31 March 2010

Job applications are a mother.

Mothereffer if you ask me. Big, stinky, sweaty, hairy mothereffer. I cannot tell you how damned frustrating this process is. Actually, I am going to... I am going to tell you exactly what it is about this process that is driving me MAD.

And yes, this is my blog and I'll write about whatever I want! *hmmph*

Just teasing!!! Well, sort of... ;)

Anyway, here's the deal. I am frustrated that I have to have 2 (plus) totally dissimilar resumes going at once. And that each one needs tweaking with EVERY application. I hate trying to translate my super specific experience into something a non-laboratorian would understand. IT IS HARD. And it is exactly what the hubs is trying to deal with dumbing down translating his military experience into civilian terms. Funny. And totally un-fun.

I also hate that simply having a well formed resume isn't enough. I loathe the online forms that you invariably have to fill out- and of course each site is totally different which means you spend hours upon hours re-typing your education and experience and skills and man, it is a buzzkill. I mean, I'm 100% okay with the USA jobs format because you can use those buggers to apply for a plethora of federal jobs, so yay on that. HOWEVER, I just got done putting the final job-specific touches on my resume for a lab job in Illinois and went to the site's application page... Yay! Upload your resume! And what does it do? It's program sifts through your uploaded Word document and auto-fills the information into their wonky online format. And you know what? IT DOES IT WRONG. I spent an HOUR going back through a perfectly done resume fixing all the mistakes the program made. And there were a ton. Awesomesauce.

Lastly, I loathe that a simple application process invariably turns into a hot mess of paperwork, documentation and frustration. The job hunting and applying process is arduous enough that the road blocks some employers throw up are enough to straight up Sink Your Battleship. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten so frustrated I've had to walk away and just DO ANYTHING ELSE but applications. Should it really be that way? I suppose some will argue that it is a way to weed out the unserious folks, cut the riff-raff off the top and ensure that you are getting the ideal candidates. I get that- but do you really want to toe the line of making the process so ridiculous that even the most qualified folks throw their hands up in disgust.

I think, mostly, I am just frustrated by having to sell myself harder than a dime hooker on a Monday (that is a SuperFreakonomics reference BTW) fully knowing the odds of me landing a gig is lower than low. I know this is mostly the norm, but regardless, it isn't fun. Boo. Anyway, that is my rant. I'll suck it up and hit is up again in the morning. I've got 3 gub'ment jobs to apply for! Wish me luck folks!

30 March 2010

The ties that bind.

Family is always such an interesting entity. It always seems like such a unifying thing- we all have them and we all (mostly) love them (or most of them). They are the people you grew up with, the folks we spend holidays with, the ones who send us cards on our birthdays. But also? Holy crap... family doesn't always mean the same thing. And I have my marriage to thank for that nugget of wisdom.

Let me back up and give you a frame of reference: I am an only child... my "family" consists of my mom and dad, my grandparents (who have all passed on as of last year), my dad's sister and her husband and my mom's cousin and his wife and daughter- and they all live within 45 minutes of each other. Those are the folks we spend holdiays with, the ones I make a point to see when I am home, the ones who get Christmas cards... they are my family... all 7 of them. Swiss, on the other hand, has his two wonderful parents and is the youngest of six (6!!!). He has two kids and one of them is married with 3 kids and many of his siblings have spouses and kids of their own and they are scattered to the four winds. And if you are doing the math, thats like 17+. Basically, we have completely opposite families. It is nuts.

I think there are times, like right now, that positively boggle my mind when it comes to our families because I just cannot relate no matter how hard I try. I have no idea what it is like to have a sister or brother- that is a bond I just don't understand. I mean, I 'understand' it but I can't relate. I don't get it- but how could I? I have zero frame of reference. Swiss has been doing it his whole life. Also, there is the thing about kids. Swiss has (in case you didn't know) a kid of his own (Kid A) and an adopted kid (from his ex-wife and another random guy) who is 22 and has a family of his own. We don't have kids of our own, so there is this whole thing with his kids that I just don't get either. Most often, with his family, I feel like a little fish in a sea of very big, very confusing fish. Just call me Nemo.

Please don't get me wrong- I "get" it... the family thing. I understand that blood is thicker than water and that when you grow up with a brother by your side- you have a unique and strong bond. And I understand that it is in one's nature to help their kids in any way possible. But I don't know what it feels like to have a brother or a sister or a kid. I don't know what those bonds feel like and how the history you have with them colors (or clouds) your judgement. I just sort of view them as friends you are stuck with. Ha! That and my family tends to be pretty low-maintenance... not much drama, not many demands. Swiss's family, great as they are, don't quiet fit the low-maintenance bill.

