Fading off into blogger oblivion over here. Isn’t a month of radio silence about the time people forget your address and stop popping in? Plenty of blogging topics have come and gone from my mind but for the most part I’m adhering to the old maxim, ” If you’ve got nothing nice to say then it’s best to keep it shut.” I am loathe to report that things haven’t necessarily turned around and I’m on the “falling head over heels with your host country” arc of the expat adjustment curve. My confidence and enthusiasm have been rocked. Still taking each day as it comes. Expectations remain low. My major epiphany this week was that despite the platitudes of insistence that tomorrow things will be better, sometimes that’s just not the case. In fact, tomorrow will probably be exactly like today or it could be worse, so buck up homegirl and press on. Try taking a shower and hope that helps. (Or kiss those sweetcheeks!)

The bushbaby continues to melt my heart daily. She is a sweet little stream of levity, beauty and entertainment. She delights me to my core and for that I am grateful. Crawling super fast directly to the stairs, standing up and walking along the edge of tables, the mastiff or whatever is an agreeable height. She got her first two teeth last week without much more fanfare than a disruptive sleeping schedule. She’s up every 3 hours, which unfortunately only adds to Snakes’ and my general malaise. Well-rested parents are patient and creative and kind; I am heavily caffeinated. Are there actually such things as well-rested parents? 

We just booked a trip to Namibia. We’ll visit the ancient dunes in the south, Germanic villages along the coast and stay at a game park for a few nights. I can not wait to see the stars! I feel like it’s been years. I’ve said it before, but it is a necessary survival tactic to always be looking forward to something. I hope that this trip will provide the jolt that my joie de vivre craves. I need to plug myself into that vast serenity and be reminded that there are quiet places where your imagination can relax and stretch for an eternity. 

It sounds undiplomatic, but I often feel like I am paying a penance. (Is this post-partem depression?) My mind is always searching for reasons why we ended up here. Why aren’t we spending weekends exploring, attending festivals and open air markets, discovering new foods, leafing through invitations from new friends or just simply enjoying our new little family dynamic? In reality, weekends consist of two daily walks up to the embassy to let the dogs and the bushbaby enjoy the grass. That’s basically it, week after week. I’m trying so hard to extract the take home message. The only thing I’ve come up with is that maybe it’s some karmic thing. After this I’ve promised to forgive myself for each and every thing that has happened throughout my life that I still beat myself up over. After this, I will forgive myself entirely.

Yeesh, such a heavy-hearted wet blanket! If you’ve managed to make it this far, thanks for hanging with me. After taking this little break from posting I’ve realized just how much I’ve missed this on-line community. It’s time for me to catch up with you all and get the hell out of my own head. Despite my lack of connections here at post, I’d be lost without the ones I’ve found here.


39 thoughts on “connection

  1. Alrighty then, wow, you need a friend and I am coming in about three weeks so we definitely need to get together if nothing else to bake together!!!! oh my word you are breaking my heart, is this my future for 3 1/2 years hahahaha. But really I will email you as soon as I arrive and I am coming over to get you away from yourself :-D. Maybe some Saturday you can accompany me to the mundo verde which is suppose to be a pretty awesome farmer’s market. Keep you head up I am comng and with lots of chocolate.

    1. Luanda will be my future too 🙂 And I am looking forward to the experience, but realize that it is not the easiest place on earth 😀

      1. alisa- you are so sweet. I really look forward to meeting you. I just read your angola post. It sounds like you will be in Teletona?
        okay, ladies… it’s a date. I will make lunch and have you both over. I’m always delighted to make new friends!! When do you arrive?

  2. Out of all of the blogs I follow, yours is the one I love to read the most. Sending you many hugs and positive thoughts. Tiffany

    1. thank you, tiffany. It really does make a tremendous difference to know that people are sending positivity our way! Good luck to you and your husband as you prepare to take off!

  3. Hang in there!! My first post was very difficult too and things have been SO MUCH BETTER this time around (second tour) on all levels. I don’t think it’s in any way your “fault” that you are where you are … and I think the lessons (if any?) are only evident much later. Good luck sticking it out and like you said, keep looking forward…

    1. Thanks, Rachel. I miss your blog! I keep checking in to see if you’ve picked it back up again. I don’t know why I’m so fixated on learning a big profound lesson from this. Maybe because it’ll make it seem like there was a greater purpose? I don’t know. Anyway- hope you guys are well. Thanks for checking in.

