27 December 2009

Feasting on asphalt.


****UPDATE****
Okay, so the snow in the Midwest totally FUBAR'd my plans. I'm still here at home being held hostage by the great (ahem) states of IL and MO. I am hoping to leave tomorrow, and more than that I'm hoping that the housing office will be sympathetic and understanding and give me a new appointment on Tuesday. And the cable company too. BOO HISS.
Anyway, that's the update. Eff you snow!
**** UPDATE****


Just can't wait to get on the road again... something, something, with my friends... I can't wait to get on the road again! do, de, doo, de, dooo, do, dooooooooooooo. Or something like that...

As you probably have guessed, today is the big day. The truck is packed, Fletcher is set to ride shotgun and do his best Goose to my Maverick, and we are heading South. This PCS? It ain't gonna know what hit it! (Okay, at the rate we've been going, that isn't at all going to be true, but hey, positive thinking!)

The truck is stuffed to the gills like a proper Chipotle burrito (juuuuuuuust about to burst, and btw? YUM.), plenty of snack are stashed away for the both of us, and many, many miles of interstate are stretched out just waiting for us. I'm certain we will get a wide sampling of the spectacular array of rest stops, gas stations and junk food this country has to offer and rest assured, there will be pictures. Also, I'm sort of giddy about the prospect of 2 straight days of McDonald's and Burger King (maybe even the occasional Hardee's/Carl's Jr!). Score!?

Anyway, wish us safe travels, pray for good weather, and we will catch you on the flip-side... Live! From Fort X! (that should have sounded like the intro to Dancing with the Stars if you said it right.)

24 December 2009

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Happy Chrismahanukkawanzawahteveritisyoucelebrate Everyone!!!

I want to wish you and your loved ones a very wonderful holiday season... I wish you all joy, lurve, laughter, full bellies, full glasses and a tremendously spectacular 2010. Holy crap. 2010!!!

Thank you for standing by me through this demanding, challenging, emotional-roller-coastering, exhausting year! Thank you for your kind words, your snark, your laughter, your wisdom... thank you for calming me, ranting with me, sobbing alongside me, and celebrating with me. I am so lucky to have found all of you, or you to have found me as it were, and for your camaraderie, friendship and generosity of spirit.

May 2010 be better, in every way, than this past year for you and yours. And I look forward to all of the hijinks, ridiculousness, drama and laughs yet to come!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS MY DEAR READERS! Muwah!!!

22 December 2009

Foiled again!

Gah. Well, the good news is that 1) we have a house, 2) we have a cable/internet install date and 3) I was uber-smart and packed a bunch of necessary items for indoor camping. We also have a ship date for our household goods... only it isn't until the New Year. The 4th to be precise... just shy of a week after our move-in date. Boo!

No, it isn't the end of the world, but I just find it amazing that of all the things we as MilSpouses rally against, we seem to find this bogus week-or-more-without-our-stuff thing to be not only normal, but acceptable? Really? Maybe this is the reason people do DITY moves (aside from the extra money)? Maybe this isn't an issue when you choose to live off post? I don't know. But it does seem ridiculous to me that if you are moving into on-post housing, you shouldn't have to wait a week to get your stuff. Like really, what if we had kids? What if we had special needs or something? How is this acceptable and how has no one bitched about this already? (Okay, I assume folks have bitched about this before, but why hasn't someone tried to make a change here that would actually benefit families?)

So, tell me your PCS stories! How long have you had to wait to get your household goods? How easy was the process? How have you coped with being in housing without your stuff (with or sans kidlets)? And what would you do to make this process easier? What are your solutions to make PCS-ing easier on families?

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this!

21 December 2009

Cementing my everlasting love for Stephen Colbert.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down
http://www.colbertnation.com/
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorEconomy

Early Christmas present!

GUESS WHAT? We got an address! And an upgrade (are you singing the Beyonce song too? I am!)! So there is a call & e-mail in to the Transportation Office, the cable installation is set up, and I can finally stop worrying about how this is all going to shake out. Hallelujah! And I will have my house in order before the big holiday. Phew!

I am beyond grateful for the very kind housing lady who hooked us up with a nicer house and an earlier move-in date, and also for being understanding about the holiday (they are letting me move in next week even though it is open now) and for kindly walking me through this since it is my first one and my Human Army Cliff Notes is in the Sandbox. Nice people make me happy!

So this is totally my early Christmas Present for the god(s) above and I'm thrilled to be able to get one huge monkey off my my back. And a lot more square footage to decorate when I get there! HOORAY!

PS- it's nice to write a post that isn't all sturm und drang (Thanks Tim Gunn!)... thanks for standing by me through all this drama and un-fun stuff!

20 December 2009

Tinderbox.

Can I just say that this is probably the single worst week ever for me to have PMS? I mean, Christmas without Swiss, moving 1,200 miles from my family, 20 hours in a car with a dog, relocating to a new place where we don't technically have an address yet. I am an emotional tinderbox right now.

And I am so over it.

I want to be excited, not sad. I want to be giddy, not filled with trepidation and worry. I want to have my cake and eat it too... and that just ain't gonna happen. I am an emotional wreck waiting to happen. I feel like I am one sad commercial, one sappy song, one loaded moment away from a total emotional collapse. I fear the epic meltdown that will likely accompany driving away from my family, straight towards an empty house in a place where I know no one and Swiss isn't due to return for a month or maybe longer. This isn't me. This isn't how I roll. I am strong and am usually able to keep it together. This deployment has put me through the wringer and I didn't fall apart. So why do I feel like I'm about to do just that now?

Maybe this is all a part of the last month & change of a deployment. My tolerance for the bullshit that goes along with deployments is now nil. My patience for this to be over is non-existent. My ability to shoulder the emotional weight is maxed out. And worst of all, I don't want to hold this all in until Swiss gets home. I don't want to do a year's worth of emotional downloading in one fell swoop when he gets home. But I don't know how else to deal with everything that is maniacally swirling through my nugget and piling up in the corners of my mind. I don't want to sweep it under the rug, lock it away and not deal with it- I fear that would leave me jaded and bitter and a more emotionally detached person than I am comfortable being.

The other thing is this: I finally feel like I am giving up my life for the Army. All along I never really felt that way. More than anything I was just following Swiss wherever the Army sent us because that meant we got a life together again, it meant we could be 'normal'. I was always able to focus on that, on the good, the new, the exciting. Now that I am about to drive 1,200 miles away from my family, my friends, my normal and my life... I resent it. I think I am actually angry about it. I hate that I won't be able to go to Summerfest with Beth in July, that I won't get to go fishing and hunting on the Mississippi with my Dad this spring. I hate that I won't be able to see the ones I care about with just a short jaunt in the car. I hate that I don't get to try the new menu items at my favorite restaurant or go with Valerie to more wine tastings there. I hate that I won't get to go to lunch with my Mom and her best friend. I hate that I am going to miss out on so many parts of the life I built. Now, I understand the give and take here. I understand that while I am giving up all of that, I get to live a normal life under the same roof with my husband. That isn't small potatoes by any measure. But I guess I am just bitter that in order to have that, I have to give up everything else.

Do any of you have tips for how to deal with these parts of PCS-ing and reintegration? How to not be bitter about rearranging you whole life for the Army? How to not completely overwhelm your spouse but still manage to deal with the crap you've (both) been through? And one more thing: Is all this normal??? Am I off my rocker? I don't think I could handle being insane too...

16 December 2009

That sinking feeling.

You know the feeling when you are handling something all on your own (like a PCS) and have your own game plan that you think best suits your needs and your timeline (since you are doing it totally by yourself and all)? That assurance and calmness that comes with having a plan and solutions to the tasks ahead of you? And you know that feeling when your spouse, who is 7,000 miles away and not PCS-ing with you and has been gone for 11 months then tells you how your plan is flawed and that you should do it a different way?

I hate that feeling. That feeling is usually followed by my head hitting the desk so hard I see stars. And that feeling? I has it.

I hate that discussions about this PCS always leave me feeling like I'm doing it wrong. Not that Swiss isn't supportive, and not that he doesn't do a good job of telling me I'm kicking ass. He does. But the conversations about all the other ways I could be doing it? The talks about why don't you just get down there super early and stay at a hotel? Why don't you do this? Why don't you do it that way? THEY. ARE. KILLING. ME.

I don't want to go down early and stay in temporary lodging with my spastic dog and all of our valuables sitting in a truck bed in the parking lot. I don't want to unpack the truck just to re-pack it 2 days later- by myself. I don't want to leave for Fort X immediately following Christmas. I don't want to turn down this housing and wait until he gets home and hope that we can get back on the list. Don't we all remember how stressful getting this one was? I don't want to re-game plan this now. I want to keep going. And mentioning all the other ways I could/should be doing it? Makes me feel like I'm doing it all wrong and wasn't smart enough to figure it out on my own.

I hate the resentment I am feeling for the first time in this deployment. I hate the feeling of frustration and anger and the disheartening, overwhelming sinking feeling of "I can't do this anymore". Of course I will do it. I have to. I'm not a quitter and quite frankly I don't have much of a choice. I won't have a breakdown over it because honestly, if I did? The flood gates of 11 months of million kinds of bullshit will come out and I won't be able to stop it. I don't want to resent my husband. I don't want to walk away from this deployment jaded and angry. I don't want to be bitter. I don't want to be the person I have become in the last 40 something weeks.

