Archive for January, 2022

Time is moving fast

Sunday, January 30th, 2022

It’s hard to believe we’re already at the end of January 2022. The weeks seem to be going by faster.

I had a good visit with Ann, Pam, and Jackie last Sunday. Last night I spent time with a few co-workers – the first socialization I’ve done in a long time. Since we had a COVID spike in December, we’ve really been keeping to ourselves but now that the number of cases is declining again, it’s nice to see folks a little bit.

I finished reading “Peril,” and enjoyed it. This morning I read Sarah Vowell’s book of essays, “Take the Cannoli” – it’s really good and made me laugh out loud a few times. I had never heard of her before (guess I haven’t listened to “This American Life” in a long time), but I heard an interview she did with Alan Alda on his “Clear and Vivid” podcast (thanks, Ann). She’s very witty and thoughtful.

John and I were on the edge of our seat watching the last of “Tehran,” an Israeli-Iran spy show. We’ve started the new season of “Ozark” and have gotten drawn back into it. We also watched a good, wry documentary about Kenny G, “Listening to Kenny G” that’s worth watching, too.

Four-day weeks

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

Why is it that four-day weeks feel so long?! We were off last Monday for MLK Day and it was a crazy four days at work. The officer who normally handles the day-to-day for American citizen services is on a well-deserved leave, so I’ve picked up those duties in his absence and it’s been busy. Despite it being a holiday and getting to stay home, we had an emergency with a U.S. citizen on Monday that kept me on the phone on and off all day.

We said goodbye on Friday to an eligible family member (EFM) who worked in the section for the last couple of months as she and her family prepare to depart post, and we congratulated one of our local staff on his engagement. Another staff member returned from a family funeral. We have a good group of folks in the section and our congratulations, condolences, and well wishes come from the heart. As we begin our final months in Monrovia, I’m feeling better about leaving as I see our new team come together.

During the week, John and I finished “Landscapers” (excellent) and “The Beast Must Die,” which I really enjoyed. We also watched a Swedish crime show, “Honour” that we really liked (girl power!). Last night we started an Israeli spy series that we’re hooked on, “Tehran.” I had a nice chat with David last Monday – looks like it’s getting cold in Hot Springs! I tried to read “Look Homeward, Angel” but had a really hard time getting into it, so I’ve set it aside for now. Instead, I started Bob Woodward’s “Peril.”

Yesterday I spent most of the day decluttering – hard work, but I ended up with sacks and sacks of clothes and books to give away – it feels great! During a break in my flurry of activities, I read a fun book by Margareta Magnusson (who is “between the age of eighty and one hundred”) called “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.” I thoroughly enjoyed it — and it was great motivation! Pack-out preparation has begun!

The Grind

Sunday, January 16th, 2022

We’re back into the rhythm of work and it’s mostly business as usual, although we are still observing mitigation efforts to prevent the spread of COVID. Luckily cases seem to be going down a bit. I had a video chat with a desk officer in DC regarding adoptions this week and got in an outdoor visit with a former colleague, but other than that it was a fairly typical week at work.

We talked with Ginger (and Pete) on her birthday this week (Happy birthday!). I chatted with Ann, Pam, and Jackie last Sunday which was nice. John and I had a video meeting with our financial advisory on Thursday. The rest of the week we watched (and finished) “Stay Close,” which we enjoyed. We’ve started a second Cush Jumbo show called “The Beast Must Die.” I’d only seen her in “The Good Wife” before, but really liked her in “Stay Close.”

I finished “The Emperor’s Children,” by Claire Messud and enjoyed it. I’ve been tracking my reading on Goodreads and was heartened to see I read 24 books in 2021 – not working weekends helps the book count. I hope to have more in 2022. While I certainly don’t read the heavy books that John does, they are fun and relaxing.

Long week

Sunday, January 9th, 2022

It seemed like a very long week! The holidays are over and the Christmas tree in the atrium is gone. The consular staff is all back in the office after some took time off at the end of the year but we’re all still being very cautious about COVID since numbers are still high in Liberia. There’s a last push of students trying to get visas for spring classes and we’ve had a few emergencies with U.S. citizens — yesterday brought several calls from the duty officer. I guess it’s back to business as usual!

I had a nice video chat with my former boss Nomi who’s currently in Tijuana – we had a great time catching up. John and I finished season three of “Berlin Station” and are lamenting there are no more seasons! I read Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” yesterday and have been pondering how to use some of his ideas for doing less “shallow work” – he hit the nail on the head talking about the tyranny of email and its constant distractions.

The manager of the embassy cafeteria made John and me a special dinner of salmon to take home one evening – it’s the small things! The consular section celebrated our employee James’s 53rd birthday with a cake this week.

Happy birthday, James!

This would have been Joyce’s 98th birthday. Rest In Peace.

Happy new year!

Sunday, January 2nd, 2022

We spent a very nice, very quiet New Year’s weekend at home. John cooked black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day – heaven knows the world needs more luck, so we did our part. We got a lot of reading in, plus some television. I did not even set foot outside the apartment all weekend!

Last Sunday I had a good video chat with Ann, Pam, and Jackie, and a mid-week chat with Cousin James. Work was busy, as usual, with everyone still worried about COVID rates in Liberia.

We’re watching a spy series called “Berlin Station” that we enjoy, plus we watched “Don’t Look Up.” I’d kind of like to re-watch it, as I haven’t made up my mind about it – but it is fun and campy. I finished reading “Being Wrong” (interesting but dense for me), and also read a diet book “Women, Food, and Hormones” (don’t recommend, but picked up a few things), the very interesting and engaging “Countdown bin Laden” by Chris Wallace, and the fun “Embassy Wife” by Katie Crouch.