Feb 28, 2007

Counting my Blessings

Today I went for my first mammogram. This wasn't a routine mammogram though. Those don't normally happen until after you turn 35. Today's event was scheduled for me by the doctor here on Coast Guard Island following my yearly physical three weeks ago. Everything in that physical was fine.

Except for one thing.

They found a lump, or what they thought might BE a lump in one of my breasts.

After listening to my family history, it was determined that I needed to have it looked at by a professional. Given my short time left in the Coast Guard and the fact that on May 22 I will be losing my health care benefits it had to be done quickly.

Originally they were going to make me wait more than a month, intending to schedule me for the end of April. Considering that I am planning on moving to South Carolina in 31 days, that was not going to work for me. It took a near melt-down on my part to get them to schedule me sooner. But, I prevailed.

Last night was one of the longest nights that I can remember. I tried everything to get my mind off of what was going to happen today. I read a book and watched TV. I cleaned my house and did laundry. I hugged my dog. Finally, I called Ben at 2 a.m. his time (they are in port right now), and had a good long cry. I felt alone, angry, and frightened. He listened and did his best to comfort me from 5,000 miles away. He did a good job.

This morning I drove almost an hour to a clinic out in Pleasanton. I don't remember most of the drive. In fact, I almost missed a very important turn, and probably would have ended up in Stockton before I realized it. I was scared. Very scared. In my family, there is a history of women having breast cancer at a young age. 27 in fact. I turn 27 in just over three weeks.

After three long hours of waiting, mammograms, and ultrasounds the doctors informed me that everything looks good. They see no abnormalities at all. Whatever was there three weeks ago is no longer present.

I have never been so relieved in my life.

Feb 26, 2007

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.

The first time (and probably the ONLY time) I ever defied curfew I was 13. I can distinctly remember the "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!" answer that I got from my father when I told him I wouldn't be home until 2 a.m. My curfew at that time was 11 pm.

That was the first time I ever went to a stock car race. My best friend at the time's father had a Late Model race car, and Jason always talked about it. Finally, he asked me to go one weekend when we were in the 8th grade. From that night forward, I was hooked. That night we were racing in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. It was one of the biggest racing events of the year. The Modified cars (they look very similar to a go-cart, but with ridiculous amounts of horse power) were running that night. The Busch League North was going to be there for a 300 lap race. Big names in what used to be Winston Cup started off in this series, and some were going to be there again that night, just for old time's sake. If everything went according to plan, we would be racing that afternoon, watch the big races that evening, and be home by midnight. Everything was going great...until the rain showed up. Races got shuffled to accommodate sponsors during breaks in the weather, and by the time the Late Model Stocks could get out on the track, it was ten of midnight. We had to start our race BY midnight, or we wouldn't be able to get on the track because of noise ordinances. It was then that I remembered that I needed to call my dad and let him know where I was, and that I was going to be late...

Once that racing bug bit me, I never stopped watching. President's Day weekend took on a whole new meaning for me (that is when the Daytona 500 is held every year). Every year from April until October, you could guarantee that on any given Thursday night, you would find me at our home track of Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, CT. It was there that we raced the Late Model Stock #69. We all wore black jeans and purple T-Shirts (because those were our car colors), and every single person that went had a job. We all had big purple jackets with a giant gold "69" on the back. My mom wouldn't let me wear mine anywhere but the track and to work...

At first, I just handed Freddie (Jason's dad) and Jason tools to fix the car. As I started learning more and more about the car, the set-up, and racing in general, I got to do more. I learned why racers put "rounds of wedge" in the springs (tightening down on the rear springs), and why a spoiler was so important. Then I learned how to use a pop-rivet gun, and how to use a sledge hammer and two-by-four to "massage" the sheet metal back into place (meaning a lot of cussing and hard work to get the fenders to actually resemble fenders after a wreck). I learned how to adjust tire pressures to make the car handle better, and then became Freddie's "go to gal" to work out tire pressures before racing, and figure out what tires we would use that night.

I was invited to start joining the crew on Monday nights to work on the car at Freddie's garage. It was there that I got to learn more about the people I was spending my Thursdays and the occasional weekend with. My knowledge of engines and racing increased to a point that I was actually useful, and when I left for the Coast Guard I was sorely missed.

When I first started going racing, I remember how exciting I thought crashes were . Then, I saw witnessed my first racing death, up close and personal, when a racer we knew hit the wall at ninety miles an hour. His car disintegrated. To this day I still cringe whenever I hear about crashes.

