Being ODB: My First 24 Hours on an Aircraft Carrier

I am a Naval Flight Officer and veteran. I served eight years on active duty and entered the Navy Reserve in 2010 after having my first child. My callsign is ODB (that’s another post) and the Being ODB series focuses on my time in the Navy as a short Jewish female aviator. This post originally appeared on The Purple Mama.

After finishing flight school and reporting to my squadron back in 2005, I stepped aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and life got even more interesting. This is an account of my first day on The Boat. Some of it may be a foreign language to civilians, so please let me know if you have any questions. I hope you enjoy reading it!

My First 24 Hours on an Aircraft Carrier

1130: Strap on four computers and about twice my weight in gear and head to the ready room….wherever that may be. (Heh. Strap-on.) Try not to panic when I have to walk aboard alone and clueless. Feel like I have a large blinking neon sign above my head saying HELP I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE! Have no idea what to say to the Officer of The Deck. Find out I am supposed to say either “Request permission to board” or “Report my return aboard.” I say something like “Request permission to report my returning to board.”

1132: While carrying aforementioned gear, fall down the same ladder upon which a fellow squadron member broke his leg on the previous deployment. Get up with some bruises, mainly to my ego. (Really, Mom, I’m ok.)

1133: Realize that personnel ranging from Seaman Schmuckatelli to a Commander on ship’s company witnessed the fall. Freeze in horror. Unfreeze to avoid holding up the line of 1500 annoyed people behind me.

1200: Find out that my stateroom isn’t available yet, so I have nowhere to bring my gear. (Aside: The Navy calls them staterooms to make them sound luxurious. Most of you have bathrooms that are bigger.) Am told I have to wait until “later” to get a room. Plan to sleep in the ready room. Which is fine, really. That means I don’t have to negotiate any more ladders.

1200 – 1300: Hang around in the ready room trying to blend in with the walls so I don’t get tasked and have to risk another ladder anytime soon.

1302: Get tasked to do stuff and have to climb at least ten ladders trying to find goal of tasking. Get miserably lost, not solely because of lack of orientation, but also because all ladders seem to lead to the same place: nowhere. On the plus side, I don’t fall again. Yet.

1330: Finally realize that I have to figure it out and actually get started on my job. Find out that my job is going to be a bit more difficult because my month of prep work has been arbitrarily declared null and void. Right butt cheek and elbow start throbbing from fall.

1331-1600: Get the hang of the ladder and climb up and down five decks with computers while trying to set up the LAN and my users. Only get marginally lost and remain upright the entire time. Feel proud, and still bruised.

1600: Eat in Wardroom. Cloth napkins! Glass goblets! Buffet style cafeteria food! Fried goodness! Multiple desserts! Am in heaven!

1645: Flight suit will barely stayed zipped up. Have to work out three times a day every day now…Ugh, I don’t know if that was really chicken. Where’s the head?

1700: Go to S5 (Staterooms) office and stand in a line that snakes around the corner.

1730: Move up two feet.

1745: Move up three feet.

1800: Move back three feet.

1830: Get into the office and ask for a key to my room. He leaves the office muttering something about leaves. Or something.

1845: First person I asked is nowhere to be found. Ask another person for a key.

1900: Find out that original stateroom is still occupied. Get sent to the Ship’s Secretary’s stateroom, which is a 3-man that she has made into a 1-woman. Have nowhere to put my stuff and she has no interest in making room. I don’t blame her.

1930: Go back to S5 office and ask for a different room.

2000: Original person nowhere to be found. Ask another person for a different room.

2030: Get a key to an 8 man on the 0-3 level under the Jet Blast Deflector, or JBD. Original room was 5 decks lower in a very quiet space. Am sure that something called Jet Blast Deflector can’t be too bad, though.

2035: Resume ADP duties. Climb 13 more ladder wells, bringing the total this far to at least 5,132.

0030: Cannot put off bringing my seabag and duffel bag up 5 decks any longer. Make two trips. Eagerly anticipate sleep.

0040: Realize that my flip-flops, necessary for showering in the morning and getting around during the night, are at the bottom of my very tightly packed seabag.

0045: Unpack and realize that every single drawer and cabinet make a curiously loud whining sound when opening or closing. Am sure the five sleeping roommates don’t mind at all.

