Kangaroos and Quiet

Shhhh…do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of no one yelling “MOMMA!” It’s the sound of no one watching football. It’s the sound of no one packing, or unpacking. It’s the sound of a neighborhood far from the beep, beep, beep of walk signals, and the sirens of a busy downtown. It’s the sound of my first day alone in our new house with nothing to do but sheepishly return to my blog.

I’m going to be the first to admit that I’ve struggled over the last few months. I have grieved the loss of Kinshasa, the Congo, and the people who made up our life there. The fact that I’ve been deep-in-my-core angry at the “new” State Department and the lack of respect it has shown not only to me and the other thousands of EFMs, but also to its own officers, has not helped to get me back in a writing/blogging state of mind. I’ve wanted to come back, but I have not been able to write without ranting and that’s not what this blog is about.

But today is a new day, on a new continent, in a new hemisphere and it’s time I make my way out of my funk.

It’s hard to describe to people what it was like to live in the Congo. For those who live comfortable lives in the first world, it defies description. But it has been even harder to make anyone – even B – understand how profoundly unhappy I was to leave a place that is, in all possible descriptions, a place of hardship. Even now, sitting here in my new and lovely kitchen, with every possible convenience within 10 minutes safe and beautiful walk of my door, I am teary-eyed thinking of the life we left behind.

 

Maybe it is because, as our first post, I was determined to make Kinshasa a good experience and so my attitude from day one was designed to make me as happy as possible. Maybe it was the fun I had speaking French and reviving a long dormant skill that let me use my brain in ways that are rare once you inch toward a half-century of life. And maybe it was simply the people –American, international and Congolese – and the fact that I had not prepared myself as well as I should have to leave them behind. I miss them. A lot.

Foreign Service life is designed as a revolving door. You rotate into a place, spend a few months, and then rotate back out. Just as you are headed out the door you realize where everything is, and what everyone’s name is, and how to navigate the world and streets you live in. And then, just as suddenly, you are in a place you don’t know how and you have to start all over again. This is where I am now, though admittedly learning how to navigate Canberra – a planned city designed for ease of navigation – will not be akin to learning to manage the chaos of Kinshasa.

My first impressions of Canberra are of calm. The streets are bizarrely empty and the quiet is almost deafening. The only noise is the magpies and the parrots calling from the trees. We arrived during a school break and for the first few days I drove around and rarely shared the road with more than a couple of cars. It was eerie.

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C’s school is literally a stone’s throw from the house, and just past that are a couple of great coffee shops and a small IGA. There is even a gym, so when I get inspired I can get back to working out.

We haven’t seen too many (live) kangaroos yet, though B spotted a few while we were driving around over the weekend. Apparently they are everywhere, and they are certainly common enough to be the road kill of choice, but you must have to get accustomed to seeing their brown against the brown of the end of winter grass and brush because we have been peeling our eyes to no avail.

Since we left just as fall was gearing up in Virginia, it is also odd getting adjusted to the upside down-ness of things. The dogwoods and azaleas are blooming here. There are wisteria vines everywhere, and the cherry trees are decorating the roads with their pale pink petals. It smells like my grandparents’ garden in England – rosy and fresh and spring-like. But, it’s still chilly and I want to put on my dark sweaters ready for falling leaves, rather than light jackets ready for spring showers. Lord knows I love a good heat wave, so I am not sad to be following the sun for yet one more summer season, but I am definitely going to be ready for my boots and wooly sweaters (or jumpers if you are Australian – C has already told me she needs a jumper, not a sweater!) in April (see, weird, eh?)

The fact is, no matter how beautiful and utopian Australia is compared to the Congo, I am still going to miss the life and people we had there. But, I’m ready to accept this new reality and work toward making it as joyful an experience as the last two years were for us. And when the door revolves again in 2019, I’m sure I’ll leave with sadness and grief as well. In the meantime, there are new people to meet and make “mine,” adventures to have, and kangaroos to spot.

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On second thought…

Ok. Remember when I said I loved my stuff and I didn’t think I had too much of it?

I was wrong.

I (and let’s be honest here, it really is me and not B & C) have WAY too much stuff.

How did I discover this truth? I received the last of our shipments. Our HHE from Arlington, and our consumables. Four more crates full of sh…stuff.

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You might recall the 1,600 lbs of food I sent – it’s now here. A crate full of yumminess. I was excited about that, but I (for some unexplained reason) thought that the rest of the HHE from Arlington would be maybe one more crate. Nope – it was three. It did contain a queen sized mattress and three bikes, which obviously took up a lot of room, but how did our tiny little apartment fill three crates!?

