Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I had five days off between the end of my Tamil language class and the class which will teach me the nuts and bolts of the job I am to do overseas, a welcome respite, since I was not permitted any time off during either.

Nanny came up to help us get the most out of those five days, and we struck the perfect balance of cramming in a ton of fun stuff and just sitting around catching up or going to the park. She brought with her awesome Nats tickets, and despite the guy of questionable sanity--yet unquestionable volume--who sat behind us, Sam and Pete had a blast. We finally had an excuse to visit a Southwestern restaurant Elise and I had been dying to go to since the last time we were in D.C., Oyamel, and though we didn't crunch into a grasshopper taco, we did dash through a late summer downpour for chocolate at CoCo Sala, a few blocks away. We returned to the same neighborhood a few days later to take in the National Portrait Gallery. We arrived an hour and a half before it opened; not a problem for Hannas who are experts at wiling away hours in coffee shops. We went on a hike along the Potomac, spent the day at the zoo, and even sprung the boys from school for....immunizations and passport applications. Yay! Fun! (*sarcasm...hint, hint*)

It was hard to come back to work. With the pain of Tamil slowly becoming a scab on my brain, I dove right into fraudulent documents. Today, we received cool magnifying glasses and UV lights, and the only thing I could think about during class was how eager I was to bring these toys home to show Sam and Pete.

But I feel a big difference between this class, the job-related class, and Tamil. If nothing else, it means we are nearing are departure for India. It is no longer this time that never comes. Now it is real, and with every day it gets closer, I start to feel wind gradually filling our sails.

As fall begins to descend on Northern Virginia, the Bermuda Triangle that held us captive in the middle of the summer, when we could not tell you if we were coming or going, has slowly released us. We're emerging with a sense of purpose, but also not without a sense of trepidation.

We're moving. To a foreign land. Again.

I have to remind myself that we are not going back to Brazil, but, soon, I will be going back to work. I am realizing I won't be a student forever, and though I am still getting paid, I think my psyche wants to work. I am starting to feel more like the person I was in Brazil, confident and productive. I am not one to be defined by my work, but beer just tastes better at the end of the day when it has been justly earned by a job well done.

And then three days into class, the government shutdown.

I am still working. I'm not sure why, but I am. I don't overestimate my sense of essentiality. I would think the hardest thing for any organization to do, no matter how large, is tell some of its people that they are "essential" and others that they are not. Especially in a democracy where all men are created equal, but, sadly, they are not all equally "essential". I realize this is irony and an oversimplification. It is the jobs that are essential and not necessarily the individuals that happen to be in those positions today. But I'd like to think we are all essential, in our own way. I know no planes will fall out of the sky if I don't show up to work. In my view, that is the measuring stick.

Fortunately, our home never shuts down, and I am essential there. Not that I do, but if one ever needed an opportunity to reevaulate what is important in life and what isn't, if you are a furloughed federal government employee, this week might be a good one for such mental exercise. I was actually looking forward to another mini-vacation. Five days would be good. Maybe just enough to push our arrival in India until after Thanksgiving.

But, alas, here I am, counting luminescent thread constellations with my UV light.

For now.

Remember, I have no illusions regarding my sense of essentiality...or the fact that if this thing drags on, I may lose it after all.

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