29 May 2010

Memorial Day, 2010.

"The 30th day of May is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan."

General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

May you all take a moment to remember what this day is really all about. To remember those who have served, those who have lost, those who have given all or part of themselves to serving their country. Remember all of the wars, all of the conflicts, all of the generations touched by the noble, honorable, brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our great country and in the name of freedom.

I, for one, will always be grateful to and humbled by these selfless men and women.

26 May 2010

Pimping out homecomings.

I got to thinking... and my thinking got me to formulating a blog post, and this post will likely ruffle some feathers, so my thinking might get me in a spot of trouble. That being said, please don't be offended dear readers! I'm not speaking specifically to anyone and I'm really just trying to explore this topic and how we share and what we share and where the lines in the sand are for each of us.

So, Pioneer Woman is doing one of her photography assignments, which I love even though she never picks mine (but she did pick one of Brits!). Apparently the 'happiness' assignment last week garnered a ton of military homecoming posts, so this week's assignment is coming home. Specifically, the military kind (though near as I can tell other non-military permutations of the theme are allowed). And oh, are there submissions. Like coming out of the woodwork. (Sort of made me feel like we were a much bigger community than we really are! Crazy!).

Now, even though I'm a MilSpouse and we just had a homecoming and I am a total photography junkie... I don't have a submission to send in. Are you shocked? Well, I will tell you why. First- practicality. I didn't know anyone when I PCS'd down here so when Swiss came home shortly thereafter I didn't have anyone to come with me to photograph it- his family didn't come down either, so I was flying solo. Second- weather. It was raining and cold and crappy and muddy and the whole shin-dig was outside. This doth not a pretty scene make. Thirdly- and most importantly (to me)- privacy. Plain and simple, that was an epic moment between Swiss and I that I just couldn't bear to share with anyone else, let alone strangers.

See, I'm VERY protective of that moment. That was the culmination of a suck-tastic year... so much time apart, so much heartache and difficulties, so much worry and fear and the emotional roller coaster... that homecoming ceremony, that moment when we were reunited was something precious we both earned with sweat, tears and 365 days/ 7,000 miles of distance. I sort of feel like sharing that moment with anyone is letting them get all the good of a deployment (at least the feel-good buzz and warm fuzzy feeling) without putting in any of the work. I know that might seem ridiculous to many of you, but there it is. That was, and always will be, OUR moment. Not for public consumption. Not for pimping. Not for awards. Not for blog comments. Not to make anyone else feel good. Not to drive home some point about these wars. Ours. Alone. Because we earned it.

Is that 84 shades of over-dramatic? Some might think so... and of course y'all are entitled to that, without a doubt. But there is just something about seeing all these photos pouring into the blog-o-sphere that makes me cringe. Sure, they are touching and emotional and offer a window into our lifestyle that many don't get to see. But maybe that is the issue. They don't get to see the nights waiting by the phone, feverishly checking e-mails, they don't get to see the panic when a dark sedan rolls past the house a little too slowly for comfort, or the fear when there is a knock at the door. They don't get to see the nights you lay awake crying because all you want in this whole world is just to feel him close again, smell him, hold him. They don't get to watch us struggle with managing an entire household, a family alone. Nor do they get to watch us feverishly put together care packages and write letters because it is all you can do and you just have to stay busy or it will consume you. They don't see the lonely nights alone, the missed holidays, the spectacular crashes so many of us feel after R&Rs. They don't see all the things that go into that homecoming. They are spectacular because of the year that preceded them and all that the couple endured, together. They are spectacular because they aren't superfluous, there is weight and meaning behind them, they are spectacular because they were hard-fought, they were earned.

Have you noticed that we don't share the crappy stuff (except with each other)? When strangers ask, "How do you do it?" we always reply, with a shrug and some easy, practiced comment about how we just do. We rarely ask for help during deployments... we bear that burden -mostly- alone. Camera crews don't show up to document how hard deployments are on families and no one orders a photo shoot to capture just how sucky that time was. (Can you just imagine? A photographic reminder of all the sad, lonely nights on the couch with the dog and a glass- or 3- of wine? DEPRESSING!) Why won't we let the public see the crappy stuff, but when they ask for the glorious, hard-earned, emotional, intensely personal homecoming p0rn, we send the photos flying out the door faster than you can say "Cheese!"?