However, there's nothing like standing in the infield at a race, watching the car that you helped put together run with the field. Every hit your driver gives and takes gives you a little jolt of excitement, but makes you cringe as well as you tally up how much work needs to be done that week. The feeling of excitement that courses though your body as you stand in your pit box holding your hat in your hand while the National Anthem, waiting for the announcer to say "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" is like nothing else. You feel it in your chest, as the waves of sound reverberate to your very core. The smell of racing gasoline is like none other...and it is absolutely fantastic.

If you couldn't tell from this entry, I miss racing very much. Ironically, I figured that when I move to South Carolina I could get back into it, and maybe hook up with a local team out there. However, when I went looking to see where the nearest racetrack is, I discovered that there are no short tracks within 100 miles of Charleston. I couldn't believe it. Not even a dirt oval.

I guess this gives me more reason to start looking into tickets at the bigger Nextel Cup races...It's a good thing Ben's also a NASCAR fan. Daytona, Darlington, Charlotte, Atlanta,and Talledega, here we come!

Feb 25, 2007

Swimmin' with the fishes (well, maybe not SWIMMING)...

I have been stationed in Alameda twice, and until today I had never actually made it to the aquarium down in Monterey. My parents and I tried to go there when they came out, but were unsuccessful. Every time Glenn visited we said we would go, but never made it. Today I went to the Monterey Aquarium with a friend of mine and her little boy. What an amazing experience.
Being at an aquarium is such a great experience. It is so peaceful and serene. Even when you are surrounded by a crowd of people, it is easy to get lost in the life just beyond the glass. Just looking into the giant tanks, watching animals that you would never otherwise see reminds me of how small we really are in the great scheme of things.
There is nothing cooler though than watching a little one discover a world that just seems to be impossible. As I stood with my friend watching her son watch the fish, I was in awe a little bit myself.
I am so glad that I bought my digital camera. I took so many pictures today. I hope you enjoy the ones I post!

Feb 24, 2007

The things they DON'T tell you about owning dogs...

While I was growing up, we always had a dog. We had Lottie, the Irish Setter. She was beautiful, but not very smart. We had Ben, the Newfie-Lab-Kodiak Bear mix, who was big and dumb, but as sweet as they come. He used to let me try to ride him for crying out loud! Then there was my boy Gus. The original Gus (not my brother's new Gus...who is great too). There was Holly, our Black Lab. The one we thought we were going to make into a hunting dog (even though no one in our immediate family hunts). Now my parents have Lily, whom they call "the baby."

Lottie was hit by a car. We cried. Ben was shot by a hunter (who supposedly mistook him for a bear). We bawled. Gus died of complications from diabetes. I was absolutely devastated. Holly passed on from old age. We mourned. I STILL cry when I think of Gus. All of these dogs deserve to have their stories told, but for now I'm going to focus on Gus.

We had Gus for about nine years. He was a pointer mix of some kind. He looked like result of a Dalmatian meeting a Rottweiler, with some kind of hunting dog thrown in the mix...a real Heinz 57. One of the greatest things about him was that he didn't bark. The night my dad brought him home, I don't think my mom had any idea what was coming. You see, she was asleep, napping so that she could prepare for an 11-7 shift at Worcester City Hospital. All of the commotion downstairs woke her up. When she came down to see just what in the world was gong on, Gus yipped at her. She took one look at him, caught one whiff of him, and promptly deposited him in the bathtub. Gus never barked at her, or pretty much anything ever again...and he cowered whenever he saw that bathrobe.

Gus was one of the most fun dogs we had. He would go anywhere, and do anything. He loved to go for walks in the woods, he loved to chase flashlight beams, he loved to go canoeing of all things. The only thing he DIDN'T love was riding in the car. He was also the only dog that I have ever met that got drunk on purpose.

Gus used to love to steal beer can's off the back porch during the winter. My dad would leave beer outside when my parents hosted parties so it would chill. Gus used to steal the bear, poke holes in the cans with his teeth, watch them spin around while releiving the pressure inside...and then drink the beer. Needless to say, after Gus drank an entire six-pack one night, my dad stopped putting beer outside. The dog was hammered.

One afternoon, when I was about 14, I couldn't find my dog (I had come to think of him as mine by then). I could hear him yelping and howling, sounding scared and confused, which was bizarre because it was a beautiful spring day. When I found him in the woods out of sight of the house, there was nothing outwardly wrong with him...but I didn't know what to do. He couldn't walk, so I picked him up (all 60 pounds of him), and carried him into the backyard. He drank water like he hadn't had any in days. He had been doing that a lot at that time. My mom, acting on a hunch and drawing from her nursing experience, gave him corn syrup, and he calmed down immediately. Gus had been hypoglycemic.

