Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ladies, check 'em!

Something I've kept rather close to my chest up until now was the little scare I got.  Of all days, my wedding day while getting ready (in the shower) I found a lump quite by accident in my breast.

I do remember from time to time to do self-checks and so I knew right away that this was something new, and not 'typical' in the way it felt.  What a shitty thing to find on your wedding day, right?

So right around the same time work was insanely busy making getting in touch with my doctor pretty much impossible, plus to be honest I think I was kind of hoping that the lump might go away, but it didn't and so after a few weeks I took the first step, hightailing it out of work and managing to see my doctor before his clinic closed for the day.  He didn't say much but scheduled me for a mammogram and echography (for both boobs, just to be safe.)

Walking around waiting for the day of your appointment thinking you might have something that could kill you in your chest is certainly something that can mess with you, but I made it to the day, and fortunately it was nothing to be concerned about.  The doctor did explain to me what it was, but of course since it was in French and I was pretty much not listening quite as well after he said it wasn't serious, I can't say I was attentive enough to translate for you now.  I was kind of just in a moment of relief while paying further attention to make sure that though it wasn't deadly that it wasn't even something remotely serious either.  Which it wasn't (phew.)  Something to do with glands of the lactation system.  But he assured me I'd done the right thing in checking, because he sometimes sees young ladies who think "It's nothing", until it's a little too late and they realize it is something.  So here's your PSA from me: Check 'em from time to time.  Even if it's not the perfect time of the month to do so, do it when you remember.  You may one day be glad you took the time to get to know yourself well enough that you can recognize "something different" early on.

And PS - Mammograms really aren't painful.  Uncomfortable, ok, yeah, but not really painful.

Also, interesting fact - a breast exam here consists of you standing while the doctor kind of jiggles your breasts as he goes through the checking pattern, mine was seated with his head at about... oh, breast-level I'd say.  So that was a bit of an odd moment.  I must say compared to the less lively check-method of my doctor back home, I was surprised and had to wonder if this was really legit.  Mind you, I suppose it makes the doctor's job more... fun?

So yes, there, as far as I know I'm not slated for early demise.  There will be more summary and sporadic blog entries to come, Huzzah!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fast forward 16 months.

Things have changed, stuff has happened.

Boyfriend got offered an amazing work assignment abroad, and we decided it'd be stupid to say no to the opportunity, so abroad he went.

I followed, (so I suppose I did escape for a bit) settling in nearby with my sister's family.  6 months with family might drive some of you nuts, but it was totally awesome for me.  I'd missed them SO much, and it was so great to have the luxury of time, to just hang out and have continuity to events, conversations, etc.  That and when boyfriend had time off he could be there too :)

We came back here to Belgeland, and it was as though it had gone by in a blink.  Things here have been pretty intense since.  I got hired by a big ol' chocolate company where I currently work as a chocolatier in R&D.  It's pretty amazing (and sadly for the blog highly confidential.)  So that's pretty much all I can say about it!

The boy and I got married!  Well, first we got engaged right around the time I wrote the last entry, and then engaged ourselves in the necessary paper-chase to be allowed to get married here.  (That time abroad spent with family was also quite useful for chasing down the necessary papers.)  When I think about how much we've evolved as a team in the past 2 years particularly, I'm really happy.  It's not something I shared much of on the blog (probably because I started respecting his privacy a bit more,) but fights are quite rare, and when things do flare up it no longer feels like the world has been turned upside down and inside out, it feels like two partners frustrated, trying to solve the misunderstanding.  We totally want to get old and crotchety together, and so that's what we're working on.  As long as nobody kicks the bucket prematurely, I'm fairly sure we'll get there.

As for the rest, it can wait for other days and other entries.  Life is very busy right now, and keeping things in balance is certainly the challenge of late, so I'll be keeping it kind of bite size and sporadic around here I think.  

Funny how so much can be summed up in just a few phrases.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Signs of life

Hey whaddya know?  I'm still alive!

Pastry school is done, superamazing stage is done, and vacation is done.  I rocked my exams:


and at the end of my stage my chef (who is one tough cookie, I'll tell you,) had some kind words for me.  Overall it was the high period of my year.  Of course vacation wasn't bad either.

