Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting the message out

A- A's! So far I've got confirmed A's in three of my four classes. I'm still waiting (and waiting and waiting) for a final paper to be graded in my fourth class, but I've been holding steady at an A- the entire term. The two weeks prior to Thanksgiving were crazy with midterms, quizzes and papers. Then after the four day break we hit the final crunch with quizzes, papers and finals. But this round I got to do while sick. I'm glad to be done and having a break. Now I can do all those things that piled up because I didn't have time to do them during the term.

C- CIRP- I compiled a list of questions for the critical incident committee and passed that on to them. They are working on gathering answers and then we'll begin the formatting. I'm hoping to meet up with some committee members while I am in Houston. Also, I was talking to my professor who runs the disaster relief specialist program and got recruited to do a presentation on CIRP and airline response to air disasters next term. Not so much looking forward to the extra work that will require, but I'm flattered nonetheless.

A- Awesome! For those of you who think your pilot already has everything aviation related they could possibly want, may I present to you the ultimate stocking stuffer- Airplane paperclips! I totally want some! (Along with the Happytape I've been craving)

R-Roadtrip! The past few years, since we've been in Florida, we've been celebrating Christmas all alone. Although we've been fortunate to have A with us every year, it just isn't the same without family. So I made an executive decision that since I have a nice long winter break, we are road-tripping out to spend some time with some relatives. It will also be a little "Someday's Heritage Trip" as we'll be passing through the tiny (i.e. barely on Google maps) towns in Arkansas where my grandparents were born and lived. Our 2,600 mile route will be: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas (stops in Wynne, Vandale, Cherry Valley), Oklahoma (stops in Oklahoma City, Tulsa), Texas (stops in Dallas, Houston), Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida. As kids, A and I did major road trips with our parents frequently, without the benefits of video games or DVD's and Kidzilla will be following the same standards.

S-Socializing! We will be making several stops to see friends and acquaintances along the way. Along with the relatives, I've got a sorority sister, a pilot friend of A's that I originally met on Jetcareers, two blogger Jetgirl friends, and some other pilot friends of A's if they are in town. I'm looking forward to meeting up with people I haven't seen in ages or have never met in person.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Romantic recaps

Today is our anniversary.

Five years ago, I snuck up behind A while he was waiting for me at the BART (public transit train) station for our first date. We headed off to a feisty session of ice skating that included us egging each other on in daring stunts, my trying to give him every opportunity to hold my hand (which he didn't use), him trying to find us someplace to eat b/c he forgot to plan ahead (we had to settle for Subway b/c it was the only thing open, me throwing out big words like equidistant and ostentatious and him countering with circumnavigation. We walked around a bit after skating, made our way home and said an awkward good-bye at the BART station. I left wondering why he never made a move a touch me. He left hoping I thought he was a gentleman.

Four years ago, we relived that first date and again took BART into the city for a trip to the outdoor rink. We reminisced, we egged each other on, we held hands. We finished up with dinner on the outdoor terrace at The Cheesecake Factory on the seventh floor of Macy's in downtown San Francisco. We had a great view of the city Christmas Tree in Union Square, just below us. I was expecting him to propose that day-as a testament to his acceptance of my quirks, he knew I wanted a single anniversary to celebrate and indulged me. He kept excusing himself during dinner so I knew something was up. I was suprised when we concluded dinner with no ring. We headed down to Union Square and it was there, next to the Christmas Tree, that he proposed. It was no big surprise, I had already committed to moving to FL with him and told him there had better be a ring on my finger first, but still, it was romantic and memorable. Everything a girl could want.

Three years ago, after much planning (not really) we got married in Florida. On a Monday, to indulge me in my date obsession again. It's not easy to have a reception on a Monday. Our wedding was wonderful, turned out better than I had even hoped for and was attended by our closest friends. A cousin of mine anonymously paid half of our catering bill; I didn't find out who it was until a year later.

Looking back on the past three years, we have had a lot of ups and downs and been through quite a few changes but we are still holding strong. Five years ago, as a newly single mom, I thought I'd be single for five years before I met someone I would want to marry again. I fought against committal with A because I met him so early on, but he stuck with me and here we are. Today we are both sick with colds so we'll be having a small celebration of take out food and netflix.

Last year's anniversary post

Our first anniversary post

A romantic recap of our wedding post

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book report

I'm currently reading "Pilots Under Stress" by S.J. Sloan and C.L. Cooper. It's a very dry tome about an extensive study of pilot stress they did in the mid-eighties of 440+ British pilots. They are also authors of the pilot wives study I wrote about; which was actually an extension of the original study. Although I would love to see a repeat of this study done today, and in the US, I don't have the statistical abilities to do all of the analyzing of the data at this point.

So far my favorite quote is: "My main stressors occur on the ground; getting the damn thing into the air... once I'm in the air and totally in control of what's going on, I find that there is very little stress." This was said in relation to stresses from the management of the airline. I think that with all of the paperwork and procedures involved in flying these days, this quote probably holds true for a lot of pilots still.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When you least expect it...

I'm officially working with our CIRP committee to develop a resource for spouses to give them information about what to expect in the event of an emergency. I'm excited to actually be *DOING* something finally. Hopefully this will be the start of a long and fruitful relationship where I tell the airline how to do things better. Or at least give my opinion.

I have been swamped by papers recently. One was due Monday, one today, one next Tuesday and the final one next Thursday. After that, I'll be golden. Once I'm done with class projects I can begin researching a divorce rating scale and get busy with my other project. School is so much more interesting when you can research things you are interested in...

Last year I wrote about some great moments in parenting I've had. Last week I had another brush with fame. Kidzilla has to catch the school bus at 6:50am. Yawn. I am usually up late ummm... studying... so I usually roll out of bed, put on slippers and a sweatshirt over my pajamas and drive him over to the stop along with A. It's never been an issue before. Until the bus didn't show up. And I had to interact with the other (appropriately attired) parents as we tried to figure out with the school where the bus was. We ended up having to drive Kidzilla to school. I made A go in to the office and sign Kidzilla in. Because he was wearing flip flops with his pajamas. Now we look like "those" parents to the school admin. Note to self: try to remember to put on something half way respectable when taking the kid to the bus. Or stay home and let A do it.

Also- if you read my blog via a reader, I put up a survey that you won't see. If you have the time, pop over to the blog page and leave your input. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Training pays off

Last Sunday we ran our first 5k. It was a great experience for both Kidzilla and me. Kidzilla was the youngest runner in the race and came in first in his age group. He beat me by about 25 seconds, with a time of 36:50.


Prepping for the race.

Approaching mile 3

At the finish line


Monday, October 26, 2009

Unpacking my overhead compartment

I haven't blogged much lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about blogging and aviation in general. Someone has to post non-technical aviation stuff of interest to wive don't they?

The bill making it's way through Congress to require all airline pilots to have an ATP rating and 1500 hours, for instance. With all of the aviation blogs I follow (about 12 pilots and 28 wives- I use google reader, I don't actually have to check all these every day...), only one mentioned the bill and that was only a one line reference. It's kind of a knee jerk reaction to the very publicized accidents this past year. This bill is going to have a major impact on upcoming new pilots and the pilot mills that crank them out. As well as the costs to the airlines of having to get their guys trained. It has the potential to effect A if he is not able to return to work for another year. What happens if he doesn't meet the hours or training requirement in time because he's been disabled? Does he lose his job because the airlines have to have everyone trained by a certain date? It remains to be seen if the bill will pass.

There were two WTF incidents this week. The well publicized missing the airport by 150 miles incident (funny post here re that one) and also a DAL plane that landed on the taxiway instead of the runway in ATL. Seriously? I could see this happening at a new outstation, but at the hub? The airport they probably fly in and out of most frequently? How do you explain that one? Way to enhance the dependable, professional, well-trained image.

On a positive note, I've been in contact with the committee chair of our company Critical Incident Response Program (henceforth known as CIRP). I asked two questions that have been pestering me for a while and got responses to both.

My first question was whether there was a role for wives to volunteer with any of the committees within the pilot group. I have an interest in the CIRP group and also having wrangled my way though the long term disability issues, the LTD committee. I was told that wives were welcome to attend the CIRP training (that conveniently was held the week prior to my asking about it, damn) and that currently there was one spouse certified. Hopefully I'll be able to join that committee in the future.

