Monday, April 18, 2011

The first time ever I saw your face...

Ok...well not exactly...but here is my take on how we met for the very first time in person.

Matt's plane was scheduled to take off at about 6:00am from Leeds and land in Minneapolis at noonish the following day.  Because it was an international flight it meant he needed to be to the airport at least 2 hours before take off so that meant he would leave the house at 3:30 in the morning in order to get there in time. So, in order to help with the process of traveling to the US and the time change and all, I spent the evening talking on Skype to Matt until his taxi arrived.

Matt left for the airport so I decided to get a few more things picked up around the house and take a quick trip to the grocery store. An hour went by and I was just getting ready to walk out the door and my phone rang. On the other end there is Matt saying don't freak out, but his flight got canceled and they were rerouting him to Manchester. I honest to goodness thought he was joking. I told him to stop messing around. And he repeated himself and said it wasn't a joke. I told him again to quit it and he said there was nothing to quit and to just listen. Then my heart stopped. We only had 4 days together so if his flight got canceled that could be it. Meaning, not meeting then until Christmas. But the airline had found a flight for him in Manchester so he said goodbye, hopped in a taxi and headed for another airport. We would lost about 5 hours at the start of the long weekend, but at least he was still coming.  I hopped in the car and ran to the grocery store.

After I got home I put the few things that I bought away and crawled into bed.  I was worried I wouldn't be able to sleep, and I really didn't sleep all that well, but I did sleep some. I had asked Matt to text me to keep me informed of his progress since every thing had changed and so every once in a while I would receive a text that would wake me up, but it was ok. At least I felt informed and he was on his way.

The next morning I didn't do a whole lot. Just lots of sitting around and waiting. Reading, watching a movie, pacing, etc etc etc. It sure felt like a long day of waiting in great anticipation. And then it started to snow. Blech! Normally I don't mind the snow, but this could mean they wouldn't land and I got nervous, but as I watched the planes route online it appeared that they would land and so I decided to take off for the airport a little earlier then I had planned on and make a couple of stops on the way.

I am not one who drinks a whole lot of alcohol so I really don't know what to buy, but I do know that Matt enjoys a beer or a glass of wine so I thought I would pick up a little of each.  Hilary is always talking about Trader Joe's 3 Buck Chuck so that was one stop. And Nic had given me the names of a couple of good (not America) beers to choose from. Once those errands had been run I made my way to the airport.

I think I was there at least an hour early and tried really hard to sit still. That didn't work. I was nervous. Anxious. Excited. Worried. 8 months of talking to this person every day, having lots of very intimate conversations. Having him there during some of the scariest times of my life when my dad was so sick. Of saying I love you. And who knows what this weekend would hold. I had done lots of praying hoping that everything would go perfectly. That my family would like him. That he would like my family. That we would still like each other face to may laugh at that statement, but it was a real fear. What if we weren't what we had expected/anticipated/thought the other would be? What if only one of us still liked the other? What if neither of us did? I couldn't breathe or stand still and my heart was beating out of control.

And then it was 5:00...and I was standing there and I got a text saying he had landed, wondering who had ordered all the snow. I texted back saying I was standing to the right of the stairs when he came down and that he had ordered the snow. And then I waited. And waited. People kept coming out, and no Matt. One of my former youth group kids, coming home from school for the holidays even walked by and we said hi, hugged, I explained that I was waiting to meet my boyfriend for the first time, and she quickly excused herself. And I still waited. Hmmmm...people were walking past me with British accents and still no Matt.  And then no one else. I was very confused.

Then all of a sudden this guy, with lots of messy hair came barreling through the doors and taking off to the left at a very quick pace.  It took me a second to realize that he was here and completely missing me. So I'm waving my hands over my head and shouting out his name, shouting out his name a few times and he finally realizes that it's me, but with a very quizzical look on his face. We met said a quick hello, his luggage hadn't arrived, and rushed off to the baggage counter. It wasn't until we were standing in line that we actually had our first hug.

And how did it feel? To be perfectly honest...there were so many different feelings and emotions and thoughts going through my brain. I had no idea what to think or feel at that time. It was quite overwhelming. 8 months of seeing his face on a computer screen and hearing his voice through a speaker and there he was standing next to me. Holding my hand.  He was real! It was great! It was scary! It was weird! But mostly it was wonderful!

In hind sight we have both said that it was probably for the best that we met the way that we did. 8 months of build up can create some pretty high expectations and all of those were thrown out the window with one bag being left behind in London. It broke the ice really fast and made it feel like I was meeting an old friend, someone I've known all my life and it made it much easier. It would be great to have this super romantic story of seeing each other across the airport, running into each others arms, followed by a long embrace, but well, that's not how it happened and now we have a funny story to share with everyone.

We got everything sorted out for his missing luggage and took off for our first official date, a Starbucks. It was nice to just sit down for a few minutes and catch up on the past 36 chaotic hours and just be together, doing something normal, without a computer monitor surrounding each others faces. After Starbucks we headed down the road to see my friend Christine so Matt could get his hair cut. And boy did he have lots of hair...and it was thick and curly. Christine kept telling him he needed to keep it longer because he had such great hair. She did a great job too. Thanks Christine!

Hair cut finished we headed to K-Mart to get a few essentials from K-Mart and headed back to the house. I really enjoyed showing him my house, the house he had only seen bits and pieces of behind me on the computer screen. Lola also seemed excited to meet him. Here was the person behind the voice she kept hearing every day. It was also nice to just sit next to him on the couch and talk and hold hands and be able to touch him and know he was really there and that we weren't dreaming up the last 8 months. I was sleepy from all the stress of waiting and the anxiousness of it all, but I can only imagine how tired Matt was. So it was time for some shut eye before he had to meet the family the following day...Thanksgiving day in the US!

2 Planes, 1 Date and a Haircut

Up until know, Linsey has been filling in the background story behind our relationship and the rollercoaster ride its been along the way.

She has asked me a number of times to contribute to the blog, but I thought it best to wait until the "Big Event", our meeting in person for the first time.  A sort of parallel view looking in from both sides.

