The Never Ending Merry-Go-Round

Well, it’s been a while since I gave an update on what’s been happening with Mom, and truth is that I’ve been avoiding it a bit. I’m terrible like that. No more, here I sit to catch you up and continue the look into the past and how we got where we are.

It has struck me rather forcefully that her cancer battle has been very cyclic. There was that first diagnoses and round of cancer, all so new and terrifying. and then there was this blessed reprieve afterwards when it was easy to forget that the terrible ordeal had even happened. Indeed, if you had asked me at the time, I would have talked about Mom having cancer in past tense. Not that that time was completely full of sunshine, not at the first, anyway. I don’t think I realized how much chemo had beat down my mom until after the long months of slowly gaining her strength back and realizing that Mom could bustle about with energy and laughter like I hadn’t seen her for almost a year.

Yet the reprieve didn’t last, and, spoiler warning, Mom’s cancer came back. I vividly remember the night we found out again, how I had been at a job interview when I was told we were having a family dinner at my sisters. “Yay!” I had thought. “Family pizza night!” Until my sister told me that Mom had had a doctor appointment that day, and instantly the worries set in. Worries that were confirmed when we were told another round of chemo was coming. And so we rode the now familiar and terrifying  wave of worry and chemo and long long days in the hospital getting infusions once again with another 12 round, 24 week dosage that took my Mom’s health and crumpled it in its goal of trying to remove the cancer.

And then another wait, but this time not as blissful and ignorant because you know, not just mentally, but deep in your gut where the strongest fears live that a doctor’s appointment could suddenly change that. The break was shorter, and the healing less, when she went through another round of chemo. I don’t even know how many chemo session’s she’s had now. I just know she’s in the midst of struggling through another one, a 3 month short burst because post Germany a terrible mystery health struggle knocked Mom’s strength way back. Lord Jesus, help my mom find the strength, to find your healing.

In the midst of this terrible beating down, Mom also seems to have terrible, terrible luck that’s also been cyclic (as if cancer wasn’t enough). Near the end of her first round of chemo, she had a gall bladder attack which resulted in surgery to get it removed. On returning from Germany this year, she was afflicted with a terrible pain in her guts that brought her more pain and weakness and struggle than I observed even in her lowest point of chemo. The doctors thought it was possibly a viral infection, but tests came back inconclusive, so she was forced to wade through months of trying to simply exist, when eating enough sustenance was considered an achievement for the day. She’s finally feeling mostly over it, though we still don’t know what the heck it was. And it beat down her immune system heavily. The immune system that she spent so much effort in Germany to build up. It allowed her cancer to progress and now she’s back on chemo.

It terrifies me to think of this round and round process. It terrifies me that she hasn’t even been as healthy as she was in that in between of rounds 1 and 2. It terrifies me how these struggles in my life have taken on a normalcy.

Mom is a fighter. She’s facing the chemo, she’s still on the regimens that she was proscribed in Germany. She’s living and not wallowing in the struggles. It’s inspiring. I’m so grateful God has given her the strength. But it breaks my heart. Oh gosh, does it break me.

What is this, 2017?

Bye, bye, 2016. You were a mixed box of amazing and yet scary things. You were fun and crazy good and generally crazy and scary. I think I’ll miss you.

I spent the last hours celebrating with old high school friends, playing mafia, catching up, pretended to be a highly dysfunctional Italian family where a murder had taken place (you know, the usual stuff). It was so fantastically amazing and the perfect end of my year. Love my peeps.

Resolutions always come up this time of year. Last year, one of mine was to be more adventurous. I tend to be hesitant to put myself out there, to be outspoken or to be the adventurous one. I wanted to change that. And looking back, I really think I did. I crashed a wedding reception. I went on a date with a man I didn’t know. I learned how to play drinking games. I put effort into making friendships. Germany was essentially an entire exercise in forging my own adventures. I’m really proud of all that I’ve accomplished this year.

