Thursday, July 18, 2013

Epilogue--It Seemed Like it Would Never End. And then it Did!

The disclaimer to the right notwithstanding, this final entry entirely represents the views of Husband.  Wife is taking a well-deserved rest after 370 consecutive days of carving time out of her manic routine of balancing a career, caring for three young daughters, and managing a long-distance relationship with her heretofore absentee husband.  In the process she found a voice and an outlet that helped her stay sane and remarkably sanguine for a glass-half-empty-kind-of-a girl.  And while I am quite confident she will never forgive me for running off to Afghanistan, at the same time,  it was Afghanistan that helped her find that voice and I'm just foolish enough to suggest that I should get some credit for creating the scenario that helped her emerge as an established blogger.  365 Bad Days had over 40,000 hits and avid readers on six continents.  Husband will be eternally grateful to friends and readers who supported and sustained Wife.   Husband was humbled over the course of the past 365 days with a new understanding of his own role at home, but also the incredible fortitude and resilience of Wife.  He also now realizes that for every soldier or civilian on the front lines in conflict zones around the world, there are loved ones and families at home making heroic sacrifices.  Certainly in the case of Husband, there is no comparison between the hardships he faced this year and the incredible challenge that wife faced head on and survived.  She represents thousands of spouses in the State Department, the military and other federal agencies whose sacrifices go largely unnoticed, but make it possible for those deployed on the front lines to do what they do.    Wife, you are my hero!
Now husband has to finish packing for his next mission, "Operation Inhaling Freedom: The Great American Road Trip."  Home leave 2013 will be husband and three daughters in a minivan, traveling 7,500 miles across 24 states over the course of 32 days.  Wife will fly out and join us in the middle for the family reunions.  After 100 + hours of "quality family time" in the car, Daughters may be begging Wife to send Husband back to Afghanistan.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Good Day 1--Home

Husband is back home where he belongs and our long, hard, sad year is over. I learned a lot of things; some things I wish I didn't have to know like what a toilet flapper is or that you can drip water through the floor into the living room below when your shower is clogged and overflows and what happens when you don't change your furnace filter. And that I'm allergic to wheat. (I already knew about the chocolate.)

And I learned that I have amazing children and that occasionally it is handy to have a dog around when you are sad and having a purple day and can't get out of bed because you have to get up to walk The Dog. I learned that I have some very good friends, and I made some new ones. I learned that a lot of people thought that advice on learning what to wear to work from fashion magazines was as stupid as I thought it was. And I was reminded how much of a family the Foreign Service is to me. People from every continent (except Antarctica of course, unless the penguins have internet) are cheering for us that Husband is back. And I learned mostly that I am not alone and that families from all over the world have experienced or are experiencing the same thing.

So thank you, everyone who went on this journey with me. Thank you for the support and encouragement and suggestions about people who are having a worse day than me. And thank you to all the soldiers and sailors who protected Husband while he was in Afghanistan, and thank you to all the diplomats who are still working hard to end wars and make the world a better and safer place for everyone. I am more grateful to you than I can say.

This blog has been wonderful for me in so many ways. It gave me something to do in the evenings and I looked forward to writing it every day. People asked me if I thought I would run out of things to say--apparently not! But now we are starting a new chapter, so I hope you will join me there.

And finally, you know who is having a worse day than me today?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bad Day 369--One day more!

That title is for Child 2 because she's been singing that song all day. She loves Les Mis and keeps asking if we can make a video of us flash mobbing to "One Day More." I keep saying no. I'm pretty sure I won't change my mind about that one. But technically it's only one more night because Husband will be here in 8 hours. Eight hours and our unaccompanied tour will be over. Finished. History. It will linger in our memories for a long, long time and I'm not sure my leave balance will ever recover. But we have almost made it to the end. Now, sing that Elton John song, "I'm still standing!" with me.

I said good-bye to my awesome office today. It was hard, but since I'm not even leaving the building, I know I'll see them again. I will miss working with such incredibly smart and witty people, though. Thankfully, my new co-workers are really, really funny and they still laugh at my jokes, so I feel right at home. I was afraid I would have a hard time carrying everything all the way across the building (because my new office couldn't be farther away unless it was outside the building) but Child 1 and Child 2 came to have lunch with me and I made them be my Sherpas. That way they could see my new office and I would get help carrying my stuff.

Child 1 says every time she comes to the Department, she remembers why she wants to work there. I hope she will someday. I felt that way when I was just a couple of years older than her. And I remember my very first trip to the Department and it was magical and we accidentally got caught in a photo op with the Secretary and it made me never want to work anywhere else. It took me a while, including a 10 year detour to have children, but I did it and it is every bit as amazing and wonderful as I dreamed it would be all those years ago.

This pretty little girl in Georgia is having a worse day than me. Really, could she be any lovelier? I doubt it.