My second question has been burning since A's own technical malfunction a few years ago. What gets communicated to a spouse if there has been a major incident? How does she find out? What happens next? I was told that the airline notifies the wife and then the CIRP committee steps in. They have a checklist of things to be done in the week following an incident. There is no manual or anything though. I had asked the gentleman if the CIRP committee had ever considered putting out a flyer or electronic resource for wives about what would happen in the event of an accident. I even volunteered to help make it. My request was based not only on my own experience but also on the fact that when I asked everyone I knew what was supposed to happen, not a single person knew beyond a vague "well I guess the company would notify me...". Wouldn't all wives feel a touch more relaxed knowing what to expect in the event of an emergency? And hasn't research shown that the happier a wife is leads to less stress a pilot has which leads to being more able to concentrate on flying (hint, the answer is yes, I have the research to prove it...). And really? How hard is it to make a flyer? I even told him (which may not have been well received since I have yet to hear back from him) that the next time he was in the crewroom he should take an informal pool of how many pilots knew who would notify their wives and what would happen during a critical incident and how many of their spouses also knew that info. I'm betting the percentage is low. Do you know what would happen in the event of an accident? Does your spouse/partner? We'll see where this all leads.

I'm also working up an email to ALPA (the largest pilot union) to request that they do an article on pilots, depression, and the FAA access to medical and mental health records. Based on some of the responses to my post about pilots and depression, there needs to be some clarification around those issues. Hopefully I'll get around to that this week. It's on my endless to do list...

For those of you who are academically inclined, I found two books about pilots that might be interesting. Both have small bits of info about wives and families as well. Anxiety At 35,000 Feet by Robert Bor is about clinical aerospace psychology and the mental health of pilots. Pilots Under Stress by Stephan Sloan and CL Cooper is a comprehensive write up of an extensive survey done of British pilots in the mid eighties. The pilot wives article I wrote about was actually piece of this study. It covers spouses and family lives a bit more in depth. I'm working on reading both of these in my "free time".

I think that's all the aviation news I've stored up to comment about.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Research updates

Research updates- I spoke with my research professor yesterday and he gave me the green light to go ahead and do a research project on my own. I don't have to do it under the auspices of a class. My next step is to define exactly WHAT to measure and how to measure it. I've already got the who, how, what parts down. So I'll be working on that side project when I have time. I realized that if I didn't take advantage of being at a university and doing some research I would kick myself later when I didn't have the resources. Given the opportunity, what would you want to study or know about pilot families?

After an exhaustive search, here are the few journal articles I could find about pilot-family interactions:

Sources of Stress on the Wives of Commercial Airline Pilots- 1985, Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine

The Spousal Factor in Pilot Stress- 1989, Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine

Aircrew Wives and Intermittent Husband Syndrome- 1994, Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine

Psycho-social Family Factors and Marital Gratification of Pilots- 2001, Chinese Mental Health Journal

And that's it. Four articles. I'm trying to find info about how families deal with the constant, short term separations, but there isn't much on that out there either.

On another note, I was referred to a new blog- http://www.prozacpilot.com, written by a charter pilot who lost his medical due to depression. He got off to a good start by contacting AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) about new laws regarding depression medications, but hasn't gone any further than that.

Now, back to studying for the midterms I have coming up on Thursday, Monday and Tuesday. Followed by Kidzilla and I training for a 5k run coming up at the end of the month. Hopefully the heat index will drop by then, otherwise I'll have to think twice about posting pictures of me at the end of the race.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Searching...searching...searching

I've finally had a free moment to do a bit of research of my own. Or really, I finally MADE the time to do it. I've been using my student access to our vast computing and research databases (or so they proclaim on our school website) to search out research done on aviation families. And while I have found such interesting tidbits as "Smoking Behavior Among Female Airline Cabin Crew From 10 Asian Countries", it seems as though there have been exactly three studies written that include any reference to wives. The first was the Sources of Stress on the Wives of Commercial Air Line Pilots (from 1985!)that I posted about earlier. I found one about Aircrew Wives (publish date 1994) that looks marginally applicable and one titled The Spousal Factor in Pilot Stress (publish date 1989). Tomorrow I'll head over to the library to get copies. I guess no one has cared enough to study pilot families in the last 10 years.

I'm not yet done with my search, but so far I've run 14 different word combinations (all variations of airline/aviation/pilot and family/spouse/wife/wives/separation/stress/divorce) in 5 different databases (Social Work, Sociology, Psychology, Family Studies and Health/Medical). I've still got another few word combination to run but at this point I think it's highly unlikely that anything new will pop up.

Next up is bring in the big guns- asking my professor for some help in the search.

Oh yeah, and I missed it. Sept. 1st was my 3 year blogiversary.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Understanding

A has been gone for the previous two weekends, is gone thurs-sun this weekend and will be gone again next weekend. I feel like we are back to living an aviation dominated life. But at least his absences are mostly his choice and aren't company dictated.

I think that spending so long at home with us helped cement with in how much he misses when he is gone. The project he is working on now, he says he's only doing in order to have something left behind to take care of us when he's gone (a little obsessed with the 20 year mortality thing already) and that he wouldn't be away from us so much if he didn't feel he needed to do that. It's a sweet sentiment; I think he needs some time away from us anyway.

In class the other day, we were shown a training video about cognitive-behavioral therapy in a marriage counseling situation (it doesn't matter if you didn't get that, it's not pertinent). It was a couple who were in for marriage counseling. The woman worked part time and the man was a traveling pharmaceutical rep. It was strange because every problem and episode that they showed in the video seemed like something we had been through in our relationship- the "you're never there", "you never do stuff", "when is my free time", it was all in there. All of the young 20somethings in my class thought the woman was a nag and was controlling. But I stood up for her. I said "until you have a traveling husband, you have no idea what it's like". When he's gone, you literally have to handle everything and then *poof* suddenly he's there again and you aren't alone and then *poof* again and he's gone. He only has limited time at home and a long list of things you need him to accomplish. And that has to be combined with some free time for each of you and you as a couple. No wonder she nags him to get stuff done, she's got a lot riding on his accomplishing his tasks. I think even the instructor was surprised at my conviction. Even though the video had nothing to do with traveling spouses, they all got a good lesson. And they'll probably choose never to marry one now.

Friday, September 18, 2009

When left to my own devices

It's Friday and A is gone for the weekend. I think he took any motivation I had with him. I had big plans of cleaning and studying before I picked Kidzilla up from school. Then we were going to head to the mall, pick up some dinner at the BBQ at the end of the street (just so I can get a big "I told you so" when I picked up some unknown bacteria sickness from eating food cooked in a trailer from A) and watching a movie. A left, I made it as far as cleaning and then... nothing. Our place is less than 500 sq. feet, it doesn't take a lot to clean it. I read fiction instead of the 2 two chapters of textbook I was supposed to read. I ate chocolate bars instead of fruit. I lounged it up. And now Kidzilla has been playing on his DS for like 2 hours straight while I read some more and now, blog. I guess life really does fall apart without our beloved PIC.

Last Saturday I sucked it up and took the boys to a football game. In the pouring rain. And just to prove how hard core I am, I sat there, in the rain, wearing trash bags as a poncho and lap cover, not complaining, the whole time. And it wasn't that bad. We ended up winning by a hair in the final 2 minutes of the game. A few bad photos of me, just to prove we were there. First is me and frightened Kidzilla with our mascot Chief Oceola. Second is me and A during a break in the rain (note the non-flying pilot facial hair growth).
This week we had the ordeal of changing Kidzilla due to our massive differences in opinion with the school administration. Sorry if I believe that parents should have access to the teachers, kids should have recess AT LEAST once a day and there is more to education that test scores. So we enrolled him in a local charter school. And promptly had to drop $100 on uniforms. He starts Monday and gets to ride a school bus. Fingers crossed that this will work.

Off to bribe Kidzilla into not reporting my laziness with some new gizmo from Target. At least it will get me out of the house.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Coming Along

I'm two weeks into school.

