Stuff I’m Really Kind of Grateful For

November 24, 2012

Happy belated Thanksgiving, you guys.

That goes for all of you — even those of you who don’t live in countries that celebrate Thanksgiving.

Because, hey, I think we can all agree that there aren’t enough days in the year dedicated to the eating of pie. So if you didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving this year you have my permission to go eat some pie already. Not that you should ever need my permission for pie. But still.

This was my first year to be back in the States celebrating Thanksgiving with my family in five years. Or has it been six years? I can’t really keep track of these things. Which is weird because I usually remember stuff that has to do with pie.

And while I’ve had some truly wonderful Thanksgivings overseas, it was good to be home celebrating Thanksgiving with my family.

Even if we celebrated it all wrong.

Like, we didn’t do turkey and all the fixings until Friday. On Thursday, we ate Stromboli. Not because we’re Italian or anything. Just because we’re weird.

Thanksgiving Day Stromboli & coleslaw. Just like the Pilgrims did.

And then for our actual Thanksgiving dinner, my family put me in charge of making the crescent rolls. Which, judging from the very uncrescenty shape of the rolls, is all kinds of wrong.

Errm, yeah, 3 years without an oven hasn’t exactly improved my baking skills.

Plus, we didn’t do that thing where you go around the table and say what you’re thankful for. My family’s not really the touchie-feelie type. Plus, that would have meant we had to wait to eat. And my family’s not really the waiting-to-eat type, either.

What? You want me talk about my feelings? BUT FOOD!

At least, I’m pretty sure we got the pie right.

Mmm…. pie.

Even though we didn’t talk about what we’re grateful for, I do have a lot of things to be grateful for this year.

And I’m not just talking about cheese. Not that I’m not talking about cheese. I mean, I’m always talking about cheese. But I have other things to be grateful for that have absolutely nothing to do with dairy products. I swear.

Okay, so maybe I am super grateful for this

I’m grateful for a year of some amazing travely experiences.

Like being able to return to Japan and attend my friend’s wedding in Tokyo. And going to the Harbin Ice Festival even if it meant I couldn’t feel my toes for four days. And running a 10K on top of the Great Wall of China. Which I’m seriously having trouble believing I even did because these days I can barely walk up two flights of stairs without wanting to die.

Holy crap, you guys. I DID THIS.

I’m grateful that I got to spend my last month in Asia exactly the same way I spent the last five and a half years there – namely, eating.

Just another day in Asia…

I’m grateful that I can finally buy pants again. Because I really kind of needed them.

I’m grateful that I can also finally buy peppermint mochas again. You see, most countries in Asia don’t understand the wonders of chocolate and mint together. Probably because most countries in Asia are CRAZY.

Hello, there, lover.

I’m grateful for my local public library. Every time I walk in there I get so excited by the fact that I can check out any book I want for free, that I just want to run around screaming at all the other library patrons, “Free books, you guys! FREEEEE BOOOOOKS!”



Seriously, who wouldn’t be grateful for all this cute?

Granted she has yet to catch the mouse that was terrorizing my apartment. And, because she was raised in a barn (literally), she’s kind of socially awkward when it comes to stuff like petting. Which means when she wants me to pet her, she just lies on top of my hand in the hopes that I’ll get the hint and stop doing whatever it was I was doing and just start petting her already.


I’m grateful for this here blog. And all you lovely blog reader people who make me smile so much with your nice comments and encouraging emails and requests to see more pictures of me in the pink pleather cop uniform.

You did request this, right?


I’m grateful for crunchy leaves and blue skies.

I’m grateful for my health. Although I’m still pretty sure my lungs have not yet forgiven me for China.

But mostly I’m grateful to be home this year.

Even though, to be perfectly honest, being home hasn’t been all that easy for me.

In fact, these past few months have been really hard.

Like super-duper-crazy-hard.

Like much-harder-than-I’ve-talked-about-on-this-here-blog-hard.

Because, honestly, it hasn’t all been cheese and super-sized margaritas and lady boots since my return to the States this summer.

In fact, I haven’t had a super-sized margarita since August if that gives you any indication as to what life has been like. AUGUST, YOU GUYS. That’s like a lot of months ago.

Oh, jumbo margarita. How I miss thee.

First of all, there’s the whole new job thing. Adjusting to any new job can be overwhelming, of course, but teaching is like its own special brand of overwhelming.

Don’t get me wrong.

I like my job.

I work with an awesome bunch of colleagues that I respect and some super supportive supervisors. My students, for the most part, are active and eager and engaged. And, hey, I’m a big fan of paychecks and health insurance and all that other fun stuff that comes with being gainfully employed.

