Monday, October 24, 2011

30 for 30

Here are 30 things that I would like to do during my 30th year of life, in no particular order:

1. Take a cooking class
2. Visit a new country
3. Run a half-marathon (or a full)
4. See a show at the Kennedy Center
5. Take old timey dress up photos with friends
6. See Plymouth Rock
7. Get a fancy facial
8. Canoe and/or kayak on the Potomac
9. Attend a roller derby
10. Paint my walls
11. Go to a Washington Capitals game
12. See the Constitution at the National Archives
13. Visit a new state
14. Cook a turkey dinner
15. Shoot a gun
16. Get above 10,000 feet (not in an airplane)
17. Do a century bike ride
18. Knit some socks
19. Go sailing on the east coast
20. Be able to have a conversation in Russian
21. Ride a mechanical bull
22. Attend service at the National Cathedral
23. See all the Oscar nominated best pictures (for this year)
24. Score an invite to the Hemingway Bar at the Cuban Special Interest Area ("embassy")
25. Do a yoga hand-stand
26. Attend a Supreme Court hearing
27. Make my own ice cream
28. Get a palm reading from a psychic
29. Be a member of an audience on TV show.
30. Ride a Segway.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The next step

So I mentioned a while back that I was going through the process of trying to become a foreign service officer. Every time I talk about pursuing the foreign service, I always feel the need to affirm that I actually have a job that I enjoy, one that is challenging, rewarding, and is exactly what I wanted to be doing when I was in graduate school. In the current economic climate having any job, let alone an interesting, well-paying job that I love, should leave me more than content. But I'm not content, I'm restless. Which led me to take the written foreign service exam back in June, which I passed, and after another screening step that involved submitting some short essays (know as personal narrative questions - PNQs - in State Department speak), I was invited to take the oral exam. The whole process is long and exhausting, so I'm thankful to have lots of other things to keep me occupied, but getting this far has really made me realize how much I actually want this.

I will be taking the oral exam in mid-November, and am now getting my head wrapped around this notoriously challenging day. The day is made up of three parts, a group exercise, a one-on-one interview, and a memo writing section. A detailed description of the day is here, but long story short is that it is grueling, and the people who will be there with me will likely be very experienced and highly impressive. The best part of the day is that you find out at the end of the day if you pass or if you are sent back to the beginning, so either way I'll know in less than a month if this path is something that might potentially pan out.

But I'm really pretty zen about the whole process and am looking forward to the challenge. Stay tuned...

I had it once, I'll have it again - the black passport

Monday, October 10, 2011


Not too long ago I celebrated my 30th birthday, which is both completely unremarkable and absolutely unbelievable. It is unremarkable because I've felt like an adult for a long time now, maybe too long. I've now been driving for half of my life and have held a steady job for about the same. I've been a mall employee (very briefly), a bank teller (still my longest occupation), a student, an AmeriCorps volunteer, a student (again), a Peace Corps volunteer, a federal employee, a temporary diplomat, and a full-time policy wonk. I've done things and gone places that I could have only dreamed about before leaving for college. Add all of these things up and it's not that surprising that I've reached the ripe old age of 30.

But it's also unbelievable to me that I'm 30. Thirty was always that age off in the future where I would have things figured out, when I would be settled down somewhere with a career, house, etc., etc.  Now that this imaginary milestone has arrived without me managing to pass most of the traditional adult milestones, I realize how unimportant these fake points in my life timeline really are. But I still don't feel like a "real" adult, so maybe I never will.  Instead, I've defined my own milestones. I may not own a car, but having a Vespa is so much more fun and practical. And not owning a house means that I can remain flexible when it comes to future career options. And even though I haven't started a family of my own, it's funny how throughout your 20s, your friends progress from roommates, to housemates, to drinking buddies, to crisis counselors, to family. So I'm feeling pretty good about 30, despite it being unbelievable.

Next step, of course, is to make a list. Inspired by one of my friends, I am going to make a "30 for 30 list."  And as soon as I actually come up with 30 things I want to accomplish this year, I will post those here.