Friday, March 28, 2014

Parting is such (sweet?) sorrow

So, there is this beautiful but ultimately deceptive and terrible notion that immediately before and after a separation, there is all this ROMANCE! and CONNECTION!  I am here to tell you that this is a load of bullshit.  I've written about the back end of this phenomenon, the difficulty of re-adjusting to one another after a separation, but lordy, did I experience the front end in all its brutal glory recently, and I want to talk a bit about that.

Separation is painful and scary and stressful-- for everyone.  I am inclined to believe that it's actually more difficult for the partner staying at home, even though they're not the person doing the work per se, because the person who leaves is going to something while the person at home just has something taken from them, but I think my husband would tell you a different story.  I suppose everyone is biased toward their own experience.  So, in the spirit of fairness and equity, let's assume it's just shitty for everyone, though it's shitty in different ways.

Contrary to what the mythology would have you believe, it is incredibly difficult to find connection before and after a separation.  My theory is that this is because each person experiences the separation so differently.  It's hard to find common ground when you're in pretty different spaces emotionally.  Before the separation, the person who is going away has anxiety about the upcoming mission, as well as missing their partner and life at home. They also have some excitement about the job ahead and the camaraderie of the team.  The person who is staying home is anxious about the void on the other side of the bed and the silence over dinner and the palpable absence at parties, as well as about managing the household solo... and, if you're me, you also harbor some resentment because the person you love most is choosing to spend time away from you because there is something else that they want to do that requires it.  They want to do that other thing enough that it's worth the trade-off of weeks or months without you.  It's hard for me to not take that personally sometimes, even though I knew this was my husband's life when we met. I am aware that this isn't completely fair or rational, but it's very much how I feel sometimes.

I'll be honest, folks-- we have not yet cracked this particular nut.  The night before my husband left for a month-long field exercise with zero contact, and we were up far, far too late in an utterly pointless, dramatic, overheated argument.  I was being very emotional (read: sensitive and then sobbing inconsolably), he was frustrated that I couldn't mellow out for our last few hours together... match to the gas tank.  This is not the first time that we've hit the skids right before a separation.  We made up, more or less, by the time he left, and for that I am grateful.  He asked me to promise that we wouldn't have another night like that, and I want to be able to promise him that-- it's not like I wanted that type of night in the first place-- but it's also not me alone who is creating the situation, so I feel like it's something we need to work on together.  After all, it does take two to tango.

I'm in a Facebook group with some other army wives at our post, and I posed questions as to whether anyone else experienced these fights and what suggestions people have for breaking the cycle.  I was heartened to see quick responses that, yes, other people go through this too, but unfortunately the only advice was to just decide that you're not going to fuel the fire, which is far easier said than done.  The best concrete strategy I've come up with so far is to just keep it light in the days leading up to the separation.  Have fun together.  Don't try to problem-solve.  If you're watching a movie, make it a comedy.  Plan something fun that you'll do together when you're reunited.  Devote your energy toward the parts of your relationship that bring you joy and make you feel close-- the parts around the separation-- and maybe you'll avoid directing it toward dwelling on the impending separation.

The thing is, we were both trying to do exactly before the last separation, but the conversation meandered into the woods.  It is damn hard to censor yourself around the person you are closest to.  This isn't foolproof.  But maybe it's a start.

Do you have any suggestions for things you can do to make the transition into a separation a little smoother?

xo - Kilo

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

#NPR Fresh Air Repost

Do you believe in serendipity? I do. Not just because it was complete serendipity that introduced me to my husband but because no matter what subject is occupying my mind, NPR has a story for that. For the Tminus15 minutes I'm in the car every day (I am SO completely bike commuting. Tomorrow.) the story finds me.
I will share with you now my NPR Fresh Air REPOST from March 11, 2014, an interview with author Brigid Schulte on equality in relationships (and parenting). The part about cooking for Thanksgiving really hit me right between the eyes.




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On parenting and the division of labor
When my husband and I got married, I was very adamant that I wanted a partner. Again, I love and respect my parents but I did not want the traditional marriage that they had. I grew up in a very different time and what I wanted for my life was very different. So I made sure that my husband, Tom, was also on the same page, that we wanted to be these equal partners. And we really were. We had a really fair division of labor, everything felt great.

And then we had our first child and I think, without realizing it, I felt that I should be this super mother and I felt like I needed to do everything that my mother did while at the same time trying to work like my father did, without realizing how impossible that was. ... That time when you bring the first child home is a crucial time for setting the trajectory of your relationship from then on out, particularly in the division of labor.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Joining Forces Against the Trailing Spouse

"With a little push from first lady Michelle Obama and her military family-support initiative, Joining Forces, many states have enacted license portability statutes designed to make moves easier for military spouses. Some states honor out-of-state military spouses’ licenses while others grant temporary credentials or expedite the re-certification process. But the rules are not uniform and do not include every kind of license.  
Such barriers are especially overwhelming when spouses’ partners are deployed or absent. The vast majority of military spouses say they either “need to work” or “want to work,” according to the Military Officers Association study. 
“Work was the thing that kept me sane,” Putnam said. “It gave me a chance to work on improving my life even when my personal life was on hold.” 
Read more from this excellent ABC News article by Erin Dooley 3/1/2014 in the picture link below. All credit for the photo and quote above to Erin Dooley, ABC News.
ABC News Story on Military Wife Un/der Employment
Let me tell you something 'bout me. In a dark and secretive way, I look forward to the next Base Realignment And Closure process. Point of fact, I have the perfect military installation picked out for the DoD to focus on: Fort Polk, Louisiana. Why Fort Polk? Aside from showing heart by scrolling the sexual assault hotline number down the right side of the homepage, Fort Polk is by its location 10 miles east of Leesville, LA, something I inherently can't accept.  I have nothing against the great state of Louisiana or its (in)famous gumbo. But LA is the goddamn middle of goddamn nowhere in goddamn southern 'Merica. And if we goddamn PCS there I'll goddamn divorce the dude.

