Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just saying hi.

A rant, to start: Memorial Day is not about all service members. It is about the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice- death. It kind of bothers me that every patriotic holiday has turned into "thank the soldiers." Veterans Day is a great day to catch everyone, July 4th for celebrating the first revolutionaries and the start of our great nation, but Memorial Day is about those who aren't here. But that's just me, I guess.

Okay, so I am going back to Drum this weekend to get in some Army wife good times with some amazing ladies. It's been kind of low key around here lately, just lots of cleaning (make it stop) and hanging out. I have had a few late mornings and not so many late nights. I've been a bit off lately.

But today would have been Alex's 29th birthday. Here is my tribute:

I uploaded a video on facebook of me singing happy birthday and trying the rum. No makeup, of course because I don't have any shame.

Hope you all have great weekends.

Monday, May 28, 2012

It's a bit personal this year: Memorial Day.

I was probably closer to becoming a Gold Star wife than I even really acknowledge and accept, so this year I am more grateful than anyone could know that I woke up next to Aaron today. It makes me sick to even think about it, so all I can do is hug him tighter and kiss him longer.

Today is not our day. It is not a day to say thanks to us. Yes, Aaron gave a lot in the terms of his body parts and maybe even future children. But he is here, he is himself, and we are thriving. Today is for the broken hearted, the ones who cried last night and this morning, the mamas trying to explain to their little girls where Daddy went and why they can't go, too. It's for the widows who didn't get a chance to have their love's child, and now they feel so alone. Today is for the parents who buried their children. I honor and respect them and their ultimate sacrifice.  It's not fair, it will never be okay, and while it was not senseless the fact that our country has counted 6,440 war dead is beyond my comprehension. It just isn't worth it and they all need to come home now. No one else should suffer like the Gold Star families or the Wounded Warriors do.

Godspeed and good vibes to whoever is hurting out there today. I am not you and can never claim to know an iota of your pain. If you don't feel support, reach out to the American Widow Project or Gold Star Families. It's there for you, and we as a nation should never forget who your soldier is and what you had to do in the name of freedom. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Trying to make things better.

We won't talk about how cell phone reception seems to be getting worse, how the hot water was out for most of the day, and how provided wifi quit working randomly (we bought a hot spot thingie so we're good on that). Instead, we'll talk about the new addition to our family!

I heard about Africa New Life through Saddleback Leather Company on the facebook. After researching, I found that this was the perfect charity for us. I decided to sponsor a child! Aaron will pick one out too, as soon we get some info a special case suggested to us. For $39 a month, I am providing education and medical care for a child who really wants it. I can also shop in the "store" to provide sanitary napkins, underwear, extra clothes, soap, lotion, food, a goat (love that), bedding, bed frame, etc. I went ahead and selected a few extra things to get the party started. I can communicate with my child by snail mail, and even send my own care packages. I wasn't assigned a random person in some random part of Africa- the charity has done great work in Rwanda for years, and I got to chose how I wanted to help. The financial transparency of this organization is right where it needs to be, and their strict management allows for nearly 90% of all money to go directly to the child or project you intend it for. This matter a lot to me, as I am one of those "think before you pink" and Charity Navigator people.

Why an African kid? My small donation makes a huge difference. Food. Undies. Shoes. I do believe in food pantries and the local Goodwill/King's Ranch thrift type donation centers and stores. I want what I do to really matter and resonate with whoever or whatever I have decided to support. I have been a "Big" before, and I left the situation with mixed feelings. I know others who couldn't handle food delivery because of the environments of those receiving the aide. This is my choice and I am very happy with it. I hope everyone can find a charity that speaks to them, and fulfills them the way I believe this one will for me.

So who is she? Norah, a 15-year-old living in Bugesera. I decided to pick an older child because I feel they are often overlooked. She resonated with me for three reasons: She wants to grow up to be a politician, listed political education as her favorite subject, and hide-and-seek as her hobby. What a cool kid with whom I share similar interests. Aaron has been to Africa- he's seen what they live in, and what a "few dollars" can do for them. While he feels strongly in aiding our own great nation, he also knows what providing education and clean water can do for another human in another part of the world.

