That's what I find myself doing in the past few days. As my remaining days in language training have now dwindled to seven, while I'm still definitely focused on continuing to learn (ojala!), I'm also having to divert my attention to the job soon to be at hand: being an OMS. Not just an OMS, but a brand-new OMS in a really, really big embassy in a really big city. Yeah, I think I mentioned this before; can you tell it's on my mind? It's been nearly three months since the end of my OMS training and the time that I learned about all things "e-This" and "e-That." All those important programs that people rely on the OMS to know inside and out. That training feels como un recuerdo brumoso - sorry, like a foggy memory. Like a styrofoam take-out box, my brain and even my life has been divided into distinct sections with no sauce seeping from one quadrant to the others.
- The personal life: wife, daughter, the-cats'-mother, friend, sister
- The OMS life: cables, safes, combinations, classified vs unclassified, dip notes, seating charts, travel arrangements, country clearances, work requirements
- La Vida Espanol: classes, homework, evaluations, hallway chit-chat, EXAM
- The Colombian life - more questions than answers: Housing? What to bring? Car? Cat litter? Cat food? Clothing? Banking? How to get the cats to Bogota?
- The FSO life: exam preparation, oral assessment, registry (Still haven't hit the Consular registry - five weeks after passing the oral assessment. Oh well, I'm in no hurry.)
- The DoS life: diplomatic passports, visas, travel orders, amended travel orders, pack-out dates, vouchers, per diem, check-out procedures
I've been so busy being busy that I haven't let myself get excited about my first post yet. But I need to do that.
So to help get my mind off the mental circus, the Washington, DC Folklife Festival was kind enough to select Colombia as one of the three showcased "themes" for their festival this year on the Mall. The other two were Soul Music/Detroit/Blues and the Peace Corps. There were three large areas dedicated to these themes and filled with booths/tents demonstrating various aspects of each. For Colombia, they broke it up regionally, and there were people from each part of the country displaying their customs, work, music, food, handcrafts, produce etc... Everyone was speaking Spanish; the music was great and I was thrilled to notice that I could understand the majority of what each person was saying. I think I learned a good bit about my host country and now I have images of the faces, sounds of the voices and accents, in my head.
Here are a few pictures, although they're not great because I feel awkward taking pictures of people like a tourist sometimes:
These are "llaneros" (plainsmen) and they were playing music that men play when out on the range with their cattle.
Women from Chocos on the northern Pacific coast, singing funeral songs and describing how the funerals are colorful occasions to celebrate the life, instead of the death, of the person.
This saddle took only two days to make (I think - I had a little trouble understanding the saddle-maker guy.)
Seeing his work did make me think of going riding again when we get down there, though.
Today let me lift my chin and look to the horizon again; to stop being busy being busy for a bit and be excited about what brought me to this place to begin with. Besides running from life to life as listed above, I've also been sentimental about the people who are no longer here or who I've moved away from. (And it seems that there are a few flat spots on the globe, too, as some of y'all have apparently fallen off the edges! I guess you're all busy being busy, too). This life will be one of continual hellos and goodbyes, of getting excited; getting busy, getting nervous; getting comfortable; getting excited again.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
But all those cycles let us feel alive - heck, they just let us FEEL, as I believe a daily routine perpetuated endlessly tends to dull our senses.
I expect that in twenty years I will have a collection of delicate colored glass bottles on a shelf, labeled with names, places, experiences (good and bad), that I can occasionally take down, uncork, savor, and replace.
Perhaps I should let remember to let myself enjoy them in the moment they're created, too?