The Geek & The Chic

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ah, The Irony

It's been a long time since I felt the way I did Saturday afternoon. I came home to an empty house after leaving Husband and thought, "What now?" My feelings were a mix of sadness, exhaustion and anxiety. Part of the sadness was the reminder that Shadow was no longer here, part missing my best friend. I was tired because I hadn't slept well and the anxiety came from knowing what lay ahead for Husband. It's one thing to take a trip, it's quite another when your trip takes you to a war zone. But he had promised to call as soon as he could. So I waited.

I spent some time Saturday doing nothing. To be honest, I had no energy, no desire and no ambition to go anywhere. I did force myself to take a walk to the mailbox, just so I didn't coop myself up. But really at the heart of it was that I didn't want to miss his call. So I waited.

Saturday night came and went with no phone call. I wasn't too concerned -- I wasn't sure where he would land and, let's face it, you're travelling with 200 other soldiers who also want to call their wives and loved ones so there's a wait for the phone.

Sunday morning came and I debated about going to church. I didn't want to miss his call so I decided I would attend the absolute last mass of the day at church, about 5pm. I figured by then I would hear. I needed to hear his voice. To me, his voice is the one that cuts through the noise, speaks to my heart and is as sweet as music to my ears.

At 2pm the phone rang and my heart skipped. But it wasn't the house phone, it was his cell phone. I looked at the display and saw his supervisor's name. Huh? That didn't make any sense. Wasn't she on the plane too? I answered the phone and it was his supervisor's husband, wanting to know if I'd heard anything yet. I told him no and it turns out he hadn't either. I got his phone number and promised to call if I heard anything.

Worry crept in. This man retired from the military at the rank of Command Sergeant Major. He had 26 years of service and he's calling me? OK, my brain thought. The CSM is worried, so you should be too. So I did. A little. After all, I reassured myself, there was no news and sometimes no news can be good news.

The CSM called me about 45 minutes later. I heard the cell phone ringing in the bedroom where I had plugged it in to charge. He'd just heard from his wife and all was well. They'd had some airspace issues and had to turn around to a more western friendly country. Ok, I thought: Husband will be calling soon!

But by 5pm there was still no call and I was beginning to fret, worry and stress. It's amazing how those same exact feelings from a year ago (when he was in Iraq) came flooding to the surface. No church, I didn't want to miss his call.

At 6pm I looked at the cell phone charging. There was a new voicemail on it. Oh no! I knew who it was from and I was so disappointed that I wasn't able to speak with him. But he did call. And I did get to hear his sweet voice. And with a simple message of love, we reconnected across the miles.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

And So It Begins

Husband has deployed to the mideast for the year.

We were up at 6am so he could shower, shave and have breakfast before leaving for post at 7am. By 7:30, he'd picked up his weapon and I met him at the motor pool which was the waiting area. It was early but already a crowd of soldiers and family were there, doing the same as we were -- sitting, talking, staring at nothing and looking at everything. But mostly we were waiting. In a few short hours, he would get on a bus that would take him away from me for the year.

After an hour or so, he saw his supervisor walk into the building with her husband, so we joined them and talked. Actually, mostly they talked and I listened and observed the crowd. It was a cavernous building and eventually I heard announcements being shouted but no one could hear because of the noise. Finally, everyone quieted down enough so we could hear that the official orders for movement were being distributed. Husband went to get his and I got to see the paperwork, officially telling him to deploy.

It might have been another 30 minutes before they started calling names -- it was time to get on the bus. I held onto him for as long as I could before his name was called and we went outside into the bright cold sunshine. One last kiss, a hug, an I love you whispered in my ear. And then he got on the bus. I was able to wave at him but I turned away before he could see the tears start. And then I drove home to an empty house.

364 more days and counting.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Fuck You, January

Yes, that's what I said.

It's not enough that my father passed away earlier this month or that my Husband deploys tomorrow for a year. Husband came home from work today to find the kitten (Shadow) thrashing about in his litter box and when he pulled him out, Shadow stopped moving, then he stopped breathing. A rushed visit to the vet confirmed death.

So fuck you January. Thanks for nothing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A New Supply Of String, Glue & Duct Tape

I had a dream last night that I was falling apart in a million pieces. And when I woke up this morning, I realized it felt like it was more than just a dream. It's as if the glue that has bonded, the string that has supported and the duct tape holding everything together are all coming undone and have lost their power. Perhaps it's only an illusion that I've held it all together, an illusion made fancy with smoke and mirrors.

