|The nighttime view from my apartment|
While in DC for almost 4 weeks, I'm staying in an apartment in Arlington, VA, about a 5 minute drive to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) where my training takes place. Since weight is always a consideration when you travel, I came with nothing and shopped for new clothes, which will fill my 2 suitcases when it comes time to pack. What I don't want to shop for are things I need in the kitchen since I won't have room in my suitcases to take them back to Muscat. With this in mind, you really have to be creative. Sure, the apartment is fully furnished and there is a limited supply of kitchen tools to work with. But there are no zip lock bags, no saran wrap, no storage containers (ie Tupperware for us old folks) or other little things that when at home, we just take for granted. So, you learn to be creative. Tonight I made a yummy pot roast with potatoes and carrots and onions. Obviously, there are leftovers. So, I dug the plastic produce bag out of the trash and used it like saran wrap, covering the meat and veggies in the bowl with it. I refuse to buy a box of zip lock bags (call me El Cheapo) so I wash and reuse 2 bags that I had in my suitcase that had small bottles of hand lotion in them. I did have to give in and buy a corkscrew since I just couldn't find any way to get the cork out of the wine bottle without destroying it! It was, however, the lighter of the 2 that I looked at!
I took a few annual leave days prior to going to Washington to stop in Fort Worth, Texas to see my Dad. I was really looking forward to escaping, for just a little while, the heat of the Middle East. No way was that happening this summer! Texas is hotter than a firecracker this summer and it barely dipped below 100 degrees the entire time I was there. The biggest challenge was keeping my 96 year old father inside the house instead of out in the garage, sitting at his workbench. The day after I left, he ended up in the emergency room with heat stroke. Did he learn his lesson? I doubt it...he loves tinkering in his workshop, even at his advanced age.
The other bit of very reportable news is that the bid list is now out. This list, basically, is the list of openings for us Foreign Service people who will move to another embassy next summer. It's up to each of us to select 6-8 from the list, weigh the pros and cons of each one and then submit our choices. All things need to be taken into consideration...a new job, the stress of moving from one place to another, lots of new faces, new cultures, new opportunities. It may sound like a very stressful time but these are the reasons we all signed on the dotted line. I, for one, thrive on this kind of challenge. I have some great places on my list but the ones that I am looking at very seriously are Vienna, Berlin, Dubai, Tunis, Jerusalem, Moscow and Bogota. They all sound wonderful and once I can do my research, I'm sure one of them will rise above the rest. Or not. They are, at this time, all tied for 1st choice.
As you can see, there's lots on my plate right now. I hope to pass the test tomorrow and get my certification in Microsoft Outlook. I hope the stock market recovers and stops dropping like a rock. I hope to be under 50 pounds in each of my 2 suitcases when I fly home on the 19th. I hope I can make really good informed decisions on my bid list. And I really hope my Dad stays out of the hot garage.