I

I’m sitting in my mom’s living room and listening to a Christmas cd. The lights on the Christmas tree are blinking, and there’s a pile of wood on the porch waiting to be burned. My mom and I spent the night in a cabin at Mount Magazine on Sunday night, and, thanks to jetlag, I watched the sun rise over the Quachita Mountains. It’s been a lovely time home.

Little Spoon and her mom

II

I had a grand celebration before a left Berlin, too. Thanks to a bunch of friends, I celebrated my 36th year with much laughter and food. As is my tradition, I answered The Birthday Questions (invented by moi) and thought I’d include them here.

What was something I learned last year?
German! Haha, ok, I’m not fluent or anything, but I’m on track to not being an annoying expat who only speaks English.

What was a struggle from last year?
Berlin. I completely underestimated what it would be like to relocate to a country where English is not the first language. It’s really hard, and it adds a layer of stress to everyday interactions and responsibilities. I want to talk to everyone, and I can’t in Germany, and that makes me sad. I also am used to being self-sufficient, and I have to rely on people way more in Berlin than I’d like to. So, last year was about confrontation. I was confronted by being an outsider, by Berlin cultural differences (like the necessity for cash and smoking in bars), by the apartment hunt, by how hard it was to find clients, and so much more!

What was a victory from last year?
I made it! And my business survived! And I got my first German client!! My friend Johanna and I started an event series for freelancers and solopreneurs called All Heart No Hype!

What is something I’m looking forward to this upcoming year?
Well, my mom and I are meeting in France in June. I’ll be going to visit my friend Helen in Morocco. I’ll be redesigning the DSW.org website!

What is a goal for this upcoming year?
I will grow my business.
I will complete level B in German classes. Once I complete level B, I won’t be fluent, but I’ll be stumblingly conversational.

III

My visa renewal appointment was November 29, and I was granted a three year extension! It’s amazing how much more settled that makes me feel. I’m taking things one year at a time, but it’s so nice to know I won’t be kicked out for three years, haha.

IV

Ukraine celebrates St. Nicholas Day tomorrow. Christmas is a week away. Kwanzaa starts the day after. Whether you observe one of these holidays or something else or nothing, I wish you and your loved ones happy holidays!

Sam's signature

PS I’m coming for Austin on December 27, and I’ll be there through January 11, so if you want to see me, get in touch!

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