Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Preparing for Life After Army

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.

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