Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thanks for all your comments and words of wisdom

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Wow. I'm overwhelmed by all the thoughtful and wonderful and long comments I received on my last post! I am so lucky to have such great readers. I have decided to dedicate this post to those awesome comments and words of wisdom.

But before I address individual comments, I have a few comments of my own.

One recurring theme that came up in the comments is that maybe if I meet the right person, I will want to change. This is true. Absolutely. I do not close myself off to that possibility. Not at all. I do recognize that while it's unlikely, I am totally capable of meeting a Bostonian guy who wears Red Sox hats and khakis and has never lived abroad and never wants to but he has all the other qualities that I'm looking for in someone. If he makes me really happy. If he makes me fall for him. If we have an amazing connection and amazing chemistry. If we have a great time together. If he challenges me and supports me and loves me. Then everything else is negotiable. I think  Catherine said it so well:

Maybe you'll meet someone who will want to change for you.
 Perhaps you'll meet someone you want to change for.
 Perhaps what you want will change

I love that. It's so perfect. It leaves all the doors of possibility open.

But until I meet that guy, then I'm going to keep the ever evolving list in my head of the perfect man for me at this time in my life. And I'm not going to feel bad about having those standards or wanting those ideals just as I'm not going to rule out someone I really connect with because he doesn't check all the boxes.

I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book called Committed - the follow up to Eat Pray Love - which is absolutely amazing by the way and I highly recommend it to everyone (I will most likely be blogging about this at some point). She talks a lot about the beauty of modern Western culture is that we have so many choices, but it's also the problem with our culture. With all those choices, comes decisions and with decisions, comes choices that we didn't take. And with that can come doubt and uncertainty. We ask ourselves did we take the right path in life? And what would our lives look like if we went down another path? What is the best path to happiness? And that's where I'm at right now, trying to figure out what the best path to happiness is. What truly makes me happy...

Okay... now on to your awesome comments:

First Date Only - I totally understand what you are saying. I have found myself saying things like "the other day when I was in Moscow" (this was a couple Christmas' ago when I was visiting the US after extensive travels), or more recently commenting on how the last time I had great Italian food was in Rome (oops - this was more recent and kind of popped out before I could filter the thought better). I never mean to sound pretentious. Like you said, it's just my experience!

Robin - Wow! Moscow. Awesome. I've visited many times and have always wondered what it would be like to live there. Looking forward to checking out your blog!

Claudy - where were you when I needed you? And why did I not know you when I was in the UK? I would never make you wash dishes in Bali. Option "c" sounds like a fabulous deal to me. Are you serious? If you are, I'm so in! ;)

Katie @Domestiphobia - Oh how you tease me... Just close all 3 doors and open another one. That's kind of a good idea actually. Although I secretly think that you are tempting me to run away with you again. How about Spain? I've always wanted to live in Madrid. Or Buenos Aires perhaps?

Well this is awkward - It's funny because you mention that you are only 22 and of course my initial thought is to be insanely jealous of you for your youth and wish that I was 22 again. And in my second more rational thought (because backward time travel is unfortunately totally irrational as far as I know, right)? I then think about what advice I would give you... And ironically the first advice that pops into my head is: travel, travel, travel. See the world! Broaden your horizons! Meet lots of great people. So, I guess you are right, I shouldn't (and probably don't) have any regrets if that is my impulsive advice to you is that you should go out and do the same things I did (rather than choosing a more traditional path in life). But I think you show wisdom beyond your years with the following: 

I also agree that while traveling can be eye opening and you are often happy doing it, sometimes it can contribute to your overall sadness, especially when you move back "home." 

You are right! I think all my traveling right now is contributing to my overall sadness.

Pretty Young Thing - As always, thanks for the support. I'm glad that you are getting a taste of the travel bug. And you are right! I should come to NYC and hang out for a weekend. I LOVE the quote you left:

 "Home is not where you live but where they understand you" 

So true! I'm still trying to figure out where I'm most understood. The first few years I lived abroad, I felt that I was most understood here in the US. And now it feels like that place is in Europe. It's all so confusing!

Julianna - Your comment made me laugh the hardest! I LOVE this:

American men? European Men? Asian? Austrailian? 
They all suck. They're men. 
They think with two minds that don't communicate with others well. 
The trick is to find one that communicates with you.
Then the rest will fall into place. 

So well said - especially about the two minds not communicating. So true! But on a more serious note, you have a great point - if I find the right person, my priorities might change. And by the way, Almost Hubs and his Mother sound fabulous! Do you ever let her pluck chickens in the kitchen? I bet the boys would love that! It would also make a very good blog post.

Jewels - My girl - as always, thanks for the love. And you are so right: there is nothing more beautiful about traveling and discovering new places with a lover. This is actually something that I've thought about a lot recently. I LOVE my single life and my adventures. But I have to say that most of my greatest memories are ones I shared with someone else and most of them involve traveling with someone else. I am sure that you will experience that some day (make sure you do). And you are so right... being unhappy does not attract happiness. I'm working on that.

On My Soapbox - You are probably right. My delivery wasn't very smooth. ;)

Tilden Talks - That thinking thing. Gets me every time. Damn. :)

Jules - As always, thanks for your support! Bostonians are crazy about their sports. That is for sure. You would think that the world is possibly ending tomorrow because the Red Sox are 2-9. It's ALL people are talking about. Don't get me wrong. I do like sports and I'm very amused with the Red Sox obsession and even am enjoying contributing to the conversation when I can. However, there is more that defines me and I want someone who has more than defines them.

