Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for the ‘New York’ Category


Posted by quirksalight on April 3, 2011

The most common question I get, considering my educational background, is, “How did you go from biomedical engineering to the Foreign Service?”

Convoluted? Yes and no. There’s a bit of history, and the kernels behind all this were placed a long time ago. In high school, I was on the high school debate team and that ignited my interest in politics and international relations. However, I was rather obsessed with science and had dreams of developing a treatment/device that would revolutionize medicine. It wasn’t until grad school, after being burned out of medical research, when I had to start thinking of, “now what?”. My temporary answer was to take a leave of absence for a year and teach English in Korea. That’s one of the earlier points in this blog, back in 2007.

But in Korea, teaching was one thing, but straddling two cultures socially and linguistically was a whole ‘nother beast. Plus, I came to Korea at a political change; for the first time in 10 years, the progressive party was out of office and the conservatives came into power the month I arrived, March 2008. This combined with my background in Korean culture and language, sciences, and interest in politics led to some interesting discussions with the faculty in my middle school, handling getting punched on a subway, acting as a facilitator for my foreign friends in Korea, and occasionally having to explain what the U.S. government was doing to my students, colleagues, and friends.

I really enjoyed that interaction – facilitating the understanding between two cultures, though not so much the getting hit part. Which led me to starting thinking about the Foreign Service. I always planned to go into public service, someday, when I was on the academic track. But I hadn’t thought about it again until when I was in Korea, pondering my next step. So I did – FSOT exam date was November 5, 2008. I got the acceptance in to the QEP in December 2008, decided not to sign a teaching contract for another year, gambling that I would pass the QEP and get to the OA, which I did. So I left Korea, with a freelance editing gig, prepped for the OA and passed on June 15, 2009. A year later, I was prepping to leave DC for my first tour as a POL officer in Seoul. whew! What a whirlwind…


Posted in ancedotes, commentary, election 2008, Graduate school, Korea, New York, school, Science, Seoul, teaching english | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »


Posted by quirksalight on February 25, 2010

Now that I’ve got a start date, it seems that it’s so far away and at the same time, so soon. I’m in NYC, and there are so many people I want to meet up with and places to see, things to do, etc, before starting. It’s nice; freelancing and living in an awesome town on a bit of a working vacation for two months. I’m one month in, one two go, and I am definitely going to miss living here. Living the single life in Manhattan is friggin’ awesome! Apparently my life is a) the beginnings of a Rom-Com; b) a real-life sitcom; c) Karma at work; d) Sex in the City. 😛 Not too sure about the last one, but hey, I think it’s flattering.

On the upside, the paperwork is chuggin’ along…. Got the final salary determination settled, signed and faxed my agreement letter yesterday to State HR. The immediate baggage (UAB, or the stuff that gets sent to me in training) is scheduled for pick up, and I’m working on arranging my storage stuff for later in the year, as the majority of my stuff is in my parents’ basement, close to FSI.

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, commentary, New York, NYC | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Sex and the City

Posted by quirksalight on June 14, 2008

I went to see it around the Incheon Arts Center with a friend of mine last night. It was great! Ok, very cliched and stereotypes abound. But that’s not why you’re seeing the movie. If you’re seeing the movie for serious empowerment, umm… wrong flick. It’s about friends and how friendship lasts through the good and the bad.
In fact, right after I saw the movie, I really got homesick for my friends back home, and for NYC.
There were also little bits of irony scattered throughout the movie which I was laughing at, but I think maybe 1 or 2 other people in the packed theater found amusing. And yes, there were tons of gratuitous sex/nudity scenes, with eye candy galore.

Oh, clothes and shoes were also awesome.

Posted in amusing, friends, Incheon, Korea, New York, NY, NYC, Social commentary | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

MLK weekend and the Catskills

Posted by quirksalight on February 2, 2008

After living in NY for a couple of years, I never had the chance to explore the Catskills or Adirondacks until AFTER I moved out of the state. 😛
Pictures here

This past Martin Luther King (MLK) weekend, a bunch of friends from college and I went up to Kinkykill (that’s the name of the house and lands) for the weekend. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in close to a year, so it was a great to see everyone, especially since I found out that I’m leaving the US for a year.
9 people, 4 cars, 3 dogs, and a whole mess of food. It was supposed to snow all weekend, so perfect for winter sports of all kinds. Skiing, snowboarding, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding were on on the “to do” list. Unfortunately, the forecasted snow never arrived, so the nordic skiing and snowshoeing got canceled, as there wasn’t enough snow on the ground. But there was plenty enough for the cars to get stuck halfway up the long driveway to the house. Out of the 4 cars, only the SUV made it to the house. And good thing; it would have sucked to haul the luggage, gear, and food up from the field where the cars were left at near midnight on Friday night.
Heated by two wood burning stoves, it was a cozy place partway up a mountain.

