Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I didn't say it was a good example

So our pack out is finished. In order to help anyone else out there who might be moving, I thought I would give a few tips on how to make your pack out go as well as ours did.

Image result for moving boxes

First you should avoid sorting things for as long as possible. This will make it much more fun when you're trying to decide what should go air freight, what should go via ship, and what should stay in storage. You should also not pack any of your suitcases. More on that later.

Then you should listen to Husband when he says the moving company called him and told him they only needed two days to pack and won't arrive until Thursday. However, if you do doubt him a little and take off Wednesday anyway, that might be wise. But definitely don't start packing your suitcase until Wednesday.

Wednesday morning at 8am, do not answer the door! Definitely do not be dressed, and don't have your suitcases packed and try to be in the middle of washing dishes to put in UAB (the air freight) when you do open the door so that you have water spilled all down your shirt. Then call Husband in a panic and accuse him of lying and making things up! 

Listen to the movers when they tell you that you were right and Husband is wrong and they are supposed to start that morning, and then go upstairs and frantically throw everything blue into a suitcase and hope it's enough for a month. Then throw all the towels and sheets down the stairs, literally. It's good exercise and way faster than carrying them. Plus if you hit the annoying mover who is opening all your make-up and then saying she can't pack it because it's opened, so much the better. Yell at the mover to stop opening unopened bottles of lotion and pack. them. now. Then call Husband and beg him to come home. Burst into tears in front of the movers at every opportunity.

If possible, have Husband's completely unsympathetic boss make him travel to an island very far away during what is supposed to be your last day of pack out. Then have the movers send you an e-mail saying they need two more days to finish up your stuff. Call the movers and explain very carefully that there aren't two more days because the renters are moving in on Tuesday and you have to clean, paint, and clean the carpets by Monday. Have the snooty moving company manager tell you they won't do it. Refuse to listen to her and talk to the packers. Agree that they can put all of your things in the garage so they can finish up on Monday and you can still paint and clean. Agree to this just in time for it to flood the next day and ruin all your high school mementos. Try to salvage your yearbook by drying it out with the hotel blow-dryer. It won't work, but you'll feel like you made an effort.

Miss your good-bye party at work because the stupid pack-out isn't done. Miss a fourth day of work because the stupid pack-out isn't done. Finally get everything done and have Child 2 tell you that you forgot to pack her computer and her shoes so now she only has one pair and it is the pair with a hole in the sole. Tell Child 2 she can just avoid puddles until the air freight arrives and next time she should pack her own suitcase on time and not make it over 80 pounds so you don't have to take stuff out.

Shut the door to your hotel room and sob uncontrollably from stress. You're done! Now all you have to do is mail all the stuff that the stupid movers wouldn't ship. Too bad most of it can't go in the pouch. Ask all your friends if they would like bug spray or dry shampoo as a present.

Moving is not better than a brownie. But the US Women's Soccer team beating Germany is! GO USA! I believe that we will win! Plus I needed a win this week because I totally lost to the move.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

DC does too count as a Post!

Packout begins tomorrow, so of course I am blogging. I should be sorting dishes, packing my suitcase, and washing all the sheets. But I'm tired and I've had packing nightmares all week so I am avoiding the thing that scares me by thinking about the thing that terrifies me--actually leaving.

Lots of Foreign Service bloggers have been posting the Top and Bottom 5 Things about their posts. They talk about the culture and the food and the housing and the travel opportunities. So I have decided to join them by writing about my current post--Washington, DC. I know you are thinking that I am really trying hard to procrastinate packing my suitcase, and you are totally right. But indulge me a little. I deserve it after getting no sleep for the past 4 nights in a row. So let's start with the bottom 5 things, shall we? Because the worst is always funnier.

