Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

Two sides to every story April 11, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,military,Political — Addicted to Yarn @ 4:59 am
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Omaha Beach Cemetery

Omaha Beach Cemetery

I watched Saving Private Ryan yesterday. I watched it years ago when it first came out and haven’t watched it since because, quite frankly, it was incredibly disturbing. I don’t like seeing the insides of people on their outsides. I don’t like watching people die horribly. I don’t like to see men wasted and war wastes men.

We have a friend in Iraq right now. He volunteered for his current job. It’s the most dangerous job in the Air Force right now. He opted out of a mission a couple of weeks ago and the two guys who went instead were both killed. He had to identify their remains and guard them until they were evacuated. I don’t like that.

My husband is in the Air Force. He will probably deploy this year. I don’t like that. Many of my friends are spouses of military members. Their husbands also deploy as do the fathers of my daughter’s friends. I don’t like that. I don’t like my loved ones being placed in harm’s way, for any reason, no matter how noble.

But John Stuart Mill said something many years ago that I agree with, even though it means that my husband, my daughter’s father, my friends, my friends’ husbands and their kids’ father must all place themselves in mortal danger. He said:

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of men better than himself.”

I agree. There are things worth going to war about. There are things worth fighting for and against. There are things that are more important than my own personal safety and the personal safety of my loved ones. I agree with that. But I also agree with Jimmy Carter when he said:

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”

And that’s a fact.

So I am divided. On one hand, I absolutely believe that war is sometimes a necessary evil. On the other hand I believe absolutely that war is evil.

Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.

 

Frankfurt fears February 20, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,germany,marriage,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 8:53 am
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Israel leaves on Saturday. He flies out of Frankfurt Airport at about 11 in the morning. I don’t want him to go. It’s only for two weeks. It’s really not that bad. It’ll be the shortest TDY he’s ever had. But I don’t want him to go. I don’t want to be a single mom, even for two weeks. It’s just not as much fun without him here.

But there is a silver lining to many clouds and the silver linings to this one are several. Number one, Israel gets a two week break from 60 hour work weeks. I get a break from living with someone who’s working a 60 hour work week. Israel will have the opportunity to eat at Applebee’s, something he’s been surprised to miss. I will have no expectations of meals placed upon me, as Jael is perfectly content to eat Macoroni and Cheese at every meal. I will have more free time and will have a chance to catch up on some of my projects.

But all of the silver linings in the world will not grant me the motivation to use these two weeks wisely. My previous behavior during Israel’s absences has been to eat myself sick and stay up WAAAAAY to late. I’m hoping that a year and half of growth and maturity will have given me a bit more self discipline. I know the sleep thing will be an issue…it always is, even when Israel is simply working nights. But I’m hoping that since I have a class, which is very important to me, to be alert for and multiple homeschool related things, I will not abuse my body too much.

Also the shortness of the TDY should help with that. I’m not going to have two weeks to get back on track before Israel returns. If I spend two weeks making myself sick he’s going to come home to a sick wife and I don’t want that.

What’s really concerning me is driving to Frankfurt and moreso, driving back from Frankfurt by myself. I’m nervous. I’ve driven in Trier and gotten lost each time. I am not looking forward to driving in Frankfurt and getting lost when I don’t have a navigator sitting in the seat next to me. *sigh*

And you know what’s really frustrating? When it’s all said and done, I will be fine. I will be better for my Frankfurt adventure and I’ll be really glad it happened. I will have grown and learned and it will be a good experience, one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

*sigh* And now, I need to go put clothes in the laundry so that I can sew patches on tomorrow. I HATE sewing patches on and, no, I won’t grow from it or learn from it or look back and be glad I had the experience. It’s purely because of the highway robbery they practice at the alterations shop and the lengthy wait that I am sewing the patches on and not paying someone else to suffer through it.

 

Germany…here we are!! September 22, 2008

Filed under: Anecdotal,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 12:30 pm
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Well, we have arrived. We are in Germany. We arrived Sunday morning after a long and somewhat tiresome journey. Our flights went well but the nine our flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt was long and while we only traveled from 330 pm to 12:30 am Mississippi time, we lost seven hours and arrived at 7:30 German time. So after not being able to sleep on the plane for more than a couple of minutes. we arrived very tired.

Mac was there to pick us up…although a bit late due to bad communication in the shop so we had a couple of worried minutes but it turned out okay. He drove us to the base, which is about two and a half hours from Frankfurt. Upon arriving, we attempted to check into Lodging but were informed that while they had a reservation for us, our room would not be ready for about three or four hours. Mac kindly offered his guest room to us so we went to his house and passed out on his couches. After a foud hour nap, we went back to the Hotel and received the keys to our room.