0100: Finish unpacking, brush teeth, wash face and hit the rack. Literally. Discover “mattress” is well-disguised piece of concrete. Ouch.

0105: Somewhat noisy, but think I can fall asleep. After all, it’s not so bad, much like my college dorm, which was not too OH MY G-D A TRACTOR JUST FELL THROUGH THE ROOF NEXT DOOR.

0106: No one is very concerned about fallen tractor. Realize it is aforementioned JBD when it happens again 2 minutes later. And every 2 minutes after that. For a very. Long. Time.

0108: Realize that Jet Blast Deflector is deflecting blast into my room. Try to find something peaceful and lulling about said blast.

0140-0800: Attempt something once known as “sleep.” Realize it will take time to adjust to this new definition.

0830: Proceed to female head to take a shower. Feel bruised but very excited about first full day aboard. Start the water and wait for it to warm up.

0832: Wait some more for water to warm up.

0834: Still waiting and trying to remain positive.

0835: Oh no. Please no.

0840: Huddle in corner of shower and soap up. Dread rinsing.

0841: F*ckthisisfreezingf*ckthisisf*ckingcoldholyf*ckf*ckf*ckf*ckf*ck.

0843: Head back to stateroom, warmed up by rainforest-like atmosphere in passageway. Get dressed.

0915: Make it to ready room and start to get work done. Actually help a few new sailors with directions along the way. I think.

1130: Take a quick stroll in the hangar bay and appreciate the view of the ocean rushing past 50 feet below. Help a few more sailors with directions. Hopefully. Remain upright all the way down. Bruises not so bad. Things will be just fine…

Eve, The Purple Mama, is a veteran and mother trying to take over the world here. She writes anything that is unrelated to world domination here.

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We can breastfeed and work. Because we’re women.

I just found out about a politician in Canada named Amy England. She recently had a baby and is not eligible for maternity leave because she doesn’t pay into the fund. (In Canada, everyone pays a small amount into Employment Insurance, which covers parental leave. Novel concept, right?) As of now, there is no policy for councillors who give birth during their term.

Councillor England is determined to breastfeed (thank you!!) and is bringing her baby to work with her so she doesn’t miss a meeting. It kills me that people are apparently claiming she can’t have a baby and also serve the people. Really? Who better to take care of constituents than a young mother raising the next generation? A crotchety old man who thinks we should all be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?

I don’t think so either.

In Amy’s words:

I am a regional and city municipal councillor in the city of Oshawa in Ontario Canada. I am the first woman who has been elected and had a baby while being elected in my city and region. I have been breast feeding my 3 week old baby and must return to work on January 6th. If I miss more than 3 months of meetings in a row I will lose my seat. I will be bringing my baby with me for the purpose of breast feeding and have been viciously attacked for this decision when I announced my intention. Now I expect when I bring my baby, it will cause major debate and attention…I do not want to be pushed into bathrooms or backrooms and have to choose between my child’s human right for breast milk and my right to vote on behalf of my constituents.

There is absolutely no reason that Councillor England can’t be allowed to breastfeed her baby. Mothers have worked while breastfeeding throughout history, and it’s high time we are acknowledged and supported in modern day society. Look at Licia Ronzulli, an Italian MEP (Member of the European Parliament) who breastfed her daughter at work when she was six weeks old and still brings her daughter to work at age three.

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Seriously, how awesome is this?

When Councillor England’s story first came out, there were some awful comments. This article by Chris Bird highlights some of the doozies. I came to this part and thought YES, he says it perfectly:

So, go ahead and throw insults at Amy England and other women for trying to change the ‘traditional’ way of raising children and/or being a politician. Or better yet, you could praise them for having the balls to say that something needs to change. It’s not a boys club anymore, and it never will be again. Once you accept that, and try to work with people instead of against them, you’ll find that your life will become a lot easier.”

Please get the word out and show support for Councillor England and all breastfeeding mothers. You can find her at http://amyengland.ca.

Thank you!

Move over, men: The beginning of the movement

Not too long ago, I went out to a local bar because I needed to sing my ass off and get my groove on. (Warning for my fellow grammar snobs: I end sentences with prepositions.) I’m cute, short and buxom, so as I walked into the bar, I was getting those looks. You know, the men were all hey-I’d-f*ck-that, and the women were all who-the-f*ck-is-this, and it was an interesting vibe.