It's time to tithe. We are what I consider very well off- better off than I ever thought I could be. We can afford to do pretty much what we want when we want to do it; we buy nicer things, fill our gas tank, have smart phones, and eat out. We do help out with those we know when they need it, but we can do more and we should. What is $78 a month to us? A night out? A nice shirt? How about an education, clothes, and medical care for two kids who have probably never even seen an iPhone? Yeah, that's more like it. When I want to go shopping, I think I'd feel better if I bought my girl a goat for her to sell at market, or a bed. I have shoes and a purse that cost more than that. Who exactly am I if I buy myself ridiculous, unnecessary things (which I do enjoy) if I don't also cut some of that stuff out and help the world to be a better place?

My joy over this has definitely helped me feel a lot better about our current situation. Which definitely still sucks and is really unnecessary. I am not one to think that it could be worse (which is quite true) because worse to me is a dead husband. We could all be in cardboard boxes. Or dead. So that thinking doesn't really do me any good. I like to  think, "I could do more." How can I be better? I could and should consume less. I could spend less on crap. I can afford everything I need in life (and I haven't always been able to do that and it SUCKS when you're in that situation), and buy a lot of stuff I don't.  I'm always striving to be less materialistic.

I think everyone should find something. Some people love to aide pets, or legal funds for the wrongly charged. Some people believe in military-benefited giving. Pro-life or pro-choice. Find the shoe that fits. But I suggest doing something. It's way better than a new bag!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The company line.

Well, at nearly 5pm yesterday I got a visit from a commander of something important and the civilian liaison for the building. I had actually just refused to speak to them to someone else who had called, simply because I don't feel going to the people who allowed this mess to happen in the first place is conducive to actually solving any issues. But, they knocked and I'm not completely rude. I could see that they were actually concerned, but for what I don't know. Concerned about the state in which these wounded and their families are sometimes forced to live, or concerned that someone intelligent has finally had enough and just might know enough to cause a problem for them. I'll never know.

What I got was a lot of acknowledgment but not any real answers. As I pointed out, the unsafe parking lot should have never been an issue because it never should have been allowed to exist in its current state. Who thought it was okay? I have never in my life heard of a building that stranded people who couldn't walk by having the only elevators out of service at one time, but somehow this was acceptable last week. Having to go 24 hours without working toilets, which means these guys went 24 hours without any much needed special equipment for toilet use which are used in the rooms, shouldn't be acceptable out in the "real world," much less in a building built by the government meant to take care of our wounded troops. Somehow, all of this still happened despite all of their concern and acknowledgement. Excuse me if I don't trust anyone in this situation as far as I could throw them. I think when I have finally quit feeling so beaten down I will call someone back and let them know that things really weren't resolved. Maybe.

Two ridiculous isolated incidents in as many weeks. Daily struggles with phone use, parking lot use, the showers, and so on and so forth. I just don't even know what to think anymore. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more "unforeseen circumstances" that caused us to live in completely unacceptable conditions. I wonder if these building people know that serving food in the same building as floating human waste is (I am pretty sure) a violation of federal health code. But the cafe in the building was certainly alive and kicking yesterday.

I know they care. I know they try. I just don't think they're given the proper tools to succeed here. Through whatever bureaucracy that has been created to stunt growth and development, through all the different avenues of reporting and documenting, the people who are supposed to "take care of us" can't do it because of a system that isn't designed to facilitate growth, improvement, and change. No one really thought about how handicap these wounded warriors are. The bar was set so low by the Malone House (the previous wounded wounded living facilities at the old WR) that anything had to be better than that. That's really a straw man fallacy if I ever heard one.

I love my "apartment" here in the barracks. I am not ungrateful and neither is anyone else. I feel as if the people in charge aren't honoring the gift of this building by being responsible leaders and showing us how to take care of it. They can't even take care of it. So it feels absolutely suffocating, like a total loss of freedom (because we are forced to live here without any other options), and people don't appreciate what they have because the people in charge can't help us make it better for everyone else to come after us.