  4. Oh baby! (As my mother would say!) Making chicken salad out if chicken shit, lemonade out of sour lemons – there’s a million sayings. Hang tight – this too shall pass! Colette is gorgeous!

    1. Love to The Mimi! I want to come and wait tables at your cafe! Or maybe work in the back making cinnamon buns with your cranky husband…Hope you guys are doing well. And I fully intend to make a trip out to visit you, your family and the goats once we’re back in the states. xo!

  5. Ahh…keep karma in your thoughts…what goes around comes around…it’s been a tough almost 1.5 years…but so many blessings too–that you have chubby cheeks to kiss!–hope all is well and that your upcoming trip buoys you for the final few months. We love you all!!

  6. oh honey, things sound so hard, the only thing I can possibly say is that Santiago will be better, it has to be better. If nothing else I know you’ll have two great people to hang out with there because we have two different friends from Chengdu who start their tours there in just a few months. You sound like you are keeping up the brave front and obviously an amazing Mama to your little bushbaby (the pictures of her with the dogs? sooooo cute!). You guys have a DPO address that you can send me offline? I’ve got a jar of cookie butter with your name on it! (liquid limitations be damned!) 🙂

  7. Eve, I love you!!! Your in a new mommy slump in a very limiting environment. You are sleep deprived, over caffeinated, probably not eating regularly, and maybe feeling a little trapped. I lived this very life, I would cry for unforeseeable reasons, I would be so irritable and frustrated and my view on everything was so skewed. The only thing that did pull me out was YOGA! So, are you up for a tit for tat challange? I never did get my home practice off the ground and I can’t think of a better way then checking in with a dear friend and braving these obstacles together.
    By the way, check your old email address. I had sent you some interesting news and please will you send me your phone number again?
    I Love Love Love you!

    1. As usual, you’re brilliant, summer. YES- let’s do a you and me yoga challenge. Maybe somehow we can revive the old blog too? Even if we just post our efforts for the day- no need for a photo, as sometimes that cord is just too elusive and our time to upload so very finite. Keep each other accountable. I miss you so much.
      And about your news??? WOW. I am still working on picking my jaw up off the floor. Good luck to you guys in this next year. It really sounds like it’s going to be a doozy. But just maybe you’ll have enough family fun-tickets (aka: money) to visit in Chile or even DC?? I know the kids would be wild for the museums! Can’t wait to catch up with you. Love you dearly, my dearest.

  8. I used to travel to Luanda for just a few weeks at a time for (USAID contract) work. There is no getting around the fact that it is an extremely rough and very difficult place. And I was only there for very short stints! Being a new mom in a foreign place is a also very hard (I did that one in Zhuhai, China). So you’ve got a double-whammy. Don’t feel bad for being really sad or for only feeling like you have only bad things to share. Write about the tough times, if it helps. Feel free to complain (and count the days until your vacation)!

  9. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying but no need to search for reasons why you were posted to Luanda, your first two tours are directed – end of story, sadly. But Santiago is going to be a great change of pace and any tours following that you’ll have much more say in. My sister lived in Santiago for half a year and we went back together to explore Chile for a month+. Santiago is a large and sprawling city but will probably (hopefully?) feel like it has it all – green space (parks!), cultural happenings (not like BA but I still saw a great theater performance and went to an art museum), fabulous produce (and wine), safe public transit and sidewalks, and restaurants/shopping (albeit a lot of malls). You MUST check out Valparaiso – just an hour or so north of Santiago and right on the water. I could see there being a market for your etsy work and a fair number of mama groups in Santiago too.

    In the meantime, I have to refer to Dani’s musings on travel as a sanity saver. It is! I’ve always wanted to go to Namibia – as much as I love mountains and oceans, there’s something captivating and calming about the desert (maybe the sheer vastness). I really hope it will lift your spirits to get you through to the end of your tour.