This year I have yet a harder resolution. I’ve always struggled with bottling up everything inside. Any frustration or pain or fear I ignore and hide from not only those who care about me but also myself. I avoid people when I should reach out to them, and sometimes outright brush them aside when they reach out to me. I’ve always somewhat just accepted this as a part of who I am. But recently I’ve realized just how unhealthy and hard on me that is, not only emotionally, but even physically. My roommate can attest to me going to bed at 7 some nights from a stress headache I can’t shake any other way but just going to bed.

The major reason I first started this blog was because I needed somewhere to allow myself to pour out those emotions. Of course, then I went traveling and people started reading it and I became hesitant to share again. But I’m going to try not to hesitate. Going to try being more real with the world and with myself this year. Hopefully when 2018 rolls around I’ll be able to point back and say “Look how far I’ve come.”

I Do So Love Quotes (Bonus Day!)

Upon stumbling across my book of favorite quotes, I knew a bonus day with quotes was warranted. So below is one last quote to finish off the challenge.

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest except precisely that point which the world and he devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proven, and to be steady on all the battle fronts besides i mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” ~Elizabeth Rundle Charles

I don’t remember where I found this. Probably tucked in some book or other that I read. But the point is one that I’ve never thought of but which I think is very important. We can’t shy away from the hard battles, using the excuse we are fighting easier things.

I Do So Love Quotes (Day 3!)

I wonder why this is only a three day challenge. Seriously, quotes are awesome and I love searching for the one that I want to share. In fact, I have a feeling you will see a day 4 posted tomorrow, though the challenge will technically be over. Especially as I just remembered I have a favorite quotes book that I haven’t even referenced for these posts yet.

For today, I have a rather random one. I was reading The Innocence and Wisdom of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton today, when I remembered my favorite quote by him.

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

Ah, Chesterton, how you see the world. This isn’t my favorite quote because it’s his best, or even perhaps the one I hold dearest by him. But every time my church’s bulletin has some deep and meaningful quote in the front by Chesterton, I always smile to myself and think, “Ah yes, but what about his thoughts on cheese?”

Perhaps I like it because in a world where so often you see only serious quotes from great Christian thinkers, Chesterton’s tend to be varied and interesting, and give a whole picture of a man who was, indeed, a deep and well versed thinker, but also a man with a sense of humor and fun.

So follows is a few of my absolute favorites of his, the ones that are deep or funny or just downright speak to me. Though I always will think of cheese first when I hear his name.

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

“Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

“We fear men so much, because we fear God so little. One fear cures another. When man’s terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God.”

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

“The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen.”

“The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic.”

And thus we see a man with a truly engaging knowledge and wonder of the world.

I Do So Love Quotes (Day 2)

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”
Doctor Who, The Doctor, Season 5, Episode 10

I’ve already detailed on my blog how I’ve had some pretty great moments amidst pain and chaos. Life can be terrible and dark and horrifying, but there is beauty in it. The joy doesn’t erase the fact that there is pain, but the pain doesn’t erase the fact that there is joy. And thus life is a complicated tangle of emotions. It’s a good tangle though. And this Doctor Who quote, heck the whole episode, was a bittersweet reminder that life isn’t always smooth sailing and the seas will be filled with storms, but that makes it all the better when the sun will shine.

I Do So Love Quotes (Day 1)

“Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we’re quoting.” John Green.

I love quotes. People throughout history have fashioned words in such beautiful ways, ways that sum up so well the feelings or motives or life in general as I have often seen it. Thus when my dear Amy of fernwehscall.wordpress.com challenged me to a three days of blogging quotes challenge I was excited to jump on the bandwagon and post a few quotes over the next few days. Thank you, Amy!

Today I flipped through some of my favorite quotes on Goodreads, and found one by C.S. Lewis.

Friendship… is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…

I love this quote, not only because I have certainly said the words before, but because it encompasses the magic that is friendship. Sometimes friendship grows up slowly as commonalities are found (sometimes it grows up even without things in common, now that I think of it) and sometimes it is a spontaneous thing that bursts forth as two people realize that they love spending time together. I love that rush of conversation when you realize you have a shared passion. And I love this quote that reminds me of those moments.

(And you’ve totally noticed I sneaked a second favorite quote in the post introduction, but whatever. I loved that quote too much to leave it unposted.)

