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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hemorrhaging Money

How many things can break???

You need a time line to appreciate how much these last 2 months sucked for me and the ride is still going. At the end of February, so a mere 8 weeks ago all the items in my house with a plug started to revolt. The Vacuum was dying – so for my birthday I figured I was getting a new one (my birthday is the end of February) NOT my choice but such is adulthood we don’t always get what we want. Before we could get the Dyson I wanted because of course I need a $400+ vacuum, one of the computers broke, and the light bulb for the large TV went out. The bulb and computer parts both cost over $200. AND I had a rafting trip, on the Rio Grande planned for the first week of March, our spring break. All the breakage so far was stuff we didn’t need to replace immediately so spouse and I decided to wait until after the rafting trip to spend the money, leaving a cash buffer for our traveling. 

Trying to keep up with the fur from our lab and cat became a small challenge, and the large TV on the floor to the side of the entertainment center which now had a TV 1/3 the size, added interesting ambience to the d├ęcor in our house.  We live in Army quarters, which means it looks like really nice section 8 housing – in NC we bought a house which I loved and we couldn’t sell when we moved so it is rented, for less than the mortgage of course because it is how my life works! Anywhoo, the quarters are small but work fine and it has encouraged us to thin out our stuff – it also means I kinda have a landlord. This came in handy when on the Thursday night of our Military Formal our refrigerator, died the one they had come out to repair 2x already. We called, no one called back that night so 7 am after our formal we called again – when the guy came I was insisting on a new unit since we were leaving town on Sunday. They came through but I had to throw out all the food from the fridge and freezer and file the claim with the property manager – while I am packing a family for a rafting/camping trip and scheduling pet sitters and getting grandpa from the airport to join us.

Trip was great, I will tell more about it later.

After 3 days unplugged I return to a message on my phone that the heat pump on the rented house in NC broke. UGH, I know this will cost thousands!! I told them to get a quote and called a few other places for additional quotes – the phone tag is still going on 8 weeks later but it looks like this will cost $4000 hmmm guess I am sweeping the floor and the little tv is here to stay.

Two weeks later the washer, which is 3 yrs old starts making noise – I call the guy who fixed our freezer which the movers broke in August. He came out it was $100 for parts and labor. Then spouse’s smart phone, a Samsung only 2 yrs old starts acting up even with tech support they can’t get it fixed so off to the ATT store. It was cheaper to buy the phone and get the lower rate plan than to get the “free” phone. Ok, at this point I am hemorrhaging money the savings is gone and we are getting tight – PLUS since we know we move in July so I can’t really go get a job.

Five days after we get the phone, we get orders for Korea. I was shell shocked for about 24 hours trying to process what this means and what our options are . . .we decide to all stay together so the kids, pets and I are going to Korea we have about 100 days to complete all the things needed to satisfy the Army, the US government, and the Korean government to allow us to follow our soldier to Korea.  By The WAY the phones won’t work there, and none of the large appliances will go. I spend a few hours each day trying to get the correct people on the phone for appointments and paper work. Pets get shots and blood work on Friday – they call me that afternoon, one of the 4 shots they gave the poor cat was out of date so in 3 weeks he needs to go in for that again. NO ONE answers the phone at the passport office to tell me what the rules are and what we need – I have verified that to travel outside of Korea we have to buy our own passports the Army will only give us paperwork to get in country – and seriously travel is why you go overseas. The passports are $135 each we need 4.

That brings me to this weekend and Saturday with laundry sorted and piled in the laundry room, the dryer stopped heating. It is good to live in the desert even jeans only took 5 hours to dry outside. So I called Jorge to come out to look at the dryer – he was amazed!! I gotta say I am not sure what Karma I am reaping here but I am hoping it will run out soon!!!  More on Rafting the Rio Grande next time . . . 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Misery might love company, but I am not interested in your company.

Misery might love company, but I am not interested in your company.

You know those people who have to one up every statement you make. I get it sometimes you do know more than me – rarely but it does happen. So I have been married 16 years all of those years we were in the Army, I grew up an Army Brat and I am over 40 with 2 kids both teens at this point – what are the chances that a 24 year old has more general knowledge than me about being an Army anything? Yet, you continue to go on and on about Army life not letting me get a word in edge wise.

