Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Law Degree

As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a lawyer. I used to pretend to be sick at daycare so my Dad had to take me to class at Syracuse Law School, where he was a student. On one such occasion, the professor asked a question. As my Dad and a few of his friends pondered the answer, my father took a quick look over at me. And FREAKED OUT, because I had my hand up. He quickly put my hand down, and out of curiosity, asked me what I was going to say. And as my Dad tells it, I had the right answer. I was probably six.

As the years went by, my interest in a career in Law only grew. I volunteered at the City of Lakewood Teen Court. I was a lawyer representing kids that were in trouble. And if you were a 12-year-old that needed aggressive representation for that chapstick-stealing incident, I was the 13-year-old to call! I visited law schools, I joined honor societies, and I made sure to maintain the best GPA I could in college so that I could have my pick of law schools.

My passion for the law was further stoked by a visit to the Supreme Court in DC. My step-mom had a friend arguing a Colorado case in front of the Supremes and we went to see them. It happened to be the same day as the “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance case was being argued. It was March, and freezing cold. The only way to get in was to sleep in line, overnight, on the steps of the Supreme Court. We thought the line would already be outrageous, so we just stopped by to see… and found ourselves around 15th in line. So, completely ill prepared, we sat down to claim our spot.

We met some amazing people (two boys whose Dad turned out to be the lawyer arguing the pledge case), had some great talks, and contemplated the genius of homeless people that are able to survive these conditions every night. I had to finally take a taxi back to the hotel with one of the boys to steal all the pillows and blankets off the bed and bring them back. Otherwise, I think my butt would have frozen to those famous steps. I will never forget that moonlight, pre-dawn taxi ride along the banks of the Potomac. I fell in love with DC that night. We had a great time singing songs, talking law and a group even tried to order pizza to the steps of the Supreme Court. They did finally succeed in getting someone to deliver.

Morning finally came, and we were sleep deprived, cold and hungry. We went in, and I was in awe. The place was beautiful. Both cases were argued beautifully and each Supreme Court Judge’s personality was on full display. It was a whole night of waiting punctuated by barely an hour of excitement. But it was worth it. We went to a post-party with the lawyers we knew, drank champagne, and reveled in all that is DC. For most lawyers, arguing in front of the Supremes is the Super Bowl of their career. And we were glad to be a part of it. As we left, I was offered a clerking job in the law firm in Denver once I got into law school. I was totally hooked on the law.
I would love to practice law and do pro-bono work. I have not decided what area of law I want to go into, but I like constitutional law a lot. I also like international law and have become very interested in maritime law. Law school is three years long and costs well over $100,000. I just want to be sure that I will be happy doing the job before I spend that kind of time and money. The magic of champagne in the shadow of the Capitol with victorious lawyers is far from the reality of the hard work, long days (and nights), and mountains of paperwork it took to get there. Even with the constraints of the Coast Guard moving us all the time, I know I can make law school happen if that is what I want. My husband is so supportive and willing to do what it takes for both of us to be successful. I just need to make sure that it is what I want still.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yep, this is what my leg looks like when a 4-wheeler rolls over it

Ok, no biggie, but I kind of tumbled down a 10 foot embankment on my 4-wheeler. It was an elegant dance of arms and legs flailing, 4-wheeler flipping over backwards and cartwheeling (over my leg) and dust flying. I'm ok, thank goodness! My leg got the worst of it. They X-rayed my chest and brain just to make sure. But I'm fine, and was more worried about the 4-wheeler than anything else!! Anyway, everyone crashes at least once. I'll just remember next time that when you reach the point of completely vertical, it's possible you will lose the battle with gravity.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Black Jeeps are the new Coach Purse this season

The Top Ten reasons I love Jeeps more than Shoes, Clothes and Purses:

1. A pair of Manolo Blahniks are sexy, but they cost as much as a decent set of mud tires, and I can’t drive over a Suzuki Sidekick in a set of heels.

2. A nice set of mud tires goes with every outfit, and I still look hot in (and can fit into) my Jeep if I gain a few holiday pounds.

3. I can only fit a few items into one of those tiny Gucci purses. I can fit four rednecks, several pallets for the bonfire, a case of beer and a tool set in my Jeep. It even has a special pouch for my cell phone (thanks Dad).

4. If someone is stuck in the mud, I am not going to throw them the strap to my Coach purse and try to pull them out. Hell no.

5. If my Jimmy Choo shoe gets stuck in the mud, it does not come with a device that comes out of it, wraps around a tree and pulls me out. It’s really a safety issue.

