Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

Friggin’ A March 15, 2011

Filed under: Anecdotal,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 1:31 pm

First of all, let me just say that if anyone ever says to me, when I complain about military life, “Well, you knew what you were signing up for” or something along those lines, I will want to punch them in the face. When my husband and I joined the AF (well, he joined but I was in full support of his decision), we thought we knew what we were signing up for but there are a few things the recruiter forget to mention. Things like, if the government shuts down for two weeks, the military doesn’t get paid for two weeks. But still has to go to work. But doesn’t get paid. Has to go to work at the gas station, commissary, BX, etc, because the people who normally work there are going to get sent home because, well, they can’t get paid either. So husband and wife BOTH will not be getting paid but military member must still show up for 40+ hours a week.

Unless you are deployed.

Then you get to work 72+ hours a week. For no pay.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is NOT what we signed up for. One of the reasons we enlisted in the military was the stable, secure income. Yes, we knew that deployments were a part of it. Yes, we knew that being on call 24/7 was a part of it. Yes, we knew that following the orders given to you was part of it. Yes, we knew that kissing ass and not speaking the truth least it be seen as disrespect to an officer over you was part of it. But no, we did not know that working for no wage was a part of it. We did not realize that we would have to so fully face our slavery status.

Because that’s what someone who MUST work but does not have to be paid is. A slave. Welcome to the good ol’ USA.

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The Waiting July 18, 2010

Filed under: Anecdotal,marriage,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 1:48 pm

The waiting begins today. My husband will arrive home sometime in the next 24 – 144 hours. I’m not sure if any part of this deployment has been as hard as these next days of uncertainty will be. His deployment was to a very safe location and the upcoming plane trips (of which there are many) will be the most dangerous part of his time away from us.

And honestly, I’m scared. Before he signed off our chat session this morning, he said, “If something happens to me, do whatever it takes to be happy. Find something to be joyous in and enjoy the life you have.” I thought about that and found it interesting. Israel doesn’t make me happy. Him being gone does not remove my capacity for happiness. His absence does, however, affect me. It affects me greatly. Happiness and joy are harder when he’s away. Smiles take a few more muscles. Frowns a few less. My fuse is a little shorter, my patience a little more worn out. Beautiful scenery has a bittersweet overtone to it that I can not ignore. There is a blandness that permeates all food, no matter how good. Music is less well crafted and less soulful.

I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if something happened to Israel. The things we want to do would not be fun without him. Without his perspective, I’m not sure I would be able to pull them off, anyway. I’ve not met Israel’s equal among men nor have I ever heard of his equal so it’s not like I could replace him. Our dreams for our daughter center around Israel being here. Our plans for our coffee shop center on Israel being there. The apartment complex we’ve planned is centered on Israel being a part of that.

And that is why I am scared. The Air Force manages to screw up more often than not and my husband’s life and the lives of his fellow airmen are not the only things hanging in the balance. Everything I see for my life hangs there as well. Everything I see for my daughter’s future hangs there. The friendship that he gives to many others hangs there as well. It is very scary to place such a precious thing in the hands of such an incompetent organization. I wish that wishing worked because I would wish really, really, really hard for the Air Force to get this right.

 

:( June 8, 2010

Filed under: Anecdotal,germany,military,parenting — Addicted to Yarn @ 10:28 am

I hate this. I’ve been back in Germany for three days. Today is day four. I am cranky. I am depressed. I am completely unmotivated. I am short with my daughter. I don’t want to do anything but sit at my kitchen table and stare off into space. I don’t even want to watch a movie or TV. I don’t want to read a book, even though I picked up a number from the library that looked interesting.

My daughter taught herself how to ride her bike without training wheels. *note: her dad spent all last summer instructing her and helping her but it didn’t all click until yesterday when she was practicing on her own. End note* All she wants this morning from me is for me to watch her and be proud of her. And I don’t want to. Why? Because it would mean going outside. Is it bad outside? No. There’s only a light cloud cover. It’s not too hot. Not too cold. I just don’t want to face the world.

