Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Highlights of Summer

Decided to start riding my bicycle to work when I can. It's given me the opportunity to really take in my surroundings -- you know, the reasons people from other areas relocate to my "back yard"... I'm making myself slow down enough to be a tourist in my own town for a few minutes each day.

I'm trying out Picasa (vs. Flickr). I thought this would be a great way to share some recent and beautiful images with family who are out of town. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Kathryn Carver

Fairly recently, someone told me I resemble Kathryn Carver. I honestly don't recall ever knowing of her before, but seeing this picture (circa 1925), I'll take it as a compliment.

Here's a picture of me that (perhaps) comes close to supporting the resemblance.

Monday, August 06, 2007

One Me... Two Meez

I'm positively a copycat. Though I was playing with avatars months ago through Yahoo -- I refuse to link to them or use the avatar because of major spam issues. Mary got me going on the avatar creation theme again by introducing me to Meez... here she is (ahem, here I am).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Work It

It's been a very tough transition home. There's so much to tell; new resolutions to be made (and hopefully kept); revisions on the blog; old friends to relocate; recent friendships to maintain....

I started aggressively job searching in the Bemidji, MN area around March/April because it was 'time to come home,' and I was at a natural break point. I can't say enough how unnatural it felt, once I was actually rolling out of Columbus, Ohio, possessions -- and sister-in-law -- crammed into my little Hyundai Accent. I left friends and a fun bartending job for uncertainty and remoteness and comfort. I'm still trying to figure out if I could have logically justified the move at the time.

I kept up a race with the calendar, determined that by National Guard drill time (at the end of the first week in June), I was coming home, with or without a job. Life picked up pace. I phone interviewed before the move and in-person interviewed afterward for a help desk, tech support position with North Country Business Products -- and I got the job! It's a full-time position with full benfits and decent hourly pay. Meanwhile, I was worried about a back-up plan, so I picked up a bartending job at an area rural bar (Solway). I started getting excited about my two (!!!) new jobs, when...

I was thrilled that, after two months of discouraging unanswered effort, I got a call from a third location -- for a well-situated position as well -- but declined on account of having accepted and began my daytime job already. What an ego boost!

I caught up with long-lost church friends last Sunday, and still managed to find time to do my part of the lawn -- between gale-force winds and rain bouts -- working with mom and dad on our property. I maintain this odd feeling of now being homesick for Columbus, but I know it will soon be displaced by simply missing the handful of friends in whom I'll stay invested.

Resignation of my officer's commission in the Minnesota National guard will be effective on the 4th of September, and I couldn't be happier to be tactfully and deliberately closing that chapter in my life.

I am excited to see what the coming days will bring. It feels so good to be home!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

One Year Home

I am reposting this from my other "war blog" Keeping the Gate, effectively a 2006 review and closing of my deployment blog (primarily written during 2005):

New Year's Eve brought both revelation and resolution for me this year. There I stood, in the middle of ordering a coffee, when a newspaper headline blasted me with emotion.

Several minutes later, having cried all of the makeup off my face, I realized what was happening: December 31st, 2006 was a one-year anniversary. It was New Year's Eve 2005 when I departed active duty to join my family, return to Bemidji, and herald the beginning of 2006 among friends and familiar faces. The one-year mark should have brought warm feelings and the joy of being home (so I thought), but it wasn't that easy for me.

I ached with gut-wrenching pain over post-mortem photographs of a dictator executed for crimes he committed two decades before the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I ached with the pain of knowing that one of the Iraqi men I grew to regard as 'brother' is still stuck -- with his family -- in the throes of central Baghdad's sectarian violence and collateral damage. I ached, suspended, powerless -- observing an anniversary, bombarded by the feeling that I had done nothing to positively impact the world during my twelve-month deployment. I know better, but it was my moment, it was me closing 2006.

This is my last post on "Keeping the Gate." I thank anyone who has stopped by a time or two and all of those who stayed faithful to know me, see me, while I was gone. I take these moments to document some of the characteristics of my first year home and honor the difficulty of the passage, concluding by laying it to rest as officially 'in the past.'

