Archive for January, 2016

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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2016

January 19, 2016

Finally, some time to write. We have spent the last 18 days on vacation but Gimli has been working, and I’ve been with the kids almost 24/7 the whole time. I think the only exceptions to that have been brief grocery runs and potty breaks.

We went to Albania. I have too much to think about to say anything about that right now except that it was so worth it and I’m so glad we did.

Right now we’re in Peru at my parent’s house and it feels like the right place to be as well. My parents are slowing down like clockwork unwinding. It’s only a matter of time until we as a family collective will have to make some significant decisions. Initial conversations have begun… but it will be complicated, because of geography. Well, I’m sure I’ll come back to this later.

I wanted mostly to come to this space today to think about 2015 and 2016. The required New Year’s post. 2015 was a tough year, emotionally. So much that I don’t feel like rehashing right now. I ended the year feeling burned out and grumpy. What I know with absolute clarity is that I need to talk with my supervisor about some of this, or most of it. Just lay it all out on the table. The only actual plan I have for getting onto a better track is to let go of a lot of my dreams/hopes/desires/wishes for this work, and just be as professional as I possibly can. This job is not my own personal salvation and I think my biggest mistake has been thinking that it was.

I want to spend 2016 more focused on things that matter, and on the world around me. I’m thinking of drastically cutting back on Facebook time, celebrity gossip sites, and all computer games (includes tablets). They are huge time wasters and add nothing to my life. If I have the time and energy to play a game, then I have the time and energy to knit, and at the very least knitting brings something real into the world. Not a high score but a useful and hopefully beautiful item created by my own hands. (Although sometimes setting up and starting a project takes a lot more time and energy than just tapping on “new game”).

The other thing I want to do this year is journal and blog more. I want to write in my journal for 15 minutes every evening after the kids go to sleep, and blog 3x a week (twice on my family blog, once here). I’ve had a lovely hand-made paper journal for over a year and I think it has exactly four entries in it. I want to fill it up.

I have one more goal but I don’t know how realistic it is – to read a book a week. I’d like to be an academic book but it could be a novel I guess. If I can do a little of both that would be great. And I’d like to publish an article, if we’re going to be all goal-oriented up in here I may as well throw that one in too.

The question of when to leave Colombia remains unresolved. In part because I don’t just want to run away from all that has been hard and unfulfilling about our time here, but there isn’t anything clearly and strongly calling to me to run towards. At least not professionally. Going back to Virginia would mean friends and community and a bilingual school for the kids – but professionally I don’t know if there is anything there for me. Going back to Albania would be lovely, but it is so dang far away (see aging parents paragraph above) and again, I don’t know if there is anything there for me professionally either. Moving to Peru may happen at some point eventually anyway (could we talk my mom into moving to the US? Hard to say)… it would be for my parents, not for me really.

Gimli threw me for a loop in early December when he came back from a work even (that I didn’t attend because of the kids) riding a high of job satisfaction and suddenly talking about renewing our visas next September. I told him that even to consider it we would have to renegotiate some things at work, especially around communication – and it was good, I actually was able to say some things I’d been feeling for a long time but felt unable to say before. (Thank you, therapy!) I guess the talk I feel like I need to have with my supervisor is another part of this too – trying to see a way clear to staying.

So that’s where I am at the start of 2016. I have a lot of worries and fears, mostly about the kids – a new school year starts for them in February, and Oz will be joining his big sister at the elementary school that has been such a struggle for her. I worry about Illyria’s weight and that is a whole ‘nother can of worms that I tremble but need to write about. It will be a big change for Oz being at school full time, instead of half-days. Oh, and we’re moving to a different apartment as soon as we get back to Colombia. So… here we go.