Category Archives: Oklahoma

Oh, Tannenbaum!

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.

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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

Thanksgiving recap (belated, of course)

I’d originally planned on not going home for Thanksgiving since I could only take the Friday after Thanksgiving off due to FSI’s leave policy and flying on a holiday weekend for such a short amount of time just didn’t seem like a great idea.  But, when Dad got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September, I decided to go home because who knew if it might be his last and certainly it was easier to get home to Texas from DC than it would be next year coming from Frankfurt.  So, I booked my Thanksgiving flight to Austin in September.

While I was home after Dad passed away, we talked about our plans for Thanksgiving and ended up deciding to spend it with family in Oklahoma City, rather than my mom and I staying home and having Thanksgiving just the two of us.  Staying home or even going to Thanksgiving dinner at our church there seemed like it would just exacerbate the feeling of loss.  So, I changed my flight to fly in to Dallas Love Field, which was about halfway between home and Oklahoma City.  It’s a nice little airport but I hadn’t used it until I flew back to DC after Dad’s funeral since, for quite a long time, the Wright amendment had limited flights out of Love Field to just a few states.  However, that restriction was lifted in October, and there’s now a non-stop flight on Southwest between Love Field and Washington’s National airport.  I was worried that snow on the east coast would cause problems with my flight, but it went smoothly and Mom picked me up there on the way to Oklahoma City and away we went.

We stayed at my grandmother’s house there in Oklahoma City, which had recently been nearly emptied out in an estate sale (my grandmother passed away in 2009), so sleeping arrangements were creative involving recliners, air mattresses, and such.  In an unexpected wrinkle, my aunt and uncle who’d planned on hosting family for Thanksgiving dinner had just moved houses and unfortunately their oven self destructed instead of self-cleaned so we ended up going out for Thanksgiving dinner and then back to their house to visit afterward.  It was still a little weird to me to not have Dad there, but it was really good to spend it with family and I’m glad we went.

The day after Thanksgiving, we joined my aunt and uncle, cousins and their kids at the horse race track in Oklahoma City and visited some more.  I didn’t make any bets, but it was fun to watch the horses race.  Then, on Saturday, we went to the Oklahoma City Science Center, which we used to go to frequently when I was younger.  It was fun to see the new exhibits as well as some favorites from my childhood.

On Sunday, we packed back up and headed down to Dallas where Mom dropped me off for my flight home which fortunately also went smoothly.  So, all in all a successful Thanksgiving!  It was definitely a little difficult to not have Dad there but I had a good time and it was great to spend it with family. 🙂

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Filed under Austin, Cancer, Dallas, Family, Frankfurt, FSI, Funeral, Germany, Holidays, Home, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Texas, Thanksgiving, Travel, Washington DC

Radio Silence

It’s been awhile since I last posted.  I fully expected to blog about my home leave adventures, but when I would sit down to write about it, I found I just didn’t want to write it up.  I think that, honestly, I didn’t want to admit that it was temporary and would be over soon.  It was just so great to be HOME.  Yes, HOME in all capital letters.  The Washington, DC area is great in many ways and I was definitely looking forward to the Econ Course and to Frankfurt, but neither DC nor Frankfurt is HOME, no matter how wonderful they may be and no matter how settled I may eventually get in my time in either place.  So, I just didn’t want to jinx it or admit that it was a temporary thing.

But, Home Leave was in fact temporary (shocking that the State Department won’t let me stay on vacation indefinitely and keep paying me, I know. 😛 ) and I’ve now made it back up to the DC area.  So, picking up where I left off almost two months ago, here we go.

The Diplocat and I continued on our road trip homeward and stopped in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to visit some family there.  I got to see family and friends there, and also stayed in my Grandmother’s old house, which will likely be sold by the next time I go back to Oklahoma City.  My grandmother passed away just a few weeks before I started A-100 in 2009, so it seemed fitting to spend some time there in between assignments.  It was also good to catch up with family that I hadn’t seen while I was in Canada.

After a few days there, the Diplocat and I continued on home to Texas.  Again, it was good to be HOME.  It was good to be able to spend a solid chunk of time at home, to reconnect with friends and my parents, to attend church at my home church, to eat a lot of yummy foods that I’d missed like Tex-Mex, Mexican, BBQ, Blue Bell ice cream, Big Red soda, etc.  It was nice to shop in familiar stores that I’d missed.  It was nice to not need the GPS because I knew where I was going, etc.  In short, it was just good to be HOME.

