Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bid List

Is out.

And all I want to do is go to sleep. This becoming a diplomat thing is tiring...

All I'll say about the list is that I'm happy with it, especially a couple posts (and especially if I get assigned one of 'em). However, I'm just going to stay zen through all of this and know that wherever they send me, it'll all work out.

For additional thoughts, I refer you to my classmate's lovely blog here.

A 9pm bedtime isn't too embarrassing, is it?

(p.s. - yes, I do need a new blog title I guess. Suggestions?)

Monday, March 28, 2011

First first day

Today was my first day. Yes, I am now a Foreign Service Officer, and couldn't be happier to hold that title. However, it's hard to consider today the real first day, since it was nothing but administrative in-processing (and a really great happy hour(s) with classmates).

Tomorrow is our first real day of A-100 and I'm super excited. In honor of that, I am fully embracing a 9:45 bed time and look forward to tackling A-100 with 8 hours of beauty rest. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Yesterday, things got real. It was just drinks with some colleagues (I think about 20-30 people came), but it was wonderful. While the non-locals hires get a pack-out, hit the road and get to realize "yes, I'm doing this now", that hadn't hit me until yesterday. These people are my A-100 class. These people are going to be diplomats, with me, on Monday.

Wonderful = everyone gets it. No one asking "Oh, Foreign Service, where are you going?", or trying to explain a bid list, or talking about what a CNL obligation is. Instead, we talked about or bid list fantasies, our travel histories, our shared anxieties about what we're getting in to.

Wonderful = the people. We have everything - couples with kids in college making a career change, people fresh out of college, someone relocating from Sweden, China, Japan. Oddly enough, I didn't meet any other Middle East focused people. I know there's at least someone else with Arabic points, so hopefully I'll meet him today.

So yes, one evening in, and I'm already deeming this totally wonderful. Let's hope that keeps up.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My not-Flag Day: Vacation time!


Maybe it was the fact that the 159th had their Flag Day on Friday (and still waiting for all the results to start surfacing on the blogs...), or maybe it was the fact that I've been listening to too much Mana and Juanes, or maybe it was the fact that it was pay day, but not matter the reason, what it boils down to is: I'm going to Guatemala on Saturday!

With two weeks off before A-100 and the very likely prospect of spending two years in a compound in Saudi Arabia looming ahead, I can't think of a better treat to myself and a better way to spend this little vacation I find myself having. This week is going to be spent with my Lonley Planet, figuring out what exactly I'm going to do in Guatemala when I get there, then a couple days of catching up with some old friends, off for a whirlwind 6 days in Guatemala, and back to DC with enough time to unwind, meet my colleagues at some happy hours, and then head off the work at State the following Monday.

I'm crazy excited!!!

Anyone with Guatemala travel experience please share some suggestions with me!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Goodbye NDI and private-sphere privilege

Tomorrow is my last day at NDI (National Democratic Institute for International Affairs), and I can't believe how sad I am to be leaving. Of course, my sadness is offset by the overwhelming joy and excitement of joining the Foreign Service, but over the six months at NDI I've really come not just to love my job and coworkers, but really believe in the Institute's mission and programs (how cheesy, I know). The timing makes it especially bittersweet, because with the current events in the region, we're getting funded to do some awesome and essential work on the ground.

We had a Middle East regional team meeting today to talk about the current situation and what we'll be doing. One statement in particular struck me - apparently, a U.S. congressman was shocked at how good our on-the-ground assets were, saying that they're better than the government's intelligence on the ground now. While that makes me really proud of NDI's work, hearing that comment made me think about what I'm getting into in the government world. I've been so excited about my job and what new opportunities I will have and what I will be able to do, it's easy to forget that this job also means there are things I won't be able to do. As and NDI representative in Yemen, for example, I could go out into the protests, talk with the people, and see how things are developing. As an FSO in Yemen, I'll be confined to a compound, evacuated at the first sign of turmoil, and getting my intel from who knows where (maybe from NDI).

Now I'm not at all criticizing the way the government handles itself abroad- safety and security of employees should be the number one priority, and if that means living on a compound, so be it. It's just that with the amazing privilege I have of working for the government, I am also inheriting the amazing burden of working for the government. Or, as Helen says, "You are now a U.S. Diplomat (baller), but you are always a U.S. Diplomat so behave yourself."

I'm not exactly sure what point I'm trying to make here, if any, so I should probably just stop. I guess I can just say that one chapter of my life is coming to a close and a totally new one is about to begin - one that's going to take a while to get used to.

So au revoir NDI.
Foreign Service: Bring it on.