Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Passover

Recently I applied for a position at my employer working with a different population. I really wanted the job and knew I had the support of my mentor and another coworker, both of whom were on the interview team. I interviewed well, have experience with the population, have personal experience with the type of health crisis they face, and can show that I am active in continuing my education through involvement in optional classes and working toward my licensure. The other person interviewing had none of these qualities. But she got the job.
My boss tried to downplay it but when I asked my mentor she said that it came down to my availability. Our department hours are 8 to 4:30, which is what I work. We are free to adjust those hours to a later start and end time if we wish. The interview team works a 9:30 to 6 schedule and wanted someone to work the same. Even though those are optional hours. And I just can't work those hours when I have two kids at two different schools who have to be picked up by 6 pm. And a husband who is not available to allow me flexibility. The curse of living the dream strikes again.
My mentor also told me that she asked what would have happened if they had had two exactly equal candidates ( meaning I could work late hours) and she was told that they would hire the person who had been there longer because she had put in her time. So now I feel the irritation that all First Officers must feel when they fly with crappy Captains who have the position just because they got hired first. We have all heard stories of having to fly with them.
My lesson learned here are that even in the real world sometime seniority counts over qualifications ( for some reason I thought it didn't- at least when it didn't suit me).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The coming storm?

A's father sent us an article out of the Wall Street Journal the other day. He sent it old school- cut it out of the paper and snail mailed it to us. It was about the looming pilot shortage that is forecasted due to massive retirements and increased training requirements ( like total time needed prior to applying. There was a quote from Kit Darby, a former United pilot turned industry hiring authority, saying "we are six months away from a problem and four years away from a solution" or something to that effect.

That sounds like good news for those "forever FO's ( like A) who are waiting to upgrade and get on with a legacy or a major and those that are starting training now to get in on the boom. But I don't know if I really believe the situation is as dire as they predict. Right now there are thousands of pilots at regionals just waiting to get to a bigger plane. Plus there are plenty of pilots on the streets who are looking for jobs and can go to a major (most recently all those Comair pilots and many more regionals are teetering). That's a lot of pilot back up to work through. Airlines are also consolidating routes but also possibly changing their scope and taking back some flying from the regionals. So the regionals stand to be hit hardest when it is taking new pilots longer to meet training requirements except that they also stand to lose flying and need less pilots so perhaps it will all balance out. A's company is offering month to month leaves of absence to mitigate less flying that they are doing. They may be looking at furloughs again down the road. A came home with a rumor that the major he contracts with wants 70 seat jets their own. I guess I am just so jaded at this point that I will believe it when I see it and not a day before.

The other tidbit in the article was how graduates of ERAU could enter the industry with less total time. How is that? Don't they go through the exact same training and check rides to get their certificates as any pilot from any other school? Yes they may get supplemental instruction in meteorology or homeland security or airline administration, but how does that translate into better flying skills or flight training? I know, I know, it's all about the lobbying group in the end. But it just irritates me to presume that one path is better than another.

I guess we will see how it all shakes out in six months. But for now I remain a sceptic.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's just a day

Thanksgiving day has come and gone. Already. How did that happen so fast?

 A worked on Thanksgiving. He has never been home for the day. It's just become a standard for us and it's no big deal. We live across the continent from our families, so it's always just me and the boys for the day.  This year we went to the zoo and had a surprise when A arrived home at 5pm instead of the 11pm we had anticipated. We had a normal chicken dinner and then had "fancy dinner" on Friday when A was home to enjoy it. Working in a hospital that operates 24/7 and also having friends on facebook who have to deal with mandatory coverage there was no shortage this year of people whining about missing Thanksgiving or not being able to spend it with their family. As if you can't have a nice dinner with your family on any other day of the year. As if turkey can only be cooked on Thanksgiving. As if presents can only be opened on December 25th. It boggles my mind that people don't seem to be able to make arrangements to get together on any other day of the week, month, year to accommodate their schedule. It's just a day, make it your own.

My favorite E Card of the season is this one :

Friday, November 2, 2012

One of those days

Today was one of those days. The days when I wish my husband worked normal hours, in this city. Or that I had some family nearby to step in and help out. Babyzilla has a bad cold with a fever. Thursday I called out sick and stayed home with him. We rested, napped, breastfed, and watched movies. Today we had a big conference at work with several people already out and our on call staff already tapped. I took Babyzilla to daycare with the hope that he could make it through the day and I could swing getting off two hours early. I didn't have a lot of faith in my plan, but I was hopeful. And barely an hour after I arrived, I got the call from daycare that he had a higher fever and I needed to come get him.

