The FS BRU ... With Whine AND Cheese

On a cloudy Monday morning, about a month ago, I took to Facebook for a mini pity party. We had just finished a busy weekend, celebrated Riley's birthday, and yet I was still feeling "off".

I wrote ... "Struggling with my inner pity party ... and the feeling that I'm just a fish out of water. After 6 months of living here, this social butterfly is not really adjusting to having many acquaintances, but VERY few friends."

Within minutes, the comments started rolling in on Facebook. My phone didn't stop ringing. The texts and emails had my iPhone pinging with messages all day long. Some were as brief as, "I'm your friend." Many said, "it took me awhile when I moved too." But most of them were beautifully written notes from friends all over the world telling me, "I relate. I feel the same way. I'm often lonely as well."

As I sat and read all the correspondence I realized that a majority of them had one thing in common. They were written by friends in the Foreign Service. Acquaintances who I know through Facebook who've felt a common kinship. Dearest friends who've moved far away and haven't found that special someone or someone's with whom they've clicked. Bloggers alike who know exactly what to say at just the right time.

And it brings me back full circle to what I've been talking about since I rekindled this FS BRU. Community. We ARE a community. A slightly dysfunctional family of sorts. But one I wouldn't trade for the world.

Like moths to a flame, we foreign service bloggers are attracted to each others words and wisdom. We seek out writing that speaks to us because its personal, or professional, because it's witty, or well known. We build friendships. And overtime, close bonds. We "get" each other. We get "it."

Which is why, when you get to finally meet someone in real life, who you've been following and corresponding and laughing with over many, many years, you jump at the chance. When she is only in town for a few short days, but makes the time to see you, you drop everything and go. And when you see each other across the hotel lobby, you laugh and hug, and both exclaim, "you look exactly like your picture." Because they do. She does. Only you get the sound of her voice with her smile. You hear the intonation and inflection of her words. You understand the meaning behind her stories. And for the four and a half hours you're together, you're truly comfortable.

Donna is just as beautiful and skinny in real life as she is in her pictures. A seasoned DS spouse, she's lived all over the world with her family. She's a Russian speaking guru. She's wicked smaht with a witty sense of humor. She's a wealth of knowledge. Donna loves a good challenge. Remember when we packed out from Chennai almost two years ago? With an extra kid, she STILL came in with less than 500 pounds than we did on her packout from Beijing. And who can forget when Matt had the little issue with his plane ticket on his second R&R from Iraq? Donna was there to help me out when I frantically emailed her from the airport here in Virginia.

It's these kinds of bonds that we make in the foreign service which keep us energized. Excited. At home. It's why I spend the hours upon hours doing this FS BRU. Because after 12+ years in this lifestyle, I understand the importance of our community. Of staying connected, despite living here in D.C. now rather than in some exotic location. Of sharing stories and ideas, complaints and heartaches. Of being honest. And real. And a wee bit mouthy.

These associations are our building blocks. Our foundation. And if cultivated just right, turn into meaningful relationships. Where the virtual hugs you receive from your pity party on Facebook mean more than you'd ever begin to describe. And the people who merely started as blogging buddies, turned from acquaintances to dear friends.

This week's Round Up was a wee bit light on the submissions, which I'm sure is partly due to my refusal to nag ... but hey! By now I know that people have the email address and know that all it takes is a few seconds to send me a link to thefsroundup@me.com, with a brief description of your latest posting. Easy peasy, right?

Narra at Five G's in Guadalajara, Mexico is actually a friend of a friend ... and is new to the BRU this time. She posts here about things that make her happy at her first overseas locale.

Sadie in Saudi Arabia has taken some fantastic trips and has really made the most of her current assignment. She recently went to Madain Saleh and the Hejaz Railway, one of Saudi's most treasured historic sights.

Like the other commenters on this post, I have no idea how this photo was taken. But Nomads by Nature in Maputo always has great ones like this on their blog!

Kolbi gives us a fabulous reminder.

Ever wanted to trade places with another FS family for a few weeks? Well Oh The Many Places We Will Go is doing JUST that. They're heading to Tijuana and swapping houses with another A-100 classmate. Sound fun? Heck-to-the-yeah!

