Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dear Readers,

carrotspeak has always felt like a safe haven to me.  Writing here was akin to curling up with a mug of coffee and chatting with an old friend.  But there has been an major upheaval in my world, and that comfort is lost.  Typing here, I can feel a tug from the life I'm leaving behind.  But that chapter in my story has closed.  I am packing it delicately into a box and stowing it away.

Essentially, my slate is scrubbed clean.  I've begun a new, anonymous blog to reflect that.  So, I hereby extend my hand:  If you would like to join me in discovering what adventure lies ahead, email me at for a link to my new blog home.  I would be honored to have you along for the journey.

I hope you know that each kind word or inspiring message you left me is written on my heart.  Those sentiments give me courage and strength, and I am filled with overwhelming gratitude.  To those of you who choose to let my story end here, thank you for an incredible four years.  I hope with all my heart that life treats you kindly.  And to those who will follow me... I'll see you on the other side.

Love, always,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Think I Must be Dreaming

I don't know how to say what I've come here to tell you. 

I don't know how to hold the thought in my head without falling to pieces.

Two weeks ago, Kyle, the incredible, sweet boy I fell in love with four years ago, told me he doesn't want to be my husband anymore.  There was no affair, and no abuse in our relationship.  There weren't any of the typical "big problems" that usually lead to divorce.  In fact, he can't offer me much of an explanation at all.  The most clear reason he gave was, "I just need to be alone."

Germany was hard on us, I admit.  But I kept faith throughout the two years we spent there.  I did everything I could to make living in a foreign place less of a burden.  And yet, three days after we arrived in Kentucky, when I thought to myself, "Finally.  Finally, we're together at home.  Finally, things will get easier," he decided to give up. 

Since he told me he wants out, he's cut off all contact with me that doesn't partain to an expedient divorce.  He leaves for New York this weekend, and won't even see me to say goodbye.

How?  And why?  And isn't there anything I can do?  I can't eat.  I can't sleep.  I can't think about anything but how horribly wrong this is.  I play every moment of our relationship over in my head to try and find one thing to change, one thing that would have led to a different outcome.  But I honestly can't see anything I've done wrong. 

I gave everything.  Sacrificed everything.  Gladly.  I felt lucky to have a love worth so much struggle.

And now he says it's over.  That I was a mistake.  That we were young.  And so many other cruel things that I can't bear to repeat.

The worst part is...  Despite everything - regardless of all I've lost, of all he's said over the past two weeks, and of how much I've been hurt - I love him with all my heart.  I entered into my marriage the way a wife should.  I expected it to last forever, and I was willing to do anything and everything to keep our love alive.  But somehow my husband, my caring, patient husband, lost faith in us.  And there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to help him find it again.

My heart aches.  Every last piece of me is screaming, "Don't go!"  What we have, or had, or I still have...  It was special, and fragile, and precious.  It deserves so much more respect than this.  It deserves more than a rushed divorce, and more than the pitiful excuses.  It deserves...I deserve...a fair shot at making things work.

How did this happen?  How did we get here?  How is it that our last embrace, last kiss, and last shared laughter has come and gone?  How is it that I'll never smooth our children's hair before bed, or throw the wedding we missed out on?  How is it that after fighting so hard to keep us together through unimaginable hardships, Kyle can give up when things could finally have been easy?  Someone please explain these things to me, because nothing in my shattered world is making any sense right now.

Someone, please, please, please tell me this isn't happening.  Please tell me I'm not the fool I feel like.  Tell me he'll change his mind.  Tell me I'll never have to say goodbye again.  Tell me that the wonderful man I married, the one who calls me "Queen" and thinks my faults are adorable, either has an honorable reason for this, or has temporarily lost his mind.

Make it go away.  Make it better.  Make it stop.

I could be so strong, for us.  I was so strong when there was a future to look forward to.  But I don't know how to do this.  I'm not sure I can do this.  It feels like dying.  It really, truly does.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Castle Frankenstein

Yes, I mean that Frankenstein.

