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On good wifeys and social media

December 15, 2014

There’s a time and place to publicly call out assholery and to ask folks–individuals or the masses–to check their attitudes, privilege, bigotry, etc.

But I’ll just throw out there right now: it’s tacky as hell to bitch and gossip online about a spouse within your SO’s command*. Don’t do it. Unless, of course, your life’s purpose is to be a shitty milspouse and a shitty human being. Then, by all means, fulfill your life’s purpose. Embrace that shit, don your pearls, put your hair into a judgmental bun, and go for it.

There’s a special level of gauche involved in taking to social media to bitch and whine about another milspouse. It’s worse when the bitching and whining all relates to a bullshit definition of what makes a good milspouse.

So first, dear judgmental milspouses, you are not precious. You are not speshul and deserving of snowflake status. You wear no crown, and you have zero responsibilities relating to your spouse’s job unless you choose to take on volunteer obligations.

And please to note: Choose. Volunteer. YOU.

Back when women weren’t allowed to have credit in their own names and couldn’t get birth control unless they were married and had their husbands’ permission, a milspouse had to take part, had to contribute, had to be social and deal almost exclusively with other milspouses. Their husbands’ careers depended on it.

But these here days are a tad more enlightened. We are not paid to take part, we are not obligated by virtue of a marriage certificate to take part, and we don’t have to unless it butters our biscuits to do so.

If you think it’s your obligation to be a leader, I have a few things to note:

  • That’s your effing decision, and you have zero right to expect that of any other milspouse.
  • The training for CO spouses includes the appalling fact that NO SPOUSE IS REQUIRED TO TAKE ON ANY VOLUNTEER ROLES, EVER. Hell, the training for CO/XO billets includes the same tidbit.
  • It shows a severe deficit of character if you choose to take to social media to bitch about another milspouse.
  • It shows a failure of leadership if you take to the internet rather than take her to lunch and brainstorm ways to address your concerns. Though…
  • Keep in mind that another milspouse’s decision to refuse a leadership/volunteer role is not actually a valid concern and doesn’t need to be addressed.

I really can’t believe this needs to be said, but obviously it does when this kind of thing is going on in 20-goddamn-14.

So to sum up: Each milspouse has the right to determine how involved s/he wants to be as a milspouse. Each milspouse has the right to maintain that level of engagement and is never required, by virtue of the service member’s job or otherwise, to take on leadership commitments. If you have a problem with this, you probably ought to get some perspective. If you bitch and gossip about someone who has a lower level of engagement than you do, you’re an asshole. If you bitch and gossip online, where no privacy setting is ever going to allow your statements an expiration, you are an epic pissbiscuit.

Do better.

PS Divest yourself of your spouse’s rank. You’re a goddamn civilian.

* It’s tacky as hell to do it off the webz. But today, we’re talking the dickwittery of those who, for example, ask for “advice” on the web, especially when it’s clearly an attempt to gather the voices and confirm they are Right and Correct and that their feelings of harumph are Valid and Good.

A note about entitlement

December 13, 2014

I typically take most things posted over at Spouse Buzz with a grain of salt, mostly because the site entrenches on traditional roles for men and women and shames the fuck out of anyone who has moved beyond that bullshit into the 21st century. However, I believe in giving credit where credit is due and Jacey rightly called out some rather spoiled little brats on their entitled claptrap. But like most spoiled little kids, the brats who responded en masse could not see that their self-righteous, pompous stomping around offended behavior simply proved her point (and good for her for not responding to it).

Now the brats (no I’m not capitalizing this; it’s a deliberate choice) seem to feel that CHAMPS was “trying to take their identity” and “they really have nothing.” This is where I think the brats portray themselves as entitled. You see, I totally get that it’s rough moving around a lot as a kid. I did it too. It’s hard having a parent deployed. I get that too; I’ve worked with milkids in the educational system so I know about this firsthand. BUT, these challenges do not equate to having nothing. When I was moving around as a kid, passed about like a bag of turnips from location to location, I had no group identity, no shared purpose. There is no acronym for being a poor kid with a crazy parent in America. I didn’t know from month to month if I would have a roof over my head, warm clothes, food on the table, or even be in the same school. Brats, by in large, never had the added worry of not having their basic needs met. My other parent left us behind and so my sister and I really only had each other and since I was the primary caregiver for her and my mother, it really was just me. When I think of having nothing, I think of those times in my life when I literally had nothing. This is something brats really just don’t understand and it speaks to their entitlement that they can’t even see that what they are complaining about is absolutely miniscule.