I want to be me again. I want to be us again. And I want this to be over. Like yesterday.

15 December 2009

LiveBlogging the PCS: Part 12-ish, or Shoot Me Now.

Okay, so this is it: The Final Countdown. Or so I thought. In actuality, it is just one more asinine speed bump in a process that I am 110% confident doesn't have to be as complicated as the Army has made it. Let me correct that: This situations categorically would NOT be near as complicated if we were choosing to live off post. Which at this point is seeming like a better and better option. Ugh. But I better back up and explain myself...

On one hand: We have housing!

On the other: We can't do a damned thing to prepare, schedule, or arrange our move in. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. And I get to go 7+ days without my stuff in an empty house.

See, I just got off the phone with the office of the housing development we are assigned to. They can tell me that the house we will move into has a fenced in back yard (yay!), but they can't tell me the address until maintenance hands the house back over to them. And they don't know when that will be. And they can't do anything for me or give me any other information until that time. Which, again, they don't know.

None of this would be an issue, other than the fact that all of our stuff is in storage down there. I can't schedule delivery until I have an address. And it takes around 7 days to get your stuff after you've called the office. Yup. 7 days. 7 days with no bed, no TV, no couch, no dishes, no microwave, nothing. With the New Year Holiday throwing in a few (3) extra non-working days... which may very well make that 7 business days more like 10 or 11. Thank Maude I packed an air mattress, shower curtain, sheets and towel.

The other bonus to this situation? They can't actually tell me when I am going to be able to take residency. They told me that the "goal date" for me to get down there (mind you, this is a 20+ hour/2 day drive for me so I can't just *poof* show up there) is still the 29th, but there are no guarantees. So I guess I'm going to have to get some reservations at the on-post lodging? Hooray. And by that I mean not.

I find this all so unbelievably frustrating and beyond ridiculous. Pray tell, why can't they give us the address, if only to be able to schedule delivery of our stuff ahead of time? But then again, why would I want to do that? Camping in my new house with a dog for 7-10 sounds like a riot. And by that I mean not. Good God- what if I had kids??? What if we were a family of 5 trying to move in? And how did anyone ever think this was the best way to do this?

I guess this is one of those "undies-in-a-bundle" Army moments for me. I'm pretty damned understanding of all the bullshit the Army puts us through. But this one? Not at all. We are uprooting our entire lives, our home, everything we own is in storage. I've been living out of suitcases for almost 6 weeks now. I would think the very effing least they could do would be help us make this transition as fast, easy and un-stressful as possible. Instead I'm calling 6 different numbers to the Transportation Office (none of which work) to try to see if this is really how it works and dealing with an uppity and utterly useless contact at the Community Housing Office.

My next calls will be to the Rear D to see if anyone can help. I refuse to believe that this is the status quo and that families moving down there are routinely waiting 7-ish days to get their stuff moved in. I refuse to believe that there is no way I can get the address of our new home ahead of time so that delivery can be scheduled. I refuse to believe that I have to be physically present at Fort X in order to schedule delivery. And I refuse to believe that the Army cares this little about families. But then again, I've been wrong about the Army before.

Ugh. Is this over yet??? Please???

11 December 2009

Homesick.

So something interesting has happened this past week. We found out about housing on Tuesday (sorry for the lag in posting) and I got all sorts of giddy about it. Now? I find myself homesick for a place I've never been to. Correction: I've been to Fort X, I've lived in a house in the same housing community we are now assigned to and therefore I know exactly (more or less) what our home will look like. But I've never set foot in the house we will move into at the end of the month. Anyway, yes, I am homesick for a place that never has been home. Weird, I know.

I think maybe, more than anything, I am homesick for the idea of our life there. Swiss will be home. We will have our stuff. Luggage will only be used for trips, not makeshift dressers. I can get a routine going again. I can feel settled again. We can get on with being us. We can have something that is completely ours again.

I'm sure that right now that all sounds and seems way more romantic than it actually is (laundry! cleaning! cable bills!). But it will be ours. And at this point, I can't hardly remember what it was like to live with Swiss. All I can remember is me living alone in my house, going on about my routine, just trying to make the days go by faster. My memories of our "normal" life revolve around makeshift living arrangements and mentally gearing up for a deployment. We were only married 2 months before he deployed (join the crowd, I know). They are memories tinged with fear and worry... that was a time of stress and pressure and the looming uncertainty of the future ahead of us. Things were good with us but there was so much extra drama swirling around us and so much build up for the deployment that it colored everything we did.

I am sure that our new life together at Fort X will have its share of drama and worry and the like. But somehow I am certain that this new home, this new start, this new normal will be so wonderful if only because there won't be a deployment looming and we can just focus on us being us. That is a luxury we haven't had in a long, long time, if ever.

I am so grateful for my family for putting Fletcher and I up for this time. I am thankful that I have such a supportive family who is willing to rearrange everything (sort of) for Swiss and me. But also, I am tired of being an imposition. I am over making it work. I am ready to get back to being my normal independent self. And I am ready to start being a wife again.

I know it will come. It isn't that far away... but these last few months have left me feeling more anxious and disheveled than relieved and excited. Moving in to our new home and getting our life set up again? I think that will go a long way towards getting me excited and thrilled for Swiss coming home.

10 December 2009

Housing!

So, wanna hear some good news? We got housing! And not just any housing... the housing we were supposed to get (they tried giving us JNCO housing)! And the move in date? Exactly the one we wanted. Booyah!

I leave for Fort X shortly after Christmas and I will be all moved in (note: I did NOT say unpacked) by New Year's Eve. Hopefully I will have cable/interwebz by then! Gah! I can't put into words how excited I am for this next chapter. I am thrilled to have our own space. I'm stoked to redecorate and (after 4 months in storage) rediscover all the awesome home decor goodies I know I have. I am giddy about getting the house ready for Swiss's return... I am ecstatic about the thought of my own bed again! Hooray!

It is such a great feeling to have something go how it is supposed to go. It was touch and go for a while there, but everything ended up working out just how it was supposed to and that makes me really happy. Now we just have to enjoy the holidays, pack up the truck, and make the 1,000+ mile journey to our new home. I hope Fletcher likes road trips!!!

In other news, Swiss is back on the day shift... just as we were getting our new routine going. Boo! He got a new job that will require him to move locations for the 6th time this deployment (no, I am no exaggerating) and will also require him to be one of the last guy in his division to leave. Double boo! However, all that being said, the tentative dates still put us juuuuuuust under a year so I suppose I can't complain too much. Besides, it wouldn't do me any good!

So, that is all that is new here. I wish I had more gusto and gumption to write more, but that's all I've got for now! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

07 December 2009

Holiday spirit.

What? You don't have a holiday dog/elf hybrid of your own? Dude, you are totally missing out.

01 December 2009

Surging.

Gut reaction? I think it is what we need to do, though I hate what it means for our military family.

I thought President Obama's speech was very good and I think that the goals, time lines, narrow focus and specifics will go a long way to remedy and address the issues that arose in the Iraq war (goals that were too broad, no urgency due to no timeline, etc). I am no analyst, I am no General, but I feel like this decision was reached without undue haste, with deep regard to the cost of our troops and country, and with the wisdom of past failures. This plan will be changed, this plan will have pitfalls... but it will also have successes, it will have results and it will provide a timeline to gauge our progress and to assess changes that need to be made.

If we must be at war, I would rather we be thoughtful and concerned about the outcomes. I would rather we be specific and decisive, not open-ended and vague. I would rather follow a CinC with a clear vision and a complete understanding of all factors at play. In short, I support this surge. Even though we as a military community will bear the burden.

After listening to all of President Obama's speech, I was beyond pleased to find both Swiss's concerns and mine addressed (which at times are quite divergent), and walk away feeling like, finally, we have a POTUS who isn't short-sighted, who sees the big picture and who is willing to engage in thoughtful, concerted, honest dialogue about the issues facing our country, our military, and our world. It's about damned time.

Also, for the record: I cannot tolerate the media, pundits, analysts, politicians (on both sides) and opportunists who took this serious matter, this issue of national and world concern, this commitment of 30,000 of our bravest men and women, and turn it into a chance to up their political stock, extend their 15 minutes of fame, or goad the other side for future electoral gains. Also, when it is obvious within the first 20 seconds of you opening your mouth that you only heard what you wanted to hear, you loose all credibility. Just so you know.

The end.

Military musings.

Ugh. So the surge. THE SURGE. It has already sparked debate in my household... I agree with the plan (this would be the "shitting" portion of my previously held position of "shit or get off the pot") generally speaking... even though I know as well as most of you what this surge means... and I hate the price that we will have to pay for success.

It means extended tours. It means increasing the OpTempo once again. It means tapping into a well that is already running dry. And worst of all, it means that my friends, my military family (and possibly Swiss and I), will have to pay the price... paid with fear, worry, trepidation, loneliness, holidays spent alone, a year without their loved ones, living with the omnipresent cloud of a loved one at war... every day. It will be paid with blood, sweat and tears. It will be paid with lives lost too soon. It will be paid with young widows and children who will never grow up with two parents.

I shudder to think about all of the other families getting ready for this surge. The ones who will leave yet this month... the ones who are getting the calls to ready for deployment. The ones who's hearts sunk when the final word broke today- knowing full well their families would be the ones bearing the burden. The ones who's lives will be put through the ringer (wringer?) in every imaginable way. The ones who will live this next year on the edge of their seats... afraid of the news, the phone ringing, the unfamiliar sedan in front of the house... the ones who will live in fear of the ringing of their doorbell.

