In Pursuit of Life

Seeking life, liberty, and happiness as a feminist and left-of-center military spouse.

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Things of note since moving to NC to be a “real military spouse”

Despite having been married to my husband (who’s in the USMC) for nearly 6 years now, we’ve only been living together for about half a year. Before living together, I lived in big(ger) cities… DC, Los Angeles, etc… and now I’m in New Bern, NC.

These things have happened to me:

  1. While being in a grocery store a white teenage girl stares at me for a bit, then whispers something to her mother, pointing me out. I make eye contact with them letting them know I see them talking about me. Apparently the teenager wanted to let her mother know that she thinks I am pretty. 
  2. I walk into another grocery store on a different day, within two minutes an older white gentleman in an electric wheelchair approaches me and asks me where the tofu is. Me: “Um, I’m not sure, I’ve just walked into the store.” Him: “Well, it’s usually here.” Me: “I’m not sure what to tell you. Maybe you can ask someone who works here.” He wheels away. Within five minutes as I am looking at persimmons to purchase, a middle-aged white woman starts looking at the fruit too, then asks me how you eat it. I told her just like other fruit, like an apple or pear, you just eat it. She asks me, “So you can slice it up and eat it with cheese and crackers?” Me: “Um, I’m not sure, I’ve never had it that way before. I’ve just eaten it by itself.” Her: “But you can eat it with cheese and crackers?” Me: “I don’t know. Most Asian cultures don’t really eat fruit with cheese and crackers, so I’ve never had it that way. How would you eat a mango?” Her: “OK, well, I’m up for trying anything.”
  3. A new good friend (a fellow milspouse) expressed gratitude for us being friends, saying that she appreciated the fact that I am unapologetic about wanting to have a career.
  4. Fellow friends and folks in the same squadron watching and quoting Fox News and hating on the Obamas. Did anybody watch that bit before the Super Bowl game last night where they had Martin Sheen introduce a narration about our country and the Constitution then athletes, police departments, celebrities, and all sorts of people say patriotic things? Well, at the end of the segment Michelle Obama and Jill Biden said a piece about today’s military and promoted their Joining Forces initiative (which I absolutely support!), and as soon as they flashed on the screens there were all these friends (or should I say “friends”) of ours mocking the Obama and Biden. I mean, WTF?!?!?!

There are too many other perplexing moments for me to write about now, but I wanted to note this for preservation’s sake.

The reason I’m even noting these moments is that it captures how out of my element I am here, in the south, in the military community. The fact that I am Asian-American, and not white, sticks out. Sure, people are nice and polite, and I wouldn’t describe the above anecdotes as microaggressions really, and there was definitely nothing malicious to any of those interactions, but I can’t help but think that my yellow skin sticks out like a sore thumb here and white people here interact with me differently than anywhere else that I’ve lived. I think because I look (ahem) exotic to this area, people note my appearance more; whereas in bigger cities, I am just another plain jane or just another person in the sea of people, not “oh, an Asian person! She looks different! She’s a figure of authority about Asian foods, including where they are in the store! Let me ask her and not an actual employee of the store! Ooh!” Those moments make me cringe.

As for #3 up there… never in my life have I ever been in an environment where a career was not just assumed. I worked my ass off in high school to then get to a wonderful university, and I worked my ass off there. I graduated and started working with everyone around me just assuming these are stepping stones to what bigger thing I want to do next… law school, grad school, med school? do you want to work in politics? policy? research? etc.? … it was always expected that I, like everyone else around me, is working towards some career track. Then I went to grad school with the obvious goal of having a career in public health and social work. Assumed that I would have a career. So why now that I’ve moved to podunk NC to be a living-with-my-husband-military-spouse that having a career is something special to note?!?! That there are so few of us that we cling to each other and supportively acknowledge how refreshing it is to have another unapologetic career woman in our midst? (Note that the male spouses do not have to apologize for working.) This is who we are and this is what we want. There should be no apology. Period.