Boy have things changed since I was last in school (in 2000). Every single syllabus had a comment in it about please turn off your cell phone in class. I thought I was cool to have a pager that was alpha-numeric back in 2000. Teachers request that one use their laptop only for notetaking and not for surfing the web or instant messaging during class (or looking at porn...). I thought I was hot stuff to actually have an email account in 1995 when I started at OSU. Every teacher does powerpoint presentations and you can download them ahead of time and take notes directly on them. I think I had one teacher who used powerpoint, and it had a plain black background. Everyone else used the overhead machine. We have this all encompassing website that we can log into to communicate with our classmates and teacher, get our assignments and other information from the teacher and submit our work in their "drop box". I guess group meetings and office hours are a thing of the past.

I'm making it through. I ended up dropping one class because it was just too much. Admittedly it was the class that required a 20 page individually written paper... As long as I can keep up with the reading (2-3 chapters PER class PER week, chapters averaging 50 pages each). I'd forgotten just how boring textbooks can be. I feel like I need a nice shot of espresso to stay away during each chapter. I ended up in the research class that doesn't actually require you to do a research project. Honestly, I'm kinda bummed about that.

Kidzilla is settling in to school pretty well. A is in charge of school relations. He attended orientation and does the morning and afternoon routines. A also taught Kidzilla to ride a two wheeler (yesterday) and now we hear requests to go bike riding several times a day. A needs some friends so he's out with someone not me. We're working on that.

Today we celebrated Labor Day by going for a 3 mile hike (I'm currently regretting ignoring the "use bug spray" advice). Now I'm blogging to the soundtrack of the FSU-Miami game. It's only the 2nd quarter and I'm already tired of hearing the "Tomahawk Chop" business over and over AND OVER. I promised I would suck it up and take the boys to a game, but I'm not really looking forward to it. I wish we could just go for the opening festivities and the halftime field show (I'm such a band geek). The evening before home games the spear is lit on the statue outside our stadium so we took Kidzilla and got a picture.


To throw something aviation related in this post- I'm still interested in doing a research project about divorce rates for pilots and whether they really are higher than average. And as an offshoot of my last post about pilots and depression, a study about how many pilots who go out on disability ultimately lose their license due to depression about their condition/situation instead of due to their actual disability. If I could just get someone to foot the bill...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pilots and depression revisited

In a previous post I brought up some questions about the FAA rules and pilot mental health. I personally feel that there is a lot of misinformation floating around about how nosy the FAA is about what type of counseling a person receives and what it is for and any retribution that might happen because of it. But right now I don't have the time to look further into it (I'm waiting for the opportunity to do it under the guise of a research paper and kill two birds with one stone actually...). My interest was more along the lines of getting short term counseling to help one deal with financial, parenting, or relationship stress and how even needing that can be perceived as a weakness making one unfit to fly not so much on full on diagnosed depression. It bothers me that ANY kind of counseling, by anyone, is perceived as a negative when in reality it could help one do ones job even better.

To that end, I came across a post in A's company forum that talked about pilots and depression and highlighted an Australian study regarding pilots who do fly while under care for depression. Here is the poster's summary of the study-

"Most air-safety authorities around the world ban pilots from flying while on antidepressant drugs citing safety reasons. Now the results of an Australian study suggests that taking the drugs does not increase the risk of accidents, while banning them could increase risks by encouraging depressed pilots not to seek treatment.

A team led by aviation medicine specialist James Ross, who ran the study while a consultant at Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), scrutinised Australian pilot safety records spanning from 1993 to 2004.

Unlike most air safety authorities around the world, CASA allows Australian pilots to fly while on antidepressant drugs, under tightly controlled conditions.

For example, the pilot must have taken the drugs for at least a month before flying. This is to ensure that he or she is not suffering side-effects such as fatigue or nausea that could affect performance. Depressed pilots are also not allowed to fly if they have suicidal tendencies, pathological anger, or abnormal sleep patterns associated with the disorder.

General ban
Over the 12-year study period, 481 pilots who were prescribed antidepressants had 11 accidents due to pilot error and 22 near misses. The researchers say this was not significantly different to the five accidents and 26 near misses of the similar number of pilots who did not take antidepressants, but who were matched by age, sex, and flying experience.

The results will be presented by team member Kathy Griffiths of the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University in Canberra today at the World Psychiatric Association annual congress in Melbourne, Australia.

Most aviation safety authorities, including the US Federal Aviation Authority, and the European Joint Aviation Authority, ban pilots from flying while on antidepressants because of concerns about the effect of treatment and the underlying depression on a pilot's performance.

That might not be wise, says Ross. He points out that the Australian study suggests that using antidepressants in a carefully managed, structured environment is safe, and that rules or regulations that encourage pilots not to seek treatment, or not to declare it, could backfire.

"Antidepressants can be prescribed for years, so that means you are asking people to give up their livelihoods, or leave their depression untreated," notes Griffiths.

Reluctant reporting
The Australian study also found that only 1% of pilots admitted to taking antidepressants, compared to 4.5% of Australians in the general population.

That suggests that even under the Australian rules, which allow pilots on antidepressants to continue flying, the increased scrutiny by CASA could encourage pilots to avoid seeking medical help or to keep it secret when they do.

US pilots taking medication for psychological conditions such as depression who were involved in fatal accidents had also rarely reported either the medication or their underlying condition to the FAA, according to two recent studies (see Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, vol 77, p 1171, and vol 78, p 1055, for the most recent).

"Many aviation doctors have maintained that the side effects of antidepressants present far less risk to aviation safety than the problem of untreated or undeclared depression. It's encouraging to see that the Australian evidence supports this," says David Powell of the Occupational and Aviation Medicine Unit at Otago University in Wellington, New Zealand.

"Depression is common and treatable, so surely the best way to manage it in aviation is to bring it out of hiding," he says."

A comment made by the poster that reflects what I was thinking as well when I made the first posts- "I guess we would rather have depressed pilots flying, who don't want to report it, than pilots who are being treated and fully able to fly competently while on medication."

A later poster commented that pilots hiding depression do self medicate- with alcohol.

Sadly, the poster of the study did not give any citations for the study so I can't give any info about where to find this study or where/when it was published. Requests for that information further into the post did not receive a response. I feel kind of dirty posting what is said to be research without a citation, must the the honest student in me, but I felt the information was important.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Numerically speaking

Signs I know I live in the hood:
1. My complex is surrounded by cyclone fence topped by razor wire.
2. There are 3 laundromats on a 1 mile stretch of street
3. I saw someone having a yard sale in the parking lot of the local corner store.
4. Several gas stations are cash only.
5. The local church van lives in a locked fence cage.

Weird things I've seen on the road in the past two weeks:
1. Dead construction worker (was hit by a car, hadn't been fully covered over by the police at the scene).
2. A guy wearing only a headband and thong riding his bike down a main thoroughfare (not pretty!)
3. A space capsule on the back of a semi heading west down the highway (headed for Houston or Huntsville we guessed).

Number of trips back to Jacksonville we've made in the 2.5 weeks since we've moved- 2. Actually A has made 3.

Amount spent on textbooks for 3 of my 5 classes- $570.45. One class has no required text, one has yet to announce.

Number of fans constantly running in our house- 3. In addition to the air-conditioner.

Number of hours I have spent apart from A since Aug 1- 35. Out of a possible 432.

Number of times I have cursed at FSU- countless.

Largest conundrum faced- Parking is available on campus by permit only. One must have a student ID to get a permit. The ID office is located on campus. Where does one park on campus to get said ID in order to get the permit required for on campus parking?

Number of students who will descend on campus like a swarm of locusts this week- Approximately 30,000. For a total student population of 40,000.

Days until I pick up Kidzilla from the airport after 8 weeks away- <1

Days until school starts- 5

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Turning the tables

Back in January 2006 we moved from California to Florida for A to do his flight training. Essentially I left everything and everyone I knew to move across the country to support him. To me it was a big adventure and a chance to start our lives fresh.

It was only about 2 years later that he revealed to me the huge pressure he felt to make it through training. We had moved everything specifically for him to follow his dream and if he screwed up and failed out of training he would feel like a massive failure. Even though it never occurred to me that he might not succeed (probably my blind faith was a good thing while going through training) and I never once put any pressure on him or guilted him about making us move (well, he'd probably beg to differ, but I don't remember doing it) he still felt an enormous amount of pressure.

