Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oh, This Navy Life.

It seems like a girl cannot turn around without seeing another Navy wife blog entry. They're often wonderful - I have such love for my ladies in the "trenches" - and so many of them are well-written, poignant, hilarious, and, often times, way too accurate. They're encouraging, relatable, and written by people I know and love, even if I've never actually met them.

Some of them are just funny: can I whip up a meal for 15 hungry single sailors with 12 minutes notice? Uh, no, but I can find a take-out menu with lightening speed. Do I know the correct order of my husbands medals/ribbons? Uh, no - I can't even iron his uniforms without marring them with the dreaded "railroad tracks." Can I name every admiral in the history of the Silent Service? Not so much. I can never decide if they're meant to be tongue in cheek, or if I am woefully inadequate compared to the (hopefully mythical) Navy Superwives.

Oh, geez....

Sometimes, though, they're just whiney. Maybe I'm getting all "salty" after a whole 6 1/2 years of Navy life. Maybe it's the job that the husband currently has. Maybe I'm cold, jaded, and heartless. But, nevertheless, I get tired of the entries that scream "woe is me." It's a hard life, sure, with sacrifices that stretch your marriage, your resolve, your independence, your faith in yourself/humanity. But, you know what? It's a good life.

I could make a huge list of things that I love about my/our life in the Navy - job security, health benefits, camaraderie, spouse support groups, etc., etc., etc. - but it's so much bigger than the little things.

The other day, we went to a presentation by a group of detailers [Navy-speak for the people who tell us where we're going next]. There was some good information - some of it I already knew, but it was a mixed crowd rank-wise, and it's always good to think back on the chaos that we've gone through so far and gloat encourage some of the junior families. My favorite part, though, is coming home, opening my calendar, flipping past our "Prospective Rotation Date," and looking at all the blank days. I don't know where we'll be living next summer. I have no clue who we'll celebrate the Fourth of July with - or if we even know those people now. I don't know what our house will look like, who our neighbors will be, if we'll have a dog, or which coast (or even continent) we'll be on. I don't know if our stuff will fit, or if the husband will have to disassemble our box spring to get it up the stairs and into the master bedroom... again (true story).

These are things I love. I love the thrill, the unknown, the adventure, the chaos, "The Itch," the picking-up-and-packing-out. It's a crazy life, and it's shaped so much of who I am and how our marriage is, that I get a little panicky whenever I think about "getting out." It's hard - there are days I struggle with longing after a life that seems simpler from the outside - but we've made each new house a home, met people that we love, found the grocery stores, and figured out how to thrive. The sacrifices seem rather inconsequential at the end of the day, in the face of the love, new beginnings, laughter, and each little triumph... and aren't those things the important things? the things we should be focusing on?


Monday, September 16, 2013

Yoga, Groupons, and a Lack of Expertise.

A couple of months ago, the husband returned from a 7 1/2 month deployment. Finally. Someday, maybe I'll blog about the emotional roller coaster that is pre-, during-, and post-deployment. I love him, it's amazing to have him home, and - holy mother of pearl - I sometimes want to punchisize his face.

After he got home and we took some leave to visit family,  there were still a couple of weeks before he had to go back to work full time. Supposedly, "stand down" consists of days off, with one of every few days stuck on the boat. I envisioned stay-cations during those in-between days, and sipping mimosas while working on our sunburns at the pool. Alas, not so much. Before I was smacked in the ass** by the reality of 6-8 hour workdays everyday he was "off," I purchased a Groupon for 5 yoga classes at a studio a few blocks away from our house. "Husband will hang out with the baby," I thought. "I'll get Starbucks on the way home," I thought. "I'll fall in love with yoga and be all super-fit," I thought.

One class. I was able to attend one class in 2 weeks.

(3 months later, and I still have only gone to one class. I'm sure that this is half of Groupon's pitch to businesses: "People don't even use their vouchers! They end up paying more per service than a normal customer!")

