Saturday, February 22, 2014

These Past Several Months

It has been a busy few months! 

Cantonese language training continues. Some days are more difficult than others but most days I still can't believe this is what I get to do everyday. It's really amazing, but so challenging. 

In other news, we're having a baby! That has made the language learning that much more fun (baby brain is no joke. The number of things I forget these days is staggering). 

So quick recap:
November was nice. We weren't able to go home for Thanksgiving but we were able to spend it with friends here in DC. Scott also made a turkey for the first time and it turned out great. Sadly, the pregnancy has really affected my appetite and I couldn't eat any of the leftovers :( 

December was chilly. This winter in DC has been rough (compared to the past two years at least when it hardly snowed). I lost count of the number of "snow days" I've had off work, and winter isn't even over.  We also spent Christmas here with just the two of us and the dogs (our last as just a couple!). I was able to go to Colorado for a few days between Christmas and New Years which was nice. Scott wasn't able to get off work to go which was too bad 

January was also chilly.  More than chilly, ridiculously cold is more correct. As for New Years, it was the first time since I was a child that I didn't make it midnight. I fell asleep in our new rocker/recliner (baby-related purchase) and Scott woke me up at midnight.  Yup, this baby is not even here yet and I'm already pretty lame. Haha. Scott was supposed to go to Colorado for a quick visit but his parents ended up using the tickets to come see us instead, which was nice. 

As nice as things have been, the pregnancy has not been an easy road. Almost since we first found out we were expecting there has been one complication or another. It's a long story that I will post another time. But even with all these issues our baby boy is healthy and strong and might be gracing us with his presence soon!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Language Training

Only about a month into language training at this point, but so far things are going well. 

My class consists of me and one other person from the Dept of Defense (yeah, Cantonese is not a super popular language). We are in class 5 hours a day and have two teachers, one teaches the morning and one in the afternoon. The other hours of the day are reserved for language lab and self-study. 

So far, everything is pretty great. My classmate and teachers are all fun people and I really enjoy the hours spent in class. It is challenging to find the motivation to study sometimes but that's just part of 'school.' 

I want to say more but all life consists of at the moment is language class and hanging at home. Life is grand but pretty routine right now :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Finally Fall!

Today is the first time it's felt like fall and it makes me so excited I can barely stop smiling. I had to wear a jacket to take the dogs out this morning and I'm planning on going for a stroll around DC this evening because I get to do so while wearing a hoodie!

Fall also means that I am now in language training full time. I've had two and weeks of class and so far it's going well. It is also ridiculously intimidating and I have no idea how I'm going to pass a fluency test in 7 months. But my classmate is great and my teachers are great so even if its a grueling seven months, it should at least be fun. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

One Year Post-Flag Day

One year ago, on a warm Friday afternoon, I was handed a Washington, D.C. flag and learned I'd be staying in Washington for my first assignment. It was not at all what I expected and I was sure it would be a tough year.

Today, on a warm Friday evening, I left my office after fond farewells with two bags full of stuff that I had to take home. I nearly cried because it has been such an incredible year with such incredible people and I was not ready to leave.

I am so thankful that this was my first assignment in the Foreign Service. I have learned so much, but my biggest takeaway is that sometimes the thing you think you don't want is going to be the best thing for you. I am looking forward to the next step (long-term language training!) and I hope my future tours are as awesome as this one. I have the distinct feeling they will be :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

the silly past

I've had a couple of other blogs in the past, but last week, to my surprise, I found one I had completely forgotten about. I started it in 2004 (nearly ten years already!) and I posted on it as recently as 2010 but for some reason I hadn't thought it about it years.

I can't believe some of the stuff I used to put on there and that I left all of it public. As I was going through changing the privacy settings I was rereading all of the things I used to write about. It was like reading a diary (something I've never bothered to keep in real life) and sometimes I was so vague even I didn't know what I was referring to.