Is it pride? Is it some sort of statement- political or otherwise? Is it just about sharing? Or... is it the attention? The blog numbers bump? The publicity? (Gaw, I'm so cynical!) What is it that makes so many of us share these intensely personal moments, in great detail, with perfect strangers and non-military folks? Just looking at the photos on the flickr page makes me feel a little pervy and like a Peeping Tom. Knowing how I feel about our homecoming, seeing photos of other's out there leaves me feeling a little dirty, like I saw something I shouldn't have been privy to. Yet, there they are, on tremendously public sites like flickr or the Pioneer Woman... willingly, enthusiastically put our there for anyone and everyone to see. Like its no big deal. Its almost as if the MilSpouses of the world took this 'recognition' from a civilian blogger and were so wanting to be included and made to feel special that they couldn't toss those personal moments into the ring fast enough. I'm certain that isn't the case for all of them, but I'd be willing to bet its the case for many.

I am sure I offended some of you, and that wasn't my intention at all. We are, obviously, all free to do whatever we choose and we are allowed to disagree. I'm mostly just trying to understand the whys and wherefores behind sharing these moments. What is it about sharing these photographs that makes you want to do it? What do you get out of it? Are there any of you who have shared them and wished they hadn't - or vice versa? How do you feel when you see other's photos of homecomings? I'm tremendously interested in how people choose to share and what they choose to share- it is always a fine line- especially for us bloggers and Facebook users. So, please, tell me what you think about all of this, even if you think I'm nuts!!!

25 May 2010

Lawns, watering & futility.

Okay, so Fort X is in the 'south'. It is hot here already. We've been in the 90s for about a month now. And it is only going to get worse. Summertime averages are hovering in the 100's. I'm not complaining about the temps though - at least not yet. But here IS my beef: the housing folks here insist on everyone having lush green lawns, and in order to make that happen in the face of 6 straight months of 80+ degree weather with peaks in the 110's, you have to water your lawn. HAVE TO. Its only the end of May and ours is already showing signs of brown crispiness. Tres unattractive.

But you know what? I loathe watering lawns. Loathe. Not only is it a huge (HUGE!) waste of water, but it actually makes the grass less strong, have weaker roots and more susceptible to drought. Once you start, you can't stop until fall or you decide you don't mind having a crunchy carpet of tan in the back yard. Its a vicious and unnecessary cycle I'd just rather not be a part of. But the housing folks here insist we water. So water we must. Against all my better judgement and all the numbers...

Dig this: the average 1,000 square foot lawn 'requires' 8 inches of water a month during the growing season (our state averages- using the high figures- 2.6" per month- its usually way less than that), that means over the course of one month, ONE family would use just shy of 5,000 gallons of water. That adds up to over 30,000 gallons JUST during spring and summer. THIRTY THOUSAND gallons of water. For just your lawn. Do the math, according to the post housing office, there are around 6,000 homes here. 6,000 x 30,0000 = 180 MILLION GALLONS. In six months. (For reference, that is about 272 Olympic sized pools) And Fort X claims to be all about the water conservation... tell them your toilet is running or your faucet is leaking? They'll be out ASAP on an emergency maintenance call, BUT... you still have to water your lawn daily.


I, for one, would have LOVED to see Fort X have nice, soft pea gravel back yards (my friend had one in Phoenix and it was perfectly lovely- though the pool did help), we wouldn't have to mow all the time (and therefore we wouldn't have to send out the neighborhood CO to shake his finger at the homes who aren't mowing frequently enough), they are virtually maintenance free, no bald spots from Spot running circles in the yard, and no watering. Now, I suppose there would be a milliondy high-maintenance families screeching about how there's no grass for their kidlets to frolic in. To which I would say, People, we practically live in the desert. Get over it. (Or, if you are nicer than I am, you could set aside a few lush grassy areas in each neighborhood to give the grass lovers their fix.)

Anyway, this is the bug that is in my craw. I am awaiting the nasty-gram stuck in our door because we aren't watering the lawn and it is slowly turning brown. But, deep down, I also don't want to get sacked with the fees for replacing an entire yard's worth of sod (not that it is a grassy yard, though, it is mostly weeds that we MUST water). So fight on I will, and try to get by on the bare minimum watering possibly allowed. May the force be with me!

