Category Archives: Single in the CIA

Never Forget.

I will never forget seeing the burning on the horizon as I drove down the road. The Pentagon had just been hit. The plane had flown right over the road as I was driving. I had just returned to the Washington DC area, where I lived, from visiting New York City and seeing the Twin Towers in person. I was currently working on a HIDTA money laundering task force with local police, DEA, and IRS agents. I was severely underemployed in the position, but I had dreams of working for the CIA one day and, as is my nature, would not stop trying.

The people in the DC area were mostly a miserable, angry bunch. But after the attacks, I noticed an extreme change. People were suddenly being much kinder to each other. People were letting other people in front of them in the gridlock traffic that makes up the Washington DC area. People were courteous, helpful and respectful.

These days, we have gotten so far away from that. We are back to being angry and hostile. Jumping to conclusions about people we don’t even know. Not listening to one another. Making personal attacks simply because we think we know where a person stands on an issue, mostly based on a social media post. We have family interactions through social media, which is sometimes fake and phony and easily misinterpreted.

I will never forget September 11th and neither will my children.

I Was Once an Internet Troll!

I recently posted a series of flashback excerpts from my first book, Single in the CIA.  I’d like to think my writing has improved dramatically since writing that book. I now have seven published books under my belt (four are part of a short story series).  As I’ve written each one, I feel my writing has become more creative. My writing now has evolved from the robotic style of CIA cable writing (also, for much of the time I was writing Single in the CIA I had a newborn sleeping on my lap).  As much as I sometimes want to cringe when I read segments of Single in the CIA, I wouldn’t change the voice or what I said. I wanted it to be a sort of purging of memories, without much – if any – commentary about the events I described. I think I succeeded in my wish.

Four years later I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to write for OpsLens Media Group.  It’s a very different type of writing, but it has definitely helped me to improve further. 

As this is my first experience as a news contributor, writing for OpsLens has been quite an eye-opener.  I write a series called Underground California in which I highlight issues in the state and try to give a voice to those who do not have one.  I try to paint a picture with my writing – to use my creativity to share experiences I’ve had and images I’ve seen.  

The staff of contributors at OpsLens is comprised of former intelligence, law enforcement and military.   They each offer print and video commentary through the lens of someone who has been there, done that. I truly have friends from all walks of life and I can say that most people who come from those lines of work tend to have fairly conservative views; “Conservative” meaning free-thinking, experience-based opinions.  These people don’t get their news from memes on Facebook!  

I’ve noticed something lately, and it seems to be getting worse.  People seem to be offended and outraged by everything! I’ve seen it in just about every aspect of my life.  These days I have been deleted, unfriended, blocked, unfollowed, called nasty names, trolled, misunderstood and just plain treated badly.  And it’s not just on social media (I use the pop-in-pop-out strategy on social media as it is a necessary evil for me as a small businessperson).  I have had family members, blood and otherwise, treat me with disrespect and misplaced anger.  I have had old friends distance themselves from me and even call me a farm animal (huh?). It used to be we could discuss differing views and opinions and accept each other as independently thinking individuals.  Now, most people can’t even bother to be civil.

A few weeks ago I made a positive, supportive comment on a fellow contributor’s article.  Weeks later (did I mention I pop in and pop out?) I noticed he had responded, and not in a pleasant manner.  It appeared that he was so mad at the world that he twisted my complimentary words into something to be mocked. He recently apologized for jumping to conclusions, but the lesson is still there.

And the list goes on.  On another social media channel I was called a “bleached blonde hag”, “Russian bot” and told I was a “lonely and desperate” old lady by various trolls.  The name-calling is rampant. On yet another channel I was contacted out of the blue after one of my articles was posted that happened to mention our president.  The person decided that because I had mentioned my country’s president in a non-negative way (this reader is from another country) that he could not be connected with me on social media any more.  Mind you, I don’t personally know these people, I just want them to buy my books and products. Just like everyone else, I am trying to make a living.  

Oh – before I receive emails from well-meaning family members trying to give advice on how to handle these things – please, just realize I have an online persona and I do not take these things seriously.  Most of my writing is done in a joking tone, playing to the fact that most people put me in the “dumb blonde” category.   

Really who cares what I think?  Who cares what anyone thinks? Does it really matter?  It’s not all about you. Most people are only thinking about themselves and the worries they have from day to day.

Now, this is not to say that I am immune to getting sucked in to the social media rubbish – I am human.  I remember back in 1995 when my best friend and I used to fire up that dial-up service, listening anxiously while a noise akin to a robot being strangled filled our ears.  We would get into those chat rooms titled “hot-tub” and stir up some shit! But it was more along the lines of “I have big melons” and people knew how to laugh back then. It was fun, it was harmless.  

I suppose you could say I was a troll.  But a happy-go-lucky troll… With big melons.

The “Surge”

From my first book, Single in the CIA .

…I arrived in             to find a very disorganized office. Some of the people in the very large group forced in to these assignments did not even have desks to sit at yet. It was as if no one had planned for this surge of new people who were apparently so urgently needed. I was placed at a desk, but found I had no work to do…

…I had absolutely no CI experience, so I was baffled at how I could be chosen for this somewhat crucial aspect of work in this new division…

Fun at Foreign Delegation Dinners…

From my first book, Single in the CIA .

