We made the announcement about a week ago on FB that we would be returning to the US of A after eight years abroad – and now I’m not so sure. It feels like announcing I’m getting married and then having to tell everyone that the wedding’s not taking place after all.

I mean, we’re here. We’ve made the move. We left Cambodia under duress. But no, I can’t speak about it freely at this point and I’m not sure if I ever will be able to. As a blogger, a memoirist, a person who understands the need to unburden herself, I wish I could, but some situations call for discretion.

In any case, I’ve been living a life of (1) unexpected unpleasant surprises, (2) crazy running around uncertainty and (3) what felt like certainty to (4) having the cycle repeat itself again. I’m not sure how much more I can handle.

I suppose it is a bit like learning to fall properly, but I’m still trying to get the hang of it so I’m basically hurting myself more than necessary…or waiting for life to get back to normal while I furiously overturn every stone I can think to look under.

My friend Tony told me to breathe. My brother said to take a break from trying to figure everything out right now. Good advice. My mother is telling me what to do and being disapproving to bait. Yet I find myself trying to please her, defend myself and make everyone happy.

I called my stepdad. I needed to talk to someone who understands what it’s like to live with my mother.

“Everything’s sticky. The kitchen is sticky.”

“She snores louder than me. I can’t sleep.”

“She’s driving me crazy.”

And after I vent, I share the possibilities of what we might do next. “We’re thinking of doing housesitting. You know, you watch someone’s dog, Brownie, and take care of their place.”

“Hmmm. Funny that you mentioned that name.”


“About 10 days ago, two dogs were fighting in front of our house, Brownie and Ralphie. I was trying to break them up before our dogs got involved. When I finally got them apart and the neighbors showed up to help, I went inside to wash my hands because I could tell Brownie had bitten me. But as it turned out, he had bitten my finger off.”

“What? OMG. Which one?”

“My right index finger.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“No, I’m being completely serious.”

“No, I know you are. Are you okay? Did you go to the hospital?”

“Yes. I went and told them my finger had been bitten off. They thought I had just been bitten until they saw my hand. They had to get a specialized doctor in to cut off the jagged bone and after five days I went into surgery.”

“Oh my gawd, oh my gawd.”

“The funny thing was that the whole neighborhood went looking for my finger.”

“Oh, no. Brownie ate it already.”

“That’s what I told them.”

“Suddenly my problems don’t seem like such a big deal anymore.”

“I knew I’d cheer you up.”

“Is this a cautionary tale against housesitting?”

“Yes, yes, it is.”

Not Brownie. My aunt’s dog named “brown sugar” in Thai…although, sort of similar, eh?

38 replies on “When your life is up in the air or taking a nose dive

  1. Oh dear! That is a horrible story about Brownie.

    I can really relate to the feeling of wanting to share your trials and tribulations on the blog but not being able to for various reasons. I am so sorry you’re struggling. Thinking of you and looking forward to the next post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Heather. It is a crazy horrible story, but my stepdad told it with his noncommital flavor that we ended up laughing over some parts of it.

      Yeah, struggles. No picnic, but character building 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That story of your stepdad makes so many things look trivial. Hope his hand is better now and speedy recovering. Sometimes you just never know when some things will happen and when change will hit. I really do hope you can work it all out, Lani. Sounds like quite a bit of strife going on for you and hopefully that passes. Really want to come over and just give you one big hug 😦 Stay safe ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, life’s unpredicatable. And at times feels unacceptable, but we’re doing the best we can under these circumstances.

      It helps to have finally blogged even though I feel embarassed by it. Talking to a few close friends helps, too, and taking moments to NOT THINK.

      Thanks for the virtual hug. I’ll take it! xxoo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG, that’s terrible about your stepfather and Brownie and yet, the way he presents the story is so no frills and pragmatic, you don’t see it coming and it’s a Monty Pythonesque sort of hilarious.

    I am, of course, dying of curiosity — especially over the phrase “left under duress.” But like Heather, there are some things I just can’t write about. Even under a pseudonym. I hope you get to unburden yourself somewhere, though.

    Also, if you do dog sit, most dogs are awesome. But keep the hose handy for dog fights. I’ve learned the hard way not to wade in with hands (though my lesson was easier than your stepfather’s for sure).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, you got it. We were laughing from time to time. He’s definitely deadpan and he allowed me to moan and groan about my situation before telling me what happened to him, which I think was a hell of a lot more important than my ten digit problems.

      Most dogs are awesome 🙂 Thanks for the reminder!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You left Cambodia? Whoa. Good to hear you are safe here tho as I know there’s a lot of unrest there at the moment.

    And I can’t believe what happened to your stepdad .. he seemed so casual about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Cambo’s got some serious issues and changes going on. My heart goes out to the people.

      And yes, he was very casual about it! That’s what makes it so funny! Well, if it can be. Geez, talking about rolling with the punches!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Lani…I am so sorry that you can’t share whatever is simmering inside. Keep calm dear friend. everything works out well with time and hopefully you would be able to tell the story. Wishing you all the best and happy times ahead. Wishing a speedy recovery to your step dad, such a sad tale!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. We’ll see how everything goes. I’m feeling rather optimistic at the moment, but things have been tossing and turning so much lately, I don’t want to get my hopes up!


  6. Wow. Brownie. Finger. Surgery. Just…..wow. Hope your stepdad is healing well. Hope some emotional healing comes your way soon as well as something to relieve the brain ache you must be feeling. Not being able to talk through a thing with a couple or ten people makes it so much harder to handle. Hugs if you want ’em!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll take the hugs, thanks! Yeah, at this point life is getting absurd and I’ll be laughing like a crazy person if all this keeps up!