Sarah B - I LOVED your comment. And I know that you understand. Thank you so much for these awesome words of wisdom - what a great analogy:

 Feeling uncomfortable in Boston is a good thing. 
Why? Because if it doesn't feel right on your skin, then it doesn't fit, which means, you shouldn't wear it.
You know that feeling when you find that dress? 
The one that hugs you in all the right places, the one that just slides on? 
The one that when you walk out the door, you *know* that men are dropping their jaws and tripping over themselves to stare at you?

That one. That's the feeling you should feel when you live somewhere too

Catherine - It is very wise advise to stop worrying about the things in my future and about the things I cannot change. Isn't there a saying something like: Grant me the power to change the things I can and accept the things I can't change? And speaking of change, as I already mentioned, I really liked what you had to say about it:

Maybe you'll meet someone who will want to change for you.
 Perhaps you'll meet someone you want to change for.
 Perhaps what you want will change - you never know. 
And maybe, just maybe, you'll meet the perfect person (within reason) that wants something very similar to you. 

So eloquently put. Love it.

Thanks again everyone! I'm finally feeling a bit better having gotten my B12 sorted out. I've also decided that I will STOP hibernating in my apartment watching Mad Men and The Kennedy's and I will get out and do more and have more interesting things to blog about!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Little Sunday Rant

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Thanks everyone for your really nice comments on my last post. I have missed you all too! I'm glad to be back.

I'm sorry to say that right now I'm going to have a little Sunday rant.

So, here I am having a really tough time with the move back. And there I am out with some friends who were asking me about my dating life and I admitted that it was pretty lacking. That I really wasn't trying very hard to date but that I was having trouble meeting Boston men who were interesting to me or were interested in me. When pressed more as to what was wrong with Boston men and what was I looking for... I tried to honestly express how I feel.

I said that I'm not so interested in men who are really into JUST sports and local Boston culture. I don't see myself dating a guy who has lived in Boston (or the surrounding towns) his whole life and that's what he wants to do for the whole rest of his life. I just don't see that happening. I don't see myself dating someone who doesn't ever want to leave Boston and live abroad.

My friends then asked me if I realized that the things I was saying were highly offensive.

Offensive? What?

I was shocked. No. It had NEVER ever occurred to me that the things I was saying might be offensive because it has NEVER ever occurred to me to judge other people or criticize them for wanting different things than I do. While I don't particularly want to date someone who only wants to live in Boston for the rest of their life, I absolutely do not judge them for their decision. In fact, quite the opposite. I'm envious of them for having figured out where they want to live and what they want in life while I'm still searching.

The things I was saying should never have been taken as offensive because they were never meant to offend. They were words said with no judgement or criticism of anyone else but perhaps only with a inner sadness of knowing that most men do not want to date a girl who doesn't necessarily see herself living in this country for the rest of her life. And sadly, I don't want know what I want in life and also don't want to limit myself to living here when right now it's making me miserable.

I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart that I absolutely do not judge people for living and staying in the US. And I do not judge the people on the street of Boston for being Bostonians and loving their sports, their country, their beer, their American life. I am absolutely not criticizing them or looking down on them. They are my parents, my friends, my co-workers. What kind of person would I be if I walked around judging them? But what kind of person would I be if I decided to date them just to feel trapped and then decide months later to jump on a plane and go live somewhere else.

I will admit that when I first started traveling, I felt a small level of superiority. I had escaped my small town, I was seeing the world, I was doing something different. I was taking the road less traveled, I was living my dream of being an international woman. But over the years I have revised that feeling and rather than feeling superior to those who settled down somewhere, I feel envious of them.

The change in feeling was fueled (as so many things are these days) by Facebook. I suddenly had a direct view into the lives of people who I went to high school and college with who made different decisions than me. I suddenly had a better peak into the life I didn't choose (but always secretly wished I did), the life I chose to leave behind and go searching for something else, something better? (for me) perhaps in different countries around the world. But what I found when I looked into their pictures and saw their status updates, was that they were HAPPY! Really and truly happy. And I realized that it's not about where you live or what you are doing that matters, it's about how happy you are with where you are and what you are doing. And I also realized that while flitting around the world has been extremely interesting and eye-opening, it hasn't necessarily contributed to my overall happiness or personal well-being. In fact, if I am honest with myself, I would bet that most of the people whose lives I was stalking on Facebook, are probably a lot happier than me. And it was with that realization that I dropped any last bit of superiority or judgement that I might have had towards other people who have made the choice not to dance around the world trying to find themselves.

If anything. I judge myself for being different. These days I'm full of quite a bit of self-hatred because most of all, I know that fact that I'm not fitting in here has everything to do with me, and nothing to do with anyone else. I hate myself for not knowing where I want to live or what I want to do in life. I hate myself for not coming back home and fitting back in. I hate myself for not knowing if I want the American dream, or the Swedish dream or even the London dream. I hate myself for being so torn as to what I want in life. I hate that I'm still searching for something or someone when everyone else is settling down, getting married and having kids. You see... I want those things too. But I realize that I can't really have them until I make some other decisions about my life - like what country I want to live in or where is "home" to me.

And by the way, I've also TRIED to date an All-American guy. When I graduated college I dated the All-American boy who lived down the street from my parents. He had been my high school crush. He was your typical All-American guy. He loved his micro-brews and his Bud Light equally. He listened to Dave Mathews and the Grateful Dead incessantly. He was passionate about sports and would never miss a Red Sox game. He loved BBQ's and hot summer nights. He wore a baseball cap and sports shirts. His dress up clothes (that I bought him) were khakis and a polo. He loved his country. He loved his town. He loved me. Until I decided that I wanted to move to Bali to work. And then he dumped me.