So, finally a date is set: 24th November 2010. The idea being that with Linsey's family together for Thanksgiving, I can do a one stop shop in meeting them all. Now due to work commitments, I was only able to take a few days off, the 24th through to the 29th November, a flying visit as it were.

The tickets had been booked, I was to fly out from Leeds at 6am (GMT) and land in Minneapolis (via Amsterdam) at around 12 noon (CDT), some 12 hrs later. Due to the early start, I had decided that I wouldn't go to bed, I would need to be at the airport at 4am, so I would then need to be up by 3am to allow me get to the airport on time, and check I had everything before leaving the house.

This was going to be a marathon session, and so I asked Linsey to stay online, so keeping me awake, I would then just sleep on the plane - if only I knew at that point how long that marathon would really be!

We both had a great time catching up, and planning on what we would be doing and we were really excited about the next few hours. 3.30am arrived, I had a taxi outside to take me to the airport, and it was T-minus 15hrs to being able to hold each other.  I joked that unless she wore a computer monitor over her head, I wouldn't recognise her when I arrived! I said my good byes, the next time we spoke it would be while stood facing each other.

Arriving at the airport, I was pleased to see I was at the front of the queue for check-in, and was keen to get my bags checked and go through to departures.

4.15am: check-in has yet to open (it should have opened at 4am). 
4.20am: KLM staff member announces, that unfortunately the flight is cancelled due to a cracked windscreen on the plane.  My world drops away, how am I meant to meet my connecting flight in Amsterdam now?
4:30am: I'm directed over to the KLM ticket desk, they inform me that they have arranged an alternative flight for me, but not via Amsterdam.  I will now fly - Manchester to London, London to Minneapolis.  How the hell am I to get to Manchester, it's 60miles away?  KLM will send me in a taxi!  Only problem, I will be over 5 hours late into Minneapolis.

I then decide to call Linsey - I told her that my flight had been cancelled, "that's a joke right?". "err, Nope - but I am getting another flight, I won't arrive though until after 5pm CDT!, see you later"

I then have an hours taxi ride to Manchester airport, where I finally check onto my first flight.  I now have a 5 hr wait in Manchester, thankfully the airline kindly upgraded my ticket so I have use of a business lounge for that time.  I decide to settle in and spend the next 5 hours eating muffins, drinking copious amounts of espresso and reading every newspaper available.

I catch my flight to London, then a very quick dash from terminal 1 to 4 (I only have an hour in London) and I'm finally on my way on a Delta flight to the states!  I struggle to sleep on the plane, as I'm now too excited.

As we make landfall, all I can see is white - how much snow is there on the ground?  The pilot makes an announcement, the runway is closed, we may have to divert!  Then a second announcement, they are going to reopen, but we are in a queue, and may have to wait 40mins. Suddenly 2 mins later, we're told permission has been given to land, I don't think I've ever landed so quickly.  The pilot has obviously been told to put down ASAP. The wheels touch down, and I'm on US soil at 5pm CDT, the first thing I do is to text Linsey: 

"Just landed - waiting to get off the plane. Can't wait to see you - btw: who ordered all the snow? :)" 

She texts me back: 

"Yay!!!! I'm Standing to your right as you come down the stairs. And I thought you ordered the snow.  It's here and so are you"

I'm so excited, I can't wait to get off the plane.  I arrive in immigration, I'm the 2nd in line at the International visitor queue,  the US nationals queue is huge, most of the passengers are obviously Americans coming back for the holidays.  This is going to be so quick - no more waiting around!  I now have an image from Love Actually going though my head, that scene at the end, where couples meet each other at the arrivals gate. Thinking that's how it's going to be!

Immigration is a pain, I get asked so many questions.  Do Homeland Security want any tourists to visit the USA?

I finally make it through, and I'm in the baggage claim hall.  I wait for my bags, and wait, and wait.  I'm finally the only one still stood there and the luggage belt has stopped!  I walk over to customs - the very helpful customs official there tells me I can find a luggage claim desk in the next hall (domestic arrivals) and he lets me though with just a smile and a wave.

Right, where's the luggage counter, Ah I can see it, I'm now very tired, pissed off and want to get this over with so I can meet Linsey - she must be wondering by now where I am?

So I'm striding off toward the counter and I hear a shout calling my name.  I turn around and don't see anyone I recognise so carry on.  I hear a second shout, and this person is running towards me, I suddenly recognise that it's Linsey.  For a moment I'm confused, how the hell did she get into the baggage claim area?

I give her a quick hug, and very quickly explain, that I need to find my bags, and practically yank her with me towards the counter - very romantic!

The women at the counter is extremely helpful, and as she's looking for my bags on the computer I finally turnaround to Linsey and say Hi!  We have a hug and I try explain more slowly this time what has happened.

I'm then told that my bags are still in London, and will arrive tomorrow, however they will drop them off at Linsey's house.  It's time then to leave the airport.

Linsey and I and spoken many times about what we would have done dating wise, if we had lived in the same city.  I had mentioned that for our first date, I would have taken her to Starbucks, as I know how much she enjoys going.  So it's our first port of call after the airport.  I was surprised at the choice on offer and didn't recognise a number of the drinks.  In the end I had a salted hazelnut chocolate ( I must admit - I wouldn't have another).  But we could finally relax and have a proper conversation after all the madness of the last 24hrs.

The 2nd stop after Starbucks was a haircut for me.  I hadn't cut my hair in the previous 11months, so it was getting quite long.  Linsey had a friend who I was told was a great hairdresser, so I had purposely waited till then to get it cut. As it turned out, Christine was a great hairdresser and did a brilliant job with my mess of hair.  So an hour in from landing, and I had already sampled an American Starbucks and got my hair cut!

We did one last trip, to a K-Mart to get some bits an pieces that I needed - as I had no luggage, and it was off to Linseys house.

It was a relief finally to arrive at her house, a quick tour, an introduction to Lola (her dog) and I could finally sit down and relax, suffice to say, I was that tired, I didn't even finish the beer that Linsey had brought specially for me!  We sat and caught up further, did a lot of hugging - it was strange to actually be holding someone you had only seen on a computer screen for 7 months.

