Friday, April 26, 2013

TV and TrainerGuy Have It Out For Me

I don't watch much TV. In fact, I can live very happily without cable all together (and have for a number of years). With the internet around, I can usually find any show I'm intersted in seeing online for free, or I'll wait until they come out on DVD/Blu-Ray. At that point, I can borrow or rent them.  But I do catch a few more current shows here and there on my Hulu or Netflix accounts.

Last night, My Sailor and I got the chance to catch up on a few of our favorite shows.


If you're not familiar with these shows, Arrow is based on the comic book character Green Arrow. He's a Bruce Wayne style vigilante with a different back story than good ole Batman.  Supernatural is a show about 2 brothers who are basically monster hunters - everything from vampires to obscure beasts found in Chinese lore.

Yesterday was a strong "missing Dad" day. I'd planted the tree for Dad's memorial that I blogged about yesterday, and I also received a card from a friend offering prayers and support. The timing was great, but missing Dad, well... sucks.

We thought these shows would be a great distraction.

But no... TV has it out for me.

In this particular episode of Arrow (SPOILER ALER:stop reading now if you follow the show and don't want to know about this episode), a young child's parents are both killed by a hitman. To simplify 45 minutes of story, his temporary foster father makes an effort to comfort the boy. He tells the boy about how he lost his mother to in a car accident.  - Okay these circumstances were far enough removed from mine, that it didn't strike too much of a cord with me.


In this particular episode of Supernatural (SPOILER ALER:stop reading now if you follow the show and don't want to know about this episode), a recurring character I really like and can identify with on some level shows up. The crux of the story is that this character's parents were in a car accident. Her father had passed away from the accident, but her mother was in a coma for over 16 years. This well-loved-recurring-character had been donating to pay for her mother's care, but things had taken a turn for the worse and her mother was now only alive due to life support/a ventilator. The emotional punch-in-the-gut of this episode has to do with this character letting go of her mother. She faces the fear of losing her mom, gathers her courage, and signs for the removal of care for her mother. The episode ends with her reading a childhood story to her mom - a story her mom had read to her- one last time. 

I actually lost it after that episode for a little while. (Which, while theraputic, I wouldn't recommend it. At one point, I'm not sure why I was crying - either it was from the heavy heart or the burning skin around my still-raw eyes. Spring can transition into summer any time now!)

These actually mark the 3rd tv episodes (of the very few that I actually watch) that I've stumbled across this month that include a parent of a beloved character dying. REALLY?!  Has TV always been like this and I've just now noticed, or did I miss the memo about the story alignments for April?

Moving on...

Now, I don't really  think TrainerGuy has it out for me.

In fact, these hard workouts are what keep me sane during the week! He does his job very well.

Today, my hands graduated from callouses (from weight lifting) to a few blisters and my knees are still recovering from Wednesday's knee-down body weight lunges.

No tears this time! Just sweat and a few bumps and bruises. Colorful peices I'm earning on my way to my ultimate 'badge of badassery.' (You have to say that in a Scottish accent to get the full TrainerGuy effect, but I'm now adding that phrase to my list of work out wisdom.)

So What Am I Doing to Cope?Going to the drive-in movie tonight with My Sailor. Looking forward to checking my brain at the gate (and possibly losing my lunch) to the newest incarnation of the Evil Dead. (Insert sinster laugh from the end of Micheal Jackon's Thriller here.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

In Memory Of...


This week, Mrs D sent me a really neat memorial for Dad. Since I'm not moving any time soon (ya know, mortgage and everything), she sent me a seedling tree as a living memorial to him. The company selected a tree that grows well in the area, so I got an Oregan White Oak. In the end, it'll look something like this:
 Pretty cool, huh?

Now, when Mrs. D ran this idea by me, we were kinda hoping we'd get a Magnolia tree. But everything happens for a reason, and this tree actually is very fitting. See, I grew up in a house with a GIANT oak tree in the backyard. I used to climb in it, dream in it, play fort in it... it's actually one of my best memories of my childhood. Now, we'll have our own oak tree in our back yard, embracing all of those memories of playing Indian Jones and Spy vs Spy with my brother. Trees are great places to dream - and Dad was, among other things, a big dreamer - and a big doer.