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My living room on boxes…

I got the food side of the consumables unpacked and organized in the pantry pretty quickly, but the rest of it has been (really) slow going. I’ve been unpacking and finding places for things, but suddenly my nice uncluttered house is starting to look a lot more cluttered. I finished painting C’s room, so she has moved in and we have transferred most of her toys there,  but that hasn’t seemed to make a dent in the office/spare room. It is like an explosion of STUFF when you walk in. And the bathrooms, now that we have received two years worth of shampoo, soap, lotion etc…, look like a smaller version of CVS.

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But don’t be fooled into thinking that this means I not going to be buying anything else. Nope. I’ve got an Amazon Prime Pantry box in the works and I’ll be heading to the grocery store this morning to look for, of all things, chili powder. Seriously, how could I forget plain chili powder? I have a cupboard full of spices, about 6 different kinds of curry, and coriander, cardamom, cumin and cinnamon in all their various forms, but good old add-to-your-chili chili powder? Somehow that did not get included. So last night, as I’m making B’s top secret chili recipe for the Chili Contest on Saturday I had to go to my neighbors and beg for chili powder and now I’m headed out to buy a jar of my own. [Wait! News flash! Did you guys know that chili powder is actually a blend of spices? Of course you did, but I did not – until now – so hooray – I made my own chili powder and it has made my chili DELICIOUS!]

It is baffling that even with all this stuff I could still need more, but there it is.

C didn’t worry about there being too much stuff. She only had eyes for one thing – her bike. She has been asking us when the bike would arrive since we set foot in our house over two months ago.

She marched straight up to the supervisor and said “Did you bring me my bike?”

Catching my eye, he nodded. “Yes,” he said.  “It is in one of these boxes.”

“Can you please get it for me now?” C asked.

And bless him, he bypassed the boxes with the consumables and the mattresses and went straight to the crate with the bikes.

C is not always comfortable with strangers, but apparently the promise of delivering her bike made her fast friends with John. She walked up and put her arms out for him to pick her up, which he did.

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“How come your truck is so slow,” she said to him.

“My truck isn’t slow,” he answered, looking puzzled.

“But it took a LONG time to get from our house in Washington,” C responded. “So it must be slow.”

We, the adults, looked at each other for a minute and then I realized what C meant.

“She thinks this is the same truck that picked up our things in Arlington,” I told him, laughing. “She saw them load a truck with boxes and crates, and now a truck with boxes and crates has arrived in Kinshasa, so to her it must be the same truck.”

Leave it to a four year old to make sure everyone has a good laugh in 95 degree heat while unloading heavy boxes.

This has been an ongoing struggle for B and me – trying to explain to C that the four inches between Africa and North America on our map are not literal. As far as she is concerned we can swim to Canada from here, so why shouldn’t a truck drive from Arlington?

C didn’t think it was funny at all, and was not impressed by the delay in finding her bike while John told all the workers in Lingala what C had said in English.  But, eventually the bike was found, peddles were added and, from a four year old perspective, all was right with the world.

Our gardner asked during the unloading if he and our housekeeper could each keep a crate. “Of course,” I said. “What do you do with the crates?”

It’s an innocent enough question, right? I should have anticipated the response, but somehow I had not.

“We use it for our roofs, Madame,” my gardner told me. “They are not very strong and with the rains coming, this good wood helps keep the rain out.”

This “good” wood is plywood.

And so my stuff became to me, quite literally, an embarrassment of riches. I could feel my cheeks getting red as I stood there watching them unpack the crates. Box after box after box.  A bed that no one will sleep in 90% of the time. Pillows for decoration. Dozens of wine, martini, champagne, cocktail glasses that will sit in the china cabinet. China that will only be used at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Four boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations. And the plywood crates it all came out of that will be the roof over the heads of two people who come to my house every day to my life easier.

I was standing there watching this, feeling horrified, when our neighbor’s driver, Pappy, who I turn to with lots of questions, asked me what was wrong.

“It is just so much, when so many people have so little,” I said.

“Oui Madame,” he replied. “Mais c’est comme ça partout dans le monde. Certaines personnes ont plus, d’aucuns ont moins. Vous assurez que vous appréciez ce que vous avez.”

“It is like that that over the world. Some people have more, some people have less. You make sure that you appreciate what you have.”