So that's what's up right now. I'm beaten down. I'm done. I want to leave here as soon as possible and get an apartment nearby (I somehow don't think that's going to be an issue for us now). I don't care what happens anymore. I just don't feel that I have the energy to write the press or call Congress critters, or do anything else further than what I've done. They tried to placate me but it didn't work, it just taught me that nothing really is going happen in any efficient or expedited fashion. I did get one answer- the staff working duty desks will be undergoing customer service training from Disney. At least that will get better. God, do they ever need it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I wrote base command today.

To Whom It May Concern in Base Command for WRNMMC-Bethesda:
     As I am sure you are well aware (I hope), the residents of Building 62 currently do not have latrine use. We all received a slip of paper under our doors on May 21 informing us of an outrage to last from 1800-2000. I returned home at approximately 2200, and used the facilities in my room. The toilet did not work. I called down to the front desk and had a very constructive conversation with an Army personnel there about the importance of informing residences of the extended latrine outage. I was quite upset, due to the fact that there is human waste in my toilet that I now could not dispose of properly. Thankfully, I do not have children in the room so I did not have to watch out for young hands and curious minds wandering into the bathroom. I was told at that point, 2200, the toilets should be
working again around midnight. This of course did not happen, and sometime between midnight and this morning another slip of paper was deposited under my door to inform me of an extended outage. I called the front desk again to ask, but they did not have any information. As it is policy any sailor or soldier here to perform their 24 hour duty at the front desk in this building, they often don't know anything useful and many residents have had problems with information distribution due to this policy.

     Sir or Madame, I don't think you understand how neglected the residences of this building can feel at times. We are forced to live here and tolerate any conditions thrown at us. I know that my wounded warrior and I hold up our end by keeping the place clean, not being destructive (I have yet to so much as crack a coffee mug), and attend all appointments. It seems that those who manage this building don't have any ends to keep up. We tolerate showers that don't drain, an excessively dark parking lot that is not handicap accessible in any real way, cell phone reception that is spotty at best, elevators that don't work (two were out at one time in the East Wing not too long ago), unreliable internet connection, random room inspections that occur at any time, and now we must have solid human waste in our toilets for an extended and unknown amount of time. When is enough, enough? When should the residents do what they have to do to make sure we are at least heard? What measures do we need to consider to make sure the right people know about this building, its year- long growing pains, and complete lack of useful information from the people who work our front desk area? What would you do, exactly? It isn't one issue or the other. It's everything, and now these “little hiccups” have reached unsanitary heights. If we weren't forced to live here perhaps these matters wouldn't seem so important. But at the moment, I feel unheard and completely neglected. I have often wondered if base command knows about the things that go on in this building. How could you and your co-workers know and not contact us, ask us what we need, or make necessary changes? We are not entitled, we just simply want things that everyone else has. Not only do our soldiers give up their limbs, they and their families also give up their freedom for as long as they need treatment, and now we can't even be forced to live in a sanitary building. Please listen to me. I am personally at my wits' end with this place, and I can assure you I am not the only one. This has got to be the end of the road for the insanity. Changes are always coming but they are so rarely actually ever made. I hope, finally, someone of importance here at the hospital takes the residents and complaints of Building 62 seriously. We are reaching our limits.


** It took 24 hours, but the bathrooms work. The hospital has responded to my letter- several departments, actually. I am still reserved about the ability of those in charge to properly address these issues (many of which shouldn't be issues at all). I am terrified of what I did today and the people who now know my name. But I still stand by my actions and my willingness to be so honest and open about these issues. So much of this could have been prevented. I hope real change is in the process, because I know I'm not done yet. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My friend.

