August 4, 2015

In between meetings today, I brewed three potions and practiced spells to the point where I finally felt ready to take the plunge into the Dueling Club. Oh my gosh it is so much fun. I’m terrible though, so I challenge Hufflepuffs in order to give their house the points to stay ahead of Slytherin (since I pretty much know I’m going to lose…). I also took the plunge and bought the Harry Potter e-book series, all seven at once; I resisted for a long time because I figured that the woman who is richer than the Queen doesn’t need my money, but then I started looking into the charities she supports and figured what the heck. She can have my money.

Slow Time is for Thinking

July 27, 2015

It’s a slow day at work; last week I even resorted to sifting through stacks of paper that have accumulated over the past 2.75 years on our shared desk and recycling most of it (the most exciting find was my daughter’s vaccination records, which I thought we had lost).

So I’ve been reading… Harry Potter memes, national news, and old blog archives from current and former team members here. I feel like I’m in this quest to figure out what it all means – our time here, to be specific – what we’re supposed to be doing or accomplishing – and how will we know when it’s time to move on?

We signed up for five years, but I feel like our hearts have never been fully given over to life and work here. It’s always been a bit tentative, a bit hesitant, a bit wondering if this is really the right fit for us. Always holding back like a bad boyfriend (the one who will only walk you halfway home after a date, who gives you a fucking cactus for Valentine’s Day). We’ve never really fallen in love with this place, but then I think we never really tried either.

Gimli says there are three things that would make him want to end our term early: 1) having to deal too much with this one department at HQ that he hates, 2) Bogota becoming unbearable, and 3) a job opportunity opening up in Albania. I’m on board with that, for sure… part of me is still grieving Shqiperia. And while Bogotá is growing on me, it’s still an enormous polluted city of over 8 million (mostly very rude) people. The work itself, and the organization itself, I do care about, though. HQ doesn’t bother me. But I’m the kind of person who can’t really enjoy watching a movie if the person I’m with isn’t enjoying it.

So I just realized that my last blog post was about this exact same thing. Circling around to the same thoughts and questions. I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon to see a family psychologist. I’m not in crisis, but I feel like I need help.

July 17, 2015

Man, it’s been a long time. I unchained myself from my computer when I submitted the final, final version of my dissertation and bought tickets to graduation. It felt HUGE to attend that event, really and truly a celebration and putting final punctuation to a nine-year process. It doesn’t even matter that I don’t have a clear plan for a continued academic life, it just feels incredibly good no longer to have that huge thing hanging over my head all the time.

At the moment I’m enjoying the extra free time by reading tons of Harry Potter and celebrity gossip. And paying attention to some of the qualitative things at work that I’d left languishing. I feel a new sense of energy for parenting. I’m thinking about ideas for cooking with more vegetables, thinking about extracurricular possibilities for Illyria, even haircuts and craft projects.

Last week I attended a retreat where even though I was in a supporting role (not the “intended audience” per se) there were some wonderful spaces for contemplation and renewal. I’ve been thinking a lot about Albania, and Colombia, and why I still feel such a strong sense of attachment to the former but the latter still leaves me cold. Obviously these are two facets of the same coin. But I finally feel like I’m no longer grieving Albania. I feel a sense of acceptance and peace about that chapter having ended. I’d still love to go live in that part of the world again, but I’m ok with not knowing when or whether that will ever happen. More than ok. I’m good with it.

So Colombia is growing on me. I’m feeling a new sense of appreciation for this country, and what life here brings us. A new sense of interest and curiosity. Gimli isn’t in the same head-space, though, and that means we’re still talking about whether we’ll weather the 5-year contract to the end, or cut it a bit short (possibly July 2017 or so). We’ve decided to decide by February at the latest.


April 16, 2015

I just have to highlight this comment from Angela on my previous post:

“Here is my 2 cents worth. You thought things would be easier when you accomplished your goal. Telling yourself that was probably what helped you push yourself through it. But you are going through a change in routine. All changes are hard, especially when you don’t expect it to be. Give yourself time to adjust.”

This is exactly right. I told myself all kinds of things to push through to the defense, some of them lies. But I got to that milestone. Now I just have to finish this LAST LITTLE BIT and I’m home free. I think I need to just celebrate finishing and not dwell so much on what I perceive as my failures.


Illyria’s been doing better this week, although still struggling. I have a meeting tomorrow a.m. with the teachers although Gimli won’t be there since he’s traveling this week (and next…)

Everything is temporary, anyway

April 15, 2015

I’m kind of feeling like I’m on the edge of depression. I have so little motivation to do anything at all. I had thought that once I finished the dissertation (oh sweet freedom!) I’d plunge into my work with all this energy… when in fact I’m still struggling to finish revisions and am wondering if we’ll be able to stick this posting out another two years.

I have a clear deadline though (for revisions that is), and I’ve signed up for graduation and ordered my cap and gown. I hope it will be fun, I’m kind of dreading it.


April 13, 2015

Illyria is a sensitive little soul, there is so much emotion packed into that little body that it gets overwhelming sometimes. Friday morning I had to take a Skype call at 9:00. We usually drop her off at school at 8:45 but classes start at 9. The school is four blocks from our house.

