Two months left

I have about two months left in my tour here.  I can’t believe I’ve been here this long!  The last two months have been a whirlwind of emotion.  Since I wrote last, I’ve taken a trip out of here and visited a friend in Naples.  It was a fun trip, and I got great news in the middle of the trip – the man I love (mentioned in my last post) was called back to Baghdad!  He was here when I returned, which made me very happy.  When we first saw each other again, we stood and hugged for about five minutes straight.  I think we both realized just how much we’d missed each other.  So, after a little talk, we got back together.  It was a great month.

He had applied to some jobs back home in the limbo time he was in, and had a couple of phone interviews once he got back here.  I told him he was awesome and that they’d love him, and they did!  They offered him the job (as I assured him they would) and wanted him to start in two weeks.  He found out Wednesday and told his company, and they decided to ship him out of Baghdad on Saturday.  A bit of a shock to both of us at the quickness of it all.  As we sat together Thursday night,  all he could say was that he didn’t want it to happen this fast, and that he doesn’t want to leave.  I had a few tears leak out, because those were the same thoughts I had.  (Did I mention dating in the Foreign Service sucks?)  But we pulled our happy faces on and had one last fun game night together with friends.

Friday we had a good talk about where we want this to go from here.  We agreed that we want to see each other, and when I told him I’ll miss talking to him every day, he assured me that he intends to talk to me on the phone almost every day.  I told him about options down the road, if we decide it’s too hard being apart, where I could take time off from my job and move to where he is for a year and we could see how it goes.  He left a couple of days ago, and I am already starting to miss him.  This is not going to be easy!  Some days I think it’d be easier if I just broke it off now and moved on with my life.  I can’t do that though – I believe in our love and can’t just throw it away because we aren’t in the same place.  The two months we had apart made me realize that.  Our talk made me hopeful for our future.  We’ll see where it takes us!

17 Months

I have been in Baghdad for 17 months as of today.  I have a (hopefully) short four months left.  This last month and a half has been hard, and the last two weeks really hard.  Two weeks ago I thought I’d see the man I love again in two days.  Twelve days ago I found out his position had been eliminated and he wasn’t coming back to Baghdad – he didn’t find out much before that.  While we were no longer ‘together’, I still love him and was really looking forward to seeing him again.  The thought that I might never see him again filled me with pain.  SO MUCH.  It left this dark spot in me.  However, we are still in contact and he assures me that we will see each other again – he will come visit me in Washington DC once I get settled.  That seems so far away.  I want nothing more than to be in his arms again.  I can’t imagine loving anyone as much as I love him.  However, I know I need to try to start to move on.  Que sera sera…  I’m slowly, SLOWLY, working this out in my head.  It’ll take time, and it won’t happen overnight, so I just have to be patient with myself and try to have fun in the meantime.  As I’ve said before, and many will say after me, dating in the Foreign Service is not for the faint of heart.  In a word, it sucks.

As well as him not coming back, I have a lot of friends here that are leaving due to the ‘right-sizing’ of the embassy and their own positions being eliminated.   Since I arrived before the military left Iraq, I’ve seen quite a few changes around here.  It’s a never-ending change – you go on vacation and so many things are different in the short span of a few weeks when you return.  But I think the changes going on right now are some of the most drastic that I’ve seen in my time here.  It almost makes me want to leave early too…but four months should go by fast, especially with two more trips out before I go.  It’ll be over before I know it.  Right?

Looking Back

Just taking a quick moment to look back at the year and remind myself how fortunate I am.  In the last year, I have fallen in love, traveled in and out of country, and received a handshake for a position that is perfect for me.  I have made great friends in Baghdad, strengthened friendships in other parts of the world, and am generally happy and content with life.  I got a bracelet for Christmas – it says “Life is a journey, not a destination…enjoy the moments.”  My New Year’s resolution is to live up the this saying, and enjoy the moments that come into my life, as they are what makes life worth living.  While there are some tough moments for sure, life is defined by how you react to what happens.  I plan to react with love in my heart and a song on my lips.

Wishing everyone a happy and loving new year!