Pain is missing this guy everyday. He was one of my best friends, and left us all too soon for the big pie in the sky, four days after Aaron was injured. My grief process has definitely been stunted by my other grief process for all things Aaron-injury related. Alex's birthday is coming up soon and I can't stop thinking about this wonderful, funny, sarcastic, smart, giant person whose absence has left the hugest hole in my heart. He would have been the guy to talk me down from all the stupid anxiety attacks I have over little things. He would have come to visit for a week and put up with all of my craziness, and Aaron's. Hug the ones you love, folks- if you're lucky to be able to do so. No one is here for good and some leave unexpectedly.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Day drinking, migraine, charity, college. And GO!

I went to the ER last night. Whoo, party! I laid down for a nap after a little day drinking, right on top of a bunch of pillows. I woke up with a raging tension migraine that only got worse. Puking, sobbing, the whole works. Thankfully my doctor this time did not over medicate with me with narcotics and instead gave me half doses. I ate when I got back and we finally went to bed around 3am, but no sleep until after 4. Ugh. I feel better today, but what a doozy.

Also, frozen sangria is no joke! Day drinking is fun and all in the wonderful weather, but maybe next time I won't pick the most loaded beverage on the menu. I really don't think it contributed to my migraine, other than being so tipsy I didn't notice I was sleeping on a mountain of pillows.

Today is a big day! We're going to the groundbreaking ceremony for The Boulder Crest Retreat. You have GOT to read up on this. A lovely couple donated acres of their Virginia land to build this wounded warrior retreat. It will be small and intimate, without the usual constraints of official hospital trips. I love our hospital trips- we're taking one tomorrow- but it is like a field trip. On the bus, off the bus, do this at 1pm, dinner at 6pm. We need a place to truly relax and do whatever we want to do- wether that be kayaking, yoga, gardening, or NOTHING at all. I am so excited to be so closely associated with this organization. I hope to contribute something to it in the long run, but what I don't know yet. I'm sure I have a talent or two.

I got my grades back! I bombed psych, which was supposed to be an A. My fault. I'll be retaking it in the summer. I got Bs in Anthropology and English- whoohoo, at no short credit to my incredible writing skills.

So here's a funny to leave you with: I've been researching four year programs and am considering apply to a John Hopkins writing seminar (ambitious and ludicrous, probably not going to happen). I couldn't find any info on accepting transfer students who didn't graduate high school. I've got a Good Enough Diploma (GED) but my college work should be able to speak for itself. I kept getting the same canned response back from Admissions. I might have wrote a bit of a nasty-gram to them about not accepting GED transfer students. Finally, I got a non-canned response. Well, they do. I mean, I can at least apply. Although nothing on their website mentions this, at all. Someone at admissions thinks it does, but clearly they are incorrect. They need high school transcripts, though, which is a problem. I don't have them. I homeschooled one year and then stopped. Partially my fault for not finishing, but I went to work. I was 17 when I made that decision. It shouldn't matter 13 years later, though. So we'll see.

Have happy weekends, folks!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Anxiety Management.

Somewhere in my life, some things went wrong and I ended up with anxiety issues. I've always been wound a little tight and due to circumstances outside of my control, I began to mishandle stress my whole life. There is a reason people referred to me as "the little adult" long before my 13th birthday. Shit happens, I got it. It was about 2007 when the anxiety manifested itself and I realized I might have a problem. I learned to deal with it (not really) and moved on.

What I'm learning is that (again) some shit happened, i.e. husband almost dying and losing limbs, my flight-or-fright dial turned to 11. After living like this for over 6 months, my neurology has most likely changed. My brain is different. I can't help that I respond LIKE MY LIFE SHOULD BE LIVED IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS to all the insignificant things that happen here. It explains why I couldn't let go of a lot of things, got caught up in the negative, and seemed stuck on being angry and wounded.

It sucks. It's why I stayed so unreasonably pissed at all the people who said and did messed up things to me within the past eight months instead of focusing on the wonderful people who were actually helping me out. No one is going to judge me more harshly for this than me. The dial becoming stuck might have been necessary in the beginning, but it should have been readjusted a long time ago.