 

Friends are Awesome – Especially Mine

So I’ve been feeling uber blessed recently due to the amazing people who are part of my life. The thing about friends – good friends – is that you can do anything with them and the time is special and worthwhile and wonderful, or it least it always seems so to me. Take last night, for instance. Sitting on my couch, contemplating the fact I had no plans and it was only 7 o’clock and I had already Netflixed, (totally a verb, right?), read, worked out and wasn’t sure how else to while away time, when I received a snap chat informing me that I should join some peeps for a last minute bar trivia team. I drove the 20 minutes to the bar, where our small team of 4 was totally decimated by the competition. But we finally won the random participant prize! Yay! We’ve been striving for that for months. And we did it while munching on amazing food, sipping even better drinks, and just generally enjoying each other’s company.

For Thanksgiving my roommate (and dear friend) Elizabeth and I decided to host. It was fun to see both our families crowded around the dining room table, eating pie (so, so much pie. I still have pie, like a week later. And trust me I’ve been eating it). There was a point where her dad asked me how 2 1/2 years of sharing an apartment had been for me, and both Elizabeth and I instantly answered “We hate each other.” Apparently we’re on quite the same wavelength, and while we certainly don’t “Hate each other,” we do share so many memories, whether she’s dragging me into some outdoor adventure I would usually hesitate to do but end up totally loving, or whether we’re marathoning Friends or MASH together while sipping tea. They’re all good memories and all moments I cherish.

My friend Amy came to visit me this month! I really can’t begin to convey how amazing that fact is. See, Amy belongs to a very beloved friend group of mine that was almost entirely started and grown over the World Wide Web. We have managed to see each other here and there over the years, once at summer camp, once in Texas for a conference, and twice for the random adventures of a graduation and crashing a mutual friends wedding. Which when you realize she’s been one of my closest friends for near on 10 years now is not a lot at all. While she was here we visited The Grand Escape Room (my favorite thing to do in Billings ever), went on quite the search for tea, drank way lots of tea, and explored the world wide cuisine my little city has to offer. I was so blessed to have her come see me, and so crazy amazed that for the first time ever I’ve seen her twice in one year, and have plans of seeing her again soon!

Ironically, the first time I have Apple Strudel is not in Germany. But at a very good German restaurant not far from my apartment.

We escaped the room! Yay! Also, if you are in Billings and you have not yet tried The Grand Escape Room, do so. Sign up at grandescaperoom.com

My sister Jenna (my siblings totally count as friends) and I were trying to do Nanowrimo this year, (I failed, miserably) which entailed a lot of writing, and especially a great write-in where I went over to her place, we grabbed coffee, wrote for ages, made pizza, watched Gossip Girl for a while, ate ice cream, and finally went to bed fell asleep on the couch at  3.

I watched White Christmas for the first time during a random pizza party. It is a delightful, well acted and engaging old movie which exceeded my expectations. I saw it over at the house of a family from church, who are always so good about opening their home to people coming over and just hanging out. They are always so good at not only making people feel welcome, but of asking how life is going and praying for whatever is going on in the day to day grind.

My Broskovich (=Brother: Christian) and I went Black Friday shopping. We set out at about midnight to see what deals we could grab (Walmart has awesome movie sales, and Khols had a great sale on boots I needed, yay!) While I can’t argue for stores staying open on Thanksgiving, especially Thanksgiving night for crazies like us, it was a blast running around with him. We ran out of places to shop around 3, but being wired on energy drinks we decided to eat leftover mashed potatoes and watch one of our new movies. It was grand.

I finally watched Doctor Strange! And was a terrible Marvel fan and missed one of the final end credits. But it was great hanging out with Christian and Lisa and Kate and enjoying a quite engaging if somewhat weird film.

There are so many people that aren’t represented here. These are just the events in the past few weeks that really stand out in my head. It doesn’t include the funny chats friends have sent, the after church discussions over coffee, the way Dad and I have already been drinking our signature drink of Jacks’ Irish Christmas now that eggnog is back on shelves… I’ve missed a lot, but I can’t ramble in this blog post forever.

