It’s been a while.  I’d like to say I’ve been too busy living my life to write anything down, but I think the truth is I’ve just been lazy.  So let me catch you up real quick:  I spent the last two years doing consular work in Nigeria.  Here’s how it went down:  nonimmigrant visas, emergency passports, kidnapping, nonimmigrant visas, consular reports of birth abroad, fraud investigations, fake entry/exit stamps (if I can tell it’s fake, it is a really bad fake), meeting our wardens, crisis management exercise, kidnapping, Nigerian elections, VIP visits (hey John Kerry!), training, management “challenges,” outreach on social media, roundtables with journalists, travel to Yola (FYI – there is a surprising connection between my alma mater, Emory University, and the American University of Nigeria in Yola), kidnapping, July 4 celebrations (twice), training, budgets, I’m in charge!, new hires, citizenship renunciations, citizen repatriations, and nonimmigrant visas.  And that one time I yelled at that kid for failing Intro to Pottery.  Oh, also Ghana, Kenya, London, Germany, Egypt, and South Africa.  You’re caught up now.

I wrapped up that assignment in August 2016.  Let me just say to those of you who may have been wondering what life in Africa is like.  Its. Ama. Zing.  I would return to Africa in a heartbeat.  Yes, Nigeria could be crazy and I enjoyed every opportunity I had to get out of the country to relax, but I still loved it.  My friends and colleagues who have worked in Africa will tell you there’s something special and magical about that continent.  If you ever have a chance to go, go.

And I moved to Charm City.  It’s not just The Wire anymore (although my dad and my sister think they saw drug deals going down just a little ways from my house).  Whatever, I’m urban pioneering this shiz.

A lot of good things happened to me in 2016.  I finished a great two-year assignment in Nigeria; before I left, I saw a lot of amazing and beautiful places; I bought a house!  I reconnected with dear friends.  But, for me, 2016 also sucked.  I’m not going to use this space to list all of the crappy stuff that happened this year.  What I am going to do is something I did a few years ago:  I’m pulling out my jar of happy.  Every day, I’m going to fill that jar with one thing that I’m grateful for and at the end of 2017, I’m going to read them all to remind myself of how great life is.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t call out the BS if and when I see it.  And I expect to see a lot of it in 2017.  2017 is a year to engage, to educate ourselves, to be kind, to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves, to protect, to help, to read (or re-read) the U.S. Constitution, to speak truth to power, to do our jobs well, and so much more.

So yeah, I’m back.  You’ll be hearing from me in 2017.