It's time to bring that dial back down. I feel on edge all the damn time and I hate it. My husband and family deserves better. I don't know if I was always going to end up like this or if this is situational, but I can't handle not handling things anymore. I don't want to take medication to cope with all this shit; I want to handle it like an adult, whatever that exactly means. It's just not any fun being this way. I talk about it in therapy, and I work on it at home. I managed to get through a few stressful moments over the past week, and I'm proud of myself for it. I haven't lashed out at anyone within the past 72 hours. I have calmly explained myself a few times. I'm working on it.

I just wish I had not taken so long. Eight months. How did I let it go on so long? I wouldn't wish this on anyone and if I could genetically alter my kids to not feel anxiety, I would. I think being intuitive and sensitive makes me more prone to feel over-anxious, but this is ridiculous. I am not proud of this part of me and there isn't a single redeeming quality to it, unlike some of my more... colorful... eccentric habits and traits. Being blunt is at least funny (secret: I usually don't mean to be funny when I say something true that is also blunt, but so many people think it's hilarious). I've always been a bit morbid and I'll always prefer the truth to some prettied-up version of it. And no matter what, my innocence for life has been lost. What little unexperienced hope I had left after the first 25 years of my life washed away with Aaron's legs. I'm okay with that, because I can be proud of being a true realist with endearing cynicism. There's a better me in here, I just have to dig her out of her grave of "LIFE CAN REALLY SUCK". Adapt or die, right? Being this morose and melancholy isn't cute. Feeding into this darker side isn't who I need to be. I used to be a bright color. I need to lay off the SVU and watch more comedies.

My solution is to surround myself with bright, happy things and try to think alternatively when negatives arise so that eventually nurture becomes nature and my brain doesn't shut down when stupid shit happens.

This is the beginning to my 30th year. What else can I do except try to get better?

Adventures and routines and stuff and stuff.

So instead of complaints I'm going to start calling my observations about Building 62 "adventures". Yesterday's adventures was having both elevators broken for several hours. I don't even know how half this stuff happens. These elevators are the only way people without legs get out of here. Srsly!!!

Does everyone else have a morning routine? I wake up, shuffle around, assist Aaron in any way he needs, then start the Keurig (which by the way is the best thing in my house, I don't care how wasteful those little cups are). I load the dishwasher and do some other cleaning things. I might screw off on the internet a little bit, watch the news, and eventually find something else on the idiot box to fill the air while I go about my day- it's usually USA, FX, TNT, or History. Oh, I usually make the bed. At some point, I start schoolwork.

I used to attend most of Aaron's appointments with him but I realized it wasn't good for me. Something almost always happens that riles me up to no end. He handles those situations so much better than I do. I think once I manage to get self-soothing and meditation under control (i.e. get my freaking anxiety to stop doing it's own thing), I'll go back. I feel anxious all the time and I can't make it quit. I seriously need some coping skills.

That said, the outdoors just do it for me every time. We went to Virginia and out skeet shooting this weekend and the fresh air was amazing. At one point, I simply found a place to sit and close my eyes outdoors. We can't open windows in the building (duh) but I miss the woods. I've never spent so much time away from the trees in my life. When I'm with nature, I don't talk. I don't think. I just breathe. The hospital is like a concrete city, where all the important things happen indoors and the only time you're outside is when you're walking from one building to the next. Just seeing these buildings is kind of a downer. I look forward to any outdoor-tree time I can get.

So, back to awesome things. Out of 12-16 shots, I actually hit three clays while skeet shooting! It was a little .28 gauge double barrel, and I am pretty pleased with myself. A few shots were just right behind or in front of the clay. I also finally got to take my little scooter for a test drive, and I caught on pretty quick. Right turns, for whatever reason, are kind of awkward for me. I think it's because the throttle is on the right handle and I am terrified of accidentally going too fast, so I'm doing all the steering with my left hand/arm. Which was tiring, especially after the skeet shooting.

I take my final test and turn in my last assignment today. I'm taking a lighter load for summer, but I'm excited to keep pushing along. Hope you all have great weeks!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Meh. But it's a happy meh!