Thank you all for being a part of my life. I know a lot of you won’t read this (Because a lot of you don’t know I even have a blog… That’s my fault) but I really love and cherish each and every one of you.

Let’s Catch Up – The Story I Have Avoided Telling

And here I thought I was being such a good little blogger. Apparently not so much as I thought. To be fair, not much has happened since Germany. Or at least, not Germany level exciting, which to be honesty is really hard to beat. There have been other reasons, I suppose. I told myself I would be honest here, and there was a giant rough patch in my life I didn’t want to talk about. See, the day before I took off for Germany, my supervisor sat me down at work and told me that my probationary period at work wasn’t really working out and that I was being let go. Ouch. It came from let field and it certainly wasn’t something I wanted to announce to the whole world and I needed to come to grips with it myself (though there is a funny story about how when telling my parents over video chat a few minutes later I was apparently crying and telling nearly the whole Hufland Klinic, due to my parents only being able to get wifi in the general hang out room. I am so glad I did not realize this when I met everyone there two days later. Oops). It was a good feeling to run away from the burden and fright of unemployment and find myself with my family in a foreign country. I had already got my Euros and had to spend them, so I couldn’t even let money weigh me down. I couldn’t even job search because the websites always shifted to jobs in Germany. I had two weeks to have fun and not worry, and it was amazing.

Decorated my desk with an owl that a friend had given me.

I came back uber jet lagged, and took several days to get motivation up, but when I did the job search was on. God is good, and He was certainly good to me. Within a week or two I had some interviews set up, and within another week I found myself with a job. A job that was closer to where I lived, payed more, had benefits (it makes me feel so adult), and where I found this amazing group of people and where the work was much more my thing. I love working there and couldn’t be happier about it.

And with retrospect, I’m glad my old employer recognized that I wasn’t fitting in to the work right and let me go. I struggled with many aspects of it (Property Management is just not something I excel at, as much as I loved a lot about it.) I do miss my old office comrades and the fun adventures we had, but I don’t miss struggling to make tenants happy while really trying to make owners happy, of having to tell someone you can’t help them without being able to tell them why.

It was a scary lesson in God’s guidance and planning, but it was a good one for me.

Anyway, that’s the major recent transition in my life. There have been some fun events intertwined, but most of them are deserving of their own post (Amy’s visiting me can certainly not be summed up without it’s own post, but more on that in the future). I will attempt to actually be a better blogger, but am too realistic to make such promises.

Happy Saturday!

The Longest Day of My Life

So I am positive airplane wifi is a myth, I have yet to successfully work it.

Today is literally the longest day I have ever experienced. I woke up at 5:30ish in Germany and walked into my parents house in Montana sometime after 10 PM, yet due to the weirdness of science and societal rules, I have actually experienced 25 hours in that timeframe (I think. I am not exactly a credible source on math right now). Here’s my notes from the day:

Frankfurt, Germany. 11:30 Local Time.

5:30 is when my alarm clock awoke me this morning. Early morning traveling is so much easier when you are going somewhere exciting. Though I am happy to be headed home.

Christian and I said goodbye to Mom and walked one last time through the streets of Bad Mergentheim to the train station. It was dark out still, with just the streetlights to guide us. The town was quiet and asleep, the sane people still not up and about on a weekend.

2 1/2 hours of train ride later, and we made it to Frankfurt. I distracted myself with a good book. I wonder when I will travel by train again. There certainly aren’t any foreseeable opportunities in my near future to do so.

Dad landed in Frankfurt a little before we got there. We thought we might be able to catch each other and say a quick hello. Due to the ominous long lines at security we couldn’t do so, though we probably weren’t a long way away from him.

We got through security with no problem. They dont make people take off their shoes here. (We do have to go through customs in Amsterdam probably… And then pic up our luggage in Minneapolis and maybe redo security there. Secreening at every layover! Grr. I just want to relax and not worry about paperwork or screening and just get home).

Somehow Christian’s and my seating got shuffled up, so for this first flight we aren’t even next to each other. At least it’s a short one.

Long day of traveling ahead.

Amsterdam, Netherlands. 3:16 Local Time.