They went from snow to collecting seashells and almost surfing in just two days! This is what's been cooking with Melissa in Jerusalem!

Oh the money pit of owning a dog ... especially if you're going to be flying to post with one soon. Claudia at Many Hemispheres has an upcoming surgery to pay for AND an airline ticket to Saudi in a few months. Wish her luck!

Sarah at by the where? just got their next assignment. Check out where they're going next! Holy cow ... no pun intended!

James in Chennai shows us one place you wouldn't think of dumping garbage. Unless you live in India.

Emily at Our Life is just as adorable in person as she is here...

Erica in Iceland introduces us to a local Icelandic designer, and tells us what true northern fashion is all about.

Kelly at Well, That Was Different takes us on a hike and nature walk through Austria. She even shows us what "Extra Hell" looks like.

Alex has been thinking a lot about this past posting ... and what it's like to be An American Abroad.

Jen's daughter just celebrated the BIG birthday ... you know, the one that finally puts her in double digits!

As someone who's lived in India, it's good to prepare your checklist early. Like Daniela has done! Need some ideas on what to do prior to moving ... check this out.

Digger at Life After Jerusalem reminds us about the issues pet owners in the Foreign Service are dealing with on United Airlines, and urges everyone to speak out about these inequities.

You just have to laugh out loud at Shannon in Malawi's sons and the gross bugs they play with. Or you'd cry.

And Kate, at Pulling Stakes shows us how Karma is a truly b*tch!

The next edition of the FS BRU will be out on Friday, April 6th. Just prior to Easter. And for those of us who have kids, towards the tail end of spring break. SO, the optional talking point this week is ... vacations!

Tell me about a recent trip. Link to one of your favorite vacation destinations. Make us all drool with envy. You don't need to re-write anything ... simply send me a link, with a blurb about where you went, and I'll do the rest. Pictures posts are always best. Let us all see where we should be going on our next R&R.

Send me your links to thefsroundup@me.com by Monday, April 2nd.

Until next time ...


Laural Out Loud said...

I love that you do these posts! I found a few blogs out of Brazil (which, by the way, we're moving to next year!) as well as so many other fascinating places. You guys seem to tackle each new post with such a positive attitude, it makes reading about life around the world so much fun.
Glad you're feeling better!

Shannon said...

Great job, and apparently I need nagging. SIGH! I will do better next time. Thank you finding the snail post (GAG) and including it. You rock. Now I need to go get a cup of coffee and get reading. Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Really nicely written. This is exactly why a little FS stitch and bitch group I started in DC took off. It turned out that it was something we all really needed but just didn't realize it until we started meeting up!

Nomads By Nature said...

Thank you so much for pulling together another great BRU even with a crazy couple of weeks and not feeling so well. It is a lifeline! Hope you are up to full speed and enjoying a bit of spring weather.

Donna said...

Dang, woman! Can I borrow that copy for my resume?

(p.s. I had a great time hanging out with you...)

narra said...

You're awesome! Thanks for rounding us all up, and helping us remember that we're not alone :). Best to you!

Heather Dray said...

Your writing about friendship has really hit home. I was thinking back to my time in Ohio when the hubby was in Iraq. We were brand spanking new to the foreign service, and I was really feeling isolated in Ohio - I didn't know anyone. And then I 'met' one friend through another (including you) on FB and through my blog. Those friendships made all the difference in the world to me and how I handled the separation time.

I will admit...each time I've met someone I knew cyberly I've been nervous. And each time, I've had a fabulous time. In fact, I knew one of my very good friends here in Cairo long before we met in person. When we finally met, it actually felt more like a reunion than a new meet-up. Friendships can be forged in different ways. How very luck we are!

Just US said...

You are amazing!! I look forward to the BRU and enjoy reading your posts! Thank you for the mention :)

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog. This positing in particular. I feel the same way you do right now! I've been in Jakarta for about 10 months now and although I have many acquaintances, I've struggled to really connect. I miss my friends in BKK so bad! But I'm having fun meeting new people and settling in the Big Durian.

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