Not the Forest Service

Not the French Foreign Legion… We're joining the service. The Foreign Service. Not quite Bond. Not quite "The Gay Diplomat." Probably more like "The Last Remake of Beau Geste." Come along for the ride. (Movie References deliberate and ubiquitous.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

The end?

So, after much prompting by a loyal "fan" I realize that I guess I need to shut down the blog. I'm just not a blogger. I'm having fun on Facebook, and certainly invite you to "friend" me there. After 2 years with horrible internet service, all my good stories have been spent.

So, I'll leave this up for a while just to say "goodbye" and thank you all for reading. and please come to Facebook!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Ahhhh Home....?

So, I know they say You Can't Go Home Again. And I understand why. But I'm still a bit taken aback. We are in the Bay Area, on the peninsula where I grew up. I drove up and down El Camino Real regularly for four years. These were my old stomping grounds. And, yeah, I expected it to change, I did. I knew the big open spaces would be filled in now, and I knew that some of the stores I loved (like The Warehouse) would be gone, and that there would be new ones. I even knew that they had enclosed Hillsdale Mall. But I was still surprised by the way El Camino looks.

Lots of cars...even more than on a Friday night Cruise. (Ok, I guess it has been a *few* years.) Restaurants, large and small, businesses of all sorts. The head shop that was next door to The Warehouse was even still in business, surprisingly. What I didn't expect was that it would all look so....seedy.

When I know that the houses where we used to live are going for literally ten times what my parents were paying when I lived in High School, I figured that the increase in values meant an increase in tone for everything. I am so surprised that it all seems less middle class, more junky than when I was young.

For one thing, we were poor...ok, not poor, really, but that level that everybody in America forgets: Working Class. We lived in the suburbs all my life, but we never had the money that everybody around us seemed to have. Our cars were older, our clothes were more often than not from thrift shops or remainder stores (before those were the "standard" American way to shop.) But now, the streets look really... ..well..
...urban. It's like San Francisco itself has spread south, and brought with it the lack of upkeep, the overcrowding of a city with limited space, the worn look of something old and not cared for well.

Maybe it always looked this way; I may have just idealized it. I don't remember. It sure all seemed shiny and bright back then. And most of what I'm seeing has been built long after I left, so it should be even newer than the things that are still here that I do remember.

And it can't just be the recession. That's only a year old. This worn-out look has a feel of being built over years. Maybe California has been in bad shape for a long time, and I just didn't know. It's odd.

So, you can't go home again. And, maybe you don't even want to try.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ok, I deserve your scorn...or your pity

So, it's been over a year since I last posted. Since then we've gone in and out of Internet-land several times. Then I was too busy to see straight. Now, I'm sick this weekend, but also at this point sick of being in bed, so I'm up, and found an old email from Jeanne (Hi There! Congratulations on the Wedding!!) asking about addresses, and I figured I should drop a note here just in case any of you are still checking this place out.

Not that I'd believe after a year I deserve to have any of you left. It's been a tough year, with one escape to London for bookstores and Cyprus for Christmas, and then a long weekend in Dakar. By the way, Dakar is the kind of place I thought we were going. It's probably how you all envision Africa. It's not bad, although those of my colleagues who work there have plenty to complain about. (on the other hand so did the ones in the Bahamas...)

Anyway, Jeanne, your question (old old and unanswered...I'm sorry) about our address...

Well, it doesn't really matter now, as we're leaving soon. I've asked to be released from Post in Early July. My boss countered with early August. We'll see who wins. But, with the three week delay in any mail arriving at post, there's no point in sending us anything after June 1, as we might not get it before we come home.

Yes, that's right--Home! So, we're planning two weeks in California, followed by two weeks in Colorado, a quick return to CA to pick up the cat, and then popping out to Boston for my sister's wedding, and then to Virginia where we'll be until June of next year. Then, for those who may not have heard through the grapevine..Frankfurt! Yesiree, Fred's getting his first choice. It will cost us a fortune (our income will be cut in half, and our expenses increased by 30%) but it will be worth it for him to be able to go see all those castles and battlefields, and hit people with sticks.

So...look for us in August. We'll have our new address in September, and it will be in Falls Church, VA. We just don't know the street number and apt. number yet.

