Saturday, January 24, 2009

the sweetness in the air

I've been very happy lately.

I also have had absolutely no inclination to write, to journal or to blog. I've concluded that what creativity and insight I have as a person tend to flow on paper only when I am pensive and slightly unsatisfied.

But here I am, back on a Saturday night -- after a cold, brisk walk to the Smithsonian with my husband in the afternoon, a steaming bowl of Pho on our way back, and a nice nap cuddled next to him on the couch -- completely happy in bed, thinking about my friends who may be reading this hundreds, thousands of miles away. Aric, thankfully, is only a few blocks away sharing cigars and bourbon with his guy friends.

There have been moments in the past two weeks that have, literally, taken my breath away. One of them happened on inaugural weekend. Just as predicted, millions of people poured into the city. The morning of the inauguration, a buffalo run of people passed our condo building to get to the Mall and in the evening, most of the inaugural balls we saw on TV took place a couple blocks away from where we live. We breathed in the excitement and mostly observed the historic day from a distance. (That is, we didn't camp out on the Capitol Lawn for eight hours to get a glimpse of the president.)

Saturday night before inauguration, we got a phone call from a friend on the production crew for Sunday's inaugural concert that U2 was rehearsing at the Lincoln Memorial. Aric and I, with two other friends, rushed to the memorial, and as we turned the corner to the reflecting pool, there was a kind of sweet anticipation in the air, as though something good was about to happen. Then we heard Bono. It was pitch dark save for the light coming from the stage and the melody of "City of Blinding Lights." That walk along the frozen reflecting pool with my friends toward the Lincoln Memorial was my favorite moment that weekend.

It was a moment so spontaneous, so ordinary, so sweet -- one of those I may tell my grandchildren when looking back on 2009. It encapsulated, for me, the optimism that hung in the air for those few precious days.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

One Snowy Evening

It's a peaceful weekend. Freezing outside, but Aric and I are toasty in our little apartment, full after a big Korean meal.

My days blend into each other, as I trudge through eight hours of Mandarin a day. No complaints so far -- thankful to get paid to learn a beautiful, lyrical language. It's four students to a teacher and pretty intense. We're finding a warm, loving community here at Grace Prebyterian. We also host a dinner and prayer meeting for Christians from my work every other week and that's been a huge blessing.

We finally got around to posting some photos we've taken over the past few months.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

On to China

Six weeks ago, if you would have asked me what my dream post was, it most definitely would not have been a subtropical city in China. Just tells you what managed expectations can do for a person. :)

With no Japan or Korea post on the list of available jobs, I lobbied to get assigned to a place that would allow me to pick up a third language. I wanted Mandarin. Hong Kong would have been a wonderful place to live, but the work would not have anything to do with my career track in public affairs. To make matters more complicated, junior officers are required to stamp visas during the first two tours in order to become tenured. So I wanted to work the visa line in China so that by the time I get to my second tour, I can take a job related to my "major."

We leave in July. Until then, I'll be learning Mandarin here. We hope Aric can continue to work until we leave and finish his coursework. The timing of everything continues to be impeccable.

Come visit us in D.C.!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn in D.C.

Fall is finally here in D.C.

Summer was relentless this year. It was odd running around the city in my Rainbows in October. This past weekend, Aric and I -- with a dear, dear friend visiting from Kent -- finally got to take in the crisp, autumn air while taking long walks with coffee in hand.

Training at the State Dept. was overwhelming the first week, bearable the second week, fun the third week, really fun the fourth week, and now I actually look forward to waking up at 6:30 a.m. everyday to catch the 7:50 a.m. shuttle to the campus where they train diplomats in Virgina. Now that I'm used to the day to day rhythm, the 7-week orientation with 89 other new foreign service officers is nearly over. We find out where we will be posted this coming Friday, and then I am sworn in ceremoniously in two weeks. What happens after that depends on where they assign us.

Aric has made an ultimatum about not daydreaming about our assignment and where we will live the next two years. I have this bad habit of drawing up scenarios in my mind about our future and then getting very grumpy when they don't pan out. So I'm taking it one day at a time. The fleeting smell of falling leaves is a nice companion.

Friday, September 12, 2008

leaving tenleytown

After two weeks in the quiet suburb of D.C., we're moving into its heart. I'll be blogging from the lovely Henley Park Hotel until October.

Meanwhile, enjoy my pix.

Georgetown sky

Shopping in Georgetown

Chili Dog Time!

Train ride to Philly

Kim and me on Locust Walk again with Joelle

Joshua at Penn

Kelly Drive -- beautiful drive in Philly I never got to enjoy in college because I was a book worm

With Philly girls at Rittenhouse Square

Thursday, September 4, 2008

two down 70 more to go

That's what Aric said to me over our anniversary dinner last night. It's been the most life-changing, beautiful, challenging two years of our lives.

To celebrate, Aric told me to be ready by 7 p.m. As I slipped on my heels, I asked him if we would be doing any walking. He simply said, you won't have to unless you want to. I had no idea what he meant, until a black Lincoln Town Car pulled up Wesley's dormitory. It took us down Massachusetts Avenue, through the Embassy Row lined by towering mansions. We arrived at Dupont Circle, my favorite neighborhood in Washington D.C. to date. I say, "to date" because I'm certain that as we explore this gorgeous city, we will find more that we love.

I was immediately taken by the simple yet lovely atmosphere at Darlington House. Aric said he picked a place that I would not only enjoy tonight with him, but would want to take my mother to when she visited. The food was flavorful, service impeccable. It was perfect.

We then took a walk around the neighborhood. As we turned a corner, we both paused and looked at each other. The street -- with its brown stones and lush green trees -- felt very much like Edgar Allen Poe Street in Upper West Side. This was the street Aric lived on for two years in New York. A street that holds so many memories of our early 20s. We walked on a little longer to a bridge, lingered by a statue of Gandhi as Aric finished his cigar, then took a cab home.

This morning, I took a walk around my neighborhood. The air is so sweet here. Here are some shots of the block where we're staying.

Monday, September 1, 2008

thank you

Postings about our first week in D.C. are to come. We've loved our time here so far -- the beautiful tree-lined streets of Tenleytown. The long walks around McPherson Square near the White House. Aric's version is funny, as usual -- here.

But before moving on to the new and different, I want to pause here to thank our old friends. The letters, gifts, dinners, hugs... they added up to a poignant goodbye -- so much sweeter than bitter.

Thank you, Diana, Mary Renee, Jennifer and Nary who helped me sort through the chaos that was our apartment before the movers arrived. Thank you, Ben and Susan, for the lovely party and the thoughtful care package. Thank you, Wilsons, Calandra and the Forsters for the gift cards, which have already been gratefully used! Thank you, TJ for dropping by the night before the move with wine in hand. Thank you, Haahs, for making that drive to send us off. Thank you, Alicia, Kenny, Naomi and Olivia for being family to us.

We are loved -- and it was gratitude rather than saddness that kept the tears coming on our ride to the airport on Sunday.

This was us, four years ago.