And #4 just makes me want to cry. I have to guard my beliefs and bite my tongue around ignorant assholes who are our friends/”friends” lest I become a pariah. The worst thing is that they don’t have real policy gripes, they just have Fox News talking points that are based on bullshit so you can’t even have a real conversation about anything (someone actually said he’s reading Bill O’Reilly’s book on the assassination of JFK because at least “Bill O’Reilly isn’t biased.” Um, WHAT?!?!?!?!). And besides, what could you possibly dislike about Michelle Obama and Jill Biden? The fact that they’ve tirelessly advocated for the wellbeing of military families? The fact that they work hard to have careers, hold their families together, and support their husbands? The fact that they care about things like nutrition and mental health? They are my role models and my inspiration for so many things, and it hurts when my friends/”friends” undervalue the people I admire.

I feel like I don’t belong here.

The definitive glossary of modern US military slang 

Such as:

Fobbit: Combination of FOB and Hobbit. Derogatory term for soldiers who do not patrol outside the FOB. Replaces the Vietnam-era REMF, or Rear-Echelon Motherf#@&er.

(h/t The Dish)

pickledtoast-deactivated2014021 asked: Once you get this you must share 5 random facts about yourself then pass this to your 10 favorite followers.

1. I hate the sound of markers squeaking across a sheet of paper. It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me.

2. I developed an allergy to cantaloupe in my 20s, but that’s the only melon to which I am allergic.

3. I’m a bit of a grammar snob.

4. When I look back at how I was before college, I’m disappointed at how easily socialized I was into all the -isms. That’s what happens when you’re seen as a “model minority” and 90% of your community are upper-middle class white families. But thank goodness for college and learning from some badass social justice activists.

5. Up until a month or so ago, I was essentially a single married person, having gone long distance with my partner of over a decade for a decade. But now we live together in a military town that I just so do not love.

(I have no one to tag.)

latenightjimmy:

New Thank You Notes tonight!

and overused incorrectly. (But that’s not your fault, apostrophe, but rather the users’.) It indicates possession not plurality (exception: acronyms).
Rawr! Yes, grammar gets me riled up.

latenightjimmy:

New Thank You Notes tonight!

and overused incorrectly. (But that’s not your fault, apostrophe, but rather the users’.) It indicates possession not plurality (exception: acronyms).

Rawr! Yes, grammar gets me riled up.

(Source: 1000mph)

Note to self

Lots of flash photography at a wedding can trigger a PTSD flashback of a firefight…

Yup, that happened this weekend.

I could see him move away from the present. I looked over and he had that distant look, he started to sweat, his grip got tighter. He looked shocked that he was having this moment, but also was getting distressed that it was happening and he couldn’t stop the flashback. 

But the moment passed.

He told me later that it was a good thing I was sitting on his left and touched his left knee. He’s a pilot so nothing ever comes at him from the left. His navigator sits on his right. The mere fact that I was on his left and touched his left knee was enough to give his body a sensory awareness that this touch was in the present and not in the flashback. The touch on his left knee was a nudge to stay in reality and to not “remember-believe-think” he was in that firefight again.

This is real life as a military spouse after a deployment.

Good thing I was on his left. Good thing he had enough awareness about what was going on. Good thing he felt comfortable enough to tell me. Good thing I know what PTS/D looks like and could support him through that moment. 

Married to the Marines 

Molly Blake writes:

And I’ve learned a lot over the years. I’ve learned that when President Bush announced a troop plus up, and seconds later the phone rings, it’s not good news. I’ve learned what it takes to earn an Air Medal and how that tiny ribbon can so clearly reflect my greatest fear. I’ve learned that having my mom in the delivery room for my daughter’s birth – while my husband served in Iraq – brought us closer together. I’ve learned that my dad is great at driving cross-country (twice).

And I’ve learned that being a military spouse has made me a better person.

always wonder if I will be a better person on the other side… or is that just a matter of reframing…?

2,700 

This part of the post struck me:

He asked his brother, a former Army officer, for insight as to why more than 80 percent of those who committed suicide had never been in combat. The response:

Because regardless of what they’re called or what “stage” we’re in, we’re still at war. Being in a war zone for 9+ months is unbelievably stressful even if you’re not in combat. Not to mention, you work 15 hours a day and get 0 days off, which is tough even in a regular job for that amount of time. You have no social life, and people are social beings. You just become numb mentally and emotionally. I was for months after I came back and my deployment wasn’t that bad compared to some. One of my guys killed himself a week after we got back. He seemed fine.

My husband’s deployment was exactly that: 15+ hour days and maybe 3 days off total for 7 months (except he also saw combat). He came back a little deadened. I was nervous about his mental well-being.