So finally after being awake for over 40hrs, my head hit the pillow, and I could look forward to tomorrow and meeting all her family...... 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Summer ends, fall begins and tickets to the US

Dad was out of the hospital and at home doing his therapies. Thanks to some great family friends dad had a workout bench built especially for him and set up in the living room so there was easy access for his workouts and therapies. Both my aunts also came down for a week at a time to help out with the first couple of weeks he was home.

As difficult and scary things had been our family clung to our faith and talked about how important it was to hold onto to it tightly. No one asks for illness to strike their family. No one desires to go through a trauma, but I truly believe it's your attitude through it that keeps you going.  There were many times I wanted to just give up and doubt, but it was dad's great attitude through it all that really, truly kept us together. His strength in his own faith was the light that shown on all of us as we walked through the fog this past summer. Thank you dad for keeping the faith and showing us how to as well! I love you!

Being August work was really kicking off for me since school was just around the corner. Matt's company asked him to stay for an additional month and he accepted while he continued to look for another job. August being so busy meant that it went by quickly and before you know it the month was over, school was about to start and Matt was still without a job. A scary place to be. It was the last week i August and Matt got a call from an agency about a job opportunity. If I remember correctly, the call came on Tuesday, Wednesday he went in for an interview, Thursday they had him come out to the company to take a look around, Friday was his last day at his job at S&I and Monday he started his new job at Cameron's. Whew! But God had provided at the right time.

The new job was a contracted job for 6 months and with me coming at Christmas and him taking the entire time off we were finding it hard to find a time for him to come over to the US. My work schedule at the school and in the RAMS Theatre program is a hard one to work around for vacations at random times. The calendar for the school year is pretty set and once we start a show I'm in rehearsals for the duration of the 6-8 weeks of production time.

I believe it was sometime in the beginning of October that we had the discussion of Matt coming over at Thanksgiving for a few days...and another set of tickets were purchased! Matt would be having his first American Thanksgiving!

The next couple of months were chaotic with rehearsals, tech, and performances for my directorial debut in the RAMS Theatre. And it all went off with a smash! It was lots of fun...just one thing missing, Matt sitting in the audience. He had heard enough about it over the 2 months, but unfortunately he wasn't able to actually see it in person.

And the countdown to Thanksgiving 2010 began...

*Shortest entrance so far, but watch for the next entrance...the first time we met in person... :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Summer in the hospital and tickets to the UK

Summer 2010 was a very difficult one for the Grindahl family. Mom and dad had been planning a trip to Ecuador with their church and a few weeks before they left dad started feeling weaker and weaker. They questioned whether or not they should still go, but in the end decided that he would be ok and went. When they were gone in Ecuador I took off for the week in Nebraska.

Matt and I had talked about meeting in person during the summer because it was the easiest for me and my work schedule, but due to circumstances with his job he gave a couple of months notice and started looking for another job. With the job situation up in the air it would have been difficult for him to leave the UK and come to the US for an extended period of time. And this isn't like traveling to Texas or New York. It's like a whole days worth of travel to get to MN from the UK and a whole day back, so a long weekend wouldn't work. We had talked about possibly the beginning of August, maybe before a new job would start, but we now know that didn't happen for a reason.

After mom and dad got back from Ecuador dad started feeling worse for the wear. Fourth of July weekend he cut his finger pretty badly while doing some work in the garage and ended up in the ER and some stitches and big bandage. The following week his health declined even more and he started staying home from work. And then it got worse, and mom was worried about leaving him home alone so Hilary and I took turns using our sick time to spend the day with dad.

I love spending time with my dad. He has such a positive attitude and fantastic outlook on life. And he tells funny stories and knows just how to make you smile. Make anyone smile! It was very difficult to see him in pain and unable to swallow and taking loads of pills and it just seemed like he was getting worse. I would get to the house in the morning and sit with him in the living room, helping in whatever way I could. Getting some ice, a glass of water, making sure he took the right pills at the right time, reading to him, and just sitting there while he slept.

One day he took my hand and just asked me to pray. I barely got a few words out before I started to sob. I had been raised to believe that God has our best interests in mind, but how is watching him get sicker and sicker in my dad's best interest? How is watching mom get stressed out and not knowing what to do next in her best interest? How is taking my sisters best friend away from her so tragically and then adding the stress of a sick parent in her best interest? How is having my brother live 2000 miles away from all of this and getting everything second hand in his best interest? How is introducing me to this great guy, who lives 4000 miles away, and not being able to meet in person and struggling through all this alone in my best interest? I didn't get it, and I was scared. And trying so hard to keep the faith that I saw in my mom and dad. My throat closes up as I type this. It is hard to go back to that place.

And then here is this guy I'm getting to know and falling in love with. Who I haven't met in person, and I am showing up on the computer screen, after spending a day with dad, in tears. I was scared. I was worried about my dad's health. I was worried about my mom. I was lonely sitting at home in the evenings. And poor Matt had to sit and watch all this from 4000 miles away. Helpless. But ever so helpful. I have told him before and I'll say it again...I would have crumbled last summer if it hadn't have been for him.

It must have been about a week or so of this and dad wasn't getting better. One day I got to mom and dad's and mom said he had refused to drink the smoothie she had made for him that morning, but it was in the fridge and another round of pills were due soon, so try and get him to drink the smoothie. I went into the living room where he was napping on the couch and sat down.  When it was time for him to take his meds I brought them in with the smoothie and for the first time in my 31 years of life I was truly terrified when he refused. Flat out said no.  I didn't know how to respond. And then, I just told him yes, you will drink this, and drink it all. And the look on his face is one I will never forget, he drank it, and laid back down and I went into the kitchen to put stuff away and wept. And then I pulled myself together and went back into the living room and held his hand while he slept. But my heart was beating so fast and I was truly scared.

That afternoon when mom got home I had to take off for home to let the pup out and spend a few minutes talking to Matt before he went to bed.  As Matt is playing me a song on and my phone rings and it's mom. The song Matt is playing is is super loud and I am trying to get his attention, but the guy is really into it. So I walk away from the computer. Mom says she is taking dad to the ER and would I go with, they are on their way to my house and will pick me up. And I say, of course. I'm ready to go when you show up. I go back to the computer, explain to Matt and say good-bye.