I realized today that I'd been viewing the upcoming deployment as just another "thing" to face. Like grocery shopping, it has to be done. But no one goes grocery shopping for a year only to come home without groceries. Let's face it, I figured being older meant more maturity and being smart enough to realize that I had to accept this whether or not I liked it. That's still the case but doubt crept in today.

A whole year without him. What if I change? What if he changes? So much could happen, might happen -- and then I stop myself because as my mother would say, we haven't even come to that bridge yet. Why build a mountain when there's not even a mole hill in the way? Why drive myself crazy with all this? Why let doubt creep in when faith is already there? I don't like it when doubt is stronger than faith. Why do we do that to ourselves?

He's been trying to get me to hook up with other wives for company. I keep telling him that if they want to call me, great, but I will not call anyone. I already work full time and my weekends are spent catching up on things that don't get done during the week. Granted, I wish I had already found someplace I wanted to volunteer but I haven't even had time for that. Besides, this deployment just puts me back to where I was a year ago. Living on my own in the Alaskan boondocks, with two cats for company. The only difference this time is that I have a different last name. Oh, and I'm closer to civilization.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Those Crazy Brits

A news report stated that a British researcher, using some weirdo formula he developed, has determined that January 24 is the most depressing day of the year. The calculation involves weather, debt, failed New Year's resolutions and low motivational levels.

This just sounds like a bunch of marlarkey to me. Granted I never majored in math and no one would ever mistake me for Einstein but what possible kind of answer can you get where even the letters don't spell anything? WNATQDd is about the best you can make of it.

So I conducted my own poll with my co-workers. Of the 14 people I asked, no one admitted to being sadder today than yesterday. Most people also did not seem to be aware that they were supposed to be sad today. Then I felt sad for them.

Monday, January 23, 2006

My Brush With Famous People

There aren't many, but...

I saw George Burns at the airport once. He was in a wheelchair. He must've been 98 years old.

Johnny Rotten of Sex Pistols fame. My friend Monica and I cut school to go into New York City where he was signing his new book at Tower Records in Greenwich Village. I looked so very unpunk, and here I was, in a midst of people who certainly dressed the part. Then the Entertainment Tonight news van came and I ducked behind a very tall person to hide. For the record, my arm could be seen moving out of view but no one who wasn't supposed to know about the cut from school ever found out. So if you see my mom, don't tell her! Oh, I did have a Sex Pistols t-shirt on. I had him sign the back of it. I still have it. I don't wear it because I don't want to wash it and have the ink fade.

John O'Hurley of Seinfeld fame. He came to Anchorage for the start of Iditarod. He's very tall and I wouldn't say he was nice but he wasn't rude.

Run of Run-DMC fame. It was at a dance club on Long Island. He was cool.

Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska. He's very short. He's also Senator for Life, I think.

Walter Cronkite. He was invited to visit Alaska by his good friend Augie Hiebert who used to own the CBS affiliate there. While there, he agreed to speak to the TV community and I got to go! Now that's a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Oh, and I saw Adam Arkin on a plane once. He was acting in Northern Exposure at the time. He was in first class and I was making my way down the aisle and I had to wait. I looked at him and I said, "You look famaliar." He did admit that I might have seen him on TV. But he didn't give me his name or show. Just as the line started to move, I remembered. I said, "That's Adam Arkin" and my boyfriend at the time heard him say, "She got it"

I went to school with Debbie Gibson's sisters. Does that count?

I think that's it.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

No, Really, Thanks I'm Fine

The thought occurred to me today that the damn new year is only 22 days old and I'm already tired of it. 2006 has yet to impress me. However, it doesn't look so bad through the bottom of my martini glass.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Whatever Works

The new computer is up and running. It's very nice, all shiny and new. It goes lickety-split and even better, it doesn't boot me off the internet like the other one did. Now I need to get all the stuff off the old one that I still want. It's mostly music and Husband's emails.

I had to bring the cat to the vet today. He's been sluggish and not eating of late. Sadly, my Husband who will soon be known as the "menace to kitty society," accidentally stepped on him while going downstairs in the dark. Since Shadow is entirely black, Husband did not see him and hence, the step. In the last two days, Shadow has discovered some great hiding places too. Anyway, because of these things, we went to the vet today. I worried that maybe he had internal injuries or something. Well, the vet poked, prodded and examined and he said (I swear I am not making this up) that Shadow was suffering from "psychological trauma" and was probably a little sore. So now he has some pain medication to take which we hope will help inspire his appetite. Also this week, he's supposed to see the vet on post for his operation to uh, remove his manhood, shall we say. But if you see him, don't mention it because I haven't told him yet.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Which Way Is Up?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

In the past month, I put my cat to sleep and my dad died. My husband deploys in a matter of weeks to a far off distant land and will be gone a year. If you look closely, you'll see the strings holding me up.

