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figuring it out

16 Oct

everyone,

somehow three entire months have passed since i last wrote on here – the entire summer! it’s taken that amount of time for me to want to refer to tacoma as home, which it now it is.

our house is a sanctuary, our neighborhood is full of kind people, i’ve mastered the tacoma bus system (and am super excited that a mass-transit pass is part of my tuition at UW), i now know how to chain my bike up without it taking 15 minutes, i have people to share my life with, my master’s program has finally begun (and i LOVE it – even with the ridiculous amounts of reading and weekly 10 page papers), and i am starting an internship at the city of tacoma in two weeks! this weekend, kelsey and i were out for drinks and we were talking about the social norm of answering “fine” to the question “how are you?” without actually saying how you are. but i realized, that for the first time in a very long time i can firmly answer that question truthfully! i am fine! (as long as i don’t think about the political/social/environmental situation in our world.)

so, to catch everyone up here are select photos of our adventures from the last few months! with the hope that i can make time to keep this blog updated!

IMG_9345mommy visited chris and i, so of course we hiked up to tolmie peak

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when she visited, we drove up to vancouver to go to the kit and ace store and also ride a beautiful 10 mile loop around their giant park with breathtaking views!
IMG_9465i’ve been making a concerted effort to involve myself in the tacoma community! here i am during SKY’s “yoga in the park” day – it was marvelous.

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in the same realm as before, upon moving i knew i needed a new friendship backbone. and this beautiful soul is the core of my new social life <3
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then, i flew back to the east coast, where i was reminded with cumulus clouds are, and my daddy came home to visit!! all four of us together!!
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and then nick was a champion, and proposed to his love, lisa. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THEM TO GET MARRIED SO I CAN LEGALLY HAVE A SISTER <3
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here’s a photo from a typical day of work for me currently. going to job locations and interviewing their veterans/military spouses and also posing with excellent wallpaper!!
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again, friendship is happening <3 moving is strange and it takes awhile to feel like you belong – but we are making it happen, together.
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here’s a photo of matt and chris in canoes during our double date/trip to bend, oregon!
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mommy and i flew to LA to meet up and celebrate my cousin elizabeth get married to trevor! so much love AND so much fun, i love my mommy!
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lol this one is too good not to post.

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and then the next wedding the marvelous, brilliant, beautiful (and my PFF) kitty came to visit me for a weekend! i made her hike up a mountain to a lake even though she was fasting! (that’s the kind of friend i am, kind of overbearing lol)
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lol one more of kitty and i and chris, of course blurry because we were power walking to ice cream social.
IMG_0428and then last weekend we attended another wedding! but this time it was in nashville and it was for tim and danielle, our old neighbors and precious friends. mommy came to that one too. but for us, the fall wedding circuit is over!

xoxo,
annie
(p.s. i promise to write more)

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on “transitioning”

13 Jul

ok i am back! now that i have shared a bunch of beautiful pictures, i have some reality i wish to discuss with my online followers.

as you may or may not know, june 30th was my last day in the army. the last day i’ve been paid and the last day i could answer the question, “so what do you do” with a real answer. yes, i know, i am now technically a student, but classes for my master’s program don’t start until september. i took a lot of pride in having a career and working for my money and supporting christopher and i’s life together. i didn’t know how much i valued paying for my own groceries and items and bills until, quite recently, i haven’t been able to do so.

i digress. i began my “ETS leave” at the beginning of may, and although i wasn’t going to work, i definitely wasn’t relaxing. i started leave at the beginning of christopher’s week of graduating vanderbilt medical school, so i was hosting relatives and shuttling people and hosting a party and dinners – and although it all was AMAZING having the family in town and chris graduating and getting promoted to captain (!), i didn’t have a chance to really think about what was happening in my life. then the monday after his graduation, the movers came to pack, and then they loaded our worldly possessions up and then we drove across the country.

before we knew it, we were in tacoma with a week to kill before the movers brought our things – so we filled our time adventuring and eating voodoo doughnuts in portland. then the movers came, we set up our house and chris started orientation at the hospital on june 1.

the first day chris was gone, i started my thirty day study plan for the PMP exam. thus began my weekday life for the next month, studying for about four hours every morning and then job searching and applying for jobs in the afternoon. when he came home at the end of the day, i was frustrated with what i saw as my foreseeable future (at least until september when classes began). i explained my feelings with him, but as the days went on i became more and more distraught. it is easy to pretend to the world that life is all rainbows and butterflies on instagram – i mean, it isn’t all a smokescreen. i do love living here and everything is beautiful and perfect when i’m out exploring our new town, but the moment i get home i felt like i wasn’t contributing to the world in any real way. it is truly discouraging to feel like your resume is strong and your experience meaningful, and then not have that validated in any way.

