communication, healthcare, holidays

Today is the first day of the rest of the year…

Happy New Year, y’all. I will do a write up of our personal festivities on my travel blog; because let’s face it, that blog needs some love. For this blog, I’ll just say we had a basically nice time… except for the point where I got into a rather serious discussion with Bill about the logistics of my living in Germany and accessing healthcare. It’s not that I have an immediate need for it… but I’m not getting any younger. Because we’re here at the pleasure of the U.S. military, I could either go to a German doctor, or I could go to Landstuhl (U.S. military facility). And because I never go to the doctor, I literally don’t know what I would do here if the need suddenly arose for me to seek medical care. On the other hand, I do know how to call 112, and that’s probably what it would take before I would willingly go see a doctor.

I think this subject came up because we were talking about what our plans will be after it’s time for Bill to quit working so hard. We were talking about younger daughter, and how her husband has launched a good career. They hope to move sometime soon, because the apartment they live in is too small for their family. Bill mentioned that it wouldn’t be long before they might buy a home of their own. And I kind of wistfully said, “They’ll probably be homeowners before we will.”

I always thought by now, I’d own my own house somewhere, and I’d be settled, perhaps with a family of my own. Instead, I’ve been in this weird kind of limbo, where half my stuff is in the United States, and a lot of my friends and most of my family are there… but here I am in Germany, where I’ve been for close to half my marriage. It does feel kind of like home, and yet I don’t really speak the language… and I don’t have a lot of friends. None of my family, except for Bill, lives here. It’s not a bad thing… It’s just not what I expected for my life. Nothing has really turned out the way I figured it would. Well, except for the fact that I went to graduate school.

I do remember in high school, being asked on some kind of government research thing– maybe it was a standardized test– about the level of formal education I expected to attain. Even back then, I assumed I’d get a master’s degree. However, I thought it would be in equine studies, or something similar. I don’t even know if such a program exists. But I do remember, back then, feeling daunted by the prospect of getting a master’s degree. I thought it might be too hard for me. I sure didn’t expect that I would get two of them at the same time, or that they would be in either social work or public health. When I was a teenager, I probably had a better idea of what I was good at, academically speaking. But when the time came to go back to school, I was simply trying to become employable, so I could launch my typical “American dream” lifestyle. And look what happened! I bumped into Bill online, and became a nomad, which made launching that career very difficult.

So anyway, we were talking about home ownership when Bill retires, and Bill said that he would like to buy a house in Europe somewhere… maybe Italy, Spain, Portugal, or even France. Germany is also, of course, a possibility, although I think it might be more expensive here. We do know Americans who have retired here, though. And Bill said that he wanted us to own a home so I wouldn’t have to deal with renting anymore. He says he thinks he will predecease me. I said I wasn’t so sure. Bill goes to the doctor, and I never do. I was very traumatized by an Air Force gynecologist years ago, so even though I “know” better, it really takes a lot to get me to see doctors. I despise military healthcare.

I understand logically why it would be a good idea to go see a doctor and get checked for certain things, like high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes. Hell, I even studied public health, where I learned about the value of screenings and preventive healthcare. But psychologically, I just have a very difficult time with it. And it’s even worse in a country where I don’t speak the language fluently, and people tend to be blunt about certain things. I can’t imagine my taking it without getting really upset. I know that putting it off only makes it more likely that I won’t have a choice in providers when I finally see one, because it will be in emergency circumstances. On the other hand, I’m not sure how I would choose a doctor here, anyway. And I’m not even sure if it’s worth the time and energy to go to one.

I know Bill would be devastated if I died before he does… but he has people who will be there for him. He has two daughters, and one speaks to him. She has children who call him “Papa”. I don’t have any descendents. I just have a bunch of cousins and three older sisters, who always felt more like aunts. So, I guess I just don’t see why I’d need to hang around. I certainly wouldn’t want to live as long as my Granny did. She was almost 101 when she died. When I consider how stiff and painful I get in the mornings, I truly dread being that old… particularly with no one around who cares about me. I guess it’s just the pragmatic/depressive side of me coming out again. 😉 I have to die anyway, right? So why prolong the inevitable?

I asked Bill if it bothers him that I don’t see doctors. He said it does, although he never says anything about it. He is respecting my “agency”, I guess. So I asked him what he would do if I told him I’d found a lump in my breast (not that I have). He said he’d want me to have it checked, and would probably insist. The idea of that makes me cringe, though. Because it’s been so long since I last accessed the healthcare system that there are many screenings I’ve missed. I know a lot of them would be suggested and encouraged. Or maybe not. Either way, I’d probably end up stressed out and upset. In fact, thinking about this topic is very unnerving to me, so I think I’ll move on.

So… that’s how we wound up on that topic. Bill would like to settle abroad, because the lifestyle suits us. I wouldn’t mind living abroad, either. I truly think it’s better over here, in many ways. It would come at a cost, I guess… weakening family ties and friendly relations, such as they are. But I can’t see myself wanting to live in an American subdivision somewhere, with homeowners’ associations dictating what color I can paint my shutters or whether or not I can have a garden. 😉 But the truth is, there’s no telling where life will lead us. We have no reason to stay or go anywhere in particular. I don’t see us willingly moving to Utah, which is where younger daughter lives. I know it’s pretty there, but I like my communities less religiously oriented.