    Adjusting to this lifestyle was a shock and I felt (sometimes still feel) guilty for all of my emotions (around identity, friendships, career or lack there of) since we have such a great first post – particularly as far as African posts go and particularly with regard to EFM employment opportunities relative to other posts. Everyone’s so different so I can only speak for myself… I admit, I’m a planner and a list-maker. I like thinking about what’s to come when it’s hard to be present in the here and now. Weekend/week-long trips, R&R, home leaves, next postings (or post ideas for the distant future) will sometimes occupy my thoughts, which leads to trip planning, shopping lists, matrices, online perusing, etc.. It’s perhaps not the best coping mechanism but sometimes this helps when I can’t see the forest for the trees.

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful response. I’ve got 3 guide books on Chile already that I curl up with on the sofa daily. Escapism! It’s just so counterintuitive when we’ve been trying our entire adult lives to wrap our heads around the fact that this moment is really all we’ve got! I always catch myself living for next month, next year, next anything- when “our lives will really begin”. Then I catch myself because this is it. THIS is life. Anyway- thank you for your comment. They all mean so much.

  10. I am a little bit worried here, since I am actually looking forward to moving to Luanda….
    Feeling really sorry for you, and it might be that having a baby is hard in a new enviroment, but on the other hand can’t help thinking if it is that bad – what am I going to do who won’t have a lovely bushbaby to cheer me up?
    Looking forward to meeting you when I get there!

    1. randi- so long as I’m here, I’m happy to share the bushbaby and her loveliness. I’ll have you over for lunch once you arrive. I think you’ll have a totally different experience. Being under the USG umbrella puts a TON of restrictions on us that very few other expats have. You’ll do great and I can’t wait to see the photos you take. I’m serious about doing a little afternoon photo walk. You are so talented. See you soon?

  11. I am living your life in parallel, new baby, lonely hardship post with nothing to do and all. And yet, some people enjoy it here. Our weekends are the same, breakfast at embassy club, hang out on computer. The other efm’s don’t even get together, which stinks for baby and me… We’re less than three months from our TED, thank goodness. It is the light at the end of the tunnel, as are the vacation breaks, dreams about food, reading the blogs of happy efm’s… We’ll both survive, right? I hope the joy will come back for both of us at the next post, anything’s got to be better than this?

    1. I’m emailing you. I can’t tell from your comment info which blog is yours. I would love to talk to you though and know more about your situation. Of course we’ll both survive and maybe that’s all it is, the lesson we’ll glean. But we’ve been fortunate enough in our lives, that merely “surviving” isn’t enough. We want personal growth, contentment, inspiration, etc. Self absorbed first world problems and desires? I just don’t know. But it’s interesting to ponder.

      1. I’m at (The person who replied below is also here in Dhaka, and we both feel the same way, obviously).

  12. Wishing you a happier day today 🙂 Dhaka honestly is no walk in the park either, many days we are cooped up… many. No parks, no grass to speak of, no cool air, no clean air, poop in the streets, brown bath water, cockroaches the size of mini coopers. I post the pretty things… I should also post the not so pretty. Like you, our trips keep our spirits up and our minds excited. But as always, each time we get on the plane to come back, it’s a bit difficult. This too shall pass, this too. xoxo

    1. lana- 41 weeks! Basically as long as a pregnancy. I know it’ll go by quickly but it’s really hard when the days drag on for an eternity. Should consider it a blessing that my life’s not “flying by”, right? Hope you guys had fun at the wedding down under. I’m still waiting to see pictures from Jen! Look forward to catching up with you when I’m back in Michigan for longer than a few days. much love to you! xo

  13. You definitely got one of the hardest posts for a first tour, but I think you’ll enjoy Santiago oh so much once you get there. In the meantime, take it one day at a time and focus on your exciting upcoming trip – Namibia is AMAZING! I have gone back several times and still crave the loveliness of the land and its people. Are you going to Etosha? That rates as my favorite park in Southern Africa, by far. Anyway, I am so sorry Luanda continues to be so difficult, but I for one am glad when you post blogs, even if it is one like this! Thinking of you…

  14. I think it’s healthy to share the crummy parts of a tour, so I’m glad you posted. My physics teacher used to say, “Life sucks and then you die.” Oddly enough, it makes me smile. I’m not sure why. Is there a way you can get involved in the community? That’s what has worked for me, especially since there’s only 1 other EFM here at post. Also, post-partum depression is a real thing (I had it), so if you suspect it, then please take steps to take care of yourself. Doing things that you like to do (as best as you can), not including anything baby-related, also helps. Best of luck.

