Head colds and validation


There are tissues all over my floor. I have made it in the trash receptacle once. I told my dad last night that I’ve sneezed so many times my head feels like a Magic Eight ball that got stuck between responses because you shook it too hard looking for answers.

He was sympathetic to my pain but also wanted to know how I knew what a Magic Eight ball was. “That’s from my era.”

“I think my Barbies had one. Like the seventies Barbie.” I can’t remember her name now and inexplicably feel guilty for that.

I’m really not feeling that bad anymore. There’s just a lot of gunk in my head. I’ve been sneezing. It’s a cold. So many things could be worse.

I’m spacey when I get head colds. I think this is common. Like, I’ve been meaning to make pancakes for about an hour now and getting distracted. I can’t remember where I put my phone, either.

The phone is important because I was texting one of my friends who is still back at school. And now I can’t respond. It was a good conversation; it’s a good friendship. Like my friend who told me that I had a mouse in my glove compartment, this friend is one who makes me better.

We’re both trying to work through what it means to grow up and how we deal with feelings and thoughts and insecurities and all that. There’s no manual for this. But we both know it’s not meant to be done in isolation.

I texted her this morning and asked how her week was. I really wanted to know. I don’t bump into her on the sidewalk or at the library anymore, so it’s important to be intentional about asking.

I also really wanted her to validate a feeling. And really didn’t want to own up to it.

You know the type, where you feel like you shouldn’t feel the way you do because it’s selfish or ungrateful or discontent or inappropriate for the situation. But you still feel that way and need someone to remind you that you’re human and have to work through feelings instead of shoving them  into your closet to fester.

Some days, I don’t deal with it and shove it into the closet. But it always finds its way out for another encounter another day. So it’s best to just own up. Because the only antidote to feeling like you shouldn’t feel the way you feel is empathy.

So I told her. And she said, “That’s normal. You’re human.” And I nodded to myself, and we talked about it some more.

You’d think I’d be able to remind myself of that. Some days, I can. Some days, I need someone else to remind me.

If I needed her to, she’d validate this cold. But I can give this all the validation it needs. Somehow, I feel pancakes will help with this.

And where did I put my phone?

Leaks


It was just going to be a routine oil change. But it always starts out with something small, doesn’t it?

I made a list about a year ago of 25 things I wanted to do before I turned 25 . One of them was using chopsticks well, which I’m on my way to having down. I may or may not have started writing a book, but we won’t know that for a while. I’ve been reading  two books at a time and making sure it’s the last thing I see at night, not my phone or computer. Since I’m doing so well at these, I should have added “Learn to sing like Adele” and “Cure all disease.”

Instead I put things like this:

13. Learn how to either a) change a flat tire, b) change my oil, or c) be able to label all the parts of an engine and know their function in relation to the others. Maybe all three.

So I haven’t learned any of that. I learned how to check my oil in Driver’s Ed, though, so when my little oil lamp sign started turning on in my car when I slowed down (only when I slowed down though), I figured it was worth checking.

Ah, no oil registering on the dipstick. For you who are less car literate than me (never fear, dear one, that doesn’t mean much) that means that there wasn’t much oil in my car and that my engine could be very crabby. It probably means more, too, but like I said, not super car literate.

So I drove my dad’s car to Minnetonka and back and scheduled an oil change for before work the next day.

“Don’t let them talk you into anything else,” my mom told me when I left the house.

“Oh, I know. I’ll stand my ground,” I told her, assured that I would only spend $19.99 and only get an oil change.

I walked into the place with my hubris and my high-heeled ankle boots, all certain that I’d be driving my car out of there in an hour with just one service performed. The man who worked up front was so kind and got everything all set for me. So I sat down with my book to wait for it to be done.

He came back to me after about fifteen minutes. “When was the last time you had an oil change?”

“It’s been over six months, I know.”

“I’m asking because there was almost no oil in there, and it was dripping.”

There was a leak.

“I’ll get an estimate for you.”

NO! I was going to be stalwart and not get wheedled into anything else. But you don’t get to plan leaks. And as long as you know the people you’re working with are honest, it’s best to fix leaks.

So I talked to my dad, and he said to get the leak fixed. Just calling was admitting defeat. Um, nope, I can’t evaluate this one on my own. I guess I’ve got a little ways to go before I can just waltz into a car repair place and know what’s going on. I may never get there.