Now what about this name thing? Look, you can call your group anything you want. It’s a free country, but it’s pretty ignorant to bite the hand offering assistance to military families because you don’t like the name. You don’t like it- don’t use their damn services and let someone less easily offended benefit. Whether you like it or not, the Finks had a point, naming in America is important. Yes, the military community see brats as some term of endearment, but they make up 1% of the population. Ninety-nine percent of the English speaking world sees brat by the Webster’s definition, so when you use the term they hear whiny spoiled child. Not only that, but if your term was that well-known, how do you explain that most of the Navy folks I surveyed at my husband’s command had no idea brat was supposedly an acronym. These are the people who make up acronyms for everything. By calling brats CHAMPS, the Finks were trying to appeal to the civilian community who see brat as a word with negative connotation. They were doing what corporate America does, create brand appeal. Brand appeal = money. Money = ability to help more people. Nobody said you couldn’t call yourselves whatever the fuck you want to, they just tried to appeal to the non-military community who are the people with the money. That a title matters more to you than trying to provide assistance to people who need it speaks volumes about your entitled attitude.

As someone who is a military spouse but primarily lives, works, and interacts with the civilian community, I can tell you for a fact that this whole debacle, the hate mail, the angry facebook posts, the internet rants, all of it, plays out in the civilian community’s mind as one more example of how entitled the military community is. To them, it sounds like what it is, a group of people at once complaining that we need help and then biting any hand that comes along and offers assistance. Given the benefits cuts we’re facing within the community, the civilian fatigue with the military and these damned wars, the frustration with the military being treated like a separate class, and the sheer numbers of wounded veterans out there who actually need assistance that aren’t getting it, I have to say you’ve done so much more harm than you realize. You’ve given the community a black eye at a time we don’t need one. You’ve embarrassed all of us by acting like spoiled little brats and all of you should be ashamed.

We can’t afford to abuse the civilian public’s good will right now. With mandatory force reductions, many veterans will be coming onto the job market at the same time. Many families will require all sorts of transitional assistance. As our benefits dry up, many military families will struggle to make ends meet. If we exhaust the public’s good will by complaining instead of saying thank you for the little support we get, we’ll find that the world will become far less friendly to military families. And when that happens it will be due to people like you who were more interested in schooling the world about what you want to be called than in being thankful someone gave a damn and tried to help some of us who could use an hour break to do, IDK some holiday shopping for our milkids, or get a cup of coffee in peace.

So BRAVO brats, you’ve effectively convinced me that you’ve earned the title of being entitled little shits, I mean brats. Bravo for giving all of us a black eye in the process. Bravo for not even understanding how damned good you have it.

CHAMPS, BRATS, and Entitlement Ahoy!

December 11, 2014

I’ve tried very hard lately to curtail my insults because inner peace, motherlovers. But I just today heard about the CHAMPS vs BRATS (whatever, but more about that bollocks later) brouhaha that has now made its way to SpouseBuzz, which is how a friend heard about it, which is how I found out. And now I have all the insults because what has happened is completely unconscionable and deserves an epic effing smackdown.

BLUF: Jacey Eckhart is right. Those words will probably never again pass my fingers, but there you go.

Jacey is right because, regardless of what the CHAMPS people did or did not do, regardless of their military affiliation or non-affiliation, regardless of whether they chortled madly while USO touring (they *gasp* called it a vacay! how dare they enjoy themselves while helping to entertain the military! f*cking heathen civilian beasts!) the BRATS are a horde of bullies and entitled little shits who have just done more damage to the military-civilian divide than they can ever imagine (mostly because their worlds obviously revolve only around them, so seeing beyond their tiny little ego-bound lives is a pretty massive undertaking). If this gets any traction outside of the military world…wow.