We hauled our things up to the second floor and opened the door into a beautiful apartment. We have a living room with a couch and two stuffed chairs, a TV and DVD player, a coffee table, a desk, and a door leading to the balcony.

The kitchen is larger than any kitchen we’ve had, except for Hilltop, which was a kitchen/dining room combo. The kitchen comes stocked with dishes, pots and pans, silverware, small appliances (toaster, microwave, can opener, etc), and dish soap. We have a dining room with table and six chairs.

Jael has her own room with large closets and a TV (which she doesn’t get to watch in there).

Across from Jael’s room is the bathroom, which is the largest bathroom we’ve ever had.

Down the hall is the second bedroom, with a full bed and large closet and another TV. Across from that room is the Master Bedroom with queen bed and TWO closets, TV, end tables and the Master bath, which has a washer and dryer in it. Again, it’s a very large bathroom.

So we are pretty happy.

Today, Israel started the inprocessing process and brought home a stack of available homes/apartments. And I mean a STACK! 163 listings to be exact. We spent the afternoon going through them and narrowing them down. We started by only looking at the ones that were eight miles or closer to the base so Israel can still bike to work. We weeded out probably 75% of the units. We are going to start at the closest and work our way through. Hopefully we’ll find something soon but I’m not too worried. Our “room” here in lodging is more than adequate.

Jael and I walked to the Commissary and brought home some cheese covered “pretzels,” which were bread dough, shaped into pretzel shapes and covered with cheese and jalapenos. We had those and some fruit for lunch and felt very European.

After supper, we went to the park and then took a walk around until we got chilled. Chilled. Not hot and sweaty, but chilled. YAY!

We are loving it here. I will post more as we experience more.

 

Shots May 15, 2008

Filed under: Anecdotal,military,parenting — Addicted to Yarn @ 9:19 pm
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Jael received four shots today as we continued our game of catch-up with the vaccinations. As we answered countless questions, the nurse asked, “And her vaccinations are current?”

And I had to answer, “Actually, no.”

Don’t ask me why I didn’t think of that as something we should do before we head overseas. I just spaced it…kind of like sunscreen. So we headed to the immunization office and Jael got her four shots, after screaming only a little bit before hand. As soon as they were done, she was good. She was fairly excited about the Bugs Bunny band-aids she received.

She has one more to get in four weeks and then she’s all caught up. Then I’ve my “overseas screening” appointment next week and then we are medically cleared to go to Germany. YAY!

Tonight, for dinner, I grilled steak. I bought some really high quality lean steak and it was so worth it. I cooked them to perfection; brown outside, warm red in the center. Israel’s was purple and cool in the middle like he likes it. It was the best steak I’ve ever had. It was also the rarest so that may have had something to do with it.

Israel once ordered a steak “blood rare” and had the waitress throw it down in front of him with, “That’s disgusting.” As he cut into the steak and began to eat it, he noticed everyone at the table watching him. He looked up and one guy asked him, “So…how’d you get into that?” Like it was sado/masochism of something. I guess it’s weirder than I thought.

And we had corn on the cob. It was amazing. Some of the best I’ve ever had. I think I might buy more next week. Yum.

 

A day in the life of a slave April 2, 2008

Filed under: Anecdotal,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 11:35 am
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Due to my husband working weekends to cover for an airmen caught doing something stupid, he no longer gets informed of drills until he shows up without the required things.

The shop had a bag drag today. For a bag drag, he is supposed to bring in this bag that shows how ready he is to deploy. So many socks, pairs of underwear, t-shirts, uniforms, razors, laundry detergent, etc. Of course, before he can actually deploy he will need to buy new uniforms because starch and/or fabric softener (I can’t remember which) causes the clothes to glow like lanterns in Night Vision. So, this is basically a big chance for those higher up to exercise their power over the day to day lives of those lower down. It sucks and they should have called. A phone call to the guys who work weekends. How hard is that?

Of course, for all my complaining, they do some things right. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow to get my mouth looked at (more about that later) and I can’t find a sitter, it being such late notice. But Israel can take an hour or two off to watch Jael so I can see the doctor without company. That’s very nice and it’s not something we’ve ever been able to do at any other job. I don’t know that it makes up for the headaches we experience but it’s not all that bad.