This has made me even more committed to writing and finishing the book about my childhood and family this year. I'm definately entering a different stage of the grieving process here. Today, I really  miss him. Actually, it started last night and kept me up for a while. When I did manage to sleep, he slipped into my dreams a few times. (Maybe this is just the crazy way I go through emotional times. When my grandmother passed away, she popped up in my dreams shortly after her passing as well. My guess is that it's just my subconcious working through what it needs to. And I'm very much okay with that.

San Diego Central Library (rendering)

I think the most amazing feeling in the world would be to be able to check out a book about Dad and visit the brick we're buying as a memorial to him in the same location.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Ayes (Eyes) Have It! My First Submarine Ball!

Yesterday was the Enlisted Submariner's Ball. It's a formal occasion the Navy puts on every year - one of the officers, and one for the enlisted sailors. My Sailor and I didn't go last year, but I heard it was a lot of fun (and I'm always looking for a valid excuse to dress up and go out), so he promised we'd go this year.

Now, in lots of ways, I'm still a 'typical girl' about a lot of things. My dress wasn't 'new'. It was one of the five formal gowns I have in my closet. Having been a performer in my past, you can say I have more than a few - however none of them fit my new body-in-progress right now except for this particular dress, so it really wasn't as if I had a choice. Lacking both the time and the wiggle room in the budget this month, I went with something I already owned. I also skipped on doing my nails (no time), and I did my hair myself. My make up I also did myself as well, which was a good thing because it required some old stage tricks... but I'll get to that. I clean up pretty well when I put my mind to it. (Most days it's just t-shirts and jeans around here.)

Anyway, after working a pretty full day, I dashed off to get changed and make it to the ferry.

That's sort of where the calamity started. We missed the Ferry. Now, just because the map SAYS we're about 10-13 miles away from Seattle, doesn't mean it's drive-able in less than an hour. In fact, it's nearly 2 to get to downtown Seattle. So that put us almost 2 hours into the party getting there (1 hour was cocktail hour, so that really shouldn't count though).

Now, this Sub Ball quite possibly had the worst timing. Though it's always fun to go get dressed up (and extra special for me to get a peek into My Sailor's world and let him know how proud I am of him), we were kinda stressed out. My Sailor made it very clear that he didn't want to wear his dress blues (a requirement) and he didn't want to be there.

So... we basically dined and dashed. In hindsight, we spent more time commuting to and from the festivities than actually AT them...

BUT before the dashing, I got to see a pretty cool thing.

It's a tradition that the earliest qualified Submariner in attendance cut the Navy's Birthday cake. In this case, they had narrowed it down to one active duty Submariner that was qualified in the early 1980s. 1986 actually. It got me thinking, "Wow... that guy has been silently protecting me since I was 6 years old, and I had no idea." Then again, that is the world of the Submariner. They are some of the silent watch dogs out there, keeping us safe, so we can complain, blog, see the latest movie, or vote (or not vote) for the latest government leader... If we had stayed later, I would have liked to have tracked him down and thanked him.

But that Submariner was quickly trumped by a Veteran, who was qualified during World War II! That's pretty rare now a days, since that was when Submarines really became a strong military force.

Though I would have loved to have stayed longer, tasted the cake, watched more ceremonies, and stolen a slow dance with my man in uniform, My Sailor couldn't wait to leave. Now, this whole ball was the fulfillment of a promise he made to me a year ago. We didn't go to the Submariner's Ball last year because he'd heard it was boring. Well, I heard it was fun and any excuse to get all dolled up and have fun is good enough for me! (Not to mention, it's the ONLY way I'll ever have a photo of My Sailor in his uniform with me - he won't wear them unless he's at work, which I understand and can appreciate.) So he made sure we had tickets and could go this year.

He's promised we'll go some other year too - just not next year.

As disappointed as I was to leave so quickly, it might just have been a good thing.

See, last Fall I developed some weird allergy around the skin of my eyes and on my lips. The doctors think it's pollen related - but the symptoms are abnormal. My lips peel as if chapped, and my eyes swell, get red, and peel as well. Not itch. Just swell up and peel.

With the help of some of my special effects stage make up, I managed to hide the peeling bits under my eyes, as well as the redness around them. But on the drive home, my right eye started to swell. And then it started to water...