A house divided.

Well, not really. We aren't really THAT divided. Only on a few key issues (Democrat vs. Republican is the biggest and causes much gnashing of teeth)... but the one that is currently driving me up the wall to a chorus of nails on blackboards? Planner vs. last-minuter. I would be the planner of the bunch. Sadly, most of Swiss's family falls into the last-minuter category.

For example: We have a family wedding to go to in early June. We knew about the wedding, but only got the invites with the final dates late last week (replete with ambiguous times like 'at sunset'... does that mean the ceremony is precisely at the time for sunset listed in moon-phase charts or is there a more specific time everyone knows about except us?). Ummm, its late May. I'm pretty sure our wedding invites were out like 3 month prior to the event. But I digress. Aside from being given zero information about hotels (its an out-of-towner) and spending a few hours of my day hunting down hotels presumably near the wedding location, I've been desperately trying to find a kennel for Mr. Fletcher.

I'm hoping I can garner some sympathy from the pet-owners out there because this was SO much harder than I thought it would be. We had a perfectly WONDERFUL place for him to be boarded at back in Minnesota and it was always just so easy. Here? Some places only take the dogs out 3 times a day. Others are 100% indoors. One makes you get Bordetella vaccinations every 6 months even though Vets only recommend doing it once a year (and naturally we fall outside the 6 month window). And better yet, I found one that doesn't allow any pick-ups on Saturdays OR Sundays? Wha??? Anyway, I finally tracked down a kennel with their acts together and wouldn't you know it. Already booked up. EFF.

Now, if you recall this post, you know that this isn't a new issue for us, the ongoing battle of planner and fly-by-your-seater. And at least this one wasn't either of our faults. But COME ON. I am currently in a holding pattern that will either get us a pricey individual cottage kennel in the next town up (rather inconvenient as this will have Fletcher in the back seat of the Altima with my MIL and I for at least a half hour, yikes!) or just taking him with us (our hotel is pet friendly) but that just sounds like a horrible idea since it is a wedding and you never know how long this stuff lasts and would involve Fletch in the back seat with my MIL and I for 3 hours. Ugh.

I can honestly say that, coming from a family of planners (to the nth degree often), the lack of planning by the other half of family in your life really is enough to drive you to drink. Do any of you suffer from this affliction? How do you manage and how do you get all your planning in without being the anal-retentive one constantly pestering folks for dates? Or do you just say screw it and pester away? What is the best way to avoid these situations short of demanding dates and lots of stomping of the feet? Okay, well I am off to twiddle my thumbs until the doggie cottage place calls me back. Wish me luck folks!

24 May 2010

Camera strap cover.

Camera strap cover, originally uploaded by Awesomesauce Studios.

Well, since I got all existential on you about being a housewife, I thought I'd post some more pics of the fruits of my labor... or what I've been doing when I haven't been doing the dishes. I got the tutorial from Cluck, Cluck, Sew and it worked like a dream! I just slid it over the existing strap, though there are ways to replace the old strap all-together (Go LopsidedMom!). Anyway, it was fun and I knocked it out in an hour, between laundry, cooking AND dishes. Suck on that housewifery!!!

Stay at home wifery.

Aaah, the perils of being a non-working former working gal. Let me first say that I 100% recognize how incredibly lucky I am to be in a position where I don't have to work and our household income is still plenty sufficient to live the life we like. So yes, I am in full understanding of the fact that I am lucky that I get to whine about such inane things. Hopefully that will prevent your eyes from rolling back so hard they get stuck...

Okay, back on point. Stay at home wifery. I find this to be an entirely odd 'profession' where I am constantly negotiating the line between lazy-useless-good-for-nothing and industrious-June-Cleaver-uberhousewife. Neither are a good thing, I don't want to be the wife who stays at home all day and still lives in a pig sty with no clean underwear and 2 weeks worth of dishes rotting away in the sink. I also don't want to indulge my OCD tendencies and become the sort of housewife that has nary a throw pillow out of place and no traceable specs of unruly dust floating through the house. Swiss isn't fond of either incarnation and let's be real here, neither of those extremes are likely to happen anyway.