Let me interject with a bit about my job. Hospital discharges wait for no one. They aren't the kind of thing that can be put off for a few days and gotten back to when you are feeling better. Beds are finite, if people don't get out, sicker people can't get in. And people can't discharge if their medical equipment, home care, housing, medications and whatever else are not lined up. We have staff in house 6 days a week and on call after hours and Sundays. If I'm not there- someone else has to be. If no on call staff is available, which is usually on a same day call out, then cases get rotated to other staff- each one getting 3-4 extra beds to cover. Calling out usually means more work for your co-workers. Frequent call outs mean less friendly co-workers.

So I was faced with the decision of leaving work and feeling guilty about dropping my caseload in their laps again or leaving, trying to dose Babyzilla up with Tylenol (after stopping at a store to purchase said Tylenol) and heading back to work for a few hours. It would have been nice to have a second parent or family to fall back on. But then again, we made the decision to leave here. (I wrestle with this all the time...). Our department secretary saved me from much guilt by shifting some on call staff around and finding coverage for my cases, although as the expense of a co-workers less demanding cases. I was ultimately able to take the day off, again, and be the parent I needed to be. I know A hates that it all falls on my shoulders when he is gone and that it tears him up to see me struggling on days like this. Especially this trip when he SHOULD have been home on Thursday. In the end, I'll suck it up and deal with it, because really, what other choice do I have? I know that A is just as torn between his job and family. Today it's just one minute at a time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Riding it out

Wow, it's been just shy of two months since I posted? Boy am I lame! And busy.

A is trapped in New Jersey due to the storm. He's fine and in a hotel that has power (now); just stuck and waiting it out. He flew in on Sunday knowing the storm was coming but due to unanticipated time off in July, August AND September already and our new moneypit house we didn't want him to have MORE time off unpaid. So in he went. He flew two flights and then the company put him up in a hotel and canceled the rest of his 4 days of flights. He survived, the hotel lost power for about 24 hours and had some broken windows but he came through pretty much unscathed. He took the employee shuttle over to the airport and took advantage of their emergency power to charge his phone. He said the only active outlet he could find was in the ceiling above a ticket counter so he hopped up and hooked in. He was also able to scrounge some food from a catering truck since prepared food was non existent at both the hotel and airport. He reported that TSA had abandoned ship and anyone could walk right in the airport and into the sterile area. I had visions of some kind of 'Lord of the Flies' outbreak and him finally returning home missing a sleeve, a pant leg and a weeks worth of beard. But the hotel got their power back and now he's just waiting and waiting and waiting. He didn't have much time off between trips and the company wants to keep him there so they can use him when so many other inbound pilots are going to be stuck. I know he hates being away from the kids, especially on Halloween, but he'll get home eventually.  And now he has officially been through his first real hurricane.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Don't think I don't think about it

I resolve all the time to write more frequently. But now that I don't have a job where I am bored and in front of a computer every day, it's harder to find the time. August has been challenging for us and September will continue to be stressful.

At the beginning of the month A was disqualified from flying while we waited for the FAA to process his special exemption for his medical. He only has to go through this for 5 years after his return, so only once more and then he'll be back to normal procedures to maintain his medical to fly. He ended up being off for roughly half the month(...unpaid...), which was good because we also bought a house and he was available for the myriad of phone calls, paperwork and goings on that homebuying brings. The day before he was due to go back to work with his newly minted, special exemption medical, he came down with... pneumonia. Really. Because he's A. So he called in sick for that trip and spent time recovering at home and packing. He then made one trip with no problems. Earlier this week, he was attempting to jumpseat to work for his next regularly scheduled trip only to find out that his airline had not reactivated him in the system and he was unable to jumpseat to work. Several phone calls and days later, we find out his HR dept extended his medical leave until the recent day and wiped the trip he already flew off his schedule. So now he's stuck trying to get all that straight, get paid for the trip he missed due to their error, and still manage to move into a new house. September brings his annual recurrent training along with his need to have is ATP written exam done, neither of which he has begun to study for yet. Once we clear those hurdles, we should be in good shape to get on with some boring, routine life for a while. But really, with A, it's always something.

The new house is good. I love our neighborhood- there is a boy kidzilla's age down the street, there are nightly driveway cocktails in the cul-de-sac, and some anonymous neighbor mowed our lawn for us yesterday. We have a lot of elbow grease to put into the house, but it's ours. I worry though- did we do the right thing? As renters, if A got furloughed, we would be able to get out and downsize to a smaller, cheaper (,crappier) place no problem. This is a little more permanent. And every time I read any aviation news, I feel insecure in what our future holds. And I hate this insecure feeling- everything dependant on this contract and that aggreement. I know really there is no security in anything- we could lose our home or my job tomorrow just as easily, but I guess it just doesn't seem to be as much in my face as A's job is. Or his just feels less stable.

