My own quilt life

I was writing a CV last night.  I think I last did something like that in 2004, when I was here in Iraq (my second stint — this is #4 now) and was asking the Army if we could break up — take a break, stop seeing each other, date other people.  (The Army said no).

In my work, in service to the Army, there are no resumes.  There’s no pitch you make, well, not often anyway.  The Army sends you someplace, you drop your gear, and they point at something that needs to be gone.  And then you just go do it.  Some time later, they’ll tell you it’s time to go, so you gather up your gear and you do.

That time is fast approaching for me.  It would be this fall and winter, if I wasn’t in Iraq again.  It might be the spring, but I’m asking the Army to reconsider and to let me stay a little bit longer so that the kids can finish the school year.  But what this does give me is a few more options for where and how the Army might use me next.  And it means I may be able to influence things.

Thus, the CV.  Left to its own devices, I am sure the Army would wait until it was time to reassign me, then look around to see if there was a vacant spot somewhere, and send me there.  Think musical chairs.  If I want something more than just an empty chair, I need to do something about it.  There are special programs, special assignments, internships, fellowships — all kinds of little nooks and crannies that are hidden in the shadows and there for those who will look for them and stalk them like gave.  One I’m chasing, or at least exploring as an option, is a small program with not a lot of Army folks.  The CV is a way in through an intermediary.  Of course, the official Army way is through my personnel records, but hey — I can make a CV if I need to.

Why tell you this?  Because I had one extra line on the second page, and was at a loss for what to put.  I’d cited my years overseas and my exposure to and comfort with other cultures.  I’d mentioned that I was a runner.  So, I listed that I run the Iraqi Bundles of Love project.

Now, new readers might scratch their heads and think, “Well, duh.”  But long time readers will know that, really, the Army and I don’t talk about IBOL.  In 2009, I mentioned to my boss that I had a side project going, outside of work.  His response?  If I wanted to sleep less, fine — just don’t let it interfere with my work for him.  I had to go back to him once more, when I needed to ask the Army for a couple of helicopters, and that meant my meeting with his boss — it’s always good to inform your boss when you’re going to meet with his boss.

But really, IBOL has been below the radar.  Me and other Soldiers on this end have just quietly made things happen, without asking permission and certainly without being sanctioned.  I’ve done my best to find the balance between not waking the dragon (the Army) with the need to talk about IBOL and to get things done.

And if you’re wondering why this is an issue, well, there are rules about these kinds of things.  If the Army is involved, or were to be involved, IBOL would be a whole other beast.  It’s a Sunday morning, I’m in my CHU listening to dj BC, writing this on my laptop in the quite solitude of my Sunday morning.  There’s no committee, no requests, no approvals, no forms, no staffing.  IBOL thrives because, well, because it’s underground.  Like your cousin with blue hair — you can see it, everyone can see it, but it’s not really something to bring up at a family reunion.

In 2009, our local newspaper in Hawaii did an article on IBOL.  I wasn’t referred to as a source, I was cited by name.  And yes, that press clipping popped up in my HQ.  Kind of hard to conceal something like that when it’s the hometown newspaper for our unit.

But this week, the newest issue of Quilt Life is hitting the streets and showing up in mailboxes.  I hear that a few people read it, and my wife certainly is a fan of it.  Not only does it feature a very nice photo of my family and I, it has both a short write up on my lovely wife and a two-page spread about IBOL.  Kristin and I had had the good fortune of being introduced to Alex Andersen when we were at the International Quilt Festival last year, and she put me in touch with the Quilt Life crew.

Now, I think I’m not going too far out on a limb when I guess that not too many Army generals read Quilt Life.  Their wives?  OK, maybe some of them read it.  But it’s exposure on a slightly broader scope than I had thought IBOL would ever get.

I guess if my ugly mug can show up in something like QL, I ought to be OK putting it on my CV.  And I guess it really does validate that I had no idea what I was doing when I started IBOL — I thought success would be 10 or so bundles.  Kinda crazy.

Anyway, enough with all that.  We’re still pushing bundles into Fallujah.  The goal is to get things into the mail this month.  Yes, that means this week.  Really.  If you’ve dawdled this long, time is slowly running out.  And by slowly, I mean hurry up, you’re almost out of time.  From what Jared has told me, yes, bundles are creeping into Fallujah.  The count so far was pretty low — I think he had 20+ on the ground — but the path from you to him is a much longer and more complicated one than has been in place for other iterations of IBOL.  He points and see a stream, I point and see a trickle.