This truth is not lost on me. There are plenty of people in the world who have a lot more stuff than we do. And people whose sole goal is to get more stuff. Make more money, get more stuff, on and on until they die and there is no more stuff to get. And it is as true in the U.S. in many ways as it is in Kinshasa, but somehow it is just not as obvious. Maybe because I don’t know anyone sleeping under a plywood roof – and appreciating it – in the U.S.

It doesn’t make me like my stuff less, but it certainly makes me look at it differently.

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Boxes, boxes, boxes and paper, paper, paper…

So now I have the stuff put away. It is folded, arranged and stored so that there are no more boxes in my living room. The bikes are in the garage, the china is in the cabinet, and…the plywood is keeping my gardener and my housekeeper dry.

And I appreciate having our tools back, and my desktop to write at, and the spare bedroom arranged.

The question I’m asking myself is whether I appreciate it enough.

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Stuff

For the last 12 months we have lived without. Without a junk drawer. Without excess. Without clutter.

In our corporate apartment in D.C. we had the items provided by the housing company. Basically that consisted of a small frying pan, 3 pots, 6 plates, bowls, cups and glasses, six forks, spoons & knives, a kettle, and a few kitchen utensils. We supplemented those items, at least in our kitchen, with a few things that for us are “cannot live without,” including our cast iron frying pan, a Le Crueset pot, my coffee maker, our knives and a couple of my favorite wooden spoons. The rest of my kitchen went into boxes and was shipped off to storage.

There were certainly moments when I wished I had some item or other – a muffin tin, a bread pan, a rolling pin – but for the most part I made do. Admittedly I didn’t cook as much as I used to, and what I did cook was not as adventurous or experimental, but no one in the family seems to have come to any harm.

Many FS people we talk to believe that one benefit of Foreign Service life is the ability to shed “things” every couple of years. In 23 or so months we (by this I mean the “royal” USG we…) will pack up and move ourselves and our stuff somewhere else in the world (and we won’t even know where for about another year!). So, essentially, every two years or so we are forced to take stock of what we own, what we need, what we don’t need, and, ultimately, what we want to drag to the next post.

I’ve met several people in the last year who’ve told me they got rid of all their “stuff.”

“I don’t care about ‘things,'” they tell me.

I think if B had his way we would be in the “get rid of everything” camp (though I’ve been to the homes of some of those people and they still seem to have plenty of stuff…)

So I’ve been thinking a lot about why I DO care about things – at least some things.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that I care about things above people, or experiences, or just about anything else, but I do care about the things that make me feel comfortable. The things that make my ever changing “residences” into my ever changing “homes.”

On Friday we received our HHE (house hold effects). Four huge wooden crates filled with our stuff – and our mattress wrapped and sitting on top. Things, things and more things.

And I was deliriously happy.

Could I have lived here – or anywhere – without all these things? Absolutely.

Do I want to? Not particularly.

So I spent the weekend unpacking and revelling in STUFF.


MY STUFF! Our lovely blue chair that is so comfy to snuggle into and read. Our throw pillows which almost (but not quite) disguise the deplorable embassy provided “gold” couches which have seen (many) better days. Our stainless measuring cups. Our art. Our photographs. Our bed (I could almost cry thinking about the joy I will feel when we finally get rid of the embassy provided queen size bed and set up our bed…ah, King Size Bed…how I love and have missed you…).

I know it’s absurd on many levels, and if all the stuff in those crates had fallen off the boat they came on I would really only have been sad about the irreplaceable photographs and art. BUT, that doesn’t mean that I’m not happy that they didn’t fall off the boat and are now sitting in what would otherwise be a very impersonal house making it feel, smell and look like home.

  As an added bonus we will now use one of the crates to build a bed for my vegetable garden.

We did take a break from unpacking to drive out of the city for the first time to a place called “Chez Tintin.”

The draw of “Chez Tintin” has nothing to do with the random statues of the iconic Belgian cartoon “sleuth” Tintin and other characters from the books. The real draw is The River. Le Fleuve Congo. The location overlooks rapids that have stopped many a traveler from the Atlantic (though they are not the huge rapids that forced many early travellers to portage from miles below Kinshasa into the city (then called Leopoldville)).  One day I’ll attempt to describe the drive and the location a little better, but for now a picture will have to be worth 1,000 (or less) words since there are still boxes waiting for me to happily discover the “stuff” they contain.

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Finding our D.C. Groove

We’re starting to fall into a groove now that we’ve been in Washington for two months. Our weeks are full of school and work and French, and our weekends have been full of visits with friends and family.