A and I just continue to take it day by day and trial by trial with the hope that bright things are just around the corner. And we remain thankful every day for all the things that we DO have right now.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


How has it been more than two months since I posted? So many, many times I have wanted to post and written down on my to do list to post but things just get in the way.

Like Babyzilla. Who is into everything at 18 months. Who is currently precariously balanced standing behind me on the chair I am sitting in, looking over my shoulder. It's damn near impossible to get anything done with him around right now. He opens every drawer, climbs on every surface and is a general nuisance.  But I do say that with love. Right now he's into cords, vacuums and the computer mouse. The other day I took my laptop upstairs to use away from him and he came running into my room with the mouse and mousepad because he knew they went with the missing computer. He has also figured out how to use a yardstick to knock the keys off the keyholder so he can lose play with  them.

We are in the process of buying a house. It ended up being a bit more than we wanted to spend, but it will be ours. Will all solid surface floors so we don't have to worry about Babyzilla spilling on the carpet anymore. And we can invest in some high end appliances finally. I am not looking forward to another move in the August heat, our third. But anything has to be better than the last August move. But luckily, A will be home to take care of everything for me because...

A is going to be off work for 6-8 weeks waiting for the FAA to approve his medical. We have to go through this every two years- cancer testing, submitting paperwork and waiting. And waiting. On the FAA to get through their backlog. An unpaid vacation when we can afford it the least (well, really we can never afford it...). I was angry at A for this, feeling like he should have been more on top of the process and made more effort to hurry the Dr. appointments and paperwork along, but what's done is done at this point.

But in the grand scheme of things we are all doing well. Babyzilla is healthy and thriving. Kidzilla is healthy, thriving and enjoying his time with his dad in California (at least I think, I barely hear from him when he's out there...). I am doing well although still battling the "it wasn't supposed to be like this" blues on occasion. A is doing well and is happy he even has a job right now with all the changes and business developments in the aviation world.

Monday, May 7, 2012

When Dad's Away

A few weeks ago we were at church, listening to a sermon about...something... and the pastor started telling a story about his recently deceased uncle and how good he was. I was kind of half listening; another sector of my mind busily compiling lists of things to do that Sunday, the week beyond and when A got home from his next trip. Then the pastor said something along the lines of "... and he turned down a good job making more money but travel to take a lessor job to be home every night with his kids." And I instantly bristled and felt so ... judged. And while I do believe that parents need to make sacrifices in the name of family once they have chosen to have children, I also believe that only a certain amount of sacrifice is healthy. I don't believe that skipping out on one's dream job and being unhappy every evening because you hate your job makes for a better family life or parental role model. I lived with a parent who hated their job.

My lasting irritation from that morning sermon was quelled when I read a post about similar experiences from Joanna here. She's much more eloquent that I can be on the subject. It's good to know we're all in this together.

(PS. This is my 300th post!)

Monday, March 26, 2012

At the speed of Flight Aware

The other day I had to pick A up at the airport in the evening. It wasn't too late, but late enough that if I put the kids to bed I would have had to rouse them for the trip. The combo of knowing I had to get up early the next morning and excitement that he was coming home sent me into overload. As I was incessantly hitting the refresh button on Flight Aware to see how far out he was I realized that I needed to step back for a minute and take a breather. Really, hitting the refresh button wasn't going to make his flight go any faster. Then my thoughts started wandering, wondering, and wishing that there were a Flight Aware tracker for the rest of my life. When am I going to get off this leg and onto the next? How many more legs are left in this journey? Will there be more turbulence? I hate not knowing what is in store.

In the meantime, everything just rolls along. I work and come home and work and play Supermom. A works and comes home and works and does chores. The boys continue to grow. Kidzilla will be 10 at the end of the week. It is amazing to me to reflect back on all the changes, in both him and me, in the last 10 years. It's already summer here again- but the nice part, before the heat and humidity set in. It's like everything is on autopilot and we are just following the vectors we are given.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

When Motherhood is hard

I came across two essays in an online magazine recently that I identified so much with. The first is about the daily rush and taking time to breath and just barely holding on- Surrounded. The second is about waiting for loved ones to return and the secret fear that they won't- Calendar. Both essays feel like things I think about on a weekly (if not more) basis.
A made it through is surgery fine and blessedly the tumor pathology was fine. So one more week and then back to work for him. Just in time to leave me with no one to babysit for Kidzilla's spring break. We just never seem to be able to get our timing right! So far I've kept A so busy at home that being a stay at home dad is a full time job. Which is how it should be :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

The problem with illness

Probably in light of the fact that the anniversary of A first being diagnosed with cancer four years ago is this Sunday and the fact that he's due to have new tumor removed just days before that, I've been ruminating on what going to the doctor means for him as a pilot. It means wondering every time if the medication he's prescribed is on the FAA no-go list. It means constantly wondering if every ear ache, muscle strain or broken toe is going to disqualify him from working for a time. Or forever. It means trying to remember every doctor visit he had in the last year so he can list it for his FAA medical. It means being careful and discrete how things are worded so they don't end up being used against him later. It means being forced to take time off work when others could just work through their illness. It means trying to convince our insurance provider that yes, he does need the $3000 a pop shot because the traditional testing method would mean he was out of work for 12 weeks A YEAR. I'm beginning to understand why A hates going to the doctor.

