Did I really not write a single blog post in 2019? oops. Here’s the quick recap: we moved to Jordan.
I know I didn’t write much at all during our 4.5 years in Myanmar. My mom’s illness and death really made it hard to write. I felt like if I didn’t write about that, then I wasn’t being entirely honest. I still feel that way, but this recent move, combined with a lack of consulting work over the past few months, has me thinking about writing again. Note that I didn’t say I’ve been writing. I wrote exactly 3 morning pages last year and I made it one chapter into The Artist’s Way. But I THOUGHT about writing a lot, so that has to mean something.
I’d love to talk a bit about foreign service housing. One surprising fact that most people don’t know, is that we don’t get to choose where we live. I mean, we get SOME choice as to which country we live in, but we get almost no input about where our housing is located. We fill out a questionnaire before arriving at post, which means we have no idea what areas are nice or what the housing is like. In Myanmar, we ended up with a very large house in Golden Valley, near the American school and the Embassy. On our very first day, an acquaintance from language training said, “oh, you’re so lucky, you got a house in Golden Valley.” She was in a small apartment at Golden Hill Tower, and her main complaint was the kitchen size. I didn’t feel lucky at all, though. We had 5 bedrooms plus a huge play room, and a large front yard, but everything about it was so ugly. The inside of the house was dark all the time, and the front yard had no shade at all, at any time of day, so was unusable. (It is hard to describe just how hot it is in Yangon.) Our windows didn’t shut so we had mosquitoes everywhere, all the time. As time went on, we realized that we had termites, mold, and faulty wiring as well. The worst part was that we had to leave the house to get to the laundry room, and there were snakes out there. Like, enormous, venomous snakes. I never saw one, but our driver spotted one INSIDE the laundry room. After almost two years, we appealed our housing assignment and moved to Golden Hill Tower, which was like a dream come true. Our little 1,000 square foot apartment was the best place I’ve ever had, and I would have stayed there forever if I could. I am not kidding. I would have lived there for the rest of my life. And I didn’t even love Yangon that much.
When we got assigned to Jordan, we were excited because the housing here is known to be pretty great. Large apartments with gardens or balconies/terraces, and all close to work. Ours is nice looking, but we didn’t get any sort of outdoor space, and in comparison with other Embassy housing, it’s not great. It’s fine. We have a terrible mosquito problem but we’re working on that. I just killed one this morning and it was 0 degrees Celsius last night. How do they survive the cold? Does it surprise you that Jordan has so many mosquitoes? Or that it is freezing in the wintertime? Because I was shocked. I should have done more research.
Complaints aside: I did my best to make the apartment look nice. When I walk in the door, I feel glad to be home, and that is a relief. I never felt that way in our house in Myanmar (but I wanted to leap for joy every time I walked into our apartment at Golden Hill!).
I should also add another funny thing about foreign service housing: it’s furnished, and you can’t send back the furniture (in most places). I asked very nicely if I could have the new Ethan Allen furniture at this post, but they told me it doesn’t exist. I know it exists but I decided to stop fighting and just do what I can to work with the old Drexel Heritage furniture. I am really proud of what I accomplished. I am horrible at interior design (like really really bad) so this is truly my best effort. I love color, and I think it sort of works!
LIVING ROOM BEFORE:
AFTER (chairs & table from IKEA, antique Burmese performer’s chest; paintings from Myanmar and South Africa; rugs from Revival Rugs)
This weird accent wall was tough to deal with, but we decided to display our instruments in front of it. Chest from Mexico, rug from Revival Rugs, paintings on the left side are from Ethiopia.
AFTER: (antique Burmese bench, rug from South Africa; blue rug from Revival Rugs; art from Myanmar)
AFTER: we used our Pathein umbrellas on the wall! Paintings from Ethiopia.
AFTER: I had that kitchen island made in Yangon. Chairs from IKEA.
DINING ROOM BEFORE:
AFTER: The Embassy agreed to remove the awful chairs but not the rest of it. I ordered 8 chairs but they ran out of stock after I got the first 4. Waiting on 4 more.
MASTER BEDROOM BEFORE:
GIRLS’ ROOM BEFORE:
AFTER: IKEA beds, Ethiopian shelves.
GUEST ROOM / OFFICE BEFORE:
AFTER: I didn’t do much with this room yet, but it’s good for now.
FAMILY ROOM BEFORE:
AFTER: pallet wood furniture made in Yangon; enormous TV made in Jordan.