But more than anything... watching the CBS News and hearing the reporter say that these troops would be there for "just one year"... my temper flared, my voice rose two octaves and I was using my outside voice inside. JUST ONE YEAR? Just. One. Year. *gasp* I've lived that year. I'm still living it. There is no "just" in one year. That is every holiday spent alone. That is 360-ish nights alone in your large bed meant for two. That is a full year of mowing the lawn, raking every leaf, shoveling every last snowfall alone. That is a full year of involuntary single parenthood. That is countless missed birthdays... missed first steps... missed first anniversaries... missed nights spent like any other normal couple across this country. There is no "just" in a year.

Inevitably, my rant turned into my least favorite (and admittedly touchiest) subject. "They signed up for this." And you know who said it? My parents. My blood began to boil. My rationality went out the window. I KNOW he chose this. But in no way, shape or form does that make this easy or fun or not horrible. And then I was told that "that isn't what I meant, it isn't personal". How could it not be personal? These are real people who have to enact this surge... families torn apart... IT IS, AT IT'S VERY ROOT, PERSONAL. It couldn't not be personal, if for no other reason, because this surge could lead to Swiss's retirement paperwork being denied. Which means he will be part of this surge. Another war. Another deployment. Another round of God Please Just Bring Him Home, every night, every day. How much more personal could it be?

I don't think I will ever get over how disconnected the American public is from this military lifestyle and all it entails. I understand that living it gives one a unique understanding an outsider could never match (Maude knows I didn't get it until I lived it). But I don't see how the general public can be so flippant about it. "Its their job." "Its about time." "They should send more" ... I want to shout that there aren't more to send.... they can't keep this up... this is taking its toll in ways you can't even begin to fathom!!! But I know, no matter how I say it, it will fall on deaf ears... because it isn't their spouse. It isn't their kid. It isn't their sibling. And it isn't their concern. It's just another talking point... another way to grade a President... another game to armchair quarterback. And it isn't personal.

So, to all of you who are or will be touched by this: May your loved ones come home safely, may this conflict end swiftly and without loss, and may your family, friends and whomever you pray to give you the comfort, support, love and reassurance you need. And know that I will be here for you.

30 November 2009

Lacking substance.

Dudes. I do not know what is up with my posting lately. I sort of feel like I can't gather my thoughts well enough to put any of them into a post of any pertinence whatsoever. It all comes out as whiny drivel. And that annoys me. When you annoy yourself you know you are doing something wrong, am I right?

But I digress.

This new routine (or lack thereof) has been a bit of a trip to get into (and by that I mean it's been HARD). New home, new schedule, people to work and live around, plus Swiss has had a new schedule and a variable one at that so it has been hard to get into a routine. I like routines... they seem to make the days go by faster. I think, if anything, this latest chapter in the deployment has helped me realize just how much I thrive on routine. Not that uber-anal-down-to-the-last-detail routine... just the sort of hey-this-is-my-plan routine. Of course I know routines change, whatever routine I get myself into when I get down to Fort X will inevitably change with Swiss's return. And it will change again when, God willing, Swiss retires from Army life. But I think all of that I can deal with, because it will be on my (our) terms. Not me trying my best to fit into someone else's routine.

Also, we are about to embark on an Army journey new to both of us... retirement. EVERYONE: KNOCK ON WOOD!!! Swiss puts in his papers this week. We will likely have to wait a month-ish to find out if we got approved or if we are in for another year, which also means in for another deployment (A'stan, obvs). I don't know if I should be optimistic or prepare for the worst. I don't know if our odds are anywhere near as good as we think they are. I don't know if I am really, truly prepared for it to not get approved. I don't know what the prospect of another deployment would do to me, to him, to us. We've been so focused on the future, the post-Army life, the general notion that he will get approved that if things didn't go our way- it would be a pretty devastating blow to both of us. But here we sit, waiting. Hurry up and wait. But rest assured, when the paperwork comes through, y'all will hear about it fast.

And tomorrow marks the last full calendar month that Swiss and I will have to be apart. Some days I felt like it would never come. I am so glad it is here, but also... what the hell took so long? A good friend recently had her homecoming. Another is about 2-ish weeks ahead of us. I am so excited for them, for us. But man, this is a long time coming. And it isn't going by fast enough!

Also, we still don't have housing on post. I'm hoping for word this week... mostly because I just want to have this planned and crossed off my list. Seriously. Swiss says I shouldn't worry because he got housing within a week when he first PCS'd down there. Nay, I say! My luck isn't that good! And I don't have the uniform card to play, which I am certain adds an air of urgency and importance. I'm just an Army Wife... on the phone. But hopefully we will get some digs and an address and a move in date and that will go a long way to restoring what little sanity I have left!

Oooh, and here's a fun one to add in just for kicks... (and peeps who actually know me, don't be upset you are reading about this here, if it ended up being serious you would have heard first-hand, PROMISE) I had a pretty wicked health scare this week. Which is totally what this deployment was missing! Friday night I found a lump on the back of my neck. Then Saturday morning I found a second lump. Being a cytotech by trade, I freaked out right away and figured I either had lymphoma or metastatic something-or-other. I. Was. Terrified. So I went to the doctor Saturday and saw a specialist today. I've been reassured that they aren't worrisome and are likely reactive lymph nodes processing a virus. I have to watch them and if they aren't better in two weeks they are going to cut them out. No jokes. But like I said, they aren't at all concerned and I've been given a clean bill of health. So yay for not having cancer!!!

I wish I had something more witty and pithy and, you know, helpful or useful to write, but there you have it. My life in a nutshell: No routine, pending retirement, last full month, no house and no cancer! Let's hope this week is a better one!

26 November 2009

Thanksgiving.

So, this is my obligatory Thanksgiving post... HAPPY THANKSGIVING Y'ALL!

Okay, that's out of the way now. I've been decidedly "Bah Humbug" about all of the holidays and pre-holiday cheer. Not that I'm not thankful for my family, my amazing friends, the awesome support you've all given me, for Swiss, for our health, for life -all in all- being pretty great. But also, I'm tired. I am tired and weary and so very blase about all of it... this deployment, missing Swiss, doing the holiday thing "alone". I think I was pretty naive about the holidays going into this deployment. Nope, check that, I know I was. Somewhere along the line I think I figured that since we would be so, so close to the end of the deployment by the time the holidays rolled around I'd be fine with it.

News flash: I'm not.

I don't mean to be all Debbie Downer about it all because I do have a lot to be thankful for and I do have a great family that is doing its best to keep me entertained and cheerful during this last chunk of the deployment. Its just that, somehow, being so close to the end has magnified the suck of being away from Swiss this holiday season. Oh well. Can't change it, right? And next year will be better. And we are almost done with this. And, after all, at least I have someone as amazing as Swiss to miss during this time. How was that for a pep talk?

Anyway, after all that mopey drivel... I really, truly want to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to each and every one of you, dear readers. You've brought kindness, wisdom, humor, support, and new friendships to my life this past year plus and I am SO grateful for all of you. So go enjoy this holiday season with the ones you love, and if you are in the same boat as me... know that next year will be better! Promise!

So have a stellar Thanksgiving... eat a lot, watch TV, and laugh til you can't anymore. And Thank You!

Love,
Tucker

23 November 2009

Funkytown.

This part where I miss my husband so much it hurts and can't stand the thought of another day where my life isn't my own again... the part where I don't have a home, don't have freedom, don't have my (or our) normal... the part where I live by someone else's rules, where I feel like a teenager in my parents home, where I just want my life back... I hate it.

I want this to be over. I want to feel normal again. I want my life back. I want Swiss back.

Sorry for the lack of posting lately- I'm in a funk and rather than bore you all to death with my funkified drivel, I've been keeping quiet. Hope you are all doing well and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

17 November 2009

LiveBlogging the PCS: Part Eleventy-million.

Ugh. The housing. So we've been on the official wait list since round about August... I wanted to be ahead of the curve and at the top of the list when the time came. I sent about 10 different documents, navigated the most un-user-friendly housing application site, signed away our first born child and then waited. And waited.

This week the waiting is over. I called down to the Fort X housing office and, after a few of the good old "No, call this person." "No, not that person, THIS person." "No, you need to talk to the first person you were in contact with 4 months ago.", I got the guy. And then I had to send 4 more documents, sign away our 2nd through 6th born children and I got us a house. But not really. I got offered a house in below grade housing which isn't soooo bad, but is way far away from Swiss' work so not idea. Also? 2 story. No thanks. But don't think me picky... the real reason I said no was that even though (all along) I've asked for a move in date after Christmas, this move in date was the 17th of December. Which means Christmas all alone in a new place. No family, no husband, no friends. No thanks... I might be a tough Army wife, but I ain't that tough!

Thankfully my housing liaison dude is awesome (and understanding) and he said he'd keep an eye out in the next two weeks for not only a better date, but a house in our preferred community. These, my friends, are the benefits to getting on the list super duper early (which means at the current moment we are at the tippy top of the list) and calling 2 weeks prior to the "suggested" time of 1 month pre-move in (this is what gave us the two weeks to wait for something better). Those Girl Scouts were right... Be Prepared!!!

So my message to you about to embark on your own journey to procuring On-Post housing? Do it early. Get your paperwork in months ahead of time if you can. Build a relationship with your housing liaisons. Be nice (this one is extra important). And do everything about two weeks sooner than they tell you to.