At least I could pay for that. That wouldn’t be too bad. Of course, the man came back with a longer list and a bigger total, but he told me some things could wait.

He said if I took care of the whole list I’d get 50,000 more miles out of my car. That got my attention. But the total for everything wasn’t going to fly, so I said, “Fix the leak, and we’ll do the rest later.”

I didn’t mention that maybe someone a little less expensive might do the rest.

So me and my high-heeled boots left my car and my keys (and the sandwich that I accidentally left in my car, which was now high above the garage floor) and walked a couple blocks over to work. And it wasn’t that bad.

So this is about a) rolling with the punches, b) not being able to control … anything, and c) taking advice when you need it. Take your pick.

For the crusty and those who wish they were


Curmudgeons have always had a special place in my heart. Those characters who tell it like it is, don’t care what anyone thinks, make wry commentary on the world around them, refuse the status quo, and usually have a soft spot for furry creatures or babies. I look at them and think, ah, to be so crusty and independentwhat a way to live.

Take Batman, for instance: thinks happiness in love is impossible, holds no daydreams about Gotham getting its streets swept clean and staying that way, gets trained in a really dark place (like, literally dark… does anyone know where that was?), talks like he’s got a major larynx problem, and knows that what he needs to be is not a hero in white shining armor but to take the fall for someone else so that people have hope.

Or picture your favorite gruff old man who does not fight bad guys. Maybe he’s rough around the edges, but he’s probably got great stories and doesn’t delude himself. It’s like the guy from Up. Square-jawed, solitary, not interested in fancies, disappointed.

Oh, to be a curmudgeon. To not give a rip what anyone thinks. To see things the way they are.

Of course, it’s not as cut and dry as all that. There’s a place in-between those who expect sunshine and rainbows and those who are certain a hurricane is imminent. And that’s probably where most of us fall, caught between hope and fear of disappointment.

Isn’t that what being crusty is all about? Not hoping so you’re not disappointed? Not caring so you don’t get hurt? If you’ve read any C.S. Lewis, you’re thinking of the line from The Four Loves where he says that love is essentially being vulnerable.

“Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.”

At my stage of life, curmudgeonness (sooooo not a word) seems equal with maturity. At least, that’s the picture I get when I tell people my aspirations and they respond with something like this:

“Awww, that’s so great. I remember when I had just graduated college and was starting to plan out my life.”

Then a hint of fortune-telling follows: Oh, I see it now. You’re going to pursue this for a while and try to make it work. You’ll get as far as hope can take you and will eventually settle for the existence everyone else has or something equally stable. Like the future is calling and saying that everyone has to deal with disappointment and move on from what they want to do to what they have to do.

Part of that is true. Everyone does have to deal with disappointment. And failure. And that’s when it’d be nice to be a crusty, hardened veteran of the world. And those experiences are what give tougher skin.

But maybe we need to be careful to not get too tough. I so want to be. I want to be tough and able to handle anything and never get my hopes up without cause, because strength is so admirable and I hate crying – especially when there’s a good reason. And being doe-eyed and ignorant of the world and dreamy about what could be is not a trait that leads to survival and thriving (at least not in the wild…).

As much as I’d love to abandon the look of inexperience and naïveté, naive people have done amazing things. Tough people have, too. The thing they both have in common is that they keep going no matter what stands in their way. For one, it is the failure and the roadblocks that could stop them and the vision of what could be that drives them. For the other, it’s the inability to hope for what isn’t seemingly possible that could keep them from progressing and their belief in soldiering on that keeps them going.

As always, I come to a place where I realize that being balanced is probably the best thing. Toughness and hopefulness combined can achieve things that either on their own or paired with something less antithetical would not.

I can’t be Batman (for a lot of reasons). I also can’t be Bambi. Now, to figure out what lies between.

Certainly human.


Tuesday started with rain and will likely end with snow. That also means that it will start with coffee and keep going with coffee. Cloudy days = more caffeine required.

Is there anyone out there who can learn life lessons in a way other than the hard way? I mean, is there anyone who reads the self-help books and the advice columns and the “10 mistakes not to make” articles and actually avoids that?