6. My expensive clothes look better clean, my Jeep looks better muddy. Less work.

7. The accessories I can add to my Jeep are a hell of a lot cooler than the accessories I can add to an outfit, not to mention more functional. The added zip a necklace gives to that outfit is not nearly as exciting as the added horsepower that K&N cold air intake gives to the Jeep.

8. In clothing and Jeeps, topless means two very different things. Not that I’m against either one, but I get arrested a lot less often when the top is off the Jeep.

9. If the bumper sticker “If your gonna ride my ass, at least pull my hair” was a t-shirt, it may cause some problems… Same with “If I wanted a Hummer, I’d ask your Sister”.

10. Attaching a set of big metal bull balls to the back of your outfit is a lot less attractive than adding them to the back of your Jeep. And come on, you gotta attach those balls to something.

Job #1 Auto Tech

I love Jeeps, off-roading, working on trucks with friends, and riding my ATV out at the mud pit. I have my own subscription to both Off Road and Four Wheeler magazine. My husband and I often debate the finer points of what a better rear-end would be for a certain truck, the pluses of a solid axle, or the gear ratio for the Jeep when we lift it.

Now... I'm a city girl. I grew up in Denver and went to college in the heart of the city. I enjoyed wine tastings, art gallery parties and the like. I moved to Florida when I joined the Domestic Peace Corps building houses for Habitat for Humanity for the year after college. A great set of rednecks took me under their wing, taught me all about four-wheeling, drinking beer and being a good redneck. I even pee in the woods now.

And don't think I'm being derogatory by using the term "redneck". One of my closest friends down here actually has NECK in red writing on the front windshield of his lifted Cherokee. It's a badge of honor in these parts. Anyway, boy if I didn't take to the whole thing like I'd been doing it all my life. And over the last few years, I've made some great friends, had more fun than I thought was possible, got into some trouble and learned a lot about trucks.

I enjoy the freedom of owning a vehicle that I can drive through almost anything and over nearly any obstacle. It's exciting and a huge adventure. I love knowing how something works and taking it apart and fixing it when it doesn't. I love the completely imprecise method of hitting something with a hammer when it doesn't fit. I like to weld stuff. And really, I don't know what girl wouldn't! Doing a build up on a Jeep requires more accessories than I can fit in my two closets! I own more spare car parts than shoes at this point (and that is saying A LOT!!)

I've always been told that people are happiest when they find something they are passionate about and turn it into a job. With a degree from a place like UTI, I could do a lot of things. I could be an auto tech at any shop. I would prefer to be a tech at a shop that does customizations on trucks and Jeeps, and maybe even builds their own truck to enter in truck shows and Jeep jambos. Maybe I could own my own customization shop one day, like a kick-ass chick in this area named Haley. Or, I could somehow acquire my dream job of working for an off-roading magazine. You don't just write - you do the work on the trucks, test them (i.e. off-road for a living) and then produce the article and pictures yourself. DREAM JOB!!! And with the degree in Journalism I already have, it would be a perfect progression of my career. I'd also like to start or work for a non-profit that offers free or low cost work on cars for people that need it most.

Some of the drawbacks: At least for a while, I will probably have to work at a shop gaining more skills after my schooling. The hours are long, it sucks when the bay doors are open and it's cold and wet, the attitudes of the guys can be not-so-nice, and will they hire me even though I'm a tiny girl instead of some big dude? I don't know. The other jobs I listed are much harder to come by... So that dream job might just be a pipe dream.

Some things I need to find out: How long will I have to pay my dues before I can get into a shop that does something other than just fixing cars? And how big is the sex bias in the industry?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Yeah Baby! That's What I'm Talking About!

Now THAT is a Jeep. Ain't it pretty?

Git er Done!

It's nice to finally see a Hummer with some mud on it! These things get over 400 ft. lbs of torque and you never see these beasts gettin' into it out at the pit! Well, you know what Jeep owners say... If I wanted a Hummer, I'd ask your sister ;-)
I considered also posting some law-related pictures, but a proper portrait of the Supreme Court Justices just isn't as fun!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just an aside... I Get Scared at Night.

