Friday, December 31, 2010

Obligatory Year-in-Review Post

As 2010 winds to a close assorted media outlets are doing their year-in-review thing, same as always, and the general theme seems to be that 2010 was a pretty crappy year and we're all delighted to get it over with and move on. I can understand this perspective. 2010 was a huge year for disasters, natural and otherwise. In lieu of a robust recovery the economy continued to limp along, moaning piteously. Hope and change proved somewhat lacking.

However, in Meredithland 2010 was actually a pretty great year. I finally landed my dream job - with a raise. I adopted the world's most adorable cat. I had a long and luxurious self-indulgent summer vacation, the best I've ever had. I had good times with good friends and made 94 new ones. I'm actually getting paid to learn a language! How cool is that? I'm happy and healthy and excited for the future.

Happy new year everyone! Best wishes for 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Les Devoirs

I love self-study! With FSI closed until after New Year's I am learning French chez moi in my PJs with a cup of tea. Love, love, love. The only downside to this arrangement is that Jabberwocky is under the impression that the reason I am home is to make it up to him for abandoning him for five whole days over Christmas (during which time he vented his wrath by slashing open the cat food, devouring all the cat treats, and destroying our Christmas tree). His atonement plan involves lots of crinkle ball tossing and kitty scritching and general adulation, which has not been good for productivity. It's difficult to properly summarize news articles and look up vocab and such with a feline plopped on your torso demanding pets and determined to give you a kitty-cat facial. Nevertheless, I shall persevere.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

My family is very practical about Christmas gifts. To ensure that everyone gets things they actually want we submit detailed wish lists, frequently filled with very practical gifts. As a result of my upcoming déménagement my Christmas list this year looked like a wedding registry, mainly consisting of requests for dishes and appliances and power converters and such. I got a lot of what I wanted, and I am practically pleased.

However, the best part of Christmas this year was giving a very unpractical gift. Baby sister Laura just graduated and has yet to find employment so her practical gift list asked for money. She got it, but Beth and I wanted to give her something special as well and we found the perfect thing for a photography nut: two antique cameras, one from the '20s and one from the '30s. Laura was so bowled over by the awesomeness of this gift she was actually speechless. We did good, and I feel all warm and fuzzy.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Things I've Liked on the Internet Lately

Wikileaks releases alleged US Candid Assessment of Santa Claus, North Pole (safe for federal employees)
Hot or Not? Science explains it all.
How to make heroes
Pirates vs. lasers
An unsuccessful treatment for writer's block
The Princess Bride, now with more lightsabers!
Some good news, in a sweet animated graph!

EDIT: Stats geeks can explore this graph in detail here. While you're on the site, check out some of their other graphs and the tons of indicator data you can use to make your own.

A new offering from Nintendo?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Not For Cats

This is a phrase I have been uttering with greater than usual regularity recently. His Highness has tired of his fancy organic biologically-optimized low-carb kibble and has begun to take more of an interest in people food. But only the best people food, mind you. Gingerbread, too plebian; ginger custard sauce, acceptable. Bacon, beneath him; pancetta, worthy of interest. Cheddar, no thank you; camembert, yes please.

But nothing rocks his little kitty world like prosciutto. Jabberwocky will go through hell and high water for a nibble of delicious paper-thin dry-cured ham, even if it is domestic rather than Italian imported. You only have to open the bag for him to forget all attempts at sneakiness and propriety and jump up on the counter (an act for which he knows he will be punished) even when you're standing right there with the Squirt Bottle of Doom in hand. He just can't help himself. I had thought him immune to the allures of controlled substances when I saw his utter disdain for catnip, but it appears I may have discovered his vice of choice. And I can't say that I blame him.

And then there's the Christmas decorations:


Okay, Jabbers hasn't been *quite* that bad, but almost.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oof.

It has been a long and intensely Frenchful week, and I am delighted that it's finally over. For comic relief, it is my pleasure to present Eddie Izzard as he remarks on the joys and trials of learning la belle langue. The first clip comes conveniently equipped with subtitles in both English and French but unfortunately I could only find the second subtitled in what is rumored to be Swedish, so if you've ever wanted to learn Swedish from a French-speaking Brit, now's your chance.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Today Is Tomorrow

Today I began my sixth week of language training. I feel, simultaneously, like I've only just started and like I've spent my entire life in French class. One of my A-100 classmates described it as Groundhog Day, which is really just about perfect. There's such a routine to it that every day seems much like the next and it's easy to lose track of time in the daily rounds of news articles and presentations and conjugations (which I really need to practice more). I have a progress evaluation scheduled for Friday, so we'll see then what these weeks have been good for. I'm pretty sure I've made some significant improvements, but a 3/3 also seems very far away.