Anyway, recently we've been faced with some family issues and it is so hard for me to know how, when, where, or if I should put my two cents in. I mean, I am sort of a part of this family... and all the decisions that effect Swiss effect me too... but still, they aren't MY family. A few of the issues have been financial- so I had NO problem butting in an tossing my 93 cents in... it is our money and I've added my hard earned cash to to coffers so I felt 100% justified in butting in. But it is the more subtle stuff- the whole spending a week of our vacation time and money to go visit family that couldn't even take a weekend off to come to our wedding (or send a card, or RSVP or well, anything). People who don't send us Christmas cards or call to see how Swiss is doing. People who, seemingly, never cared that Swiss was deployed to a war zone for a year.

Swiss does most of the heavy lifting in his family relationships and this is where I start to struggle. Maybe I am too tit-for-tat about it all. Maybe the rules are different for family (I strongly suspect they are). And maybe all it boils down to is that I don't get it because I'm not a mom, I'm not a sister (Unless you count the Beth and her sisters- they adopted me last summer- do you think that counts? Yeah- me neither.), I don't know what it means to be a sibling. So maybe my view on this is just all wrong.

But still, I can't help but wonder what the rules are for extended families. And how do I assert my opinions on family matters (even though I can't relate) when they directly effect us? And how do I do it without coming across like a callous, uncaring bitch? More importantly- when someone on your husband's side of the family drives you bananas with their spectacular displays of stupidity- how do you manage staying in their house for 4 days? 'Cause I haven't yet figured out how I'm going to pull that one off.

29 March 2010

Vet bennies and reason #352 why Wisconsin is awesome.

First things first, this blog post is brought to you by my uber-cool, super smart best friend Beth. She passed this article my way and I just had to post it for y'all. So say it with me, Thanks Beth!!!

Did you know that the state of Wisconsin has its own GI Bill? Yep. It is a separate program from both federal programs (Montgomery and Post 9/11). How fabulous is that? I (admittedly) haven't done a TON of research, but I think WI is one of a very few states that have such a program . Which is awesomesacue. Go 'Sconnie! (Pleeeaaaase correct me in the comments if you are aware of other programs- I'd love to give those states a shout-out too!)

The official state line is this:
The Wisconsin G.I. Bill provides a full waiver (“remission”) of tuition and fees for eligible veterans and their dependents for up to 8 full-time semesters or 128 credits at any University of Wisconsin System (UWS) or Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) institution for continuing education, or for study at the undergraduate or graduate level.
But... the bad news is that in last year's budget, our Reps voted to (in effect) disallow this program by mandating Vets use the federal GI Bill (Post 9/11 type) and preventing them from "doubling" up on benefits. Bummer. Word is the move was a measure, among many, to cut the state budget and shamefully, it passed. HOWEVER, this year? They are making amends. There is currently a bill in the state Legislature that would reopen this state benefit to all Veterans.

The best things is that, if a Vet in the state of Wisconsin was a) motivated and b) street-wise, they could stand to get a Bachelors (or Associates, etc) degree PLUS 2-4 years of post-Bacheloriate education. That is a Master's degree, folks. That could even be a PhD degree. Or a Professional Certificate program. FOR FREE. (Color me envious because that stuff is Eeeeexspensive!) In total, it would be 16 semesters of schooling paid for. Awesomesacue. Talk about the cherry on top of the Post 9/11 GI Bill cupcake.

In my mind, this is HUGE. And I, for one, am super proud to be from a state that puts this much pride, hope and trust in the potential of their Veterans. Beth and I have discussed numerous times that there have been a ton of studies showing that Vets are (on average) much more productive with the degrees they get post service in the armed forces (if I can get some citations for this, I will). I am so impressed that Wisconsin recognizes this and is willing to pony up the money (which is still a contentious issue) to help our Vets take advantage of the myriad of educational opportunities and degrees out there. Hooray!

And, as Swiss and I are finding out, a Bachelor's doesn't always assure you a good paying job in your field of choice. In many, many fields advanced degrees are the norm, the standard and the expectation. This program allows our Vets to go on and get these additional degrees without worry of financial burdens and tuition bills... and more importantly get the appropriate degrees necessary to hit the ground running after their time in service. I can't say enough how fabulous this is... give non-traditional students like our Vets a leg up is time and money well spent, not to mention a more than appropriate way to say Thank You for your service. So HOORAY WISCONSIN!

Now, let's get this bill passed! And here's another idea: Talk to you state Reps and see what you and your fellow MilFolk can do to get a program like this implemented in your state. THAT would be something to be proud of!

(cross posted at LeftFace!)

28 March 2010

Well, hello there!

