Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What a difference a year makes

Wow. This blog is one year old today. One year ago, I was a newlywed, still dealing with the letdown from the wedding, lost in the chaos of packing Nick out for Afghanistan, unsure of when I would be joining him in country, and feeling overwhelmed by the sheer uncertainty, magnitude, and jumping-off-a-cliff feeling of it all.

So where am I now? I feel like I have come a long way in some ways -- after all, it's 6930 miles from DC to Kabul -- but in many ways little has changed. I'm in Afghanistan, obviously, so that's one major difference. I'm writing speeches for ambassadors, visiting military bases out in the middle of nowhere (more on that later), riding around in armored SUVs, and living in a place only a small number of Americans ever see. I've also collected a fantastic and diverse group of friends, who have lived in every country imaginable. And I've collected a whole bunch of new stamps in my passport, with more to come (we're looking at cycling the Dalmatian coast in September!)

But I'm still dealing with letdown, a feeling that plagues me every time we come back from leave. I'm still dealing with chaos, but now it's the chaos of trying to push out a massive development initiative, with many moving parts, to empower the Government of Afghanistan to operate at the district level. I'm still unsure, but now it's about where we'll go once our tour in Afghanistan is done in June 2011 (we start the bidding process for our next post in July). I'm still overwhelmed, now by the unbelievable amount of work that remains to be done in Afghanistan. I'm uncertain about the choice we made in coming here, and overwhelmed by the magnitude of what the people of Afghanistan and the US Government are trying to accomplish. That "jumped off a cliff" feeling has never really gone away.

Now that I've probably depressed and scared you all, I'm not really sure how to wrap this up. Nick and I keep taking it day by day, evaluating our choices and trying to figure out the best options for where we'll go after Afghanistan. We know that paying our dues now will open up more possibilities for our future, and that's what we focus on during the really bad days. We love each other, we support each other, we still find ways to have fun together -- even with our limited freedom while on the compound -- and we know that at the very least we'll come out of our tour with some cool stories and interesting experiences.

Thanks to all of you -- family, friends and strangers alike -- who have been following along and keeping tabs on our adventure. I'll keep updating as often as I can...or at least as often as I have something interesting to talk about. And Nick and I will see a whole bunch of you when we're stateside in just 16 more sleeps!

Lastly, as a thank you present to our loyal readers (or maybe just to M&D M and M&D X)...links to photos from our trip to Singapore and Bali, plus a video bonus!

I never delivered on my promise to tell you all about our trip. At this point I'm not sure I'll ever get around to finishing those posts, and I'm starting to get a backlog of photos (Jalalabad and Kandahar, coming soon!). So, enjoy. And thanks for sharing the past year with us!

Wedding photo by Lara Swanson, who rocks!


video

3 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness - Liz, you are GORGEOUS and you guys make such a handsome couple!

    I love the photos you put up on Facebook - simply love them! And I'm so glad you're blogging from Afghanistan - it's so interesting to read about your experiences there. Great video, by the way!

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  2. It's Friday, and it’s the Weekly State Department Blog Roundup’s Three Month Blogiversary - and you're on it!

    Here is the link:

    http://bit.ly/azzT3n

    (If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me.)

    Thanks!

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  3. One thing is for certain ... life in the FS is never boring! Congrats on hitting your 1 year mark... it's a milestone that not everyone can say they've made.

    Here's hoping you've ALSO collected several rugs - I hear the ones there are fantastic!

    And best of luck as you bid on your next post... after 2 years in Kabul, you definitely deserve something good. :)

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