But, since I’m teaching all writing classes, I spend pretty much all my free time grading papers or thinking about how I really should be grading papers or trying to figure out how I can bribe someone else into grading all my papers. (Ha, ha, just kidding. I wouldn’t do that. Unless you would like to grade my papers. I’m sure you’d be really awesome at it. THINK ABOUT IT. I could give you pie.)

All of this could be yours. AND PIE.

And, well, returning home to live with my family has meant I’ve actually had to, you know, deal with my family.

Not that I don’t love my family.

See? I’m full of family love. (I’m the miserable one in the plaid skirt.)

But my family, like all families, is not without their own dramas.

They are also not without their own birthdays.

And, well, living overseas made it kind of easy for me to ignore difficult stuff like dramas. And gave me a handy excuse for never remembering anyone’s birthday.

I know. I know. All of this makes me sound like a horrible, selfish jerk. But the truth is I am a horrible, selfish jerk. This little fact was another thing I could handily ignore living overseas. That is until someone tried to share my dessert with me.

Get yer own creampuffs.

And, well, I have yet to get myself a social life.

Which, admittedly, is totally my fault because I’ve been a total hermit.

Meanwhile, my friends have been awesome about reaching out to me and inviting me to stuff like their weddings and bachelorette parties. And not the creepy kind of bachelorette parties that involve strippers, but the classy kind that involve cheese trays.

Just your typical bachelorette party cheese tray

And, of course, there’s been the whole adjusting to life back in the States thing.

Which, honestly, hasn’t been that hard BECAUSE CHEESE, YOU GUYS.

But, at times, I do feel awkward and weird and out of place and like I’m doing stuff all wrong.

Like, I’ve noticed I’m really bad at making eye contact with people now. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that I spent my entire time in China staring at my feet so I could avoid the fact that everyone was staring at me.

Whaddaya looking at?

And I always forget that we hold the door open for other people here.

So I pretty much spend my days being all shifty-eyed and slamming doors in people’s faces. Which, come to think of it, probably hasn’t been helping my social life much.

So, yeah, moving home has been hard.

And, honestly, I’ve sucked at it. Which has kind of surprised me. I thought it would be a lot easier for me. I mean, I’ve done some hard stuff. I waded through rice paddies for two months. I’ve battled spiders the size of hamsters. I ran a 10K on top of the Great Wall of China. (Yes, I’m bringing that up again. Because, seriously, you guys, I DID THAT.)

Shouldn’t moving home be easy?

I mean, there’s CHEESE.

I’ve spent a lot of time doubting myself. Which is not really anything new for me. Doubting myself is something of a favorite pastime of mine. But still.

I’ve flirted with the idea of running away from home again. And I can’t say that I won’t run away from home again. Because running away from home is also, like, the best pastime ever.

But, for now, I’m grateful to be home with my family. Even if it hasn’t been that easy.

Because, hey, I may be horrible and selfish and shifty-eyed. But my family still loves me. Or at least they do a pretty good job of pretending.

I’m the shifty-eyed one in the plaid skirt. Because, apparently, my childhood was all about looking miserable & wearing plaid skirts.

What are you grateful for this year?

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On November 25, 2012 at 12:23 am Priya said:

    Mmmm peppermint mocha! I’m trying to stay away from such things. I’ve somehow become somewhat of a black coffee drinker. And a tea drinker ( without adding anything). However, I still remain a Kit Kat eater. Because some things will never change.
    Priya recently posted..I’m Cheating On My Gym With Hot Yoga Classes

    • On November 25, 2012 at 10:24 am Sally said:

      Well, I usually try to go for the nonfat milk & less pumps of syrup (plus I often opt out of whipped cream except for those days when it’s totally essential). So it’s practically like a diet drink. Or something.

  2. On November 25, 2012 at 1:32 am Charlie said:

    I agree. Home is the hard place to be. Maybe it is because at home there is a pressure to be the person people you know expect you to be (even if you don’t succumb to that pressure), whereas when you get to run away then the only expectations are your own. And I am all for lowering my own expectations of myself when my achievements don’t meet them. I’m flexible like that. But home does definitely have upsides to be grateful for – my bed and bedding, my socially awkward pet, my favourite haunts, our unpredictable weather, the best coffee standards in the universe, the mad and unusual people I know and love … Etc etc. Happy Thanksgiving xxx
    Charlie recently posted..Staghorn Cable Wrist Warmers: March 7th to 8th.

    • On November 25, 2012 at 10:23 am Sally said:

      Yeah, there’s definitely a lot more pressure to be a better person here. Even though I can’t say I’ve become a better person. But I’m trying! Kind of. (I’m still not so keen on sharing dessert though.)

