Car Shopping

Filed under: — lana @ 7:53 am

Life is not really like a box of chocolates. If you read the lid, you usually know what you are going to get. However, life is a bit like car shopping: you want all of the options, but every time you take one you are probably making a trade-off, and those get expensive.

Case in point:

I could continue with the medical board process, surviving the arduous poking, prodding, and driving about the country in search of elusive doctors who tend to take random leave several times a year. Once it is over, I could go back to an english-speaking country, live with my husband and my cats for at least 50 percent of the year, and get a job that pays me more than whatever it was the Department of the Army scraped off the bottom of their shoes for this month.

My other option, of course, is to convince the doctors to let me stay. That would involve a slight bit of paperwork, probably a few more doctor appointments, and the same amount of general hassle that accompanies just about every process undergone in the Big Green Machine. In exchange and through heavy negotiation, I would receive a course I have wanted since coming into the service, possibly a deployment much to the dismay of my parents and the jealousy of my spouse, and another year or so to tool around in Europe where the dollar is steadily losing value but the Army still won’t increase our cost of living allowance so pretty soon a McDonalds cheeseburger is going to cost me about a million bucks. But my command wouldn’t have to worry about finding me a replacement this spring.

It seems like a no-brainer, but it is a harder decision than one might suspect. There are those that go to the brown, rolling hills of the middle east and never want to go again. Then there are those like my husband and myself who, despite a rather intense dislike for much of the region, nevertheless feel the desire to go there in order to effect just a small bit of difference in the general situation, if only but to find a few low-level sandal-wearers and prevent one bomb from going off, thus saving a life or two. Despite both of us not wanting the other to return, it is admittedly only partly to concern for safety; the other part would actually be jealousy that one got to go back and the other did not.

It seems strange, perhaps, that this would be an issue, at least to those who have not been to the sunnier side of Tehran. Even to some of those who have wandered through 140 degree summers wading through waste canals and enjoyed the fine smells of cow and human feces mingling together and wafting in on the spring breeze it seems a touch peculiar. But it is a place where one can make a difference if they are prudent, and the choice thus becomes less simple.

So as I weigh the options before me, I can look out the window and see my car sitting in the parking lot. I only paid 900 euro for it back when 900 euro still at least bought something with an engine, though with its current state of inoperability I am thinking I should have gone with some other options.

You get what you pay for, I suppose, so always know just what it is you are trading off for the cheaper price.


Giving Thanks

Filed under: — lana @ 2:54 pm

Having spent Thanksgiving in a country where I don’t believe I saw a single turkey or portion thereof on a menu, Scotland, I did not have adequate time to give proper thanks to those that deserve it. There are many things to be thankful for, both at Thanksgiving time and otherwise. I won’t list them all, as most people have a similar list. But there are some worth mentioning:

First, I give thanks for my family and friends who put up with me, either by choice or because it would be a terrible load of paperwork to dump me curbside.

Second, I give thanks to soldiers serving at home or abroad, particularly those whom I know and have served with at one time or another. You got my back, I got yours. That’s how it works. Keep your heads down, watch your fifth points of contact. I have every intention of staying in the field beyond The Big Green Machine, and will repay all favors given in kind.

Third, to our delightfully fun friends in dishdashas and sandals who never saw any mortars because they were too busy sleeping… or planting explosives of their own. Thanks for providing me with gainful employment, keeping me busy, and adding fuel to the fire. Don’t think I have forgiven the death or injury of my friends, but cheers for giving me something to go after with quite a good amount of gusto. I am determined to solve the Scooby mystery of who exactly is selling ski masks in the middle of the desert, and when I do you all are going to be in big, big trouble.

And speaking, loosely, of games of cat and mouse, thanks to the my cats both in the States and in Germany. They eat bugs, making life more pleasant for all involved.