There are some legitimate reasons for me feeling overwhelmed/undermotivated. We spent three days in an airport terminal waiting for a flight. Space-A is free so it’s hard to resent a flight to Germany costing me nothing but a few nights in a hotel, an uncomfortable night in a terminal, and three days of Jael playing with other kids while I hung out with absolutely nothing to do but play sudoku and chat with other stranded families. It was actually not too bad but because of the late nights and necessarily early mornings (check out time from hotels and the cold, hard floors of airports) took their toll. Then add in jet-lag once we got here and you have some very tired people.

When we finally got back to Germany, our car wouldn’t start. The battery was dead, which wasn’t too big of a surprise. What was a surprise was the rusted brakes. Rusted enough that we couldn’t push the car back so the jumper cables of the nice family that was helping me would reach. So we had to go to the BX (on a Saturday, nonetheless) and buy longer jumper cables so we could connect the two sets so it would stretch the length of my car. In hindsight, after talking with my husband, I think there might be cables in the car already but at the time, I was convinced we didn’t have any. I attribute this lapse in memory to aforementioned lack of sleep. Once the car started, it ran fine and we got back home without incident.

Upon returning to our house, it smelled like abandoned house – and a little something more. The little something more was two fold. The first was the two pumpkins I had forgotten on the windowsill. The interior windowsill. They started out as two tall pumpkins, maybe 12 inches high. They ended as one 12-inch tall pumpkin and one 3-inch pumpkin. The now-shorter pumpkin had fallen in on itself and the resulting goo had run off the windowsill onto the floor and the radiator. I threw the pumpkins away, using spatulas to scrap the mashed one off the sill. I scrubbed the carpet many times with many different things but it still smelled faintly of rotten pumpkin. Which, having smelled other rotten things, is really not too bad.

The second funky smell was Jael’s room. Jael’s room, which shares a wall with the bathroom, had mold. It had mold growing up the wall about two feet. It had mold growing across the carpet about two feet out from the wall. A peek into the bathroom suggested a clue as to the cause. The shower faucet was dribbling from the wall. Regardless of cause, the result was that my daughter’s room was destroyed. She definitely couldn’t sleep there which meant that I STILL do not get to sleep in my own bed. I could put her bed in my room and still sleep on my bed but I am really, really, really ready to sleep in a room by myself. I could put her out in the living room but I think she’d be “scared” and I REALLY want her to go to sleep without a fight. Which seemed to work. Mom’s room was apparently “safe” enough because she passed out immediately.

Sunday and Monday are a blur. I got a lot done on those two days. About two-thirds of the bags are unpacked. I picked up the mail (all my packages beat me here). I got a test date for my proctored exam, which I only have to get 80% on to get an A in the class so, no, I’m not really studying for it. I am going to try to read the last three chapters today and tomorrow so I’m not completely BSing my way through it but – yeah, mostly I plan on BSing my way through it.

I got a lot done the last two days but they are blurry because I was soooooooo tired. Sunday night, Jael fell asleep on the kitchen floor, almost mid-sentence. I, on the other hand, did not fall asleep until about 2 am. Jael woke up about 2:15 am. She tried to play quietly but I was not able to really fall back asleep. *sigh* That’s why I can’t really remember Monday super well.

Where was I going with this? I don’t really remember. I think maybe my point was that while there are some real “downer” happening – exhausted, jet-lag, sudden downsizing to a one-bedroom (landlord has fixed the leak which required tearing into Jael’s wall and the bathroom wall. Her carpet is torn out and half her wallboard gone) – none of these are really adequate to explain my extreme and utter depression. It’s not even that cloudy out! We landed on an absolutely gorgeous sunny day. I almost didn’t believe we were in Germany when we landed. Seriously. It was that sunny. But regardless of it all, I am depressed.

Of course, I’m also suddenly alone for the first time in four months. So is my daughter. Suddenly, I’m her only friend again and her getting together with friends requires something from me that I just don’t have to give – hanging out with her friend’s parents. It’s not that I don’t like my daughter’s friends’ parents (Hi Sherri!) but I do not have the energy to carry on a conversation, much less make myself socially presentable (I’ve not worn a bra since I got back from the base yesterday). She keeps asking if her friends can come over and I don’t know how to explain that while I am not overly concerned with “impressing” people, I don’t especially want anyone over while her room and my room are messily combined, the house smells of rotten pumpkin and mold, and I can’t remember my name.

