Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The slacker is back…

I am finally back after a three-week hiatus. Two thirds of it was Verizon’s fault, the rest was just me being a slacker. Yes, Verizon was super slow in installing their super fast fiber-optic service (FiOS) in our apartment, which completely messed up my blogging schedule but now that we have this zippity-doo, snappy internet connection, I will have to shape up, right?

Here are the highlights of what we’ve been up to since my last post (sorry if some of it is old news):

1. Paul got formally sworn in as a Foreign Service Officer on 4/30 by a very important person and I missed it!!! I really wanted to be there, take pictures and be part of Paul’s big day but he talked me out of it. He said it was just a formality because they had already been sworn in on their very first day of training (3/29) and that because of the timing (3 p. m.), I would have to take Nia out of school and drag her all the way to Foggy Bottom (downtown DC) for something that she wasn’t going to enjoy, bla, bla, bla. So I gave in and didn’t go. And guess who swore them in: Secretary Clinton herself. I was so incredibly bummed out for missing it! That’s what I get for listening to Paul. I should have gone with my gut. I am thrilled for Paul and everyone in his class though because as far as I know Secretary Clinton has sworn in only one other class before Paul’s. Pretty special, ha! Here is a picture, courtesy of State Department’s flicker page. Paul is in the first row to the left of the guy wearing the red tie.

swearing in 152

2. We moved. We spent most of May 1 (Labor Day for most people outside US ) lugging stuff to our new place. We didn’t have that much – mostly clothes, toiletries, a few of Nia’s books and toys but it still took forever.

3. We still don’t have our household effects (HHE) or all of our furniture and other belongings, so the new place looks pretty bare right now but we are told that we will get our stuff this Friday. I just think it’s interesting that we were given a week to find a new place and move, yet it will be three + weeks before we get our own furniture and stuff. That is if we get it on Friday… there are no guarantees.

I had to do some emergency shopping, borrowing and yard sale-ing to cobble together something resembling a household while we wait for our HHE. The result is suboptimal but it could be worse and I am done complaining about the whole thing. I have decided to be all Zen about it instead. Or as Zen as I can be, which is apparently not very. I have been on Paul’s case to nudge the people responsible for the situation to get moving. Poor guy, there he is at his new job trying to make a good impression and I am pestering him to get our HHE out of storage. He called me yesterday all excited and told me we were scheduled to get our HHE on Friday. My response was, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” He was like, “Aren’t you going to smother me with kisses or something?” To which, I said, “I was going to smother you… Don’t know about kisses. It’s been three weeks for crying out loud. It’s not like you got them to deliver it in three hours.” But that’s not very Zen now, is it? I was joking and he knew it. He wants our stuff delivered just as much as I do. Then we’ll have to figure out how we fit everything in the apartment but that’s for another post.

5. I updated my resume and have officially started looking for a job. I am not exactly buried in offers, yet, but am modestly  hopeful… and a little overwhelmed. Things have changed. The job market is not what it used to be the last time I looked for a job in the DC area. Plus I have done some things (international development, marketing, advertising, writing/editing plus I have a secret security clearance) that are a little tricky to package and present in a way employers can’t say No to… We’ll have to see where that takes me. I am also not sure how I should address the fact that I will be here only about a year. I want to be upfront about it because it’s the right thing to do but am afraid that people won’t hire me if I tell them I am gone in a year. Any thoughts?

6. I finally submitted my registration for the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) and started preparing for it. When I say preparing, I mean I am reading “Don’t know much about history” because that’s exactly how I feel about most topics on the test. After I am done with that one I have a bunch of other books lined up. I am a little concerned that if I get a June slot I won’t have enough time to cram all the math, management, politics, economics and everything else in my empty head. But now that I have shared this with the world, at least the humiliation of not passing will be public. On the off chance that I do somehow miraculously pass the test, the joy will be public too.

7. We celebrated Mother’s Day and my birthday very quietly at home. I got a Kindle (Amazon’s ebook reader) for both occasions from Paul and Nia and have  loaded a bunch of free books from Amazon on it. Unfortunately, with the job hunt and the FSOT preparation I don’t have time to read them. I got the books for the exam before I got the Kindle. Had I known that I was going to get the Kindle, I would have gotten the ebook versions instead. Oh, well.