during my four months in the hiring our heros program, we received SO MANY lectures about how “transitioning” (i keep putting it in quotes because i don’t like that this is the verb we use to describe leaving the army and entering the civilian sector) is hard and different. but truly, i thought it would be fine for me, or at least i would feel fine. i knew finding a job would take time, and logically i knew it would be harder because i am looking for a part time job in the non profit world while i’m in school, and all of the junior officer recruiters are looking for full time employees for the corporate world. but it really brought me down and i started to realize i didn’t even know where to start. online applications are so impersonal and i didn’t think i was getting any traction (i did get one interview from an online application though. but one out of like twenty.)

after one particularly tearful night with christopher, he sat down with me and looked over job boards with me and encouraged me to contact the veteran affairs office at UWT because when we had visited there previously someone had told me that the woman in charge was a west pointer (i was so hesitant to reach out to anyone – probably my pride problem). so i reached out to her, and to the person in charge of the hiring our heros coordinator at JBLM. one thing let to another and i started meeting face to face with some community leaders in tacoma, and i eventually was recommended to meet one amazing woman, who also is a veteran, and business owner and general superstar in the community. i reached out to her and since that day (just over a week ago lol), my life has felt like it is moving in the correct direction. i’ve signed up for many networking and community events because of her (yes, they are uncomfortable, and reaching out to strangers is awkward, but building a network is so essential, as she’s teaching me). and on tuesday i attended the greater tacoma community foundation’s women’s economic opportunity workshop because my new mentor was a speaker on one of the panels. she literally took me by the hand to meet two other women that could help me, and i have another meeting next week to talk about life and where my path should lead with one of them. i was encouraged to be surrounded by people trying to improve tacoma for women, and by doing that, for everyone.

she’s encouraged me to truly take some time off. and it has helped so much. even simply having the mindset that it is ok to take a break (and not scouring job boards every hour of every day) to figure out what makes you happy and centered. i passed my PMP exam sunday (!) and i had an incredible interview yesterday at a company i can stand behind. although i haven’t had any job offers, i feel so much better opening my lines of communication and meeting so many amazing leaders in this community. i feel like i’m on the right path. i’ve been collecting business cards like pokemon cards, and reaching out to every person i’ve met and exchanged information with.

my story isn’t an actual success story, but to me it already feels like a success story. because i am meeting people and integrating myself into our new community. of course, i hope soon to make at least a little bit of money to offset tuition costs and to not have to ask chris permission (barf) to buy whatever i want from anthroplogie’s sale. but these relationships are more important than working somewhere i am miserable.  so i guess my main message here is: human interaction is essential, and admitting you don’t know what you are doing is humbling and hard but has led me to some great places already.

it has been hard to my independent pride to come to terms that i am unemployed. i am extremely privileged to be able to say this and to be able to take my time with my next move. i also admit that i am so so lucky to have chris and money saved and food on the table. i want to work somewhere where i can help those not quite as fortunate. and by dipping my toe into the beautiful nonprofit pool that exists in tacoma, i feel like my dream of doing that is much closer than it was a month ago. i already owe so much to this woman who has been helping me (due to privacy and such i’m withholding her name), but what a game changer.

my advice to you, if you’re considering leaving the service or a job in general, is to have a plan – but realize that the plan needs to be flexible and you need people to help you. try to build a network where you’re headed – hang up your pride hat on the peg on the wall, and realize that almost everyone has been where you’ve been, and will offer help – but you have to ask, first.

xoxo,
annie

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needless to say i totally made the right decision to leave, for me. but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t going to be challenges.

we drove across the country!

24 May

hello, readers!

i am happy to report that i am writing this from our new little home in tacoma, washington! we made the journey (and had our internet installed today), so i wanted to share a photo from each day of our cross-country road trip. i have a lot more to say about many things, but this will have to suffice for now.

wednesday 17 may:
we left pleasant view, tennessee at 0430 in the morning. we planned about a 12 hour driving day (our longest by far) so we left early – but since i was so excited to get started, i didn’t sleep much to begin with haha. below is a picture from a little town called dakota dunes, south dakota where we stopped for the night – i took this photo on a run!

