This is us.  The one showing lots of shoulder (in her Chengdu, China Marine Ball ball gown!) is the EFM who writes this blog. The one wearing a tux (James) is the employee who moves her (and their two sons) around all over the world. The red link, below, is how you can get in touch with me...

The time in Chengdu, China

Chengdu: city of fabulous food and beautiful Buddhist monasteries!
Yes, Beijing's Forbidden City (pictured, above) is really pretty and all, but I like Chengdu much better than Beijing!

In Our Same Boat (with State)

  • Beyond the Cornfields
    Brand-new State Department family in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Love their two little girls (she just recently had a baby while being posted in Dhaka), horticulture, traveling and adventure!
  • Email From The Embassy
    State Department family formerly in Beijing, China, and recently posted to Amman, Jordan. A trailing spouse, she's also a writer, and frequently publishes articles with major news sources. A very experienced State family, this new post is something like overseas post number six or seven for them.
  • Just US
    A beautiful family of seven - they have arrived at their new post: Jerusalem! They just finished off an unaccompanied tour to Iraq and are very much looking forward to sightseeing around the middle east.
  • Our Life
    State Department family on their second post...Tijuana, Mexico. It's their first overseas assignment and they have two little boys. They love Tijuana so far and post pictures frequently! They also get to enjoy the best of both worlds for they can sneak over the border into San Diego when they want to!
  • The Dinoia Family
    State Department family formerly in California, now in DC for a DC tour. Next, the husband will do a one year unaccompanied tour. A very experienced State family (formerly in Iceland and Caracas) with a blog that has been around quite a while and has great archives. Jen has a sweet heart and a lot to give!
  • The Perlman Update
    State Department family formerly in Chennai, India, who then did a year-long unaccompanied tour in Iraq. They are now on a DC tour and after that will do another unaccompanied tour (Afghanistan). She totally tells it like it is and doesn't sugar-coat what life is really like. Witty, snarky, funny and down-to-earth. Look elsewhere if you want fake. Read if you want REAL.
  • Where in the World Am I?
    State Department family formerly in Bujumbura, Burundi and now in Hyderabad, India. They just had their first baby this summer - a beautiful little girl- (there's a separate blog about this) and she also eats gluten-free (with a separate blog, also).
One of the most intriguing things about Chengdu is that it is a seamless blend of ancient and modern... all together, side by side.

Can't Live Without (non-State)

  • Crass-Pollination: An ER blog
    The best ER nurse blog EVER!
  • Doctor Grumpy in the House
    The best doctor blog EVER!
  • In Which...
    My IRL friend, a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mama of seven. Her darling daughters are, goshdarnit, probably too young to be hoped for as my future daughters-in-law.
  • The Crib Chick
    My IRL friend, a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mama of five. Hopefully two (Any two! I'm not picky!) of which are my future daughters-in-law.
  • the underwear drawer
    An anesthesiologist who is possibly the most talented & entertaining writer ever. I've read her blog ever since she started medical school. No, don't know her in real life. Wish I did.
  • The Bloggess
    This blog is both hysterically funny and hilariously irreverent. I actually let my 17 year old son read it (who loves it as much as I do!), but wouldn't even CONSIDER letting my 12 year old son read it. Which is about all the description it needs!
The grounds of Chengdu monasteries can be very, very peaceful...even though they are smack dab in the heart of a city of millions of people.
Yes, there are Starbucks in Chengdu! All over the place, in fact. So much so, Starbucks even crafted mugs for Chengdu stores!
Texan bluebonnets. Because I learned during our very first posting (Houston) that there's nothing prettier in the spring than the meadows of Texas.
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Clearly you need better friends.


I actually had an A-100 colleague who was living in Detroit with his wife before joining State, and they loved it, for whatever that's worth.

Incidentally, someone recently said to me (long story as to why), "Hey, have you ever considered DS?" Thinking of your recent posts, I laughed and laughed. Yeah, no. Are they aware that any inkling at all of the DS bidding experience would be enough to make most potential new hires run screaming for the door, or do they just not care?


Well, you DO have moxie!


My Dad is from northern Florida (Middleburg. Whoopie.) and even THOSE backward hicks think Arkansas is foreign. I bet being posted in Arkansas is almost like being posted in Djibouti - you got a few religious extremists, it's hot as hell, everyone is doing drugs, you can't understand what anyone is saying - yeah, pretty much exactly the same! Except for all the, ya know, trees and grass and stuff.

A Daring Adventure

Donna, my friends are PERFECT. I wouldn't change a thing about them!

Diplogeek, gossip has it that there were something like 27,000 applicants last DS hiring cycle for what will end up probably being around 60 or so jobs. Don't think DS cares too much about their reputation with new hires regarding how hard it is to bid.

Jen, I have no moxie whatsoever. I am moxie-less.