I'll keep y'all posted as to how it turns out. Cross your fingers for us and hopefully by this time next week I'll have a new address in a new location that makes us all happy... with a good move-in date to boot!

15 November 2009

Sundays and unemployed life.

So, Swiss is back with the unit and healthy and doing well, which in turn means that I am doing well also. Those nerves and angsty feelings? I can do without those for sure. It is Sunday morning, which is usually a wonderfully lazy day that you relish, and it turns out that when you are unemployed... Sunday is just like any other day. Which is both awesome and weird. But I digress.

We are closing in on the date that I pack up all of our stuff and the mutt and embark on a 20+ hour drive to our new home at Fort X. I am geeked! Tomorrow I get to call our Housing Liaison to get our move in date scheduled, decide (if that's an option) which housing community to reside in, and get an appointment to have our stuff moved in to the new abode. And once I have all of that? Then I'll be able to get a reservation for temporary lodging and all that goodness. I am so geeked. All of this stuff seemed soooooo far away for so long. Now, it is really here! All the stuff I wrote on my calendar so many months ago are popping up left and right. And it is AWESOME.

Otherwise life at home with the parents is good. Strange, but good. I'm looking forward to the holidays and time with friends, but I'm also looking forward to my own bed, my own bathroom and not living out of a suitcase. This Army life of ours has ended up being quite surreal. Ask me if I foresaw myself living with my parents again on my way to a new state sans husband 5 years ago. Ha! I would have laughed you right out of the room.

Anyway, that is enough rambling for now. Off to drink more coffee and watch Food TV with my Mom. Hope you all have a super weekend and were able to watch "How We Get By". I cried a lot knowing Swiss has been through that airport and benefit ted from those wonderful people's generosity and heart at least 3 times now. I'm pretty sure you can donate to their cause too if you have the giving spirit... take care and enjoy your Sunday!

13 November 2009

Pixielicious.

So it might have taken me like 30 minutes to get this photograph because I am clinically un-photogenic, but me likey. Also, it only takes me about 3.5 minutes to dry and style it. And it stays that way all day. Awesomeness.


Oh, and one more thing... Swiss thinks it's hawt. Sweet!

11 November 2009

Odds 'n ends...

First things first: Happy Veteran's Day. Take a moment to celebrate all of our veterans, present and past, to thank them for all they have done and to recognize how lucky we all are to have brave, honorable men & women who are willing to fight for all that is good and right.

Second: Watch "The Way We Get By" tonight on your local PBS station. I've heard all about it but this is the first time I'll be able to watch it. I've got my Kleenex ready. Check out this site to learn about this amazing movie (you will need the Kleenex to watch the trailer too, so consider yourself warned) and this site to find out what channel to watch it on in your area and what time. Also, way to go PBS... broadcasting this movie is not only the honorable thing to do, it is the right thing to do. I hope you tell everyone you know to watch this movie tonight.

Third: I am lopping off all my hair today. Pictures will follow.

Fourth: Swiss is recovering nicely and feeling a million times better. There will be a conversations with the FRG and PTB (powers that be) when I get to Fort X about how this sort of information is disseminated, how much information is given out and so forth. The FRG did what it was designed to do, but the content was all wrong. I'm less mad now, knowing that Swiss is okay, but I would hate for another spouse to have to go through the same mess I did. Also, I would encourage all of you to not have your BiL's and step-kids on your Facebook account no matter how cool they seem. Recipe. For. Disaster.

The end. Now, go hug a Veteran (maybe not a stranger, but hug a Veteran you know).

09 November 2009

Update: Swiss

Well, that chain of communication was a (well intentioned) big, fat fail. Turns out Swiss never actually had surgery... he's just been getting IV antibiotics and bed rest all this time. Sleeping. Hence the lack of calls.

And here I thought he was in some sort of induced coma while a man-eating bacteria was eating him inside out. Seriously.

So yes, he is recovering and doing well. He finally got un-attached from his IV bags (yes, there were multiple) and was able to call me. I almost cried when I heard his voice. But I had my big-girl britches on and kept it together. But now he is fine, still recovering, and I ended up being the one to give the Colonel his update. How bass ackwards is that I ask?

But I digress... thanks to all of you for your kind words, good juju and support. We can all breathe a bit easier now.

Sigh. Deployment? You can feel free to be over any time now... just sayin'.

08 November 2009

Le sigh.

Just when I thought this deployment couldn't possibly throw another wonky bag of bricks my way... I find out that Swiss had surgery while in the sandbox. After the fact.

He called last night to tell me that they were checking him into the hospital there to take care of an issue that started (though seemed so innocent and not a big deal) while he was home on R&R. That was the last I heard. So, naturally, I spent the whole night wringing my hands, worrying, fretting over his status. I didn't hear from him today so I sent an e-mail off to the FRG. Thank God for our awesome FRG leader... I had a response from the Lt. Colonel within 2 hours. And they told me that he had just gotten out of surgery and was recovering well.

You heard that right. I found out he had surgery AFTER THE FACT. My husband went under the knife, under anesthesia, the whole works and not a single soul thought to call and inform me. Seriously.

I want to be mad about it. I want to figure out how this oversight happened. I want answers. But more than all of that... I want to hear from Swiss himself that he is okay. So I wait and wring hands and fret all over again.

Ugh. Deployment, you can suck it. For reals.

I'll keep y'all posted about his condition but I have no real reason to think he isn't recovering nicely. But if you feel like it, toss some good juju his way, okay? Thanks.

07 November 2009

The new, new normal?

Gaw. How many new normals does a girl have to have in a year? Srsly. So I am now back in the land of beer and cheese, home in Wisconsin. I'm still living out of a suitcase. My Mac has a new, decidedly more surly attitude (aka: it won't start). And I am living with my parents. Yep. Almost 31 and living with my parents. Thank Maude it is only for 2 months. But hey, Fletcher was super geeked to see me when I walked in the door.

I'm still trying to readjust to this new routine. The one that doesn't involve Swiss anymore (a fact that majorly sucks and I still haven't gotten over yet). The one where I don't have personal space anymore. The one where I have to bring clothes into the bathroom when showering because I can't walk around the house nekkid anymore. The one where, even though it is home, I'm still a visitor. And I still get scolded by my mom. The one where I don't have a job or specific tasks to do every day other than hit up the gym (Couch to 5K here I come!). The one where I sort of, kind of, a little bit feel like I'm adrift in a great big blue sea of nothing... in an inner tube.

But it has its perks too, this new, new normal. There are people here. People that live in the house I live in and talk to me. Way less solitary. There are people that cook for me. No more cereal or toast for dinner! There are things to do. My ever industrious mom constantly comes up with things to do, places to see, people to meet. Its good. I'm waiting for Swiss to get where he's going so that we too can get on with our new, new normal routine. The standard phone call times, the e-mails, the web-cams.

Mostly, I'm waiting for things to hurry up and get done so that it can be just after Christmas and get on my way down to our new home at Fort X. To start up our new, new, new normal. Because, apparently, for us MilSpouses one or two new normals just ain't enough.

06 November 2009

Fort Hood.

Fort Hood is a place Swiss and I are quite familiar with... I won't go into the details of our relationship to Fort Hood because they aren't important... but my heart is breaking for those who were lost in this senseless, horrific and terrifying crime. I can't understand how this happened. I can't understand how someone would or could do this to their own.

As I watch the news, I think back to my emotional state, where my head was at, my fears and concerns as Swiss was preparing for his deployment... as he was making his way through the same preparations as the soldiers who lost their lives were doing yesterday. Never in my deepest, darkest thoughts would I have worried about something like this. I can't fathom the pain and angst and heartbreak of those families. I can't imagine the distrust, betrayal, the rage of those service members. And I can't understand why. Why???

If you are in or around the Fort Hood area... please do all you can to help. Donate blood if you can (OIF/OEF vets cannot donate), find a family in need and do whatever you can, call up anyone you know there to make sure they are okay. And send all of your prayers, good juju, karma, whatever to the families who are dealing with pain I cannot imagine.

05 November 2009

What I know and what I don't.

I know that we only have somewhere around three-ish months left now that Swiss is headed back to theatre. I know that the countdown has begun and that we are technically short-timers. I know that three-ish months is a piece of cake in the grand scheme of things. I know that the worst of it is behind us. I know that we are doing wonderfully and that we will get through this with flying colors. I know that I can do this and I can handle the relatively little time that we have left apart because I've already done it and done it well for 8.5 months. I know that this is the last time (knock on wood) we have to do this. I know all of this. Really, I do.

But Good Maude. This is still so effing hard. I don't know why I didn't think it would be. I don't know why I wasn't prepared for how much this hurts. Swiss and I have spent the better part of our relationship saying goodbye. In fact, I'm reasonably certain we've spent more time apart than we have together (which really should be more disturbing than I find it). Shouldn't I be used to this? Shouldn't it get easier? Shouldn't I have figured out by now how to cope with this?

