Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'm still alive and kicking!

In case anyone was checking in, I am doing fine. Jack Bauer and I moved on post about 6 months ago, my Tastefully Simple business has taken off (2nd highest sales in the region for January), and I am hanging out when I can on Facebook. If I know you, I'll friend you on Facebook so we can connect there.

I won't be taking this blog down since it continues, for some reason, to get very good traffic even without new posts from me. Additionally, I know one day I will want to look back and read over everything. And, of course, Jack will deploy again and I may need to find a place to keep my thoughts about that.

Till I return.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Few Good Models

We, or to be more accurate I, watch America's Next Top Model most every Sunday while they've got the cycle marathons running on Oxygen. Jack Bauer and the doggies do their best to tolerate the fights, tirades, and tears. I'm mean really, what do you expect when you get a bunch of 18-25-year-old beautiful, tall women together? It is sheer genius!!! Entertainment galore!!! I can't get enough!!!

There is NO talking during a current cycle, but I am slightly less stringent on Sundays. Heaven forbid I miss a single word of the show. The doggies MUST be non-woofy. Jack remains in the room so that he can instantly take care of any doggie needs.

Apparently this past Sunday, Jack was feeling, um, inspired by Cycle 8 with Jaslene, Renee, Natasha, Dionne, and especially Brittany and thier Aussie experience. Jack loved, yes, loved, Cycle 10 with Whitney and Anya in the final runway. Combine judging panel with JAG, stir in A Few Good Men, and poof! Just imagine Jack Nicholson as a judge on panel. The following is my husband's interpretation.

Girl, we live in a world that has catwalks and those catwalks need to be walked by women in beautiful clothes. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Nigel Barker?

I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Anya and curse Miss J; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Anya's loss, while tragic, probably saved fashion and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves fashion.

You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that catwalk, you need me on that catwalk.

We use words like fierce, fabulous, and supercute. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very fashion I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way.

Otherwise, I suggest that you put on a couture gown and walk a catwalk. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

Oh, Jack, you are so amusing. And incredibly tolerant.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

You don't want to be an appliance in this house

We moved in to this house in early October. And since then it has been bad news for appliances. I just need to recap this for myself because it is an amazing string of unfortunate events. Let me start by saying this house was built about 4 years ago, occupied by the owners for about a year, then occupied by at least 2 other families.

October: Garbage disposal broken when we moved in. The disposal had a huge crack in it. And it was not the original disposal in this house. This should have been a sign of things to come.

November: Shower head has less than half the holes working.

December: Oven/stove is so off on temperature we have a service man come out to adjust the temp. That doesn't work, but he does convert the oven to work with propane instead of natural gas, even though it hadn't been done originally and had been burning improperly for 4 years. That was just 4 years of carbon monoxide leaking into the house. Oven/stove still sucks ass. There is no low setting on the burners and it cannot be adjusted. Now the broiler drawer is falling apart. :D

January: Dishwasher stops working while we have company. Takes landlord 10 days to get someone out here to replace it.

February: Refrigerator filter light comes on. We replace it with the exact same model and it leaks for about 3 weeks, but eventually works fine. The filter light never goes off. Latch breaks in the closed position on the largest windows in the house that provides great cross ventilation; landlord opted to do nothing; fortunately it was too cold most days to open.

March: Jack gives up on his computer. It won't stay on for more than a few minutes at a time. We make do with just one computer.

April: My Kitchen Aid blender dies. No replacement. New shower head becomes so clogged half of the holes aren't working, and the previously pleasant rain shower is turned into stingy darts; cleaned out with a bottle of CLR run through it; now works almost as good as new, but not. I thinking there is a hard water problem in this house.

May: Cuisinart coffeemaker self-clean light comes on. We clean it. It dies just over a year after it was purchased. Replaced immediately. Our cordless phone handsets start dying. Jack attempts to reformat his external hard drive to work with the Mac; he loses everything on it, meaning tons of stuff from Iraq that was only on that drive. Jack attempts to reformat his mega iPod as well; loses everything on it. Our only computer falls out of the back of the car after our last trip to SoCal. The base is cracked so the battery is popping out.

June: Found a tool to open latch on large window. Get great cool evening breeze again! Yesterday, the sliding adjuster on waffle iron received as Christmas gift less than 6 months ago breaks off, but it looks like it might still work, for awhile.

The TV and accessories seem to be working fine. The washer and dryer are sufficient. Water heater works very well. Heating and cooling systems are working. Oh, wait. We haven't yet turned on the AC this season. I'll let you know if that goes. I can't lose my cool!