Castle Frankenstein crowns a mountain a few miles south of Darmstadt, Germany.  As legend has it, Mary Shelley spent some time nearby, and was inspired by these eerie castle ruins (and their creepy inhabitants) to write her famous novel, Frankenstein.  Lots of speculative folk seem determined to debunk this theory, but the castle is fun to visit even outside a literary context.  I tagged along with some friends who were going to explore the ruins last month, and was not a bit disappointed at the lack of undead monsters (or mad scientists).

Countless, varying rumors say a much older castle once adorned this hill, but everyone agrees that the current Castle Frankenstein was built in the 13th century.  (That seems plenty old, to me.)  The castle was abandoned as a residence in the 1600s, and then served as a prison temporarily.  It stands today as a ruin, a free attraction for tourists on a tight budget, and a popular destination on Halloween, when the townspeople bring out some elaborate, spooky decorations and throw a massive party.  Or so I've heard.

View from the castle tower.

View of the guard tower from the castle tower.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mondays with Brinks

Brinks moping around our temp. housing.  I think maybe he misses all of "his" stuff.
Happy Monday!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fill in the Blanks Friday

1.  Right now the weather where I live is   amazing.  The sun is shining, the breeze is perfect, and there are puffy white clouds floating across the sky.

2.  The best piece of advice I've been given is:  "You'll always regret the things you don't do the most, even if you fail miserably at everything you try."

3.  My most favorite person in all the world is  my husband.  He's pretty awesome, and our love has always, and will always, come first.

4. If I were to have a "mission statement" for my life, it would be    "Make every day beautiful."

5. My most favorite item in my closet is ...  My closet is empty at the moment.  Everything I own is either in transit to the states, or in a suitcase.

6. The best cure for a bad day is  a blanket, a mug of hot chocolate, and a book.

7.  Today is  my last day as a twenty-one year old.  Which feels strange.  But also exciting.

Happy Friday!
More participants on Lauren's blog.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Burg Rheinfels

On Tuesday, Kyle and I had our first adventure post move-to-Heidelberg.  (Two weeks left in Germany, and counting!)  With a friend in tow, we drove just over an hour to St. Goar, Germany, a little touristy town on the west bank of the Rhine River, to visit its massive set of castle ruins: Burg Rheinfels.  Rheinfels absolutely dominates the mountaintop behind St. Goar.  In its heyday it was the largest castle on the Rhine, and though its mostly rubble today, it's still impressive.  There are countless nooks and crannies for an avid castle-goer to explore, granted you bring a flashlight (or two).

Side view of Burg Rheinfels, from St. Goar below.
Sketch of what Burg Rheinfels looked like before it was destroyed.
My Rick Steves' guidebook offers a brief history of Rheinfels:  The castle was built in 1245, and proved its might in 1692 when it withstood a siege of 28,000 French troops.  But just over a century later, in 1797, the French Revolutionary Army destroyed it.  What was left was used as a quarry until someone decided it would make a fabulous tourist attraction, and today parts of the castle have been turned into a hotel, restaurant, and museum.  Visitors can roam the ruins freely after paying a small (4 euro) entrance fee.

What really sets Burg Rheinfels apart from other ruins (besides its size) is the complex system of tunnels that branch out beneath the grounds.  This underground maze was built in the 1600s as a defense against would-be invaders.  When attacked, the castle's inhabitants would detonate mines in the tunnels underneath the enemy, brutally kicking unsuspecting troops off the castle lawn.  We intended to explore some of the smaller tunnels (some of them literally have to be crawled through), but a few unexpected residents made us change our minds...

The walls to the small tunnels were covered with these not-so-little guys.  
We did not "follow the spiders."  Sorry, Hagrid.
From the walls of Burg Rheinfels, you can see two other popular Rhein River castles.  Burg Katz and Burg Maus adorn hills on the east bank, looking minuscule in comparison to Rheinfels' shell (though they are much more intact).

