29 April 2010


We applied for our passports last week. It was, well, an adventure. We went to Main State with another family in the hopes that the kids would entertain one another. That definitely worked, but neither of them (both being about 2) have mastered their "inside voices" yet.

Process is this:

1) Fill out application (2 if, like me and Aidan, you don't already have a valid passport).
2) Print application, BUT DO NOT SIGN!
3) Print your TM-1.
4) Try to find all of the documents you think you'll need (i.e. birth cert(s)., SS card(s), marriage certificate, etc.). Put everything in a folder the night before, pray that you remember it the next day.
5) Go to Main State for pictures. Wait in unbearably hot room for your name to be called. Take photos, receive pictures.
(Detour) Get wife's commission certificate from HR. Get hopelessly lost in the process.
6) Go to passport office, get in line.
7) Realize you don't have sufficient copies of all of your documentation. Frantically make copies on copier helpfully located in passport office.
8) Corral young child from making the bureaucrats' lives any more painful.
9) Complete oaths, signatures, payments, child wrangling, surrender your documents (i.e. birth cert[s].) until passports are ready for pick-up.
10) Wait patiently for about 2 weeks.

That's pretty much it. It's stressful with a family, but I'm sure a breeze for single or childless folks - much as it is in all facets of life.

1 more week, and my son and I will have black passports. It's getting a lot more real.

Hasta luego.

19 April 2010

The Foreign Service Lifestyle

First, a huge "Disculpenos, por favor" for the lack of a post in what, like 4 months now? Busy could sum up our current life right now.

Spring has sprung in D.C., and with it so have departures. Seems like every week someone we know leaves for faraway lands. Last Thursday we said farewell to our across-the-hall neighbors who were very helpful in our initial assimilation into Oakwood and the FSI life. They're off to Costa Rica, and you can follow their adventures here.

Early next month, one of my few friends from FSI is leaving for Madrid. Some of Joanne's friends are departing soon as well, and well, we're all going our separate ways. I'd like very much to stay in touch with all of them, but I'm going to assume that will be difficult. Thank god for Facebook and Skype.

We're getting a lot closer to our departure date. I just received an email from Joan saying that she's going to propose 8/5. If that's accepted, we'll get our travel orders forthwith. Well, as forthwith as the Federal Government is capable of. She's going to do a couple of consultation days in Puerto Rico (during which Aidan and I may join her), and then it's off to our new home for the next 2 years. Stress levels for me are way high right now, and I believe they will continue to be until we've been living in the DR for a couple of months. There are so many logistical things to take care of that it's kind of daunting for me. Joanne traveling with me will make it a LOT easier, but uprooting everything, going to a country where little English is spoken, and starting over is a big deal.

Luckily, Joan is progressing through Spanish at a rapid clip, having a little trouble with the subjunctive and its uses, and I have dropped out of full-time FSI Spanish, choosing instead to self-study at home, get a mentor (or two, as is my fate), and volunteer at the Hispanic Committee of Virginia to keep improving my Spanish. At the HCVA, I hope to give one-on-one counseling to Latino immigrants who are starting their own businesses in areas such as advertising, marketing, employment issues, etc. That will be a good lexicon for me to become familiar with.

That's about all for now... more to come as we figure out this upcoming change.