Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Particular to pilots

Someday's "You Know Your Husband Is a Pilot When" List:

  • You leave TO DO Flows, not lists
  • Text messages begin with "Be advised"
  • You receive random text messages encoded with airport call letters which mean nothing to you because you don't have the codes memorized for every possible airport he could fly to
  • Calls are interrupted with "Stand by" and resume with "Go ahead"
  • You are frequently told "Disregard" instead of "never mind"
  • Your assessment of the weather (ie. "it's hot") is always countered with the exact temperature and visibility
  • At every intersection you give the "clear right" challenge and response
  • You are occasionally critiqued by being told "you are driving just like a first officer flying on autopilot and not paying attention to the controls"- (BTW, this is not a good use of Crew Resource Management in a marriage, despite how well it might work in a cockpit)
  • Plans like "well, I'll just fly from Jax to Atlanta to Tallahassee, take a cab to the apartment, pick up my car and drive back to Jax. Should be home around 3pm" seem not only plausible, but actually the best option.
Pilots have not only their own lexicon, which is infiltrating our family, but also a peculiar way of thinking sometimes.

The other day, I dropped A off at the airport, in uniform, to head to work. For some reason, this time it felt like a lot of people were watching us. Admittedly, it was a busy day at the airport, but I know I saw a few heads swivel and stare. At first I wondered why but then I realized that most people never see uniformed pilots outside of an airport or plane. It's like they are robots that are put away in some magic airport closet at night. So it appears out of context to see a travel dirty car with a kid asleep in the back seat pull up, a pilot hop out, his very pregnant wife hop out, give him a peck on the lips, a slap on the ass and a "have a good trip, see ya in a few" and then leave him on the curb as she goes tearing off to make dinner with her friends. People probably expect something much more romantic than that. If they only knew that the car ride to the airport was probably spent arguing about the dishes that didn't get done or the uniform shirt that needs to be picked up from the cleaners... I guess this does happen in other professions too. If I saw my pediatrician telling her kid "no you can't have a candy bar" and watched him throw a fit on aisle three of the local Publix, I would probably feel out of sorts too.

And finally, the posterity pictures. Every pilot wife I know has at least one picture of her husband in the cockpit, standing next to his plane, or doing some other piloty thing. I admit, I have one on my nightstand. Is it a proof thing- yes he really is a pilot and really does exist? A pride thing? I racked my brain trying to come up with other professions that do this as well: Firefighters, police and some military with their accouterments- probably. UPS drivers next to their big brown trucks- possibly. Accountants, computer programmers, salesmen beaming proudly from their cubicles- probably not. I can't recall ever having a picture of husband #1 kicked back in his roller chair at work.

And with those thoughts in mind, I'm back to the grindstone as I finish my last week of classes EVER for my graduate degree.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgivings past

This year A is in NJ on reserve so it's just Kidzilla and I. We lounged in our pj's, I packed some boxes and did some homework. We'll make up the holiday when A gets home.

I had lots of time to think back on previous Thanksgivings. My first as an adult was when I was living in Medford, OR. My parents came up and they, my boyfriend and I took them to dinner at a fancy "Oregon grown" restaurant. It was terrible. They ran out of turkey and the pie was undercooked. My parents came to visit us for several more Thanksgivings in Oregon when I was in college- I remember sometimes picking them up from the airport and heading straight to dinner. We always went to the Oregon Electric Station, a fancy restaurant with a train car inside and it was always good. My most memorable Oregon Thanksgiving came from a year my parents didn't visit us. And a work acquaintance showed up at my door with pies, cornbread and a turkey breast because she knew I didn't have anywhere to go that year. Although I can't remember that co-worker's name anymore, I'll never forget her thoughtfulness.

Many years and uneventful Thanksgivings passed until another co-worker again stepped in with kindness. Thanksgiving came about 10 weeks after I separated from my first husband and I just didn't feel like attending the usual big family gathering. I sent Kidzilla with my parents and instead headed out to my bosses apartment to spend the day with her and her mom. I sat on the couch all day with a Glamour magazine and didn't have to explain myself to anyone. It was exactly what I needed.

Although I miss being around my family for the holidays, I'm not sad about spending the day alone. This year I'm thankful for my wonderful husband, my two boys and all the opportunities that have come my way.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Navigating communication

I visited the maternal-fetal medicine specialist today for my weekly appointment. The news was not so good and despite my best efforts, I may be looking at bed rest, steroids to enhance development, and early delivery. But we're trying to forestall all that. A is off on a trip, his first since leaving the last one early.

As soon as I finished at the doctor, I did what all wives are inclined to do- deliver the news to their husbands. So I sent him several text messages summarizing the appointment. And then I though about what I had just done. Did he really need to know that info, and in turn worry about it, RIGHT THEN?

Would it have been better to delay giving him the info until the end of the day? The end of the trip? Would it be distracting to him to know what was going on and potentially give the NTSB something to latch on to if there was ever an inflight emergency (ie distraction causing pilot error)? I've heard that pilot personal issues is one of the first questions they ask about when investigating.

Next time I talk to A- probably not tonight due to our conflicting schedules and his Canadian overnight-we'll have to figure out the best way of communicating this kind of info and what he wants me to do if even worse news, of any sort, ever comes up. Then maybe we'll run though a few scenarios in the simulator for good measure...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Because you can't make this stuff up...

A managed two flights of his trip then had to visit the base clinic because his ears were bothering him so much. Boom! Taken off the trip, told not to fly for at least 3 days, given an Rx for steriods and told to see an ENT when he gets home (hmmm, how to get home without flying?). Yep, because my honey is Murphy's Law personified. Ironically, when I was posting yesterday I almost put in a line about how long it would be until our next issue cropped up. Guess it was only a matter of time...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Git 'er done

I'm down to my last six weeks of classes. Which is great because although I love being in school, homework is taking it's toll on me. And life is taking it's toll on my homework. It seems like it's just been one thing after another lately.

