Publications for Linda Adams

Published November 28, 2013 by Linda Maye Adams

If you’re interested in my publications, please visit my publication list on my website.  I’ve identified stories that about Women at War and Women Veterans.  Enjoy!

Cover for Red, White, andTrue

Cover for Red, White, and True

Also,  if you’re interested in more veteran experiences, check out Red, White, True: Stories from Veterans and Families, World War II to Present.  This is a collection of stories from veterans, including my story, “War Happens.”  The book comes out in August, 2014, but you can preorder it.  Is that an awesome cover?

Desert Storm: We’re going to war — wait! You’re a woman!

Published July 28, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

By the time we hit two weeks into Desert Shield, the army started to figure out there might be some special challenges.  Saudi Arabia is pretty well-known for its view of women.  The women are not allowed to drive, and yet, we were a transportation unit with women drivers, so we would be coming into direct conflict with that.  So it was off for more training.

The women soldiers were sent to a nearby post auditorium, where we barely filled the first two rows. There were not a lot of us in our battalion. We were a mix of Caucasian, Black, a few Hispanic, and two Native Americans. I sat in the second row with a friend.

A male staff sergeant — that’s a platoon sergeant rank — walks in. He was Arab, and his distaste for women soldiers was really evident. His jaw was set and his eyes were flashing. His tone bordered on confrontational, and at times, it seemed like he wanted to pick a fight with us.

He was likely one of the few Arab soldiers on the post and was ordered to brief us. He did his duty, but he didn’t want to. But that’s part of being in the army. You don’t choose which orders you want to follow (anyone remember the film A Few Good Men and Tom Cruise’s cross examination of one of the officers?).

Some of the things he told us included:

  • Showing our forearms was obscene. After the briefing, I rushed out and bought two long-sleeved shirts for my off-time. Believe it or not, I didn’t have any! I’m from Southern California, and I simply never wore anything long-sleeved.
  • He also told us that suggestive book covers were off-limits, too. I leaned over and whispered to my friend, “There go your romance novel covers.”
  • If we met the eyes of a Saudi male, we would be struck.

As I write about this briefing, though, I wonder how much of the briefing was the sergeant’s opinion, or if the army was completely clueless about what the women might encounter. Maybe a little bit of both.

It was quite frightening to think about how easy it would be to make a mistake that could be disastrous — and all simply by being American women. I came away from the briefing afraid of encountering Saudi men at all — not exactly instilling confidence as the army intended!

But one piece of “training” that was absent was equal opportunity. The classes were required, but largely covered racism, not sexual harassment and were for lawyers to say “We checked the box.” The army did not teach the men how to serve with women.

The Huffington Post published an article on Why Your Daughters Need Science Fiction.  It’s about science fiction, but parts could be about the army, too:

Because girls are excluded and discouraged from [geek culture at] an early age, boys within this culture do not learn how to relate to girls and women as part of their peer group.

This creates all kinds of problems including discrimination, a condescending attitude and sexual harassment / sexual violence problems within both the scientific and science fiction communities.

Like science fiction, women were excluded from some military jobs. By Congressional Law, they could not participate in front line combat. That, in turn, created companies where men had absolutely no exposure to women and did not socialize with them beyond have girlfriends or relatives. Those men also served in companies with women.

Add to that young male soldiers who grew up only socializing with women in the context of dating and looking at women as they are portrayed in the media. It’s no wonder that the military is still having problems with sexual harassment of women soldiers 24 years later. They’re still stuck in the mindset of training, but they aren’t fixing the actual problem. And war has a way of getting inside the cracks and making things worse.

Time traveling back to the Colonial Era

Published July 26, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

One of the really nice things about the Washington Metropolitan area is that there’s a lot you can see without necessarily going on a long, expensive trip.  I usually dislike going into Washington, DC, where all the tourists tend to be, not to mention even drive through it to get to Maryland.  It’s because the roads are convoluted to navigate, and the city is hungry to give tickets for anything.

But Virginia has many different places to visit that I have sometimes dig around to find.  Not all of them are advertised.  Some are free, some cost $3-$15, so it can depend both on budget and what I want to see that day.  Last weekend, I happened to run across a community advertisement for the Claude Moore Colonial Farm.  They were having a Market Fair on Saturday and Sunday.  I decided to go Sunday because I figured they wouldn’t be crowded.