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thursday may 18:
on day 2 we drove to rapid city, south dakota. we spent that whole day delighting in south dakota! i’ve never driven across the state east to west, but the landscape is ever changing and beautiful. although we also checked out mount rushmore, nestled in the black hills, here is a crazy photo from the bad lands national park! (also, that hat did fly off of my head once, and i had to chase it down before it was swallowed into the landscape)

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friday may 19:
we drove to bozeman, montana on this day. we started off, though, driving to deadwood so chris could see the town that was the basis of the deadwood hbo show he loves. it snowed!!! it was snowing in may deep in the black hills and it was wild to me (especially since we didn’t get any snow in tennessee this winter). anyway, montana is breathtaking. i had never been there before, so i pulled off on many exits just to take a photo of the scenery. like below:

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saturday may 20:
after a super fun night out in bozeman (seriously!), we woke up early to first drive to yellowstone before we continued our journey. this was a great decision. we drove around yellowstone national park for about five hours gazing on the rugged terrain and prairies, and seeing SO MANY BISON! i loved it. i would have pet them if i wasn’t so scared/or if the park rangers weren’t right there telling people not to haha. after we went to yellowstone, we drove back up into the mountains to whitefish, mt.

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sunday may 21:
whitefish was amazing and i already miss it. it is a little ski town north of the beautiful flathead lake and we are obsessed. with the scenery, the people, the restaurants and breweries and the vibe in general. our first night there we went to dinner and the waiter asked us how we were doing – and, i kid you not, he answered for us with “of course you’re great, because you’re here!” and i agreed with him! anyway. on sunday we woke up and drove to glacier national park! below is a photo of chris playing in the crystal clear water. we also went on a hike up to avalanche lake, and thankfully i didn’t have to use my bear spray (the thought of even using it terrified me – bears are scary!).

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monday may 22:
monday was the last leg of our journey!! we drove through the rest of montana, and then through eastern washington – which has a very high prairie feeling. below is a photo of this incredible overlook which shows the arid quality of east washington – but also the elevation.

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end!
we made it!! over the length of the drive, my car gained over 3,000 miles (we took my car through the extra expeditions off of the route, since i left room in the passenger seat for a second person haha) and we drove through ten states!! 1/5 of america in one go! my main take away is that america really is america the beautiful. we didn’t go for more than four hours without the landscape changing completely. i entered this trip with a lot of trepidation and anxiety, but it ended up being so much fun. i’m super glad chris planned in an extra night in whitefish, so we could have a little break. because believe it or not, i got sore from driving?? my shoulders and neck and back needed a break from being seated and alert all day.

needless to say, we now live in the pacific north west in an adorable old home we are renting. step one of huge-life-change complete!
IMG_8686(we went to lowes and immediately bought some deck chairs lol)

xoxo,
annie

feisty me

11 Apr

written while watching “the collection” on amazon (i am obsessed. fashion design + paris + beautiful garments + murder and intrigue)

hello! today i “graduated” from the program i have been in for the last four months. if you’re curious, here is a link to their page. the department of commerce supports this amazing program (hiring our heroes) which gives veterans leaving the service a chance to pad their resume with some real job experience and prepare us for our big transition (and has led to job offers and leads within my cohort)! i loved my time with amazon, and am feeling much more prepared for what comes next (even though it won’t be with amazon since i am headed to grad school).

IMG_0878 anyway, with this program finished, i have 23 days left in the army. time to get all of my stuff in order!

the other day, i was out with one of my friends who has recently joined my army unit. i’ve never before had a friend join whatever unit i am part of, which has allowed me the free reign to lead and act as i feel necessary at work without people hearing about me or hearing what other people have said about me. you know how people can talk – and in an army unit full of primarily men, i’ve sometimes wondered what people said about my leadership style and actions behind my back. not because i’ve done anything wrong, but because i think i act much differently than the status quo of male military man. i am passionate and loud and full of opinions, and i’ve learned over the years not to let a conflicting opinion stop my train.

anyway, he is working with a man who i once worked with, and our paths used to cross often. when i asked my friend what said man thought of me, he said he said “although we didn’t agree on everything, she certainly is feisty.

i’ll go with that. my legacy to the army will be my feisty actions. and yes, i will focus on the positive connotations of that word haha.

xoxo,
annie

we are moving to tacoma (and six months i’ve forgotten)

5 Apr

hello everyone! so my favorite english/american bestie has officially started her blog (after being unable to due to studying for her law exams), and it has reminded me that i haven’t posted anything in six months.

biggest life point: we are moving to tacoma, washington in may! christopher will begin his journey as a doctor at madigan hospital in june. i am so proud of him! and i am SO EXCITED to move to the pacific north west (please see one of my many posts about how i am eager to leave the south). and also in may, i leave the army!