For those of you who have attempted to stay in contact, thank you so much. Reading your emails has really kept me going during some fairly dark times here. I appreciate your efforts to reach out, and I feel guilty as hell that I haven't responded. Mostly, I didn't want you to think I was depressed. (Although, I guess I was.) I didn't want to bring you down, or think that we're unhappy.

So, I hope we'll get to see all of you soon.

J--we'll be in Boston at the end of August! Can we see you?

Love to everybody.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My god, I have internet!

It's unbelievable. I forgot it could be this fast. And, it took me three days to realize I could update the blog!!!

So, here i am. I have just watched a football/soccer game at a pub in Canterbury. Fred says I shouldn't blog while drunk, but if I don't do it now, I might forget again. And I know how much you all want to hear from us!!

So, here we are in Canterbury. Watching Arsenal (whom I think are from London, with a couple of really good African players) get trounced by Liverpool, the emotional favorites locally. It looks like the game will end 4-1. Which if you know anything about football/soccer, means it's a rout.

We've been eating and drinking tonight, so if I sound a bit off, that's why. I think Arsenal is the better team, but Liverpool truly had the home team advantage.

So, we're on R&R. Rest and Recuperation. and I'm resting. I've been sleeping in a lot, and just going out into town, and doing a little shopping, a lot of eating, and a small portion of drinking. I like Canterbury a lot. There's a darling little local pub, not one of the bought-out chain franchises, called the Rose & Crown, just down the street from the apartment Jaime & Rob found for the four of us for a week.

Fred's only bought one book this week; but he hasn't taken his list with him, so that may change soon.

We've been in Conakry from 8 1/2 months. I can easily advise all my FSO colleagues that when you are in a hardship post, don't wait that long to go on R&R. Fred and I were both getting too close to the end of our ropes the last few weeks before we left.

For our R&R we're doing a week in Canterbury with Rob & Jaime, a week in Paris with Emilie and Marcus, and a week in Dubrovnik with Eric & Ute. Belgrade has just come off ordered departure (what the lay folk will think of as evacuation) and Yemen has just gone on.

My friends Pam and Chris are in far more "exciting" posts than Guinea. They've actually had the strikes and riots that the Guineans have only threatened. I'm really appreciating how peaceable the Guineans are. Plus, most of them are realists and feel that last years strikes which resulted in the deaths of over 100 people, accomplished nothing of substance.

The cat is staying with our friend Scott, who will play with her while we are gone. We still haven't finished unpacking all of our boxes...we definitely brought too much stuff. But, hopefully, we can go through things and decide which should go into storage and which should go on to our next post. Which will be next year.

I've stopped being so paranoid about Malaria; although I faithfully take my drugs. I have gained back much of the weight I lost the first few months, but I think we're walking so much on vacation that this may be temporary.

We've made a really good friend in Scott, and althouhg our jobs are very very hard, we like them. We like almost everybody we work with, and the bad ones are leaving this summer, so all should be great by Sepetember!

So, Fred is now talking to me about chocolate and I am too tipsy to carry on this letter to all of you, and talk about chocolate, so I'm going to sign off now.

Man, having real internet is amazing. I forgot how fast and easy it could be.

Love to you all. Thanks for your notes of greeting and support; they really do mean a lot.

Robin (*and Fred)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

No Internet Access

Ok all, you probably think I've abandoned you all. It's not true, it's just that the internet access here is so bad that I can download and read your emails, but I have no bandwidth for uploading replies. I can't even send out a one-sentence message.

The internet situation may be fixed by November, but we're experiementing with the solution, so I'm not sure.

I want to let you know that I'm ok; in fact much better than the first month. Guinea is starting to grow on me (maybe literally...I smelled that Guinea smell the other day, and realized it was me!) I like my job, the people are wonderful, and Fred came back from his Medivac to London. (He's ok, it was an eye thing they took care of.)

I don't have email address at work, where I have access...and my job is about 70 hours a week still, so there's no time for me to even think about anything else until I'm so tired, I just have to go home to bed. I DO have a phone card though, and we can start trying to call folks late at night from work (although it would be mornings or daytime there with the time difference.) or on Saturdays.

Keep writing! I promise I read every word. Over and over again, in fact.