Monday, October 25, 2010

The register is growing and I'm shrinking.

The PD register has 189 people on it. That is a lot of people. My husband sits about midway down the register. He's going to the Oral Assessment again in a little over a month. We are hoping that we gets a really good score so that he doesn't have to resume German study again. If he gets a great score, he'll be ready to be called up for an A-100 class zippity-quick, because he already has his security and medical clearances. At least that is my understanding. But you never know. I mean you just never know.

I'm sick of wondering if this whole FS career will happen. I don't mean I'm tired of wondering if it will happen. (Although that is true too.) I mean I've lost 20 pounds during the past few months. Not that I mind. I've been walking the dog most days that it's not incredibly lousy and wet and cold out. I've been trying to lay off the Twix bars and Reese's. (Mmm, Reese's.) But 20 pounds seemed like a lot. I had to hunt around the basement for the pants I was sure I wouldn't fit into again. Dare I call them the skinny pants? We could call them the "Depressed-from-trying-to-get-in-the-FS-pants." If I could just do something to help the FS entrance process that would make me feel better, but I am powerless. I have just been trying to run the home and kid stuff while my husband has worked and studied and tried to learn languages the last 18 months. I have tried to carry on like it isn't happening, keep living my life, but it's hard to do. Because if he wasn't trying to get in to the FS, why would he be getting up at 5 to study? Or why would he have spent all that time and money learning German? Or driving to DC for weekend study groups? Huh? I don't think I'm lacking some easy-going gene. And it doesn't mean I am having second thoughts about this. I'm just saying: This is hard. Right?

I'm going to look for the Reese's now. Top shelf, above the tea... here I come...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pink Pink Pink

October is breast cancer awareness month.
In honor of Jen, an FS "cyberfriend" who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer only weeks ago, I am thinking pink.

This is what it looks like where I live:

However, this is what I am thinking about (pretty pink Jamaican flowers):

If you are a woman, you need to do a breast self-exam regularly. If you haven't done one before, start now. If you don't know what to look for, learn. It could save your life.
Thinking of you, Jen!

Group Exercise Practice

There is a part of the Oral Assessment called the Group Exercise. In that section, each candidate has a project that they are advocating for. There is a set amount of money available and the candidate's job is to "sell" their project as the one that deserves the money.

My husband is a great reflective listener.* Like, sometimes it pisses me off, he's so reflective. "I hear you saying that you are angry that I am late for dinner again..." I'm kidding... sort of.

Actually, he's pretty tricky about de-escalating people's anger. He makes them feel listened to and then turns the tables and somehow gets them on his side. He's good at leading meetings. He's good at getting angry people to chill without blowing their tops. He's been trained in the stuff multiple times and he enjoys it.

So anyway, I was overhearing him working on skype doing a practice group exercise. And it struck me that I would have a much different way of handling the reflective listening.

This would be me: "I hear that you think your project should be funded and that it's the best but let me save you some time, here is a heavy three-ring binder, hit yourself in the head three times and try again."

Or, "Let me get this right, you think your project doesn't actually have any merit and you couldn't sell it if it did. I will take all the money. Thanks. Go, now, there's the door. Buh-bye."

Or, "I see that you can not stop yourself from talking even though nothing of substance is coming out of that mouth. Here, take this duct tape and zip, zip, zip. Done. Now we are all happier."

No? Not good? I won't be invited to write the next OA study guide?

*Ok, the truth is, I'm not sure if it's "reflective" or if it's "reflexive." And I'm not asking him, because he'll say, "I hear you saying that you think it's..." haha

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Family Photo

Look at all those smiling faces!! This picture is actually from before the 4th of July. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

OA practice questions

I have been quizzing my husband in preparation for the OA. Would you like to practice too?

