We FINALLY have plane tickets for our summer R&R back to the United States!!!
I can't even describe the awesomeness of this. The amazingness of this.
If you haven't been through the torturous process of getting plane tickets for an R&R before, then you cannot imagine the bureaucratic pain involved in doing such.
It literally took James something like TWO MONTHS to go from beginning to end. From the initial search for plane tickets to completing the entire bureaucratic process (including all the red tape) of getting and purchasing the R&R tickets.
He needed something like a zillion different people to authorize the tickets in order to create the plan/budget for it, then it got returned to him at the very last step because of semantics over one single (non-substantive) box, then it had to go back around the approval chain from the beginning, then when it finally got approved, the prior plane tickets he had used to establish the approval/budget initially WERE GONE (of course- that's what happens when a long period of time goes by, right? Plane tickets get sold out) and the remaining tickets were - of course - more expensive, and by then James was all
and trying DESPERATELY to find plane tickets that were within the budget/plans that had been previously approved, while knowing that the only currently available plane tickets were much more expensive, etc., and while having to go entirely through third-party purchasers whose native language isn't English (you can't search for or look into these things yourself), and while simultaneously trying to avoid having to begin the entire authorization process over from the beginning- AGAIN.
Which, a couple of days ago, it looked like he would have to do.
The story is long and torturous, so I will spare you the details. YOU'RE WELCOME. Long and short of it... in the end we had to pay out of pocket about $360 for R&R tickets that were initially fully in our travel budget, but then got more expensive as the days of bureaucratic wrangling went by.
But I'm not complaining, because...
...at this point, we're just deliriously happy that the process is over and that we now have tickets!!! Other than the one-day-long school field trip we went on (during which I was introduced to Chinese "squatty-potties,"), it will be my first time outside of Chengdu since we arrived at post last September.
BEEN HERE A WHILE, YEP.
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And speaking of bureaucratic paperworky sorts of things, we're (mercifully) coming to the end of the current EER season!
There's nothing half so fun as staring at the same document for - what? - two months or something? - while simultaneously knowing that the document in question CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR CAREER.
Rumor has it that there's some sort of secret EER code of things to say and things not to say and things that, if said, mean more than just what normal people would think that they mean.
For example, on another State blog that I won't link to (because not everyone who reads my blog LIKES STATE BLOGS), I was reading that one potential example of an EER kiss of death would be if a supervisor said that he or she was "pleasantly surprised" at how the employee was able to do X or was "pleasantly surprised" at Y, because then they were secretly communicating to the panel that the supervisor had actually expected the employee to SCREW IT UP LIKE THEY ALWAYS DID, and were shocked when they didn't.
Fun EER pitfalls.
Because, from what I understand, when writing your EER you can TOTALLY be writing along like all is well and that everything you're writing about yourself sounds great, but then it can be interpreted differently by the panel, thus resulting in unexpected ruination and despair, not unlike
Could someone well schooled in the fine art of EER writing and verbiage please write a secret dictionary or handbook of EER do's and don't's? Or, if there is already such a thing, could someone please provide me with a copy?