A's barely told anyone about his upcoming surgery. He hardly even talks about it to me. I know he's got a lot bottled up inside that he: doesn't want to admit, wants to shield me from, wants to pretend is not happening. I don't blame him- I don't know if I'm ready to be "the girl who's husband has cancer" again any more than he's ready to be "the guy with cancer" again. I've stopped worrying about it all because there is nothing my worrying can do. The tumor is there. Either its cancerous or it isn't. Worrying or praying isn't going to change what already IS. But I have laid it out at God's feet and asked for the strength to get through whatever the result brings us.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

All over again

A few weeks ago, A came home from a trip with a bad sinus and ear infection. A trip to the ENT led to antibiotics and then a CT scan of his face. The infection has cleared up, but yesterdays return visit for the scan results told us that he has a mass in one of his sinus cavaties. Possibly another tumor. (If you just said "WTF, does this guy have all the luck or what", you are not alone.) Surgery is scheduled for late next week. We're expecting at least two weeks off of work for him, due to the risk of him bleeding out if there is a decompression on the airplane, which will be unpaid since A can't manage to accrue ANY sick time. My prayer is that we are able to endure this trial as well as we have been able to endure the others we have faced, with grace, wisdom, and support from friends and family.

Friday, January 27, 2012

No news is no news

Wednesday was my birthday. Not a milestone one, but still something to be recognized. A was on a trip from Monday through Thursday so he wasn't home. Not really a big deal, but after a monumental miscalculation on his part, my birthday likely won't be a small deal anymore.

We're still thinking about moving to base eventually- due to things like "if we lived in base, I'd be home by now" syndrome and "I don't want to pay for a crashpad"-itis. But today it is near 80 degrees (!) here. And we have the #3 and #5 ranked high schools in the nation here. And I have friends here. But, but, but...

Right now I'm just swamped at work with patients, swamped at home with the kids and the house and really just ready for the weekend already.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's all up in the air

A few days ago, I was doing the dishes and wondered if Amazon sold dish washing liquid because surely it was easier and quicker to just order it and have it arrive with my free two day shipping then it was to actually make a trip to the store after work to get some. It would be here by now. And I still haven't been to the store...

In a fit of insanity who knows what, A bid for and received all weekends off this month. Which is great because we get to spend time together as a family doing recreational family things. Except that when I really need help is on weekdays when I'm likely to get out of work barely on time, rush to pick up the kids and then arrive home tired, cranky and with a list of chores to accomplish to keep the house, and us, running.  A hates to have to spend his days off alone at home with a list of to-dos. We have rehashed this issue many, MANY times. If he wants us to support his *livin' the dream*, then he's got to make some sacrifices too.

Lately we've been revisiting the living in base option too. Commuting is wearing on A and takes away from our time together. But I really don't want to move to the cold, snowy northeast and I don't think A does either. Which leaves us... Texas. And while we've been there a few times and were seriously considering moving there until we found out about A's cancer, I just can't bring my self to be excited about it anymore. I like it HERE. By the ocean, where the job I already love to hate is, where I have a few friends, where I know where everything is. But then again, a one hour drive from the airport vs spending hours waiting for a 2.5 hr flight to get home. A dropped on me a few months ago that he expected to be a lifer at his airline which means we'd only have to move to base once, but now seems to be unsettled again.

Friends of A's who started with the airline only 6 months before him are upgrading to Captain. Which means (hopefully) that his time isn't too far off. Which, while making our home lives even worse by being at the bottom of the seniority list again, can buy me some happiness with the extra cash meaning I can cut back a little. Who knows how it will all shake down 6 months or a year from now- a few years ago A was 23 people from being furloughed. Now he has 600+ people below him.

As A once told a traveler who asked him how the severe weather at the time was likely to affect her travel plans- it's all in the hands of the lord.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baby love

As a mom who has breastfed at locations from airports to zoos, with memorable locations such as at the camp fire of a boy scout overnight, sitting in the Atlantic ocean, and while walking through Universal Studios, I applaud those who have had to deal with negativity while feeding their babies the way nature intended! And I enjoyed this article very much! My own sweet little Babyzilla has already grown from a 6lb cuddlebug to a 22lb walking explorer who gets into every damn thing. Life with my now one year old is never dull. Just ask my frying pans, shoes and the cats.