Dad has the best sense of humor! As we are driving the man to the ER he tells me to call his best bud Marv. As I'm talking to him dad's sitting in the front sit cracking jokes. Telling me what funny thing to tell Marv and laughing at the funny things Marv says back. We get to the ER doors and mom and dad go in while I park the van. As I'm walking in I give Hil a call to let her know what's going on and head into the hospital with the promise that I will keep her up to date.

A few days earlier the family dog, (Scooter, or Scoots-da-Scoots, or Scootinladoot)...well, let's just say is not doing to great either. He is puking or having accidents all over the house and it is stressing mom out. A decision was made and poor, old, very old, Scoots is going to head to doggie heaven. Dads friend Marv had said he would do anything for him, so...they asked Marv to take the dog to the Humane Society.  When I got to the house that morning Scooter was as chipper as a little puppy. Jumping all over, running around, wanting to play. It was such a sad sight to see. Marv came and he and dad cracked some jokes about Marv being the grim reaper and that maybe he could let Scoots put his head out the window one last time on the way there. And off he went with the grim reaper named Marv. Poor Scooter! We miss you...well, sort of. You were kind of grumpy there in the end...but a good dog, nontheless.

Back in the hospital as we are waiting I'm texting back and forth with Hil and dad is telling me what to put. And what is he saying? We are telling Hilary that Marv is coming to help put down the neighbors dog next. And we are laughing...but mom doesn't think it's so funny.  They move dad to another room and take some blood and we just hang out.  They decide to admit dad because a number of his tests come back with not so god numbers. Then Hilary comes to get me so we can go home to get mom some clothes so she can spend the night with dad.

Dad spent 3 weeks in the hospital. It is quite a blur as to what all happened during that time. I would work during the day, talk to Matt for maybe an hour after work and then head down to the hospital for a few hours every night. During his time there he spent a week or so on the surgical floor and had a feeding tube put in. It was very difficult to hear the speech therapists come in and explain how he would have to learn how to swallow again. After their descriptions of the swallowing mechanisms and how they are supposed to work and weren't working for dad I can't even imagine how he felt all that time leading up to his time, in and after the hospital.  He also spent a couple of weeks on the Sister Kenny rehab floor and did therapies in the hospital before going home.

During this crazy, chaotic time Matt and I had also decided that I would go over to the UK for Christmas and I bought a plane ticket for 2 weeks in the UK. It was something I was excited and terrified about at the same time. I was falling head over heels in love with him on the computer, wanting to talk every day, missing him when we didn't talk and wishing he lived closer, like in MN. But here I was, paying out a lot of money on a plane ticket to spend Christmas in a foreign country with someone I only knew on a computer screen. And I had never spent Christmas away from my family...and Christmas was 5 months away. It was a risk...but looking was the best risk I've ever taken. (But I'll save that for another entry...)

*These all seem very long winded...but I'm just trying to get a years worth of catch up in a short amount of time so I can start writing the day to day stuff...and let you know where we are at now...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When technology doesn't work...

Matt's birthday is June 23rd. And by the time that rolled around we had been talking for 3 months. I was still recovering from my nasty illness, but things were looking up. School had ended. Work was calming down and I was headed to Nebraska with the High School Drama Department for the International Thespian Festival for a whole week. A whole week of nothing but theatre, theatre and more theatre! But this also meant a whole week of not being able to talk to Matt. And this week fell on his birthday.

We loaded up the bus on Monday morning and took off.  The ride down is 7+ hours. Nice thing was I had IM on my phone so I was able to spend most of it chatting with Matt. I can just see some of you rolling your eyes now...but hey!, when your relationship is dependent on technology when it works it's great!

The first couple of days are kind of slow going in Nebraska, but it's always nice to get away from the office and be a part of the creative process. Monday is a travel day, and Tuesday is a get settled day. And Wednesday is the day the festivities are in full swing and it was Matt's birthday. We had decided that Tues night, after I did my first rounds of checking in the girls I would sneak off with the computer and we could Skype for a little bit first thing in his morning, my night. *Side note...I used to tell him all the time that his today was my tomorrow. Kind of a catchy phrase, eh?

I only had until 1:00am when curfew hit and I needed to verify that all the girls were in their rooms, so I got myself a key to a break out room in the lobby area, signed in to Skype and took a seat. I was very excited! I had bought a gift for him a few weeks previous and had it posted so that he would receive it in time for his actual birthday. Now, if you know me, you know I LOVE giving gifts. I really do! I love thinking about if the person will really like it. I try to listen carefully to what they say to get hints as to what they like. Or maybe something they might not by for themselves, but really want. This was a hard one, but I thought I did ok. A Dr. Who DVD and a couple of books and a CD...I think...and don't worry...this is not a spoiler alert. He already opened the gift!

So...there I am, sitting in front of the computer just waiting for him to sign on. And...nothing. was quite early in the UK. 6am or I thought maybe he had overslept. So I waited...and waited...and checked my email. And waited. And checked Facebook. And waited. And checked my email again, you never know who might email you at 12:30am. And waited. And then I signed out of Skype...and back in again...nothing. I was getting very sad. Signed out again. And back in. And out again. And back in. Hmmm...nothing. It was getting closer and closer to 1:00am (way past my bed time mind you.) But I was needed back upstairs so I typed a Facebook message and logged out and headed back up to the floor.

As I was doing my rounds my phone started ringing. And there he was. And on his birthday, I had to tell him he needed to call me back in 5 minutes. So sad. I felt awful asking him to do that. I finished my rounds and made my way to one of the breakout rooms and waited again. And waited some more. And sent a text. And still waited. Now...I love you Matt...but you really have no sense of time...sorry! But this is something I have learned over the last year. And at this time, June 23rd, 2010, only 3 months in, I didn't know this. Now, every time you tell me 5 minutes I just double it. :) Love you!

And then...finally my phone rang and there was his voice on the other end. And guess what!??!??! Technology...not on our side that night. There I was sitting in a breakout room on the campus of the University of Lincoln Nebraska at midnight waiting for something to happen, for him to sign on to Skype and getting nothing. And he was sitting in his room in Bradford, UK, waiting for something to happen, for me to sign in and getting nothing.

