Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lost promises, loose ends, and small triumphs.

First: let me be clear that I am no pro.  I don't have a 'blogging schedule' of any kind, I don't have a fancy camera, and... I can't even come up with a third excellent thing to round out this sentence nicely about how unprofessional I am as a blogger.

However as unprofessional a blogger as I am, I do strive to be a woman of her word, and I realize that faaaar too often while zipping around doing things in real life, I leave things hanging here in the form of loose ends, mentions of things not yet elaborated upon, and as-yet-unfulfilled promises (like the recipe for that cake, which is still coming - but can I just tell you how many sweets have fallen into our lives over the past little bit and how much attention I've had to pay to other things, and while we're at it, how expensive almond-powder is here? (because the cake uses it, and our grocery store seems to have mistaken it for gold-dust.)

Anyhow, the point is there are some holes that ought to be filled in, and I'm going to spend the next little bit trying to find them and fill them in and to tidy things up around here because I hate when my deficits of attention make me look like a liar.  It's a good time to fill in the holes anyhow.  I'm trying to tie up loose ends everywhere to make sure I have enough room and organization in my life for this new thing...

(No, not a baby if that's what you were thinking.  Who are you, my mother in law?)

That pastry program I wanted to get into?  The one that ought to help give me a little 'Belgian credibility'?  I got in!  My long division and multiplication stuck by me in the math tests, I did well in the French comprehension test, and I must not have come off so badly in the interview because I'm in!  I suspect the next few months are going to be very intense, and pretty tiring, but I'm also hoping they'll be worth it and will allow me to go back to living the sort of life where I come home from work covered in splotches of flour or butter or chocolate, and more importantly: a contented smile.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Three Years.

I'm in a bit of a quiet spell here at the moment, which is really only because there is a lot going on off the computer, some of which I hope I'll remember to talk about later, and some of which will doubtlessly be lost in the crevices of my grey matter.

But, today is my expat birthday.  Today I'm three.  I'm not really sure how I feel about that although there's something about it that seems worthy of making a note of.  I'm not sure I expected that I'd still be here three years later, mind you I'm not really sure what I'd figured would happen.

I do like that I'm more comfortable here, though even with three years of experience I am reminded at least once every day by something that happens either in conversation or event that I am not from here, and that I do not "belong" here.  Perhaps I am welcome here, I don't know that for certain either, but it's not the same.  This might seem bleak but it's not.  You can have great times even when you feel as though you are not 'in your proper place', but there will always be moments where you feel that outsiderness, I think.

Right now what I can say is that after putting in three years of hard work with another language, a different job-market, and a generally different prevalent philosophy of 'how to live life', I feel like I might actually be getting somewhere, possibly, and that the advances I've made will be of worth to me regardless of where I end up in the future.  Certainly my language skills have improved.  I am more patient and a touch less serious about myself, and I may possibly have cracked the tough nut of how to become a recognized professional in the kitchen here.  Possibly.

I'm also quite tired though.  I probably wouldn't have been so much so if it weren't for the unexpected injury last September, the long road to recovering from it (still going,) and the added drama caused by one incredibly unsupportive and downright pessimistic (ex)employer.  Running back and forth from my union, my health-insurance providers, and learning the ropes of how Belgians play office politics hadn't really been an item on my list of "things to learn", but nonetheless I know much more about it now than I ever wanted to.  And I'm still learning, reluctantly, about these things.

I do feel at three years that I've got most of the basics solidly down.  I feel now that instead of trying to figure out simply how to be here, or even how to deal appropriately with what life throws at me, that the challenges are shifting toward my figuring out how to steer myself toward achieving the goals I have in mind.  Not "survive in Belgium" goals, but "get what you want out of life" goals.  After three years, I'm just starting to arrive at that similar point, mentally, where I was shortly before I left Toronto, trying to figure out the same things, no longer distracted so regularly by more basic matters of survival.

While I can't say with any certainty where I'm taking myself, I'll say that what's on the horizon looks nicer than it has ever looked before.  That, and despite the lack of a predictable trajectory, it's still very nice to feel less like a hapless passenger in my life here and more like the one with her hands on the wheel.