And this has been the story of my life. I wanted to stay with him. I thought we could work it out. I thought that I would come home for him after I had my adventure (I knew he would never move for me). But maybe he knew me better than I knew myself at the time. He thought it was best if he let me go. "You're never going to be happy here," he told me. "You've spent the last year that we've been dating trying to convince yourself of it. But this is not meant to be. You are meant to go out and explore the world. This is what you've always wanted to do. I'm not going to be the one to hold you back."

Okay, he was not a man of many words, so he didn't put it as eloquantely as that. But that's what he meant. Over many conversations, over many years (we remain in touch), he has basically said those things to me. And he was right. I did spend a lot of time trying to convince myself that this was my "destiny." That I was going to trade in my dreams of living abroad for the "American Dream" that that would be okay.

But fate intervened and sent me to Bali and then on to the rest of my travels. And I can't help but think that was really the "right" thing for me. It was.

And it's not just American men. I had the same problem with Swedish men and I used to express the same things to my Swedish friends. I do not want to date an American who only wants to live in the US, just the same as when I lived in Sweden, I didn't want to date a Swede who would never consider leaving Sweden. I knew it was over with the Beautiful Swede when he came home with me and I talked about possibly wanting to move home and build a house in the US and live the American Dream. He essentially freaked out and told me that he did not share that dream. The he couldn't ever see himself living in the US.

So, I'm not being criticical of American men or even Swedish men or in fact any men anywhere. I'm just realizing that at least at this point, I've decided that traveling and living abroad is very important to me and that if I meet a man who doesn't share that dream, who doesn't see himself living outside of where he is from or where he lives right now, then that man is probably not the right man for me.

I want someone to share an international adventure with me. I want someone who would be flexible enough to pack up our family and move to Asia for awhile if my job (or his) asked. I want someone who could see themselves living in Sweden or the US, or London, or Dubai for that matter. I'm not done traveling. I'm still hoping that someone will someday want to join me. But I also realize that is putting a lot of limitations on not even who I would date but on who would want to date me. If there is one thing I learned again and again over the years: men don't like women who are always leaving (nor do they particularly seem to like women who are always working, or even worse traveling for their jobs).

Right now, I've been spending a lot of time trying to convince myself that Boston is right for me. But I'm not feeling it at all. And that makes me so very sad. I really hoped that I would move home and everything would fall into place and I would have that amazing "Aha" moment where I felt like "YES! THIS IS IT! I'M SUPPOSED TO BE HERE!" But it hasn't happened.

And let me tell you... It's the worst feeling in the world to not feel at home in your own country. I have spent the last 9 years abroad feeling like a foreigner. And now I come home and I'm shocked and saddened to feel like that in my own country. I've never spent more time alone and sad and depressed. I've never cried myself to sleep so much.

Sometimes, I even find myself often wishing that I never lived abroad. That I had never made friends all over the world. That I had never left my home in so many places. A reader of this blog made a great comment on one of my posts. She said " I think that moving overseas is like opening Pandora's box. Once you have done it home is no longer one place but where ever you are a bit of home is where you last were." She is right. Home is everywhere that you have been and that makes it hard to really know where home is. I think that everywhere you go and live and love and learn, you leave a little peace of yourself behind. And right now I feel that I'm no longer a whole person because I have left so many pieces behind. And right now, I have no idea where I want to be or who I truly am.

Or to look at it another way,  a wise woman once told me that it's hard to live life when you have so many doors open. It's hard to know which one to go toward, which one to walk through. That to be really happy, you sometimes have to close some doors.

And that thought of closing doors scares me. I'm afraid if I close some doors I loose some part of myself. Right now I have three doors open with the words Boston, London, and Stockholm written above them.

Honestly, I would really like to meet the love of my life and fall head over heels. But as I've said before... how could anyone love me right now? How could anyone love me when I don't love myself? I don't think that falling in love can happen for me until I learn to love myself and be comfortable with where I am in my life. And part of loving myself has to be understanding myself enough to know where I want to live and what doors I'm ready to close.

And just to clarify I do not think I'm special because I've lived abroad. I do however think that I'm different from others who have not had this experience. And I do not think that is a good thing. I hate being different. All I want is to fit in. But 9 years abroad is a long time. It's my entire adult life. The influences in my life have been very international, very European and I'm struggling here in an environment that's less international with less people around me who've had a common experience. So no, I do not think I'm special. But I might feel different and I might react to things differently. I hope my friends can understand that and support me as I go through this. I hope that just as they ask that I don't judge them, that they will not judge me and that they will try to understand what I'm going through.

So, I truly apologize to my friends and to anyone else I may have unintentionally offended when I was talking about what I'm looking for in a life partner. I never meant to offend anyone. The type of person that I hold up as my "ideal" partner is not a reflection on anyone else - it's only a reflection of my own messed up self and this whole sad and confused internal battle I'm having as a result of repatriation after 9 years abroad.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Catching Up

Let me start by saying: I MISSED YOU ALL!!! I took an unexpected leave of absence from my blog for the longest time since I've started blogging and Damnit! I missed you! 

Let me fill you in on what's going on in my life and the reasons why I haven't been blogging. 

I have been feeling unusually tired and unmotivated. I've also been feeling a bit sad and depressed. I usually feel like superwoman and love doing hundreds of things at once. I pride myself in my high energy levels and my ability to multi-task. I have never needed a lot of sleep. I love living life to the fullest. 

