Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nostalgia - The Bad, Part II

So, on June 1st, 1985, I found myself in uncharted waters. I had escaped the fate of my mother and my grandmother and many of my numerous cousins. I was not married to a coal miner; I would not awaken long before dawn to make coffee and sandwiches six days a week. I would not send my man off into some pit or onto some mountain top all sparkly clean just to have him come home some 10 or 12 hours later, hands and face coated with coal dust, so that the whites of his eyes popped out at me.

No, I was a soldier's wife. I would awaken before dawn, squint, and fall back to sleep. I'd wake up around mid morning and wonder what I was going to do to fill my day. Sheer boredom granted me the cleanest rented mobile home I have ever stepped foot in (and I've been in some that have never even been lived in). You could eat off my floors and drink out of my sparkling white toilet bowl. I kid you not.

At some point, I got a job I could walk to. I worked at a dry cleaner's, where I learned how to sew the little tags on the Army guys' uniforms. I learned exactly where everything went on the shirts and on the Army Class A's. There's an Air Force base near Ft. Bragg so I would occasionally get one of those. It wasn't much and it didn't pay much but there was almost no pressure, no stress. I'd give it a B- as far as unskilled labor goes.

But things started happening in my little love nest. My man started not coming home. Checks started bouncing. There were bills I couldn't pay. My roller rink honey had always loved some decent weed and I thought being in the Army would cure him of that. But it's funny how all the pot heads can find each other, even in the Army. And that's exactly what happened to my honey. He apparently hooked up with every pot head in the 82nd Airborne sometime between Christmas 1984 and June 1985.

I can remember being at the mobile homes of other Army wives on Saturday nights. All of his buddies had newborns, it seemed like. We'd be playing cards and someone would light a joint. Pot has always just immobilized me; I'd get the giggles and crave Doritos but I just couldn't move. I'd watch in amazement as the Army wives changed diapers and made bottles and fed babies; I knew I would never be able to do that. I knew I couldn't bring a baby into this situation, knew that my roller rink honey wasn't going to pull it together, knew that I was going to have to find a way to pull us out of this.

So, in February 1986, I joined the Army. We desperately needed the money. I desperately needed to have a life with more in it than what we'd seen thus far. I really only meant to join the reserves. You know, maybe be a medic and be gone for 8 weeks for basic training and a couple months for medic training. Then I'd be back and we'd have this extra income every month.

But recruiters are slick, you know? I got kick ass scores on their tests; I could choose any profession I wanted, almost. So I picked pharmacy technician, I think because some girl I knew in school and could never stand was going to be a pharmacist. How's THAT for a way to choose a career path?? I'd be working in a pharmacy and she'd still be in her second year of college. So there! Hah!!

But there was a hitch, you know? If I wanted to be a pharmacy technician, I had to join the real Army. For four years. And I'd have a life long trade when I got out. And I'd have a full time job with a full time pay check. And I could come back to Ft. Bragg, once I finished training and signed a waiver saying I didn't want to go to Germany like my orders would say I was going. And I would be gone for about 6 to 8 months but that's not SO long, really, you know?

Oh, my man was PISSED!! I thought the top of his head was going to explode. But then he lit a joint and I knew I'd made the right decision.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Nostalgia - The Bad, Part I

So, a long time ago, I was in the US Army. I was only in for 4 years and I never left the country. In fact, I was practically a civilian most of the time because I was a pharmacy technician (91Q hoo-ah!). I worked in a hospital.

There was a time when I thought I would go to college and become a high school English teacher. If you've read anything I've written, it is clear to you that I either became the worst English teacher ever or the truth reveals to you that dream was never realized.

I'm not bitter about not having been able to live my childhood dream. That's probably because so many other very cool things have happened to me. I did eventually get to college and I did get a degree. I just have issues with following society's prescribed sequence of events and that's not on purpose. It's just how things shake out for me. At any rate, not to spoil the ending or anything, just keep in mind, that given all of the things that might have gone another way, I'm happy with how things have turned out so far.

My path to the Army presented itself during the summer before my freshman year of high school. I went roller skating nearly every Saturday that summer. I couldn't do any tricky moves but I rarely fell down. It was a grand summer, I recall but the details are very fuzzy. Had I known that the events taking place that summer would have such a huge impact on my life, I'd have paid much closer attention!