Today has been so much harder than I thought it would be. It is so completely different than any other time he's had to leave. It is certainly different than when he first left for the sandbox... that one was the worst by far (as you all know). It doesn't feel so foreboding, so menacing, so long. But it does feel like I've been punched in the gut, chewed up and spit out, gutted. I feel empty and kind of lost. Like my world has been upended yet again... I suppose it has. I feel the raw emotions that are almost like those of a break-up... that fresh, searing hurt because you can't possibly imagine life without that person in it. Like you can't breathe and can't figure out how you'll go on. And it is the kind of emotional tsunami that crashes over you when you least expect it. An hour plus driving in the car? I was fine. Hop in the shower? Meltdown. Moving his bag of dirty ACU's? Fine. Thinking about how long it will be before his arms are around me again? Meltdown. Typing this in a hotel lobby? Meltdown.

I guess I just didn't think that this would be so hard. I though I was tougher. I thought that since we had knocked out so much of this deployment already, dealt with goodbyes so many times before (albeit in different circumstances), mentally prepared myself for what this would be like... I thought that I would be okay. Its just that I don't feel okay right now. Not even close.

I know I will be okay. I know I'll find my groove and get back into the old new routine. I know he will be home "soon" and that with the holidays coming up and the move to Fort X the time should fly by. But as far as I'm concerned? It won't be soon enough. And I wish I knew how to make this empty, gut-wrenching hurt go away.

One is the loneliest number.

For two weeks I let myself forget how solitary life has been. I let myself forget how much it sucks to do it all alone. I let myself remember how much better everything is when we are together. I let myself get wrapped up in how wonderful Swiss is, how amazing life is when we are together.

I let myself feel whole again and it was spectacular.

And now I am back to one. My heart hurts today. I feel empty and un-whole and sad. And I want this to be over.

I want Swiss back. Badly.

30 October 2009

Teh coolest.

So tonight, on our way home from a bowling expedition that included nachos, mini-corn dogs, chicken fingers, beer and about a gallon of Dr. Pepper... Swiss, Kid A and I had not only an in-car sing-along to Coldplay's Viva la Vida (after those two had spent 20 minutes parroting Metallica songs back and forth to each other) but we also had an in-car dance party to some ridiculously long rap/club song. We are teh coolest. And it makes me wish so very much Kid A would decide to come live with us. But I digress, right now I am just plain happy because all of my ducks are in a row (knock on wood) and I'm with the ones I love.

I hope this find you all doing well and I'll be back with a vengeance later next week. Thanks for your patience during R&R (there are a few posts brewing about how it is simultaneously awesome and horrid) and I'm stoked to get back to checking in on you all too!

19 October 2009

Stuff...

Oooookey. So I am addicted to teh internetz. These 2.5 days away have been HORRIBLE. Okay, not really, but I have missed you interwebs!

First things first: HAPPY ANNIVERSARY BABY! Even though it was Sunday and we weren't together and we only spent like 2 3/4 months together this first year, its been a blast and I can't wait for many, many more. Preferably with a better ratio of together time though, you know, just in case you were wondering.

Second. I am SO ready for my own personal space again. Phew. How much longer? Wha? 2 months? Ugh. Well, that will be a post for another day. Moving on...

Thirdly. Is that a word? Thirdly? Well, now it is. I am finally, FINALLY up in the metro area hovering around the general airport vicinty in a hotel waiting to find out when, exactly, Swiss will be coming home. There are standby flights, booked flights and about 3 different times floating around right now. But you know what? HE IS IN THE CONUS. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! And he is on his way home to me! Double Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

So, as you can imagine, I will be AWOL for some time now. I don't have a computer or internet access right now (well, I do rightthisminute, but only because I am at a hotel) and I plan on spending most of the waking hours making out with Swiss. So, you know, I'll see y'all when I see y'all!

Take care and I hope all is well with you! Bye now!

14 October 2009

Sweaters.

If you want to destroy my sweater... hold this thread as I walk away.

Mmm, Weezer. I saw them in concert in high school, I think they were touring with No Doubt. It was awesome and they played the theme from Happy Days. I'm from Milwaukee so that was a pretty rad shout-out. But I digress. That isn't my point. It's about the unraveling part. And don't worry. I'm not unraveling... this is just an observation type of thing so don't fret, okay? Okay.

It boggles my mind how easily, quickly and seemingly effortlessly our own personal sweaters (forgive the metaphor, but its working for me so let's all go with it) can become unraveled. How little things can snag and pull and tear the fabric of our every day. And it will never cease to amaze me how some snags can be fixed and others are beyond repair. Sometimes it is the little ones that look harmless, a slight superficial blemish... then you throw it in the wash and the entire thing is coming apart at the seams. Then the big ones? The ones that look like doom & gloom incarnated as yarn turn out to be quick, simple fixes that leave no trace of their former damage.

How do these sweater ending snags and tears happen? It isn't ever a massive run in with pinking shears or shredders or wood chippers. It is a grazing bump against a piece of furniture. It is a innocent run in with a purse zipper. It is a seemingly harmless joust with a set of keys. Half the time you don't even remember how it happened. All you know is that your sweater is ruined.

I'm sitting here, looking around me, looking at the people, the experiences, the wheels that are in motion and where there used to be logic and blueprint, there is chaos and confusion and bewilderment. So many things have happened, so many things are happening, and I just don't understand any of them. I don't understand why bad things happen to good people. I don't get why a boy who has yet to really live dies of cancer. I can't understand why people who always do the right thing get worked over, chewed up and spit out in the end. I can't wrap my head around all of the unraveling that is happening around me. And as for me? I still don't understand why I haven't truly mourned and accepted my dear, sweet Grandfather's death. It feels like a movie. Maybe I am afraid of unraveling myself if I give in to it. I don't know... maybe there is just too much change happening to deal with any of it in depth?

I wish I could run around and fix all the sweaters of those I love. I wish I had all the answers and could mend the tears and snags around me. I wish I knew which ones were fixable and which ones I need to prepare for the worst with. I wish I knew why these things were happening to such amazing, caring and wonderful people, people who don't deserve this. I suppose I never will. And I suppose at the end of the day, I should just be thankful for what I have... thankful that my sweater isn't too worse for the wear (for now, knock on wood). But sometimes, even that outlook leaves me with guilt and worry... and makes me extra cautious for all those potential dangers lurking around every corner. Gosh, that's a gloomy outlook...

Anyway, those are my thoughts right now. I don't have any answers. No reason to the rhyme. Just me an my musings about sweaters.

12 October 2009

Semi-single digit midget.

Woah. We are at the week-ish mark. Obviously I won't give out the specific dates that Swiss is coming home... partially due to OpSec and partially due to the fact that I, myself, don't actually know the specific dates. Ha! Isn't that just so military? Anywhoodles...

I am starting to get giddy. It is nice to be giddy for a change. I think it suits me much better than neurotic, worried, angsty or exasperated. Heck, I'm even listening to my upbeat music on my iPod. Now that is a sure sign that my mood has turned.... my iPod is nothing if not my modern-day mood ring. Anyway, I digress. I'm sure that this being the last week of work for me has something to do with it. I'm sure that the prospect of curling up in bed with my husband instead of my dog (sorry Fletch! you've been a superb substitute!) has something to do with it. I'm sure that not being cut off in the middle of conversations due to weak connections has something to do with it. I'm also sure that being reassured that I am, in fact, married to that guy in all the wedding pictures and not my cell phone has something to do with it.

The nerves are passing... I'm becoming sure that whatever comes our way, we will talk about it, we will be fine, and we will move on. I'm sure that the chemistry is still there. I'm sure that our love is as strong as ever. I'm sure that R&R is going to be wonderful simply because we are together. And that, my friends, is all that matters. So now, my only nerves are about having to do a very emotional thing in a very public place. Because seriously, I don't want everyone at the gate oogling us. Me no likey oogling. I don't want to be a spectacle. I don't want to be a hot, snotty, sobbing mess for Swiss and I certainly don't want to be all of those things for an audience either! I'd prefer if we could do our reuniting (and it feels so goooooood) in private, but I'm not willing to sacrifice any extra minutes with him in order to maintain my dignity. So yeah, I choose my husband over my dignity. I'm thinking that's an okay trade off.

So now I want to hear about your reuniting (and it feels so goooooood) stories. How awkward is it to kiss/make out with your husband for the first time in a lot of months in front of a room full of strangers with nothing better to watch/do? How weird is it to be the pre-flight entertainment? And what ridiculous stories do you all have? Also, do you have that song stuck in your head now? I hope so, because I do.

10 October 2009

Ready.

I am ready for Swiss to be home. And not just R&R home. Really home.
I am ready to not be a long-distance commuter.
I am ready to have a home again. Not the graciousness of someone else's home. Our own.
I am ready to get on with life. Not just the stuff I have planned in the mean time while I'm waiting for our life to begin again.
I am ready to stop worrying and fretting and praying to a God I'm at odds with.
I'm ready for my husband to be safe and sound and in the same zip code.
I am ready to feel like myself again. But of course that requires Swiss and less fretting.
I am, in short, ready for this deployment to be over with.

Rarely has this deployment, on its own and without the help of house drama or kid drama or whatever, felt this weighty. Rarely has it, alone, been such an overwhelming suck of my energy, positivity, enthusiasm and self. Maybe it is because the past week has gone so slowly. Maybe because all of the pending travel has upped my anxiety and worry. Maybe because we've been doing this for too damned long. I don't know.

Either way. I am ready to be done with all of this.

09 October 2009

Musings on the future.

No, not the living on the moon, Jetson's-type "future". My future. Our future.

I can honestly say that my personal future has never been as up in the air, left to chance (sorta), undecided as it is now. I find this to be both highly disturbing and oddly liberating.

