Thursday, June 07, 2012

Not My Bid List

Pardon the extended silence - I'm still on R & R visiting family and feeling very removed from my FS life. I've had time to think while watching the edge of Lake Tahoe lap against the rocks and a few things have come to mind:

First, after all my talk about being happy to be back in the US and back to the familiar - I'm now seeing the US through different eyes. It feels like cheating being here. What I mean is, it's too darn easy. I can form whatever sentence I want without thinking about it first. I can understand overheard conversations from the next table. I understand the driving habits. Tim and I keep finding ourselves starting sentences with, "Well in Colombia..." which I'm sure has a maximum of about four times before people stop listening. Being OUT of the country, we've become avid Colombia promoters, in fact, it's reached a point where I think the Colombian Tourist Board (if there is such a thing) owes me at least a nice lunch for all the travel recommendations I've given.

My R & R will last two work weeks, plus an extra Monday off when we return for a Colombian holiday, but it feels like I've been away for a very long time. I've been able to see a lot of family, which is good because when I leave Bogota and my OMS life for A-100 - I'll be starting from scratch as an entry-level officer. This means no annual leave during training. Two more directed assignments. Resetting the tenure clock. It will be quite a while before the next R & R is authorized.

I'm going to use this as a (shaky) segue to talk about the OMS bid list that my classmates all received the day I left for R & R. I didn't get this list from my Career Development Officer, as I'd already given her the news of my leaving the OMS ranks, but instead my FSI classmates sent me the list so I could spin the "What If" wheel and imagine what I'd be bidding on if I weren't switching over to "the dark side" (as we called it in Specialist Orientation).

So what was on the list, and what would we have chosen? Well, I don't know if I'm allowed to note the actual list, so to be conservative, I'm going to lump them together:
  • 12 African posts, including one unaccompanied and my "dream" post that I jealously watched go to someone a few classes after mine.
  • 7 Asian posts, including one in which we can't officially recognize the country and therefore the original Flag Day recipients got only District of Columbia flags instead.
  • 6 posts necessitating Spanish skills, one for Russian and two for French.
  • 6 desirable European capitals.
  • A few islands that would make cat importation horrible.
  • Some Middle East assignments that would get Tim over his urge to be in the sunshine again in a big hurry.
Many of these positions were from our own bid list last March, and inevitably some of my classmates will end up swapping jobs. However, I already know that I have three friends who have volunteered, and been selected, for positions in what is known as "AIP," or Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. In fact, I have one good friend going to each letter in that acronym. Volunteers for AIP are solicited before the regular bid list comes out, so that people who are not selected for these posts can be notified in time to go through the regular bidding process. Everyone has until early July to turn in their rankings of high, middle and low and they'll learn of their second post rather unceremoniously by mid-July. Meanwhile, back on the FSO side, I'll get my bid-list probably on July 17th, our first official day on the FSI campus, and will enjoy a second Flag Day about a month later. Yes, I'm soooo looking forward to it. As they say, no matter how seasoned the veteran - everyone remembers their Flag Day and I'm excited to get two.

Meanwhile, a new crop of OMS hopefuls has just started to receive their invitations to the Oral Assessment. The cycle continues - out with the old, in with the new. I hope to cheer on some friends for their own OAs, and will live vicariously through their excitement as they move through the process.

Next stop: Last Month in the Embassy.


  1. Such an interesting post! I'm so curious to know where your dream post is! So curious!

  2. Could be anywhere! Where we love living in the country, where I am interested/challenged/supported at work. Where my husband feels the same either at post or on the local economy. Truly - it could be anywhere and the best places, in my limited experience, have been the ones that sneak up on you and you don't expect to love.