Now the tables are turned and our family has moved so I can follow though on my goals. And even though A hasn't said one thing to me about it, I feel an enormous pressure not to f*%k this up. We moved here because of me, solely me, and if I decide I made a mistake in following this career path, I will have uprooted everyone for nothing.

I'm working on letting go and trying to release the pressure to succeed. I think (hope!) that once I actually get going in school it will all fall away. But so far, in the back of my mind, that little bit of anxiety still lingers.

Wondering

My ex husband got married yesterday. I found out through whispers about two months ago and it was confirmed by my parents who were invited. And attended, as far as I know. I think I would be more weirded out by their attendance if I lived closer to the whole affair.

I am happy for my ex. I hope he will be happy as well. And I feel confident in saying that the new wife is probably a better fit for him that I ever was. I've been remarried for 2.5 years already, obviously I've let go and moved on.

The part that rubs me is that he didn't even bother to tell me. As if my parents AND/OR our child wouldn't mention at some point that they had been to the wedding. Or maybe he just expected them to break the news to me. I found out shortly before he came to pick up Kidzilla for the summer. At our breakfast pow-wow I expressly asked him if anything interesting was going on during the summer, any big plans or special events, as an opening for him to announce his plans. Nope, he said, no big plans.

I wonder why he chose not to mention the upcoming event. I guess this is my way of making it clear that I know.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thought you had bad moving juju?

Moving was a mess. Everything that could go wrong did. We got locked out, had to have the lock drilled out and then search out a replacement for the now discontinued lock and install it. We had to hook up the auto trailer and get the car on it during a rainstorm. The U Haul we were scheduled to return the equipment to was too full and sent us to another one which closed 2 minutes before we got there. They refused to take off the trailer so we could unload the truck until convinced it was in their best interest via screaming hissy fit on my part. The apartment wasn't fully prepped and had several safety issues. To their credit, university housing had every issue fixed within 24 hours. We even got a new stove out of the deal. Now we just have to figure out why the gas wasn't turned on with the rest of the utilities. We ended up unloading half the truck between 10pm and 1am (at least it was cool weather and the neighbors couldn't see exactly how much stuff we really brought) and half from 7 am to 9 am the next morning. We are so hiring movers when its time to leave here.

We now have most of the unpacking done. The cable/internet is hooked up and we got a sweet little free bonus. The a/c is cranked and makes my desk the coolest spot in the house. A and I have calmed down the nonstop bickering. And we visited Club Publix.

We heard from the housing office that the local Publix (grocery store) was written up in Playboy as the best place to meet others (presumably of the opposite sex). It is not uncommon to see overdressed young coeds there shopping for dates along with groceries. I can't wait for school to start to see this spectacle.

It's always something I guess.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On the road again

It's moving day. The truck is 98.9% packed up. We got news on Thursday that they were able to unfurnish our apartment so we get to bring our own furniture. I'm praying that the office worker I spoke with got it right because I will be LIVID if we get there and there is already furniture. What are we supposed to do with our then? But fingers are crossed. We'll be taking off in the 17 foot truck with the car on a trailer behind it. Thankfully A will be driving. An acquaintance called him "a model of moving efficiency" the other day and he hasn't let me forget it.

A few days without Internet coming up but I'll be back to reading and posting soon.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Making the big push

We are in the throes of moving agony. 4 more days until we load the truck. We are doing pretty well staying on task and getting rooms packed up. We have been able to pack up the kitchen completely; since I managed to line up dinner (and a lot of lunches) with friends there is no need to cook anything else. Today we are sweltering through the heat put off by the self clean cycle on the over, which makes the indoor temp about equivalent to the heat outside- a robust 85 degrees at 9:45 am. It's a race to the bottom to see who will crack first- me or A- and through the first stress related hissy fit. It will probably be me. Sparked by him.

I still can't believe that all of this has come to fruition. It was about a year ago that I finally decided I needed to go back to school and do something better than be a lazy, underpaid secretary. It's been college tours, GREs, application essays, financial aid documents, housing applications and "how in the heck are we going to do this" for the last year, but the actual end result of me being in college has been this nebulous, far off in the future thing. And now it's here. And I'm a little bit nervous and wondering what I have gotten myself into. But we've made it through everything else, we can make it through this.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Updating your status

I always find it interesting that A still tells people that he is an Airline Pilot when he is introduced to them. And he leaves off the part that goes- "who has been on disability for 18 months due to cancer". I always wonder if it's a coping mechanism, an attempt to deny the reality of what's going on, if he's embarrassed of having cancer or something else. Even though what A tells people is completely up to him, I always feel like he's not telling the whole truth to people and he should. Since he's so into social media lately, I told him it was time to update his status from "airline pilot" to "pilot by trade but currently disabled".

We recently had dinner with a physician friend who has had a relapse of brain cancer. Although his course of treatment makes it much more obvious that he has an illness (the shaved head featuring a surgery scar and bald spot from radiation) he said that he does the same thing. Both A and our friend concurred that part of the reason was because they didn't want the sympathy that is generally (ingenuinely) offered once cancer is mentioned. Partly because they didn't want to be treated differently, as sickly, and partly because they want to pretend it isn't happening. It was an interesting A-ha moment to hear that our friend felt the same way and that it wasn't just A's particular personality.

And after 18 months of whining, asking around and pestering I've finally found a cancer support group. I flipped open one of those local "news and opinion weeklies" and found right there a listing for a support group, not just for cancer, but thyroid cancer specific, that meets at a local library. And it is so apropos that I found it two weeks before we are due to leave town.

It's been too long...

I can't believe I've let so long go by since I posted. I know several bloggers who have lost some momentum and are taking a spring/summer and I guess by default I'm in this category too. But at least I can blame it on a week long visit from my dad and our impending move. Some tidbits of what I've been up to (and had thoughts of blogging about):

Yesterday we brought home my first ever, just for me, brand new car. It only had 25 miles on it. Every other car I've had has been a hand me down from Dad (the '89 Jimmy and the '92 pick-up A now drives), certified used (the 2000 Explorer), for some one else (the ex's Jetta) or from some questionable used car dealer (the Lincoln and the Honda, both of which I've run though in the past 3.5 years). I'm so glad to have a car under warranty that I won't have to worry about for the next 5 years. Now I can worry about A carrying on about the spot I got on the carpet when I spilled the xyz instead. We took advantage of the Cash For Clunkers deal from the gov't and are turning in the truck for a new little car for A as well. God bless the dealer for finding us financing for two new cars on the sketchy incomes of a guy on disability and a girl on unemployment. We know we can afford the payments, but really I know that lenders prefer people who appear a little more stable.

Kidzilla's been gone for nearly 4 weeks now. I can't believe it's been so long. I'm usually pretty hands off when he's gone; I'm not the helicopter mom calling for reports on his daily activities. So I've emailed him twice, gotten one video link and spoken on the phone with him once. During the phone call he said he wanted to go back to playing solitaire on the computer and that the phone was too heavy for him to hold. Yep, I was feeling the love. Currently he's with Grandma and Grandpa for a few weeks before going back for some more time with his dad. I got a picture from their journey sledding (yes, on the snow!) in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains. It was one of those "damn I miss California" moments. Until I remembered how much I hate earthquakes.

We have been making lots of time for adult fun with Kidzilla gone. We went to a concert for the first time in 4 years and have been able to hang out at the bar without having to consider the babysitter while we are out. We went to a 24 hour movie marathon at a friends house where we watched 14 movies consecutively. A made it through the whole shebang without so much as a yawn; I slept about 3 hours cumulatively. I've had the opportunity to connect with some old friends on Facebook and met some new ones thanks to A's social networking connections. (To connect with me on either Facebook or Twitter, email me at the address on the right.)

The visit with Dad was good. It was so damn hot that we didn't do much during the days (Jax is a pretty outdoor venue city) and just kinda hung out. We went to all the cool restaurants, for a dip in the Atlantic, and took Dad for his first visit to the Bass Pro Shop.

