Thursday, April 10, 2014

Looking forward (and back)

I finally made it home to Virginia last Friday evening. It feels really good to be home. It is kind of crazy that in the past five months, poor Alice has had to get used to six new bedrooms and cribs. I am usually alway up for a crazy road trip, but I would really like to just stay settled for a while.

Big news: Jeff passed the final level of examination for the Foreign Service. He has received a conditional offer of employment from the State Department as a Foreign Service Specialist. It is conditional upon his passing the medical examination and receiving top secret security clearance. He already has top secret security clearance for his job contracting with the OBO, but it was given through the Department of Defense, and apparently for the Foreign Service, it needs to be from Diplomatic Security, so it needs to be transferred. Jeff's medical exams are Friday and Monday.

The next training session for Foreign Service facility managers begins the beginning of June. The jury is out on whether paper can actually be pushed fast enough for Jeff's medical and security clearances to make it all the way through whosever hands they have to pass through to make him eligible for the June class.

The following class doesn't begin until September. We assume the powers that be can get everything in order for him to be in that class.

We'll see.

In other exciting news about my life that I have no control over, if Jeff isn't in the June class, it is looking like he will be in Africa. He has been assigned to two and a half months' doing a TDY (temporary duty) at an embassy in Chad.

I thrive on all this uncertainty.


I do.


But I do survive quite well.

Sharing the hammock

Being back in the States has made me think of some things that I learned during my time in Brazil. Pretty much everyone I see asks me "how was it?" but there usually isn't enough time to say more than "great" or "wonderful." I don't want to feel like I am rubbing it in their faces that I skipped the massive amounts of snow they got (but they are the ones who asked!). Being asked so frequently though has made me stop and think about how it was. I already posted what I missed about Brazil. Now here are a few things I learned while I was there.

I don't need people as much as I thought I did.
I have always been a "people person," someone who really thrives by being in contact with others all the time. In Brazil, I did not have a car, and I did not live close enough to people from the embassy or church to walk to their homes, so excluding the times when people gave me rides, I spent a lot of time at home with my kids. And it was fine.

Our farmers do something to our vegetables.
Vegetables and fruit in Brazil do not look picture perfect like vegetables and fruit in a supermarket in the United States. It kind of worries me, wondering what we have done to ours to make them look the way they do. How much engineering and how many modifications have occurred? Also, after having been raised on Midwestern sweet corn, I really can't enjoy corn on the cob that is not Midwestern sweet corn. But Brazilians really have us on fruit. Their fruit is amazing. Although they don't have nearly as many kinds of apples as we have. They have lots of yummy tropical fruits. And many more kinds of bananas. They also seem to have fresh fruit all the time. But it definitely was an adjustment of how ridiculous being a picky eater is. You eat what you can get. And if you don't go shopping early enough in the morning, you will not be able to get celery. They do stock it at the store, but not very much. It is not a common vegetable there.

Humidity makes my hair feel fabulous.
I don't really have anything else to say about this one except that leaving humid, rainy Brasilia and coming back to dry, dry, bone dry winter in Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio was brutal on my hair. Now in Virginia (and that much further into spring and away from winter), my hair is feeling smooth again. I love humidity for my hair.

I am brave.
It took a lot of courage to leave my house on the occasions when I did have the car. I am not very talented driving a manual, and I am not accustomed to driving in large cities. On one trip, it took me over an hour to go somewhere fifteen minutes away, because I kept missing the right roundabout turnaround. It was unbelievably frustrating and scary. The streets, in some places, almost felt more like parking lots. On the plus side, there was randomly someone juggling on a unicycle in the intersection that I passed four times, so the kids enjoyed that. It also made me feel brave, because I did not have a cell phone or a GPS, so on more than one occasion I had to get out of my car and ask complete strangers for directions. I learned a few times that strangers do not always know where things are. :) But I always made it to my destination eventually! I also felt brave in making friends. It takes a lot of energy and honesty to make friends, and being honest—being real—always requires bravery. At least for me.

I have little self control when it comes to ebooks.
Perhaps I should write that I have no self control when it comes to ebooks. I wish you could rent ebooks. I wish my library had a better selection of ebooks. I wish Amazon Prime had a more impressive owner's lending library. I wish I were't so behind on my goodreads reviews . . . :)

Being so close to this new foreign life has caused me to reflect on friendships. I have left a lot of friends (and family) recently. I left amazing friends in Ohio. I left great friends in Brazil. And soon I will be leaving wonderful friends in Virginia. Pretty much, the rest of my life will be leaving friends. (And being left by friends.) Instead of having a few good friends for twenty years. I will have twenty good friends for a few years each.

I am sad at the missed opportunity to grow with other people, to be in a community for such a long time, to have a real home town and roots.

But I am also looking forward to the opportunity of getting to sample so much of humanity. To make, perhaps not as deep an impact on a few, but a small impact on many.

Dancing and singing in the rain!

I really wonder where we will end up. Asia? Africa? South America? Europe? Siberia? A random island? Australia? Canada? I do know one thing: It is going to be quite an adventure. So while one corner of my heart longs for a backyard adjacent to my sister's in Nebraska, the rest of me is really excited about everything to come.

In other news, I am a lot lighter than I was a year ago. Forty pounds lighter, in fact, than when I gave birth to Alice. Since I have been back in Virginia, four different friends, upon first seeing me, have made some sort of comment about how much skinnier I look than before leaving for Brazil. I am trying to feel complimented about this and not just wonder how fat I must have looked before . . . And even though I am that much skinnier, Jill still is thinking about a baby in my belly. Only yesterday she double checked to make sure I didn't have one. That girl is baby hungry!


  1. You didn't look fat before! You DID look like you had had a baby less than a year ago. I'd like to think there is a difference. :)

  2. That's good to think of having friends lots of places...that's healthier than always looking behind.

  3. Ha ha, Jill is baby hungry. I love it. We're so excited to see you guys again in June, I wish there was some way we could help you out when Jeff is gone.

  4. wouldn't it be awesome to have a grocery store full of ripe tropical fruit?

  5. you are awesome love you so much mimsy xoxoxo —Susie Takacs


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