Also recently there was a senior spouse,(which means the wife of a senior military member, these folks have at least 15 years of military service and have earned their way to a high rank where they have (theoretically) influence in the military) was misbehaving in a public forum where the wife of The Sergeant Major of the Army (yes you got that right there is only ONE of these in the entire Army so he is that important) was kind enough to come talk to a group of spouses about what to expect in the Army and ask about what issues she should focus on in her work to make our lives better. Well this heifer thought it meant she could air out her grievances about the Military as a whole and chose this moment to whine about how unhappy she is here at this post. SERIOUSLY!!! Don’t get me wrong I have been known to shut down an entire discussion panel when asked my opinion, which had to do with scheduling and why our soldiers couldn’t have a schedule that was generally stable and in place for a 3 day lead time, not changing on a nightly basis. I DO NOT expect the Army to make me personally happy at every duty station, like this gal seemed to think was her right.

Why did these 2 things set me off down ranter’s lane? I think it was because there just doesn’t seem to be anyplace that is safe from the stupid. I get the young wife thinks her situation is special, and after 5-10 years of service she (hopefully) will get that her ‘issues’ are just what the Army is about. BUT the other one should have enough time in the Army as spouse, or enough years under her belt (yup, I said it are you an adult?), or maybe just real world experience to know and understand that you don’t tell an auditorium full of strangers that you are miserable then pout and stomp your feet.  In the end the most frustrating thing is neither one will listen when people try to help – young wife has a long list of reasons why my advice won’t work in her super special situation – and senior wife had not taken time to join any of the social events, classes, or gatherings that are open and offered at every post I have ever been at. In the end I want to tell folks like this that being miserable is a choice and if you really are unhappy do something about it, join a class, ask friends for help, HELL go make friends and if all else fails leave, move, divorce change your life. BUT for God’s sake stop expecting the rest of us to give a damn that you wallow in your misery!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Anger, Sadness, and Laughter

Anger, Sadness and Laughter

Today we had our Ostara ritual. I have had trouble getting the other ritualists to do their work, to my satisfaction. Yesterday I was really upset about it, and the computer wouldn't work for me to e-mail a final draft to everyone, then I would get more pissed realizing that they wouldn't read it or print it for themselves anyway!! So I was in quite a bad mood when I fell asleep.

I got up this morning and the anger was mostly gone as I ran around getting the last items ready and loaded in my van. Then I realized that I hadn't started the brisket last night like I was supposed to – and it was 1 hour to ritual set up!! CRAP!! My friend suggested I pick up rotisserie chicken on my way to the ritual – good idea. (the fact that I couldn't think of that as a solution, tells you what a mess I was)  AND as I completed the last chores and got in the van I realized the God/dess was pointing out that even those who are putting forth their best effort sometimes fall short. I need to be easier in my thoughts of others and of myself.

In the car as all the stress flowed out of me I was crying a little, as I often do.  I could feel myself at the edge of the sadness – sometimes it overtakes me and sometimes I can stay ahead of it. I was hanging by my fingernails, and even thought “WOW, I am glad I keep my nails long!”, as we arrived at the ritual spot.
We unloaded the van and cars and started to set up, I was trying to keep busy and not get overwhelmed by my tears. Everyone was setting up and laughing and chatting and just enjoying the moment with each other. I realized that this is what it is about, togetherness, laughter, support.  No one cared if it was perfect or even really deep they were here in the moment. I could actually feel myself lightening.

Ritual went well, we had a guided meditation about releasing insecurities, jealousy, anger, fear, and self-doubt. With each phase I felt lighter, it was great. After ritual there was an egg hunt, and feast of course. We had fun and at the end of it all I was warm, full, happy and ready for a nap. So thank you to our circle members, thank you to the animals we evoked, and thank you to the Goddess for the joyous day and new revelations. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

White-Knuckle through it

White- Knuckle through it

So it has been about 2 years since I had a real panic attack and today it took me a little off guard. I was surprised by it because I am generally happy, and for the most part life is going well – so where the hell did this come from?? For me generally a panic attack is a racing heart and a general fear response, having been through a few I have learned that; NO, this isn’t a heart attack, and No I will not die. The first time I had a panic attack I did think it was a heart attack, racing heart, sweat pouring from all of me, and the fear was really overwhelming, which of course loops back in on itself as you are sure you are dying!! The sweat is strange I had sweat dripping from the crease of my elbow!?!  My, fear is not specific, I know some people have a fear of going out of the house – but mine is really general.  I guess in some ways that is why I can ‘white-knuckle’ my way through it, push myself through my day and take deep breathes as needed.

