Because of an excess of spambot activity, I have blocked new registrations. I hate taking such drastic measures, but I don't have time to clean up all the false registrations that result from whatever attack list I landed on. I will likely revise this in the future once I've upgraded some of my code, but until then, please email me if you would like a user account. Most days, you'll get a login within a few daylight hours. Please let me know:
Real name or callsign
The WatchCat spent a year in Russia and the Middle East in preparation for a government career. Unfortunately she got in a little too deep, and health problems sabotaged her career before it began. The future? Now there's an open question. She gets her paws in the action whenever possible, with or without a paycheck. WatchCat keeps busy supporting the troops, recruiting pararescue candidates, yelling at traitors and helping people navigate the grey areas on international everything.
A close family member is active duty US military, but due to OPSEC (and the general need for family peace), WatchCat is unable to write about that person's activities. She makes the most of the opportunities that God gives her, knowing that she should be dead by now.
And yes, she is married & is going to stay married. Smacks upside the head are delivered as needed to those who don't understand this.
Any Amazon.com shopping you do via these links will help keep WatchCat in cream & ammo:
It has been...a storm.
And an almost peaceful week, the eye of the storm, is drawing to a close and I jump back into the fray tomorrow.
I used to think that gated communities were way too uptight for my taste, but I'm finding it a blessing to just exhale because I don't have to worry about who is driving by. While it's not true security, it's easier to relax here.
I met a Navy guy today who assumed I was a veteran. It's not the first time I've been mistaken for one, and it's always an odd feeling. I know I've done good work in my life, despite some missteps, but days like today make me feel like I missed my niche. And it's even stranger in these turbulent times when so many veterans are depressed and disillusioned by what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've always thought it would have been an honor to serve...but was I spared something?
I don't know what to make of this life. So many mistakes entangle us, yet the oddest things preserve us.
I'm getting ready to leave my new favorite place, and I'm trying to cultivate an attitude of patience. There's a life I want, but it's not yet in my reach.
One step forward in faith. Another day of endurance and looking hard for joy. Digging deeper, inside and out, for that first handhold.
There are circumstances and then there are choices. We mess up when we confuse the two.
Memorial Day this year was only typical in that it was my usual float between the military and civilian worlds. The whole "Happy Memorial Day" and "Do you have any plans?" bugged me like it bugged many of you. I wished I could have taken my son to one of the services, ideally the one at the national cemetery, but the timing just didn't work out with a toddler schedule.
So I remembered names and read new ones in wordless sympathy as friends posted their personal remembrances. And it seemed that so many people were wearing their Army shirts or Navy hats that day, and I knew they were thinking of someone.
All in all, it was a day lived in front of the eyes of the fallen. Would they approve of how we spent the day?
And a strange, beautiful truth: how would they have spent the day if they had not sacrificed themselves for our freedom, for their brothers? Would they have felt it was too high a price to pay for life? A different choice would have made a different person. They gave us their best; we stop short at asking God to rewrite that history.
Then there are the shadow memorials. We remember those who lost something of themselves through service. We remember that innocence even as we hold on with white knuckles to every effort to build a new, stronger life.
This Memorial Day, my heart remembered, but my hands changed diapers and planted flowers and packed the garage in anticipation of the next adventure. We've been given life. But we do well to remember how we received that gift.
Yes, you. That faithful reader who keeps coming back to see what I've posted, even if it's just "Wednesday Hero" for weeks on end. :)
But this isn't about blog readership.
This is a slap upside the head in a public place because I know if I call you out in private, you'll dodge.
I know you're in a bad place right now. You're cutting vegetables in the kitchen and thinking about what else that knife could do. You're starting your vehicle in the garage and hesitating just a moment before raising the garage door. You wonder if carbon monoxide is your friend. You wonder if your life insurance policy is good enough.
You wonder if there's a point where you've just made too many mistakes.
Been there. Done that.
But today, take a deep breath (and maybe a B vitamin) with that pot of coffee. Take one step toward life.
Accountability is a double-edged sword. The right people holding you responsible will pull you through. But if the people keeping you accountable specialize in reminding you how you've screwed up, they aren't the right people to lean on.
Our real responsibility in life is to make Christ present to the people around us. We all have to work out the meaning of this, but I'll give you a hint: it's not about the bank account. I only know a few people who do this really well; the rest of us are muddling through. And we need to know that you're struggling just as hard as we are.
