The views expressed in this blog are personal and not representative of the U.S. Government, etc etc etc.
Read at your own risk.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"I’m not sure which one I prefer, dying of boredom or getting screamed at by some taxi driver because he thinks we’ve ripped him off.  
I figure it’s just a small payback for the hundreds of dollars we’ve been ripped off by his compatriots.  I (and I’m sure Brandon too) hope you’re all doing well 
and not bored to tears yet by our weekly renditions of 
mundane life in the midst of insanity 
(we have realized, not to be racist, but all brown people live miserably and can’t seem to keep up anything).  If you are, have pity on us.  
At least you have hot water in your kitchen."
- June 1, 2005 email from Cairo

Once upon a time, Brandon and I lived in Cairo.  We married one week, and by the next were in residence in Cairo.  My initial excitement was soon tempered by local conditions, and it would be best to say that it was an interesting time.  Those of you who were privy to my emails may have had a more colorful rendition.

We were happy to leave when it came time to go.

Last Friday, I took the girls down to the "George B. Schultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center," also known as FSI.  We crowded into a large room with
 insufficient air conditioning and I did my best to keep the girls quiet and in seats.  During the course of our afternoon, an ambassador (of which there were a few in attendance - around here there are always a few ambassadors hanging around) held up flags one by one and then told the crowd who would receive the flag, to the varying consternation, excitement, or resignation of various recipients.  

Here's ours:

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Recently, the girls and I went to Target.  While at Kathleen's favorite store, we purchased the usual items - diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies, trash bags.  After having put our customary purchases in the cart, we then went to the Home section of Target and did something I have never done before in my adult life.  We purchased towels.

As part  of our many wedding gifts, Brandon and I received a complete set of matching towels because, well, that's what we registered for.  We've used the towels in three different residences and they continue to dry things wonderfully.

But when we moved to our present house, I came across a problem: we have two full bathrooms.  I've never lived somewhere that I had two full bathrooms for my own personal use and personal responsibility to stock them.  So I went to Target and I bought four washcloths, four hand towels, four bath towels, and a bath mat.

In the last few months I've done a lot of things: I've found and contracted an entire house to rent, I've moved my household across the country, I've sent my husband off to work in a suit, I've seen a few ambassadors, and I've continued to raise two children.

Of all of those activities, however, buying the towels has made me feel the most grown up.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

So what did you do at work today?

Recently, Brandon got a new job, and I didn't.  My life is about the same - feeding children, cleaning children up, cleaning the house up, answering endless requests from Kathleen.  No matter where we go, it will always be about the same, even if the requests change from popcorn to mangoes.

However, Brandon's new job is different and so I like to hear about the various things he does each day because it always changes.  One day he practiced evading pointed questions (although I thought he didn't need any more practice at that).  Another day he went and listened to various people from the Senate talk about things associated with the Foreign Service.  His first day he heard all about bugs and the various places they can be planted that you thought were only possible in spy movies.

His day always makes for interesting dinner conversations.

When he came home yesterday, I asked Brandon the usual question about knowledge gained that day.  Oh, he said nonchalantly, we learned about bombs.  And avoiding carjackings.  And how to get out of roadblocks that involve Taliban members and machine guns.  Yes, and of course robberies.  But, you know, robberies are so blase.  

It's too late to back out now, but I'm glad that we didn't hear about all of this vital information before we joined the foreign service.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Adventures in Crazy-Land

"So by now I don't have to tell you that D.C. roads are on crack. 
I had a friend who went to D.C. for the first time and 
got so turned around she ended up at the white house. 
She stopped the car, broke down in tears and refused to move until 
her friends came and got her. Silly non-grid, east coast roads." 
- Lindsay Edward

I don't own a GPS.  By the time we left Utah, Brandon and I had been in residence for over eight years, and so felt no need to pay $150 for something that told us things we already knew.  I had navigated my way through Vienna, Bratislava, Prague, Munich, Halstatt, Venice, London, Cairo, Salzburg, and Istanbul without the aid of anything more than my own map-reading ability and directional sense.

Recently, I started looking into one.

One Saturday night, Brandon and I headed way out into the suburbs to attend the DC temple.  I looked up various ways to arrive, and settled on the simplest route.  We made it with no problems, and headed back chatting cozily as we wound through forest lining the Potomac river.  And then we came to a bridge, but it was one bridge too soon.  I realized we had turned too soon as we went under the bridge we were supposed to be driving on.  But it was fine; I knew where we needed to be going - across the river - and the bridge was just behind us.  All we needed was a place to turn around and we'd be back on our way.

We didn't quite make it to the White House, but we passed the Kennedy Center, traveled through Rock Creek Park, passed the zoo, passed the zoo again, saw Dupont Circle, the National Mall, the Washington Monument (very handy to navigate by), the Jefferson Memorial, the cherry trees along the tidal pool, and the Pentagon on our way home.  All of which we hadn't seen on our way in.