Tag Archives: Long Distance

Crochet afghan


Way back in September, not long before Shane and I began our LDR, I made a list of goals for the next 4.5 months.  One of those goals was to crochet my first afghan…and I actually did it!  I finished this blanket in December or January, but waited until he and I returned to Korea to do the last row.


The pattern that I used is here.  Obviously I improvised, and because of my improvisations, I ended up using quite a bit more yarn than I had expected to use.


The blanket is not perfect and it’s not thick, but it’s very soft and warm, and it reminds me a little bit of a falsa (a kind of Mexican blanket).

Have you ever crocheted or knitted a blanket?  Any suggestions for what I should make next?




Ireland day 1: Dublin

I’ll be honest and say that I was really heavy-hearted as I left America.  It sounds silly, but after a year apart from my family, I felt that I really knew how long a year could be.  I dreaded the 7th, even as I looked forward to it because of my reunion with Shane.  I was excited about our vacation, but Ireland has never held the charm for me that it has for many other Americans.  Certainly I appreciated pictures of the landscape and (in the right mood) the traditional music.  But in general, my mood was gloomy as I left America that day.

The flight from New York to Ireland was only about 5 hours, and I managed to sleep.  I landed in Dublin around 6am, but it was closer to 7:30 by the time I had made it through customs and immigration and finally, after almost 5 months, saw Shane face-to-face again.  How to describe it?  It was…different.  For one, his brother was there, and I was meeting him for the first time.  And secondly, we hadn’t even seen each other’s face in well over a month!  It was surreal.

Shane and I dropped our stuff at the hostel and quickly began walking to the first site on our itinerary: Áras an Uachtaráin, the house the president.  On the way, we stopped and he got me a breakfast roll, which is basically several kinds of pig meat: sausage, “pudding” (again, ground pork), “bacon” (ham), and I think hash browns.  It smelled good, but was actually almost tasteless.  This was to become a theme of the first few days of our trip: food that looked good or smelled good, but had almost no taste.  I quickly found that if I asked for very spicy food or food flavored with lemon that it helped tremendously.

On the way to the president’s house, we got a ride in a horse and carriage! But when we got there, the ticket office wasn’t set to open for several more hours.  So we simply snapped a picture and moved on.


Not pictured: the candy wrapper that accidentally flew out of my pocket. Shane: “You’ve just littered the white house!”

From there, we headed to Kilmainham Gaol, a historic jail.

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The Guinness Storehouse was next, and it was around this time that I realized just how walkable Dublin really was;  Shane had told me before that it wasn’t a metropolis, really (at least not in terms of size) but I think that I had been expecting it to be a lot more industrial and forbidding, and definitely larger, if only because it is such a hub.  But walking around it was really very manageable.  Soon we were at the Guinness Storehouse, where we both learned the pull the perfect pint.

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From there, we were off to Dublinia, which was a sort of museum experience focusing on viking and medieval Ireland.  It was actually pretty empty, which was fun because so many of the exhibits were hands on.


Our tour included a visit to Christ Church Cathedral and crypt, so we headed over there next.

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We did a bit of shopping and walked around Dublin after that, including taking in Trinity College and the book of Kells.  Unfortunately, no photos were allowed.

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That night Shane had booked us tickets to Dark Land, a short show at the Leprechaun Museum.  There were only two other people at the show, but that actually made it better.  It was an interactive play where the story was this: a man meddles in fairy business and it is more than he can handle.  I won’t spoil anything in case any readers want to see it.


Looking for clues.

The show was only about 45 minutes, and after that we walked around the Temple Bar area until we found a pub playing trad music, so I got seats and Shane got drinks and we settled in.  It was a great first day!

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Preparing your cat for a separation

Spending a long time away from our pets is never fun.  I know: I’ve been separated from my cat, Elise, for about 3 weeks now, with another 3 weeks to go.  Now that I have some distance from the immediate moment of dropping her off, I think it’s time to reflect and share.  Please remember that my techniques were tailored to me and Elise, and you will probably need to make adjustments if you are going to use this list to help you prepare to drop your cat off with a sitter or at boarding.  This list also assumes a long (2+ weeks) separation.