Last weekend we did “Halloween on the Hill” (really Eastern Market) on Friday with one of B’s friends from high school (who is also an FSO) and his wife and son, then we had some amazing bbq pig (in the true NC pulled pork fashion) on Saturday night with dear friends from law school, and on Sunday we had another Kinshasa-bound FSO (from the 177th A-100) over for dinner.  The weekend before that we did a quick tour of D.C. while we followed my sister-in-law around while she ran the Marine Corps Marathon.

We’re headed to Pennsylvania this weekend to visit with our friend J who is in the U.S. for a few weeks before moving to Morocco (yes, we will be living on the same continent, but the logistics of getting from Kinshasa to Agadir are, well, stupidly difficult).  Next weekend my parents are in town, then the holiday season starts and we’ll be all over the place visiting family and friends.

Thinking about my lists and all the things I *probably* need to be doing in preparation for July has been low on my list, though I suppose at some point it will have to move up.  But for now I’m enjoying getting into our groove.

 

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Miller’s groove.

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Run K, Run!

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Can you tell who is more exhausted by “school” these days?

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Hello Mr. Lincoln.

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C believes this is “her” Washington Monument

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Cousin love (and disgusting ice cream novelty love)

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B’s groove.

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C & C Halloween fun!

I dont like my costume

I don’t want to wear my costume (I’m Doc McStuffins)

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Ropes!

Making do

First things first.  I “passed” my French “test.”  My score was a S-2/R-2.

I can’t say much about the assessment since I signed a non-disclosure agreement, but suffice it to say it was a LONG couple of hours that taxed my brain more than it has been taxed in a long time.  In good news, the assessors were quite complimentary and basically told me that they thought my childhood French was trapped somewhere in my brain.  So hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to take some classes in the spring that will be able to coax the French back out again a little more fluently.

What does my score mean? Well, a “2” is generally considered to mean I have a “limited working proficiency”

I am, according to the assessors:

  • able to satisfy routine social demands and limited work requirements
  • can handle with confidence most basic social situations including introductions and casual conversations about current events, work, family, and autobiographical information
  • can handle limited work requirements, needing help in handling any complications or difficulties; can get the gist of most conversations on non-technical subjects (i.e. topics which require no specialized knowledge), and has a speaking vocabulary sufficient to respond simply with some circumlocutions
  • has an accent which, though often quite faulty, is intelligible
  • can usually handle elementary constructions quite accurately but does not have thorough or confident control of the grammar.

In about six months B will have to take a similar test assessment and he’ll have to get a S-3/R-3.  The score B needs is that of someone with a “Professional working proficiency.”  He will be expected to:

  • able to speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most conversations on practical, social, and professional topics
  • can discuss particular interests and special fields of competence with reasonable ease
  • has comprehension which is quite complete for a normal rate of speech
  • has a general vocabulary which is broad enough that he or she rarely has to grope for a word
  • has an accent which may be obviously foreign; has a good control of grammar; and whose errors virtually never interfere with understanding and rarely disturb the native speaker.

I know he’ll do it. He’s an annoyingly determined human being.  But, wow, my 2+ hours of “assessing” made me realize what an amazing, and difficult, feat it is to learn a language, basically from scratch, to the point that you “rarely have to grope for a word.”

Besides stressing about the French assessment, we have not been thinking much about Kinshasa in the last couple of weeks, at least C and I have not.  B has been in “area studies” learning about Africa, so he’s probably a little more focused, but C and I have been enjoying fall in D.C.

For me, with fall, comes a strange need to cook.  Something about apples and pumpkins and the feel of crispy leaves under my feet makes me want to get into the kitchen.  So C and I have been finding fun things to cook, and having fun in some unexpected ways.

We started with some banana bread.  We had a couple of browning bananas, so I found my mother’s awesome recipe (which is really Nigella Lawson’s awesome recipe – we skip the nuts, but don’t, whatever you do, skip the rum…) and set about baking.  I gathered all my ingredients and then realized that the corporate housing gods do not include a bread pan with the kitchen.  So I made do with the casserole dish we do have and tried to fashion a tin foil “basket” to keep it contained in a loaf-like form.  This is how it came out of the oven:

IMG_0622 Luckily it still tasted pretty yummy.

Then with an extra day off last weekend we decided to make some sugar cookies.  I was sad to discover that I had not packed our Halloween decorations (who knows where those are…), but my bigger problem came when we needed to roll out the dough and I discovered (not surprisingly, I suppose) that our corporate apartment also does not include a rolling pin.  So we made do again – this time with something that had the additional benefit of being drinkable.

