Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beware Government Acronyms

First, a quick thank you and welcome to the inaugural posting of Ef’m.

Before I delve too much into the back story of why I’m here, let me quickly explain that I’m a late technology adapter. It wasn’t until 2005 that I finally signed off on this whole DVD thing (though I’m still not entirely sure it bests VHS cassettes considering the whole susceptibility to scratches aspect) and I remain strongly opposed to creating an online networking account (read as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). This is my first blog post, and I’ve been dragged in kicking and screaming to some degree.

Reminding you once again of my penchant as a late-adapter, this blog really is about a year and a half behind in events, so let’s get up to speed.

During the summer of 2008, my wife, Natalie, casually informed me she wants to apply to be a foreign service officer (FSO--the acronyms begin), which means we will be living all over the world, and it is a very long application process that could take years. I gave my blessing and file that thought away in my soon-to-be-dismissed section of my memory bank.

Long story short, she passes every test on her first go around (good job, honey!) and miraculously squeaks her way into the 148th A-100 class. For the uninitiated, an A-100 class is group of any number (seems to between 75 and 100 these days) of approved FSO applicants that will complete the six-week introductory training course before moving onto their specializations. There are several A-100 classes every year.

Somewhere in that process, Natalie becomes an FSO, and I became an eligible family member (EFM). Yuck! Where did the government get the right to turn me into an acronym—and a lame one at that?

Even FSO is a bit acrid, so I’ve re-acronized the government’s distasteful acronyms. These are a little more flexible and can change with the moods. Most often, FSO now means fervent significant other, but the “F” can be upgraded to favorable, fantastic, or fabulous; or it can be downgraded to fascist, fastidious, or when I’m really angry, fatuous.

But what to call myself and others in my position? This was more difficult, because it risks following into the same trap the government did—generalizing us into a group, and in essence, marginalizing us. So generically, I’m fine with efficient familial manager, but like with FSO, I’m sure Natalie will have different EFMs for me such as exhaustive, fat malcontent, or extremely flexible mainstay, depending on how supportive I’m being at the time.

The key, I suppose, is to not let the government dictate too much as to what we are supposed to be. Yeah, I understand for legal purposes, they need some generic terms to cover who gets to travel on the taxpayers’ dime (thanks taxpayers!), but I’m not some generic EFM. So, I say ef’m.


  1. I just added a link to your blog to my blogroll at http://lifeafterjerusalem.blogspot.com

  2. Great first post. Look forward to more!

    Natalie (Diplolife)

  3. I hope you do continue posting even though you were dragged kicking and screaming into bloggin, which by the is an apt description of my entry into FS life.

  4. I'll never forget describing A-100 to my brother, who's inthe Air Force. I kept referring to myself and my colleagues as JOs, to which he finally responded, What does that stand for, "Jerk Off?"

  5. Ah, but remember... we're not JOs anymore, we're ELO officers! No, wait, we're FAST. Last time I checked the guidance, we were still FAST.

  6. Ok so I have a funny acronym that came up the other day....I belong to a forum called babycenter since, afterall, I'm a new mother. Well on that forum the use ridiculous amounts of acronyms but it really does make conversations easier: when referring to our kids they are little ones (LOs) or to be more specific, dear son (DS) or dear daughter (DD) and I have a DSD: dear step daughter. Well these acronyms always throw newbies for a loop. So when one new woman ran some of them past her husband, they couldn't figure out why one post was about a DH not helping with the LOs. That couple thought DH stood for d@$k head... LOL!! It actually stands for dear husband but in that specific circumstance the previous name would have fit! HA! Love Ef'm

  7. So true, so true. Congrats on a very exciting new life!