It was my first time doing yoga. I went to the early morning beginners' course -- really, they should have normal beginners, and then pre-beginners. Let's just say that I won't get any phone calls asking me to be an instructor. Ever. I frequently wish that I would've counted the number of times the instructor said things like, "Left foot. Left foot. Left foot. Your other left foot. Theeeere you go." Thankfully, though, she was pretty patient and provided helpful guidance during the times that I was pretty sure that they were going to kick me out for destroying a millennia-old practice.

After I left, I felt enlightened. I probably had one of those "Touched by an Angel" halos of light around my head as I walked home. It was a little surprising that no one at Starbucks commented on my amazing aura - it must have taken so much self-control on their part. I know that they must've been dying to know my secret to spiritual peace. Also, aside from my newfound wisdom, my birthing hips felt better than they had since before I was pregnant. None of that weird joint popping when I stood up, and my ligaments felt like they were actually doing whatever it is that ligaments are supposed to do. I even had these great thoughts of fitting into pre-pregnancy jeans. (When I tried them on, it was like watching one of those horror movies, except instead of the audience fervently whispering, "don't turn on the light; don't turn on the light!" my imaginary audience said, "don't try on the pants; don't try on the pants!")

For a few days afterward, this whole yoga thing became part of my persona. I wanted to drop obscene amounts of money at Lululemon, even though I had never set foot in the store. I saw people in yoga pants at Target, and would think, "those idiots - they probably don't even do yoga." (Keep in mind that I have several pairs of yoga pants and had only done yoga once. Since there were no costume changes mid-pose, only one of those pairs had been worn as something other than "classy" sweats.) I "set intentions" for my day prior to getting out of bed. It was great. For those few short days, I was no longer I-eat-oreos-instead-of-working-out Jessica, I was one of those people that do yoga. In retrospect, I was much more like Jim Carrey's character in Ace Venture: When Nature Calls - he thinks that spending all that time with the Tibetan monks has enabled him to transcend and leave his earthly concerns behind, but really he's just an asshat with delusions of grandeur.

After I eventually realized the hard truth that it was naive to think that the husband would be around to hang out with the boy while I skipped down the street to yoga class again, I decided that I should get some yoga DVDs so that I could continue down my journey of enlightenment. Before I got locked into one, though, I rented a couple from Amazon to find one that I enjoyed. Let me just say: there are a lot of hippies that do yoga. (Forgive me if you're one of them.) I don't really want to close my eyes and imagine myself floating serenely throughout the galaxy - I want to stretch out my birthing hips and feel pleasantly Gumby-esque. Finally I found one that had both a morning and evening session (routine? sequence? I dunno.)

I waited until naptime, pushed all the furniture out of the living room, and flipped on the TV. I got through the morning section without any notable difficulties and decided that it would be a great idea to tack on the evening section as well. Except, it was a horrible idea. First, there were these poses that reminded me of being in P.E. in elementary school and doing "the bridge." The woman on the video kept saying, "feel the strength in your body. Thank your body for its strength." Meanwhile, my shoulders and knees are shuddering, and I'm cursing at the screen: "WTF?! There isn't any strength in my body! That's why I'm dragging myself through this bloody exercise video! Quit mocking my pain!" But that peppy bitch just kept smiling.

Then, about 4 minutes later, I did something wrong. I still have no clue what it was, but there was none of the "with each breath, feel your body lengthen" crap that this sadistic woman was saying. Instead, it was, "this shouldn't cause compressed vertebrae, should it?!" It was like this scene from The Other Guys.... without the explosion, of course.

I spent the remainder of the video mocking this unnaturally happy woman, crying for the neighbors to bring me an ice pack, and experiencing deep shame over my failure at a beginners' yoga video.

The next few days were less than happy: I lived off of ibuprofen and contemplated purchasing a neck brace. I also rolled up my yoga mat and shoved it to the back of the closet. Oh, and those yoga pants? They're back to being classy sweats.

Morals of the story: 1) "Stand down" is a myth that encourages optimism in spouses who cling naively to the hope that there is some justice in Big Navy. 2) Classes/videos listed as "beginners'" courses are lying. 3) Attending one yoga class does not qualify you to tackle a yoga video unsupervised.