      1. Well, the echoing lunatic laughter you’ll hear will be me…..just letting you know so that when you hear it you won’t think you’ve finally flipped over the edge, lol! I looked at the hubs the other day and told him it would take just ONE MORE THING……and I’d come completely unhinged. So far….so good. (fingers crossed for us both)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s an amazing story! I feel terrible but unfortunately, when a story is that good something horrible probably happened. What an unfortunate finger to lose too😩. I hope he is recovering well and at least has fun telling of his misfortune. Welcome back🎊!! I wish we had more promising things to offer after 8 years away!! Do you know where you will be headed to first, Lani? ~Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, actually, I think the thumb would be a really bad finger to lose. The worst, actually as it is one of our defining features as a species…I, too, hope he’s recovering well.

      Yes, he told the story much better than I depicted it, but I wanted to be brief.

      Our plans are on hold as of now. Thanks for asking. I’ll let everyone know as soon as I do!


  8. Hmmm…I knew your departure was unplanned and wanted to ask, but didn’t. Lots of adjustments. Here’s to a less stressful 2018. If you want to get together for coffee while you’re here, let me know. (I won’t ask nosy questions!!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if we had coffee, you’d hear the full story. Thanks for not asking publically. Thanks for the good thoughts. I’ll let you know about that coffee date! Appreciate it.


  9. Sorry to hear about the situation. Hope everything works out in short order. As someone once told me, the work life is about ‘temporary stability’. Sometimes, life feels like that as we go through our changes due to what we do or the external environment causes. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. It’s hard to sometimes not get emotionally swept up in things. I focus on my long-term plans, plenty of sleep, exercise, reading, meditation and chamomile tea (in the evenings).

    It looks like the country, like other places in the world, is going through some interesting times, particularly over the last few months. The US is pretty good if one can find a low cost of living area or at least affordable housing near a high cost of living area. Healthcare costs are a bit of an issue, as we all know, with high deductibles for insurance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, trust me, I was keenly watching what was happening in Cambo politics. And yes, I did a long read of Asian news the other day. “Interesting times” is a gentle way to put it. 😛

      “Temporary stability” is pretty much spot on. Even when we think our lives are stable, this can quickly change and I’ve seen this time and time again. Trust me, I may look like I have nothing, but I also have nothing to lose, too.

      Lately, I’ve been trying to ‘just be’. My goals, long-term or short-term have been shelved because I’m treading water. But I think we are turning a corner where I can take a look at all that goal setting I did earlier in the year.

      Thanks for reading along, Pat. I appreciate your wise words, too. Happy New Year 🙂


  10. What a sudden change! Sometimes things happen and we just have to accept them and go with the flow. I hope everything is fine and that the new year brings you good things. Happy 2018, Lani!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, defintely. We were in shock, I think, for a while and then we recovered and now there is that ‘going with the flow’ as you mentioned.

      Happy 2018 to you too Marta. Thanks 🙂


  11. This is so true, Lani! Your dad’s story doesn’t diminish what you’re going through but it does put things in perspective. Hope it’s helped you take a step back and get your head on straight. I’m sending you the best wishes and prayers as you go through a rocky transition. I know a bit of how that feels like – though of course, the circumstances are different – and it can be stressful. I’ve found there are still moments of peace to squeeze out, if you’re looking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. His story just made me pause which can be a very good thing indeed. I think we are getting our heads put on straight right about now. Thanks for the prayers and good thoughts. I’ll email you soon! Happy New Year Daisy!


  12. While I hardly ever get over to the blog these days when this popped up I knew I wanted to respond. Was so sorry to hear that life took a turn for you so unexpectedly. I hope that 2018 will offer you some exciting and new opportunities. I will continue to follow your journey on Instagram. Happy New Year, Lani.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I thought I was good about changes and being flexible, but sometimes something really big shows up and you’re left reeling for a bit. I think we’re over the worst of it. At least I hope so! Thanks for being here and reading along. Appreciate it. See you on IG. And Happy New Year 🙂


  13. Wow! And I thought my life was interesting lately. I am so sorry you’re going through this upheaval. Just remember that when one door closes, another opens. Putting it out there and letting your network know what’s going on should help – someone will have a connection, a suggestion, or a recommendation that resonates with you. Happy New Year, Lani. I hope it all works out very quickly for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Your stepdad is low-key badass, omg. If a dog bit off my finger, I would not be so cool about it!

    I’m sorry to hear about all the craziness in your life. I do hope it all works out. Sending you good vibes xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahhaa. I’ll let him know that you said that. The weird thing is I just heard of another dog accident from a friend. I’m now weirded out, but I still think dogs are great companions. But the reminder that they are animals that can be unpredicable is in my mind.

      Thanks for the good vibes!


  15. All I can do is wish you wisdom and patience, and maybe a bit of luck too in 2018. It is never easy to come to terms with change, when one is not the one to initiate it on one’s own terms. Hope you will find both the answers and adventures you are looking for this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. WHOA!!! So many surprises in this post!!

    First of all… wow. Back to the USA! How does it feel? Is it weird being back? Are you back for good? Too many questions? Haha.

    Also… your poor stepdad!!! Good lord! He’s so cool about losing a finger, too! Brownie sounds like a monster!!!

    I recently had a conversation with a Lyft driver, and about how she did the calculations and realized she was making more as a Lyft driver and dog walker (wag? I think that’s what the app is called) than working a 9-5 office job. She said she’s somewhat ashamed that she’s not putting her graduate degree to work, yet at the same time she’s happy she can support her life while working on her start-up design business on the side. Made me think… about walking dogs, haha.

    Best of luck to you, girl. Moving back is super hard, but I know you’ll make it with flying colors.

    Liked by 1 person

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