Saturday, January 14, 2012

And he's off

After a lazy morning in bed, packing the last of Nick's clothes and eating one last Jimmy John's sandwich, we headed to the airport. Some members of the Kabul Krew gave us a lift and provided the libations we're holding in the picture below. We checked in his 107 lb bag (repacked so as not to exceed the airline's 99 lb limit, but paying $400 in excess baggage fees!) and said our goodbyes.

And then he was off. And now we're counting down 15 months until I joined him in Cairo.

I'm trying very hard not to be too sad because this separation was a voluntary choice. I chose to go to graduate school knowing full well that it meant spending time apart from Nick. He supported my decision knowing full well it meant going to Cairo without me. We haven't been forced into this separation, like we would if Nick was in the military, or like when he had to leave for Kabul before we knew whether or not I would be able to join him. The government hasn't forced this separation upon us.

But this reasoning doesn't help fill the space in my life he's left behind.

Safe travels Nick. Be safe, be healthy, be well. And know that I will never be able to thank you enough for letting me live out my dream.

Friday, January 13, 2012

One Day More

Packout went fast. Really fast. Suspiciously fast. I am concerned.

The rest of the week has gone fast. Way too fast. Fun times included finishing season 4 of True Blood, lunch at Fogo de Chao, and a super fun going away party, complete with karaoke. I had fun.

Nick leaves for Cairo tomorrow. I have no more chores or tasks to distract myself with. I am sad.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Out with the old, in with the new, and on to the next post

I apologize for the long silence. I wasn't kidding when I said I didn't really know what to do with this blog while Nick and I were both stateside. But that's all changing very soon, so I figured this was as good a time as any to get the blog going again. Plus I have to post my traditional New Year's questionnaire (click here if you want to review my 2009 and 2010 responses).

But first, a quick summary of all that's happened over the past few months:

  • It was a sprint to the finish, but I completed my first semester of grad school at NYU with a 4.0 GPA.
  • I landed an internship for the spring semester with the Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC), working in their institutional giving department.
  • Nick worked his ass off and passed Spanish on his first try!
  • Our packout for Cairo is scheduled for January 9. Nick departs for post on January 14.

We're in the middle of packout hell right now, spending money like there's no tomorrow and sorting through all of our belongings trying to determine what we're taking to Cairo, what we're putting in storage, and what we're getting rid of. It's a little easier than when we packed for Kabul, because we don't have to worry about not having enough space for whatever we're shipping overseas. Our apartment in Cairo has 4 bedrooms and 3 full baths. That's 2 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms more than we've ever had! Really we only own a 1 bedroom apartment's worth of furniture, hence why space isn't a concern. We decided to take advantage of the extra space by turning one room into a gym/ we bought a treadmill, elliptical and weights. But honestly, the thought of having so much space is a little overwhelming, especially since Nick will be living there alone for the first 15 months. However, having so much space means lots of room for visitor. So friends and family, start planning your vacations now. You've got until January 2016 to take advantage of our hospitality and proximity to the Pyramids!

After packout comes the farewell party, the last night together, and then the final goodbyes on January 14. And then I'll be sad for a really long time; until Summer 2013 2015 exactly, by which point I will hopefully have graduated from NYU and be on my way to reunite with Nick in Cairo.

But more on that later. Or not, depending on how sad I am.

Anyway, as promised,here are my reflections on the year that was and my hopes for the year to come.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

Visited Hong Kong and Australia, went on a boondoggle to Panjshir, moved to New York City, pet (and ate!) kangaroo, watched horse racing, went to a Black Eyed Peas concert, learned how to use a squat toilet

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Let's go through them one by one, shall we? My resolutions for 2011 were:

  • Figure out a long term career plan, even if it means going back to school – I’m still working on the career plan bit, but I did start the process by going back to school
  • Run more local races, at least one half-marathon; try to run the 2011 Budapest Marathon – Well, the Budapest Marathon plan went out the door when Nick lost his assignment there. I did fulfill the Sisters M tradition of running a Thanksgiving race, and Nick joined us!
  • Trek to Everest Base Camp – Nope. We scratched that trip in favor of Australia. I think it was a good swap.
  • Do at least one good deed each week -- Maybe?
  • Try a new hairstyle and/or hair color – nope, although I’m still toying with going darker.
  • Spend at least 2 hours per week reading – Yes, grad school requires more than 2 hours of reading each week. Although when I wrote this resolution, academic texts weren’t really the type of books to which I was referring
  • Get another piercing – Sigh, no. Still want to though. Come on Sister J!
  • Get plans in place for a kickass 40th wedding anniversary gift/celebration for my parents – Ugh. No. I suck.
  • Help my mom organize at least one charity drive for Afghanistan -- Nope
  • Write in this blog more often to keep a record of our transition from Kabul to Budapest – Well, I think I did an ok job recording our departure from Kabul. I’ll try to write more now that Nick’s departure for Egypt is imminent.

Ugh, not a great track record there.

Resolutions for 2012:

  • Stop chewing the inside of my cheek
  • Run a half marathon
  • Visit one NYC museum per month
  • Get another piercing and do something different with my hair
  • Write in the blog more often, and get Nick to write from Cairo
  • Plan something awesome for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary
  • Read at least one non-school book each month

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yep. We’ve got two new members of Family X. And lots of friends and colleagues had babies, and even more are currently expecting.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My mom’s cousin.