Speaking of remembering, I couldn’t remember my mailbox combination. I’m not surprised as I would return from Spring Break and not be able to remember my locker combination in high school. Somethings never change. šŸ™‚

 

Space-A travels January 28, 2010

Filed under: Anecdotal,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 4:59 am
Tags: ,

It’s time. We started our journey to the States a week ago and it’s time that I sat down and chronicled them. But first some background for those of you who may not know what I’m talking about. My husband is in the US Air Force. As such, we, his dependents, are allowed to travel by something called “Space-A,” or “Space-Available.” What this means is that we are catching a military flight that happens to have extra seats in it. There are different categories and, because Israel is deployed, Jael and I are bumped up from the very last category to the next to the last category. Most flights out of Germany go to the East Coast of the US or from the East Coast to the West Coast with very few stopping over in the Midwest, where I was trying to get to.

Also, I am planning on staying in the States for quite some time. As such, I must make sure that my ducks in Germany are all in a row so that we don’t get screwed over big time by some loose end I forgot to tie up. So, there’s the background.

Wednesday night, I was packed and ready to go.

Thursday morning I stopped at Otto’s and took down the VIN of our little car that we are trying to sell. I need the VIN so that I can email it to Israel so he can go the legal office on his base and get me power of attorney. Then I need to take that power of attorney and give it to someone in Germany so that if Otto finds a buyer for it, it can be sold without me having to return to Germany. I then went on base and dropped off some large garbage at the “recycling” center. The recycling center is open from 9-3 and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten there at 3:15. From there we went to the post office to mail my computer to myself at my sister’s house, where I would be staying. Then we headed back home to load the car with our bags and head to Ramstein.

We got to Ramstein in time to sign up for the 1:30 roll call headed to Dover AFB. At 1:30 we were the only ones looking to get on that flight so we were manifested, checked our bags and took our long term parking pass out to the car. We waited upstairs outside the secure area for about an hour before we went through security. Then we waited by the gate for another hour. By this time we’ve been joined by two men. One is on leave, trying to get to Wichita, Kansas to visit his mom and the other is a Major, trying to get to Baltimore to catch a commercial flight home to Minnesota. A van comes to take us to the aircraft. We wait in the van for quite some time before getting onto the plane and waiting for another hour or so. Finally, at about 5:30, we get into the air.

I turned to Jael and said, “When we get off this plane, we are going to be in the States!” and gave her a big hug. We were on our way! Jael and I had supper (boxed lunch) and she settled down for a nap. I was dozing when I heard something over the loudspeaker that sounded like someone saying we were going to be landing in Ramstein in half an hour. One of the flight crew came back to tell us that there was a problem, they weren’t sure what, but that we were turning around and going back to Ramstein. So at about 8:30, we landed at Ramstein again. I had the pleasure of waking my daughter up to tell her that the last 8 hours had been a complete waste and we were back where we had begun.

Upon landing the four of us began figuring out what we were going to do for the night. The Ramstein Inn was full but there were rooms at the next base down the road, about 15 minutes away. There was a chance our plane would be fixed quickly and if we were too far away, we couldn’t get back in time to get on it. There was also a flight headed to Dover at 4:30 the next morning and one at 11:00. While trying to figure out what we were going to do, an Airman tells us that there will be a flight to Dover that night, roll call at 23:00 (11pm for you non-military time people). We all decide to do that.

Jael and I went to the USO Family Lounge for a couple of hours. She played, I repacked and tried to rest a big. At 23:00 we were all manifested on this new flight and we rechecked our bags. Then we waited upstairs for an hour, waited at the gate for an hour, waited in the van for 45 minutes and waited in the plane for 45 minutes, finally taking off at about 2:30 in the morning. Jael and I both slept for about 6 or 7 hours. She was air sick but got it all in the bag. I got to walk the length of the plane with a bag of puke. That was…odd.

We finally landed in Dover and the Major kindly offered to give us a ride to Baltimore as he was going to have to rent a car anyway. We had to wait at Dover for a couple of hours before the rental car company could get someone over to pick us up so Jael and I had some oatmeal, coffee for me, cocoa for Jael from the USO.

