Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy '08

Well, the New Year is here.
The Nook is cozy with the gas fireplace on, but we've been "challenged" by having a poor electrical system that throws a breaker with virtually any load. This makes using our electrical heaters problematic.

The beginning of a New Year is supposed to be a time for comtemplation and hopeful planning. I can honestly say that 2007 was a difficult year for me. I was, if I recall correctly, in six firefights. (Described more accurately, I was attacked by rockets and then did my best to do in my attackers before they could get away. I was sometimes successful.) I was also involved in a few pre-emptive fire mission strikes.

I came back to the United States, which filled me with joy that it's difficult to describe. We should continually strive to make our country a better place, but it IS wonderful, and it's our home. A country is some combination of place, people, and ideals, and I love mine dearly.

I faced the challenges of reintegrating with civilian life, and finding transportation, employment and lodging. I went back to school, taking my first graduate courses.

I tried to do too much. My buddy Matt warned me, but I was superman. And I couldn't do it. Working full time along with a heavy school load and other personal challenges broke me, taking me to my lowest emotional ebb in about nine years.

I'm coming back. I've had to accept some compromises, like being willing to take a loan to handle my expenses to complete my MAT program so I won't have to work full time, and I still am behind on my schoolwork and finances, but I'll do it. I actually have quite a gift for analyzing situations realistically when I let myself use it, and I really can do this. Well.

I have just had another birthday, and I find myself 36, with so many goals still unrealized. This is often a source of frustration for me- I have yet to hold my first child in my arms, and haven't made really decent income since my last year with Nextel before joining the Army in 2001- but I do have friends. Somehow I have managed to find a group of friends more wonderful than anyone could imagine. I have mentors and "laugh buddies" and folks who have my back, and just plain good folk who love me for no good reason. And I love them.

Not every part of the journey is fun, but I'm learning. Thanks for taking the time to share part of this trip with me. Happy 2008.


Unknown said...

We love you man. Anytime you need to talk, you got my mail and phone #, brother. If you ever want to talk about the whole reintegrating into civilian life thing, I'm here w/ the experience. -Scott

Don said...

I don't know anything about reintegration, but if I can help with the school teaching thing, give me a call. My number is in the address thread in two forums you know how to find.

J.R.Shirley said...

Thanks to both of you.

I'm still waiting to hear back from Richmond BOE. If any history positions open, I could be teaching this semester...

phlegmfatale said...

You've been through and seen a lot, and I know that can be wearing. In my opinion, at 36 you're just getting started. I think 2008 will be a great year for you. Cheers!

HollyB said...

I was pickin' my jaw up off the floor when I first heard how many hours you were takin'. I figured you were heedin' Zevon's philosophy of "I'll sleep when I'm dead."
I respect you so much, Dear friend I can't wait to meet. You have had a life rich with experience, already. And you're planning so many more with your love.
John, please be patient with yourself. Perhaps you are impatient because of the time you feel you have "lost". But, you have so much time left. I look back at 36, and all I have learned since then. Shoot, I hadn't even started grad school at 36, and you're almost 1/2 way through!
Although it's not part of your regular reading... please take a look at Ecclesiastes, I think it's chapter 8. It's the verses that "talk" about a season for every activity. Even if a person doesn't believe in the reputed source of the verses, it's still a good philosophy.
I wish you and Jordy every happiness in the coming year, but especially I wish you health and time.

Jenny said...

Oooh - a history teacher? That sounds AWESOME! Go you!

And yeah.. slow and steady, as it were.

Many blessings to the both of ya. :)

Habbs said...

1) You're in a marathon, not a sprint. It's OK to take it easy.

2) Try to take stock in your achievements, contributions to your country, etc.

3) Do your best to enjoy your coursework and university experience.

We're all pullin' for you.

Assrot said...

First and foremost, thank you for defending our freedom.

Next I just want to say, don't give up on that education. I started college when I was 31.

It was hard working full-time and going to school every night and trying to keep the grades up along with taking care of a wife and 3 kids.

After you do it for a while you'll get in the groove and it won't seem as hard.

I didn't want to take other peoples' money and work part time either. What I did was instead of taking the freebies which to me seemed like charity and living off my fellow man, I just took out student loans and paid them back when I was done.

It took me 8 years to get that BSEE. Another 3 to get the MScCE and 5 more years after that to finally get my Ph.D.

I was 47 and doing my post doctoral work. Them young kids think its tough. They don't know tough. Try putting together a dissertation while working full-time and being over 40 years old.

The old synapses start to misfire now and then once you get past 40. It gets a little harder to learn new things and it takes a lot more to remember them.

I got depressed and wanted to quit so many times but somehow pulled it out of the fire everytime.

I guess my point in all this rambling is to try to encourage you by telling you that if this dumb old Georgia country boy with a 9th grade education and a GED can do it, I am damn sure that one of Uncle Sam's finest can do it.

Pace yourself and do the best you can man. Never give up and never let a professor see you sweat. They love to make you jump through hoops. It's more than worth it in the end.

Good luck and God Bless.