It has been a difficult 8 months for things in this house. It is so ridiculous that at this point, we are taking bets on what will go next. And just for fun, we are planning on renewing the lease in October!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A new title???

First, thank you all for your words of sympathy and encouragement in regards to my last post. They really do help. In fact, finally writing it out was quite cathartic. Note to self: do it more often.

So I promised I would write something more positive. I have been thinking a lot about what what to write about, especially humorous and lighthearted things. Well, I think I've found it. Zumba.

A friend gave me a month pass to a local gym. Since I've gained probably 15 pounds since moving here in October (curse you Rachael Ray!), I figured I really needed to do something about it. Especially since I cannot afford to buy a new wardrobe. Of course, if I were to lose a ton of weight, you know I'd find a way to get some new threads.

The appeal of this gym, and why it is worth paying money over free gym on post, is Pilates classes in addition to a full gym. I love getting back to doing mat classes and feeling less stiff. And there is a morning mat class 3 days a week. Perfect! I can do Pilates and then a little cardio and really feel like I've worked out. Maybe I'll move up to doing some weights to help. Now all that sounds real good.

My free month ended and I went and got all signed up. I get 4 free shakes and 4 free training sessions. All that AND Pilates? Awesome! Except now the Pilates instructor has gone on vacation until after July 4, which means I need to find a replacement activity. And many people have recommended Zumba. Think Salsa meets Aerobics. Fortunately I was able to hide in the back of the crowded class filled with skinny young things. While I mostly felt ridiculous, I kept laughing, and when I couldn't keep up the steps, I just kept swaying my hips, figuring that it was some movement and that must be good. I mean, it is a dance/workout class, and sweat means something. Bottom line: learning Zumba is ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as learning Pilates. Thus, it has presented a challenge. Challenge ON!!! I'm going to swish and sway and twist and girate into a smaller size!

Anyway, I'm thinking this blog may need to be retitled "Does this Army make my butt look big?" Because given the last 8 months, the answer is clearly and decidely YES! And not only do I look like a big butt complaining about everything, my butt has gotten bigger.

So here's to taking this butt back to a more normal size.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Still here . . . kinda

There really isn't much going on that seems worthy of blogging about. Here are a few highlights of the past couple months.

Jack Bauer has been home for more than a year now.

The last job I applied for on post went to someone who worked in Jack's department. I was pissed. PISSED!!!! I didn't even get an interview. It uncovered some larger hurdles in the trying-to-get-a-job-on-post game. And it is clearly a game to those already in it. Haha. Joke's on me. Got it. Moving on.

I applied for another job on post. I was asked to apply for the job by the people I'd be working for. My hope level of even getting an interview are very close to zero. At least now I know it is a game and the joke's on me. (Not that I am bitter or anything. OK. Clearly I am.)

Finally got one of the banks to stop calling about when we are going to pay them for the house in Middleville. We had to write them, state that they were violating the Fair Credit Act (or whatever it is called). The house remains on the market, zero offers. The Housing Assistance Program, which was expanded to include military people in our situation, claimed to start funding the program mid-April, then mid-May, and now it is all a big mystery. As far as I am concerned it is just more lip service. Life moving at the speed of businessbeaurocracy.

I found out the reason my job last three weeks. It was because of not being able to make the January payment for the Middleville house. So if I had been able to make the January payment then I would have been able to keep the job and make the payments for February, March, April, May, etc. (Irony.)

Jack had his gym bag stolen from the on-post gym locker room. Cars keys. Wallet. Uniform. Military ID. Credit cards. Dog tags. We had to get new locks for the house, buy new keys and reprogram my keys for both cars. He filed a claim for $1300.

For having spent so much time apart with his deployments, we did very well financially. We got rid of over $55K in credit card debt and had more than $12K in savings. The savings is virtually gone. Cynicism and bitterness are creeping in everyday.

I do believe this is the SUCK I am supposed to be embracing. Cuz it sure does suck. Maybe more than deployment. And I mean the entire 28-month thing.

And one more thing. Jack's computer is on its last leg and mostly collects dust while it waits to be replaced. Somehow. With unknown extra money.

I will post something good at some point. Just not today.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Employment issues

LAW emailed me letting me know about a series of blog posts on milspouse employment over at Left Face. I started writing a long comment over there and decided to just post it here and maybe get some of you to go over there and comment.


