Saturday, January 14, 2006

Back in the U.S. of A.... (big sigh)

I'm lying in bed this beautiful Saturday morning, pilfering wireless internet off Goose's neighbor, looking at the lush hills of Marin County, and smelling the salt air from nearby San Francisco Bay. I couldn't be happier to be alive right now. Even though anything that could have gone wrong with my trip yesterday, did, I arrived in one piece, and now have 10 beautiful days to enjoy this city... ok, not really... I do have a ton of work to do, but still, I can do it in SF instead of Prishtina.

It's raining here, and evidently it has been all over the West Coast for a while now. Goose just came back from Seattle, where it's been raining for 27 days straight. Wow. We had big plans of hiking Mt. Tam today, but that isn't going to happen. It's not just the weather stopping us... I don't have any shoes. Or clothes for that matter. My luggage never made it past Vienna. Ratz.... but I digress, there's more to this little travelogue than lost luggage. Flashback to 11:30 pm on Thursday, Prishtina...

I was packing like a mad woman, trying to figure out what to take, what to leave home. I had to pack for business and casual, warm weather and frigid, and get it all in one bag. Optomistically, I pulled out my small roll on bag, thinking I'd be able to do a little laundry at Goose's place and not have to worry too much. HA HA HA. I'm such a girl. I boiled it down to 6 pairs of shoes for 16 days... I didn't think that was too bad, really - flat black boots, high heeled black boots, black loafers, brown boots, trainers, and flip flops to pack, wear the Ugg boots on the plane. Perfect. But all those shoes alone took up the whole roll on bag. Grr. I broke down and went fot the giant suitcase, but packed lightly in anticipation for the shopping in San Fran. About 1:30 am I finally nodded off to sleep, but not before setting 3 alarms to make sure I was up at 4:45. (Gotta love 7 am flights!)

I got up the next morning on time, only to find that the water in my building was turned off for the first time in months. Crapola - that meant a 27 hour trip with no shower. Ewwwww! I wet my hair down with bottled water, and made the best of it. Svengy called from downstairs about 5:40 and I headed out the door... to find the elevator was BROKEN. In case you don't remember, I live on the 11th floor. Svengy lugged everything down the stairs for me (thank god) and we headed out.

[It's 6:30 pm on February 6th now, and I've completely forgotten where I was going with this story, since I started it about a month ago.... so I'll just tidy up the loose ends and get back to the current situation in Prishtina.]

So as you may have guessed from my earlier comment, I arrived in the U.S. with no baggage, got practically strip searched in the DC airport thanks to a brass button on my belt, bought a sweatshirt in the airport to tide me over (for the next THREE days - yes, that's how long it took them to get my luggage to me), and off I went to begin my adventure. I got an impromptu party with the Spain IP crew on Sunday night - so very cool as I hadn't seen most of these people for 3 years. And then it was back to work.

I worked like crazy to get all 47 pages of my security clearance paperwork finished and printed at kinko's at the mere price of 50 cents a PAGE (jinkies!), stressed out for 3 days over the Foreign Service exam, and then tanked myself and didn't pass. I completely choked on a section. I mean totally choked. I couldn't get three words down on paper that made sense. (See, my students, it happens to all of us!) Oh well. I'll take the written exam again, and start the process all over again. I think. Still considiering it. However, that night, Goose and I met up with some old friends from Redondo days and had the best sushi meal I've ever had in my life. If I could get sushi that good everyday, I'd never eat anything but - this coming from a woman who used to never eat fish at all, much less raw. mmmmmmmmm.... sushi.

My seeeeester came out on Friday and we spent the afternoon having margaritas at the marina in Tiburon, then headed out to the city for a night on the town. Alio showed up to meet us at Sam Wo's (the best all night Chinese place in ChinaTown). The next morning we all rolled crustily out of bed and headed up to Napa for a little wine tasting, and had big plans of heading out that night. However, laziness set in with all the weary travelers, and we ordered pizza and watched tv. It was just nice to be home with friends and family, even if it was just for a few days. Sunday we headed to the Exploratorium, FIsherman's Wharf and Alcatraz - yep - played tourist. Such fun. Then it was off to Budapest for a presentation... that my friends is a story all in itself. So I'm going to stop here for now....