Friday, March 30, 2012

Things I Miss Today

I've been in Washington for just about a year now, and, while I'm incredibly grateful for the beauty that surrounds me every day up here - I think it's time to celebrate the things I miss as well. After all, if they weren't worth missing, I wouldn't have feelings about them, right? Right.
So here goes!

Things I miss -
 Celebrating Holidays - Being in a military household, we never count on being able to celebrate holidays together. When I can, I celebrate with my family, but most holidays we just don't celebrate. Valentine's day? He had duty. I got him a card and a few special little surprises that week, but we didn't do anything to mark the occasion. (Poor guy - when he's home he's too tired to think, much less plan and enjoy an evening together.) We've sort of fallen into the rythm of not celebrating holidays. It's just easier than dealing with being disappointed whenever the calendar doesn't line up. But sometimes, I miss it.
  Random Coffee and Dinners with friends and family - About once a month or so, we're able to do dinner with some of the friends from My Sailor's boat, but I have yet to make any that really invite me out and most of the folks I've met through theater are too busy to hang out. I so miss being able to call my family, or Boxer Girl, or some of my other friends for coffee/tea, hot tub time, or dinners out.  In the year or so I've been here, I've yet to really forge and deep friendships. Work keeps me busy and kids keep other women busy. For the most part, that's life! Friendships take time and ebb and flow with the tide. I'm so grateful I learned the value of solitude. It's where I can be most creative and most free. Sometimes longing is good for artistic personalities. Ya know..."the need to express to communicate" and all that.
  Driving to Disneyland on a bad day - I loved being able to drive to Disneyland when I had a bad day and spend some solo time, or spend some time with friends who were working up there. Research trips always gave me a good excuse, but most of the time, I just enjoyed the atmosphere and occasionally, some company. It was always a pleasure to drop in on Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, or Fantasmic, or ElecTronica when I needed to escape for a while. Strolling around Disneyland after dark with a warm cinnamon tea latte in my hands still sounds like a perfect way to spend the evening, even if I'm flying solo.
  Adventures - When I first moved up here, I was rarely at home. I spent as much time as possible out on adventures in parks, at new diners, etc. Lately, that's changed (though I'm sure it'll come back around). With the prospect of buying a house, I've been working at least 10 hours of overtime every week since I've been back from the trip in an effort to have 2 months of mortgage payments saved up before the loan closes. My Sailor doesn't get overtime - so it's up to me. Which doesn't account for a whole lot of down time during normal operating hours. I so miss hiking, walking, driving, exploring... but I'm sure I'll get back to that someday soon.

All that said, it's beautiful up here. I enjoy the small-town feel of the cities, at least on this, the Western side of the Sound. I love that there are mountains everywhere I look - majestic, dangerous, looming their protective peaks over the landscape like colossal guardians. Up here I can also afford to live on the coast! On one side of me, is the Sinclair Inlet (or Liberty Bay once the house purchase goes through) and on the other is the Pacific Ocean, the same ocean that touches the shores of my home state, California. Rainbows are not rarities up here and the air is cleaner and crisper than the dry desert air in the city I grew up in.

The more time goes by, the more Washington feels like home, despite the rain. I've always been more of a rural girl, so it's a good fit for me, even though I frequently dream of my family at night (something that never happened at home when I saw them more often).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What I'm Reading

This past month, I finished a great book I picked up during a closing sale at Borders, and I really enjoyed it. 

This book takes place 2040. For the purposes of this book, man developed a cure for the common cold and a cure for cancer! Both were released as viruses into the air. The good news is, no one after the summer of 2014 will ever die of cancer, or catch the common cold. The bad news is, everyone is infected with the Kellis-Amberlee virus.

See, when these 2 life saving viruses got together, they returned the dead to life, with a hunger for flesh and infection. And since they are air born viruses, everyone is already "infected". The virus rarely causes a living person to turn into a zombie. But once they are exposed to more of the virus than is usually found in the air (such as through a blood spatter or a bite or a scratch), then all hell breaks loose. And it's not just contained to humans... any animal over 35 lbs can become a zombie as well. Beef becomes a thing of the past - since cows are now a threat.