She unfortunately had severe neurological damage at birth and is in a wheelchair which was specially made for her. Her family took her to the Ships of the Sea museum in Savannah and they wouldn't let her enter because--get this--her wheelchair wheels might get the floors dirty. They said she could either use one of the museum's chairs, which I'm sure were made for adults and wouldn't fit her, or she could wait outside and watch a video while everyone else went inside. While she sat there. Alone. Denied admission because of her disability. Well, if you know me, then you know how infuriated I get about this kind of thing. That a museum would deny admission to a disabled child just turns on every mother bear instinct I have. I am about ready to drive down to Savannah and yell at that museum in person. So thank you, sweet child, for being the special girl you are and for reminding me that I need to pinch Child 3's cheeks because I just need to hug my scrumptious child. And to the Ships of the Sea museum, shame. on. you! You should never, ever turn a child away because of a disability, and if you do, you deserve every bad bit of publicity you get. And to the parents of this sweet girl, come on up to DC because I know from personal experience that the Smithsonian is very wheelchair accommodating and I can just tell by looking at her that your daughter would love seeing Dorothy's shoes.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bad Day 368--To dye for

I ruined Child 1's hair tonight. I didn't actually ruin it, but I helped her with the temporary dye she wanted and it turned out terrible--streaky and uneven and way brighter than we intended. So she is no washing it over and over with the harshest shampoo she can find. I hope it fades quickly. But that's the reason I wanted to use temporary dye, so that she wouldn't be stuck with it forever.

The problem with red hair is that hair dye is not made to cover keratin, so whatever color you think you're getting, you don't get and sometimes, because of the keratin, you end up with a sort of greenish under tint. That was not the problem this time, it was that the dye was so strong, it went purplish. It's not like this, though. That at least looks like it's on purpose.

And then there is the whole streaky problem. I feel horrible and Child 1 is mad and now at least she will never, ever ask me to color her hair again. Thank goodness because that is way more stress than I need at the moment. But I may have to pay for a salon job quick.

Husband is on his way home. He should be at the airport as we speak. I will be holding my breath until he arrives on Tuesday morning. Children, if you find me passed out and blue on the floor, just lie to me and say he's here. Everyone at church today kept asking when he was coming home and I couldn't stop smiling. It's like when I went to Hawaii for a month and came back and still smile when I think about it even though it was 13 years ago. I loved Hawaii. That was the best month of my life, ever. But this feels like that a little bit. Husband arrives home and I'm still standing. A little lopsided because my foot still hurts, but I'm standing. I went toe to toe against this unaccompanied tour, and we're at the end of the 9th round and I'm not knocked out yet. I'm beginning to think I might just survive. Look at me all optimistic!

This race car driver in Toronto is having a worse day than me. He won second place, and received a lovely crystal trophy, which he promptly dropped on the floor and broke.

So he can drive a car at 200 mph 5 inches from someone's bumper and not crash, but he can't be trusted with a crystal bowl. So thank you, Mr. Butterfingers, for reminding to be grateful that I still have my mother's crystal bowl after umpteen moves across the ocean. Remind me never to give it to a race car driver to hold.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bad Day 367--Godot arrives before Husband

I think I spend most of my life waiting. Waiting for the children, waiting for The Dog to find the perfect spot, waiting for the metro, waiting for people to clear on my papers, waiting for Husband to get home from Afghanistan. I think that if there is a God in Heaven, in the next life, people will have to wait for me. The children said they wanted to watch the A-team, but they are off somewhere doing something besides watching the A-team, so I am passing the time watching The Vicar of Dibley Parish, which is one of my favorite shows ever. I love Dawn French and this show makes me laugh out loud.

Child 2 just came in and confused the Vicar with Rosie O'Donnel. No. I love Rosie, but Rosie was not in any of the Harry Potter movies. Their education is sadly lacking. I have to fix that starting right now.

The children are here eating cheesecake on my bed, so it's time for the A-team and for the children to start quoting Mr. T. Never in my entire life did I ever think my daughters would run around saying "You can't drive, sucker!" and "I pity the fool!" It's surreal, really.

 This park ranger in Death Valley, California is having a worse day than me. She wanted to demonstrate how hot the record heat was in Death Valley, so she posted a video of an egg frying in the sun. Here is a still from the video.

The only problem is that people took that to mean that they should try frying eggs all over the national park which is now littered with spoiled eggs and cartons and broken egg-shells. And also, they forgot the pans. This is what happens to an egg on the sidewalk. It's not very edible.