So, after another trip to the vet, Mom's hypothesis was confirmed. We had a choice. We could euthanize him, or we could support his diabetes. I thank God we went with the second option. That meant insulin shots twice a day, as well as special diets...just how you would treat a human being. Within a couple of weeks, my mom taught me how to perform the tests to check his blood sugar, how to determine the amount of insulin he would need, and how to give him the shots that he required. For two years, every morning and every evening, I took care of that dog better than I have ever taken care of anything or anyone. It got a point that he would not allow anyone but me to give him his shots. My mom is a phlebotimist, a good one at that, and he would even allow HER to do it. When he wasn't feeling well, Gus would find me, and I would take care of him.

For two years, we went on this way. He was my dog that point. He still loved everyone else, but he was MINE. Slowly though, things started to deteriorate. He got cataracts, started needing more insulin, and other symptoms started to come back. He would get disoriented, and scared, and he was just getting old.

When it came time to make THE decision, it was only mine to make. I did what was best for my best friend. The night before, Gus and I sat down and we shared a steak...not just any stake but a sirloin. That night he slept with me, in my bed, something that was never allowed in the Bergman household.

The next morning I carried him to the truck, and then helped him into the vet's office. Dr. Seremith cried. The vet techs all cried. When the time came, Dr. Seremith asked me to assist, not one of the techs. I stayed, and Gus thumped his tail as he faded away. I like to think he was telling me that it was okay.

Why am I writing about this? That was 11 years and two dogs ago after all.

Today I sat in a sunny spot in the dining room with Coda, clipping his nails. This is something that I never thought I would EVER do for a dog. A couple of times I cut his nails too short, and he bled a little bit. We've all done that to ourselves a time or two haven't we? You would have thought I cut off his whole paw the way he looked at me...not just the tip of his nail.

I got to thinking about it, the things that I do for him that I NEVER imagined I would do for an animal. I never thought I would give a dog multi-vitamins, brush one's teeth (Ben bought him an electric toothbrush...yes his breath can be that bad), make one wear a seat belt on long drives (you laugh, Coda really has one), or run around with a plastic bag after him.

I never thought I would spend thousands of dollars on stitches, medications, orthopedic specialists, and just vaccinations. I sure as hell never thought I would ever drag a forty pound bag of dog food across the driveway, worrying that it wouldn't be enough to last the month.

But, this all got me thinking. Is it worth it, all of the money, the frustration, the aggravation, and the inevitable sadness that comes with having a pet?

When I walk in the door, and Coda can't seem to keep his feet underneath him because he is so excited to see me, or he looks up at me with bright shining eyes, or he falls asleep sitting on top of me (he thinks he's a lap dog) with a big puppy smile on his face, I can only come to one conclusion.

You're damned right it is.

Feb 23, 2007

Getting Beyond the Anger

Ben always tells me that one of the things that he loves most about me is my heart. He says I have one of the biggest, most compassionate, understanding, and forgiving hearts of anyone he has ever known.

Sometimes I feel like a complete fraud when he tells me that.

It seems like there is always going to be that one person that you cannot bring yourself to forgive. The one person that hurt you so badly, you can't even describe it. The one person that no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you pray for the ability to forgive, you just can't do it.

Tonight I had a run-in with that person. Not face-to-face mind you, but through a friend - someone that I had not talked to in a LONG time, that I did not know I was ever going to talk to again. But, this conversation was a good thing. I was caught up on parts of my life I had closed the door on; friends who I wrote off completely in an attempt to wrest my life away from the destruction I was running hell-bent for, and memories I made every attempt to erase from my mind.

And I think I came out the conversation better than I was when I went in.

At the mention of "that person's" name, I felt an urge to get sick. Then I felt rage. Then I felt...peace. No, I haven't forgiven this person for their transgressions. But, I discovered that I have moved beyond it. I don't necessarily think that they should burn in hell anymore. In fact, I think that person has discovered hell on earth. When you discover that you've risen above something that was previously holding you back, it is generally seen as a good thing, right? I must admit that I was ashamed at first. The reason I know I have moved beyond is because I can look back now on that time, see how pathetic that person is, and feel better because I know that I am no longer associated. But at first I was ashamed. I was afraid that other people who knew me "way back when" might remember me as equally pathetic.