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C thought it was pretty funny with the wine sloshing around while we rolled.  And again, luckily, the cookies tasted pretty good (even though we also found we only had Christmas colored sparkles…)

I suspect these will be the first of many (many) times that we’ll be compromising in our FS life, but if the results always turn out as well as our banana bread and cookies then missing a rolling pin, a pan, the right color sparkles – or something bigger – won’t really matter.  We’ll just keep making do and enjoying the fun of finding something that will work just as well (and even better if I also get a glass of wine as part of the deal).

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Fitting in

The bid list has been submitted.

Our fate is in the hands of the CDOs (Career Development Officers).  We really only had one, relatively minor, disagreement about how to rank our posts, but that was sorted out (or, more specifically, I told B, “You rank it however you want, but be warned that if you rank it high and we end up there, C and I will be spending our summers elsewhere.”)

We went heavy on French speaking posts for our “highs” in hopes that I will get to resuscitate, revive, or resurrect (depending on how you look at it) my long dormant French speaking ability.  B has to learn a language regardless, so why not a language that I have a pretty firm foundation in thanks to my parents’ foresight and 6 years at a French school.

dialects of French

If hindsight had been 20/20 and I had guessed in college that I might embark on this adventure (anyone who knows me can laugh uproariously now – I have degrees in equine science and journalism from undergrad – not exactly “foreign policy/world adventure” type majors) I would have actually taken some additional French rather than CLEP’ing out of the 12 language credits I required.  I don’t know if they still have the CLEP program (College Level Examination Placement, I believe), but it saved my derrière, and my parents’ hard earned money, by allowing me to take exams for credit in French and (also somewhat ironically given the current circumstances) American History, rather than adding (yet another) semester to my college career.

So I’m practicing my French by reading newspapers, listening to French books on tape and playing French word games on my phone.  Which means, of course, that we’re going somewhere where the language is Spanish, or Aramaic, or Mandarin.

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Either way I’m going to be excited.  It’s sometimes hard to believe that B is going to get paid to learn at least one, and possibly several, languages as an FSO.  And that I, while not being paid to do it, will likely also have the opportunity to be taught, by top notch teachers, for FREE, a new language as well.  SO. COOL.

Besides the turning in of the dreaded bid list, life in D.C. (yeah, yeah, technically we’re in Northern Virginia, but I can see the Washington Monument from my building, so close enough) is good.  We’ve attended our first dinner party, we’ve had friends over to go swimming in “C’s” pool (which sadly will close for the season this weekend – Boo), and we have been making some great new friends among B’s classmates and their spouses, partners and children.  We are fitting into this life, for the most part, like we are meant to be a part of it.

Tacoma Park Festival fun!

Drinking from the firehose

I have been oriented.

I am now the proud owner of my own overly large, mostly unread, packet of dead tree material in the form of booklets, pamphlets, handouts, PowerPoints and other information dense literature. Oh, and a bid list.

The information overload today was wonderful and overwhelming. We learned about the FS “Transition Center,” the “Overseas Briefing Center,” the Office of Medical Services (MED), how the assignment process works from the CDO (Career Development Officer) perspective, education overseas,  and the FLO (Family Liaison Office).  The speakers were great and it was incredibly informative, but the best part was getting to meet and learn about the accomplished, interesting group of “spouses” who are with us in this crazy adventure.

Of course, given that the list of places where each of us will end up was provided to us last night that was clearly the primary topic of conversation.  There are 105 “posts” on the list, which includes 51 cities in 44 countries.  There are huge posts with over 500 US personnel (this includes folks from all agencies, not just the State Department) and one post with 8 US personnel.  There are places with danger pay, and places without.  It’s probably a pretty typical list for an A-100 class with lots of consular (ie: visa line) jobs and lots of jobs in visa heavy countries.

What was amazing about the discussion with the other EFMs (Eligible Family Members) was that we all had such different ideas and priorities.  B and I rank some posts low because we don’t want to have to learn certain languages, or because of certain environmental factors, but other people can’t wait to learn a really hard language and want the excitement of exotic and difficult locales.  I’m sure some of them thought our “preferences” were bizarre too.

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Regardless, in 29 days we will all know which of these posts is ours (barring any change to the list, which we were told several times could happen at any time, and/or several times before we submit our final list).