My days are filled with exciting tasks such as packing up the kitchen, changing addresses, reserving the rental truck, changing utilities. We've got lots of lunches and dinners planned with friends in the next two weeks before we head out. Most of our stuff that isn't going with us is already in storage, which is good. Except when I decide I really do need that Tiffany serving platter or A realizes that I packed away his favorite shot glasses (I was hoping he wouldn't notice...).

And that's really all there is to tell.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another week goes by...

I posted a separate post about an FAA question in case anyone has some ideas for me. I also posted another comment on the pilot mental health post, just because I'm a stickler for organization and keeping like with like.

Father's day came and went. Kidzilla's dad came out from CA to shuttle Kidzilla back to his place for 5 weeks. For the first time in the nearly 5 years since we split, Kidzilla, his dad, A and I all went to breakfast together. I don't think that we have ever all been in the same room together before. It went well, we all got along, there were no awkward moments and we all said how pleasant it was. I don't know if something has shifted in all of our lives or simply enough time (distance and crap) has passed, but I hope that it's the start of a new trend. Now we just have to work in Dad's girlfriend if we ever all happen to be in the same place. I miss Kidzilla, but I don't worry about him because I trust his dad to take care of him. And really, it's nice to be able to hop in the car and go to a nice dinner or the bar with a friend and not have to think twice about it once in a while.

We finally got our apartment assignment for Tallahassee. It's going to be a pain because we can't move in until 3 days after our lease is up at our current place, but we're working on that. So now we are leisurely packing things up, making daily trips to the storage unit and still finding masses of things to get rid of. We just moved LAST YEAR, how can we have accumulated so much MORE stuff? The hotter-than-normal temps don't really help motivate us at all. Imagine unloading a UPS truck full of stuff into a full heat sauna. That's about what it feels like.

My father is coming to visit us in early July. This is an amazing event. My parents are both retired and as my dad retired from an airline, they have flight bene's that give them a higher priorty than current employees. I am their only child. I am the mother of their only grandchild. Seems like they would be out here visiting all the time right? In truth, my mom hasn't been to FL since our wedding 2.5 years ago. I haven't even seen her since I went to CA in Jan 2008. My dad came out 3 times between March and June 2008, each time for an overnight while shuttling Kidzilla back and forth from CA. I haven't seen him in a year now and they haven't seen Kidzilla since last summer. They always give these vague reasons for not being able to come out, usually related to their cats and/or being busy. My dad is coming for a conference in Orlando and is going to come a few days early to see us. I guess I should be happy that he's coming at all, but nothing makes a girl feel special like being the tack-on visit instead of the purpose.

What's the deal with FAA denials?

Last week I posted this question to an AME on a forum about official FAA denials of medicals. I didn't really get the answer I was looking for. What I want to know is- do you HAVE to get one? Are there some pros or cons to getting one? What I got was- have your AME write a letter. So, if you have any insight, please comment or send me an email through the address on the right.

My pilots been off the line since Feb 08 with Thyroid Cancer. He had a second round of treatment in April 09 and is riding out the waiting period until Feb 10 to do another test. He never got an official FAA Denial or even reported it to the FAA; grounding himself and submitting all of the necessary paperwork to the company LTD insurance was enough.

One of the insurance companies has now requested a copy of the official FAA Denial. It's for something we won't be eligible for for another year and we hope not to use at all. Is it true that getting the official denial will make it more difficult for him to get reinstated and back in the air when the time comes? Is there a benefit to getting it or not? Do we have to get it?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why is it?

I keep hearing in the news media about "low time pilots". As in, " oh those low time pilots at regionals are dangerous", "regional airlines are full of low time pilots" and the like. I'm sure you've heard it too. What they seem to NOT take into account is that a) with all of the furloughs that happened, most regional pilots now have at least two years and several thousand hours under their belts (except maybe Gulfstream, but they are a whole other mess) and b) there are plenty of senior pilots at regional airline that have MORE seniority than pilots at major carriers. Consider the pilot who chose to make their career at a regional due to the shorter trips and seniority afforded great schedules and had been there 10 years vs. the guy who spend 3 years at a regional and recently bumped up to a major. Sure, the bulk of the pilots at regional airlines have less time, but there aren't any 250 hour wonders out there anymore. And who can quantify how many hours makes a "safe" pilot anyway? It's not like it happens when the tick of a particular hour goes by.

Are all pilots hypersensitive about mental health or is that just my perception? It seems like every pilot I've spoken with or seen post about tries very hard not to appear to ever have any kind of mental health issue. I know that a prior ADHD or depression diagnosis can end a pilot's career, but by refusing to acknowledge that some counseling might be useful aren't they actually doing themselves a dis-service and potentially making things worse. I've talked with people who won't talk to anyone regarding their mental health in fear that it will go on a record and eventually be used against them by the FAA in the future. Really? Is the FAA going to revoke your privileges because you talked to a therapist about your divorce or your child's chronic illness or your wife's infertility? Does talking to a mental health counselor make others preceive you as so weak or unstable that you won't be able to command a cockpit in an emergency?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Getting back in the swing of things

Last week I spent 55+ hours volunteering at Kidzilla's Cub Scout day camp. It was me, twelve 7 year old boys, 4 youth helpers with absolutely no leadership skills and one half assed helper who showed up 2 of the 5 days. It was heaven and hell all roped into one. A selection of my tweets from the week:

Whooohooo. First day of cub scout camp. Me and 17 new second graders in the woods

The sweet smell of camp- layers of boy sweat, sunscreen, bug spray, chlorine, and wet dirt.

12 mosquito bites, hands tie dyed blue and a 10 pound backpack. Its day 2 of camp.

Its 3 o'clock and I can't remember the last time I washed my hands. Its definitely camp season.

Today at camp I sang songs about donut shops, the army, mosquitoes and milk. And painted with bubbles.


In my previous life, I was a day camp director and prior to that a resident camp counselor, counselor in training and camper. I have a lot of experience with camp. But this was my first time with all boys and learning the "Boy Scout" way of doing things. We swam, we arched (archeried?), shot bb guns, did arts and crafts, played flag football and most of all, I herded boys around. It was much like herding cats. We had the kid whose behavior markedly improved when he showed up with glasses on on day 4. We had the kid who could spot an insect at 50 feet, pick it up and bring it to you- alive. We had the kid who wanted to reapply bug spray every 30 minutes (he didn't return after day 2). The whole experience really reminded me of why I loved and hated my previous job. I'm actually looking forward to volunteering again next summer. I will have to rewatch all three seasons of SurvivorMan and brush up on some awesome outdoor skills to impress the kids next year. I love Les Stroud!

I feel like I have pretty much let go of the aviation wives world for a bit. I haven't been on the forums lately and don't really have any desire to do so. I can only tolerate so much whining and jabs about who's husband is gone the longest and who's got the most desirable job. I am reading Ralph Nader's book Collision Course, about the industry. It's outdated (1993) and makes references to rules and regulations that aren't correct (at this point any way), but it's an interesting read. I will post more about it once I've finished it.

Kidzilla leaves next week to spend the summer with his father in CA. It's a bittersweet parting every year.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Missing out

So while trying to arrange my travel arrangement to Houston for the big training, the Chief Pilot tells me that he thinks the training is just for actually airline employees and not open to their spouses. I fired off an email to the person in charge of the training to verify. Sure enough, it's only for employees. It would have been nice if she had mentioned that part when I initially signed up for the training over a month ago. I guess the part of the email where I said "my name is Someday and my husband is XYZ based FO Funkmeister" didn't clue her in that I was not actually an employee. I'm disappointed to say the least.

I KNOW there is some training available out there. A heard talk of it before and mentioned it to me. He just can't be bothered to find out any details about it for me. I'm trying to think of something that he wants me to do and I know is important to him so that I can not bother to find out the details, much to his frustration.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What happens if...?

Back in late 2007, I wrote this post and this post when A had some serious mechanical problems in the air. It has continued to bother me that I STILL don't know what the procedures are for family notification in the event of a flight emergency. It's a huge component of my (nearly silent, blog complaining) campaign for airlines to recognize the importance of family communication and the impact of family stress on the lives and abilities of pilots. Quite simply, as in any other career, if you are distracted by family issues your head might not be completely focused on the task at hand. And as we all know, distracted pilots can have deadly consequences. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Would it be so hard to put out a brochure or informational email/flyer detailing emergency procedures? Does it need to be top secret info? Is management hiding its head in the sand and pretending it could never happen to them? I've also decided that Airline Pilot, the fabulous (insert sarcasm if needed) magazine put out by ALPA (our pilot union) should have a monthly column for family matters. I can think of all kinds of info for spouses they could write about.