He's been informed of this fact. But it's not about him or even about the PCS. It's the fact that I have zero chance of getting a job east of Leesville, LA. When I moved to Fayetteville, NC to be with him I lucked out with a networking cold-call career connection. Sequestration put the cabash on that opportunity just under a year later. Thanks, Congress! So I went to "work" to find another opportunity. Of course, I volunteered and I secured an ad hoc consulting gig...I am a professional afterall. But I was scrambling looking for full-time, salaried position in a company with a mission and responsibility I could be proud to own. I never intend to enter into employment for <1 year at a go. My goal is to make twice my husband's salary per year at the minimum and with a Master's degree and a damn fine resume that ought to be (laughably) easy. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Half (ass) Book Report 1: The Wife

The Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-first Century by Anne Kingston


By page 133 I am enlightened. When I started the wedding planning process over a year ago, the web introduced me to the A Practical Wedding book and blog and the courageous writers who reassured me that I wasn't crazy as I experienced first-hand wedding night freak-out, the reality of family relationships and their place in a real life wedding, the ugly truth about budgeting and the grown-up "gimmies" induced by a serious industry...and how sometimes life really gets in the way of expectations. 

What I didn't expect was regret. My lover and I had great discussions about what we wanted in the wedding, and what we didn't. But I found myself with a bad case of the what-ifs post-wedding. What if we had abstained from sex for a bit before the wedding...would we have had more explosive sexual chemistry during the honeymoon? What if I'd tried on my mother's wedding dress...just for that bride-in-white framed portrait for the wall? What if my husband and I had reserved a special slow song just for us...just to say we did?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Monogamy Sucks

You know you're really married when even in your darkest sex dreams you tell your phantom lover that you have a husband. And sometimes in my dreams being married is a thing. Like dream sex is cheating. The thing of it is...I really never knew monogamy was going to be so tough.

Marriage is my first long-term relationship. Being with hubby is wonderful. Regular sex is wonderful. The idea of having hot, fantasy dream sex with disclosures for the next forty years...not wonderful. I did not expect to struggle with meeting hot, available people and forgoing a session or three of rowdy, uncommitted sex. I mean, I don't miss dating AT ALL. I know of few married folks who do and plenty of single people who hate it enough for all of us.

I wonder sometimes if I have it in me to do this. Don't mistake me, cheating is not what I'm after. I'm not sick of my husband or of marriage...I love us. It's just that sometimes I think I'd love us more if I could, every now and again, love other people. In the biblical sense. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

For the Children


So we totes know someone who was ASKED TO LEAVE an Army Wife support society because she had the balls to defend routine childhood vaccination on their social media page. Here in the MIL we are fortunate to have cradle-to-grave free medical care and caring, well-trained public health professionals looking out for us. That luck doubly extends to pre-natal and well-child care. 

The thing about vaccines is that if one person chooses not to vaccinate their child, and every other child is vaccinated, that isn't a big deal until that kid comes in direct contact with German measles. When upwards of lots of kids in that geographic area are unvaccinated then bad things happen to good people. UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control...they all say the same thing, this:

According to the CDC, one to three out of every 1,000 children in the United States who get measles will die from the disease, even with the best of care. Even if complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis aren't deadly, they can make children very sick; in 2011, nearly 40% of children under the age of 5 who got measles had to be treated in the hospital.
9/13/13 CNN article:"US measles cases in 2013 may be the most in 17 years" by Elizabeth Cohen

Won't someone think of the children? Specifically, think of the babies...completely unprotected from measles until they turn 1 year. 

DO SOMETHING AWSOME. Be a vaccine ambassador and help to protect your community. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

In Gear Career & Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth

Have you ever heard of In Gear Career? Allegedly it is a for MilSpouse by MilSpouse career & professional network. According to the http://www.ingearcareer.org/ website:

In Gear Career’s local chapters allow career-minded military spouses to form powerful social and professional networks. Join us and meet other inspiring spouses and influential community leaders as we gather for professional development and social functions.

 More research to be done but for now Team Bravo is impressed with the HomeFront Rising conference concept, which took place in Washington, DC this week. We missed it but welcome the opportunity for more outreach on how to run for office or pursue a political career as a military spouse. This Fayetteville Observer article by Drew Brooks gives more details here.*

*Representative Tammy Duckworth is hardcore. I'm up for hopping a commuter flight to hear her speak any time. #TeamTammy #TammyDuckworth

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Extraordinary Rendition Can't Stop This Love #ActivistPickupLines


I'm a socialist in the streets but an anarchist in the sheets.#ActivistPickupLines
HAHAHAHA! Oh, I think I just died I was laughing so hard. 
Oh Activist Cupid, you're the non-hierarchical leader of my consensual emotional AND heterosexual (but not narrow) love affair. Don't Camouflage this Love. #ActivistPickupLines
Come on, MilSpouses, let's show the world some Progressive Pickup Line Love!
Hey girl, you've made my kill list. I'm taking you out this Valentine's Day #ActivistPickUpLines (by @irevolt)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Target: Talking About Violent Relationships


How many times have you seen or heard something like this?