What I'm having trouble with is the day to day choices. If there are dishes in the sink (dishes are still Swiss's chore because I loathe them and Swiss loves me) and I choose to quilt or paint or blog, am I being a bad housewife? Should housework and cooking and laundry always trump the multitude of other ways I could spend my days? How do I deal with the nagging voice in the back of my head telling me I'm being lazy when I suggest going out to dinner rather than cooking? How do I reconcile the days when I just cannot bring myself to vacuum or dust or put away the laundry for the nth day in a row so I watch the Food Network and HGTV and blog? And just how ridiculous is it that I have this inner turmoil over being a good housewife when Swiss could care less?

See, I am used to having tasks to do, I am used to work, I am used to having to show some sort of proof of my accomplishments on any given day. To me, if the house isn't reasonably fabulous, I must have been slacking because an imperfect house means I can't point to the tangible things I've done. A quilt isn't what stay at home wives do, cleaning is. A witty blog post only means I wasn't spending my time buffing the linoleum. Ridiculous, right?

I am mostly good at moving past this silly little ear bug, but man, there are days when I feel like doing the things I want to do with this gift of a year off is nothing short of selfish and when Swiss has to go to work all day, the least I can do is have a spotless house for him to come home to. Even though he doesn't care. Seriously, someone please slap me! Thankfully this is one of my quirks that I alone have to deal with, and it is one that is *usually* easy enough to move past. Because when you have 15 different sewing projects gnawing away at your brain, the vacuuming can always wait. Right?

20 May 2010

My quest for creativity... part quilts.

DUDES! I made a quilt. Actually, two of them. QUILTS! Like sewing and math and it actually came together as something rectangular (mostly) in shape and perfectly wonderful for snuggling in. Can you tell I am super proud of myself? See, I am no sewer, I never had a whole lot of direction/instruction, so I mostly did this in a learn-as-you-go process and I am beyond geeked that it actually worked. So geeked, in fact, that I quickly started up some baby quilts for a pregnant friend I'll be visiting this fall. Anywhoodles, on to the photographic evidence that I'm not making this stuff up!

First up- my quilt. I made it from all my old college tees that I don't wear anymore but just can't bear to part with (I'm hopelessly sentimental and secretly a total pack-rat). And can I just say that jersey is hard to work with? But it still worked out well and the back is flannel so it is super awesome to curl up with. Also, its big enough for two people to snuggle on the couch under... and no fear of your toes ending up cold because the blanket is too skimpy. So, yes HOORAY for me!
Also, Fletcher approves of the blanket. This is his highest form of compliment.

Next, the baby quilt! I LOVED doing this one. Mostly because it was smaller and inordinately easier to manage on my non-quilt specific sewing machine. Also, I 'discovered' the disappearing 9s pattern idea thingy online... fabulous! And easier than any sort of quilting has any right to be. The hardest part was finding boy material that wasn't cammo, tractor, or sports team based. But I am rather pleased with the outcome!

Here's the final beauty shot... just before I put on the dreaded binding (my least favorite part).

Okay, so that concludes my show-and-tell today. I can honestly say that all this creativity DOING is doing me a world of good. Plus, it feels a lot better to walk away from a day with this as your work rather than piles of laundry and vacuumed floors!

18 May 2010

Sad, sappy sack.

Aah, bugger. I hate it when the sad sappies strike. You never know when or where, you don't know what will trigger them, and once they are there... there's no denying them. *sigh*

The other night it was hearing Swiss whistle the way my always Grandpa did... he was a whistler. The kind of whistle that has a subtle warble, vibrato thingy to it. We were watching Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings together and he whistled along with the happy music from the scenes in the Shire and the tears came. Slow and steady... I miss that man so very much. I miss so many things from life PreD (pre-Deployment)...

I miss how life was before then. We had a home, we lived together, my family was whole (mostly), my friends were close, my life was 'normal'... or at least normal as I knew it. So much has changed in the last year plus. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by them all... and here I thought life PostD would be easy and breezy without a care in the world. Ha!

As I heard Swiss whistle... the memory of the phone call in the San Fransisco Airport came flooding back. Calling home to see how the family was doing... hearing from my dad that my grandfather, my last grandparent, had a stroke, a very bad one and was in the hospital. I remember the instant tears that came flooding in, hot and unrelenting. I remember the fear and worry that I might never see him again. I remember thinking that it couldn't possibly be his time yet.