Here's a hypothetical question:
You are a consular officer in a country known for its drug violence and corruption. You are on the visa line. In walks a man who subtly claims to have ties to the leading drug cartel. He leans in close and whispers that he wants a ham and swiss sandwich on wheat, with a dill pickle on the side, asap, or else. What do you do?
A.) Give him your own lunch, PB & J will have to do.
B.) Do a sashay and twist with jazz hands to distract him from his demands.
C.) Call security and cry like a baby in the corner.
D.) Document his request for the sandwich (in triplicate), notify your superiors, check the budget for ham money.

Ready for another?

You are a public diplomacy officer accompanying a humanitarian aid mission into the jungle. You are distributing food and medical supplies. You learn that the head of the mission is not really a human at all but a cyborg sent here from another planet to gather samples of primates from the jungle. The cyborg is just about to add a tamarind monkey to a burlap bag. You...
A.) Ask him to verify his mission, then document what he's doing (in triplicate), then call your superiors, asking if there is money in the budget for eradicating false-humanitarian-aid-turned-cyborg-primate-collectors.
B.) Distract the cyborg with a sashay and twist, adding in jazz hands if necessary, freeing all the primates.
C.) Call security, to save the day.
D.) Show him that you could be considered a primate too and jump in the bag. Maybe the planet this cyborg is from could be a cool R&R.

Ok, Obviously, the correct answer to both is the "sashay and twist" answer. My husband is gonna rock this test!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Take this dog and this bird and call me in the morning.

Yesterday the sun was shining for a few hours. (Can I get an, "Amen?!")

I walked the dog on one of my favorite routes. It's a long, nearly-abandoned service road that divides a golf course and a state-protected wildlife management area. The trees arch in from both sides of the road and form a "tunnel" in spots. It's pretty secluded, which sometimes freaks me out, but there's nothing to be nervous about. Except birds and chipmunks. The sun was shining through the yellow and red leaves in rays. It felt so good.

Today I walked too. But no sun today. Back to blah-grey. Although, near the end of the walk, I was passing a stream that feeds into a lake and I saw something move so I stopped to see what it was. It was a huge Great Blue Heron. 
photo not my own.
It cocked it's head at me and walked sideways on it's spindly legs. My dog and I passed the heron slowly and the heron eyed us suspiciously but didn't fly away, I was amazed. The heron was tall, probably up to my chin. It was huge! I finished walking feeling lucky to see such an amazing thing this morning. I guess sometimes it's the little things.

Just when I think I need medication (or a tanning bed appt.) for Seasonal Affective Disorder, a walk with my dog and seeing a bird make me feel better. Go figure.

Now what shall I do for the next, um, let's count here, Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, in May it should start getting sunny again and the snow might be melting... Oh, Holy Herons, I'm going to have to employ that bird to stand there for me! Maybe I better research my options...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Might be needing more flash-mob videos to get me through this

I'm going to be needing more videos of "happy."


Little C is just finishing her Zithromax for bronchitis. Fever, cough. School missed. Lousy.

Little S was feeling terrible at school yesterday. The nurse called me. I picked him up at school at 10:45. He has a fever, stomachache, headache, now sore throat. Zithromax for an ear infection. School missed.

I have had a headache on the right side of my head for two days and my ear hurts, plus everybody seems REALLY loud. Would everybody just quiet down, please? I am on Levaquin. (Because I can't have penicillin, or, I'll swell up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and... die.) Lovely picture, eh? My ear drum is retracted. I said, "huh?" He said, "Sucked in, from all the pressure." Again, lovely picture. And I have a sinus infection.

Three on antibiotics. Two to go.

Also. Since being back in Upstate Freaking New York, the sun has shone for 27 seconds. It has been rainy and cold the remainder. I think I hate it here. Should I apply to work at the tourism center with all my cheery I *heart* NY sentiment?

Really, folks. It'll look better in... (what? the morning? the summer? after Nov. 29?)

Sorry to be a Debbie-downer. And a Wendy-whiner. And a Patty-pathetic.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Four minutes of happy

I took my daughter C to the doctor again today. They think she has bronchitis. We are spending lots of time on the couch. This clip makes us happy. And it makes us want to dance. Join us...