I always have to learn by experience. Maybe it’s because I’m stubborn (thanks, Dad) or because I’m determined to see things through to the end (thanks, Mom). I have to make ridiculous mistakes before God can finally hit me on the head with a two-by-four and let me sit in stunned perspective. Oh, that’s why that wasn’t a good idea.

I had one of those moments this morning. There was a two-by-four, and now there’s a headache and severe determination to not need to be hit on the head again.

It’s part of the human experience, I think, even more so than puberty or mid-life crises (which, my roommate has informed me, are proven to not be any more common than a crisis at any other phase of life. She’s in lifespan psych right now, so we should trust her.) to make mistakes and finally come to the conclusion that would have helped us initially had we known it or paid attention to the voices that already knew it.

At least I’m certain I’m human.

Readjustment and hair cuts.


I’ve been lightly complaining for the past three months that my hair is going wild. And it has been. I pondered trying to tell someone in German how to handle my wild, difficult, thick, curly hair, but I worried that I might end up with an afro. So I just let it go wild for the last three months.

After three months of attempting to tame the beast, today I will visit my trusty Minnesotan stylist to get my hair cut. I thought about wandering to another stylist, Katie, but no one knows my hair like you do.

Some things are worth waiting for.

In other news, I almost said “entshuldigung” to someone in the grocery store, but realized that they speak English and got so confused that I just stayed silent when Midwestern manners would dictate that I should say something. I just slid between the grocery carts, remembering” excuse me” a little too late.

It’ll come back eventually.

I’ve been enjoying my own bed and made it all the way through the night last night without waking up. So much for jet lag! I guess I was so sleep deprived that my body was ready to get into a rhythm. Note to all people returning from another time zone: the book my mom read was right! Just mess up your body clock a whole bunch the week before you come home, and you’ll have little to no jet lag!

Hooray for successful sleeping.

I’ve been slightly less successful in getting my floor clean. I know that I’m an out-of-sight-out-of-mind type person when it comes to my personal possessions, so I have to keep them spread out on my floor til I can decide where the absolute best place for it to be is. It will get worse before it gets better.

I’m glad to be back with actual paper books as well. Over the past couple shelves, my book shelf has expanded a whole bunch and now extends all the way up the wall. Basically a dream come true. Next dream: being able to walk on my floor without accidentally stepping on souvenirs and clothes and stuff.

On to a hair cut! It’s a bit day!

My Truths.


PANO_20140525_093814When I first arrived in Graz, I didn’t have much to do. I had a couple acquaintances (many of whom later became friends), only 6 hours of orientation spread out over three days, no knowledge of German, and very little knowledge of the city I found myself transplanted in.

So, I bought a pad of paper and some colored pencils, and I drew out three phrases that I knew were good for me to remember.

“Be joyful always,” Not so easy when you’re starting over in a foreign country and feel a little bit alone.

“Pray continually,” Right. You don’t need to tell me twice. “Jesus, where can I find a bathroom?” “How do I get home?” “Can I have a friend, please?”

“Give thanks in all circumstances.” Look at what you’ve got, not all the things you’re missing.

It was a good thing to have up, since I spent a lot of time sitting in my room and wondering, what I was going to do with myself?Look at the wall. Oh, well, I suppose I’ll be joyful, pray, and give thanks. Then maybe I’ll take a walk.

Since I hadn’t found a church yet either, I watched a lot of Beth Moore teaching videos online. Whenever she said something that resonated in my heart, I added it to the wall.

“The essence of covenant is loyal loving.”

“‘Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are.’ I Cor. 5:7…We can’t let our past characterize our present.”

“Only God can love like God.”

These visual snippets were ringing true in my life. I am new, God loves me unfailingly, and I love because He loves me.

I kept adding to it as I kept learning. The wall doesn’t encompass everything I’ve learned this semester, but I’ve got some poignant parts of what I’m learning in everyday view.

