I’m still here! I promise!!

Yes, dear readers, it’s been another 7 weeks without a blog post from me.  Thing is, every time I think about this blog, I cringe.  I know I’m neglecting it, I know I should post something, but I just can’t seem to actually sit down and write anything meaningful.

What’s been going on these last seven weeks, you ask?  A whole lot of stuff, actually.

Our HHE arrived!

HHE!

Yes, that was our garage for a while.  172 boxes were vomited into our lives at 8:45 p.m. on a Friday night.  We’ve managed to unpack a lot of stuff, and are currently culling our belongings once again.  Note to new or prospective FS families: get rid of as much stuff as you can now, or use each pack-out or pack-in to assess what you actually need and get rid of the rest.  172 boxes was a bit extreme.  We are allotted 7,200 lbs., but I think we can live with more like 4,000 lbs.

The question of “stuff” in the Foreign Service is a hard one.  On one hand, you want to have a sense of continuity from post to post, and as American consumers, “stuff” usually serves that need pretty well.  It’s nice to have your own things follow you around the world, because let’s face it: Welcome Kit living sucks.  On the other hand, when you unpack your dozens and dozens of boxes, you realize just how wrapped up in your “stuff” you are.  I found things that I packed from the D.R. that I didn’t even remember I had, nor did I miss them.  In the “yard sale” pile they went.  Who needs three separate sets of dinnerware?  Apparently we do, ‘coz that’s what I found while unpacking.  “Yard sale” pile.  Check.

If it were just my wife and me, I think we could live with a lot less.  I need my kitchen gear (which I apparently have an obscene amount of, judging by the overflow of it into the service quarters), my music and media, surfboards, fishing poles, clothes, and important documents.  That’s about it.  My wife has her own set of needs, and I think (with the exception of the kitchen gear) we could easily live with 1,500 lbs. of “stuff.”  Throw a child into the mix, and you get bogged down with toys, toys, and more toys.  Son is refusing to throw away or give away so many toys that he played with when he was 10 months old, and hasn’t since.  Somehow, since they’re newly arrived, they’re indispensable.  So we’re going with the “If you get rid of these toys, you’ll make room for all the new toys you want” line.  It’s working, but only a little.  Good thing I have 20 months until our next pack-out.

We made a giant fort out of the boxes:

Box FortYou want to talk about sheer awesomeness? Give the neighborhood kids 75 or so boxes to build something with, and sit back and watch.  The fort lasted two weeks, served as a S.W.A.T. practice area (with the big kids), a castle, a secret clubhouse, and about 20 other things.  Eventually the fun had to end, and I called the Consulate to come remove the boxes.  The neighborhood kids still haven’t forgiven me.

My KettlePizza for my Weber grill is awesome:

KettlePizza

Still working out the temperature issues for the stone on the bottom, but I can cook a New York-style pie in about 3 minutes right now.  A little more tinkering, and I’ll be able to make brick-oven–quality Neapolitan pies in my front yard.  PIZZA!  I’ll be blogging about this on The Expat Chef soon, so keep an eye out.

I’m now the CLO Coordinator Designate… so work has officially started.  I’m just waiting on my clearance stuff to wrap up, and hopefully I’ll get that done soon.  I haven’t done much CLO’ing, as APEC is taking up pretty much every resource here in Indonesia.  My wife is there for 2 weeks, and I’m here in Surabaya holding up the fort.  We have a nice little getaway planned for after that, so don’t feel too sorry for me.  Hopefully the USG shutdown resolves itself by then so we don’t have to take unpaid leave or cancel.

I was going to take the FSO test once again, but since it’s all APEC, all the time, Embassy Jakarta isn’t offering the test this October.  My options were Manila, Ho Chi Minh, or Taipei.  As much as I wanted to go and take the test, having the wife away made that an impossibility.  Hopefully, the FSOT will be offered in February, or I’ll just have to wait until June.

I have also applied for a position with DS.  I passed the online assessment for the Special Agent hiring process and submitted my materials.  I’m crossing my fingers on that one… I would really love to get that job.  Plus it’s my only opportunity to apply, as I’ll be reaching the maximum age for appointment in about 9 months.  My wife fully supports me in the decision, but my immediate family is a little more skeptical.  Something about danger, potential separation, being there for my son, and other circumstances that we face on a daily basis anyways.  It was a little disconcerting to hear that I should “put my life and career on hold and raise my son.”  Apparently, that’s what we trailing spouses should do, in the eyes of some.  Too bad that cohort comprises members of my family.

Otherwise, Surabaya continues to be great.  We made it through Ramadan, got a Commissary order (woo-hoo!), and Son seems to really like school.  I like our neighborhood, the kids Son plays with, and the relatively insular life we live in our development.  It’s a nice change from the fortress-style living we had in the D.R. where even walking the dogs around the block could prove dangerous.

I’ll be back to a more regular blog schedule soon… With our upcoming trips, my clearance and the DS application process, I’m sure I’ll have something to say (hopefully something positive).  Until then, dear readers, mahalo.

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