Monday, November 15, 2010

The Ball, The Aftermath, and London

So, the day of the Ball came, and I was all prettified with a fabulous updo and the best make-up job ever! Truly, Debi at the MAC store did an amazing job, and it was worth every penny to feel beautiful, if only for the night (well, part of the night anyway). The dress fit like a glove, thanks to my diligence in watching what I ate in the days preceding the event. Hubby and I arrived, had a glass of wine, watched all the pomp and circumstance of the cake presentation, etc., and then settled in for the buffet dinner.

I have to pause here and remark upon how conflicting this was for me. On one hand, they played the Star Spangled Banner, something that is rarely heard where we live now and has taken on somewhat of a new meaning since we’ve been living overseas. On the other hand, I'm against both the war in Iraq and Afghanistan; in fact, I’d call myself a pacifist. I found it hard to balance the recognition of the sacrifice and loyalty of service of the Marines, while firmly believing that so many are still being senselessly injured and killed in what I consider one of the biggest foreign policy fuck-ups in US history. Nonetheless, there I stood, with my heart over my hand, proud of my former-Marine Hubby and those who’ve been willing to serve, no matter the cost.

We sat at a table with two other lovely couples. The first are the parents of one of H’s schoolmates, and the second couple has an Education City connection, so we were able to talk shop a bit. The food wasn’t great, and I started getting chatty very early because apparently that’s what I do when I’m drinking red wine on a deadline. You see, we’d already booked the driver to pick us up at 10:30, so when dinner was over at 8:00 (and I’d barely eaten anything all day), my thought was, “I need to make sure I drink plenty of wine before we have to leave!” Clearly, I’m a moron, who equates obnoxious drunkenness with fun. It was a clear reminder of why I usually *don't* do the drinking thing. Technically, I didn’t drink *that* much….Okay, 5 glasses of wine (I think), in about 2 ½ hours. The real kicker came when a co-worker caught me at the bar and said, “Hey, you have to drink a shot of tequila....we all did it!!” Mind you, I haven’t taken a shot of tequila in YEARS. Needless to say, that put me over the edge, and the drive home wasn’t a pretty one. I must mention, however, that Hubby was a devoted, relentless caretaker, and I love him dearly for taking the bazillion bobby pins out of my hair for me.

Fast-forward to London. Despite a raging hangover, I survived the 7-hour flight and tried to re-hydrate myself. It was a loooonnnng journey from Heathrow to my hotel near the British Library, and I was exhausted and starving by the time I finally made it. I was also utterly displeased to find that my room was on the 3rd floor(!!), which can only be reached by several deathly flights of steep and narrow stairs. I’m entirely convinced I’ll meet my death carrying my luggage down those stairs on Thursday morning.

I had a great dinner at a local fish and chips shop that a friend recommended to me, and then I crashed. Sunday, the Library was closed, so I checked out the Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery. I was disappointed in both for different reasons. The TB had the rooms I was most interested in (Historical Britain) closed for some reason. And at the NPG, I was overwhelmingly struck at the sheer lacking of female portraiture in the early modern period. Aside from Charles II being surrounded by only a few of his lovely ladies, so many women’s faces are literally missing, and it’s not because they didn’t have their portraits made. It’s because nobody has thought of them as important enough to hang on the damn walls of the Gallery!! But I digress….

Monday (today) brought work. A bit delayed thanks to my forgotten reader’s pass, but back on track and in the manuscripts reading room for a good portion of the day. Then back to the hotel to work on the writing, which is currently not. moving. forward. easily. I don’t know what the deal was today, but I’m fairly certain it’s because I was working from the bed in my room instead of at a table or desk. So, in the hopes of being more page-productive tomorrow, I’m invading the dining room after breakfast to work. I have to make use of this time because when I get back to Doha, I’ll be swamped with catching up on grading, planning the last weeks of the semester, and preparing for my Thanksgiving dinner party next weekend.

For now, it’s past 10:00, and I can’t sleep…
1. I keep thinking about this essay, and how little progress I made on the actually writing today;
2. I miss my babies at home;
3. I’m lonely;
4. I’m worried about the job market and again feeling like, while I could take another year in Doha (if I HAD to), I can’t take another year in our compound;
5. The hotel is made of paper-thin walls, and I’m stuck next to a family who come in late and wake early (seriously, they are my alarm clock). For the proximity to the British Library, you can’t beat the place. But honestly, it’s my least favorite of the three places I’ve stayed when in London. The others (all comparable in price) were quieter, more amenable to my preferences, and one even had a real closet!

I’m hoping tomorrow is a better day.


Intlxpatr said...

My (former) military husband says there is nothing like battlefield experience to make a pacifist out of anyone. He also says that few military leaders are ever eager for war; it tends to be civilian leadership who pushes, using the military as a diplomatic tool. That's kind of like using a hammer when tweezer would better do the job. . .

I love the pageantry at the Marine Ball. We had two back-to-back embassy assignments; the Marines were our first line of defense. We will never not be grateful for their service. Semper Fi. :-)

PS - Congrats on the success of your warpaint and marine-ball-uniform, :-)

The Lecturer said...

You did, indeed, look gorgeous at the gala, my friend. Sorry we didn't get to spend more time with you two.

Try not to feel too detached and sad--although I know that feeling of separation. You and Horty have prime bonding time. Soak is all up! The chaos and juggle will be waiting for you when you get home. (We had a great time at Jungle Zone with your man and two older girls--they're doing fine, as I'm sure you already know.)

PS to lntlxpatr: "That's kind of like using a hammer when tweezer would better do the job." Couldn't imagine a better way to phrase it. :)