Yes, I have been cheating. Photos do not really count as blog posts... this I know! And this is me doing better! Aren't you proud of me??? Okay. Fair enough. Nothing to be proud of here... but I digress...

So right now I am watching my 2nd consecutive hour of the Life series on the Discovery Channel. It is AWESOMESAUCE to the third. This stuff totally reminds me how much I love science and biology and ecology and all that super great stuff I learned in college. If you haven't been watching it, DO! If only because the filming is beyond incredible and you learn lots of stuff watching it. LEARNING FROM WATCHING TV? Sign me up! There are so many amazing things on this planet and so, so, SO many things I never learned about in 4 years of intensive study that are showcased on this show- I can't recommend it enough. Sundays 7-9pm Central on Discovery. Watch!

Anyway, today the hubs and I took the pup to a state park about an hour from post... we walked A LOT and saw some pretty amazing things... yuccas in bloom and wildflowers and waterfalls in the middle of nowhere. I'm really enjoying our exploring of this new home state of ours. And how awesome is this shot of Swiss and Fletcher? I couldn't have posed it this great if I had tried. It was great to get out of the house (something we've been less than good at) and get us some nature, let the dog wear himself out and just BE together. Gosh, I am using the Caps Lock a ton. Sorry. Okay- focus: The hiking was good for us, good for the dog and we had a great time. I really, really think we need to do more of this stuff- getting out and doing things togeher. I won't lie... the TV and the computers are sort of the other people in our marriage and it was great to leave them behind for a while. Plus the people you meet hiking are ridiculously nice and friendly and a puppy wearing a pack (like this Ruffwear one, it is fantabulous!) is sure to garner plenty of comments and laughter. I'm thinking there will be a lot more hiking in our future.. and I'm pretty darned stoked about it! (Side Bonus: Hike 5 miles and you are sure to have a blessedly tuckered out dog, as Cesar says: A tired dog is a good dog. We have a VERY good dog right now.)

In other news... Swiss has done a ton of really great work on his resume and applications and has gotten no less than 6 glowing references from all sorts of ridiculously Hooah types, plus a few specific jobs tossed his way. Again, awesomesacue. Can I tell you how much lighter the mood is in the house? We are stoked and happy and excited and feeling totally prepared for all the job hunting ahead of us. Today he applied for a ROTC post someplace 83 kids of awesome and soon his application for a schmancy security position with 40+ locations (about 12 of which I would be GIDDY over). I've got my application ready to go and a few positions of my own scoped out. I'm hopeful because there are at least 4 cities at the moment with job openings for both of us. We are cautiously optimistic and starting to get excited about what the future holds for us post-Army. It is way less scary now and much more anxious hope.

But otherwise, things have been quiet here. The ball was fun- pretty much a dressed up Frat party with a lot of bling (I'm totally going to brag here: My husband was the most decorated soldier there... he had more ribbons than ANYONE and looked like a ridiculously hot badass. Swoon!). We met some great couples and Swiss was very happy that the spouses I clicked with were attached to awesome soldiers. Ha! The food was decent, the wine was tasty but overpriced, the music was terrible and only one guy got hauled out for being insanely drunk. All in all, it was a good time. Though I get a huge FAIL for the abominably low number of photographs I took and the fact that I only got that one blurry head shot of the two of us. Sorry.

Okay- I'm off to snuggle up with the husband and watch River Monsters... a total guilty pleasure and chock full of adventure and culture and scientific awesomeness. I am SUCH A NERD. But a nerd with a cold Heineken, a comfy sofa and a studly husband waiting on her... peace out bean sprouts!

25 March 2010

23 March 2010

Where bars outnumber grocery stores.

What is this you ask? Why, it is a map of the US (clearly) showing the places in this great country where bars outnumber grocery stores- America's Beer Belly if you will (found here by my most awesome best friend Beth- Holla!).

See that giant red mass in the upper midwest? Yep- THAT is why (in part) I have so much midwestern pride... 'cause we do it right and we love us some beer. And brats and A LOT of cheese. I can proudly say that I come from the land where bars outnumber grocery stores. That is awesomesauce. And here's the best quote from the blog (floatingsheep) that came up with this little gem:
"Starting in Illinois, the beer belly expands up into Wisconsin and first spreads westward through Iowa/Minnesota and then engulfs Nebraska, and the Dakotas before petering out (like a pair of love handles) in Wyoming and Montana."
Now tell me you aren't wishing you were one of us... and that you aren't now thirsty for a big, cold mug of tasty, tasty beer. Mmm hmmmm.... that's what I thought: You can't.

Ninjas live here.

Yes, you heard me right: Ninjas have invaded our home.

Reintegration Ninjas to be more precise.

