I have this friend; I'll call her, let's see now... Kolbi.
Once upon a time, approximately 4 months ago, Kolbi was having a rough day. This is because Kolbi lives and serves in a country where both her internet access and her access to breathable oxygen have been severely restricted. Also because she lives far away from me which, let's face it, for most people, this is a true hardship. Plus which, people snack on chicken feet in her country. For some reason, Kolbi doesn't like chicken feet. She's picky like that. She spends her days now huddled up against the air purifier, googling "air fare to Jordan" and "wormhole to Estonia." On those rare days when the local government lets her fire up her VPN, she hops on Facebook and we exchange xanax-based non-chicken-footed recipes.
Funnily enough, Kolbi and I have only met each other twice in real life, but we've been blog friends since the age of dinosaurs. I believe she personally and single-handedly started the Foreign Service Blog Family way back when: a lot of us were blogging, but we weren't talking to each other, and then this crazy Kolbi woman started commenting on all of our blogs, and she wouldn't just go away and let-us-blog-already, until before you know it, we were commenting on her blog, and on each other's blogs, and eventually there was some sort of real-world sushi club and next thing you know I was slurping noodles with Jen Dinoia in Rosslyn and going out for Thai with Jill Perlman in Herndon and suddenly there was a whole DS-blogger-sisterhood and now we're all inseparable and that, my friends, is how the Panda War started.
Four months ago, as I said, Kolbi seemed a bit down, so I bought her a random little gift here in Jordan. I meant to send this gift to her at her post in order to cheer her up, but I have four kids and a dog and a cat and a husband and a full-time job and a blog and a very mild Facebook addiction - so mild that the only people who actually label it an addiction are my husband and the rest of my real life friends who never get a call back. Details. Anyway. I never managed to find the time to get up from my desk, carry the tiny package to the mail room (which, in my defense, is not even on the same floor of the Embassy as my office) and stick it into the mailbox. The gift sat, gathering dust, until approximately Christmas Eve, when I realized it was probably almost time to mail the Christmas presents to my family. (Those gifts were in a bag under my desk, also waiting to be mailed for months on end. Except for the present for my sister-in-law, Carolyn, which is at this exact moment still sitting on my kitchen counter. I can only assume she will receive that gift as a 50th birthday gift. Yes, she's around 30 right now, so it could still happen.)
When I couldn't put it off any longer, I mailed the family gifts to the family and the Kolbi gift to Kolbi. And then I promptly went back to blogging and facebooking and cooking and working and I forgot about the whole sad ordeal.
Today I got an email from Kolbi that read, in part:
"You must know that this means war. Gift war, of course, but war nonetheless. Brace yourself: when you receive a box and you look at the outside of the box and see that it has air holes, just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it couldn't in a million years REALLY be an actual, live panda."
I was confused. Gift? What gift? And why was Kolbi threatening to send me a panda? Had too many successive days of inhaling straight carbon monoxide while simultaneously gnawing on chicken feet and praying for an onward assignment finally gotten to her?
The wheels spun slowly, but I eventually remembered: the gift! The tiny cheer-her-up-in-September gift! Here it is January, and the gift had finally arrived, prompting not joy, but threats of all-out-panda-war.
Oh dear. If you knew Kolbi, you'd know she's serious. So I have been googling "What do pandas eat, anyway?" and "Is it even legal to ship a panda through the DPO?" in preparation.
I should have just signed up for Amy's sort-of-annual foreign service swap over at the Crafty Foreign Service. I think it unlikely any of those people would threaten to send me a whole panda.
It's not too late for you. If you're in the foreign service and you want to participate in the swap, you have until the end of the week to get to her blog and sign up. Or, to enter a drawing to win a panda, just leave a comment here telling me what pandas eat. Once the panda arrives, I'll select a commenter to win the panda through a random drawing. (Shannon - I'd advise that you don't tell your boys about this contest - unless - do pandas eat tarantulas?)
If you, too, need cheering up, and you'd like me to send you a happy little gift of some sort, go ahead and email me the address where you'll be in 2017, and I'll get started on this mini-project of mine right away.