Posts Tagged ‘Family’

“Touch the ground and go”

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2010 at 2:54 am

Where I’m at: DC until the weekend

What I’m doing: getting back from a dinner with some wise young’uns

Why I’m posting: deep thoughts


Colleen and I were taken out to a fantastic dinner tonight at Ray’s The Steaks, a DC (or Arlington, VA) landmark. The kind folks that made our evening were none other than my uncle Mike, aunt Stephanie, and cousins Taylor, Holly, and John (dedicated readers—shout out to them!). I love my family very much regardless, but there’s so much to love about them. These Lake Woebegone kids are all A-students, great athletes, well-mannered, funny, and adorable (or pretty, as they get older). So much to love!

But the point of this post is not to boast. I bring up my cousins to relay a bit of unexpected wisdom. Over dinner, for some reason, my cousin John (age 8) kept suggesting that if he were to visit us in Congo-Brazzaville (a 20-hr drive into South America, apparently), that he wouldn’t stay- he’d just “touch the ground.” That is to say, John noted that in order to actually visit a country, one need only actually touch the ground, not live there or stay long. It didn’t seem to make much sense at the time, but when his parting remarks to us echoed these, they struck me as deep indeed: “Remember, just touch the ground and go.”

I suppose that’s what being a diplomat (or lost soul…whichever it is that I am) is all about. We’re not supposed to become so immersed in our host countries that we lose touch with America or even want to. We make these places our “homes” only for the length of time needed to advance the interests of America between the wayward soul who precedes us and the one that follows.

So I suppose John was right – whether we’d want him to be or not. We just touch the ground and go.


Who said it: Ben Franklin

Why it’s relevant: America’s first diplomat touched many grounds and left a mark on all

The quote: “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.”


The choices we make

In Uncategorized on April 19, 2010 at 3:46 am

On Friday, my plane touched down in the wrong city. I don’t mean that literally as I had booked a flight from D.C. to Chicago to see Colleen, and my plane did, in fact, land in Chicago. But my mom called me a couple minutes after we landed and gave me some news that helped me realize that I may have been in the wrong place.

Last week, my grandpa had one medical problem lead to another and quickly found himself in the ICU. My grandpa is in great shape and a fighter, and is unsurprisingly making a quick and seemingly full recovery. But on Friday, I spent the day leading nearly 100 diplomat colleagues and at least one ambassador through various team building exercises in the woods of West Virginia. My brother, on the other hand, took the day off work and spent the day at my grandpa’s bedside playing cards.

So who was in the right place? I don’t know the answer to this. But I do know that the choices I’ve made in my life are gradually taking me further away physically from my family and these important moments. This time I was only a phone call and a few hours away – able to grab a bus or a plane back home if I needed. But soon enough, I’ll be half a world away, incommunicado except through Skype or email, which are painfully slow communication devices in an instant communication world.

I talked about this with Colleen, and I told her – truthfully – that I don’t have regrets about this. After all, I didn’t choose between my family and myself. What I do and where I’m going, I chose because of my family. I want a better country for them. I want a safer world for them. I want a smarter and more complete me for them. But sometimes that just seems too idealistic to not seem cold-hearted and fake. This kind of feels like one of those moments.

So these are the choices we make, and we do our best when we make them. I hope mine are the right ones…

Who said it: Modest Mouse
Why it’s relevant: My grandpa’s first name is Ralph, and Ralph S. Mouse was a very modest mouse indeed.

The quote:
“Looking towards the future
We were begging for the past
Well we knew we had the good things
But those never seemed to last
Oh please just last”

Playing house

In Uncategorized on February 7, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Where I’m at: Chicago (t-minus 53 days or so)
What I’m doing: trying to find a bar review lecture online
Why I’m posting: because I’m failing at the above task
So this is probably the first entry that I’m going to write where my reason for posting was not moral outrage (because I’m better than you!) or to post important information (re: everything about the lives of every Supreme Court justice). It’s purely personal, but hear me out.

I’m starting to get nervous about the new job at the State Department. First off, I’m still enough of a libertarian (yes, I was once a cuckoo nutjob…sorry Eric, Matt, and Joe) to hate bureaucracy and red tape. After some gentle ribbing from folks last night, I realize that the red tape is going to be far harder to deal with than I first thought. But okay, fine…I’ll live.

Secondly, though, I hate being pampered. My ideal man is one who limits the amount of products, services, and general help from others to as minimal as possible. I have one bottle in the shower- a 3-in-1 body wash/shampoo/conditioner. If I could get them to put toothpaste and orange juice in the bottle, I’d never need another product in my life.

So when I first heard about the large, taxpayer-funded per diems I get while training in D.C., and that depending on the locale I get sent to I might basically be living in an American-bubble with a house staff and a driver, etc., I started getting nervous. I don’t want the help and don’t (I may eat my words here) need it either. How will I handle on this in the months and years to come? Guess you’ll have to stay tuned to find out. In the meantime, I have to voice my discontent now before Uncle Sam sticks his hand up my __ and uses me as a hand puppet.
(Wow! That was an amazingly right wing post. It must be all those MBAs I talked to last night. Creepy…)
Who said it: Clarence Darrow, greatest trial lawyer in American history
Why it’s relevant: I need to counteract all the conservative stuff I said above. Also, we’re in a recession.

The quote: “Depressions may bring people closer to the church but so do funerals.”