Most of the men were completely distracted by my boobs and my strut (I’m done with playing small), whereas the women heard every word I spoke to the crowd. In fact, they were cheering and laughing.

I’ll admit that I have wielded my sexual power to have a desired effect on men; I mean, c’mon, it’s so damn easy. And it’s definitely a heady feeling to make men want you. While I immensely enjoy feeling wanted and desired, I really really don’t like any kind of animosity or negativity, especially from other women. Plus, men’s sexual attraction is primal and physical, and I want to connect with people on a cerebral level as well. (For those of you without Word Of The Day toilet paper, cerebral = of the brain.)

So I walked around the bar meeting people, and as I did I became acutely aware of some narrowed male eyes looking my way. I thought back to a mentally abusive relationship from my past; I remembered how much “trouble” I used to get in when I talked to other people. “Clark” would get insanely jealous (not exaggerating) and accuse me of cheating on him with every guy I talked to. When he started abusing my cat, I knew it was time to get out. (That’s another story.)

Now, I am lucky enough to have an amazing husband who stimulates me both mentally and physically, an evolved man who supports my personal growth and my journey. But millions of women are trapped in abusive relationships with no allies to pull them out.

Point being, I realized that I need to use my “gift of gab” to reach people. Women who feel alone, men who are sick of the violence, people who want love to reign supreme again. So I will continue to draw attention to myself, but now I know what to do when I capture the attention.

I realized it was time to use my powers for good.

So I got out a stack of my business cards, and as I handed one to each surprised woman there, I whispered this in her ear:

Very soon I’m going to post an article about how men have had their chance to run the world and still haven’t unf*cked it. We love them, they’ve tried their best, but it’s our turn to fix this sh*t. I’m looking for my mama tribe; are you with me?

Every single woman except for one immediately either hugged me or gave me a high-five. Every. Single. One. And the one that didn’t respond kept glancing at the man she was with, which made me worry for her. When I told a friend about the one woman, she said what I was thinking: he might be abusive.

Do you know that one in four women lives with domestic violence? So it was actually more than that one woman in the bar that night who’d been victimized. Many of the same ones who had hugged or high-fived me are currently in abusive relationships, and they found the courage to have that one small act of defiance and freedom. That one moment in one night when they said No More.

I wish this for the millions and millions of women who are abused in our world simply because they are women.

No More.

Around the world, women and girls are killed, beaten, raped, often in the name of “honor” or a wrathful god. (This is still happening even in the U.S.) Women are burned with acid because someone accuses them of adultery, and often the “adultery” is rape.

I desperately yearn to unite all the world’s women in standing up and pushing back against our abusers with our collective hands up and say:

No More.

We need women in power to fix this f*cking mess of a planet. The modern world needs a hell of a lot more female leaders. Even an evolved man can be distracted by sex or power struggles because of the primal male, the inner caveman who is focused on either hunting or mating. But the female primal self is a nurturer, a caretaker, and a goddess. We are natural multitaskers, as has been proven by scientific studies repeatedly. And we are not easily distracted when we’re focused on a mission.

I know this because I am a mission commander. No, really, I’m a Naval Flight Officer, veteran, and qualified Mission Commander in the E-2C Hawkeye. So, this mama knows from missions. And lots of women do, actually.

Did you know that it was the women of congress that got us out of the government shutdown? Hell, if a small group of women can resolve that mess, can you imagine what all of us can do?

We can heal the world.

We can restore love as the ideal instead of power, acceptance as the currency rather than guilt, and individuality as a thing to be celebrated instead of shunned.

So isn’t it time that we truly embrace our power and step up to lead? It’s time to lean in on a global scale. And it can start with American women changing the face of our country. How amazing would it be if the U.S. became known as the kind, helpful nation? It would be so wonderful to be welcomed everywhere we travel rather than sneered at or insulted.

Women make up 51% of the American population, but we make up less than 19% of Congress. Let’s make our voices heard and get more women in there, dammit.

In the coming weeks and months I’ll be posting about the female politicians out there that could take over this country if we support them.

Please please please say you’ll help me heal the world.

Comment with your thoughts or questions. And if you’d like to write for Move Over Men, I’d be honored to have you here!

Much love to you all,

Eve

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Photo credit: Vanessa Bryan Freelance Photography