I'm sure you are all wondering, just where in the world I am going with this.

You see, this evening I finally acknowledged that I can't change the past. I made some stupid, STUPID mistakes. But I can't go back and change them. I can only move on, and up. Tonight I was also forced to look at all of the hurt, and the anger, and the distrust that I harbored - and refused to let go of. It is okay for me to be angry at these people that have hurt me. In some instances my distrust of some was warranted. That doesn't mean I have to distrust EVERYONE.

I may have made mistakes when I was younger, but believe it or not, I have actually LEARNED from some of them. Now it is my responsibility to apply those lessons, and to forgive myself for making the mistakes I did - and to get on with my life.

And so it begins...

This afternoon I posted an ad on Crag's List to start selling some of my bigger things that I won't have room for in South Carolina. For sale in my ad were my Bistro Set, my Papa San chair, my Brass Lamp, and my microwave. It was really hard for me to post the ad because the Papa San was my FIRST real piece of furniture in my FIRST apartment...along with the lamp. The Bistro Set was something that was a very special gift...and I thought it was absolutely beautiful. The Bistro Set is already gone. This is all becoming incredibly real to me incredibly fast...
I'm hoping to have the rest of the stuff I posted ads for gone by the end of the week. It's time for me to get my act in gear...but first I'm going to go hang out with Steph for a while :). We're doing a girl's night in (with little Joey of course ;) ).

Feb 22, 2007

Just Pictures

So today, Ben asked me to post some more pictures so he can see what is happening out here while he's at sea...so without further ado, I post:

Tonight Katelyn and I went out to dinner at a new Mexican Restaurant here in town. My friend and her little boy invited us to hang out with some old shipmates of hers. It was a good time. Of course, although we brought the camera, we didn't take any pictures. So, not being one to let a good hair day go to waste, Kate took pictures of me when we got home.
The other day we went hiking, and took some pictures then too. We went up to a really pretty nature preserve just north of here in Orinda. It never ceases to amaze me that if you drive north 15 minutes, it's like you're in a whole other world.
Other than that though, not much else has been going on here. I hope you like the pictures Ben.

More About the Daytona 500 (because you can never have too much!)

So my boss, who doesn't even LIKE NASCAR went to the Daytona 500 this year. He sat in Row 29 , Section E of the Weatherly tower. Right across from Pit Road. And the big Daytona sign in the infield. About 300 feet from the start/finish line. You know, the line that the 07 car crossed on fire ON IT'S ROOF?!?!? Talk about an exciting race!

But, being the great guy that he is, Brian got me the official Souvenir Booklet AND took pictures on his cell phone. He even called me on lap 180 so I could hear the cars. So, without further ado, here they are.

Did I mention that I'm jealous of HIM too?

Feb 21, 2007

Ready and Waiting...

Today was a pretty busy day during my TAPS class. We wrote new resumes and cover letters to send to companies we would like to interview with...but I'm sure you don't want to hear about that. That kind of stuff is boring...

So, I'm going to write about the stuff that I was daydreaming about today. All throughout the day (when I wasn't creating resumes and such), I daydreamed about travel. I thought about the places that I have already been, and the places that I would like to see again. The catalyst for this was very simple. My parents are going on a cruise next week. My brother and his girlfriend are going soon after, as are my sister and brother-in-law, and my aunt and uncle. As I am sure you can understand, I'm jealous.

My mom said something to me though that made me think. She told me to think about all of the times that I got to go to sea, and I left all of THEM behind wondering what interesting things I would see and neat adventures I would go on. They were jealous. Now it is their turn to go see new and exotic things, and have experiences that some will only ever read about.

She was right, I got to see all kinds of things all the way from Alaska to Japan to Panama. I would call my family and my friends from places that they had never even HEARD of. I have souvenirs from places that people only dream about. I have stories that awe people when I tell them, and sometimes I'm even asked to RE-TELL them.

I got to learn how to do things that very few people get to do. I can start a diesel engine that is two stories tall and operate it. I could also affect repairs on it if necessary while I was using it. I can drive a ship almost 400 feet long, in the middle of high-stress operations, and do it well. I have been woken up at 2 am to help fight a fire on a ship. I have seen what 30 foot seas look like. I have seen what 12 tons of cocaine that will be destroyed instead of sold on the streets looks like. I have also seen the relief and thanks on the face of a man who would have died if we hadn't been there to help him.