 I still have a little vacation time left to use, so the boy and I are trying to figure out where and when.

In the meantime, Belgium has decided that summer is pretty much over.  While Belgium has been fairly decisive about this, I am still trying to make my decisions, about things like "what's next?"  I'm looking for work now that I have a few shiny new credentials, but also working on the "plan b" of what to do if I don't find a decent job before going mad.

It's been amost a year since I hurt my back, and the past 361 days since then have been quite the roller coaster, with great opportunities and awful surprises.  Most days my back is pretty solid, and it held up perfectly during my stage which was a huge test, and a huge relief for me.  What I'd really like now is to feel like I can have at least a year of something fairly stable, whether that be work, school, whatever.  I would like a routine please.  Ideally one that isn't as sucky as the one I have right now of checking the want-ads and trying to learn the rules for driving here in Belgium.

Like pretty much all the plan b's I've ever had for anything since showing up here, my fantasy plan b involves me fleeing the country for better education or work opportunities elsewhere.  (Don't all expats have a secret fantasy escape plan?)

It's the long stretches of day where I do very little of what I love that get to me and I now feel quite confident that it'd be easier for me to keep moving forward somewhere else.  But here I am, and I'm not a quitter, so I'm rolling up my sleeves and seeing if there's anything here for me first.  There are great things to be had and learned in Belgium, don't get me wrong... you just need to have a car if you live in Wallonia and you need to be willing to wrestle with paperwork every step of the way.  I keep trying to round off my "square peg" edges to fit into these round holes, but well... progress is slow. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Twist

Today I learned that my chef de pâtisserie represented France in the World Chocolate Masters a few years back (and came in a very respectable 5th place, despite his showpiece breaking during the competition!)  I'm kind of in awe.  Ok, I'm fully in awe.  That was a twist I didn't see coming.  Kind of like someone putting a cherry on top of the cherry of having the opportunity to stage in 'the house of fancy pastries'.

In other news my knee is still buggered despite horsepill anti-inflammatories, I have developed the ability to sleep at will (and sometimes even not when I will it,) and today was overall a better day in 'the house of fancy pastries'.  Meaning I felt ~slightly~ less goomba like, and got to do a few new things. :)

It's the hardest work I've done physically in pastry so far, as this place produces in larger quantities than anywhere I've ever worked before.  Larger batches of everything mean larger pots, larger mixer bowls (that weigh like... half what I do?) and so on.  Even though my bruised knee doesn't like it for the moment, fortunately my back is holding up through it all and I'm counting my blessings and feeling seriously grateful toward my physiotherapist.  It feels normal most of the time now, despite the strain I'm placing on it, which I guess means we did a good job bringing it back to health (yay.)

I feel like I have a lot to feel grateful for, and I'm just hoping things continue to move in this positive direction.

Now, I must sleep.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Off to a smashing start.

My stage has started.  Today was my 4th day at the "house of fancy pastries" (as we will call it,) in Verviers, and like every day I've been there, I still feel like a goomba in a place filled with ninjas.  The first days in any kitchen are always the most difficult, as you are learning how things are expected to be done, where things are kept, and how the machinery works.  Today I learned (I hope) to watch my step more carefully.

I can't bend my left knee.  A large black bruise is developing, and though I've taken a horsepill anti-inflammatory, it seems to have no effect.  Today, you see, I managed to crash to the ground while escorting a tray of creamy, crispy deliciousness designed to be hidden as a layer in a mousse-cake from the freezer to a work surface.  While carrying the tray I didn't swerve to avoid a low stack of boxes and metal in my path (which I didn't see since I was carrying the tray.)  This resulted in my falling forward, trying desperately to keep the wobbling tray upright as I fell, and then *wham*  The tray and I hit the ground.  Nothing makes you feel more competent than almost killing a tray of someone else's work by doing a belly flop in the kitchen.  Yes yes.

I'm just hoping by the end of my stage I feel slightly less like an elephant who has stumbled into the midst of a troupe of ballet dancers.

Oh, later in the day the vibration from the dishwasher sent the tray-loader (a metal insert we use to place baking pans and grills in the dishwasher,) toppling onto me from above as I dried and put back pitchers, bowls and other things.  It was totally my day.