It’s been several weeks since we left Uzbekistan and returned to the U.S., and given that I have worked on this post multiple times without publishing it, I feel like it has been hard to focus on anything other than working, visiting family, and having fun. Our time stateside is ending in about a week; although I don’t see how that could possibly be, the calendar speaks the truth.

I spent most of June studying political and economic tradecraft (PG140) at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, VA. I enjoyed the pol/econ course. It was a little extroverted for my taste, particularly the amount of public speaking and assignments.

Although it did teach me a lot, I found myself mentally and physically exhausted each day upon arriving back to my government housing. Aside from the demands of the job, the infection in my foot and my sore back slowed me down a lot more than I’d anticipated.

I’m more confident now that I can write to the State Department standard, manage high-level visits, deliver elevator briefings and foreign policy démarches, and generally fill the role of a political officer. But the tradecraft course also gave me an impression (and hopefully a false one) that this job is one in which only an extrovert could excel. Time will tell…

I had some time for medical appointments and consultations while in Washington, too. Although I was disappointed to learn that the infection in my toe has spread to the bone and requires eight weeks of antibiotics, it seems that I’m making progress towards not having a portion of my foot amputated. Once the infection is resolved, I should be able to restart my arthritis medication, which is my goal. I haven’t tried a shoe on my left foot for several months, so one of these days I’ll have to give it a try.

Fortunately, spending almost four weeks in the DC area also provided some opportunities to get together with friends and former colleagues. There were drawn-out DC brunches, conspiratorial catching-up lunches on the FSI campus, and dinners ranging from casual backyard to reserved and upscale. There was also quite a bit of this:

I’m grateful for the access to good medical care, for all the time I got to spend with friends and colleagues in Virginia and DC, and for the excellent training to help prepare me for my next position. And also for the incredible options in food! There were many moments of, “I shouldn’t, but I’m going to, because… America.” 

And then… it was on to home leave.

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Sarah W Gaer

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