But all that happened in 2014. The world has continued to turn since then. We've learned to live in a society where an outbreak can happen at any moment. Security systems have advanced. Blood tests are an ordinary, daily occurance (and yes, Apple has cashed in on this too).  30 years later, our story follows a group of bloggers on the trail of who could become the next President of the United States.

Part zombie story, part conspiracy tale, part political drama, this book had lots of twists and turns in it that I wasn't expecting from a basic post-apocolyptic book. I was expecting something more like The Road, but was surprised when the book had a grounded story that I hadn't seen in that setting before. Sure, some of the techno speak got me a TAD bored but the book kept me riveted enough that I was glad I had picked up the next book in the series - Deadline.

I won't ruin the surprises this book has in store (I'm about 1/2 way through it) but let's just say that, if you thought Shaun was crazy in book one, you ain't seen nothing yet.

All I Ever Need To Know I Learned from Watching MacGyver

A couple quick updates: My Sailor and I had the money and chipping in talk and I just gotta give him kodus for listening seriously - and acting on it. It's pretty awesome. I'm now confident that I won't have to bust my hump forever at a 9-5 just so we can get by. In a couple years, he'll be higher ranking and making more money. We'll also be happier in a house - and happier translates into more relaxed and more relaxed translates into more creative juices. We have a 2 year plan set up for me to be able to get into the writing world in a professional capacity than I already am. In the meantime, I'm on the look out for local writing groups to join to hone my skills AND make new friends. Everybody is happy and that's a good thing. I feel a million times better knowing that "my turn" is coming soon - and that I can already take steps towards it.

As for wedding stuff, we're carefully looking over our options. If we have it here, it'll be more expensive because more of his very extended family is likely to attend, and more of my friends are willing to make the drive rather than book a flight to Florida, but it'll have to be indoors due to the time of year (aiming for Feb 2013). If we have it in California, my family is more likely to help out with more expenses since they wouldn't have to travel, and we could do it outdoors (most likely) BUT it would mean we travel and change our honeymoon plans to Hawaii instead of the Cruise we had planned. So we may just end up doing it in Florida and keeping it small. After all, everything is pretty much still lined up and just waiting on the word "go"!

But outside of all that - we got rid of cable. Cutting the cable bill from $120 too $52 (internet only) is such a great way to save money! We do use Hulu and Netflix to stay in the loop, and local channels are free anyway.  So I've been catching up on some old favorites lately.

Namely MacGyver.
 I realize that I was only 5 years old when I started watching this show. It aired from 1985-1992 and I don't think I missed a single episode. Strange thing is, it actually reinforced a lot of the values I already learned at home and did it's part in shaping my life a bit.

For example, I've always been attracted to nerds and Mac was a total nerd in the brain department. Guys that know things I don't know I can learn from them. It keeps life interesting and exciting to me. Even in my adult life, I'm constantly looking at what I can learn from those around me. Even someone I don't particularly like can teach me something valuable, so I learned to be tolerant, keep an open mind, and actually listen to folks. After all, everyone knows something I don't.

Macgyver was also big on compassion. He showed it in a non-Desperate-Housewives way that came off as legitimate and not condescending. His modesty isn't something I see enough of these days. I love that, and learned a lot from it. He gave back whenever and whatever he could to make people's lives better. Most often what he gave was hope, his expertise, and his imagination, proving that money and stuff rarely truly enhance people's lives in a measurable, lasting way.

Finally, he wasn't afraid to call a spade a spade. Bad guys were bad. There was very little grey area. (Gotta love the broad strokes writers use!) I think that life is more black and white than we think, but often we're reluctant to admit it. Sure, no one is entirely bad. Conversely, no one is entirely good either. Mac lied when it suited his purposes so he was no saint. But at the same time, I feel that today, we're so afraid of offending someone we forget that accountability isn't our enemy. It's a good thing (in my book). Holding each other accountable for our actions, words, etc, isn't a negative thing.

