Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If I didn't have a dog...

This morning after Buzz left, the dogs and I did our morning routine...we piled into bed together and I had to fight for enough space to lay in my king size bed. As I often do, I wondered, what would happen right now if I didn't have a dog.

If I didn't have a dog:

I would get the whole bed to myself after Buzz leaves in the morning.

I would never clean poop off of paws.

I would not often step in dog poop.

I would not pooper-scoop my yard.

I would not talk about poop as much.

I would not know much about pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease or know words like lipase, Tylan, or Azathioprine.

I would not have to deal with the embarassment of jumping, humping, or worry about loud or SBD dog gas when there are guests in my home.

I would have a lot more money.

I could travel without worrying about things such as IBD flare-ups.

I would not have experienced the spraying by a skunk to my Sam-dog at 6 am on a cold RI morning...thus, I would not know about the process of "de-skunking."

I would have never paid nearly a thousand dollars to have a 99 cent ball removed from a canine stomach by a GI vet.

I would have never driven from NC to FL to have a tumor removed from a Boxer.

I would not still get teary thinking about my Angel-girl. (I miss her so much...still.)

I would know much less about myself.

I would have never met some great friends (of the human persuasion).

I would not truly have a concept of "man's (WOMAN'S) best friend."

I would not have a daughter who can handle herself as well around animals.

I would not have a man of the house in Buzz's absences.

I would not have best friends that move with me and see me through life's ups and downs.

I would not have such great fans.

I may not have survived pregnancy.

I may not have survived 2 deployments.

I would not have anyone THAT excited to see me.

I would not know what it means to kidney bean dance.

I could not get boxer hugs and kisses on command.

I would get less exercise

I would not have a shoulder to cry on any time I needed it.

I would not laugh as often.

I would not have 4-legged, furry, stinky cuddle partners in the mornings when Buzz leaves for work...and I would miss it.

Thank goodness for dogs!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The THIRD Shift

There is a great book called The Second Shift (by Arlie Hochschild) whose main point (now anyway) is common sense, at least to me on a personal level. In a nutshell, it says that when women entered the workforce, thus contributing economically to the family outside the home, they didn't really get a break with the housework--so they really had TWO shifts to work.

Well, I now contend that women sociologists work the THIRD shift--we also have our motherly instincts that make us worry about, well, pretty much the entire world of humanity. It takes a lot of energy to think on these levels! We learn some pretty depressing stuff that is highly unlikely to get "fixed" because of the force field of society and its structures that we have created. I spend lots of time worrying about lots of things. I mean, worrying IS my specialty, but now I worry on a larger level. For example, what are we going to do when we have literally used up the resources of the earth? How are those not born into advantaged lives really going to get ahead for themselves and their future generations? How do I live in such prosperity while so much of the world struggles just to eat or have clean water? Then my worries start turning to anger. Why are things so unfair? Why can't we change anything if we don't have power--economic power? Why in the hell do people vote against their own best interests as well as the betterment of others? I shouldn't even get started on these types of issues because I won't be able to stop--or sleep since it will get my mind running and it's getting late.

WHY am I doing this to myself?????

And then I remember...(Also quoted in a previous blog)

“…the evident genius of the human spirit lies in the hard fact of life that we, like our dogs... [are] limited in all the important ways… We cannot do all that our powerful minds trick us into thinking we can. In a word, this is the mystery of being human. Our finest nature is not our ability to think and do. It is that we do and think as we do in spite of the obstacles…On average, the better ones among us continue to think and do what they can with no assurance that solutions will be found.” --Charles Lemert, from preface of Thinking the Unthinkable

And, might I add from the same preface of Lemert's book, "To think about social things is to think through the shell of resistance that cuts of off from the hard truths of life."

So what does this have to do with anything? I want to be one of the better ones among us. I want to cut to the hard truths of life, so that maybe, just maybe, I can make things better for me and for my family--for my daughter and her generation, and generations to come. We are all human, but this is something I CAN do.

