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Posts from the ‘Life’ Category

birds of summer

Up with the sun, guiding the car alongside the familiar curves of Oak Creek Canyon to one of his favorite birding spots, D mused how he has traded one obsessive hobby for another. Left on his own in the States last summer, D spent a lot of time behind the wheel, traveling to see as many of his favorite bands in concert as he could find within a reasonable driving distance of D.C. Nowadays, with no live shows for the foreseeable future, D has turned the same zeal toward birding, poring through bird lists instead of concert listings in a bid to find as many unique species as possible.

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constant change

Two months into the summer, a familiar assortment of hopes and worries hovers omnipresent at the forefront of our minds. This continuity is perversely reassuring. So disruptive was the pandemic and so great our longing for a return to normalcy that our minds have latched on to the constancy they offer, even if that constancy translates to heightened stress levels that can never quite be resolved. It is a testament to the mind’s adaptability that not even four months into our evacuation and with the world around us still very much in a state of great upheaval, we have reached a sense of routine.

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running wild

Mid-morning, we’re both plugging away on our laptops, a stillness that is equal parts soothing and unnerving permeating the house. The living room floor is strewn with K’nex, snap beads, and Legos, but our two little troublemakers are nowhere to be seen. Is it possible that the kids are playing nicely together in another room or is it more likely that the calm and quiet belie the fact that they are up to no good? And does it matter if we can sneak in some uninterrupted work during our hours of peak productivity as a result?

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one hot mess

Arizona, which we have come to love over the last few months of living here, is a real hot mess right now, and we’re not talking about the prolonged stretch of hundred-degree days, which have left us feeling dazed with heat. By nearly all available metrics, Arizona has become one of the country’s leading coronavirus hotspots and, given the state’s current trajectory, things are liable to get significantly worse before they get any better.

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backwoods wildlife sanctuary

One evening toward the end of our first month in Sedona, we found ourselves debating the advisability of putting up bird feeders. By that point we had acclimated after our sudden departure from the Philippines but had little in the way of guidance regarding the likely length of our evacuation. The Department’s initial global authorized departure only extended through mid-May, and there was considerable confusion about what lay ahead.

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breaking points

Much has been written about how unsustainable the new status quo is for working parents, even those who like us are fortunate enough to have jobs that can be performed remotely, for the time being. There just aren’t enough hours in a day to provide quality childcare while maintaining pre-pandemic levels of office productivity. Somewhere along the way corners wind up getting cut, especially since the policies of reopening seem to emphasize economic activity over children’s education and development. 

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under troubled skies

Over the course of the last decade, only twice did we spend the Fourth of July together in the States — in 2013, between our first two overseas assignments in the Foreign Service, and again five years later. We were also stateside in 2016, but spent the holiday apart, S marking the occasion with her family in New England while D took in a memorable Independence Day celebration in a small Colorado town. Last year July caught us on opposite sides of the globe from one another; the other years we were together but far away from home, at various postings in Africa and Europe.

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magical thinking

“What do you want to be called when I have babies?” Munchkin, age 6, inquired recently. It was not an entirely unreasonable question. Munchkin refers to D’s parents by the Russian babushka and dedushka. S’s dad was quick to establish himself as zaide. S’s mom, meanwhile, considered and discarded several potential monikers before settling on nana. Clearly, Munchkin reasoned, there is quite a lot of flexibility and variety of options on this point. The question, nevertheless, was a bit of shock, coming as it did out of the blue and especially once it was followed by his repeated pronouncement, “I can’t wait to have babies!”

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tough choices

It is commonly said that all good things come to an end, as indeed all things must. Some come to an end a bit more painfully than others. After spending nearly four weeks with us, S’s mom began her long return journey to Maine yesterday, but it wasn’t her departure in and of itself that left our daughter inconsolable. Rather, Junebug spent a good part of the day in tears because S’s mom took our beloved dog with her.

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three years young

Sweet and sensitive, but also fierce and strongly opinionated, at times overly melodramatic despite being emotionally mature for her age, and always bubbly and precocious, Junebug, whose third birthday passed this week, is at a developmental crossroads. She has held on to her baby tendencies far longer than Munchkin had, but she also routinely surprises us with the depth of her emotional understanding and reasoning, which is far beyond what Munchkin could muster at this age.

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