Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Obama...

...and I don't even have to hold my nose while I pull that lever. I'm excited to vote for the first time in many years.

I'm not voting for Obama because he's black. I'm not basing it on his position on abortion (I'm pro-choice) or gay marriage (I'm for it). But there's more to it than that.

I'm not voting against McCain, although his voting record on veteran's issues is abysmal, people. When he said, "I'll take care of you" during the first debate, it was all I could do not to throw my beer bottle off the balcony at the big screen on the Square. Look it up, his record sucks big donkey balls. The most recent insult was his opposition to the Webb GI Bill for the dumbest reason I've ever heard, that it'll hurt retention.

Know what hurts retention? Back-to-back, multiple, and/or 15-month deployments, that's what. Having to essentially choose between any semblance of a personal life and your career, because you ain't getting both with two wars raging. The military is a life you either love or hate, and most folks act accordingly. I honestly can't imagine leaving it because the GI Bill finally became worth more than exactly one tinker's damn. There may be a tiny percentage of soldiers out there who'll leave for it, but I would strongly argue that retention in the military is already in the toilet, and only a small percentage of those leaving will go back to school. We've earned those educational benefits with blood, sweat, and tears in abundance, and don't give me that crap about hurting retention with so many other, much better reasons for leaving the military out there.

But back on point--my vote for Obama is not one against McCain, either. As much as I loathe Sarah Palin, it's not even a vote against the specter of McCain dropping dead. Although, that would keep me up at night, Palin at the reins.

Here's my main reason for not only voting for Obama, but feeling rather excited about it. When I was in officer training, a wise First Sergeant told me that the best leaders are not the fastest runners. The best leaders know who their fastest runners are, and they're willing to use them.

In other words, you don't have to be an expert on the economy, diplomacy, health care, etc. Who the hell could be? But the sense I get from Obama is that he's willing to respectfully listen to a wide range of opinions and perspectives on any given issue, then reason through it all and come up with his course of action. What a refreshing change that would be, someone who didn't surround himself with yes-men and egomaniacs!

I want the smartest guy in the room at the helm, especially when he's deliberate and reasoned. Now that I'm in law school, I'm IMMENSELY impressed that Obama was #1 in his Harvard Law class. I'm no idiot, but there's no way in hell I'll finish #1 here at Ole Miss Law. I'd be very happy to be in the top 10% down here at my little state school, where the competition is nothing like what he was up against there.

So bottom line, I'm voting for Obama because I get the sense that he's a man of reason, who is interested enough in issues to educate himself on all the complexities of each one by using the fastest runners. You won't hear him referring to Muqtada al-Sadr as a Sunni (ahem, McCain).

So in other news, I feel much more in control, somehow. I feel pretty good about my chances to do well this semester. I won't make all A's, maybe not even majority A's. But it's okay, the world doesn't end. I'm going to have to reset my standard of performance from undergrad, when a B would've been...well, rare.

I think that getting back into the gym 4 times a week has really helped with the control factor. I'm even back to running regularly, tough hill repeats on the treadmill 2-3 days a week. My diet's not great since I stopped cooking (no time), but one could do worse than to live on Lean Cuisine and the occasional BBQ sandwich and piece of southern fried catfish. I've managed to maintain the Iraq weight loss within five pounds and that'll do for now.

And I'm looking forward to pulling the lever on Tuesday, with both hands this time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What My Brain Felt Like Last Friday...

...and no, I wasn't drinking. I just needed to brush it off.

Some poor landlord went knocking for the rent and found this. Which convinced me to NEVER rent out my house. I'd feel better about walking into a meth lab. The most disturbing part? There were supposed to be two cats in there somewhere. They probably died of cholera.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ok, freakout passing. It happens from time to time. Just my brain's way of keeping me on my toes. I go through several of these a year and always come out on the other side reassured and ready to drive on.

I'll do fine. I may or may not make top 10%--it wouldn't be the end of the world and I can probably still poke my way into DOJ with all the veteran's advantages (and the clearance) if my grades aren't where I want them to be.

I just have to be OKAY with not getting straight-A's. It was fairly easy to get there in undergrad--hard work directly translated to a 4.0, and that's just not the case in law school. Again, I just have to be okay with some B's, not get upset and think it's failure. It's NOT.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

So it's been a rough couple of weeks, during which I've felt a bit unmoored and uncomfortable. I *know* this happens every time I make a big change--I feel really great about it initially, then the doubts start creeping in: Am I really going to be able to pull this off? Was it such a great idea to leave a lucrative career in which I actually knew what I was doing to this amateur status again? In this economy? What will I do if my Plan A (DOJ prosecutor) falls through?

The toughest part really has been moving from an established career where I'd figured things out, for the most part, and entering this completely alien field. At this point in my life, I HAAAATE going back to being an amateur. But we're all in the same boat, we're all total amateurs, no matter how hard we work or how well any of us thinks we understand the concepts. Thing is, I often feel I've got something down, only for that principle to be contradicted in the next lesson or case.

It's a LOT to keep straight, a lot to remember. I'm trying to spend this weekend going back through all my notes, keeping older material fresh in my mind. It's fleeting--I lose a lot when I don't put in the time to review.

Plus, I've had a couple of weeks of total personal chaos, fed even more by all the doubt, of course, just to keep things as stressful as possible.

One thing I really miss about Iraq was the comraderie--I had a wonderful group of friends there and I miss having so much in common with everyone around me. We'd all been through many of the same things, both separately and together, and there seemed to always be a recognition among us that I completely lack in my current environment. And we were all pretty close in age--I feel like quite the grandma here. It's an odd feeling--age in the military was an asset, and here it seems to be a liability. Or maybe I'm just paranoid. Yeah, that's very possible.

The thing I need to keep in mind is that I've been through this before. A few times, actually. And it always works out in the end. Rinse, then repeat.