Zigs and Zags: The Best and Worst of February

February is a sneaky beast. Every single year I try to figure out how so much can happen in 28 days.

One of the things we most love about Cory’s current school is the incredible amount of vacation time he gets. It also means we spring from trip to trip. Right on the heels of winter break, we headed out for our February holiday. I always find this to be a quick turnaround for travel, but Cory was extra busy this year. In fact, he hasn’t enjoyed a lazy weekend at home since early February. Instead, he’s jetted from San Francisco to Istanbul to Baku. Sometimes I find it hard to believe he’s the one who actually has a physical place of employment!

But Rudy and I hold down the fort. And, actually, I enjoy our long, leisurely days together.

Rising with the sun, I drink coffee while looking out the window at the (still bundled-up) people wandering around our apartment complex. I write a bit and read even more. I practice yoga at strange times of the day and stay up way too late at night.

The days pass, one morning and one night at a time.

And before too long, February has come and gone yet again.

blue mosque istanbulZigs

We found a good vet.

The struggle is real, as they say.

The longer we live in Kyiv, the more anxiety I have when it comes to dealing with personal care and everyday tasks. I thought this would get easier, but it hasn’t, and I wrote about it in detail in February.

What inspired that post, though, ended up being very good news indeed. And that’s the fact we found a great vet for Rudy.

After a handful of miserable appointments with another vet early in Rudy’s life, we’ve now found one who exudes professionalism in comparison. Definitely a win for all of us, especially the four-footed guy who stole our hearts.

istanbul selfieAnd I found a new hair stylist.

When it comes to hair, I’m pretty low-key. Cut it and let me go. I use no hair products, and I have no styling tools. (Yeah, I kind of suck when it comes to being a girly girl.)

But I’ve struggled to find a stylist I feel comfortable with here.

One was constantly distracted by her phone, so much so she actually messed up part of a highlighting job.

Another spent the better part of an appointment telling me cats and dogs shouldn’t be spayed and neutered because they lose their sex drive. Don’t even get me started on that.

So I’m on to hair stylist number three. My single appointment with her so far went well. She got down to business and didn’t bother to engage in small talk. Plus, the salon is just a few minutes’ walk from our home, so that’s a huge bonus.

We took a quick getaway to Istanbul.

Coming right off of a conference in San Francisco, Cory and I hopped a flight to Istanbul, Turkey.

Many of Cory’s colleagues have worked in Istanbul, and people seem to love the city. Three days isn’t much time to get to know a place, but it gave us a taste. A large, sprawling city, Istanbul sits terraced on seven steep hills, but it’s very walkable.

One of the highlights was sipping Turkish coffee on an enclosed rooftop terrace situated between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. Fog shrouded the city the whole time we were there, and everything appeared perched on the edge of the world. We wandered miles up and down the cobblestone streets, too narrow even for sidewalks. My eyes jumped from rainbow-colored light fixtures hanging in shop windows to heaped barrels of spices — similar to Morocco, actually.

We encountered more than 200 cats, many of whom were quite friendly. We rented an Airbnb with a terrace, and spent several hours sipping wine and kicking back with neighborhood cats lounging on the patio furniture.

And we found an amazing vegan sushi joint. Let me say that again: Vegan. Sushi. Joint. You can’t make up this kind of magic.

I’m not convinced we’re interested in moving to the city any time soon, but I look forward to taking a return trip.

A birthday dinner with friends.

Have I mentioned how much I love my 30s? Turns out I’m not the only one.

At a friend’s birthday dinner last week, we all agreed we loved this age. We’re young at heart, very physically and mentally capable … and now we have the financial means to enjoy all it has to offer.

I ended up not having a birthday party last month, though after this intimate, friendly, and delicious birthday dinner for a good friend in February, I wish I had. Life is too short not to celebrate being alive. Next year, I’m going to celebrate me. In the meantime, I’m thankful for quality time spent with friends while others celebrate their birthdays.

church cat


The hunt for cat grass.

