Gluttony

glutton_for_punishment_hat-r26f989937ffb4ad1bfaeb82a8781c695_v9wfy_8byvr_324Apparently I am a glutton for punishment.

And, I’m also a bit of a glutton.

My last day being a practicing lawyer was supposed to be this Thursday, April 30.  I was mentally prepared (and both trepidatious and excited) for that day when one of my partners called me about three weeks ago.

Law Partner: “Hey. So, you know that case you are transitioning to me?”

Me: “Yup.”

LP: “Well, it looks like it is scheduled to go to trial June 1.”

Me: “Yup.”

LP: “Don’t suppose you’d like to stick around and help me try it?”

Me: “Um…I’d have to check with B.” (Mentally thinking that B might, literally, kill me if I work for another 6 weeks – particularly work to get ready for a trial…not exactly “part time” work)

LP: “Well, check with him and let me know.  I wasn’t sure if it was cruel to ask you since we all agreed here that you wouldn’t be able to help yourself from saying yes. But, since I could definitely use the help, I figured I’d just be cruel…”

Ah, these people know me too well.

So now I do not have 3 more days of work left, but 43 (or so) more days.  And part of me is thrilled; SO excited to try a case with my wonderful LP and the wonderful client we represent in this case.  And part of me is, like, “WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU!”  Sigh.

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C is shaking her head too…

In this midst of the hand-wringing over my job, B and I have also been continuing our “gluttony” quest of checking off restaurants on the Washingtonian’s List of the 100 Very Best Restaurants.  We’ve hit No. 1 and No. 95, and 15 others in between, with one more (No. 11) scheduled for later in May and a couple of others that we plan to check off before we go.

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I have to admit that I am not sure I agree wholeheartedly with the placement of each of these restaurants on the list – for instance No. 22 was head and shoulders above No. 15 both in terms of food, and service (price too, admittedly, but still…) and No. 95 was better (and way cheaper) than No. 54, but, nevertheless, it’s been a fun (and quite delicious) way to spend our “date” time in D.C.

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It’s also shocking to me given the quantity I feel like we have eaten in this quest that we have not even cracked 1/4 of the 100 restaurants on the list.  But the quest will continue – at least until we roll our way onto a flight to FullSizeRender (13)Kinshasa – so maybe we’ll at least reach the 25 number before we leave.

 

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In other exciting news, we found out this morning that we got our housing assignment in Kin – and that we got a house! HOORAY! We will be in a compound with a number of other families with young children, and we will have our own yard (Miller, the Dog, is doing his happy dance) and our own pool. SO EXCITED!

We really are doing our best to enjoy our time left in the D.C. and the U.S., and C and I are about to head out on several cross-country adventures to visit family and friends, but after eight months here we are also itching to get on our way to the D.R.C.

With somewhere to live it feels like the countdown is ON!

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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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