And it could. Why? Because one of you egotistical f*cksticks published private details about the CEO online. And worse? She’s a mil-fiancee. Worse than that? Her fiance is deployed.

*golf clap* Good job, assbiscuits. You’ve really outdone yourselves. Online harassment. Bullying. And now now you’ve added “threats” to your list by publishing addresses and personal details–that’s unspoken permission and encouragement to those who are just a little bit that side of crazy or criminal, which makes your participation a threatening act.

Oh, and remember that other little drum you guys like to beat? ZOMG ISIS IS COMING FOR US EACH INDIVIDUALLY BATTEN THE HATCHES AND PREPARE FOR BEHEADING BECAUSE OBAMA. Yeah, good job advertising that military family to the terrorists. But, wait. I guess that doesn’t matter to you guys, right? Because f*ck her and f*ck that and f*ck everything let’s set all this shit on fire just to make our point. Right?

Reading the comments here and here, I have the overwhelming sense that the people leading this charge are suffering from a martyr complex, are so enamored of their own tiny lives that they like the mil-civilian divide because it keeps them special and other and over here, away from the civilian masses.

You know what this sounds like? That other little bastion of entitled little pricks who want to feel special and hate the idea that there are multiple viewpoints within and without their culture and are f*cking pissed that anyone would dare tread on their special space and are willing to harass and abuse and adopt a false front and then tantrum online to get their way: GamerGate.

Look at those comments. They can be boiled down to: It’s all about ethics in gaming journalism non-profit work and for-profit books of which a f*cking handful have sold.

Same thing, BRATS*.

Every one of you involved in this, and most especially those involved directly in the harassment and threats, should be ashamed of yourselves. You are NOT honorable. You are NOT responsible. You are NOT adaptable. You are NOT tolerant. What you are is a bunch of self-obsessed hypocrites, bullies, twatrockets, and buffoons, and you’ve just blackened the eye of the military community**.

Nice job showing the world how you revel in being a brat and eschew being a champ.

And one more *golf clap* just because your sins are so f*cking epic.

F*ck off. Then f*ck off some more. And then f*ck off so hard you tear the space-time continuum and f*ck off in an infinite Star Trek-like loop. And then, once  you escape the time loop, f*ck off again.

* That is such an infantile thing y’all have done there. I’m a military brat. I will never be a f*cking military BRAT. You might as well be balls-deep in a warm wad of virgin cotton candy with this shit. Daring to choose to do what is right is boldness? How about f*cking surviving the mil-sprog life when you’re surrounded by egotistical cockbeasts? That’s bold right there. Responsibility…but of the Christian variety? Roger that, assburgers. Tolerant? Nice word – you’ll put up with anyone, but not necessarily respect their decision or right to live their lives. *high five* And OMG that S addition- spunk. The way you dickbiscuits have acted, I’m inclined to think the spunk you mean is the jizz kind. Good job. Epic job, actually.

** Plus, you made me agree with Jacey Eckhart, which might just splinter this reality, so f*ck you for that, too.

Calling Out American Offense, Jim Wright-Style

September 25, 2014

Not long after I posted a screed about Lattegate being a news item, a friend shared a Facebook post by Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station, and it was such a thing of beauty, LAW and I both asked if we could share his words with our peeps. He gave us permission to repost. We were all over that like a beard on a hipster because what he says is full of Hell to the Yes and A to the Men. Warning: thar be some language ahead but certainly no worse than you’ve read at my blog.

America has become the land of the perpetually offended. We are the forever outraged, we Americans.

It’s a bullshit first world problem that afflicts those who face no real difficulty in their day to day lives.

No difficulty? What’s that you say? Yeah, listen, when you have to lug the day’s water four miles from the nearest river on top of your head, get back to me.

