…since I updated this.
A lot has happened in the nearly two years since I last posted here. I finished my assignment in Frankfurt in May 2018. I had been slated to go back to Washington, DC to work on a country desk, but in February 2018, I made the decision to request a year of Leave Without Pay (LWOP) to go home to Texas and help my mom with a lot of stuff. After Dad passed away, there was just a lot of stuff to deal with around the house, including his stuff, my stuff, and stuff that’d been in the house since we’d moved in many moons ago. Fortunately, everyone was supportive of the request and State HR approved it, allowing me to take a year off from State, knowing that I would have a job to come back to when the LWOP concluded.
The year was really productive. Mom and I got a lot done around the house and I also had time to read a lot of books, do some volunteering, and just generally relax. It was really good to take time away from the Foreign Service and reconnect with friends and family. I could tell that I was pretty burned out with work, with living far away from family and home, and so on, so it was absolutely the right call for me to take some time off.
While I was on LWOP, I bid on onward assignments to start in summer 2019 and this June, I started working on a country desk at Main State in Washington. It’s a busy office and I’m learning a lot. Fingers crossed, it’ll be a good and interesting couple of years. No clue where I’m headed next, and I’m ok with that…for now. 🙂
Filed under Austin, Bidding, Family, Frankfurt, Friends, FS Life, Germany, Home, Home Leave, Homesick, Texas, Texpat, Transfer, Washington DC
I put up my Christmas tree tonight. I didn’t get around to it last year, but this year, I had time this weekend, and with the snowy weather today and not much else on my to-do list, I felt motivated to get the tree and decorations out of the storage unit downstairs and put them all up. 🙂
I normally enjoy decorating my Christmas tree, but partway through decorating it this evening, a wave of sadness passed over me. Many happy memories of decorating the tree with Mom and Dad, and of many Christmas road trips to visit family in other states flooded back. Normally, that would be happy, right? But, at that moment, all I could think about was how Dad wouldn’t be part of any future memories and that I was halfway around the world from Mom. Most days, I’m fine. Even though he often crosses my mind, most of the time, I don’t get too sad anymore when I think of Dad. And, modern technology is such that I can stay in close contact with Mom, and we’ve seen each other twice in the last six months. So, most days, that’s not that hard either. But, sometimes, it hits you like a ton of bricks. Or a Christmas tree.
Filed under Cancer, Christmas, Family, Frankfurt, FS Life, Funeral, Germany, Holidays, Home, Homesick, Observation of the Day, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Snow, Technology, Texas, Texpat, Winter
Well, Dad was discharged from the hospital on Saturday, which is good news. He has appointments lined up with the surgeon, the oncologist, and who knows who all else to go over the follow up on his surgery and to discuss options for chemo and/or radiation. And, he got some good news on Friday that the biopsies that they’d taken on his liver, nearby lymph nodes and other parts of his pancreas all came back negative, which is a good sign. So, we’ll see how things work out from there. I still wish I could be there to help out with things as he recovers, though.
My HHE came on Thursday and it went smoothly. All of the boxes were accounted for and so far no damage, though I still have a lot of boxes to unpack. It’s been amazing to sleep in my own bed, have my own couch, and just generally feel a bit more settled despite the unpacking to come. The diplocat is also enjoying climbing on and rummaging through the boxes.
The econ course continues to econ. It’s a lot of info to absorb and some days my eyes start to glaze over as my brain reaches its saturation point, but I’m learning a lot and keeping my head above water thus far. So, so far, so good. We’ll see if I still think that way later on, though.
I’ve also been fighting off a cold for the last week or so. It hasn’t been awful, but it’s been persistent and has interfered with sleep and generally feeling well. Friday evening, I almost had myself convinced to go to a clinic on Saturday, but I woke up feeling a lot better on Saturday, I think in part because the weather shifted from being damp and chilly to just chilly, without the dampness.
So, that’s what’s new here. Hope all’s well in the blogosphere.
Filed under Austin, Cancer, Diplocat, Family, FSI, Home, Homesick, Moving, Sick, Texas, Texpat, Transfer, Unpacking, Washington DC
Well, Dad had surgery on Monday and they found that the tumor had invaded a major blood vessel and that it’s possible that the cancer has spread beyond the main tumor site to other parts of the pancreas. Since the tumor had invaded blood vessels, they couldn’t safely remove it without risking him bleeding out on the table, so they just closed him back up again. They’ll have the biopsy results back later this week to see whether it’s spread to other parts of the pancreas. Obviously, this isn’t good news.
He’s recovering from the surgery now and the next steps will depend somewhat on what they find with the biopsies. There may be some chemotherapy and radiation options that could reduce the size of the tumor to give him more time and possibly shrink it enough to make it operable.
