Liebster award nomination

liebsteraward_3lilapples1I’ve been nominated for a Liebster award for my blog by another amazing blogger, Sarah Elizabeth Lane. I’ve never heard of this award, truthfully, but I like the idea behind it. It’s a great way for us newbie bloggers to reach out and connect with one another and it’s a nice incentive to keep writing! Who doesn’t enjoy a gold star now and then? Writing is damn hard, and it’s a lonely occupation. So thank you, my dearest Sarah, for the nomination. I have always been impressed with Sarah’s well-crafted stories, she makes writing look so easy, but we all know it isn’t! Plus, she has my heart as another lovely Italiana. Sarah, you have a beautiful soul and way with words I can only dream of aspiring to, not to mention, your self-effacing humor makes it so darn easy to love you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Now I get to answer some questions! So without further ado, here are my responses. Enjoy.

1. Why did you start your blog?

This is my third blog. I started my first one in the late 90s, another one when I studied abroad in Wales, and now this is my third attempt. Throughout my childhood I kept a journal. I’m not the best conversationalist, it’s just easier for me to write when I want to accurately convey my feelings. I started this blog as a way to communicate with other expats and Sci-fi/fantasy people. Truthfully, I write for myself. I’m not expecting to make money, it’s just a way to express my thoughts and share with the incredibly engaging and loving writing community on WordPress.

2. What was your dream occupation when you were a young child?

I’m pretty sure I changed my mind as often as I changed shirts! Two in particular stuck with me the longest: veterinarian and marine biologist. The vet thing didn’t happen because I couldn’t deal with animals dying around me and marine biology, to be fair, I considered until I was about 18. About then I realized I’d have to go to college for most of my 20s, and I could expect to make pennies on the dollar. It didn’t seem to add up to me. Should I have received a scholarship, perhaps that would have changed …

3. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, in only two words, what would they be?

PURSUE SCIENCE! I had no idea that I was so passionate about astrobiology until later in life. I’ve read so much about astrobiology. I wouldn’t mind if my career led me to a science writer or communications specialist working at a Space Agency (ESA, NASA, you just wait!). Maybe there is hope for my science fiction career yet …

4. If you could get lost purpose, anywhere, where would it be?

I would love to get LOST in Italy. Florence was so incredibly beautiful, and getting lost was half the fun! All the secret alleyways with beautifully hidden hole-in-wall restaurants. I need another Italy trip. I don’t even want to go to any touristy locations, I just want to go to Italy and EAT.

5. What is your most prized possession, and why?

I still have my security blanket named Dee Dee. This is the only ‘thing’ which has been with me since the start of my life, until now. I’ve lost touch with people and given away objects, but DD has been with me forever. I knew Lewis was a keeper when he didn’t make fun of me and introduced him to DD.  🙂

My goal is to eventually make a quilt and turn the few lasting bits into a square.

6. What is your favorite quote, and by whom?

My mom use to always say, “this too shall pass.” It seems really trite, but it’s become a mantra. Not only will things change (better/worse) but life does indeed go on. It’s an important thing to remember on bad days.

Another favorite Lord of the Rings quote (neeeeeeeerd!) by Tolkien, or really Gandalf, is when he says, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” It’s so true. How many times have we looked back thinking, if only… life is about seizing the opportunities when found.

7. What is your guiltiest pleasure?

For a few years I enjoyed watching Army Wives! That was my sinful pleasure. Now my guilty pleasure is drinking port and eating delicious  dark chocolate which has orange, vanilla and chili’s. It’s sooooooo delicious. I think I upgraded my guilty pleasure big time.

8. If you could spend a year anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there? Let’s pretend money is not an issue, per say, but that you’re not necessarily a Lottery winner either.

Belize. I’ve always wanted to go to Belize. When I was 25 my co-worker just came back from Belize with the most amazing outlook on life. She was positively glowing, and not just from the best tan I’ve ever seen, she genuinely looked 10 years younger. She sat down next to me and said, “Kassie, when you get a chance…. Belize. Just go. Trust me.”

I’ve never forgotten that.

9. Waffles, pancakes, french toast…or vodka?

OMG. Best question, ever!!! I really miss Saturday morning brunches. The British just have NO IDEA how to do a good brunch. Waffles and hot chocolate and mimosas, pleeeeeease.

But I’ll never say no to a bloody mary.

10. Name your go-to driving in the car/home alone/shower sing-along song.

Alanis Morisettte, “You Oughta know” and Metallica’s “Sad But True”

I’ve belted out these renditions more times than I can count. They are also my karaoke go-to songs and I know them by heart.

— and now to continue on the tradition. Here are my nominees —

Bridget Hoida

I met Bridget through her brother, Jeff Hoida, as we were in the same high school class together. Bridget is an amazingly talented (and published!!) writer. Her So LA is an amazing read, I couldn’t put it down. Oh, and she’s a teacher and helps students with their college applications. Bridget is someone I wish I met earlier in life, we could have been besties. Her creative energy is infectious, plus she’s a down-to-earth good-natured person.

To the baby in the restaurant

Lili and I had the most fortuitous meet-cute. We met in San Francisco, as we were both working for a short-term contract position. She asked me how to fill in a W2 form, which I thought “Has she never had a job before?!”

She explained she just moved over from England. And hey, guess what, she use to live in the same town as my British boyfriend! You couldn’t make this stuff up. We instantly bonded and have been friends ever since.

Lili writes a series of letters to individuals. Her conversational style is effortless. She’s a true talent, and I see her writing screen-plays one day. Her soul belongs in New York I feel. I’ve often told her she has the soul of someone older than her early 20-something would lead you to believe.

BexAdler

I hope Bex starts updating her blog again! I loved reading her book reviews. I have a tendency to stick to one particular genre, but through her different recommendations I’ve starting reading a bit more outside my ‘comfort zone’, so to speak. Not only did she also go to Sacramento State (woot!) she has also taught abroad in China and is now teaching in Oregon. Bex is ambitious young lady, and seasoned world-traveler. I keep hoping she’ll write a book about her experiences abroad one day.

If my fellow bloggers choose to accept their award, here are the rules:

1. Post the award on your blog
2. Thank the blogger who presented the award to you and link back to their blog
3. Answer the questions given to you by the nominator
4. Nominate a handful of bloggers  with less than 200 followers
5. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer
6. Notify your nominees by posting on their blog

— Here are your 10 questions, fellow nominees —

1) If you could re-do one event in your life, what would it be?

2) What do you like about blogging?

3) Describe your life at age 65.

4) N’Sync or Backstreet Boys?

5) If you could get into a verbal sparring match with one person, alive or dead, who would it be?

6) You life will be made into a movie. Who would play you?

7) What is your go-to drink?

8) Fill this in.  “When I see a group of hipsters in the street, I want to _____ ”

9) Gym or watching TV?

10)  Who has inspired you to make some of the decisions you’ve made today?

 

 

 

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But I’m still American?

The excitement when I first held my red Italian passport. Standing at the airport, with two pieces of luggage and a backpack, saying goodbye to my family. To my life.

Moving to another country is a life-changing adventure. But, is it the right one?

I thought, what am I getting myself into. My great-grandparents left Europe to pursue new opportunities and here I am, returning to the start. Am I letting them down?

You think … what about friends and family members I love and cherish. All the happy memories created during high school, college. You are going to miss birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, graduations, babies, funerals, little ones growing up. I am saying goodbye to the California sunshine, lifestyle, and cuisine. Everything I have ever known.

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Pacific ocean near Half Moon Bay, California

Why am  I leaving? It’s my home, my country. Am I leaving for a better life or will I create something worse? Fear and regret. And yet, I still step on the plane.

One thing I didn’t anticipate is the in-between. While there’s no harm in returning, you’re a changed individual. Neither completely European or American. Your journey creates homesickness in your heart. I miss the heat. But, I miss the lush, emerald green of Britain. Can you belong to both?

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Raw beauty of NorCal.

Living abroad, you’re reminded that you are the OTHER. You’ll never completely understand the references, the jokes from past shows or their childhood memories. People will always question your logic and expect a rational answer; they just don’t understand when you can’t provide clear answers.

