Elastic Mice

Filed under: — lana @ 6:26 am

My life has finally come to this: I have to buy my cat elastic mice not for her sanity, but my own. I find that watching her play with a mouse made primarily of elastic bands is much more entertaining than what I have to deal with on a daily basis.

I am starting to buy them in bulk.

The other day my Soldier went in for surgery. No big deal, some knee problems he has had, oh, roughly since time began but coincidentally didn’t bother him enough until he realized he didn’t have to run if he got himself a profile from a willing doctor. He failed to realize that I don’t accept “Old Man Knees” as a diagnosis and kept sending him back until finally they determined he had a torn meniscus in both knees and a little minor surgery would get him back in action. The “back in action” part seems to bother him more than anything else, or so it appears from the grumpy and skeptical looks he gives me when I mention it to him.

There are simply people in this world who should have joined the Peace Corps or Americorps or Habitat for Humanity to contribute to society instead of the military. I, as I have mentioned, am a big fan of mandatory service requirements, but not everyone is made for the military just as not everyone is made for college. It is just as much a waste of time and money to have someone who only goes to college to drink and party and has no idea what to study as it is for me to have to babysit someone who joined the military when they don’t like to do physical training and clearly should have at least gone into a job field where they don’t have to, say, deal with people. If you join the military, why is it so hard for you to comprehend that I am going to want you to be physically fit? I am not a big person. I do not want to have to carry someone 30 pounds overweight to safety because he doesn’t like cardio. And if you join a job that implies contact with people, don’t expect me to believe you do your job just fine when two breaths earlier you told me you were an introvert who is scared of rank and, in general, groups of people.

It is in my job description, as well as the job description for the sister job of my official title, that we deal with people. Human is even in one of the titles. What introvert looks at that job title and goes, “Yeah! That one!” Because I know what the recruiter is saying, instead of convincing them to become, say, a pharmacy technician. They are saying, “Thank goodness this guy won’t be MY problem in a field like that…” while he snickers filling out the paperwork. And then the Army keeps sending them to me.

This comes up, and forces me to resort to elastic mice, because this week I had to give this person his quarterly counseling. Normally I have to provide three sustains and three improves in our little blocks of goodness. I had real trouble coming up with the sustains. I think I had three moderately not-as-mean sentences, so I counted those. The counseling took over three hours. There is a saying about excuses that I frequently use that is not for polite conversation. He gave me plenty and I believed maybe one. There is also a not so polite saying about sympathy my first sergeant has used from time to time. The Soldier failed to find mine during the counseling, despite me explaining where it could be found in the dictionary.

And that was more towards the beginning of the week. The remainder of my time these days is supposed to be spent juggling my regular work duties, of which there are many, with an online version of the first phase of my next non-commissioned officer academy. My warrant officer was kind enough to remove even the spoon from my coffee mug for fear I might try to jam myself in the eye with it while watching the online lessons. There are only so many classy videos about sexual assault you can watch in a day. I have finished, in three weeks, one fifth of the course, which puts me woefully behind schedule and my warrant and my first sergeant are threatening to tie me down and force it on me. I point out that it does have the benefit that it makes anything and everything else at work immensely more interesting.

And so, to keep what little of my sanity remains, I spend about three dollars every few weeks on elastic mice. The cat is only entertained for several minutes unless you jiggle the thing around, but that is still several minutes of my day I am not considering checking myself in for anger management classes.


Long Year

Filed under: — lana @ 11:05 am

It’s looking to be a long year. I am not sure that I feel this way every year, courtesy of my failing memory, but another long year is about to be spent in not-so-sunny Germany.

Speaking of my failing memory, before I forget, I paid a visit to the neuropsychologist recently. Her diagnosis? I’m bored at work. No kidding. Pure genius. She had no explanation for why I am forgetting everything else in my life and can’t focus on things I used to enjoy, such as reading, but reasons that things I forget that are work-related are because I am bored at work. She gets paid for that. Amazing.

The year, as it were, is being extended on account of my schemery. Not sure if schemery is a real word, but I will go with it. The endocrinoloist still wants me out. She has mentioned this on several occasions, even going so far as to call me with test results that told her nothing just so she could point out that they told her nothing and she wants me out. However, my best laid plans are finally in effect.

After three and a half years of half-hearted attempts, someone finally got around to saying that perhaps my shoulders would benefit from an MRI, since they are getting worse each winter and are now popping out on regular occasions. I do it to make my Soldier ill, which is certainly a regular occasion because I call it good training. They did an attempt at physical therapy about a year ago, but gave up because no one actually knew what was wrong, so finally the same doctor that said perhaps my persistent headaches warranted a second look and an MRI said the same about my shoulders. But this is the Army. Not only are MRI appointments about a month out, but heaven forfend I have to have one thing looked at while getting treatment for another, so this can take awhile.

Allow me to explain something about Army Medicine: If you want them to be successful, you can’t confuse them with too many maladies at once. At Fort Bragg, that was actually policy, that you could only be seen for one thing at one time. So if, say, you had the flu but were at work and fell off something and broke your leg and sprained your wrist, only expect to get your leg looked at. Then maybe the flu, if you could get another appointment, and I’d suggest just putting an ice pack on that wrist because quite frankly by the time you get a third appointment you would be hard-pressed to prove it was more than a bruise.