"I'm fairly certain that my friend/neighbor/self may be getting hurt by his/her partner/loved one.  I've heard noises/seen bruises/been scared.  I'm concerned but I don't want to get involved/call the cops/put myself at risk/be wrong about what's happening.  What should I do?"

Comments or posts like this tend to draw a flurry of urgent, firm instructions from well-meaning folks.  We're encouraged by the level of responsiveness we've seen, and we hope that offering some education and some advice to our readers will empower some of you to better support your friends, neighbors, loved ones, and selves who are coping with intimate partner violence.

Note:  we prefer the term Intimate Partner Violence or IPV over Domestic Violence, because dangerous relationships can occur in any setting- whether the partners live together or not.  We also refer to people who have been hurt by loved ones as survivors, not victims.

Here's what you can do:

Know about the resources in your area, and how they work.  This may take a bit of legwork- for good reason, many shelters do not have much of a web or social media presence, and do not publish their address.  Calling a local or national 800-number for survivors of violence (Such as RAINN) will connect you with counselors who are trained to help identify and locate appropriate resources.  Other options include staff at local faith communities, women's organizations such as NOW chapters, or even a liason unit at the police station.  It's a good idea to know where to go for help so that you're ready to offer immediate, practical support to someone who needs it.

Educate yourself about IPV.  Learn the warning signs and get some info about what you can and cannot do for a person that you're concerned about.  Generally, it's much more complicated than "call the cops" or "dump his ass."

Listen.  If you're able to do so, listen to the survivor without judging or telling him/her what to do.  Supporting a friend who is struggling with ongoing threats or violence can be an incredibly painful experience, and it's tempting to try and jump in to offer solutions or help her problem solve.  Don't go in there half-cocked, though- bone up those support skills, first.  What would Oprah do?  Get informed here.

Get support for yourself.  If someone close to you is being hurt, hearing about it or just knowing about it can take an emotional toll.  Even a single occasion of hearing your neighbors' intense fighting can be scary or upsetting, and it's worth it to contact an organization or professional in your community to talk about it.  Do some self-care like yoga or blogging- before you're so overwhelmed you can't remember to take care of yourself.  You will be better able to support your friend if you are well-rested and have your own emotional reserves in check.

Volunteer.  Whether you're a survivor, a secondary survivor, or just a concerned (and informed!) community member, you can make a difference in the lives of survivors*.  You may want to volunteer as a peer counselor or an advocate for survivors, but there are other levels of involvement that are just as important.  You can organize a fundraiser, coordinate a wish-list drive for a local shelter, help stuff envelopes or other admin tasks, or even re-tweet your local organization's messages to help promote events or awareness campaigns.

Hang in there.  A lifetime (get it?) of watching tv characters escape violent spouses by jumping into a heroic friend's car in the middle of the night can lead one to believe that IPV is like a house fire- an easily recognizable crisis with an immediate, scripted, effective response.  There's no question of whether a fire is a fire, whether it's possible to put it out, whether it's a good idea to put it out or if it would just make things worse, whether the neighbors/family/boss/friends would judge someone for living in a burning building, etc.   Surviving violence means making a series of decisions, and having the sense of courage and personal power to make decisions- some of them very scary- and follow through on said decisions.  Supporting a friend or loved one who is being hurt means waiting for that to happen- which takes patience, respect, and love.

Note: the information provided in this blog is based on the experiences of the editors and is in no way intended to substitute the support available from legal, health, and social service professionals in your community.  If you need help, please contact the folks in your area who are in the best position to provide the assistance you need.

Read, Call, Act: Resources

WomensHealth.gov: How to Help: practical advice for supporting a loved one

The Red Flag Campaign:  information and support from the National Domestic Violence Hotline

MilitaryOneSource: community-specific information, hotlines, and reporting options


*In fact, many organizations are too understaffed to respond to inquiries from potential volunteers, so attending an event or fundraiser, or helping to spread the word about the organization is a good place to start.  We do not recommend "just showing up" to be given something to do at the organization's office, and we strongly encourage that you check first to find out what's needed before making an in-kind donation.  Demanding a volunteer assignment or dropping off unwanted goods more than likely makes a negative impact by giving their staff an additional job to do. Help them help others by asking what help you can provide first. 


Monday, February 10, 2014

Op-Sec on FB

Yes. Operational Security. Friend to you, me, our lovers, special forces, politicians and hookers. Not generally for the same reasons but helpful to all nonetheless.
Thing is, facebook is the opposite of operational security. Facebook is the lovechild of the NSA, the DIA, and the internet. FB was the American testbed for facial recognition software and, if you are an honest person, has all your pertinent stats. Where you are from. Who you married and when. Your DOB. Your travel destinations for the past 10 years (if you were an early adopter). Your parents' names, DOB, anniversary,  maiden names, and each of your siblings and where they live. It logs your phone number and can connect to your PayPal and bank account.
Which is why announcing on FB that you or your lover is deploying, regardless of where or when, is a bad freaking idea. You, yes you, without any help has just blown operational security to hell.
Consider it this way: your lover goes to Pstan by way of Astan and something happens like s/he/ze invades the wrong country. The brother of that cousin from that place where the invasion took place goes to Alma Mater Univ and sees by way of their housemate that your boo who is identified as being in Marine Recon Unit Y went to Astan a week ago and then took "an unexpected trip. lolz. but all is fine now. WRONG COUNTRY- whoopsies." This dude is pissed bc a drone just took out half his family at a wedding party and now guess what? He knows what you look like. What your whole family looks like. Where you live, where your family/your lover's family lives, and thanks to that helpful FB rant... what that soldier did last week. But more. This dude can get to YOU.
Is that too intellectual a point? How about this one- would you feel comfortable putting a full medical diagnosis for a communicable gynecological issue on FB? Or would you choose to inform close family and friends about that intensely personal journey by phone or in person...someplace your ex or boss or random gal from high school French who stalks you occasionally won't get all the gorey details?
There is a time and a place for sharing.  For information that can result in you or your person coming to harm, loosing a job, or being tracked by casual life observers...watch out. Be discreet. And for theb love of Pete don't post on FB the day s/he/ze is deploying.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Army Strong: Olympians & Paralympians