By the time I got home, it had nearly completely swelled shut, and was starting to alarm My Sailor.

Lots of Benadryl later, it stopped watering (for the most part) and I can nearly comfortably blink both my eyes.

If there is one thing that can be said for me when I pass, it's that I don't do ANYTHING small. Not even allergies.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fighting Back And Dad's Memorial Fund

Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.” - Turkish Proverb


I haven't blogged in a while because honestly, I really didn't have anything positive to say. I guess you could say I've been floating in the "anger" phase of the mourning process. Little things that didn't bother me much make me pretty much consider punching someone. Only for a fleeting moment, but it's there. No, don't walk on glass around me. I'm actually remarkably stable - just a little, well, raw.
I'm a slow burn fuse kind of person. I don't instantly flame to anger. Instead, I usually take a step back, figure out if it's worth the emotional energy, and then I either let it go, or decide it needs to be address. I still go through that routine, but it's much faster now, so the fuse burns a little brighter. I believe that's the danger of being 'slow to anger'. When those of us that are 'slow burns' do finally actually get angry, it either becomes an explosive/destructive force (not my style) or a very strong motivator (my style).  Anger has movitivated some of the best decisions I have ever made. I helped me not only survive traumatic events (like, oh, let's just say, divorce) but learn to thrive through them.

So, in the efforts of honesty here - picture a boxing or UFC ring and let's fight this out shall we?


Let's get ready to Rumble!

Our roommate forgot to pay his rent, which normally wouldn't be too much of a big deal - except that he left to Find Nemo while we were gone. The simple solution would be to go to the command and let them know so it could be worked out while he's out 'Finding Nemo', however we're all friends here and we make the mistake of having a hand-shake agreement. With no paper to back us up, we're kinda screwed on that front until he returns. Usually we don't "need" his money to get by and we understand the crazy schedules around here, so we've let him slip almost every month over the past year with nothing more than "don't do it again, please," but he picked a really bad month to be forgetful. Our budget is exceptionally tight this month due to travel expenses. If this were the first time, I'd be more forgiving, but you can bet we're going to have some 'fun' discussions when he gets back. (Don't worry. It won't involve any actual punches or wrestling, but now is probably not  the time to get on my righteous-anger side.)

 On top of that, the bill for parking my car in long term parking was nearly $400. Ouch... Now, if aforementioned roommate had paid rent, it would have been a wash. But he didn't... and since we forgot my car keys in California, I had to call in a favor to get someone to take me down to the airport once the keys arrived (via Fed Ex - thanks Mom!) at the we ended up having to pay for extra day in the parking lot anyway. Boo hiss.

I've officially called in a favor from nearly every friend we have in WA in the past month. I am the type who askes for help when I really NEED it, not just when it would be easier. I'm SO glad I had several folks who were able to rush to the rescue. I know for a fact we wouldn't have been able to afford dog sitting/house sitting for the entire time My Sailor and I were gone. What was expected to be 4 days, turned into 16.

With work, there are the piles of phone calls and emails that I've been scrambling on top of. My professional group decided NOW was the time to audit my Continuing Education Units, so they've suspended my membership (as a Certified Professional Coder) until I can get that information to them. Are there more hours in the day? Because I think I need about 27...

It seems the world keeps turning even when mine freezes for a moment.

The adoption agency we were working with gave us a choice: pay them $1500 (which of course, we don't have right now) to keep our case open, or close our case with a $300 credit that we can have credited back to us "someday" when My Sailor and I have time to take the required classes. This really isn't a choice. We don't feel comfortable giving someone $1500 to just sit on paperwork (even if we had it in our back pocket to whip out). So they have closed our application. Not that we're "unfit" parents, but that we can't schedule classes with them, due to the hubby's work schedule. And we need to take classes to foster-to-adopt together. Well, unless they are able to negotiate world peace, the schedule will remain long and unpredictable. So that's $300 (an LOTS of our time) we won't see again.

And then there is North Korea and other things going on in the world. That doesn't effect most people beyond perhaps adding some worry to their every day. For military families, it means something different. It means that My Sailor is about to get really slammed. We're already back to 12 hr days, but we'll be talking night shifts, longer more silent deployments, and, well, lots more work to be done.