I have seen the stars at night, with no light pollution to make them fade. I have seen the moon shine so brightly that you would swear it was almost as bright as the sun. I think those things might be what I will miss the most.

I think that the reason I'm so jealous right now is because I know that I will never put to sea again on a Coast Guard ship to go do that mission, and I will never see these things again in that context. In fact, I consider myself in limbo right now as I wait for this chapter of my life to close, and the next one to begin. My dad calls it "Emily's Big Adventure: Part 2" (Part 1 being my joining the Coast Guard).

I'm ready...I'm waiting...let the adventure begin.

Feb 20, 2007


Today has been a day of milestones for me. Some may think of them as minor ones, but to me they are huge.

Today was the first day of my TAP Class. No, I don't mean dancing. TAP stand for Transition Assistance Program. These are classes that I am mandated to take in order to help me make my transition into the "real world." These are classes that I begrudgingly signed up for, certain that they would be a waste of my time. Truthfully though, today was very helpful. I'm starting to learn about some of the benefits that I may be eligible for, and gotten some really good information on what kind of things to expect when I finally leave the service for good. I guess the best way to put it is that this class is the beginning of the end for my Coast Guard career. Although I am still very nervous about that, I am also getting very excited. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Today marks 39 days until I go terminal leave. I've broken the 40 day mark! Things are going to start going really fast now, I am sure. But, I have been working very hard to make sure I have all of my ducks in a row.

All of the talk today about transitions also made me start thinking about the yard sale that I am going to have to have soon, and all of the things I'm going to either have to sell or give away. Ben and I will be combining 5 years worth of stuff that both of us have accumulated into one two-bedroom apartment. Let me tell you, everything that we have right now isn't going to fit...by a long shot. I've already made a deal for my couch, the washer, and the dryer. I still have other things that I need to find takers for (the patio set, the papa-san chair, bookshelves...you name it). But I know that he's been working on getting rid of a lot of stuff too. We have a lot of work to do though before that moving truck with all of my stuff pulls up in front of the apartment building...

Last but not least, tonight I went to my weekly Weight Watchers meeting...and I was told that I had lost 5 pounds since I started! I was very excited. It's encouraging to see the scale drop.

I know that this post is a little out of character after the last eleven, but I have a cold. Unfortunately, I can't buy any Sudafed (like was recommended at the clinic today). I stood in line for half an hour at Walgreens this evening to hear the manager tell me that they cannot sell me the decongestant. You see, their computers are down, and I need to sign an electric document in order to bring the medication out of the store. I understand the need to regulate the sale of pseudophedrine in order to help regulate methamphetamine production, but tonight I can't help but wonder if this is getting a little ridiculous.

Feb 19, 2007

The things I do just so I can do my taxes...

I enjoy doing my taxes. I know, I'm weird. Yeah, there is probably something wrong with me. However, I enjoy it. It is a giant puzzle that I can check and recheck, AND in the end...I generally get paid! Yay! I enjoy doing my taxes so much that last year, I even did Ben's taxes.

I'm considering going back to school to become an accountant, but that's another story for a later time.

On Saturday, I sat down and got out all of my forms so I could file online. That was when I remembered that my printer didn't work. That meant that when I was done, I couldn't print out my copies of my forms. I am a nazi when it comes to paperwork. Not only do I print it, but I file it. My files are even color coded...yeah, I'm a little wierd about that too (however, I have ALWAYS had copies of my bills and reciepts when I needed them...and I knew EXACTLY where to find them). Therefore, I couldn't do my taxes.

So, today I went out and bought a new printer. I wish I could say I'm excited about it, but alas, I'm actually kind of angry. You see, I had a great printer before. It was a Lexmark InkJet, and it printed with beautiful quality. Then the AC adapter went bad while I was on Christmas leave. Not a big deal - or at least I didn't think so. The AC adapter isn't actually a Lexmark part. It is made by a little company out here in San Jose. I brought the converter in to Best Buy (where I learned that it had gone bad), and asked if I could just buy a replacement part. That is when I found out that they don't carry them. Neither does OfficeMax, Office Depot, Staples, or any other chain store. You see, nobody sells this part. After talking to salespeople in these stores, I discovered that this part failure is a fairly common thing. When I got on the website for the small company, they ALSO said it was a common problem. And they would fix it for me...for $40! Not to mention that I had to pay shipping and handling both to send it back, and for it's return. What a gyp!

