Today I have not followed my usual “get over jet lag fast” routine — I slept until 1:30pm! So I haven’t unpacked and gotten the house back into order yet. I feel very differently about that job than I do packing. I LOVE unpacking. It is literally one of my favorite tasks.

However, I think it’ll be best done in the morning. Kagi finished his exam and we are planning to get pizza and watch a movie tonight. I’m looking forward to it, and to finishing unpacking tomorrow.

So I’m off to have a nice relaxing night with my husband:-).

Irrational Exhaustion

I am now in Bradford!!! I’m working to stay awake at least until 8pm and also trying not to distract Kagi because he has a very big exam tomorrow. I did take a nap today but think I’ll be fine tomorrow — I’m plenty exhausted to sleep through the night no matter what the time difference!

The trip really went well and Kagi and I are very happy to be back together.

I was given some extra time today during which I wrote what you see below:-). I actually found my extreme emotional reaction to a series of things a little comical at the time, I hope that comes across.

Exhausted Fit
You know when kids get to that point where they start weeping and scream, “I just want to go home!”? 

Well, I almost just did that right in the middle of Manchester Airport. If I had caught Kagi on the phone I would have burst into tears and done just that. But it wasn’t that easy – the phone company doesn’t like my American credit card and therefore I have no way to get online or to call anyone.

Kagi will call me when he gets out of his class at 11.

But wait. Wasn’t I supposed to be home by then? Didn’t I have dreams of being showered and maybe even having lunch made by the time Kagi gets home from class? Yes, yes I did.

But alas, after about 20 hours of travel and my body running on about 4 hours of sleep since Saturday night, it didn’t go that way. In my exhaustion I have been quickly unraveling over the last several hours.

First, I’ll acknowledge that my travels went really well. So I know this is irrational. As I’m experiencing the crazy irrationality I kind of think it’s funny, so I’m writing about it. So for the record I do know that things are fine. They just don’t feel that way at the moment.

First, I got held up for questioning at the border again. Yes, even with my visa, I got stuck in the “further questioning” section, wondering if they were going to reject me again. Not a huge deal… I’ve been there before, but I have grown an irrational apprehension for those borders and so the level of impact it had on my emotional state was more than necessary. Apparently I will continue to need further questioning every time I try to enter this country for quite a while, even with all my paperwork squared away. Once blacklisted you’re blacklisted. Awesome. At least the guy was nice.

The last from my flight to clear customs, I went to claim my bags and immediately noticed that something was wrong. They were both there, but one of my bags was slightly opened. The smell of one of my brand-new, expensive, skin-care items permeated from my bag. At first glance I could tell that my closure of the bottle was still in-tact, but the smell and sight of my brand new, wonderfully clean-laundry smelling sheets covered in this toner. Apparently it was not sealed at the bottom of the neck. Great.

Then I began trying to walk with all three of my bags. They total well over 100 pounds and don’t fit together very nicely. I don’t know where I have pounds, so instead of getting a luggage card I began dragging them as best I could. It didn’t work well, and in normal conditions the walk is about 15 minutes. At one point, the bag I had stacked on top of another slipped off, narrowly missing a man’s foot and causing him to dodge it like a meteior aimed at him. “I’m sorry!” I exclaimed. No response other than ticked-off walking away.

I did have a hero appear soon after that, though. An African lady passed me and then said, “Do you need this?” with a cart. “You don’t need it?” I asked. “You need it more than I do,” she said as she took her bags off and gave it to me. I felt bad, but I couldn’t reject her offer. As the situation was I was likely to kill someone.

Finally, I made it to the bus station. I knew I had missed my hoped-for 9:05 bus, but was hoping for a bus in the next 15-30 minutes for about 10GBP. The guy told me that it cost 13.40GBP. “And when is it?” I asked. “11:50,” he said.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I almost screamed it in the airport. What I actually said was, “OK, I’m going to go check on my train options and I’ll come back if I want to take it.”

As I stood in line, I knew it was hopeless. I can’t move all of these huge bags around a train transfer. I checked anyway. The result was that for about 30GBP (a CRAZY amount of money) I could get a train with one transfer. For a more reasonable fee, I could take a train to Manchester Piccadilly, take a trolley to Manchester Victoria, and take another train to Bradford (which might also require a change in Leeds). On a normal day that would be fine. With these bags, no way. So 11:55 it is.

This is when I frantically tried to put money on my phone so I could call Kagi crying. No go. And worse, the guy selling bus tickets found me right before I started weeping so instead of throwing my temper tantrum I calmly bought the ticket.

The agent must have read me right and told me to come upstairs to a nice café and get a cup of coffee. That was a really good idea—I can kind of pretend I’m not still in an airport. I am here in the coffee shop now, writing. I’ll post once I’m home with internet access

I am really excited to get home!


I am sitting in Minneapolis and just wanted to give a quick update. Traveling has gone well so far. Yesterday I was surprised when I checked in with the airline to find out that I was allowed two checked bags, which was awesome! I was able to pack the denim picnic quilt my mom made for Kagi and me for Christmas which I didn’t  think I could fit. That was a very nice surprise!

I’ve had a nice opportunity to talk with my family who is still in the States over the last few days. I got to talk to Allison and Jesse and Grammy yesterday and today have talked to Jesse more and Jenni. So fun.

Anyway, there isn’t much else to report. I’m thankful that things are going well thus far.