Okay, the mouth sore. A week or so ago, I had what I thought was a bit cheek. You know, the spot that you keep biting and it keeps being swollen so you keep biting it, so on and so on. This was way back on my cheek, beside my wisdom teeth, which I’ve not had removed. It’s so far back that I can not just move my cheek out of the way to keep from biting it. I have to puff out my cheek with air or actually hold it away from my teeth with my fingers. This makes eating awkward, messy and not very attractive. My teeth are also hurting. I don’t know if they are hurting because I’ve been clenching them to keep them closed to keep from accidentally biting my cheek, or because they are doing weird stuff which caused this sore to develop in the first place. I don’t have dental insurance. So I’m going to the doctor who will hopefully be able to tell me if it’s a flesh problem or a tooth problem. If it’s a dental issue, I am hoping that a referral to a dentist will mean that it’s covered by TriCare. *crossing fingers*

So that’s what’s going on today. All of this happened after I had to drive Israel in to work because he couldn’t find his ID (there’s no blame there. I wouldn’t be able to find my butt if it weren’t attached.). So I had to wake Jael up at 6 am. Then drive back to pick him up again and then be home with no car. YUCK!

Oh, and the humidity today…100%.

What else is there to say? One hundred freaking percent.

 

An Update on Evil Psychotic or Bad Management February 26, 2008

Shortly after posting my previous blog, I received a phone call from my apartment manager. Michele was incredibly professional, almost friendly even. She let me know that the bookkeeper (who’d been out most of last week) had got back into the office yesterday, spent yesterday playing catch up, and gave her a call first thing this morning. They were prepared to send us our refund. Michele wasn’t sure if they were going to send it out right away or if they’d send it out with the rest of the bills on the tenth of the March. If we haven’t received our money by the 13th or 14th of March, we are to give her a call and see what’s up.

I wish so much that I could have heard that phone conversation. I like to imagine she got a royal chewing out. I’m a little concerned at the maliciousness of my thoughts. I wonder if I’ll still have this attitude towards skinny obnoxious women when I’ve reached my weight loss goals? I don’t have a problem with thin people. My good friend Chris is about a size 4 (I guess. I’m terrible at guessing sizes and so, Chris, if I’ve horribly misguessed, please don’t be hurt. You look great regardless of what size I think you are.). However, she had to lose thirty pounds before she got there and she works out regularly to keep her body fit. I only have a problem with thin people who didn’t work for it and then judge those who have to work to be fit.

Anyway, the “check’s in the mail” so that’s good news. I apparently need to forgive Michelle and Amber for being rude to me as I’m harboring a grudge which I don’t like. I like to be nice. I’m fat. I want to be fat and jolly, like Santa Clause. I don’t want to be fat and grouchy, like Jabba the Hut. Next time I refer to my apartment management team, hopefully it will be without the resentment I’ve expressed here.

 

Evil psychotic or bad management?

As you may know, we recently moved into an apartment, from military housing, in the hopes that we would save some money. (If you don’t know this, check out this previous blog.)

Things have been going fairly well. A couple of things I forgot to mention in the previous blog. One of them was that when we signed our lease, we asked who the property management company was. We asked, not because we were that concerned, but because we’d had a bad experience with a company and simply wanted to make sure it wasn’t this same company. Bridgette said, nope it’s not that company but I can’t tell you who it it. We asked who the owners were and were again told that she couldn’t tell us that. Bridgette said, “That’s her policy. I don’t know why. I guess she doesn’t want people to know who she is.” We thought it was very strange but figured a little bit of internet research would shed light on the subject so we didn’t worry about it.

Another thing I forgot to mention on said previous blog is that we overpaid our first month. We moved in on the 10th and were supposed to pay $403 for the remainder of January. Well, when we set up our allotment…okay let me take a step back.

Military Partnership Program: If an apartment is a MPP participant, they agree to provide a special deal for military members. They do not charge the tenant or future tenant a security deposit, an application fee, or any other fees. In exchange, the military member pays for their rent as an allotment. An allotment is a payment that is paid by the military out of your check. So the military member never sees the money. Every paycheck, half of the rent is taken out and on the first of the month, the apartment gets a check for the whole amount.

Back to the story. Maison D’Orleans Apartments is a MPP participant. So we pay our rent as an allotment, as specified in our lease. When we set up the allotment, Israel set it up to begin in January, thinking, we get paid twice in January, $299 + $299=$598. Then they’ll get paid on the first of February. Yeah, unfortunately for us, the finance office is not in the business of telling you how things work. By setting up the allotment to begin in January, we were, in fact, setting it up as though we needed the month of January to be paid in full. So the last check of December had $598 removed from it. YIKES!

While we didn’t have to write them a check for $403 because they’d all ready received it we were concerned that we’d not see our money ever again. When I realized what had happened, about a week before moving in, I called, explained the situation and was assured by Bridgette, the leasing manager, that, though it might take a month or so, we’d be refunded the money.