…Not that my appearance went unnoticed. During one particularly large delegation visit dinner, the Chief of a very large and prominent division spent the entire evening talking with me and not even acknowledging our foreign guests. He shamelessly insisted I sit next to him, ordered my dinner for me, offered to share his dessert with me and made sure he poured my wine himself when my glass became empty. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought we were on a date. Fortunately our foreign guests were not offended and actually found his behavior rather amusing. I cannot say that the Agency participants were amused though, as I noticed the horrified looks on many of their faces during this high level SIS’s antics…

My Stint in the Office of Security

…During my own polygraph examination the polygraphers had insisted that I showed a reaction to the question of involvement in terrorism. I was questioned for hours about the possibility that perhaps I had given money to a terrorist group or attended a KKK rally with my grandfather at some point in my life. These strange and quite inappropriate suggestions had soured me on the polygraph. Sometimes, making a determination on whether or not the person was suitable for a security clearance required interviewing the individual about questionable information in their files. Whether it was a previous bankruptcy or a disturbing sexual proclivity, I quickly learned that I did not enjoy delving into people’s most personal information in order to determine if they posed a risk to national security. The reading was definitely interesting sometimes. We all had our share of cases where the applicant had masturbated in an inappropriate venue, such as a shared office at work, or had sex with their pets. Some of these people would go on to receive a clearance, and possibly would be working right alongside us in our next assignments…

-From my first book, Single in the CIA .

Introducing Denise…

…Denise did not want to let it go though, and she would drill me almost daily about it. I finally blurted out that I had a disease that would not allow me to donate blood or bone marrow. I thought this would end the interrogation. Wishful thinking – Denise just wanted to know what disease I had. Did I mention I was surrounded by insanity?
I knew I had to get out of there. Besides the mind-numbing work, being surrounded by so many batty, crazed women was wearing me down….

-From my first book, Single in the CIA .

Don’t Fight the Cake!

I think these days I would welcome the cake, but still wouldn’t enjoy the forced socializing.

…As with all offices in the Agency, we of course had to have cake for as many occasions as possible. It did not matter if you were working on time-sensitive intelligence that could save lives, you had to stop and gather around a giant cake at some point at least once a month. Heaven help the individual who did not have a sweet tooth (like me) or was diabetic and refused the cake – your refusal would be so offensive to the women of the office and you would risk ostracization. I was not a fan of the cake, so I experienced many a forced-cake-eating episode during my time in this office…

-From my first book, Single in the CIA .

The DGSE is Following Me!

…Chester would sometimes entertain me with stories about Annie and Carina. Apparently the two of them would go out bar hopping and come back the next day to report their shenanigans to Security. They would run their stories of being followed by French intelligence at DC bars by Chester first to see if it warranted a report to Security. Chester would entertain their delusions, figuring that at least the security officer for the division would get a good laugh…

-From my first book, Single in the CIA .

This spring I will be doing flashback posts from my first book – not just because I am lazy and crazily busy with my two kids, but because I have gained many new followers since 2015. Thank you all for the continued support!

Introducing a new character…. Bloud!

We first met Bloud in my book, Single in the CIA. You may remember some of the more memorable moments, included below:

…Apparently he had done some pretty exciting things years ago and he loved talking about his experiences, holding a captive audience in the young officers surrounding him. He delighted in telling tales of encounters with tigers and serving time in a hole in the ground somewhere in the Middle East. It was hard to imagine this slovenly, obese man doing anything besides eating pork rinds and drinking beer, but the stories were entertaining. He was given the Chief of Operations or third-in-charge position in the office…

…Bloud painted a somewhat pathetic picture of himself, explaining that without his career he would have nothing. He was nearing the mandatory retirement age, and he did not know what to do with himself once he was forced to retire. He described a haunting image he had of himself as a janitor somewhere, sweeping the floor, living out his retirement. He seemed like a sad and lost soul. That evening, when we both left to go our separate ways, we agreed that anything we talked about was just between the two of us…

…Bloud was in charge while Lawrence was gone, but that was not saying much. He had taken to throwing hissy fits and closing himself in his office any time he received news from Headquarters that he did not like. He would leave the young officers who needed his guidance out in the cold while he sulked behind a closed door. He had also begun a weekly ritual of cooking a slab of meat in a crock pot for the whole office and we were all expected to eat it and listen to him blabber on while the young officers kissed his butt. I dreaded being herded into the office kitchen for these little get-togethers…

…One day when Henningway was out of the office and Bloud was Acting Chief, Bloud spent the day locked in his office and refused to release any cable traffic while he was there. Even the youngest most impressionable officers saw the immaturity in this almost sixty-year-old man…

…I sat down across from him and he explained that Bloud had been telling Vicky a lot about me. He said that upon her arrival Bloud had met with Vicky to discuss the office and had only discussed two people for the entire meeting – me and Jon, a more senior officer who always seemed to be in the middle of a controversy. Among the crazy lies that Bloud had told Vicky was that I had told him I was sleeping with Barry and that I had bragged about….

Want to get to know more about this charming personality, Bloud? Check out the newest installment in the Mingling in the CIA series!

September 11th

One of the reasons I went to work for the CIA was September 11th. I’ll never forget seeing the Pentagon burning on the horizon that day. I had just been in New York City looking at the Twin Towers a couple of weeks before. Typically, the Washington DC area was such a cutthroat, grouchy area, but after the attacks everyone came together, regardless of beliefs, and people were actually nice and respectful to each other – even while driving in the miserable traffic of the area.

Never forget.