Tuesday, June 18, 2019

All preparations have been made.

The past two weeks were busy for me with a week-long course about Iraq (its history, relationship with Iran, economic problems, our presence, customs, living in the diplomatic quarter, etc), followed by a week of "how not to die at post" training. Yesterday we finished up as much paperwork as we could, got my state.gov account working again, picked up our visas, and Ian received his flights from Amman to Baghdad.  So yes, he's going and going on time.  I am all set to go on time, which won't happen, but anything after that will require more hoop jumping and paperwork to change dates - and if I leave anytime after early August then my visa expires and I'll have to resubmit and then wait for the new visa which can take a couple months.

It's funny, right?  For our entire married life we've had kids.  We planned this for now precisely because all the kids would be where they need to be, and we'd get our first year just us really together.  In Baghdad, yes, but us.  And now we're potentially facing a year even more separated than we've ever been.


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Frankfurt... a lifetime ago already

Graduation was wonderful, primarily because we watched our fourth, our baby, our not-so-little young one hit that stage-walking milestone.  The venue was nothing special, the speakers were fine, our seats were off to the side, and the tears came anyway.  As much as it was a completion for him, it was for us. In another 6 weeks he'll be 18.  Then he'll be off to university. And it'll be Ian and me for the first time since before we were married.

That's the plan of course.  It looks like Ian will head to post on time and I'll hunker in limbo stateside until I'm allowed to join him, or until some point where we decide that Baghdad just isn't going to happen for me and I find a place to settle in and wait for his return.  It's not what we imagined, it's not what we wanted, but this lifestyle, like any one really, is full of twists and there's no amount of planning that can arrange for every potential upset.  I'm super lucky I have parents who will welcome my 44 (nearly 45) year old self back, and loads of friends in the area who are all in some form of transition themselves. My parents raised me overseas in Embassies far and wide, so they get it, and so do all my Foreign Affairs family folks.

The kids are all on their paths, Ian has an idea for what's in store, it's just me in limbo.  And that's fine. I'm not alone.

We left Frankfurt on a beautiful and warm Sunday morning and after some time I know I will miss being there.  To be honest, I do miss the roads and drivers already. The street lights and turn lanes in Northern Virginia make no sense. Ian drives everywhere (I drive at post, he drives on vacations) and I've been doing a spectacular job of backseat commentary and making him crazy, but the folks behind the wheel here just aren't very nice and they have some reason for it... the traffic patterns make no sense and are geared to leave people stranded in the middle of intersections or stuck at lights.  I'm annoyed and I've been here a week.

Though I may not go to Baghdad - but all the paperwork has already been processed - this past week I spent in Iraq Familiarization class. Suffice to say that it could easily be a 1-day class with required online lectures for the other 24 hours. There were days that my backside went numb from all the sitting, and jetlag is not your friend when the job is to quietly listen for 6 hours a day. Next week's training is FACT (Foreign Affairs Counter Threat) or Crash Bang.  There's noise and running around and hands-on programming.  I've been told it's fun.  They've fully phased in the requirement for all direct hires in all regions to take FACT (someone realized that accidents, emergencies, and terrorism don't just happen in war-torn nations) and it's good for 5 years. Completing it now isn't a waste, for when we do go abroad again it'll still be valid for me.

That's not to say I'm all that excited about heading to West Virginia for a week.  If Ian does go to post on time it tacks on another week apart.


But today is a day to visit Katherine.  So we're off and making the most of June that we can.