Burg Maus, as viewed from Rheinfels.
Burg Katz, as viewed from Rheinfels.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

One Last Night in Mannheim

Sunday Kyle and I picked up a couple friends and headed to downtown Mannheim for one last night in our old hometown.  We started the evening with a delectable dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, then strolled down to my favorite gelato shop for dessert (a blend of strawberry, raspberry, and apricot for me this time), and finished out the night watching the beautiful lights show at the Mannheim Wasserturm fountains.

For an hour or so on warm summer nights, the Wasserturm fountains are illuminated in vibrant colors.  It looks a little bit like a never-ending firework (without the hassle of all that noise), and it never fails to feel magical.  It was a fitting end to an incredible two years in this city.

Auf Wiedersehen, Mannheim.  I hope we meet again someday.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mondays with Brinks

Brinks meets some new friends:  Leia, a tiny baby lab, and Tazz, a not-so-tiny boxer puppy.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Things I'll Miss About Germany: Luisenpark Schmetterlingshaus

Kyle and I made another trip to Luisenpark this week, and my favorite part, as usual, was the Schmetterlingshaus (Butterfly Sanctuary).  I am always fascinated by this exhibit.  It's a makeshift rain forest inside a mid-size greenhouse where hundreds of butterflies flutter around, occasionally landing on a child's outstretched hand (but more often rushing from one tray of sliced oranges to the next).

This setting is a photographer's dream world.  I never spend less than a half hour here, patiently stalking these beautiful butterflies around their home, waiting for the perfect photo opportunity.  I was really pleased with this trip's results.  Maybe I was just lucky, but it seemed like the butterflies were a little lazy, resting longer than usual on the gorgeous greenery.

This will certainly be one of the many things I'll miss about Germany.  I hope I can find another butterfly sanctuary near our next home.  Visiting this one never fails to feel magical.

Other things I'll miss about Germany:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Moving Day

Today all our household goods were loaded into boxes and crates to be shipped across the Atlantic.  We're leaving in a few hours to move into our temporary, furnished housing in Heidelberg.  Internet is not included, so posting will be sporadic for the next few weeks.

We'll see you on the other side!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mondays with Brinks

Nap time with Dad.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Things I'll Miss About Germany: My Barnabunny

Today is a hard day.

Today a very nice family came to adopt Barnaby.

Kyle and I adopted Barnaby Bunny (a.k.a. Barnabunny) last October, almost exactly a year ago, after his original family unceremoniously dropped him off at my good friend's house with no notice whatsoever.  My friend was already housing a small zoo, and couldn't keep him, so Kyle and I brought him home that night.  Us taking Barnaby in was meant to be a temporary arrangement until we could find him a "forever home."

Then I got to know my Barnabunny.

He's just so dang cute.  I couldn't give him up.  So Barnaby lived in our library for eleven happy months.

Barnaby is a very shy bunny, but he and I had a certain understanding.  I would sit in the floor to read, and he would hop around the room freely, occasionally deigning to fall asleep in or around my lap.  I could pet the space between his ears, but never his back.  In exchange for sliced apples and carrots, he agreed never to munch on my books.  And wonder of all wonders, he was litter trained.

We were perfectly content.  We thought we would be Barnaby's forever home, and had every intention of taking the best care of him for years to come.  But then Kyle and I found out we're moving to New York at the end of the month, and our next post absolutely will not allow rabbits in the apartments.  We considered living off base for a long time, but after doing some research we realized that it's just not a financial possibility.  Expensive apartments in New York just won't fit in our budget.

So a tough decision had to be made:  What to do about Barnabunny?

I knew taking him to a shelter was out of the question.  Full grown bunnies aren't as adopted as quickly as tiny kittens and puppies.  (Though I'm not sure why, as bunnies are every bit as adorable.)  So, I posted ads online and began interviewing potential new families.  I was determined to find a happy, loving home that was deserving of such a wonderful pet.

And I did.  Barnaby's new family is great.  He's now their one and only pet, so he'll have lots of love and attention.  But that doesn't mean I'm happy to see him go.