With all that in mind, I am very excited that in June, we'll be making a trip to Houston so that I can attend the Family Assistance Training being put on by the airline. This is the first step to becoming eligible to assist family members in the event of an airline crisis. I'm looking forward to this training very much. Hopefully this will not only give me an opportunity to find out more about the process and push for more communications but also (sadly) to share what I have learned through the last 18 months with others in the same situation. This may give me the opening to discuss with the company my feelings on the need for a more streamlined process for LTD. What we went through was convoluted, difficult to follow and ultimately much more difficult and confusing that it needed to be. I'd also like to bring it up to the union LTD comittee, whom we haven't heard from in months.

Something else that mystifies me- I've been blogging for more than 18 months now about A's cancer and disability. And I have yet to meet another pilot on LTD for illness. That's 18 months of no one to bounce ideas off of or compare notes with. 18 months with no one else who understands and supports my desire for advocacy in the process. Surely there is SOMEONE out there who has made it to the other side.

What do you do when there's nothing to do?

With A and I both home, not working, it's become a nice time for us to get to doing all those little things that have been piling up. Or find out new ways to avoid doing them.

We've both been better at working out in the little complex gym (or rather, I force him to come with me) so we are on the road to getting healthier. He's been working on a business gig with a friend of his doing some kind of wholesale/distributing thing that I have absolutely no interest in (and therefore cannot accurately describe). I know it involves gun accessories and knives and that sort of boy stuff they both like. Myself, I've been channeling Martha a bit and have decided to work my way though all of the recipes I have have been collecting over the years to find out if they are worth keeping. About half the time, I try a new one and it tastes nothing like what I expected. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. So far this week, I've made Snickers Bar Cookie Bars and Oatmeal Cookies with dried apricots and white chocolate Both are keepers.

I'm also being forced to attend an orientation session for the state Unemployment Services because "the Priority Re-Employment Planning (PREP) System has identified you as a worker who may benefit from reemployment assistance." How I pulled that lucky card, I don't know. But I wish I hadn't. The law is that individuals so identified have to be referred to reemployment services and participation is a condition of eligibility for benefits. So if I don't go, I lose my benefits. Even though I'm not really one who could benefit from these "services". Hopefully I'll get out of it once I show up with my stellar resume.

Now that American Idol is over, I've become entirely too comfortable watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Despite doing my best to keep my butt from becoming too friendly with the couch.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today's hot topic news

I don't even want to comment on all of the Colgan news lately, but a few things come to mind.

Shouldn't the pax who videoed the wheel problem have been reprimanded for use of an electronic device whose use is prohibited during the landing phase of flight? Aren't we all told to turn our cell phones off? And perhaps, if they and other pax saw flames from the wheel on take-off, they should have alerted the Flight Attendant, who would have communicated to the Pilot about the problem? Wouldn't that have actually been the useful, proactive thing to do in that situation? Instead of just thinking about the cool video they might get and how much they might sue for in the event of an accident. I wonder if the airline is going to try to blame the FO for not noticing a loose wheel during his walk around. I wonder if more attention is going to be placed on this incident than usually because it's the same airline.

And interesting forum thread here about the 3407 flight. There are some links to articles and comments about pilot fatigue, training and pay as well as some personal experiences and opinions. I think my favorite comment was this-

I was hopeful thinking with all of this being brought to the attention of the public things might end up changing. But, my husband said don't count on it. The only things that will probably change will be when you sign in to work you will check some box stating you are well rested, and maybe they will put out a memo forbidding sleeping in the crew room. Nothing will change for the actual safety or quality of life of the pilots, only to cover the ass of the company.

The pilot and co-pilot were talking during a critical phase of flight, that is clear. But at least they were talking about icing conditions, which was relevant. It would have been 10x worse if the CA was chatting about the great bar he went to during his overnight in Cleavage-land and the FO was texting her hot new CFI boyfriend.

As for the people who say they NEVER fly on a commuter plane. Really? I guess you don't go to any small regional airports who are ONLY served by commuters. I doubt the airline is going to refund your ticket if you walk up to the counter and refuse to board the aircraft because "it's too small".

I don't even read comments out loud to A because it gets him too riled up and I just don't want to listen to it any more. That's why he has pilot friends.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's a woman's perogative to change her mind

A was in isolation last week due to his radioactive treatment. Of course I had to make jokes about his "certain glow", not needing a flashlight if we went camping, and sing "Radioactive" ad naseum. It was difficult to watch him have to make his way through radiation sickness without being able to comfort him. I think he was sicker this time than last year, but then again I wasn't around as much last year. It left a lot of time for us both to be alone with our thoughts for a good portion of the day, which led to some interesting conversations later on. Now we just sit, wait, get on with our lives until Feb 10 when he gets another scan.

We've been waffling around about whether A was going to go to Tallahassee with me and Kidzilla or stay in Jax even since I started this endeavor. We've been leaning toward him staying in Jax to maintain a presence here and give me some space. Now that he's got another year or so on the ground, we decided that we are going to move as a family. Since his job here didn't pan out as hoped this past winter there is not really any reason to be here. Plus it will be more cost effective. We'll just get a P.O. Box to maintain an address here. It's going to be a tight squeeze to get us all in the tiny family housing apt and we are going to have to put some stuff in storage, but it will be better overall. Now I won't have to get all riled up about finding a sitter for night classes. And we can waffle about what he's going to DO in Tallahassee instead.

I have been thinking a lot as well about my attitude about integrating A into the family when he was flying and returning from trips. I tried to find where I had blogged about it a few years ago, but it was too many posts to wade through (over 200 now!). I used to have the attitude of- live your life and make your plans and he can join in when he wants but life goes on whether he's here or not. But now I'm wondering if that was fair to our family and to him. Did I try hard enough to make him feel a part of the family? Because he IS part of the family. Should I have spent more time recognizing and honoring the time that he was here, instead of making him an inconsequential part? Did I deny him the opportunity to do anything HE wanted to do as a family by always having plans made and expecting him to participate without a say? Is there a better compromise for our family? How to balance all of the demands and desires of life? It seems pretty unimportant right now, since he's home ALL. THE. TIME. But one day...

I've been thinking of some heavy topics that I want to blog about lately, but some of them need some more research (AKA asking the opinions/experiences of other pilot wives). If there is something you would like to see me blog about or just to chat, contact me at the email address in the sidebar.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Freeway billboard psychology

To my friends B, E, N, and T, and those I don't know who are going through or coming out of a difficult time-

We value the light more fully after we have come through the darkness


I pass this quote daily on a sign on the way to Kidzilla's school. And I think of how true it is. And I think of my friends who are making their way through their own struggles as I make my way though mine.

Goodness knows, I hate overplayed cliches, but this one speaks to me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A secret I'd rather not admit, vol. II

I have a secret dream. A life goal if you will. To ride around a large southern city downtown in a convertible, top down, with steer horns on the front. Just as a passenger. Just one time.

Why? I have no idea. It just seems like something every southern woman should achieve at least once in her life. I think it stems from too many Friday nights watching the double header of Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas with my mom while dad was working swing shift at the airport. Someday I'll be the matriarch of a giant Dallas sized clan and house too. Without all the infighting.

I also had a dream that Kidzilla's bio-dad sent me a Mother's Day card to say thank you for taking care of our son 47 weeks a year. Probably not inspired by Dallas.

Today A took his radioactive pill and is now in isolation in our extra bedroom. No closer than 6 feet for not more than 20 minutes at a time. For 3 days for me, for 7 days for Kidzilla. Giving him that last hug and kiss before he took it was strange. Like he was leaving for a three day trip, even though he'll be withing speaking distance the entire time. At least it will be another 9 months before I have to start weaning myself off the physical closeness we've become accustomed to. I think I'm turning into a softie. And I don't want THAT secret to get out.

Moving on from April

I'm not going to sugarcoat this- April sucked. Really bad. In many ways. I'm really hoping that May brings us the flowers that April's showers promise.