 Mac took a job and he finished it, giving it his all and his full attention.I've struggled with this one throughout my life, being ADD (diagnosed and everything). I just learned to deal with it, and learned how to focus. ADD can be a gift - you tend to see EVERY OPTION around you, rather than have tunnel vision. Those with ADD often think out of the box and create astounding pieces of art and science, when left to follow their own passions. But it does mean that often it's hard to focus on a task someone else gives us. But there is something else I learned from Mac:

 Just because a task is hard and you're not sure how you'll accomplish it, doesn't mean you give up.

And he always came out on top (and always got the girl with the big shoulder pads and poofy hair - gotta love the 80's).

So, when it comes to life lessons, maybe I did learn a few things from TV as a kid. Star Trek (the 1960's one and Next Generation), MacGyver, and Beauty and the Beast all shared some values in common that I still hold dear today. Unlike Members Jackets and hypercolor t-shirts, some things never go out of fashion.

Oh - and one more thing I learned from MacGyver...

Anything is possible with a good pocket knife, some chewing gum, and a roll of duct tape.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sometimes things get a little heavy...

So I've been pretty quiet since we got back from our trip. While we had a great time, the day after we returned, we found the house we want to buy and embarked on the maze that is the house buying process.

While I'm excited about it, I'm also nervous about making such a large purchase. Anyone with any sense will tell you NOW is the time to by property. Interest rates are low, prices are low, and rent prices are going up, up, up (at least in WA). Our place is TINY and I'm so done with apartments...At least this one!

 I'll admit, I thought this process would be easier! I kinda assumed My Sailor would be helping out, or it would magically take care of itself. But the Navy doesn't care that we're buying a house. He's so tired when he gets home (and I can't blame him for that), he just wants to check out and relax. And if there is house-buying Pixie Dust, Tinker Bell is hoarding it.

So I'm pretty much in charge of 98% of the process. Reworking my work schedule so that I can drive 2+ hrs to sign papers or be present for 3-4 hours for inspections has been stressful. The good part about this is that it's getting us debt free pretty quickly! We're more motivated than ever to get debt free. My Sailor will be completely debt free by the 15th of April! We'll have to celebrate - but he'll have to pay, because I'm still a year + away from that goal.

The downside is, I haven't stopped working a single day since we got back from our trip on March 11th. Today is the 24th. That's 14 days straight without a day off work. "Why?" Because, while I've made HUGE strides in some old credit cards (everything current), I have yet to be able to pay everything off. See, I'm the chief breadwinner, so a bulk of the bills also come out of my paychecks. The upside? My company is offering overtime forever. Well, at least until the end of the month.

And since there is the very real possibility that we'll be house poor in 2 months (and, as I mentioned above, I'M not yet debt free - 2 old credit cards I've been chipping away at and making progress, plus the rental cars from our recent trip, a dental bill, and Clydas' surgery pay off finishing up), and I'm the chief breadwinner, I need all the overtime I can get. 

But at the same time, I'd by lying if I said I wasn't battling some stress-induced depression here.  Man, does my head get heavy with all the hats it's wearing! Breadwinner, breakfast chef (I like that job since it's the only meal My Sailor and I can semi-reliably eat together on a nearly-regular basis), grocery shopper, bill juggler, maid, legal affairs coordinator, and Boxer mom (I like this job most of the time too)... I don't have enough head to fit all of them.

All I can do is keep going at it, one hat at a time. I've said it before and it's equally true - this life has redefined "hard" for me in so many ways. But in an equal number of ways,  I wouldn't trade it for the world. I just need to figure out how to make this writing thing work out. Work takes so much out of me, that I haven't been able to write much at all lately. It's emotionally and energy draining, and with taking on the expense of a house, there are no plans for me to cut back on working at all (though my office will have a killer view if this house thing does manage to materialize).

And did I mention a good chunk of this may be hormonal? Unlike some women, I don't worry about being pregnant when I miss a couple pills (like I accidentally did earlier this week). I just start my time of the month a few weeks earlier. Joy... Always comforting to know I'm a natural walking contraception. (I should find a way to bottle this stuff. I could make some serious money off of my DNA! ;) )

Just realizing recently that I've been struggling with situational depression, I decided to look back on when I felt really happy and hopeful and note what was different.

