I had a long weekend....no class on Monday and Tuesday. It felt totally blissful to sleep in, not rush, smell the roses (literally) and just generally socialize and be a normal human for a change.
Last Friday was graduation. Pictures, programs, congratulations. Ambassador John D. Negroponte (Deputy Secretary of State) gave the oath of office. It's really official when you raise your hand and promise to support and defend the Constitution of the United States in front of about 500 classmates, friends, family and assorted dignitaries.
I've completed the first three weeks of general Specialist orientation. Now our wave of tiresome briefings will be replaced by information specific to our unique speciality. Our class of 54 is separated into each specific individual category for more training. My departure date is set for somewhere around May 22nd. I have much to do; arrange a car, find out about housing choices, prepare for shipment of my HHE (House Hold Effects). I also have to arrange immunizations (oh joy!) diplomatic passport, consumables shipment (paper towels, baking supplies, cleaning stuff---things which are too expensive to purchase in Sierra Leone or NOT AVAILABLE). I sat down this morning and made out Level Two "TO DO" lists. Wish me luck!
I wanted to mention a few things I have been thinking about that have to do with being away from home. I have a feeling my children (especially the younger two) are more adaptable than I am. I think Ryan and Laura have moved every six months or so since they left college. I, on the other hand, have been in the same house for 17 years; with only two of those spent in Germany. Here are a few things (good and bad) that are different from being in Austin:
The fellow in the apartment below me smokes. How do I know this? Well, I like to keep my patio door open and let the fresh air in. Suddenly, there is this horrible smell of cigarette smoke coming in the apartment! UGH!! I went out on the patio and looked all around and finally looked down, and there was half a person smoking a cigarette. Only half a person because that's all I could see from my angle. The joys of apartment living, I guess.
I love birds. At home in Austin, I have a birdbath right outside my kitchen window. I used to love watching the birds come and take a bath and eat out of the feeder. I lamented what I would do when I could not see the birds from my balcony in Washington. No worries! I can see the birds closer than ever! I put out some bread crumbs, old crackers, popcorn, etc, and the birds have come to me. This morning I woke up to the smaller birds fighting over the crumbs. It was sweet music! Of course, I have to be very still when I watch them because if they see me, they fly away. Now I can see the birds and hear them from about 2-3 feet away. Where there is a will, there is a way!
I miss driving my car. Laura has my car in New York because I really don't need it here. It's been three weeks and I've been taking the Metro. Not much of a problem and I like the exercise. But it rains a lot here. No fun getting caught in the rain. Yesterday I walked about two miles to get a pedicure. (girl thing) It started to rain on the way home. I was wearing those ridiculous next-to-nothing flip flops they give you so you don't ruin your polish. I had to walk the two miles home in the drizzle and then I really missed my car. But I did think of all the money I'm saving not having to buy gasoline!
Tomorrow it's back to class. My highest priority is to check with the Embassy in Sierra Leone and determine housing choices and what attire is appropriate on Post. I'll let you know if we wear sun dresses or business suits!
Hope all is well in your corner of the world,