Lame! We were able to talk for a few minutes before he had to jet off to work and I had to grab a couple of hours of shut eye before the next days festivities started. The week was a fun one, but it was hard not to be able to talk at some point every day or even have the privacy to do so if we could.

You know that song at the end of Napoleon Dynamite. Where his brother is getting married and he sings to his bride to be at the alter about loving technology? Yep! I did not love technology that evening. is great, when it works, but a pain in the behind when it doesn't. There have been plenty of times when the connection is sheer perfection! We can talk for hours and see each other the entire time. But there have been lots of other times when I can hardly hear him, let alone see his face. And don't forget those days when I can see and hear him, but his voice is 30 seconds ahead of his mouth and body...try having a conversation where the other person laughs, but you don't hear it and you're not quite sure if it is at what you just said or from 30 seconds ago when you really did say something funny. Ugh!

So, there are days when I can sing along with Kip in "Oh, I love technology, but not as much as you you see, but still, I love technology..." And there are other days I would like to take a sledge hammer to the computer just to help it work better.  That would work, right?

Hang in there computers...just a few more months and you'll get your much needed break!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Telling the family and a MN reception

It's now the end of May and I still haven't told my family about Matt. It's not that I didn't want to, I just wasn't sure how to tell them...well, wait...Hilary and Nic knew, but only by default, as Suzy - the one whose Facebook wall we met on - is one of Hilary's good friends from her time on the ship Anastasis. But telling my parents and Nate and his new wife Heidi meant that it was real. And real is good, but then if anything happened and it didn't go any further then just being friends and talking on the computer...every day...and saying things like "I love you"...then I would have to tell them again, but it would be harder. So, just waiting until, until, until, who knows when until...

And the perfect opportunity came up. Nate and Heidi were coming home to MN to have a wedding reception at my parents for those from MN who were unable to make the trek to Maine for their winter wonderland wedding in January (a couple photos below!) A chance to tell them all at the same time and have a nice family conversation with everyone.

It was great to have Nate and Heidi in town! We spend 3 nights watching the ENTIRE final season of LOST at my place as we got ready for the series finally together. How fun! We also took a family canoe trip down the St. Croix and had a cook out at Nic and Hil's with some of Nate's friends.

After his friends took off it was just the family it goes...I told them. And how does one tell their family that they met a guy online and he lives in the UK and, oh right, you live in MN and in the 2 months that you have known each other you have fallen in love. Ha! Basically like that. :) Yep! Nate instantly wanted to become friends with him on Facebook and look at all his photos. And we just had a brief talk about it and it was late and we all went home. Whew! Easier then I thought.

The following week was another crazy one in Linseyland...Monday was a day off because it was Memorial Day, so I spent the bulk of it working on the RAMS Theatre awards and slideshows, and a presentation for our director who was retiring as well as spending a good chunk of time talking to Matt. The awards show went off without a hitch! But because I was up so late finishing up and I had never fully recovered from my previous illness I got sick...again...and this time worse!

Friday night was a family night at my parents helping Nate and Heid get ready for the reception the following day. As I laid on the bed talking to Matt on Skype on Friday afternoon he kept telling me I shouldn't go. I was too sick...he was going to call Hilary and tell her not to come pick me up and leave me home, alone to recoup. But that didn't happen...which was good, because I got to spend the evening, albeit quite ill, in the kitchen at mom and dads talking to mom, Hil and Heid about Matt and it was lots of fun.

Saturday was the reception and unfortunately for Nate and Heidi it rained. Bummer. But we pushed through, made 100's of Curried chicken salad sandwiches, loads of mini chocolate eclairs and greeting family and friends for hours. It was lots of crazy fun, but I don't remember a whole lot of what else happened because I felt like I was going to fall over the entire day. (Sorry Nate and Heidi...) I do know that I did get to sneak away and talk on the phone to Matt for about 30 minutes towards the end of the party. Yay!

So, in one week...I watched an entire season of LOST, told my family about this guy from overseas that I had yet to meet in person, but was totally falling head over heels for, created and presented a presentation for the RAMS Theatre, got incredibly sick and helped run a wedding reception. Yikes! Linseyland...sometimes it's a crazy place to be!
Mom and Dad making snow angels

Yep. We road in on dresses...

Heidi - the radiant bride!
Nate - the mountain man groom

The snow stage where they got married
Marital bliss...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Suprising gifts, a tragic event, the start of a 3 month illness and performances

It is spring 2010 in Minnesota and I spent the last month in the RAMS theatre preparing for the spring play....Mpossble: The Case of the Mssng Letters. This means hours in the theatre after school rehearsing, building the set, painting, cleaning, organizing, singing, dancing, etc with the kids. This also means that I only get to spend a short amount of time with Matt each day (and lots of days not at all) until the weekends.

Now some people might laugh at that, but when you don't get to go out on dates, or spend a couple of nights together doing "coupley" things and it's not like you can just pick up the phone and call. It's 6 hours time difference people. 6 hours. By the time I get done with work and theatre here in MN it is almost midnight in the that 30 minutes of conversation is precious.

The first month went by very quickly and as we are getting closer to performances at RAMS the time we got to spend together online was getting shorter and shorter and yet all I wanted was to spend time with Matt. It was hard to not be able to see him or talk every day, but it was fun to get text messages throughout the week to say hello.

Friday, April 23rd - the day before my birthday I ran home at lunch, like I do every day, to let Lola out. While home I checked the mail and there was a package. Something from Amazon. I was a little confused trying to remember if I ordered something, but nothing was coming to mind. So...I opened it up. Inside was 2 wrapped gifts and a note from Matt wishing me a happy birthday. And there goes my heart again all a fluttery. After just a month he seemed to know me well...sending a book and a CD. Reading and music. Good choice!