So, now I own an Epson printer/copier/scanner that I got on sale. It sure LOOKS impressive. For $10 dollars more, I could have gotten it to be a fax too...but then reality sunk in, and I realized that I really didn't NEED that. But it could have been fun though...
Not bad for the cost of repair, shipping, and handling...and this one has a VERY good warranty.

Feb 18, 2007

Proud to be a NASCAR fan

The National Anthem brings tears to my eyes. Today I stood in my living room and took off my Dale Earnhardt Jr. ball cap while the Anthem was sung, tears streaming down my face. I'm patriotic, and I'm extremely proud of it. I could have sat on my couch, continued eating my sandwich, and waited for the song to end. But that would have felt wrong.I have waited all winter for today. Today is the first race day of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. I have been a NASCAR fan since I was about 13, but I remember watching the Daytona 500 with my dad on ABC's "Wide World of Sports" as a little girl. That program hasn't been on TV for a LONG time (Bobby Allison was still alive and racing then to give you a time frame).

Watching the race, I couldn't help but think of the races I've been to. From Thompson, Connecticut to Las Vegas, Nevada, all the way out to Ewa Beach, Hawaii - this is such a great sport. NASCAR fans are some of the best people to spend an afternoon or evening with. From barbequing in the pits in Connecticut, to listening to Dale Earnhardt Jr. talk to his spotter on a complete stranger's scanner in Nevada with Ben, to watching the races in Hawaii totally shocked to find a track out there, some of my best memories involve racing.

NASCAR is a family affair for me too, one that I claim credit for starting. My family used to joke with me about spending hours watching cars "go fast and turn left" on Sunday afternoons. Fast forward thirteen years, and now my sister cheers for Dale Earnhardt Jr with me from 3,000 miles away. My brother-in-law is a Matt Kenseth fan (but we won't hold that against him...especially after today's race). My dad is a Jeff Burton fan. Ben cheers for the Caterpillar car. Even my mom gets into it sometimes.

My dad couldn't watch the race today. He was on call, and had to go in to work. I made sure to call him when the green flag fell to start the race. When I found out that he wasn't going to be able to watch it at all, I searched the internet to figure out what radio station he could listen to the race on.

Heck, even my dog gets into it...I have to go watch the end of the race.

Feb 17, 2007

There is no such thing as too much fun...

Although Katelyn and I took three hours to figure out what we were going to wear tonight, we still had fun, as evidenced by the following pictures...

It was a good night...I'm going to miss Kate when I leave.

I don't have ANYTHING to wear (or want to wear anyway)

Why is it an unwritten rule that every time a woman has to wear something besides jeans and a sweater to go out somewhere, they must try on every sweater, pair of pants, and pair of shoes in their closet? After doing this and declaring hatred of everything that I own, I generally end up wearing the first thing I put on in the first place...or something from my roommate's closet.

Seriously though, what AM I buying when I go to the mall?

Tonight was no exception. We are going over to San Francisco to meet a friend of Kate's for dinner, and then going salsa dancing with another group of her friends. I was doing fine until I was informed that the dress code for the evening did not involve jeans. So, it was back to the drawing board (or the dresser drawer and closet in this case). I have come to the conclusion that I don't have much in the way middle-of-the-road dress up clothes. I have beautiful dresses to be worn on occasions that involve nice hair, dressy shoes, and maybe a little dress purse (that really is completely and totally impractical and doesn't hold a whole lot of anything). On the other end of the spectrum, I have plenty of clothes that would be suitable for an evening at Snapper Jack's (a sports bar in Folly Beach). I even have clothes that are suitable for changing my oil. Yet somehow, I managed to skip everything in the middle...

Feb 16, 2007

I got My Flowers....

My flowers came today...11 red tulips. My favorite.
Thank you Ben. You did good.

On the Road Again (Soon Anyway)

Last year when Ben and I drove across the country, I was expressly forbidden to plan anything. I couldn't plan a route, where we were going to stay, or what we were going to do. The only objectives that we had were to visit his sister in Phoenix, go to his parents’ house in Illinois for a couple of days, and arrive Atlanta in time to see the whole Braves/Red Sox series. We achieved all of those objectives and overall had a stress free trip across the country.

For me that was a huge accomplishment.

You see, Ben calls me his “Master Planner.” Until last year’s trip, I highly doubted the existence of a spontaneous bone anywhere in my body. I will plan every minute of the day out if you let me. I love lists, schedules, and calendars. I use enough sticky notes to remind me, my cubicle mate, and anyone else within a two block radius what the plan of the day is.

