Monthly Archives: April 2014

From Cross-Country to Intercontinental

I’m fighting a bit of a cold due to the hectic schedule of late. David left on Sunday and Maggie left today. I took six days off from work to guide her around the city. It was a great time and so nice to see an old friend again. The apartment is quiet and I am sipping on green tea to soothe my sore throat. Thus commences the conclusion of my own time here in NY/NJ. With only two weeks before I head to DC, I am beginning to look around the apartment and assess the workload. Since I’ve been working full time and entertaining a house guest, I haven’t been able to really consider a “To Do” list for a pack-out and move – not only to DC, but to Saudi Arabia as well. I’ve been given a large PDF file to study regarding Foreign Service moves abroad, but up until this point, I haven’t given it much thought or energy. Suffice it to say: it’s cram time.

David has devised a color-coded system of stickers that identifies our household items for the movers as either “Long Term Storage,” “Unaccompanied Air Baggage,” or “Household Effects.” A yellow sticker means that we will keep the item here in a storage facility; a green sticker means we will be shipping the item by boat (shipment will take several months before we receive it); and a pink sticker denotes a faster-paced shipment by air (received in a few weeks). Since David is already in DC and has far fewer things than me *and* is much less particular than me, he has already completed his inventory list, so when I look at the apartment and see the majority of it is unstickered, I know that I have a lot to get done.

It’s easier to consider the apartment in terms of individual compartments like bedroom, living room, and kitchen rather than the space as a whole. When I think of each area specifically and of what it contains, I can analyze the details a little more easily. For instance, since our home in Saudi Arabia will be furnished, I know that I can pack up all the furniture for long term storage, therefore, everything in both bedrooms can get a yellow sticker except for our clothes which will come with us and should get a pink sticker. Looking at the kitchen, I know that I cannot live two years without all my cooking and baking equipment, so I will consider everything in it worth a green sticker. Finally, the living room is fairly barren, nothing I couldn’t be apart from, so everything except the TV will get a yellow sticker.

I suppose I have the bulk of it mapped out in my head, but I know once I begin stickering, I will come across sentimental items that will leave me torn – ship it or pack it? Say, for example, our framed wedding pictures and holiday decorations. Most of our belongings are replaceable if they get lost or damaged in transit, but I couldn’t replace unique Christmas gifts that were given to me or the beautiful frames that hold images of the most special day of our lives, yet I cannot imagine the holiday seasons without recreating the traditions we do every year with our decorations, or not seeing some element that represents a symbol of home. These are considerations I have to figure out. Soon.

And then there is the element of disposal. Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia is a dry nation, so I cannot bring my collection of liquor that I use for baking and cooking. I will try to take most (if not all) to DC and use it up before we leave, but no doubt, it will be painful to get rid of any and all food items that can’t be shipped. I think I will take my spices at least. Thankfully, we just moved, so there shouldn’t be too much to purge once I begin organizing. Still. How many people do you know that make a cross-country move one year, and an intercontinental move the next? If I only had a Mary Poppins bag, this would be so much easier.

My last two weeks here will be busy as I head back to work tomorrow, but I am very excited and anxious to join David in DC. We have a wonderful surprise waiting for us at our next destination…

For now, a couple pictures of NY in the spring:

Cherry Blossoms in Central Park.

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Tulips in Washington Square Park.

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Ellis Island where I was able to find several of my ancestors on the registry. Actually quite a surprise since I know they immigrated before 1892 when Ellis Island began operating, but apparently they kept records of travelers too.

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Coming and Going – A Little Too Quickly

It wasn’t too long ago when we threw a housewarming party to introduce our new home here on the east coast to David’s family. Just last August we all sat in the living room to our new apartment playing Catch Phrase while the afternoon summer light gently captured the joy in our faces. It was fun to reconnect with family and chit chat excitedly about the new adventures that would lie ahead in NY. Now, only one fall and winter later, we are already getting ready to take flight again to make a new home elsewhere. Spring is barely springing and we have already sprung! Too corny?…You get the picture I’m sure.

We had our going away picnic this past Sunday to say good bye to David’s family. It was good to see everyone once again and spend time together. The weather was beautiful, warm and sunny with a cool breeze, we couldn’t have asked for a better day in Central Park for our farewells. Under a large tree in Sheep Meadow, we laid out our blankets to relax, eat sandwiches and cookies, and drink wine. David in particular had fun playing with his nephews, throwing the Frisbee around, and soaking in the sun. We will miss being close to family, so far away soon from both mine and David’s, so it means a lot to share these special times together. Before everyone departed, we took one last picture together to commemorate the special day and the special nine months that we spent so close together.

