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.


  1. Good luck at your new post, Jen! India sounds scary and exciting all rolled into a multi-odorous package! Keep up the blog, please, as I feel like I learn something new with each visit here. And HUGS to you and Ray!!

  2. You crack me up! Hope the renters were happy after all of that and that your new post is everything in GSO, Facilities, and Housekeeping that you dreamed of during this post.