But suddenly, I just didn't feel right. I didn't feel like going to the gym. I didn't feel like blogging. I needed to sleep more than I usual but I was more tired than usual during the day. 

Initially, I blamed it on all the changes I was going through - I mean the move home has been SO HARD. And then I blamed it on seasonal depression - it's been a long cold winter. But I couldn't completely justify that considering that Boston has on average 2 more hours of light per day in the winter than London and 4 more hours of light per day than Stockholm! 

Just as I was starting to realize that something might be wrong, I got a call from my Doctor. Around Christmas, I had a bunch of tests done as part of a routine physical. I had gotten all of them back as negative except my test for vitamin B12. I have had problems with B12 deficiency in the past but it hadn't been an issue in the past few years. I usually get it checked each year though just to be sure. I assumed since I heard nothing back from the Doctor, that nothing was wrong. 

That was a mistake! Never assume. Always make sure you get the results back of all tests. Lesson learned. They called me 2 and half months later to say that my B12 levels were dangerously low (Average range for B12 is 250 - 1250, I was at 181). Of course this was scary since if my B12 were dangerously low 2 and half months ago, they must be even worse now.

I checked out the symptoms of B12 deficiency and they are: fatigue, depression, sadness, sores in your mouth, hair loss, numbness in my hands (a very scary feeling) lack of motivation, memory loss, dizziness etc. I had every single one of them! At least I figured out what my problem was! Now to find a Doctor. 

Easier said than done! My primary care doctor is out in W. Mass where I grew up. As this is going to most likely be an ongoing need for treatment since first they need to re-test me, possibly give me injections, and then most importantly find the under-laying cause, I needed to find a Doctor in Boston. This proved to be difficult. I spent hours on the phone trying to find a doctor who would accept new patients. The earliest I could get an appointment was 2 weeks away. I waited the two weeks and went to the Doctor in Boston. She basically just told me to keep taking supplements and come back in 3 months! 

I have been taking supplements every day for years. I take 1,000 mcg of B12 every day since I was diagnosed years ago (the problem is that it has not been confirmed whether or not my stomach will absorb it from oral supplements - they are starting to think I can't, otherwise I wouldn't be this low). I knew that her answer was not acceptable to me. I worried that if I waited 3 months, I could be in big trouble. So, I called my Doctor at home in W. Mass and she was immediately concerned. 

I decided to take this Friday afternoon off of work (not good timing at all - more on that in a bit) and drive out to W. Mass and have her do a bunch of blood work and give me an injection. I still need to find a doctor here in Boston as I need to have an injection every day for the next week, every week for the next month and most likely every month for the rest of my life. And then we will see about the rest of the results... I'm anxious to know that nothing is wrong. 

So... in addition to all this, things have gone CRAZY at work! I suddenly am so busy I can barely breath. And I cannot take time off for the doctor or to spend lots of time on the phone searching for a doctor. I'm double-booked all day in meetings and in the office until 10 pm catching up on all the other stuff. So, the health thing has been bad timing. 

After months of being totally bored at work, I was seriously contemplating leaving. I flagged this to my superiors and they decided it was time to make some changes (not just to alleviate my boredom but because there were other problems that needed to be addressed as well). We spent a couple weeks trying to figure it out, then a couple others in a holding pattern. And then they made some serious changes which included a big restructure that put me in charge of an important team. Over all, the changes are good. It's what I wanted. It's just bad timing. If the whole health crisis had happened a couple weeks ago, I would have welcomed the excuse to miss doing nothing at work and spend time focusing on my health. But now I'm SO BUSY. Don't get me wrong. I want to be busy. I want to feel fulfilled at my job. It's all just a bit overwhelming right now. 

And then in the middle of all this, I had a trip to Austin to SXSW - which was AWESOME! I sadly had to cut it short by some days as with all the changes at work I couldn't be out of the office for as long as I planned. I hope to do a blog post on my crazy time in Austin soon! 

And as if health and crazy work haven't been enough,  I've suffered a huge betrayal from someone I thought was a friend and this had really depressed me. I had given her a link to this blog. I don't think she reads it, but I don't know. But it has turned me off from writing a bit because I really want nothing to do with this person on a personal level and I don't want her to read anything about my personal life. I'm not going to go into the details but this situation is something that has caused me a lot of stress and anger and hurt over the past couple months. Unfortunately, I still have to work with this person. 

And finally, I'm having a REALLY tough time transitioning back to life here in the US. My next blog post will most likely be more about this... I'm questioning everything right now and am really confused about what I want to do in life and where I want to live. And I'm feeling really sad and overwhelmed - obviously the B12 is not helping here... 

So, there you have it. That's what I've been dealing with over the past couple weeks. I apologize for not blogging much and not keeping up with my blog reading. And I will warn you that I might be a bit spotty over the next couple weeks, but I hope to get back to regular blogging (and regular life) soon. I do have some dates and other things to catch you up on. Nothing to exciting. But stay tuned!

P.S. It feels good to write again. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

International Woman of Mystery - Unveiled in a game of tag

Jewels over at Turning 30 has tagged me! Thanks Jewels! Now that I've been tagged. I have to answer 19 random questions about myself. So, here we go...

Oh before I start, I apologize for my recent absence. The equation goes something like this: 

Bad cold + Extreme tiredness + Winter Blues + Boring stuff going on + Extreme Addiction to Mad Men = No motivation/time to blog. Sorry. Will try to be better. I've just got a bad case of the winter blues. But I'm glad Jewels tagged me because this is nice and easy - no thinking involved (ummmm... I wrote this before I tried to answer the questions - I take it back! This was hard)!

