Salutations. I apologize for my prolonged hiaitus, but will try to amend this error with a series of posts to catch you all up!

I'm constantly reminded that any and every tremendously difficult hurdle that you strive to overcome only amounts to another rung on an endless ladder.  You build toward some lofty goal that resides off somewhere in the unknowable future, only to arrive at its conclusion suddenly, almost without warning.  And just as soon as it arrives, you are on the other side of it.  The all-consuming goal slowly begins to fade into memory, and a new one looms ahead of you in the distance.  Graduate school occupied so much of my time and energy for so long, and now, just like that, it's over and done.   It's strange to think of that huge, stressful, life-changing two years as "in the past"...but now it is, and the time span from then to now just keeps getting bigger each day.

And now I'm here, on the other side of ANOTHER hurdle.

Over the summer I was offered, and accepted, a job as an anaplastologist in Belgium.  This opportunity was an absolute dream come true - a serious career path in an exciting field, straight out of grad school... and relevant to my degree!.  The whole thing came out of nowhere and left me in a fair amount of shock.  I couldn't believe it was an actual reality, and to this day I still catch myself staring into space, wondering if it's all real.

The last 6 months have been a fever dream.  in 2013, I moved out of my hometown to much bigger city for graduate school, and THAT was difficult.  Packing everything I owned into a moving truck and driving across the country to start a new life, leaving friends and family and a steady job behind to become a student again - that was a very difficult situation. Very exciting and full of opportunity, but very difficult.  However, I could never have anticipated how difficult it would be to move overseas.

When you only have a couple of suitcases, your priorities shift dramatically.  Did you keep it on a shelf in your last house?  Probably not coming with you.  As a typical American Hoarder, one acquires lots and lots of things over the course of a lifetime.  You buy miscellaneous crap because you need it one time, for one project, and then you stash it away, knowing that if you ever need it again, it'll be there.  This is NOT conducive to a life that requires you to travel great distances.  Action figures, muffin pans, welding equipment, amusing wall-hangings - these are not things that make the final cut, no matter how much garage sale rummaging or haggling you might have done all those years ago just to get that rug that "really tied the room together". No, you abandon the rug.  You don't need the rug because you have no floor, no furniture to tie together.  You will need to find a NEW rug in a new house in a quaint little European town, filled with IKEA furniture (cuz damn, is it cheap!).  Outfitting a new house from scratch is a huge hassle.

But the purge is quite liberating.  The moment in Fight Club where the camera pans through the Narrator's house to see all the catalog-bought items he acquired to make his hollow life more perfect... In the end, you just throw it all out.  It just doesn't make the cut.  Leaving Chicago for Albuquerque (for a long visit with friends and family before the big move), I found myself leaving boxes of appliances out in the alley of my apartment for the neighborhood to pick through.  That rug? 5 bux to a haggling mother. Easel, bass guitar, big screen TV?  All irrelevant when you are packing your original moving truck sized load into a slightly-more-managable pick-up truck, half of which will be taken up by 2 dogs.  Yes, the cross-country journey home to my parent's garage only allowed the most essential items to be hauled back for storage, much to my mother's dismay (sorry mom).

But the downsizing of personal belongings was only one step in a gruesome, time-sensitive process.  Leaving the comfort of your home for parts unknown requires lots of loose ends to be tied up.  Ending a lease, selling your crap, closing accounts, quitting jobs, not to mention all of the paperwork necessary to move overseas.  The minutiae...God, the minutiae!  It's enough to bring a man to the very edge, to dangle his feet over the precipice of what he is willing and capable of doing, before ultimately deciding whether or not the plunge into the abyss may be a better use of his time.

In the end, I'm happy to say that I did not plunge into that abyss, but rather packed up my remaining doodads, hit the road, and headed home for a long overdue visit the people who mean the most to me.  And, of course, to gorge myself on as much delicious New Mexican food as possible.  Withdrawals are a helluvah thing.

To Be Continued.