After a month of haggling with them about the door (see previous blog), I went in to ask about our refund. As soon as I walked in the door, they, Amber, the assistant manager, Michelle, some blond who I assumed worked there because she was there all the time, and three maintenance men, began explaining how they would be getting to my door as soon as they could but they had a leak between apartments they had to find so they probably wouldn’t get it installed today. Yada yada yada. I said, “That’s fine. I’m actually here about some money you owe us and I was wondering about getting that refunded to us.”

Amber and Michelle both looked skeptical and seemed to by trying to blow it off like no big deal. I made it clear that it was a big deal to us and so Amber headed in to the office, I followed her and Michelle followed me. The maintenance men who were already in the office, remained. Amber rummaged around with some paperwork and said, “Yeah, there’s a credit here for a hundred and ninety dollars.” And then she just stood there looking at me.

“So, when can I expect a refund check?” I asked, trying to not reveal that they were making me very, very nervous. Both women are taller than me. Both are wearing heels. Both are very put together and by that I mean, gussied up. Both are thin and remind me of high school snobs. Amber is standing behind the chest high counter, Michelle is standing behind me in the door way, and the maintenance guys are standing to my left, watching us.

“It’ll be refunded to you when your lease is up, when you move out,” Amber said.

“That’s not what I was told when I called a month ago.”

“Who did you talk to?” Amber asked.

“Bridgette.” And upon hearing this, Amber rolls her eyes. You see, Bridgette got fired about two weeks ago. I don’t know why. The maintenance guy fixing some little things in the apartment gossiped to me that it was because she never gave messages. I don’t know. Maybe it was because she was a little too nice. So Amber rolls her eyes and I wanted to slap her and say, “Don’t roll your eyes at me. I’m not the one who hired her!” but I didn’t. However, when neither of them responded, I said, “That’s not acceptable to us. We’d like the money to be refunded to us now.”

“Well, that’s why you are supposed to pay the first month’s rent out of pocket so you can pay the prorated amount.”

I explained that, yes, we set up the allotment wrong. Blah blah. They countered with, well normally we would just credit it to the next months rent and you would only have to pay the prorated amount but they couldn’t do that because of the allotment. Blah blah. I countered with, well I want my money. (I hope I said it better than that but I might not have.)

Amber says, “Well this is our policy.”

I say, “I’d like to talk to your manager.” When I receive a blank look, I add, “I’d like to talk to the next person up.” Amber looks past me at Michelle, who is still standing in the doorway, as though she’s about to leave.

Michelle, I kid you not, scoffs, that little expulsion of air that accompanies a curled lip expression. “You’re talking to her. I’m the regional and that’s our policy.”

By now, I’m no longer being treated as a tenant. I’m being treated as someone they are threatened by. Gone is the thin veneer of professionalism and in it’s place is pure disdain and malice.

I, knowing a little about managers and policies, say simply, “I’d like to see that in writing.”

When my request is met by a blank look, I start to clarify (since it was such a confusing statement) but before I can say anything she says, “It’s…well it’s…a bookkeeping policy.”

To which I respond, “Okay, fine. I’d like to see a copy of this policy.”

After a bit more sputtering and stuttering, she says, “It’s not a written policy. It’s just a bookkeeping thing.”

I just want to repeat that in case anyone missed that “It’s not a written policy.” Do you read that? “It’s not a written policy.” Um, can you say “discrimination”?

Since there really wasn’t anything left to say, I said, “Okay,” then turned to Jael told her to gather her toys and we left.

Now, my ability as a writer is not what I wish it were because I’ve not portrayed the rage I was feeling. They purposefully physically placed themselves around me in such a way as to make me uncomfortable and off guard. They scoffed at my request. They implied that we were stupid for making a mistake. They tried to over talk me so that I couldn’t say anything. They implied I was retarded for believing anything Bridgette, the person I was supposed to trust enough to explain my lease to me, had said. They said the words “unwritten policy.” I left calmly and professionally but inside I was a boiling pit of lava.

Upon returning to our apartment, I began to take pictures of our door. I figured if we had to talk to Israel’s First Sergeant about the apartment management, we’d better have all our ducks in a row and have proof. I took a dozen pictures, inside and out, and a couple of videos of me bending the bottom foot of the door. I downloaded them onto my computer (which because I don’t do very often took me almost twenty minutes.) Just as I finished, there was a knock on my door and a maintenance man announced he had a door for me. Odd, just thirty minutes ago I’d been told there was almost no way they’d get to it today and yet, here they were, first thing. Strange, no?