1. If you have pets, do you see them as merely animals or are the members of your family?
Ir's funny because we always had a lot of pets growing up. I pretty much considered them to be a nuisance. Part of the family, I guess... but an annoying part. To be honest, I didn't care about them much. But suddenly that changed and I really like animals. I don't have any animals of my own (I mean, I can't even keep a plant alive) but my parents have a dog and 2 cats and I love their animals (although one of the cats isn't really that special to me). In fact, I went home to see the animals see my parents this weekend and got lots of pet therapy. It was great! 

2. If you can have a dream come true, what would it be? 
To be really and truly happy and feel comfortable with where I am both physically and mentally in my life. Oh, and I want to run a marathon. I have suffered various injuries over the years and this dream has slipped away. But my fellow boot campers are inspiring me to pursue treatment and make the marathon dream happen. 

3. What is the one thing most hated by you?
I hate hypocrites I can't stand being judged by someone who is guilty of the same flaw they are judging me for. I also hate people who are just plain mean for no reason. And condescending people. And know-it-all's. And people who maliciously gossip. And back-stabbers. And people who betray you. (Can you tell I'm struggling with some people around me right now)? So, I guess to summarize, I would say that I hate people who don't make an effort to be good people. No one is perfect (I'm certainly far from it) but it's trying to be a good person that counts the most... 

4. What would you do with a billion dollars?
Quit my job and travel, travel, travel and hopefully do some good in the world as well. 

5. What helps to pull you out of a bad mood?
A long run. A hard gym session. A chat with a good friend. A random act of kindness. A drink. A nice email. A  beautiful compliment. A wonderful song. A sunny day.  Making plans for the future. Patting the cat or dog (see number 1). Watching an episode of Glee. 

6. Which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?
Oh who knows! Aren't they equally amazing? Although maybe I don't really know. Outside of family and friends, I have never "loved" or "been loved" by anyone. Sad. I know at 32 years old... but it's true. Secretly, I might have loved the Scottish Boy. But I really hope there is a greater love out there so I refuse to call that love because if that's what love is, I don't want it. 

7. What is your bedtime routine?
Put on pajamas, get in bed, set alarm for ridiculously early hour, take out contacts, read until tired. Pray that I will fall asleep rather than laying awake all night as I do so often now. 

8. If you are currently in a relationship, how did you meet your partner?
Well that one's easy. I'm permanently single so I don't meet "partners." Umm...  this is kinda my problem.  

9. If you coould watch a creative person in the act of the creative process, who would it be? 
I'm sorry. I'm totally at a loss right now. Skip to the next one. 

10. What kinds of books do you read? 
I'll pretty much read anything. I just re-read Pride and Prejudice! So good! And now I'm reading The Weird Sisters and Freedom. I enjoy popular literature as well as the classics. I shamelessly love both the Twilight series and Harry Potter. And good crime novels are often a guilty pleasure of mine. 

11. How would you see yourself in ten years time?
.I see myself as a highly powerful woman with an awesome career. I'm probably living abroad somewhere with my family. I will be married to a very handsome and incredibly smart man. He is probably a foreigner. He is most likely Swedish. We are totally in love and can't believe our amazing luck at finding each other. I can't decide if he will have an important career or if he will stay at home with the kids. I will have 2 beautiful children. A boy and a girl. They are wonderful and smart although unfortunately if my husband also has an important career, they are probably being raised by the nanny - although when I am around, I'm an amazing mother.  I'm as glamorous as ever. I host lots of dinner parties for friends I have actually learned to cook and I'm actually not that bad at it when I find the time and feel motivated, but I also have a personal chef who helps out from time to time because I just can't be bothered. My husband is a big wine connoseur and loves showing off our wine cellar. And of course, I'm gorgeous and look at least 10 years younger than I really am (I don't actually plan to age). 

12. What's your fear?
Someone close to me dying. 

13. Would you give up all junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to visit outer space?
No way! I mean I would considering giving up junk food for the right reason. But going into outer space has never ever interested me. In fact it totally freaks me out! 

14. Would you rather be single and rich or married, but poor?
Oh jeez. I am single and while not exactly rich (nowhere near rich really), I have the means to live well. But I feel like I'm lacking something. So, maybe I would be better off married and poor. I mean money doesn't buy happiness. There has been studies on this kind of thing. In fact, I read a book this summer (called The Pursuit of Happiness - it's awesome - read it) that says as long as you make enough to stay above the poverty line, then income has very little impact on happiness. In fact, if you come into a lot of money suddenly, you are temporarily happy but then you drop back to your original happiness level that you were at before you got the money. I would therefore probably rather be married in a good relationship and poor (although preferably not poverty poor obviously).

15. What's the first thing you do when you wake up?
Press the snooze buttons as many times as possible. And when I finally realize I have to get up, I usually complain out loud (oh, the benefits of living alone) and hate the world for a little while. Most mornings after complaining, I put in my contacts, throw on my outdoor exercise clothes (laid out the night before), stretch for 5 mins, fill a bottle of water (with hot water in the winter or it freezes), add gloves and a hat and outside layers. Throw on my sneakers and get out the door at 5:50 for Boot Camp class! 

