The New Life Store

During my parents’ divorce and in the awkward aftermath when we were all trying to figure out what we were supposed to do now, an idea popped up and stuck around, because we all found it kind of comforting – the New Life Store. When your old life is broken or worn out or starts to pinch a little, you make a change. You go to the New Life Store and pick out one that’s brighter, more solid, more spacious, that does what you need it to do. Since then I have been to the New Life Store many times. Some of those lives were painful to break in but got more comfortable later. Some of them looked really great on the rack but fell to pieces in short order. The one I’ve got now isn’t so bad but it comes with a hard expiration date, so it’s time to go to the New Life Store again. In the Foreign Service the New Life Store even has a catalog: it’s called a bid list, and it came out today.

As I discovered in my first bid list experience, which feels like it was forever ago, bidding is exciting but also in some sense kind of a letdown. Before the list you’re in the land of limitless daydreams; you can imagine yourself going anywhere, doing anything! As soon the list comes out you are once again restricted to the world of the possible, which is far more practical but less romantic, and involves a lot more research and spreadsheets than flights of fancy.

The second round of bidding requires deeper research and more complex spreadsheets because there are more variables involved. the first time we got a list of 90-some jobs that were all about equally probable, with some variations for language skills and the like. This time around there are 450ish jobs on the list, but it takes some complex calculations to figure out which ones I could realistically bid on given the timing of the end of my current tour, the start date on the new one, and the scheduling and duration of the trainings in between. It’ll take a while to figure out where I CAN go, before I can even start sorting them into where I WANT to go. But one way or another I’ll have to pick out and rank order 30 jobs, 30 new lives, that I think might work for me. At least for the next 2-3 years, and then it’ll be time to pick out another one.