A review of April (g00d events in purple, bad events in red), mostly chronologically:

Kidzilla turns 7
I get laid off
We find out I didn't get the graduate fellowship and now have to actually PAY for school
I get enough money approved via student loans
We find out that A's cancer is lingering and that he'll have to go through more treatment, extending his time off work by another 9 months. At least.
We find out that I also didn't get the scholarship I thought I was a shoe in for
I visit Atlanta and have a great time
I find out that the info I thought I heard regarding Unemployment Insurance was incorrect and I have already missed out on $500
We made some positive, significant changes to our diet
Swine flu arrives and the airline cuts routes again, leaving us concerned that A will be furloughed and lose not only the medical insurance covering his treatment, but also the meager income he receives while disabled

But, on a positive note for May, we did find out that there was no discernable tumor growth so whatever is there is not getting worse. And the time off together is helping us get to know each other. Really well.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sometimes you don't want to know...

Alex, the front desk manager at the cancer center where A goes is a pretty nice guy. He always remembers A (who wouldn't after seeing him day after day for weeks during his treatment), is a pretty snappy dresser and is always able to get anything we need. Even after not having been to the center since June of last year, he remembered A's name as soon as we walked in again. With the volume of people who are in and out of there on a daily basis I was kind of impressed.

The other day, we were in to pick up a lab authorization for a blood test, from the front desk. We picked up the form, took a few steps from the desk and then remembered that it needed some specific info on it still. We returned to the desk where Alex promptly said "Yep, you need that. I have a whole page of labels with your name and barcode on them all made up."

Which made my heart stop for a second. Is A going to require the use of an entire sheet of personalized barcode labels?Did Alex know something we don't know? We were kinda hoping that this was going to be a short follow up protocol, but the doctor doesn't have all of the test results back yet.

I had to let it go and trust that Alex had only made the labels up to save himself time and that it didn't mean anything at all. But it would have been easier to pretend this was no big deal if I hadn't seen the brand new sheet of labels to begin with.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why sleep in your own familiar bed...

when you can show up (invited of course) at the house of some girl whose blog you've been following for a year but have never met and crash on her couch instead?

Nicole and I have been following each other's blogs for over a year now, but have never met in person. We have a lot in common- aviation, children, being west coasters in the east. She set up a meet and greet weekend in Atlanta for members of our online group Pilot Wives Club. Since it was within driving distance and I don't have anything better to be doing, I went. Nicole offered up her couch as budget lodging and we were set.

I arrived on Friday night, settled in and had a tasty Indian dinner with Nicole and her husband The next morning we were up bright and early to pick up another wife, Julie, from the airport. She flew in from Indiana for the day. We got to know each other over breakfast and hanging out. For lunch, we had Thai food and met up with two more wives. It was fantastic getting to know other women in the same situations- all of our husbands worked for regional airlines, all had started within months of each other, all had similar complaints and compliments about both the airlines and our husbands. We followed up with a trip to the World of Coke, a walk through Olympic Park and dinner at the Varsity Diner before dropping Julie off at the airport again. The evening finished with s'mores with some friends of Nicole. The next morning, after a tasty home cooked breakfast, I headed south.


Blogging twins

The wives summit- representing:
ASA, Mesaba, Pinnacle and ExpressJet

Coke, even more refreshing
than advertised

Wrapping up our day


It was so nice to be able to share training stories, should've dones, advice and companionship with other wives. Knowing that each airline has its own unique and similar challenges and that we aren't alone is always nice. But putting a face and personality to the actual people out there really brings it home.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rest stop fun

This past weekend I went to Atlanta to meet up with some other pilot wives. We had a blast. I'll post more about it later when I get some pictures from the trip. Despite the minor guilt I felt about taking off for a weekend away the day after A receiving bad news from the doctor, it was a much needed chance to process some emotions and generally clear my head.

Thinking back, the six hour drive was the longest road trip I've ever taken by myself. I've driven that far with other people in the car, including once when Kidzilla was only 4 months old, but this was the first time I was ever really, truly alone. I could stop at any rest stop I wanted without hearing about how frequently I had to pee or bypass them all without having to worry about whether someone in the backseat was going to make it until the next one. Ahhh, freedom.

In honor of the drive, I'm resurrecting a post I wrote when A and I made the drive in the moving truck (Jan 2006). 5 days of us, alone, in a moving truck limited to 55 mph. It made for some great memories and a lot of stops.

Now the interesting stuff- the Cross Country Rest Room awards! Since we were only going about 55 mph in the truck, we stopped at almost every rest stop to rest. So we saw a lot of them. Here's a rundown of our opinions:

California- Outdoor Living Award
For having all open air rest stops. Until this trip, I had never experienced the pleasure of a heated/cooled rest stop building. Who knew??

Arizona- Hellfire Award
For having the hottest restrooms around. It was cold out, like in the 30's, but man, AZ spared no expense at heating rest stops for traveler's comfort. It was like stepping in AZ in the summer every time you opened the door.

New Mexico- Most Authentic Architecture Award
For having duplicated the native Pueblo structure style, a magnificent feat. Rest rooms don't have to be boring... NM also had the first staffed info center and provided us with a very nice state map.

Texas- Fiscal Management Award
For blowing their wad on one really great rest stop and leaving the rest closed or having no bathrooms. A tornado shelter at the rest stop? Got it. Vending machines? Got it. AC? Got it. Clean toilets? Got it. Playground? Got it. If you stop at the right one that is...

Oklahoma- Desolation Award
For having the most barren and treeless rest stops. Rest stops appeared to be brown boxes on the prairie. They need to take a cue from NM and at least make them look like teepees or something. Kinda fits with the new state slogan we developed for OK- "Oklahoma- we have nothing to offer". That was followed by "Oklahoma- We gave you Garth Brooks, now we're spent".

Arkansas- Most Welcoming Welcome Center Award
An authentic log cabin welcome center with tons of brochures, a roaring fire, free internet access and more. And you know what? Arkansas is not as bad as I expected. It's actually kind of pretty.

Tennessee- Least Welcoming Award
Rest stops had full parking areas, crappy bathrooms, they were few and far between and had no welcome center. No wonder no one visits TN!

Georgia- Technology Award
For having the an entirely hands free rest room. The entry door, the toilet flush, the sinks, the soap, the dryers. You barely had to wipe your own ass. Thank you Georgia!

Florida- Kid Friendly Award
For having a kid's "learning center" in their Welcome Center. Too bad it was closed when we crossed the border.

Sadly, the condition of the Georgia rest stops were no where near as cool as the one I posted about. Not only were they run down, I had to manually do everything. Perhaps they should be second in the Fiscal Management category.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Results are in

Yesterday I got up an hour early, got everyone in the car, took A to the hospital for a scan, killed time until it was time to take Kidzilla to school, returned to the hospital and spent a fascinating 2.5 hours in the lobby waiting for A to be done with his bone scan. At least I was able to get some reading done, although it was slow going with the Fox News blaring and all the interesting people.

We got word of the results by phone a while ago. The cancer is not gone and A will have to go through another round of treatment. It's going to be at least another 9 months. At this point, he'll have enough seniority to upgrade by the time he goes back (I wish!). They are going to do a CAT scan to determine if there is anything they can surgically remove and do another dose of the radioactive iodine. So now, I'll have to be isolated from him for 3-5 days while not having a job to go to. Further radiation treatments to be determined later.

While this news sucks, I am happy at least that the Doctor is being aggressive with this because of how aggressive the cancer was last year. I would have to see A go through all of the retraining, fly a few trips and then get pulled off the line again. At this point we are still under the "first occurrence" rules which are somewhat looser than the second or third occurrence rules (thing three strikes, you're out). Also, we will be looking at a second full year on disability pay which was only a fraction of what his first year salary was. At least we have good medical insurance.

On a bright note, I'm on my way to Atlanta this weekend for a pilot wives get together. And thanks Shelly for the song title/author hook up.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Turn me on tonight, I'm radioactive...

Well, not really, but that's the only radioactive lyrics I could come up with. And hat's the only part of the song I could remember. If anyone can give me the title/artist so that I can torment A with it indefinitely, I would appreciate it. Its in the classic rock genre and I think there's a part about "can't get distracted" and a chorus about "I want you to stay with me" .