Yesterday we found out I've got too low of fluid for the baby and narrowly avoided being hospitalized last weekend. So now I've got to manage to drink two liters of water a day and report in for monitoring weekly. At the doctor's office that is three hours away. As much as I love a good road trip, this is going to drive me nuts. However, it's only for 6 weeks until we move there permanently. Bright side, bright side.

The weekend before that, A's eagle eye and obsessive account monitoring caught some fraudulent charges on my bank card. I can only wish that I had actually been in Sao Paulo, Brazil. So we had to spend a few hours taking care of that mess. Which seems to have worked out positively. Bright side, bright side.

I have 17 items on my to do list this week- ranging from scheduling moving tasks to contacting the Dean of Students at Kidzilla's school to make sure I don't get labeled a habitual truant for having him out of school all the times I have to drive to the Dr. On top of reading 7 textbook chapters (boring!), writing a policy brief (est time 5 hrs) and taking both a quiz and exam online. Plus I've got to manage Kidzilla's commitments (football, trick or treating, homework) AND try and keep up with A. Oh, but the accomplishment I'll feel when I get it all done... Bright side, bright side.

On a positive note, A started his first trip back today. It's hard to believe it's finally here. He made it through re-training, still mostly fits in his uniform, and managed to navigate to the crew room at his new base without incident. He hasn't flown since 2/25/08 due to this. I'm going to have to review some old posts to remember what it was like when he was flying the line previously. This one should be helpful. A is worried because he isn't here to monitor my water intake for himself (silent head nodding from those readers who know what I'm talking about) and because all the driving means I might have to take the car into for it's regular service ALL BY MYSELF. He may have his issues, but I love him just the same.

If I can just make it through the next six weeks, then all I will have to worry about is nesting and prepping for another adventure.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Settling in

A's been in training for over a month now. It seems to be going well and he's passed every thing so far. It's strange because it's almost like he was never home. It feels so familiar to have him gone and be on my own. And maybe that's my problem. I like being on my own a little too much- when he comes home I get get prickly, like he's invading my space.

Lately when he comes home, I feel like he's critiquing and criticizing everything I've done while he's away. "Why did I buy this salad dressing? Why did I let Kidzilla do XYZ? Why are the measuring cups here?" Is it some coping mechanism for him to assert himself as still part of the family even though he's gone a lot? I realized though that if I were gone for a week and came home to a house filled with food I didn't buy and a schedule I didn't put together that I would probably feel a little disoriented as well. So I need to cut him a little more slack and realize that he's not being critical (mostly) and is just trying to get a feel for things. I know he knows I can run the family just fine in his absence and he trusts me not only to do it but also not to get so fed up with him being gone that our family falls apart. But he needs to work on that pilot need to be in control all the time as well- it's not a big deal if Kidzilla sleeps with his head at the foot of the bed. He needs to trust me on that one too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Burning questions

While reminiscing about the good old days of flying not long ago (remember when they GAVE you food instead of selling it? When employee dress codes didn't allow jeans or shorts and required coats for men and hosiery for women in First Class? And my favorite- when United Air Lines used to give out those snazzy little blue triangle packets of macadamia nuts as snacks instead of dry salty pretzels?) I was reminded of the calculation challenge pilots would always give on flights to Hawaii.

Now this was back in the days before in-seat entertainment. Back when the flight attendants would pull down a big movie screen and turn on the overhead projector to show a grainy movie you couldn't really see because of all the seats in front of you. Before they had the instant navigation screens that showed you where you were on three different maps, how long you had been in the air and how long you had to go, in three different languages.

At the beginning of Hawaii flights, the pilots would always give the distance, airspeed, headwind/tailwind speed, altitude and some other data and whomever could calculate the halfway point of the flight (was it time or distance?) would win a bottle of champagne. Not that I'm going to Hawaii anytime soon, but I've always wondered- how do you solve that equation?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Growing pains

All day long on the 12th, the date was nagging me. There was nothing going on, nothing I missed, no one's birthday. I couldn't put my finger on it but it felt like *something* more significant than it was just the day after the 11th. Finally, at 8pm at night, while skyping with A I realized what it was.

September 12 was my former wedding anniversary. For seven years in my twenties, it had been a big day. The seventh year was the biggest because it was also the day we split up. Our divorce was supposed to have been final on September 12th of the following year, but the attorney was a bit lax on getting the paperwork in so we weren't finalized until mid-October.

In counseling, we'd call this lack of recognition progress and healing. Which I guess it was. But it feels just as strange to have lost what was once such a significant day as it does somewhat awkward to remember it when I'm (happily) married to someone else.

We had met in High School; in the band. We dated, moved away to college together and eventually got married just short of the 6 year mark. I was 21 and he was 22 and at the time, it just seemed like the natural progression- we had no reason to break up, so why not get married? After college we moved back to CA and started our real lives. I was immersed in a job surrounded by women and moms. I decided I was ready for a family. He was immersed in a job surrounded by techies and yuppies. He wanted that life. We had Kidzilla and while things were never bad, they were never that great either. About two weeks before that final anniversary things came to a head where we knew they had to change somehow. Those weeks of misery and tears ended when we decided to split for a while and he moved out. About six weeks later he ended up meeting the woman he is now married to. About six weeks after that, I met A. I don't think either one of us was expecting to meet someone else so quickly, we were still mulling over the get back together options at the time, but it seems to have worked out for the best. Even though it alternately delights me and freaks me out that he (and the new wife) are still fairly close with my parents. Like my parents invite them for dinner and attended their wedding close.

Even though I *KNOW* that I am happier now than I was in that marriage there is still one thing that I'm not sure I can ever forgive him for and that I'll always wonder about. He never put up any kind of fight to keep me. Why? Was our family really not worth it? Never did he say "wait, this isn't what I want" or anything like that. He just kind of blithely accepted it all. I think at the time, it gave me the strength to power through what had to be done, but still, it will always hurt to know that he didn't think enough of us or want his family enough to fight for us. At all.