  3. On November 25, 2012 at 3:38 am MaryAnne said:

    Home… yeah. I know. Not that I’ve moved back there in ages. Last time was, um, 2000? That was for 2 years and I spent half of it finishing my BA and the other half plotting my escape. I like not having to think about birthdays. Or others. Or at least not having to think about them all the time.

    I appreciate the coziness of middle class grown-up housing (as opposed to, well, where I live in China) and the access to all sorts of recognizable and delicious foods, but I also love being a few hundred thousand steps removed, as needed.

    We’re currently in a weird limbo state where we aren’t sure how much longer we can stand living in Shanghai (good jobs, bad air), but aren’t ready yet to move back to a western, English speaking country to do proper grown up stuff (cheese and clean air but limited job options and, um, kind of too familiar). I am grateful to have these choices though. Totally spoiled rotten, really.

    I wish we had peppermint mochas here. I’m sure they’re brought out their seasonal shrimp fluff macchiato with jelly cubes…
    MaryAnne recently posted..You look very terrible, Miss Mary: Unsolicited Advice for the Laowai

    • On November 25, 2012 at 10:20 am Sally said:

      I think even though it has been hard, moving home has been exactly the right decision for me. It has made me doubt myself tons… but kind of in a good way. If that makes any sense…
      But, yeah, I know I’m totally spoiled to have the option to move home. And to be able to get a job first thing after moving home. So I should probably just shut my trap and stop complaining… but then what would I do with all my non-existent free time?

  4. On November 25, 2012 at 6:35 am Ashley of Ashley Abroad said:

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re having trouble adjusting! Whenever I get home from a long trip (which granted, are never as long as yours) I am basically a fire-breathing dragon for at least three days. And then after that I feel kind of out of place for a while. I think when you’ve lived in other places it’s hard to be home in a lot of ways. But look on the bright side… there’s cheese and Thanksgiving when you’re stateside!
    Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..Saturday Snapshot 8

    • On November 25, 2012 at 10:15 am Sally said:

      I think the difficulty with adjusting is to be expected with any move home especially if you’ve been gone long… except I didn’t really expect it to happen to me for some reason. I kept on reading all these blog posts by other people who had moved home & had had similar problems… and I kept on thinking, “Oh, that sounds hard.” But I didn’t really think about how I would have the same problems. I guess I just thought the cheese would save me…

  5. On November 25, 2012 at 9:57 am Stephanie - The Travel Chica said:

    I can relate to your feelings about being home. It has not been easy… well, it was for a few months and then I started working and had a few other harsh realizations.

    But I am thankful I do not have to live with my family 🙂 And I am thankful for how much opportunity I have. And I am thankful a few people still read my blog even though I’m no longer gallivanting around South America.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..20 months, 1000s of photos… Help pick my prints!

    • On November 25, 2012 at 10:12 am Sally said:

      Yeah, I had a month off before I started working and it was total bliss — jumbo margaritas, movie matinees, long bike rides, BLISS! Luckily, I get about a month off for winter break, so I’m looking forward to one more month of bliss — without the bike rides, that is as I don’t think my bike will be making it through all the snow.

  6. On November 25, 2012 at 10:36 am DebbZie said:

    Hey, that’s a really nice post. Grateful for even small things in life. As for me I’m grateful for having wonderful family. I’m grateful I’ve finally visited Vatican and Alaska, places that have been on top of my bucket list for so long. Happy Thanksgiving, Sally 🙂
    DebbZie recently posted..The Day I Was (Finally) Born

    • On November 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm Sally said:

      Ooo, Vatican and Alaska sound awesome. I’m really hoping to hit Alaska soon. One of my goals for coming back to the States is to actually see more of the States and I’ve been wanting to see Alaska for forevers.

  7. On November 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    I can only imagine how difficult it would be to readjust! But at least you’re surrounded by family to help you, right? Happy Thanksgiving and I love that despite going through some difficult moments, you’re still really appreciative of the blessings in your life! 🙂
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Southern California Coast: Day 2 (Part 1)

    • On November 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm Sally said:

      Yes, I definitely have been blessed. And if readjusting to life at home is the hardest thing that happens to me this year, then I really can’t complain.

  8. On November 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    Ahh, Thanksgiving. I’m still not entirely sure what it is. A day of worshipping turkeys and praying to the gods of Black Friday? It puzzles my English mind.