This year’s trip across country is going to be a little different. You see, this year I HAVE to plan this trip...at least a little bit We will be traveling with my dog Coda, a 70 pound German Shepherd.

He's kind of hard to hide, so I have to find dog-friendly hotels to stop at. We could bring a tent, but I’ve been camping with Coda before. I’m afraid that an experience like that would swear Ben off of camping forever.

The time of year that we are traveling is also a concern to me. It may dictate what route we take. Will the mountain passes on Interstate 80 be open during the first week of April? What if there’s a freak snowstorm (because there haven’t been enough of those this year or anything)? Should we take Interstate 40 again? It's a shorter route that will get Ben back to South Carolina quicker (AND we can stop in to see his uncle AND go see the Grand Canyon). Either way, my biggest concern is whether or not there a Dairy Queen anywhere between San Francisco and South Carolina that serves Blizzards with Nerds in them. If I bring my own Nerds, will they put them in the ice cream for me?

No matter what, this trip will be interesting. Last year's trip was fun, so I'm sure this one will be a blast. Wish us luck :), only 43 more days to go!

Feb 15, 2007


This blog entry took me all day, off and on, to write. I have started it, and erased it, and started over again half a dozen times. Why?

In the last couple of days since I started this blog, I've had several people ask me that one very simple question. Why? Why do I want to let people into my life this way? What is it that makes me want to share my thoughts? Well, this is why.

I enjoy getting to know people…from a distance. I can be extremely shy. Granted, there are times when I must walk right up to someone, introduce myself, and start a conversation. However, those times are few and far between. Thankfully, technology has changed the way that we all must look at the world. It can be totally conceivable that someday someone from Britain, or Zambia, or Thailand may read my blog. As they read it, they will get to know ME. They will come to understand what is important to me. I may never know these people personally. However, I know that they will rejoice in my successes and happiness, and they will sympathize with my sorrows and failures - and hopefully, somewhere along the way, I will get to know at least one new person.

Before I started this blog, Ben brought another aspect of blogging into perspective for me. This ISN’T just about the people that I have never met (and probably never will) getting to know me. It is also about the people who already know me. In some aspects, I’ve slowly become a stranger to some of the people that I love the most. This includes the people I love that I’ve either spent too much time away from during the last nine years, as well as the ones that I’ve met since then.

In today’s high-paced world it seems as if everyone has a cell phone or a Blackberry or some other kind of complicated piece of electronic equipment. Yes, it’s convenient and easy and you can talk to anyone, any time, any where. But do we really stop, talk, and really pay attention to what is being said? Do we really get to know each other?

You can learn so much about a person through what they write. Sometimes, I think you can get to know someone even better when you communicate through the written word. I think it is something of a lost art. When you write it takes time. You have to think about what it is that you want to say, and make sure that your words accurately convey that.

For centuries, people communicated solely by written missive. It was the only way to get information before the invention of the telegraph and the telephone. What you wrote really had to count. Those letters were lifelines that kept families informed of events that were important. My Nana and my Great-Grandmother Louise both did it during the World Wars, writing to their husbands. My maternal grandmother still writes me letters routinely just to tell me about her week, and I write back. Every night that Ben is at sea, I write him an email before I go to sleep. It’s amazing, but we have gotten to know each other better through letters than I think we could have any other way. Being apart for so long has been extremely hard on both of us, but we both agree that it has been good for us too because we’ve had this opportunity to know each other and REALLY fall in love.

It is much easier to share things with another person if you can think about what it is that you want to say, and then can reread it before you hit the “send” button or seal the envelope, to make SURE that it what you want to say. Just like I will before I hit the “publish” button.

And so, 680 words later, this is my answer to the very simple question “Why?”

…..Because I want to know you, and I want you to know me.

Feb 14, 2007

Doing Some Minor Housekeeping

Today has been a slow day for me...a REALLY slow day. Slow enough that I emptied out my file cabinet, rearranged the position of everything that wasn't bolted down in my half of the cubicle (I really need to invest in a book on cubicle fung shui), and washed my desk. Yes, I know. I'm a dork (the plus side of it is that my cubicle mate ALSO decided to clean HIS desk...and my inner neat-freak rejoiced).

While I was cleaning, I found a disk of files that I took with me from when I left the cutter JARVIS. Most of it was just old training PowerPoints, purchase requests, and random stuff like that. I was getting ready to toss the disk when I ran across THIS...

