week 2

Feeling much better since the last post. Thanks, all for your words of support and kindness. (Way to go, Mom, figuring out the “comment thing”!) I’ve spent some time exploring our neighborhood and acclimating to my new nebulous schedule. I found a great little yarn/knitting shop just around the corner from us. The lady who owns it is a wealth of information, though I am having a hard time believing there is only ONE fabric store in all of the district. I haven’t even asked about leather yet. I may need to sign up for the ZIP car sooner than I thought in order to better access the surrounding metro area. I’m trying to look at these little challenges as preparation for when we are in Honduras/Zimbabwe/Rwanda/Burma/Bangladesh/Korea, where things are unfamiliar and my alleged “necessities” are nonexistent.

I think it may be the little things, the little familiar things that I miss the most (so far). As fragmented and broken as Detroit’s community was/is, I certainly had a place in it. Whether it was knowing exactly where to go for exactly what I was looking for or simply being greeted with a smile and nod of recognition at my local bakery, cheese shop or urban farm.

It’s easy to get swallowed up in all of the positive aspects of foreign service life, but as many of you pointed out last week, it’s unrealistic and foolish to focus only on those. I think my admittedly narrow definition of “belonging to a community” is about to undergo a profound expansion.

Saturday morning we spent at the Overseas Briefing Center (OBC) at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). This is basically a research library with tons of information related to each and every post. Since receiving the bid list last week (a list of all open positions), we have been scouring the internet/intranet for anything that might be useful to inform our decisions. Tomorrow is a job fair where we’re given the opportunity to speak with people who’ve served at the various posts on which we are “bidding”.  It’s very exciting and again I am reminded of what a blessing it is that I am not hard-wired to worry.  We’ll find out where we’re headed on Monday, June 7th, “flag day”. Oddly I fear one of my biggest obstacles may be in learning to live with government issued furniture…pathetic, I know.

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9 thoughts on “week 2

  1. Ha! Government-issued furniture is also my biggest worry. I’ve spent the better part of the last 10 years perfecting my collection of post-modern antique furnishings. And now… who knows what we’ll end up with. So, no, it’s not pathetic and you are not alone. While on the one hand, it is liberating to have freed ourselves from all that “stuff,” it’s also very scary to be so naked without it. Hmph.

    (I will call you back at nap-time, just as you keenly suggested…)

  2. But at least you know (for the most part) that the furniture will be the exact same every where you go … so when you get to your first post, get slipcovers made in the fabric of your choosing – and you can cart it around all over the world. Of course, that is until they decide to order new furniture for you, like they did at our current post, then your old slipcover is totally obsolete.

    But by then you’ll have something else to worry about … Like how the country no longer has a Starbucks! *wink*

  3. Won’t they move your things to your new home…..eventually? We both are enjoying your blog and following every step if the way! Keep writing if only for yourself, but there are a lot of people who enjoy living vicariously on the web. Hugs.

  4. Trying to imagine just exactly what government issued furniture might look like. Hope it’s nicer than the processed cheese issued in the 80s! If you land some place where local textiles are gorgeous and interesting you’re all set; your home will be awash with color and texture in no time flat! You could even whip up slip covers for the boys’ beds so that they can acculturize themselves more quickly. Not to worry.Your surroundings have always reflected your unique and pleasing style and will continue to do so. LYTP mom

  5. My Dad was in the military when I was growing up. . . and on two occasions I remember we had gov’t issued furniture. (One was just temporary “flintstone furniture” — what I’ve seen of Drexel looks nicer than that!)

    One of the things that really was fun with having housing all the same, furniture all the same, was seeing how friends WERE able to personalize what was otherwise standard-issue.

    (Btw, there is a store on Broad St. in Falls Church that advertises both leather goods and leather repair. I’ll try to stop in this week and see if they have leads on what leatherworking resources may be around here. . .)

  6. I like to compare everything to my college apartment. The mattress was all plastic-y and the couch was somehow less comfortable than cement. In comparison, my govt issued furniture is straight from the gods.

    But really, throw a covering over the couch and bring some other lamps and I’d say all is well. Honestly the furniture is, in my humble opinion, pretty great. Though I’m sure It Depends. I’m just going to maintain my low standards.

  7. Off the top of my head, when I last lived there in 2008, there was Exquisite Fabrics on M Street, Calico Corners off Wisconsin Ave, one right on K Street between 18th and 20th (can’t remember the name right now) and if you venture out into VA or MD there are the bigger ones like G Street Fabrics and JoAnne Fabrics. I am not a person that sews, so I can not speak for the quality or variety at those places, but I know they exist!

    To add a twist to your post research, Kolkata, where I currently am, does not offer many of the necessities that are common in more Western posts but it is a perfect place for a creative person in that you can get the materials to make almost anything, and at a very reasonable cost.

    Many Kolkatans have jewelry, clothes, furniture, housewares and more, custom made and often give their designs to craftpersons to make. Check out the South Asian and Asian posts for other possible places, since that tends to be a way of life in a lot of Asia. The CLOs at each post tend to be pretty good at answering those obscure questions that are not available in the OBC.

    Enjoy!

  8. I have wheels and though only a fraction as artistic and creative as you, would gladly meet up and drive you around to look for fabric sometime. Warning there will be a 3 year old tagging along, but she’s usually a riot. We’ll be here until fall, so feel free to take me up on it. Saw your possible Dhaka post request, would be cool to head over knowing a few faces. And if you love fabric, lookout as Bangladesh may give you a heart attack! Glad your enjoying DC more 🙂 It took me a month to learn my way around and still learning!

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