I also got a very nice card thing from Nia for Mother’s Day. See below – on the top is moi (am I gorgeous or what?) and on the bottom it says, “My mom is great because… she buys me toys” and there’s a drawing of me with a shopping cart full of toys. Which made me think that we have created a little consumerist monster and may need to help Her Cuteness see that the world is full of things that are way cooler than what you can get in the store and that matter a lot more than a shopping cart full of toys. Need to work on that…

mother's day 014 mother's day 005 mother's day 012

8. We have become regular clients of the Tooth Fairy. Nia lost another tooth the other day. See picture above complete with a note to the Tooth Fairy, which said, “Dear Tooth Fairy, I pulled my tooth out all by myself. Senserily (Sincerely), Nia.” The Tooth Fairy was impressed by Nia’s initiative and left a buck under her pillow. Another tooth is hanging by a thread, so get ready Tooth Fairy. With all these missing teeth, eating apples and corn on the cob is quickly becoming an impossibility but that too shall pass.

9. I have been exploring Falls Church’s ethnic food scene and have to report that I ate durian and tripe at Saigon Central (that’s our name for Eden Shopping Center by Oakwood Falls Church because it has a zillion of Vietnamese restaurants, cafe’s and stores). The tripe was actually not as bad as I was afraid it would be. A little chewy but not terrible. It was in pho (Vietnamese soup). No flies in my soup this time!!! The durian was actually in durian bubble tea but it was fresh and oh, so potent. I have to say, it does taste good but it stinks so incredibly nasty that it’s impossible to separate the taste from the smell (no wonder it’s banned from hotels and public transportation in SE Asia). I tried really hard but I could not finish the durian bubble tea. Wimp, I know! Taro root is much, much better!

My search for a Bulgarian food store has been disappointing but it did lead me to Halalco, an Indian/Pakistani food store. And surprise, surprise, I found sirene (Bulgarian feta cheese) and lyuteniza (Bulgarian tomato, pepper and eggplant spread) there, which was especially awesome because the store is walking distance from our new apartment. The store also features an Indian seasonings and spice packets aisle, a rice aisle and a bread isle with naan, pita and Afghan bread. But the highlight for me were the 6-lb containers of plain yoghurt - hurray for that! I know most of you are probably thinking, “What would I ever do with 6 lbs of plain yoghurt?” Well, that’s because you are probably not Bulgarian, Greek, Indian or Middle Eastern.  People from those parts of the world eat industrial quantities of yoghurt and I am just so excited to find these “supersize” packages. So I have been cooking Bulgarian again as well as Indian. Last night I made Aloo Posto using the recipe of fellow FS blogger Natalie from Diplolife, currently in Calcutta, India. Thanks for the great recipe and the detailed step-by-step instructions, Natalie! It turned out pretty good (even if I say so myself).

So, that’s it for today, I think. Whew! A big thank to everyone who checked in on me to see how I was doing, wish me happy birthday and to encourage me to get back to blogging. Sometimes we all need a good kick in the butt, don’t we?


  1. I didn't know you were going to be a tandem couple. Good luck on the FSOT.

  2. Absolutely! Lots and lots of luck to you on the FSOT!

    And I love that you call your daughter Her Cuteness. That is totally adorable!

    And lots of luck, also, on the job search - I hope you find the perfect fit for you!

  3. Oh, and I forgot to say that my heart aches for you that you missed The Wicked Awesome Swearing In. That has to be so hard! :( Just wanted you to know that I understood the feeling - that you missed out - and I'm sorry.

  4. Wow! You are definitely not a slacker with all of that packed into three weeks.

    Best of luck taking the FSOT. Will love to read your personal experience with the whole process.

    I love Bulgarian cheese! In my opinion, one of the best farm-style cheeses in the world. Will have to pick some up there this summer.

    I vote for being upfront about your available time in D.C., just in case you can continue working for the company as a telecommuter or if you can go back later when you are next n D.C. Have you found a temporary placement company? Give Aquent or Randstad a call, they may have some temporary jobs although I am not sure how much the pay would be. Best of luck!

  5. Congrats on the DC post and, Natalie beat me to it in her comment but I'll say it anyway, you are not a slacker! You've been busy! Lots of change :) I love your Mother's Day card, very sweet!

  6. happy birthday and congrats on all you've accomplished in the last few weeks! Good luck on the FSOT. If it makes you feel more at ease, I found the test nearly impossible to study for. It's like trivial pursuit. I would recommend working on essays, doing some practice tests to get a feel for the type of questions, and review your resume. good luck!

  7. You motivated me to register for the FSOT exam, which I did today with the hope for an October test slot. Here's to studying!

  8. I am so happy for you Natalie! Best of luck!


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