Ah, that makes it seem really bad and it isn't. Its more the idea that they jump out and get you when you least expect it- they are stealthy like that. We haven't struggled with big things, we are doing pretty well (considering we never really got to live together before he deployed) and thankfully we are talkers so we are working things out like proper adults and nipping them in the bud before they become full blown problems. Hooray for us! But I digress... back to the Ninjas.

I find that these Ninjas of ours like to be general pests rather than wage all out warfare on our household. I suppose that is the better end of the bargain as far as Ninjas go, am I right? I find Swiss and I bickering over silly little things like dishes and laundry and his (sometimes) endearing inability to use the giant hamper in our room and the fact that he unceremoniously took over my side of the bed when he returned home and I still haven't gotten it back. Oh yes, getting used to the fact that my husband does have hearing loss and I have to repeat myself A LOT. And the Ninjas get me all angsty over doing ALL the household tasks and then realizing that I shouldn't/can't and then stress out over exactly which tasks to give back to the hubs. I mean, really, how ridiculous is that? Im guessing you are seeing the theme here... all the stuff I had to do when he was gone, all the things you forget when they are away, all the stuff that was normal during the deployment that no longer fits into life. That's a broken record in MilSpouse Land if I've ever heard one, no?

I've been successful in handing over bill paying and a few other small tasks. But seeing as how I'm not working that is enough for now. Our biggest challenge is the job hunting/resume writing/application process. I'll admit that it has both of us stressed out- some more than others (wink, wink). It is testing our patience with each other and helping us "rediscover" our unique coping techniques and plans of action. Was that sugar coated enough for you?

Suffice it to say, we cope with our stresses in different ways and we approach "help" (ie: references, contacts, using whatever contacts you have to get yerself a J.O.B.) about as differently as you can imagine. I'm betting even odds that this is 100% related to the fact that he's the military one in the family. But I digress. It's been a process and a mostly smooth one. But don't let anyone fool you--- EVERYONE goes through some sort of wonky reintegration weirdness.

I think the thing I find most amazing is how much you 'forget' about your spouse when they are gone for a year. Of course you remember the big things, the funny things, the endearingly quirky things... but its the little stuff that doesn't have the strong foothold in your brain... that is the stuff (at least for us) that tends to pop up and rough up the seas on the USS Reintegration. You forget how he deals with minor stress, you forget how he is particular about how he folds his jeans, you forget about the little things and I find that I tend to steam-roll over these quirks because I'm not used to them.

My prevailing wisdom as of late has been, "Why don't we just do it my way?"...as I think to myself "Because it sure worked for me when you weren't here!" I know that isn't fair and it is totally unreasonable, and it is on me to open up to the idea that my way isn't the only way. And you know what? IT IS HARD!!! I am certain that he is doing his best to not treat me like a soldier (despite the occasional lapses) and he has done a great job falling into step with the natural order of things at home. Mostly, it has been a challenge to make our life OURS again. For so long it was mine and his... separately... and then I PCS'd and this home became mine... not ours. But you know what? It is feeling more and more like OURS every day.

Anyway, I suppose there isn't a big, grand point to make... just that all of this is exasperating and rewarding and totally par for the course in this military life. I won't lie when I say I'm looking forward to never having to do this again and forever banishing the Ninjas from our house!

17 March 2010

Bracket Buster Bob.

TOMORROW! WOOT!!!! It starts... the hoops, the dreams, the Cinderella teams, the mascots, the MADNESS! Oh sweet, sweet March Madness. You are, by far, my most favoritest sporting event ever. I mean, really- what tops this? (IMHO BTW the awesomesauceness of the Olympics and World Cup are artificially inflated because they are only contested every 4 years. NOT FAIR.) Anything that tops the Sports Sundae with a cherry like Luther Vandross and a stirring sports montage One Shining Moment (Note that I chose the 2008 version. Why? Because my favorite team Kansas won that year... Rock Chalk folks!) always wins Best in Show.

Anyway, soon it will be time for our favorite obscure family member, known as Bracket Buster Bob (which is usually my father calling to goad me about some ridiculous upset or out of the blue win in a funny voice that always reduces me to giggles), to make his appearance. This year, the Tucker and Swiss household will be holding our own little bracket challenge. It is Swiss's first. Yep. He's a bracket virgin. Can you believe it? Anywhoodles, our rules are these: One point per correct winner with a bonus 5 point bump for picking the overall Champion. Keepin' it simple. To the winner go the spoils of a year's worth of bragging and telling everyone we know who is the Sports Boss in the house. (Side bet of $10 on me FTW. Anyone taking?)

Here are our brackets... feel free to chortle, snicker, point and laugh or applaud at your own discretion.
Swiss: The Virginal Bracket.



