So my dilemma, obviously, is that I came back from Iraq a little bit broken and with a strong desire to escape Fort Bragg. I had anxiety. I had headaches. My ankle still bothered me after being “sprained” three months before. My shoulders hurt. So I had to prioritize, and then ended up with frostbite and gangrene, so more priorities. The shoulders fell further and further back because hey, at least they weren’t turning colors. Then when I finally did get them looked at, no one even took an x-ray, and then eventually the physical therapist left my duty station and I ended up with an intergalactic battlelord in my brain.

The benefit to all of this, however, is that this effectively stalls any imminent departure. They can’t effectively kick me out while receiving treatment for anything, so now they have to wait until someone puts my shoulders right. And the head doctor to figure out how to stop the headaches. And for the MRIs to finally say Xenu is behaving appropriately. And not all at once, mind you, especially with the bulk of my appointments being all the way across the country. So now I can get another class that I reenlisted for last year, visit Poland and perhaps another trip to Rome and Prague, and enjoy beer that is cheaper than water for at least another year or so. I have schemed my way, with the help of a faulty medical system, into delaying my departure long enough to make it mutually beneficial to the Army and to myself. I even have a Captain and a Major, both fully degreed medical personnel, in on the plot.

I am starting to wonder, however, just what I am going to have to break should I want another class and have to delay this further… I’m running out of useful limbs…


New Year, Same General Debauchery

Filed under: — lana @ 3:24 pm

Really, all I am curious about is who paid the cab…

I stayed in for New Year’s Eve this year, since every German and their Mother-in-Law has their own high-end fireworks anyway so I may as well stay in my semi-warm apartment in pajamas drinking spiced wine than go into the bitter cold. In order to make up for it, it seems, several friends of mine opted to go out several days later instead. The gentlemen, using the term because of rank and otherwise used loosely, are Army aviators recently returned from a long 15 months flying over sand huts. They, a wife, and another friend of hers, insisted that we go out and enjoy the Army Tradition of Drinking.

In case one is unaware, the Army has a thing about alcohol. All units have programs on alcoholism for prevention, all bases have treatment options for those drinking too much. But other than that, I maintain that the Army strategically places a majority of its bases that are about 60 miles from anything, but only about 50 meters from the gate to the closest bar. Drinking, bonding, and forming friendships that last a lifetime is what the Army life tends to be.

Now, most of my friends fly things. Being on an aviation base, that is the luck of the draw around here. Pilots, for those who don’t know, tend to have very interesting personalities. I think some of them, the single ones, only do what they do in order to walk into a bar and say anything along the lines of “Hey, ladies. Guess what? I fly stuff.” Then they, regardless of marital status, tend to get rather inebriated rather quickly and swap stories with people who were probably there with them when the event about which the story is being told took place and probably remember it very differently. The night usually goes rapidly downhill. I am actually coming to the conclusion that they all have homing devices implanted in them anyway as preparation for these rituals, having misplaced more than one pilot in several cities in several countries in the last few years. They always seem to find their way back, which is somewhat comforting particularly when they have the keys to whatever vehicle got us to the country in the first place.

Really, they are a lot of fun, and their egos are hardy enough to not get bruised when they are made fun of, so it tends to be an adventure. Last night was no exception. There is a minor mutiny where I am hoodwinked into leaving the comfort of my pajamas and impending laundry and am dragged to a bar I am not sure I could find again despite the small size of the local town. We find the general group, easy since we are the only Americans there, and discover it is two-for-one shots. This was too much math, apparently, for the one pilot trying to order a round for the six of us and I ended up almost having to resort to drawing a diagram. And so it began. I was moderately proud that even on my medication I out-drank the highest ranking member of the party, who tapped out with his head on the table sometime after he dropped his poor wife, whom he had been carrying while we switched bars, onto the pavement because he was going too fast downhill despite our mutterings of “This looks like a bad idea” at the outset. His wife and I mourned her scratched shoes over mai tais as he slowly lost the ability to form a coherent sentence and rested his forehead on the table, so all was well and normal. When the bar closed, we remember asking them to call cabs for us and then somehow I ended up back at my apartment with two of the gang, one of whom seems to be going through his “I wanna be the best ever” pilot crisis that the other was trying to talk him through without tears involved. I lost interest and fed them both some wine and champagne I had laying around. Our only confusion, realized about two hours after we arrived at my apartment, was that none of us remembered the cab ride or who, in fact, paid the cabbie. Since no angry German was beating on my door, we assumed someone took care of it and continued with our general meandering lines of thought. Sometime around the arrival of the sun we dumped our melancholy friend in a taxi home since he had to drive about two hours later that day to report for a class, and my friend fell asleep on the couch with his feet on my heater. Aside from the general odd conversations, torment of each other, and overt state of inebriation, a fairly standard night.

And that is a night with pilots. Not for the meek, assuredly, and why I don’t do it terribly often. I retained most of the funds I started out the evening with, which was nice, though I remain concerned about calling that particular cab company again. No one is worse for wear, aside from minor bruising and scratching, and I even successfully convinced them at one point during the night that going to any club where there were cages in which they could dance was not on any agenda in which I would partake. They even tried to convince me that it was a good idea by promising to get in the cage together, which I pointed out is only the stuff of nightmares and maintained my stance that cage dancing had no part in the evening plans.

So the year is, in general, looking up. Old friends having returned, new friends to be made, and a little bit of time left to enjoy it before once again the Army moves us to points unknown but usually distant. Until then, The Old Army Hobby of Subtle Alcoholism remains the way of enjoying the time we have left together. The nice part about it is that often, a true Army friend will forever be around, much longer than many friendships might last.

And so, in general, a toast of juice (since toasting with water is bad luck) to the new year, and to old friends.

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