Our assignment has changed! Instead of being posted to Tunisia, we're going to Montreal, Canada! While certainly Montreal doesn't elicit oohs and aahs like the exotic Marshall Islands do, it's going to be nice. I'll take the cold over dengue, thanks. And oh, the tap water! Blessed tap water! We'll also be a lot closer to family.
But there are other things I'm already missing, and we haven't even left. Max's sweet babysitter. Our other friends. The view from our balcony that we will never, ever, ever have again. I'm sure the following graph is totally and completely scientific. Does someone have a mathematical function for this yet? I'm currently in the zigzag section.
Although I am a quarter Canuck myself, and lived in Toronto for a year and half, Montreal will be a different experience. For one, it's Quebec and I therefore need to know French. I'm quite looking forward it, actually. I did take and pass an express French course in preparation for Tunisia, so at least I won't be totally awash. 'Course, it was a Sub-Saharan French class, the only one available at the time . . .
The post reports for Montreal say that Foreign Service Officers and their families still undergo an adjustment period and to not underestimate that just because it's Canada. Frankly, I think moving from the Marshall Islands to anywhere other than a Pacific island is going to entail some severe reverse-culture shock. I've been wearing flip-flops, T-shirts, and shorts, cutting my own hair (at times disastrously), and being myself with happy, wild abandon. Nobody cares what I look like, and I've not been bombarded with constant advertisements about how I'm lacking in some way. I will dearly, dearly miss that radio silence. There is such a thing as too much feedback, says I.
I will forever be grateful that our first post was the Marshall Islands. It included such adventures as:
- Visiting Kwajalein and their shark pit of doom.
- Seeing Maxwell learn to walk. And to count in the 1000s and in roman numerals. And read dictionaries and textbooks. And learning to count to ten in Marshallese, Spanish, French, Swedish, Italian, German, and Tagalog. Not even joking.
- Getting stranded on an outer island for our anniversary.
- Losing all baby weight plus 25 pounds more from various versions of the stomach flu/food poisoning (that, and eating very little meat because I saw how one shop stored its chicken pieces and I have thereafter only bought fresh, cheap tuna steaks).
- Learning how to make Marshallese food (breadfruit chips are by far my favorite).
- Walking trips with my church girls and seeing the beautiful and ugly of Majuro all mixed together.
- Compiling a book of Mormon women's voices and the diverse pressures and problems we have faced as women (currently being reviewed by a publisher). Entitled Undefining Woman: Observations and Essays from Twelve Mormon Women. It has been such a great and edifying experience.
- Experiencing amazing tropical storms and fish. And sunsets.
- Starting The Unbound Bookmaker Project (12 new Marshallese-English children's books, written and illustrated from students all over the Marshall Islands, coming soon! As in, they will be on Amazon.com within 3 weeks!).
- Getting promoted within Atomium Culture and being accidentally called "Dr. Zvirzdin" by post-doc science researchers in Europe.
- Writing an anti-joke book that I think is terribly funny and that Andrew thinks is terrible (still in revision).
- Meeting and loving these wonderful, amazing humans, as well as others that I don't happen to have pictures of right at this moment.
- Writing a full novel in the month of November (with special thanks to Camille Kern for encouraging said endeavor) and have it pass the first round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (next cut: March 12).
- Dancing a ballroom medley (composed by my sister and her husband) for a school's international night.
- Learning and growing in love with church members. I will especially miss my girls.
- Experiencing the absolute and utter craziness that was January and February 2013. Said craziness includes meeting kids in Ebeye that had participated or wanted to participate in The Unbound Bookmaker Project, visiting Pohnpei, getting dengue/chikungunya/whatever it was plus some other fun sicknesses, and some new professional goals—maybe I like "Dr. Zvirzdin" after all!
- Going with Max on various excursions to randomly cool places.
- Watching Andrew have a chance to be chargé d'affaires as an entry-level officer. He's had his own crazy experiences.
- Learning more profoundly than ever that we humans are all equal in the sight of God, and that your success is my success and my success is your success.
- Sitting on the back balcony, reading, and drinking fresh coconut juice.