This outrage, it’s a disease common to those who have enough to eat and a warm place to sleep and endless access to cheap goods and more TV channels than they could view even if they did nothing else. Yesterday, I stood in line behind an angry disaffected hipster at the coffee shop who spent ten minutes ordering a pumpkin spice chai tea latte with various ingredients, a drink that totalled – and I shit you not – $14.98. He held the line up for twenty minutes with his bullshit. Fifteen dollars for a cup of tea. Fifteen dollars for a cup of tea, folks. Twenty minutes of screwing around, and the pretentious little prick STILL wasn’t happy. And we all had to listen to him complain to the barista about his goddamned tea. I wanted to snatch him up by his nasty little goatee and smash his fucking head on the counter.

That’s what America has become, right there, a bunch of privileged snots mad because our chai tea latte isn’t hot enough.

We’re outraged all of the time because we’ve got nothing better to do than be outraged all the damned time.

Listen to me, when the worst thing that happened to you today is that the president waved at a Marine with a cup of coffee in his hand, when THAT’s what you’ve got to be offended by, then you really don’t have any actual problems. You’re just being an asshole.

It’s a symptom of the larger disease.

When the only thing you’ve got to be upset about is that two gay people want to get married, if that’s what offends you, you’re just being an asshole.

When the only thing you’ve got to be pissed off about is that other people worship a different god from yours, or go to a different church, or don’t believe in gods at all, then you’re just being an asshole.

When you’re outraged at the idea that some woman somewhere is getting an abortion, but meanwhile the thought of millions of children starving to death, or dying of preventable and treatable diseases, of suffering from poverty and neglect, or dying under the fall of our bombs doesn’t bother you, you’re just being an asshole.

When the only thing you’ve got to be outraged by is that you feel you’re being persecuted for your religious beliefs, or your race, or your gender, or your sexual orientation even though you’re a member of the overwhelming majority and you provably benefit from that fact every single day, then you’re just being an asshole.

When the worst thing in your day is that we’re not at war enough, that we aren’t bombing or invading or killing enough, if that’s your beef, then you are an asshole.

Other countries? Other places in the world? Their leaders are chopping off heads. Literally chopping off heads. Chopping off hands. Murdering. Raping. They’re gunning people down in the streets. They’re invading their neighbors. People are starving to death and they’ve got no choice but to drink out of the same river they shit in.

America? We’re outraged that the president waved at a Marine with a cup of coffee in his hand.

THAT’s what WE’ve got to be upset about.

_________________

Addendum:

Folks, let me clue you in on something: BY CONSTITUTIONAL DEFINITION, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS A CIVILIAN.

He shouldn’t be saluting at all.

Reagan started this idiotic bullshit, no president before him raised a salute, not even Eisenhower.

The president is a civilian. There is no law, statute, regulation, or US Code that requires him to salute. Period. Nor should he. And in point of fact, the people who set up this country SPECIFICALLY didn’t want the president to be a member of the military – which is why we put civilians in charge of it.

The president shouldn’t be saluting in the first place. Period. A nod, a verbal acknowledgement to the military folks guarding him is sufficient.

Listen to me carefully: We don’t want the president, this one or any other, acting like they are a general. This is the United States of America, and it’s long past time for you to remember that.

______________________

Addendum 2:

Folks, something I’d point out to you, the President is left handed, as am I.

The president was descending the steep boarding ladder of Marine 1, very likely he was holding on to the rail with his dominant hand, as would I, i.e. the left one. Out of habit, likely he was holding his coffee in his right, as would I. Both without thinking about it – because, and I’m guessing here, the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES just might have other things on his mind than which hand to hold his coffee cup in.

This exact thing happened to me, as a military officer, more than once. Holding my coffee cup, moving through the ship, step out on the deck, and get saluted and have to switch hands or nod or just plain fuck it up and salute with my cup. Because, you know, we’re all human. Some of us are left handed humans operating in a right handed world.

Again, if this is what you have to be outraged by, you’re an asshole and I don’t care which hand you’re using.

9/11/14

September 11, 2014

Today – there will be pictures of flags, and the twin towers with smoke or with the Statue of Liberty, and “never forget” clips.  Today – we will all take a minute and remember how we heard, what we saw.  Today – the military community will remember the upheaval in our lives, the changes we never foresaw on Sept. 10th.  Today- maybe the country will change their focus and think about the veterans.  That’s what today SHOULD be.

