The conundrum of digital humanitarianism: when the crowd does harm
To some of you this may look like heartbreaking (and it is in fact) and you may think that it is very nice for people to share this story so that maybe someone will help this family. The problem that I have with this is that whoever re-posted this did not knew that he was basically saying to whoever has bad intention: “Hey, here there is a young woman with two little kids, and two wounded people with her. Here is her location, and she is scared and alone, with no means to get for help”. This is more or less like to tweet that you have a million dollars in your house and that you are gonna go out for a drink and leave the door open.
Miss Universe 2013 National Costumes
Costumes run he gait from hilarious to ironic to absolutely gorgeous. Check out the costume for Miss USA, and decide for yourself (I fall on the side of awesome + ironic, but I also think that the Kardishans are brilliant performance artists, so YMMV).
The Night of the Doctor
I’m enjoying the hell out of my maternity leave, but my toddler means that I’m not able to get nearly as much done while the baby is sleeping as I could the first time around.
So much for my great blogging, scrapbooking, novel writing, cooking, and relaxing intentions.
For example, I just yelled at Jasmine to get her goddamned TOE out of the baby’s goddamned MOUTH. I mean, Bertrand and I are pretty casual about germs, but bare feet? That’s pretty gross. Not as gross as the fact that Jasmine was chewing on the feet of her tights yesterday at my brother’s wedding (like how I casually dropped that bomb in here?), but still, pretty gross.
To all of my childless friends who KEEP ASKING whether having kids was worth it. Yes. YES. A MILLION TIMES YES. I just have to keep reminding myself that the moments of frustration will make absolutely riotous stories at family gatherings when my girls are adults.
Speaking of great stories, yesterday, I got to hang out with family that I hadn’t seen in over a decade. And it was amazing. And not seeing everyone grow up and have kids and being able to meet their spouses is one of the saddest things about spending my life abroad. And now that I also have kids, I am sad that they won’t be able to grow up playing with their cousins (and cousins once and twice removed). I can’t wait to spend ten months reacclimating to the States when we come back for Arabic training, and I’m even more excited about the opportunity to reconnect with my family.
tl;dr: too tired to be coherent, kids are awesome, family is awesome, and my brother is MARRIED (!!!!!).
I am grateful that, although my toddler still puts EVERYTHING in her mouth, I can yell, “WAIT! Don’t eat that! It’s trash!” and she happily stops and throws it away. WHEW. Things she has tried to eat this morning: a silica gel packet, a dried black bean, an empty Larabar wrapper, rose petals, a black crayon.
Back for the moment. I’ve been busy globetrotting, struggling through a difficult (but SO AWESOME) bridge assignment, and having a baby.
Me and said baby. Welcome, Grace Sika!
It’s official. I’m pregnant.
No, “we” are not pregnant. Bless my husband’s heart, he’s wonderful and supportive and putting up with my oddball cravings (thank goodness for a MEDEVAC to London where I was able to eat all of the strawberries and cheese and peppermint tea I wanted).
But he’s not 13 weeks in and already showing (and already up a cup size! ARGH!). He doesn’t have pregnancy acne (yeah, all of you women whose skin clears up? I HATE YOU RIGHT NOW). And he certainly isn’t getting up to pee eight gazillion times a night (it’s hormones, not the baby pressing on my bladder … yet).
And Jasmine’s going to be a big sister, which is going to be awesome and funny and horrifying all at the same time. I hope she treats the baby with more respect than the cat, although watching
Baby J Toddler J chase a crawling baby around the house is going to be be riotous.
We are terribly excited. As wonderful as it was to raise Jasmine in Freetown, I think it’ll be that much easier to raise the new rugrat in DC. We’ll move back to the States for training when Jasmine’s just over 2. The newborn will be 3-4 months old, depending on the exact time of my departure from Freetown.
Changes are a-foot. And it is awesome.
Oh, Internet. We canceled our Internet subscription, but haven’t yet been cut off. Bertrand and I could live with the piss-poor quality as long as the Internet provider actually picked up the phone when we called to complain. When they started ignoring our calls, we decided to pull the plug.
We can both think of a lot of things we can do with $240/ month that don’t involve throwing money down a whole for a service we really don’t use. We can access Facebook and Amazon on our iDevices, and the bandwidth was too restricted to access YouTube anyway.
I’m back to operating like I did in Benin … writing long emails out ahead of time, then sending them when I have a brief connection to the Internet. I blog in gedit (Ubuntu’s notepad.exe), then copy-paste when I can get online. And I don’t upload pictures anymore at all. It makes me sad, but as I get older, I’m discovering that my desire to put Every Little Thing online is lessening.
It’s strange to think that once our ISP finally gets around to cutting us off, I’ll actually have the same Internet access I had in Benin as a PCV. It’s even stranger to think that I’m kind of looking forward to being disconnected for a while.
