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February 7, 2014

A Work in Progress

September 13, 2013

I thought by now I'd be all recovered and settled into a new Baltimore routine, actively reflecting on Ethiopia and pumping out required blog posts for school and fun posts for you like it was nothing. Instead, I'm still downright exhausted and I haven't even begun to think about it. The past 9 days since I boarded the plane in Addis have been incredibly frustrating and confusing and I'm somehow even less able to articulate what I'm feeling than I was before I left.

It started with a ridiculous journey home. I first flew from Addis to Nairobi, where there are still makeshift outdoor waiting areas as a result of the airport fire:

The second flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam was on the biggest plane I've ever seen!  It boggles my mind how something this enormous can stay in the air.

In Amsterdam, I had a 7 hour layover and then one final 8 hour flight to DC. At this point, time could not go by fast enough - I desperately wanted to be home. About 3 hours into my layover, I looked up from my book to see where my flight was on the board and my heart stopped. Of the 40 departures listed, there was one single flight flashing the words "cancelled" and "rebooking in progress." I snapped the book shut and rushed to the board, squinting at the numbers and thinking it couldn't possibly be mine, because my very first flight on June 1 was this exact KLM flight in reverse, and that was cancelled, and this would just be too ironic!

Irony: a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

Maybe it was because I'd been awake for over 24 hours already, or maybe 3 months in Africa twisted my sense of humor, but I did not find it amusing WHATSOEVER that my final leg of this epic journey of a summer, my way home to Washington, was CANCELLED.  I sprinted to the ticket counter and waited 45 of the longest minutes of my life to find out how big of a meltdown I was going to have.

Thankfully, or (darn rightfully!), I was rerouted onto a flight leaving at the same time for Chicago, and would then go from Chicago to DC. It tacked an extra 5 hours and a 4th flight onto my journey, but I would still be home in DC that night. Fine by me.

When I finally got to DC (!!!!!), only one of my suitcases was there, but so was Jimmy with this guy and that's really all that mattered:

My clothes actually didn't arrive until 2 days later, late Friday afternoon:

But whatever. The missing suitcase was the least of my worries.

On Thursday, my mom called with a DMV notice that all of the (unfair) parking tickets I'd gotten while away had doubled - so now I owed DC government a total of $520. Welcome home! And also the new registration sticker had never come in the mail, so I could neither drive my car nor park it on the street. Rock and a hard place much?

So I spent 5 hours at the DMV on Friday, getting a new sticker and my tickets dismissed ;)

It was an impossible victory.

Next, I try to keep my blog pretty positive and don't talk about work too often, but there has been some major boosh happening and I have to get it off my brain.

I never mentioned it, but two weeks after I got to Ethiopia, I found out that my project was cancelled. I thought I was sent over to help a project in trouble, but I was sent to help close out a failing disaster of a project. It's just NGO politics and the way things go, but it really unsettled me when I had just started to feel settled. Regardless, I worked hard on the things that were left to do, I pretended there was a point to doing them and that they weren't going to get tossed out as soon as we handed them over, and I didn't complain at all.

Work was one of the things I was really looking forward to about returning to Baltimore. I was excited to finally have some good, useful stuff to work on and to be busy for the next 3 months finishing up a successful placement.

Instead, on my first day back, I walked into the office and there was barely a pause between "welcome back" and "oh, we really don't have the money to pay you to work."  It was like my return home was a complete surprise.

Here I was, thinking that someone who knew a little bit about what they were sending me into might apologize for what happened and maybe even thank me for sticking it out without complaint. Instead, I got literally un-welcomed back.

I've spent every day this week alternating between frantically searching for a new 6-month placement to start over, and going door-to-door around the office begging for work and hoping things will work out so I can stay and finish where I started.

Since I landed in DC, it has been a series of shocks, hugs, slaps in the face, and pangs of anxiety with small moments of relief. That is why I haven't even begun to think about Ethiopia yet.

Whew. Onward to the moments of relief!

Thursday night reunion over turkey burgs and beautiful birthday gifts from Allison:

Friday night festivities at Ted's Bulletin with Allison and Frank :D

A PSL on Saturday morning!!!!

Followed by an afternoon with friends at a hard-to-find Virginia winery : P

I have continued to order medium coffees even though I can't finish them because they are 10 times the size of Ethiopian coffees.

And I have also caught up with friends, run glorious loops around the harbor, and momentarily lost my mind again when I signed up for the 2014 Boston Marathon!!

Everything in life works out like it should, right?  :)


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