Thursday, October 10, 2013

We Interrupt This Shutdown For....


Apparently it is never going to end. Or at least not before we drive the world economy over a cliff.

Sorry, this whole issue is getting the better of my normally cheery disposition. (I'll wait for you to stop laughing).

You know what doesn't get interrupted by the shutdown?

Apparently, a "right-sizing team."

That should be fun. Sigh. Do they ever right-size you up? Because really, our embassy needs more people, not fewer. Illness, pregnancy, curtailments all affect us profoundly because we are so small and so understaffed. We have regularly been told (and not by ourselves) we need another pol/econ officer and another PD FSN. But I don't expect that to come from this.

You know what else doesn't stop for the shutdown?

BIDDING! (I picture you reading that with a Charlie Sheen imitation in your head, and like him, it doesn't sound like winning even if you say it enthusiastically enough.)

Bids are still due on Friday.

I suppose they might as well be, since there isn't a lot else in PD land that we can do at the moment. NO outreach. None. It is depressing...especially since I really like outreach. I also can't plan for the future because we have no idea what the future will hold.

But I am caught up on all the references I had to give for other people who have asked me to do one for their bidding. I hope they are all caught up on mine.

A lot of people in the Department are beginning to do the dance we do at bidding. I like you. Do you like me? Do you like like me or just like me?

But we use difference words. Where does our post rank for you? You are on our short list. You are definitely in contention.

God I hate this (but if you have been reading this blog for more than five minutes, you knew that already. If you are interested, you can always read this post or any of the 21 other posts I have written with the "bidding" label on them. And probably more I forgot to label.). And making it bad this time is that the bureau I am in and hope to stay in for another tour (EUR, or the European Affairs Bureau) is apparently playing by the book. No air kisses until after the bids are in. No telling people even so much as that they are on post's short list. And EUR posts are three of my six core bids (not western Europe mind you...we were looking for hardship so my bids are on places further east).

As a mid-level officer, you are required to bid on six "core" positions, that is, six jobs that are "at grade" (at your rank, or, if the post is a hardship post, up to one rank higher than your current rank) and "in cone" (in your career track. For me, obviously, that is Public Diplomacy. But "interfunctional" jobs also count as "in cone" for everyone). Now just because you bid on those core doesn't mean you can't bid on other jobs too. You can bid on jobs higher than your rank at non-hardship posts (or posts that aren't quite hard enough, like Tallinn) but you will have to wait an extra two months to learn your assignment because they have to give preference to those at grade/in cone folks. You can also bid on jobs that are not in your career track, but again, in cone folks get preference. So when I was bidding to come here, I had my six core bids, but I didn't reach out to any of the folks making the decisions for those jobs (a process called lobbying) because I wanted this one. It was frankly terrifying. Because it is a will end up with a job eventually (which is the ONLY thing that sets bidding apart from a regular job hunt, otherwise, the resumes, the interviews, the nail biting, all the same), but it could be a crappy job working for a monster in Ickystan.

This time, I am actually trying for the jobs that I have listed as my core bids. So theoretically, I will know my next assignment come November. But that is if I get one of those core jobs, or one of the other jobs I put on my list because they would also be fine with me. Since three of my core bids (and one non-core) are all in EUR, I have lobbied the bureau and told them what my priorities are. The main one being, I want to be assigned to the same post as my wife. Then all things being equal, there are two posts in eastern Europe we are interested in and two jobs in DC (tandems often go back and forth between DC and overseas because it is easier to find jobs in DC and easier to lobby for overseas jobs from there).

At this point, I don't even know what I want. My head says I want one of those two overseas jobs (or even the third overseas job, one which is not in EUR but is in a place where people know me and I could visit the beach every day) because the work overseas is just more fun (except when it isn't, like when the government is shut down) and because living overseas is fun. But my heart wants to go home, because when things are crappy at work you can always go back to a house you chose and walk on your neighborhood trails or pick up takeout at your favorite restaurant and it is all in your native language, your native culture, and is just easy.

But that could be the shutdown talking.

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