You need a cast iron pan because they get really hot and a little oil to keep it from sticking, and it can take a while, so I wouldn't recommend actually eating the egg. Also, you can bake cookies on your dashboard. But that is beside the point because people should not be littering in national parks! That is just rude, and extremely unsanitary. So thank you, Ms. Ranger, for the awesome job you do taking care of our national treasures. And to the visitors frying eggs. Stop. It!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bad Day 366--Onward and sideways

Sometimes I wonder why I signed up for this. Just what exactly is good about leaving a job you love after only two years? I admit, that when you are in a place you don't like with an evil boss who gives you heart palpitations every time the phone rings or the door opens it can be a good thing to have an expiration date on your job. But as I contemplate leaving my dream job on Monday, I'm having second thoughts. My only consolation is that I am moving on to my other dream job, so although it is painful to leave, I am really looking forward to the next chapter.

We are having a girls' night in tonight. We ate Chinese food (gluten free this time) and we watched an episode of Say Yes to the Dress--Bridesmaids. I love looking at all the dress options, but why does any store even carry lavender satin? It's a travesty of fashion.

And now we are watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers again. Although I am pointing out often that it is a very, very bad idea to marry someone 15 minutes after you meet him, and also that a wife is more than a maid and a cook. And that corsets must have been really uncomfortable even though they made your waist super tiny. I honestly don't see how Jane Powell could sing and dance let alone breathe in that dress.

This princess is having a worse day than me and not just because she has the weirdest tan line ever.

FILE - This file photo provided by the Irvine Police Department shows Meshael Alayban, who was arrested July 9, 2013 in Irvine, Calif., for allegedly holding a domestic servant against her will. Alayban, who prosecutors said is one of the wives of Saudi Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud, was expected to appear in an Orange County court for arraignment Thursday, July 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Irvine Police Department, File)

No, it's because she was arrested for human trafficking because she hired a maid to bring with her to the US and then only paid the maid $220/month and made her work 120 hours a week and kept her passport so she couldn't leave. Thankfully, the maid had kept the pamphlet on her rights that the US Embassy had given her during her visa interview, so she knew she could go to the police for help. So she did and the police promptly arrested the princess. So thank you, Princess, for reminding me to be grateful that my country has labor laws that are enforced and no human has the right to own another, no matter how entitled they feel. And also, don't forget to put sunscreen on your nose.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bad Day 365--Well, where is he?

I've done my 365 days of penance  I'd like my husband back now, please. Unfortunately, he's still in Afghanistan and won't be home until next Tuesday. He is very excited to come home, I think almost as much as we are to have him home. In fact, he is already packed. And if you know Husband, then you know that is highly unusual. He never packs early. Never. I start packing for vacations/moves at least a week in advance. If it's a PCS (permanent change of station which is federal speak for moving to a new post), then I start separating things out a month ahead so I know what needs to be washed, what needs to be replaced, what needs dry cleaning, etc. Husband, on the other hand, throws a bunch of stuff in a suitcase a few minutes before the movers arrive, sometimes even while they are trying to pack the bedroom. So the fact that his UAB is gone and he is already packed means he is really ready to come home. But he can't because today is the beginning of Ramadan and then it's Friday and the planes don't fly to Kabul on Fridays and then he has to go check out at the Embassy and for heaven's sake can't he just do it all by e-mail and send him on the plane already! I'm a little anxious, if you hadn't noticed.

In fact, I'm so ready for him to come home that today I totally lived on the edge. First, I didn't have a baked potato for lunch--I had a taco salad instead which I made by buying crunchy tacos and a salad and mixing them together. It was OK, but I didn't feel all that great after. Then, I ate Chinese food for dinner with my friend who was medevaced (federal speak for you can't get medical treatment at your post so you have to go somewhere else) from China. And yes, I had dishes with soy sauce in them, and yes, I'm paying for it now. I know that I'm a complete hypocrite because yesterday I ranted about people who think it is all in my head but this is why I hate those people because I started thinking maybe it is all in my head! It's not and now I'm sick, but I think I can sleep some of it off and I will only eat rice and mashed potatoes tomorrow. The problem is that I miss Chinese food like you wouldn't believe. If 10 years ago you had asked me which food would be the hardest to give up, I wouldn't have guessed it would be spicy Szechuan eggplant and fried green beans, but they. are. so. yummy! My friend "Jonas" and I used to each get our own dish of green beans at lunch and we would eat every single one. They don't look like much, but believe me it is the best way to eat vegetables ever.

I am a good cook, but I cannot seem to replicate these green beans. I'm going to have to give it another go because I don't think I can live without them in my life and it's really not worth the pain I am in at this moment. But oh, I miss those green beans! They are almost better than brownies, but those I know I can never have again because there is no such thing as a delicious carob brownies and it's not a brownie if it doesn't have chocolate in it.

This rabbit is having a worse day than me. You can figure out why just from the picture.

I make no judgment about the college boys who made a video of a wild rabbit. But thank you, Frankenrabbit for reminding me to be grateful that all I have are hives from the soy sauce (I guess it's not just chocolate any more.) I am itchy, but I don't have horns.