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's Over!

Nearly a month after Guinea's election the results are final - yesterday the Supreme Court confirmed Alpha Conde as Guinea's first democratically elected president ever, and his opponent Cellou Dalein Diallo has conceded, urging Guineans to accept their new president and refrain from further violence.

I am relieved and delighted. I had been having daymares of arriving in Guinea to find an embassy on lockdown with a civil war raging outside, or worse, not getting to go at all. An election will not solve Guinea's problems, of course, but it may be the beginning of a brighter new era for the country. I for one am at least cautiously optimistic.

Congratulations to Alpha Conde and the people of Guinea. Welcome to democracy. If you should discover that it's not all that you hoped it would be, I hope you at least find it preferable to the last 50 years of authoritarian rule.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This Post Is Dedicated To All The Language Students at FSI

Still smarting from yesterday's humiliating defeat in French class* I decided I should drown my sorrows in the comforts of beer and schadenfreude. Language students of FSI, take heart! It could be worse! We could be trying to learn what is possibly the most unreasonable and unnecessarily complicated language ever devised by man: English. Whenever you feel like Language X is the most ridiculous thing in the world, peruse one of the links below and bask in the soft glow of gratitude that you got to learn English the easy way.

10 reasons why English is a hard language
"The Chaos"
English is difficult
Why English is so hard

*Assignment: after seven minutes of preparation, speak for seven minutes en français on the question, "Does a society have a right to punish one of its members?" I lasted four.

Another Linktastic Post (Because My Life Is Boring)

I was going to post something on the Wikileaks cables but it's already been said, so read it here. On a side note: Seriously DoD? You let people put thumb drives in classified computer systems?

In other news, the price of the 12 Days of Christmas is up more than 10 percent this year, primarily due to increased prices for gold, entertainers, and the assorted poultry. However, I do have one quibble with the index: their price quote for the lords a-leaping comes from the Pennsylvania Ballet. I have to say, I do rather doubt the pedigree of any lords from Philly, though I'm sure their leaping skills are superb.

Also, amazing new word with best example sentence ever.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Things I've Liked on the Internet Recently

The world rearranged by population
Helpful Figures: entirely factual and hilarious infographics
Bad news for frequent flyers: jet lag may cause stupidity
Why making dinner is good for you
Save the Words: an effort by the edtitors of the OED to find foster parents for words that are dying out. I adopted "prandicle!" (It's a small meal. Useful, huh?)

Snow White trip-hopped:

Harry Potter, Toy Story, and more here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things For Which I Am Thankful

Happy hour. Food porn. Government work. Lint removers. Cute boots. Per diem. Gelato. Affordable tailors. Full social calendars. Kitty snuggles. Purpose and direction. Belonging. Coffee. Lazy Tuesday mornings. Good advice and the people who give it. NPR. Crinkly balls. Blister Band-aids. Freezer space. Admin time. Concert tickets. Health insurance. Glee. Friends and family who love me enough to put up with my moaning in the bad times and gloating in the good. The way that sometimes you actually do get what you want.

Etc., etc., etc.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Guinea Election Update

The Christian Science Monitor has a great article today summing up all things electoral in Guinea - what happened, where things are now, and what might happen on November 26 December 2 when the Guinean Supreme Court is scheduled to announce their decision on the validity of the election results:

"Although it is impossible to be certain, it seems highly improbable that the current results will not stand. This would leave three major paths for the country to follow, once the Supreme Court decision is announced: 1) outbreak of civil war between the two factions. This is the least likely option, as Diallo is unlikely to call his supporters to violence, neither side is armed, and the whole country is wary of war, having hosted refugees from conflicts in Guinea-Bissau, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone; 2) Diallo refuses to concede defeat and his supporters continue to protest, leading to the military deciding to take power permanently, under the guise of restoring calm; and 3) Diallo ultimately concedes the Presidency to Conde, and, after some initial violent protests by UFDG supporters, Guinea launches its first democratic government."