“If God doesn’t do it, it’s not going to happen… If we forget the Giver, it can become an idol. It is God who has done this thing.” – Tim Dilena

“Taste defeat, then brush your teeth.” – Relient K

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus, and because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death… And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” – Romans 8

“Love comes from God. No one has ever seen God, but if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.” – I John 4

“Be not proud of race, face, or place; it’s all by grace.” – Charles Spurgeon, as quoted by Tim Dilena

“If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.” – Emily Dickinson

When I’m not sure what my health insurance covers or don’t know how to not miss home or have no idea what my American Lit exam will be like, I have something to look at. These are my certainties. When the world shifts from under my feet or when I shift above the earth in a jet, God stays the same, and even though not all of these truths come straight from a sermon, they are true as well.

Opposite that wall is a reminder of where I am and where I came from.

PANO_20140525_093833

My map of Graz, my pictures of friends and family, and all the cards that people have sent me since I’ve been here.

Thank you to all of you who helped me decorate my walls, whether with a card or for being in a picture, or for speaking truth into my life. You’ve helped make my room a happy place to be.

 

On Failed Pickup Lines


I suppose I should begin by saying that I think that pick-up lines, though funny in theory, are a rather lame and degrading way to try to get a date. I’m not writing about my experiences with this way of asking someone out to applaud them but more because each experience shows how dumb it is to use them. Also, they are rather hilarious.

When you imagine a guy trying to get a girl to have a drink with him, you typically see a Ryan Gosling-esque man in your mind, sauntering up to a lovely looking girl, who is typically in a bar or some kind of establishment where you almost expect people to hit on you. He runs his fingers through his hair then makes some sort of appropriate comment about the situation (“Hey, this joint is really hopping tonight”) then, after establishing some rapport, he whips out his best pickup line… “Did it hurt?” “Do you have a map?” “Do you have a quarter?” or something similar that leads to a cheesy compliment that might make you inclined to offer a courtesy laugh.

My experiences were nothing like that.

About a month into my time here in Graz, I headed home on foot after my Gothic fiction class. As I rounded a corner, I nearly ran into a guy coming from the opposite direction. Said guy had thin, red, curlyish hair that stuck out at odd angles. Perhaps his hair style should have been a warning sign. He said something urgent in German.

I’ve developed a policy that when someone starts to speak to me in German, I let them finish their sentence then say, “I’m sorry. I don’t speak German.” I really didn’t know what this guy could have to ask that was so important, but perhaps he was lost.

I gave him my English response.

“Oh..” He looks baffled and slightly interested. “Are you British?” Ah, so he knows English… but not well enough to recognize that I definitely don’t have a British accent.

“Nope. I’m from America.”

“Oh.” Wide eyes, more interest. (Americans are kind of a novelty among people here that actually want to know English) “You’re from New York?”

“No.” Shaking head, looking for a way to end this conversation since it’s obvious that he doesn’t need anything urgently.

“Los Angeles.”

“No.” No band-aids required. No directions to the nearest hospital or post office.

He looks amazed that Americans could be from anywhere else.

“I’m from Minnesota.”

“Oh!” More excitement, wider eyes. “Like Bob Dylan!”

“Yes, like Bob Dylan.”

“I’ve seen him 18 times!”

“Wow.” With about the amount of interest you show a toddler when they show you their 13th drawing of you… but it’s scribbles. (“That’s nice, dear…”) “You know him better than I do.”

Trying to leave.

“Do you know a good place to have a drink?”

A drink. A drink. Obviously, he doesn’t know who he’s asking. I’m a 10:00 pumpkin. I only drink wine… and even that’s rarely. I don’t even know where the bars in this town are except the pub I went to with a friend once… and left at 11:00.

“Um, like coffee?” Yes, I know how to feign naiveté. Or, perhaps, I was hoping that he didn’t feel the need to drink before 5:00pm.

“Oh, well,” He doesn’t know what to do with this. “Coffee, or something else.”

“Um, not really. The Beanery has good coffee though. It’s just down there.”

I try to make my escape now, turning away. I’ve done my duty. He knows where the nearest coffee shop is and that I obviously don’t care to tell him where to get a drink.

“Are you on Facebook?”

Apparently my face says, “STRANGER DANGER” and “I don’t know how to tell you no in a nice way” because he changes the subject.

“Are you free tonight? Will you be around? I am thinking it will be nice to get a drink with you.”

Hem. Haw. Doing that whole thing where your mouth moves while you decide which words to use to say no. I begin to say, “I don’t really know you….” He senses the rejection coming and says, “I am asking because you are very pretty.”