In a moment of frustration in class a few weeks ago, I asked my professor how he keeps from going crazy. He had a few thoughts...One was about an old saying he had heard that dated back centuries--I think it was a Jewish saying or something like that. Anyway, it said that as long as there were 35 (or maybe it was 36) truly good men, the world would keep going (or not self-destruct or something along those lines). Anyway, he said that he calculated for population growth and figures there needs to be a lot more than 30-something now and he has decided that he was going to be one of them. He also said he hopes that there may be a time when politicians and public officials will realize that they need to look deeper into social forces--a window in history that will allow for the knowledge thay sociology has gained to become mainstream. And he said that, if and when this time comes, he wants to be part of the contribution of the discipline that can help develop a language to convey some of our important findings to a larger group--and maybe make some qualitative improvement.

What great perspectives! I am stealing them for myself. (I hope he won't mind.) Maybe, right now, it seems like I am reading and writing about things that only others in academia (who clearly have no push or pull in "the system") will share. Maybe I am frustrated when I find something important--like how necessary certain things are for military families that the military ignores or how there are huge groups of children whose needs are ignored because of their parents' low socioeconomic status--and no one knows except others who are as helpless as I am in "the system." But, if there isn't someone doing this work, what will happen if and when that window opens? And, isn't it better to search for knowledge than to ignore it's out there?

So I am working on turning my worry into something more productive. It's a lot of work, but I am going to run with the assumption that it's worth it. I will use my energy in the third shift--and hope the overtime will in some way, some day reach far beyond this computer in a positive manner.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lessons learned...the decade is not over yet...

...But something has changed. I made an attempt at reliving those early twenties I last blogged about. This past weekend, we were in our hometown so we had free, reliable childcare for a few days in order to work on some school work. I worked really hard Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning and decided to "reward" myself Saturday night.

Armed with our DD, Buzz and I and 2 other couples hit up downtown. That used to be THE place to be on the weekend and we could always have fun. Times have changed, I guess--or maybe it's just us--or maybe just ME. We were out and about early--which gave us some quiet bar time to watch some college football. After that, we attempted to barhop, but our DD was under 21 so we had to be selective. We finally got her in at the place that used to be my favorite bar/dance club . (It's since changed its name...and everything else except the location.) We got her in by allowing them to put huge Xs on her hand and let them know that there were 5 drinkers whose business that they were going to lose if she couldn't get in.

We were a little out of place, or at least that's the way it felt. We drank and talked and watched the people on the dance floor--we didn't dance. We drank too much and I didn't sleep because I felt so guilty for staying out so late--I felt like a bad mom.

Other than the slight hangover that came the next day and my guilt complex kicking into over drive, it was fun. In my attempt to show the world that "I still got it" I realized, I don't even know what "it" is anymore. And I don't care. It doesn't really matter. Sure, I can drink--I COULD have danced but spared myself the humiliation. Like I said, something has changed--I think it is me. My priorities have changed, along with my alcohol tolerance. Maybe I have lived my "glory days" of barhopping and put them behind me. But what's ahead is much more exciting now, in my opinion.

Maybe the "glory" of your early 20s is that you don't really know where you are headed, but you can fill the time with fun excursions--that include drinking too much and dancing with strangers--because you have nothing with deep meaning in your life to screw up with your insane weekends. In many ways, it's sort of like the innocence of childhood, only you have a driver's license, a job, and you can legally drink. But, for me at least, once you find what it is you are looking for, you don't have to fill your weekends with the craziness anymore. A crazy night now for me is a game of Wii Bowling with the family--a cocktail or two might be included (though Buzz and I have vowed never to drink again...again after our weekend of reliving our younger days). But the night isn't complete without a bedtime story and tucking in the light of my life in her pink room.

So call me old, or boring, or whatever. I have found what I am looking for and it's all here in my very own house. Those "glory" days are still glorious but only in hindsight, I don't want to live them again. The real glory is what Buzz and I have created--especially our daughter. For now, my focus is on my family and getting my PhD. My age is showing (in more ways than one--I notice a new grey hair just about every day. But I worked for those things in one way or another! But I digress...) The decade's not over yet, but I have nothing more to prove to my twenties, or to anyone for that matter--I only need to prove to myself that I can be the person I want to be. Cheers!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Age Stratification--Highlights of a mildly wild almost-decade

I really feel old. Well, I don't FEEL old, but I feel like people look at me as ancient relative to them. Maybe it's being in the college atmosphere again at age 29; maybe it's the gray that has popped up in my hair since deployments became a part of my life; maybe it's that my friends and husband are all hitting the big 3-0 and it's around the corner for me.