One of the things I discovered about the US Military in recent years is that it is a convenient training vehicle for hard-core athletes and evangelical Christian militants. We'll discuss the latter another time. Today in the face of the Sochi Russian Olympics and Paralympics, let's keep an eye on the military members of the US Team.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thearmywcap/

"The Best Democracy Money Can Buy": WE ARE WORTH MORE

Published on Saturday, February 8, 2014 by Common Dreams

Tens of Thousands in “Mass Moral March”

Pushing back against rightwing legislation

- Common Dreams staff

Tens of thousands of people are marching through downtown Raleigh, North Carolina Saturday in what organizers describe as a “Mass Moral March” to push back against rightwing legislation.

The march, also known as the 'Historic Thousands on Jones Street', or HKonJ, was organized by the NAACP and its NC president, the Rev. William J. Barber. The NAACP and Barber drew national attention last year for organizing the so-called Moral Monday demonstrations to protest “immoral” legislation enacted by the North Carolina Legislature.

The annual HKonJ march takes place the second Saturday of February and has grown over the years since it started in 2007. Organizers claim partnerships with 150 other groups representing teachers, working families, religious leaders and civil rights advocates.

* * *

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/02/08-0

Friday, February 7, 2014

Repost: HK on J: Why We March

From Kirin Kennedy, NAACP Fellow...
"This Saturday [February 8, 2014], in Raleigh, North Carolina, the local NAACP state conference will be joined by more than 100 coalition partners for a march on Jones Street to the North Carolina State Legislature. This is the 5th year of the march, and since its inception, the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) People’s Assembly serves as a rallying call for change to those with political influence. Whether it is the superintendent of the Wake County School Board, the Governor of North Carolina or other elected officials that work to keep the schools of Wake County, NC integrated, the HKonJ coalition rallies to ensure that citizens are protected equally under the law and that a space is created for good, safe jobs and schools within the state of North Carolina."

This march is a continuation of the Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina State Capitol Building in 2013. For gathering details and more info, check it: http://www.hkonj.com/

Want to go but not by yourself?  Let us know who you are below and we'll meet you there.

Repost: Ask Team Practical: I Hated My Wedding

2013 was the YEAR OF THE WEDDING. And no, we didn't hate our weddings collectively. We did definitely hate 89% of the wedding planning process (sh*t is wack, yo) but the weddings themselves, no! Except...well, except. Execept that some weddings have both highs and lows. And some of us brides end up with icky, bruising stuff happening during the wedding. Stuff that slams us hard down to earth and takes away from the memory and feel of our glowing, joyful ceremonies. 

This article by Liz Moorhead at A Practical Wedding Blog is THE most insightful and healing reaction to a fairly taboo subject: experiencing a disappointing joy-suck of a wedding. 
______________________________________________________________________
Repost: http://apracticalwedding.com/2012/06/how-to-get-over-wedding-disappointment/

ASK TEAM PRACTICAL: I HATED MY WEDDING


My wedding was over a year ago and while I’m thrilled to be finally married to my husband, I can’t get over my disappointment in my actual wedding day. We put so much energy and time into planning everything, and it still hurts to think about the ways that it didn’t go according to plan and the ways people were hurtful. I know that I should just be happy that we got married, and I feel terrible that I can’t just do that. How do I come to grips with the wedding we had not being the wedding we wanted?
Depressed Over Wedding Nightmare
Dear DOWN,
Don’t beat yourself up for this! Of course you’re upset that things didn’t work out as planned. That’s natural. Wedding magic doesn’t always make that go away. Sometimes it just helps to know you’re not alone. Take, for example, this post on not loving your wedding, or this one, and this one over here. There’s a lot of pressure out there to have the correct feelings about your wedding (and other things, too), and sometimes that’s just one more unrealistic expectation. Not feeling a certain specific way about major life events is okay; many people feel all sorts of different emotions. How can we expect every person to feel the same way regarding the really big things, when we rarely can all agree on the little things? (I honestly just don’t get the mustache trend. There. I said it.) Feelings can be complicated, whether we’re talking about weddings or moving in or changing our names or pregnancy. This pressure to have certain reactions devalues and ignores an entire spectrum of very real and very complex human emotion.
First thing? You need to forgive yourself for being disappointed. Then, you need to allow yourself room to do that. Rather than bottling up that emotion or feeling as though you’re not allowed to express it, let it out. Cry about it. Scream about it. Find a good friend who won’t mind listening to you whine about it. You have to give a wound some air in order to let it heal.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Superbowl Fail: Why we hated the Budweiser commercial

"On Jan. 8th, Lt. Chuck Ladd came home."

