Handshake Season

Bids on our next assignment were due on Friday. We had sent ours in before that: at the senior level, there just aren’t anywhere near as many posts to choose from, so it wasn’t all that difficult to decide on a list. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending on your point of view. After a gazillion bidding cycles, though, I am OK having my choices narrowed just a little.

I say “our” and “we” because every single one of our bids represents a joint decision made after at least a little research and discussion. It’s my life, too, you know  🙂

It was way easier this time because I didn’t have to exhaustively research schools. Wow, am I over that.

With schools off the table, I had just a few questions about each post:

1.) Is there a work agreement? Are there job opportunities at post? In fact, I don’t need a work agreement to do my current contract job, and I haven’t worked in a mission for years, but it’s nice to have options. I would like to work outside the home, at least part-time, and it would help pay for college.

2.) Is the housing OK? Do we have to live in an expat ghetto? Not that there’s anything wrong with those. And it might not even be a deal-breaker. But once the kids have flown the nest, there’s just not much reason to live on anything resembling a compound. I like living within easy reach of all the fun stuff I can now do without finding a babysitter!

3.) Can we get back and forth to the States pretty easily? With one adult child now off our orders, one about to (theoretically) go to college, and parents not getting any younger, we need to be able to fly home now and then (even on short notice) without completely breaking the bank and vice-versa. Posts with 24-hour flight times were knocked off the list.

4.) What will my responsibilities be? Now listen, I’m not trying to duck out of everything, here. But if I have a choice between a post/position where I would be expected to attend a lot of events (or worse yet, host them in my own home) and a post where I can have my own life which is not merely an extension of my husband’s position, that’s a no-brainer, as far as I am concerned. The husband has always known this about me–he just needs a gentle reminder every now and then during bidding.

And, PS, 5.) How cold does it really get there? This was just for one post, but important to me. I hate being cold. Just hate it. I decided the post was do-able, but stipulated that if we get it, I will be flying somewhere warmer at least once every winter! So, there you go. Worldwide available 🙂

We have five overseas bids out there, plus a couple of DC ones. And absolutely no idea which one we’ll get (assuming we get one at all, which is hopefully a safe assumption, but one never knows for sure). I’d really like to stay overseas for one more tour. It would be so much easier than going back and then possibly going back out again, later. Which my husband says he wouldn’t do, but I know better by now.

One frustrating thing about being a spouse: you get all your information second-hand! Not that the officers really knows a whole lot more than we do. The process is not transparent, and there is an undeniable random element. I keep seeing this mental image of chess pieces with CGI faces on them being moved around by giant hands….

I’m not complaining, because this is just one of the things you just have to get used to in the Foreign Service. I do not envy the people who have to figure out where to put everyone–I am sure it is insanely complicated. I mean, it would be nice if they could get the whole thing over with quicker, that’s for sure, but it is a government agency, after all.

It’s probably best, as a spouse, to just sign off on the bid list and then forget about it until the “handshake” happens (Foreign Service lingo for a job offer). I’d like to be able to do that, and to a certain degree I can this time–I really am OK with anything on the list, including DC–but I’m only human. A person wants to know where they will be living in a few months, that’s all!

And so, here we are in Handshake Season. It is what it is. Every single time.

The next week or two: plenty of work, walking, yoga, knitting, and trash TV. That’s my plan.

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