What’s next?  What are we going to do after Fallujah?  Well, that’s a good question.  We’re entering into a tough stretch — we’re going to start off ramping more and more units, we’re going to keep closing more and more sites, we’re going to keep reducing the US presence here in Iraq as we ace to the end of 2011.  Maybe it’s time for a change, too.

I’ve been in touch with the folks in Afghanistan.  I’ve talked, since IBOL started, of wanting to find a way to export the goodness of IBOL to Afghanistan.  Call me biased, but I see some good in IBOL, and I see ways in which it could be applied.  But I’ve been struggled with ways to do it, short of my actually having to go to Afghanistan myself and doing it.  I think, though, that we may have a plan.  The summer push for bundles may end up being ABOL, instead of IBOL.  And that’s a very good thing.

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15 Responses to “My own quilt life”

  1. Lisa Quintana Says:

    Hi Art….very thoughtful and though provoding (or maybe insightful is a better term) post.

    I’m wondering…Fallujah is the receiving blankets, right? I wrote you, but never got an address back..perhaps there are others who are in the same position? That something on the web went awry?

    Lisa Quintana

    • IBOL Guy Says:

      Fallujah is current bundles Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah are current blankets. I’ll send details in an email.

  2. obscure Says:

    IBOL becomes ABOL becomes… I’m for growth and change, it’s what living things do.

  3. Janet Mease Says:

    Great post, Art!! I know at least one Army General’s wife who reads Quilt Life (and probably just about every other quilting mag out there)… so yeah… you’re busted!! LOL

    • IBOL Guy Says:

      Oh, I know — could you imagine, some senior Army wife out there flipping open the magazine, tugging on her general’s sleeve, and it all rolling downhill from there? I would indeed be soooo busted.

  4. Kay Says:

    Being an old army brat, I thought the military had decided it was better to move during the school year – the reasoning was that then the kids met other kids more easily, could get involved in things. If you moved at the beginning of the summer then it was too late for sport registration, getting into camp and the kids could be more isolated and lonely. And if the school is one that separates kids in some way, then you would be in the wrong group for a shorter time.
    Whatever your decision is – I thank you for your service and going that extra bit to make the world a better place. We don’t always know the difference or the impact we make but do know that you did make a difference and have an impact.

    I do have a “problem” – I have collected a lot of things for 2 more boxes! Been taking advantages of sales at my local stores. Please tell us if you are going to be able to do one more round or maybe work out things for ABOL.

    In the meantime – take care and travel safely. K

  5. Tonya Ricucci Says:

    I got my copy of the QL mag yesterday – great family photo and writeup of the cause. yeah, you’re gonna be busted… fingers crossed you get the assignment you want next.

  6. linda Says:

    I sent two bundles out to Jarrod on Saturday . I hope that they arrive safe and sound. I hope they are as much a blessing to the families there as my crafting has meant to me over the years. I have been involved in this since the beginning and look forward to more opportunities to help.

  7. lorna Says:

    Hi Art. Will you please send me the address for the Fallujah bundles. I can drop it in the mail this week. Thanks for all you do!

  8. Sandi Gillum Says:

    Thanks for all you and your partners in this do–both above and below the radar. It has given me a chance to participate on a personal level. I will be there for Afghanistan too if that is next. I’m out to look for Quilt Life.

  9. Suzy Says:

    Bundle sent today 4/26 to Jared

    Thank you again for all you do.

  10. Your proud sister in California Says:

    I stopped by my local quilt store today to see if I could buy a copy of Quilt Life. They didn’t have any for sale, but the owner had her copy which she let me look at. What a wonderful 2 page spread about IBOL! (Yes, I did notice the photo of one of the bundles I sent.)
    When I got home, I surfed the web for The Quilt Life and found that I could subscribe online. I did, and they sent me a confirmation email which also had a user ID and password which I used to access a digital copy of the magazine immediately.
    Thank you again for all that you do for our country and for the people of Iraq. You’re awesome!

  11. Jean S Says:

    ABOL? Cool! Count me in….

  12. Tracey P Says:

    I’m getting a bundle ready, please send me an address. Thanks!

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