Tucker: The Bracket of Truth.



























Just promise me this, Dear Readers: Don't be that Bracket Guy.  You know, the one who enters 13 brackets into the office pool that would normally only have 28 brackets in it? Pick one. Maybe two. But just don't be THAT GUY. No one likes him anyway.

Now, LET THE MADNESS BEGIN! Cinderella is all ready for the Ball... are you?



PS Update: My cousin's son Jackson is doing much better. He isn't out of the woods and is stilL intubated and on dialysis- but his condition is improving and we are all super grateful. Thanks for the good juju everyone!

14 March 2010

Odds and ends.

First things first: Please send as much good karma, juju, prayers whatever your flavor to my cousin's son Jackson. He was flown to a major hospital last night via Flight For Life and is battling the most virulent strain of E. Coli... the infection has started kidney failure and he is on dialysis struggling to breathe. He's a fighter, but we could use all the help we can get. 

Second, and on a much lighter note, we've truly started the job/place to live/starting over hunt. I giggled last night when Swiss was looking at a job that had about 30 different locations to choose from. My method to narrow them down? Basketball teams. Yep, I made a JV team, a Varsity team, and a starting 5. No kidding. Even a 6th man. I'll chalk it up to the March Madness we've been immersing ourself in. The exciting thing? Of the starting 5, 3 of them have jobs for me too. That is promising! Also, the housing market is so insane that some of the cities (ie: Chicago) that would previously have been too expensive are now well within our budget. That is madness. Anyway, things are getting exciting now!

Also, I'm totally digging on the good weather here... it has been sunny and warm (70's) the last few days and holy crap it is SO much nicer than the snow I'd be knee deep in Minnesota. The grass is green and growing (we had to mow it this weekend! In March!) and the trees are budding and blooming. Spring is here and I couldn't be happier!

Ooh, and we got a super stellar text message  from P (for you new readers, that is Swiss' ex-wife) last night at about 11:30... three cheers for drunken texting! I mean, really lady? Really? Gah. The last year plus without those has been awesome. I totally forgot how ridiculous and annoying they are and (being totally honest) FUCKING MAD they make me. I mean, the woman throws out insults and cheap shots about parenting and the only reason she is keeping Kid A for is the child support check every month. And yes, she has admitted that- out loud- before. Lest I rant on for ages, I just wish she'd grow the heck up and act like an adult or get hit by a bus. There are plenty of divorced parents who manage to act civilly. Why'd we end up with the batshitcrazyinsane one? That must be some mighty gnarly karma.

But in other news, Fletcher and Swiss have totally bonded and the pup is starting to act 'normal' (at least for him) again. Praise the Lord. We are doing well, reintegration has been *relatively* painless and Swiss' job has a ton of flexibility for us and him to get ready for retirement. All I'm missing from home are my 'rents and friends. I realized the other day just how insular our life is here. We don't know many people and few of the ones we do are the type we'd choose to hang out with outside of work. We had one fellow over for basketball watching last night and it was really nice to have company. It made me really miss Beth and Val. I miss the girl talk and the hanging out. I miss the familiarity and understanding only years of friendship can cultivate. I miss my peeps.

But otherwise all is well here. The ball is in a week and a half, Swiss starts his online courses this week and I am well, cooking and cleaning. SAHW-hood is weird. We are off to take the puppy on a walk and enjoy the good weather. Hope you all have a stellar Sunday and thanks for listening to the rambling. Pray for Jackson too please!

12 March 2010

Dressy.

I found one! Here she be... and best yet Only $115 at the Outlet Mall. Hooah!
If you can't tell, it is a dark peacock-tealish color. It's pretty simple but the jewelly things on the front and the rusching (sp?) on the back is surprisingly flattering. So yay! It's done! And since I saved so much on the dress? New shoes here I come!

10 March 2010

A PSA for your lady bits.

We now interrupt the regularly scheduled bitching and posting for an important Public Service Announcement about your Lady Parts.

WAIT! Don't get nervous- it isn't pervy! I promise! Really, really, PLEASE just take a minute to read this because it is incredibly important for you, your daughters, your friends, your family members and every woman you know. Did I convince you to keep reading? Okay- Great! Let's get started!!!

I am a trained Cytotechnologist, which in a nutshell means I look at Pap Smears (amongst other things) through microscopes to diagnose infections, dysplasia and cancer. So I'm not making this stuff up... this is a truly qualified position I am taking and I have spent years learning, researching, studying and seeing this stuff every day. It is SUPER important and nothing to be taken lightly.