See, I've always been the girl with the plan. In grade school I knew I wanted to go to college. I wanted to be a scientist. In high school, I knew where I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to major in. In college, despite the normal hiccups, I chose my degree and got it (even with a change) in 4 years. I wanted to get a job as a scientist. And here I am, 20+ years later doing just what I set out to do when I was a kid. I knew what I wanted and I made it happen. I was the girl with a plan. Now, don't get me wrong... of course there were brief interludes of "What now?" and "Crap. This isn't going as planned." and "Well, I didn't see that coming!". But all in all, I am a planner at heart and I generally know (and have known) what is on the horizon in my life.

Not anymore! All I know, for now, is that in a few "short" months I will be down at Fort X, trying to be a quasi-southerner, not get shot for being a liberal in maybe the most conservative state in the union and being a housewife for about a year. All of which I am very, very excited for. But after that? After Swiss retires? ... ... crickets ... ... I have NO idea what I am going to do. None. Zip, zero, zilch. These few years being an Army wife/gf have certainly taught me about letting go (sorta) of planning, preparing and laying out life in specifics. They've sort of broken me of that trait. But also, I know a life post-Army is coming up soon. And for that? I'm gonna need to plan.

But plan what? A career? Pick a new one or stick with the old? Go back to school or just find any old job that fits? And of course all of that hinges (rightfully so) on where Swiss can get a job. And before you go telling me that my career and I should have just as much say in where we end up as his... trust me... we've talked about it and given the circumstances, his skills/job prospects, my degrees & job prospects... our plan of attack makes the most sense. And of course I will have a great deal of say in where we end up. This girl isn't meek or mild and has no trouble speaking her mind! But like I said, where do I (we) go from here?

I guess what I'm wondering is this: How do you go about choosing a new career path? How do you figure out what road to take when you've been on the same one for 6 years? How do you gather up the gumption to take risks when you are 30+ and have more than just yourself to worry about and consider? How do you make smart choices yet still follow your dreams (gaw, that sounded hokey!)? And how, in this horrible market/economy/blah, do you start over in a way that won't leave you financially unstable?

08 October 2009

Happy Birthday Swiss!

Here's wishing the most amazing person I know a wonderful Birthday... I promise there will be cake and food not stored in a tin and presents and all the trappings of a proper Birthday celebration when you get home.

And let's hope this is the last of your Birthdays we have to spend apart...

Happy Birthday Baby! I LOVE YOU!

07 October 2009

LiveBlogging the PCS: Part I forgot where we were... 9?

Okay for reals. This is serious stuff. My current PCS questions/issues are these:

  1. Unemployment
  2. Career Changes/Support
  3. GI Bill

Are you ready to dive in? Okay folks, here we go...

Let's start with #1: Unemployment.
Did you know that some military spouses qualify to collect unemployment benefits due to a PCS? Awesome, right? A real, financial benefit to leaving your job/career due to your spouse's relocation in service to the country. What is not awesome? It is not standardized state to state. Witness the below map.

This means that if you live in one of the 22 states that are listed as "case-by-case" or the 9 who list you as ineligible... you are out of luck* because in their eyes you chose to leave your job, regardless of your spouse's location/responsibilities. Also, you have to determine which state you will apply for unemployment in. To date, I have not come up with the correct answer. Home state where you are leaving your job or new state you are moving to? It's a mystery to me!

Then, I ask you to a) try to find out if you qualify or b) talk to a real person without either promising your first-born child or sticking a pen in your eyeball. It can't be done. I tried to call our current state's office (a case-by-case state) and had to formally fill out an application in order to even talk to a customer service agent. I did not do this because I didn't have my banks routing number handy, which was necessary to complete the application, nor did I want to promise them my first-born child as we don't plan on having kids. Hmm. I then tried to call the office in the state we are moving to (one where spouses are eligible). Their hours? 9am-1pm. Sweet, thanks for the large window folks. So my questions are all still unanswered despite hours dedicated to weeding them out. Thankfully, I called the nice folks at Military OneSource and my quandary is currently with their researchers. They will be getting back to me within 3 business days. HOORAY! Real, actual help!

As you can imagine, the frustration in this has been the lack of standardization and the inability to get answers quickly. My question is this: WHY is this not standardized? Is it a symptom of some states not having strong ties/no ties to military families (like the one we currently live in) versus states with strong ties & multiple military facilities within their borders (like the one we are moving to)? Is it purely legislation based? Or is it the general sentiment (which I came across multiple times in my on-line search for answers) that "Why should you get unemployment when you are choosing to quit your job? It doesn't matter that your spouse is military and had to PCS. You shouldn't get special benefits."? And how do we fix this? Can we?

Now, on to issue #2: Career Changes/Support.
Before I get started, please know that if I list your career below it isn't meant to be disparaging, I don't think they are bad careers, and it is 100% NOT a reflection on you (I know loads of wonderful, smart, talented people who have these careers)... it's just me and my personal preferences/interests.

Okay, so I cannot figure out WHY the only careers the military has deemed "portable" are the following: nursing, medical transcriptionist, teacher, cosmetologist, massage therapist and human resources. Because guess what? I DO NOT WANT TO BE ANY OF THOSE THINGS. Seriously. I got my 4 year degree in environmental biology. I got a professional degree in cytopathology. It isn't that I think I'm too good for those careers at all. But I don't want to be a nurse. I am not good at nursing, which is precisely why I didn't go into nursing in the first place. I am too easily distracted to be a transcriptionist. I only sort of want to teach because you get the summers off. I hate the idea of HR and massaging strangers and doing cuts & colors all day long. So why are my future career choices** so freaking limited suddenly just because I married into the Army?

I understand that I 'chose' to give up my career in moving to Fort X to be with Swiss. But where is the creativity in defining "portability"? Where is the "support" for spouses to do something they love for a living??? Getting my MFA in Science/Medical Illustration would mean I could work from home. Isn't that portable? But nooooooooo. No funding for me because I don't fit the prescribed model. Not fair. How is it my fault that I got a degree in what I actually like and then 7 years later happened to marry a guy in the Army? I have to give all that up if I want help going back to school because a PCS has left me with no job? Why is it okay to give Sally down the street $6000/year to go be a massage therapist but not me to go get a Masters in Biology... oh yeah, because that Masters doesn't count as "portable". Awesome.

I could rant on and on about this for years, but I won't. I will just leave it at this: I think, in this day and age, it is positively ridiculous and demeaning that my career has to fit into my husband's employer's definition of portable. Why should any of us have to become little round pegs to fit into their little round holes just because of our spouse's career choices? How is that "support" for military families? To me, it sounds like this: We'll give you "support" to get a new degree, but only if its what we think will be good for you and the Army (et al). That, my friends, isn't the kind of "support" I want or need.

Lastly, let's tackle issue #3: GI Bill.
Okay, this sort of ties into issue #2. If Swiss was able to transfer his Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits to me, #2 wouldn't be an issue. I'd be saved from the definitions of a "portable careers" and could use the GI Bill money to get any degree I wanted... a Masters in Underwater Basket Weaving? Yup. A Bachelors in Medieval Druid Literature? Sure! An Associates in Decorative Food Arts with a focus in Chocolate Curls? You betcha! The GI Bill is pretty awesome like that.

But alas, Swiss has entered one of the many Twilight Zones in the GI Bill. According to the VA website since Swiss has around 19 years in... he is too close to retirement to (want to) re-enlist and too far away from retirement to fall into the grace periods. That means that, even though Swiss would get these benefits if he wanted them (which he does not) he cannot transfer them to me unless he re-enlists for another year. In war time! FUN!!! Or not.

"For those individuals eligible for retirement after August 1, 2009, and before August 1, 2010, 1 year of additional service after approval of transfer is required."

Sure, that extra year would entitle me to whatever degree I fancied for free. But what does that extra year get him? Answer: An all expenses paid trip to the scenic mountains of Afghanistan! Complete with rustic accommodations, nightly aerial explosive displays and all you can eat MRE's! I'm guessing you will agree with me when I say the trade off isn't worth it. Not by a long shot.

So, here I sit. Unemployed (yes, by choice, sort of) with no prospects. The one job in my current field open at our new duty station? I applied for it and couldn't get an interview because I was overqualified. There is no degree/certification I can complete between January and November of next year. And there aren't any "portable" careers that even remotely appeal to me. So what is a gal to do? Answer: Pay out of pocket, take out a new loan and figure out what else I want to be when I grow up. Then go back to school. And hope I can find a job somewhere down the line.

I'd like to not be snarky about this, but I'm feeling decidedly "Screw you Army!" about it all. It isn't enough that we all do without our husbands for a year(+) at a time, constantly worry about their safety, hold the homestead together all alone and move whenever and wherever they decide to send us- but we get to give up our hard earned careers and goals too! And what do they give us in return? 12-15 months of "dwell" time and some spare change to go be a hairdresser. Hey! Thanks DoD!!! Or not.

Thus endeth my rant.

* yes, they say "case-by-case" but we all know that is just a PC term for "no"
** as defined by programs like myCAA

Observations.

It is really strange only having one key on your keyring.

The sky is really clear and the stars are oh-so-bright when you live in the country, it is purty.

I scraped ice off the windshield this morning, srsly.

There is snow in this weekend's forecast, again, srsly.

Most people are what I would call "Bad Drivers".

Swiss comes home soooooooooooooon!!!

The end.