So, we’ll see what the biopsy results say and what’s next. I’m glad he made it through the surgery ok, but bummed that they couldn’t remove it and still sad that I can’t be closer to home while this is going on.
In happier news, my HHE comes tomorrow. Yay for finally being able to sleep in my own bed! Woot! I’m sure that the Diplocat will also enjoy investigating the boxes. 🙂
Filed under Austin, Cancer, Diplocat, Family, FS Life, FSI, Home, Homesick, Moving, Texas, Unpacking, Washington DC
Well, this last week and a half has been a doozy. It’s reminded me of a refrigerator magnet I once saw that said “I try to take one day at a time, but some times several days attack me at once.”
The promotion lists came out on Wednesday and unfortunately, I didn’t get promoted. I can look around and see that I’m in some very good company with some excellent colleagues from my A-100 class and from Ciudad Juarez, and I think it’s likely in part due to the much lower promotion rates now than a few years ago due to the hiring surge. It still stings, especially after taking one for the team and going to Ciudad Juarez at the height of the violence and doing good work there. But, since I can look around and see that I’ve got a lot of good company and it was rough going for a lot of people, I feel a little less bummed.
That news came less than a week after I got another, and honestly much more serious, piece of bad news. Last Thursday, I found out that my dad has pancreatic cancer. Cancer is never good, but some are more treatable and less aggressive than others. Pancreatic cancer, unfortunately, falls in the less treatable and more aggressive category. From his scans, the tumor likely can be removed with surgery, but it’s a difficult operation involving multiple organs and a long recovery, and it’s still possible that they could find something that didn’t show up on the scans when they perform the surgery. Even if things go as well as can be expected and they’re able to remove the entire tumor with surgery, the five-year survival rates for pancreatic cancer are still a lot lower than many other types of cancer.
So, it’s rough news. I’m scared that he might not make it through the surgery and that he might not have much time left, even if everything goes very smoothly with the surgery. It hurts to be so far away from my parents as they’re going through this. I wish I could be closer to help with things and spend time with them. But, I have a job that keeps me in DC. At least I’m close enough that I’ll be able to go home for holidays, and will be able to make it home relatively quickly if the need arises. Still, it does make me wish that I could live a little closer to home, at least for a while.
As a result of all of this, I’ve just wanted to hide under the covers and pretend that the last week and a half never happened. Here’s hoping there’s no more bad news for awhile.
Filed under Austin, Cancer, Ciudad Juarez, EER, Family, FS Life, FSI, Holidays, Home, Homesick, Mexico, Paperwork, Texas, Washington DC
From time to time, I make the drive down to go shopping in New York. Groceries are usually cheaper in New York and there are a few things that I haven’t been able to find here in Canada, though admittedly many U.S. grocery products are available here.
However, I had not been able to find Shiner beer in Watertown or Ogdensburg, NY, the two towns where I tend to shop. After checking several places in both towns not too long after I got here and not having any luck, I did some research and discovered that Shiner didn’t have a distributor in New York. Alas! Then, I saw news that Shiner was coming to New York and got all excited. However, disappointment struck again when I learned that their distributor only operated in New York City and surrounding areas. So, imagine my surprise when I wandered in to a grocery store just across the border and saw this glorious sight:
It was amazing. I am not a huge beer drinker, but Shiner is just one of those things that reminds me of home and is nice to have available when I get a craving every now and then. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to stock up when I drive further south in to Shiner-land or to hoard it and ration it when I bring it back since it’s now easily accessible.
Happy Shiner Day to me!
I have to admit that I’ve been feeling a little homesick lately. I really, really like Ottawa and I have no complaints about living here. At least, not during the summer. 😉 It’s been a wonderful place to work, to relearn how to live a more normal life after two years of being on edge in Juarez, and to live. While there are certainly some differences and Canadians will be quick to point out those differences sometimes, there are a lot of the same shows on TV, I can find just about any U.S. product I’d want in the grocery store, most things function similarly to the United States, most everyone I run in to has some connection to the United States like a relative living there or a house in Florida, etc. So, it’s certainly not a difficult place to live, except perhaps when it’s -20 outside.
But, it’s not home. There were no bluebonnets in March (unless they were secretly hiding underneath the snow, which I doubt), there’s no Shiner Bock in the grocery store here, the leaves are already turning (in August!?!?!), and no one wears cowboy boots anywhere. Most of all though, my family and friends from home aren’t here. So, I’ve been feeling a bit homesick. Hopefully, I can snap out of it soon. I do have some trips in Canada and in the U.S. planned for this fall, so perhaps getting out and about a bit more will help. 🙂