With that said, here are the 4 most important things I can tell you about your Lady Part Health:

1.) Get your annual Pap Smear (unless you've had 3 negatives in a row, in which case you can get one every 3 years barring no changes in sexual partners - or your partner's partners- or other health concerns, but don't take my word for it, consult with your doctor). I know it isn't fun to be all spread eagle in the stirrups and the speculum and the general awkwardness of it all- but this is one of the VERY few tests out there that can detect pre-cancerous cells, and we all know early detection is key in treating anything. It is easy, always covered by your insurance and has the ability to save a lot of drama, fear and uncomfortable/invasive procedures in the long run.

2.) Get the HPV Vaccination. It's pharmaceutical name is Gardasil and it is a quadravalent (4) vaccine administered 3 times at specific intervals. If you are over the age of 26 (which most of us are) it won't work for you (Why? Because likely you have already been exposed to at least one form of the HPV virus so it is not effective anymore)... but please, please consider getting it for your daughters (any time after the age of 9, but it must be before the onset of sexual activity). I know that there are some moral/religious/sex ed issues but hear me out:

This vaccine guards against four types of the (very common) HPV virus. The two most common types (6 and 11) are responsible for what are commonly known as genital warts and result in low-grade cervical dysplasia diagnoses on pap smears. These infections usually clear on their own with age, but since the methods of transmission of these viruses aren't 100% known, you can never be too safe. More importantly, the two high risk types (16 and 18) are almost always responsible for the development of cervical cancer and manifests itself early in the form of moderate and severe dysplasia on pap smears. You read that right: IT IS A VACCINE THAT PREVENTS CANCER. That, my friends, is an incredibly big deal. If you keep only this fact in mind, I hope it will be enough to convince you to vaccinate your daughters.

I understand that there are fears that having this vaccine will encourage girls to have unprotected sex and that giving what is essentially a STD vaccine is only embracing and potentially condoning sexuality at an early age (since the vaccine is generally recommended around ages 9-12). I maintain that if you teach your children well, discuss the benefits of abstinence, sex with protection, waiting until you are in a serious relationship- whatever your flavor of sex ed might be-  this vaccine will do nothing to erode your teachings. And more importantly, should your child choose to go against what you taught her, she will be protected from a potentially deadly infection. Whatever your moral take is on teen sex, sex before marriage, etc... I hope your stand on preventing cancer is stronger.

3.) Protect yourself! Use condoms. Don't have sex with strangers. And oral sex won't prevent you from getting this either! Men are common carriers (that makes them sound so dirty, doesn't it?) and do not often experience the same manifestations of acquiring this virus. This means you likely won't know if a man has HPV as there are no outward symptoms for most. So never, ever, ever take chances and ALWAYS use protection.

4.) Follow up. Seriously folks. If you get an abnormal result on your pap smear there are 2 things you must do. First, don't feel bad or ashamed or anything else silly like that. Like I said, transmittal of this disease is still largely misunderstood. It is common and treatable and doesn't have to be a big ordeal. Second, an of the upmost importance. If you get an abnormal result, stick to the follow-up regimen your Doctor prescribes. Sometimes these are repeat Paps in 6 months, sometimes they are biopsies, sometimes they are bigger procedures. DO NOT SKIP THESE. Seriously.

As Cytotechnologists and Pathologists, we rely on these follow up tests to monitor the progression or recession of the disease. HPV infections generally worsen in very predictable ways, if you do your part of the follow up, the chances are high that the disease won't get so bad that it requires radical medical treatment (chemotherapy, etc). Hysterectomies are common when the disease progresses (either to cancer or the severest precancerous lesions), but look at it this way. As hard as it is to give up that part of you, there are so, so, so many cancer patients that can't live without the diseased organ (lung, liver, bladder, etc.) and must suffer as the disease continues to grow. Being able to remove the organ in question will rid one of years of invasive follow up tests and continual worry.


I know we are all super, uber aware of the other gender specific cancers out there- particularly breast cancer, but I encourage you all to keep your lady bits in mind when being pro-active about your health. At the risk of getting to graphic on y'all, if ANYTHING abnormal starts going on down there? Go visit your Gynecologist and get it checked out. Post Haste. Abnormal bleeding especially. It isn't anything to be embarrassed or ashamed about. It is your body telling you, "HEY! Get me checked out! Something isn't right!"

So, with that, I endeth my Public Service Announcement regarding your Girl Parts. Please feel free to e-mail me if you have any specific questions about this- I'd be glad to share any knowledge I have or direct you to some great resources! (tuckerandswiss at yahoo dot com) Now, go get your Paps taken care of Ladies!

09 March 2010

But I don't wanna!!!!

Oh the ball. The unit ball.

