мы идем в Санкт-Петербург

The bags are packed (almost), our visas are in hand, and we’re cleared for take off.

It’s been a while since I posted on here–the last month has been dizzily and beautifully full of family and friends as we completed our coast to coast journey.  In between visits and festivities, Luke and I have been doing our best to learn the language via online tutoring and hours of flashcards.

I’ve been working on a series about Misplacement during this season of transition and displacement from our California home as we wait to find our Russian one.  The last tweaks are almost done (yes, sometimes I actually edit things before I post them) and I’m excited to share these summer musings with you all!

In the meantime, I plan on sharing travel updates and discoveries on this blog.  I don’t want to spam everyone’s Facebook timeline with travel posts so if you’re interested in:

Joining our journey through the written word (and some pictures): follow this blog

Tracking our trek via image: follow me on Instagram

Contacting Luke or I in real time: message me on WhatsApp.

Luke won’t have a smartphone or possibly his current phone number, so your best bet is WhatsApp using my phone number.  I’m assuming you already have it if you’re interested in talking, but if not, put your e-mail in the box below and I’ll send it your way!  This will be the best way to get a hold of us directly, as opposed to messaging on Facebook or Instagram.

Road Trippin’

 

IMG_20170703_184306Because let’s be honest, the end of a 7 day journey gets pretty trippy.  When you start making up your own idioms.  When a McWrap sounds gourmet compared to your daily diet of peanut butter sandwiches.  When you start playing the alphabet game against yourself — and lose.  You see your spouse’s best dance moves and more corn fields in Minnesota than you ever care to see again.

Life with Luke is certainly a grand adventure–full of braving lightening storms in a tent and hiking in hailstorms.  The endless fields of the Great Plains were the perfect canvas for great planners to paint their future dreams.

PANO_20170703_105541

And so..The Adventure Begins

6 years ago this month, I was driving my trice-recycled ‘94 teal Chevy Malibu with the windows rolled down from my high school to the Senior Picnic–just days before graduation.  “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer came through the radio waves and it just seemed right.  I was full of optimism and excitement for a fresh chapter.  And what better way to kick off the next adventure than a class-wide picnic with my 700 other classmates?

If I remember correctly, the picnic was lame and I didn’t know where to put myself, like the rest of my high school experience, because some things never change.

I was driving to my last day of work this morning, in my ‘10 Ford Focus that mercifully doesn’t spray water in my face every time it rains like the Malibu did so I’m clearly moving up in the world.  Andy Grammer’s familiar tune came warbling through the FM again and I felt the echoes of that same optimism bubble up.  And then a new Maroon 5 song came on with the same tune they were using 6 years ago. Some things really never do change.

But some things do. I’m more cautious now than I was back then.  I’m not as willing to chase every idea but have learned to patiently wait for my dreams to surface.  I’ve stopped caring about eating lunch at the cool table and although I’m slower to act on new ideas, I’m braver in carrying them out.  During the last 6 years, I pushed to find the limits of how many things I was capable of doing simultaneously and now I’m content to find the few things in life that are worth pursuing deeply.

I’m thankful for nostalgic songs that inspire reflection–even if that includes some awkward high school memories–before starting this next adventure.  Besides learning the Russian language and acquiring a fur hat, one of my biggest goals for our time abroad is to grow in wisdom, character, and flexibility.  Hopefully by the next time I hear Andy Grammer on the radio in June, I can see those fruits in my life.

Until then, just gotta keep my head up.

It All Started With Anna Karenina

I promised some exciting news in my blog post last week so here goes…Luke and I are moving to Russia!  More specifically, to the Saint Petersburg area and even more specifically than that, to Pushkin.

This is old news for some of you and out of the blue for others, so I’ve compiled a list of the frequently asked questions we’ve gotten over the past few months.

Q: Are you crazy?

Maybe.

Q: Why Russia?

Luke spent a summer in Siberia a few years ago and it’s been one of his dreams to go back for a while.  One of the main goals for our time there is language acquisition, for Luke to use for further academic studies.  He’s also excited to gain more teaching experience, another important step for his career trajectory.

