October Again

by Just Juan
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“The best month on the board” – AnJuan Thomas

The 2021 calendar has reached its 274th day. It’s October 1st. Not only is it the start of the 4th and final quarter of the calendar year and the start date for Triumphs & Tribulations XXII but it is my birthday month. The Road to October 24th starts now. And for the first time since 2012, I’ll be spending the entirety of October abroad. Back then, it was South Korea and Singapore as I was in my final Air Force assignment. This time around, I’m in Colombia courtesy of the United States Foreign Service.

Having been here in Bogotá for 11 weeks now, I’m about as acclimated to the high altitude as I can get. I’ve had enough time to study the various areas of this capital city. I’ve become comfortable enough with my Spanish to survive on the streets. I’ve seen how the locals go about their day-to-day in an effort to try to blend in and attempt to show myself as an Afrocolombiano. I think I’m ready to get out and explore…to see what Bogotá has out there. What better time to start during the best month on the board?

In Tokyo and Seoul, October was like my coming out party. Whether it was me getting out and about on the trains or unveiling my swag or feeling like a rock star under the bright lights of the big city, it felt different in October. I don’t know if I’ll do too much hanging out in Bogotá under the lights because the crime rep this place has is definitely not an exaggeration but I do plan to take in as much as I can during the safer, daylight hours. And with the high temperatures always in the 60s, I can flow with the Tokyo swag every day. But there’s something different this time around as I’m abroad in October: I’m not alone. Mercedes and Ashton are here with me so they’ll have an opportunity to see and feel this place alongside me. I’m actually very excited about that.

Aside from getting to know Bogotá up close and personal, October presents a chance for me to make my ascension in the Foreign Service world. I’ve been based here long enough to get a really good sense of the ops tempo and the expectations. I’ve also established rapport with all of the relevant people. I feel like the training wheels portion of this first assignment as a Foreign Service Facility Manager is done. I’m ready to rock and show my staff, the Embassy community here in Colombia, and the Department of State that I’m the real f’n deal. What better time than October?

With today being October 1st, I’m starting a new year in Triumphs & Tribulations. This will be the 22nd year I’ve kept the journal and I’m hoping this will be the best one yet. I’ll be writing the first entry after I finish this post. October’s arrival also means that my sports fandom is going to hit a fever pitch. My Dodgers are heading back to the MLB postseason in hopes of defending their World Series championship and I’m ecstatic for it. The Ohio State Buckeyes may have dropped that game to Oregon 3 weeks back but the October slate could be where they find their sea legs and significant College Football Playoff positioning with Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana, and Penn State on the schedule. The Canucks and Raptors open up the NHL and NBA seasons, respectively, and I’m hoping for better success than what the 2020-2021 season brought. The Los Angeles Rams are firing on all cylinders with Matthew Stafford as the signal-caller and I really don’t see any reason why we can’t beat the Cardinals, the Seahawks, the Giants, the Lions, and the Texans to roll into November 8-0 on the way to what I hope is a 20-0 season and a Super Bowl championship. And for the final time before my allegiance switches 100% to The Ohio State University men’s basketball team, I’ll watch the Kansas Jayhawks in their annual Late Night in the Phog.

But let’s be real for a second. The biggest reason that October is the best month on the board is 23 days away. My 37th birthday is on the horizon and I’m thinking about treating myself in grand style. Definitely stay tuned for that.

I love October. It’s going to be a 31-day lovefest for me.

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