weddings make people crazy.

Over the weekend we drove to LA to visit some friends, enjoy the sunshine, hopefully spot some second or third tier celebs (mostly Cyn's wish), but primarily to go to a wedding. Our friend and former roommate tied the knot with an incredible guy that could only be described as the perfect match for her.

This time we were smart and stayed at a hotel right next door, which we arrived at one whole hour early (yay us!) with plenty of time to get ready, sample the "heavenly" bed (gotta love the Westin), and get our behinds out the door to the church.

Now, I knew that the wedding was at a church but what I didn't know or have time to mentally prepare for was that our previously non-religious friend had apparently become an Episcopalian. We were both pretty shocked to gaze at the program for a one hour, very traditional ceremony. Poor Cyn had never been to a traditional Catholic wedding so I took the opportunity to play a joke on her by appealing to her perfectionist, Type A side; I suggested that she should probably start reviewing the biblical sections of the program, maybe even memorize the whole thing, as everyone would be expected to sing, perform, and participate. She was truly terrified. I let her off the hook once I saw little beads of sweat on her brow and she started biting her nails.

The ceremony was quite lovely; they blended their two cultures (Irish and Chicano) with grace and creativity. The only thing that disturbed me was that the priest required everyone to come up to the front for communion. I can withstand nearly any religious rhetoric while retaining personal distance, but what I refuse to ever do is drink the symbolic blood and eat the figurative flesh of Christ. It was now my turn to sweat as I desperately tried to think of how I was going to get out of this terrifying allegorical performance without offending everyone present - especially the bride and groom. "I'll tell the priest I'm a vegetarian...I'm gluten free...I'm gay...I'm an alcoholic..." Thankfully, I saw that almost all the groomsmen declined the wafer and wine and got off with a brief priestly blessing. When it was our turn to go up, Cyn declined the Eucharist with me and once the priest saw that we were together - as in married - she took hold of us with a mighty clutch and rocked the roof off that holy house with an extra special blessing.

The rest of the reception was very enjoyable: open bar, great food, first-class guests, on and on. I am, however, adding this event to my ever-growing pile of evidence that weddings make people crazy. From what I can tell, the majority of people really return to the steady ground lain by the generations before us of traditional and patriarchal ceremonies whence they decide to get married. Perhaps that is the whole idea anyway and I am missing the point? - it is a ceremony after all. But I just don't think it will cease to amaze me that it doesn't seem to matter how well you know someone; the conventional wedding paradigm is strong and alive. From diamond rings to fathers giving away their brides, some things may never die.

Pros and Cons of Foreign Service Life

I found this very helpful chart on the pros and cons of FS life on another FSO's blog, Worldwide Availability:

waiting. anxious. waiting.

I've been working with the dude that is going to buy my business and it's all going really, surprisingly well. He's beginning the process with the Master Tenant (just as presumptuous and arrogant as it sounds) and submitting a business plan, initiating the credit check and so forth. He's been coming in to meet patients once a week, which is going great, but this "new business partner" and the glaring absence of Moony in the office is making people a little suspicious. It's all going to have to come out soon..

I really don't feel that overtly stressed about the situation, considering, but I have these acute gripping moments of anxiety that I have only before felt in the months leading up to our wedding last year. I must be internalizing all the affects of the process. A couple weeks ago I was going to bed (that seems to be the favorite time for these episodes to pop up) and had this realization that we were selling the house and felt simultaneously dreadful and sentimental. This has been a welcome reality for quite literally a year which is why it caught me so off guard. Strange. Then last night another occurrence of disquiet gripped me regarding selling my business. It was like I realized that it wouldn't be mine anymore. This seems to be a common (new) theme in my life right now.

It's weird because I am really excited about the next step and trying to just enjoy every day. I know that I will miss this time and create all kinds of nostalgia about it someday. Why can't that be an easy feat?

Maybe this will help: 

Dear Mama

As the Foreign Service journey becomes more and more of a reality for us, my poor mom's nervousness is growing exponentially. Without internet access or really any idea of what this entails or what the next few years will look like for us, I can't blame her. I promised to compile several websites that she can review (at the library), make some print outs, and even buy her a couple books. If any of our followers (err, Cyn) have any suggestions, they would be much appreciated.

