My flight leaves D.C. at 4:00 this afternoon. I will not be on that plane. Why? Because my Chinese visa is not yet ready.
The clerk in the visa office of the Chinese embassy recognizes me by now. I have been visiting regularly this week, hoping that the visa is ready and I can leave for China. The first few times that I asked her if my visa was ready, she frowned and said: “Not ready yet.” Last time, she said: “Still not ready yet,” with a clear (and slightly petulant) emphasis on the word “still.” Today, she seemed world-weary as she scanned my paper into her computer, shook her head, and silently passed the paper back to me.
I have bored the visa clerk. This is a new low point in my nascent diplomatic career.
Now that I can’t depart for post on schedule, my status has to change. There is a large administrative structure at the State Department to take care of this stuff. It isn’t hard to imagine that this problem happens frequently, so there is a lot of precedent. In fact, one of my classmates is working on a temporary assignment in D.C. while she waits for her visa to a different country.
If my visa had been ready, I would have left today, so I had packed my suitcases last night. Instead, I had to return to my apartment and unpack. Then I had to make a lot of phone calls to postpone my flight, cancel my consultations in California, etc. I also had to notify post that I was not coming to China on schedule. My Career Development Officer is scrambling to change my administrative status so I can still get paid.
Not knowing what my next step is can be stressful, especially when I am not in control. Stress is not healthy or productive. Stress also prevents me from seeing the positive aspects of my situation. So I have decided not to be stressed.
The weather is beautiful today: sunny and in the low 60s. Walking back to my apartment from the Metro station, I saw this beautiful cloud formation. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but you can see what I mean:
Stressing doesn’t help, and a little drama makes for a good story to tell afterwords.
Besides, one of the reasons that I wanted this job was because I wanted to do something different. This week has definitely been different.
Life is good. Stay tuned.