The I remembered rushing home to Wisconsin as soon as I arrived back from the airport. I remember packing up the dog and my dirty clothes and driving through the night just to get home. I remember recounting all the wonderful memories I had of my dear, sweet, kind Grandfather... the laughs, the silliness, the wisdom, the quirks, the love. I remember worrying about my Mom and how hard it was to see him in the hospital, hard to watch him suffer. I remember him trying SO hard to talk, to let us know he loved us. I remember doing everything in my power to keep it together for him. I remember thinking over and over again- it isn't his time. It can't be.

But it was. And it was horrible, and it was one of those times you so desperately want your spouse home (curse you deployment!). So they can help bear the burden of your pain and hurt and loss. So they can be the ones to comfort you and ease you through the rough spots. I remember not wanting to weight my Mom down with my emotions, trying to be strong for her. And I remember looking back, after it was all done, wondering what had happened to the person I was just a short year ago.

Those are the times you look in a mirror and see someone new staring back at you. You see the same face, the same features, but they are almost imperceptibly hardened, reinforced, steeled. You find that you don't react the way you once did to the litany of things that come flying your way. You find that you, even at the age of 31, have changed in a slight but profound way. Maybe it is innocence leaving, maybe it is naiveté vanishing, maybe it is just the toll of sending a loved on to war- the natural wear and tear of such a stressful and all-encompassing thing. But sometimes, I find myself wishing for the person I used to be to come back. I miss the utter honesty of my emotions- I wasn't ever the girl who could keep her feelings in, I cried, I laughed, I reacted with quasi-composed abandon. I miss the innocence I had, about how challenging life really is, I miss the blissfully deluded world I used to live in.


But here I sit, a few days removed from my sad sappy night, and I can rejoice in the beauty of the things that have happened to us since then. Swiss and I have been reunited, we are happily and madly in love, we have some new friends, I've appreciated the wondermousness of my 'old' friends, I am still utterly amazed by the incredible people I get to call my family and I can sappily and happily reflect on so many years of memories with the ones who aren't with us anymore. So maybe, just maybe, all this change, all this heartache, all this loss- while still sad and utterly sucktastic- helps me keep my perspective and be appreciative of all that I do have. And it reminds me how lucky I was to have such an amazing man like my Grandpa in my life for so long.

14 May 2010

Book report. Shop Class as Soulcraft.

Okay, first things first: Why in the heck did I choose to buy this particular book? Because I'm adrift on the sea of careers- wandering aimlessly with the currents hoping to run aground on a job that I don't hate. I can't decide WHAT I want to do, I am should-ing all over myself, and am totally and completely hung up on notions of what a "good" job is. What's worse? I feel utterly beholden to my 4 year degree- like the world will swallow me whole as punishment for taking a job that doesn't make use of my degree. I'm frustrated and confused with an extra helping of baggage. So I thought this book might help me change my view, get me thinking outside the box and maybe, just maybe, give me some direction.

And you know what? It is pretty awesome. And eye opening. Also? A little bit disturbing. But I'll get there... I'm not going to write some dissertation on this book, nor am I going to get all up in your grill about buying it or reading it or whatever... but I guess I just wanted to do a little sharing. Because sharing is caring. Or at least that is what I say when Swiss has ice cream and what he says when I have a tasty beverage. Though, to be fair, I reserve the right for this post to get completely out of hand and turn into a dissertation/book report. Sometimes I get carried away... can't be helped I'm afraid!

Anywhoodles. So, there's this idea out there that manual labor is somehow "less" (in most every way) than the more traditional 'knowledge' labor. Parents don't want their kids to be plumbers, they want them to go to college and become an architect who designs the plans for the plumber. Though, in today's economy, that architect's job can be outsourced, sent overseas, or even delegated to a computer program. What about the plumber? His work can't be outsourced, it can't be done by a computer, and no one wants an inexperienced amateur doing their plumbing work. Plus, he gets to charge you about $80/hour for your troubles because he is an expert. Hmmm. I never made $80 an hour with my college degree (plus an extra degree!)... I made less than half of that. Less. Than. Half. With 5 years of college. Working at a world-famous medical center. As an "expert". Less than half. Think about that for a minute...