We SO weren't going to go. Decision made, moving on. No schmancy dresses, no forced fun with people we don't know, no awkward conversations with folks more interested in Harley-Davidsons than ANYTHING else. Phew!

And then today I got the call. We are going to the ball. He even gave me the Party line about it all when I asked him, in my best 8 year old tone, but whhhhhhhhy?

So here I go, with less than 2 weeks to find a formal dress in a town that has only a GAP and a Dillard's (of which you KNOW half the other women going are shopping at, am I right?). So online shopping I go. And here is where I need your help, faithful readers, what is my general goal here? Here are my questions:
-Is floor length a must?
-How glitzy do I go?
-Color? Black? What DOES go with that odd shade of Army green?
-And most importantly- I need your tips on how to get through this without needing counseling and/or copious amounts of wine?

Okay- so wish me luck and send your good shopping karma to the Online Shopping Gods with my name attached!

07 March 2010

Blog mortality?

The end is near my friends... Swiss and I are job hunting and looking at places to live and sort of getting on with the process of no longer being beholden to the Army. This military life of ours has an expiration date and it isn't all that far away... it makes me wonder what will happen to this wee blog of mine. Will I keep it? Will anyone still read it once it becomes the ramblings of a non-military life? Will I still have a voice I want to share once I'm not a part of the great wide Military family? Or will I always be a part of that family? Do I really want to be just a normal blogger? *sigh* There's something powerful and special about being a MilSpouse blogger... there's a special niche and wonderful people who populate it. You feel like you are a part of something unique. And like you have a voice worthy of being heard...

But I can't help but wonder, is it once a MilSpouse, always a MilSpouse? Or do you get kicked out of the club when the retirement papers are served? I just don't know...

I do have blogger friends who have left the military and keep on blogging... but I universally think these women are 182 times cooler than me and have lives that totally warrant sharing them with the world (I am looking at you Amy!). Me? I don't know. I don't know what life holds for us, I don't know if it will be worth sharing, I don't know if it will be interesting or funny or if anyone will care. I don't know if I will even want to. Mostly, it is the idea of losing what this blog has given me makes me all melancholy.

I started this blog about six months before Swiss left for the Sandbox. At the time I was an Army newbie, still desperately trying to find my way. I was a fiancee then, trying to plan a wedding and cope with a PCS and looming deployment and utterly terrified that my perfect life would never come to fruition because of a war on the other side of the world, a war I didn't agree with. I was scared and naieve and unsure of myself in this new role. And I didn't know who to turn to. So I started blogging, mostly as an outlet for my fears and concerns and questions. Not because I thought anyone would read.

But somewhere along the line it turned into something I never anticipated- a lifeline to support, understanding, cameraderie, and lasting friendships. I found people who just got it, plain and simple. I found compassion and kindness, humor and bouyancy, wit, intellengence, charm, strength. I found an open seat in a lifeboat, full of women who had been where I was, or were currently there with me. I found what would eventually be what get me through this deployment. I found you all. And you know what else? I found my voice. I found on outlet for the things I wanted to say, and in you all I had an audience- a fabulous audience.

There are too many of you to list, but you absolutely know who you are. I love you and cherish you and am beyond grateful to you. Because were it not for you, I cannot fathom how I would have made it through this. I shudder to think what would have become of me if left to my own devices... not to be melodramatic, but you all kept me sane. Swiss and I both thank you!

This blog gave me a voice that I wasn't always comfortable sharing in person. Don't ask why, because I don't have an answer. But sometimes saying these things aloud was too hard, too uncomfortable, to difficult to explain. Being able to write it all down let me tell the most important people in my life (Beth, Val, Em, Shari, Mom...) what was going on in my head and process it in their own time... it let them know that even though I seemed okay, I wasn't always okay. But this blog let me explain myself. It let them into my head without having to find the right words immediately or ask questions they weren't sure they could. For that I am grateful. For these friends I am grateful.

So it is with trepidation that I (we) saunter up to the place in our life where we are no longer inextricably linked to the Armed Forces. Deployments will be a thing of the past. There will be no FRG drama, no phone trees, no MPs at the gate, no tales of bad phone lines or care packages gone wrong. There won't be tales from the front, anticipatory grief, unconsolable fear. I certainly won't miss any of those things, but I will miss belonging to the one thing that links us all together. I will miss being a part of this community. I will miss being counted amongst you--- you all are a group I have been so very proud to be a part of.

I wonder, if when we are just 'normal' civilians again, if you all will read. Will you read because we've formed a bond, a friendship? Or will you stop, eventually, inevetably, because our life will no longer bear any resemblance to yours? I don't know the answer to this. I wish I did. I just know that I don't want to fade away and not be, at least on the fringes, a part of this amazing community I was so fortunate to tap into. I still want to be one of you all, even when I'm not.