I don't feel like much of a military spouse these days, but it's nice to throw around a "thanks" or whatever. There was nothing here at the hospital today except some mommy makeover stuff in the lobby of the building we live in. Since I'm not a mother, I skipped. Pick one fake day of celebration over the other. That said, I did order my mom a sick Kitchen Aid and Aaron picked out a great gift for his mom and the other mother in his life. None of it really bothers me. Aaron tells me everyday that I'm awesome so that's all that matters. We "celebrated" with Five Guys burgers.

 I think the funniest thing that happened today was this rude lady at the car dealership service department. I was speaking with someone, and she found herself more important and told him to hurry it up. It was about a lightbulb. I'll admit that I'm pretty sensitive to this kind of stuff because I always think I'm being treated differently because I look so young. She probably thought I was some kid. Or not- but I'm usually not wrong about this kind of stuff. Over our weekend in Destin, someone commented on my lack of tan. All I had to do was mention that I'm turning 30 in a few short months and the person was wowed- and understood my choice not to leatherize my tender skin. I've decided to own my youthful looks. At some point in my life I'll have to start dressing like an adult, but that time is not now. And I can really pull it together when the time is right. I just love my cartoon t-shirts! Does anyone else face regular judgment because of a physical appearance? Lemme know!

Alright, back to the grind. Love you peeps and have great weekends!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Right now.

Drowning in school work but emerging out of the end-of-term haze okay. We'll see how much I suffered when grades come back. Adding "student" to the list of identifiers was probably one of the crazier things I've done lately.

Also, some roadside assistance chump fried our brand- new Volvo XC60. Aaron had left a piece of his adaptive equipment on when he was done driving it for the first time a few days ago and drained the battery. No biggie, he called roadside for a good charge. The guy got the clamps backwards on the posts! He put negative to positive!!!!! It apparently smoked and sparked for more than a second and now the electrical system is completely messed up. Volvo isn't even sure if they can fix it. Now I keep thinking that even if they do, our car will always act crazy and this will be an on-going issue. So. Livid. Who does that?! I learned to jump a car properly when I started driving at 17. OMG. WTF.

My phone got mad at the beach and quit working, but Apple Care is amazing. The home button not working was the big issue, so I got a new phone. Apple Care paid for itself right there.

Lastly- people should be able to marry each other. Period. All these preachy, hateful religious folk messing up my facebook is grating on my nerves. If they want to go all Old Testament, then fine, but live by every rule. Don't take one "rule" literally and not all the others. I personally like to focus on the message of LOVE and ACCEPTANCE, but then I'm just another commie liberal feminist, aren't I? Boo to hate. Not cool. And who out there is qualified to be the supreme ruler decider on what God meant in the Bible anyway? Man wrote it, not God. And last I checked, humans can be pretty unreliable. Jesus was about the good stuff in life. Interracial marriage was banned in several state constitutions because it was deemed immoral and nutjobs back then quoted the Bible about that, too. And women voting. So, um, yeah. Way to go, progress.

Now back to that paper on the rainforest people...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Small Talk.

I can't do it. I've always been bad at it. I'd rather scratch a chalkboard with my own nails. I've been listening to myself more and I realize that I tend to talk about interesting things as opposed to the weather. I talk a lot. I can be loud and I'm definitely not scared easily. I do well in groups. But there's a part of me that can be such an introvert. I just don't want to waste time talking to people I won't see again. I don't want anyone to ask me how I'm doing because I want to be honest when I answer. Getting services done are torture. The nail tech: "So, are you from here?" "No." "Okay, where are you from?" "Alabama." "Why are you here?" "Because my husband and I live at the military hospital." "Why?" "He was blown up."

Do you see? I try not to get into it. No one wants to know about rotting flesh, gooey wounds, stitches, twitches, and sleepless nights. No one really needs to know that I am sore from top to bottom because I spent the last weekend lifting a wheelchair in and out of the rental van about 50 times. If small talk was hard for me before, it's nearly impossible now.

