Oh, you guys - I got GREAT news yesterday!
News so fantabulously wonderful I can't even tell you how wonderful it is!
Our post now has a CLO (Community Liaison Officer)!!
Now, in order for this to be phenomenally wonderful news, it is obvious that, prior to now, my post has been CLO-less. Which it was.
All during my family's pre-preparation for moving stage (trying to figure out car or transportation situations/moving issues/packing issues/consumables issues/school-for-our-children issues, etc.), Chengdu was CLO-less. Which was all kinds of very sad sadness.
I mean, seriously - back when James was first hired by State in 2008, I went to all manner of EFM Wifeypoo Classes at FSI. And, really, you learn in those classes that the go-to answer for pretty much everything is to email the CLO at Post. Want to learn more about moving? Required vaccinations? Schools? Food? What the best ideas are for what to bring in your UAB? HHE? Consumables? Whether or not your can bring your own furniture and, if so, which pieces? What your housing will have in it? What activities there are in the area or Consulate for your children?
Well - the answer always is to ask your CLO.
None of the Wifeypoo Classes (at least, as far as I can recall) addressed what to do IF THERE'S NO CLO.
It's so assumed that there will be a CLO that State even sets aside an automatic CLO email address for every post. It's THAT expected that each post will have a CLO.
So, fine, no problem. At some point after finding out we were going to Chengdu - around the time I first started having to worry about all manner of move-y things - I emailed the official, set-aside Chengdu CLO email address.
Well, I thought, maybe the CLO is backed up with emails? I'll wait a while and try again. Which is what I did.
Still no answer.
Devastated, I stopped emailing.
Around this same time, my dear, darling, adorable friend Denise's (Beyond the Cornfields) husband was assigned to Dhaka. Now, if you know Denise, you will know that she's sort of like butterflies and rainbows and *The Perfect Wife and Mother* all wrapped up in a cute little package with sparkly eyes. And, of course, she was all happy and bouncy about learning recently that she was going to Dhaka, and she positively bubbled over with utter joy when she filled me in on the Dhaka particulars:
"The very day he got paneled to Dhaka, the CLO emailed us a Welcome Packet! And sent us the current Newsletter! And put us on the Newsletter's distribution list! And added me to the list of Post get-togethers and travel opportunities/tours! I'm so happy!" she gushed to me, and continued on with telling me about all the fun stuff going on in Dhaka.
And I was happy for her. Because she was (is!) my adorable, sweet, lovely friend. Obviously, I wouldn't wish anything on her but absolute happiness and sheer joy. But deep down inside I was also super jealous. Super DUPER jealous. Because - what's a Welcome Packet? And some posts have Newsletters? And people get together? And they also go on TOURS?
Come to find out - our post hadn't had a newsletter in two years. And I had no idea if people ever got together. Or went anywhere.
And then it was confirmed that - Chengdu had no CLO. I was devastated. So I maneuvered my way through my family's move and all of its particulars without any CLO at post.
And I'm not at all trying to complain, because we had lots of help from our Chengdu co-workers, many of whom we have been fortunate enough to even meet (some in language training at FSI - love you guys!) or talk to on the phone. But, you know, it's not the same.
I mean, our non-CLO co-workers have their OWN full-time jobs and their OWN children and their OWN things they have to do in their (not too plentiful) spare time, and helping me figure out what to put in my Consumables shipment had to come out of their (not too plentiful) off-the-clock, private time. And it was super sweet of each and every one of them to help us, of course, but it wasn't what they were officially equipped to do/ trained to do /paid to do/ given work time on the clock to do. It's... different. I hated to be a burden on them, even though they were all too, too kind and helped all they could. I know you understand what I'm trying to say.
But then! Oh, THEN! Then the clouds parted and heaven itself and all its angels smiled upon me for, just a couple of days ago, a magical, wonderful email appeared in my email box from - MY POST'S NEW CLO!!!
It was a sweet little, happy little, colorful little emailed piece of perfection sent out to everyone talking about getting together and things to do at post and, I kid you not, you guys...
I cried for the sheer joy of it all.
I cried for feeling welcomed and part of something.
I cried for the wonderfulness of having a CLO.
A REAL, LIVE CLO.
And so, I dedicate this blog post to each and every CLO and CO-CLO and whatever the heck other title there is for all of you people out there whose job it is to welcome those of us who are coming to post with all of our questions and with all of our issues. Because I know first hand what it's like to not have you: LONELY. Oh, I could totally kiss y'all's collective feet. In fact, I think I will, right here and right now:
*mwah* *mwah* *mwah* *mwah* *mwah* *mwah* *mwah* *mwah* *mwah*
There. That was the sound of my kissing your feet. And the pair of feet I will most be kissing are those belonging to my VERY OWN CLO. I have never met you, and I don't know if you even know about my blog, but I delight in your existence and am so very thankful for your email.
Because after having been assigned to Chengdu for almost a year and a half, I'm totally, TOTALLY ready to finally have a CLO!