The next day, my birthday, I got to spend the whole day working in the theatre with the kids as we had our traditional all day Saturday rehearsal. Lots of work, fun, and a crazy chaotic day! But it also meant that I didn't get to see Matt on my birthday until the very end of the day and for just a short period of time. The day ended at RAMS, I headed home, spent about and hour talking to Matt and then ran off to have dinner with some girlfriends for the evening. By the time I got home I wasn't feeling very well and just chalked it up to a long week and an extremely long day.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling even worse and decided to stay home from church and get a couple more hours of sleep.  I got up and my plan was to spend the whole day chatting and reading with Matt, and then heading out for a birthday dinner with my family, but that's not what happened. As the morning progressed while we were talking I just started feeling worse and worse. Here I am telling this guy that "I am never sick." And I feel like a ton of bricks has just hit me.  I've been waiting all week long to spend today with Matt and I just keep inching down on the couch until I am fulling laying down. So, Matt sends me to bed for a nap.

A couple hours of a nap goes by and I am woken up by a phone call from my mom. And it is then that my heart skips a beat, but in such a totally different way. Mom proceeds to tell me that one of my sisters best friends, Heidi, was shot and killed in her home that morning when an intruder broke in early in the morning. I can't breath. Heidi was someone I had known since she was little. She was one of Hilary's best friends since they were in middle school. She was a beautiful, funny and amazing woman. I didn't even know what to do next. Mom and dad were over at Nic and Hil's so I quickly got dressed, called Matt on Skype and there I sat, in front of a computer screen with this guy I've known for a month, and sobbed. I could hardly get the words out as tears ran down my face. My heart aches for Heidi's family, husband Nick and their friends.

I say good bye and get in my car and drive the 2 miles to my sisters house. Grab her so very tight and I can hardly breathe as we sit on the couch with my arms wrapped around her. This is not happening. I don't ever remember seeing the look on my little sisters face. And feeling her limpness in my arms. How do you respond? What do you say? What next? My heart aches and tears well up again just remembering that day. We spent a few hours at the house with Nic and Hil as their friends started to gather. And then I headed home for a few hours.

Matt was still awake so we talked again for a few minutes, but it was different. I didn't have much to say. I couldn't breather properly as my heart seemed to have caved in. I was still feeling quite ill and I was starting to get feverish. Conversation was stilted. How do you talk about death and death so tragically on the computer? It was so impersonal. But there was a part of me that was so grateful that he was there and listened and sat and didn't freak out when I broke down. That evening they were holding a prayer service at Nick and Heidi's church and I met my parents there to spend some time in prayer for the family.

The week went on with dress rehearsals and as each day passed my illness got worse and worse. The time I got to spend talking to Matt was also hardly anything at all or nothing. By the time Friday rolled around I had no voice, a terrible cough and it felt like I was swallowing needles. I woke up knowing I had a performance to run after school and then Heidi's funeral to attend that evening and with the way I was feeling I just didn't think I would make it. I sent in to my boss saying I needed to get in and see someone so I would be late to work. Couldn't get into my clinic and didn't have a computer at home to look up a phone number so I texted Matt to look up the phone # to the local pharmacy and laid down on the couch and waited. I ran to the minute clinic at CVS...never again! What a horrible experience! The doctor, or whatever she was, told me I had a virus and sent me on my way.

I went to work. Stage managed the afternoon performance and then headed to the church for the funeral. I was so proud of Hilary. She got up in front of a very full room of the people who knew and loved Heidi and gave a lovely speech remembering her friend. I wept, held my dads hand and wished Matt was there to hold my other hand. What a beautiful testament to a wonderful woman.

Saturday meant 2 more performances and then a cast party. I felt like a walking zombie. I don't remember much about that day. It was organized chaos and oh so very much fun, but I was so sick.  As the day went on I got a few texts from Matt. Wishing me luck, saying hello, just checking in. As the first performance was coming to an end I sent him a text and in it I said those 3 little words for the very first time. I love you. After the last week I had had and how I had felt so very supported and loved from so very far away I just felt like it was the right time...except...I probably should have waited until after the show was done, because then my phone started vibrating frantically as right after he received it he called me. Unfortunately I couldn't answer...but we did talk for a few minutes later in the day. And it was that day that I felt like my life really changed, for good.

(I should say that Matt had said "I love you" just a couple of weeks after we met. And had said it many times before I was able to say it. Remember how he had typed "I think I'm falling in love with you"...well the following day after those words he said them out loud, and then a day later he just outright said "I love you." I kept apologizing and saying I wasn't ready to say those words. And he was so patient and so gracious with me. Thank you, love! And I do love you so very much! And that love grows daily!)

Performances and RAMS Theatre season 2010-11 ended. Sickness did not. Let's just say the sickness lasted for almost 3 months...and it was awful.

And this is getting very'll leave it at that for the night...

Monday, April 11, 2011

My favorite "Book"

For those of you who know me well you know that I LOVE to read. Although this last year I haven't read nearly as much as I have in the past...I wonder why? ;)

That being said I am one of those girls, if there are "those" kinds of girls out there like me, that measures the size of their purse to make sure it will be large enough to fit a book in it. I am never without my current read. Heaven forbid my car break down, I get stuck waiting for an appointment, my dinner date is late, or I am anywhere I have to wait and don't have my book.

I have loved to read from a young age and it has also been a dream of mine that whoever a meet and marry enjoy reading as well. You know the scene from Beauty and the Beast...the one where he brings her to the library? *Sigh* - and then interject a joke about me needing to push up my glasses off the bridge of my nerdy nose from my sister. It's ok. I'm strong enough in who I am to know that reading IS cool! And that my vocabulary can prove otherwise.

One of the very first things we came to realize about each other in that we had in common was our love for reading. (Yes Hilary! I am a nerd! There I said it! This whole post is about reading...ok?) So...
a few weeks after we had started spending loads of time talking on Google talk and then Skype I threw a question out there. What if we started reading together? Out loud? On Skype? It was something I had always wanted to do with whoever I was in a relationship with. And even though it had only been a few weeks it felt like the right time to interject something new...seeing as all we really could do is sit and stare at a computer screen and talk.

Then answer...YES! and Whew! I was relieved. So we started reading our first of Matt's favorites, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It was fun to read together. It was quite enjoyable to sit on my couch and either read to Matt or be read to (especially since he has such a great British accent.) It also gave us additional things to talk about. Language for instance. Apparently, according to him I speak American, while he, from the native land where the language was forged and formed for centuries, speaks true English. (Another post, for another day, in and of itself.)