Looking back, I have no regrets about the decisions I made and where it's led me to now. But I think the unanswered questions will always be there. I'm not sure I would want to know the answer though.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Trying to keep organized

Growing up, I was the classic over scheduled kid- Girl Scouts, music lessons, dance, softball, gymnastics. I always had at least 2 activities going on at all times. And while I've dialed it down a bit for my own child, I wrestle with how much is enough and how much is too much. And how does it all balance with my own commitments?

This fall we have committed to two things, Cub Scouts and flag football. Which, of course, overlap. And overlap with my class schedule as well. Because even though there are seven days in a week, all scheduled activities must occur on only two of them. Because that's the way the universe likes to play.

The following is a Facebook interaction I had with my friend the Nancinator about my scheduling difficulties:

S-Trying to figure out how to get kid unit 1K to connect with football practice slot 1P when the parental connector units 1M and 1D are in school or at work 4 states away during practice time.

Some assembly required

S- If I had access to a nanny 1.1N facilitator or a neighbor 1.2N facilitator it might work out, but those come by special order only and are hard to come by here. Or a family 1F bridger unit...

N- sorry - those options don't come with the starter kit. you'll have to upgrade to basic village set 2V.

S- That's what I get for trying to make do with just the nuclear family 2.0 starter pack

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How to be a supportive spouse

  • Listen and pretend not to be distracted or uninterested when he talks about his day. Reassure him that yes, winter ops, V speeds, and oil pressures are just as interesting to you.
  • Don't take it personally when he calls and is in a bad mood because of some mix up at the training center or base. Even when he takes it out on you.
  • Remind him that he's necessary by calling to ask stupid questions like what brand of sliced cheese he buys for the kid's lunch or by bemoaning the atrophy of your arm muscles since he's been around to open all of the jars in the house.
  • Promise to send him treats in the mail, even if you keep forgetting to follow through. Blame it on the slowness of the mail or that he's home every weekend anyway.
  • Remind yourself he's practicing Crew Relations when he goes out with friends at night while you are at home washing dishes, supervising homework and implementing bedtimes.
  • If it's winter, remind him how much you miss his bedwarming services. If it's summer, tell him how difficult it is to simultaneously adjust the fan and lay in bed so you know the fan is adjusted properly. Remind him that at least he can crank the AC down to 68 degrees without a) having to pay the bill and b) listening to you complain how cold it is.
  • Tell him how much you miss his keeping you on your toes with his constant relocations of the lens cleaner, coasters, and measuring cups, from the places they've been kept for the past year to his new preferred locations.
  • Forget to mention the "honey do" list you started 10 minutes after he left.
  • Tell yourself it's flattering if he calls you frequently because it means he misses you and is showing his care and concern. Tell yourself it's flattering he he doesn't call because he recognized your strength and independence and doesn't feel he needs to check on you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The day that finally came

It's here. It happened. The day we knew would eventually come but blithely thought we could avoid forever. A went back to work. After 30 months off. I'm thankful that he's able to go back to the career he reached for for so long. But a bit wistful as well.

It's a strange transition. I know what it's like to live this life, it's what I lived most of the time that we've been together. But now I know the other life too. I wish I could find a compromise of the two. At least with both Kidzilla and me in school, we are occupied. I've been trying to outline some sort of routine for us to keep things organized, it will come with time.

After having spent the past 7 weeks joined at the hip while I've been on summer break, this is probably the best possible time for him to be away for a while. Since we had two weeks notice of his upcoming retraining, we were able to mentally prepare ourselves. But still, yesterday there were tears at the airport. Not the big bawling kind there were the first time I dropped him off for training, but a few. There was also the morning packing episode where A finally showed his stress about going. But together we finally got all of his things correctly and compactly packed. He left us with last minute instructions about the best place to park our car in the complex, instructions on proper dishwashing techniques and a request to please not spend too much money at the grocery store- all signature A worries when he's not here to supervise. I was touched that he was so concerned about us being on our own, sometimes we all forget to tell people how much we care about them.

The most difficult part of this training, for Kidzilla and me, (aside from having to have Kidzilla at the bus stop at 6:40am daily) is that due to the limited flight schedule at our local regional airport, for most of A's time off between training sessions, we are going to have to rondevu in Jacksonville, three hours away. A simply CAN'T get home to our local airport and have any reasonable amount of time home before he has to go back. Thankfully we have a place to stay in Jacksonville, because we'll be headed there for at least the next three consecutive weekends. Incidentally, I think we finally found the one positive thing about working for Gulfstream Airlines- they don't fly on Saturdays. At all. Not enough to outweigh the negatives, but at least it's something.

This going back to work process has been interesting. There was recently a round of recalls for furloughed pilots as well and the training center seemed to have difficulty with the fact that A was a return to work off disability and NOT a furloughee. I was able to connect with another pilot wife from the company who's husband was also returning to work off disability and we were able to bounce experiences off of each other. It was a sanity saver because we were both being told different things at different times. Our husbands ended up in training together. Hopefully it's the start of a long friendship for us all.

It was so frustrating knowing that different people were being told different things. As a "helper" type person (I'm a social worker after all), I want so bad to sit down with the heads of HR and training and say "hey, this was our experience and I know you can do better. Here's my suggestions". If I were in charge of HR I would want to know so I could make everything the most streamlined and efficient as possible. But in large companies, it just doesn't seem to happen that way. At this point though, any effect I did have would be negated by the fact that the company was bought out and is merging with another a year or so down the road anyway.

For now, I'll just concentrate on getting through my last semester of classes (already!) and finding time to enjoy what I have instead of finding all the ways that everyone else could be doing a better job of things.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Trip report

While shopping online for something else recently, I came across a write up for a "Child Avaiation Restrain System" . I had to chuckle when I read that it "is FAA certified for all phases of flight " taxiing, take off, turbulence and landing." Since when did turbulence replace cruise as a phase of flight? I guess I didn't realize that turbulence was a given during a flight. I'll reserve my judgment on the actual equipment for another time.