Anyway, he replaced the door but as I left for story time, I took the camera with me, just in case. Upon returning home I began research to find the owners and management company. The property management company was easy enough to find. I Googled “Maison D’Orleans” and the third website was ApartmentGuide.com. I clicked on the tab labeled “Management” and discovered that they are managed by Evan’s Realty. Okay. Now for the owners. Tax records never fail. I looked up who paid the property tax’s for 2436 Beach Blvd, Biloxi, MS and found that it was Spencer E L Jr Family LTD PTN and/or Spencer Lumber Co Auburn, AL. Why the secrecy when the information is readily available online? I do not know.

The next day Israel and I went to the housing office and explained the situation. The gentleman we talked to was wonderful. He’s been working with military housing for about twenty years and he assured us that we were in the right and that the apartment managers did in fact owe us the money. As a MPP participant, they could not keep any money owed to us. If they did, it became a deposit, which they aren’t allowed to charge. He called them up and asked to talk to Amber. She wasn’t available so he asked to speak with Michelle. He explained why he was calling and was rebuffed. He explained that they were in violation of the MPP guidelines and that as such they could be removed from the list of MPP participants. Again he was rebuffed. She, apparantly, as we could only hear one side of the conversation, said to him, “That’s our policy,” to which he responded, “You may have a policy like that. We do not. That is their money and you have to give it to them.” She talked some more and said that no one else minded waiting until they moved out to have their money refunded to them. On and on. At one point, near the end of the conversation, our advocate said, “Okay, let me make sure I understand you. Your official response is that you don’t care.” She talked some more, back peddling I’m sure, and then he said, “Okay. You do that. Talk to your home office and see what they have to say.”

He advised us to give them seven to ten days to work it out and allow her to cool off. As he put it, “Michelle is not a happy camper right now.” No kidding.

We gave them 10 business days and then I went in again. As I walked in, I noticed that Amber wasn’t behind the desk. There was a new face. A nice looking girl actually, someone I would have like to have dealt with instead of Michelle, who, upon seeing me walk in the door, turned to riffle through a cabinet. “Can I help you?” asked the friendly looking girl.

“Actually, I need to talk to Michelle.” At this, Michelle turns to me and says, “They’ve not gotten back to me. I’ve left a couple of emails and haven’t heard anything.”

Then she goes on to say that Amber hates the Partnership Program and that’s why she said what she did. But the Michelle said it made it sound as though Amber had been the one talking to the housing guy. She said about one out of seven military members trash the place and then they, the apartment, are left with a trashed apartment and no deposit. They would just as soon be out of it.

As I continued on my way to the store, I thought about this and none of it makes any sense. You can’t fix a trashed apartment with $300 anyway. A deposit doesn’t begin to cover the expense of fixing an apartment. It barely pays to have the carpets cleaned. Why does the opinion of an assistant manager (Amber) effect policy for the whole complex? Does the home office hate the MPP? If so, aren’t there less damaging ways to leave the program? Why, if Michelle is the “regional”, is she at the office all the time? Does the “home” office even know this is going on or has Michelle simply not contacted them? Do they think we won’t sue for military discrimination? What the hell is going on here?

Israel and I discuss it at length. We’ve come up with a theory that makes it all make sense in a twisted sick sort of way.

What follows is theory so I’m going to put it in italics so as not to confuse the masses.

Michelle is mean. She’s also not very good at her job. She, and probably Amber as well, enjoys making people, especially overweight confident women, feel small and stupid. She made up a rule that her employees couldn’t tell people who the owners and management company are because she doesn’t want her employees to know, thereby hampering their ability to go over her head. She made a decision to not refund our money. Maybe it is unwritten policy. Maybe she made it up on the spot. Whatever the reason, she talked herself into a corner by saying the words “unwritten policy.” She has not contacted the “home office” at all in the hopes that we will just go away. Or maybe she hates the MPP and hopes we’ll get the military to drop them from the MPP participant list and then she can go to the home office and say, “Look what they did.”

What is our plan now? I think Israel is going to give Evan’s Realty and Mr. E.L. Spence Jr. a call and make sure that Michelle is in fact speaking for them before we take this back to the military. Because they are breaking their contract and the military will drop them from the list and I don’t think they’re going to like that. The kind of people who trash an apartment are also the kind of people who forget to pay rent. She said one out of seven. I’d say there’s at least a hundred military members here. That makes about 14 people who are dirtbags. Let’s say they have the same kind of unit we do and pay between $600 and $900 a month. That’s between $8400 and $12600. It’s not much but I bet they notice.

I don’t know what’s going to happen but I know it’s not over yet. So, do you think that the management is just incompetent or are they, in fact, evil?