Monday, May 28, 2007

Fortress Dining

Rubble sits defeated between two towers of the Ministry of Defense building in one of the busiest sections of Belgrade, Serbia, a constant reminder that NATO put Milosevich in his place in the late nineties. They can’t afford to repair the buildings even now, nearly 8 years later. Taxi drivers blame the US and American passengers are quick to remind them that NATO drove the attack, not the US. And the response is that NATO is the US. Pretty heady stuff and all I’m looking for is the local red at the tower restaurant overlooking the Danube.

Montenegro voted to become its own independent state last year when I was here but at the time, Belgrade appeared more like an impatient sister waving her hand at the departing younger sibling finally on his way. But this year will also see the vote over Kosovo once again dominating the headlines. Kosovo? An independent state. Not likely. This is the issue wars have been fought over. If the Serbs have anything to say about it, the Kosovars will stay in the play room and share their toys with the other kids forever.

But I’m still looking for the old fortress that now houses the best view in the city. Iron lattice decorates the interior winding its way around tables and snaking across walls creating the illusion of privacy pockets. A three-tiered patio sits enough for a small army and the wind blows the sheer, white curtains through the windows making even the most cynical bow to its beckon.

That wind will blow over Belgrade again when Kosovo finally hails its independence. And one generation may demand unity while another shrugs. The fragility of the democracy needs attention, soothing, TLC. Ego may deny the struggling state what it needs. Maybe it’s best to let our little sisters find their own path. And ‘salud’ with grapes of land that belongs to all Yugoslavia.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Moving Nightmares

Are you moving? I am. Made a list. Read reviews. Tore my hair out. And we still have a month to go.

I flew to Alabama last month to make sure we had temporary lodging and a school for our soon to be first grader. The only other thing we’ve done is ship one car and buy a new one and that’s another blog. So now we own three cars for two license-carrying auto drivers and have no garage attached to a house to put them in. I’ll save that worry for when we get there.

For now, I’ll worry about terminating our rental contract, our phone and internet contract, utilities, cable, get the house ready for the movers, schedule the movers, change our health insurance, ship another car, get a rental, reserve a hotel and change our address. I did at least get a UPS box while I was on my visit so I can check that off the list.
That takes care of household items.

Now work. I am in PR and my husband is a security specialist…interesting combo, we know. Both of us will have a million things to do for work before we can leave and none of it can be done together.

Security badges, special gear, and office keys must all be turned back in. Medical paperwork and records must be up to date, which means there could be doctor’s visits and then we have to ensure we have copies of it all because our organization is notorious for losing medical records. Five types of ancillary training must be accomplished before leaving, the post office across town will make us show up to close a box we don’t have because our box is on our side of town but that doesn’t matter, we must go in person to the other post office. The education center, the library, the furnishings office all must be visited in case we have an overdue book or borrowed lamp. I have to clear my email account and don’t forget, I’m still working.

The current project is planning a summer concert. Just a little thing with three stages and anticipating 53,000 people. Right. No problem.
When's my flight out??