I wanted to create a space for friends of Flat Frances to share a little about themselves. The Internet is honestly a terrible place (yes, this makes me sound old -- and I am!). However, I'm learning it can be a great place too. I've "met" so many amazing women via Flat Frances social media, women who are going for it, women that inspire me to wake up for the world.
Annie is one of these women. She was one of our first customers, she's hilarious and adorable. And also, yeah know, a U.S. Army Veteran, who you know, used to just casually jump out of airplanes. What?! Yep! She's my hero. Annie was kind enough (or I might have forced her!) to answer some questions about her magical self, read on...
What did you want to be as a kid?
Oh gosh – well, the very first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was to be the first woman NFL quarterback. I fantasized about that a lot. My peak NFL obsession time was between ages 7-10, but that has swiftly fallen to the wayside haha. Next, I wanted to be an astronaut and then I wanted to be a fighter pilot. (I think it is relevant to mention that my father was in the military, so that heavily influenced my sphere of reality.) My current goal is to become a real life Leslie Knope.
Who are some of your female heroes in real life?
So many! I’ll start with Margaret Atwood – I read the Handmaid’s Tale years ago at the recommendation of my brother (who was then studying philosophy in college) and her dystopian vision has heavily influenced the way I view reality. Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Gloria Steinem are some of my favorite authors and their works have opened my eyes to the reality to women and people of color in our country. All of these women are my heroes for speaking out and speaking against, and having such incredible courage to do so. In the governmental side of the world, two more of my heroes are Elizabeth Warren and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Honestly, I admire so many women – so many are heroes to me. Any person standing up with strength and courage to the obstacles in this world is my hero!
Thank you so very much for serving our country; so grateful, you are unreal. I know from creeping on your Instagram for this interview, you were a Jumpmaster. What are some ways you mentally prepare for jumping out of a plane?
Yes! That was my crowning achievement from my time in the military (I was the only woman in my class of 50+ people!). A quick description for everyone: the jumpmaster is the person on an airborne operation (jumping with parachutes out of a plane or helicopter) who ensures the safety for everyone on board; this includes inspecting their parachute harness, observing the ground to decide when the jumpers can exit the aircraft, making sure the drop zone is safe, working with the Air Force, and ensuring everything goes smoothly! Jumping out of a plane in the Army takes much less thinking than sky-diving because the parachute opens automatically due to its static line configuration – due to this, there is not much to think about besides trusting your equipment and “keeping your feet and knees together.” However, that doesn’t keep it from being a scary situation. The thing that helps me mentally prepare is realizing how special it was, sitting thigh to thigh with your teammates in a vibrating airplane, and looking into each others eyes realizing this is the most vulnerable you’ll ever see each other (especially in the military where everyone is very good at putting on a tough and impenetrable mask). You’re sharing this huge risk and adventure with these people, together. If nothing else, jumping out of airplanes makes you close to your unit – sharing that experience is huge. I loved it! And the moment the parachute opens, with it comes a great burst of adrenaline that makes the stress worth it. And as a bonus, after I passed the jumpmaster course and became a jumpmaster on operations, I was so busy going through my checklists and making sure my Soldiers were safe that I didn’t have much time to be nervous at all.
What are some misconceptions people have about women serving in the military?
There are so many. I think that the biggest misconception would be that one mold defines all of us. I am constantly amazed by the great variety of interests, styles, goals, and motivators that my women friends hold that continue to serve or are veterans. I will share a very quick anecdote about an annoying misconception: at West Point we have a super special weekend where we are presented with our class rings. The week of that ceremony, a few of my girlfriends from school and I decided to go into town and get our nails done. We knew the weekend would hold many close-up photos of our hands, so it was a natural decision. So, we went to the nail place, got French manicures (for my women service members out there: our TAC Officer “allowed” us to have a French manicure for that weekend alone since of course it is out of regulations haha), and while we were sitting and waiting for the polish to dry someone was asking us why we were there – and then made some comment about us being too “attractive” to be in the military. Come on. That has always stuck with me. We are tall and short, with long hair and with short, republican and democrat leaning, want to serve for a short time or for a career – but we all want to serve our nation.
What is something you hoard, and why?
Notes and letters! I’m pretty good at not collecting anything that takes up precious space – I think this is due to moving every two years during my childhood and constantly getting rid of things we weren’t using. But, I still have handwritten notes from my friends dating all the way back to 9th grade – and I periodically go through them and reread them and feel that warm pang of love and loss in my heart. I also hoard my own writings – I’ve kept a journal since I was in 2nd grade. I also go through those to see if I’ve learned from my life haha.
What's your life motto (or favorite saying)?
Since Hamilton (the musical by Lin Manuel Miranda) was released into this world, “I’m not throwing away my shot” has totally propelled me through the last couple years of my life. It emboldened me to be firm in my decision to leave the Army and totally change my entire life course. I only have this one life, and I need to make the most of it. Not just sit and let time pass you as you idly look by. A close second place is “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept” by Angela Davis. This quote and mindset also helps me propel into the future to help this world!