I recently took a quick trip out to California, my first trip there in 2.5 years. Thanks to pricing, I got to fly on American Airlines, whom I've never flown with before, and Delta, whom I haven't flow with for years. A survey of good and bad experiences during the trips:

Departing from JAX, I made it from the curbside drop off, through check in and security, to my gate (at the far end of the terminal) in just 17 minutes. A wasn't even off the airport property yet.

The Pilots for the flight arrived from their hotel about 10 minutes after we were due to begin boarding. The Flight Attendants arrived from the hotel about 10 minutes AFTER we were due to take off.

American Airlines was too cheap to through any blankets or peanuts at us during the flight, even after the crew caused (and probably preventable) delay, but I did get several free drinks and was impressed with cool gel/foam headrests on the seats.

We made up most of the delay in flight, I made my connection to SFO and other than being fantastically hungry, all was well.

For the return flight on Delta, it took Kidzilla and I about 35 minutes to make it to our gate, mainly because we got shuttled into the "family" line at security and had to wait for all of the parents who couldn't figure out what they were supposed to do. We could have made it through the regular line just fine, but at that point I just let it go.

We boarded the plane behind a tourist family with 4 daughters. Who then proceeded to back up the boarding line by having to discuss who was going to sit where and next to whom while we all had to stand there waiting for them. Finally, I snarled at them "do you think you could let us by and then continue this?" They all promptly sat down quietly. The gentleman who was seated in the row with Kidzilla and I seemed a little afraid of me after that. Hopefully next time, the family will hash out who sits where BEFORE they get on the plane; to me that seems like the common sense, polite thing to do.

Foresight led me to purchase two bagels and a water prior to leaving SFO. It was a good decision because it took 2.5 hours for the FA's to get our drinks out to us. And we only got one round of drinks during the entire 4+ hour flight. The delay wasn't due to turbulence or anything I could identify; I guess I should have just been happy they made it to the flight on time. Or not, because then maybe they would have given us better service to make up for the delay. But at least we got free peanuts and blankets on this trip. And some free TV.

When we arrived in ATL, we sat on the tarmac through a 1.5 hour weather delay groundstop. It really sucked. Although our outbound plane was delayed, giving us enough time to eat, all of the airport food vendors were closed due to the late hour. Ironically, the FA's were late for this flight as well, although it was excusable because the plane they were on was also held on the tarmac due to the groundstop. We finally made it in to JAX at 1:50am. To find that our one checked bag had been left in ATL.

Due to our start and end locations our trip involved driving 3 hours west to fly 7 hours east to drive 3 hours west again. Isn't that the way life goes?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What the future holds

I had this great post outlined talking about some general things about the aviation industry. Then something more personal and pressing came up.

A got his clearance to return to work last Friday. As expected, it evoked mixed feelings but overall, we viewed it as a good thing. He called the Chief Pilot on Tuesday to work things out, made arrangements to fly to Houston for the day to sign some papers and pee in a cup, and generally was gearing up to go back to work. Irritatingly (although understandably) he has to resubmit the same paperwork he did as a new hire- updated list of previous addresses, list of previous employers, all that good stuff again.

Then we woke up to a text message from a friend on Wednesday morning saying that the company had been sold. Sure enough, major changes in the works. Potential changes in bases, equipment flown, benefits; it's all up in the air now. What we do know is that when they integrate the seniority lists, we are going to get hard. Because they will deduct all but the first 90 days of A's disability leave as time not worked. Meaning he'll come in at nearly 2.5 years less in seniority then his date of hire would indicate. Which means he'll get crappier schedules and be closer to any potential furloughs. Just because he had cancer. It's like the gift that keeps on giving.

Currently, when he goes back, he'll be starting at 2nd year pay, despite being hired over 3 years ago. And he'll have to start over on vacation accrual and his 1 year probationary period with the company. At least that's what we can figure after reading over the pilot contract. But at least at his old company, he'd keep his seniority meaning that coveted captain upgrade would come that much sooner.

It feels like one of those two steps forward, three steps back kind of situations. It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Friday, July 30, 2010


A has discovered his dream vacation place. It's a lovely little two bedroom in Costa Rica. He did't choose it due to the location, cost, or activities, but because we can stay in this:

And really, what self respecting pilot wouldn't want to stay in a recycled 727? Admittedly, it does look like a pretty awesome place. The view of the balcony and the view OFF the balcony:

The master bath, complete with exit door:

More pictures of the "hotel room" here. All this can be yours for only $500 per night ($400 in the off season). And as a perk, they even have a second airplane turned into a restaurant/bar!

What more could a pilot want?

Oh yeah, how about an income that would allow one to take leisure vacations to exotic locales such as this one? I'd settle for one that allowed us to afford to take a vacation anywhere right now. Still, Costa Rica is now on our list, right after all those other things that cost money like a house on the river, a few motorcycles, a boat, college savings for our children and all the other places we'd like to travel to.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How the other half lives

It's been several years since I've visited California or even been on an airplane at this point. I won't be traveling this holiday season, so I jumped at the chance to spend a week with my parents in the mountains prior to flying Kidzilla home from his summer. Then I went through the process of buying tickets.

The way I've always acquired tickets is something like this- log on to the company website (or call if it was prior to internet availability), pick my flights and list for them. All in all, it took about 10 minutes. I could list whomever was flying for each flight. Easy-peasy.

Since we don't have our benefits back yet, we had to go the route of the masses and book a ticket through an online site. Super PITA! Initially we were given such great options like a "Delta" flight to CA that consisted of 4 separate legs, each on a different Delta Connection carrier. And of course, A has his airline preferences and vetoed flights by certain carriers as well (let's hear it for the brotherhood of ALPA pilots!). Wading through all of the flight parings offered, on all of the different airlines was time consuming to say the least. And surprisingly, it was cheaper to fly on different airlines for trips there and back. It took about 45 minutes to book a single round trip ticket for me. We figured it would be easy to book the same flights home for Kidzilla as a one way trip. Except for the part where you can't book a ticket online for a minor traveling without an adult and there was no way for us to link my flight with his. We ended up having to call Customer Service who couldn't do an override. They had to cancel my trip all together and then we had to rebook the entire trip as two one way trips, which of course cost even more money. Overall it was a nearly 2 hour process just to get a round trip for me and a one way for Kidzilla. I sure hope it's worth it.