Dang it. I knew I should have worn my habit today.

“….. *hesitation* and nice.” Well, that was a good afterthought.

“Um, no I’m going home to… call my mom.”

I know. It was a lame excuse.

“But you won’t be around later?”

“Nope, I need to go.”

“Okay. I’m a little drunk.”

“That would explain a lot.”

And then I leave, because not only am I not inclined to go out with strangers, but I’m even less inclined to go out with anyone who’s drunk before 5.

Then there was the French guy in the park.

I was just sitting on a bench. I’d just finished eating an apple. It’s always the foreign phrases that get me talking to people. Then once I tell them I don’t speak whatever language it is they’re speaking, they keep talking in English.

Then he sits down next to me and tells me I have nice eyes after some confusion about thinking I was crying because I said I was sorry that I didn’t speak English.

“uh, thanks. I like them, too. They work. They see things. It’s nice.” Okay, yes, I was being snarky. Jesus probably wouldn’t have been snarky. But Jesus also wasn’t a 20-year-old girl traveling alone in a foreign country. Sometimes, snakiness is my best defense. I’m not friendly! You don’t want to talk to me. I also can’t think of a good way to walk away without you feeling like you’re welcome to follow meSo I’m using snakiness as a stall tactic!

“They’re like wahves.” Yes, he said it like that. “wahves” I had to turn that over and over in my mind. wahves, wahves… what does he mean? 

“Ohhh, you mean waves? Yes, they’re blue.”

But then he keeps going on about how he was over there in the park when a wahve came up close to him. What would I do if that happened? I don’t know. He was very still.

He means a wolf. He thinks I have wolf eyes.

I came up with an excuse pretty quickly after that, also because I actually did need to go. The guy couldn’t take the snarky, cold shoulder hint.

You could say I’m a little bit wiser to the ways of the world now. And I’ve got some great stories for my children someday. “So, moral of the story. Don’t go out of your house or talk to strangers, girls.”

Just kidding. You can talk. But don’t talk long. Don’t make much eye contact. Don’t tell them your last name. Be snarky if need be. And have an out. Like… “I need to call my mom.” or “I’m meeting someone. Gotta go, bye.”

Moral of the story for all you single men out there: avoid pickup lines or anything similar. Also, don’t tell me that my eyes are like a wolf. That’s not really a compliment.

Love and pizza.


I took the brownies to class, and they asked me to post the recipe in our class forum. So, I suppose they were a success. Just goes to show that vulnerability can pay off. Chocolatey vulnerability, that is.

Today, I was sitting in a pizza place called Zeppelin with my friends, as is our tradition after the class we have together on Fridays. It’s a place where you can pick all the toppings you want to have on your pizza for a pretty low price. So, there we were, sitting at our table talking about priests and our professor and everything else, when all of a sudden, I hear something familiar.

The place was noisy, and our group isn’t exactly quiet when we get going, but I still heard it: “o-o-oh-o-o-oh-o-oh-o-o-oh-o-o-oh-o-oh” And I knew exactly what song it was.

I’m trying to find where my place is
I’m looking for my own oasis
So close I can taste this
The fear that love alone erases

So I’m back to the basics
I figure it’s time I face this
Time to take my own advice

Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight

I couldn’t keep the smile from spreading across my face. One of the truly joyful ones. I slapped the table and stared at the speakers. “Guys, this is my favorite band!!”

And I never thought it’d come to this
But it seems like I’m finally feeling numb to this
The funny thing about a name is
You forget what the reason you were playing the game is

And it’s all an illusion
A 21st century institution
So I’m headed down the open road unknown

And we find what we’re made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you’re afraid of?
What are you waiting for?

Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight

“I have to tweet this!”

We’re only here for a season
I’m looking for the rhyme and reason
Why you’re born, why you’re leaving
What you fear and what you believe in

Why you’re living and breathing
Why you’re fighting it and getting it even
Let’s go headed down the open road unknown

And we find what we’re made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you’re afraid of?
What are you waiting for?

Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight

I have to laugh and just smile to myself because this is what Jesus keeps saying when he taps me on the shoulder. He keeps sending me notes and memos and telepathic messages that I was made to love. It’s why I’m here in skin and bones and muscles.