06 October 2009

Nerves.

nerve- /n…úrv/ [nurv] noun, verb, nerved, nerv-ing.
–noun
1. one or more bundles of fibers forming part of a system that conveys impulses of sensation, motion, etc., between the brain or spinal cord and other parts of the body.
2. a sinew or tendon: to strain every nerve.
3. firmness or courage under trying circumstances: an assignment requiring nerve.
4. boldness; audacity; impudence; impertinence: He had the nerve to say that?
5. nerves, nervousness: an attack of nerves.
6. a line, or one of a system of lines, extending across something.


Yup. That's me. Now that the panic, worry, angst, trepidation and general insanity of the home selling, packing, moving and upending of our lives has come to pass... the nerves have settled in. R&R is less than 2 weeks away. I am so excited to see him... but also? I am terrified. Like blind date terrified. What if it isn't the same? What if the chemistry is off? What if it just feels awkward? What if we don't fall back into step together? What if... ?

Now, please, please, please don't misconstrue this as anything other than what it is: nerves. Our relationship is on very solid ground. I am madly in love with Swiss. I think he is the sexiest thing on two legs. We communicate well with each other. In short, we are doing well, so I have no reason to think R&R won't go spectacularly.

I realize that this is probably normal. I also realize that my worries are likely baseless. But I can't get the idea that it will be awkward out of my head. I can't seem to figure out how it won't be weird. I mean, when you have a relationship with your husband strictly over the phone/e-mail for 8 months and then suddenly are back together, sharing the same physical space, being intimate, being a married couple, being the couple you remember being before... how does that work? Especially in just 2 weeks? (I suspect I know the answer to this... but feel free to share your experiences)

But oh, man. The nerves! I think it is just a product of wanting it to go well, of not seeing him in so long, and of wanting the assurance that we haven't changed... our relationship fundamentally hasn't changed. I understand (boy do I ever) that deployments change people, that experiencing this, living through it, coping with it, making do changes you. How could it not? But I can't help but worry that all of these little changes will add up to something that isn't, at it's root, us.

So feel free to tell me I'm nuts. Or not. Feel free to share your experiences with R&R/reintegration (which is also fast approaching). And tell me how you dealt with the nerves and angst. And then tell me to ease up, stop being my own worst enemy, and let myself get excited - nee - giddy about seeing my husband for the first time in over 8 months.

05 October 2009

Aaaand I'm spent.

Well, here it is, Monday. My first day sans-home. It is okay so far! As far as I know, all (okay, most) of our worldly possessions are on their way to Tayhoss via Louisiana and Mississippi. And as far as I know, the house deal is still okay even though we are waiting on the oh-so-precious Special POA (long story involving a house bought before Swiss and without Swiss's name on the title yet he still needs to sign in order to sell it, blah, blah, blah) to arrive from the Sandbox. Fingers are crossed... many, many fingers are crossed... that said POA arrives a) at all and b) this week. If you want to join, feel free to cross your fingers too!

I am currently living with my very sweet In-Laws about 40 minutes away from where I work (only 2 more weeks of work!!!). I get to take a commuter bus, which is surprisingly relaxing and enjoyable. I also get to knit on the bus. Look at me! Knitting in public! My Mother In Law is getting a sweet green hat and it should be ready by the end of the week thanks to the bus. Yes, I like the bus, very much.

The side effect of living sans house though is living out of luggage, Rubbermaid totes, boxes and a pick up truck. Dude, for serials... I DON'T KNOW WHERE ANY OF MY CRAP IS. I couldn't find my conditioner this morning. Or my brush. And I am phobic about looking ridiculous with 3 pieces of luggage to sift/sort through daily. But really people... THREE months! No house! I need 3 pieces of luggage. It is cold here! I need sweaters! And boots! And lots and lots of jeans!!! I can't help it... this is my plight as a chronic over-packer. At least I come by it honestly though. Right? Me thinks some serious rearranging/organizing is in order tonight.

Anyway, enough drivel for now. Needless to say I am glad that the whole move (at least this part of it) is done and that I can start focusing on the fact that R&R is right around 2 weeks away.

OH MY GOD. I WILL ACTUALLY, PHYSICALLY SEE MY HUSBAND IN TWO WEEKS. I AM NOT MARRIED TO A CELL PHONE!?!?!?! HE'S AN ACTUAL MAN!?!?!?!!? HOORAY!!!!

Okay, you all have a super Monday and I will post more drivel later. I like drivel. Drivel and busses.

02 October 2009

Here and gone, in a flash!

Okay. Our house? It is empty. Our original Special POA that no one told us we needed in order to close on the house? It is on its way from Iraq. Our stuff? It is on its way to Fort X. Me? I am sitting here in my empty house with my family and 3 dogs camping indoors. It is fabulous... at least until the cable/internet gets turned off in a few hours. The closing of the house? Postponed until the Special POA gets here... I'm pretty sure that is okay, but won't know for sure until we get confirmation that our buyer's head didn't explode when he heard the news. Anywhoodles, I'm offline yet again until Monday when I move in with my in-laws. Wheeee!

Have a super weekend folks! Talk to you laters...

29 September 2009

Offline.

Okay peeps. I am going offline for a few days while we get this move taken care of. Wish us luck, we need it bad. There is a long story here about our Special POA and its location in Iraq that I can't bear to tell right now. Needless to say this move/sale/whatever needs to be done NOW. Later folks!

28 September 2009

Let the chaos ensue. (wasn't I LiveBlogging this PCS once?)

Okay, so yeah, that was a helluva few weeks there. Life feels pretty surreal right now... somehow it hasn't completely sunk in that at the end of this week I will no longer have a home. Holy stinking heck. I AM GOING TO BE HOMELESS LIVING OUT OF OUR TRUCK AND FREELOADING OFF OF FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR THE NEXT THREE MONTHS!

Hmm. Still hasn't sunk in. Ah well.

What has sunk in, however, is that the movers are showing up on Wednesday(!). (Please don't ask how one has sunk in and the other hasn't- this is just one of my many oddities that Swiss has to put up with on a daily basis.) See, when you live out of your truck for 3 months, there is some pretty strategic packing that needs to happen before the Army Approved packers come and wrap everything in bubble wrap, load it up on a big ol' truck and ship it south. Like clothes. How does one pack for both fall and winter for 3 months? Answer: With a lot of luggage. Oh yeah, and Swiss needs clothes for R&R too. Did I mention A LOT of luggage? And of course, since Mother Army loves her some paperwork, there is the bag dedicated solely to "important" documents. I put that in quotes because naturally I put what I thought to be important and necessary in there. Of course we all know that once everything is in temporary storage 1,200 miles away I will discover some truly important paperwork I need and cannot get to. And then there are all the little things that I just plain don't trust the movers with... the family heirlooms, jewelery, Fletcher (ha!). Oh yeah, and I need to cancel, transfer and whatever else you do with all your household utilities/services. And then there is the ProGear. I need to separate that out. And I need to sell my car. And I need to get my stuff out of my cubicle at work. And I need to empty the fridge/freezer. And I need to have a garage sale. And the computer and the XBox and the crafty stuff I will need to avoid boredom and my winter jacket and the potted orange tree and the urns in the back yard and... and... and...

And I need to calm down so my head doesn't essplode.

Also, I could use a husband. You know, the kind with a strong back, big burly muscles and intimate knowledge (keep it clean folks) of where all of our crap resides in this house. Anyone have one of those I can borrow? Mine's in Iraq and the pesky Army won't let him come home to help me move. The nerve!

So, here I am chomping at the bit here at work, anxiously waiting for the minutes to go by and get home so I can get on with the business of living out of our truck (down by the river) for which I am very, very excited. There will be a large pot of coffee, bubble wrap (seriously, keep it clean folks!), packing tape, storage crates, Sharpies and the aforementioned boatloads of luggage. With any luck, there will also be a lot of things crossed off the massive list I made for myself this weekend... is this where I say Hooah?

P.S.: Did I mention that Swiss comes home in less than a month? I KNOW! AWESOME!!!

27 September 2009

PS- I wrote something of actual use!

Check it out... I wrote a (not so little) piece on the GI Bill/VA woes that are surfacing now. Nothing groundbreaking, but I'd like to think it is pretty informative and at least tells the sordid tale of what really happened to cause all this. Check it out if you are interested or curious!

Also, as an update: The VA is agreeing to give out "emergency" $3,000 payments to Vets who haven't yet received their checks to cover rent. Go VA!

23 September 2009

Keep on truckin'.

Or something like that. After my spectacular meltdown yesterday on the phone with Swiss and on my blog I've moved on to self-preservation mode, also known as Auto Pilot, and started doing what I feel is the only option: Put my head down and just keep going. Push through it, be a hard ass when needed, take time for myself when needed and do whatever it is I need to do to get through this. Though to be fair, this is easier said than done. I'm still feeling totally overwhelmed and a little bit lost, but I'm getting better in large part to amazing friends and family and Swiss.

I'm not 100% sure what all of that entails... the doing what I need to get through this part... but I'm guessing I'll figure it out as I go. Lots of deep breathing, knitting (which I find oddly soothing and calming), packing like the scheduled move on Wednesday (!!!!) is still going to happen and preparing myself for the funeral on Saturday... oh and the pile of dirty laundry that needs to be done.

