Tuesday, May 15, 2012

week one - done

steve departed one week ago.

the kids and i are doing ok, actually.  i just wanted to get that out first so you didn't worry.

for my readers who do not know, we've had some big changes around here.  please allow me to explain, based on words i sent to our extended family and close friends:

For most of his life, Steve wanted and worked towards achieving a goal of becoming a professor at an institution of higher learning.  He did accomplish that goal, but after working at the university for about two years, he came to the tough realization that it was not what he thought it would be.  The career and life of an academic wasn't really working for us as a family.  So he started looking around and investigating other options.  He immediately impressed several people in the field of (big) data analysis in Silicon Valley, and he was being wooed by a company in the nation's capitol who'd had an eye on him since before his Ph.D. graduation.

Big decisions for us - where to go?  Well, it all came crashing down startlingly and unexpectedly.  After having already informed his current employer of his impending departure (in sufficient time to allow his students to select options other than his classes), when it came time to begin his full time work at the company he accepted an offer with (and for whom he was already doing some part-time work), there was a shakeup at the company.  The gentleman who had hired Steve, a man who impressed Steve as a mentor and awesome boss, abruptly left, as did his own supervisor.  The new person in charge told Steve that the team was now overstaffed and they would not honor their deal with him.  Devastating as this was, at least we still had the D.C. option.  Except the next day, that company had to reluctantly tell us that although the contract was in place, the funds had not yet been released by Congress, so they could not, in good conscience, bring Steve out because they could not pay him.

Wow.  So we went from having two very solid options to nothing really, really fast.  The house was already on the market, we knew we would be going, but where?  Fortunately, Steve has an impressive array of skills and experience and enthusiastic advocates, plus he does really well in interviews.  Unfortunately, we were reliving some of the nightmare that I went through in the time Before Children after having been laid off from my consulting firm along with the majority of my colleagues.  I was highly qualified, but there was always just one other person who had a little more experience, or had worked in the field already for some time.  He hit up against a similarly frustrating wall multiple times.

Until this job appears.  It needs a social scientist with an advanced degree and experience with statistical analysis, among other things.  But it is overseas.  In Afghanistan.

Take a deep breath here.  Yes, it has taken us some time to process this; we're still trying to get a handle on it.  We understand if this takes you by surprise, too.

Steve's new title is Social Scientist, working for a military contractor.  His work involves testing the effectiveness of coalition efforts while in a secure location in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.  I am assured to my satisfaction that he will be safe and comfortable; we've even started referring to his new residence as "The Resort."

Why not do this?  We asked ourselves this multiple times.  Certainly this was not what we originally had in mind, but we have come to see it as a really exciting opportunity.  Steve will get to do some interesting work, draw on a lot of his skills and background, and go someplace new and unexpected.  The kids and I are moving from the responsibility of maintaining a whole house by ourselves to appreciating having someone else manage water heater issues.  We secured the spacious bottom floor of a two-story house within walking distance of our public library, the Woodland Toy Library, swim school, and all the places we like to visit on Main Street, like Sweet Potato Pie and Fat Cat Cafe.  It's in the beautiful historical district of Woodland, where sweet-smelling rose bushes adorn the fences around lovely Victorian homes.  We have lots of support within our community and from homeschooling friends, for whom we are grateful.

So this is our new adventure.  We have frequent contact with each other; it's so much easier with Skype and email than it was back when Steve was deployed in the Navy and months might pass before I could have contact with him.  We plan to use Steve's location as a springboard for our homeschool study of Afghan history, geography, culture, food, clothing, customs, climate - whatever we can discover.  Yes, we miss each other very much, but we are so grateful for and proud of our strong marriage and family.  We can withstand this geographical separation and come out the other side having grown from the experience.

so it's been pretty interesting around here, to say the least.  sure it has it's tough moments, but i don't want to dwell on those, simply recognize them for what they are and then let them pass; better moments are always on the horizon.  instead of tightening my control of our schedule, i have been more flexible and accommodating in finding a new routine, and the kids have responded to that marvelously.  time passed quite pleasantly at the park with friends yesterday afternoon and the kids read with each other at bedtime - all on their own - and i could see that for Right Now, life is good.

today i am happyer at home because home really is where we make it, and i can make it anywhere.  we miss you, daddy, and we know you miss us.  we're in this together.  we love you.

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