Friendly Reminder

How this works --

1. I write a post.

I enter full blown creative mania. I spend hours agonizing over it -- searching for the perfect picture; referencing the grammar site open on my browser;  checking the thesaurus for a better adjective; and making sure it all looks professional and designerly.

2. I wait for comments.

I don't pretend to write this blog for me. If I wrote this blog for me I would never go to all the trouble mentioned in point number one. I probably wouldn't blog at all. I would be perfectly satisfied reading other people's blogs and fantasizing about what an awesome writer I could be someday. I write this blog for you. More specifically, I write this blog for attention from you.

Many of you have professed to read my blog; even chastised my infrequent postings. And yet here I sit eagerly hitting the refresh button on my comments page only to be disappointed.

I don't expect verbosity or lavish praise. One word (a calling card) is all I ask.

Words such as:





(punctuation optional)

Even the occasional:






would be perfectly acceptable.

The only wrong answer is no answer.



Fox in the City

A few months ago I was out shopping with a friend. We were driving around Berlin at night, in a borrowed car, tracking down items for a church function the next day. The excursion stopped being fun a few hours earlier, and we were still trying to find a warehouse store that neither of us had been to. Our conversation was wandering, and the whole episode was getting tedious.

I was also suffering from low blood sugar. Susie (who I fondly refer to as 'tits on a stick') had "filled-up on dried nuts & fruit" before we met up and was still (her words) "stuffed." I on the other hand always look stuffed so my confessed hunger didn't seem to register any concern. With a friend of average (or preferably over-average) weight I would have pressed the issue. But how could I tell this waif that I, her beefy friend, was starving?

Bottom line; I was homesick -- craving familiarity and convenience in the form of a Walmart or Target and a friend who knew me well enough to drive-thru. 

I tried to distract myself by taking in the city -- the gleaming displays in store windows; old architecture glowing in the sparkle of electric light; the revealed interiors of brightly lit apartments that in daylight are masked by the glare of sun on glass. And then a red fox.

It crept from the shadows of a parked car, peered into the on-coming traffic then paused a second before it turned and was gone.

All of my thoughts melted away in that intensely focused moment. I felt a jolt of affirmation.  If I had been anywhere else in the world, I would have missed it.



Read This

If you haven't read Lynne Truss's (she says to put the apostrophe there but I'm still not sure) witty, helpful and anything but boring book--you must. She will call you out on every punctuation slip-up you have ever made, yet still allow you to feel good about yourself by providing examples of truly ridiculous grammatical idiocy to ease the guilt of your own (less obtuse) offenses.  Anyone who can take me to school while making me laugh, and propagate my intellectual superiority myth, is a genius.

The only drawback is that now Lynn is in my head. She is standing over my shoulder with a raised eyebrow, tsking disappointedly every time I misuse the comma.

I'm trying, Lynn. I'm really trying.



Moving On

I have never lived in any home longer than five years.

When I was little my mom was poor, single and very young. We floated around a lot living with relatives or in rented rooms. Things stabilized somewhat after she remarried but we continued to bounce around. I went to four different elementary schools and three different high schools. I have lived in four different  states and moved out of the country twice. I never know how to answer the question Where are you from? because there is no short answer and any abbreviated version feels like a lie.

I was raised to be a gypsy.

Moving is like pushing a giant reset button on your life. With it comes the chance to make a hundred new first impressions, to re-invent and to stand out - to bask in the attention of being 'the new kid'. There is an adrenaline rush in newness. New house, new school, new friends, new stuff. Then comes the honeymoon phase. That time of discovery where life is like a long vacation, nothing is tarnished by unpleasant history and everything is full of potential.

It can all be so intoxicating-- addictive even. Once you're hooked you need it to feel normal.

My name is Chantel and I am a recovering moving-junkie.

In the past when life started feeling too mundane, too under or overwhelming, I wanted to move and if I didn't get my fix I would go through major moving withdrawal. I would scheme and dream and lash out at whatever or whomever I saw as getting in the way. Any smack of unhappiness, any 'failure to thrive' I blamed on a lack of atmosphere.

My most recent move was a big one-- the type I used to dream about. Berlin! A metropolitan city in Europe. The move to end all moves. And even though I love it here, (and I am thankful everyday for the opportunity) I realize now that no physical move will ever be the answer because you can't move away from yourself.

You take it all with you. Every bad habit, character-flaw, insecurity and regret. You might as well have packed them in with your toiletries.

So the setting has changed but I am still me. I eat too much, yell at my kids and waste too much time on the computer. My house is still messy. I am still more than a little selfish and I still don't have a college degree. I am easily overwhelmed, I still don't follow through, and my husband and I still squabble over the same old things.

I am still me. I am me in a brand new all white apartment in an amazing and beautiful city-- but I am still just me. And I expect that this move and this place will have a profound effect, but it won't fundamentally change me. Nothing can do that.

Except me.



Catching Up

Had a beautiful baby.
Had an aneurism.
Had a lot of help.
Had some brain surgery.
Had a lot more help.
Husband had a crazy idea to move us to Berlin...
and here we are.

It's been a good year.



Eight More Weeks

This is my least favorite time of gestating. There are the varicose veins, the aching back, the heartburn, the swelling and the general malaise of discomfort.

Sex is an embarrassment. Exhaustion is permanent. And all of it is going to get worse before it gets better.

At this point attempts at self beautification are as productive as polishing a turd. My best efforts produce little results. An hour of primping and I look like a manatee wearing lipstick and a wig.

Even my usually sensitive husband can't bring himself to lie to make me feel better. His attempts to mollify my insecurities seem like thinly veiled insults of their own.

Everyone looks different when they're pregnant.

Don't worry its only temporary.

Hon, really. What can you expect?

I expect a little dignity. Now where'd I put my Tucks.




I warned you all this day in my pregnancy would come. You didn't believe me. Apologies accepted.