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Real Talk.

I’m ready to check in with some writings of value or importance to me.

A friend and I were discussing how the world as of late can weigh you down, especially during tumultuous times such as the recent US election season and inauguration. It’s easy to become swept up in the huge amounts of negativity that seems to be everywhere. I suggested a simple meditation, a loose form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or “brain retraining.” He remarked he hasn’t the time or money to make this happen. I remarked it cost me no time and $0. Here’s what I said.

I started with small steps… paying attention to what I was thinking and how I tended to react to things. I placed a large focus on keeping unforeseen events and feelings in perspective and organizing them based on real, not perceived, importance. I started cutting out all the extra bullshit from my life.

Once I cut out the distractions, I could concentrate by focusing and meditating (thinking about, relaxing) on what truly matters to me and the person I want to be.

Here is an example:

OK, I am in bad traffic and I am running late for a class (or work or whatever). Instead of my old reaction of some sort of road rage, I tried putting on music or podcasts I liked, breathed deeply, realized others around me were going through the same shit, and tried to think about something positive.

So, let’s plan. What are the consequences of being late? Don’t jump to the worst possible outcome because being locked out of the class and publicly ridiculed will likely not happen today. What is the true, realistic outcome? Being late to class means it will be embarrassing for one class session because I have to walk in late, and quietly shut the door. No one else will remember this in a day. Nobody else cares about someone walking in late. I know I wouldn’t care or judge. Everyone has different things going on in their lives.

And lastly, how can I not be late next time? Let’s be realistic: Being late was nobody’s fault but my own. I have to take responsibility for not sticking to my schedule; acknowledging it is my fault is confirming that I know I have control to change it. If I blame someone else for my problem of being late, I cannot change their actions (only my own), and thus take this mindset of helplessness. Nobody benefits from feeling helpless.

I started small with things like this traffic example, then applied it to other scenarios. Eventually, over time, I changed my entire personality simply by reframing how I reacted to challenges. I became less jaded and angry, depressive bouts disappeared, and my personal resilience increased. I can handle just about anything! So it’s actually a retraining of your brain, in a way. Your immediate reactions change, if you let it. I used to get angry very quickly and hold petty grudges. I no longer get angry and never hold grudges. It is freedom and release to reclaim the power OVER you (outside actions) and changing it to YOUR power (how you let it affect you). And the best part? It costs $0.

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Here Goes: 2014

HOLLY JOLLY. My holidays were mostly relaxing and low-key, and to say that I hosted makes this pretty unbelievable. This year, my sister spent Christmas with her in-laws in Detroit. I hosted anyone who could make it to my new home in Louisiana. My parents, Larry’s father, & his charming new wife made it out to spend a few days in Cajun Christmas fashion. It was the first Christmas without little rugrats running around, which was an odd, but not wholly unwelcome change. There are pro’s and con’s to each, of course. Something about having children around makes the holidays a little more magical, but with adults, the evenings are made magical with a bottle of good brandy or a cup of egg nog. I fashioned the most amazing cocktail ever for Christmas: it was egg nog (in a more festive response to creme de cacao), peppermint Schnapps, Sprite & vodka. DO WANT every year.

Oddly enough, we didn’t really take any photos. Who wants to take photos of a bunch of us old heads huddled around the fire, anyway? Bah. I did receive my Grandmother’s pearl ring, which I wore for my wedding, and my sister wore for hers. It was given to her by my Grandfather in 1949-ish. I’ll have to find out the exact date. It really is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry in my family.

For New Year’s, I was planning on hosting a cocktail party, but as the family cleared out to return home, I asked Larry if he wanted to:

  • Host a party
  • Host a few neighbors
  • Have a quiet New Year’s in

So, I made a nice French dinner and chocolate soufflés for dessert, and we watched Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to ring in 2014.

HOBBIT. I saw “The Hobbit” take two. Although she’s not a canon character, I am going to craft a Tauriel costume for Dallas ComicCon. What a badass. Larry’s working on a Teutonic Knight costume. I’ll bring him over to the dark side yet. Need to drop twenty for my elvish costume. Elves are supposed to be the epitome of grace and athleticism. How fortunate this coincides with my Air Force Physical Fitness test that I’m due for in March. I’d more motivated by looking fabulous in costume than passing the damn thing. Oh well, Mazlo’s Hierarchy, amirite?

FRIENDSHIPS, MAN. The odd thing about being female in today’s military is, well, among lots of things, the glass ceiling you find yourself looking up into when it comes to making friendships. Now, we all know the military is generally, mostly male, as it is to be expected. However, no matter how modern we claim to be as a military machine and the U.S. Government as an employer, if you are close friends with someone of the male persuasion, it is guaranteed to get tongues wagging. I am no stranger to having males as best friends, in fact, I’ve always had males as my select few best friends. My no-nonsense attitude and “one and you’re done” mentality seems to emblazon my friendships with males (“one and you’re done” refers to anyone who double-crosses me, even once, is cut from my life).