Time to start the long long flight over the ocean. The flight from Frankfurt went well. It was, in case anyone was curious, about the length of the second part of Hamilton: an American Musical.

We got lunch in the airport, after we made it through all the checks and double checks of simply moving to the side of the airport that deals with flights to the US of A. I caved and tried a cheeseburger again, this time at Harvest Market, some cute little place, and more importantly the only place on this  side of the extra security protocols. Could someone please tell Europe that there has been a translation error, and we put dill pickles on our burgers, and not sweet ones? That being said, this burger was actually really really good. The truffle mayo with the fries especially awesome.
Time to watch movies for 8+ hours. Maybe I will actually sleep this time.

Still in Amsterdam. 4:00 Local Time.

Some sort of heat regulating trouble with the plane. Taxied back up for mechanics to look at it. Er, okay? 
Hoping this doesn’t seriously mess up my layover time in Minneapolis.

In other news I have already watched over half of Citizen Kane…

Minneapolis Minnesota, United States of America. 7:27 PM Local Time.

I have been awake for about 22 hours now. I’m tired, but strangely enough not really exhausted. Our plane did finally take off from Amsterdam, and I obviously survived whatever minor mechanical errors they had to fix, so yay for that! Thankfully we were able to make up most of the lost time. I was able to watch a grand total of 5 movies during that time:

  • Citizen Kane: Classic, interesting look into the downward spiral of a powerful man. I wasn’t sure what to expect but found it quite engaging.
  • Snow White and the Huntsman: Winters War: Better than the first movie, and a better cast of characters and plot to it. I quite enjoyed it.
  • X-Men Origins: Apocilypse: While I didn’t care for Apocolypse as a villain (just what can he do? And he wasn’t exactly original as far as villains go), I thought that this movie really worked to add some character development and emotional elements to ground the crazy CGI fight scenes in a good story. Very good movie overall.
  • The Intern: After several long hours of over the top scifi, I decided for something a little more realistic. This cute movie starring Anne Hathaway, about an up and coming online fashion business that takes on a senior citizen as an intern was quite enjoyable. While I am not sure I agree with all the messages it gives (Follow your dreams, even if it means you spend no time with your family), it was sweet in other ways.
  • Allegiant: I really only watched half of this and then fast forwarded through most action scenes after that because I was going to run short on time, but from what I saw, nothing really happens, too much time is spent focusing on weird scifi gadgets to fill the lack of plot, and they ignored most of the book. I really didn’t like that book, so maybe I shouldn’t be picky about it. But it is the principle of the thing.

As you probably guessed by now I didn’t sleep at all. I just haven’t really felt tired enough. I am going to crash hard tonight. (Christian is actually thinking he can go out for beers with friends after we land. Haha! Good luck to him on that)

