...and not really the worst of times, but a kind of difficult time.
April is a month that I can already tell will be making me crazy. It's definitely going to include a lot of working. Not only do we have zero holidays this month, but we're 'scheduled up' in the NIV section (that means we took on more work, on purpose - why did we do that again?) so each day we end up interviewing til 2:30 or, like today, til 3:15. If that doesn't sound late to you then you have never spent 7 straight hours asking a never-ending line of people the same question. On top of the 'day job', I'm also the opening officer for a week - that's the person who gets to the office at the ungodly hour of 6 am to open it for the local staff - and I'm the duty officer.
The duty officer is the person who is on-call after hours. Calls from American citizens (even at 2 am on a Tuesday) have to get answered by somebody after all. So everyone at the consulate rotates through the job. I've already handled several calls and I can only say one thing to American citizens. Be cautious online. There's a reason Nigeria has a reputation for scams. I've heard that scammers in Nigeria make 50-60 million dollars a year off their victims and I believe it. Don't let it happen to you.
Anyway, with all that work to do I've been a little worried that April would be a rough month for me, but there are two very good things happening that promise to make my life a whole lot easier pretty soon.
#1 I have license plates!!! I cannot express how much this little fact is going to change my life except to say that, if I want to leave my house, and visit someplace that isn't a short walk away, or just leave the house for no particular reason, I just CAN. I don't have to schedule in advance and get permission and jump through any bureaucratic hoops. I will never take freedom of movement for granted again.
#2 My stuff is coming! And by stuff I mean my household effects shipment. Technically 2/3 of it is here already, but those boxes are being held hostage until the final box comes. I expect it to come in the next week or two, at which point I can finally decorate my apartment, sleep on my own sheets, read my own books, watch my movies, eat off my own plates, and all that other good stuff.
So here's hoping that the rest of my duty week is uneventful, and that the good stuff continues to get me through the rough times.
And on a separate and much more somber note, if you haven't heard about the 25-year-old Foreign Service Officer killed in Afghanistan this week then I urge you to read Secretary Kerry's remarks or some of the other pieces that officers have written in tribute. I don't have anything profound to say about her, but her family and friends are in my thoughts this evening.