to fast forward through the months i have missed i will post just two photos from each month:

november:

nov 1

the first important point of november 2016 was that i proudly cast my vote for hillary clinton is this solid red state of tennessee. i cast that vote as a very disillusioned american. to be honest, i also haven’t written much because i have felt so many intense emotions (mostly negative) about the election and i didn’t want to announce them here. needless to say: i am not happy. but i have been buoyed by the women’s march and the activists fighting for what is just and kind and i have began a journey towards helping our country in the small way i think i can handle. but more on that soon.
nov 2chris and i took our yearly photos for our new years card at my family’s home in virginia. it was beautiful and dad has some awesome photo ideas haha.

december:

dec 1
daddy drove over to tennessee for a quick weekend to help me buy a new car! my jetta was affected by the vw diesel scandal – but my buy back gave me a hefty down payment on my new car. also, we spent christmas in houston with the wallaces, which was also great!
dec 2
for new years, our friends kristen, lisa, and becca came to stay with us for a couple of days of fun to ring in 2017! here is a photo of lisa and i before we went downtown. in exciting news, lisa is my brother’s girlfriend! (!!!) it’s awesome because she is a strong, independent woman who is also a veterinarian and also a super cool person and awesome and was became part of our lives because her and chris were friends in BOLC! and then my brother found out she liked the pixies too and the rest was history lol. talk about excellent small world situations.

january:

jan 1
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS POST. last may, i bought chris and i tickets to see hamilton in new york city for my birthday in january. when i say “it was the most amazing experience of my life, i cried almost the whole time, and it even managed to exceeded my incredibly high expectations,” i mean it very honestly. we love new york city, and hamilton, and snow, and singing songs while walking down the streets. experiencing the musical in its whole form (not just audio like on the cast recording) was a magical situation. wow. i get chills just thinking about it.

jan 2
my baby brother came home!! he spent four-ish months in the middle east doing great things for his brigade and his country. i’m so proud of the high praise he received – but i am even more proud of him for being accepted to the army’s lawyer program! he will be beginning law school at UNC in the fall!! i am surrounded by geniuses!

february:

feb 1
my favorite framily is pictured here via a hastily taken selfie at a four way intersection in atlanta. we all went to see christopher’s favorite band, AFI, and had a great time! i love spending time with these people – so much joy! my heart is already crying for all of our moves. we will live 2,907 apart – i just did the google search. :(

feb 2i was invited to interview at seattle pacific university for their clinical psychology phd program! it was my first time in seattle, and my first time interviewing for an academic program. i ended up being accepted (!), and although i rejected the offer, i absolutely loved the experience and faculty and THE CITY. the mountains and water and love and equality were palpable in all ways. i can’t wait to spend much more time in seattle (which is about 30 miles north of where we are moving).

march:

mar 1
KITTY AND GREG GOT MARRIED IN CANCUN! chris and i took a mini vacation to spend a long weekend with some of our favorite people in the world. we had limitless drinks and food and sunshine. and also, kitty is my pff and i will follow her around the world forever and ever <3

mar 2
CADAVER BALL 2017!!! oh my goodness, world, chris is graduating medical school next month. i’ve loved all four (!) of the cadaver balls i have attended with chris as his girlfriend, then fiance, then wife – but this one was the most magical. i will miss these friends we have in nashville, but they are all going to soar to great medical/life heights.

and as for me, i have accepted my offer to attend the university of washington for their community planning masters program. one our way home from our christmas break in houston, i tried to imagine the perfect degree program for me. i wanted something that would teach me how to help the people of our country at the lowest level – at the community level – how to make their lives better and more healthy and for them to rise to great heights. so that one day i can work in local government, and then hopefully move my way up. and in an amazing turn of events, i found the program that would show me how to do that! and it was in the town we are moving to!

because if i have learned one thing this political season, it is that i am no longer going to sit by and let things happen. i want to help change this country to be more kind. i want to make people’s lives better. i want to advocate for all people, and for the equality of all.