The thing that infuriated him the most was all the lip service that the military and the Command pay to “taking care of our troops,” but instead worked them to the brink of their breaking point. It jeopardized their safety in ways that were wholly preventable. The CO of the squadron even denies that the circadian rhythm exists! The CO, logically, cared nothing about giving his Marines any rest, but just said to suck it up. Why are they so thick that they can’t connect the fact that if you give someone a bit of rest, some respite, some time to rejuvenate, that that would help to boost morale, productivity, and sanity?

It’s no wonder people are killing themselves…

Update

Where have I been tumblr?

Hiding, being avoidant. Husband came back from deployment about a month ago and I was wrapped up in that (yay us!). Now I’m trying to wrap up my final weeks of grad school, which means finally moving in with husband after many years of long distance (like a decade), for the first time fully living in a military community, transitioning from a track record of living in urban environments with lots of diversity to now going to a very white and rural world, and oh yeah having to be a real grown up and finding a job.

But now that I’m starting to sit in front of the computer screen to chip away at this 20-page final paper for my independent research project, I felt the urge to get back on tumblr…you know how that goes :)

Will I ever feel comfortable or safe enough to start writing more personal entries about my life as a milspouse on here? Will writing about all these transitions be useful for me or for others out there? Who knows. But at least I know that this space exists.

Hope you guys are all enjoying your Sundays.

p.s. returning to DC in a little under 2 weeks!

I’d rather be there than here doing schoolwork right now…  -__-

Explain to me why I feel so much anxiety right now. Tired, exhausted, and yet still up for god knows how late. Argh. Husband on the East Coast is going to wake up soon and I’m still awake?! What is this madness?

Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.

bell hooks (via onlinecounsellingcollege)

this is basically my entire 10-year relationship with my then-boyfriend-now-husband hahaha

this is basically my entire 10-year relationship with my then-boyfriend-now-husband hahaha

(Source: dustintaylorstout)

Marriage Equality: DOMA, Military Style 

Karen Santiano Francis gets it:

As an ID Card holder, a spouse gets on post or base, goes to the commissary or the post library; joins the club and uses the pool.   Those are the surface rights.  The right to be at the hospital when your spouse is in ICU after the birth of the first child for both of you; the right to be able to show your emotion in the NICU as your son fights hard.  The right to take your child to the doctor on post as his other mom – not the nanny. The right to housing on post; adjustments to the housing allowance as “married”; being included in the Family Readiness Group during deployments; the day to day realities of our lives in the military community,  the lack of these is an ongoing daily discrimination.

Rep. Joe Sestak, a retired three star admiral, noted in his editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer that there are about one hundred of these benefits that are not available to same sex couples, because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).   These are rights that go deeper, the rights that really matter – and then there are those that none of us  in the military community like to talk about.

sweden picture

The right to notification, the right to open the door to the casualty notification officer, the right to the flag draping the coffin.

positive-press-daily:

Dog travels 10 miles to find shelter mate

Ben and Jade’s story began long before owners Courtney and Jason Lawler came into their lives. According to the Tribune-Star, the dogs (both mixed German Shepherds) were initially strays living on the north end of Terre Haute, Indiana.

When one-year-old Jade became pregnant with 4-year-old Ben’s puppies last summer, staffers from the Terre Haute Humane Shelter trapped them and took them to the shelter so they could better care for the mother-to-be.

“They were a bonded pair,” shelter manager Charles Brown told told the Tribune-Star. Ben and Jade were inseparable during the several months they spent at the shelter and even shared the same pen. But they were later torn apart when the Lawler’s, who were only looking for one pet, adopted Ben.

“We had him for about three weeks, and we thought he was OK, but he got loose on us,” Courtney Lawler told NBC2 News. Ben escaped the Lawler’s home last December and went in search of Jade at the shelter 10 miles away.

About 24 hours later, Ben had found his way back to Jade. “He came out of nowhere and started licking her through the fence, like they were kissing,” Courtney said of the dogs’ reunion.

When the Lawlers realized it wouldn’t do to separate the pair again, they adopted Jade as well and brought both dogs home.

Ben and Jade “want to be together,” Debbie Floyd, the Humane Society board’s president, told the Tribune-Star. “There hasn’t been a lot of human love in their lives. They found love with each other and that what’s make them happy … Hopefully, they will live their lives happily ever after.”

Because who doesn’t love a good love story, right?

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