I haven’t given a work/general life update in a while, so let me try to catch you up! After my family left, it was a bit of chaos. I spent the first two weeks back at work running around like a lunatic. The plans needed to be finalized for the project and ASAP. In the week that I was gone, things just piled up, and when I got back, it was a combination of catching up on what I missed and trying to cross tasks off the list.

Festive stairwell decorations at work.

There were also meetings. A lot of meetings. Also, a lot of meetings that I had little to no notice of. For example:

“Hey, Lara. The people from the electrical utility company are going to visit the property to see where we want them to bring the electrical service.”

“Okay, no problem. When are they coming?”

“They’re already there. Can you go meet them now?”

I feel like I’ve mentioned this before, but how the heck did they put up these clotheslines??? They are NOT close to the ground, and some of them aren’t even close to a window on the opposite building. I don’t get it.

I mean, luckily there hasn’t been anything yet that I couldn’t handle. I knew what I needed to tell the electrical guy, and when the same thing happened later with the structural/seismic engineer, I knew what I needed to talk to him about too. He was another person who I was immediately impressed by and respected. He was nice, remarked that I look like his brother’s granddaughter, and told me that my Armenian is good. (True or not, I’ll take the compliment. I think that my accent is decent, so people always assume that I can speak a lot more than I actually can. At least that’s one less thing I need to work on.) Besides just being a nice guy, I could tell that he knew what he was talking about. He helped to design the original building, so I felt pretty confident that if he told us it wasn’t going to fall down if we cut a door out of one of the walls, he was right.

Besides the many surprise meetings, in classic building design fashion, everything changed about 100 times. Here’s the general summary of the last three weeks:

  1. Have a meeting.
  2. Make decisions.
  3. Lara makes a design based on the decisions.
  4. Everyone accepts the design.
  5. Something changes. Or someone changes their mind.
  6. Repeat infinitely.
It rained a couple of days, and this is the exit from my building. You couldn’t get anywhere without walking through like 3 inches of water. I got downstairs in my sneakers, opened the door, and turned right around to go and change into waterproof shoes.

If you think that sounds exhausting, you’re right. If you think that sounds frustrating, it probably should be, but I’ve decided I’m just going to go with the flow. Otherwise, I would have lost my mind by now. As if things couldn’t get any more ridiculous, I got back from Thanksgiving to learn that the construction deadline has been moved up from the end of the year… to December 4th. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. That. Is. Crazy. They started working on the walls and the ceiling last week, but how on earth are they supposed to be ready for the equipment in 5 days?!? That’s a whopping two weeks total for construction, and that’s ridiculous. I mean, I guess technically almost anything is possible, but only if either money or quality compromises are made. I don’t know. I’m just going to do my best because that’s all I can control.

Me with Nareg and Rachel, my work friends who left me 🙁

Aside from work, life has been good! I mean, life is good even with work, but everything else is good too. I feel like I’m making progress again in language class, and that’s a huge relief after feeling like I was stuck in place or even regressing. The week before I flew home for Thanksgiving, I was the only student in my language class, and it was awesome! My teacher and I went over a bunch of things I wanted to learn and did a lot of speaking practice. I still am far from good, but my vocabulary is improving and I’m feeling more comfortable. It’s exciting! I also feel like I’m getting to know my teacher better, and that makes class more fun in general.

Practicing our funny faces. This kid has an evil eye like nothing you’ve ever seen.

Now, I’m back after spending Thanksgiving at home. It was kind of a whirlwind week. The goals were to see some friends and spend as much time with family as possible, and I’d say I achieved both of those. It was another one of those “not exactly what I would call restful” vacations, but a good emotional recharge nonetheless.

The best thing to come out of the week (besides a lot of baby smiles) was the scheduling of another family vacation to Armenia! This time, three of my cousins are coming in March! The whole thing went from a semi-joking, “Hey maybe I’ll visit you haha,” from one of them into a, “Hey our vacations match up! The three of us should actually go,” in about 5 minutes, and two days later, the plane tickets were purchased. Talk about major spur-of-the-moment decisions! If you’re thinking, “I thought you were leaving at the end of February,” well… make that March.

In the time that I was away, the temperature dropped about 15 degrees (F), all of the fountains in the city got embellished with fancy lighted sculpture things (they already drained them a few weeks ago), and two of my co-volunteers at Aleppo went home. Lots of changes, but I’m still here! It’s cool getting to see how the city changes throughout the year. Can you believe that December is the beginning of my 6th month in Armenia?? Me. Neither.

One of the fountain sculpture things. It’s not lit up, but maybe there’s some fountain lighting day that hasn’t happened yet (or it was just too early in the night).

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