16. If you could change one thing about your spouse/partner what would it be?
I'm feeling some discrimination against single people here! Why do questionnaire like this always have to do with your spouse or your partner. It's like those damn security questions that you have to answer on bank websites and stuff. I swear that my bank has never heard of single people. The last time they made me answer security questions they gave me 6 questions and I had to answer 3 of them. Only 2 were appropriate for me such as what's the name of your childhood pet? Or what's the name of the street that you lived on as a kid? The others were all like what is the birthday of your significant other? What is your partner's mother's name? What is the birth date of your youngest kid? I think I actually made up a name for my imaginary partner's mother. I really hope they don't make me recall that in order to get my bank information. Seriously people. What is wrong with being single? Please be less discriminatory in your questions!

17. If you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be?
Ha ha.... International Woman of Mystery is pretty awesome. I can't really do better than that. Actually, my real name (which surprisingly is not IWM) is actually kind of awesome. I have a super boring and ordinary first name - it was the name of the year, the year I was born - but my last name makes up for it especially when the two are put together. I don't even think I will change my name when I'm married. I like my last name too much. 

18. Would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing that special someone has done?
I'm all for giving people second (and sometimes third and fourth chances) but I'm unlikely to forget. That would be stupid. Wrong me once shame on you, wrong me twice shame on me and all that... I guess it depends on the level of seriousness. I do hold grudges, but usually only for very short times. What is most important is that someone apologizes or at least makes an effort to patch things up. 

19. If you could only eat one thing for the next 6 months, what would it be?
Ugh. I have no idea. That's a tough one. I mean am I supposed to tell you my absolute favorite food and tell you I will eat that all the time? Or am I supposed to be serious and think about nutritional value and weight gain? Well, my gut instinct is to tell you NACHOS - the loaded nachos with lots of cheese and veggies (tomatoes, olives, jalapeños, mushrooms, peppers, onions, corn) and salsa and guacamole and sour creme! Throw some chili on there (although I'm not sure I want to eat this for 6 months) and you kind of cover the important food groups. But seriously, I LOVE NACHOS!!! They are my number one favorite food. I probably could eat them for 6 months straight/ 

So, there you go: 19 things about me you probably never wanted to know! 

I tag the following people but of course you are ALL welcome to play along: 

Life Begins at Thirty

Texpatriot Musings

Mademoiselle L 


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dear Grandfather

Photo of my Grandfather - taken this winter
Thanks everyone for the awesome comments on my recent dating posts and the encouraging words about going outside my dating requirements and dating the Short Australian. I hope to get back to some fun dating posts soon...

But sadly this weekend wasn't really about fun and dating. It was mostly about family. My grandfather passed away 2 weeks ago. And while he was old and it wasn't a tragedy, it is still sad. He was the center of our family in many ways. I worry that we will not see each other as often. It was nice to all get together this weekend. I enjoyed catching up with my cousins. I wish I could see them more. I wish we got together for happy occasions and not just when someone dies.

Anyway, this weekend I've been reflecting a lot on family and what it means. And I've been thinking a lot about my grandparents. They were hugely important and influential to me. They lived about 2 hours from us and they visited us often and we visited them often as well. My brother and I would spend a week or so each summer with them. They had an amazing house in Ipswich, MA looking out over the ocean. Some of my best and most vivid memories of my childhood take place in that house. I can still remember how each room smelled. I can remember where all the objects (collected from their numerous travels) were placed. I loved that house. And I loved my grandparents. And they loved us - and never ever forgot to tell us just how much they loved us.

They were great and amazing people. My uncle said it best: they were great role-models. For everyone. They did so much for their community, their church, their friends, their family. They were role models to me and to many around them. They touched so many people. When I think of the kind of person that I want to be, I want to be like them. I can't actually think of better people. It was not only their love for their loved ones that was inspiring but also their love for each other. They were married 62 years. And in a world full of broken relationships and broken vows, I always think of them as role models for the type of love I hope to have some day.

Their religion was important to them and their faith in God was very very strong. Their children and grandchildren do not share that faith, but as my cousin pointed out, that was to some extent, okay with them. They would have been happy if we had embraced God and religion (and certainly expressed a certain level of disappointed to our parents for not ever bringing us to church) but they didn't turn it into an issue. They loved us for who we were even if it wasn't exactly who they wanted us to be.

They always encouraged us to do great things and to be better people. They always supported us. They loved to hear of my travels. My grandmother loved to write and encouraged me to write. My grandmother emailed me every single week until she entered the hospital a couple months before she passed away. That was really special. I attribute my passion for traveling and for writing to my grandparents. They truly inspired and supported me in so many ways.

I'm sad they are now both gone. It's been a hard weekend. There are no words that can do justice to the relationship I had with them. There are so many amazing memories that I tried to write down but seemed trivial in black and white on a computer... maybe some day I will find a way to better express my life for them. Maybe some day, I will try to re-tell the great stories they told (my grandmother was a great story-teller and my grandfather and my uncles and father were great subjects - I fear those stories will be lost and I would like to write them in my own words drawing upon what my grandmother has already written - perhaps I will include some stories in this blog). But for now I will leave you with the words I spoke at the funeral on Saturday:

Dear Grandfather, Grampy, Grumpy Grampy, GG,

You are no longer with us but you and Grammy will always be here with us. You are in the taste of fresh summer raspberries. In the smell of mint leaves and roses. You are there with the birds that fly in the early morning light, in the call of a seagull, in the smell of freshly baked cookies, in the taste of a ginger snap.

You are there in our memories of long summer nights and lobster dinners, of games of Scrabble and cards, of trips to the library and to the beach. You are there in the memories of penny candy and magic bags, of ice cream and clams and feeding the birds on your porch in Ipswich. You are in the words ‘Gee Whiz’, you are there in my father’s smile, in the sound of the ocean in a seashell, and in the magic of Christmas.