I’ve always been too busy in life for drama or similar foolishness; the precious time I have off from work is spent with those I care most about. So, in the military, I’ve noticed, people still adhere to the scapegoat mentality; they want someone to judge and shred to pieces. I’ve seen it on multiple occasions, and I’ve been a victim to it on multiple occasions. No matter how “modern” we claim to be as a military or a society, this fact will, so it seems, always remain, and usually the woman is the topic of conversations. People just can’t handle it. I have a home to run; I have wine glasses to polish, cocktail parties to host, Elven Cosplay to craft, & lots of Game of Thrones episodes to catch up on. Moreover, I hardly have time of all of this and a military job, much less time to go husband or boyfriend-stealing. Ain’t nobody got time (or patience) for that. By the way, thanks to the lovely Ms. Stephy Dee for the badass silver belt she sent me for Christmas. With friends like these…!

FRIGID. Yeah yeah, everyone’s talking. Talkin’ bout people… or the extreme weather that’s moving across the U.S. I am practically Bad Luck Brian here.

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I Have A Lot To Say Today

ALWAYS AWAKE.Things have been bat shit guano crazy around here. Or as commoners would say, “Cray Cray”. I did an “Iron Swap” to Guam at the beginning of the month. This means you take a good jet from home station, Minot Air Force Base, and drive it over to Guam. You stay in Guam a day, then fly a jet that needs to come back home back to Minot. The way out was about sixteen hours, the way back, with a nice tailwind was about thirteen. When I plan cross-world missions, I always try to catch the jet stream. This bucket o’ bolts B-52 can go 600nm per hour with a hefty (110kt) tail wind. The fastest I’ve ever seen her go is 610nm per hour. Zoom! Anyway, nothing like a 32-hour day to get you revvin’!

READ THIS. — On aforementioned Iron Swap, I read a wonderful book, The Glass House by Jeannette Walls. Last year I read her second book, about ranching at the turn-of-the-century, Half-Broke Horses. This one was about her own childhood, and packs both unbelievably humorous and incredibly sad stories. I highly recommend it; it’s a short read.

MASS EFFECT COSPLAY. — In other news, my Mass Effect 3 M-8 Assault Rifle replica arrived! I am doing a Mass Effect 3 armor build for next year’s San Diego Comic Con; in fact, I’m building two armor sets. One for me, Commander Shepard, and one for Larry, Kaidan Alenko. His will be Kaidan’s traditional blue armor, and I will do a bastardized version of my favorite N7/random armor parts. I’m also going to make it look beat up and shot to hell. It seems most people forget Shepard is a Space Marine. She is also a Commander. So, pin up that hair, ladies. Alliance military would never allow loosey-goosey hair in your face. And plus, who wants hair in your eyes when you’re looking through a rifle scope? A husk could grab it! Military realism, please. I am a total hair nazi at work, too, by the way.

The first rifle arrived broken, in pieces. I have heard that the distributor, Project Triforce, has had problems with breakage because of the hollow body of the replica. It’d weigh far too much to be practical if it was solid (it already weighs 20 lbs). So, I sent it back and got a new one. The old one was #54/500. The new one is #179/500, or something. Bummer. Anyway, I think it’s a fabulous piece, but wish the butt wasn’t so long, or was adjustable. It’s not practical for aiming (looking through the scope). Larry is grumpy about that, and it’s “too front heavy to be an effective weapon.” I told him to quit whining and go buy the Predator replica for himself… and me.

GO GO GO. — At work I am pretty much being a superwoman. We are getting a new squadron commander, and as his executive assistant, I’ve taken the job on to plan the Change of Command ceremony for this Monday morning. Until yesterday, it didn’t have an actual venue because we are having it in a “currently being used” maintenance hangar. So, I called every day inquiring until they caved. We can’t get in there to set up until Saturday morning, so.. there goes Saturday morning. Additionally, Saturday evening is the commander’s farewell dinner. I’ve also taken that on, as well. It’s Hawaiian themed and I even brought coconuts back from Guam to decorate each table. I also am arranging the going away gifts and the incoming commander’s schedule. Funny thing about the military, you can’t just say “I’ll do it later,” or “If I have time.” It’s doing it right then and there and following up and expecting twenty people to follow up on you. I’ve said it before — in Office Space, he laments about having multiple bosses. Well… about that… Also, a personality flaw of mine insists that I take on projects without outside help – because I figure it’ll be more time consuming to check up on people than to just do it myself. I don’t have to worry if it’ll get done. So wish me luck with all this shit that is going on… in addition to flying and keeping a tidy home with dinners on the table. Which leads me to my next thought…

CAN WE ‘HAVE IT ALL’? — I give mad props to ladies who are military to military and have children. I honestly don’t see how one could possibly do it and keep it all together. With Larry’s decision to try for a command position (60-70 hours a week), my career in the operational (flying) side is already about 50-60 hours a week as a First Lieutenant or Captain (w00t, promotion in a few weeks!). When you make Major, it’s about 60 hours a week. That’s 12-14 hours of child care for children per day. I propose this: you must have 110% job satisfaction to hold a career to just pay for child care. And even then, is it really fair to the child? And what about deployments when Mom & Dad are both in Afghanistan?

