Thursday, July 31, 2014

Seen in DC #9 - Thinking Outside the Box

One of the tough things about my new work schedule is that I can't ever do things during normal work hours. No one is going to boo-hoo with me, because this is probably is probably what a lot of adults have to deal with. However, for me that means that I've been going on two months with the same pair of contact lenses because my optometrist is only open from 9 to 5.

Cue out-of-the-box thinking!

One of the employees cleverly offered to just tape my new contact lenses to the door of their closed office. Nice.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Modern Minister's Guide to Marriage - Part 3

I'm a big believer in love. As for the awesome parties that people call weddings, don't even get me started on how much I love those. These past three months, however, I've had a chance to experience love and the process of marriage through the weddings of six friends, all of whom decided to have a friend officiate their wedding. And in two of those weddings, that friend was me!

Part 3: Megan & Dustin - 5 July 2014

I first met Megan in 8th grade and I count her as one of my oldest and closest friends. I've known Dustin even longer, since our time in the Boy Scouts starting in 6th grade. Both of these friends shared a lot of really great experiences with me in high school: at Pizza Hut, in the Mt. Carmel Band, on the cross country team and various hi-jinks around San Diego.

Unfortunately, this couple has been rumbling around the American West and I don't get to see them as often as I see some of my San Diego-based friends. However, I was super excited when they told me they were coming in town for a beer tasting festival last fall, and even more excited when they asked me to officiate their wedding (after a few beers, I assume to make sure I said yes).

These two are so important to me that I flew back from Washington, DC after my first week of A-100 to attend their wedding. Rule #5 of officiating a wedding: never send a bride an email titled "I missed my flight" ever, even if the body of the email details how it's not a big deal and you won't miss the wedding.

Megan and Dustin had a beautiful ceremony at the San Diego Rowing Club and I was honored to help them recite their vows to each other and read some advice given by their parents.

After the ceremony, we ate, drank and were merry as I caught up with old friends from high school, Megan and Dustins' families (who also played big roles in my life), and met Megan and Dustin's fun Air Force friends.

This wraps up wedding season for me and I've never been more humbled by the love that my friends have found. Although someone else stood in front of them during their wedding to talk about marriage, Michelle, Ryan, Valerie, Colin, Megan and Dustin have taught me a lot about the love, commitment and joy you need to make one happen.

A-100, Week 3

A-100 continues and I'm learning that it's much more of an orientation than a training. I'm continuing to meet my classmates and get to know them much better.

One of the most interesting exercises from Week 3 has been a discussion on the Meyers Briggs personality indicator.

Even though it's based on a buzzfeed-quiz interpretation of Carl Jung's 19th century psychological theories (which are obviously problematic in of themselves), the State Department is all about Meyers Briggs. And, despite my protestations, I kind of am too.

In my opinion, the MBTI (Meyers Briggs Type Indicator) is not really any better than a horoscope. There are a myriad of ways that humans can be, and MBTI is often misinterpreted and misused as a personality catergorizer, rather than an indicator of how we tend to act on a spectrum of four different measures. However, like horoscopes, MBTI gives us a vocabulary and framework to look at our personalitis and how we interact with others. In this, it's been very helpful.

I tend toward ESTJ. How that comes out in my personality (in my own opinion and words):
E: I get my energy from being around other people. I often think by talking.
S: I think this is a big-picture vs. details type thing, but I don't really remember. 
T: I value decisions based more on logic than on emotion. I like solutions that "work well" rather than those that "feel good"
J: I like to plan, I like lists. However, I'm les consistent on this spectrum, as I'm often late and I don't get flustered (in fact, I thrive) when things go off-script.

Knowing about how I perceive of and interact with the world has helped me be more self-aware when working with my new colleagues, and maybe it will also help me understand my relationships with other people in my life as well.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A-100, Week 1

After a day of HR stuff at the main State Department building in Foggy Bottom, on Tuesday I headed down to the Foreign Service Institute, where I'll be spending the majority of the next six weeks in the introductory Foreign Service Officer training course, A-100.

Our A-100 class, the illustrious 178th A-100, is larger than most (maybe all) classes in recent memory, which shows as we barely fit in the classroom and they had to remove the armrests from all the chairs so we could fit.

I'm not complaining, because that's just that many more wonderful colleagues that I'll get to connect with while I train here in DC! I haven't met everyone yet, but the sampling I've met so far (including a whopping 8 SAIS people who graduated just this spring) are very very impressive.

The only bummer is that I've learned a bit more about the State Department social media/blog policy, which limits things like the sharing of photos of State Department facilities and badges for safety reasons, which makes a lot of sense. I'm going to go in and clarify what I can and can't share on this blog so that I can keep sharing my adventures in the future!