  15. What everyone said… Love reading your posts even when you are blue. I also had post-partum depression and it’s not a joke. It is possible that you have it and if you do, a hard post like Luanda will make it even harder to cope with. Do you have a health unit there? Can you talk to someone. I had a very hard time and I was in the US. I can’t even imagine having to go through it in Luanda. I was very hard on myself and I didn’t want to go on antidepressants, although I ultimately did and they helped. I was also constantly looking for answers to all kinds of existential questions, looking for reasons, looking for lessons, explanations, trying to make sense of everything. It drove me nuts. Hope my comment doesn’t sound discouraging. The bushbaby is getting cuter by the minute – drink up her cuteness and hopefully it will help you get through the 41 weeks. I’ve been spending too much time on Pinterest again lately. I see you are on there as well. Perhaps a little eye candy will cheer you up…Sending you lots of love!!!

  16. sadie- yes! we are going to etosha. So glad to hear it ranks high on your list. I’ll be excited to have something substantive and beautiful to write about. And you know, as far as this being our first post, I sometimes wonder what’s better. At this point I am convinced that FS is just a series of huge sacrifices and brave fronts. It seems unanimous that any post to follow will be an absolute dream! I see people here further in their careers having a MUCH more difficult time adjusting because they’re fully aware of how “unique” and challenging a post this really is. So, ignorance is as close to bliss as I’m going to get. ha!

    jamie- I am doing my best. the med unit here has a pretty laid back attitude about things unfortunately. I’ve actually arranged for our housekeeper to come one extra day when she’ll be ONLY watching the bushbaby. Just the thought of having a day free to hammer away at some projects in my studio makes my heart beat faster! I think a little “me” time is bound to make me a better mama, wife and individual.

    daniela- eye candy is one of my saviors. I usually allow myself about 30 minutes of pinteresting each day. I figure it’s like flipping through a magazine.
    our health unit isn’t necessarily equipped for this type of thing. I’ve mentioned a few times how dark things feel and the response is generally that everyone here is pretty depressed. The regional mental health person comes every few months but is way overbooked with embassy folks. I haven’t been able to get in. And from what I hear she usually just suggests more exercise. I’ll make it through. One day at a time.
    (btw- those pictures of your parents’ garden made my day!)

    1. The regional mental health person can’t find time to see everyone at post that needs to be seen? Okay, that’s ridiculous. And unacceptable.

  17. Eve, Sorry it took so long to reply….moving after a million years was (is) fairly daunting…nothing to compare with what all is going on in your life, but enough to keep me occupied. When you visit here you will have a very peaceful relaxed green green green experience. Send you back into the world with your Northern girl head on straight!! I love you to pieces. Call me some early am.xoxoxoxo Aunt Susie

  18. Eve, I completely feel for you and the slump you find yourself in. First posts are very hard no matter where you are. And you are in a super hard place on top of it. Personally I found all the adjustments – new culture, new language, new job and new baby (our was 6 months when we arrived at our first post) to be a whole lot to deal with because as the trailing spouse, you trail. There is very little that is just for you. I mean, when you think about it – you are the one at home – the FSO/FSS goes to the office and talks with adults — Americans and FSNs who are used to Americans and life is new and different and they are a part of something. The trailing spouse stays at home, without life lines and friendships that will take time to build, often without transportation or language skills and daily life takes a lot longer to do. Add little sleep and too much caffeine and it can be a very bad combination– this is the part that has me the most worried for you. If the regional medical officer is that booked, maybe consider leaving Angola earlier with bushbaby for mental health. It would give you time to go to your OB/GYN and if you need medical assistance for depression they are a first step option. You would also have time to refresh and get back to being you. Talk with your hubs and if you really need some balance and freedom of movement and a break, it is an option to head out a bit earlier. And asking for help doesn’t make you weak or a failure — this is a very hard lifestyle, even when the perks sound so great. Last bit of advice — keep reaching out to people, be that friend to someone that you would want to befriend you. It really is the friendships that make or break a post. Warrior on, chica. And holler when you need something!