Here we are, here we go
Where the road is our own
Hear it calling you home
Here we are, here we go!

Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight

Love is my home. Loving is my calling. Love alone is worth fighting for, not that we need to fight other people in order to love but that it’s worth a fight to keep loving. We do have to fight to love sometimes, don’t we? Other things get in the way, but it’s worth pushing past selfishness and prejudice and laziness and ignorance. It’s worth fighting for.

And it’s the only thing worth fighting for.

I need to be tapped on the shoulder on a regular basis, to have Jesus push me to love, to remind me that that’s why I’m here. Not just here in Graz but why I’m here  – on earth – at all.

Love alone  is worth the fight.

Bells and echoes.


The church bell rings every fifteen minutes here, a tradition carried on from the time of no watches or cell phones to check the time. It rings out and echoes into the quietly busy city, the sound waves rushing along cobblestones and bouncing off stucco buildings.

Do words ever ring like that for you? Bouncing through the synapses in your brain, thunking against one side of your skull and then the other?

I didn’t volunteer to read much in my creative writing class this past semester because I didn’t know how to share something I wasn’t sure was good – not just good but good in a new and exciting way. The whole semester was a struggle against self-doubt, an attempt to muster the confidence I’d felt at some point in my life… when was that? what did it feel like?

But there are words that ring in my ears to combat the doubts.

I sat in class like every other day, not volunteering to read what I’d just scrawled out in the five minutes we were given for an exercise. My professor asked for volunteers as always, only picking people if no one offered. I made unfortunate eye contact with her at that moment – only unfortunate because everyone knows if you make eye contact when the professor is  asking for volunteers, you’ve just volunteered.

“Ashley, will you read yours?”

“Oh, did I just volunteer myself?” slight laugh, slight blush, stirring in my seat to pick up my piece of paper sheepishly and read what I’d written.

“No… I just know you’re a woman of courage.” She said it like she was sure, with a friendly expression that almost put me to shame for not wanting to volunteer in the first place. Maybe it was she who had the courage.

I don’t remember what I read or what the reaction was (but it wasn’t tomato throwing or intense booing, which is always an encouragement), but I remember those words.

They echoed in my head.

On days where I didn’t think I could get up because getting up meant living and walking and moving and talking… and feeling. On days where my breathing is constricted and there’s something sitting on my heart that makes it beat more frantically. On days where newness causes wide eyes and frozen facial features and tight abdominal muscles.

I hear that over and over woman of courage… You’re a woman of courage. I know you’re a woman of courage. I know you’re a woman of courage.

I’m sure she has no idea how those words have buoyed me, how they’ve bounced around in my brain, reminding me of something I’m not always convinced of. Perhaps, in this case, someone else believing it (or saying they do) and hearing it over and over again has made it true of me. Perhaps, in this case, I have been courageous because someone told me I already was.

Being buoyed.


I’m trying to get my pictures to upload onto my computer from my phone, but if I can’t, I’ll just give you words.

Today’s words are about enjoying the little things and taking one thing at a time.

Little things like deciding that lunch was going to be a cappuccino and a krapfen (imagine that there’s a picture right there of an incredibly soft little donut with powdered sugar on top. Also imagine apple filling) then adding a pretzel. I can tell you that my carbohydrate intake is through the roof today.

Also, little things like making French toast without burning it to the pan or forgetting one of the ingredients this morning. Little things like successfully finding the international relations office after about fifteen minutes of walking the same path, thinking I remembered where it was. Little things like realizing that I will have enough money to buy food for the rest of the semester.

Little things like successfully finding the bank and opening an account.

Little things like having an extra passport photo with you when you need one (when has that EVER happened?!?). God knew I’d need it.

So then when you realize that course registration might be a bit more frustrating that you initially supposed just because there are going to be so many variables and so many emails back home involved in the process, you decide that your many small victories from the day can buoy you through this tidal wave of responsibility.

The little victories make standing in line for something you need to get at 7:00pm (when your body feels like it should be sleeping… even though that doesn’t make sense with the time difference) not as bad. It’s another check off the list, another knot tied.

The little victories make it exciting to Skype home, even though you wish the people there were here. There’s always something to tell, even if it’s just that the food was great today.

This little buoy is being called out into the deep to sleep. No pictures for today, I guess, but next time!