Happy day of imbibing in turkey and cranberry sauce. Think I will go make myself a turkey sandwich and watch the cat chase a moth. Beats reading the headlines…



Filed under: — lana @ 1:02 pm

As I sit next to the computer eating raviolis on a Saturday evening, it strikes me that absolutely nothing has happened recently.

How can that be, you might ask? Here I sit, in the center of Europe, with the world at my fingertips and a job description that makes me sound like someone in a movie. How could nearly a month go by without a single item of interest?

Well, fair listener, reader, whatever, I shall enlighten:

Nothing happens here. My life is more reminiscent of Catch-22 than anything in Hollywood, largely because I have gone broke from tooling around Europe when there is nothing better to do.

I am in the midst of the medical board process, which is going nowhere at the moment, though it does give me an excuse to drive about three hours of my life away each week to head to this or that doctor for this or that administrative or exploratory reason.

Until this process is more… well… progressive I cannot apply for future employment beyond the Big Green Machine, The Grand Tool of The Man, The Middle East Express, or whatever title I have come up with for the day for the Army in which I still find myself intricately involved.

I took two classes, which were a bit hectic and involved me realizing I have gone stupid after being in the Army for the past three and a half years. Putting together a sentence proved to be a touch more challenging than at first anticipated, but I have endured and made it through with the new knowledge that I think religion may be the bane of all existence, particularly when combined with either politics or an otherwise damning rationale.

The news makes me depressed not for the subject matter itself such as the progress or lack thereof in the various conflicts, but because much of the news only reinforces the general disdain I have developed for most people at this point. You know they are trying to sue Rumsfeld for war crimes because of the “torture” that happened at Abu G and at Gitmo, saying that he thought it was all okay? This is after the court martial and the prosecution of those who were actually responsible. I counter such a trial with the accusation that the prosecution probably commited some heinous crimes and killed some friends and may yet get to go free because we aren’t even allowed to let them get less than eight hours of sleep these days. So I don’t really like watching the news anymore.

Some measure of entertainment comes from sending emails back and forth to friends of mine, happily reminiscing about fun times such as Dead Guy on the Lawn, the Laundry Slip Incident when my team leader went bananas, and whether or not warrant officers know how to fold shirts yet.

My cat is mentally challenged and there is little I think I can do to help her. She is more content than I, occassionally chasing the flying intruders in the house and then, upon success, running around with very little purpose determinable except sliding into the walls because claws don’t work well on hardwood or stone. Then she takes a nap. Sometimes in the bathtub.

These are the things you never see in the James Bond movies, particularly him eating raviolis next to the computer on a slow Saturday evening. But they are getting cold, so I really should get to that…


At Least They Are Happy

Filed under: — lana @ 11:31 am

Today the comedies of language barriers was in full swing at our little office in the middle of almost nowhere in Germany. Normally I leave the language problem alone, seeing as how I am in a country where I gave up learning anything beyond menu reading because I didn’t want to sound angry all of the time, but this was a particular situation where I had difficulty retaining my composure and even more difficulty attempting to explain the issue to a German without making him feel absurd.

He meant to write about how terrorists are using more ingenuity and about how their organizational structure is developing, making them more dangerous foes, and that they were tending back towards the old tactics of planting explosives in and on animals. Nothing you can’t read on CNN, but he had to give me this report.

What he actually wrote ended up telling me, based on the language that he chose to use as a combination of his knowledge and a rather poor English translation mechanism, was that we had a bunch of Islamic Fundamental Extremists skipping down the streets with flowers in their beards singing happy songs about love wearing business suits on over their suicide vests as they were toting the reins of a possibly explosive donkey laden with humans which they politely ask before detonating. In not so many words, but that was certainly the idea and image it conveyed.

So it was an interesting play on the English language that I found as I wandered through the linguistic muck to find something that I could send higher without receiving hate mail for sending bogus reporting.

Personally, I really wouldn’t mind these happy-go-lucky terrorists. I bet they are a hoot at parties…

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