 

Housewarming party in our living room, NJ, August 10, 2013:

 

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Going Away Party, Central Park, NY, April 13, 2014:

 

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Lost: Gap Khaki Pants – Found: Emotionally Distressed Female

The dry cleaners lost my favorite work pants this week. Which may or may not be the inspiration for this post.

I have had a slight case of the blues lately. Not sure how or when or why or what might have caused them, but I’m sure it’s a combination of things. It’s a brief moment in time when it comes, like a fast wave crashing over me that I don’t see coming. I stay underwater for a while, moping and complaining, saying things like “I hate it here” and “I miss California.” The latter is absolutely true while the former is indicative of my current state of emotional turbulence. When I’m drowning in sorrows thinking about the things I can’t escape, it’s easy to check off the list of things that are holding me back and weighing me down. Read here an excerpt written during a necessary cathartic moment on the bus after work:

“I have assimilated as best I can to the lifestyle here, but I think I’ve reached a point where even with all the adjustments I’ve made, I cannot be the person NY wants me to be. As I write this, my exhaustion is at its breaking point. My eyes are heavy, shoulders hunched, agitated by the way of life here, I feel myself choked with emotion. Too many people, too much trouble, too many inconveniences, too expensive, too cold, too little time, too much stress. Frustrations abound. Coping with these changes has taken its toll on my patience. There is no respite from the pressures of city life. Even living across the river in a seemingly residential neighborhood, I am challenged to keep my sanity.”

My moments of regretful whining leave me feeling ashamed and a bit childish. Sure, I mean some of it, but I know none of it is that extreme. It’s hard to escape the wave and swim back to the surface, to recognize my embarrassing tantrum for what it is. But when I do, I feel my breath again, I see the sky once more, and I hear my husband’s voice consoling and encouraging. It happens more often these days, a loss of control that I attribute to the never ending demands of the city. But honestly speaking, while I am grateful for the experiences here, I do resent some of the challenges NY/NJ has posed. I resent the 8.4 million people who disregard the fact that 8.4 million people live in the city; the days when my commute to work feels impossible; that simply leaving the house means I will be encountering a mountain of trials to test my determination and patience; that my body has been perpetually cold since November and has hoarded extra fat thanks to the insufferable winter. (Just to name a few. Making negative lists. Again.)

Oh, New York, New Yoorrrrk! What is it people see in you??  

I know the right thing to do is turn around my thinking – Think positive! Turn that frown upside down! – and I do that! I always choose to be happy. But what happens when you were once so happy, and life was once so perfect, that anything in comparison is sub par? Pasadena was that for me. California was that for me.

 
While I am enjoying all the culinary adventures the city affords and the exciting/wonderful/fabulous/fantastic/remarkable/amazing! musical theater, it is not enough to keep me here. Nor *us* here. As I know I speak for David too.

We will once again find our happy place somewhere in this world, even if it takes a couple years before we’re back in California. Maybe this city living was meant to be the harsh comparison for which we will think back on when in Saudi Arabia, making Saudi Arabia look like paradise, a diamond in the rough, a fabulous oasis, a desert retreat………..(yes, lots of ellipses)………let’s hope.

Oh, btw. Stupid dry cleaners. 🙂

Thirty-Two Years in the Making

Considering my level of exhaustion today, I’d say that yesterday’s birthday celebration was a success! Overall, we had a fun day, left with a couple souvenirs to commemorate the experience.

 

Since David loves to sleep in, I took advantage of the morning hours and ran out to the store to get his favorite Dunkin Donuts and coffee. I also managed to buy some helium-inflated latex balloons and other groceries for dinner (he had requested chicken tacos). The whole excursion took me a couple hours, but I was excited to have accomplished it in my window of opportunity since I knew he would barely be waking up. With the balloons lingering overhead, we enjoyed a simple breakfast while he opened his presents. Nothing too exciting from me, just a NJ destination mug from Dunkin Donuts and a bunch of clothes from Gap, nevertheless, he was pleasantly surprised by it all.

We lucked out with the weather, it was a beautiful sunny spring day, so we rode the ferry into Manhattan. One of the things we’ve had on our bucket list while here in NY, was to visit the Intrepid and see the Space Shuttle Enterprise. David is an aviation buff and requested that we spend his birthday walking around the museum. With the sun shining in our faces and a chilly breeze blowing, we walked from the ferry station to the Sea, Air, and Space Museum. It was quite a sight to be on the ship with all the fighter planes on display. David is usually very modest with his knowledge about history, the military, and aviation, so when we go to museums together, I always find myself surprised to hear him articulate factual information about the science behind the engineering and design of each model. It is fun to see him in his element and to be reminded that beyond the home he enjoys fascinating and admirable pursuits.
 
