Sunday, January 05, 2014

One year

I realized, yesterday, that I have been in Houston for exactly a year. I realized it as I was unpacking the last box in my beautiful new house.

I love the full circle aspect of that. One year ago I left my beautiful apartment in Oslo (I am lucky in the housing I have had in my life) with no idea of what the future would hold except that I had a job. It felt like I was launching myself out of a plane with a parachute but no idea where I'd land. It's been one hell of a year. A year that deserves, at the very least, a bullet post. Hence, here is my year, chronologically, by bullet. (Only some exact dates, if dates aren't mentioned it's still in chronological order.)

  • January 4th, left my husband and everything I owned in Oslo, flying with two huge suitcases and my computer. Took a night in London because I wanted a night there and also, dang, did I really want to go to Houston? I think I was trying to delay it. I wanted one more night in London.
  • January 5th, arrived in Houston. Checked into temporary corporate apartment.
  • First time I have ever lived alone, I realized. 
  • January 7, started my new job.
  • January 15th. Bought my 2013 Subaru WRX. Best thing I have ever bought. 
  • Late February, flew back to Oslo to close out the apartment. That was so much more painful than I expected, not only because I really loved that apartment and the life I had there but also because....
  • on March 1 while I was closing up the apartment my cousin Hannah (wife of my dear cousin Edward) died in a horrible, stupid, senseless accident. 
  • I flew back to Houston, sad, heartbroken, all my possessions in a container that would cross the Atlantic and my cousin (who is like a second brother to me) facing his life in tatters.
  • That was a very low point.
  • Mid March I flew back to the UK from Houston to attend Hannah's funeral and be there with my family and my cousin Edward. I'm so glad I went, I was the only family member from the German side of the family to attend. 
  • In April flew back to London again for a work sales meeting. Got to see Rich for a couple days in London.
  • In April I also moved into a lovely house I rented from my sister in law's brother.
  • In April Rich joined me in the US for our nephew's wedding in Ft Worth. First road trip in the new car.
  • In May I went to Alaska for work. 
  • I also went to Trinidad. 
  • I should mention, the whole time, work was really stressful as I was learning a new job in a new area and I was (and am) still finding it surprisingly difficult. 
  • Also, the whole "expat moving home" thing is WAY harder than I expected. I still don't really understand the States anymore, and I am really annoyed at some of the policies here. There is no work/life balance and no job security. It adds so much needless stress. 
  • In June Edward came to spend a week with me. That was fun, we did a small Texas roadtrip and he got up to many hijinks in his quest to begin the healing after Hannah's death. 
  • In July I went to Missouri to see my parents, where I am truly grateful I got some quality time with my dad. 
  • I got two speeding tickets on one day on the way there, the cops were ruthless and out for cash. I was going less than 60 miles an hour both times.
  • In August I went to Trinidad for work. 
  • In July and August I started house hunting as the Houston market is really hot and interest rates were going up. 
  • I had no idea when Rich would join me and would only have the rent house until January, so I just decided to buy something and he would have to live with it. Buying a house, solo, but with a spouse out of the country, is not fun. You second guess yourself CONSTANTLY. 
  • In early August I bought the house, which it being a new house came with stipulation that I put a LOT of money down that was nonrefundable in any event (like, even if something went wrong with financing). That was really stressful but I had to proceed like everything would be fine, because I just knew it was the right house at the right time. 
  • In September work went nuts and I was busier than a one armed paperhanger in a windstorm.
  • I went to Paris for work, and managed to fit in a trip to London, where I saw Rich for a very nice weekend.
  • I was due to close on the house on September 28th.
  • On September 26th Rich flew in from Norway to be there for the closing and to help with the move, which was planned for the 1st of October. I got news I had to attend a work meeting on the first, so moved the move to the 3rd. I was stressed.
  • On the 26th, while I was at the airport waiting to pick up Rich, I got a call from my mom that my dad had a massive stroke. 
  • We closed on the house on the 28th.
  • My brother called that morning to say the stroke was worse than thought initially. 
  • I flew to Missouri on the 2nd. 
  • Dad's stroke was life changing, he lost all movement on his left side, with all its attendant problems. 
  • I was there for 10 days. Work just had to wait. 
  • Rich took care of the move. I felt guilty for having bought the house. If I hadn't bought it, I could have used the cash for the down payment to help my mom pay the bills and could have quit my ever more intensive job to help her with Dad's care. 
  • Mom pointed out that I needed somewhere to live, so don't worry about buying the house. "You need to live your life". 
  • I came back, Rich had handled the basic move, but I had a house full of boxes and shit to organize. We have a lot of stuff. It was very tiring.
  • October and November were very busy with work and getting the house in shape. 
  • I also had to close out the rent house and get it cleaned up.
  • I have moved 4 times in 2013. (Oslo, temp apartment, temp house, and new house.)
  • I had shelves built in on either side of the fireplace and on the landing between the bedrooms.
  • I went to Missouri for Thanksgiving. Dad was moved from the hospital to a therapeutic nursing home. He still was on a feeding tube, still frozen on his left, still with catheter. Not good. 
  • But there were signs of improvement. 
  • I am worried about how mom will pay the bills and I can't stop thinking that if we were in Norway this would not be a problem. Yes, I am a fan of socialized medicine. Dad's care will render Mom destitute...and we can't see a way out. 
  • I will likely have to help my parents financially for the foreseeable future. 
  • In November my cousin started his new job working in the Alps as a tourist advisor for a ski facility, a way for him to rethink his life, get some joy, and decide what he wants to do in future. I am so proud of him and his strength. 
  • Just before Thanksgiving I had a check up from the doctor and they found a lump in my breast and I had the worst 36 hours of my life waiting for the results of the sonogram they performed in addition to the mammogram. 
  • Everything was fine. I just have "dense breasts" and what the doctor thought was the lump was nothing. 
  • I learned the value of xanax those days.. 
  • December was crazy with work.
  • Rich came to Houston and we went to Missouri for a short Christmas visit with Mom and Dad. 
  • Rich also built me IKEA shelves for the top floor room which will eventually be the 'family room'. 
  • It looks awesome. 
  • Got news that Rich will be moving from Norway to Houston in February. 
  • It looks like he will be in good shape when he gets here, it was an amicable separation with his company. 
  • We bought him a car, a Subaru Forester, and it is a sweet ride, even if it is not as exciting as my WRX. But I like being a two Subie family. 
  • I had almost two weeks off at Christmas/New Years, (some work but mostly they left me alone) much needed, and I have got so much done on the house and feel like it is now my home. 
  • (Some stuff happened also in 2013 that I won't put down here.)
  • And then yesterday, as I unpacked the last box of the shipment, I realized, holy shit it's been exactly a year since I got to Houston. 
  • 2014 is looking much more promising than 2013. 
  • 2013 was a bitch of a year, and that is no lie.
I'm glad it's over. 


  1. It seems like only yesterday...
    That certainly was a hell of a year you had. I'm exhausted just reading about it! Let's hope things settle down a bit this year. Good luck!

  2. Karla! I read your blog while I was in California, now I'm in Norway and see you've traveled back stateside! I was wondering if it would be possible to contact you re: a few expat related questions? Hope 2014 is good to you.

    1. If you are on twitter you can DM me through there for a start. Probably best not to put emails online!

  3. Wow, that's a hell of a year for you. I hope your father continues to improve and surpass the expectations his doctors have. I wish you, Rich and your family a wonderful and quiet 2014!


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