Now our job – in between our actual jobs and caring for our 3 1/2 year old – is to research these posts and rank each of them “high,” “medium” or “low.”  We get to put 25% low, which translates to about 26 posts.  We don’t get to group the posts by country, so we can’t rank all posts in one country “low” if that number exceeds 26 (which it does for several countries), we have to rank each post – meaning each job in each city.

B and I spent last night identifying our “low” posts.   We were, thank heavens, pretty much on the same page, so we have now identified the 26 places that are our least attractive options and the ones we hope we don’t get.  However, as we were also reminded repeatedly today, the “needs of the service” come first, so on Flag Day, notwithstanding our highs, our lows and our mediums, the flag that gets handed to B could be anywhere on the list.

Now it’s on to identifying our preferences (ie: do we want to learn a language, do we care about how close we are to the U.S., does B want to fulfill his “consular” cone requirement now, or later…), and deciding on our “highs” and “mediums.”  Let’s hope that goes as smoothly as the lows…

By the way, from a blog admin perspective I have, by popular demand (ie: B told me to do it), made the “A” an “a” so people can stop asking B who “A” is…and I’ve added some pictures of our world travels before this adventure into the header.  Variety is the spice of life, after all.

I wish…

In between dog parks and carousels, C and I have been traveling Arlington and its environs visiting Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Whole Foods etc…to stock up on things for the apartment.  In the course of doing this I have mentally started a list of “I wish we had…” related to our pack out.  So here, in no particular order, in case you ever have to packout yourselves, are my current wish list:*  (* subject to change on a moment to moment basis)

  • I wish I’d brought a queen sized mattress pad, sheets, our own pillows and our duvet.  It’s been many years since I lived in corporate housing as a law student and in those days the digs seemed awesome and palatial.  Twenty odd years later the digs seem a bit dirty and less awesome (but I’m not complaining given that they are free digs!).  It would be nice (and feel slightly less yucky) to be sleeping on our own sheets.   Luckily I did bring C’s sheets, duvet, pillow and lots of things to remind her of home, so it is less yucky in her room.
    C's bed. More like home.

    C’s bed. More like home.

  • I wish I’d brought tupperware.  Not a ton of it, but the corporate housing provided tupperware consists of two small pieces.  That is not going to cut it at our house.
  • I wish I’d brought more art/photographs – nothing makes an apartment a home more than your own photos and artwork.  I brought a few things, but I wish I’d brought more.
  • I wish I’d brought a couple of bowls.  I ended up buying two nice big deep cereal-type bowls from BB&B today (for $1.98 each on clearance, so I’m not feeling too upset, but everything you buy that you can picture in a box somewhere in Hagerstown, MD is annoying…).  The bowls provided are these incredibly shallow, rimmed bowls.  The kind I picture Lady Edith using to eat her 4 spoonfuls of soup at Downton Abbey during a 15 course meal.  Let’s just say, in 2014 when the meal is ALL supposed to fit in one bowl, these bowls are not cutting it.
  • I wish I’d saved some more of the “staples” that I threw away.  I have to tell you I don’t need half the clothes or office supplies I brought, but the leftover bottle of olive oil would have been a welcome sight yesterday.
  • I wish I’d brought a bookcase.  Just a little one – the one from C’s room would have done nicely.  There is nowhere to put books in the apartment.  We didn’t bring a ton of books, but we brought some AND I’m supposed to be working from here, so my rule books (the books I basically live by as a litigator), my dictionary, my binders for my cases etc…, are all under the desk.  Not ideal.  We’ll no doubt be making a trip to IKEA for that, but again, see note above about having to annoyingly buy things you already own.
  • I wish I’d brought more skirt hangers – if you ever move into corporate housing bring hangers! Particularly any “speciality” hangers.  My skirts are all doubled up right now, but I suspect ultimately I’ll be buying some more of these hangers while picturing the ones we left behind in my head.
  • I wish I’d brought a couple of our own throw pillows.  See bullet number one about kind of yucky linens and switch to pillows on the couch.
    Corporate housing pillows. Meh.

    Corporate housing pillows. Meh.

    By the way, B’s first couple of days went really well – he came home with a ridiculously detailed schedule yesterday so that makes my control/detail oriented mind happy.  Somehow he managed to accept the job of chairing his class “Folly” skit (that is put on during the “offsite” somewhere in PA).  It’s kind of bizarre to watch him get comfortable in this new life, but it’s kind of cool too.

    And in case you care, here are a few other pictures of our new home.  IMG_0606 IMG_0607 IMG_0608 IMG_0609 IMG_0611 IMG_0612 IMG_0613