Here's my situation (and please pardon the oversimplification of somethings and the length). My husband was in the Army Reserves and deployed to Iraq. We didn't know what he was going to do when he came home since he'd given up his law practice when he moved 1500 miles away to get the unit ready to mobilize. He had no job to come home to and he was not interested in setting up his own practice again. He applied for AGR (Active Guard & Reserve). He was asked to stay in Iraq for a second deployment. With nothing from AGR, we agreed that he would stay on in Iraq and move to a different location. A few days after he made that commitment, AGR called to let us know he'd been accepted into the program. He honored his commitment and remained in Iraq. This still left us wondering what he'd do when he came home. He applied for and was accepted into the Active Duty JAG program. We knew that would mean moving every couple of years and more deployments in our future. We knew that would mean I would be leaving my job and finding new work every couple of years. We've been here at our first duty station since October and I have yet to solidify a job. We are very fortunate to be able to live off of his paycheck.

My education and work experience is diverse. I have a BSN and worked as an ER RN for three years. I have a JD and worked as a trial attorney for three years. I left law for a less stressful life as a technical writer while my husband was deployed. My last job I had for three years.

I am looking for a good paying job. I have applied for jobs with defense contractors and on post. The biggest challenge for me has been getting my foot in the door. Most of the jobs on post are not open to the public; they are for "status candidates," which is essentially someone who has previous worked for the federal government. I am not one of those people. My husband and I have heard directly from the person in charge of the Dept of Army civilian hiring that they prefer to make jobs available to status candidates because, get this, otherwise they would have to give these jobs to veterans due to the veterans preference. (Uh, that sounds a lot like discrimination of veterans.) So I cannot apply for the vast majority of positions on post. The jobs that are left are either MWR jobs or jobs that I am not remotely qualified for (I am not an electrical engineer or a computer scientist).

The second challenge is knowing how to play the game so I could get a secretarial job. I would, incorrectly, have assumed that a JD means I have graduated from high school. Not so. Since my Resumix resume didn't include that I was a high school graduate, I was rejected. Or else "you were not among the best qualified candidates" means that I am overqualified. Either way, my online resume was inadequate. I spent a looooong time with the right woman who told me that your Resumix resume needs to be packed with information. Find the job descriptions and use that to help build your resume. It is all about key words. The people doing the screening aren't thinking outside the box; we need to figure how to get in the box. (Of course, it helps to know how the game is played!)

Even though it has been 9 years since I last practiced nursing, I did apply for a nursing job on post. That requires only a license in any state. If I wanted to practice in town I would need to be licensed in this state. It would cost me about $1000 to do that. The same thing holds true for an attorney position; my current law licenses are sufficient for federal jobs. I would have to sit for another bar exam if I wanted to work in town, assuming that there was a position available. Licensing is an issue for milspouses since it is done at the state level and not all states grant reciprocity.

Since I have been here, I started doing direct sales with Tastefully Simple. It is something to help keep me busy and certainly presents new challenges for me. And it will present the same challenge of growing my business every time we move. But it is MINE, I can take it with me and grow it as much or as little as I'd like.

Last September, President Bush signed an Executive Order in an attempt to make it easier for military spouses to get jobs, or basically, become "status candidates." I have been told that will not go into effect until regulations are written to make that happen. It is April and I still haven't heard anything about this being in effect. Somewhere deep down inside, I am hoping that Mrs. Obama will do more than listen to military families and portray us as people who need the public's sympathy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just hanging

Not much going on here.

Last week was Spring Break and all regularly scheduled activities were canceled. Post was quiet. I would have never thought so many people in charge could take off at the same time.

This past weekend we went to visit Jack Bauer's uncle who lives about 3 hours from here. We hadn't seen him since our wedding 10 years ago. I met one of Jack's cousins for the first time. We got to hang by the pool, do a little hiking, and learn shuffleboard (not the Love Boat kind). Turns out that shuffleboard is way fun and I almost beat Jack's uncle who's been playing for a zillion years. We'll have to go back to play some more. (While I understand that shuffleboards are frequently found in bars out West, this shuffleboard was on their backyard patio. I'm not likely to take up bar hopping here in Cav Canyon just to play shuffleboard.)

Otherwise, just keeping busy with my Tastefully Simple business and getting some exercise and working on getting organized.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wanted: Carpet Steamer

You think I can rent a carpet steamer on post? We've had, um, a few accidents around here. (Poor poochies. Poor BW.)

Where do you think I should start my search? Jack Bauer said something about Self-Help and MWR Rents. Has anyone done this?