Monday, August 31, 2015

Where did all these scrunchies come from?

I am tired. Dog tired. More tired than The Dog who went to the vet to have her teeth cleaned today. Husband was a trooper and took her over his lunch hour because my lunch hour was taken up by People Who Want Something From Me, which apparently is everyone in the entire Embassy and they usually want it yesterday. In fact, one PWWSFM got upset because I didn't do the thing he wanted on Friday because I couldn't because he didn't give it to me until Monday. I know Foreign Service Officers are supposed to be able to do the impossible, but time travel isn't one of my talents at the moment, and if it were I wouldn't waste it on work. There are way more important things to do than to go back in time and ask someone to give you something to work on that they want and should be taking care of on their own. Just saying.

Like if I could time travel, I could go back to the moment in high school when I won the argument with my math teacher about the utility of learning about imaginary numbers and whisper in my ear you're right! You will never need imaginary numbers but please pay attention in geometry because it will help you pack your suitcase better. I could also tell my 15 year old self not to get my hair cut like Joan Jett. And I could wipe out a whole decade of too large turtleneck sweaters. See! The humanity! 
Then I would see if I could do something about Hitler and Osama Bin Laden and Air Supply. There really would be so much to do. Can time travelers run out of time? Or can you always just make more like popcorn?

One other thing I don't have time for, just like work that PWWSFMs forget to give me, is unpack boxes. I so had a plan to do that this weekend and then I went shopping and then I got a migraine so I unpacked three and called it good. That leaves about 8 left in my bedroom that need to be emptied before the rest of the stuff gets here. Because stuff is coming.
Winter is Coming - Brace yourselves! HHE is coming.

I know you thought we got our HHE already, but remember when I said that was only part of it? Well, it was actually the smallest part and more is coming and I have to find places to put it. But I am so, so very tired at the end of the day, it is all I can do to make it up the stairs and into my pajamas. I'm going to end up like Child 2 and just sleep in my clothes because I'm too exhausted to change and the boxes will never, ever be unpacked. You know that scene in The Incredibles where Helen calls Bob all excited because they are finally moved in and then Bob goes and throws his supervisor through a wall?

 Image result for the incredibles unpacking the last box

I know, you're right! It's totally not believable at all because the thing about being in the Foreign Service is you never, ever get that last box unpacked. Punching through walls could happen, but the last box is always there, staring at you until you hide it under a plant. I have boxes in storage that haven't been unpacked since 1996. At this point, they probably shouldn't be. I'll save them for posterity and my great-grandchildren will inherit them and they will look at the turtlenecks and say what on earth made her think that was attractive?!

So I can't decide if the comment card below is better than a brownie or not. On the one hand, it's the dumbest idea ever, which makes it soooo much better than your average brownie--just for the entertainment value. And on the other hand, it's the dumbest idea ever and what has America come to? You decide. I'm going to bed and not unpacking boxes. You know, if I could time travel, I could take naps! Gotta get on that time traveling thing.

My friend works at Yellowstone and some guests actually left this with the front desk upon checkout this morning

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I don't care if I get detention!

Years ago, Staples had the best back to school commercial ever.  It was a dad dancing around joyously buying school supplies while his kids moped. If you're a parent, you can relate. I love back to school time! After months of whining about how boring our house is and how come everyone else is going to Canada for summer vacation and why don't we have a pool membership and there is nothing to do! After months of that, the kids finally go back to school and you can breathe, at least until homework is due.

But as much as I love back to school time, the one thing I hate is Back to School Night. Or as I like to call it--humiliate the parents and make them feel stupid night. Because no matter how many times I do this, I can never, ever figure out the schedule correctly. This year was not as bad as the year Husband was in Afghanistan and I had to split myself in two and go to half and half at the high school. But it was still so bad I made sure to thank Child 1 for graduating and going to college in Hawaii so I only had to go to two BTSNs. Seriously, they make you run up the stairs and down the stairs and across the campus and then back and up the stairs and down the hall and by the time you find the stupid class, the bell rings and you move to the next one.

