Monday, May 31, 2010


The waiting process for the foreign service is somewhat like a scary movie. The music is playing louder and louder, you grip the armrests so hard your fingers are turning white, as you wait...wait...wait for the next step. Like waiting for the pretty screaming girl to be killed by the bad guy...

This is a long movie. Several more months of waiting....waiting...waiting....trying to continue life as normal. Trying to not obsess over where I hope to be in 6 months or a year.  Who lives that way?

Those of us who want to work for the FS, that's who.

Hopefully my security clearance will start soon. I'm headed to Malawi, Africa for a medical mission trip in July. That will be a 2 week trip. Something to take my mind off this wait.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not what we expected...

Hubby and I went hiking on Sunday afternoon. Wasn't planning on a long hike, just a couple of hours. Maybe a short little hike in the San Tan Mountains would be fun. We should take the dogs. There's a cool breeze blowing, not too far from home. We'll be back in time for dinner. Or so we thought.

We arrived at the San Tan Mtn Park and looked at the large map of trails and picked one based on the length we wanted. 2.5 miles. Perfect. What we didn't note is where the trail ended. We assumed it ended where it started. Oops.

I was feeling motivated after Kolbi's Virginia Flower Experience, and thought I may post some Arizona Cactus. Lots of Cactus
                                                              Tall skinny ones

                                             Short hairy ones

                                            flowering ones

                                            cactus trees

lots of cactus. and lots of desert. We hiked and hiked, til we finally came to the top of GoldMine Trail.

and this is where we shoulda turned around. But we didn't. Isn't part of the evaluation to join the FS 'good judgement'? Well, we just so happened to leave our good judgement at home on Sunday. We continued because the sign said
so we followed the sign. Isn't that what any good hiker should do? No. Good hikers take a map.
We continued over the mountain until we came to the end. More than the quoted 2.5 miles later, we found ourselves in an empty parking lot. One that our car was not in. We discovered we were a mere 6.5 miles away from our car via major highways, and unfortunately, it was much too late to attempt to go back through the mountain.
Arizona's noted wildlife: Coyotes, Rattlesnakes, and Havalinas
So we walked to the nearest restaurant and called a good friend to rescue us.
And we made it home in time for dinner.
Next time, we'll take a map. And maybe a flashlight.
I thought about this in terms of the foreign service...I think about everything in terms of the foreign service now.
Hiking is like the foreign service because you never know where you'll end up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I sent in my med forms last week via email. Almost right away, I get a return email that one of my kids is not in the system, so they cannot process his med forms. Oh no! What? I know I gave them all the names and ssn's...Frantically, I made contact with customer service, who confirmed that yes, Tyler was infact in the system and she would forward the information on.  Wheeeeew!.
The next day, I was contacted by investigation unit via email, that they could not proceed until they received my E-quip in the system.  Oh no! What? I know I released that when I was there with the initial fingerprint person.  They had all the signature forms.  Frantically, I made contact with the investigation's customer service, and apparently the equip form had to be released by human resources. Wheeeew! After calming down a bit, I contacted the hr person, and vooooiiilllaaa! Taken care of.

This is pins and needles, people! pins and needles. Everyday is more and more about the FS--will I get my clearance? Will they call? Will I get invited to a class? Each step takes you further toward the goal, yet the stakes continue to get higher--as your personal investment, time thinking about the possibilities, and what if's and if onlys continue to increase.

The top secret clearance is probably the worst, at least it is for me. I know I am a good worker, I should get good references. But to look backwards throughout your life for 10 LONG YEARS--what all happened? Who did I piss off? Did they really like me? The clearance is the one thing you have absolutely no control over. You cannot go back and change the past. Does everyone have some kind  of baggage? What all could possibly happen from this point forward that could completely ruin my chances of the clearance?
Perhaps my boss finding out about my interview.  Perhaps.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The foreign service

So, I haven't posted in awhile. I've been busy.
The newest thing we've got going---The Foreign Service.

It all started when I attended a conference a few years ago, stopped at one of the vendor tables, and met a FS Nurse Practitioner. Long story short: I held on to the paperwork, found it last fall, and decided to apply. It was a long shot.
I have a great job here in AZ. I work in a wonderful family practice office, with some fantastic providers and staff, 4 day workweeks, why on earth would I apply for a different job?
I have always dreamed of working, living internationally. Here is my opportunity.

I gathered all the required information for the specialist position, sent it in and forgot about it.
That was back in December. I was really excited at first, but the process is long, so by the time they called--I hadn't thought about it in a couple of months. Late March, my phone rang.

"This is so & so from the state dept. We've reviewed your packet of information and would like to invite you out for an interview"
Me: really?
I booked my airline ticket immediately, called back to confirm the date, and my Oral Assessment/interview was scheduled for May 10th.
Then came the hard part--research. I researched everything I could find on the FS. FS specialists. FS officers. Oral Assessments. Security Clearances. Blogs. Blogs. BLOGS.
I started out searching blogs about healthcare in the FS which retrieved only one. Then I found a great blog A Daring Adventure. This one not only was about the FS, but it had a link, with descriptions, of lots of other FS blogs. Then I became addicted. An addicted blog lurker.
I check them, most of them, my favorite ones. Every. Day. Sometimes multiple times a day. I love them. Its almost like being in the FS already. Reading about bid lists, posts, and waiting--for awhile, it was all I could think about. I can really identify with a few, especially I'll take mine to go ..
Ok, so on with the story.
I went to the interview, as prepared as I could possibly be after many many hours of research, studying, and preparation. And blog reading.
I passed. OMG. I passed.
Moving on to the next step. Most interviews, for most jobs, when they tell you congratulations, it means you HAVE the job. Not so with the FS. After the interview comes more steps in the process, the long process. We just finished the medical clearance paperwork, and will be hitting the send button tomorrow. Now it seems real. I have been lurking and reading blogs, and have reluctantly commented on a few. But now I finally feel like I am far enough along in the process that I am actually one of the 'waiting'. Maybe similar to The B Files. From what I can tell, she is still waiting on her clearance to finalize.
I wonder how many people get to this clearance to finalize stage and do not make it. Worry sets in, but I guess I have zero control over what happens now. Just waiting. I am not a good waiter. I am trying to learn to be a better waiter. Patience is a virtue.
I still have not heard from the security people. Maybe they call after you submit your medical paperwork. We will see.