Barnaby has been gone a total of two hours, and I already miss him.  I can't believe I actually let him go.  And yet, I know it was probably the best decision for him as well as us.  An eight hour flight and two day-long road trips would have been hard on the little guy, and it wouldn't even have been our last big move.  Plus, Barnaby and Brinks haven't been getting along well for a while now.  The two had to be separated at all times, and I know a barking dog couldn't have been good for Barnaby's poor nerves.

Still.  I miss my Barnabunny.  And I don't think I'll ever quite forgive the housing department at our next post for being the reason I had to give him up.

Other things I'll miss about Germany:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Things I'll Miss About Germany: Gelato

My favorite gelato shop in Mannheim, Vittoria Gelateria.
I remember my first scoop of gelato distinctly.  I purchased it during my first four months in Germany, during the summer of 2010, while Kyle and I were busy hurdling unfamiliar German customs (and a language barrier) so that we could be married.  

One day while Kyle was working a painfully long shift, a friend invited me to explore the local mall.  I agreed immediately.  I was dying to get out of the tiny room I'd been inhabiting for weeks.  The two of us, with her two tiny sons in tow, hopped on the tram for a single stop, then plunged into an impromptu shopping marathon.  We browsed every shop in the building without pause.  By the time we reached the end, everyone was exhausted.  So when the older of my friend's boys said, "Mommy, I want ice cream," with wide eyes, droopy limbs, and lower lip slightly protruding, we were quick to oblige.

We marched up to a counter filled with the most unusual "ice cream" I'd ever seen.  It looked like American-style soft serve poured into large metal tubs.  Some were garnished with an array of colorful toppings, others left plain.  Each tub bore a label emblazoned with the flavor and illustrations for clarity.  There was bright strawberry, speckled with the fruit's seeds, dark, rich chocolate, and creamy mocha, dusted with coffee powder and chocolate curls.  My eyes caught on a tub of cream only slightly tinged yellow.  The protruding label read "Zitrone," and showed a little pile of lemons.

Lemon ice cream?

Curious, I shuffled forward on my turn and ordered a single scoop of the unfamiliar flavor.  "One of the...lemon?...please," I gestured toward the pale yellow ice cream.

The lady behind the counter smiled and said, "Ah, Zitrone."  Her accent made the word sound beautiful.  Later that night I'd practice repeating it: "Tseet-ROH-neh."  She rolled a scoop into a large ball, plopped it into a paper cup, and we made our exchange:  the ice cream for a single euro coin.

My eyes widened on the first taste, and I thought, "This is not ice cream!"  It was better.  I had another spoonful.  The consistency was nothing like I expected, and the taste was incredible.  Gelato is smoother and more dense than fluffy, American ice cream, and the flavor is much more concentrated.  This lemon tasted exactly like my favorite lemonade from the states:  a perfect balance of tart citrus and simple, sweet sugar.  I ate every last bite, and then unabashedly licked the cup clean.

Eiscafe Italia in Bacharach:  home to the best lemon gelato I've sampled.
The next few times I ordered gelato, I requested the same, wonderful Zitrone.  I was happy to try out the pronunciation, and happier to indulge in my new favorite treat.  But soon I wanted to sample everything.  In the two years I've spent here, I have tasted almost every flavor available.  I adore the rich berry flavors and the almost bittersweet chocolates.  The caramel and mocha are creamier than you can imagine.  Grapefruit is true to flavor -- sweet at first, with a bitter aftertaste.  Two of the most unusual flavors, "Schwarzwaldkirshe," (black forest cherry:  a dark chocolate base drenched with tart cherry sauce, speckled with whole cherries) and "Muffin," were fantastic.

My favorite flavor is still the tart, sugary lemon.  Kyle, on the other hand, loves Stracciatella, a creamy vanilla swirled with bits of chocolate.  But then he has never tried any other flavor.  He isn't exactly adventurous where food is involved.

Oh, gelato.  I will never forget you.  (Or what you did to my waistline.)