9/11 Pentagon Memorial.  By Staff Sgt. Laura Buchta

9/11 Pentagon Memorial. By Staff Sgt. Laura Buchta

What will really happen today?  The news commentators will put on their deep solemn voices and look into the camera with a stern look and waffle on about a local event being done for remembrance.  Two minutes later they will perk up and tell us about the traffic, or the weather, or a cute puppy story.  For a second, you’ll be mad – how DARE they make so little of it. Life does go on.  For us, in this little bubble of a military community, we have a multitude of reminders.  The embroidered prayer rug commemorating a deployment; the missed “big days” of every family; the wounds – visible or not- that are a constant presence in our homes; the friends we made and lost in the last 13 years of high deployment tempo, moves, online connections.

Should we continue to “remember” with solemn ceremonies?  Will the two minutes that someone takes to change their cover photo to a mourning eagle or a firefighter’s helmet draped in black truly mean they understand?  I don’t have an answer to that.

Today – in our house?  We’re packing to move, and the boxes that impede our walking in the house are filling and being taped shut.  The anticipation of the move and the myriad of “must do” tasks to get us ready for the Two Marines Movers tomorrow are dominant in my mind.  But as I pack that embroidered prayer rug and move another trunk of old uniforms out of my way – I don’t need Charlie Rose to remind me to remember.  Our lives changed utterly and completely that day, even if we didn’t know it or realize how much.  Are we still being impacted?  Yes,  sometimes I don’t recognize that prior me or him.  Where would we be if it hadn’t happened, if we hadn’t declared/not declared war?  Who knows.

Today – yes, I’ll remember.  And then I will pick up another pair of shoes and put them in a box and try to figure out where I left the tape gun now.  Because we have to move forward and get things done.  We can’t sit and watch commemoration TV shows all day – and even if we could, I don’t think we would.  Mourning friends, mourning the sons and fathers, daughters and mothers lost is the right thing to do.  Getting on with life as we have to NOW live it, is right for us too. We remember what today is, what it meant and what it means.

Ending the Pursuit of Happiness

July 28, 2014

Last week, someone who has known me for many years, although we have never been close, said she believes I am “a negative person who is incapable of being happy.”

I thought a lot about her statement without responding because I found it very interesting that she would have such a cemented opinion of me when we have interacted only a handful of times in the past decade. But more broadly I found myself spending a lot of time thinking about what happiness is and what it really means to be happy.

I can’t say I am a “happy person,” because to me happiness invokes that moment of pure joy, glee, or elation. These are states of being that I attain, but only for brief periods. I published something and it was well received. I won an award. We bought a new car. To me, happiness equates to the emotional peaks in my existence. These peaks are unsustainable. Even as I reach new heights, I find the mist clears and I see another pinnacle off in the distance and find myself wondering if maybe that is the peak I really want/need to achieve fulfillment. For a long time, I found myself chasing from peak to peak, in search of the next high, the next “achievement unlocked,” the next win. I bought into the philosophy that I am only as good as my next win. The pursuit of happiness, it turned out, exhausted me. Eventually, I crashed and burned, pretty spectacularly I might add.

When you are laying at rock bottom, staring up at the glittering heights from which you fell, you get the opportunity to gain perspective about what counts. I realized the pursuit of happiness wasn’t all I wanted to define myself by and through. As I dusted myself off and started thinking about moving forward with my life again, I realized happiness didn’t hold the allure it once did because I found a more even place, between the peaks and valleys of momentary success and failure. I found contentment.

As I look around my life, I realize how awesome things really are going for us right now. Yes, big transitions and changes face my family on all fronts and it is terrifying at times to see all the pieces of the puzzle just laying about and not know if they will come together for us the way we hope they will. On the other hand, our marriage has survived 6 brutal years of separation and despite my worst fears, we have come through everything stronger than I ever could have thought possible. When I look toward the future I see that we will be able to navigate it together. This gives me so much peace.

We are blessed to be financially stable, whether or not I continue to choose to be an academic.While we may not be able to buy everything we want or do everything we want, our needs are all addressed and we have some excess that we devote to helping others. I haven’t achieved, professionally, everything I would want, but both my successes and failures have given me a better sense of how I want to use my knowledge, skills, and abilities to make the world a better place. Most importantly, I find myself free, for the first time, of the expectation that I must climb all the mountains and ford all the streams to be a valuable person.

