Friday, January 17, 2014


According to our plan, this past Monday should have been my first full day as a Beijing Lady of Leisure. I should have been honing my bargaining skills at an open market, or discovering the most delicious bowl of beef noodle soup that my mouth has ever tasted.

Instead I am sitting here.
In my mostly-empty cubicle.
In Kansas City, Missouri.

This is exactly where I was sitting a few days ago, the day before we were going to fly to China. It was six minutes until my exit interview with HR. I was going to sit at my desk for one more minute before leaving, because if there's one department I want to be perfectly punctual for, it's HR.

Then my cell phone rang.

I didn't recognize the number and almost didn't answer. Almost.
Turns out it was my husband's brother, Chris.

"Melissa. This is Chris. I was just on the phone with Curtis, and then he dropped the phone and started screaming for help. I think he was going to your storage unit. You have to call 911."

Is this a joke?
I am not laughing, but if he says "just kidding" right now then I won't be mad because all I want for him to do right now is say, "just kidding."

"Melissa. You have to go to your storage unit. You have to Call 911."

He didn't say "just kidding." 

I am dialing 911 when Curtis calls. He's frantic. He slipped on ice and hurt his ankle. The ambulance is taking forever. A jogger has stopped to help and will take him to the ER. Someone should take me to meet him at the ER.

When I arrived, he was sitting in a wheelchair getting checked in and the jogger stood beside him. (In the interest of visual accuracy, I'd like to add that it was January 10th, and he was clearly a New Year's Resolution jogger as opposed to a Lifestyle jogger.) Curtis looked like he was in shock and was starting to unravel.

One of my most favorite things in the world is my husband's laugh. His laugh is pure and real and deep. He laughs like a baby.

Turns out he cries the same way.

There was no stoic man-face with tears streaming. Oh no. Just like with his laugh, every part of his face was involved. It was heart-breaking.

Once they got him on the hospital bed, I could see that his right foot was dangling at a 90 degree angle to the right. Dangling. Like a sad puppet with no puppeteer. He wondered out loud if they'd have to lop the whole thing off. "We almost never do." was one nurse's response. Thanks a lot, nurse. Doctors and nurses shuffled in and out, wanting to get a look at "The Ankle." X-rays showed that he had dislocated and broken his ankle in three places. Sheesh.

He was going to need emergency surgery and they'd have to put in two metal plates. Recovery could take up to three months.

Now that they'd given him two doses of pain killers, he was busying himself cancelling our flights to Beijing. He was busying himself wondering if this was a sign and what it all meant.

Helpful Tip: Life-changing decisions should generally not be made when under the influence of pain killers and a dangling foot.

His surgeon came in and explained what would happen next. He explained that he had done this type of surgery many times over the past six years. Six years is not enough. Six years makes him a Kindergarten Doctor.

I politely asked the Kindergarten Doctor if he would please do the Best Ankle Surgery of His Life because we had just gotten married in August and I did not want to ever date again. Kindergarten Doctor said okay.

Curtis's friend came to wait with me at the hospital.

Helpful Tip: When life hands you canceled plans and a hubby who's getting surgery, it's nice to have someone sitting next to you, just in case you need a hug.

Pretty soon but not soon enough, the doctor came back to let us know that everything went swimmingly. He didn't say that exactly. But only because he is a non-British doctor who probably doesn't have a love for fun words.

So now we'll possibly be scooting out to Beijing in about 6 weeks or so, but mostly the new plan at this point is to not really have a plan.

We're gonna see how Curtis is healing.
We're gonna keep living out of our suitcases.
We're gonna continue getting our fill of Jack Stack beef burnt ends and baked beans.

The other thing we're gonna do is be grateful...

For our amazing pals who have made us lasagna, and moved our luggage, and let us stay in their apartments, and called and wrote to let us know they're thinking of us, and to ask if there's anything at all they can do to help.
For my employer who has allowed me to continue to work, and who is providing us with glorious health insurance until we figure everything out.
For his future employer who is being so very cool and flexible and everything you'd want your future employer to be.

And as uber cheese-o-riffic as it sounds, we're gonna be extra-grateful for each other. Because we've learned that even when things get all kinds of sucktastic and unpredictable and scary and stressful and emotional-rollercoastery, we can eventually find our way back to snuggling up in bed and watching bad tv all evening while munching on a Costco-sized bag of veggie straws.

Yeah. I'm really, really thankful for that.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ready or not, here we go...

So I guess I'm pretty good at being wrong.

For example, after my first date with my husband about a year ago, I spent a month avoiding him because I didn't think it was going to go anywhere.


And when I planned a big trip to Asia in 2012, I was 1000% sure that my little three-day sojourn in Beijing, China was my ONCE IN A LIFETIME opportunity to see The Awesomest Wall On Earth and munch on a few scorpions. I'm not great with numbers, but I think 1000% sure is really, really sure.

In about a week, we will be moving to Beijing.
Moving there.
Like, to live.

Anyway, I've decided that I'm going to blog about this unexpected adventure because:
1) I'm quitting my dreamy writing job so I will probably have a fair amount of time on my hands and unused creativity in my brain and 2) I have a feeling that life's about to take a turn for the interesting and I kinda want to document it for myself and anyone else who feels like following along.

Am I totally ready for this enormous move to the other side of our planet? Not so much. I feel like I'm about to plunge off the end of a crazy-high diving board-- really excited, but also scared outta my mind (and suddenly overcome with a nagging urge to pee).

So for the next week I'm pretty much going to just be bouncing on the end of that board, working up the courage to take a really deep breath and jump into that big ol' Mandarin-speaking, dumpling-eating, everything-is-new-to-me world.

Man oh man, this is gonna be quite the journey.

Pretty sure I'm not wrong about that.