As the title gives away, A took his radioactive pill today and will have having his scans on wed and thurs. This dose is 40x less strong than the one he took last year, so we don't have to worry about the not sharing a bed/bathroom/silverware business like we did before. We are hoping, hoping, hoping that it is good news for us by the end of the week because basically, it all comes down to this.

In other good news, we have yet to get so irritated by each other that we have poked out any eyes or pulled out any fingernails on each other. Not an easy feat when you are together 24/7. But it seems to be going well thus far. I think I've graduted into Advanced Loafing and Timewasting and I'm taking the final on Inventing Errands.

And sadly, this month marks two years since I was last able to get pregnant. I can't begin to explain how that two years feels.

To end on a good note- I put up a new picture on the blog site (for those of you who use a reader to keep up with me), I'm making an effort to wear something beyond a tee shirt and jeans to avoid that "I've given up" look, and I'm going to actually use my twitter account.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Only a pilot's wife would understand

I love my husband, I really do. But sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. And having him home for the last year has been walking that good thing fine line. Sometimes an independent girl just needs her space. A knows this, understands this and enjoys (tolerates?) this quality of mine. Sometimes he even busts out a little humor about it. Like when, a few days ago, he told a friend of ours (a more traditional gal) that I was moving to Tallahassee to get away from him. Her jaw dropped and her eyes got all wide. I think my single gal friend had trouble believing that I would ever need some space away from my man. What is that quip? There's a little truth in every joke?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If I hated the job so much...

and I was planning on leaving in 16 weeks anyway, why am I so torn up about getting laid off?

Oh yeah, because we need the money. This isn't the route to becoming a stay at home mom that I was planning on taking.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A secret i'd rather not admit

I have discovered that I have a problem. An addiction if you will. Most of the time I am strong enough to overcome it. But every so often, usually when A sets me off, I can't help myself. I binge on TV.

Normally, I avoid the television and restrict Kidzilla's viewing as well. It stems from a previous relationship where it felt like the TV was on ALL THE TIME. I hated it and as soon as the relationship was over the TV was off all of the time. To this day, I avoid getting sucked into shows that I HAVE TO WATCH. I hate that feeling of "OMG I have to hurry up grocery shopping or having drinks with a friend so I can get home in time to watch XYZ". And I'm not shelling out for a TIVO either.

But on occasion, I will come home and find A watching something ridiculous like Housewives of New York or Rock of Love or Millionaire Matchmaker or Curb Appeal and my god, I just can't stop myself. I will sit and watch hours of it. Leaving A and Kidzilla to fend for themselves, usually leading to dinner of Taco Bell and me complaining that they are interrupting my viewing. Once I start, I can't stop. It's never a show of any substance, it's usually something where I gape at humanity and thank god that I'm not those people (with the exception of the HGTV, when I wish I was the one buying a swanky vacation home in some exotic locale), but nevertheless, I can't help myself. Thank goodness I'm not a pilot on reserve home watching this crap all day long.

I have heard that step one is admitting that you have a problem.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Can we just make this part go faster?

Today A stopped taking his medicine, the first part in his testing process. It's taken me a bit to realize that the anxiety I've been feeling is related to this. I'm so nervous about this testing and all the what if's. What if the cancer is back? That means more treatment and another two years out, minimum. And then what? What if the cancer is gone? Will I ever be able to relax about it? We've settled into living together finally, what's it going to be like when he's gone again? Sometimes it feels better to just NOT know and keep all the what if's out there. As much as A says he wants to get back to flying (and I know he does), I wonder if he's ready to give up having the prestige of being a pilot without the grueling schedule required. Am I ready?

I was asked to be a feature wife at a group site. My answers to the standard questions were so depressing that I had to hold off sending it in until I could make it more upbeat and reflective of my true self.

18 weeks until I get to quit my job for school. I am counting down the days as I have really maxed out on this job. So much is still in the air still- will I get the scholarships I applied for? Will I get into the student family housing or will I be left searching for a place for us a week prior to school? Who's going to get the can opener and the vacuum? Where is A going to live? I want it all to just be figured out already and to be starting school.

I wish for every eventuality there was a set flow we could practice in the Sim that would still get us to our destination safely.

Tomorrow is Kidzilla's 7th birthday. No April Fools.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Note to self- # 346

When knocking on wood, don't count faux wood desktop as good enough. Not two days after I posted a comment about how I rarely get sick, I got hit with a whopper. A and I agreed that it was probably the sickest he'd ever seen me. I'm better now though.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's all in the timing

Last night we went to the beach to watch the shuttle launch. It’s something we’ve been meaning to do since we moved here. We are long about 150 miles from the launch site, which is fairly close in viewing terms. I *hear* the launch can be seen from as far away as Atlanta. It was a bright, glowing, triangle going up and then turned into a silver/white dot. We could even see when the booster rockers separated and fell to earth. The whole shebang lasted about eight minutes.

We ended up having to push back A’s testing. We realized that he was scheduled to supervise Kidzilla during spring break ( ‘cause we’re too cheap to pay for care) and that doing so while radioactive might be a problem. Not to mention the schlepping Kidzilla to the hospital while being dosed and then the following two days to get the scans done. A would also be toxic for Kidzilla’s birthday, which also didn’t go over well. Since they only give out the pills twice monthly, we had to push everything back by two weeks. Just once, could cancer work around OUR schedule?

I’ve run into my first snag with school. When I spoke with both the Graduate Advisor and the Graduate Recruiter, I asked them if it was going to be any problem to have my all classes during the day, when I had reliable child care available. They both said no, no problem at all. Well, overanxious me figured out how to check the fall ’09 class schedules. My course outline says I have to take five specific classes the first term, all only available during the fall. And two of them have conflicting daytime offerings. The only alternative is to take one of the two as a night class. Where does one rustle up evening childcare in a town where she knows no one and has no connections? I was pretty upset when I found this out. BUT, I am hopeful that things will work out because I have had two separate people introduce me to other Tallahassee students they know. My network is growing already.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No good deed goes unpunished...

Or, the story of how Someday is a good Samaritan and gets a reward she wasn't expecting.

Yesterday, Kidzilla and I were driving home along our normal route. We take a shortcut road that runs straight for about 4 miles and then makes a sharp 90 degree turn to the right. It's obvious that a lot of people miss this turn because the guardrail is usually mangled up. It was just repaired about a week ago from the last accident. There we were, driving along in the clear sunny weather, when wham, the car in front of us makes no effort to turn at all and goes straight into the guardrail. Luckily there weren't any other cars coming the other way to smash in to. I was the only witness and at that time the only car on the road. So I stop my car on the shoulder, holler at Kidzilla to stay in the car-DO NOT GET OUT, flag down the next car that comes by to call 911 and head over to the car. We had probably been going close to 30mph, the airbags had deployed, the windshield smashed and the driver was slumped over. I have taken first aid courses several times in my life, but I've never actually had to USE it and I was really praying that I wouldn't have to this time.

I opened the door and the driver got out, he was stunned and in shock, but had no other injuries. At that point, the driver of the vehicle I flagged down came over and talked to the guy and the police. I realized that it was 85 degrees out and Kidzilla was in the closed car so I went back to my car to roll down some windows for him and turn on the radio. I tried to overhear what caused the crash and it was either a bottle had rolled under the brake and he couldn't press it down or he was reaching down to get a bottle that had fallen on the floor and hadn't seen the turn (note to self- clean debris out of car more frequently).

Once the poor guy was sitting on the ground and seemed to have recovered himself and I had given my statement and information to the police, I was told I could go. So I hopped into the car and... nothing. It wouldn't start at all. So I called my knight in shining armor, A, to come rescue me. I will leave out the hassle he gave me for this. He arrived, sent me and Kidzilla home in his truck and waited for AAA to come tow my car (in addition to the damaged car right next to mine). As it ended up, I had a completely dead battery (although not from just the running of the radio while waiting at the accident scene) that cost us $100 to replace. If I hadn't stopped, the car probably just wouldn't have started this morning and I'd still have to replace it, but it just seemed like incredibly ironic timing. I guess it takes a good karma deposit time to clear the bank.