We got to the Baltimore airport and my sister-in-law picked us up. We spend the day with their family. My husband’s brother, his wife and their four children. They have two girls, 8 and 6, and two boys, 4 and 2 (I think 2 I could be wrong. I’ve a lot of neices and nephews and they are all the same ages). Jael had an absolute RIOT! They all hit it off wonderfully and that night theĀ three girlsĀ slept in a little pop-up tent with Jael squeezed in the middle. I was surprised that she was able to fall asleep but I guess only sleeping 6 hours the night before made her tired enough.

Earlier that afternoon, I had been able to find commercial tickets from BWI (Baltimore airport) to Kansas City for a total price (taxes and three checked bags and a night in a hotel) of about $500. So the next morning, my sister-in-law dropped us off, we ate some spaghetti at an airport restaurant, we got on the plane to Atlanta, the plane to Kansas City, and whalaa! We were back in the Midwest where we belonged. I called a friend in KC, she picked us up at the airport and took us to Target. We needed a booster seat for Jael but I left with a bag full of clearance items. Target’s clearance section had better selection than our whole BX. Then we went to eat at On the Border. I LOVE On the Border. It is so amazing. I mean, it was always good but after a year and a half of German food, it was the most seasoned and wonderful experience. People in the restaurant talked and sounded like they were having fun. The couple sitting there not speaking was the exception and not the rule.

We went to bed, slept like babies and went swimming the next morning. Grandma and Grandpa came, we locked ourselves out the room (in the flurry of hugs, the people ended up in the hallway and the keys in the room-so sue me) and, after getting anther key from the front desk, loaded our bags and were on our way to sweet, sweet, Sioux City.

We got into town about 3:30 pm or so and, WOW, Iowa has gotten a lot of snow. I’ve never seen so much snow. Unfortunately, Sioux City has not done a great job of clearing snow this year so it’s worse than it has to be but it’s just a LOT of snow. It snowed the first two days we were here but yesterday the sun came out and it was the most beautiful sun I’ve ever seen. I stood in the laundry room (which used to beĀ a sun porch) and folded laundry, feeling content and as peace with the world. It was a wonderful feeling. I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed folding towels quite so much as I did yesterday.

Life is good. Despite the few things that could be downers (I’ve a sore throat and headache, Jael seems to have pink-eye and a sore throat, Israel’s not here with us) life is really, really good. It’s amazing what sunlight and family can do.

 

Conflicted January 2, 2010

Filed under: Anecdotal,marriage,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 3:53 pm

My husband deploys soon. Too soon. Sooner than I’d hoped. I’m sad, scared, excited, overwhelmed, unprepared and depressed. I’m sad because I’m going to be separated from my best friend for six months. I’m scared because I’ve been married for eight years and have not been without my other half for longer than six weeks since we wed almost eight years ago. I’ve not been without physical contact with him for six months since we met over 9 years ago. I’m excited because I’m going to go home to the states. I’m going to see my family and friends that I haven’t seen for almost a year and a half. I’m going to get plenty of that “alone time” I so desperately need. I’m going to, hypothetically, have plenty of time for school. I’m overwhelmed because it’s looming so close and so fast. The last month of 2009 went by so fast and the first weeks of 2010 are going to go by so quickly and there is still so much to get done before his departure. I’m unprepared because all those things that need to be done aren’t done. I’m depressed because I live in hell where the sun never shines…well, almost never. By the time the sun shines, I’m depressed enough it takes a few days to snap out of it. By then, the sun has slipped behind the ever present cloud cover and I’m spiraling downward again.

It’s the first day of 2010 and I’m not ready for it.

 

Oh the things they say… December 22, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,marriage,military,parenting — Addicted to Yarn @ 9:37 pm
Tags: ,

This evening, Jael and Israel were talking in the other room while I cooked supper. Israel came back into the kitchen, laughing his head off.

“What?” I asked.

Israel stifled his laughter before telling me of their exchange.

Israel: Jael, do you know that I’m going to be leaving on a deployment in a few weeks and that I’ll be gone for six months?

Jael: WHAT? Does Mom know?

Israel: Yeah, Mom knows.

Jael: Good because I was like, “I’ve just GOT to tell her.”