R & R - Morro Bay

Cynthia had an all day conference in San Luis Obispo on Saturday as part of her duties as a board member for Californians for Justice (CFJ) - a statewide non-profit organization committed to racial justice and education reform. We decided to make a little weekend trip out of it. It's a pretty long drive (~4 hours) so we were definitely glad to stay for 2 nights. We stayed in Morro Bay at this great hotel on the grounds of the State Park with a private balcony equipped with a hot tub that overlooked the beautiful bay. We heard and saw all kinds of sea birds, sea mammals (I don't know what they were - seals? sea lions? sea cows? they were huge!), and lots and lots of straight, white people. Even the beauty of the country cannot lure me into believing that we could be happy socially living in such a homogeneous place. Everyone was friendly, don't get me wrong, but more than a weekend trip could be less encouraging.

Since Cyn had to be up early on Saturday, I decided to get an early start too. I had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel with coffee on the deck then decided to do some exploring. I borrowed one of the ancient, squeaky beach cruisers that the hotel owns and set out with a primitive map for the Natural History Museum. The fee was nominal and I learned a ton about the local ecology. They had incredible displays of much of the wildlife: stuffed cougars and tons of birds, smaller mammals, and more information that you could shake a stick at about the Bay (which is actually an estuary) and the infamous Morrow Rock.

Then I rode the bike around the Park and explored all the old roads, eventually found a loop road back to the hotel which ended up being all uphill which was unfortunate on the ol' beach cruiser with no gears. I must've been quite a sight because I actually had two nice, older gentlemen slow their trucks to a crawl to ask if I needed help or a ride.

Once I crested the hill I nearly cried but managed instead to let out a whoop that echoed through the valley. I didn't see any birds scatter but I'm sure they heard my victorious cry. I must have gotten a second wind on the way down the other side of the hill because I decided to ride the 2 miles into town for a snack and a much earned beer. I was given free salt water taffy from an older gent that asked if I have been a good girl, which was just as creepy as it sounds. I wine tasted and bought a delicious bottle of Primitivo from Aron Hill, enjoyed a fabulous Mahi taco with plenty of beer to wash it down, and even got in a March Madness game.

Cyn got to eat seafood to her heart's content which delights us both; overall it was a glorious, energizing weekend.

Few blacks serve in top U.S. diplomatic posts -

The LA Times posted an article today about the extreme under-representation of black folks in our country's top diplomatic posts. The article notes that of the 32 diplomats heading embassies and other U.S. missions in Europe, only one, John L. Withers, the ambassador to Albania, was black. Withers is leaving his post later this year, leaving a total of ZERO. There were also zero African Americans among the 10 ambassadors or chiefs of mission in South and Central Asia, or the 18 in the Near East, and only one among the 17 in East Asia. The only place where black diplomats headed missions? Africa, of course (note the extreme sarcasm)! 11 of the 37 missions in Africa were headed by African Americans. I'd also be interested in finding statistics about the representation of other people of color in top embassy posts...

the running man

I am loving Muay Thai! There seems to be nothing better to finally see those stubborn couple of pounds begin to budge than this fun and challenging self defense art. The best part is learning to take a little punching and kicking (with the help of a pad). Truthfully, it's terrifying, but I'm hoping it will pay off in some capacity of getting stronger and tougher.

Unfortunately, like an idiot, I attended class on Sunday night just 5 days after my Moony tribute tattoo was hammered in. Nearly half of it was eroded open by the end of two hours of punching and getting punched...sigh. We'll just have to wait and see how that turns out.

Last night, which is not too different from most nights, Cyn launched into teaching some boxing technique. This particular skill, however, was quite a performance, including a sort of skipping motion with alternating high knees, complete with instructions of how to knee an opponent in the groin. I asked if the running man was really something that boxers use to hurt someone.
"Huh?" she replied, "of course you can hurt someone with a knee strike!"

I have definitely found my sport - my rendition of the running man has already hurt many people. Rivaled only perhaps by this guy:

Three people linked to US Consulate in Mexico Killed

A chilling reminder of what we may be getting ourselves into.

