Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Traveling in Style

One of the ways I've changed since joining the foreign service is that I've become a snooty traveller. Traveling as frequently as I do, I like to travel comfortably. The problem is, once you travel overseas in business class, you can't ever go back to coach. I'm ruined for life.

Kathmandu is directly on the other side of the planet from the middle of the US. Washington to Doha is a 14 hour overnight flight. I'm not doing that in coach. Because the Department squashed its biz class policy, the upgrade is coming out of my pocket. But the Department is paying for a nice hotel room for my long layover in Doha. Thank you, US taxpayer! Then a 5 hour flight to Kathmandu.

Traveling in style has made me a snob. I don't like commuting with "the common people." For example, there should be separate security lines for smart and stupid travelers. It's annoying to stand behind someone for 15 minutes and watch him finally get to the metal detector and frantically try to take off his shoes, empty his pockets, and take off his watch all at once, as if he didn't know this was going to happen.

Next stop, Kathmandu!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oh What a Beautiful Feeling

Training is over. Check-out paperwork is submitted. Pack-out is scheduled. Consumables are purchased. Flight is confirmed. Vaccinations are done. Visa is in the passport.

There's nothing left to do except pack out and get on the plane. And yet, there's that nagging feeling that something important has been forgotten.

This weekend I will sort the piles for pack-out. This is easily the worst part about the foreign service lifestyle. Sadly, pack-outs never get easier. But the more you do, the smarter you become.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Single White Female Seeks Office Management Specialist

I'm sure there are plenty of blogs that provide insight into the unique challenges of raising a family in the foreign service. So, as a single woman in the foreign service, I feel obliged to share my tales of single woe.

I'm a mere month away from departing for post. I have to arrange my flight, schedule and prepare for pack out, get my vaccinations, apply for a diplomatic visa, buy my consumable items (without a car), cancel my gym membership, you get the idea.

I'm also in training full time, where students are threatened with having their fingernails pulled off if they miss even an hour of class, and there's no admin time. This leaves me with a dilemma - how the hell am I supposed to drop off my diplomatic passport and visa application at Main State? I thought I had won the battle of wits with the Department by borrowing a friend's trailing spouse who was going to Main State, but the Department's bureaucratic absurdity managed to out fox me.

I'm also nervous about pack out. When I packed out from Romania, I was outnumbered by 4 packers. I didn't discover how much stuff was "lost" until over a year later when I unpacked my stuff last fall. The bastards stole my Indiana Jones DVD trilogy.

I suppose being single really isn't the issue. I need an OMS more than I need a husband.