  19. I’ve been out of it with the move but wanted to make a quick (though late) comment. Hang in there! It’s not easy. One thing I am grateful for is that every day here, I am sort of surprised by the pedestrian, “normal” things I am incredibly grateful for. (Like being a pedestrian.) A rough first tour definitely makes me appreciate things more. I know it probably doesn’t mean much now to say that it will end. It can feel so long when you are going through it and just doing your best day to day to find the good stuff. I also get how hard it is sometimes to believe that your next tour can possibly be better. When you are in it the middle of it, it can feel like it is all that exists. I mean, I lived in Taiwan before and I still had such a hard time sometimes wrapping my head around the idea that our lives would ever be anything other than what they were at the moment. It was hard to believe that we’d ever be where we are now. I’m thinking of you. A kiddo up every 3 hours doesn’t help. Our first kid was like that and I was in crazy town. It just messes with you. I think that plus a hardship tour gets you tons of extra credit. Not enough sleep can really get you. I hope that the time by yourself helps. And that things level out in general. I hope the travel helps too. My husband sent me home 3 months before our tour ended to help us get through the tour. Turned out that it gave me six great weeks with my mom. Weeks that we had no idea would be her last healthy ones before the cancer (we had no idea about) started to take her down. I returned back to post to pack out and things for 4 weeks and came home to her not even being able to walk well. It is one of the things that makes me grateful for our nutty tour. I don’t ever want to do a tour like that again, but looking back, I can see lots of blessings and it makes me appreciate our life now so much more. There are things I think I would have complained about had we started here that I totally just shrug off now. The bushbaby is 300% adorable. I hope you all get some more sleep soon. Lots of love and good wishes coming your way from Asia!
    (PS Loved reading the lobster post. The pics were beautiful. I’m so impressed by the good and beautiful things you are finding and showcasing. You are awesome.)

  20. Susse- we look forward to it!! Can’t wait to spend an evening on that gorgeous back porch listening to crickets and sipping bourbon!
    NBN- Great advice. And I’m taking it and running. No play groups?? Now there are. Just started at my house. Also inviting ladies over more often while my husband takes care of the BB or just after I’ve put her down for the night. It’s so good to have a little sliver of my own life and to keep developing my interests. Does that sound selfish? I think it makes me a better mom/wife/person. And another huge milestone for me was the ability to recognize when it’s lack of sleep that’s chipping away at my composure and not mental illness. Deep breath, thank god for that. Thank you so much for your kindness during this past year. This blogging community is such a blessing!!!!!
    Becky-You are such a wonderful and thoughtful woman! I really hope that someday we actually get the chance to meet in real life. Thank you so much for your thoughts. I know these last years have been challenging to you and your family too. I am SO glad to hear you’ve all landed softly in Taipei. The smiling pictures on FB tell the story! And you know, sometimes it’s just the recognition from others- that THIS IS A HUMDINGER of a first post- that pacifies me. So thank you for that. Much love to you and your blondies.

  21. Thanks for being honest…I’m hoping prospective EFMs/FSOs will read these posts because it is obvious you aren’t a whiner but that the lifestyle can be a stressful one even if you do have the wineries of Chile in your future.

  22. I’m sorry to read that things have gotten so tough for you there. At least there is light at the end of the tunnel. That’s the good thing about this life. Each posting has an expiration date. Santiago will be amazing! And just think of all the regional travel that will be available to you … Easter Island, Gallapagos, Machu Pichu, Buenos Aires … it sounds like a dream! (Santiago was on our bid list but we didn’t get it. We’re in Shanghai now, which has its own challenges, believe me. But we’ve just learned that we’re going to Latvia next and the guide books are already ordered!)

  23. Sorry to be so slow responding to this – but I just wanted to let you know that you are awesome and people are rooting for you. We are going through a bit of CDO induced hell right now and i know what you mean by feeling like you are being punished….

    hang in there 🙂

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