Right now, I am sitting in Tokyo's Haneda Airport, waiting for the first flight of my two-day journey back to Riyadh. I've had an amazing vacation that's left me physically drained but mentally rejuvenated. I've tried to stay upbeat in my writing here, but over the past few months some of you may have caught on to just how demoralized and exhausted I'd become after four months at Embassy Riyadh (perhaps the weepy phone calls at odd hours of the night clued you in). I finally understand why in a yearlong tour we get two lengthy vacations outside the Kingdom. Getting away from Saudi Arabia and from work has enabled me to regain my mental balance, to let go temporarily of my constant paranoia about security threats, and to reevaluate what I need to do to keep myself happy and healthy. (An aside: is it paranoia if there are legitimate threats?) I have no doubt that as soon as I return to the office, the countdown to my second R&R will begin, and the stress will begin accumulating again. However, I've made some resolutions and thought through a lot of problems I've been facing, and I think that things will be better than they were. What's even better is that over a five-day period I talked through all of my problems and complaints about my job with a friend, and in the end not only was he still determined to take the Foreign Service entrance exam, he made me feel proud again of what I'm doing and excited about what I will do with my job once I leave Saudi. In short, I feel like me again, for the first time in six months or more. I have a lot to record, both in terms of the sights I've seen and the realizations I've reached so far in 2009. (It feels like I've been gone for much longer than three weeks!) As I can't seem to access the wireless in this airport, I will write up as much as I can now and post stuff intermittently once I can do so. I look forward to sharing my thoughts, memories, and photos with you. Some of my photos will probably go up on Facebook sooner than they go here. However, more background on them will be given here, with fewer snarky comments – Facebook isn't really conducive to intelligent discourse!