Guess which option I'm rooting for?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Public Service Announcement

Dear DC-area aspiring bakers:

PUT THE FROSTING KNIFE DOWN. Put your hands in the air where I can see them and back slowly away from the cupcake pans. NO. MORE. CUPCAKES.

We have achieved market saturation. Hello Cupcake, Red Velvet, Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked and Wired, CakeLove, Frosting, and now several Crumbs franchises have the city covered. Sprinkles is coming in January. And if none of those are close enough to you, Curbside Cupcakes will bring some to your house.

The line outside Georgetown Cupcakes is not an indicator of untapped demand. At this point people go there because it's famous, not because it's good, or even because it's cupcakes. They are good cupcakes but certainly not good enough to stand in line in the cold for half an hour.

DC has big cupcakes, small cupcakes, filled cupcakes, plain cupcakes, fancy cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, s'mores cupcakes, salted caramel cupcakes, cherry cupcakes, chai cupcakes. Free-trade organic gluten-free vegan cupcakes. Any niche cupcake market you think you could fill, trust me, it's filled.

But far be it from me to squash your bakery dreams. Would it interest you to know that I have to walk a mile to Whole Foods every time I want some decent bread? Yes, that's right, bread. I could also use a reliable source of sandwich rolls and I wouldn't say no to the occasional éclair. There's unused retail space right across the street from my apartment. When you all come down off your cream cheese frosting-fueled sugar high, think about it.

Love and kisses,
Meredith

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm a Natural

After you've been learning a language for a while you start to get comfortable with the structure, and then you start to play with it. You take verbs and try to turn them into nouns, nouns into adjectives, and so on. This is where I get into trouble. It's not that the words I make up aren't actual French words, they just don't mean what I intend them to mean.

On Monday we were talking about Facebook and other social networking sites hiring employees away from Google, and I tried to turn newly-learned verb "débaucher" (to hire away, to poach) into the noun "la débauche" to mean "the act of hiring away from someone." All well and good, except "la débauche" actually means "debauchery." And today I coined "le souteneur" from the verb "soutenir" (to support) intending to say "someone who supports a person or a cause." This is also a real word, but unfortunately it means "pimp."

In other words, I'm very likely to accidentally turn a run-of-the-mill economics paper into Conakry's submission for the Trafficking in Persons Report. Awesome.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Condé Wins, Killing Begins

I can't say I'm all that surprised, but I will admit to being a little disappointed.

So, About That Election...

It did finally occur, peacefully, and international observers declared it free and fair, albeit with minor irregularities. So much for the good news. The bad news is that we still don't know who won. Results were supposed to be announced Wednesday, then Saturday, then this morning. It's a squeaker: as of yesterday, former prime minister Cellou Dallein Diallo held 50.6 percent of the vote and former opposition leader Alpha Conde had 49.4 percent.

And with the delays people are getting restless. Yesterday Diallo's party withdrew from vote certification process for alleged fraud and refused to accept the final results, whatever they may be. Awesome. So far the reactions to the vote-counting have taken the form of legal challenges and a little rock-throwing rather than widespread violence, but it's not looking good.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Words To Live By

My work life has gotten rather dull since I started language training. I'm not complaining - I love being in school again and the easy schedule that goes with it - but it does leave a considerable gap in my store of conversation topics. Last week I had dinner with some of my A-100 pals who are working in DC for their first tour. They all had interesting things to say about what they were working on and what's going on in their offices; when they asked what was up with me I could only say, "Um, we reviewed pronouns today." BORING.

My French class is actually pretty fun though. My prof is great and there are only three of us, so we spend lots of time reading/watching/listening to and talking about the news. We pick up a lot of vocab this way, and not all of it is about elections and quantitative easing. Here's a choice selection of new words I've learned that will help put me on the fast track to the Wall of Shame*:

un proxenète - noun - pimp
cupid(e) - adj - willing to be bought
une capote - noun - condom
un gazon - noun - lawn, also a derogatory term for a lesbian
un nabot - noun - midget (derogatory)
piégé(e) - adj - booby-trapped
un supplice - noun - torture session


*The Wall of Shame is a page on the State Department intranet detailing some fairly spectacular things FSOs have done to get kicked out of the service and into a jail cell. Selling visas, sex with minors, etc. As you can see, I'm aiming high.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Crossing My Fingers

Guinea is holding presidential runoff elections tomorrow. They've been delayed several times already, but it looks like this time they may actually go forward. If everything goes well the elections will result in Guinea's first democratically elected government since achieving independence in 1958. If things go poorly any number of unpleasant things may happen, up to and including an ethnic-based civil war.