I watched the dude ride the escalator down to the waiting lady and I was confused.  She held out her empty arms for a long beat, waiting as he rushed down to swoop her up in a huge hug.  Why was she waiting at the bottom of the escalator?  I've participated in more than one Big Reunion, and couldn't imagine why she'd wait there.  Maybe it was a security thing?  Oh no wait, I got it- someone's taping this.

Someone selling horrible punishment water beer.  Maybe the commercial was going to show how the evil corporation supports our troops by shipping over cases of canned liquid consequences for them to use on the enemy, somehow.  I mean no one would expect the men, women, dogs, and tanks dedicated to protecting freedom to actually drink that stuff, right?  

Well, it got worse.  The commercial turned out to be an entire minute of reunion porn, in which an entire town gets together to throw a big parade and everything just for Lt. Ladd.  Which was beautiful and you bet I choked up.  I'm not made of wood.  And then I saw the red sign with the white letters selling horrible beer.  Wait, maybe there's going to be a message:  Let's have more parades.  Bring everybody else home, too. Something like that.  Nope.

Then the sportsing started up again and one team won and GI Echo drove us home.  I couldn't get that damn commercial out of my head- or the one for Microsoft that showed a soldier participating in the birth of his child via Skype.  There's a lot to be pissed about.  I expected the blogosphere to be peppered with pitchforks and torches, but it actually took a bit of searching to find some.  Here's a wee roundup:

It's offensive.  Don Gomez, called out the ad as offensive and exploitative for using troops to sell beer with no message or call to action.  He suggested that "If you want to do something for the military, do it quietly, without plastering your logo at the end."

Troops and alcohol, really?  Then there's Philip Carter at Foreign Policy, whose article Bad Bud discusses concerns about the legal issues associated with the production of the ad and the complex relationship between servicemembers, alcohol, and PTSD.  

They are using us.  And Rae over at LeftFace had quite a bit to say about the ad as part of a larger trend of exploitation on the part of pretty much everyone, especially politicians and corporations, of military families, which is especially outrageous in the face of recent policies that reduce benefits for veterans and fail to address the growing mental health crisis.  

Unrealistic.   A quick poll of people I actually know revealed little in terms of outrage, but one friend expressed concern that giving people the idea that troops are welcomed by town-wide parades could leave the impression that veterans are regularly given the warmth and appreciation they deserve.  Another said that many soldiers she knows came home to nothing but an empty barracks and not one single person greeting them at the homecoming.  For these folks, some of them teenagers, there was no welcome at all.    

Karen Francis in the Care2makeadifference blog talks about the harm of Reunion porn,
"If you watch our reunions, if you watch our farewells, those thirty second TV stories, with tears in your eyes — remember the other 364 days of the year that we need to work through.  Don’t cry for us, reach out a hand and get to know us."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dog-Gone PCS

Little golden with the big brown eyes is cuddling next to me. She's not ours, but our buddy is having a gal's vaca someplace hot and tequila-fueled, so DH and I got to borrow her. She's just the best little working-at-home-helper ever.

The dog-sitting begs the question: does the Army have a puppy-crisis?

The stories are everywhere. My friend married just before a deployment and divorced just before he came home. His new/old wife gave his pitbull away before he returned to the USA. He was devastated. Short-term deployments, like vacations, mean having friends as awesome as us, boarding the pup, or trusting your roommate or significant other not to abandon them to the SPCA. Dog companions are almost as complex to manage as babies while being married to the military.

And look what I found: an organization called Dogs on Deployment with the express mission to help soldiers board their pets in the face of deployment and Permanent Change of Stations.

"Dogs on Deployment promotes responsible pet-ownership and the military-pet community by providing an online resource for military members to search for volunteers who are willing to board their pets while they're on deployment."

So the next time you're boxing up your life while Lassi watches, you can drop her off with us...or call in the Dog Deployment Cavalry!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Fit List: Five Reasons to Feel the Burn

So I Married an Army Guy, and then I learned that staying motivated to stay fit can be a challenge for many of us.  Fitness is one of the major components of your partner's career, but sweating it up is important for the whole family- especially you.  We know you know this- we've been reading the mainstream discussion groups and we get the listserv emails, too.

Without further rambling, here are the Five:

5.  Active Hobbies are Portable, and So are You.

Think about what you've learned to like about your current living situation.  What do your awesome container garden, your feminist book club, and your meaningful volunteer gig all have in common?  They will take time to replace when you move!  And what about your fitness regimen?  Chances are good that you'll be able to find another CrossFit Box or upcoming race in your new community, and you can get started as soon as you get there.  One of the great things about military communities is that you can pretty much count on some kind of a fitness culture to tap into.  And of course, you don't need anything except a little bit of willpower to go for a walk or do a YouTube video.  

4.  Getting Moving Gets You Out There.

Running is a great way to get to know a new neighborhood.  So is going to yoga class at a community center.  And what about a fitness-themed Meetup group?  Go to the free gym on post and talk to someone.  Right now.  You can read the rest of this post later.  At the gym, there will be at least one other person who wants a friend, or at least knows where you can find a good cup of coffee.  Again, unlike work or clubs or most volunteer opportunities, working out is an activity that you can do today, right now, that will put you around potential friends, or at least a bulletin board with networking opportunities.  In fact, legend has it that two of your favorite progressive bloggers met on a running trail...at least that's what I heard.  Want to make friends?  Race them.