Last night at the high school BTSN, I got lost on the way to the band room and totally missed band which was the only class in which I knew anybody. Luckily, I wasn't the only parent lost. There were three of us wandering around in the dark. Then tonight, I lost Husband who forgot which floor was the first floor and was wandering around the second floor looking for the first. And the very worst part of all was the introduction of something called "social hour" which apparently is everyone standing outside in the heat eating foods I can't eat like cookies and sandwiches and socializing because they all know each other from last year except me because I'm new. So I hid inside the auditorium and messaged my friends pretending to be super busy and important so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone. It totally worked. Only I told the children about it, so tonight, Child 3 left me a note sending me on a scavenger hunt and admonished me to get out there and meet people for heaven's sake and how did she ever get such shy parents!!? So I showed her! I finished the scavenger hunt without talking to a single parent, and I even skipped gym and hid in the bathroom. So. There!

We also got a lecture from her language arts teacher on the improper use of run-on sentences and sentence fragments and I completely chose not to pay attention because I am an adult and I can do what I want. Whenever I want. Just because. Hmph! (Just kidding, Child 3. Listen to your teacher. Only grown-ups are allowed to write run on sentences.)

So going to BTSN isn't better than a brownie, but watching super fierce women break barriers is. Two women, Capt. Kristen Griest and Lt. Shaye Haver will graduate from Ranger school--something no woman has ever done before. And something many men have failed at. And they did it all with about a billion cameras taking their photo. So ladies, I salute you. I have carried many a person on my shoulders, but most of them weighed less than 30 pounds and they certainly weren't six feet tall. You are amazing and I hope many little girls will see you and realize they can be all they can be, whether it be in the army or the Foreign Service, or the classroom, or the boardroom. Rangers lead the way! Now someone lead me to my bed because BTSN plum wore me out.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Where the streets have no name

On Friday, we moved into our new house, finally! And 1/2 our stuff came and it did NOT perish in the train wreck. In fact, it was in better shape than most of our moves, so our packers in the US at least did that part right. Note: these were NOT/NOT the same packers who ruined my high school yearbooks. Note: NOT/NOT is a stupid Department convention that likely stems from the time when cables were actually cables that got transmitted via telegraph wires. It is supposed to read "Not repeat Not" and only old fuddy duddies still use it, or people who like the way it looks for comic effect. I'll let you decide which one I am.

It is a lot of fun to be in a house with stuff. The only not fun part is the unpacking. Thankfully we had our awesome housekeeper and her niece to help out and the movers had a lot of fun sitting on the floor and unwrapping all our decorative things and kept offering to place them around. I kept turning them down, but maybe I shouldn't have because it might have been fun to see what they would have created. Husband is trying to help, but when he destroyed the Garden of Gethsemane that we've had on the cedar chest since we got married and moved into our own apartment, I banished him from decorating. He retaliated by putting two vases and a globe in the wrong spot on a shelf I can't reach without a ladder. That's what I get for being married to a tall garden destroyer. OK, it wasn't actually the Garden of Gethsemane. It's really only a statue of Jesus and a jade flower tree, but honestly they've literally been together on our table for over 20 years and how. could. he. not. know??! He has NO respect for tradition.

I know you are all on pins and needles about the washer situation. Our new washer in our new house is American, so we can actually read it and figure out what things mean. It will be a lot less exciting doing the laundry now, but our clothes might last longer. The GSO actually came and replaced the last washer because it turns out it's not supposed to have a pool of water in the bottom that smells bad. When they installed the new washer, it had words! Some words, anyway. What we thought was a pot of spaghetti with noodles sticking out was actually a hand reaching into a tub. So spaghetti was hand wash. Which makes me wonder what the butterfly was. Were we supposed to only put butterflies in the wash? Is a butterfly more delicate than a flower? For those of you who haven't experienced the joy of European washers, here is a chart for you to figure out.  The fast-moving snowflake is my favorite. Maybe that's for winter work-out wear? The loaf of bread is also incomprehensible. Come to think of it, these might be the symbols for a stove, which makes it even worse. Why would your stove make a snowflake cry?

Our stove has gas burners and I love it. Although I'm learning that they use a different kind of gas here that doesn't burn as hot because in order to cook anything, I have to turn the heat way, way up. Also, when you try to make chili without chili powder and substitute Tabasco sauce instead, go a little easy on it. Child 3 was fairly weeping at dinner from the pain and we used a LOT of sour cream and cheese to mitigate the heat. But still, finding almost all the ingredients for chili was a bonus and our kitchen really smells like home. 