You are there with us always in memories of the past, but you also with us here in the present. You are there in the heart of your children. You are there in the accomplishments of your grandchildren. You are there in the laughter of your great grandchildren. You are there in the loving memory of your friends. You were the center of our family. Of our universe. You will live on in our memory. You are always with us.

Dear Grampy. You taught us so much. You gave us so much. Your love for all of us was undeniable. And you never failed to tell us how much you loved us. Your love for us always shined so bright. We are all so blessed to have had you in our lives. We are all better people for it. There cannot be better grandparents, parents, great-grandparents. friends or neighbors than you and Grammy. Your love was everlasting. May we carry it with us. And may we be better people for having experienced your love.

Dear Grampy. You are now with Grammy and Uncle Bill. But please know that we love you - all of you. And we will miss you. Know that you are missed. And do not miss us. But watch over us and take care of  just as you have always done and as we know you always will.

Dear Grampy. You are no longer with us,but you are always with us. And your legacy lives on within us: your friends and family who are gathered here today not to mourn your passing but to celebrate the life of a great great man.

We love you Grandfather, Grampy, Grumpy Grampy, GG. We love you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Short Australian

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It was a typical Saturday night in the new rather boring life of the International Woman of Mystery. I was having I'm Attractive Single Friend C and Hot Married Friend L over for a drink and the plan was to head out to the bars. Hot Married Friend L brought her hunky husband and I'm Attractive Single Friend C brought her new man who I'm naming Silver Fox because he is an attractive gentleman of a slightly older age...

So, that left me the odd woman out - as usual. I don't mind. I love Hot Married Friend L's husband - he's great! And I was excited to meet I'm Attractive Single Friend C's new man. But I have to say, it was one of those nights that I wished I had a plus one to sit next to. Sometimes it's tiring always being the 3rd wheel or the 5th wheel as it may be.

After some drinks at my house, we decided to wander down to the local pub to get some food and some more drinks. The couples were all cuddly and I was sitting there alone. And suddenly someone observed "Hey International Woman of Mystery, there is a handsome man sitting at the bar and totally checking you out!"

"What? Where?" And then I saw him. He was sitting alone at the bar. He was handsome... And he was totally checking me out! He kept turning around and looking over at our table. I was obviously the only single one there.

By this time we were finished eating dinner and I'm Attractive Single Friend C and the Silver Fox decided to head for home. It just so happened that the seats at the bar next to the cute guy opened up. I decided to seize the opportunity and go sit next to him (Hot Married Friend L and her husband joined me). We immediately started talking. As soon as he opened his mouth, I was like "So... you're Australian?" Kind of hard to miss the accent. Plus, he was at the bar alone (which is not so weird considering it's a local sports bar), so we had been speculating that he was from out of town.

So, the Australian and I continued our conversation even though Hot Married Friend L and her husband decided to leave. He was interesting and cute - although slightly older (confirmed age of 38)  than my usual boys . (What is up with me and older men these days)?

And then he stood up. Uh - oh... It wasn't quite as bad as that Sex and the City episode where Samantha meets an extremely short guy at the bar (similar scenario, he'd been sitting on a bar stool), he did come up somewhere past my chest... but he was definately WAY under 6 feet (my minimum requirement) and absolutely MUCH shorter than me - of course, I was wearing 4 inch heels...

I wasn't too surprised though. I'd gotten a feeling that he was short. I was just wishing he would be that short.  Anyway, turns out we are more or less neighbors. We chatted. He walked me home. There might or might not have been some kind of goodnight kiss. He has just texted me to ask what I'm up to this weekend (although sadly, that is kind of devoted to my Grandfather's funeral). I might or might not reply.

BUT I TOTALLY checked off number 6 from the dating challenge: relax on the height requirement. Ok, technically, I might have to go out with him again... And maybe I will.

I know. I owe you an update on Stockholm and on the Tour Guide. Coming soon!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

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Dear Valentine's Day, 

Here you are again. No matter how much I try to wish you away, you keep popping up again every single February 14th. 

What kind of holiday are you anyway? Encouraging a celebration of love through the exchanging of cards and gifts. The giving of flowers. The going out to dinner... You are so commercial! A holiday created just to get people to spend money in the name of  "Love!" How disgusting! 

And you are so discriminatory!. What about us single people? How do you think you make us feel? Why do you need to come around and REMIND us that we have no special someone to love and no one to love us. No one to buy us chocolates or jewelery or take us out to dinner. Do you think we REALLY need to have this thrown in our face? 

How would you feel if I started a single person's holiday? Where all the single people can celebrate their freedom and their ability to date multiple people and not feel guilty about it? And we remind all the coupled up people that we never have to pick up anyone's dirty socks but our own, we never wake up freezing cold because someone stole all the covers, and we never have to think about anyone's feelings or do things we don't want to do. In fact, we can do whatever we want! Take that Mr. Couple Valentine's Day! 

Ok. Dear Valentine's Day. I'm just about done with my little rant. But to you, I say Boo!

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Needless to say, that as a single girl, Valentine's Day is not really my favorite holiday. Luckily, living abroad there has much less pressure to have fabulous Valentine's Day plans although I notice an increasing adaption over the years. This year I saw more Swedish people posting cute messages about Alla Hjärtans Dag than ever... 