  1. The GSO at my post sucks. For those of you not in the Foreign Service, the GSO is the office in charge of choosing your housing and filling it with furniture. Now, admittedly, our GSO (me because there is no GSO when you are assigned to DC and you are totally on your own) has awesome taste in furniture and a lovely sense of decor, although she tends to buy too much green. Green is her favorite color and it goes so nicely with all the Korean celadon, so don't be too hard on her. But some of the furniture is very old and she has not replaced the kitchen table in years and it is stained pink with I think what must have been a Kool-aid spill and only seats 6 and isn't expandable. Also it is blond wood, so could someone please go back in time to the 1990s and tell the GSO that particular farm table will look really stupid in her house in the future? And also tell her Assistant GSO that the awful red rug he brought back from Afghanistan doesn't match anything and needs to go?
  2. Facilities is almost worse than the GSO. Facilities, again for the non-FSOs is the office in charge of fixing things in your house when they break and since we own our own house, that would be Husband. Facilities at our post left cracks in the bathroom floor tile and a broke faucet for four whole years and only now when we need to rent it out did he fix them. Oh AND he decided the perfect time to start this project was the weekend before the renters were coming to see the place and therefore instead of helping clean up, he gave the GSO a list of things to do to "make the house look nice" while he went to Home Depot and messed around replacing the bathroom floor. And then he tried to micro-manage the GSO's cleaning of the house. The GSO firmly reminded Facilities that she did not work for him and since when is he an expert on cleaning up the house and he had better get back in the bathroom and leave her alone or Facilities would be sleeping on the couch with The Dog for a very, very long time.
  3. And speaking of the list debacle, staff meetings between the GSO and Facilities are sometimes rather fraught with tension. I won't say there is always yelling, but sometimes Facilities needs to stop tasking other people with things. Just saying.
  4. The housekeeping staff (that would be the children) is completely unreliable and often pretend they don't hear requests and when they do hear them, they ignore them until the GSO gets very angry and starts yelling about why is the GSO the only person who can remember how to turn on the dishwasher and then everyone is grumpy. Seriously, housekeeping, why is doing the dishes so hard?
  5. The Community Liaison Officer is nowhere to be found, so whenever someone wants to do something fun, they have to set it all up themselves. And then everyone complains that this is the most boring thing ever and why are we making them go learn things on their day off and why can't we just go shopping at the mall instead? Seriously, there is a LOT of whining going on at this post. Morale is pretty low to begin with and gets worse anytime you say chore or help or it's your responsibility or check the chore chart.
So now, the top 5 things about Washington, DC.

  1. You do get to live in your own house with your own pretty things and people can actually see that you have a decorating scheme and if you don't like the old IKEA furniture, you can get new stuff!
  2. Speaking of new stuff, I have a beautiful bedroom and I love my bed so much, I'm bringing it to my next post. King-size memory foam means it's my favorite place to be at the end of the day.
  3. The travel. Now, when you're posted to DC, you would think that means you just stay in DC, but if you read this blog, you know that is wrong. I almost completely filled up my passport with visas and stamps, and I've traveled to 16 different countries--some of them more than once. I had no idea I would travel so much, but I've loved every trip and it's been amazing. I mean, how else would I get to Ouagadougou?
  4. Learning how the Department works. This was a big one. Knowing whom to contact is half the battle in getting something at the Department and there is no better way to do that than to come back here and work in it. I can not only find my way around HST, I made contacts and friends I hope will last throughout my career if not the rest of my life.
  5. Which leads me to the people. You really get a sense of family at post because you all stick together. You have to because sometimes there is no one else who understands your bad Chinese. It is true that it is harder to get that sense of family from your office in DC, but if you are extremely lucky, as I am, you do. I will miss my crazy, fun, brilliant office mates. There is no one on earth like them, and no one I'd rather work with. Thank goodness for technology so I can continually bug them after I leave or I'd be even sadder than I already am.
There are lots of other plusses I could name like the food trucks (oh deliciousness on wheels) and the sight seeing opportunities, and not worrying if Netflix will work with your VPN. Also the shopping and being able to find clothes that fit. And the shoes! Oh, how I will miss Off Broadway Shoes.

Going to dinner with friends is better than a brownie, but not when you have to say good-bye. Leaving really sucks. There is just no way to be happy about leaving people you've grown to love like family. So to my fellow monkeys and pirates, I will miss you with all my heart. Please come visit me in India! If you do, I will take you to see this. It's like the Capitol, only prettier and with less arguing.