bid lists and priorities

The most exciting day of A-100 is flag day, when you find out where and how you’ll be spending the next two years of your life. The second most exciting day is the day you receive your bid list, when you find out what your options are. The weeks in between are spent arranging and rearranging bids, considering and reconsidering preferences, and trying to figure out where some of the lesser-known cities are located.

When Alex went through this three years ago, we thought long and hard about our list and what our preferences were. We wanted somewhere Francophone and in Africa. We also wanted a hardship post, but not one that was particularly dangerous (we prefer our hardship in the form of wandering goats, not wandering rebels). Alex wanted a public diplomacy job. All of those preferences helped inform our final list. A few posts met all of them. A lot of posts met some of them. And a small handful met none at all.

This time, though, things are different. When someone asks me what my preferences are, I really only have one – we want to be posted together as a tandem couple. Simple right? Sure, we’d love to be a little closer to home and it might be nice for Flynn to continue his French, but the only thing we really, truly care about is being together as a family.

It sounds pretty straightforward. Just one little preference. But with the simplicity comes a troubling dichotomy. Unlike last time, when there was a whole spectrum of possibilities, from great to disappointing, and everything in between, now there are only two possibilities – together or apart.

Maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. From what we understand of the tandem options (of which there are a relatively small number), a couple do look better than the others. And no matter which of them we get (if we do, in fact, get something that will allow us to be at the same post – and that is no guarantee), we’ll remind ourselves that just a few weeks ago we wondered if we’d be together at all.

Even with our one preference, we still managed to arrange and rearrange our choices over and over again, trying to find the way to best express what we’re hoping for. But with my bid list submitted, we’ve finally let it come to a rest.

Now there’s nothing to do but wait.

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8 Responses to bid lists and priorities

  1. We’re just now starting to think about this, as my husband just passed the orals about 10 days ago. Timing is everything, and since I already have my onward assignment we’re sort of sweating bullets trying to figure out how to make this work. I’ll cross my fingers for you guys that your single preference is honored by the great CDO gods. 🙂

  2. Alex says:

    @cupcakediplomacy — Send us an email. We’re happy to share our experience. You’ll be midlevel when your husband joins, right? If so, that makes things way easier.

  3. Meaghan says:

    Wow, how nerve-wracking! Good luck!

  4. Natasha says:

    Good luck! I can’t imagine the stress of just waiting (and if you’re like me, going over various scenarios in your head). You find out in a couple weeks, right (I’m receiving thirdhand news from my friend Lauren, whose husband Cam is in your class)? In the meantime, enjoy all the bagels and good food options that DC has to offer! 🙂

  5. Digger says:

    My wife and I are a tandem. Like you, I joined after her, so my bidding strategy was to rank things in this order: 1: the one place, 2: places near the one place, and 3: places that would get me a common language with her to make future tandem assignments easier. In the end, we were posted together, and have been ever since (knock on wood). The Department does try to work with you, because at the end of the day, we save them money, both in terms of housing and recruitment/retention costs.

    Good luck, and write me if I can help at all.

  6. Daniela says:

    I was you a few months ago, Andy and I know how nerve-racking it is, so I am most certainly keeping my fingers crossed for you guys!!!

  7. Lynne says:

    I absolutely have my fingers crossed for you guys! C’mon, Flag Day magic.

  8. Oh boy. Good luck you guys. I’m sure Flag Day can’t come fast enough. Hope it’s good or great news.

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