Confessions: Most Awkward, or Just Plain Difficult Moments of 2014


1) The hardest part was that my grandma died. We were amazingly blessed to be in town when she passed, and we were able to say goodbye to her. I was just surprised at how tongue-tied I was, how I was unprepared to say goodbye even knowing it was time, how it felt surreal. Even knowing someone is going to pass on, doesn’t seem to change the fact that facing a permanent farewell is bewildering and hard.


2) In the US, I was preparing like crazy to go to the Russian Olympics. Printing out forms, applying for visas, looking at hotels. Jacob then vetoed Russia because he was worried it would be too difficult to get work done there with an unsure outlook on the language, internet etc. We ate the cost of the Olympics ticket I’d bought…a dream of seeing ice skating live unfulfilled.

3) I met up with a couchsurfing girl in Scotland and she didn’t return my text to hang out again. When you’re married and a mom, your new dating style comes in the search for girl friends, and you can still get rejected.

4) Ryder and I were having a blast, laughing as we raced down the sidewalk in Edinburgh in his stroller. Problem is, the sidewalks weren’t smooth; and before I knew it, the stroller had stopped short. I flipped a somersault over it, Ryder flipped too; and it was so ridiculous I was laughing even as it happened. We survived unscathed, though a bus of people was watching, I just pretended nothing happened. Jacob saw it go down though, so it’s still a legendary tale passed on to this day.

stroller scotland

5) We were eating ice cream with a group of friends that I hadn’t seen in years. Someone knocked a glass of water in my lap; meanwhile, Ryder was racing up and down a bench and ended up doing a flip off headfirst. He was caught by an elderly man who shot me dirty looks thereafter.


6) I didn’t prepare for checkout of our apartment in time, choosing to stay out late with a friend instead, and basically shocked our rental agent. I have decided I need at least two days to prepare for departure: one to clean, and one to pack. Half a day isn’t sufficient for either, let alone both.

7) I had a travel lifestyle crisis. I began questioning if travel was just a means of escape for me from responsibility and contribution, if I was prioritizing the wrong things, if I put people first—as I believe life is supposed to be. If this was the way I wanted Ryder to be raised. And at the same time, Jacob was just as gung-ho as ever, a bit of a role reversal. Ultimately the final answer hasn’t been found, but there don’t need to be final answers in life, just satisfactory current ones.

8) My eyes began to reject the contacts that we’d gotten in Edinburgh. It turns out the prescription they’d written me was much too high. My eyes would throb with pain and I’d have to lay down with my eyes covered because the sun was just too bright. I had to just start wearing only my glasses which isn’t my favorite. Later, I got new contacts in Tokyo.

9) We found out Mamadou, our friend in Istanbul, a kind soul from Senegal, had died after a long illness.

me n mamadou

10) My friend Maria and I got pooped on by pigeons.

blessed by the birds

11) We had the worst experience at a hostel we’ve ever had, except for maybe that one in Morocco

We arrived at Cinque Terre, one of the supposedly two prettiest areas in Italy. I’d seen pictures and had longed to see it for myself. We’d chosen to go last minute, and the hotels were 96% booked out. That’s right, this is a Tourist Destination. So I had to pick a place called Sul Porto that was rated rather low—a failing grade, actually, on hostel bookers, something I’d normally never do. When we arrived, we parked in a parking lot and called them to say we had arrived, and ask where to go. He reassured us he would come get us and show us. That conversation was repeated several times over the next hour. Finally, since Ryder was restless and hungry, I decided to get out and walk while Jacob remained with our rental car. When I found the office, I found other people sitting angrily outside. They had been removed from their apartment, pre-booked and in the middle of their stay, without warning, and told they had to move elsewhere. The man inside was rather distracted, couldn’t take questions, and disappeared promising to be back within five minutes. He was gone for another hour. Jacob ended up sitting in the parking lot for three hours. By the time we checked in, it was too late to see anything in the town. At least Jacob had gotten out of the car and walked around to get a few pictures before sunset. We left without doing much in Cinque Terre. Lesson learned: Don’t visit Cinque Terre in a car, it’s too crowded: Amalfi Coast is better for that.

cinque terre

12) When we arrived at our apartment in Istanbul, we were quite pleased with the place. However, for some reason, within five minutes of being shown around, my eyes were streaming with tears and I was unable to breathe. Jacob began to get allergies too. We uncovered over the next few days cat hair and cat poop, which we cleaned up rigorously. But there was still something definitely in the air. We finally figured it out when we moved the bed’s headboard and discovered an absolutely rancid rag of cat pee. I’ve never smelled something quite like that before. We called the apartment owner and he brought a housekeeper into the house to do another thorough cleaning, including washing curtains. Cats are so hard to clean up afterwards, and so many people are allergic to them, sometimes it surprises me that they continue to be household pets.

13) It was the middle of the night and we were barely a couple hours into our long-haul flight from Saudi Arabia to the Philippines, when a loud beep began to fill the cabin. I am not always a perfectly comfortable flier anyway, so I looked anxiously around. No one else seemed too concerned. The flight attendants began to walk down the aisle, trying to find the source of the alarm. One of them asked me: “Did you touch something?” I said, “I’m just holding the remote control to my TV, trying to turn on a show.” Of course I wasn’t the one who sounded it. For the next 8 or so hours, it continued to ring throughout the cabin. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It was freaky for a while, but eventually, you can get used to anything, even a loud alarm sounding for eight hours 35,000 feet in the air. We all went to sleep.

14) My hair dying disaster. I was imagining a respectable auburn when I went to get my hair highlighted in Iloilo City. When it was done, it was an outrageous bright red in highlights only, almost pink. I burst into tears. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but what is ironic is I actually ended up loving the color. It reminded me of the movie Run Lola Run. Just like a lot of things in life, sometimes you can grow to love what you used to hate.


15) After much convincing, I agreed to attend temple with Jacob in his new Nicharen Buddhist tradition. I was reluctant because it didn’t sound very kid friendly. Sure enough, Ryder began to get restless and yell within only a few moments of the priest’s chanting. I raced him out of the room. “It’s his karma coming out,” murmured Jacob’s missionary to him. I tried to come back when Ryder was asking for his Dadu, thinking he would be calm this time. Nope. I raced out again, this time planning to leave the premises permanently, because Ryder’s crying was so loud it seemed to reverberate the entire quiet Tokyo block. I rushed out so quickly, that I hit my head on the tent frame. What is really crazy though, is that I hit it so hard it actually knocked me backwards. The news of my bad karma quickly spread throughout the congregation: Jacob heard about it before I had the chance to tell him. I had just watched a Studio C comedy of a soccer player who got hit in the head so many times he has to be carried off the field that morning. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

buddhist temple

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 372 awesome articles for us.

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