Last week was haaaaard for her. It’s been hard for her to get back into the rhythm of school especially after the long spring break, on top of a lot of family travel in March, I think she only went to school a total of 5 days that month. So a month of playing with other English-speaking kids, of greater flexibility with food, of a lot of time with mom and dad.

This year at her school there have been a lot of changes. The three other girls in her class didn’t come back, so instead she’s the only girl in a class with 3 boys (it’s a very small school). Instead of having nearly all subjects with one classroom teacher, they are rotating the teachers by subject through all the grades. So that introduces a sense of instability into her routine, at least from her perspective – she’s getting to know all these new teachers and no two days in the week are the same.

It’s been a daily struggle trying to get her out the door. I’ve explored every possibility with her – is someone hurting her? Is there someone she is afraid of? It seems like actually she feels ignored (by the other kids) and overwhelmed by the challenge of learning language and content at the same time. I know what a struggle it is for the migrant kids I worked with in the US, even with ESL classes and other supports. We have a huge wealth of resources to help Illyria here – we could even transfer her to a bilingual school although she’d be getting on a school bus at 6:00 a.m. to do that. There are a lot of reasons we like her school and want to keep her there. And I feel like we really have spoiled her – Gimli and i have noticed how little perseverance she has, when something is hard she gives up really easily. Like roller blading, for example, which she really wanted to do, but when it got hard she just wanted to give up. We are seeing this at school too with writing. Her coloring is abysmal, she just scribbles over a general area with little regard for the lines. She’s almost 7.

I want her to stick with this, to be brave and learn resilience and perseverance. But fuck that was hard on Friday. I took the call in the bedroom while Gimli tried to get her out the door and she screamed and cried and pleaded. I had to try to ignore her so I could focus on the call. I have no idea if we are doing the right thing, it seems appalling to force her to go to school when she so clearly hates it. (This is where the last post came from.)

I’ve asked the teachers for a conference this week, and called a family counselor for an appointment. I’ve started doing morning yoga with both kids (which has helped me immeasurably, I only hope it’s helping them too!) and we’re talking about getting a Spanish tutor for Saturdays. I’m reading to them in Spanish and trying to build up her vocabulary.

Today was better. Gimli is away all week on a work trip, next week too. She left the house with tears in her eyes but said “I’m going to be brave.” It physically hurts, I love her so much.

April 10, 2015

I’m struggling. Illyria is struggling. There is a wounded caged lioness in my chest roaring to protect her crying cub and can’t reach her. I feel like I’m failing on so many levels.

Catalogue of Neuroses

April 8, 2015

I always pace when I’m on the phone. Always.

I am incapable of buying an even number of fruits or vegetables. Always odd.

This does not apply to non-perishable items but it does apply to milk.

It’s my party

March 12, 2015

At this point in my life I kind of like getting older. I don’t love the web of wrinkles spreading across the backs of my hands, but I have no problem admitting my age or owning it. It feels like an accomplishment.

So when I say it’s my birthday and I’m having a shitty day it’s not because I’m bummed about aging. It’s just a stressful month at work and things are slipping out of my hands like I’m carrying too many dishes to the sink and some just dropped and shattered. Silly things like getting confused about teacher workday at Oz’s preschool – I thought it was today and arranged for childcare all morning and then I got an email this morning reminding me that it’s actually tomorrow. So I guess tomorrow I’ll just take the morning off and stay home with my kid. But I’m still annoyed that he missed school today.

Anyway, these are little things, nbd, just the fact that it is my birthday makes it seem like a tragedy. And Gimli is out of town on my birthday for the 3rd year in a row which I have to admit does kind of bum me out.

Sir Terry Pratchett died today, so that clinches it – I’m gifting myself the Tiffany trilogy on my Kindle. RIP Sir Terry.


March 5, 2015

It’s my birthday month, which seems to be the point in the year when I do some serious self-reflection, evaluation, and goal-setting. In that spirit, I’ve rebooted my public real-name blog and am planning to resume more regular posting here as well.

Earlier this week Gimli and I had a state-of-the-union conversation, prompted by a critical remark he made Sunday afternoon that sent me into a tailspin of despondency. It wasn’t that major a criticism – he was unhappy that I had neglected to pack a snack for an afternoon outing with the kids, and was annoyed that this forgetfulness seemed to stem from my generalized anxiety about taking the kids to a place we’d never been to before. But it cut to the quick and as I thought and thought about it all uncovered several layers of issues in our relationship that had been simmering and suppressed for a while.

So Monday afternoon we walked home in the rain, stopping at a coffeeshop to shout over the whir of the espresso machines and juicers. It’s all the usual relationship stuff – control, communication, responsibility, roles – but since I (mostly) finished my dissertation we were due for a reboot, a renegotiation. There were plenty of tears but it was so worth it. And the adjustments we are making are minimal but hopefully will reverberate in how we each feel about how the other is doing in our joint management of the household.

I will take responsibility for getting the kids ready for bed, and Gimli will actually get them to go to bed. He will make a list of the calorie values of different food ingredients we often use and I will occasionally make food (my request – I felt like he was controlling everything I eat). On weekends, we will take turns doing things with the kids so each of us can have some time at home alone.

So things are better already.


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