Man, I love people. I really do. I like to watch them (creeper alert), I like to listen to them, I like to see what makes them laugh. I love to make people laugh. Which really gets me to thinking: what in the blasted fuck am I doing in a “serious” job that requires me to be serious about the possibility of being contaminated by a chemical, biological, or nuclear weapon? I mean seriously, how did I get here? How did I start onto this road of serious topics when what I really like to do is make people laugh and read books?
I think it all started in high school. Probably around 9/11. I was a sophomore in West Virginia and a terrorist attack was so far out of my scope. But then it happened anyway and it was pretty culturally shocking for the United States. A giant shift, if you will. So, I think it’s safe to say that I was probably affected, although I was not personally touched by the loss many people were. Makes you think about service to your country and protecting people, especially your family. And we can just be real for a second and call me a drama queen, but the thought of so many families losing loved ones really put the hurting on my teenaged heart. So for a brief moment in my selfish teenaged existence, I thought about joining the military. I don’t think I was very serious about it because I never discussed it with my friends or my mother, but the thought crossed my mind. However, I don’t think I would be suited to the service. I have two reactions when being yelled at: 1. Laugh (or rather, giggle) 2. Cry (because damn I hate confrontation and yelling serves no purpose). I understand there is a lot of yelling in boot camp. Plus, I’m not really a fan of going places I don’t really want to go.
What is the point here, Strain? The point is that eventually the thought that flitted through my head of joining the service left and I decided to be a teacher. This is equally as hilarious as the notion of me in the service because I have little patience for men and women children who think they are the shit. What in the name of all that is good and holy would I have done in a classroom with hooligans who are incredibly impressed with themselves, just as I was as a high-schooler? The first time one of the kids back-talked to me, I’d be out of a job faster than a fart slips out during a squat at the gym.
So, I eventually fell into a new major in college called “International Affairs”. Cue all the, “I didn’t know you had to be international to have an affair!” jokes. Yes, your wit and rapier intellect astounds me. For me, international affairs gave me economics (hates), the social sciences (neat), and history (favorite). That’s all pretty broad. I have no idea what job you can do from that, but I’ve always thought I lacked direction. In fact, I’m strangely OK with lacking direction. I have general goals in mind, some things I’d like to accomplish with my life, but nothing very concrete. Getting off track here, but the point is, I had a very vague idea in my mind that I wanted to help protect people from terrorist attacks and I did not want to join the service.
This is where it gets fuzzy. I have no idea how I started looking at schools in Washington, DC, except that I was sure that I needed more education to get to a point where I could be hired to do anti-terrorism work, perhaps with the FBI. So, I started looking into master’s programs, and I’m sure my mind just arbitrarily picked DC, because hey, it’s a happening place. I applied to a few schools out here, but not before moving here with my fiance (now husband, poor dear) and working at a garden center and being an unpaid intern for a Congressman. I applied to three schools, got into one – I am depressingly average as a student and did not test very well on the SAT. So, I landed in Missouri State University’s satellite campus in Vienna, Virginia and started work on my Master’s in Defense and Strategic Studies. I love it when people look at me funny after I say that, because really, what does that mean? I usually follow up with, “That is code for paranoia and nuclear policy.” And yeah, that is definitely what I did there, I got real paranoid about nukes and I learned a lot. Some of my favorite classes were not about those things, in fact they were “Intelligence” (another vast subject) and “Strategic Culture”. And then I
wasted spent a lot of time writing my thesis and agonizing over if I would ever get a big girl job.
And now I am a defense contractor and I work with a government agency that does CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear) preparedness training. I do a little bit of everything, but it’s still not enough. I don’t know enough. I sometimes wonder if I ever will feel like I’m truly qualified to move onto a job with even more responsibility. Hell, sometimes I don’t know if I know what I am doing right now. That make sense to you? Me neither. I think that it’s a work in progress and I should not expect myself to jump out of school or a job fully formed, like Athena from Zeus’ zit or whatever, and know everything. I think it’s my own pressure to get stuff done before a certain age because I am constantly reminded by EVERY MOTHER EVER on FACEBOOK that “life is short” and “cherish your time”! That is another rant just waiting to happen. Maybe next time.
I know life is short. But, I think I should take my time, work this stuff out, try to be a good person, and work on making people laugh while I also work on that protecting thing. Because that is what I want to do. I want to protect people, and then I want to make them laugh. I do what I want. And I will do this. So, in summary. How did I get here? This post started as a talk about how I like people and then I gave you the rundown of my decision making process (granted, a very loosey goosey process) and how I came to be a contractor. Really, you have just read my own pep-talk to myself. I hope you feel inspired. Go forth, youths, and do great things! Or, you know, eat some cake and don’t be too hard on yourself. This shit is going to work itself out and you just have to be the best you can and keep yourself open to the possibilities. To quote a line from one of my favorite books, “Imagine a meadow or some shit.”
I mean, it could be worse.