It's also that time that comes every other year for us, the biennial CFI renewal. Anyone who went through the process of actually becoming a Certified Flight Instructor will remember the challenge and not want to let their license lapse if they ever have the slightest chance of flight instructing again. Since A intends to teach both Kidzilla and Babyzilla to fly one day, he (I) suffer through renewals. Which means I get randomly subjected to such interesting tidbits as "did you know that the human eye can only focus to 5 degrees of center for each eye?" Uh huh, yep, great, thanks for sharing. I also get to (suffer through) enjoy hearing a run down of all the recently occurring preventable accidents as well as a litany of new security measures. Nothing beats being trapped in a car with A for three hours during renewal time. Thankfully it's done now and I am off the hook for another two years.

We are staying in Jax for a long week so I can enjoy the central air and community pool. It's heaven. We have no couch here, just a few armchairs, so I dragged a twin air mattress downstairs, loaded it with pillows and dubbed it "the divan". It's wonderful. We have no TV or internet service at our place, which is not so wonderful, but I guess we all have to make trade-offs in life.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How it is

The day after I finished my summer classes, I fell into a pit of lethargy. I wake up around 9 am, spend the day eating, reading and watching movies, eventually heading back to bed around midnight. I have others things I could be doing, but I'm just not interested. We do try to stagger out of the house at least once a day, but the heat is so stifling that it's just miserable. Maybe I'm just making up for having worked so hard for the past year.

Kidzilla's been gone to California for the past 2.5 weeks. It's quiet here without him, that's for sure. We've talked to him twice since he's been gone- once when I told his dad it was time for him to call and once when he wanted to know if his Lego magazine had come yet and could we please send it. I guess we're setting the "you never call your poor mother" precedent early on...

I feel like I've been saying it forever, but A is thisclose to going back to work. All the paperwork was submitted to the Aeromedical office who reviewed it and then sent it on to the FAA for approval. He's passed his first class medical exam. Now we are just waiting to get some kind of medical ID number to identify his case so we can send in the results of the exam and actually have the two sets of paperwork meet each other on the right person's desk. Without the ID number, paperwork would go to one desk, the exam to another and it would take some kind of monumental episode of critical thinking uncommon in government bureaucracy to link the two files. Or so we've heard. But we do get weekly updates on the case status from the Aeromedical office, which is nice.

I'm torn between wanting this to just be over already so we can get back to life and not wanting A to go back to work because I'm so used to him being around all the time. He alternately delights and irritates me, which makes it hard to settle into what I want. But then again, lately we've been together 24/7, which is hard on any relationship.

Yesterday we watched a Michael Moore film, Capitalism: A Love Story. Surprisingly, it touched a bit on pilot salaries and had interviews with a few regional pilots. Usually I'm able to keep up on when things like that are mentioned in the media but this was unexpected. I'm glad to see it was put out there, again, because every bit of exposure helps make the case. I can't say that I agree with ALL of what Michael Moore stands for- if you take a loan against your house and default on said loan, my sympathy for you is minimal, even if the house has been in your family for four generations because you signed on for the risk ...- but I am with him on the corporate greed and government cronyism issues.

The couch and a nice cold piece of watermelon are beckoning.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Call

A few weeks ago, A got to make an important call to my father. It went something like this:

Dad: Hello?
A: Hey Dad, guess what!
Dad: What's that?
A: It's a good thing Someday and I are already married. Otherwise you'd have to get out your shotgun because I done knocked up your daughter.

After three long years, it finally happened. I'm due around New Years :)

What's a shotgun wedding?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I've been meaning to blog for several weeks, but I've been bogged down with school and just feeling irritable with humanity in general.

Way back in October I brought up the idea of an info sheet for spouses about what to do in the event of an airline emergency. The idea was well received by the union committee. I gathered questions from other wives, offered my assistance in compiling a document and waited patiently. I FINALLY heard something back and got to see the short document that they developed. What I saw was still in the rough stages, showing edits, but was a good start. It said to check the website for more detailed information, but, of course, I couldn't find anything posted. And although I am happy to have contributed to this project for the good of all pilot spouses, I will still be annoyed if they fail to give me credit for the idea and questions. Especially if the committee gets some kind of overall union recognition for the project.

We went to Wild Adventures theme park last weekend. It was hot as blazes there but we had a good time. Thank goodness A can handle G-forces well, because I couldn't stomach most of the rides that Kidzilla wanted to go on. Boy does that make me feel old. The incredible mass of south Georgia humanity walking around gave us no end to our conversations. I've never seen so many overweight people crammed, sausage like, into unflattering clothing or barely covered in string bikinis. The girls from the Baptist church who were have a teen day at the park had obviously not attended the Sunday School session on modesty. There were also several "Pretty Fly For a White Guy" punks there mouthing off.

I'm managing three classes during the super intense summer semester. I've become accustomed to teachers using PowerPoint presentations and putting the slides online ahead of time. This semester, none of my teachers use them and I'm actually feeling not right about that. It didn't take me long to get dependent on them and forget how to take notes for myself. Even worse is the sheer number of people who spend their time in class texting or on facebook. This is the first semester I have really seen people do this; before I thought it was ridiculous that teachers even had to put NOT to do it in the syllabus. These people are blatant about it! I hear that undergrad classes are even worse about it. Another reason not to go into academia.