Q: What will you be doing there?

Luke has been hired by a language school to be a full-time English teacher.  I also plan to do some teaching on a part-time basis, while also pursuing some dreams and doing more professional development.

Q: Isn’t it cold there?

Yes.

Q: Why now?

Luke is between graduate schools right now and we don’t currently have debts or dependents to tie us down.  After reviewing our 5 and 10 year flow charts (no joke), we realized that if we were ever going to pursue this adventure, there’s no better time than now.

Q: When do you leave?

The first leg of our journey is to get from the West Coast back to the MidWest.  We’ll be leaving SoCal at the end of June and flying for Saint Petersburg in mid-August.

Q: When do you come back?

We don’t have a specific date yet, but the teaching contract is for one year.

I also promised to reveal what our joint anniversary gift was from last week.  You might have guessed it by now…it’s a travel guide to the Saint Petersburg area!  We are so excited to explore our new city–some of our current top sights to see are the Hermitage Museum and the homes/estates of Dostoevsky, Pushkin, and Tolstoy.

Because after all, it did all start with Anna Karenina.

A Happy Weekend

As a social media specialist, I spend most of my working hours browsing feeds. And I’ll be honest, it’s a little depressing. I haven’t run any stats but it does feel like 87% of posts are predominately negative.

In an effort to balance out that ratio, I wanted to quickly share 3 wonderful things that happened this weekend and 2 silly ones.

3 Wonderful Things

1. I had a chance to read in a coffee shop and this sparked a conversation with a girl and her grandma about Russian literature and wedding planning. If you’re hesitant to start a conversation with a stranger, go for it. It might just make their day like it did mine.

2. I went into a local gift store where I had a gift card to use. The name of the store had changed and I found out when I got inside that the entire ownership had changed, and thus the current owners didn’t have the money that was paid for my gift card and would basically be giving me free merchandise so they couldn’t take it. As a business-minded person, I completely understood, we had a pleasant conversation, I said I would make the purchase anyway, went to grab my item and when I came back was told they would honor the gift card anyway. Customer service for the win.

3. My husband and I made our bi-weekly trip to the library used book store and realized once we got there that we didn’t have enough cash for the awesome new (old) classics that had come in. Before we realized what was happening, a sweet elderly lady pushed a $20 bill into our hands and told us to buy all the books we wanted. Since our bill was way under that, we passed the book money on to the girl behind us.

2 Silly Things

1. We went to Costco on Friday and the receipt checker said “Thank you and see you tomorrow!” as we departed. I died laughing but almost felt bad we didn’t come back on Saturday to say hi.

2. A man was brushing his teeth in the Home Depot parking lot when I dropped Luke off for work. Weird, but funny.

How was your weekend? What made you smile?

You know you live in the suburbs of San Diego when..

  • Getting across town takes 30 minutes
  • There are 3 Costco’s within 10 miles of each other
  • The only snow you’ll encounter is a snow cone
  • There are 13+ hamburger joints in 1 sq. mile
  • You plant your garden in January
  • Bike lanes actually exist AND are used regularly AND also look like right-turn lanes (sorry, bikers!)
  • The oceans or the mountains this weekend? is a legitimate question
  • A doghouse costs as much as a small home back East
  • “Historic” means built in the last 30 years
  • The only legitimate form of entertainment is Disneyland (according to everyone)
  • The traffic is awful but if you complain, someone will always remind you it could be LA
  • Wine is plentiful but water is not

My husband and I both suffered from a bit of culture shock coming to Southern California from our Great Lakes background. As a friend once said and as we like to quote out of context incessantly, we are: “people of the ice.” We are having an absurd amount of fun in So Cal, but it’s spring already and it just isn’t as glorious when you haven’t endured months of icy tundra.

So all of you back east glaring at me through your computer screen as you shiver through winter, come visit!!