Some of the more interesting things I did were speaking about the State Department and the Foreign Service at Rotary Clubs and to incoming students at my grad program.  Also, on the way back to DC, I stopped in Houston to visit some friends from when I spent a semester interning there.

The drive back up to DC went well, aside from the Diplocat’s incessant meowing.  She’s lucky she’s cute and cuddly, or else she miiiiight have been thrown out of the car.  Meowever, we both made it to DC and she seems to have forgiven me for putting her through all of the driving.  I shudder to think what flying to Frankfurt with her will be like, but at least it’s only one flight and only one day, and maybe the plane noise will drown out her yowling or freak her out enough that she stays quiet.  A girl can dream, right?

I’m now a week in to the Econ Course and so far it’s gone well.  The first week was mostly administrative things (timekeeping, laptop security, and travel vouchers, oh my!) and math that we’ll need when we get in to more of the econ topics.  My classmates have a variety of experiences, and I think it’ll be good to learn with and from them.  The schedule is also nice.  I’m in class from 9-4 most days, with homework each night.  It’s nice to have a little more flexible schedule, where I can do my homework right away after class, or go run an errand that needs to be done during business hours and then do my homework later in the evening.

It’s also nice to be back at FSI and see friends that I haven’t seen in a long time.  I’ve reconnected with grad school friends in the DC area and FS friends, too.  It’s sometimes hard to get things done at FSI because you keep bumping in to friends you haven’t seen in awhile and chatting with them about what they’ve been up to since last you saw them, instead of getting whatever task you set out to do done.  I’ve bumped in to Juarez friends who’ve gotten married and had kids since I last saw them!  People who had newborns in A-100 five years ago now have kindergarteners.  Craziness, I tell you!  So, it’s good to catch up with folks and see what’s new and exciting with them.

And, while the DC area may not be HOME, it’s still a nice place to spend a few months.  I’m looking forward to doing some sightseeing and enjoying some of the neat events that happen here.

So, that about catches us up with what’s happened since last I blogged in July.  Hope all’s well in the blogosphere.  🙂

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Filed under Austin, Blue Bell, Canada, Diplocat, Family, Frankfurt, Friends, FSI, Germany, Home, Home Leave, Houston, Moving, NASA, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Ottawa, Shiner, Texas, Texpat, Transfer, Travel, Unpacking, Vacation, Washington DC

More Home Leave!

So, in my last couple of weeks of home leave, I went up to Oklahoma City for a weekend to visit family, talked about Foreign Service careers with students at my alma mater, took the Diplocat to the vet, celebrated the Diplocat’s birthday, got my hair cut, and took care of a few more odds and ends!  It was a busy couple of weeks, but I got a lot done.

I took my new car on its first long trip when I went up to Oklahoma City to see family up there.  It was nice to see them since I hadn’t really seen most of them recently.  The last time I was up there was almost 3 years ago, before I joined the Foreign Service.

In the spirit of paying things forward, I did a Foreign Service career info session with some students from my alma mater.  A lot of people were out of town due to the summer break, but we still had about 20 people show up and hopefully they got some useful info.

I also took the Diplocat to the vet.  She was due for her yearly shots and I also needed to get a rabies vaccination certificate so I can take her in to Canada in August.  We should be good to go on that though.  Also, I adopted her in June 2010, so I count that day as her birthday.  The shelter said she was about 2 years old when I adopted her and I’ve had her for 2 years now, so that makes her about 4 years old now.

After putting it off for forever, I also finally got my hair cut.  I’ve had the same hairstyle for about 6 years now, so I was debating whether or not to change it and put off the decision.  I finally decided to just keep the style I’ve got, so I went in to the lady who’s cut my hair for almost forever and got it cut.  It’s nice not to be in hair-limbo!

On top of those things, there were a lot of other odds and ends I needed to take care of before I left, like last minute shopping, packing, etc.  So, it made for a busy couple of weeks, but I got everything done, in the end.

So, on the 4th of July, I set out for DC.  I was able to take 3.5 days for the drive and the trip went pretty smoothly.  The hotels were decent, the car was fine, and the Diplocat only howled for part of the trip each day.  On Saturday, I got to the DC area and got settled in to my hotel.  I think that the Diplocat was relieved to not be shoved in to her carrier again this morning.

Finally, tomorrow, I start training at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) for my next assignment.  I’m not here too long, but it will be nice to learn a bit more about the things I’ll be working on, meet with some people in DC that I’ll be working with from Ottawa, and to catch up with some FS and non-FS friends up here. 🙂

So, that’s what’s new in the last couple of weeks!

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Filed under Austin, Diplocat, FSI, Home Leave, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Texas