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Merry Christmas!







I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  My holidays this year were some of the best in recent memory.  In Baghdad, no less!!  While I was unable to make it back to the U.S. to see family this year, I ended up having so many laughs over the past week that I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.  I am so fortunate to have such awesome people in my life.  Between game nights, dinners, karaoke, movies, and calls from my family, it was FABULOUS.



We (boyfriend and I) made sushi and egg drop soup for Christmas Eve dinner – I had brought back some cold smoked salmon with me from Greece to use in the sushi – and it was delicious!  I made my first attempt at a rainbow roll – it was so pretty I had to take a picture.






We ate,  then my mom called, wondering if we had opened presents yet.  I had received one, but it didn’t end up being the one from her.  I had her on speakerphone, and so the boyfriend and mom got to say hello to each other.  We opened presents, then friends came over and we played games – and talked to my family some more while we were playing (EVERYONE got to say hello and LOVE YOU MOM) – it was a perfect night.  Christmas Day we watched one of my all time favorite non-traditional Christmas movies – The Ref.  It was his first time seeing in and he was not disappointed.  We made it out of the apartment and to the DFAC for Christmas dinner.  It was a wonderful way to spend the holidays – with the one I love.







I feel like such a slacker for having not written.  I was taking an online graduate course which took up much of my writing time.  Between that, bidding, roving, and traveling, it’s been a busy few months.  So I’ll catch you up on my life so far.

Since I last wrote, I went to a little slice of heaven for R&R…Krakow.  It’s a wonderful city and I fell in love with it.  September came and I started class, which was interesting, but hard to get into with everything else going on and it having been so long since I’d taken a class.  I passed, not with flying colors, but a respectable grade nonetheless.

My hopes for an early handshake were dashed, but it worked out in the end, because I was offered not one, but two handshakes in November!  Apparently early handshakes were few and far between this year.  The first handshake offer I received was for Dakar.  I thought about it for a day, but in the end decided to turn it down.  In the meantime, I had seen a job that got me excited and reached out to see if it was still available.   Not even a week later, I had a handshake offer!  I will be working at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Arlington, VA.  I am very happy to not only be working there, but to have the chance to be back in the states for a few years.

On a less happy note, Mr. Wright and I are no longer dating.  I won’t go into the details, but we are no longer together.  As you can imagine, after my previous posts, I’m taking it hard and I’m hurting.  But all I can do is move on and learn to love again.  Such is dating life in the Foreign Service.  I guess I’ll keep looking for Mr. Right, rather than Mr. Wright.

So, in a nutshell, that’s been my life for the last few months.  Next week I head off on vacation again – a well-needed break from everything here.  Until next time…

The bid list

Well, the Foreign Service bid list came out last week, and I have mulled and culled, and came up with a list of about 9 that I’ve bid on. They span the far corners of the earth. I’ve sent out emails to my top choices and would be happy with any of them. I’ve talked to Mr. Wright about my choices, and that I don’t want to be without him. I told him I want him to come with me. He wants to be with me too, and said he’ll be happy wherever we go. So I’ve started bidding and have heard back from a number of jobs already. I’m hoping I get an early handshake in the next few weeks so I don’t have to worry about it for much longer, but we will see. My top three choices all have multiple bidders, but I think I make a strong candidate for any of them. Really, I would be happy anywhere I go – top choice or not. I want to see the world – and I want to see it with my love. I’ll keep you updated on where I end up!

This Thing Called Love

You remember that guy I was talking about in my last post? The one I just met and fell very hard for? Well, it’s official. A lightning bolt has struck me. I’m not usually one for bold declarations this early in a relationship (or bold declarations at all, for that matter), but I’ve never felt like this before. I am head over heels, like a freight train hit me. I am in love. As in I can see us growing old and grey together. We’re not sure what we did to deserve each other, but are so very happy. And he feels the same. I came back to my room, to a message that if I ever doubted his feelings for me, this squashed any doubt there was. I love him, mind, body and soul. Mr. Wright is the love of my life – whether it’s serendipity, fate, destiny or chance… He is mine and I am his.