Elise and Oscar, in a picture sent this morning.

  1. Decide where your cat will stay and have a back up plan.  Boarding?  In your home, with someone dropping by?  At the home of a friend or family member?  Although it would have been ideal for my cat to stay in my apartment, I moved out the day that I left Korea.  I could have chosen to board her at the vet, but I was worried about her coming into contact with sick pets, and also, because she was adopted from a shelter, I didn’t want to trigger her anxiety.  I was very lucky to have close friends who offered to watch her with their cat, in their home.   However, I still had two backup plans, who, as luck (or unluck) would have it, I will probably have to use.
  2. Familiarize your cat to the people who will watch her,  and to her new environment and any other animals that will be in it.  My cat moved in with my friends on January 8th, but we started the familiarization process in September.  At least twice a month, she would go to their house or they would come to ours, bringing their cat.  Now, I want to take a moment to say that introducing two adult cats can be dangerous, and you should not just jump into it if you’re not experienced.   But it made a world of difference to know that my friends knew my cat and her routine, and she knew them.
  3. If your cat isn’t used to her carrier, get on that!  My cat loves her carrier; she sleeps in it almost every day.  It’s the same concept as crate training with a dog, and being comforted by the carrier helped to soothe my cat, both on the trip to our friends’ house, and once there.
  4. Send your cat with security blankets.  In this case, a security blanket is anything that smells like you.  For Elise, I slept in two different shirts, sealed them in ziplock bags, and sent them with her.  I asked my friends to take one out for her every couple weeks.  These “security blankets” are on top of her toys and other personal effects, as their purpose is for emotional support, not entertainment.
  5. Discuss emergency protocol.  This is the most important!  Don’t just leave money and your vet’s number.  Your sitter should have a firm idea of what should be done in case of an emergency, especially budget-wise, in case you cannot be contacted in time.  My friends know that absolutely no expense should be spared for my cat, and I left them over $1,000 in emergency money, plus a way to contact me, day or night, in the US.  The last thing you want is for your loved one to panic and make a choice that you never would have wanted for your pet.


    Elise and Oscar, playing together a week into her stay.

  6. And, finally: try not to cry when you saygoodbye to your pet.  I used to volunteer at a human society.  In my experience, the animals who got sobbing, tearful goodbyes began their stays scared, sad, and anxious.  Your pet is not going to be happy when they realize that you’re gone.  This is unavoidable.  But you must try to leave them in a positive mood, preferably distracted and playing.


I hope these tips can help you out.  It’s never easy to be separated from your pet, but having a solid plan can empower you and, in the long run, make for a safer experience for your pet.

All my hope: traveling notebook


Who doesn’t love getting mail?  This traveling notebook is a combination of two things that I love: getting mail and feeling connected with Shane.  Shane and I have totally different communication styles…I love to talk talk talk, and he loves to listen.  But the distance sometimes makes me feel like my needs for communication aren’t being met.  When he lived here, he could show me that he cared by  spending time with me or cooking for me, but now that we have an ocean between us and no internet access, we have to be creative.  Enter the traveling  notebook.

The idea behind the traveling notebook is simple: mail a notebook back and forth, and each party will write something in it (or draw), and then mail it back.  Before Shane left, I mentioned that I was going to practice my cursive (I know, I know) by writing out my favorite poems.  He said that I should send them to him.  My favorite poem is actually quite long, so I bought a nice notebook to write it in and then…eureka!

ImageToda mi esperanza: “all my hope.”



The poem itself was 3 pages!  That’s a lot of cursive, especially when you’re out of practice.

note05 note06The poem is Lenox Hill by Agha Shahid Ali.