It also meant that we had a secret. And secrets, secrets are so fun!

If you are friends with me on Facebook you would have noticed about a year ago how very into a certain Book I was.  My status would be about missing my Book. Or waiting to get home to read my Book. Or how I was busy so my Book was being ignored. Let's just say, cat out the bag and all, that My Book was code word for Matt. A little note to him to tell him that I missed talking to him. That I was excited to talk to him later. That I was sorry that I was so busy with the spring play that I was unable to spend time with him. It was lots of fun posting those messages on Facebook knowing that he got it and understood.

Over the last year we have read 5 books together. That might not seem like a lot, but it has been terribly fun! We still read and I look forward to the weekends when we have longer periods of time to spend together so we can fit some reading in. I also look forward to the day when we will be able to read together, in person, sitting side by side on the couch. It is still nice to dive into a book on my own. To carry my entertainment around in my purse with me to have at the ready whenever I might need it. But there is nothing like hearing the story come to life from the mouth of someone you love and love to spend time with. (I started a list of the books we have read together below at the bottom of the blog in general. I know it's nerdy...but I like nerdy!)

It's the little things in life that are truly what bring fun to the every day norm. Reading...yes, I did it a lot before I met Matt. I still read. But now reading is something different. Something to look forward to for a different reason other than escaping to a different world. Now I have someone to escape with...but also someone to come back into reality to. English gets better every day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A History continued...

Week 2
A diagnosis, flowers, and a GOOD Friday 

Monday, March 29th - The week previous had been one of the best and most exciting weeks of my life. I have no idea how I found myself talking to this Brit a half a world away, but I couldn't wait for the next call, instant message, text or Facebook comment, post, etc. Work today was fine, we had rehearsal after school, and I was planning on working on plugging a hole with dad where the downspout from my gutters met the ground and could no longer work like that (I wasn't in my 90's and it didn't pose a tripping hazard to my health so, according to the City of St Paul I had to change it, or be fined.) Dad called and asked if he could bring mom and invite Hil and Nic. 
When I got home there was my family sitting in my living room where there dad then gave us more details into his health. In January he had started feeling weak and overly tired. He had made notes for a few months on his symptoms and had finally made an appointment with the family doctor. Tonight he would tell us that the doctor had told him, based on blood work and basic information on his symptoms that they thought he had Dermatomyositis (derma meaning skin, myo meaning muscle and sitis meaning inflammation - put them all together and you have the inflammation of the skin and muscles.) What a blessing that he had the family doctor that he did because apparently Dermatomyositis is VERY rare, like 1/100,000 rare, and most family practice doctors don't even know about it. Lots of people get the run around and sent all over, but because he knew of it, it was caught rather quickly and dad was pointed in the right direction.The family doctor even prayed with my parents. What a blessing!

That night dad told us, in his funny dad way, about how he was feeling, what was next, who he was seeing as far as doctors go and he even used the big "C" word...cancer. And being at the top of the roller coaster from the week before I took one look over the edge and woosh! Off I went, sobbing! I didn't know how else to respond. I received a big hug from dad, we talked some more as a family and then got to work on the downspout hole...(no worries, dad is ok. Still working through the ups and downs of having an autoimmune disease such as Dermatomyositis. More to come on that later.)

Didn't get to hear Matt's voice today. IMed a little, but only 4 days until Friday, when I'll get to see his face for the first time and I can hardly contain myself.

Tuesday, March 30th - Today was a hard day. I was still crying as I looked at the website dad gave us. I got a bit freaked out by all the information being thrown at me and the unknowns. And there he was, and for some reason I just felt like he needed to know. I had only known this guy for one week but all of a sudden I'm telling him about it, in an instant message no less, and he was nothing but supportive, looking up further information and calming me down. As the day progresses I start to feel a little more at ease. 

After coming back to work from going home to let the pup out at lunch time I went about finishing my afternoon tasks before heading down to theatre after school. Shortly after arriving back at work one of my coworkers came walking across with a flower delivery, for me. I was shocked! There was this beautiful bouquet of flowers from Matt, saying he hoped they brightened my day. And boy did they! I was so overjoyed and chugging up the next roller coaster hill with a fluttering heart as the anticipation of what next...

Only 3 days until our first Google video chat...I feel so techy with all the IMing, Facebooking, and now video chatting...who ever would have thought! But...only 3 days!!!!

Thursday, April 1st - It was our first crew meeting today in the RAMS Theatre, so being of the mindset that I would be working on drilling holes to bolt legs on to sets and getting down on the floor and getting kind of dirty and saw dusty I wore my jeans and a simple black top. Crew was great! It finished and I headed home for a evening to myself. I signed into Gmail to see if by chance Matt was still on to say hello in an instant message before he went to bed and then the weirdest thing happened, my computer started ringing...and I had no idea how to answer it, but after a few guesses there I was, on my first video chat, face to face with this guy I had been talking, instant messaging, emailing, for the last week and a half. It was very surreal! Being a girl, of course my first thought was "This wasn't what I was going to wear, or how I would have done my hair." It was like a first date you know. And I think the first thing out of my mouth was "I thought we were going to do this tomorrow." What? I thought we were going to do this tomorrow? Why did I just say that? Matt's response? "I just couldn't wait." And there goes my heart again...beating itself away from me. But the night couldn't have gone better. And there we were, spending hours talking and laughing. I think we were on that first video chat for 5 hours! It was VERY late when Matt when to bed...and we had planned to spend the next day chatting again since we both had the day off for Good Friday. 

Friday, April 2nd - Let's just say today's entry is consists of a yank and a limey spending the whole day talking over a video chat. Hours of talking, sharing, asking questions, telling stories, laughing, etc. It was a Good Friday! Literally! As we start to wrap up our conversation it seems like it is hard to hang up. How do you say good bye to someone you so enjoy speaking to and have spent so many hours talking to? It seemed almost painful to close things down. So I questioned this. The response I got was something about things being left unsaid. And then it seemed like he was somewhere else. And then he was typing...and at the bottom of our video chat came a message..."I think I'm falling in love with you." I couldn't breathe...and I didn't know how to respond. The conversation carried on for a bit longer with the promise to spend the next day together again.

