Saturday, April 28, 2012

Blogging in Transit

Got home last night just in time to unpack and re-pack for our move to Manila via San Francisco. Of course, the car got picked up to days ago, so I had to catch a cab home. How is possible that in this day and age many cabs still only take cash?

Anyway, we're currently in the air headed from our layover from Dallas to SF. Sure hope the cat and dog are okay! They seemed pretty non-plussed about the whole airport thing. Marley meowed pitifully on the way to the airport, but he did that for four days straight when we drove from Abq to FL, so I'm not sure if that's just his natural reaction to traveling. We'll spend 4 days of work/play with my sis and her fan before we head out again, so here's hoping that leg one is indicative of how the rest of the trip will go. Yes, there were hiccups (like that whole part about them forgetting to actually issue the tickets, which was - luckily - quickly resolved by a phone call to Carlson Wagonlit, but it did cause a mini-heart attack at the time. Two adults, three kids, six big suitcases, 4 small suitcases, ten carry on pieces, one three-legged dog, and a cat later...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Last week was spent in FL catching up on what it's like to be back in uniform. Turns out that it doesn't take too much time to remind you of all the good and the bad that comes along with it. I spent a whirlwind weekend returning to Virginia to help with the pack out arrangements (all items are now in there proper places) and buy all the last minute items we need (can't ship liquids via pouch, so all of the shampoo, face wash, etc. for the next 2 years has been stocked!). On Sunday we went to C's last volleyball tournament. I am not sure what our options will be in Manila for her to continue at this level of play, but we hope that there are options since it has been such an amazing experience for her. Then I hopped directly back on a plane to come back to FL for two more weeks of Reserve duty. Unfortunately, I also seem to have contracted some sort of sinus thingy, which made taking my pt test (physical fitness test) today a real bitch. I've been non-current for a while since I've been gone from the unit for so long, so I was determined to just get the fucker done, sinuses be damned!!

It's very stressful to be moving while you're not actually present. Actually, it's stressful moving period, but add to that not being in the same state and it becomes infinitely more aggravating. We've had a few freak outs hiccups. First, we were informed (just yesterday) that State will not ship our oversized paddle boards, which were expensive, much loved, and we hoped to get a lot of use out of them in the Philippines. They also told us that we wouldn't be permitted to add them into storage either, so now we are scrambling trying to figure out what to do with these things. We also got a notice in the mail from the city of Arlington notifying us of a required court appearance for failure to pay a car registration fee. If you'll recall we first moved to Arlington for a few short weeks last May before we ended up in Oakwood Falls Church (in the city of Falls Church). We paid the fee to register our vehicle in Falls Church since that has been our residence, and we have been fighting with Arlington ever since. It is so frustrating (especially since we won't even be living in the country when this supposed court date is to occur)! Poor husband has to field all of these things all by his lonesome since I am proving completely useless here in FL. Seems I can't access my home e-mail from my AF computer, so I have to wait until after business hours to take care of anything. Not very helpful!

So to relieve the stress of it all. I am sitting in my hotel room and watching a Say Yes to the Dress mini-marathon, eating Combos (my Cheetos, Dad), and downing Nyquil. Nothing like watching vapid brides in amazing dresses to take your mind off of your own problems! Don't judge me. Anyway, here's some other stuff I've been saving up to share with ya'll:

Just a cool report that I found real interesting (plus I was a competitive swimmer growing up :)

In fitness news, here's a another free workout that's sure to appeal. Also, I came across this on a fitness site I frequent, and, if you've ever done a P90X workout, it is freaking hilarious!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Drumroll Please...

Unless you have Facebook, I know I've left you all hanging since my last post indicated that T-Day was, in fact, last Thursday...I got a freaking 3, 3!!! For all you non-State and DoD people, that is a big ole deal, and I am pretty fucking over the moon about it. I took about 1/2 a day to celebrate by forcing my children to relive part of my childhood and dragging them to Lake Kittamaqundi. Then reality set it, and I realized that we have less than 3 weeks until we move to the other side of the world!

 My friend D wrote up a great description of language training at FSI, so I won't do a repeat here. I will say that language testing at FSI is one of the most painful and stressful experiences I have ever gone through. I think I likened my Chinese test to having my brain sucked through a straw (then spat out onto the table so that all of the native speakers could laugh at me). Well, this was worse.

The test lasted about three hours, although it really didn't feel like it at the time. The speaking portion seemed to fly by, which I was surprised about because that was the part I was most worried about. It wasn't until I got to the reading portion that things really started to go downhill. At some point in the reading I realized that there were some sections of text where I did not know even one single word, and I started to panic. I was already panicking about the time limitations since I am a slow Tagalog reader, but then I started thinking that I was such a fool for stressting snd preparing so much for the speaking and now here I was getting ready to fail the reading portion!

The tester and examiner really push you as far as you can possibly go to see how much you can get out of whatever it is you are reading/conversing about, so you always feel a little behind. I walked out of the test with absolute certainty that I had failed, and I spent the 20-30 min break (where they are discussing what they think your overall score should be) outside chain smoking, trying not to cry, and panicking about WTF I was going to do considering I had just spent the last week busting my ass to get my military orders issued in time to do my check out from State. Imagine my utter shock when I trudged slowly back into the room braced to hear the bad news, and they told me I had been given a score which far exceeded my wildest expectations. Hell, I was just hoping to pass! I was so surprised, I had to ask the examiner to repeat himself to make sure I had heard him correctly.

I have no idea how my perception of my own abilities and others' perceptions can be so divergent. I can only speculate that it is my extreme type A, perfectionist personality that causes these feelings of inadequecy sometimes. I was also convinced that I had failed the Chinese language phone test back when I was still on the road to become an FSO, which turned out not to be the case either. Maybe I'm just overestimating how well other people speak foreign languages? I don't seem to ever have a confidence problem when it comes to completing tasks in English (job interviews, giving speeches, etc.). I wonder what it is about language that so fucks with my head?

Anyway, now that that one last hurdle is over and done, we are on our way! I'm currently in FL trying to get all of my requirements current, which would be way easier if they hadn't cut off my e-mail since I've been gone so long! At least I have access to the system now, and I got a new id card, so I can start checking off items on my military to-do list. I have an IMA job lined up with PACOM, which is looking like a good choice considering I'll be in Asia for at least the next 5 years. Husband is back in VA with the kids while they finish out as much school as they can. He is handling the move almost single-handedly (we already went through the house and separated our shipments, and I'll be flying home this weekend to help with the final preparations, like actually packing suitcases), while I'm here taking care of my military stuff. It's great to be back in uniform and doin' my thang. I have never regretted leaving active duty (I did a short notice separation shortly after A's brith to avoid a 15-month deployment to Afghanistan, which I was notified of thanks to a wonderful, understanding boss and being part of a small, tight-knit unit), but it always makes me sad that I couldn't make that life/work balance happen in the military. The AF just asked too much of certain officers (people in my career field were heavily deployed - to the point that many of us were on a 12 month home/deployed cycle - while other career fields were never tapped to help shoulder the burden), and I couldn't sacrifice that much time with my family. But, sometimes, I sure do miss it, and it's nice that I get to come back every once in a while and play that role again.