Monday, February 28, 2011

Saying goodbye in California

Moving away is the gift that just keeps on giving...
Saying goodbye at work.
Saying goodbye at Purrfect Pals.
Now I'm headed to California to say goodbye to five siblings, my 85 year-old father and my stepmother. Is there an RCW on how many tissues one person can go through in a week?

But other things are moving along:
The moving estimator dude came today to figure out the sizes of my two shipments. Fortunately the medium-sized pile which will arrive via plane is underweight which means I can load on more stuff. And the big pile that will take the slow boat to post (and I hope to see before Halloween) is waaaay underweight, so I'm walking through the house sizing things up, "Hmmm.... bulky AND useful - I'll take it!"  Tim had better keep me away from the couch and fridge, 'cause they'd fit juuuuuust right in my shipping container.

Meanwhile, the Federal government is threatening to shut down and nobody knows how that will affect us trainees. Does that mean that we just hang out in our hotel apartments? Wouldn't be too bad, do some collegial bonding and all, but not so cool if our per diem also goes on furlough. Each person I talk to - on the rare occasions that I get a live person on the phone - is honestly puzzled about what will happen.

As with everything else in life - only time will tell.

G'night for now,

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Over the hump

So, the day I'd been dreading is over: saying goodbye to my friends and co-workers at EPD. It's actually a relief to have it over with and to know that I've left my job in good hands (thanks Kathy!) and that my friends won't vanish just beause I'm not there to visit with them in the hallways.  We're not falling off the earth, and perhaps my adventures will provide some interesting lunchroom fodder? Half of me wanted to just slip out the back door, and the other half was sad realizing, "Oh, but I missed saying goodbye to so-and-so..."  I've read and re-read your cards, tearing up equally each time.

But I can now focus on the task at hand: preparing for this new life. And more immediately: what to pack for the short-term (I have 250 lbs allotted); for the long-term (18,000 lbs!); what to give away and what to store because we just can't part with it/don't know what else to do with it (anyone need an accordian?). We want to bring things that will make our home a home, while keeping in mind that if the angry mob storms the embassy (stay low - they shoot too high, right? I remember what you said Duvall!) and we have to make a break for it with only the clothes on our back and our cats in pillowcases - we won't be losing family treasures. With all the turmoil in Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula now, it's not unthinkable that we could get posted to a country that gets evacuated.

So I'm now starting to meet the other Specialists in my orientation class via a Google group the class before us set up. We've all swapped introductions and I'm learning that they're diplomatic security and doctors and IT and office and facilities managers from all walks of life. It's becoming more real as we all talk about converging on the island on March 12. We'll have three weeks of orientation together (which has already been dubbed "Death by Powerpoint" in full business attire) and then we break up into our specialties for specific training. After that - we all ship out to our various posts to actually DO the job we've been working so hard to obtain.

Okay, I want to keep any readers I may have and not blather on too long about the boring details.  Thank you for getting this far!

It's snowing and peaceful outside now, very nice.

G'night for now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It all started with The Plan

When Tim and I met in January of 2002, our conversation consisted first of his kids, and then of travel: first of my (then) upcoming trip around the world, and then to his years in the Central African Republic in the Peace Corps. He proposed to me in Paris during that trip and we spent 17 days touring through the French countryside with the ring still fresh on my finger. At that time Mike and Samantha were just 8 and 10 years old respectively, but we formulated a vague plan that when the kids were safely tucked away in college, or otherwise on their own, we would once again live and work overseas in some capacity.
We've referred to this as "The Plan."

Over the years, jobs have brought us new opportunities and we've settled into our Snohomish life, watching the kids (and cats) grow and developing new friendships along the way.  But we've checked in with each other now and again that The Plan was still on our distant, undefined horizon.

In May of 2009, Tim saw an ad for a recruiting event in Seattle being held by the State Department. We took a half-day off work to attend and listened to Foreign Service Officers and Specialists speak of their jobs in embassies and consulates worldwide. With each speaker, I grew more and more convinced that this path was bringing into focus our misty horizon. Determined to make it a reality, I devoted the next 18 months to studying, testing, studying some more, interviewing and generally going through all the rigors of the Foreign Service hiring process. I have now accepted an offer to join the 119th Specialist Class as an Office Management Specialist at the Foreign Service Institute, starting bright and early Monday, March 14, 2011, nearly two years after first hearing of this opportunity.

So that sets the stage. I hope this blog will let me (us) share our travels and adventures with the group of friends and family that we so sadly leave behind. This is the hardest part. People ask if I'm excited, and while one side of me is (a very small side currently), it feels like all tunnel and no lights right now.

Stay tuned for updates from the start of my Specialist Class where we learn our bid list of potential postings and later for Flag Day (the Big Reveal).

Thank you all for reading.