After an unseasonably cold winter, we are having an unseasonably hot spring. It's already well into the 90's here. A feels compelled to give me hourly temperature updates, when really the rating of "damn hot out" would be fine. Here's hoping we have a seasonable summer because otherwise I am going to be one miserable girl.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The drama of the student mama

Spring term is finished and I am in my one glorious week off before summer session starts. It was a hectic end to the semester, with a big paper due and then other assignments due right after that. And most of my time was sucked up trying to get all the hours finished up for my internship. I finished up the semester with 433 internship hours and A's in both of my classes. Out of the available 100 points in each class, I missed a total combined 6 points. As a trade off through, I missed all of Kidzilla's cub scout meetings and only made it to 2 out of 8 of his baseball games. Luckily A has been there for him.

The end of this semester has been bittersweet. While I am glad to be done with classes, the end of the term means that several friends are leaving soon. It seems like most of my friends from our housing area will be gone by the end of the summer. The Estonians and Hungarians left in mid April, the Moroccan/Indian couple will head out in July, the Mexican family will return home in August. We did meet a dad with a daughter Kidzilla's age at the laundry room yesterday; they just moved in, but he's got split custody so we may not see them much. Hopefully we'll get a new influx of kids in the fall. I also have to say goodbye to friends I've made in classes that are graduating or are taking another path for the rest of our time in school.

I've got 8 weeks of summer school coming up, which means that all my classes are going to be at double the speed of normal. I have night classes 4 times a week which means I will continue to miss most of Kidzilla's activities. A will be providing childcare and hopefully will be home and not be called to training in the middle of my semester. At this point, we have no back up plan.

Somehow we missed that window of spring where it was just the right temp. The house went from too cold all the time to AC can't possibly keep up. Coming home feels like walking into a sauna. I guess that's what you get when all your windows are on one side of your apt and ventilation requires highly complicated geometric calculations to determine optimal fan placement for airflow. Sleeping at night is impossible without the fan blowing directly on us.

We are still working on collecting paperwork to submit to the FAA and getting through all those hoops. It's not nearly the trouble we had getting everything figured out at the beginning, which is nice. I've purposely stayed out of the loop of the Cal-United merger (UniCal?) although Dad and A have talked about it. It seems exciting for them because it's bringing together the two different companies they are associated with. I hope that soon I can get back to the original intent of this blog- to talk about how airline life effects daily family life instead of just rambling about myself all the time.

Things are going well for us too and there are some real bright spots in our future.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The road not traveled

When I was on the dating circuit, I had this amazing ability to attract men named Jeff. I never knew their names when first approached, but I met three of them within a short time frame. I was still in the "getting to know you" phase when I met A. In order to keep them straight for my friends, I took to referring to them by the name of the city they lived in instead of by name. I thought it was a great plan and my friends appreciated it. Thanks to the miracle of Facebook, I can keep in touch with them and be reminded of the road I didn't travel.

San Jose got a sweet job with Microsoft and moved to Washington. He makes big bucks doing some kind of management thing with the Xbox. It looks like just recently he met the right girl.

Galt moved to Missouri, got married, had a daughter, got divorced and now makes big bucks doing some kind of computer stuff for Walmart.

Tracy stayed in... Tracy and got married not to long ago. He was already making big bucks at his car repair shop.

Instead of sticking it out with any of these nice gentlemen, I hedged my bets with A. And instead of living a life of ease and having a husband home every night, I've got the pilot who makes little bucks and is gone 4-5 days at a time.

There was a reason I bypassed them all and chose the glamorous life I now lead. I can't imagine having taken the journey of the past few years with anyone else.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Easter see-saw

Easter has both positive and negative associations that come up every year.

Eight years ago on Easter Sunday, I was in labor with Kidzilla. Although I was very excited, it was a terrible day to be in labor because there was nothing to do. Every thing was closed, I couldn't even buy a sandwich, and all I wanted was to be out moving around. I made it through dinner at my parent's house, during most of which they didn't believe that I was actually in labor (Kidzilla was a slow mover). I have a vivid memory of standing in line at the local Walgreens drugstore, very late at night, picking up something I desperately needed at the time to make it through labor. I was huffing and puffing at that point and leaning on my then-spouse for support while waiting in line while the woman ahead of us debated which brand of cigarettes that came in a green package it was that her boyfriend wanted her to purchase and then while she paid by check that, of course, had to be called in for verification. It was excruciating not just because I was in labor, but because the entire process was taking forever and there was a line of people building behind me. Kidzilla ended up being born at 2pm the next afternoon after a total of 34 hours of labor.

Three years ago was a big one. It was the long awaited day that A was finally due to leave for his airline training. We were so excited but didn't really know what to expect. Would he be able to come home at all during the expected six week training? Would I be able to survive on my one without having to resort to feeding Kidzilla peanut butter and jelly sandwiches nightly and running out of gas because I refuse to fill the tank myself? My most vivid memory of this event was being so excited and proud to take A to the airport and then promptly bursting into tears when he left us to make his way through the security line. I silently cried while Kidzilla tried to comfort me in his then five year old way. We stayed until we say A walking down the long hallway to his boarding gate. He was able to come home every weekend during training and by our third goodbye I was no longer in tears.

That same day was a double whammy because I had unexpectedly discovered I was pregnant hours before we took A to the airport. Although we wanted another child, we didn't at that moment. There were so many other things on our plates at the time. The pregnancy didn't make it and we were both saddened and relieved to find that out. A was not available to be much help to me as he was immersed in intense airline training. There was very little time to digest any news or feelings due to his schedule, but we both limped through it.

Now this time of year always hits me a little harder because ever since that Easter three years ago, we have been unable to get pregnant again, despite our best attempts. There's always a bit of sadness mixed in with the joyous feelings from Kidzilla's birthday. Both of my pregnancies held Easter as a special day and I always hope that once again Easter will work it's magic. We've seen doctors, had tests, tried medicines and all the rest, yet despite nothing by optimistic results, each Easter our arms are empty.

