Seven years ago…

Every day, I’m newly amazed at where Bill and I are. Seven years ago, I never thought we’d be living in Germany, especially for as long as we have. Seven years ago, we were in San Antonio, Texas, having a terrible summer. I remember July 2014 was particularly awful, as my dad had his very last health crisis and we were dealing with constant real estate showings and trying to plan for our overseas move to Stuttgart.

We worried about so much, particularly since we had dogs and Bill had a month of unemployment. I remember when he was offered the job in Germany. It was as if he was a custom fit for the kind of person they were looking to hire. We wanted to move to Germany. They wanted someone experienced in a niche field who would take a low salary. The lack of money is partly why we wound up renting our cheap, weird house, dealing with a very intrusive and controlling landlady from hell. However, living there was a good thing, since it set us up for adventures and helped us save a lot of money.

Plus, I paid off my student loans. In 2014, I still owed over $40,000 on my loans. By 2018, they were completely retired. I don’t think we could have done that if we hadn’t had a cheap house and Bill hadn’t had a job at which he is a star performer.

On this day seven years ago, my dad died after having spent about six years suffering from dementia. I remember my sister leaving me a message on my phone, sounding concerned, but not panicked. She said our dad had a really bad gallbladder attack and had needed emergency surgery. The surgeon removed Dad’s gallbladder successfully, but my Dad was never able to recover from the anesthesia. I remember my dad tried very hard to keep breathing after the respirator was removed. Mom finally told him to let go and be with all of the people on the other side waiting for him. So he stopped fighting and died.

Since then, four uncles, an aunt, and a cousin have died. Three of my uncles died in 2015 alone. I haven’t been home since we did our memorial for my dad, back in November 2014. I have newly born relatives who don’t know me at all and a few who have probably forgotten me. Some have said they’d like to see me, though I wonder if I should believe them.

I do kind of miss Virginia, although the United States seems to be getting weirder by the year. I read a news story this morning about a self-described Virginia militia member who is hoping to see Virginia secede from the Union. He was arrested for breaching the Capitol on January 6th, even though the feds didn’t take that step until he mistakenly told an undercover DC cop and an undercover FBI agent posing as “patriots” about his plans to raise a ruckus.

The “militia member”, name of Fi Duong, is a former Marine of Chinese and Vietnamese descent who says his family has been running from communists. He doesn’t want to see communism take over the United States. So, for that reason, it’s okay for him to be talking about testing Molotov cocktails at what used to be Lorton Prison in Virginia? What about the fact that Virginia went “blue” last November? I mean, I come from Virginia, so I know that there are many conservative voters there. But the conservatives did not win last year. Why is it appropriate for guys like Fi Duong to try to force change that the people clearly don’t want?

It’s scary to read about all of the extremism in the United States right now. People are very polarized.

Still, although I am not a Trumper, I do have a lot of Trump loving family members. Some of them claim to miss me. The truth is, I miss a lot of them, too. There may come a time in the near future at which I’ll want to go home for a visit. But I’m not sure I even want to live in the United States anymore. It’s gotten too strange and dangerous. I almost wonder if I’d even fit in there.

I guess this experience of being in Germany for so long has given me some idea of what immigrants go through. We aren’t immigrants, of course, and we don’t even have resident status here. We’re here on SOFA status, which means we don’t really have the typical expat lifestyle. Germany isn’t home, and probably won’t be, but it feels so much more normal here. Yes, there are some extremists, but not as many as there are in the United States. And there are many fewer guns, which is a nice thing.

I still can’t believe we’ve been here for seven years. It just doesn’t seem real. I look back on it and realize it’s actually been a long time, but the time seems to have flown by so fast. It’s been a mostly good time, too. Sometimes I miss being with people I know and love, but for the most part, being away has been good. I’ve learned a lot and changed… In fact, I may not be able to go “home” again. A German lady we met in 2019 told Bill and me that living here has made us “too European” for the United States. She knows of what she speaks, too, since she had lived in the United States for years. I think living there changed her, too.

I still have a German friend who lives in North Carolina. When I first met her, she complained a lot about North Carolina. Since then, she’s earned a nursing degree and had several American boyfriends. She also bought a house. I suspect she may be there for the long haul. Funny how we kind of traded places. She’s responsible for us finding our sweet Arran.

