So I’m sitting at my desk crying over photos of Tirana, of all things, when I realized – yep, got my period today.
Archive for July, 2014
This morning by 8 a.m. I had so many thoughts and emotions brewing internally I didn’t know what to do with them all. First of all was – is – Illyria’s food drama. Things were going pretty well at her new school, until we had a 3-week mid-year recess. This past week was her first week back and it was really rough. Friday when I went to pick her up she was crying because, she said, “the teachers want me to eat and I don’t want to.” I had a long talk with her classroom teacher who wants me to learn to cook Colombian dishes to feed to the children at home. Well, it seems logical I guess, but I don’t think it’s going to happen… first of all because I don’t do the cooking, Gimli does.
There are so many culturally-based assumptions and ideologies about parenting, about food, about how to handle cultural differences on both those axes – I can tell you that my empathy for the immigrant families I worked with in the US has magnified a thousand-fold. I mean I was pretty empathetic before this experience, but now I feel it to the quick, how hard it is to feel judged on a completely different scale than the one you use to judge yourself. And when the expectations that seem so clear and obvious and natural to the school feel weird and uncomfortable to the parent.
The teacher also thinks we should speak only Spanish to the kids at home, even though research shows that a strong foundation in the mother tongue is critically important to second-language acquisition and fluency. But why would she know that? As far as I know, there’s only one other expat family at that school.
So, I spent the weekend looking with Illyria at food groups charts, and talking about why we feel it’s important for her to at least TRY to eat the lunches at school (which I know to be healthy, fresh, and balanced nutrition). She is so picky. It is SUCH an effort to get her to try new things. And she has expanded her repertoire so much this year already – tomatoes, rice, chicken…. I want her to know I am proud of her and I Love her no matter what. I fear that I’m setting her up for an eating disorder. I feel so conflicted about this whole issue.
My dissertation buddy is in a tough spot and I spent a while this morning writing an encouraging e-mail. I realized a lot of it was also a form of self-talk. My goal is to submit another chapter at the end of this week. Which means I need to organize my work obligations well.
Gimli has organized our kitchen so we can both go on the Zone diet for a while. We did this shortly after we got married and really liked it. We’re much less physically active now than we were then, but at least we can give it a go. I’ve been having a lot of dizziness lately, I attribute some of it to poor sleep, but I know I’ve been lazy about keeping salt out of my diet and preparing all our own food will help. He is super excited about it!
There are a bunch of little things at work and at home kind of gnawing at me, that I have to figure out how to process/cope with/answer in some way. I really enjoyed this article about tree-planting, I think it applies to almost any kind of work – without the trench foot though!
So earlier this week, blog-friend Pam put out an SOS and others in the community lit their beacons for her. And it feels trivial to meander on about the mundane happenings in my own life, especially when other IRL friends are immersed in their own battles as well. But here I am… kind of enjoying that there’s not much going on at the moment. I’m having low-level anxiety symptoms about work, realizing how much of this is part of my personality – being hyper-sensitive to criticism, perfectionistic, but also a little lazy (especially when something can’t possibly be perfect). Does one ever outgrow these things?
I’m beginning to no longer feel like we just got here. Case in point: we bought 2 guinea pigs for Oz’s birthday! And Gimli and I are going to go on a diet together. My feeling is that both those things indicate that we’re feeling settled enough here that we can actually pay attention to mundane things… it no longer feels like we’re just surviving.
One of my counterparts in Central America and her husband just terminated their contract with our organization, after 15 months in. I was not shocked at all. I’d been hearing from her for months what a toll this job was taking on them. I’d been feeling it, living it. I think Gimli and I have had it a LOT easier than a lot of others in our position in other countries, partly because of the staff we have here, partly because we’ve worked together frequently before (and have negotiated a lot of our differences), partly because of the experiences we bring to the table. A good part because our predecessor and now-supervisor is fantastic.
I probably shouldn’t write so much about work on the web, right?
I just had the best solo-parenting weekend I’ve ever had. It was… actually fun! So that was cool. Gimli is back in Albania this week, and I keep thinking how strange it is that we both got so attached to that place, to the people there. Right now we’ve been in Colombia for about 18 months, which was the point in time in Albania when we started thinking about what to do, where to go next, or whether to stay on there longer. But it doesn’t feel like the same amount of time. I still feel like we just got here. And I really don’t understand why it feels so different.
Anyway, even though it was a long holiday weekend, the kids and I had a good time. I didn’t feel as exhausted as I usually do, and I found myself just enjoying the kids so much more. I think that has to do with them getting older, and interacting with them is easier. They’re also a ton more helpful when I ask them to do things for me, there are more things they actually can do, and that’s so nice.
We also bought two guinea pigs for Oz’s birthday coming up – Illyria looooves animals so she is in 7th heaven. It’s been neat learning about what guinea pigs need and how to care for them. Oz named his Leona (original idea was “Lion” but they are both female) and Illyria named hers Brown and White (yes, she is very literal sometimes…). We spent a lot of time setting up their space in the kids’ bedroom, but I’m going to have to move the corral because their little noises keep Illyria awake at night.
In dissertation news, I made more progress in the last 2 weeks than I think I did in the last 6 months! I sent a chapter to my committee and I should have 2 more chapter drafts ready by Friday. I’m pretty close… So that feels good too. Things are going well at work, no major crises (knock on wood), so that allows me to take all this time off for writing.
I’m using an online stopwatch to discipline myself, I know it’s not a direct measure of productivity but at least I can see exactly how much time I’m wasting, how much time I’m actually writing, and how much time I spend checking sources and re-reading stuff. It has worked pretty well.