Saturday, we mainly stayed around the house. Most of us were up until 3am, so it was a late morning, and brunch was a great frittata, made by Jess. It was a beautiful day, as seen here:
View from the house
We took advantage of it by sledding down the hill, down the driveway, falling into ditches and through bushes.
Checking out Woodstock, dinner at the house, games and s’mores rounded out the night.
Sunday, two of us had to leave early after brunch. 😦 Five of us went tubing and proceeded to make the most of our two hour ticket in a rather biting wind. Great fun, but OMG, I was very glad to thaw out after. Dinner at the gypsy wolf cantina, and then chasing down a radio station to hear what happened in the Giants v. Cowboys playoff game, as the restaurant kicked us out with less than two minutes left in the game!!!
Monday – wrapping up, closing up the house, and more than a spot of car trouble. Stuck cars, blown engines, dead batteries… ay-ya-ya…

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, friends, fun, holidays, Nature, New York, outdoors, Penn, vacation | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dawn of a new day…

Posted by quirksalight on October 20, 2007

And it’s a wrap! Well, mostly. Yesterday (Friday, 10/19) was my last day in the lab, and today is officially the first day of my leave of absence. And now… well… it’s interesting…the amount of free time I have is making me more a bit giddy.
It was rather sweet; two of my friends organized a surprise going away party for me; cake and ice cream with friends. Fantastic! =) On top of this, a night out in Manhattan to a great Moroccan restaurant called Tagine Dining Gallery led to a grand ol’ time.

Sometimes, I wonder about my decision, but with the medical problems I’ve been having, my general unhappiness with being a graduate student, and lack of focus, this is the best choice for me. The leave will let me decide if I miss research or not, and give me a chance to focus on my rehabilitation of my knee.

Posted in Dinner, Food, Graduate school, knee, Manhattan, moroccan, moving, musing, New York, Otherlife/grad school, travel | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Drag Queens and Food

Posted by quirksalight on October 10, 2007

This past weekend, the ladies of the “wool crew” (as the stitch n’ bitchers have been referred to) took me to Lucky Chang’s in Manhattan as a celebration of my eminent leap into the great unknown.
Now, Lucky Cheng’s is a place with a dinner and a show. Dinner being a “pan-asian” cuisine with the drinks having rather raunchy names, and the description of the serving sizes too! On top of that, the show is a drag cabaret performance by Maxxy and the Asian dollys. (yes, the stereotypes run riot there)
I had an absolute blast! Yes, there was audience participation. 😛

Posted in Alcohol, amusing, Asian-Americans, Food, Graduate school, Humor, Knitting, New York, restaurants, she/he w/sticks, stereotypes, Stitch n' Bitch | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The last month…

Posted by quirksalight on October 6, 2007

It’s strange… there’s exactly 4 weeks left before I move out of NY for good and it’s really sinking in. I turned in the form to declare that I will be taking a leave of absence from school. It’s only good for a year; I’ll have to fill it out again this time every year if I want to be eligible to come back sometime in the future.
Not too much in the way of packing. I’ve been living out of bags and boxes for the past two months. Still have to sell some yarn… that’s still on the “to do” list before I move out.

Posted in moving, New York, Otherlife/grad school, packing, school, update | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Moving + countdown

Posted by quirksalight on July 31, 2007

This gradual moving process is rather annoying (can’t wait for it to end!), but it’s done. I’m moved out of my most permanent “home” in my adult life and have begun the living out of boxes phase.
This also signals the eminent start of the countdown of my last couple weeks on Long Island; the first week of August is week 12. Tick tock, tick tock….

Posted in moving, New York, Otherlife/grad school, packing, school | Leave a Comment »

Another trail, another fall

Posted by quirksalight on June 9, 2007

Trees are dangerous things. They can whip you as you pass by, knock your handlebars sideways, causing you to fly off the bike, and then just get in the way when all you want to do is ride on by.
I went mountain biking on a different trail today, the Rocky Point natural resources management area.

[Image removed upon request]

Two of my roommates, two friends, and I went, and it took us three hours to finish all the intermediate trails. Not too bad… One minor accident involving a tree, but no real injuries. Though one of my roomies had issues with a loose bike seat…. poor guy.
Oh, and today’s weather conditions – rain, 68 degrees. Living in a house with a yard and a outside hose was a very good thing.

Posted in accidents, amusing, biking, Humor, mountain biking, Nature, New York, Sports, Suffolk County, trail riding | 2 Comments »