Furthermore, Crawford talks about the idea that working with your hands, gaining experience and expertise in a specific trade is generally more gratifying and soul-quenching than talking about theoretical things and doing paperwork and getting lost in the management miasma that is the modern workplace. And I can't disagree with that at all. Not one bit. Not even if I tried. Think about the satisfaction you get from making a spectacular meal, or harvesting the vegetables from the garden you planted, or the admiration and pride you get from seeing the quilt you imagined, completed and on the bed. Think about how gratifying it is to do something well and have concrete proof of your skills. Doing a photo shoot and getting so many wonderful shots you have to work hard to pare them down? That is a wonderful feeling. Knitting a sweater you can actually wear. Building a play set for your kids. Changing your own oil. Fixing the loose tile in the bathroom. YOU did it, YOU succeeded. Satisfaction. Pride. Concrete proof of your mad skillz. I can honestly say that at my previous job afforded me little of that... and what was there? Fleeting at best.

And what of that satisfaction you get at these 'modern' jobs? Pride that you counted inventory correctly? Satisfaction that you didn't fall outside the ridiculous constructs that have been put upon you by the higher-ups? What kind of 'credit' do you get? Most of us never get anything more than a pat on the back or a flimsy e-mail. And where is the tangible evidence of how amazing you are (or, to be fair, your failures)?  I never got to meet the person who was successfully treated for their cancer after I made a challenging but accurate diagnosis. I can only point to a theoretical group of people who may or may not have actually been helped by the work I did. We are so far removed, usually, from the outcomes of the work we do that it is hard to reap any real satisfaction from our efforts.

Whats worse is that we are leading generations upon generations of future workers down the "College is the Only Way" path. Worse yet, the academic culture (not always) generally is more about generating graduates rather than thinkers or folks particularly well suited to specific jobs. I've seen students pushed through, I've seen college coursework that wasn't much more challenging than high school curriculums, and I can see how any degree only prepares you for the broad scope of a general topic, it does nothing to actually create someone who will be successful. This culture of Everyone Gets a College Degree! is de-valuing the degrees themselves. Furthermore, as a result we have created a workplace that requires documentation in order to get jobs. You have to have a Bachelors, or a Masters or a PhD to even qualify for SO many jobs... but really, what does that degree say about you? It says you went to school and finished your requirements... it (honestly) says precisely nothing about your ability to do any given job, nor does it predict how successful you will be in any given position.

And honestly, how much sense does that make? For example, Swiss just found a job on USAJobs for a dog handler with the TSA. The requirements? Experience working with dogs or a Masters degree. Whaaaa? Can anyone please tell me how having a Masters will make anyone more likely to be successful in this position? Wouldn't one think, rather, that someone with experience with security or tactical planning or identifying terrorist threats would be more in line with the particulars that would make one successful at this job? I fail to see how an extra 2 years of schooling makes ANYONE better suited to handle a dog in a security based position. School is theory. Experience is practical.

Now, before anyone goes thinking I'm here to bash the higher education system... that is far from the truth. I have a Bachelors and I learned a TON. It was beyond useful in shaping me, my outlook, my approach to problems and my intellectual understanding. It also served to broaden my view on things, experience new disciplines, opinions, cultures, etc. College is WONDERFUL for many people. And for some, the desired careers (understandably and appropriately) require these advanced degrees... professors, research scientists, doctors, policy analysts, lawyers, etc. The common thread to all of these (and simmilar) types of jobs is that the knowledge necessary to do to job well goes beyond what can be gained in 4 years as an undergraduate. This makes sense and I wouldn't dream of changing it. In these positions, having those advanced degrees actually does say something about you and your ability to do these jobs.

