Can I?

May 2, 2016

On the path of transformation, you will experience forgiveness, which entails letting go of old hurts and resentments and opening up space in your heart to be affected by people and events freshly. Can you experience this in yourself today? ~ Enneagram Institute

Can I? That is the question. Our supervisor had a little talk with us Friday afternoon and I am WRECKED. It was really all about Gimli and his temper, but of course I’m implicated by association. So he and I had a long talk Saturday night over an entire bottle of wine and while it was good and cathartic, and had us on the same page by the end, I’m still stewing over the whole thing.

Can I let go of old hurts and resentments? Things that happened during our first few months here have deeply marked our experience – G and I have opposite ways of reacting to feeling slighted: he gets mad and tries to give as good as he got, or better; I withdraw. Last night I lay awake in bed for FIVE HOURS thinking over everything that has happened in the past five years, and how it could all have been different if only we’d gotten off to a better start.

Can I open up enough to make a fresh start? So much hinges on this question.

Powerful, Life-Enhancing

April 26, 2016

dissertation goddess

“As a Four, you are part of the Frustration-Based Group. Fours are frustrated and disappointed that they are not understood and appreciated enough. The antidote for your frustration is experiencing your own powerful, life-enhancing capacities.” 

I had a good talk with my boss yesterday. I felt understood and appreciated (!). She mentioned that with ten different nationalities represented on our team, and a very wide range of political and theological perspectives, it’s kind of amazing that we have such a good vibe right now, rather than a conflictive and toxic atmosphere. But people seem to respect each other.

It was nice to get some of the credit for that state of things… I know that the role I play in the organization is very much this qualitative aspect of being the oil in the gearbox, soothing ruffled feathers and supporting clear communication. Also encouraging and helping people feel valued and connected. It’s often an invisible and under-valued role, in society in general I think. But that does’t mean it’s not important.

In fact, during a leadership meeting last year, when we were asked “how do you want people you supervised to remember you after you leave?” I wrote down that I wanted people to say “she really cared about me, she helped me bring out my best potential.” So, obviously, I value that quality, of caring – in myself – and I find it important.

I definitely feel that some people who have left the team over the past couple of years, but who exerted a pretty strong presence in the beginning, did not value that at all. I sometimes felt like the object of scorn for not being super-sharp on all the political nuance and “context analysis” stuff going on in the country, like my knowledge didn’t count because it wasn’t about reparations for victims of displacement or government negotiations with the guerrillas. So, frustration.

The “antidote” in the Ennea-thought above is just what I need right now, I think.

The Week

April 22, 2016

I guess once a week blogging turned into once a month…

It’s been quite a week. We started out with our team retreat, which went really well – one of our best ones ever, I thought. There was just a really good vibe in the group, an alchemical mystery I don’t know how to replicate for the future.

Then the earthquake in Ecuador. Gimli has been working overtime to work out our role there – we have three staff in Quito, and connections to churches in the affected area.

I’ve also been talking with my boss and another team member about some long-term lingering issues, interpersonal kinds of things, that have been hard for the duration of our time here. That’s pretty scary.

And there’s a bit of a tempest in a teapot over church politics that won’t make sense outside of our denominational network.

And my in-laws are selling their house (in the US) this summer and would like us to buy it.


March 10, 2016

Tomorrow I’m taking the day off. Saturday is my birthday (43! As prime numbers go not the prettiest, but still prime. So thinking of myself as being… well, like that number!)

Things I hope to do tomorrow:

  • get my hair cut
  • buy a new purse (old one is falling apart)
  • see about getting new glasses
  • yoga? pilates?
  • read a book in a cafe

Right now it is pouring, pouring rain… waiting for it to slow down before I head home…


March 7, 2016

I just got back after a week away (for work), which included a full day of R&R in a colonial city by a volcano, a perfect cone overlooking streets filled with blooming jacaranda trees. I still feel detached. When I start to think too much, to feel too much, the gremlins in my head start talking – “You could be replaced by a brick and nobody would even notice the difference.” Is this depression talking? I tell myself it’s not true even though, at the deepest level, it feels true.

It’s been so dry, but now it’s raining. I wore sandals today and left my raincoat at home. It doesn’t matter. “Since I gave up hope, I feel a lot better.”

I don’t want to be so melancholy. Or do I?


Handling It

February 25, 2016

In January we flew in one long continuous trip from Tirana to Cusco, 36 hours of travel, 5 flights, 4 international border crossings. We got up at 4:00 a.m. in Tirana to catch a flight to Rome, then Amsterdam, then Bogotá, Lima, and finally Cusco. The worst layover was in Lima (1:00 a.m. local time, 7:00 a.m. by our body clocks though we’d slept barely at all that night). The kids were insanely wired and tired. We were too in our own way. Both Gimli and I felt like the floor and walls were moving even when we were standing still. When we landed in Lima, I had to shake the kids awake from deep sleep. With his eyes still closed, Oz cried “I can’t handle this, not even a little bit.”