This year I am trying to focus on the spirit of rebirth by rejoicing in the good news that A is going back to work soon and that both doctors have told us that there is nothing but a minute chance that A's cancer will come back. While he's focusing on getting back in shape and relearning everything aviation related, I'm focusing on the new roles our family members will take on once he is back flying. This season brings new life to us all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sometimes what sounds good in theory...

I’m all for passenger’s rights. Really I am. I think it would really suck to be stuck on the taxiway for 3 hours. Or 5 hours. Or 8 hours. I’m glad I’ve never been there. Passengers should be afforded opportunities for food, water, and working restrooms if they are going to be kept on a plane that long. It would be great if airlines could keep some emergency rations on board for such an occasion. But then again, the weight would probably mean one less person (probably an employee flying standby) on the plane. It would be great if parked planes could have the lav. truck come and keep them empty during long sits, but airport operations doesn’t seem to think of that.

I’m not a fan of the whole return to the gate thing. For one, only one plane at a time can use a gate. If the weather cleared, how would staff manage to get all those flights reloaded during a short break in the weather, or without effecting all of the flights that would currently be using the gates? I foresee chaos. Because it takes people a LONG damn time to get themselves on a plane. Walking down the jetway seems to make people move slower and they just can’t hurry themselves up, even when they know there are 100 other people waiting on them to stow their over sized carry on and sit down already. And heaven forbid they think ahead and already have the things they will need for the flight already out and accessible. Returning to the gates would be nice, but I can see why airline workers are against it. Not to mention the logistics of getting a plane OUT of line for take-off to return to the gate. It’s not a freeway with convenient off-ramps.

I read a CNN article about inclusions in the FAA reauthorization bill regarding passenger rights. “Embedded in the bill is a "Passengers Bill of Rights," whose centerpiece is a rule requiring delayed commercial planes to return to the gate after three hours on the taxiway. Alternatively, the rule allows the airline to send buses to take passengers off the plane so the aircraft doesn't lose its place in line to take off.”

Hmmm, ok, so the airlines have the option of maintaining a fleet of busses at each airport to drive up to planes in line for take off to take off the passengers. And again chaos trying to get the passengers reloaded and BACK to the planes once take-offs resume. How are these busses going to navigate the taxiways around what could easily be 50 or more airplanes? Not all planes have wings that are high enough for busses to pass under. Are people going to jump down from the doorways of the planes (there is a reason we have jetbridges!) or are they going to use the emergency slides? I asked A about it and there is probably going to be an overwhelming smell of exhaust in the air as well, from all the idle planes. It won’t be pleasant out there. I guess the bus idea sounded like a good compromise in theory…

I’m partial to some of the half-witted comments attached to the article as well, in particular the one that says “A family was thrown off a stranded plane when the husband asked for water for his pregnant wife.”. Really? Thrown OFF the plane for that? And there’s NOTHING more to the story then a man politely asking for water and the mean, nasty crew got so uptight they threw the family off the plane? Really? That seems a little harsh, I’m just sayin…

A few months ago, I read Ralph Nader’s Book Collision Course. It was dated, definetly, but an interesting look at some things about the industry that I didn’t know- the mandate of the FAA and its dual interests, the NTSB and its recommendations, the FAA central flow management system to name a few. The book definetly needs revisions, especially with regards to the training and management of regional airlines but it’s worth a peruse if you can find the book. Definetly some things in there that must have sounded good in theory.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Paying the piper

Because of A's accident prone-ness (longtime readers will recall the broken elbow incident prior to the cancer...)and due to our own experience benefiting from insurance payouts, we are firm believers in the need for insurance coverage. Sadly, by the time everything is deducted out, it leaves us woefully short on cash. But we'd be even shorter if we were caught uncovered, so we suck it up. Insurance and other deductions we shell out for:

health insurance
short term disability insurance
long term disability insurance
loss of license insurance

life insurance
long term care insurance
union dues (well not until A completes the final two weeks of his apprentice period)
401(k) deductions

Today A saw the oncologist and got the real, official "yes, you can go back to work now" nod. Because I wasn't able to go and I don't completely trust A to relay correct information to me (can you blame me?), I sent him with a list of questions to ask. We were very pleased to find out that he may not need to undergo the same type of testing he has been having, which requires 2 months off of work due to his meds, but there may be an alternative method of testing. If we can get the insurance to cover it. His doctor still wants to see him yearly, more just to keep up than anything, and also promised to put in a good word for me with the hospital social work dept. when it came time for my internship and job search.

Things seem good.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

99% Is Good Enough For Me- version 2

A got a call from his dr. the other day. The scans all looked great, as dark and blank as a cloudy night- which is good, any appearing stars would have been cancer regrowth. A still has to have an appt so the dr. can poke him in the neck and make it official, but really, if there's no internal regrowth, it's not likely there will be anything to feel. So we are going with the thought that he'll be returning to work in the near future.

Which leaves me with some admittedly mixed feelings. And A, who as a pilot was born without a panic gene, might, just a little bit, be feeling somewhat nervous about going through training again. Which guarantees to be more difficult to get through when you come in cold vs. having spent the past year or more flying nearly daily. He was, however, born with an overdeveloped confidence gene, as were most pilots.

I really want to say thank you to all of the people who prayed for us, thought of us and pulled for us during this last round of testing. It really meant a lot to me to see that people I don't even know are pulling for us. As for the twenty years thing, I got it in my head that since A has NO thyroid, and therefore wasn't putting out any thyroid hormone of his own that he could only do synthetic for a certain time. But that it would be different for people who put out some of their own hormone.

Things are going well for us otherwise and we are awaiting the return of spring weather.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Flying Cheap on Frontline

On TV tonight, PBS's Frontline news program takes on the Regionals in the program Flying Cheap

Not sure I agree with everything in the preview, but it should be interesting.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Restarting our engines

We don't meet with the oncologist for a few more weeks because he's in Haiti right now. Nothing is for sure until then of course. Today the oncology nurse called and said A could go back on his medication because there's "no treatment needed".