Tonight we are having a face to face sit down regarding the sale of the house with my agents, the buyer, his (crazy) agent and me. This will seal the deal no matter how it shakes down... either they will understand the math and the sale will move on as planned or they won't and I will cancel the Purchase Agreement. Pretty simple stuff... though the implications of canceling the PA sort of makes me want to vomit (read: cancel movers & reschedule for after R&R, get the house ready to show by tonight as I am leaving for home tomorrow, and the inherent risk of not getting another offer for a very, very long time). But whatever happens, I will deal with it and make it work. Because, hey, that is what we do... what other choice is there?

With any luck, next week at this time I will be preparing for the packer's & mover's arrival and moving forward with the sale of the house, feeling relieved, less stressed, calmer and finally, FINALLY, getting excited about R&R and seeing the man on the other end of my phone for the first time in 8 1/2 months. I'm not going to pray for this or hope my Karma comes through... I'm going to be dogged in my determination to make it work and beat this ridiculousness into submission through sheer will & persistence. Tom Petty told me not to back down, and I ain't gonna. So there.

Anyway, I wanted to say one more Thank You to all of you who have called, e-mailed, texted, IM'd, twittered and commented. Thank You for being so awesomely supportive, kind and caring. It has made this ridiculous roller coaster ride a bit easier to stomach and the graciousness of practical strangers will never cease to amaze me. So thanks for being so wonderful, thanks for still reading, and thanks for your kindness. Now, wish me luck and send more chocolate.

22 September 2009

Crisis of...

Faith.
Confidence.
Karma.
Luck.
Take your pick...

It feels like I should be either irate or inconsolable with all that has happened, all that is going on, all the utter crap that has been raining down on this little life of ours/mine. Instead, I feel nothing. I am catatonic. I feel like I am just stumbling forward to some theoretical end-date where magically everything will be okay and Swiss will be home and all of this will be behind us. I know that day is out there, I know it is coming, but damn if it doesn't feel like it won't ever get here. Oh, and I don't actually know how to get there. Minor detail.

This weekend's events have left me with a crisis of faith. I can't understand why it was him, why he had to leave like that. I can't fathom why a man that made this world a better place would be taken away prematurely, be he 91 or 19. Pair that along side my pre-existing issues with religion, war, fairness and why nothing is the way it aught to be and I can't tell up from down anymore. I want to pray for Swiss' safe return, I want to pray for the safety of my friend's husbands at war. I want to pray for my loved ones who are struggling with the twists and turns of life. I want to pray to lessen whatever burdens I am lugging around. But I don't think (s)he is listening. I don't think my issues are big enough to register on the radar. I feel small and tossed about and insignificant. I don't know what to do when nothing is going right. I used to pray, but now, it feels like an empty ritual and nothing more. It feels like I am talking to air.

I am in the midst of a crisis of confidence the likes of which I have never before experienced because nothing I am doing is working out, nothing is even close to going as planned. I used to think I could do anything. Now I feel like no matter what I do, its destined for failure. I looked at this deployment as something I could tackle relatively easily. Now I look around and see a house deal that just won't go smoothly, a potential emergency mission to abort our move, a looming mortgage and unemployment amidst family drama and personal loss... not to mention 8 months without my husband. My best laid plans are, currently, a house of cards and it is getting windy in here. For so long there was no doubt in my mind that I could take care of all this alone... no doubt that everything would work out. Now, I just feel like I want to give up. What's the point in trying?

I used to believe in Karma. I always thought that if you did good, if you did the right thing, if you were kind and patient and generous that it would all come back to you. I'm fucking nice all the damned time. I always do the right thing even when it doesn't always benefit me. I don't know where all my Karma went. Maybe I blew the whole lot when I met Swiss. All I know is that it isn't here and I need it. Something fierce.

And I still can't understand why, in the middle of a deployment, I was lucky enough to get stuck with a buyer with the batshit insane agent who doesn't understand basic math and has less than zero personal skills with a side of irrationality. She has magically convinced herself and the buyer that there is a phantom $3000 missing and we are trying to get him to pay it. Which would be true if we had all agreed to sell/buy the house for $3000 more than we did. Also, please check my math:
$159,900-$3,000=$156,900. Yes? So then $156,900-$150,000=$6,900. Okay. Then $6,900/2=$3450. Correct? So if we are paying $3000 closing plus $3450 that means we are bringing (this makes me sick to write) $6450 to the table (less 'profit'). The remaining cost is $3450 that the buyer has to come up with. Correct? So how, pray tell, is the buyer getting the unfair end of it all? I CANNOT TELL YOU BECAUSE IT ISN'T TRUE. But she thinks it is gospel and has now convinced him that we are big mean bullies who are trying to take him for all he's worth. Never mind the insane deal (plus the $8000 from the government that they clearly think we don't know about) he is getting on our house and the $6450 we are paying OUT OF POCKET SO HE CAN HAVE OUR HOUSE. Gah. I give up. Really, I do. Done.

Someone please wake me up when this is all over because I'm pretty sure I can't handle it anymore.

At peace.

My Grandpa passed away this morning... he went quickly and did not linger... his breathing became labored and shortly after it stopped and then he was gone. I think we are all relieved that he won't have to go slowly at hospice. He is with his beloved wife Ethel now and we can all start the healing process. You will be missed Grandpa... maybe more than you will ever know.

7 January 1918 - 22 September 2009

Christmas at Home!

21 September 2009

Saying Goodbye.

Well, this has been one of the most difficult weekends I've ever experienced. I called my parents just before boarding my flight back home from San Francisco... that is when my Dad told me that my Grandpa suffered a catastrophic stroke the night before. I drove home from the airport, rounded up the dog, clean clothes and drove to my parent's home in the middle of the night.

We arrived at the hospital early Saturday morning and he looked so peaceful. But when the doctor came in, the reality of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks. He suffered a catastrophic stroke when a clot that had formed in his heart dislodged and stuck itself in his carotid artery. His entire left hemisphere was injured; speech recognition, the ability to form words, and the control of the right side of his body. Gone... or at least greatly diminished. The man I had grown up with, admired, respected and adored was a shell of his usually vibrant self. And the odds were not in his favor.

After 72 hours of waiting and hoping, we got the final word today... he will not improve... he can't. The damage was too much and the risks for complications were too high. Thankfully he was "awake" a bit more today and I got to see him try to smile. He tried to mumble 'I love you' back to me after I said it to him. He and I had a good 4 minutes together... I didn't say goodbye, I couldn't bring myself to say those words, but I told him how much I loved him, how he was always my favorite, and I held his hand tight. Then I left. And I cried most of the way home.

We, as a family, along with his advance directive have made the exceedingly hard decision to let him die quietly, peacefully, painlessly in hospice. As horrible as that sounds, letting him die, the alternative of a gastric feeding tube and a non-existent "life" in a nursing home, unable to speak, write, or move was never an option for us or him. He deserves better and he went out on top, which is both a blessing and a curse... it is comforting to know he was living a great life and never had to suffer through loosing his faculties, but it is beyond hard to comprehend and stomach that he is so suddenly gone, with no warning and no rhyme or reason. He was Wii bowling with his friends Thursday hours before the stroke... he was loving life and having fun and he knew how much he was loved by all of us. This is the last gift we can give to him, honor his wishes and let him go peacefully, no matter how hard it is and no matter how unready we were to say goodbye.

I feel such a great sense of loss and shock that he will no longer be there for family Sunday dinners, that his joyful demeanor and contagious laughs won't be present at holiday gatherings, that I won't get to play cards with him and playfully scold him when he tried to cheat. I will miss our Friday phone calls and I will miss his kind smile. I am still utterly gobsmacked that all of this has happened... he was the picture of health, 91 years old still living on his own, active, alert, no hints of ill health. And the next day he was, essentially, gone.

Thankfully I have an abundance of wonderful memories, I had the blessing of having him in my life for almost 31 years, I was able to form a unique and special relationship with him... and I secretly think I was his favorite (because he was totally mine!). I remember him letting me do his hair up with ribbons and curlers when I was little. I remember him putting me up on his 6'4" shoulders to take me out to the sandbars on Lake Winnebago. I remember him acting out his clue of "Madonna" one year at Christmas playing charades... that memory is priceless. Mostly, I remember a man who was dedicated to his family, madly in love with his wife, and the kind of fellow who no one could dislike if they tried. I remember his patience, his charm and his good nature. He was a gem, one of a kind, and I was blessed to call him my Grandfather for so, so many wonderful years.

I will miss you like no other Grandpa... you'll always be my favorite and I'll always love you! Go be with your Beloved Ethel and know that we will never, ever forget what a wonderful person you have been, what a kind and generous grandparent you were, and what a strong, loving, parent you were... we will never forget the times we shared and we will never forget you. You will always, always be missed.

Also, Thank You everyone for your kind thoughts, prayers and for those of you who reached out for the first time... you all have no idea how much your kindness has meant to my family and me.

NOTE: Please understand this was a very hard decision for our family and while you may not agree with us, I do not have any desire to hear those opinions, concerns or condemnations now, or ever. Please respect this decision our family has made as a whole and only comment if you have something positive or kind to say. Thanks.

19 September 2009

Sigh.


Grandpa, originally uploaded by Tucker&Swiss.

Just so you all know why I am MIA. My Grandfather, who is one of the most wonderful creatures this world has ever played host to, had a catastrophic stroke and the prognosis is not good. We won't know more until Monday but are preparing for the worst. I am home with my family, where I should be, but feeling utterly helpless and tremendously sad. This was completely out of the blue and I am just not ready to say goodbye to him yet. Please send your prayers our way. Thank you.