Sunday, February 05, 2012


Already over 7 months in, and I'm only just figuring out things I should have known from the beginning. Now at least (at last?) I have an idea of what to be asking -- though still no real clue who to ask it of. Ah, the joys of working at a consulate. I think we had an exercise about this during our A-100 training offsite. I remember being blindfolded and turned loose in the woods, at any rate.

Trying to figure out what makes this job so grinding is difficult. The sheer volume of work is crushing (crushing) but I'm not one to shirk or shy away from tasks. We have security restrictions, yes, but they're not insurmountable. Certainly we're not lacking for grant and programming funds (Oh, OIG, come talk to me!). I do think, at the heart of it, it's this constant feeling of fumbling and groping about in the dark. Are we talking to the right audience? Am I using the right words? Will this have the effect I want? Is this money well spent? Are we doing a good job? How can we know? We can't know. I was given a two-week course in knot tying, then sent to steer a battleship. God knows where we'll end up, though I'm doing the best I can. I just hope the staff has read "The Caine Mutiny" all the way through to the end.

The sad thing is, the underwater mines I'm most terrified of striking are the ones laid by State. (Care to hand me another grant form to sign, anyone? How about a hugely expensive yet questionable tech rider for me to push through procurement at the last minute? $100,000 project for me to 'monitor'? Great! I'll put it with the others. Say, does this receipt hand-written in Urdu look fraudulent to you?) Luckily, we have so many ships in the AIP waters, I'd most likely be gone before anyone noticed mine was sinking.

I don't know; maybe I'll take another crack at "The Caine Mutiny" myself.


Dakota said...

Holy cow did THIS piece hit a little too close to home. Good lord. I'm always kind of envious of people who lack this kind of introspective questioning: life would be so much easier if we weren't always panicking and asking ourselves the questions that really should be being asked by other people.

In related news, the Regional Psychologist (who I actually think might be your RMO/P as well) informs us that the question "is what I'm doing here making a difference?" -- or, put more succinctly, "what the f--k am I doing here?" -- is the most commonly occurring meme in his sessions with people here.

Regardless, thank you for summarizing in four short paragraphs how so many of us ships slowly sinking in the AIP waters are currently feeling.

--Dakota, currently floating through a second year in Afghanistan, this year at HQ at US Embassy Kabul.

Sharon said...

Another insightful posting. I wonder what the reference would have been if your dad had been in the Army or Air Force instead of the Navy?

Have a great day Katie!

Katie said...

Dakota, I think the questions you mention are better asked of our congressional representatives than our RMO/P. I'm putting my faith in the system, but I want to keep improving the system, too. That takes all of us reflecting on things.

Sharon, I am having a Great Navy Day. ;)