I know I haven’t written in FOREVER, and much has happened. Where to start? Well, first some updates. My last post had me taking the FSO test. I got my results back – I passed the first three parts, but missed the essay by two points. Oh well, there’s always next year!

Next, I went on my third regional rest break. This trip took me to the Dead Sea, Venice, and a cruise to the Greek Isles and Turkey. It was my first cruise, and I had a wonderful time. Weather was perfect, sunsets were beautiful, and service was friendly. I have decided I like cruising. I will definitely do it again!

My Happiness Project is moving along well. My exercise regimen has taken off in full force. While on the cruise, I met with a personal trainer, and she made me a two week alternating workout regimen that works out all the different areas of my body. I’ve been at it for three weeks and see some major changes. I love it! Along with working out, I’ve made other changes in my life as well. For July I am trying to remove clutter from my life. I have done some organizing, and am trying to keep my room clutter free. I don’t always succeed, but it’s a work in progress.

As well as getting rid of clutter in my space, I took a look at my personal life. The guy I’d been dating here, while I knew for months I needed something different, something more, I held onto him because it was easy. In July, I decided to let go of this emotional clutter that was not making me happy. We want different things, and the things I needed in my life just aren’t in his nature. So I moved on and just feel relieved to have said what I’ve been thinking and be done with it.

Just when I wasn’t looking, BAM, I meet Mr. Right. Er, I mean Mr. Wright. I went to a farewell party the other night and met someone new. We talked for a few hours, exchanged numbers, talked more, hugged and said goodbye. He is thoughtful, kind, funny, sweet, and a gentleman. When I said I needed more, that I deserved better, this is what I was talking about. When I asked him over for dinner, he asked if he could bring anything, and then he brought more! He asked if he could help clean up as well. It’s not even been a week and I’ve fallen very hard. However, he just left for vacation – I miss him already. We are going to keep in touch while he’s away (seven long weeks!) and I’ll be on R&R for a few weeks of that, so that will help to pass the time. I am counting the days until he gets back. Serendipity is the word I’ve found for this fortuitous meeting. While the timing could be better – like if he wasn’t leaving for vacation less than a week after our meeting – the timing also gave us an excuse to spend a lot of time together before he left.

So, that’s been life in (and out of) Baghdad. I promise to write more often in the future!

The Foreign Service Officer Test

Hello all! Things are going well here in Baghdad. I’ve stuck with my exercise routine, and have now incorporated exercising into my daily routine. Feels great! I’m addition, I’ve signed up to take the Foreign Service Officer test. Tomorrow. I’ve been studying these last few weeks, incorporating it into my workout by studying on my iPad while I’m on the treadmill. It works great – no distractions, just me, music, study, and exercise – multitasking at its best.

For those of you unfamiliar with the FSO test, or thinking “but Darlene, you’re already in the Foreign Service, aren’t you?” I’ll explain. My current job is Office Management Specialist, or OMS. What I really want to do is Public Diplomacy. Having been in for a few years now, I think this is what will make me most happy and make the fullest use of my talents and creativity. The test asks you a broad range of questions, from history to English expression to biographical information to management and economics. I hope I do well – I’ve got friends here that gave me tips for the test, and I think I’m ready. Here goes! I should hear within a month or so if I’ve passed. Cross your fingers!

So, Where Are You Now?

Life is an Adventure with Endless Destinations

L-Jay Health

Nutrition and Fitness

On the Way to a Healthier Jeni

Ups, downs, all of it.

Rantings of an Amateur Chef - What works, and what doesn't!

Come believe with me.

I was once on an island and eight parakeets landed on me. I had positioned myself to welcome them. Hope has that effect. I want to see all of creation awaken with hope~ especially the Middle East. Anything is possible for those who believe. ☆☆☆☆ Come believe with me. ☆☆☆☆


life of a globetrotting family of 5 in the US foreign service


The Life of Gizmo the Cat

The Dinoia Family

Or, How I Got From There to Here

ma vie trouvée

Or, How I Got From There to Here

theXtraSuitcase has moved

Or, How I Got From There to Here

%d bloggers like this: