Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Baddest B@#$h

Yeah, I know I've been MIA for a while, but I have been BUSY!! Why the baddest b#$%$h, you might ask? Because I've been on FI-YAH! First off, I've been super stressed about everything I've been doing lately. So it feels good that some of it has started to pay off. I've been a little worried about my job, but I decided a while back to put it in God's hands. See, the job I have is temporary and is supposed to end 30 June. That means I will be out of a job in a little over a month. But, I know in my heart that's not going to happen. So, anyway, ignoring all possibilities that my job may soon be over, I dove headfirst into my biggest "assignment" yet. Like I've said before, my job title is customer relations, leaving most people to think that I'm a receptionist. But I write policies, make sure they're adhered to, grant exceptions to policy, and somehow, have been spearheading my division's participation in the FDP. Since only Woodstock and RR2 know what the hell I'm talking about, let me explain. I mentioned that the guys here will be deploying soon (although it's been delayed, which means I have at least another couple months with my baby; YAY!!). FDP means Family Deployment Preparation, a half-day thing that all the married couples come through to give them information about what to expect from the different agencies in the community. I have to do the briefing for my department, which means twice a day, I speak for 10 minutes to up to 200 bored-out-of-their minds married couples. But I found something out after agonizing since January over the thought of doing this - I'm pretty good. As much as I talk, people often find it hard to believe that I don't like speaking in public, but I don't. I almost froze up a couple of Sundays ago while doing the church announcements (The Pastor was LOOKING at me!!) And I often have flashbacks of one day yeeeeaaarrrssss ago when I led the choir at church. .....

.......As soon as the music began, I started laughing. And I couldn't stop. Most people I've met since college have never seen this side of me, but I'm a giggle box. And sometimes, once I start laughing, I cannot stop. Seriously. So, I'm leading this song, and laughing hard as hell, trying to make the congregation think that my shaking shoulders are a result of me being so into the spirit. I think it's OK, for a minute, until we get to a part in the song where it's a kind of call and response thing. I try to keep it moving, but when I open my mouth, the only thing that comes out are giggles. I mean, I'm almost guffawing, while trying to lead the choir. So I do the only thing I can think of - I make that "keep singing this part" hand signal over and over until I calm down enough to finish the song.

So this little episode replays itself in my mind everytime I get up to speak in front of more than, say, 5 people. But I do it, and I'm good!

"You've done this before," said the guy in charge, smiling at me. Afterward, my boss gives me thumbs up. I do it again that afternoon, but instead of 4 stars, it's more like 2 1/2. There are fewer people; they look pissed off, and it seems like the Colonel's eyes are boring into me. I imagine him thinking, "What in the hell is she talking about?" So I stumble over a few words, I say a few too many umms, and I almost forget to introduce the Commander as the speaker after me.

But it's OK. I survived. I didn't beat myself up or drown my sorrows in the Snickers miniatures we have on our table for customers. I laugh it off, go home and go to sleep. And when I wake up, I make myself a strong cup of coffee, go into work and do it again.

And that time, I kicked ass.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mo' Money, Mo' Problems

When I decided as a teenager that I wanted to be a journalist, I’d resigned myself to the fact that I probably wouldn’t make a lot of money. Reading books where young reporters ate beans out of cans to candlelight, I was content when my first full-time job (two jobs actually – one part-time) paid enough for me to pay rent on an apartment the day it was actually due (no post-dated check required), eat out, and know at the end of the month, I still had a little bit of money in my bank account. But what did surprise me was when I told a friend how much my full-time job was paying.

“Oh, Sansamor,” she said, eying me with pity in her eyes. I think she said more, but that’s all I remember. That moment of pity; that split second when I felt like everything I stood for was being reflected in my paltry paycheck. I’d never cared about money before, but in that instant I felt naked – I felt unworthy, and I didn’t like it. I rationalized that I was doing what I loved and that it was only a stepping stone for something greater. I was writing, I was editing, and I supervised (Ok, only two interns, but STILL!). And although she made more money than I did (I assumed based on the reaction, but I never asked) she wasn’t doing what she loved. I also had only myself and a small dog to support, while she had a child and a car note. Even so, I never again told anyone how much money I make.

An article I read in the Fashion & Style section of the New York Times tells me that I’m not the only one feeling alienated by the size of my bank account. The article talks about “Keeping up with the Joneses” and how people of different economic status often feel uncomfortable, some about their wealth, others – like me – about their lack of it. A friend confided in me recently that she and her long-time best friend just had a falling out over money. Friend (I’ll call you DR just in case you’re trying to keep this on the low!) has been well taken care of by her parents. They were blessed enough to be able to provide her with a car during college and later, after she graduated from Grad school and was working. Well, apparently BF thought DR was acting “spoiled” when she lamented about not being able to get the new car she wanted. Now they haven’t spoken in weeks.

When did money become the measuring stick by which we measured our worth? Not that there is anything wrong with money – we all need some – but I don’t appreciate being made to feel like less of a person because of my perceived bank account. And I’m sure those more fortunate of us shouldn’t be made to feel bad because they didn’t grow up broke.

Here, in a military community, I think it’s even worse. Everyone tries to one-up the other, getting the latest BMW, Mercedes or Volvo. Buying up the Coach and Dooney bags as they come into the PX, and sporting fake Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior that we KNOW they got in the back room of some store in Czech. I’ve even been at a party where someone broke out the laptop to pull up the military pay scale so they could compare their pay to the rest of the guests!

