I looked like this the night before my military career started.
I hope I make the transition out more smoothly!
Since August of 2007, this blog has been my external memory about life as a very old soldier. Next year, that phase of my life will come to an end. To that end, I decided to start writing about all of my life, not just the Army part of it.
When I started this blog, rejoining the Army was a wide-eyed adventure for me. It was a strange journey I could share with friends and family. It turns out that many more people started reading my posts to get an idea of Army life. Especially when I was in Iraq, I could provide a view of life for soldiers families that the soldiers themselves would not.
Beginning in July, I will start unraveling my identity. This journey is in some ways more scary than becoming a soldier at 54. Beginning in July of this year, I will no longer be employed full time. If the arrangement I proposed is accepted, I will become a consultant, working just two days a week at what is currently my full-time job.
I have worked full time since my senior year of high school. From age twelve to seventeen, I worked full-time in the warehouse where my father worked during the summers. Since 1970, I have collected unemployment twice for two weeks each time. Full-time worker, either blue-collar or professional, is how I see myself.
Will I survive part-time work? It seems like a great thing: more time to read, write, ride, run and swim.
I will be the primary parent for the boys. Will that be my identity?
Unless by some miracle I am extended again, I will leave the Army National Guard in May 2015 with 18 years an no retirement. Even if I stay for 20, the arcane retirement rules may leave outside of the retirement system.
Right now I shave every morning and cut my hair “high and tight” and do not have to think about growing a beard. Not allowed. What happens when I am a civilian and all things are possible. Will I be a weird old guy with an Army haircut? Grow my hair, a beard?
Will I return to being a bicycle racer? I have a license. I still ride. Will I have enough time to ride 10,000 miles per year and become (somewhat) competitive again? When I rode that much, I was not in the Army, I didn’t run, or swim or do much of anything (for exercise) except ride.
When I work part time, I will be writing, but only those two days a week. I could write more. I will be a civilian. I could write about anything. Would writer be my identity? I am a writer now because I get paid to do it. I would like to write with no commercial purpose. Right now I am on a plane listening to a crew member read a script about why I should sign up for a SkyMiles credit card. I could have written that. I don’t want to.
After today, I will write about all the rest of my life on what is an Army blog, because many things I do for the next year will be part of the transition out of camouflage and into spandex and denim.
So you will hear more about my wife and kids and friends. I will still write about the Army stuff. This year in particular, I plan to write about more soldiers during summer camp.