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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on June 12th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 14

Wanderlust

Travel sounds glamorous, but don't forget to set your watch properly

BY SHELLEY CONE

Do you think FoodMaxx has risotto?” I asked my husband.

It was a night that gave us an odd unsettled feeling. Confused by the nocturnal vibes we were getting, we decided to stray from our usual dinner fare and indulge in something a little bit rich and creamy, and just a tad bit foreign.

“Sure, risotto is pretty common,” Ron replied.

Not so much, it turns out.


A couple of stores and a few friends later, we realized risotto is actually still a bit foreign—which is probably why we were interested in it at all on this particular night. Because this night, someplace foreign was calling me. Not necessarily Italy, nor was it some place I could easily put a name to. But some place attractively unusual and unconventionally out of place was calling, and I was ready to answer.

Even though I live in the midst of wine country, I am forever in search of ways to travel somewhere. Anywhere. Better. Greener. More interesting. This yearning to escape persists despite the many international world travelers I meet on a regular basis who come specifically to Santa Barbara County and tell me how lucky I am to live here. It’s become an international destination, and I’m constantly looking at ways to find my destiny somewhere else.

Naturally, when I met two Spanish women wine tasting and they told me they were embassy workers here in the States, I was intrigued. I, of course, wanted to know exactly how they got a job with their embassy. Then I came home and researched overseas jobs with our embassy. Then I announced to my family that we would soon be leaving for a two-year post in some foreign country with a surplus of consonants.

Call it over-confidence, ego, naïveté or just plain cockiness, but after reviewing the open Foreign Service jobs, I was sure that once I applied, I’d soon be flying to Washington, D.C., for the interview.

“Would you be cool with it?” I asked my husband after detailing the job, the benefits, the perks, and even the inconveniences.

“Go for it,” he said.

“But the deadline to apply is tonight at midnight,” I replied.

“Then go for it quickly,” he added.

I promised to send off the application after we ate dinner and I gave Sebastian a bath and after I finished harvesting the veggies from my garden.

As we prepared dinner, a scary thought occurred to me: What if I couldn’t pass the security clearance? My husband assured me my background was clean.

“But I was once caught stealing.”

“What? Weren’t you like 12? No, that’s not going to affect you,” he said.

“But what about the time I accidently flashed maximum cleavage at the president when I was covering his visit for the newspaper?”

“Uh, I’m sure that’s fine.”

“But what about the time I ‘Liked’ the Occupy page on Facebook?”

He just laughed.

So during dinner I asked, “Really, you’d be cool if I got a two-year post to, say, Afghanistan?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“What about someplace like Paraguay?”

“You know Paraguay is landlocked,” he replied, and we both shuddered knowing we could never live too far from the coast.

Ultimately, we decided all would be OK considering Paraguay is a postage stamp-sized country and we could probably drive to the coast within hours.

I served up dinner. Risotto. The kids hadn’t experienced risotto before, but I wasn’t surprised when they loved it. I dished up their plates and asked if they were alright with the fact we’d be living in Zimbabwe soon.

“Do they have risotto in Zimbabwe?” one of them asked between mouthfuls. We decided they probably have some kind of grain dish, and since grains are pretty much a staple in our house, everyone was satisfied that the move would be OK.

After dinner, I washed the kid, then got to work washing wiggly pincher bugs out of my organic lettuce and reiterated my plan to accept the Foreign Service job if and when they offered it to me.

“But you’re ready, right?” I asked my husband, my arms elbow deep into a sink full of butter crunch lettuce and collard greens.

“Yes,” my husband replied. “I’m sure it will be fun for a while—until you run off with a diplomat.”

“Seriously? You think a diplomat is my style?” I said kicking up my very un-manicured foot, balancing on the other and still rinsing greens under the faucet.

 “I’m sure you’ll be manicured and polished by the time you settle into the job. Plus those guys are suave, smooth talkers,” he said.

 “Don’t worry, I’ll always be that hippy-chick, pink-haired, barefoot, organic-type girl,” I replied shaking the water off my greens.

Finally I sat down at the computer and realized something. I couldn’t submit my application after all. For all my threatening, teasing, and posturing I forgot one stupid little thing: the West Coast-East Coast time factor.

As I sat down to submit my application for the opportunity that would take me and my family out of this mundane mix of fine wine-producing vineyards, great surf, and breathtaking vistas and to the most exotic, adventurous areas in the world, I realized that 9:02 p.m. means 12:02 a.m. on the East Coast: officially three minutes past the deadline to submit life-changing job applications.

After so much build up, my family was understandably disappointed. We wouldn’t be going to Kerplakistan, or Yuccaslovenia, or even Ecuador. We’d be staying right here on the Santa Barbara County coast, the “American Riviera,” home of exquisite wines, celebrity hideaways, knock-your-socks-off berries, and miles of unmolested dreamscapes that hug an amazing beachy coastline.

Oh bummer. Foiled again. 

Send comments to the arts editor at jpayne@santamariasun.com.