I had a wicked ugly Saturday early in February. All I wanted was to find cat grass for Rudy. As far as we were aware, there’s one place in town to buy cat grass, which is at the end of a subway line followed by a 20-minute walk. The store is ridiculous — a mix of Home Depot and an over-sized Menards. We headed to the garden center only to discover they were out of cat grass.

This followed a week of miserable, foggy weather and feeling overworked. No cat grass was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I burst into tears and had a good ol’ meltdown right there in the middle of the garden center. I wasn’t ashamed, just a bit embarrassed. Sometimes you feel stressed and just need a healthy cry.

As an added zig, we ended up finding cat grass for sale at Rudy’s new vet a couple weeks later.

The never-ending freelance struggle (aka I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up).

You’d think by now I’d have it all figured out. Far from it.

Being a freelancer is tough, and it seems to get more frustrating every day. Rates continue to drop as people agree to work for nearly nothing. Add to this the fact that one of the platforms many of us work on recently started charging its writers to collect their payments. It’s ludicrous.

I constantly battle with trying to figure out where to place my efforts. What percentage of my work should be with any one single client? What is the best way to market my skills in an increasingly busy marketplace? How can I do this while spending as little time as possible on social media? And, at the end of the day, what do I really want to be when I grow up?

Perhaps the most important question of all: Does anyone ever figure out the answers to these questions?

Taxes. Enough said.

I hate the fact the United States has citizen-based taxation. I haven’t been to the country in over a year, and yet a healthy percentage of what I make goes straight to the U.S. government. It’s exceedingly frustrating.

Doing our taxes used to be an exercise in whiteout and tears. Paying an accountant to deal with the intricacies has been a good investment, but it still requires a few hours to pull all the information together and more than a few curse words in frustration. And it requires a glass of wine. Always wine.

reading street art

Everything In Between

On the hunt for the perfect home. Wait, what does that mean anyway?

Cory has officially signed on through spring 2021, so we’ll be in Kyiv for a couple more years. We are considering moving downtown this summer, however, so we remember to take full advantage of all this spectacular city has to offer while we live here. Hopefully we’ll get more information about possible opportunities to do so in March, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about what the perfect home means to me. Generally speaking, I think “home” is a construct that certainly includes Cory and Rudy. It also includes something resembling a friend group or community.

But wherever we move next, I want it to have large windowsills so Rudy can watch birds. I want a balcony or terrace. I want my plants to have ample sunlight.

Home is something I’ve been mulling over and hope to write more about soon, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. What does “home” mean to you?

February in written words.

Stepping away from the one-off pitching life inherent in freelance writing means my portfolio repertoire has narrowed significantly. This is one of the things I grapple with as I try to avoid the hustle while still maintaining a diverse client base. Regardless, my writing in February once again sat solidly in two places: AdventureTravelNews and here on Kaleidoscopic Wandering.

I appreciate that I’ve moved beyond top ten travel lists and continue to write about things that matter. And I’m happy to say that, in February, this meant highlighting good news in the world, namely the incredible the work of eco-friendly travel pioneer Nat Hab Adventuresnon-profit impact media agency SIMA Studios, and a rhino conservation organization in India. I also dug into the increasing trend of unexpected partnerships for ATN.

Have you been staying up-to-date in my world? Probably not, and that’s okay. But if you wanted to catch up, read all about it on Kaleidoscopic Wandering: Take a trip to check out Morocco’s beautiful doors, spend a relaxing day at Lake Bled, or be wowed by the art in Paris. Or, stay closer to home and learn about life as an expat (I mean, self advocate). And check out what I’ve been reading!

One Response to “Zigs and Zags: The Best and Worst of February”

  1. Jill

    Very few people, regardless of their “chosen field” work at one place, doing one job, for years at a time anymore. Sometimes you find a niche & run with it…and sometimes you jump from one “career” to another …. and sometimes you land in something and stay awhile. Everyone has their own way of getting through life. As long as you keep learning and find enjoyment in the moment, all is well. Your generation is lucky to have a larger world to explore…there’s no reason not to enjoy it while you can.


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