    I had to buy Christmas presents for the first time in two years last year. I didn’t like it. The previous two Christmases had been my parents putting money in my bank account and me getting drunk in Korea. Although the Christmas decorations more than made up for it – AND my family took them down in January, not June…looking at you, EVERYWHERE IN KOREA.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Six Quirky Korean Habits

    • On November 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm Sally said:

      I don’t see what’s so hard to understand about Thanksgiving. There’s turkey. And pie. And more pie. See? Easy?
      But, yeah, I totally don’t understand Black Friday AT ALL. Probably because I’m not really into buying people presents… except for presents for myself. Luckily I accept presents year round.

  9. On November 26, 2012 at 8:09 am The Guy said:

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    I’m not American and I think I’ve only ever celebrated Thanksgiving twice, not quite our thing here in the UK.

    I do like pie though (all sorts of it) and will give thanks for that.

    By the way, well done on the Great Wall of China, 10k really?
    The Guy recently posted..A Photographic Tour Of Schipol Airport Amsterdam

    • On November 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm Sally said:

      Honestly, more countries need Thanksgiving. When else are you going to give thanks for pie?
      And, yes, 10K on the GREAT WALL. Seriously. How did I even do that?

  10. On November 26, 2012 at 11:14 am Carmel said:

    I’m grateful for my husband. He keeps me sane (usually)…and that’s saying a lot considering the year I’ve had.

    And pie. I make good pie.
    Carmel recently posted..Quinoa, black bean & sweet potato chili

  11. On November 27, 2012 at 3:30 am Torre – Fearful Adventurer said:

    I’m in Bangkok and all the malls are decorated with Christmas trees and snowmen. All I can think is: THANK GOD I’M HERE AND NOT AT HOME WHERE I’D HAVE TO BUY PRESENTS … even though I hate this f-ing city. Being in Bangkok is still better than having to give up being a horrible, selfish jerk.
    Torre – Fearful Adventurer recently posted..Too Long in Bangkok

    • On November 27, 2012 at 10:49 pm Sally said:

      That was one of my favorite parts about living in Japan — all the sparkly Christmas decorations without any of the pressure to actually, you know, buy any presents (well, besides the presents I bought for myself). It was the best!

  12. On November 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm Sine said:

    Slamming doors and shifty-eyed – what a great way to sum up repatriation woes!

    But my favorite part of this blog post was the thing about libraries and free books. As one who will soon repatriate to the US I am already salivating over all the free books. Even Kindle books. At the library. It seems incredible to me. I bet some Americans who always rail about big government might be surprised to find out that libraries are a result of that same government and that most of the world lives without libraries, big government or not.
    Sine recently posted..The Birds and the Bees and the Lions Too

    • On November 27, 2012 at 10:47 pm Sally said:

      Yes, aren’t libraries THE BEST? Every time I go in mine, I always wonder why everyone else doesn’t look nearly as excited as I do. I mean, come on, guys, FREEEE BOOOOKS!

  13. On November 28, 2012 at 7:17 am Wendy said:

    I’m an expat living in Zurich, Switzerland and I am insanely grateful for the oh-so-wonderful pastry here they call Berliner. It is the fluffiest, lightest sugary donught with jam or vanilla cream inside. It’s pretty much heaven on earth…and because I’m insanely pregnant right now, I don’t feel bad about eating them all the time! I’ve been here 4 months and haven’t learned very much German but I sure know how to order my Berliners.
    Wendy recently posted..Giving Birth Abroad – What Every American Should Know

  14. On November 28, 2012 at 10:04 pm Lillie - @WorldLillie said:

    I’m thankful you’re still writing up a storm! A storm ‘o funny! 🙂
    Lillie – @WorldLillie recently posted..Why Being a Teacher is the Best Job: The OTHER Reason

  15. On November 29, 2012 at 5:48 am Maroa said:

    I am grateful for the simple things that we sometimes take for granted; watching the sun rise, hearing the birds chirp, family ( despite all the drama)…
    Maroa recently posted..Six Random Things to Do While in Nairobi

  16. On November 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm Fiona said:

    Happy even-more-belated Thanksgiving! Now I have an internet connection again (oh China) I can catch up on your posts. I’m worried, quite frankly, about going home next month. NEXT MONTH! After three plus years in China!

    It doesn’t help that all my friends and family keep saying things like “Oh but Fiona – how WILL you cope back in Australia?” as though constant electricity supply, fast internet and endless coffee and wine will be tough on my psyche. Do they know something I don’t??
    Fiona recently posted..A Beginner’s Guide to Pu’er Tea

    • On December 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm Sally said:

      It is tough sometime… all this uncensored Internet and coffee. And NEXT MONTH. WOAH. I think the better question is: “What’s China going to do without YOU?”


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