I think the real problem is that I just want to be honest. I don't want to waste my breath telling people that everything is fine, oh life's grand, isn't the weather nice, did you read the new bestseller... blah, blah, blah. If I'm not going to be engaging, if the conversation isn't going to be worth having, then I just don't want to bother. At all. Hand in hand, this goes with fluff blog posts. Some are great, but the perfect blog gets old. There are only so many recipes, fashion themes, guest posts, product reviews, and Pinterest posts (dear god, someone stop the Pinterest) out there. It just all becomes empty at some point. I don't care about summer drinks, tell me about your life! I guess I feel the same way about small talk.

Anyone else feel this way?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Vroom Vroom Husband!

Eight months ago today Aaron almost died and lost so much more than just limbs and fingers. But today he said "suck it" to another anniversary with another huge milestone: HE DROVE! The vehicle adaptations took forever, but it's all done now and he has this simple freedom back! Bit by little bit, inch by stupid inch, he is regaining personal freedom so many take for granted. Suck it, big world. You're ours.

There's not a reason...

... for everything. There isn't. I don't care if it's your religion or own personal philosophy, but everything does not happen for a reason. Jesus was not there with my husband eight months ago today when he nearly died. I can accept divine intervention on behalf of the fact that he made it through, but you can't tell me God set in motion the events that lead to the single most devastating event in our lives. Not the God and Jesus I was raised to believe in, anyway.

And to say that everything happens for a reason to people who have experienced true pain is just rude. But my only reply is that it simply must be so nice to be so blind and stupid. As is passing any judgment, but that's another post.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Back and forth.

This past week we took a Veterans Airlift Command flight to attend the EOD Memorial and Ball in Destin, FL. I could wax poetic about what it felt like to be there and hear all the names of EOD technicians fallen in battle, but it isn't about that. All that mattered is that Aaron's name was not one of the 18 new additions to the memorial wall. I am eternally grateful every moment of every day that he was just another technician in attendance to honor his fallen comrades. The only part I absolutely couldn't handle were the video montages of the fallen. I left the dinner area both times it happened. After the ball, we drank entirely too much, danced on stage, and stayed out too late. The pilot and plane owner (and therefore donor of the flight) had us over on Saturday for jet skis and barbecue. I am so grateful for what these people are willing to do for wounded warriors. Also, the jet skiing was literally the first normal thing Aaron's done since he was injured. No adaptations, no having to figure it out; legs just weren't necessary for him to completely control the machine. It was pretty moving. I also truly, wholly relaxed for the first time in well... I can't tell you when. Even one of the other wives took notice of my calmer demeanor. It was such a blessing of a weekend.

I've been around a lot less lately as I've been thinking about my life, who I am, and what is going to happen next. I feel like my entire life has been one transitory, temporary situation after another with little to no stability. For the best several years I have managed to forge a few stable friendships and determined which college (and older) relationships are worth attention now and beyond. I'm a crazily loyal person and used to think that yearly visits were in order to maintain best friendships. Now I know that isn't so, but there a few folks I have to see every so often to keep my sanity in check. As with most people, my circle of friends does keep shrinking as the quality improves. Military life is counter-intuitive to this since every few years you have to start over somewhere, and my whole "adult" life has been like that. I left my hometown at 20, left the college town five years later, left Atlanta three years after that, stopped over in Germany for less than half a year before my year-long stint at Drum began and then ended rather abruptly. We've pretty much decided to settle here in the DC metro area and now I have to figure out how to navigate that. At some point I need to forge some friendships outside of this hospital. I won't be part of the military life for very much longer (if I can even call this hospital life part of the military lifestyle), so I should incorporate more civilian aspects of the world around me into my personal existence.

