Ridiculous Problems

I’ve just exited the freeway and pulled up behind a miles long row of yellow sewage trucks.  I’m stuck in an industrial zone full of foreign worker trailers and, it bears mentioning again, trucks full of human waste.  Tears are welling up and a few escape as I wait to turn around and get back to the freeway.  I’m late for work after missing the correct exit TWICE.      

“That’s it!” I say out loud in my car.  “This ends today. I have to get it together!”

We’ve spent the last few months bidding for our next job and I’ve been sucked into an alternate universe where I only think about bidding, fuss about where we are going to live, research countries that will let us take the dog, worry about our timetable, check my phone for messages from Max to see if there’s news, make plans for all possible options, change and abandon plans as jobs drop off the list.  You know, turn into a crazy person.       

Bidding is the “process” by which you acquire your next assignment.  You tell jobs you are interested in that you’d like to go there, your references vouch for you, and if they like you back  - voila, onward assignment.  I thought it sounded kind of fun at first, to consider all the possibilities and imagine us in different cities eating different kinds of food  - but that was naïve.  It is pretty much a months long trip to the dentist.  Many of Max’s colleagues were offered assignments in November while we’ve been blowing about in the wind like an empty shopping bag for weeks.  The unpredictability of the process and the constant dashing of hopes really wears on you.   It feels like your whole life is on hold.       

The last few weeks, even though I knew I was being melodramatic and ungrateful, I couldn’t shake the afternoon blues.   Or, as my misadventure on the way to work proved, the morning fogs.  I’d get worked up about not getting particular jobs we wanted and then feel twice as bad when I realized how privileged my “problems” were.  I have food, shelter, family, books and regardless of the outcome of this bidding season I will still have those things in some form.

The turning point of this process was a good cry in my car after meeting world famous photographer Steve McCurry.  Steve McCurry is most well known for his photograph “Afghan Girl” featured on a 1985 cover of National Geographic.  His photographs of India, Southeast and Central Asia were incredible and as I looked at them I felt my heart swelling for an adventure out in the great world. It looked like we were headed back to Washington and while a lovely place to live, it wasn’t quite what we had in mind.  I felt all of my imagined adventures slipping away and at the same time felt so embarrassed at how spoiled I had become.  I trucked my patent leather heels to my car for a good cry and after about 20 minutes I had another one of those “get it together” epiphanies.   

You want adventures, Brooke? You mean, like sitting in your car at this historic port in Muscat, Oman in a fascinating Shiite enclave ? You mean like not knowing where you’ll end up in six months, how you’ll plan to start your family around such uncertainty, and whether or not your beloved dog can come? What could be more adventurous than that? 

It’s not for certain yet, but we are getting a better idea of where we’ll end up.  I’ve come ‘round the bend and I’m actually super duper excited about our most promising option.  We won’t know for a few more days, but here’s to a new year of hope and recognizing adventure when it smacks you in the face. 


  1. Fingers crossed for you! The limbo of uncertainty does wear and tear, doesn't it. Guess that is part of the rollercoaster we love rather than the merry go round.

  2. I can totally relate to this! In the military we use the phrase "Hurry up and wait" way too often. :/ I'm sorry that you've been so stressed about this, but I hope that stress can be relieved soon! I'm excited to see where your next adventure will take place. Let me know if you want to hang out- to talk about it, or not... :). I'm just down the road.