But we did it. I doubt we’ll ever do it again, though, not with all four of us, and definitely not while the kids are still kids.

I’m still trying to figure out what we’re doing here, when we don’t really want to be here and we don’t really feel wanted. We moved into a new apartment and it was a little bit of a boost, a fresh start in some ways, and I’ve been deliberately trying to think about and approach my work in new ways. But I feel like I’m handling it only a little bit. People ask me if I feel at home yet in Bogotá, or how I like living in Colombia, and I never know what to say. I mention the good things – how people sitting on a bus will graciously hold packages or bags for people standing, or the abundance of fresh tropical fruits. But really my heart isn’t in it, not even a little bit.

This is going to be a historic year for the country, no matter what happens – peace accords right around the corner, high probability of a TRC process, the possibility for profound social and political change exists. And I feel strangely detached from the whole thing. I can’t engage emotionally. I’m here, but I’m not here. The past three years have felt like one long present moment. I’m not moving, I’m floating. The organization I work for has been deeply committed to the peace processes, and I’m deeply committed to limiting my time on Facebook.

So Gimli and I have agreed to stay until December, but I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around being here past August.

remembering how

February 19, 2016

Type, delete; type, delete… we have date night tonight, and I’m excited about enjoying some really good food somewhere.

I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands this week, so used some of it to read academic articles in my field. Also to catch up on some neglected projects at work. Did not use it to unpack and organize the house; we have all the basics in place but I cannot put my hands on my set of knitting needles so I’m grumpy about that.

I’ve been listening to my IF playlist off and on on iTunes. It’s funny to me how tenuous the connection of some of the songs is to infertility, but at the time it all made sense in my head. It also reminds me of how painful it all was.

Last year at this time I was writing dissertation revisions. I am so completely glad that I am not doing that right now. Or ever again.

I’m hoping that by randomly posting whatever is in my head I will remember how to do this blog thing again…

more random blather

February 11, 2016

I guess my goal is to blog more, not necessarily to say anything. But I realized that even High Albania has a whole section on vampires. Should I move on to zombies? How was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (the book)? I read most of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter but never read the last chapter because it was just getting too gory, and I’d figured out the ending. Oddly enough, it’s one of the very, very few books I never finished. I’m kind of OCD about finishing books. The only other book I can remember deliberately walking away from was Tess of the D’Ubervilles, which for some reason really annoyed me. I’m not sure I even remember why.

How it’s going

February 9, 2016

So, the goals. I recognize they were pretty ambitious. I did great for a week, and then we moved, and I let the stress of that be my excuse for falling off the proverbial wagon (especially the computer games, journaling, and blogging goals). But this is a slow week at work, just now, so I’m ready to take it up again.

I love our new apartment. It’s high and warm and full of light. It’s a much longer walk to school, we clocked 28 minutes door to door today, but it’s good for all of us to get the additional exercise. It’s also forcing Illyria to face her fear of dogs as there are a lot of dogs en route. Mostly on leashes but not always.

A good friend from grad school contacted me yesterday about putting together a proposal for a special issue of an anthro journal, so that’s fun to think about – and scary. But that’s a small step towards the publishing goal, so that’s good. A necessary if not sufficient condition.

I’ve put a time limit on “time-wasting” web sites (it’s a browser extension called “Waste No Time,” it’s not perfect but I’ve been able to make it work for me. I used it throughout my dissertation writing to prevent getting distracted.

And, I faced a really awkward and difficult conversation at work today, someone I directly supervise, and it went really well! They weren’t defensive and agreed to change the thing they’re doing that was bugging other people at the office. So I feel good about that.

In terms of reading more books, I tallied up that I read seven books in January. But only one was a new read (Dracula). The rest were all re-reads (and every single one had at least one vampire in it… not sure what that says about me…). So now I’m reading Edith Durham’s High Albania, published in 1908. It is fascinating! She traveled as a single English woman in her late 30s all over some really rough terrain where very few outsiders ever went. Truly badass, and very smart. I have a shelf full of books to read next… I almost want to put together a syllabus for myself for the next 3 months and treat it like a university course.

Gimli is in Budapest this week and I’m insanely jealous.

Land of the Eagle

January 27, 2016

There is something so perfectly melancholy about a Balkan winter, replete with rain and early dark.

I would move back there in a heartbeat. And yet it was hard: Gimli was working 12-hour days and I was with the kids 24/7. We all got sick and it rained almost every day, making it hard to get out and do things.

And it was good too – we saw so many friends, ate delicious food – I could rave on and on about the sweet fresh carrots and potatoes and leeks – it was so much fun to speak Albanian again and realize how well I remembered what I’d learned before.

We revisited old haunts, Illyria remembered a lot of places, we caught up with people.

But I don’t live there anymore. I don’t know if we ever actually will again. For now, it was enough just to be there, to see Dajti, to say “përshendetje” and “faleminderit,” to tell the kids stories about their early years (and things they don’t remember), just to be there. It was enough.

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