04 March 2010

Oscar special.

Isn't that all Self Important of me?


So remember that rant I made a while back about how Hollywood always (almost) gets it wrong with war/Veteran movies? I still think all that jazz is true. But with all the hullabaloo about The Hurt Locker and Oscar buzz and by the more famous MilFolk (here and here) and everyone who has ever  even BEEN to Iraq weighing in... I thought I would throw in my two completely unqualified cents (you know, seeing as how I've never been to war or Iraq... see? I told you: Self Important!).

I read an
interview with Jeremy Renner (the 'star' in the movie) the other day and it struck me as pretty accurate and reasonable. Amidst everyone shouting about how inaccurate it is... the ACU's instead of the DCU's that were standard issue at the time, the incorrect markings on trucks, the cries of "that isn't procedure!" (Bwahahaha!!! Yeah there have NEVER, in the history of this war, been soldiers who went against protocol and did stupid shit. PSAHW!), and "That wouldn't ever happen!" (again, PSHAW!)... Renner said this:
“It’s not an EOD documentary. It had to be as accurate as we could within a feature film. But I know some scenes my guys were saying ‘Dude, we taught you better than that.' ... I hope that they just roll their eyes at the Hollywood stuff, let that be what it is. But if it helps bridge the gap between these guys and civilians, helps show some of what they’re going through … I think there’s a lot of friction and ability to be able to communicate one’s life-and-death experiences. If even there’s a fraction of truth that they can use with their family or friends to help show that, then that’s amazing. ... The guys at Fort Irwin all pointed to one guy who would literally walk up to an IED downrange and kick it, and figure if it didn’t go off he won. That’s how he dealt with it. But that’s not standard military protocol."
Hmm. I think that is a fair point. Again, as someone who has never been there, I didn't watch the film with the mindset that this was some sort of action-thriller/documentary. Heck no. And I will fully admit that I would't know one way or another if the EOD techniques were sound or not (though I did notice the ACU thing, and it didn't really bother me)... I'm no military expert. But I feel like we all have to remember that it is and always will be, at the end of the day, a Hollywood Money-Maker.

Hell, I don't watch CSI: New Hampshire of NCIS: Tacoma or Bones or Grey's Anatomy and holler about how lab results ALWAYS take longer than that get snippy because that equipment was all wrong and how that diagnosis wouldn't come from a CT scan... THEY WOULD HAVE TO HAVE A PATHOLOGY REPORT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!! I get it, it is a TV show and real lab work ain't that exciting... and you can't wrap up a tidy hour of television with the cast twiddling their thumbs for a week or 3 days waiting for results. Am I right? But have you noticed that many of the MilFolk reviews of this movie do JUST that?

The point is, I think the movie (KEY WORD ALERT!)
represented the general gist of living life, as an EOD guy, in Iraq circa 2004 (I know, as if I have any clue). At the very least, it put me in the general mind-space of the handful of soldiers portrayed. The bigger picture? It put me in the streets of Iraq in the middle of a war my husband fought in (this point, incidentally, is agreed upon by most Vets and is the word on the streets- the settings are spot on). It gave me a dose of perspective, a sliver of insight, a glimpse into what it might have been like for him. And that is more than any other Iraq war movie has done for me. A lot more.

Perhaps, in light of all the other crappy movies about this war (see: StopLoss, Brothers, etc), this is really quite a feat. Maybe this is simply a good first step. And maybe, just maybe, that is pretty damned good for a commercialized, for-the-masses, Hollywood Blockbuster.

A film professor (David McKenna, a film professor at Columbia University, via here) said this of the movie:  "Hurt Locker isn't as much about Iraq as it is about one soldier's addiction to war. It's a character study, an exploration of courage, bravado and leadership told through "a series of suspenseful situations. I suppose it could have just as easily been set in outer space." And I think that is the bigger point here (at least for me, as a non-Iraq veteran). This movie's draw, its interest, it's redeeming qualities lie not in the bombs or the tactical accuracies or the uniforms, it lies in the depiction of soldiers... as complicated people, struggling to deal with their day-to-day experiences, job requirements, and at-home issues. NOT as batshitcrazyinsane PSTD addled guys about ready to fly off the handle (see: Brothers, etc.).

For me, it was about the human experience of war... not wether or not the Bradleys are marked right. And best of all, it gave me a better understanding- even if only superficially- of what that experience was like for any given soldier. For a movie like that to be in the running for an Oscar? I'll call that a good thing any day of the week.

Have any of you watched this movie? What are your thoughts? 
(And PS: here is a link to
another article about this, much better written IMHO!)