Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ups and Downs

The last two weeks have been mostly drama-free and French-filled fun. I had an out-of-town friend (the mother of a childhood friend of mine) stay with me for awhile, which was a nice change of pace. When our paths crossed we talked food and family and ways of life and the future. Hosting her also meant that I got to see my childhood friend and his two amazing kids last weekend, which is always a treat.

The past two weeks have been full of the mundane: studying, thinking about doing taxes, getting a haircut, finally having cleaners come clean the apartment (it's shiny, squeaky clean still, three days later!).

They have also been filled with Bamako-related events. For instance, I met half a dozen Bamako-bound foreign service officers at an organized dinner (at a French restaurant, of course). I was one of two first-tour people, which was a bit daunting, but all in all it was a fun outing and I'm glad to have gotten to see some faces that will become familiar come December! I also dined with a foreign service couple who were NGO workers in Bamako relatively recently, and they told me about their experiences, suggestions, warnings and love for the area. Just this weekend I treated another newly-found Bamako expat, who studied malaria there for the National Institute of Health for parts of the year, four years running. He told me of the enduring friendliness and kindness, poverty and need of Malians. He also highlighted ideas for meeting locals in a bid to keep me from getting stuck in the so-called "expat bubble."

The exciting also occurred: an insider tour of the White House, thanks to a carpool acquaintance and connections from his former employment. I got to see the Oval Office and several high-level meeting rooms, the Rose Garden and the White House press room. Afterwards, our little group went out for dinner and drinks in Georgetown: what a Washingtonian I'm becoming! I reconnected with a local friend over dinner and drinks another night, in keeping with last blog post's thoughts of maintaining friendships.

And of course, there were downs: last weekend I felt exhausted, so I slept a lot. Monday I felt better, but it turned out to be a feint by the germ gods: Tuesday I awoke with what I'm sure was some strain of the Plague, which kept me completely down and out for two days. By Thursday I'd conquered the sinus-invasion, expelled many of the snot-mutants, and returned to French classes. Happily, I was able to catch up on missed material quickly. This weekend, while it was productive and not at all bad, was also one of negative thoughts. It's not altogether clear why I'm having them, but they're there, and I'm trying to beat them back with reality checks, positivity breaks, and some nice-to-myself affirmations. While it's silly to think that happiness can and should reign all the time, it's still a bummer when I'm my own worst enemy. Loneliness, Self-Doubt, Fear, and Low Self-Esteem are mean, snarky, and sneaky foes. The good fight continues on, though, and I'm hopeful that with the rise of a new sun I will find them gone back under their rocks.

To end on a positive note, even with the Mean Minions of Negativity skulking about, I will proudly relay that today I studied, shopped, cooked, cleaned, called my parents, took a walk, met someone new and made them laugh ... and all of these things made me smile at some point.

So: bring it on, Monday!


1 comment:

  1. Just re-read this entry -- very poignant, exciting, and thoughtful. This blog is a delightful gift to all of us who enjoy following your adventures.
    I also reread your blogs from Nepal (the earthquake struck this week) which was a somber way to reconnect to your journeys and to a view of Nepal.