After my action-packed day at the farmers market, Huntly Castle, and Bogairdy, there were days of routine, which was fine with me.
I needed to start looking for a place to live when I returned to the states in a month. I had closed on the sale of my condo while I was in Eton, with my realtor standing in for me to sign all the papers. I started to surf rentals on Craig’s List, and the perfect one popped up right away. This never happens—I have always had to look at 25 places before I find the right one; I have always had to apply for 50 jobs in order to land a decent one; I won’t even mention dating here—the point is, I’ve always had to really hustle to get what I wanted. When I sent the owner of the perfect duplex an email she responded to say she had 10 people coming to look at it the next day so I should probably keep looking. Darn.
It was weird to not have a mortgage or rent payment for a couple months. I tried to give Lynn some cash for my keep but she fended me off, so I found other ways to contribute.
I was working on proposals to the British Department for International Development, or DfID, and another donor with an acronym everyone stumbled over—ELHRA. During these intense proposal development times, the emails fly fast and furious. I can easily receive 200 emails a day unless I hop on Skype (either chat or video/phone) to just talk through an issue.
I often had Skype calls in the late afternoon, and that was when the Internet slowed down. Lynn and Richard’s theory was that, in the Aberdeenshire countryside, Internet was like an old-fashioned telephone party line. The kids came home from school and started streaking on Snapchat, the adults came home from work and logged on to Facebook, and everyone grumbled about how slow the connection was.
More than once, my Skype call would droop and I would walk through the house with my laptop yelling, “Can you hear me?” until I reached the library, where the router was. Why being close to the router should help, I don’t know. Richard would look up, startled, and abandon his desk to me, bless him.
“I was just shopping for flasks anyway.” Richard collects antique flasks—pewter, leather, copper—they’re beautiful.
“You don’t need any more flasks!” Lynn would ring in.
It was around this time that I did problem solved with a donor, and this has possibly come back to my benefit. It was someone at the US State Department; we had already been approved for a grant but she was having trouble opening one of our documents. It’s a boring story but we went back and forth for an hour or so; I tried sending it via my Gmail account, I tried converting it to a different format, etc. until she discovered it was a glitch on their end.
Fast forward to yesterday. I submitted a proposal to this same donor in the US Government online system, which is the most stressful part of the whole process. That may sound silly, but if you do the slightest thing wrong they can disqualify you. There can be technical problems with the online portal so we always allow two days before the actual deadline to upload everything.
I hit “Submit,” did a victory lap to the kitchen for some Girl Scout cookies, then logged off and left to take a much-anticipated day off.
I woke at 3am. “Did I upload a pdf?! Is that allowed?!”
This morning I checked and indeed, they require a word document, not a pdf. I had pdf’d it out of habit. My contact at State said it would be okay since I was letting her know ahead of the deadline. I don’t think it was a quid pro quo; she’s just a reasonable, nice person.
This is my glamorous life in international development. I have to keep in mind that, if we are funded, a thousand torture survivors will get help healing from their trauma.