If facebook had been as big back then as it is now I would have been one of those girls that posts angst-filled, vague statuses and then refuse to explain anything. Thank goodness I can hide all my past absurdity behind privacy settings. But maybe I'll read these posts again someday and think the same thing. Hopefully not...

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rebellious Apartment People

I may have mentioned before that the building our apartment is in is an enclosed area so that is almost feels like a community sometimes. Its the first time I've lived in a place like this where I run into the same people in the halls and the elevator and see them around the property (its a big property; gated, with three buildings, two dog runs, a park, a pools, two gyms, etc.)

After living here for about 10 months I have come to a conclusion about my building - we are the troublemakers in the eyes of management. And better than that, my wing of the building houses the real rebels.

(A quick note important for these stories: the air conditioning system in our building is centrally run and is connected to all the other units in the building. They have to all be on cool or all on hot. Its weird, but thats the way it is)

Earlier this year, during the transition from chilly days to warm ones, the management put out a notice that although they knew the forecast was for 80+ degrees (possibly the low 90s), they were not going to turn on the air conditioning for at least the next three days because it might cool down again. They put a notice under everyone's door and pasted one in every elevator. The notice in the elevator in our wing  soon contained my building-mate's feelings.

Writing with many different pens soon appeared. The comments ranged from mild profanity to organized group calling of the front desk to voice our displeasure. The sign was eventually torn down, reposted and finally removed by the management. Much to our surprise, the A/C was turned on the next day. The people had triumphed! (And it never got cool again).

A couple months later (again when the temperature was supposed to be in the 90s), we got a notice that the A/C had broken and it was going to take a couple days to fix. But its ok, according to the notice, the A/C in the gym on the top floor would still be on.

As you can guess, the apartment rebels in our wing were not pleased. Notes were written all over the notice in the elevator on our side (in the other two elevators...nothing was written). We may or may not have added our feelings to the paper. Surprise, surprise, the air conditioning was fixed the same day.

After these two events, people realized this was an effective means to get things accomplished in the building. Soon after another note appeared in our elevator, this time from a fellow rebel. They were displeased with the knocking and pounding that seemed to take place at all ours of the day in one of the apartments in our wing. (I knew exactly what they were talking about and am pretty sure the culprit is the apartment right above ours. Seriously, it sounds like a wood shop or something up there all the time). Again, people agreed, organized calling to the front office, and the culprit is only rarely heard from these days. Very effective.

This week the management is having with the A/C again, so laminated notices about keeping windows closed have appeared in the elevators. Guess which elevator there is not a notice in?

Apparently we are in the rebel section of the building that cannot be trusted with a notice in the elevator and they've laminated the other ones to stop the rebellion from spreading. I like it. We'll see how long they can keep us down....

Friday, June 21, 2013

Less than 2 months

In about seven weeks my first tour as a Foreign Service Officer will be complete. 

That seems both far away and so close at the same time. A number of people I've met while working in the Department are finishing their current tours and moving on. Some are headed to different offices in the building; others are going straight overseas (domestic tours don't get home leave); still others are like me, they will be headed to long-term training. I am really excited about the final group. 

While I have been learning the ins and outs of being a desk officer over the last year, most of my A-100 classmates have been in long-term language training together. 

At first I was bummed to be missing out on getting to know all of them better. They would see each other in the halls or the lunchroom, some even had class together. While they had each other I was in an environment where people had friends all over the building, while I could name the people I knew on one hand. I was worried that when I finally went to training I would be on my own there as well, since all my classmates will have moved on to their overseas postings. 

Now as I approach my training, I am looking forward to it not just because I'm thrilled to learn a new language, but also because I want to get to know all my current co-workers better. 

Almost everyday I find out someone else I work with now will be at FSI with me for the next year. As much as I wish I would have had all that extra time to get to know my A-100 classmates better, I am really looking forward to learning about my colleagues outside of the work place. It's going to be another fun year.