I'm rooting for peace and democracy of course. Mostly because these are generally to be preferred to misery and destruction, partly because my boss tells me to (see Joint U.S.-France Statement on Guinea Elections), but also, selfishly, because I personally would rather spend two years of my life in a shaky but hopeful fledgling democracy than a war zone. But that's just me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Allons-y!

Today I embarked on what will be an estimated four months of French training. Calvin does not approve:



I approach this with some foreboding. I have been attempting to learn French on and off for the past decade or so. I get into a class, slowly pull my linguistic skills together, and then as soon as the class ends it all falls to pieces again. Lather, rinse, repeat. I suspect I'll use at least half of my training time picking up the vague remnants of things I used to know before I can even start learning anything new, and then in the two months of consular and econ training between French class and actually getting to post it will all once again vanish into the ether. But who knows. Maybe FSI has some good tricks up their sleeves.


By the way, if you ever have trouble locating the perfect Calvin and Hobbes comic to express your thoughts, you can probably find it here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

The rally was good fun, but the signs were really the main event as far as I was concerned. Here's a selection of the best signs from my little corner of the Mall:



There were others I didn't get pictures of. One said, "You can have my apostrophe's when you pry them from my cold dead hand's." Another read simply, "Pancakes."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

These Boots Were Made For Walkin'

Last week and this week I'm occupying my time with Subsaharan Africa area studies. This entails listening to many speakers on the geography, history, economy, security, religion, culture, art, etc. of the region. It's a lot to cram into two weeks so most of the presentations have been very broad overviews, but I think it gives me a good grounding on the issues so I can delve into them more deeply later as far as Guinea is concerned.

There are also field trips, which I think should be required for all training. This week's trips are a visits to an Ethiopian restaurant and the Smithsonian Museum of African Art. Last week we went out to the ADAMS center in Dulles. I had been to mosques before but never to Friday prayers, so that was a new and interesting experience. The service was surprisingly short: a Qu'ran reading, a brief homily (on the hajj, since it's coming up), and the prayer. The whole thing lasted 30 to 40 minutes, much more efficient than the hour-plus church services I had to sit through when I was younger. We got to see a funeral prayer too, which was also very short, and then there was discussion after.

Unfortunately, on Friday morning I completely forgot about the excursion and decided to wear the most mosque-unfriendly pair of shoes I own: cowboy boots. It took two of my classmates to get me out of them - one pinning me to the wall and the other yanking the damn things off my heels. What kind of self-respecting mosque doesn't have a boot jack available? I'm sure the mosques in Texas are more appropriately equipped.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Musical Interlude

Last night Beth and I went to see Sara Bareilles in concert with Greg Laswell and Holly Conlan. It was a good show, full of all the things I like best in music: pianos, a cello, and girls singing songs with fun lyrics that are (mostly) in my range so I can learn them and warble them in the shower later. Good stuff.



This show, like pretty much every concert I've ever been to, made me wish I had some tiny speck of musical skill. I took violin lessons for a long time in my youth; by the end of them I had not succeeded in making any actual music, only awkward squeaky imitations thereof, and I was so sick of the damn thing I never wanted to look at a violin again.

The piano might be easier - it's just pressing buttons, right? But I suspect my natural laziness and complete lack of coordination might still prevent me from ever reaching the music threshold. What I really want is to learn to play the piano like people in the movies do: in a video montage, with a thread of piano music playing in the background that seamlessly incorporates my clumsy first scales, my tremulous attempts at "Chopsticks" and "Heart and Soul", and my final graduation to piano prodigy/soulful songstress, all in about 60 seconds. However, it might be more practical just to wait until we can upload skills directly into our brains through a USB jack implanted behind the right ear. I expect this technology to be available in the next decade or two.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Swearing-In Day

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Too Many Guineas

Guinea. Guinea-Bissau. Equatorial Guinea. Papua New Guinea. Guinea pigs. Guinea fowl.