Until later,
Chloe

Regime of Uncertainty

I want to be a person that people can depend on.  I want to be a person who has dreams and achieves them.”

Last week, 2 incredible college sophomores (Harvard and Bates University) visited my workplace.  One had come from a family of 14, all living together in 2 rooms after the Rwanda genocide 20 years ago.  The other made the bold decision at 15 not to marry as all of her peers were, and to pursue an education instead.

My opening quote came from the former, and his words have been echoing in my head ever since.  Being a dependable person and an achiever of dreams are inseparably linked.  Considering the speaker came from a more unstable situation than I will ever find myself in (14 person post-genocide household), I think the value of being dependable could not be overly emphasized.

Unfortunately, us “Millennials” have a reputation for being narcissistic, addicted to technology, and fatally afflicted with wanderlust.  All of which adds up to = not very dependable. Yet we are bewildered when our dreams don’t fall into place.

The only memorized quote I remember from my 12th grade AP Lit class was a Hemingway: “You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” (The Sun Also Rises)

 I’ve repeatedly fought this temptation (and often lost).   There’s a reason we aren’t as dependable as we’d like to be.  Commitment is hard.  It means saying yes to one thing and no to a whole lot of other things. It means denying yourself the ability to get away from yourself whenever you want.

So the question is: Are your dreams worth it?

Following the Pact

When I was young and foolish, I could not get my mind around traffic jams.  Why were we just sitting there?  Why don’t the first cars just move already?

Nowadays, I still don’t understand all the dynamics of a highway, other than a slight decrease in mph
creates disproportionately high increases in road rage.  But I realize it isn’t as simple as a large block of cars, moving at the same speed.  There are entrances and exits, merging highways, adverse weather, the occasional deer.

Not to mention drivers’ personalities and motives.  While some are perfectly content to putt along, 10 mph under the speed limit, others seem to see driving on the highway as a real-life version of Frogger and get sick thrills from merging at dangerously fast rates, for no apparent reason.  Some are rushing to an important meeting, others are dragging their feet in getting into the office.  One has a sick spouse at home that they can’t wait to get back to, others have a sick spouse at home that they are trying to avoid for as long as possible.

I’m none of those.  I’m a copy cat driver.  I slow down when others do, speed when everyone else is, take the detour that the majority of cars are taking.  This works decently well on the highway.

But I have a tendency to do so in real life too.  We’ve been talking a lot about abiding in Christ lately at my internship.  One of my key take-aways was the foolishness of comparing ourselves to other branches (believers) instead of the vine (Christ).  I don’t know where they are going.   I don’t know there personality, motive, experiences.  I definitely don’t know what God has planned for them.  So why do I spend more time trying to mimic the growth or avoid the pitfalls I see in others rather than nourishing myself?

Driving like that would end me up in Houston instead of Lancaster.  Living like that means I miss out on my own journey and end up exhausting myself just spinning my wheels.

Riding Solo

In this Summer of Growing Up, I have officially accomplished one of my many goals.  You’ll be hearing about the rest later.

I successfully completed my first road trip by myself!  This may not sound that impressive, but given my affinity for getting lost, the mere fact that I made it to my destination within a five hour window of my intended arrival time is something that I gleefully celebrated.

Even though I wasn’t able to indulge in my favorite activity of car sleeping, it went by quickly.  I became proficient in radio channel changing, food sign scanning, and meaningless merging.

Next Growing Up Goal: Surviving the Wild Topography of Lecture-Based Conferences

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Always,
Chloe

Three Sixty-Four

In three hundred and sixty four days, I will be marrying my fiance.  It is hard to believe right now, when we are literally a world apart and the future is as unclear as it always has been.

And 364 days is a lot of days.  Yet I am excited by the possibility engendered in each one of them.  On one of those days, we will decide where we are living.  Another one will mark the decision of whether my business should be continued.  There will be job interviews and decisions.  Apartment and housing contracts to be signed.  A million and one wedding details to cement.

I’m told they will go fast and I hope they do.  Yet I plan to savor them too.  Ready or not, here I come!