I had an Army physical yesterday, conducted by a now-civilian Air Force veteran, female retired officer. This woman is clearly tough as nails but has somehow retained her compassion. I was moved at my core to have brief heart-to-heart exchanges with her about common traits between our respective military experiences. She asked me during the exam how I was adjusting, some questions about the nightmares and insomnia I reported, and brief compliments about how well-balanced I appeared to be. It was our brief exchanges that helped me realize how far I've come since returning home one year ago.

Some high(low)lights:

  • I began with drastic insomnia and violent nightmares, 4 to 6 nights per week
  • lived in my own apartment, directly across the hall from Mom in Indiana
  • tried to maintain and grow a romantic relationship begun while deployed
  • had the biggest walk-out, gloves off, fight with my family ever (can't even remember specifics now)
  • by April I started to 'dig deep' and drive toward positive living
  • I ended the relationship but not cleanly; we spent most of '06 negotiating
  • finally got to see Fiona Apple (and Damien Rice: bonus!) in concert; I went solo
  • went home (to Bemidji) for the summer
  • quit smoking and started again at least four times
  • started work at a department store in Bemidji for about two months
  • found solace in bonfires, mowing the lawn, and the company of old friends
  • Fourth of July was phenomenal: fireworks over the lake, family, motorcycles
  • started reading in my free time (fight club, world is flat, 1984, davinci code)
  • learned how to knit (mom says 'finally!')
  • moved to Columbus, Ohio with Abe and Jenn, planning on starting school
  • school plans fell through due to residency requirements too entangled with National Guard
  • spent September through November attempting to support mom in new teaching endeavors and conducting family research on our respective mid-term election ballots
  • tumultuous relationship negotiations finally ended and I got a job all in the same week
  • I voted, vocalizing my concerns from a distinctly Iraq-War-Veteran viewpoint
  • saw both Grandmas over Thanksgiving, overnight at Michigan Grandma's
  • home for over two weeks in December for fun Christmas memories
  • sugar cookies, wassailing ;), decorating, shopping, theater, and watching every movie version ever made of A Christmas Carol!
  • worked New Year's Eve at my bartending job; hugged Abe and Jenn at midnight

Tears surface in my eyes, recounting the memories from this year! I am broke. It doesn't take a lot of arithmetic to see that I spent much more income than I generated during 2006, but I would do it all again given the circumstances. I spent 2006 getting closer to the family I had left home during my deployment; together we worked overtime to build new, beautiful, non-war memories. I enter 2007 optimistic, centered, and healthy. I have my own apartment in Columbus and no day job -- hopefully that will improve! I build more trust and friendship with Abraham and Jennifer (my bro/sis-in-law and apartment complex neighbors) every day; we lean on one another, and the fellowship we share is so rewarding.

I am grateful that I came home; I am grateful for all the support I had while deployed. It is time to lay this blog to rest. I leave it open, a record of events. Those of you interested in following my other blogging adventures may find me at Republic of Conscience or Lunacy Revisited. I remain sincerely yours,


Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Walk in the Park...

There's something beautiful and comforting about holiday light displays. Especially when it involves a weaving footpath and speakers whispering holiday tunes, hot "carnival" food smells wafting through the cold air, cold noses, and over-eager children scurrying to and fro. Merry Christmas (ho ho ho)!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

grasping at straws

It seems there is simultaneously nothing and too much to say these days. Here's my short list of topics I wish I was updating weekly:
  • General Election in Minnesota, specifically my races
  • professional discovery/employment research in Engineering (Electrical/Computer)
  • Fun mathematics finds
  • Job search process in Columbus Ohio (how is it going for me?)
  • Participatory conversation about Operation Iraqi Freedom and my dissent
  • Reaction to/engagement of other news-worthy inter/national headlines
Wow, I could post one a day and leave room for a day off. I should try that (translation: I will never blog consistently enough to do that).

p.s. The only redeeming aspect of Columbus, Ohio is something I brought with me: my siblings. Thank goodness for family, love, and an occasional good meal.