Amazon has a hard time telling these things apart. I've been looking for some books to read about my future residence and I'm finding it a rough slog. There are some out there, I know it, but in order to find them I have to filter through the rodent care handbooks and the many, many, many books on all those other Guinea countries, PNG in particular. It seems the original Guinea is not the most popular.

Of the Guinea books I have managed to track down, a large number of them are a little, shall we say, outdated. A Reliable Account of the Coast of Guinea, published 1760. Memoirs of Giambattista Scala: Consul of his Italian Majesty in Lagos in Guinea, published 1862. Sorry Signiore Scala, but Lagos is in Nigeria now. Travel guides on Guinea do not exist; the best I've found so far is the Lonely Planet guide to West Africa, where Guinea merits 37 pages in a 900-page book. At least I know it won't be overrun with tourists.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Answers and More Questions

One of the nice things about Flag Day - aside from the obvious excitement - was the satisfaction of having my questions answered. I now know where I'm going and approximately when (late May/early June) and what I'll be doing with myself in the meantime (training of various sorts). It's nice to have all that uncertainty settled.

But then, mere hours after finding out the answers I had waited so long for, the party atmosphere wore off and an entirely new set of questions presented themselves. Important questions. What kind of car should I buy? What will my housing be like? How's the power? How's the internet access? What do people wear to work? What kind of U.S. comforts should I bring with me? How will I get my mail? What shots will I need to get? What should I do about a cell phone? What do I need to do to bring the cat? Etc., etc., etc.

Fortunately, the answers to these questions only have to wait until I make the effort to track them down. I'm enjoying my long weekend, so post research starts Tuesday afternoon. And then I have seven months to hammer out the details.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Future Freaks Me Out

After all the waiting, Flag Day is finally upon us. This time tomorrow I will know, generally, what the next 2-3 years of my life will look like. I will know where I'm going and when. This is pretty momentous. I'm perhaps less stressed about it than many of my colleagues, for two reasons. First, I'm flexible. I don't have kids or a spouse or health problems or CNL points that might make one post considerably more difficult than another. There are a couple of places I'd rather not go - Juarez and Riyadh come to mind - but if I do get assigned to one of those places I can probably grit my teeth and bear it for two years. Second, I've already convinced myself that I'm going to Conakry. I really want it, and no one else is crazy enough to bid it high so I think I've got a good shot. On the other hand, that may just mean I'm extra surprised tomorrow afternoon when they send me to Rome. Or Sana'a. Or Harare. Or Tblisi. Or...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

For the Cat Fans, a Jabberwocky Update

Jabbers got very big over the summer, transforming from cute kitten to fine feline. He's taking an active interest in my new career, primarily by chewing on anything A-100-related I might happen to leave lying around. He took a nice hunk out of my bid list right around the B's - I'm not sure if this means he's disappointed we will not get to go to Bangkok and his ancestral homeland or if he's displeased with my bidding strategy. He's mysterious like that sometimes.

Now that he's all growed up he's acting more like a dog than ever: he drools when he's happy, he loves everyone, he likes to lick people's faces and he loves to play fetch. Every morning when I'm getting ready for work Jabbers meows at me until I consent to toss his little foil crinkly ball down the hallway with one hand while I try to apply makeup with the other. However, he also relishes going places he knows he's not supposed to be, so his catlike nature may not be irretrievably lost.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Into the Woods Then Out of the Woods And Happy Ever After

I have returned unscathed from The Woods, a two-day retreat in West Virginia for leadership training and A-100 class bonding.  The precise nature of the goings-on at The Woods have been (and will remain) a carefully guarded secret, so I was expecting a toxic mix of summer camp, cheesy corporate team-building, and my last less-than-stellar experience of WV vacations (ask me about the caramelized onions).  The reality was much, much better.

The food was good, the facilities were quite nice, and while the activities did sometimes carry a faint whiff of fromage they were genuinely fun and I had a great time.  It was also nice to have a couple of extra days out of my monkey suit.  The Follies, the traditional student-run variety show, turned out to be uproariously funny.  Unlike my previous experiences with such things at Girl Scout camp and the like, I was not forced to participate in any capacity except my strongest: clapping.  And clap I did.  However,  later in the evening after a stiff drink or two (another key amenity lacking from Girl Scout camp) I may have persuaded myself to grab the karaoke mic and sing "Material Girl".  Dignity is overrated.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who Are You?