Camille, I MISS YOU. And also, I have friends in Middleburg! James and I used to live in Jacksonville! He was a police officer there! The world is small...


Whatevs, you Prized Canary, you!


I feel like I should know this acronym, but I'm stumped. What's MSD?


Don't knock Detroit. The city has tons of problems, sure. The suburbs, though, are great. Great schools, homes, shopping, change of seasons. I grew up here and have lived elsewhere, including abroad.

A Daring Adventure

JVW, MSD is basically the DS Swat team or something like that. The letters stand for "Mobile Security Deployments," from what I understand, and they deploy all over the world at the drop of a hat.


My husband did a tour in MSD recently and I have to chime in and say it really does have its positives. I'd be happy to talk to you about it so you can hear about both the pros and cons.

A Daring Adventure

Hello, Shannon,

I'm very glad to hear that you guys had a good experience with MSD.

We have known many people who have done MSD tours.

If you would like to share your list of pros and cons, I'm sure it would be very helpful to folks who are doing web searches or reading here to learn more about DS and DS-related topics.

As for our family, though, there are many, many reasons why MSD would literally be the last thing my husband would ever bid on. The major reasons include:

1.) We currently have a 14-year-old son (in 8th grade) who worships the ground James walks on. If James were to be gone for three years doing MSD, then he would miss James terribly and James would miss him terribly and James would miss almost his entire high school experience. These next few years are the last few years our son will be in our home, and these years are some of the years that our son will remember most, and that time is therefore very precious to us.

2.) If James is going to spend enormous sums of time in AIP(LY) sorts of places, then we would just as soon have him bid AIP and get all of the benefits thereunto, such as credit for an AIP tour, preference bidding afterwards, set R&R times that cannot be denied to him, etc. That and, from our point of view, doing a one-year AIP tour with guaranteed, set benefits is far preferable to doing a three-year AIP tour with zero guaranteed, set benefits.

3.) In the next few years, we don't want to be in the DC area at all and, if we do end up there, we want it to be for the smallest amount of time possible. Seeing as that MSD is three years in the Washington DC area, this is not the assignment for us.

We have many more reasons for not bidding MSD, but, In the end, it's all about what's important to people and what people are looking for. I am very glad that there are folks out there who want to do MSD, because MSD is important. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from bidding it. As I said, I'm glad you had a good experience with it.



The reasons you list make it clear MSD wouldn't be a good fit for your family. MSD, like all assignments in DS I guess, isn't for everyone for one reason or another. Like you said, most of the time it seems there are people will to take some of the harder to fill positions.

Obviously, MSD was not made of rainbows and unicorns and there were plenty of times I was ready to call it quits. I did not care for it being so unpredictable and the deployments that he went on with no return date with some lasting up to 100 days. But in hindsight (what a wonderful thing) MSD ended up being a good assignment overall. Doing AIP was also an option, but I wanted to remain Stateside awhile longer and continue my career while I could before going overseas.

1) My husband simply loved the work. I know he had a blast and really enjoyed being in such 'dynamic situations' shall we say. MSD allowed him the opportunity to go from team member to team leader within his time there. Because he got to visit such wonderful places he secured his promotion at the first opportunity possible despite him declaring that it would be an eternity before he got it.

2) The money is nice and there is no arguing with that. Nice of me to at least list this as the second top reason as opposed to the first, huh?

3) We got an awesome onward assignment from MSD, our top pick in fact. Though MSD is not give the preference that AIP is (but that is another loooong story), when we were bidding the higher ups at MSD were really lobbying to get their people good assignments. Obviously a gazillion factors go into determining who they give a position to, it didn't hurt to have the backing of MSD.

I completely agree with your statement that leave can be revoked, etc with MSD. In fact, it happened to us. But I also know that they were very flexible in sending people home early for births of children, family issues, etc. There is also a great comradery in MSD with a support network like non-deployed husbands willing to come over and help you shovel feet of snow from in front of your house during Snowmageddon because you can't handle it all with your husband gone.

I also cannot stand to be in DC a day longer than I have to. Luckily my husband ended up having to be with MSD for about 2 and a half years as he had to start training to satisfy his language requirement for our onward assignment.

I hope you guys get an assignment you are happy with soon!

The comments to this entry are closed.

James loves me. And our sons. And his job. But not having his picture taken. In 2011 he finished up over a year and half of training, and in the fall of 2011 we got to our first overseas post - Chengdu, China!
Mao says hi! Because Chengdu is one of the only cities in China with a Mao statue.
Flowers are like friends. Each one is unique. Each one is beautiful. They brighten up everything around them. And you can never have too many. 

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2012 is the Year of the Dragon, y'all! Talk about the ultimate in good luck! This kinda party only comes around once every twelve years!
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Colorful! (Inside a Chengdu ancient Buddhist monastery.)
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