August 23, 2018

I’m thinking of re-titling this blog Write Space. It’s what I really want from it – a virtual space to write in. A web-log of life.

I’m pivoting, slowly. It’s been a weird summer.

A while ago – I can’t even register how much time it has been – a year? Two? – I interviewed scores of people who have participated in a church-based exchange program for young adults, from different regions of the world. The oldest was 72, and had gone from southeast Asia to Indiana half a century ago. The youngest was 20, and had returned just four months prior. The main focus of the research was to assess notable impacts of the program in the lives of participants and in their communities. One pattern that emerged for me as I listened to story after story was that it took participants about five to ten years to really get a grip on what the impact of one year abroad had been for them. It took that long for people to be able to look back and trace the line from experiences they had had then, or people they had met then, to who and where they were now.

I think about that as I struggle to assess what the last few beats in my life have meant – achieving a doctoral degree, living and working for five years in Colombia, the return to Albania – this summer weirdly compressed all those aspects of the last decade of my life into an incredibly short time frame and I…. did not handle it well. There was drama. Add to it a tween daughter who finds me and her beloved grandmother mortally embarrassing to be around… and let’s face it, the current political climate in the US is nothing short of stressful… (blue voter here, just for the record).

So I’m trying to pivot. I have an idea for the next phase of my life; I’m just trying to dredge up the courage and self-discipline to see if I can make it work.


Fork in the Road

August 5, 2018

Welp, it’s been a while. I’m still here. I’m thinking about a rebirth for this blog; “project progeny” continues in terms of parenting my now 10 and 8 year old kids, but my life is no longer focused around procreation and as blogging genres go, it’s just not what I’m writing about here anymore.

I think I’ve pretty solidly hit midlife, with all the introspection and angst that goes with that (not that introspection and angst are anything new to my usual mode of being, I’ve just felt unusually stuck recently), and the themes of work and career as they intersect with identity are foremost in my mind. I have a lot of thoughts and I think I’d like to chronicle them – process on the page – a bit more.

So, I don’t know if I’ll keep this blog but rename it, or just start a new one with an entry here serving as the jumping off point, but I’m leaning towards the latter. It’s so easy to set up a new blog…  in terms of creating space to write, it’s also something of a symbolic step.

Don’t know if anyone is still reading… but anyway, here goes.

Baby Terror

March 3, 2017

So our pair of hamsters had babies… three of them. It was not a huge shock but still a bit of a surprise… almost immediately I became overwhelmed with fear and anxiety about these little things, these tiny translucent pink creatures with shadowy shut eyes.

My husband tells me that even if they die, even if their mother eats them, it doesn’t mean I am a bad mother. but it’s so hard for me to separate. As I shut down my computer at work, before I open my eyes in the morning, I wonder are they still alive?

I feed the hamsters bits of boiled egg, slivers of cheese, cups of sunflower seeds. I hover anxiously. Gimli says it’s bringing back memories of when our own kids were babies, the constant obsessive anxious attention.

We haven’t named them yet.

Obligatory NY post?

January 2, 2017

Last year I made a LOT of goals and resolutions. Some of them I kept, some of the time. This year I have a lot of things in mind that I’d like to do (publish an article, put together a panel for the next Anthropology meetings, perhaps begin to write creatively again) and one thing I MUST do: get a job. Our contract ends in October but we’ve told our boss that we plan to leave in June or July. What comes next is at best nebulous. There are some employment possibilities for Gimli, but none in the place where I most want to live. So I’m hunting. Impostor syndrome does a number on me though.

Some great things happened this past year; I wrote a chapter for an edited volume that should be coming out next year, and I got the opportunity to work on some really exciting (to me) projects at work that are ongoing this winter. I got to teach an online class (on NGO ethics) and loved every minute of it. I applied for and was offered a non-teaching university position, which although I turned it down (the timing was terrible and the pay was less than motivating) it was nice to be wanted.

I got to meet Pam!


As we prepare to leave Colombia, I don’t want it to be with the lingering bitter taste that threatens to overwhelm all other flavors. I was talking with my sister-in-law about this – realizing how much pain and anger there was in our work team when we arrived (because of something that happened a few months before we arrived), and it had nothing to do with us, but we absorbed a lot of it and it colored our whole experience as well as our responses to things and people. She suggested I spend some time processing non-verbally, whatever that may mean for me, to find out what I want to take with me, what I want to leave behind, and what I want to throw to the wind.

Protected: Something I’ve been trying to write for a very long time

January 2, 2017

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December 16, 2016

I can’t post the PWP thing yet, it’s too sad, and I’m already too sad about politics at the moment.

But if you like some levity that’s only vaguely political and entirely seasonal, check out Buzzfeed’s investigation of the PM’s political party in Love Actually! 


November 19, 2016

This morning in the shower I had lines from a potential blog post drafting in my head. As I got dressed I thought, “write it down. Write it down now.”

I’m at my annual professional conference, even though I haven’t presented in ages – I come to stay connected to the idea that I am an anthropologist. Finally, after the last elections, I am feeling like I have something new to say. I will probably throw an abstract into the pot for next year, and work on an article meanwhile.

Yesterday I saw a hand waving through a windshield outside the conference center and ran through the first smatterings of rain and snow to meet her – I read Pam’s blog archives (Bloodsigns) through from first to last while I was on bedrest in my second pregnancy, so that was seven years ago now. I first read her writing on one of those blog exchanges that happened in the mid-aughts, where in an effort to cross-pollinate our blogs someone organized a way for infertility/loss/adoption bloggers to guest blog for each other. Does anyone reading this remember that? I remember feeling so confused as the voice, style, and tone on this one blog suddenly changed so much, then realized what was happening. That was how I found Pam.

There is a truism in anthropology that we work “to make the strange familiar, and the familiar strange.” Meeting Pam was at once so familiar, and so strange. I have seen photos of her face on her blog, but more on Facebook (my husband thinks it is so strange that I am Facebook friends with half a dozen women I have never met in real life, that I know only in this electronically mediated way). “I feel like I know you!” she exclaimed.

We talked about our children, our writing, our feelings after the election. We drove through increasingly precipitating streets to the public library where we had coffee and pastries, then sat together at a poetry reading organized as part of the conference. We exchanged book recommendations.

I have to confess: meeting Pam in person was the thing I was looking forward to most about coming to this conference. Wish fulfilled.

Her actual speaking voice sounded nothing like the voice I had heard in my head while reading her blog, but the warmth in her smile and eyes conveyed the spirit I had come to know in her words.

We talked about making connections through blogging, and what that had meant for each of us during our years of actively working to build our families, through the pain and grief and fears of infertility. Neither of us is actively in that stage anymore – no more two-week waits – but there is something about feeling known and understood and accepted that we both miss about the ALI blogging community.

I’m thinking about changing my blog name, if not the URL. I’m thinking about remaking this online space as a place where I can re-engage in that practice of writing my life in community and connection with other women. I know that writing means reading means commenting means being present in other people’s lives as well.

I started this year with a lot of goals. I fell off the wagon on most of them within a few months. This is another attempt at a new start… I finished my dissertation; I know I can do this.



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.