But whatever... I don't totally hate the day. I just don't love it either. Especially in the US. Today at work it was all flowers and balloons and talk of romantic dinners. I made the mistake of wearing red (seriously, it was a mistake) and all day people kept telling me how festive I was. Gag. And people kept asking me what my plans were! I was like - hey I'm single, I don't celebrate Valentine's Day. Ok - before you all jump down my throat, I know that I could have gotten a group of single girlfriends together to celebrate, but in fact, I don't know too many of those these days and I decided that a quiet night at home with popcorn, red wine and a movie ALONE was not too bad after all. I'm ok with it. 

However, despite my hatred of the day, I have not had such horrible Valentine's Days over the past years. And for some reason, I've spent Valentine's Day in many countries. 

Let's take a look back over the past 10 years and the places I've been (7 different countries in 10 years) and the things I've done:
  • 2002 - Hometown W. Mass, USA - it was just days before I was to leave for Bali, my boyfriend at the time (the one I thought I would marry but then I pulled a runner and took off for Bali - see here for the story. Needless to say it was a bitter sweet day. I do remember receiving a dozen roses - which is possibly the only time I have received roses from a boy. They were beautiful but I was leaving and we both knew it was over. I left for Bali before the flowers had a chance to die. 
  • 2003 - Hometown W. Mass, USA - I had recently returned from Bali and was about to be heading out to China. I had just started dating this guy who I had met at the gym, but the relationship had a clear expiration date as I was about to leave. I think he was babysitting his nephew and I went over and babysat with him. 
  • 2004 - Chennai, India - I was dating the Scottish Boy in China but happened to be on a business trip to Chennai, India with 3 male colleagues. Needless to say, Valentine's Day was not celebrated this year - although the trip was crazy eventful on many levels including the fact that I ended up in the hospital. But that's a whole other story for another day. The Scottish Boy had actually put flowers in my apartment while I was away... I think they were dead by the time I got home to them. 
  • 2005 - Stockholm - for my first Valentine's day in Stockholm, I had my German ex-boyfriend from Bali visiting me. We didn't celebrate the holiday. I was actually more than a little sad that he didn't even buy me flowers. We were not dating -he had another girlfriend and I was still in the "off/on" phase with the Scottish Boy. But, since he was staying with me, I thought he could have at least bought me flowers - especially because I had hinted at it. I suddenly remembered why our relationship didn't work in the first place. 
  • 2006 - Shanghai, China - I was in an "on" period with the Scottish boy and happened to be in China for Valentine's Day (this was during the time when I was commuting back and forth between Stockholm and Shanghai). The Scottish Boy bought me flowers which we proceeded to fight over. He complained about the fact that the Chinese upped the prices for just this day due to this "stupid American: holiday (he loved to take jabs at Americans at ever chance he was given). I pointed out that the flowers were a nice idea... but as I was going back to Stockholm the next day, I wouldn't really be able to enjoy them - I was trying to hint that I wanted something more permanent - like jewelry instead. I settled for a nice dinner. 
  • 2007 - Karlsruhe, Germany - I was single this year and found myself in Karlsruhe, Germany at a Trade show for work. My German colleague marked the day by giving me a Valentine's Day chocolate (which is more than I can say for the German Ex-boyfriend from 2005). The Trade Show was really boring but around 4:00 pm they kicked out all the guests and brought out the kegs of German beer (wheat beer - my favorite) and brought in a band and all the booth owners partied until the wee hours of the morning. It was an absolute blast! 
  • 2008 - Russia - Moscow - I was working in Moscow this year. Valentine's Day itself was very uneventful. It seems it is not really a holiday in Russia.* However, the weekend before, I had a "Super Sexy Valentine's Day Party" at my apartment. The dress code was: lingerie. It was a crazy night! In fact, I was still hungover the following Monday (2 days later) when I boarded the flight to Moscow with my colleagues. This flight was memorable because through my hangover haze, I suddenly realized that I was the ONLY woman on the whole plane and that the entire Russian national hockey team was on the plane with us!! Happy Valentine's Day to me! 
  • 2009 - Stockholm, Sweden - I was dating the Beautiful Swede this year but on the actual day of Valentine's Day, I had a wedding to attend and the Beautiful Swede was not invited. So, the Beautiful Swede and I celebrated the night before (on Friday) by making my favorite fisk gryta (fish stew) and yummy chocolate brownies. It was a really nice night. And the wedding on Valentine's Day was absolutely lovely. 
  • 2010 - London, UK - I was single last year at Valentine's Day although the American Boy had just come to visit and was returning later that week. My good girl friend was visiting me from Stockholm and we celebrated Valentine's Day by having champagne tea. It was a lovely way to celebrate Valentine's Day!
  • 2011 - Boston, USA - I was hoping to be set up on a double blind date with a friend of Hot Married Friend L's Hubby. He was supposed to be flying in from Europe (sounds promising, right), but unfortunately his plans changed and the date didn't happen. I'm home with some wine (I figure that on Valentine's Day it's ok to break my New Year's Eve resolution of not drinking at home alone on weekdays) and my blog and a movie. Off to bed soon! Probably the most boring Valentine's Day to date. Boo-hoo. 
Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I hope yours was better than mine. What did you do to celebrate? Or not celebrate as the case my be? 
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*Funny I started to write this blog last night and I came into work this morning and found a Skype message from my Russian colleagues wishing me lots of love on Valentine's Day! The actual message said: Hi IWM! I wish you Happy St.Valentin's day and ocean of love! <3 <3 <3 <3 Russia loves you! This was about the sweetest thing anyone said to me all day - so that was nice. And I guess that Valentine's Day is getting more popular in Russia!