Today I didn’t really need to be anywhere, but I had plans so I put my shoes on, and faced the door, fear rising heart rate going up, and decided I needed to go get a drink before I left. I filled a cup with ice, and my Crystal Light raspberry green tea mix, lid, straw – and the activity wore off the energy and OK I will try again. Grab a jacket, purse, drink and as I turned to get my keys off the hook, heart rate rising fear coming on – damn this isn’t going to work!!

I gave in and stayed in. Husband came home for lunch and asked me about the errands I was supposed to run and I told him no I had a panic attack and decided to stay in and watch TV instead. The look on his face made me realize that my white – knuckle coping had also left me not telling him how my life is sometimes. He looked worried about me and asked if there was anything he could do to help – I wonder if he would have always been this thoughtful. Before this exchange I would have told you he would scoff at such a thing as a panic attack and he would demand that I “get over myself”, I guess I don’t know him as well as I thought. This year has been full of surprises about myself, him, and our relationship.

I am posting this, 4 weeks after the attack and I have not had another one – but I do think as I look back that it would be nice to have a job so that I have to leave the house and be somewhere, even if it requires white-knuckle days.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

            The traditions seem to be about food, but upon closer examination I have learned that it is about time together. When we lived in Germany the meal was about eating together around the table with lots of friends and lots of wine. There were dinners with 3-12 families, and meals with us and soldiers far from home – always about being together. There were kitchens full of cooks having fun sharing drinks and stories - maybe it is about drinking, hmm I will look into that. With my own kids I have continued to make the family dishes and the special leftover sandwiches – turkey, cranberry jelly, and stuffing with mayo on whole wheat – oh, I’m drooling a little.
            I have been a wife for 17 years and I think I made all or part of the meal for 15 of those years. There is anxiety in trying to present a juicy, brown bird with all the fixings – I have fed up to 22 people doing ok, I mean no one has died, yet. There was dry turkey and the year without gravy – since then I always have 2 jars of gravy on hand just in case. In time my hubby admitted to not caring for turkey so now I make a bird and a ham.  Through all of the adventures there was one constant – my Mom.
 She died this year in October, it was sudden and unexpected so this Thanksgiving has felt wrong. When I had trouble finding an ingredient, I would call her for substitutions. What can/should I make the days before T day? One year she emailed me a complete shopping list, I am very thankful that I saved that email. So this year each trip to the store, each search through the recipe box brought tears and an ache deep inside me. I pressed on – we need traditions and my Mom loved entertaining to skip this event would NOT be the way to remember her.
Along with that we didn’t have anyone coming to dinner, we are far from family, have only been here for 4 months, and spouse doesn’t have any soldiers needing a place to go. So the social part wasn’t going to happen and the stress of presenting a meal should be smaller, right!?! I took a different approach, my family is forgiving they each wanted their favorite dish, even me! So I made the meal over 3 days. Day one, make ham, green beans, mac and cheese, and strawberry pretzel Jell-O salad, an easy meal to put together. Of course I burned the pretzel crust, so that got put aside for day two. Day two, make the turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes and of course the Jell-O salad, which came out great thank you very much! Day three, to go with the leftovers make the pies. This has worked out well for us this year, doing this meal in pieces has left me time to stop and breath as needed. We also ate smaller portions and just chose from 3-4 dishes instead of the over load of food this holiday leads to. Of course we will still be eating leftovers for days, and enjoying our favorites, but the fear and stress are over – and the celebration has begun.  I even did my best Turkey ever, brown with crispy skin and the meat was still tender and juicy – even the gravy was sublime.

I still cry, probably will for a long time – my poor husband doesn't know what to do with the seemingly random tears – but for now I celebrate making it through a holiday. And maybe there was help in my kitchen after all . . . .

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Old Me? WHAT?!?

So I was looking in the mirror the other day and I actually felt like one of those commercials – “Is your skin dull and lifeless?” Eww, so dull. I am not a high maintenance kinda gal, I just wash my face, a mask once or twice a month and maybe sunscreen – I don’t even use a moisturizer regularly. But it was kind of sad the way my face has become.  I started doing a little research and the glycolic acid peel looked interesting but expensive and I didn’t like that you become sensitive to the sun. Then there were the microdermabrasion kits, some of these were also expensive and what if I didn’t like it? Clairsonic has a cool tool but still over $100 and I am, well, frugal. So I was strolling around Ulta, and boom!! There is a Neutrogena Microdermabrasion System Kit for sale with 2 packs of extra pads – score!!!