**Just a forewarning: there's some "language" in this post that might not be, um, entertaining for all audiences. I'm married to a sailor, and it's very easy/convenient to blame these rather "colorful" words on him. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Most Accurate Picture Ever.

My little man is a handful.

I was recently at the playground with a friend and her 5 week old, and almost started to complain about being tired all the time. You know, 5 minutes after she told me that her sweet girl had slept for a record 5 hours straight. I stopped myself just in time, laughed, and told her that I had no business complaining about being tired to a new mom. Her reply?

"I don't doubt that you're exhausted - He's so busy!"

It's true. We go to the playground and he spends half of the time racing toward the dog park/parking lot/door. There are 3 slides, two tunnels, 2 sets of stairs, sketchy lilly pad stair things (thanks, Big Kids, for the demonstration!), several steering wheels, etc, and I spend most of our time there trying to get him to play with that plethora of objects built just for him.

A few weeks ago, my husband came home from work and the house was a full-blown disaster: laundry in various states of completion spread around the living room (Please, Lord, grant me a legit laundry room in our next home!); groceries only half put away; dishes galore; the crumbs from what appeared to be an entire box of Ritz on the kitchen floor; annnnd the toys. Always the damn toys. Oh, let's not forget that I was completely frazzled and probably in sweats with a glass of wine in my hand. Parenthetically - usually, he calls before coming home, and I use those 20 minutes to make the house as pandemonium-free as I can; I know that walking through the door to a visual to-do list is draining, so I try to reel it in for him. That night, though, he didn't call first. There was no putting the zillions of ziplock baggies back in the drawer or changing into actual pants for the first time all day. Later on that evening, I apologized that he came home to the peak of chaos. His reply? Telling me that I shouldn't ever worry about it and:

"You do way more just chasing around our little guy - He's so busy!"

The verdict is in: he's busy.

(Not quite The Most Accurate picture, but close)

A few days ago, he woke up suddenly in the middle of his nap. Usually, there's some light fussing about an hour in - I'm not positive that he's even awake when this happens - and then he sleeps for another hour or so. This time, though, he was hysterical. I gave him a second to see if it was just a momentary thing, but he only got louder. I went in and picked him up, which usually calms him down immediately, but he was so distraught that it took me several minutes. He clutched onto me long after he stopped crying, occasionally making the post-sob whimper. The whole thing was heartbreaking.... especially because I was a little irked when I opened the door - he was cutting into my quiet time, after all; I hadn't even gotten around to showering yet.

I realized that day that I spend a lot of my days just surviving: trying to keep this busy boy occupied so that I can do luxury things, like wolf down toast without having to share, or pee without seeing little fingers stretching under the door (what does he think is going to happen? That he's going to melt into goo like one of the villains on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, ooze under the door, and then immediately regain his original shape on the other side??). Even trying to do the dishes without a small child shimmying up my leg - naturally, he does this most often when I'm hand-washing the knives - takes a minor miracle. I find myself impatient when he won't entertain himself, or when he continually pushes the buttons on the stereo even though he knows that it's a no-no.

Surviving is a good thing - I did a lot of surviving during the husband's deployment. I survive during colds and teething. There are times for surviving, but I'm not sure it's the way I want to parent. I want to be a place of comfort, a get-on-the-floor-and-wrestle momma, who celebrates little moments and milestones alike, notices silly things, and laughs easily. I'm not saying that I'll never hide on the other side of the kitchen island while I devour some Dove chocolates, or never get a babysitter, or never delay rushing in to scoop the boy up from a nap when he starts fussing after an insufficient 17 minutes; I need those things to be the momma I want to be. But what I am working on is embracing these days: these messy, chaotic, overwhelming, busy, busy days.

With 6 full paragraphs as an intro, here, as promised, is The Most Accurate Picture Ever:

This picture absolutely reflects how our lives are: he moves so quickly that he's blurry in 80% of the pictures we take, the house is littered with toys (thankfully the pile of unfolded laundry on the couch didn't make it into the background), but in the center of it all is a precious moment with a happy boy.

.... And that's all the emotional energy I have for the week. If you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat chocolate and watch some TV before naptime ends. Ci vediamo!