 
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After the Intrepid, we headed crosstown to the UN where I had to take a pre-test in order to be wait-listed for a consular course in DC. It wasn’t too hard, but as usual, I was very critical of it venting afterwards about the intention of the test makers writing trick questions. It was also bizarre in the sense that I could not study or prepare for it in advance. I have to pass with an eighty percent, otherwise I am ineligible for certain jobs abroad and cannot retake the test for two years. Gatekeepers at their best. Fingers-crossed that I answered everything correctly.
After the test, we headed to Chinatown for lunch at Hop Kees. Our meal included sweet and sour soup, pork fried rice, beef with Chinese broccoli, and a mixed seafood platter Cantonese style with pan-fried lo mein noodles.
 
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Stuffed to the brim but still on our day-trip high, we headed around the corner for the most soft, creamy, and delicious green tea ice cream. This place was introduced to me by David’s parents and is now a must-try for everyone who visits. My mom who is an expert on ice cream approved of its deliciousness when she visited.
 
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While we meandered through the Asian markets with our ice cream, the pungent odors of the open fish markets caught our attention as did the cheap plastic toys littering the sidewalks. David reminisced about how he used to come as a child excited to bargain with the merchants. With this fresh in our minds, we came across a Chinese artist doing caricatures and decided to get one done. Before sitting, we haggled for a cheaper price offering twelve dollars as opposed to the advertised fifteen. The man laughed at our pettiness over three dollars but we still had some fun doing it. He had no teeth and a thick accent making it difficult to understand him. We figured “whatever” and sat for our portrait together. After he finished, we had a good laugh at the caricature while he put it in the bag but when it came to paying up, he suddenly demanded twenty-five dollars! Say what?? What happened to *fifteen* dollars? An unfortunate twist in plot. In the end, we gave him twenty pretending that it was all we had. As for our rendition, I suppose the picture is of us recently married doing a bank job and running away with fifty billion dollars (I’m not even going to question the plausibility)… David has a different interpretation that I won’t bother posting here… what do you think?

 
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The eventful day concluded with wine, cake (we were too full from Chinese food for chicken tacos anymore), an April Fool’s joke, and an episode of our favorite show “Modern Family.” Happy birthday to my honey! Here’s to many more. 🙂

 

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End of March/Beginning of April

The weather is changing finally from bitter cold to wet and chilly. I’m anxious to see some green again, the stickly trees everywhere keep the little nature that we do have feeling barren and depressing. It would be nice to see some color once again.

 

It’s been almost two months since I began my job in Long Island City and I am feeling tired. Forty hour work weeks are no joke. The house is in constant disarray, my To Do list never gets done, and there is not enough coffee in the world to keep me alert. With this current schedule, I am borderline narcoleptic. Yet, I am finally earning a weekly paycheck and slowly paying down my student loans. Yesterday I had off and attempted to catch up on cleaning and cooking. I took a break sometime in the afternoon to read but ended up falling asleep. I’ve been reading this book called The Goldfinch for a few months now, I’m only halfway through it and unfortunately it’s over eight hundred pages long. Despite my efforts, the house appears the same and the food I made (pancakes, burritos, stir-fry, and grasshopper pie) is already half eaten. David helped me with dinner tonight while I was at work, he made a healthy pasta dish that should be enough leftovers for another dinner this week.

I enjoy the office environment and all my coworkers, they have been interesting people with nice dispositions. A few of them have musical backgrounds and are very talented. Since this is a temp job, I’ve seen quite a few people come and go. It’s a decent in-between job that allows for temps to focus on interests and hobbies on the side. One coworker named Ryan, is pursuing a comedy career and takes classes at night. He’s put on quite a few shows, David and I attended one a few weeks ago in Chelsea, it was fun to see him on stage. It is sad to say goodbye, but I know that soon I will be leaving too – bigger and better opportunities await all of us. Ryan is leaving in a week, he’s found salaried secretarial employment with benefits at a hedge fund. I’m planning on bringing him a peanut butter pie for his last day.

David’s birthday is coming up. We both will be working so have decided to celebrate it tomorrow. He has never been keen on celebrating because he hates the idea of getting older. I, on the other hand, am always looking for an excuse to eat cake, so I’m enforcing the mandatory bday celebration policy. Four years ago, I made him a pork tenderloin dinner and baked a cake; three years ago he was in DC for training and I visited along with his parents; two years ago we went on a hot air balloon ride over Temecula wine country and had champagne for breakfast; last year I threw him a party in our tiny Pasadena apartment and made beef tenderloin, sangria, and two cakes. This year will be a little more low key given our time constraints, but I’m hoping it will still be special. Details to come.
Here we are three years younger in DC:
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