I've been very busy/lazy over the last couple of days, fit only for working or lying around doing nothing. On Monday we had a session on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), something I am quite familiar with since Dad discovered it some fifteen years ago and made us all take the test. I've taken it a number of times since then, because career counselors and such are always very keen to know your MBTI type.

I've usually been an INTJ but I ended up as ISTJ this time, though barely. Here's what my little personalized handout says about ISTJs:
  • Dependable, practical, sensible and realistic
  • Responsible and loyal to organizations, family, and relationships
  • Likely to value procedures, structures, and rules
  • Most comfortable when roles and responsibilities are clearly defined
In other words, I'm the perfect cog for a vast bureaucratic machine. A vast bureaucratic machine such as, for instance, the U.S. Department of State. I have clearly found my calling. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

One Week Down, Four To Go

It's been a very long week. Not in a bad way - I'm having a great time - but with so much new information, so many new people, new places, and new forms to fill out I'm definitely ready for a little down time. Yay weekend!

The more I learn about the places on my bid list the more excited I get about my first post. I'm now imagining a variety of wildly different potential lives in all kinds of places, some of which I knew nothing about a week ago. One never knows what the future holds, but I think I can pretty confidently say that this is unlikely to happen to me:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

So, Where Are You Going?

Over the last couple of months, everyone I've told I was joining the Foreign Service has responded either with "...the what?" or the question above. The answer to that question has been, and remains, "I dunno." But today was a very exciting day because we received our bid list, the list of jobs available for the 156th A-100 class to fill. This narrows it down a bit.

The list is not what I had imagined it to be. While I was waiting to get here I had months and months to mull over all the places in the world, and which ones I would really like to go to and which ones I'm not so keen on. Well, most of my most-wanted cities turn out not to be on the list; on the other hand, most of my least-wanted aren't on there either. I have to rank every position as high, medium, or low. This is going to take some time and some research. I suspect a fairly complex spreadsheet will be in order.

But at the same time as I decide to prefer this place over that one and these over those, I have to keep in mind that I may end up at any of them anyway. When the list came out one of my classmates said it felt like Christmas, and another replied that we are at the stage where you shake your present to guess what's inside. This is a perfect metaphor. I wish I had thought of it myself.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to School

I have now completed two whole days of my new career at State. They haven't fired me yet. Monday was "in-processing," which, despite the ominous undertones of the name, did not involve having a microchip implanted in my neck to connect me with the hive mind. It was mostly paperwork. Today was my first day at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), where I'll be spending most of the next five weeks. So far it's like being in grad school again except the days are longer, the homework is shorter, and everyone's in suits instead of jeans and sneakers. In fact, it's so much like grad school that I keep seeing my old SAIS comrades out of the corner of my eye, only to to blink and watch them transform into someone else, someone new I think I met briefly but whose name I have not yet learned. There are 94 of us in the 156th A-100 class, so I'm going to be reading nametags for a while.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Back to Reality

I'm back in DC after an unnecessarily long travel day involving not one but two flights with screaming babies in my immediate vicinity. On the other hand, the hellishness of the actual travel went a long way towards reorienting my perspective from "I'm so sad to be leaving Houston" to "I'm so glad to finally be in DC!" The lovely weather and pretty view from the cab on Lee Highway also helped.

However, my self-indulgent summer is definitively over. It's fall, and it's time to go back to work. The days of unstructured time and parentally-sponsored restaurant meals are over. It's probably just as well though - I'll need some structure, parsimony, and earned income to dispose of the extra credit card debt and fifteen pounds I acquired while indulging my every whim over the last few months. Delightful? Yes. Sustainable? No.

Tonight there's a cocktail party where I will meet my A-100 class, 90-some strangers who, I'm told, will become my closest friends. And tomorrow I somehow have to get myself to Main State by 7:45 a.m. in a suit to begin my new adventure. I suspect a very large cup of coffee will be required.

The Before-Times

Blog archives can be found here until I sort out how to move them to the new site. If any webgeeks out there want to help I'd be super appreciative.

Those of you who are interested in how I got to be a Foreign Service Officer might want to click here, where I have compiled all my FS-tagged posts. There's not much flow, but I hope you find it useful.