Plus ca change …
Mmmmm … bidding. The ELO Winter Generalist bidlist is out, and it’s just about all Latin America (with a bit of China thrown in for good measure). Bertrand and I hashed out my bidding strategy in advance, which has made putting the list together much simpler than I expected. Sweet love.
It’s really been fun to imagine our small family living all over the world. It’s really shaken up my ideas about my career, and our ideas of where we’d like our family to go. We could go anywhere! What a liberating experience. Bidding as an ELO is awesome!*
Everyone in Freetown is super excited for me and thrilled to share their knowledge. Thanks to eveyone who’s answered my weirdly detailed questions about EFM employment. ;)
* I reserve the right to change my mind if my CDO sends me to Siberia, which isn’t even on the list, so I don’t know what I’m worrying.
Bertrand and I lost a good friend this week. It’s hit me pretty hard. I’m happy to far from the newspapers and the gossip and the speculation surrounding his passing, but not being able to fly back to Benin to be with family and friends has been more difficult than I expected.
I knew when we left for Freetown that flying home for funerals would be difficult. When my grandmother passed, I decided not to go. By the time I would have been able to get out of Freetown, I may or may not have been able to get to Virginia in time for the service. Coming so close and missing the ceremoney would have been more heartbreaking for me than mourning from here. So I didn’t go.
This time, we don’t know what the funeral plans are. Beninese Christian funeral customs are … well, for this outsider, they’re complicated at best, byzantine at worst. We don’t know all of the details, and perhaps we never will.
And of course, life goes on, even when you wish you could step back for a few minutes to appreciate the silence.
Oh, Ferber sleep training, I am so sorry I thought I was too good for you. I am so sorry that I thought letting Jasmine cry was cruel. I am SO SO SORRY.
We should have done this month s ago.
Before anyone gets their hackles up about TERRIBLE MOTHER and CRUELTY and HOW COULD YOU JUST LET HER CRY, let me explain that we have tried everything. EVERYTHING. Amazon is chortling with glee becuase I have paid a fortune for utterly useless books that promised to show us how to get our baby to sleep. No tears? HAHAHAHAHA.
Obviously, you have not met my daughter.
She is adorable. She is cute. She loves people. She is a ham. And she is manipulative. OH BOY DOES SHE KNOW HER MAMA AND PAPA WELL.
We were so fucked.
All this to say, 20 minutes of tears was well worth 7 hours straight of sleep. Even if I was clutching my husband’s hand and sobbing into a pillow because it was pretty damn unbearable.
Is there anything more beautiful than a full night’s sleep?
As GSO, I recognize the importance of eating my own dogfood. If I’m going to deny a privilege to the rest of the community, it’s important that I deny it to myself as well. That said, it was awful hard to ignore the niggling voice (aka Bertrand) whispering that it wouldn’t hurt anyone if we got our stuff out of the warehouse.
Ladies and gentlemen, the location and storage of our household goods is no longer a source of tension in my marriage.
Four months into my first tour, and we’re finally in permanent housing! Which means … DUN DUN DUN … we finally had our HHE delivered. After four months, my Pollyanna enthusiasm was starting to wear off, and the reality of being in charge of logistics in a place like Freetown was setting in. However, now that I have unlimited Coke Zero, all of my crafting supplies, and my favorite brand of laundry detergent, I think I can handle another 20 months of Freetown.
As we unpack, we’re asking ourselves questions like: “Why did we bring 5kg of hot pepper, but no dishrack?” “Why did we decide not to buy a DVD player again?” “How did the GSO let the landlord get away with not installing towel racks and toilet paper holders in the bathrooms?” Oh wait …
Needless to say, we’re enjoying settling in to our new home.
So. Housing. I have seven portfolios here in Freetown, of which every single one takes up more than 50% of my time. You’re telling yourself that 7 * 50% is actually 350%, and a person can’t have 350% of a day, but that’s where you’re wrong.
Anyway, housing. If I weren’t the GSO, I’d be ranting and raging about living in temporary housing for THREE WHOLE MONTHS, and the fact that that heinous self-rightous GSO has stored my HHE in the warehouse, and the fact that actually my current apartment is pretty awesome and WHY IS SHE MAKING ME MOVE?!!!? WHINE ANGER GRAR.
Eventually, we’ll move out of our spacious, marvelously located, and falling-apart-around-our-ears apartment into a single family home. We don’t have a lot of stuff, and most of what we do have is for the kitchen or Jasmine.
My sincerest hope is that once I
get give the go sign, we’ll be up and out in a day or two. Until then, we ain’t packin’ shit. Some The has been promising us that we’ll be moving “any day now” since the day we arrived, and I won’t believe her until we see it.