My notebook is very simple, but I look forward to sharing it as it becomes more collaborative and interesting.  If you want to do something like this, you could use a simple, bound notebook, or a classic Moleskine, or something cute and funky from your location stationary shop.  (My notebook was 1500W from CNA.)  Use pens, markers, stickers, pencils, and cut outs from magazines to decorate it.  This is also a great project for friends or family members!

Some mood boards:

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Staying Normal in a Long Distance Relationship


My first letter to Shane.

One of the worst things about  being in a long distance relationship is losing your “normal.”  I’m the sentimental type, and I really treasure those everyday acts of love: when he’d put the kettle on for me and make my favorite tea, or feed my cat, or meeting him during my break at work, even just for 15 minutes to have a coffee and crack jokes.  I truly believe that what does a lot of couples in is when communication itself becomes an event.  The next thing you know, you’re not the same couple anymore.

This is actually my second LDR (and also the second to span time zones).  My old relationship didn’t work for many reasons, but distance really wasn’t one of them.  Here are some things that I do to keep things, well, uneventful:

  1. Set up your phone (or computer) for their area – news, weather, time zone. Image Here’s a little peak at my phone (why yes, I do get all my blogging done at night, and yes, I hate charging my phone).  Believe it or not, this is so simple, but it’s a really powerful visual that helps me to feel connected to Shane (in Limerick) and to my family (in Detroit).
  2. Greet in their time zone.  I love it when I call my mom after work (10pm my time, 9am her time) and she immediately says “Hey sweetie – how’s your night?”  It makes me feel like maybe she’s in the next city over and I could pop over to see her in the morning, instead of the helplessness that can sometimes come when I realize that even if I walked out the door right now and everything aligned perfectly, it would still be 20 hours and $1,000+ before I could see her.
  3. Skype for boring stuff.  No, really.  When we were in undergrad, my best friend and I would leave Skype on for hours.  We’d both be doing various things, and we’d sometimes laugh and share something or just sit in silence.  It keeps things casual.  I like to do this in LDRs, too, because it de-escalates the Skype time that you spend together and lets you make some Skype time just regular “us being us” time and select other days where you are having a special Skype date.  Again, the illusion of choice.
  4. Give them something to hold.  I’m a tactile person and a drama queen.  After a couple weeks of an LDR I start going on about “what if I forgot the way he smells?  What’s next, will I forget his voice?”  I know I won’t.  That’s silly.  But especially in the case of my relationship with Shane (where he does not have internet access and we have gone more than a week without being able to communicate at all except via letter) it really helps to having something in my hand: a letter in his handwriting, his hoodie, the chocolates that he bought for me the night before he left.
  5. Share your laughs.  A good friend of mine, Xenia, is an old hand at this LDR thing by now.  Her husband is in the US military and he’s been deployed many times during the course of their relationship – at the longest, for 14 months.  And she had the genius idea to make a tumblr blog called “Hey Honey, Come Here And Look at This!”  It’s exactly what you would think: a page where she posts cute or funny things that she thinks he’ll like.  She started it during one of his deployments and he would check it when he could, but now he’s home and they read it together.
  6. Stay in their social circle and stay current. Nothing wrecks your normal like having to explain things you wouldn’t have needed to explain before.  If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a control freak, and I want to head that one off at the pass.  Shane founded a brilliant metal festival, The Siege of Limerick, and when he was in Korea still he would talk to me about plans for the upcoming Siege.  Now that he’s gone and we can only talk once a week or less, I follow the Siege’s Facebook page.  I am obsessed with Downton Abbey, and I love talking about it with him; Shane is lukewarm about it.  However, he watches it every week so that we can chat about it.  And I’ve just begun Harry Potter because he told me that he liked those books.

These are just a few of the things that I do to keep things as mundane and domestic as I can.  Obviously they won’t work for everyone, especially if you live closer or have more chance to talk.  If you’ve been in a long distance relationship, especially across timezones, what do you do to make things easier?