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The beauty of England

But despite all this you will feel more grounded than ever. I’m ITALIAN / AMERICAN. Perhaps my spirit has always resided in two places, but it took leaving to understand that part of myself. Why do we have to choose where we place our love? So you just stop thinking and start living and loving. You grow to accept the differences and choose to love even harder.

I love my country. I love my heritage. And I love the life I have created after two years of hard work. Soon, you grow to enjoy returning home all the more because home isn’t just one place. Home is HERE and home is THERE, equally and simultaneously.

 

 

The psychological aspects of reaching 999

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Today, I want to embrace an important milestone in my life. One that, I hope, others are also beginning to experience. Especially my fellow 30somethings hollllaaaaa’ ::FISTBUMP:: who are moving forward in their careers and making a name for themselves.

Today, on this seemingly ordinary day in March, I have left behind “thousands of credit card debt” and have run with open arms into the warm embrace of “hundreds of credit card debt.” If you want an exact amount the running total is $999 … that’s almost $8K paid off.

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ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!

That, my friends, is a huge psychological boost. While my C.C. debt has gone up and down over the years it’s been so, so long since it has fallen into the hundreds. And even then, it was never paid off. But this time it’s different. One shackle has been destroyed and a few others are so loose they are practically falling off.

But Kassie, you still have ‘thousands’ of dollars with your student loans to pay off….

YES. Yes, I do. Paying off debt is not quick ; it’s a long-term process. My student loans will be paid off in increments over the next few months and years. However my credit card debt is no longer a wild, out-of-control monstrosity. My creation obeys me.

It’s nine hundred and ninety-nine because that’s what I told it to be. I’m the ring-master and $ 999 is waiting for its next command. And in just two short months it will perform its final show. Happily, 999 is not expected to survive. The only thing more beautiful than $ 999 is its distant cousin: $ 0.00.

But $ 999 isn’t just about finding and asserting control it is also about patience. And forgiveness. $ 999 provided much needed insight.

Kassie, did your partner help pay off your debt?

Hell no. We’re both dealing with our debts separately. Although don’t get me wrong … this is still a team effort.

Since becoming an expat in Britain both of our careers have grown by leaps and bounds. But while our careers have grown up, strong and beautiful, our finances have withered, stunted and deformed, caused by debt accumulation. It’s not even like we’ve been reckless, heck, we’re still driving an old beater Volvo. But life just has a way of catching-up. There were occasions where we fell into the classic, “well, let’s just put it on the credit card” and overspent. In all honesty, the majority of my credit card debt came from being unemployed for almost a year.

But now we’re looking forward to our life together. $ 999 allowed me to understand that a good partner is one who supports you when making the unpopular decisions.

Budget planning is a jagged pill to swallow. No one likes to look like financial shit in front of anyone. We had to be completely honest and surrender. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.

But to get it done just throw your hair into a high ponytail, put on some yoga pants, and GO for it. $ 999 taught me beauty is also measured by maturity.

Drawing up schematics doesn’t have to be fancy. I used paper, pen, and a calendar. But having a plan is crucial. We have a white board hanging next to our door where we write all monthly expenses, and subtract from our own respective budgets, to keep an eye on our spending habits. I’m now being held accountable for my actions.

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Don’t lose sight of your goals. Ignore the haters.

The hardest part is sticking to a budget, so $ 999 provided instructions in how to honor patience. Here is where social media can be a hindrance. It’s so easy to compare our lives. Especially people who are purchasing everything under the sun, going on trips, showing off wads of cash. I’ve broken down and cried, stamped my foot, left in a huff, and done so many other ridiculous, immature things. Yes, indeed, some are blessed to have a debt-free lifestyle, but $ 999 has gently reminded me that chances are many are also swimming in their own debts. How would I know otherwise?

$ 999 knows its time is limited but it’s okay with that. You know why? Because it’s just a fucking number that means nothing to itself but everything to me. The smaller it gets, the bigger my smile.

So, what’s my point? My message is for anyone struggling with their own debt to start small. Find your happy place. But above anything else, start paying it off NOW. Waiting just delays the inevitable.

I’ve ticked my $ 999 box towards freedom. I can’t wait to meet sexy $ 0.00.