3.  You Need to Chill Out.

Living with (or near) military culture can wreak havoc on your progressive nerves.  The PX parking lot is full of guzzlers, most of which are adorned with intellectually bankrupt bumperstickers.   The TV in the clinic waiting room is tuned into Faux Newz and the remote is nowhere to be found.  The local spouses' social media page is crammed with poorly spelled posts about the evil big gubment- you know, the agency that employs most folks you both know.  You have to deal with all this crap all day, and Rachel Maddow won't be on for another two hours.  What to do with all your righteous fury?  Vote, of course- but for now, why not take it out on the treadmill?  Don't argue with idiots- race them.

2.  It's Better Together

We heard somewhere that soldiers have to take a PT test- at least that's what our partners are telling us.  One of the few parts of military life that's easy to live with is the built-in fitness regime!  Many of us have found physical activity to be a great way to connect with our partners on a busy schedule (get your mind out of the gutter- we're talking about biking, running, and paintball.) As badasses, we've frequently been accused of being unsupportive partners (and worse) by the conservative kool-aid drinkers, which is total bullshit.  We might not go to all the parades or whatever, but we definitely do our part for our soldiers by supporting their efforts to get ripped and beastly.  Let's be honest- some of them need it.  If those PT tests are stressing your partner out, it's time for some teamwork.  Find something fun to do together that revs up your heart rate- and when you're done with that, you naughty minx, go work out together.  Don't nag your partner- race her.

1.  Badassery Takes Training

Look at you, kicking ass out there.  You've been coping with moves, making new friends, blowing off the steam of righteous fury, and setting a solid example for your own partner.  Maintaining your relationship and your sanity amid the stressors of military life takes a boatload of energy on a daily basis- and taking excellent care of yourself is the best long-term strategy we know of.  You're going to get so good at this- but it might not happen by accident.  Why take chances?  Keeping up with yourself and being the strongest, fastest, and calmest you can be is not just a lifestyle- it's your mission.

So tell us, what exactly are you doing to kick ass and how is it working out for you?




Celebrating Harriet Tubman #GoogleDoodles

Ahh, the Google Doodles.

The fun, quirky, moving (sometimes literally) illustrated graphic or video that plays on the Google Search homepage and showcases a daily date/person/theme/event in history.

Where would we be without the daily reminder of Daylight Savings Time (dang useful!) or the pure delight that came from the Claire Du Lune video graphic honoring Claude de Bussey? And today, one of my personal favorite radicals and role model: Harriet Tubman- with her candle-lantern raised aloft against the backdrop of a star-strewn Northern sky.

Feministe.us suggested Harriet Tubman as a Doodle honoree in 2010 in a post titled "Google Says the World was Made, Made Pretty by Men"...but who knows if the Google Doodler reads Shelby Knox?
Google, I’ve got some suggestions for you. What about Ada Lovelace, the woman who was the world’s first computer programer and, conveniently, has a whole day dedicated to her celebration? If the guy who created the first nuclear facility in China gets a doodle, Marie Curie certainly deserves one. If you honored the birth of realism, you should also honor the (flawed, yes) godmother of feminism, Mary Wollstonecraft. What about some of the women behind the great social movements in the United States, like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Dorothy Height?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Coping is Dope #1: Geography Truth or Dare

 The mainstream milspouse blogs are littered, soaked, stuffed, piled, and saturated with articles about PCSes- apparently they are stressful, disruptive, and generally suckful.  Yeah, no.  Moving sometimes blows, but staying can be worse- at least, that's what I thought.  

Get the Truth after the jump!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Behave Yourself! Slacker Rehab

Now that January's almost over, it's time for a little check-in on those big plans we made while drunk on gluten-free Dos Equis not one whole month ago.  Have you been a good badass?  No?  Well, we're not surprised, but we're here to help.  Habit RPG is pretty much the best thing that's ever happened to those of us who are long on plans, standards, and workloads but short on self-discipline.

Watch the video for a far more coherent explanation than we're able to give at this point, and get our tips after the jump!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Viking Ritual with Tank and other links for your linking pleasure

Sometimes, all we feel like doing is watching a bunch of Scandinavian studs re-enact key scenes from classic Broadway musicals.  You probably have days like that, too- in which case, you've come to the right place.  Behold, the Swedish Marines.








Want some more?  Yes you do.  After the jump, you little minx!  It gets better...

"People who think this is the happiest day of their lives need better lives."

My wedding was not the happiest day of my life. I never expected it to be.
Kilo and I had a discussion about this just yesterday...that we never bought into the Wedding Industrial Complex's fantasy. We both always thought that women who lost their sh*t over their weddings; who were crushed by disappointment; who were traumatized by the emotional roller-coaster of family, friends, logistics...that these were the women who were fixated with dress up bridal barbie and Disney's Cindarella wedding planning manual. In short, getting-married-females with unrealistic expectations.

Both of us manage severely budgeted events for non-profits. Both of us wanted our weddings to have meaningful ceremonies and fun parties. Nothing crazy. Nothing formal. Just us. With friends/families/food & drink. In short, realistic expectations.
BAM!
Family drama.
BAM!
Dick caterers.
BAM! BAM!
Direct quote from Kilo-at-the-reception: "People who think this is the happiest day of their lives need better lives."

Weddings are, however, teachable moments. Learning experiences. There was meaning in each of our wedding experiences; golden moments, precious and exhilarating. Dare I say, just as we experience living, or trying to, while married to the military.

My lover has a saying about Army life. That is comes down to "embracing the SUCK." Sounds dirty, eh? The meaning isn't dirty. Embracing the suck means making the best of bad circumstances. Stop whining and do your sh*t. STFU already and get on with it. Do what you can do in the face of an uncontrollable life.
For the women we are, this is a really difficult practice.