When I got the news (at work), five minutes of good cheer erupted. Then I remembered that those fateful words probably mean I am once again going to have to share my husband with crew scheduling and five minutes of bad mood presided. We've still got several months ahead of us before that happens though.

For today, we're enjoying a new view of the horizon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


You know those times when you completely over-analyze someone's every move trying to figure out if any nuance reflects the status of your fate? Today I'm doing that by phone vicariously through A. I'm sure it's annoying, but I can't help it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

When you realize the universe just taught you a lesson

AKA- Why Someday Must Attend All Doctor Appointments

Two years ago, my boss wouldn't let me off work for the day that A met with his doctor to receive his diagnosis. That meant he had to go alone. To confirm his suspicion that he had cancer. (Said boss is now undergoing treatment for her own cancer, so perhaps there is some validity in karma...) A came home from that appointment with two major pieces of information- One, he had cancer and two, he would die within twenty years. He heard that a person could only live for a maximum of twenty years on synthetic thyroid hormone. Our lives have been colored by this news ever since.

Now twenty years may seem like a long time, and it is, until we remember that if we had a child now, A might not be there to see Graduation Day. And we'd never get to partake in that retired person's RV around the country trip so many people take. And A's grandchildren would likely never know him. It's kind of depressing, like a really long expiration period. We deal with this news by alternating between pretending it isn't going to happen and by making tentative plans to deal with it. No one likes the thought of knowing their husband is going to die an early death, but to avoid it altogether is also unreasonable. So we try.

Last week I was able to attend A's appointment with his endocrinologist, the one who monitors his thyroid condition. It was the first time I had been. We found out that there had been some issues with information transfer between the oncologist and the endocrinologist, we discussed different types of medication, and we found out that the premise of death in twenty years we had been operating under FOR TWO YEARS was false.

That's right, FALSE. The doctor clarified that one can live indefinitely solely on synthetic thyroid medicine. Which we were, of course, happy to find out. I have to give A a break on this one- I'm pretty sure that after the doctor confirmed that he had cancer his listening skills went out the window and everything she said after that was a blur. I'm sure the same would have happened to me. Well, not really, but I'm trying to be sympathetic.

But to have what felt like a giant countdown to the end of A's life lifted was just an amazing feeling. Expecting to lose him really helped us not take each other for granted and forced us to talk about and make plans for the future. That lesson is one that we can take from this experience, hopefully it's the one we were intended to learn. Because learning not to let my husband attend medical appointments on his own just doesn't seem meaningful enough.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Having it all?

Once upon a time, I had it all. A dual income family with enough money to meet our needs. (Boring, but) stable jobs. A cute little fixer-upper with a (barely)affordable mortgage. A handsome little boy. A good circle of friends. Family nearby.

Then we moved to Florida. Then intent was to move back to our happy little life in 9 months. 4 years later, here we are. Living in our 3rd (and smallest ever) apartment. One of us on indefinite disability and one of us happily unemployed but racking up debt. A handsome little boy. A circle of friends three hours away. Family days away.

The one thing I know that is solid however, is our relationship. I told this to A just the other day. Even though there are a lot of things in our life that are less than ideal right now and I feel like we should be past all this school and financial up and down business at our ages, at least there isn't that "what if" about our relationship too. No going to counseling to "hold it together" or trying x,y,z to "make it work". As A rephrased what I was saying to him (he's managed to learn to be an active listener at least...) "so even though everything else is crap right now, at least your crap isn't going anywhere". Not the most eloquent, but I guess you could put it that way.

Thanks honey. Even if we can't provide each other with much right now, we have a stable base to work from and for that I am thankful.

Happy birthday to me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


A stopped taking his meds again in preparation for another round of cancer testing. Obviously we didn't fare too well last year, since he's still on leave (read all about it in march/april 09 archives and the initial experience is in the feb 08 archives). Without his medications, he gets slow and lethargic, his metabolism slows down, he loses his coordination and short term memory and I start having to worry about things like sending him to the grocery store unattended and him tripping while walking up our stairs. Last year he was off his medicine a little too long and it caused a very unpleasant experience for the two of us that we are hoping to avoid repeating.

Fingers crossed that the mild spots they found last year were destroyed and he is finally cancer free. I don't know if we can go another round of treatment and another year off. Tensions are high during treatment and there is a lot of unspoken anxiety around the house. Last year A was miserable during treatment and said he didn't want to go through it again. And I vaguely recall the doctor saying something about stepping up to chemo if it wasn't gone this time around.

For the rest of my life, I will have to live with the nagging question of "has it come back?" For the rest of my life. EVERY DAY. I will wonder "is that a lump on his neck?", "is that normal forgetfulness or is his meds dosage wrong?", "how long until we go to the doctor and the bomb is dropped on us again?" It will never go away.

If you are the praying type, think of us.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

When help isn't there

A friend called last night. A friend of hers and a training buddy of her husband was killed in a plane crash on Tuesday. It was a very small company and the widow is having a difficult time with the company. The type of plane may not have had data recorders so the cause of the crash may never be able to be determined. There are conflicting reports about whether the body of the pilot has been retrieved from the crash site. I can't imagine the grief and turmoil this new widow is going through. I wish I had some resources to direct her to, but I had very little information for her. Seeing this play out just underscores the need, to me, for comprehensive information from companies about what to do in the event of an accident and what they will do for the family. I wish I could make the process of getting this in place, for our airline at least, go faster so no one else has to go through this.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A fresh start

Tomorrow we head home from our road trip. It's been a great trip. I met some new people and caught up with some old. We discovered that Kidzilla is an awesome roadtripper; able to read books in the backseat during the drive without getting ill and keeping the "are we there yet" to a minimum. A and I managed not to seriously harm each other and actually got along pretty well. We survived the blizzard of the century in Oklahoma City. The last bit is the 11 hour drive from Houston to Tallahassee. I've got 14 states whose plates I have yet to see on the road, hopefully I can cross a few more off the list tomorrow.