The problem with only receiving half our stuff is that the important stuff is in the second half that hasn't arrived yet. So we have only six plates, and seven bowls, but our beer steins from several Marine Corps Balls are here. We have glassware galore, but only one small whisk. We have 5 cases of corned beef, and a LOT of maple syrup, but no hangers. I should have thought this out a little better. We also lack a toaster, iron, ironing board, trash  cans, and I REALLY want one of those electric kettles that boil water in seconds because a cup of peppermint tea in the morning is lovely. And bath mats and shower curtains for 5 bathrooms. Yes, you heard me. 5. Don't judge. We now have a bathroom for each teenage girl and it is glorious. I love my new house. 

Unpacking is definitely not better than a brownie, but streaming M*A*S*H on Netflix is, so guess what I'm going to do now? I think I may need to figure out how to make one of these for our house.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

It's a new kind of color blind

I live in India. I know this does not come as a shock to many of you because I wrote months and months ago about how I was moving to India. But it has actually happened! Really. No. Seriously. I'm in India. right. now. I'm writing this over and over again to convince myself that it has actually happened because there were definitely times when I was certain it would not. Like when I had to have my thyroid jammed with very long and thick needles by a frat boy pretending to be a doctor. Or when I thought the pack-out would never end. But it did end and now I am here. Only I'm still in temporary housing.

Now, a word about Foreign Service housing. It is free, so I don't complain about it much. Only when things go terribly wrong like there is a burst pipe in the bathroom at 3am or a typhoon drops a giant tree on top of it (both true stories.) So I'm not complaining that I'm in temporary housing that is decorated in "early circus tent" or that the washer is completely confusing and impossible to work. It has four settings--flower, upside-down ice cream cone, butterfly, and spaghetti. There are no words, just pictures. There are lots of snowflakes, but if you push a snowflake nothing happens. We've mostly been using the spaghetti setting, and sometimes butterfly. So far the clothes haven't disintegrated, so we're hoping that's the right approach because the average cycle takes 3 hours. And we're also hoping that when we finally get to move into our actual house, then we will have a washer that we can figure out. The dryer is awesome. It has two settings--high, low. You can turn it on or off. I love the dryer.

I'm not kidding about the circus tent, either. Each room in the house is a different color and some of the individual the walls as well. We have turquoise, saffron, magenta, slate blue, teal, and lime green. The furniture is gold and the rug is red. I hear that the previous occupant said he wanted something cheerful, but it's rather more grimace inducing. I think the living room gives me a headache. It's a little like this only less coordinated.

We may be moving into our house next week, which would be awesome. It is a charming house with lots of space for our things, which would look lovely in it. However, we're not sure we actually have any things anymore because we got an email from our shipping company saying there had been a train wreck and they would get back to us. Thankfully it was not this accident in which people died. That was an actual tragedy which helps me keep the possible loss of all our things in perspective.

They told us it was a different accident and the company had sent a photo showing part of the train sunk in water. The ground under the tracks gave way and the train just sunk. They have assured us that our things are not in the water. So we may have things still, if they're not taken off the train by "salvagers" and we may eventually get them if they figure out how to get the train out of the water and back onto a track that is intact. So to my friends who put a Christmas tree in our HHE, I'm sorry that your tree might have perished in a train wreck. Thankfully we have insurance, which I'm pretty sure we're going to need. And here's a trip for the future, if you live in India and are receiving your goods by train and they might have been in a wreck, do NOT Google "train river wreck India." It will give you nightmares.

So obviously living in India has its challenges, but exploring a new city with places like this is way better than a brownie.

We've been to markets with spices and jewelry and clothing, ridden in rickshaws, gone to eat at amazing restaurants, and even managed to find ingredients locally for taco night. So even if I never see my beautiful sweaters or my Chinese 100 Fu chest again, it will still have been worth it. I'm a little sad about the baby photos and the Christmas ornaments, though. Those are harder to replace than sweaters, which I'm already looking online for. Which reminds me--it's time to go shopping!