But getting back on point... the book does a pretty amazing job illustrating the struggles I've had with working in big-business corporate America. And yes, a large hospital totally qualifies. Though I loved working there, it was more of a result of the amazing people I worked with and less about the job and its structure. I found my frustrations arose with the variable and inarticulate nature of the generally accepted management approach (through little fault of the actual managers), the lack of direct exposure to the results of my work, and the touchy-feely-make-everyone-happy-even-if-they-aren't-hacking-it vibe of the modern workplace. Standards were not uniform and ideas of 'team' and 'teamwork' were rampant... all of which only served to minimize personal accountability, give the under performers crutches and punish the workhorses. Furthermore, it created a homogenized environment where certain personalities were oddities that needed more structure and other, more difficult types, were politely ignored for fear of conflict. All of these things are, generally, par for the course because of how the powers that be choose to maximize output and minimize cost. We all suffer because of the almighty dollar... and because we work in terms of theories and concepts, our successes and failures are measured in shades of grey and we all know that we can be replaced with relative ease. Not concrete work with black and white terms for success and failure.

So, now that this has turned into a dissertation, I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who is looking critically about their jobs or thinking about what new road they want to take in terms of work and careers. I'm not saying we should all throw in our respective hats and become electricians or motorcycle mechanics... but I do think reading this will give you a better understanding of what inherent issues in the workplace bother you the most, and help you weigh the pros and cons to working in corporate America. I, for one, realized that I thrive in environments where I can SEE the fruits of my labor and gain actual pride in the quality of my work, I do better where relationships are formed based on mutual respect rather than under the guise of being a 'team', and work best under concrete structure rather than the pervasive 'this is the rule until it isn't convenient anymore' culture. This has already been invaluable in my personal job hunt... the red flags are easier to see and I am more able to articulate my wants and goals for my next career.

I'm totally interested in hearing your take on these issues and/or your thoughts on the book if you've read it. For those of you currently job hunting... are these things you take into consideration or do you consider them a given and just deal with it? How valuable have you found your degrees to be and what is it, exactly, that prevents you from taking real pride and joy in your work? Do you really get more satisfaction working with your hands (in any way- from cooking to crafting to yardwork) than you do with your actual work? Can't wait to hear what you all think!


-I love that Crystal Renn is 5'9" and a size twelve and therefore is "plus sized". Thank you Fashion World for simultaneously making spectacularly beautiful clothes and diminishing my positive self-image. As Uncle Karl says, "...no one wants to see round women." Boo hiss. But three cheers for Crystal- for being both fabulously gorgeous and landing huge modeling jobs as a woman who actually eats food.

-If I see one more Reebok EasyTone BUTTS! commercial I might vomit. I get it. Your shoes will make my butt look like Heidi Klum's. HOWEVER. Even if this was true (which, it isn't because you and I don't have her superior German engineered model genes)... it doesn't mean I would then start walking around in hot pants, bun huggers, or shortie shorts showing my cheek cleavage to the entire neighborhood, mmkay? Also, BTW, I am a woman, you are selling your product to me, please make it look and feel less like a film of a Maxim photo shoot. Kthanksbai.

-I am currently reading "Shop Class as Soulcraft" by Matthew Crawford. I love it. I will do a review of sorts in the coming days, but MAN, talk about a book that finally puts articulate words behind all the struggles I've had working in corporate big-business America. So far he's covered everything from the declining merit of higher education to the futility of 'teamwork' in the workplace to how current management styles really only make everyone walk on eggshells and distance them from the actual goals and purpose of their work. Amazing stuff... and totally making me want to be more hands-on, less cubicle-farmer in my new job hunt. Recommended reading for anyone considering a career re-vamp.

-Speaking of jobs... I've officially hit a wall. I've applied for jobs I'm qualified for in cities we don't want to live in. I've applied for jobs I'm seemingly well qualified for in places we want to live. I got a phone interview for a job in Chicago, but it wasn't quite as-advertised so that ended up being a no-go. I got a "Thanks, but no Thanks" letter from a job I was sure I fit the bill for with the government. I'm not sure what anyone wants anymore and I'm starting to think my only viable career options will be in my previous field, the one I don't want to do anymore. BAH!

-Lastly, I've been doing loads better on scheduling creative time for myself. I am making a quilt people. A QUILT. And the only other thing I've sewn was a needle case for my knitting stuff. I'll post photos soon of the finished quilt but I'm amazed by how this little change has lightened my mood, recharged my creative stores and increased my feeling of purpose. Yes, a quilt has upped my feeling of purpose. When you are a SAHW your days consist of laundry, dishes, cooking and vacuuming and then thinking you are still being lazy because the house doesn't always look just so. Seeing the fruits of my labor, having Swiss come home and be proud of what I've created, getting the satisfaction of actually doing something I've wanted to do for years and have success. It's awesome. And I'm really proud of what I've made. So, yeah, consider this a PSA for taking time to do the things that matter to you. Not just the stuff you are supposed to do.

