Inside my CIA Career: the Coup Kit

Inside my CIA Career: the Coup Kit

Coups My official resume says this about the 5 years during my CIA career when I was an all-source analyst: Performed all source analysis of geographic topics of intelligence interest in support of US national security, including National Intelligence Estimates Action...

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Inside my CIA Career: The Analytic Puzzle

Inside my CIA Career: The Analytic Puzzle

First Job My first position with the Central Intelligence Agency was as a political analyst. The official CIA website describes analysis jobs as: “Collaborative. Problem-solvers. Critical thinkers. These are the qualities needed for CIA analytic positions. The ability...

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What I did in the CIA: Glutinous but not Unflavorful

What I did in the CIA: Glutinous but not Unflavorful

Blame it on the Swedish meatballs Early in my CIA career, I was having lunch in the cafeteria of the Original Headquarters Building (back when it was the only Headquarters building.) My friend Willa was apparently feeling daring that day. She ordered the Swedish...

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For Celine, With Love

For Celine, With Love

TRUE STORY On 11 May 1968, when I was 8 years old, I made my First Communion at St. Paul’s Church in Rome NY. My first cousin Celine was next to me, wearing an identical outfit of starched white linen shift and a lace mantilla secured with a satin ribbon tied under...

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Things in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

Things in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear

It was a first and I’m still recovering. I live in a fairly friendly town. So when there was a shoutout for women who work from home to meet for coffee, I went. About 20 gals showed up, none of whom I knew. As we were introducing ourselves, one of them said. “I’ve...

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Open Letter to 2019

Open Letter to 2019

Dear 2019, With the benefit of having lived through your younger brother known as 2018, you will find me a bit changed. Older, wiser, and a bit more cunning.   Love, Carmen From 2018, with love Every year, instead of a list of easily-forgotten resolutions,...

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The mystery of the disappearing home office

The mystery of the disappearing home office

As 2019 approaches, many of us (self included) look to see the progress made over the past year. For many of us (self included) it was a year of transition. We moved to a new house in a new state. The Dream House, in a place with lots of...

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Welcome to the opioid crisis

Welcome to the opioid crisis

I spent 30 years with the CIA. My official resume says things like “distinguished record of solutions-driven leadership across multiple mission areas,” and “led program responsible for collection, translation, and analysis of breaking events,” and “oversaw work of...

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Season of change, complete with koi pond

Season of change, complete with koi pond

It's the season of change. After years as professional nomads, we finally bought the Dream House. The move to a new state was a 60-day exercise in logistics and determination during which we sold Old House, bought Dream House, packed up, and drove caravan-style for 2...

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The worst writing advice ever. Not kidding.

The worst writing advice ever. Not kidding.

“But the novel is set in Mexico,” she said. “All the characters are Mexican.” “That’s right,” I replied. “Lives of the people fighting the drug cartels. And Mexico’s class structure.” More than 5 years ago, I was speaking on the phone to a well-known American author...

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5 Excellent Phrases to Sound Busy and Important

5 Excellent Phrases to Sound Busy and Important

Some time ago, I took a break from mysteries and read BRIDGET JONES: MAD ABOUT THE BOY by Helen Fielding. It was time for some mind candy and Bridget Jones--books or movies--always delivers. The book was written in the same diary/inner dialogue familiar from the first...

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