How about them punches?

It's times like these when I feel like 'what else could go wrong?!' that I've been hanging on to the 'wins' in my life. And they are at least as numerous as the punches.

Wins From Last Week -

Whatever the Mud, it's good to be in it together.

My Sailor and I are as rock solid as ever. With all the stresses (death in the family, money being tight, adoption falling through, upcoming deployments and jam packed schedules) it's easy for any couple to snap at and blame each other. But the truth is My Sailor can't do anything more to help the situations than he already has. I see that and appreciate it. He's doing his best. I'm doing my best, and that's all anyone can ask. Times like this really show any relationship what it's made of.

Getting out has really helped! My sessions at the gym are already paid for (yeah!) and working out is a great way to help my body work out some stress, and a great way to help my mind get the lift of some endorphines. Not to mention, it was a great 'win' to learn that I haven't lost much ground (if any) from being off lifting and everything except for a couple of runs for nearly a week. Once Dad passed away, my work outs that week just included lots of walking. (My diet included whatever tasted/felt good in the moment.) Today I learned the Turkish Get Up, which was a blast. As TrainerGuy says, "It's fun pushing heavy things around." I also admit to getting a bit of childlike glee out of learning I'm capable of more than I think I am.

Being low on cash means we find more ways to have fun at home. Which can honestly be more bonding than sitting in a movie theater, staring at a screen together. Lately, that's ment cleaning and yard work - not exactly most people's idea of fun. But that said, it feels really nice to work on making this place more 'ours'. We've been in this house for less than a year, and there are lots of things we'd like to accomplish with it. Some big, some small, but it's one area where we can make progress, and making progress on something (anything) feels awesome. Nights in include things like catching up on the few shows we watch on, having fun with the dogs, or trading off playing the latest Tomb Raider Game. Last night we watched Game of Thrones while playing Scrabble together. (I lost, but I'm admittedly probably the least satisfying person to play board games with. I just like to play. I really don't care if I win. I usually don't even bother to keep score.)

Me and MrsD.
There are other adoption options. Though we were most interested in adopting from Foster care, if we can't work that out, we'll find another way. No, I'm not talking about kidnapping. I'm talking about private adoption. It'll probably mean refinancing the house, taking out a loan (as private adoptions run $30-$50k), and finalizing it in another state, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. MrsD (matron of honor at my wedding and all around soul sista') reminded me that this door closing, just means that it's not the right time and or this wasn't the way it was ment to happen. Adoption falling through feels a lot like what I imagine a miscarriage would feel like- especially in the aformentioned 'raw' state. But that doesn't mean it's the end of trying to become a family. It just means we'll most likely have to go about this a different way. International is complicated due to My Sailor's job, but I've heard lots of encouraging stories about private adoptions, so my job, once My Sailor is out Finding Nemo again himself, will be to track down the other methods so we can make some progress on that front in 2014. When life puts you in a prison - bend the bars.

Will I see you in Disneyland in August? Things are falling into place for me to attend the D23 Expo in August. Now, I won't actually be in the Expo. I'll be providing outside fun for my Celebrations Magazine readers. I'm really looking forward to meeting some of them. I'm still working out the details (such as 'when will we do the Haunted Mansion historical ride through meet up?' or 'Can Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen come up with some amazing Celebrations drink and beignet special?' for example). My Sailor won't be able to make it, but I'm recruiting my mom to be the official photographer or the meet up, so I can scrap book and get autographs from readers. I'm really looking forward to connecting with some of my readers - especially as I'm embarking on a new book adventure (non-Disney related) which I hope to complete by the end of the year. Besides, who doesn't look forward to an amazing Disney vacation - even if it'll be somewhat of a 'working weekend'.

There are more little 'wins' that I'm hanging onto right now.

They say that life isn't a dress rehearsal, but I don't believe that. Sometimes the hard times we're surviving through now are just rehearsals so we can overcome other obstacles in our way down the road, or help others through similar obstacles. After all, if we can survive this, we can survive anything, right?

Uphill running, Danskin Triathlon @ Disney California Adventure, 2006

 Trials Teach Us How to Fight Back 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear Dad, Thank You.

