Sunday, September 14, 2014

Catching Up

We are finally settling in.

We started Albanian language training on Tuesday, a week later than our other classmates thanks to our TDY back to Tallinn.

Being back at FSI (the Foreign Service Institute) is like old home week. You are constantly running into people you haven't seen in years. It is a lot of fun. Less fun is the cafeteria, or as folks there are calling it, the "halfeteria." It is mostly not functional owing to construction to expand it. Of course, I have never been a big fan of the food there, so it isn't much of a loss.

Albanian is a hard language, and not one that is related closely to any other language. But thankfully, having learned Estonian, I feel pretty confident in my ability to get to the required score.

The teachers seem good and I like them. Plus, we have a neighbor from Albania who also used to teach Albanian. She said she would be happy to practice with us.

Our schedule has left a bit to be desired. Overcrowding at FSI has meant them needing to have two time blocks for students. We were originally scheduled to be in Block A, 7:40 am to 2:30 pm. But while we were in Tallinn, that got moved around because basically no one wants Block B, 10:40-5:30, and we weren't there to state our case.

Block B is objectively worse. Even as a confirmed non-morning person, the extra sleep offered by block B is not enough to make me prefer it. It means that our 30 minute commute turns into an hour or more on the way home. If you are in block A, you can make doctor's appointments for the afternoons. This is a big bonus when you have been overseas for a while. The few hours in the morning aren't long enough for that when you have a commute of any sort.

We are trying to get it changed, but I am not optimistic. So I am trying to use the time in the morning to make progress unpacking. Good grief we have too much crap! And too many clothes! We lack the drawer or closet space for most of our clothes, so our bedroom is one place where I have made less progress unpacking than I had hoped. But at least we have functional (of still cluttered) kitchen and living rooms. Both offices are progressing, and the spare bedroom will be visit ready as soon as we figure out what to do with all those books!!

Outside the house, we have installed a new patio and ordered a table to put on it. So soon we can have guests. And I have assembled a porch swing and just need to find someone to hang it. I also took down the crappy house numbers (a piece of white wood with stickers of the house numbers) and replaced it with a nice house sign I ordered.

Of course, my fear is we will get everything situated just in time to pack out again in July...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Getting the Rest of Our Stuff

If you could come up with anything to do after you have just worked an exhausting week preparing for a POTUS visit, just traveled back across the globe and are still suffering through jet lag, what would you do?

Have your HHE delivered, of course!

Because I am a masochist, clearly.

We flew back from Tallinn on the 5th, a Friday, and had our Household Effects from Tallinn delivered Monday. Because I am nuts. But mostly because I wanted our bed.

Our stuff filled four and a half crates! Clearly I need to spend this year decluttering.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Travel Day Was Worth It

I could also title this post "the day I met the President...again."

I met President Obama once before, when I was in Jerusalem. Of course, at that time, he wasn't President Obama, he was Senator Obama. But I knew he was going to be president one day, so I got my picture taken with him.

On September 3rd, I got my picture taken with him again, this time when he was actually president. If you are my Facebook friend, you have seen it. If not, you'll have to take my word for it, since this blog is "anonymous."

I knew that we wouldn't get more than a split second with him, and I wanted to make it count.

So we got there early so we'd get a good place to stand. Turns out we got one of the best places...the embassy photographer was right near us and not allowed to move, so we got one of the only good pictures that day. And when he was talking, before he came around to shake everyone's hands, I was about 10 feet from him.

When he shook my hand, I looked at him and said, "Thank you for supporting marriage equality." He touched my shoulder and said "of course."

The rest of the visit was...a visit. I handled his speech at Nordea Concert Hall. I was maybe 20 feet from the stage, my reward for having worked all week through constant headaches and changes and headaches that came from the changes. Let's just say when you are trying to invite people to a limited seating event that everyone wants their favorites to attend, it gets a little nuts. But it was worth it...the speech was great and ended up being important from a foreign policy perspective.

You can read the speech here or watch it below: