I sometimes find it conceited when bloggers apologize for not blogging. How have you been surviving without my regular updates? What if I’ve been kidnapped? What if I’m at the bottom of a residential basement pit, waiting for the basket to drop so I can put the lotion on my skin? You’ve been going about your daily life while I’ve been held hostage by a fictional, cannibalistic serial killer. I hope you’re happy with your choices.
That having been said, I realize it’s rude to go around the Internet convincing people to care about your blog, and then not really caring about it yourself. So I don’t necessarily want to apologize, but I do want to…non-apologize. Which is when you go through the motions of apologizing, but use circular logic to place the blame on the person you’re apologizing to. You’re all a bunch of jerks.
In case the post title is too vague, I’ll come out and say it: I got a job. Cue the hallelujah chorus.
I spent way, way too much time rationalizing my decision to not look for work as a new Army wife. Though, truth be told, I was relatively happy to be unemployed. There are few times in life after age 18 when you have the chance to be relatively responsibility-free. It’s been nice to spend all day crocheting a hat that looks like a shark. It’s been nice to dote on my dog to the point of his near obesity. It’s been especially nice to have time with my husband. Though he’s busy with studying and homework, our time in Monterey is likely the most time we’ll get to spend physically together until his military retirement. This time has been a luxury and a blessing to develop and strengthen our marriage, and for me to grapple with the reality of being an Army wife.
That’s not to say that a job search was ever far from my mind. Living on a soldier’s sole salary doesn’t leave much wiggle room for unplanned laptop crashes, or vet visits, or that time a few weeks ago when my car door caught on fire and melted from the inside out. (Yes, that actually happened. Yes, I’m fine. Yes, I am now afraid to use my auto-window controls.) And although life is manageable on that one income, I’ve been steadily searching for part-time work for a while now.
I was reluctant, however, to jump at most job ads. The job market is still in recovery, and Monterey is filled with Macy’s and Chipotles but not so much with magazines searching for enthusiastic part-time editorial assistants. I ended up applying for every freelance editing gig I could find on Craigslist, regardless of how sure I was that the client was Charles Manson. (True story: He—almost successfully—applied for a credit card while in prison. Smart man. Poor grammar skills.)
So when I came across a bona fide job listing in the Monterey area that was in my field, my heart skipped a beat or 10.
It was a Friday evening, and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning crafting a cover letter and tailoring my resume. I submitted them feeling simultaneously hopeful and pessimistic. It felt impossible that I would snag the first full-fledged, career-worthy job I applied for in Monterey.
But, by some twist of fate or karma, I did.
For the past month, I have been working full time as a writing coach for the Graduate Writing Center at the Naval Postgraduate School. Cue Academy Award acceptance speech.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that the Defense Language Institute (where Jonathan studies) is not the only educational institution in Monterey that draws military. The Naval Postgraduate School, just a few minutes away from DLI, is a graduate college for military officers across all branches, Department of Defense and related employees, some civilians, and foreign military members. The coursework, as you can imagine, is focused on national security and the fields that support it—engineering, public policy, international studies, and many others.
Though I’m unfamiliar with much of the subject matter at NPS, I am very familiar with working at a writing center. In college I took a course—followed by an internship—in national writing center theory and application. I’d nearly forgotten that chapter of my life until this job came along, and I am now increasingly grateful for it.
Writing centers are not editing services; while good editing skills can make it easier to work with academic papers, editing is sometimes prohibited for writing center tutors. This is in part because it often requires the editor to do some re-writing, and writing that does not come from the student is, you know, plagiarism. But the subtler reason is that editing does less to help a student fundamentally than coaching—or tutoring—in writing does.
If you talk to any freelance client I’ve worked with, they will tell you that, as an editor, my tendencies are notoriously teacher-like. Fixing a comma splice is one thing; helping a writer understand how to better organize a story is a much more useful and fulfilling thing. And, when you think about it that way, academic writing and fantasy-fiction are more similar than they seem.
The Graduate Writing Center at NPS is an exemplary writing center. It is only one year old, and it was created because the students expressed a need for it. Because NPS is primarily a graduate school for military officers, it has sometimes been upward of 10 or 15 years since the students have been in college; and writing for graduate-level academia is a lot different than commanding troops in a warzone. So when the school decided to create a writing center, they really did their research. They studied and borrowed from some of the country’s most successful graduate writing center programs, and created an atmosphere that gives both the writing coaches and the students (structured) freedom, which allows for personalized and appropriate mentoring.
This job coming along at this point in my life feels a lot like luck and circumstance, but also a lot like fate. It is an opportunity for me to learn more about military culture, and an opportunity for me to do what I love to do in a way that actively supports students, academia, and the military. Which makes it somewhat of a dream job. The hours are sometimes longer than I’m used to, and the workload is much more intense than in my previous full-time jobs—in my first week of observing my new coworkers, I could tell that they were exhausted. Exhausted, but happy.
And, so far, that is exactly how I feel.
At home, our lives are still in a state of adjustment. Jonathan and I, in the course of our entire relationship, have never been actively working full time at the same time. But we are transitioning into equal household partners nicely. Weekends are consumed with meal prep, cleaning, and errands—tasks that formerly needed little to no planning. Evenings feel more like study hall and gym than recess and lunch. The dog is learning to hold in his pee for eight hours, and is expressing his displeasure by finding creative ways to empty and destroy all the trashcans in the house. Time is moving simultaneously faster and slower than it was a month ago. We were finally able to purchase a kitchen table, and have eaten at it, together, maybe five times.
So what does this mean for Army Pants and Flip Flops? Ultimately, nothing conclusive. My time in Monterey is quickly disappearing; my experience in military wifedom is growing, but not nearly as quickly. This blog has been a place for the anxieties, failures, triumphs, and lessons-learned that come with military life. And those lessons are far from over. Which, to me, means that Army Pants and Flip Flops cannot be over either.
Between some evening and weekend hours for my new job and my desire to keep my Etsy shop up and running, however, blogging may be on the back burner for a bit. But I hope that this little corner of the Internet can still be a useful resource for the plight of military wifedom (or, you know, of anxious people everywhere, trying to function normally in society without…or with…drugs).
Does every member of your household work full time, or does one person have more time to dedicate to the home? What are the challenges and benefits you experience in either lifestyle?