After a year of self-imposed temporary retirement, my days of lounging on the couch and eating Bonbons are coming to an end. (Okay, there were no Bonbons consumed over the course of the last twelve months, but there was a lot of reading, writing and random wandering in the DC metro area, as well as a few less thrilling days filled with boredom and doubt. Luckily, the down days were few and more nostalgic than depressing.) Soon, as in Monday, it is time for me to rejoin the full-time workforce that powers our great nation. Granted, I am joining that forty-hour-a-week club on a different continent, but it is in the service of the Homeland, so I can soon commiserate with everyone else looking forward to weekend each Monday morning.
While my re-entry isn’t into the world of education (a topic about which I am having very mixed emotions), it is in a capacity that will allow me to be deeply involved in our new community and hopefully create some of the same connections with people that I was able to do teaching. I will be the CLO (community liaison officer) for the Chengdu Consulate. This means that I will work to help officers and families make the transition to their new home, work to create a great morale at the post, provide information about schools in the area, as well as event planning and (heaven forbid it is needed) crisis management on behalf of the families.
My brain (and notebook) have been in overdrive the last few weeks as I have been trying to glean as much information as possible from the outgoing CLO. She is a treasure-trove of knowledge about everything in this city. She can point an officer or family member in the right direction for anything from simple tailoring needs to wherein town to go to get an entire costume created. She can tell someone where to go to get a picture framed and then turn around and office advice to someone else on the best place to find a turkey for a special dinner. The woman is a walking Rolodex for Chengdu! Needless to say, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of having to create all of those connections myself, but luckily she has been kind enough to introduce me to many of her contacts and to take me on a variety of field trips to various sections of town. She is leaving behind some rather large shoes to fill, but with my predilection for footwear, I am hoping I’ve got something in the closet that will sparkle and shine!
Monday morning, the year-long vacation comes screeching to halt. It might be a little painful when Thad’s alarm goes off and I actually have to roll out of bed, rather than give him a slight nudge to get him moving and then sprawl diagonally across the vastness of an entire bed to myself. And, in a few weeks I may be seeing the grass as greener on the unemployed side of the fence, but for now, I am excited to rejoin the workforce, to pack my peanut butter sandwich each morning and to actually contribute a few dead presidents to our bank account each month.
What exactly have I done with my year off? I have been…