We're professionals. We've learned what makes us happy and what makes us miserable, and in the face of misery, we've learned to change the circumstances to create happiness. Move to a better environment. Get a different job. Get an advanced degree. Live alone. Rent out rooms and live with friends. Throw weekly parties. Start a radical book club. Own a car. Exercise daily. Bike commute. Form an alumni group/book club/social movement and make friends. Break-up with toxic friends and uninspiring dates. CHANGE.

When we married, we gave up the ability to go it alone. To change as often as we wanted or as much as we could. The wedding itself was an indicator of that. Yes, I experienced joy and killjoys. Yes, real life took away some of the fun that I had hoped to have at my wedding. Yes, I was totally overwhelmed at the reality of the commitment and the logistics of the party; emotionally, financially, and even physically. But I am learning. I embrace the suck of the wedding. I put it in the past and I make peace with the death of the Happily Ever Wedding.

Next year, maybe he an I will throw an anniversary party. Go to a museum, drink some booze, and wear fancy clothes. Maybe we'll even invite our parents and siblings and grandmothers. Maybe we'll take our wedding back from the suck.

Maybe, yes. Se puede!






Monday, January 27, 2014

A New Military Spouse Orientation Plan

In which Bravo and Kilo discuss new MilSpouse orientation, the military divorce rate, and LeftFace's article "Suicide- a military spouse's story".

The past month has been rough. DH and I had a couple of dust-up fights with ANGER! and WORDS!...but between hashing out some hard issues and applying the wise counsel from our friends in fighting fair, we got to a better place with our relationship. Heck, we practically moved from emotional Alaska to emotional Hawai'i in the space of two weeks.

Kilo believes we need a New Military Spouse Orientation. So I asked her, "if you were putting an orientation together, what content would you provide?" This notion can't be new but the devil is in the details. I bet someone proposed it before and then ended up providing a fun-filled 5 hour long powerpoint presentation on how to register with the DEERS system. Kill me.

Kilo's notion is to discard all the rote crap you can get in an informational hand-out. No "how to read a paystub" or "how to get an ID card". She wants a focused, short gathering that will provide networking, counseling and affirmation on how being married to the military is hard but there are skills to make it ok. How to communicate. How to prioritize shared values like careers, babies, hobbies, sex. How to know when your relationship is really, truly broken...as opposed to on-going, and intensive work.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Made in the USA: Coffee


OMFG, I hope you care about coffee.
Specifically, I hope you care about fair-trade coffee. 
Sometimes when I'm wandering down the coffee/tea aisle of Chain Grocery Store I become lost in aromatic contemplation over what values Dunkin' is actually Driven on. I percolate over whether Newman's Own's non-profit status means that their coffee-bean pickers get paid on a non-profit payscale. I steam up over the tangled web of Starbucks' clever price-fixing scheme with the Kenyan coffee cooperatives that I read about ever so many years ago in graduate school. 
Then I think about the planet. 
Coffee is bad, folks. It turns locavore tree-huggers into jonesing addicts with carbon footprints spanning hundreds of thousands of klicks. If you add in Keurig single-serve coffee makers, you become personally responsible for the death of panda bears. Or polar bears. Or koala bears-- something cute and sufficiently removed from eating us to seem vitally adorable to children nursery wallpaper motifs. 
Our national obsession with a substance with an almost 100% addiction rate is compounded with a production model encompassing the social ills of capitalism in the Third World. 
All. Of. Them. 
Thank goodness for the colonization of  Hawai'i!

What I mean to say is, hey, we Americans now have access to American-made coffee. Homegrown, fair labor standard coffee. Coffee that is domestically produced in the US of A. By Americans. 

Buy American. Period. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Winter in the South

It's January. What is wrong with this picture? 
This is actually a cultural test. Where Kilo and Echo and I are from, people would say, "Where's the frost? Where's the snow? Gosh, those trees are so green!"
Where I live now people would say, "Why is there a school bus running in that cold weather? Didn't they see the sign?!" 
You saw the school bus there in the middle right of the picture? No? You were distracted by the written PSA in the bottom left corner, perhaps?
I saw it. I slowed down to a respectable 20MPH and was sharp on the lookout for black ice. As I pulled in the parking lot, realization hit. It is 38F here. There is no snow. There is no ice. It is 38F.
Now, 38F is cold. See also, "winter". 
Two weeks ago in Rochester, MN it was -52F with windchill. 
People in North Carolina freaked out at the news story about the Polar Vortex. There was public consternation and when the temperature hit a low of 30F with clear skies and zero precipitation, the good folks of the South cleared out the grocery stores and cancelled school. 
People in Minnesota went back to school after a couple days. 
Please won't someone tell me what the hell is a "freeze warning"? 
And I would be so excited if someone would share with me what here in North Carolina is actually frozen?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Self Storage

One thing I never anticipated having in my life was a self-storage unit. Despite moving between locations every 6 months or so in my early 20's for college and internships and international travel experiences, my stuff stayed where it was housed...with my parents.