Well, when I first moved up here, I was really happy. The only major differences have been added bills (house buying expenses - even if we back out now, we've already invested a lot of money in it, insurance and payments on the new-to-us and much-needed car) and the fact that I haven't been working out like I used to, and I was actively looking for face-to-face social outlets.

Instead of working out, I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get things done, but no accomplishing much when all is said and done - and taking zero time to do something healthy for me just because it feels good. I haven't actively been following theater, singing, or writing because I can't do those and make myself available for whenever My Sailor is around (the Navy doesn't give them weekends off ya' know), juggle working OT, regular household stuff (it's just like he's deployed, only there is more laundry, dishes, and trash), and house buying stuff. (Or looking for a back-up plan rental in case this falls through - never count your chickens before they are hatched!)

While I haven't been able to find a time on the calendar when I can do a show (or much of anything else for that matter), I can AT LEAST take better care of ME during this challenging time. My original intention was to make an unbreakable appointment with the YMCA (a membership I haven't used in months, but am paying for...) a few times a week, I ended up taking the other road - Adding my mile long walk/run back into my day. I usually take the dog and, instead of focusing on time, I focus on checking out. Those 10-15 minutes are my own glorious "check out" time.  I focus on looking up, instead of down, enjoying being OUTSIDE (something possible now that spring is here) and breathing some fresh air, and overall just doing what a podcaster I know of aims for - Run Happy.

So far, it's really helped. That work out time is my sanity.

And now... it's back to work.

April 1st I might just have to find some way to celebrate...

Maybe it'll be by not working?

Highlights of the Trip - Disney World!

Star Tours 2.0! We went on 3 times with WALK-ON LINES!

For the 2nd leg of our journey, we met EVEN MORE members of My Sailor's family in Disney World, FL! Here are a few highlights from that excursion!

Testing out Lou Mongello's Best Snack in Disney World - the Carrot Cake Cookie available at the Writer's Stop in Hollywood Studios. Delicious! Lou, you're right!

Starting at Sip n' Snack around the world in Mexico, World Showcase, EPCOT, with My Sailor's brother and yet another sister!

My favorite find during EPCOTs Flower and Garden Festival! Stitch!

The theme of this trip for sure! Found on the back of the Pleasure Island sign.

Enjoying a date night at a futuristic arcade, Disney Quest! (Go later for 1/2 price tickets!)

Enjoying Disney World with Another one of My Sailor's sisters, and her daughter. So cute!

This photo just embodies Disney World for me!

The whole crew! Left to Right - Me, My Sailor, one of his sister's, her daughter and her husband, his brother, and another one of his sisters.

A good time was had by all, but we wish we had just 1 more day in Disney....

Highlights of the Trip - First stop, Michigan!

Meeting My Sailor's Nephew, one of his sisters, her husband, and, of course seeing his dad again!
I finally have a moment to blog and breath before I dive into work. (Saving up for a house isn't easy.)
So I thought I'd just throw up a few photos from the trip (now that I have finally uploaded them all).

Here are a few highlights!

Tasting some local Cherry Wines. Yum!

My Sailor and his Nephew enjoying some bonding time.

Enjoying some local delicacies - cupcakes in Ann Arbor!

Meeting My Sailor's friends for a couple fun nights out!

Enjoying a piece of My Sailor's history - Pinball Pete's! A good old fashioned arcade.

Playing Tron Legacy Pinball!

And of course, taking in a Red Wings Game!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A quick check in!

We're back from the trip!

All things considered, everything went off pretty darn well. Especially for me, as I'm not used to being surrounded by such a tight knit group. I'm very much used to flying solo or at the very most in a small group - a habit from having lived on my own for so long and coming from a small family where my father and my brother spent a good chunk of their lives traveling away from home - so the tight knit group that is My Sailor's family was a great learning experience for me. We all got along really well and I felt like "family", which was unexpected, but awesome. It was also great to meet his friends and see where he came up from. A few of the guys he's friends with where also guys I used to RP with back in the day! It was sort of like a reunion for me in some ways as well.

I'll blog more about it later, and some of the exciting changes going on, but right now, it's time to get back to work for me!