Even though I make more money now, that’s not what defines me. But sometimes it’s hard not to get swept up in the comparison. Several weeks ago, an acquaintance speaking about his car (butter leather seats, heated seats standard) called my car a piece of shit. I’ve had my little ’96 Mazda Protégé since I was a freshman in college, and it has admittedly seen hard times, but it still stung. I was tempted to shoot back, we could afford something else if we wanted to – something better than what they have, but what would that have proven?

Just keep this in mind the next time you’re met by awkward silence from a friend after you make a crack about their financial status, or low-paying job, or when you look at a friend’s engagement ring, silently thinking how small it is.

We know what you’re thinking.

And it doesn’t feel good.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hey Mama

Anyone who knows me, also knows that I'm not too keen on children. I'm totally not ready for my own yet, and can usually only take others' in small doses - no offense to my friends with kids. But you already know this. Plus, your kids aren't bad ass food court kids either, but I digress. Even so, I have buried in the deep recesses of my mind that I will have kids eventually. However, even deeper in the recesses is the fear that I will be the worst.mother.ever.

This seems to be evidenced by what I will refer to as "Plant Cemetary."

The Army is doing this thing to promote clean-up and beautification so they gave out free flowers. My co-worker, being nice, picked up some for me. Me, being a smart ass, motioned to the plant/tree next to my computer.

"Don't you see how this plant looks?" I could practically see the damn thing dying right before my eyes. I think I've watered the plant probably 5 X's in the 7 months I've worked there. And 3 of those times was with carbonated water I'd left sitting in a cup overnight.

But I figured, what's the worst that could happen and we planned to meet at our cars after work so i could get the flowers.

The "flowers" turned out to be 4 plants in a plastic thing. I saw maybe one flower out of the four.

"Are they going to get more flower-y?" I asked, my nose turned up?
Then she hands me a bag of soil. SOIL!!!!
"What am I supposed to do with that?"

You have to re-pot them, she answered.


Now at that point I should have politely declined the flowers, but no, I try to be positive.

"Maybe I'll start gardening," my obviously delusional alter ego says. "I can use it as a
way to relax."

So I decide to take the plants home. Except, you know, I had a meeting after work so I had a lot of stuff to bring inside, so I left the plants in the car until the morning. Only, when the morning comes, I'm REALLY busy because I had to put a relaxer in my hair. I'd been rocking the head scarf thing all this week, and you know that just SCREAMS bad hair day when you do it too long. Either that or I'd converted to Islam, but either way, it ain't right. So, I'll just get the plants after work.

Only when I get off work, they're DEAD. I thought for sure I left a window down ....

And the lady at church had the NERVE to ask me to be a part of the children's ministry - really, would YOU want me watching your kids?

Caught Up

Well, I’ve gone and done it. When I got to Germany almost a year ago to the day, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in my life I had nothing to do! And although, I wanted to work really, really bad, I kind of enjoyed that feeling for a while. And now, I’m right back where I started and I don’t even know how it got like this.

My situation is like that of an overachieving high school student. You know the ones – play varsity sports, in the band, holds an office in student government, all while holding a part-time job. Except I’m not an overachiever. In fact, I’d almost call myself an underachiever. So how did I end up so involved?

Right before I left Tallahassee, I had almost reached the breaking point. My insides were what it must feel like for a skimpy triangle top struggling to cover some DDs – as in stretched to the limit. Knowing that it could snap at any moment. I was teaching a 7 a.m. class twice a week, after which I went to work full-time as associate editor of a weekly paper. Full-time meaning that I often worked at home after close of business and on weekends. I was also active with my sorority and OES chapter, including meetings, fundraisers and the like. So when I got here, doing nothing was like a breath of fresh air.

But slowly, that nothing became a whole lot. And a whole lot is now more than I think I’ve ever done in my life. At my first “Army spouse” get together, otherwise known as FRG stuff (Family Readiness Group), I was asked to be FRG leader. Not knowing enough about it, I agreed. That’s how they trap you I guess. As an officer’s wife, I’m “automatically” a part of the coffee group. In a moment of tedium-induced panic, I volunteered to be coffee group treasurer. “Anybody want to be treasurer? Who wants to be treasurer? Anybody? Anybody?” And so on and so forth for 10 minutes.

And of course, my first mission was to join the AKA graduate chapter here, where we meet monthly in a city 2 hours away. Now that we’re stepping, it looks like every Saturday is going to be filled.

I’ve also become the church secretary/PR person. So I’m pretty much in charge of anything administrative that comes out of the church, like church bulletins and stuff.

So my schedule is pretty much: Monday – nothing – except for steering committee once a month
Tuesday – German class; Wednesday – 2 days gone with FRG and Steering committee; Thursday – Church ; Friday – church twice a month; Saturday – prayer (although I rarely go); once a month sorority meetings; step practice; Sunday – church; grocery shopping; rest.

Not to mention that I work full-time, full-time wife, chef, etc. etc. and need to show both Woodstock and Taz some TLC on the regular. I’m getting tired just thinking about it. Of course all this leaves me with little “me” time and the me time I do have needs to be spent in the gym, which of course, it’s not, so I am getting fatter and fatter each week, and really, I’m not a cute fat.

So, what to do, what to do? Really, all of this stuff started out innocently enough but has somehow grown to overwhelming proportions. I don’t want to have that stressed out feeling all the time, which was all too common for me in Tallahassee. And I have little time for the stuff I really want to do like going to this writing workshop on Thursdays.

Woodstock says I say yes to much, and maybe that’s true. But now that I’ve agreed to do stuff, how do I maintain my sanity and still get everything done?