(drum roll please)

The title of the picture is "Flight Deck Ewok." I had totally forgotten about it. This picture was taken during a helicopter landing on the ship. For months after the picture was spread around the ship, I was called "Ensign Ewok."

So yeah, that's what I spent my morning doing...

Feb 13, 2007

Why Valentine's Day Sucks

So, as I sat at my desk at work today, surfing the internet for the latest news on...whatever...I kept getting bombarded with advertisements, claiming that it's not too late to buy flowers and diamonds and chocolates and...well, you name it. At first, it just got me annoyed. Then, it got me a little bit disgruntled.

Why do we have to celebrate this holiday? I mean, really. No one is really sure why we celebrate it. Some believe that it's a holiday to honor the death of a guy that no one is really quite sure WHY he is considered a Saint. Others contend that it is a holiday dating back to ancient Rome to celebrate the birthday of the goddess Juno.

Why do we have to set one day aside to be nice and loving to each other? Do you really need a box of chocolates to prove how much you love someone? Or flowers for that matter? Can't you find another way to express yourself that doesn't involve Hallmark?

The sad thing about this, is that I am a romantic at heart. Just ask my boyfriend, or my roommate, or anyone that has ever talked to me for more than five minutes. And for all of the ranting and raving that I did in the previous paragraphs, I did send him a Valentine's Day care package. However, he is at sea right now, and he won't get it until long after the holiday is past. But, I guess the thought was there.

Either way, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to try to pretend that tomorrow is just another day. I won't go out of my way to acknowledge it to other people, but I will be gracious enough to accept well wishes.

And I wouldn't mind some flowers...

It's a big, scary world out there

So, um, yeah. Hi.

Day two of blogging.

Right now I'm at work, stressing out over the fact that in 46 days I will no longer be working in the Coast Gaurd. I'll be on terminal leave, but I will no longer be working. Part of me is really excited about this. The other 80 percent of me is scared to death. Since I found out in November that I was going to leaving the service, I have been submitting applications for jobs. I know that it is still considered "early," but I'm starting to get nervous because I still don't have a job. It's not like I'm going to be homeless or anything, but yeah...I kind of like having an income. It's essential if you want to, you know, do things like help pay the rent...or pay hospital bills as they might arise...

So yeah, I'm kind of freaking out over this.

But, on the plus side, I still have a job for the next 46 days....

Feb 12, 2007

So I guess THIS is how you start a blog...

You know, when I entered college I kept telling my parents "I'm NEVER going to (fill in the blank here)..." Generally, when I said that it meant I would be doing that activity within the next few years. Blogging is no exception.

It started so innocently...I started reading a blog a year and a half ago about a girl about my age who was pregnant and then raising her son...and THEN I thought, how NEAT would it be to have my own blog? Would anybody be interested in what I have to say? Would my life be interesting to anyone else? Then, the blog I read posted a challenge to do a "Six Wierd Things About Me" meme challenge. That was the catalyst. So, I asked my boyfriend what he thought about me writing my own blog...and he was all for it. So, here it is. My first post. Yeah.

Six Wierd Things About Me
1. I think riding the mechanical bull at a country bar is one of the most entertaining ways to spend an evening. Not only do I like to ride the bull, but I like to challenge my boyfriend to see who can stay on longest. I won last time. I'm dying for a rematch.
2. I love watching the show Jeopardy. Not only do I love to watch it, but I'm one of those obnoxious people that gets competitive about it in their own living room. Yes, you should pity BOTH my roommate and my boyfriend.
3. I have nicer hand tools and power tools than most men I know. This stems from a love of NASCAR and all things stock car racing. I started going to the races in the 6th grade with my best friend and his dad, and actually helped out as part of their pit crew. My friends all come to me when they have car problems...unfortunately, computers have rendered me useless (but if you get me a two-by-four and a sledge hammer, I have a pretty good shot at pounding out some of the dents you may have gotten...just ask my sister...)
4. Those "Dangerous Catch" shows that they show on the Discovery channel? Yeah, I get so ridiculously proud when I watch them. I was stationed on a Coast Guard ship like that and spent two winters in the Bering Sea...and if you are in the same room as I am when that show comes on, I feel for you. You will hear every single sea story I have ever had.
5. Not only do I make pancakes from scratch, but I prefer them that way. And they're good (just ask my roommate).
6. I really want to try out for American Idol. In fact, I plan on doing it for next season. I am just afraid that I'm going to end up on the show as one of those delusional people that everyone makes fun of...

So does that make me wierd?