Sometimes I get scared at night.
Being a military wife means spending a lot of nights alone in the house. We don’t have any kids, so it’s just little old me. So I have a patented danger-escape plan for nights I am home alone and the husband is at the Station. He always says the first thing I should do is call the Station (which is about 10 minutes away). He says they will call the police and a flood of protective Coasties, local police and sheriffs will arrive in minutes. I think maybe 911 would be a better choice, as I don’t want to risk the chance of a reservist answering the phone. The last thing I want in response to “SOMEONE’S BREAKING IN!!” is “wait… whose wife are you?”
So I’ve decided, regardless of which number I end up dialing, I’ve got to have my own plan. I thought about a gun. But any Coastie wife knows how often plans and schedules change and the husband comes through the door at all hours of the night. Accidentally blowing off a warning shot at my husband probably has some drawbacks. I had a friend offer to teach me some hand-to-hand combat using a knife or my hands. But if they are close enough for me to stab them, they are TOO close already. So I decided my best chance is escape. I sleep with my bedroom door locked, and I sleep next to a window with a big screen in it. I figure, if I hear someone come into the house, my locked door will give me enough time to grab my phone, open the window, bust through the screen and run away.

Real life application of the plan:
It was midnight and I was asleep. I hear the front door open. I awake immediately. Now, the door wasn’t kicked down, it was just opened… But I freeze in fear. I hear the figure stumbling around in the living room, and then they approach my door. They try the doorknob. My heart stops. Then comes a knock. I’ve lost all control of my actions and from somewhere inside me I hear a meek voice say “who is it?” And then my husband's voice booms from the other side of the door “It’s me. Why, were you expecting someone else?” We both start to laugh, but I can’t help but realize that my plan was a complete failure. I mean, most murderers don’t knock, but still! In my post-heart attack analysis, I couldn’t decide if I was too afraid to move or too afraid it really was my husband and I’d have to pay to replace the darn screen. But either way… I think I need a new plan.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What do I want to be when I grow up? Eye-poker Extraordinaire?

Hi, my name is Beth. I am facing that question that most people ask themselves at some point. What do I want to be when I grow up? So, I've narrowed it down to two choices; grease monkey or ambulance chaser. Well, to be a little clearer (or PC), I want to work on Jeeps and trucks, customizing them after-market for four-wheeling, rock crawling etc. Or, I want to be a lawyer.

Yeah, those are two polar opposites. And to make it more difficult, I'm chasing these dreams as a military wife. My husband is in the US Coast Guard, and I'm at the whims of the government. They say where we go, how long we go for, and how long we have to be apart. For an independent girl like me, it's been an exercise in releasing my death grip on the control I have over my life. I wouldn't say it's futile, but it's... interesting. Being a Coast Guard wife has redefined my life. But not like others thought it would. An ex-boyfriend, upon hearing of my impeding nuptials, actually asked me if I now intended to be a baby-making machine that follows her husband around the country like a puppy dog. Hell no, and neither does any other military wife! We have our lives too, and this is a blog of my pursuit.

There are days when my husband having a solid job where the pay can only get better is a blessing, especially in this economy. Most of the time he loves his job, and his service to our country is a source of pride for our whole family. The health care, the money for school... There are a lot of benefits. And then there are days when I just want to march right down to the Station and start poking people in the eye. You know, take that Petty Officer So-And-So! And respectfully, you're messing with MY life and I'd like you to show me the paper that I signed that said you are free to jerk me around as much as you want, just because I'm married to someone lower in rank than you! Hey, I said "respectfully". Now would this do more harm than good, yes. And, as my husband so kindly pointed out, would I have to stand on a step stool to do said poking because I am only 5 feet tall (with shoes on), yes also. But I can still have the urge right? And if you are a military wife, of any branch, I'm sure you have felt the same way at some point. I am incredibly proud to be a Coastie wife and I support my husband's ambitions to be a lifer 100%. I've learned to hand control over to him and never get involved with his career down at the station. Oh, the joys of letting go...

This blog serves a duel purpose. I want to record my experiences trying to find my career. I am going to research, interview, try out and otherwise explore these two careers in every aspect that I can. I mean, do I want to get elbow deep in grease all day, or sling mud in the court room? Do I want to hear the rumble of that small-block V-8 or the grumble of the judges stomach before lunch recess? I want to find out. And I hope it can serve as a path for others that are seeking their career, or deciding between two.

I also want to blog about what it's like to be a military wife following her aspirations. I hope to hear from other military wives about what has worked for them, how they have dealt with the hardships and how they have found their own careers amidst the often overwhelming presence of their husbands' careers. I also want to support the wives out there, no matter what path they have chosen, because it's sink or swim out there! Sometimes a place to vent, a person to talk to, a long distance hug, and another Coastie Wife Support blog are the only things that stand between me and loading that darn step stool into the Jeep for some eye-poking.

Coming up... I'll give a further description of my two prospective careers. I'm also going to start with one of those "job personality tests" and see what it says about me, about my two potential job choices, and if those results lead me to believe those tests are helpful or a bunch of hooey. And of course, there is always endless excitement from the Coastie front.