Well… I guess that’s enough musing for today. I wish I had more to say, but I’m a bit preoccupied. I spent this morning finding and booking a hotel near Zurich. In a couple of weeks, we’re going to enjoy a long weekend down there. Bill will indulge his curiosity about Jung and I will get some beautiful photos for my travel blog. Tomorrow, I will be singing in an online memorial for my old friend. Hopefully, it will go well.


Meeting the Wengers…

I’m going to try to write something kind of upbeat today, even though this past weekend sucked almost as much as the previous one. You might think it would have sucked more, since we had to euthanize a family member. But, in my mind, it was less awful, since now we know Zane is no longer suffering and there will be no more awful surprises regarding his situation. It was a blessing that we were able to say goodbye on Saturday of a holiday weekend. It gave Bill and me two full days to recover and grieve before Bill had to go back to work. Even when it came to ending his life, Zane was very considerate. He waited until we were finished with our vacation to Scotland and picked Labor Day weekend to say goodbye. (not that I really think he did that on purpose… it’s just that he was always very courteous and thoughtful, whether or not he meant to be)

Yes, I miss Zane and am bereaved… and Bill has had a few more crying jags over the loss, mainly after he watches the videos I made. Arran has been a little sad, too, because he knows we’re grieving. I also think he genuinely loved Zane, even if Zane was his rival. Zane was a pack member and they had good times, even though they also had some fights (mostly started by Arran). Losing a pet just plain sucks, no matter what.

In any case, I have been trying to boost my mood. I have read and shared a few disgusting jokes, since I love a good nasty joke. I’ve had lots of wine, which really isn’t so great for mood boosting. And this morning, I’m watching YouTube, where some time ago, I discovered the adorable Wenger family.

The most recent video.

The Wengers currently live in Berlin, but when I discovered them, they lived near Stuttgart. Based on the videos posted by American mom, Katie, they were near Esslingen, which is where I think her German husband, Roman, is originally from. Katie is originally from Georgia and, as far as I can tell, she met Roman when he came to the States on vacation. They fell in love and got married, and Katie moved to Germany, where they had their children, Callum and Linnea.

I was initially attracted to their family vlog because of Katie’s big, tortoise shell colored eyes. I found them kind of mesmerizing. I also liked her personality and enjoyed how she interacts with her kids. They seem to mean the world to her, and I find that very nice to see. They lived in London for awhile, but moved to Berlin a few months ago for Roman’s work. Katie recently announced that she’s expecting her third baby in February 2020.

Although I write blogs myself, I don’t typically follow a lot of them. I probably like vlogs slightly more, but even they have to have a certain hook to keep me watching for more than a couple of videos. I have found that since we moved back to Germany a few years ago, I enjoy watching videos made by or about other expats, or done by Germans who want to share their culture with the world.

I used to watch Don’t Trust the Rabbit fairly frequently. It was put on by a very pretty German woman named Trixi who commented on the quirks of German culture and language. But I don’t think Trixi has uploaded any new content recently. Trixi also made a channel called Trixi Rabbit, which is more about her personal life, but again, she seems to have fallen off the radar. I have also watched Wanted Adventure by an American woman named Dana, who lives down near Munich. Dana and Trixi have even collaborated on a couple of videos. Frankly, I find Dana kind of annoying, although some of the subjects she tackles are interesting.

I do like Katie and her cute little family, though. Katie reminds me a little of Nigella Lawson, minus the British accent. She’s interesting to look at, has a good on camera presence, and seems very much at home on video. I like how devoted she is to her family and I appreciate how she tells the ongoing tale of how she left the United States for Germany. Katie eventually went to Luxembourg and, I think, got a Luxembourgish passport. It’s interesting, for me as an American, to see her adventures as a real European resident as opposed to someone on SOFA status, like Bill, me, and most of the other Americans we know who are affiliated with the military. I think her children are very fortunate. They’re going to get an upbringing denied to a lot of American kids.

Here’s another one of Katie’s videos, for those who are interested. They do help take my mind off of our recent troubles. And look! This video from February 2018 is one that I can especially relate to right now!

Sigh… I guess shady people are everywhere, aren’t they?

So anyway… if you have some time on your hands and like hearing about how Americans raising families abroad, I recommend “Meeting the Wengers”… They really are a cute family and they make me smile.