So no, I am not a “happy person”- not any more. I am no longer running the pursuit of happiness race, like a dog at the racetrack chasing a bunny I’ll never catch.

I am content. I am grateful for all the wonderful things I have been blessed with. I am satisfied that I have true success. I see value in myself and in my life beyond just the next big win.

The path to contentment is painful, or at least it was for me, because I had to confront the standards by which I measured my self-worth. For me, it was all about (1) the title, (2) the job and it’s attendant financial freedom, (3) power to change the world around me, albeit in a limited way. In order to get where I am, I had to come to a place where I accepted I may never get my PhD because the barriers that stand in my path are largely outside my control. I had to accept I may never get the tenure track job that comes with the PhD and therefore I may never have the financial and intellectual freedom to pursue my research interests and warp young minds at the same time. I had to accept that I may have no job at all or I may end up following my husband’s career around regardless of whether or not he’s in the military. Ironically, after the title issue fell away, the other pieces followed like dominoes and they opened a new place for me where I could consider other ways I could apply my talents. These places and ways will not garner the traditional laurels I have coveted, but they will achieve many of the same objectives. They were ideas I wasn’t open to exploring because of my own preconceived notions of myself.

Contentment has been the hardest skill for me to master as a military spouse, because being a military spouse immediately threatened my closely held beliefs about who and what I was. At the same time, I think I have found contentment precisely because of the military. It ripped the rug right out from under me and forced me to consider again who I am and what my purpose in life is. I firmly believe contentment, just like happiness, is different for different people and I am in no way arguing that milspouses need to give up their dreams and just find some no man’s land where they are neither hot nor cold. Rather, I hope we can all achieve the ability to walk in peace amidst the maddening din.

Inclusion and Exclusion in Social Events

June 30, 2014

I have read a lot about military spouse social culture, though I have rarely been party to it. At the end of the day, almost all military family events occur between the hours of 0900-1700 and I work. As commenters on spouse buzz pointed out, this is my fault. They shouldn’t have to accommodate spouses who work. I’ve pointed out the unfairness in this ideology which seeks to exclude spouses who are working professionals, but at the end of the day, I am tired and I have given up trying to change or even raise concerns about inequities in military life. It’s just too depressing.
I recently joined another group, unrelated to the military in any way. They decided to organize a meet-up, which I cannot attend as it is in LA. But what I found interesting in viewing updates to our facebook group was the importance the group placed on inclusion. They actively pointed out that they wanted to pick an early evening time frame to deliberately include spouses who work. I had forgotten, until that very moment, how much group identity is fostered or destroyed by inclusion or exclusion of those who are members. Even though I can’t attend the event in LA, I found I felt more a part of the group because they include people who work. It made me wish that military spouses made as great of an effort to be inclusive.

Military spouse culture has always operated on exclusion. LGBT family members didn’t count because of DADT. Officer’s spouses operate(d) in different social circles than enlisted service member spouses; Command officer spouses, of course, are an entirely separate subset. Working spouses are considered differently (and often believed to be less supportive) than spouses who stay at home. Male spouses have been separated from female spouses, by lack of inclusive language if nothing else. The dangerous, recent, incantation of these group identity dynamics are spouses who believe not all persons married to a service member count as military spouses. These spouses also seek to divide service members based on where they served. The military community is dividing itself into fragments, rather than supporting spouses and seeking to create a broad umbrella to support the families of those who serve.

The answer isn’t more support programs, but rather choosing as individuals in our community to practice and advocate for inclusion where we are. It means speaking up and asking that people set spouse events during hours working spouses can attend. It means officer’s spouses hanging with enlisted spouses, LGBT spouses being welcomed into the fold, gender inclusive language being used and gender neutral activities proposed. It means realizing that all those service members and spouses, regardless of whether or not they were ordered to the front lines or to the rear detachment, are equal and worthy of inclusion for the very reason that they signed up and show up to fulfill their duty every day.

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