Because I Am Awake At Oh-Dark-Thirty

Way too early, thank you jet lag! At least I made it until about 5:30 today before waking up starving hungry. Sheesh, some vacation schedule this is. All you FS whippersnappers, I have wisdom to impart. Are you ready?

Just when your kids get old enough to deal with jet lag, you will get too old to deal with it. I’m very sorry, but it is what it is.

And just think, major foreign policy negotiations are being conducted regularly by people in even worse shape than I am in my mid-forties. Now that’s a scary thought. Poor Hillary.

More random observations on Day 3 of our self-funded U.S. Tour 2012.

People seem very concerned about fried chicken here. It’s a little unclear to me at this point, but there is maybe a debate about whether Jesus wants gay chickens to get married? Anyway, I’m sticking with my strip mall Indian and Thai restaurants, where the food is apparently asexual—or at least no one seems to care what it was doing when it was still running around.

Things are cheap here. Very, very cheap. So cheap compared to Vienna that I seriously think we could offset the price of our plane tickets by stocking up on everything if we really focused on the project. We did our best at Kohls, where everything was on sale, then my husband was offered 20 percent off if he opened a credit account, which turned into 30 percent at the register, and even then they were throwing “Kohls Cash” at us to use next time. My God, how does anyone make any money here? Oh yeah, by assuming their customers will not pay off the credit cards until the $2 socks end up costing $20. Such a scam, but we’ll take advantage of it once a year. Onward to DSW, baby!

Like Vienna, DC has great Wanderwegs. I walked the W&OD trail yesterday and was pleasantly reminded of this fact. It was fun to see and hear cardinals again. There are far more birds here than in Europe. In fact, the sheer density of the wildlife in this area is really kind of amazing. Early Europeans must have thought they had fetched up in the jungle.

And people smile and say hello on the trails for no reason!

I like being able to speak the language. I would love to say that being surrounded by people I don’t understand is a great and enlightening experience but, sorry, I can’t do that. Not anymore. It is such a relief to feel like a fully functioning person for a change. (So, the hotel maid speaks Spanish. No problema.)

I went to a Foreign Service happy hour that was mostly junior officers and families. They looked young. Very young. But they were almost certainly all older than I was when we shipped out to our first post. I was such a baby! At least jet lag was easier back then.

I guess we’re going to have to retire to DC, not just because it’s the only place we can agree on, but because this is where we do all our lunching! We are very lucky that my husband’s family lives nearby, so we can combine a family visit with an opportunity to catch up with friends. Over the years, it’s amazing how many people you get to know in the FS. And guess what?  A few of them will always be in DC at any given time. Very cool.

So, this trip will cost us a mint, but I am already so glad we did it. As much as I like Vienna, and appreciate that we got a chance to live there, I realize that I needed a break from the Austrian-ness of it all. Or even the European-ness of it all.  I bet even if I lived in Italy I would need a break. Maybe.

I think we should all get one plane ticket home per year, no matter where we are posted. Home leave should be standard. It doesn’t matter how easy a post is (and I will be the first to say that, relatively speaking, Vienna is way easy) we still need to go home, reconnect, see our families, etc. That need doesn’t change depending on the post. I mean, there are definitely posts that you just really have to get the heck out of once in a while, but that’s a separate issue from the need to go home. Hardship is what R&R is for. Home leave is different.

Oh well, we can dream, right?

Did I mention that things are very, very cheap here?

 

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6 comments

  1. haha love it!! It is amazing how cheap things are, I feel like I just keep buying and buying things after 2 years of only ever purchasing exactly what was desperately needed from Amazon. Glad you guys are having a good trip! We’re here for 2 more weeks if you ever want to get together for coffee at a wonderful little New Orleans bakery in courthouse!

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  2. ahhh, yes, summer sales! stock up! but on the other hand, when we first moved back from vienna, i found the sheer amount of “stuff” overwhelming sometimes. a couple of times i had to even leave the store because i couldn’t process it all – in vienna, b/c things were so expensive, i bought most “stuff” online, and splurged on a few special pieces unique to austria or europe now and again and i’d completely forgotten how to deal with all that. the other thing i always appreciated when coming home? a nice fountain diet coke on ice. heaven.

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  3. Not sure if I can call us FS whippersnappers, but since we came into the game a bit, ahem…old[er]…I’ll take all wisdom you care to impart! I’ve been stocking up on kid shoes and cosmetics (both incredibly unreasonably expensive in Cairo). Did you know that Target carries makeup that is a mere dollar for nail polish, mascara, and lip gloss? I once paid the equivalent of $12 for nail polish in Cairo — and it was crappy, cheap nail polish. I’ve been to Target something like 18 times in the past 3 weeks. Sometimes I don’t even buy anything — I just walk around and gawk at stuff. And listen to all these people speaking English – yeah. I dig that, too. Thanks for putting into words all the stuff I’ve been thinking! And good luck getting back on a reasonable sleeping schedule!

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  4. Haha and we just left, and thought DC was expensive! Its all about where you’re coming from or going to, I guess! But I do really miss my runs on the W&OD. What gorgeous outdoor spaces the metro DC area has.

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