-Hope you all have a super stellar weekend! The hubs and I are going to a movie tonight (Robin Hood=nummy Russell Crowe) and tomorrow we are having a good friend over for resume building and dinner. Aaah, the joys of retirement and ETS-ing from the Army! Happy weekending everyone!

09 May 2010

The perils of the interwebz.

I don't know if I told y'all... but Swiss has redirected his post-Army job finding focus to (mostly) one specific job. It is a job he should be easily able to land and one that has positions all across this great wide nation. Because variety is the spice of life. And choices are like crack to military families, am I right?

Anyway, yes, choices! So many! I spent most of last week researching states, cities, real estate, cost of living indexes, crime rates, city web-sites, high schools, you name it. It was useful information (if not a teensey bit OCD) and helped us narrow down our choices (CRACK!!! We have choices!?!?!?!?! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!). Ahem, sorry. We narrowed down our choices to 8 positions/cities from the current list and now Swiss is in the process of rounding up all the paperwork he needs to apply.

What did I do in the mean time? Why, of course I looked up houses in the cities we chose. Because I'm a SAHW and have nothing better to do. And guess what y'all. I found our dream house. And you know what? Now it is ALL either of us can think about. CURSE YOU INTERWEBZ AND MLS! Honest to goodness, we have been talking about it ever since we saw it, where we would put the couch, what color we would paint the bedroom, if and where we would build an outdoor run for Fletcher replete with doggie door. Yeah, it is sad. Did I mention it sits on well over 50 acres? Did I mention it has a large stream? And a sauna? And an outdoor fireplace? And a guest cabin? Swoon...

Anyway, I mostly want to tell you all to BEWARE of the interwebz. When next you find yourself moving somewhere new... don't go house hunting online until you are sure you are moving there. Otherwise the web will lure you in and poison your mind with picturesque homes in the woods and fireplaces and real estate p0rn. Be strong! Don't be weak like us. RESIST THE TEMPTATION!!!

Otherwise you too will spend your weekends drooling over a house that isn't yours in a state you aren't even sure you are moving to and trying to figure out how to afford it when neither of you have jobs yet. Trust me on this one.

03 May 2010

And like, stuff.

Blargh. So with the new change of no change, I'm trying to re-evaluate our home life and my day to day. I was all ready to upend everything for Kid A's arrival and now that we don't have to... I'm thinking maybe I should anyway. Did that make any sense at all?

Like working out. Which I have not done in AGES. I finally found my fave workout book "New Rules for Lifting for Women" (thanks Amy!). Yes, its been 4 months since we moved in and I just found it this morning. Because why would a book be in with the other books? It absolutely should be in a giant 100 lb. box of weight plates. Which, BTW, totally reinforces my resolution to do our next move DITY-style. Anyway, I am back on track and have all sorts of motivation to get fit again. All I have to do is pump up the exercise ball and get Swiss to find a new home for the Army gear that has crept in like kudzu and taken over the workout room.

And being better about doing creative things. Because Facebook isn't creative. Neither is surfing the web or 3 consecutive hours of House Hunters International. Painting is. Drawing is. Quilting is (even though it involves waaaaaay more math than I'm comfortable with- blech!). Photography is. So I am promising to set aside time each day- and actually use it- do be creative and channel my inner artist.

The secondary benefit (I hope) to all of this will be making me feel less like a caged animal and more a happy housewife. I've started feeling stagnant and crunchy. I'm a teensey bit more irritable and more easily annoyed. And that is just silly, because what on earth do I have to be annoyed about? I have the best husband (though, like any real, live human being he has his issues) in the world who I am madly in love with, I don't have to work and we still don't have to worry about money, we are healthy, I have wonderful friends and family and yeah- I need to get some perspective and take advantage of the time I have to do the things I want. And that should make me on happy camper.

Anyway, that is my challenge to myself. Start lifting again, and make being creative a priority. So, with that, I'm off to sew. And work on that quilting math. Do you think they have tutors for that???