The Claude Moore Colonial Farm is located in McLean, Virginia, right near the CIA.  I believe I drove right behind the CIA to get to it!  At least I couldn’t explain why there were gates and armed guards.

When I got to the entrance, I was shocked to the parking lot was packed.  People were parking on the grass and the shoulder.  I drove several times through the parking area, trying to find a spot that wouldn’t block someone in.  I finally found one, and this guy pulled in beside me.  We’re looking around, wondering if it would work.  My concern was someone parking behind me and blocking me in.

Keeping my fingers crossed, I heard up to the entrance and paid my $7.  During regular events, the site is a historic demonstration of a family working a farm.  They rotate the crops four times a year, so visitors can get a different experience from summer to winter.  The family dresses up in clothing of the time and interacts with the visitors.

The Market Fair was probably more like what you would see in a fantasy novel.  It consisted of market stands set up in the area, though in this case, they were selling things like perfume soaps and men’s products.  The stands were manned by volunteers in period costumes.  There was also a puppet show and a juggler for the kids.

The chicken was cooked on a giant spit, and corn was boiled in a pot over an open fire.  The corn was absolutely delicious.  It was sweet and succulent.  It was also very popular.  They kept running out!

Chicken roasting on an outdoor spit as smoke blows out.

Chicken roasting on a spit.

After that, I wandered down and checked out the farm.  It’s quite large, which is good to get walking in while enjoying the history.

I found a pen with pigs in it.  They didn’t seem at all bothered by the humans gawping at them, and I was able to reach down and touch one (the one on the right in the photo).  His/her fur was very sparse, almost wiry.  Not soft at all.

Down angle of two pigs in a pen.

Pigs in a pen

 

I wandered inside one of the buildings.  A woman was at a table making a simple cake while a fire roared in the fireplace.  I checked out the contents of the pot in the fireplace, and she told me it was an apple chutney.  She was going to use a dutch oven for the cake and put it on the fire (enlarge the photo so you can see the chutney).

A pot of apple chutney hangs over a fire in a fireplace

Apple chutney cooking

On the way to it, I spotted another place that I’m going to have to drop in and visit, Turkey Run Park. So more exploring is in order!

A conveniently timed The Daily Post Prompt:

‘Tis the season for road trips — if time and money were out of the equation, what car-based adventure would you go on? (If you don’t or can’t drive, any land-based journey counts.)

Hitting the Rail for Raleigh

Published July 23, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

I went on a train trip this month.  It’s been years — really decades since I traveled on a train.  When I was a teenager, my parents would put me on a train to travel along the California coast to Morro Bay.  Oddly, the only thing I remember about the travel is seeing the familiar streets when I was coming home.

This train trip was from Washington, DC to Raleigh, North Carolina.  There was a science fiction convention in Raleigh, which is about a 5 hour drive from me.  I’d been sort of thinking of not going just because I really don’t like to drive (Washington, DC will do that to you.  The drivers are terrible and very Type A, Me-First types).  But I saw an article in the Washington Post about personality and different modes of travel:

  1. Airplane: You’re in a hurry or on a timetable.
  2. Car: You want to be in control.
  3. Train: You want someone else to do the work.

So I booked the trip on Amtrak.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  All my more recent experiences with travel have been long, dull, driving trips or jammed into a seat on an airplane.  I’m a short person, so jammed in really means something.  Never mind the added problem of go through security …

I hunted all over the Amtrak site for how long in advance I needed to be there, which it didn’t have, and settled for 90 minutes.  I’ll tell you, looking at Union Station from the outside, you’d never even know there were tracks behind it.  Very hidden.

They boarded like airlines.  First class, senior citizens, then everyone else.  As we went out the cars, we were separated out by where we were going, so I ended up in the last car.  I was able to sit by the window (yay!  I do that even on an airplane.  There is always something to see!).  The seats were large and roomy, with lots of leg room.  The aisles were also relatively wide.  I didn’t feel like a sardine packed in like I do on an airplane.

I’d brought my computer and thought I would write along the way, but as it turned out, it was fascinating watching the world g0 by out that window.   This time time of the year, everything was green and really growing.  Sometimes I could catch glimpses of the engine as we followed the curving track, and I heard the horn every few minutes.

I got up at lunch time and went down to the dining car, which was quite a hike.   The dining car has tables so you can eat there or back at your seat.  I stayed and read as I ate, and watched as we passed through what looked like warehouses.  When I came back, I saw this one man at the end of my car, looking out the window.  I was curious, so came up behind him to look, too.