A friend asked what more could happen but I don't want to think anymore. As the time draws closer to his departure, I find myself wondering about how I'll keep busy to make the days go by faster. That's when I think about Dad. I had imagined endless phone calls to him and my mom to help make the time pass. I imagined the stories my dad would want to hear from husband about his tour when he returned. And how they would pick up where they left off and talk about baseball and who would win the World Series. They always had so much to talk about... The grief, though modified now, is still real, raw and painful. Will I ever not miss him? Highly unlikely.

I'm hoping to find a bright spot in all of this but it has yet to reveal itself. As someone pointed out yesterday, Spring is coming. Eventually.

Monday, January 16, 2006

One Small Bright Spot

The new computer arrived. It gets hooked up tomorrow (Tuesday). After that, more frequent postings. Promise.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I Love You Daddy

We buried my dad on Tuesday.

It was a sunny day without too much wind. A military honor guard was there. My dad served in Korea. He was a gunner in a tank. He never spoke about his service too much (although he and Husband would speak of this shared experience), just that he was glad when his army days were over. Husband told me about what it's like to be a gunner in a tank.

He had been hospitalized before Christmas with congestive heart failure and seemed to be making improvements but his BP plummeted during a dialysis treatment and they were not able to revive him. I am so glad that I was able to get here within 24 hours of hearing the news and not across the country.

I happened to be home for lunch and a little nudge kept telling me to call home, so I did. My mother answered and told me what had happened and then I called Husband but ended up having to leave a message for him on his cell phone. I went back to work only because there was no point in staying home - I needed something to do. I told the GM and he told me take as much time as I needed, etc. The biggest hurdle was waiting to be contacted by the Red Cross. My sister had to call them so they could call Husband's unit so he could get emergency leave. That's just the process but fortunately, once the unit got the message, things moved very quickly.

The grief is still profound. It's so hard seeing something of his and realizing he won't need it anymore. I take solace in that he is no longer in pain. At the wake, a nun approached me. I was telling her that he died on Epiphany (or Little Christmas, the day associated with the Three Wise Men reaching the manger) and I said surely that anyone who died during Christmas would be in heaven quickly and as I was telling her this, her face lit up. I thought she liked my theology but she had something better to say. She said, "Oh, he had his own epiphany and he got to see the face of God revealed to him!" I cannot tell you how many times I have thought of this and how it has comforted me during these last few days.

Our sorrow has been shared by so many. Those who came and sat with us at the wake, others who sent flowers and still others who sent food over. I never realized how many people were touched my dad. Even his mechanic came to the wake. But what I learned was that sorrow shared is sorrow diminished and maybe the next few days, weeks and months will be a little easier knowing that I am not travelling alone on my path of sorrows.

We put a few things in his coffin -- things that he'd like to have for eternity, no doubt. But nestled against his arm was the foul ball my sister had caught at a Mets game with a simple inscription. I love you Daddy.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Elephant In the Room

T minus days until deployment and I can feel the stress level building. Nit-picky little things that in an ordinary life would be glossed over but everything feels magnified and it seems all at once that I am annoyed, frustrated and filled with aggravation. Deep down, though, I know what it is and must admit to myself at how much I resent his leaving.

I am surprised by this admission. I know what I was getting into when I married him. You don't just marry a soldier, you marry the army. Those commercials were true -- it's not just a job, it's an adventure. I'd go one further and add it's a way of life too. Almost everything we do is because of the army. I joke that there should be a job description for spouses so we really know what we're getting into.

I think the resentment comes from that we will not even have been married one year before he leaves. No first anniversary together let alone my birthday. By the time that rolls around, we’ll be counting the days until he’s home and not how long he’s been gone.

Maybe too, the resentment comes from not being able to do anything about it. I am surprised at friends who can’t figure out why the deployment for a year doesn’t bother me. What am I supposed to do? Cry? Stamp my feet? Ground him and tell him he can’t go? I would if I could but I can’t, so what’s the use? So I’ve got all these emotions inside – not tears (yet, anyway). Just a feeling of sadness, as I try to imagine what the coming months will be like. At this point, I just want this to be over with so we can pick up where we will leave off.