Archive for October, 2012


October 31, 2012

Tomorrow is our last day in the US before moving to Colombia. I’m kind of frazzled. Loose ends dangling everywhere. I think we’re going to be ok. November is going to be a crazy, crazy month… I’m kind of hoping things will settle down in December a bit, although Gimli’s trying to work in just one more trip back to Albania…

I am so very ready not to be living in my in-laws’ home anymore. They’re lovely people, but we just need to be in our own space again. I’m feeling very crowded (mentally more than physically).

Sometime I’ll have to tell you about the stress-fest that was our last Sunday at church… how I wrestle with the fear of other people’s judgments (real or perceived)…

See you on the other side!


Puttering on rainy weekends, autumn days that make you feel sad

October 19, 2012

I’m in Ithaca. For just one day. I drove down from my aunt’s house early this morning, but not nearly early enough – got a little lost downtown (it’s been three years since I’ve been here!) and was ten minutes late to my first meeting – I also didn’t think to grab an umbrella and got soaking wet. It’s good to be here. In a lot of ways I wish this was still my life… hunkering down in the warmly-lit library to work through horrible weather, meeting friends for lunch, surrounded by brainy people doing interesting intellectual work. It’s easy to feel that way right now, I think, with the adrenaline rush still singing in my veins from running to my meeting through the rain.

My kids, my husband, and my parents are all at my aunt’s farmette today, hopefully having a ton of fun. We’re spending the weekend with friends and family in the area, driving back to VA Monday. Then ten days until we move to Colombia.

It’s all good.

Do you know the Dar Williams song, Southern California Wants to Be Western New York? It’s so perfect:

…and there’s another part of the country with a land that gently creaks and thuds

where the heavy snows make faucets leak in bathrooms with free standing tubs

and there are houses that are haunted with the kids who lie awake and think

about other generations past who used to use that dripping sink

Sometimes Southern California wants to be Western New York

Wants to have a family business in sheet metal or power tools

And it wants to have a diner where the coffee tastes like diesel fuel

Wants to have a snow day that will turn the parents into kids

And it wants to know the glory of a town they say has hit the skids

And it’s embarrassed but it’s lusting after a SUNY student with mousy brown hair

Who is taking out the compost, making coffee in long underwear

But I hear they’ve got a theme park planned to make you gasp and say

I bet that crumbling mill town was a booming mill town in its day

And they’ll have puttering on rainy weekends, autumn days that make you feel sad

And a-hundred-year-old plumbing and the family you never had

There’s something about the trees here, the forest and farm smells, the down-at-the-heels rural rust belt feel that feels like home. My dad’s family is from these parts for generations back – one of our ancestors came on the Mayflower. My grandfather’s potato farm was our home in the US when I was growing up. My uncle and cousin still farm it. Part of why I came here for grad school was feeling connected to this place, to the people, the land.

I’m hoping that my in-laws’ home in Virginia will be like that for my kids. Oz was born there, and it’s becoming a place to return to. It’s a wierd thing, being a “third-culture” kid – you end up feeling profoundly connected to disparate places, while never entirely being “from” there.

So. Ten days until Colombia. Am I crazy for feeling good about going?


October 12, 2012

I’m sitting in a library – an actual library – on a crystalline-cool fall morning, wearing my “student” clothes (worn jeans, long-sleeved striped shirt in grey and black with faux button-down collar and cuffs, denim ballet flats) with three solid hours to work on a paper I’ll be presenting at a conference just over a month from now. Also on my to-do list: apply for absentee ballots, find time to hang with friends we haven’t seen in two years and won’t see for another five, take a nap with Oz in the afternoon. On my “done” list: long-overdue checkup at the dentist (THREE cavities!!! Boooo!); picked up visas for Colombia.

Shifting and overlapping identities. Adjust the lens and a different layer comes clearly into view, then recedes into blurred dimness. The colors and patterns of my life, my self – there’s something stable through the ebb and flow. Academic, adult child of missionaries, advanced maternal age. Liminally Latina. It all comes together behind these dark brown eyes. These are the eyes through which I see the world.

Who will I be today?

I feel so happy right now. The sunlight poured into Millie and Phil’s living room at a slant through the blinds this morning, the kids played contentedly with the smorgasbord of toys and puzzles at their disposal there, Gimli and I drank our coffee and talked over the schedule for the day. “Not in a hurry to get to work, are you?” he asked. I started guiltily and said, “I’m just enjoying this.” He said “Yeah, I am too.”

So many unknowns in front of us. We have (furnished) housing and child care lined up for us already in Bogota, a team anxiously awaiting our arrival as it will ease their workload significantly (they’re in an interim situation since the previous national director left in June – although she’s still around, is now regional director, and will actually be our supervisor!), and a Skype conversation last week cleared up a lot of our questions about what will be happening the first few weeks at least in logistical terms. But the biggest unknown for me is, how will the kids cope? How quickly will they learn Spanish? What will school be like for Illyria? She loves it here – loves it. Will she like Colombia?

So that’s where I am right now. It’s been haaaaard without regular, scheduled child care to make time for blogging. Now that Gimli’s picking up the slack a little more, I hope to be more present here.


October 7, 2012

So busy. So tired. Happy, though.

We’ve been living in the family room at Millie and Phil’s for a month now, and just now it is finally beginning to be a little bit annoying. Ironically, I noticed a shift when my husband arrived – with him here paying attention to the kids, I was freed up to do more housework, and I keep tripping over my lack of orientation to Millie’s systems. I put the dishes in the dishwasher the wrong way, handled the recycling the wrong way, pulled the blinds the wrong way. I’m in her space and I need to do things her way, and I’m trying. I don’t recover from mistakes very gracefully – too hard on myself, I suppose, and then I get resentful of the standards. On the other hand, Gimli’s a good buffer because he doesn’t take their quirks very seriously and loves to kid them all the time.


Earlier this week I traveled alone to a Prairie city for meetings related to our new position in Colombia. It felt good to be taking a lead role, leaving Gimli home with the kids for two nights, but [insert expletive of your choice here] I had no idea how much milk Oz was getting from me until I was away from him overnight. (Yes, I’m still nursing my 27-month-old.)

So. Much. Pain. I didn’t have a pump, I was trying to hand-express milk in random restrooms, and spent a good hour in my hotel room the second evening lying in the bath trying to ease the pressure and pain. By that time I felt weak, almost feverish, light-headed – and couldn’t tell how much was from the pain (almost a bit of shock, maybe) and how much was from lack of sleep and travel fatigue. Or both combined. In any case, it was AWFUL.

The second day I wore a different bra, and was slightly better. When I got home finally the kids were asleep in the big king-sized bed we’re all sharing. I slid in between them and when Oscar stirred I gladly gave him the breast. It took him maybe 5 minutes to drain one side completely. I can’t even describe the relief.

It took about 3 days for the pain to go away totally, so I think I might have had a plugged duct situation going on on one side.

When I leave them for 5 days in November, you can bet the farm I’m taking a pump.