Turning 30 become a lot more introspective than I thought it would be. I don't usually think a lot about getting old; in fact, my birthdays in the past have been marred by depressing events in my life, from dead dog to heartbreak in various forms. I suppose the entry into my third decade colliding with the single most life-altering event of my life most likely has more to do with my current self-reflection than actually turning 30. Thirty is the new twenty, but I would be remiss to not mention that "the youth is wasted on the young." I've always known a bit too much about all of the world's worst offerings for any age without possessing the social skills that seem to get most people through the "next stage" of life. Whatever that means.

Eventually, I'll get over all the mistakes I've made- especially within the past year- and learn to live and let go. No one is ever going to be harder on me than myself. As I begin to process exactly why I've been difficult I have also come to the conclusion that holy shit, life really took a shit on me, my husband, and everyone who loves us. I felt like I couldn't control anything in my life so my natural reaction was to be as pissed as I wanted needed to be at everything that wasn't just in our world. I also tend to hold a grudge and keep a short list of People I Will Never Like And Will Question Anyone Who Is Friends With Them, and that list grew this past year. I'm ridiculous, I know, but it helps me to add a name (or two or four) to the list and move on. I'm getting better at that part. I eventually make myself sick of it.

My feelings are ultimately the only thing I've ever been able to claim. I saw and experienced violence and abuse so that I eventually learned that no one can make claim on who I am (whoever that is). It's my mind, and I'm not backing down. I suppose this is why I've kept a diary of sorts since elementary school. All this tragedy with Aaron has definitely spun my emotions out of control so for a little while I couldn't control anything in my life, except maybe anger. At the end of the day it's better to lose control of my adoration and appreciation of the best kinds of folks, from the endless love I feel for my husband to my mad respect for the true friends in my life.

I also turned off the Nine Inch Nails and started listening to one of my favorite albums again, Tom Petty's Wildflowers. I've figured out the edge is always there, so I need to introduce softer things into my life more often.

Have great weeks, everyone! I'll be drowning in school work and probably still won't finish it all.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Doing alright.

I cut the sleeves off of a light black and sliver plaid shirt to give myself something a little more summery. I'm pretty pleased with my work. I also read my psychology chapter outside and had a productive therapy session. And never underestimate a friend's ability to give you a light-bold moment!

We leave for the beach tomorrow for the EOD Memorial and Ball. Nervous about being so "out there" with the wheelchair but I know it's nothing we can't handle. Patience, patience, patience (not a virtue I've ever learned willingly). I miss my dogs a lot and I can't wait to see them again when we return from out trip. And that will be possible because we'll have the car back! Ahhhh, that's been a little rough.

It's all going to be alright.

Transition. Again.

I often wonder just how immersed I was in the military lifestyle. How much did I let it define me? I'd like to think I allowed to be a part of who I was, but didn't let it become an over-powering identifier. I don't know what a cookie cutter military spouse is, but if there is one then I certainly wasn't it. Are they conservative? All want or have children? Display the flag, the pictures, and the books with swelling hearts? Are active in post activities? Maybe I was somewhere in the middle or nowhere near the top of the curve.
 Currently, we have his coins, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Medal of Honor book on display. But also, I feel like the fact that we're even here is all the pride I need. What I'm most proud of is how well we're taken care of, and how complete strangers are willing to do so much to lift our moods and provide for us. It's just a different life here at the hospital. I image our future friends and even jobs will be forever connected to Aaron's service, so it will definitely always be a part of our lives. I'm just having a little bit of a convoluted time with the sudden, and initially unwanted, transition into a life absent of being an active duty couple. This is so different from being near a post and having regular unit dealings. It reiterates my opinion that until you've lived the "active duty life" you can't have an preconceived notions on what it is like. Some of the dumbest things I've ever heard came from wives who had yet to live on or near post and deal with the regular Army. We all remember the blog post from the active duty wife in some random town complain about being confused for being a "part-time" National Guard family. She'd never even lived near a post. I think her husband was a recruiter. Anyway, I've actually experienced in real life people having expectations without any real experience. Fortunately, I had a pretty rich independent life (I refuse to say "adult") before marrying into the military, so at least it won't be so foreign to me when we are discharged from this place.

I think I can summarize transitioning out of the military as simply being weird!