Hello! Today was a slightly rougher day at work, just because I felt like there were a lot of things with pressing deadlines to finish and each was getting more complicated to do. However, when everything that was urgent was done, I got to settle in for an afternoon of research, which is really rewarding because I know it’s geared towards an end goal: an information cable to Washington that I drafted. It’s more short term than any academic piece of research, so it’s more like any research paper for school, except that it’s written in a very formulaic State Department style of writing. I don’t think I can share the topic here, but just know that I am loving the research I get to put into this.

The writing style is really interesting. It differs from my own academic style in several ways: it contains almost no adverbs (which can easily be misinterpreted), and it usually only reports–most cables don’t presume to offer policy suggestions directly, they merely paint a situation and guide Washington to make the policy choice. Also, there are two spaces after every period. Wild. However, the writing style values the same precision and active voice that I strive for in my writing, so that’s good. Something I learned here, though, is that U.S. is an adjective while United States or USG (United States Government, to be used only internally), is the noun.  So, for example, I couldn’t write “the U.S. has many boats” but I could say “the U.S. Navy has many boats” or “the United States has many boats” even though that’s a silly sentence to write. I don’t know if this was ever taught to me in school or my college classes, but maybe you all knew this already and it’s just me that was surprised by it.

Fun facts you never wanted to know about State department writing. 😉

Anyway, today I ate lunch with the administrative assistant to the Ambassador, who told me much about the Foreign Service Officer Test and the process and everything she did to prepare, both for the written and the oral assessments. She had so much good advice and welcome information that I simply hadn’t found online before, and she guided me towards corners of the online world that do have this information as well. It was a very educational lunch, and I learned a lot about the mechanisms of bidding and linking and hardship posts and so much more.

After work, though, I was very tired, so I settled in for some phone conversations and some reading. I’m still reading Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed and it’s really really emotional and nice. I kept reading until my stomach was literally growling (around 8 pm) and then I made some dinner.

I had oven-baked  zucchini (marinated in olive oil, spices, and Parmesan cheese), some prosciutto, and a fried egg in a itty bitty pan, which came out perfect and was really nice.

The zucchini was good too, a little on the well-done side and I may have used too much oil. But that’s okay. I want to make jam thumbprint cookies (I don’t know why but I’m craving sweets lately) sometime soon, but I need baking soda 🙁 Michael, another intern, said he only found baking soda at the Naval Exchange, so I may go there tomorrow and get a bit for my baking desires. Other easy (and no mixer or fancy ingredients required) cookie recipes would be appreciated.

All in all, it was a nice day. It’s a niceness that comes from life and time simply moving by, and being content with what is. This time in Portugal isn’t day after day of exciting trips–though some days certainly do have them–and it wasn’t ever meant to be. This is why I like being in places for more than a a week or two… it allows me to be gentle and live life at a natural pace. This is why I think the State department is for me–I love experiencing the world, but slowly. Living and adapting are required.

Much love!


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