“i am no longer accepting the things i can’t change. i am changing the things i can’t accept.” -angela y. davis

xoxo,
annie

dear pat

10 Oct

dear pat,

this month marks three years since you were killed in afghanistan.

every october since i found out about your passing, back on october 15th 2012 while i was in uganda, i’ve taken the month to listen to green day and think about those easy days in carlisle, pennsylvania.

this year, in addition to the regular american idiot album rotation (you was the first boy to give me a cd, and in this case, it was the noted green day album, american idiot), i’ve also been listening to hamilton a lot. one song in particular.

this song makes me cry now. i think of you and what you would have done had you lived a longer life. what you would have done with more time. and if i will do enough with the time i have been allotted. i like to fantasize that if you had lived, i would have reached out at the end of your deployment, that i would have gotten the whole “white house crew” back together. but realistically that probably wouldn’t have happened. your death shook me. it propelled me to turn my head away from the army and look seriously towards somewhere else, anywhere else. it was your death that made me start researching psychology programs three and a half years before my commitment was up to the army.

i just know i need to make the most of the time i have here, for you, and for myself.

and as i’m wont to do, i took a look through some of my old journals. i also found some old aim conversations i printed off years ago and felt so much embarrassment for the diction and vocabulary of my ninth grade self. here’s my first journal entry of a new journal where i first wrote about you:

img_6404you can also see how i’ve always been a stage 9 clinger (sorry!)!
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and here is baby me (at the end of the table) and you to my left. we’re both pirates at an excellently themed pirate party in 2004.

time is weird. death is also weird. we miss you.

xoxo,
annie

 

our vacation to england and scotland!

7 Oct

dear world,

it’s me again! of all of the ridiculous things happening in 2016 (our presidential election, the continuation of police brutality among unarmed black men, the numerous accidental bombings on “good guys” in syria, the refugee crisis, hurricane matthew, global warming, etc) i still need to first post a few photos from christopher and i’s trip to england and scotland from the beginning of september! since chris and i returned from england, we’ve been nonstop, but i have had a desire to share a little about our trip – especially since i’m away from facebook and some of my friends/family have been asking.

we had a layover in iceland and it was the most gorgeous land i’d ever see. img_5772we had the best time learning about and utilizing all of the public transportation – especially in london. i bought a city map and tube map ahead of time, and we were never lost, and before we even left i ordered two oyster cards preloaded with pounds so we’d be good to go!img_5788
on our first full day in london we headed to the churchill war rooms, since christopher is obsessed with him. i entered without expecting much, and then came to realize that this is a very worthwhile museum! even if you aren’t into history or the like. it’s well organized and insightful and a great homage to a great man.img_5798
did my tourist due diligence by stopping by big ben and grabbing a flake :)img_5803img_5817
love how much my husband loves art. literally the best. img_5828one of the views from the sky garden:img_5834img_5839after a couple of days in london, we headed to kings cross station for our train ride to edinburgh! (and to stop for a photo op with platform 9 and 3/4!)img_5851img_5864img_5865i had chris stop for a photo op on our straight up hill journey to our air bnb in beautiful edinburgh!img_5888our airbnb was beautiful and perfect and i want to go back constantly.img_5895dinner overlooking the edinburgh castle with my cutie in the sunshine img_5920
we took a day trip to see some of scotland, and it was money well spent! here are some photos from our rainy trip up to the wallace monument! (which is relevant since christopher’s last name is wallace and they trace their heritage back to the original OG william wallace!)img_5932img_5940
driving through the smoglands was the most magical experience. i wish we could have stopped so i could have taken a proper photo, but here’s an idea of it: rocky, rising hills, and lush greens and streams. so gorgeous! img_5960
after a rainy morning, the sun came out as we walked through a little highland town named dunkeld!img_5985img_5994
also, dunkeld has great ice cream.img_6008img_6009
here is a view from our air bnb :) a view right over the old college!img_6016
a view of the sea from a high point in edinburgh!img_6017
we went to this awesome indian place that served dishes tapas style. our air bnb host recommended it! it was awesome!img_6019img_6024img_6025

then we headed back to london for our stay in brixton! headed to brixton village for a delicious dinner:img_6054img_6059georgia okeefe had an exhibit at the tate modern, which we of course went to! love an american woman’s work shown in another country! img_6060
the view from the tate:img_6061then we headed to the broadway market in the rain, but that didn’t stop the deliciousness:img_6081img_6088img_6090
the next day was our favorite day in britain – notting hill to meet one of my favorite friends, emma!!img_6104img_6108img_6119img_6128img_6137img_6148
(and we even got to meet emma’s wonderful boyfriend, sam! it was such a treat! especially since she wasn’t feeling well, but wandered around all day with us anyway <3 )img_6151
our final day in london we headed to the ritz carlton for a super fancy afternoon tea!!img_6163img_6165img_6167img_6169img_6180
also, a pretty photo from our final sleeping location:img_6197

of course, i took about a thousand photos, but these are some of my favorites. it was an amazing trip which was enlightening and also a wonderful time to reconnect with christopher – especially after his four months away this summer!

i hope everyone is well, and i’ll post more soon, i promise!

xoxo,
annie