So, dear readers… where did we leave off last time? Waiting for UAB and HHE, interviewing for the CLO position, and saying what a nice place this is.
1) WE GOT OUR UAB!!!!!! Son was so excited, since 60% of it was his toys. I was excited since some of my kitchen stuff arrived. Wife was excited, since the other part of her wardrobe arrived. We all had our priorities. I also got word that HHE should be in Surabaya this week, but since it’s just past Idul Fitri, the soonest we’ll see it is August 19. Not horrible, but I seriously can’t freakin’ wait to have my stuff again.
2) I’m the new CLO in Surabaya! Well, pending the wonderful process known as e-QIP and the ensuing background investigation. Hopefully this process will take less time than my last go-round. At least my e-QIP was easier this time… the system actually remembered my old info! How’s that for modern technology?
I’m slightly more upbeat about this position than I was about the last one. First, it’s more up my alley, professionally speaking. Second, it’s part-time, and the hours are extremely flexible. Third, I’m definitely at the point where I’m starting to stagnate. I haven’t really worked in a regular(-ish) job in almost 2 years. No schedule, no motivation, no nothing. While I abhor schedules with every ounce of my being, I also secretly crave them in order to be happy. Yes, I’ve been working on that conundrum for years… making a few psychotherapists wealthier in the process.
3) I took my first day-trip outside of Surabaya, and from it I derived the title to this post. We drove down south to Kebun Raya Purwodadi, a couple of clicks north of Malang. This was my first driving adventure in SE Asia, and man was it an adventure. The roads leading there are jam-packed with cars, trucks, motorcycles, horse-drawn buggies, and every other method of transportation known to man. On the way down, I was following an Indonesian driver and literally spent 90 minutes white-knuckling the steering wheel, dodging the myriad obstacles in my path and trying desperately to maintain pace with the lead car and not get lost. Now, I’m a pretty good driver, but factor in a tiny, 1.6L car, a right-hand-drive country, and a swarm of completely insane motorcyclists, and you have a pretty nerve-wracking experience for even the best of drivers.
Needless to say, we survived the trek, and you can find pictures here. It’s a really pretty place, but the mosquitoes were out of control. We headed back at about 3 p.m., stopping for a late lunch in the foothills of some gorgeous mountains. At around 4:30, while my friends were showing no signs of leaving, I decided to hit the road in order to make it back to Surabaya before dark (sunset is at roughly 5:50 p.m.). I loaded my address into Waze (it actually works here), and set off into some of the worst traffic I’ve ever seen. At one particular junction (the one after which I knew exactly where I was, natch) there was 12 kilometers of bumper-to-bumper traffic, all due to everyone starting to pull off the road in search of their meal for the buka puasa, or breaking of the fast for the day. Those 12 km. took me well over an hour to drive, with every inch of it packed with a vehicle. Dios mío.
4) I’m hitting the end of my honeymoon period with post. I haven’t really gotten to the culture shock point, but I also think it’s too early in the game for things to be getting to me this much. A lot has to do with the fact that I’m not a stay-at-home dad by nature. The flip side to this is that I really don’t know what I am. Am I a perfect trailing spouse? Maybe, since I tend to get bored in a place after a couple of years. I also am happy that I don’t have to spend the rest of my life in Connecticut, but that’s another get-rich-quick scheme for one of my psychotherapists.
But the truth is, I still have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. The luxury of being a trailing spouse in the Foreign Service is that I don’t really have to decide that, since one particular career path is not guaranteed from post to post. If I find I’m an awesome CLO, I’m not guaranteed that position in our next post. Nor the post after that. EFM employment is hit-or-miss, and almost impossible to make a career out of. Add to that the lack of bi-lateral work agreements in some places, security concerns in others, and you pretty much have a patchwork, willy-nilly smattering of jobs (not careers, mind you) that you accumulate over the years, with no rhyme or reason to them. Is being a security escort in San Salvador going to help me in later life? Will taking fingerprints as a Consular Assistant in Gabon be a good resume bullet point? Will being the OMS for the RSO in Cairo lead to a happy career in later life? Survey says…. Hell No!
So this said, what am I going to do? Wife suggested taking the FSOT this round (October?), and I may actually do it this time. I mean, why not? Being a tandem is hard sometimes, but having two steady, decent incomes is better than having one-point-whatever. I think I’ll still go for the Management cone, as GSO seems to be one of the jobs in which a surly bastard like myself could actually excel. So let’s see how this round goes, shall we?
Overall, I’m still liking Surabaya. Indonesia is a wonderful country with lots of opportunity for travel, friendly people, and unbelievable scenery. We’re excited for the opportunity to travel once APEC ends (damn VIP visits and endless advance planning), and I’m excited for the prospect of actually working again. Life trudges on, and we’ve got some landmark events on the horizon (Son starts Kindergarten next week and my Dad turns 70 in 4 days). Hopefully I’ll hear something on my clearance in the next several weeks and be able to start working (at least on an interim clearance) in the next few weeks. I’m also getting involved in the community, Son’s school, and some of the Consulate’s events. Go me.
Until next time, Mahalo.