Seeing the tracks falling away behind us gave me an instant pang of homesickness.  It reminded me of leaving things behind, like leaving my parents when I went to Morro Bay.  A plane kind of depersonalizes the trip because you can’t really see anything.

But on a train you can see what’s ahead and what’s behind.

Desert Storm: Uniforms — One Size Fits All … Men

Published July 21, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

One of the curious things about the Army during this time is that they were not quite sure what to do with the women soldiers. So as a default, they treated us like we were men, except that we weren’t.

It was something never more apparent than with the uniforms we would be wearing.

We got our desert camouflage uniforms fairly quickly. I remember being bused down to the clothing issue building. It was a huge, cavernous warehouse, white on the outside and dark on the inside. We filed along a brown painted counter, and civilian workers asked us what size we wore. They gave us two each of the uniforms, which was the shirt and pants, plus one floppy brimmed hat (a Boonie hat). I was a small, extra short.

The normal issue was four, but supplies were already running low, so the Army was having to stretch things out. My company had one sergeant who was very tall, and they didn’t have any uniforms for him at all.

The women all had the opposite problem: Everything was both too big and too small. Mine was way too big across the shoulders. I always had this kind of puffed out part on my back, like I had a creature sticking to my spine or something. The sleeves were so long that I could curl my fingers up and my hands would disappear. Handy when it was cold!

The pants were always too long, but thankfully were tucked into the boots. No need to get expensive hemming done! I always had trouble with the waist, which was too big on me. I have an hourglass, and virtually everything I end up with is too big in the waist. Some of the other women had trouble with getting the hips to fit right, because the pants were made for a much narrower male hip. Unfortunately, if you went up bigger sizes, the uniform ended up bigger in other places, too.

More recently, the Army decided to have a look at getting uniforms fitted for women — but it took them over twenty years to figure out that women were different!

History of Uniforms, from the New York Times.  The uniform we wore was #16, and it did include that weird looking grid jacket.  We never knew what to do with that, so we often wore it to ward against the night chills when we were in civilian clothes.  Don’t forget to check on #11, which is WAC uniform from World War II.

Caught in a storm at Arlington Cemetery

Published July 20, 2014 by Linda Maye Adams

Most of the time in Northern Virginia, you can tell when a storm is coming.  It’s summer, and a thunderstorm usually comes when humidity is heavy in the air.  It feels almost like the air is about to burst open.  Then the winds come in, and the trees sway.  The black clouds come in with the winds, and then the rain starts.

But I was visiting Arlington Cemetery in late November, well after summer and nearing the end of fall.  I’d just gotten my new tennis shoes that were made for flat feet, so I was partially trying out how well they work.  But I was also doing research for a writing project.  The very striking thing about the cemetery is that the graves all identical.  Go to a church cemetery and the graves are all different shapes and size.   But at Arlington Cemetery, it’s an overwhelming number of rows of white grave markers.

Because I was so early, workers were out spraying down the graves with a high powered hose.  All the grave stones are white, and all but the oldest are a pristine white from all this cleaning.  Another worker was using a leaf blower to clean the many two lane roads throughout the grounds.

I visited John F. Kennedy’s grave, and then watched the soldiers standing their watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  This is a very special duty for the soldiers, and they’re out there no matter what the weather is.  Only three of the sentinels have been women, the first in 2001.

The sharp clear notes of a bugle drew me to a military funeral for an enlisted soldier.  The bugle has a certain kind of lonely, mourning quality to it.

As the ceremony ended, I noticed that, in the distance, the clouds had gone black, contrasting with the sharp blue of the autumn sky.  It hadn’t been like that when I’d arrived, but now it looked like something evil was coming in over the land.

I started back, but I’d really walked further than I thought (the shoes were very comfortable).  While I had a jacket on, suited for the cooler temperatures of autumn in Virginia, I didn’t have an umbrella.  I walked quickly, but the storm clouds loomed overhead, and then it started to pour.  All I could really do was keep walking.  It was a cemetery.  There wasn’t exactly places to duck under to wait the storm out.  By the time I got back to my car, I was a soggy mess.

And then the storm disappeared, like it had never happened.

A behind the scenes of the sentries for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

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From The Daily Post prompt:

You’re at the beach with some friends and/or family, enjoying the sun, nibbling on some watermelon. All of a sudden, within seconds, the weather shifts and hale starts descending form the sky. Write a post about what happens next.

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