Thursday, May 27, 2010


So, as all of you faithful readers know by now (10 subscribers and counting!) I'm in a bit of a transition period.  It's the one every FSO goes through, immediately following a successful day at the oral exams in Washington, and immediately preceding hauling all those earthly belongings not in boxes in some family member's basement into the Oakwood apartments.  No, no, not sitting on the register... clearances.

I say 'immediately' because I possess a keen sense of optimism.  Truthfully, this thing may go on forever.

Currently, I'm awaiting both my Medical and security clearances, which require various degrees of intervention on my part.  Medical is basically my thing, entirely, which is why most of my medical appointments go like this...

(well-meaning-receptionist):  So you need me to bill.... the State Department?

(Valdysses): Yes, exactly.  You see, this sheet I gave you specifies exactly how to do that...

(receptionist): Hmmm....   This is going to be expensive, you know.

(Valdysses): Oh, I'm quite sure of it.  Please be sure you mention everything on this list, though.

(receptionist): It would be a lot cheaper if we didn't do the chest x-ray.  I see here you don't have insurance.

(Valdysses): I appreciate your concern, but thankfully I'm not paying this out of pocket.  You see here, where it asks you to bill the State Department?

(receptionist): So, we're going to bill you directly, and then they will reimburse you?

(Valdysses): Ah, no, you see, not only will I never get reimbursed, but they won't even accept tests I paid for.  Really, that solution won't fly.  Maybe you could bill them directly, like it says right here?

(receptionist): Oh, I remember, I did this for your wife yesterday.  Just one moment.

Act 2 continues in a similar vein when the nurse delivers the results of my chest X-ray as negative (yay!) and then wants to sit down with me to talk about why I felt I needed an x-ray... 

Same story with the blood test.

Thanks, I feel great, and I'm glad to have dedicated medical professionals, but we're up to 4 appointments thusfar, for both my wife and I, and this kind of personal, caring attention cannot be cheap.  Also, no, I won't write you a check just in case.  I'm confident enough for the both of us that the country won't dissolve before you get reimbursed.

But really, I complain far too much.  At least my medical clearance gives me a chance to be proactive AND give a lousy answer to the question "Where are you going?"(favorite answer so far?   "They won't tell me until they read my chest X-Ray").

The security clearance is certainly the more maddening of the two.  While medical is a bit of a procedure, I'm a 26 year old male in reasonably good condition.  My resting heart rate and diastolic BP combined are less than my XBox Gamerscore, and I would be pretty intensely surprised if some medical factor prevented either my wife or I from entering the service.   The maddening part is the security clearance, because after you meet with your investigator, the clock is ticking.  Of course, you can't see it, and you have no idea what time it stops, but you can hear it plenty well, all the time.

I was very deliberate when filling out my SF-86.  I even read the Security Clearance Handbook (with the waving flag on the cover) while doing so, and tried to be pretty deliberate with phone numbers, addresses, varied contacts, and clustered geographic areas.  Nonetheless, I still had surprises.

  • Can you come up with 4 more contacts from the Denver area?  (not right on the spot, no)
  • Can you provide a contact for this one month period other than the two you provided who State wants to use elsewhere?  (the house where I lived in the attic for a month while I searched for a new apartment and never unpacked my things?  Naw, friends were short on the ground there, alas.)
  •  Can you tell me what your relationship is with this foreign national?  (former student)
  • Can you explain why this foreign national is the son of a member of parliament in a foreign government? (oh crap....)
And all the other standard malfeasance/drug use/malevolence questions one would expect. That was about two weeks ago, and in the 2 weeks since, I've gotten a number of calls from friends across the country telling me of their assurances to uniformed badasses that no, I did not want to overthrow the government, and yes, they would happily hire me if they were in a position to.  Fun stuff, and a nice reminder of all the people who care about you.  I need to finish sending them all cards, in fact...

So, in short, the wait continues, friends.  Since my former employer accidentally sold many of its assets as scrap metal then discovered that 25% of its annual budget did not exist and was, in fact, a double-entry error, I have given free reign to write and read blogs full time, along with studying Turkish and finishing my thesis.  So here we are, reunited!