Both the New York Times and NPR have covered the story.

In the sun!

I was grumpy at work and this new music video from She & Him cheered me right up. How cute is Zooey?

I am also digging this song:

Muay Thai

After refusing to go to muay thai class with Cyn who has been begging me for almost one solid year, I finally donned some sweaty wraps and gloves and joined her last night. The teacher is considered master status and can apparently swing moves like Sayid from LOST and break a dude's neck with his bare ankles. Terrifying, right? Wrong! His name is Kenya, he's a refugee from Cambodia, and he giggles even more than Cynthia and me put together.
I was pretty nervous before class but it turned out that there was no reason to be. The fellow boxers in attendance (I'm going to go ahead and include myself in this category from now on) seem to have also been drawn in by Kenya's jovial, but badass spirit and all appeared to emulate him. Rather odd scene really - watching some incredibly built guy kick his bare leg into a pad, creating a cracking sound that rivals the sound and jolt of a shotgun, then catches you gawking and immediately flashes all the teeth in his head as his lips part into a huge grin.

I'm very excited to join the ranks and follow suit. I'm going to buy my own wraps and gloves now.


As I posted about previously, we made the decision to give our dog Moony away before joining the Foreign Service. Last night I had a dream that I was yelling at Moony's new mom. She was trying to force me to pay his newly accrued vet bills and I was getting upset explaining how that is definitely now something that falls under her jurisdiction now blah blah blah. What could this all mean? Hmmmmm maybe I want my dog back? ya think?

Also yesterday I sent many packages to many people and somehow managed to make it the most stressful thing I've done in weeks. How is that even possible? The very patient and understanding woman behind the counter actually asked me if this was the first time I ever mailed anything (did I mention that people seem to think I'm a lot younger with bangs?). I didn't have the heart courage to tell her that yes, in fact I had, and I definitely wasn't advertising that my very own father is a retired USPS carrier.

Taking Moony to Muir Beach:

plans to ward off extreme culture shock

What Is Culture Shock?

"Culture Shock characterizes an emotional disorientation, caused by continuously unexpected reactions from the new culture. Culture shock can manifest in: anxiety; sadness; depression; migraines; burn out; reduced energy levels; new and/or increased tensions and sometimes aggression in the family; isolation and more." (taken from I don't think they'll mind)

I plan to wholeheartedly go through each of the common stages: Stage One: Honeymoon Period; Stage Two: Crisis Period; Stage Three: Adaptation Period; Stage Four: Stabilization Period. I'm sure there will be tears, tantrums, periods of elation, sadistic declarations, and eventually contentment.

In hopes of not driving my loved ones too insane, I've started a list of things I would like to learn and do should this roller coaster start careening out of control.

* obtain a BS
* hopefully get a Physicians Assistance certificate
* ESL certification
* cooking/baking
* pottery
* martial arts/self defense (I'm starting Muay Thai Kickboxing this week)
* join sports teams
* guitar/piano/other instruments
* canning/fermenting foods
* learn local cooking techniques
* brew beer/make wine
* photography
* study history and geography - esp locally
* get better at public speaking
* be more spontaneous and simultaneously more organized
* travel, travel, travel
* meditate
* write things I'm grateful for every evening (I will try to begin this tonight)

slowly, so slowly

While we're certain that we will be moving abroad, we just don't know when. I'm sure every potential FSO and their families know this purgatory well. Maybe you forget about it later once you are in Hong Kong or Tajikistan or wherever; maybe you wish to go back to that once undesirable waiting game. In any event, I have decided to be as proactive as possible so that once we get the call, I will be ready in seconds flat. Moony has been relocated, I have a buyer for my business, and I'm already beginning to pack up our condo to get ready for the sell. I also promise to do my taxes early this year.

In more fun news, we are making a list of all the things we want to do/see before we move away from this lovely, lovely City and it's even more enchanting surroundings. Some that made the cut include: Tahoe, The Grand Canyon, Vancouver BC, and San Luis Obispo. OK so maybe a few of these aren't really proximal but they'll probably feel that way once we are in South Africa. I will keep you apprised of those upcoming adventures.