Wednesday, June 27, 2012

خُدا حافِظ

"Katie, it's your last day, so we got you a gift!"

"Oh, you shouldn't have."

"No, we really wanted to!  You have such nice hair."

"No guys really -- you shouldn't have.  I mean, I've already packed out, and my suitcase is overweight.  Still, it's sweet of you; I'm sure I'll manage.  What is it?"

"A traditional Pakistani goodbye gift:  a step ladder."

"Sorry, did you just say 'step ladder'?"

"Yes, traditional for Punjab.  We give them to all the officers.  We made sure to get you the biggest one possible; you've been so kind."

"I, uh... wow.  I mean, I had no idea that something so bulky, er, I mean beautiful, was your traditional parting gift.  That's very thoughtful of you.  Maybe I can check it."

"Oh no, you have to hand carry it to your destination!  That's part of the tradition.  Otherwise, India wins."

"What's the other package?"

"Ah, we wanted to pair it with a traditional western departure gift, too.  Go ahead, open it!"

"Sure, but you know, I think the ladder is more than...  wait, is this a bowling ball?"

"Yes, don't you like it?  We looked everywhere for one!  The other officers said it was just what you'd want on your last day."

"Wow, guys; I don't know what to say."

"Shhh -- no words.  The look on your face says it all."

Saturday, June 09, 2012

The Saddest Story You've Ever Heard

From: Katie
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 10:35 AM
To: Mom
Subject: Home


Hi Mom!  Thanks for the photos -- I'm excited to see the new house, and it will be good to see you and Dad, of course.  I'm pretty ready to come home.

I love you!

Katie 


From: Mom
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 10:42 AM
To: Katie
Subject: Re: Home


Hi girly!  We're looking forward to having you here.  I got all the pictures hung in record time!  When are you coming back again?  We'll be in JAX the last 3 days of June.

Love, Mom 


From: Katie
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 10:50 AM
To: Mom
Subject: Re: Home


Hmm.  I'm arriving on June 28.  No big deal, though -- if you'll leave the key with the neighbors, I can let myself in.

Katie


From: Mom
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 10:55 AM
To: Katie
Subject: Re: Home


Oh no, I feel terrible!  Did we know your return date?  I'm sure we can find someone to pick you up at the airport. You can feed the cats for us.  We'll make sure there's plenty of food in the fridge, too. 


From: Katie
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 11:01 AM
To: Mom
Subject: Re: Home


Sure, Mom, that's no problem.  I don't need much -- mostly I just want to walk around freely.  If you'll leave me the car keys and the Garmin, I can get out to a coffee shop or the bookstore and read. 


From: Mom
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 11:04 AM
To: Katie
Subject: Re: Home


I don't know of many coffee shops around here!  And better to order from Amazon.  Your father just pre-paid for a year's worth of shipping.


From: Katie
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 11:11 AM
To: Mom
Subject: Re: Home


Should I just go straight to DC?  Or I could visit Karyn in Colorado.  I don't mind.


From: Mom
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2012 11:15 AM
To: Katie
Subject: Re: Home


No, no, we're really looking forward to having you!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Things I've Learned from PD Work

1.  Embrace jazz.  It is your destiny.

2.  Beware hip hop.

3.  'Presence' is more effective than 'presents' (but dang if 'presents' isn't a whole lot easier).

4.  If it seems that no matter what you do, it will be wrong, then do the wrong thing that is the least amount of work.

5.  The logic of rule #4 does not apply to procurement requests or grant forms.  No known logic applies to procurement requests or grant forms.

6.  Are you the Secretary of State?  The Ambassador?  No?  Then quit worrying about not looking totally polished on camera.  No one in your host country is paying attention to you.

7.  Oh, wait, was the camera footage uploaded to youtube and viewed by colleagues back in DC?  Yeah, your career is over.

8.  ([# of programs ÷ # of FSNs ÷ # of hours in the day] + Mission support) x USG interest, raised to the power of level of funding = you are screwed (give or take a brass band)

9.  When in doubt, road trip.