We made it through all the final checks of customs with no issues, shared a quick plate of nachos (The fake cheese kind that sometimes you just get a craving for) and are just about to take off for Billings. Homeward bound!

~~~

So anyway, we made it home, and Christian somehow did make it out for drinks with his peeps, and we both somehow woke up way early this morning, when we made a giant pancakes, hash browns, sausage, and egg breakfast. Now the jet lag is sinking in.

Anyway, thanks for reading about my travels! I guess my blog goes back to a general life thing now. But there are adventures to be had at home too.

Day 14: Tauberbischofsheim and Farewells

By this time tomorrow I will no longer be in Germany. Humankind is so weird and adaptive. The streets and views and sites and smells here have become normal to me, known by me. I feel like I have been her so long, that life is just going to continue here as it is. I have a place here. But such a home is coming to an end tomorrow, and today I tried to get together a good last day of traveling. I think I did so fairly well.

Such a view of the castle! I am seriously going to miss the rich history and beauty here.

For starters, I took a walk this morning. There wasn’t much of a hint of Christian pulling himself out of bed early, and today of all days I wasn’t going to wait around for him. I wasn’t entirely sure where my feet were going to take me, but they ended up taking me on a perfect little farewell tour. I started back in the apple orchard, admiring the perfect view of the city which it gave to me. I listened to my Hamilton soundtrack while doing so, letting the upbeat music fill me with energy on this fine morning. From the orchard I walked part of the Philosophenwag down the hill. I walked into Kurpark and again admired the fountains and the rose garden. This time I made it as far as the Japanese Garden at the far far end. I came back up the Philosophenwag and found the back door of the Hufeland Klinik locked, so I walked back down the Philosophenwag and back to the front, ready to wake up Christian and take him on adventures with me. No more sleeping in for him! I felt like my walk was a rediscovery and a perfect summation of the many walks I have taken by myself while here.
After figuring out all our travel plans for tomorrow, as we have to leave rather early, we hopped a quick 25 minute train to Tauberbischofsheim (I seriously don’t make these names up). All we knew is that there was an old castle there, so we didn’t have many expectations. It turned out to be a gorgeous place! The train station was one of the nicest I’ve been in in my travels so far. There was a long stretch of shopping district which we window shopped through a bit, but didn’t actually go inside, though from the looks of it there was quite a bit there for one interested in such things. There was even a little market set up in the square. Not much in the way of stalls, but there was someone with quail eggs. If I had been home I would have snatched those up to have fun with them. Ah well.

We found the castle well enough. Actually it was pretty much some old wall and a tower. There was a museum there that looked really interesting, but it didn’t open for several hours and we didn’t exactly feel like waiting for it to open, though if I had more time in Germany I would probably find a way to get in. It also looks like it is actually possible to climb the tower, with a guide. We couldn’t figure out where to sign up for that, but I hope Mom and Dad do. One of the major frustrations of all these old buildings is that they never let you up in the towers. The town also boasts of other beautiful structures that add a wonderful ambiance to the place. There was especially a church that looked very enticing. We walked along a park we found by the river, just killing time and enjoying the day.

Half the reason I include the railway station pics is to prove there actually exist towns with these names





During our walks we found a fire watch station. We tried for some time to find someone inside to talk to, but alas, there was no one around. We tried again later and found the doors locked. So we might have been trespassing originally. Oops.

For a break in our wanderings, we grabbed some ice cream. Neither of us was ready for lunch, though the noon hour was upon us, so we thought it would be the perfect snack. We found a place called Eiscafe Venezia. Both of us ordered an Apple Strudel ice cream, and it was amazing. Their ice cream over here has been so rich and creamy, and this was no exception. The Apple Strudel flavor was also quite delightful.

I never actually got apple strudel over here, but I’m pretty sure ice cream of the same flavor is a close second.

There are a surprising number of ice cream shops over here.

I knew I wanted one more Döner Kabap before I headed home, and I wanted one I knew would be fabulous. Once back in Bad Mergentheim, I stopped at City Kabop to have one last taste of this delicious sandwich. Christian and I sat and talked while we ate (He got some fried shrimp at Nordsee, as well as a beer). I was struck by the difference in doing something with someone and talking, and just sitting down and talking. I felt like we hadn’t really chatted for many a day, even though we have spent so much time together. It was good to just sit and chill and talk life.

This. I will miss this.

By now Mom was pretty much done with treatments for the day. Christian wanted to take a break, but Mom and I walked into town to pick her up some more cream for her coffee. We stopped to grab one last pastry and cup of coffee, at Zwillingshaus. I actually had a coffee today instead of my usual cocoa; a cappuccino that was perfectly strong and rich. Mom got an apple cake, and I tried a plumb one, which paired very well with the coffee.

So many options

Mmm, coffee

This put us right around dinner time, and after dinner Christian and I made one last run to the store to grab some energy drinks for the morning. (He’s going to need them tomorrow).

Goodbye shopping center! You have supplied us well

Last night in the library before bed, one of the Australians, Natasha, was messing around with paper and demonstrated how you could fold up a box.  She talked about some other crafts she had learned to do, and pretty soon we had a plan to get together and learn some tonight. It was a fun time. A small group of us made boxes and twisty little stars and accordion style cards. We laughed and chatted, and I was happy to have this moment of memory making with some of the people I have met while over here.

“The road was made while I was walking” was a quote someone brought up at the table, and I rather liked it.

Overall, I spent the day revisiting my haunts, having some lasts, and spending time with people I love. I couldn’t have asked for more.