A happy belated new year to you. I've recently returned home from a much needed vacation in South Carolina with my dad and sister and after one week back at work, immediately got a stomach flu and had to stay home for a day. Perhaps, it turns out, I'm allergic to work. Or maybe I'm just becoming French?
I spent about three weeks at home in South Carolina at my Dad's house for my vacation. I cooked a lot, watched a lot of movies, and hung out with my dad doing such soothing tasks as driving to the library, going to the Bi-Lo, Piggly Wiggly, Super Walmart, and Food Lion looking for fresh herbs and salmon (not easy to do in Sumter, South Carolina). We also went to McDonalds and Burger King after a day shopping in the hardware store and changing lightbulbs. The sky was Carolina Blue for a goodly part of the three weeks, the sun was shining, I understood the news on CNN, I voted in the South Carolina Democratic Primary, and for 18 days or so, i was a true blue American again. In short, it was heaven.
Anyway, I really wanted to see many of you when I was home but was unable to do so. I've decided to stop relying on technology so much and go back to the good old hand written address book. I found that when I was in the US without my computer or my Amsterdam or DC mobile phone, I had no record of anyone's phone number or mailing address. It was pathetic. So I basically didn't call or email anyone. In fact, in order to check my email, I had to ask my dad's permission to go to the sumter county library and log on. And to top things off, on my last week in the US, on my way down I-95 right past Wilson, North Carolina (an evil hateful place), I received a speeding ticket from one of North Carolina's finest. Since my well documented money problems and the sliding dollar vs euro rate depleted my savings account upon my arrival to Holland, I was unable to pay my ticket until november 2007. So they suspended my driver's license. And my sister and father are not scofflaws like me, so they refused to let me drive their cars and I had to rely up on them for transportation. Alyson kindly drove me to DC but didn't have as much time off as me so I was only able to stay there for two days. (Yes, I've cleared up the ticket and am legal again!)
Anyway, 2007 is safely behind me. It was a hell of a year.
* Started off with my father breaking his pelvis as I contemplated a job offer with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Amsterdam. (he recovered nicely)
* Sold, packed, and gave away my cute apartment on 18th street and said goodbye to DC with fun but drunken going away party held during the worst monsoon DC has seen in many years.
* Aforementioned Speeding ticket after Ava Gardner Museum in Wilson, North Carolina.
* Moving to Amsterdam in time for Queen's Day, enjoying approximately three days of fabulous sunny weather without humidity, never to be seen again.
* Difficult adjustment to living six hours ahead of all of my friends and confidantes (but slowly making new ones)
* Arrival of Simon LeBon, the loud Siamese and learning that litter boxes in Holland cost about 50 euros (about 75 dollars!)
* Eviction in Amsterdam
* Giant international incident with other MSF sections which lead to me being VERY well known in the organization (I am still feeling the ramifications- let's just say, Americans with DC connections + French people do not mix well).
* The Dreaded 40th Birthday
* Adjustment to the low lands, bicycling, rainy weather, good beer, and cobblestones and tram tracks.
* Wonderful visits from friends and colleagues - from a few hours in a train station coffee shop to exploring the city on bicycles, your visits kept me human this year - thank you!!!!
* The Year of not traveling - From December 2006 until now, I have not been in a developing country (unless you count Belgium, ha ha). It was a bit strange to not go to Africa, Asia, or Latin America. But I needed the time to understand all the changes that had happened in my life. So in retrospect, they managed without me for 2007.
This year promises to see the traveling resume. MSF is sending me to Ethiopia and Somalia in the summer, Papua New Guinea in the spring, and Central African Republic in about three weeks. I plan European vacations to Poland, Portugal, Italy, and Germany.
And after 2008 I'm going to explore my options for retiring to Mexico to live the good life at age 42 or getting myself knocked up and married to a European Industrial millionaire ala Salma Hayek and many other model/actresses.
Thanks to all of you for your support and wisdom and guidance in the past year. It was extremely difficult but I've made it through it and now - hopefully, I'll have more fun adventures in foreign lands to convey to you. Thank you again for your love and support. Turning on my email at night was a lifeline, many nights, and I appreciate your support (and the US Weeklies - KOL!)