5. What countries did you visit?
UAE, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Australia

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Lots of nights at the theater. I'm already staring to make that happen.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • March 17: Nick and I and a few others threw a legendary Red Tent party, and I got accepted to NYU
  • May 6: Our first nephew joined Family X -- Evan James
  • June 11: We left Afghanistan
  • June 12: We arrived in DC
  • July 6: Nick started Spanish training
  • September 1: I moved to New York City
  • October 11: Nick and I celebrated 3 years of legally wedded bliss
  • November 10: Our second niece joined the family – Lily Demetra
  • November 24: ran the Troy Turkey Trot with Nick and Sister J
  • December 16: Nick passed Spanish, and I finished my first semester at NYU

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting accepted to NYU. Departing Kabul with my sanity relatively intact. For Nick it was passing Spanish.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not being able to forgive and let go of hurt feelings. Allowing those feelings to fester and grow (same as last year. This will be a lifelong challenge for me.) Not being patient with my family when they came to visit us in DC after we returned from Kabul. Panicking unnecessarily over my management final.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My knee went out while I was working out and now it makes crunchy noises when I squat or do bicycle crunches. But it’s not painful. Otherwise Nick and I have been surprisingly healthy this year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
The whole of our trips to Hong Kong and Australia. Our fancy-pants digital SLR camera. Nick’s new wardrobe after he lost about 50 lbs. Our 14 Afghan carpets. The Insanity workout series. New bikes. Enrolling at NYU.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Nick's. He’s been so supportive of my decision to go to NYU, even as I wallow in guilt for being an absent wife and spending all of our hard earned money. I can’t believe how much we’ve grown as a couple, especially over the last few years. Kabul was hard, but I really think our marriage is better now than before we went.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I know its cliché, but Kim Kardashian and Sinead O’Connor.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Hong Kong, Australia, Afghan carpets, Spanish tutors, NYU tuition, NYC rent

15. What did you get really excited about?
Legal gay marriage in NY state! Our trips to Hong Kong and Australia. My trip to Panjshir. Departing Kabul and being back in the US of A. Starting grad school. Weekends with Nick, especially when he came to NYC. My new internship with MTC. Nick passing Spanish.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Anything that was on regular rotation at our Kabul dance parties: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Kei$ha, etc.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • happier or sadder? A little of both. I’m happier being in grad school than being in Kabul, but I miss Nick. This time last year we had been together nearly non-stop for more than a year, and would continue to spend nearly all of our time together until I left for NYC in September. We’d settled into a pretty good routine last semester, but now that his departure for Cairo is imminent the separation anxiety is rising again.
  • thinner or fatter? I was thinner right up until the end of the year. I blew it over the holidays. Nick hit his lowest weight just before the holidays, but he too blew it over Christmas. We’re both getting back on track though.
  • richer or poorer? We were richer, until I started grad school. NYU is freaking expensive as hell!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
More thought and concern for the needs/hopes/concerns/lives/feelings of others. More time in the company of friends and family.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Less complaining. Less navel gazing. Less watching TV. Less time sitting on the Bolt Bus. Less time working on my management final.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With the newly expanded Family X in Chicago.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Our must-watch shows are: How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Vampire Diaries. I’m also into Glee, Grimm, and Up All Night. I’d like to start watching Homeland.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Kim Kardashian

24. What was the best book you read?
I quite enjoyed The Family Fang, The Hunger Games, Bossypants, Just Kids, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Free for All. It was fun to read In a Sunburned Country before we went to Australia and then experience some of what Bill Bryson wrote about for myself.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Mumford & Sons, although Nick’s been a fan since Spring 2010.

26. What did you want and get?
Nick getting healthy. Kickass vacations. A relatively easy return to the US. A great 2-bedroom apartment in Logan Circle for a 6-month lease with a sliding rent to maximize our per diem. Acceptance into NYU. A sweet apartment in the East Village. Nick’s first bid choice (after we lost Budapest).

27. What did you want and not get?
A transporter so I can go visit Nick in Cairo whenever I want

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I really can’t remember all the movies I saw this year, let alone my favorite one. I can say that did not enjoy “Super 8”. Nick and I saw it right after we got back to US and it was just way too intense for us at that time.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31, and I have absolutely no idea how we celebrated. I don't have any pictures, so I'm guessing it wasn't anything flashy.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Having Nick with me in NYC.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Minimalist…ie, how few clothes can I own and still put together a reasonable number of different outfits?

32. What kept you sane?
Nick. Friends. Family. Working out. Megavideo. Knowing that we were in the final stretch of our time in Kabul.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Darren Criss

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Afghanistan. The Arab Spring and the ongoing unrest in Egypt.

35. Who did you miss?
Everyone. My parents. My sister. My family. My friends. Caela Beagle. Nick.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Friends in Kabul. My new niece and nephew.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
When writing papers or reading for class, my eyes can hold out a lot longer when I blow up my computer monitor resolution to 130% -- in other words, I am getting old.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
This song doesn't really sum up my year, but it never fails to make me want to jump up and dance, and singing these lyrics at the top of my lungs never fails to be cathartic:

Pink: "Raise Your Glass"
So if you're too school for cool
And you're treated like a fool
You can choose to let it go
We can always, we can always party on our own

So raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways
All my underdogs
We will never be, never be anything but loud, and nitty gritty
Dirty little freaks
Won't you come on and come on and raise your glass,
Just come on and come on and raise your glass