Archive for July, 2013


July 30, 2013

I have been absent so much recently. I failed to transfer my Google Reader feed to another service in time and now I’m struggling to reassemble my reader from scratch (trying Feedly because I like the visual presentation). I’ve had blog posts circling in my head but feel stuck when I sit down to write.

The biggest thing on my mind right now is that we have accepted the first out gay service worker in our organization here (at least in this country program, I don’t actually know of any others anywhere else in the system) and it’s seriously rocking the boat for some of the other staff…  so, lots of difficult conversations happening at the moment. I’m just going to re-write my job description as “never a dull moment.” Visa issues seem like a walk in the park in comparison (even though 2 of our expat workers are under threat of deportation because they stepped on some powerful toes doing advocacy work…) I’ve also been reading some heavy stuff – a 500-page dissertation, basically – on sexual abuse within our denomination, which has sensitized me to micro-interactions that seem superficially harmless but then you think about power trips and silencing and it starts to seem so sinister. Even the way humor can be used in that way. So, just feeling heavy-hearted at the moment.

On a lighter note, the kids have transitioned beautifully back to life in Bogotá, apart from the jet lag it’s been incredibly smooth and I am so thankful for that. I’m so happy to be back on my salt-free way of eating, sharing more equally with my husband at work and at home (basically… he is doing ALL the cooking and food prep… it’s awesome!) Yesterday when we came home the babysitter had strung a piece of yarn from one couch to the next and the kids were busy twisting pipe cleaners around it, creating a bouncy, colorful fringe – they were sooooo excited to show us their creation and it was so pretty and simple. Then Gimli made black bean ginger curry for supper and Oz fell asleep at 7. Illyria was thrilled: “Now I have you all to myself!” It was a lovely evening.



July 10, 2013

It took me five seconds to remember why I love Albania, and three days to remember why I was so ready to leave.

I watched the coastline emerging from the clouds, then watched as the hazy hay fields of summer came into view below the tall blue mountains. Tiled roofs over white walls. Ribbons of road. The kids were riveted watching the ground come up to meet the plane. I couldn’t keep the tears from my voice.

I realized that this is where we began our life as a family of four. After a moment of initial strangeness, everything feels so familiar and beloved. Even though we haven’t gone back to our old neighborhood yet. I went shopping and immediately found all our favorite brands of juice, cereal, and other sundries; stopped at the fruit market next to the hostel and loaded up on fresh stone fruits locally in season. Bananas cost an arm and a leg but the cherries and melons are nearly free. The language comes and goes depending whom I’m talking to. It’s hot as heck.

The first thing I did, though, after unloading our bags and taking naps, was to walk two blocks over to Dhurata’s house. She was baking a cake for her and Oz’s shared birthday even though we hadn’t made concrete plans to come over that afternoon. We both cried. Her mother died a week before we arrived and she’s in mourning black.


This morning I woke up tired, feeling the jet lag after the initial excitement. Gimli came back after 2.5 days in another city doing the work that is paying our way here. All afternoon he was blind and deaf to us while writing his report, then off for coffees and beers with former coworkers. In the evening we went together to a playground that’s attached to a pizzeria and met up with his old team, and I remembered why I was so ready to leave this place that has such a strange, strong hold on my heart – I hate, hate, hate his job here. His team at work often referred to themselves as “the family,” because they bonded so well (often in opposition to other divisions at the organization) and I can see so clearly now how often I felt like I was in direct competition with them for his attention and time. Which translates, or feels like it does, into affection. I think it was hard to see this sometimes because I was never jealous of any particular person he worked with (well, maybe one, for a while, but not for very long). But this afternoon the tired resentment that flooded back felt so familiar, as I wrangled the kids while he worked, oblivious to us. It was so much easier, actually, to be a single parent when he was traveling.

I don’t love Colombia. I don’t hate it, but it’s just a place where we happen to live. I don’t miss it (although I do miss being fluent in the language of the place where I am). I do miss the work, our team, the partnership and the balance that Gimli and I have there (imperfect as it is).

I can’t explain why I love this place. I just do. It’s just so damn interesting. What places are you attached to? If it’s not where you live now, would you go back?

That Blessed Arrangement (that dream within a dream)

July 1, 2013

My cryptic situation continues more or less the same (the daily discipline of maintaining healthy boundaries). But I’m unpacking deeper layers of what needs work in our marriage (now also a working partnership). The Enneagram has helped me understand Gimli a lot better, but it has not given me much in the way of signposts to a better working relationship. One of the goals I came up with for my 40th year was to help him become a better person. This is very much in my mind right now. It’s hard, no? With your partner? He needs to feel like I have his back, so it’s hard when I see him hurting other people – my instinct is to rush to their defense, and then he feels betrayed. He can be incredibly generous to those under his care whom he identifies as “his” – his family, his tribe, his people; others, not so much; and if he feels like someone outside the circle is impeding him in some way he can be almost cruel. I feel like there are people on our team that he hasn’t adopted, in a sense, into the “my people” category, and so when they do things that he feels like go counter to what we are trying to accomplish, he has been cruel to them, and then I’m left cleaning up the mess. It’s been very hard to talk with him about this (and yes, I’ve tried more than once). Our organization has a leadership coach on payroll whom I’m hoping to talk with sometime in the next 2 months because I truly have no signposts for how to move through and out of this dynamic. I also explored ways to have our direct supervisor approach him about some things she’s observed, which I think may have a lot of traction since he respects her tremendously.

I’ve had no movement on my Project Dreamcatcher goals; I kind of knew that was a likely scenario given everything I’ve had going on in the past 2 weeks… and in the next 2 weeks, for that matter… I hope to get back on track when we return from vacation at the end of July. Meanwhile, I have confirmed with the Big Red graduate school that I have until August 2014 to finish my degree, and no more. So…. must. Buckle. Down.

Send some love, if you can, to the Nitting Kninja as their life gets knocked down, turned around, and more or less stomped on.