In fact, when dude told me about his self-storage unit the first thing that came to my mind was the Charlie King album I was in love with as a tween and his song titled "Self Storage"
Did you ever start to wonder how you'd ever get by/ 
When the cookie jar is empty and the pie is in the sky? 
When the trickle-down is fickle...? Found a homegrown freemarket solution...
Just an old abandoned factory but the paint was bright and new/ Just an old abandoned factory/ Where you once could earn a buck/Until the firm ran out of country and the workers out of luck...
$8 bucks a month/Self Storage


It is a radical song where the singer is advocating a policy solution for the old, the sick, the poor to check into only place the free market has left priced at self-sustaining affordability: self storage for $8/month. He sings about being these folk being forced out of the middle-class; losing their jobs, houses, and future. Charlie King lyrically wrings out the economic turmoil of the late 1980's...and, my, how times have changed. Oh not the corporate greed or neoliberal globalization but the prices! My dude has been paying $60/month for the past 7 years for his self-storage.

Breaking the Mold

We're trying to break the mold...aren't you?  But what does that entail?  In what way are we not typical Army wives?

There are over 2 million people serving in the US military.

There are potentially 2 million people in the USA partnered with soldiers.

There are certainly nearly 1 million female spouses.

Many if not most of those are Army wives. 

There are so many of us that it is hard to believe that anyone would think there is such a thing as a "typical Army wife," let alone how specific the details of that label get.

We're supposed to be very young- possibly too young to get married at all.
We're supposed to be god-fearing Christians wrapped in the flag.
We're supposed to be unquestioning, unflinching, with a skill set adaptable to disposable diapers and unaccompanied tours spanning years.
We're supposed to be a-political, non-political, and uncaring about systemic economic forces.
We're supposed to be registered Republicans or at the very least middle-of-the-road Democrats.
We're supposed to talk about household budgets and the surprise return of our spouses at Christmas-time. Not politics. Not confusion. Not despair. Not career-ending frustration.

Aren't we typical Army wives?

Echo: I wanted to find other spouses/partners who could relate to what felt like a unique experience- the reality of military life as a newly-married, child-free, socially conscious thirty-something. Then I met Kilo, Bravo, Charlie, India and others who were in a similar boat. Actually, the exact same boat...ironic, given we are all Army wives. We felt alienated by so much of the media that targets military spouses as young women who are beginning adulthood as well as couplehood, and often simultaneously, parenthood. We saw a need for validation for spouses and partners who support their soldiers but cannot see themselves reflected in the mainstream media. We believe that every military spouse deserves recognition- perhaps especially if military culture sharply contrasts with his/her background. Military life requires plenty of adjustments, even for those who are not "older", childless, religious minorities, queer, vegan, etc.

Bravo: Marrying someone who could retire with a full Army career by our 10th anniversary was out of the 'verse. In my not-super-long life I have had several labels: red diaper baby, Gifted & Talented, varsity player, high school graduate, college graduate, master's candidate, foreign student, international traveler, young professional, manager, Board member, subject matter expert...fiancé and Army wife were most definitely new ones for me. Moving to a new state without friends or peers was a struggle and it put a strain on my relationship with my lover, the north star that brought me here. In a relationship with an introvert and serious gamer is not the best place to be when you're lonely. And then Echo and Kilo entered my life and I finally felt part of a community. A military community of like-minded people. Suddenly I had other women to talk to about all the targeted communication from the Army and MilSpouse society that didn't speak to me at all.

Kilo: I blew up a fulfilling life that I had worked hard for and loved very much to support my now-husband's career. Although I love my dude more than I ever knew I could love someone and there are thousands of moments in any given week when I am genuinely happy to be here with him, the knowledge of what I've sacrificed continues to hurt every day.  I used to think that this feeling of loss would stop, but now I honestly am not sure it will. So that my husband could pursue his dream, I left friends who are more like family and below-market rate rent in one of Brooklyn's coveted brownstone neighborhoods. I passed up a promotion with a $15K pay raise in a city government office and took a pay cut below what I was already making in favor of a job with a nonprofit that offered me flexible work location.  When I miss out on parties and friends' birthdays while being bored to death because there is nothing to do in this town, when I work longer hours than my new salary justifies, and most especially, when the person I moved here to be with is too busy with work to spend time with me, I miss that life profoundly.  I feel like the pat storyline is that Army wives are just so proud of their husbands' work; they're our "heroes," yada yada.  I am very proud of my husband for doing something difficult to pursue his dream, but I can't say that I am proud of his work.  Mostly, I resent the everliving fuck out of it, because it cost me everything else that mattered to me, and some days it doesn't feel like I am getting back even half of what I put in.  Make no mistake: he puts all the time and effort he can muster into our marriage, and I know that he loves me most of all.  It's just that once the Army is done with him, he doesn't have very much leftover to give.  I put him first to a degree I didn't think I'd ever put anyone first, yet he still has to put the Army first in a lot of really tangible and important ways, even if it's not what he feels in his heart.  That makes it hard to really be proud of him sometimes.  And that's before even considering the political objections I have to what his work entails sometimes.  I guess part of the reason I needed this community was to connect to others whose relationships to their partners' careers are way, way more complicated and painful than people usually talk about.





Saturday, January 18, 2014

Problems with Irrational Debate


So this week Echo ran into a little sitch. She was at an on-Post social club and someone made a crack about how the First Lady doesn't care about us Army wives. It was in the context of the cost of on-Post recreational activities, which although subsidized and generally low-cost, are not always free.

Echo was upset and for good reason. The First Lady happens to be the driver behind the Joining Forces initiative, along with Dr. Jill Biden, which has focused on military spouse and veteran employment along with fresh food and fitness for military families. Beyond that, hellooo! This is the First Lady we're talking about. You know, married to the Commander-in-Chief? Disrespectful much?