My commander did reference some lady aviators that have done all right with having a family and a career. In fact, I find it ironic – a few weeks ago, a memo came down from Command for female volunteers for an Air Force commercial. The big push was for women to say they could balance a career and spend time with their family. I was super excited to recruit my fellow lady bombardiers and electronic warfare officers from the B-52 community to start our hostile takeover of said commercial, but the fine print said that they had already cast a female major… a fighter pilot. Female fighter pilots. How predictable. How about cutting to a B-52 dropping serious bombs, with ladies talking on the radio to Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs – the Army guys right in the action on the ground that call in air strikes), then have us turn around showing that we can destroy pretty much anything… about 30x better than a fighter jet can.

Anyway, I guess life is about figuring things out for yourself. I know it’ll be so difficult for me to eventually make the transition out of the flying/bomber community. It’s such a high tempo job, always go go go. I feel guilty (and always have) if I am sitting at home doing nothing. Even in college, taking 15 credit hours per semester, I worked two jobs and commuted. I also held myself to a high standard of learning new things, playing music and creating art in addition to everything else. I am a little concerned about a transition into civilian life in a few years, when everything will become quiet and stop. I don’t want to be irrelevant, from personally handling weapons to personally baking cakes all day. I’m a little scared of my claim to fame being an officer’s spouse. I don’t want to fit that mold. Maybe I can travel and do humanitarian work – something that still matters. Hey, Santa Angelina made it work for her!

HOME MATTERS. — I am eating steel cut oatmeal with muesli right now. I also added some North American berry jelly and cinnamon. Tonight’s a night flight, so a chicken with rice is in the crock pot. I bought a couple chickens from a local farm and am excited to try this guy out! Meanwhile, Larry whiles away Saturdays by shooting squirrel pests with his air rifle. From the Marine Corps to the back porch…

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Bon Giorno!

PWNAGE. When no one’s around, I slowly evolve back into gamer mode. Now, I know your next question is, “What’s gamer mo-” Well, I’ll tell you. It’s Diet Coke and Sun Chips for sustenance. It’s when wine and cereal becomes an absolutely nutritious dinner (carbs, sugars, and fruit). Feeling just a little high and mighty about being a squad leader for a group of fourteen-year-old boys on Mass Effect Online Multiplayer. Oh, it’s three a.m. already? & …forgetting about everything else crazy in the world except the one you’re playing in. That’s been nice lately.

Here is a photo of me in a work shirt, looking rather plain and mousey. I did dye my hair darker. I have always felt more comfortable with darker hair, although I’d kill for blonde without roots to deal with. C’est la vie!

SCUSI. — Getting geared up for me & Larry’s trip to the Mediterranean in the late summer. I’ve started learning some basic Italian phrases – it’s like a combination of French (which I can speak) and Spanish. It’s easy to pronounce and I very much enjoy the sound of it. Very expressive. Quite beautiful. I think I will very much like Italy more than Northern Germany, where we went last summer. Time to re-watch Le Mepris, La Dolce Vita, and Roman Holiday. What are your favorite Italian-scenery films?

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Not Many Words

I would like to update more, however, I find it difficult lately to express anything for publication here. Personal setbacks (perhaps not) have made my words I write tiring. I always let these fickle gentlemen get to me. I guess you can say I have too much love to give, enough for two, in my opinion. I need to surround myself with those exceptional people who can accept every bit and offer the same in return. Life can be confusing, at best. I guess that’s why you spend most of it attempting to sort it all out.

This past week I had a terrific flight as navigator… and the chance to watch one of the World Cup games while working the flight desk. I’ve never watched a soccer game in my life, but I wondered why everyone had kept the secret about the handsome boys on the field from me! And from such a smattering of different cultures!

I’ve been gearing up for my move to North Dakota in the fall; I’ve been collecting many different design ideas for my apartment. I am looking at a historical two bedroom so I can have a study/art studio. I also want the decor to be like a hotel: I want to come home and feel like I am on vacation. Clean, neat, organized, simple and plush. Someone order me dimmer switches in bulk! Talk about romantic!