shabnom and explored foods, goods and music from around the world and bought a new purse that I love.

  24. Traveled back to Berlin by train.

  25. Went to the eclectic Mauerpark Flea Market.

  26. Had a meal with a native German, an Indian who used to live in the US and now lives in Australia, a Russian who also lived in the US and now lives in Norway, an Armenian who also lived in the US but now lives in Sweden and were served by a Croatian waiter. Didn't get a photo but there are a couple of us!

  27. Attended my cousin’s wedding.

  28. Planted flowers on my balcony.

  29. Met up with US friends Allison & James and their fun Airbnb host and Sharerah and Shabnom joined us for sushi.

  30. Had multiple visits from the foxes that live in the backyard in Berlin.

  31. Missed many buses (still don’t like them but I’m doing better).

  32. Attended a really cool night festival at the Botanical Gardens with all sorts of food, music, entertainment, flowers, lights and fun.

  33. Rented a bike and happened upon a Turkish market on the way to the graveyard and Viktoria park.

  34. Visited the smallest disco in Berlin - perhaps the world (it’s the size of a phone booth).

  35. Attended six Shut Up and Write Meetup groups.  Feels good to finally be making some progress on my book and meet a supportive group of folks.

  36. Bought a lamp which was advertised as being beautiful and faithful and he brings his own bulb.  He may be the one for me!

  37. Got a haircut. Now I look like a proper Berlin hipster.

  38. Last but not least - stressed a million times over whether or not I should pursue a German visa and ultimately decided yes.  They weren't happy with my health insurance so they gave me a three month extension to get that figured out.  I've been having oh so much fun trying to find an insurer that is reasonably priced with good coverage and accepted by the German government.