Archive for October, 2007

Head of the Class

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

John graduated from his Consular training (ConGen) this week as class valedictorian, so he got to wear the much-coveted purple robe. He received the honor because he didn’t miss any questions on any of the four tests. ConGen is a pretty fun course – there are lots of role-plays. We work in the land of Z, a fictitious country that has an in-depth back story. At the Zian Embassy, we get lots of “zany” characters whose names all start with “Z.” Neighboring countries are X and Y. This week I had my jail visit to visit an arrested American in our Zian jail cell (a real cell, complete with toilet, cot and stuffed rats on the floor).

We had some great social outings this week. Last Sunday, we hosted a fun dinner party at our apartment for our friend Jim Jay, who’s leaving for his post in Lagos, Nigeria. We cooked burgers and enjoyed visiting with everyone (see photos below). Thursday night was happy hour, and then last night we went to a dinner party at Carolyn and Konstantin’s (the friends who recently got married and had their puppy Meatball be the ring bearer) where we dined on great chili and homemade mac-n-cheese.

I also made the trek to the outlet mall yesterday with some girlfriends to go bargain hunting – successfully, I might add.

We watched an interesting movie this week called Jindabyne, with Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne.

Jim Jay

Foreground: Jim and Kristin; Background: Marcy and Zanaida

Chris with Noodle


Sunday, October 21st, 2007

This week was a pretty low-key week. We had dinner out with friends one night (they’re leaving for Sudan next week), but other than that, we were pretty much home-bodies.

School has been fun – we’re working on interviewing techniques. We also had a couple of field trips – one afternoon at Dulles Airport in the Immigration/Customs area, so we could see people with visas coming through. Another day we had classes at Main State.

Yesterday we made an outing to Sam’s Club to stock up on party supplies for a couple of upcoming events, but other than that, it’s just life and school as usual.

A week of firsts

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

  1. Eating Turducken
  2. Going to a Renaissance Festival
  3. Going to a horse show with dressage and jumping competitions
  4. Practicing giving visas in role plays “behind the window”
  5. Having lunch at the CIA

Draw your own conclusions regarding any or all of the above activities.

We also took our friend Richard to Harry’s to celebrate his birthday Friday night, and then went to a party at his house last night.

Latte da

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

John’s a happy camper because he got his new espresso maker this week; I’m happy because he’s making me lattes in the morning with his good home-roasted coffee. It’s like a science experiment in the kitchen – strange, gurgling, steaming noises and all kinds of doo-dads: scales, measuring cups, tampers, grinders and I don’t know what-all. In the end, though, a nice latte emerges!

Workwise, it was an interesting week. I finished the section of training for immigrant visas and now am studying non-immigrant visas. Thursday, I went to a brown bag lunch to hear Ambassador Harty speak – she never ceases to inspire me. (Her stories always make me tear up.) That same night, we went to a small group session at Main State with Ambassador Moller that John had put together. He has started a group whose members are officers who began their careers with State when they were over the age of 40. Ambassador Moller offered insights based on her own experience. She is very charming and energetic, and the group really appreciated her time and advice.

Socially, it was another fun week. Monday charades (fun!); Wednesday dinner with friends at Ray’s the Steaks (incredible steaks); dinner with a friend Thursday; and last night, we went back to Huong Viet for dinner, then went to a small party at a friend’s apartment here at the Oakwood.

I’ve neglected to mention reading lately. Since classes started back in earnest, I haven’t been able to read a lot, but recently I finished two good books, Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl and About Alice by Calvin Trillin. Marisha Pessl has a very quirky writing style (you can sort of get the drift if you go to the web page), so it took me a bit to get used to it, but once I did, I really enjoyed the book. She uses some great analogies. I also enjoyed About Alice; it was a slim volume – more like a long essay than book – and it’s a eulogy of sorts to his wife Alice. Both were good reads.

The cats are enjoying the sun this morning!