Last night I saw a tv show and then today a professor was talking about living wild and crazy in your 20s. Does all the fun stop when you hit 30? I mean, if age IS just a number, then what's the deal with this? My definition of fun (as well as the practice of fun for me) has changed throughout the years. But I think maturity is GOOD thing, not a bad one. You can still grow on many levels and keep a sense of excitement, right? At first, after hearing all of these references to having fun in your 20s, I thought that maybe I had missed out on something. And then I started freaking out because I have less than a year to get the fun in. Then reality (or whatever my social construction of reality is) hit me in the face. I HAVE had a great time in my 20s--just like I did in my teens--and just like I hope I will in my 30s, 40s, 50s...and hopefully into really old age!

So I decided to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights of MY 20s...starting at age 21 (21 and 5/6 to be more precise) because that is when Buzz reentered my life...and THAT is when I allowed myself the opportunity to redefine my life and take it in a positive direction. And that direction included LOTS of fun (with quite a bit of craziness--I did enter the USMC family at age 22).

Just to (probably over) qualify the list below, this by no means discounts the fun I had before my 20s--like the infamous "ice cream summer" I spent with my cousins, aunt, and grandma where we got ice cream every day as a kid, Sarah and my summers in high school with Shoney's weekends, beach week with my best friends... Nor is it to in any way discount or minimize that my 20s held absolutely the best, most important, magical time in my life that has made me who I am, was the best decision I have ever made, and filled my heart with a love that words cannot even begin to explain--becoming a mom. AND I want to reiterate that great moments didn't all have to include alcohol--like the "Cheers night" when Buzz and I went Walmarting and raced to put fans together for his mom, watched Cheers, and I realized he was the one in the simplicity of the moment; or the many Sonic, Exchange, Walmart, Food Lion, Commissary, Target, Coldstone, Old Navy trips I have taken with my girls; or the homecomings from deployment when, for a minute, time stood still in the arms of my husband and my daughter.

Qualifying over--here's the list:

Walking to the liquor store in multiple feet of snow with some friends AND Sampson because we drank all of the alcohol in our houses and needed more. (Best line of the night--our neighbor backed his car down our street where he had just passed us and said "I thought you were high schoolers!")

Screaming the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song at the top of our lungs in an old-ass car full of Marines and wives while bar-hopping.

The E-club in RI (too many random stories to recall here)

Buzz getting his microphone taken away during a botched attempt he and other Marines were making at a John Denver song on karaoke at a redneck bar in RI (yes, there are redneck bars in RI) by a butch lady.

At that same bar, having an older woman (lacking in some teeth, but I'm not judging) sexually assault one of our friends while telling him that she reminded her of her son.

Playing life-size chess (drunk) on a ship somewhere between FL and the Bahamas.

Drinking in the front yard with Brad and Erin (you would have to live in base housing at NAS Jax to fully appreciate the gravity of this one).

Doing the wave at the Deli to my dad's friends' band and spilling drinks--so many memories from that night.

Lots of commissioning parties.

Breaking bowling lanes in Jax (AKA the REAL Jacksonville).

Dressing up at the Mario Brothers for Halloween.

Gangsta New Years 09!

So they're not THAT exciting...no one got arrested or streaked or did anything TOO regretful (which is all what people apparently consider to make it a "good" story). And this is by no means an exhaustive list. But it was all SO much fun!!! And I have lots of good memories from my 20s and hope to make some more this last year of the awesome decade. But I hope that there is even more fun to be had as time goes on...I mean, it seems that with time, you can have all of that fun and even more with the knowledge from all of your previous successes and mistakes. The possibilities for what's to come seem amazing! Plus, isn't 30 the new 20?!? I'm just getting started!