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.