At the end of the day, when it was time for Matt to go to bed, I headed out the door to go to the Good Friday service at the church I was attending. And for the first time in a long time I felt like I really had something to thank God about. My heart had become a bit hardened as I was very lonely. And this bloke from the UK was slowly starting to soften it.

Saturday, April 3rd - Yet another great day spent sitting in front of the computer talking it away with this Brit who I have only known for a couple of weeks. Yet it seems like I've known him for a very long time. And I never thought that I would say that a whole day not at work sat in front of a computer could be so glorious...

So ends week 2 of the start of this amazing journey we find ourselves on together. It was a fantastic first 2 weeks! The weeks to follow have their ups and downs and I wouldn't want it any other way. I will continue with some of the highlights of the rest of the spring, summer, fall and winter over the next couple of days and get us to where we are at

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A "brief" History...

Quite a few of you know our story...but here is a brief history of how we got to where we are and where we are headed...Me (Linsey) being A Yank and Matt being A Limey...

Week 1
(Don't worry...I'm not going to type the last 55+ weeks...this is just the beginning...)
Where a girls heart skips a beat
Monday, March 22, 2010 - School is back in session after a week off for spring break. After being off of work for 5 whole fun filled days of nothingness I (Linsey) return to work...the morning I returned as I opened my Facebook to see what's happened overnight, as we all do, a picture of Suzy Rowe came up in my news feed and I made a comment on her wall - a compliment of her profile picture.
I had no other thoughts than paying a compliment to a friend. When I got home from work there was a comment on my comment from Matt...something about her looking like Bette Midler...ummm...Suzy doesn't look like Bette Midler, in the least, I looked at Matt's profile and thought to myself "What does this British guy know about Bette Midler?" Now me, I was raised on Bette, listening, singing along and choreographing dance routines to such little ditties as "Miss Ottis Regrets". I think I know what Bette Midler looks like. So...I made a comment back, and so did he, and so did I, and so did he, and so did I, etc etc etc etc...poor Suzy's wall was filled with comments about a 1980's singer and comments on music in general. The time difference between a Yank and a Limey is 6 hours so his final comment was saying that he enjoyed talking to a stranger and that if I was interested in talking some more to request to be his friend on FB and he would accept. I did.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 - back at work the next morning I find that my friend request has been accepted and my heart skips a beat #1! I'm not sure why, because this guys lives 4000 miles away, in a different country and what are the odds? I sit at my desk working all day waiting for a wall post or a message on my FB, but nothing. It is the first day of auditions for our spring production so I'm after school until 5:00PM. As I close down my computer at the end of my long day I long on one more time...still nothing...and I'm a little disappointed, but I then say "What the heck?" and send a brief message of "So, what should we talk about next?" and hit send. I also changed my status to reflect and inside joke with another friend whom I had had a conversation with the week previously. By the time I got home I had a response to my message and also a comment on my status by Matt. Heart skipped a beat #2! At the time my good friend Meghan was living with me off and on and I remember sitting on the couch waiting for the little red numbers in the top left hand corner of the FB screen to light up in the message and notifications sections and telling her I had no idea what I was doing, talking to a complete stranger who lives so very far away. We spent the evening bouncing back and forth between the 2 different streams and then even moved over to an IM in Google and talked for a while before it was time for him to go to bed.

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 -When I got into work in the morning I did my usual routine of setting up subs and then checked my Facebook and Gmail accounts. After I signed into Gmail an instant message popped up with "Good Morning USA" and I responded with a "Good afternoon UK" and so it began. We chatted off and on during that day. I had auditions after school. I signed back on to Gmail when I got home and he was still up! Heart skipped a beat #3! We started chatting back and forth in GoogleTalk and shortly into that he asked if he could call me. Call me! From the UK! What? Ummm...ok...sure...but isn't that expensive...well, it wasn't supposed to be, but I'm getting ahead of myself. He calls, and there I am talking to a British guy I've never met before on the phone...for over 3 hours! Yep...over 3 hours...I think it was almost 9PM by the time we hung up. So, you do the math for Matt...

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 - Didn't get to spend much time talking or IMing with Matt today. I was busy at work and then had callbacks and casting after school that kept me there past 7:00pm.

Friday, March 26th, 2010 - Today was a crazy day at work. We had a lockdown for about an hour at the beginning of the day. Matt headed to church to work sound for their weekly youth event and said he was nervous about what was happening on the other side of the world. It felt weird to me, but I felt like I needed to talk to him about it and explain what a lockdown is and that we were all safe. When I got home he gave me a call and even though I thought I was ok, apparently by breathing was off. Heart skipped a beat #4!  How does this guy know this? This is the second time I've talked to him? I headed out that evening for a dinner and a movie (Alice in Wonderland) with Marlyse and sent a few texts.

Saturday, March 27th, 2010 - Woke up and headed over to JG's for our monthly girls get together. I wasn't sure if I should say something to my friends at this time. It's only been a week. I hardly know this guy. But I told myself if the right moment arose I would speak up. As the morning was winding down JG suggested we spend some time in prayer and that's when it happened, heart skipped a beat #5...and so I mentioned it to the girls and we prayed for each other. I then headed home and got phone call #3 from the UK! That day we spent...ummm...we spent...let's see...I believe it was...9 hours...yep, that's it...9 hours talking...and those 9 hours felt very natural. Time went by quickly. There wasn't awkward pauses. It just flowed.

Sunday, March 28th, 2010 - Off to church in the morning. Then to lunch while I waited to head to another get together with some friends from college in the afternoon. Home by late afternoon and Matt was still online. So we started IMing. Then a message came that said "I can't do this anymore." And my phone rang. We talked for a bit...and then the truth comes out...these phone calls, which were supposed to be $.01 a minute or so...he had gone over his monthly minutes my more than watch out phone bill! Yikes! This being said, we had decided to not talk via phone until the following Friday, which was going to be Good Friday, a day we both had off from work and where we could use Google Video and actually see each other. And so the waiting began. We IMed a bit during the week...but it was a long haul until Friday morning when I would hear that ever so sexy British voice.

And that's where I'll leave it for entry one...there is still lots more to share, but I'll leave that for a few other days.