Packing… again

Packing… again


Well, it’s that time again. Packing. Ugg, I’m not thrilled about this! You can tell because I’m writing about it before doing it… a sure procrastination technique! The goal, though, is to do it today, which for me is pretty good. It’s 5 days before I travel. If I can get it done today I’ll be in good shape.

One of the benefits of an international life is that you learn that there are some things best purchased in certain locations. For example, it is best to buy tea, chocolate, cheese, and vegetables in England. For me, it is better to buy clothes, cake mix, electronics, and almost everything else in the States. Things are cheaper and I know how to work the sales better. This is not the kind of packing I mentioned in my Packing Light blog. This is the “get as much as you can to where it’s useful” kind of packing. Totally different.

I’m going to be in the UK for about 4 months before returning for Jenni’s wedding. Since Kagi and I are planning to be in the UK for at least another year and a half, I am working to get as much of what I already have over there. This summer we will take many of ourwedding gifts and household items which are now waiting in Maryland.

Now, I need to take things like sheets I bought with wedding money which we really need in England. At the moment, we’re using a makeshift set of a fitted sheet from Ikea and and twin top sheet for our almost queen sized bed (it’s an Ikea bed which is between sizes). I found two wonderful sets which I’m very excited about (wow, what does it mean when sheets excite you?). Kagi and I also received a sweet denim blanket from my mom for Christmas. I love it, but denim is heavy. I’m not sure how to fit it.

So, I’m going to get to work. I’ll update you with progress throughout the day.


Laundry done, everything I want to take out of the closet and drawers. This is not a pretty sight but it’s a necessary first step.


After lunch I carefully folded and organized everything in their categories. When I pack I like to see everything before putting it into bags


After dinner I got back to work and finished packing it all up. The pile on the left is the pile of things I realized weren’t going to fit. I’m disappointed about my amazing denim quilt, but I’m hoping someone can bring it with them on a visit to England before too long:-). As you can see, the suitcase is pretty ridiculously full. It is 49 pounds, 1 under the limit. The carry-on is pretty light and has a little room in it, just in case there are any problems with the weight of my checked bag at the airport.


I admit that I really fought to get the big suitcase closed but here we have it! With room to spare in my carry-ons.

So here we go, I’m packed earlier than ever before. That’s cool… but I have been realizing I have a big problem.

I don’t know how to get ready for bed, because my toiletries are in that suitcase! Worse, I’m supposed to be somewhere in the morning, and my clothes, makeup, and etc are all packed! I really don’t want to open that big bag. Seriously, it took me like 15 minutes of sitting on it, turning it upside down, and pulling with all of my strength to get it closed. There is a little fear that I won’t be able to get it all back in there.

I am going to see what I can find around the house. Maybe I don’t need to open it.

Nope, scratch that… my toothbrush is in there.

This is why this is probably why I never pack early, and why this is unlikely to ever become an advice blog. Haha!



Tonight, Pops and I watched Argo. I have been wanting to see it for a while, but didn’t know much about the story prior to watching it. Here is the trailer in case you don’t know the premise:

I can see why Argo won so many awards this year. It was so well done, with both humor and hardship which effectively made me feel like I was there, experiencing the trauma of being stuck in a country where you are considered the enemy.

It was real enough that I am actually still a little stressed!

I have had a few traumatic experiences at borders and it brought them to the front of my mind. I remember how every time I went out of Israel I was considered a security risk because I lived in Bethlehem. I was strip-searched a few times and regularly had my bags meticulously searched.

More recently, I was questioned and held in Glasgow for five hours before my request for a tourist visa was ultimately rejected. They were kind and courteous to me, but it was one of the most stressful situations I have ever been in. Leaving the country the airline staff considered me a “deportee,” although that was not the case.  I couldn’t decide if it was funny or embarrassing. I guess it was both.

In the two trips into the UK after that, I needed to wait while all of my documents were examined and am now all too aware that a sovereign state can accept or reject visitors at will. Thankfully those trips didn’t involve too much questioning.

I know more about borders than I would like to. They are stressful for everyone, and even as a civilian sometimes you feel like you are supposed to be sneaky to get through. I have realized that honesty is the best policy and I no longer try to out-smart anyone. It’s important to remember that there is not much need to get stressed when you’re not hiding anything. Transparency is already a life policy of mine but it is helpful to remember its benefits of it when traveling. Thankfully I haven’t had an Argo experience. Hopefully it’ll stay that way!

I am so thankful that I have my visa sorted out before traveling this time.

Just six days until I leave for England:-). I took this pic in London about a year ago.

Packing Light

Packing Light

As I packed for London, I knew that I wanted to do a lot of walking and would need to keep my stuff with me almost all of the time. So I decided to pack carefully. I managed to get everything needed for two days (including formal clothing for a conference and reading materials for 10 hours on buses) into this bag:

Fully-packed bag for the conference trip.

Here’s how I did it:

This is just about everything I took. on the left is my packing cube with all clothes and underwear, and my belt, shoes, clutch purse, and make-up bag. In the middle are the essential toiletries for a shower (which went into another packing cube), and a London tour book (actually wasn’t necessary, oh well). Behind is my backpack which I think already had a few snacks in it. On the right are the clothes I actually wore the next morning.

Here is the main section of my bag. See how neat packing cubes make everything? The shoes and belt went on top.

I could have taken a lot more, but was thinking I’d probably need to carry whatever I took for up to ten miles of walking over the two days in London. I love walking in general and especially like seeing a city that way. One of my rules of thumb for exploring is that it is done best with as little baggage as possible.