Dad, me, Bro, and Mom, August 2012
 My family is like many others. We're quirky and funny. We laugh together, debate together, and support each other no matter what. In so many ways, we're closer than many of scientifically related families I know.

My father's illness has brought all of the best qualities of our family to light. We found a way to laugh, when an expiration date lingered in the room. We found the upside in every moment we could. Many of the moments of this past week have been filled with heart-breaking vulnerability and honesty that I could never put it into word.
My Sailor, Dad, Me, Bro, and Mom August 2012
 They say that it's in times of trial that we learn what we're made of and who we truly are.  That couldn't have been more true than banding together during this past week. Each of us have been completely present for one another.   And I know Dad would be proud of that. Because we are a family built on the strongest bonds of love - and we owe it to Dad.

On April 1st, before going to bed, I went into my father and kissed him on the head and whispered that I loved him.

This time, I wasn't crying. I was just saying goodnight to my Dad, knowing I was set to leave on a plane the next day and may not see him again. He didn't wake up from his easy sleep, but he didn't need to. I knew on some level, he heard me.

On April 2nd,  my mom woke up at 5am and said Dad has passed. I followed her into his bedroom, and hugged her tightly.

I called my brother and said that "It's over. Dad's gone."

We're still feeling our way through all of this. I can't honestly document all of the emotions involved with losing a parent too soon. (Dad was going to be 68 this year.)  We got 1/2 a year more than we expected. That included a Christmas together. I really am grateful for all of those stolen moments and the time together.

Part of me is irrationally angry. Not at Dad, but at others who have the oppurtunity to enjoy their lives and their partner's longer. It's not their fault that their life's journey's didn't include this. But that's why it's 'irrational' anger.

Part of me just misses him. Though this impacts my mom more than any of us, Dad's shoes will never be filled. They never need to be. He was my Dad - and that's an irreplaceable title.

Part of me is very sad on the things Dad will miss. Mom's birthday is in less than 2 weeks. He won't meet his grandkids. He won't get to take Mom on that last trip to Ireland. He won't see 42 years married to the love of his life.

All normal parts of grieving. It seems like a nightly ritual comes from soaking My Sailor's shirt with tears, now that he's here. You see, Dad waited until My Sailor got back and was able to get to me.

Being married to my best friend, this hits me particularly hard too. My heart goes out to my Mom - who has faced this with as much grace and courage as Dad has. Now, she's embarking on a new (unwanted) adventure - life without her partner. Today, she went to a few places she and Dad used to frequent. That took serious courage. I couldn't be more proud of her. She's proving every day that, it's hard, but quitting is not an option. We all carry a little piece of his legacy.

 He wasn't in any pain. He had visited with family and friends the week prior, handled each visit with grace, courage, and often more composure than the visitors had.
I could recount and enumerate all the feelings and moments of the past two days, but instead I only have these words left:

Thank you, Dad.
Thank you for making me laugh and letting me cry.
Thank you for showing me that gentleness and strength go hand-in-hand.
Thank you for playing "Space Ship" with me as a kid to make me giggle.
Thank you for singing "Tomorrow" from Annie with me nearly every morning I can remember when I was 5.
Thank you for helping me through my mistakes.
Thank you for sharing with me your strong spirit.
Thank you for every hug.
Thank you for every time you 'got my nose'.
Thank you for claiming me and never seeing me as anything less than your daughter.
Thank you for every smile, and ever rare stern look.
Thank you for making my childhood magical.
Thank you for teaching me to dream big.
Thank you for instilling a love of travel and adventure in me.
Thank you for teaching me faith by being a living example.
Thank you for always being the 'distinguished' man in the room, since you were 6'4" with full white hair ever since I can remember.
Thank you for exposing me to the arts, knowing I needed to find a way to express myself as words so often failed me.
Thank you for teaching me the value of listening carefully and speaking with meaning.
Thank you for providing for me, and protecting me, even when I didn't realize it.
Thank you for loving Mom and teaching me the power of friendship and love through your living example.
Thank you for proving that men being faithful loving husbands and good fathers never goes out of style.
Thank you for a million little things I'll never be able to actively recall, but will never be able to forget.
Thank you for showing me what a real man is.

Thank you, Dad... for everything.

I Won The Parent Lottery.