So in the shower I go to use the new belt sander on my face, YIKES!! The vibration rattled my brain. It also makes your teeth clack, so I needed to lock my jaw for the fun.  It was such a strange sensation I wasn’t sure I was going to keep using it – then I saw my skin – after one use there was improvement. After 2 weeks of use, my hubby noticed how soft my skin was. So a belt sander for your face is a good idea after 40. Maybe I should get the Clairsonic for your whole body and see what that does for me?

Ok my skin is getting better let’s take a look at my hair . . .YIKES!! I have decided to move out of the t-shirt and ponytail Mom look and try to care again. Let’s be clear I was never a make-up done, hair done, nails done, even so  I had gotten a little too relaxed on the personal appearance front. But while I was not styling my hair, which I have been coloring in one way or another since I was 26, that’s 17 years, all my hair turned grey. Grey hair is hard to style, and I have lived in the incredibly humid southeast,  I hadn’t realized what a pain this was going to be. I had been blaming all the hair trouble on the humidity, it seems my very grey hair has contributed to the trouble.  I discovered the Pantene Expert line AgeDefy, it makes a real difference and gave me a fighting chance at getting some sort of style out of my hair. Now if I could find some talent at Ulta . . . .

The final insult – bifocals. Last year I tried bifocals, but I couldn’t get them to work so I was just using readers. Now my eyes are just not up to par, time to take the plunge. The optometrist thinks my frames were too small making the ‘sweet spot’ of the bifocals too hard to find. So I don’t just need bifocals I need large ‘80’s frames too. UGH. Embracing my inner geek, I went for a pair of lavender Ray Bans and I am learning to use them, but by the end of the day my eyes and brain are tired.  

So when you see a shiny, crazy haired lady in large purple glasses – you might be looking at me. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

El Paso we are here, Ft Bliss what the Heck?!?

Final day of driving went well – but Ft Bliss was gonna cause trouble for us.  We were on the housing list since May BUT they had us on the wrong list, even though Hubby called 2x to correct it SO on Thurs the 11th when we called from Odessa (one day out from Ft Bliss) a helpful person told spouse, "there is no housing left,  you have to find a place off post - the wait is 4-6 months". Being a man he hung up, claiming there was nothing more he could do. Worried about the fall out from me, he didn't tell me until midday.  I was upset, and called back (Fri morning) asking to speak with the person in charge of SGM Academy (USASMA) housing - of course I got to leave a voice mail. To her credit the manager called me back that afternoon. I asked how the military expects me to find my own housing for a 10 month program, and why if I was on the list since May I didn't get housing? Magically a unit appeared - then she said, “so you will take it?” (it was a different housing area and 'just across the street' from where we were supposed to go - - um, no, I won't take it without seeing it, when can we meet Sat? Oh, we don't work Sat. So we have hotel reservations through Tue, at the on Post lodging. We drove past the tiny house in a neighborhood of young families with infants, on the other side of an 8 lane highway from where we were supposed to be - UM NO.

 On Monday, I went in alone and we discussed how it is their fault - but I haven't heard from you, she says. Are you telling me it is my job to harass you until I get housing? Well no, Around and around we went, then she realized - I have 7 people who were issued housing but have not accepted or returned my calls I will call them again and see if you can have one of these units. 20 minutes later we had housing in our area, 300 sq feet more than the other, good but it is one of the old units. I am happy it is in the housing area with the other USASMA families so we are all in the same boat. Now with an address we call for our house hold goods to get delivered, and they tell him, “I will have to call you back, but I can guarantee it won’t happen tomorrow.” Well this attitude made spouse mad, we aren’t crazy, we expected it to take about a week to get us in the schedule – I don’t understand why everyone here is angry, and not interested in helping. The next day transportation calls back to tell us it will take 3 weeks to delivery our stuff, it is here in storage, but they don’t have enough trucks or crews. Once again, the students know they are coming almost a year in advance – so why don’t you hire 2-3 temporary crews for the busy months when they arrive. BUT WAIT it gets better – we decide we really don’t want to sleep on air mattresses for 3 weeks and we try to extend, they said nope. I can’t blame them we gave a check out date and they took another reservation.  At ACS, Army Community Service, we went to the lending closet and got a Rubbermaid tote full of kitchen stuff, 2 air mattresses, and 2 sleeping mats. We had some blankets and 3 towels, lined up cable to get hooked up – no TV but we have computers.

We survived the 3 weeks, and now have our stuff. Next time more about the really cool city of El Paso.