There was this boy at the skating rink. He was just stinkin' adorable and he could skate really well. He really preferred to play video games though. Oddly, I don't think anything happened between us that summer. I don't remember us skating together or kissing or even learning each other's names. Maybe I just stalked him. I just can't remember.

In the fall, I was anxious about going back to school. I was pretty smart and I got good grades. I thought maybe I was a big fish in a small pond and I was about to become a small fish in a big pond, if you know what I mean. So, I was worried about all that and the idea that maybe I wasn't really all that smart at all. I was also worried about being not very pretty, being incredibly shy, and now I was certain that I might not be very bright to boot. I was pretty insecure walking in those doors.

But there was this boy, from the skating rink. I was running into him all the time. He was everywhere, it seemed. And he was funny; he made me laugh. Next thing you know, I have a boyfriend! I'm dating! Well, sort of dating...we didn't actually GO anywhere but we were "going together". Maybe that was my first clue. About not going anywhere. But who could know? I was 15 and I was IN LOVE!!!

There was a lot of stuff in between that would make this story way too long (like it isn't already!). He graduated a year before me and by fall, he had joined the Army. I had a year left in school. He'd be gone. It was unbearable to consider. I thought I'd lose him to the world and I think he thought he'd lose me what, I can't imagine. Good sense?

So we did what any pair of 18 year olds would do in this situation in the mid 80's, in Eastern Kentucky. We got married. On Christmas Day. He went off into the world (aka Ft. Bragg, NC) and I stayed with my mom and finished high school. Graduation night, I stuffed the car he'd sent money for with all our worldly possessions. The next morning, I was on the road to North Carolina. A new adult life, a husband, a little mobile home waiting to be filled with towels and sheets and groceries. I was escaping and I could barely wait to get started with the rest of my life.

More soon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nostalgia, The Good

I am reading about kundalini meditation and the author writes about when we are children, how we experience our kundalini energy often. He encourages the reader to think back on their childhood and remember a time when you experienced this energy.

I was a very imaginative child; I was a singleton until I was five. I think because I had no built in playmate, I made up stories to entertain myself. Most of the stories I made up when I was three don't make sense to me now. I remember feeling like I was on an adventure every time I played, though.

I wish I could remember more of the details. Like, I can remember "escaping" to the park (much to my mother's dismay) and I spoke to the squirrels as I walked, explaining to them that my father was away on business (I don't recall his profession at that time but he came home every evening). Then a helicopter flew overhead and I told the squirrels, who were of course simply enthralled, that my father was in the helicopter on his way to his job. I waved to him and encouraged the squirrels to do the same.

And then Mom found me (I know the park was too far away for a 3 year old to go alone but really, you could see it from our backyard and there were no streets to cross to get there). She was very upset that I'd wandered so far. I must have scared the crap out of her! (which was also a lot of fun!)

So, it was those sorts of days that I thought of when I reflected on blissful moments from my childhood; when I felt uninhibited by society, when I conversed out loud with squirrels, and waved to helicopters. The time before responsibilities, convention, needing to explain myself or defend my thoughts. It was all very simple and rich.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday Ramblings

I don't know what is spewing pollen this time of year in Cincinnati, but it is kicking my allergic ass. I have been congested and coughing for nearly two weeks! I did go to the doctor (and believe me, that means I feel like crud!) and she thought perhaps I had a sinus infection. I completed a course of antibiotics but my symptoms still persist.

This is putting a serious damper on my ability to do stuff! Stuff like, think clearly. Breathe. Not to mention sleep, sex, work - not necessarily in that order.

I am going to get my hair cut today at a salon I haven't been to before - la petite salon & spa. I hope I don't cough at the wrong time and end up having to shave my head to even it out. I'll let you know how it goes!

Then I am going to Kohl's to do some shopping. They're having a sale and hubby has a credit card there. Woot! Maybe then I will feel up to some lovin' time with hubby!

All of this is a diversion so that I do not think about all the serious stuff at work. On Monday, I will complete a matrix that details what I do all day, explain why that work is relevant and important, and whether I have capacity for more work and what I'd prefer that work be or not be. I felt somewhat encouraged that my initial response to receiving this form was annoyance that I didn't have time to fill it out because I have relevant and important work to do!

For now, I am off to guzzle some more generic Robotussin DM, shower, and hope I have something clean and presentable to wear to the salon. Have a great Saturday!