Fortunately, the subject soon changed, because we happened to be having it while we were enjoying the last of the evening’s libations. It was almost time for the proverbial ball to drop. And once it did, we went outside to watch the fireworks. There were a lot more of them this year, of course. Our neighbors were in the street, setting them off. They set one off very close to our car, which concerned me a little bit. I’m glad to report that no Volvos were injured during the fireworks display last night.

Well… I’m sure there are other things I could write about, and maybe I will later. But for now, I think I’ll go to the travel blog and write something a little less sobering.

I hope your first day of 2023 is shaping up well. Remember, today is the first day of the rest of the year!

The featured photo was taken last night. For some reason, I always seem to think I can capture fireworks on camera. It very rarely happens.


Sisters retire from the National Guard together after 33 years of service… crappy comments commence.

My husband, Bill, served as a commissioned officer for 30 years in the U.S. Army. He was in ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) in college and got his commission in 1984. In 1986, he finished college and went on active duty. In 1995, he left active duty. He had several reasons for making that decision. Bill Clinton was president at the time and he was drawing down the military. Competition for rank and good jobs was cut throat. Bill was married to his first wife, who wanted him to leave the Army because she didn’t like the lifestyle. Also, there was a financial incentive for leaving.

After he left active duty, Bill joined the Arkansas National Guard. It meant he was a part time soldier. He had a regular job, but would drill every month and for a couple of weeks each year. In 1999, with his first marriage breaking up, Bill decided to go back into the Army. He joined the National Guard’s Title X program, which put him on duty full time, as if he was once again a regular member of the Army. He was paid the same as any other person at his rank in the Army, had the same privileges and duties, and had to meet the same physical standards. He simply got his money from a different pot and had a different group of people evaluating him for promotion.

You may be wondering why I’m writing this lengthy lead in for a post about two sisters who retired from the National Guard. It’s because I’ve noticed that a lot of people seem to think folks in the National Guard aren’t worthy of the same respect as other people who serve in the military.

This morning, I read an article about two sisters, Lisa and Lynn Currier, who retired from the the National Guard after 33 years of service. Both women enlisted in the Army in February 1986. Lisa Currier is leaving active duty as a Master Sergeant. Her sister, Lynn, is a Lieutenant Colonel. Both have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Both have served the United States bravely and faithfully. We should all be proud of their commitment to the Army, regardless of in what capacity they served.

Unfortunately, many people who read the Army Times and are also on Facebook disdain people in the National Guard, particularly if they’re women. There were a lot of unfortunate Facebook comments about these sisters on the post where I found this article. Most were written by men who didn’t think the women don’t met the weight standards. A couple of people commented on the sisters’ appearances. Many more comments were about how serving in the National Guard as a “weekend warrior” isn’t as “impressive” as serving in the regular Army.

As the wife of a man who was in the National Guard, I’ve had occasion to meet a lot of his colleagues. What a lot of people fail to realize is that people in the National Guard who aren’t serving full time, as Bill did, work regular jobs. Those regular jobs give them extra skills that regular servicemembers might not have. For instance, when Hurricane Katrina hit in September 2005, one of Bill’s National Guard colleagues, who had worked as a landscaper, had innovative ideas on how to deal with the flooding on the Gulf Coast. Another colleague worked in sports medicine and had helpful skills in recovering from injuries. He even helped me once when I badly sprained my ankle. Moreover, while people in “big Army” are working one job, folks in the National Guard are juggling their civilian lives with part time life in the Army. That can’t be easy.

Lisa and Lynn Currier managed to spend 33 years of their lives working for Uncle Sam. It shouldn’t matter that they were in the National Guard, nor should it really matter what they look like in their uniforms, so long as they met Army standards. Obviously, they did. The one most egregious offender in the comments section brought politics into the discussion. Anyone who didn’t agree with him that these women weren’t fit was branded a “liberal” (horrors!). Frankly, I would be much more offended by being called a Trump supporter.

I think spending 33 years in the Army is very commendable. I never could have worn a uniform myself. A lot of Americans are completely unsuitable for military service. They can’t meet the physical, medical, or legal requirements, or they simply don’t have the aptitude. I think anyone who joins and serves honorably deserves basic respect. It’s not easy to meet the standards for military service for as long as the Currier sisters have. I’m sure it will be difficult for them to leave that part of their lives behind.

As much basic respect as I have for anyone who serves in the military, I have also seen some pretty shameful attitudes from former and current servicemembers, particularly when it comes to women who serve or people in the National Guard. Making fun of two sisters who managed to accomplish what these two women have is pretty sad, in my view. They’ve seen a lot of history and could probably teach some of the misogynists who are disparaging them a thing or two. Godspeed to both of them.