Friday, February 15, 2013

On A Treadmill

Sometimes I feel as though I am living my life on a treadmill or perhaps in an Albanian version of Bill Murray's 1993 film Groundhog Day.  Don't get me wrong; we are experiencing all sorts of fabulous things both here in Albania and throughout Europe, but there are many days and weeks when the grind just feels endless and that no matter how much effort or work I put into something, I am never able to see tangible results.  This has been one of those weeks (or months, or even years depending upon how you look at it).  Maybe it is the fact that this has been a full five-day work week; something that do to holidays and travel schedules we haven't experienced in awhile.  Perhaps it is because we've hosted two dinners in our home and attended two outside events in the past seven days.  It could be because this is February, traditionally a short and dreary, yet brutal month.  Or more likely, it is a combination of all of these factors.

I've been working on and planning numerous projects and activities, both personal and work related, for several months now.  They encompass things from the mundane to the exciting and everything in between. All have entailed a lot of work, and other than an insurmountable level of frustration, I have very little to show for my efforts.  I understand that with a three year old at home I have to provide repeated reminders about the need to always say please and thank you and to pick up after himself when he is done, but I don't understand why I have to repeat similar messages to fully functioning adults.  Why is it so hard to abide by deadlines and commit to attending events? My time is no less valuable than that of the next person. It sounds silly but lately this has been one of my biggest challenges and frustrations. (I have discovered a funny thing this past week, however.  In an environment where the request for a timely R.S.V.P. is generally ignored, if I don't want to set myself up for disappointment, I'm better off not asking for a commitment ahead of time. It makes planning a bit more difficult but I'm working on being more flexible and accepting the fact that I might have an audience of two or a room filled to capacity.  As a part of this new and improved flexibility plan, in the past few weeks I've been omitting the R.S.V.P. request on invitations unless it is an absolute necessity. The surprising result?  My in-box is flooded with attendance confirmations I never even asked for.  If I had know this was all it took to get a head count, I would have started omitting those four little letters a long time ago).

As part of my paid employment at the Embassy I am charged with planning and implementing social activities and excursions for Mission members. My office plans these events based on requests and suggestions from our community members.  A lot of behind the scenes work goes into pulling off even the smallest of events so by the time we officially launch an idea to the community, we have invested many hours into planning the details. In this short month alone, we've had to cancel several events due to a sudden lack of interested or commitment from community members.  For other events we've had to alter the details in order to accommodate people which I am alright with on occasion, but some requests are just impossible to meet.  Regardless of the decisions we make, we can never please everyone, someone will always complain loudly to others, and still more people will just make life difficult for me because of the decisions I've made.  I know this is my job but at the end of some days it feels as though I've put in a lot of effort for naught.

We live a big house with a proportional amount of problems.  Whether it be the toilet that refuses to stop running, the lack of water pressure, or the heating split pack that freezes solid then sounds like a freight train is roaring through our living room, even the simplest of repairs require numerous work order submissions, an equivalent number of visits from the landlord, and perhaps eventually an adequate repair (if we are lucky).  It is both exhausting and frustrating as is the process of trying to renew my Commonwealth of Virginia driver's license.  I can't renew online again since that is how I did it last time (in a vain attempt to keep the much younger and flattering picture of myself), yet I don't want to have to go back to the States to get it done. I should be able to get an extension as a military dependent living overseas but after several phone calls and emails I'm being told that I can't since I don't have a physical address in Virginia. Apparently paying income tax to the state is not enough to establish  the residency that I have had for close to a decade.  I know it can be done but I am in the midst of an uphill battle with no end in sight.  And because it seems to be the way of life recently, even the more enjoyable things are becoming productions.  What was supposed to be a fun girl's get away with a close friend got temporarily hijacked into a larger international affair.  We're now back to our original plan but this is only after over a month of frustrating conversations and negotiations involving talk of dates, locations, and expenses.  (I guess because this issue has been resolved and we just booked our tickets I can chalk this up to my single success of the month).

Not all weeks or months are this bad and that is what gives me hope to keep moving forward.  Eventually I'm going to have to fall off of this treadmill and actually have results to show for all of my efforts.  It probably won't be tomorrow or perhaps not even next week, but eventually  it will happen. I know it will.  I know it will. 

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