There might be a beautiful sky out that window. Or a good joke that someone is just bursting to tell. You can give them 30 seconds of your day.
Because there's someone who loves you no matter how much you've screwed up, and they need you to choose life for another 24 hrs.
Today I walked into a Middle Eastern restaurant for the first time in probably eleven years. I've had the food many times since, but usually from a deli or brought by a friend. So I wasn't prepared for the emotional hit.
I walked in and heard Arabic spoken. And Arabic music. And by all appearances they might as well have airlifted the little hole-in-the-wall place I remember from the first day we were let loose in Cairo. Memory overload...long-forgotten Arabic came back to mind...and a bit of that person came back.
Good food, nice people... I left shaken but wondering why. I don't particularly have bad memories of restaurants. In months in the region, I don't even have that many nasty incidents to remember, not proportionately. Why, then, did I sit in my car afterward and wonder if the best thing to do would be to cry?
Because I'm okay.
Because I felt the memories fully instead of anaesthetizing them.
Because I made it.
Because the thought of brushing up my Arabic crossed my mind.
Because the food tasted good and I wanted to go back for more.
**As I write, reports are coming in regarding another shooting at Ft. Hood. Prayers for all involved**
I recently returned to my church after a rather complicated hiatus. The warmth of the welcome took me by surprise. I remembered that friendships had changed but by no means dissolved. But two things particularly stood out:
1) When I was isolated from the community, my attention very naturally focused on my own concerns. I came back and realized that I had friends who were in the midst of some terrible battles. Shaky marriages, new grief... we're meant to bear each other's burdens and I was falling down on the job.
2) A friend told me: "It is good to see you back in your place again. When you were gone, your place remained empty." It was a lovely double entendre about both a tangible place and my position within the community.
We need community. When we're tired and hurting, it's too easy to think we're a burden. So we slink away. We top up our most pressing need with superficial interaction like a tired mom soothing her hunger pangs with a mocha. ;) We sit in a quiet house or have the TV on nonstop, and then we wonder about those thoughts that come into our heads. Or eventually, we just believe them.
Community shouts down the thoughts and turns us away from the TV. Community teaches us to pray when we can't put our own troubles into words but make the effort for our friends' troubles. Community...real, not utopian....changes the equation to one in which our life is more than our individual success.
Today, success is a friend persevering in her marriage for another day.
Today, success is making wise choices about hospice.
Today, success is a card written to a grieving friend.
Today, success is another day of choosing life.
Whatever the means, success is making sure no one is truly alone.
On a personal level, the blog is for days like today. For those days when there are warning bells in your head and you still don't know how you made it through what unfolded next. For those days when you feel guilty for what might have happened even though you did everything reasonable to avoid it and then some.
In short, we were nearly in a car accident today. My son and I. It would have been purely the other guy's fault; I had the right of way and he turned left into my left turn. I veered right and took every last scrap of road I could to get out of his way, and he missed the driver's side doors by inches. If I'd have stopped or stayed on course, we would have been hit. I'm sure of it. And so I still ask myself if I should have put my turn signal on earlier, and of course I'm mad about the wrong turn that put me on that particular road in the first place.
Thank God for our survival. Thank the angels and the saints. And I'm also thankful for the Muscovites and Cairo taxi drivers who influenced my understanding of what is possible on the road.
It's a lesson in gratitude for all those things "which we know and which we know not." Life is saved or lost by a thread. Remember to be thankful for even the threads we don't understand.
"Even to the death fight for truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you." -Sirach 4:28
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Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" -Isaiah 6:8
As many of you are aware, the PJCountry blog disappeared in November 2008.
I'm doing my best to help the pararescue community by sharing PJ-related news and events on my blog. The following information may be helpful:
You will find answers to many questions at pararescue.com and specialtactics.com
If you're ready to become a PJ, you'll need to decide between Active Duty and Reserve. This will determine who will handle your official recruitment. Visit Contacts and POCs to find the appropriate person or email me.
304th Pararescue Team (Reserve) (Oregon)
If you're on the west coast near Oregon and are considering being a PJ/CRO on the Portland Pararescue Team (commitment of 4 years beyond training), contact TSgt Stanley Iakopo at stanley.iakopo AT us.af.mil or email me.
I have no official role with pararescue or other SpecOps but I know enough to get you connected to the right people. Email to CAT at THEWATCHCAT dot NET
Jubilate Agno, Fragment B
[For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry]
by Christopher Smart
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.