Later this evening, I said to Jael that I’d heard she was concerned about me not knowing Dad was leaving and she said, “I didn’t want you to just ask one day, ‘Hey, why isn’t Dad here anymore?'”

Lots of family hugs this evening as the reality of Israel’s departure kind of hit us. While I am really excited to see my family during his time away, I’m really bummed about not getting to see my best friend, my lover, my daughter’s daddy, my confidant, my skeptical anchor, my favorite person in the WHOLE WIDE world, or my bed warmer for six months. šŸ˜¦

 

Two Sides to Every Story, Take Two April 13, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,military,Political — Addicted to Yarn @ 5:46 am
Tags: , , ,
Exterior

Exterior

Interior

Interior

I feel like a previous post has been misunderstood so I am going to attempt to clarify (or muddy up the waters so much no one can see where they are going).

This is what I was trying to say:

War is a very powerful tool. Let me compare it to an axe. An axe is a very powerful tool. It can bring down a mighty oak, perhaps one that has stood for a hundred years. Cutting down such a tree should not be a decision made lightly. Perhaps the tree is in the way of your new condominium you want to build. Should you apply the axe to the tree? I don’t think so. Perhaps the soil has washed out from under the tree and it is leaning precariously over the home of a family. Should you apply the axe to the tree? If other methods of securing the tree and keeping the family safe have proved fruitless, than yes, you should chop down the tree with the axe.

But an axe is not a maintenance free tool. Chopping down a tree wears down the axe. Every time you resharpen the axe, a little of the metal is worn down. Chopping down the tree is necessary. The tree itself might not have done anything wrong. It’s just doing its job, which is to grow. It must obey gravity; it has no other choice. The soil is the part which has failed, causing the tree to endanger the safety of the family. But the tree still must be removed.

But do not think for a minute that there isn’t a price to pay. The axe head will be worn down. It will have to be sharpened and eventually replaced. The bigger the tree, the more of your axe you are going to wear away. If you haven’t counted the cost and do not have sufficient axe heads, you will be left with a tree which is even more unstable than before and an axe head which is all used up. You will have consumed the axe and not gained any safety for the family.

But if you do count the cost and do have enough axe heads to finish the job, you have made the family safer. You have also removed a living tree from the ecosystem and however many axe heads from your tool belt. What’s left of the axe heads can be remelted and turned into new axe heads but there is a net loss of metal. So in the end, if you were successful, you are still one tree shorter and X amount of metal shorter. There is an intangible gain (the safety of the family) and a tangible loss (the tree and the axe heads).

If the tree is the “enemy” and the axe heads are the “good guys,” in the end, there has been a net loss of life. If you believe that human life is precious and the ending of it bad, than you have to believe that war, which results in a net loss of life, is bad. It might be less bad than doing nothing, which would result in the net loss of the tree and the innocent family. But it is bad. Is the axe head bad? No. It’s simply doing its job, wielded by someone else. Is the lumberjack bad? No, he’s doing his job, too. Is the soil bad, for washing away and leaving such a precarious situation? No, it was following the rules of phyics. So who’s to blame for the net loss of life, tree and axe head?

Well, it’s complicated. Who planted the tree on a hill above a house? No one? Who didn’t maintain situational awareness to be aware there was a tree growing on the hill over the house? Who should have noticed the tree when it was small and removed it then, perhaps relocating it somewhere safer? Who made the decision to let nature take its course and not shore up the hillside to prevent errosion? Maybe there was strip mining going on which caused the hill to erode so quickly. Maybe pollution killed the ground cover, exposing the soil to the effects of erosion. There is a HUGE chain of events leading up to the current crisis of tree threatening house. Is there any one person or group to blame? Who made the family build under the tree? Why didn’t they move? Why didn’t they cut down the tree when it was smaller, using their own axe heads at their own expense?

And so on, and so forth. I believe that war is evil but as as John Stewart Mill said, “It’s not the ugliest of things.” War is bad. It might be a necessary bad. It might be better than allowing nature to continue her course. But it is bad. However, the people fighting the war aren’t bad. They are just doing their jobs, many heroically. Many are heroic in a bad situation. But they are not in a heroic situation. They are in a bad situation and they, because of their character, become heroes. But they are the hereos, the heroic ones, not the situation they are in.