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...