Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Some Things Don't Change

It's been just a little over a year since I last slept with my iPhone under my pillow.  Back when the fab hubby was serving a UT in Baghdad.  Every night I'd check Facebook for an update; it was an eight-hour time difference, so as I was going to bed at night, he was getting up in the morning.

When I woke in the middle of the night to feed our newborn baby, I'd flip through the feed, checking to see if anything new had happened.  I'd catch up on the FS blogosphere and find out if something important had happened while I was sleeping.

Of course, there was always the fear that I'd get a call in the middle of the night, and if I didn't hear the phone, I'd miss it.  That's the worst feeling.  And so, really for this reason, I slept with my phone under my pillow.

Naively, I thought that when the UT assignment ended and we were together as a family in Cairo, my nights with the phone tucked under my pillow were over.  If you'd asked me last year if I thought our Embassy in Cairo (or any U.S. Embassy for that matter) would be breached by rioters, I would have given a resounding "Never."

But the truth is, those things that we push to the back of our minds, those things that we think will 'never' happen, those things that we plan for but assume will never be needed for anything other than a practice drill are a reality today.  As I watch the news feed with pictures of the very Embassy I actually work in with protestors burning our flag, chanting words of hate, and scribbling obscenities on the walls I pass by every day, I am truly frightened.  Frightened in a way I've never felt before.

It was different when I was in Ohio and he was in Iraq.  Because although I was worried for the hubby, I also felt removed from it.  What he was doing didn't directly affect our day-to-day lives.  The rest of our family was safe.  He had no reason to worry about me or the kids - we were far away and secure from what he doing.  I could drive eight miles and not be in the middle of a violent riot.  I didn't have to witness any of this first-hand.  I was proud of him, supportive of him, and so very happy when he returned home.

This week, I've again found myself sleeping alone with my phone under my pillow.  I've waited and prayed for the "I'm ok" phone calls.  It's surreal, being so close to what's going on and yet going about my day (save for going to the Embassy) as if something really bad isn't going on just eight miles away.  The kids go to school.  I work at an off-Embassy Health Unit.  I ate at McDonald's today.  I run at the track.  Normal stuff.

I feel the guilt roll over me when I realize how normal my day was.  Because just eight miles away, those Americans working so hard at MY Embassy are walking through tear gas and hearing non-stop screams of hate.  They are witnessing the local staff so dedicated to our Embassy work to keep our Embassy secure from their own countrymen who wish to destroy it.  They witness the police colliding with the protestors.

My husband is there.  And while every fiber in my body screams that I want him to be home with us here, right now, I know that now is not the time for him to care for us.  No matter how close we are to him.  It's only eight miles.  How my heart aches at the reality of this.  We are so close to him, but his life is very different from ours at this very moment.

I'm proud of him and I'm proud that we serve our country in this capacity.  If you ask me if I regret coming here given the current circumstances, I absolutely say "No."  Bad things are happening, and bad things may continue.  But I know why we chose this,  I know what we represent, and I'm proud to be a part of this diplomatic community.

And so tonight I'll sleep alone again with my phone under my pillow, waiting for the calls and checking news feed updates.  But the circumstances are different now from what they were just a year ago.  I just wish I would have realized that it doesn't get any easier, even though we're not separated physically by distance any more.  His world is still very different from mine.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Five Weeks to San Francisco

As of tomorrow, I will have exactly five weeks until my marathon in San Francisco.  Am I ready?  Definitely not.  Will I be?  I just don't know.  Will I finish?  Definitely.  Will I be fast?  Certainly not.  Will I beat myself up over it?  Absolutely not.  Will I regret running it?  Nope.

But while I know I WILL finish, I am still, well, nervous.  The mileage just isn't happening here in Egypt.  The heat.  The traffic.  Sensory overload when running in the 'hood.

Last week, I was running along a nearby street and a taxi driver drove up right beside me and slowed down to my pace.  It was a busy street and there were people nearby.  In fact, there were police less than a block away.  The taxi driver honked and blew me a kiss.  Icky.  So I sped up (Dude.  Like I could outrun a taxi.  ::sigh::), hoping that he'd just stay away.  Just as I was starting to relax, I felt a SMACK!  The guy drove up right beside me, reached out his window and smacked my butt.

I was SHOCKED.  Sure, I've heard these kind of stories.  Sexual harassment is common in Egypt and many neighboring Islamic countries.  But you never really think it will happen to you, especially while doing something like running.  I had honestly always assumed it would happen on the metro where it's crowded and people are sandwiched like sardines.  Or maybe even by someone on a motor bike (there's been incidences of men jumping off motor bikes, groping women, and then riding off) -- so I'm always super cautious around motor bikes.  But I just wasn't expecting it.

My reaction?  As he sped off, I was standing in the middle of the road, screaming, calling him obscene names, shaking my fists in the air.  All swearing In English, of course, but I'm fairly certain what I said translates the same in all languages.  Oh, I was flaming angry.

But at the same time, honestly, a bit shaken.  I was lucky - what if he'd hit me with the car, or swung his door at me?  A busy street - and no even noticed, or maybe they pretended not to notice.  It's hard enough running the streets of Cairo without worrying about something like this.

I keep hoping that running will get easier here, but it just doesn't.

I've been going out of my mind trying to get the miles in.  My best options:

*Early morning runs (but the street dogs have become more prevalent as of late, and heartier as well - who is feeding them??!!, and I'm not really comfortable running solo in the wee morning hours)
*a running group that meets Friday at 6AM (it's just not gonna happen - and I love that running group, but Friday is the first day of the weekend - I'm exhausted, and have 22-month-old toddler who's NOT been sleeping well)
*treadmill (NO NO NO NO NO)
*the Waadi (I like it for 6 miles or less - otherwise, too hot and too dry and too exposed to the sun)
*the kids' school track.

The kids' school track.  Six laps to a mile.  SIX LAPS TO A MILE.  I've become a glorified hamster.  But on the flip side, it's safe, it's open late (til 10:00PM!), and the track is soft and squishy and kind to my old[er] knees.  Last night I ran 9 miles - that's 54 laps, if you're rusty on your math.  And it was actually awesome.  At least more awesome than running the streets of Cairo.

I'm exhausted, trying to run in the streets, fighting the traffic, worrying about motor bikes and groping taxi drivers.  I just want to zone out, feel the rhythmic pound of my feet on the pavement, and listen to my favorite music.  Maybe some hamster time will do me good.  And, most importantly, help me to get those miles in!

In any case, I'll take what I can get.  Five weeks to go to a stunning run in San Francisco.

Honestly, I'll be running the last 10 miles of the marathon on sheer willpower.  But at least I'll be able to say I did it.

Pics this week are of my fabulous running days in July when I was in Colorado Springs for the military.  Where I ran Ft. Carson and the beautiful Garden of the Gods --- one of my favoritist spots in the world.  I love these because they remind me of how much I love running.

Running trails.  Honest-to-goodness RUNNING TRAILS.

Edited this one through Instagram.  What a great shot of Garden of the Gods.

Watched a storm roll by.

Historic Manitou Springs is way way way in the background.

I know.  Not a running photo.  But this is Manitou Springs.  Love it here.