Jul 30, 2007

Almost Home

We're almost there. It has been quite possibly the longest two months of my life, but Ben will be home in 48 hours. More importantly, this time tomorrow I will be well on my way to Jacksonville to meet the ship. I will be riding the ship back to Charleston on what is called a "Tiger Cruise." It is a opportunity for some of the crew members to bring their family on board for a short while. I am so excited. How could I not be with a chance to see Ben a day early?

I'm also excited for myself. Another chance to get offshore on a Coast Guard cutter, does it get any better than that? Sometimes, especially right now, I don't think so. You see, a cutter is it's own microcosm. It is interesting watching all of the social and professional dynamics at work. Then there is my desire to just get back to seeing the stars, and ONLY the stars in the night sky. I used to make fun of the deck watch officers who could see 360 square miles of water from the bridge and nothing else...now I would give my right arm to see that.

And tomorrow night I will see that...and get to keep my arm in the process.

Jul 28, 2007

When You Don't Have Anything Left To Give

A good friend of mine has often told me that I give too much of myself to others, especially in friendship. He is constantly warning me to follow the popular maritime axiom "one hand for yourself, one hand for the ship," and apply it to any friendship or relationship that I enter. I have had a very hard time doing that. It many cases, such as with Ben and many of the friendships that I have been fortunate to have over the years, ignoring that advice has been the best course. However, many failed romances (BELIEVE me, many of my friends and family STILL won't let me live some of them down) and friendships later, I think I'm starting to learn.

Having your generosity of spirit and compassion taken advantage of is not fun. In fact it is very painful. I always try to go by the Golden Rule, treating others as I would hope to be treated. If that means having a hug, or a shoulder to cry on, or a waiting ear when things go bad, then so be it. If that means being ready with the confetti when things go well, I'm all for it.

But how much is too much? When does giving all that you have (and then some) turn into not enough? What happens when you aren't willing to give up everything in order to help someone?

In some cases they understand that you can't go any further. You've already undermined what's best for you enough that sometimes you forget that you need to take care of yourself too. Unfortunately, in others they get angry and lash out at you, expecting you to give that last bit that would destroy you.

Tonight I feel like the stump from the Giving Tree. However, unlike that stump, I won't let anyone sit down on top of me. I need to have SOMETHING left. In fact, I'm not even going to give up my trunk. I'm hoping to grow back some branches and leaves so that I can enter into other friendships down the road.

I'm tired of worrying about others so much it makes me sick. I'm tired of sleepless nights, worrying that I haven't given the right advice or enough of my time or helped a friend out enough. I'm tired of doing things that I really don't WANT to do, just because they bring a smile to someone else's face. What about the frown, heartache, and anguish that it brings to me?

I've given as much as I can.

I think now it's time that I worry about me for a little while.

Go West Young Man (and Woman)

So, in the inevitable wisdom of the Coast Guard, it has been decided that Ben needs to go to TRACEN Petaluma for a week...immediately following the ship's return to homeport...to go through Leadership and Management (LAMS) class again. Yes folks, that's right. They are sending him to California for a week, immediately following patrol. This equals no standdown for Ben, and no time for us to get to know each other again.

So, how are we going to solve this problem? I'm going on vacation, taking a week off to fly out to California with Ben while he is in training. Back to my old stomping grounds that I was itching to leave. Now, under any other circumstances, I would not be too excited about his...but strangely enough, I AM!

You see, I have been homesick for California for a while. I miss Katelyn, I miss Rosie, I miss Tiffany, and I miss Andy. I miss Sephora and the Rosenblum Cellars. I miss cool nights when I can wear a sweatshirt, even though it is August. I miss driving along the coast just to watch the sun set, knowing there's a good chance I won't be able to see anything because the fog has already rolled in. I miss all of those things that were familiar to me for better than three years, and that I find myself pining away for right now, as I'm here without Ben in Charleston.

Don't get me wrong, I love South Carolina. It is beautiful, the people are wonderful. I'm sure come January, I'll be glad that I don't have to scrape ice off my windshield. I haven't really put my roots down here yet though. I don't have a friend base like Ben was hoping I'd make (outside of Sam and Goose, I really don't have any friends here at all). As nice as most of the guys are at work, I really don't want to hang out with them outside the terminal.

Another good thing about going to California again is that it will give Ben and I a chance to go back to our beginnings. That is where we began. That is where a lot of our best memories are. A couple of romantic nights in San Francisco? Then a week up on the edge of wine country? I'm all over it. Ben and I were talking about taking a vacation somewhere that we wouldn't have to worry about Ceres, the Coast Guard, the dog, and anything else. Just some time to spend reacquainting ourselves and getting back to the basics. Well, we've fulfilled almost all of those requirements with this upcoming vacation.

California, here we come! I can already taste the Ghirardelli ice cream down on Fisherman's Wharf...

Jul 25, 2007

What Happens When There Are No Easy Answers

For the last couple of weeks, I've watched a friend go through Hell, and there has been nothing that I can do to stop it. What do you do when there is nothing that you can say to make someone feel better? How do you cope when there is nothing that you can do to ease that person's mind? How do you comfort yourself when you are helpless to help someone, and you know it, and it is the worst feeling in the world?

The last two weeks have been a roller coaster for me. Just when things seem to get better, the whole world crashes. I have to watch someone who I grew to know as a very strong and dependable person just disintegrate before my eyes. The next day though, things are fine again, and it's like nothing ever happened...yet, I wait for the implosion that I know is inevitable.

I'm sure that most people would say that I have allowed myself to care too much. At the first sign of trouble, I should have walked - no RUN- away as fast I possibly could. I can't do that though. I don't know if this is something that can be considered a flaw, or what. I mean really, how is it that people can just walk away when they see someone else suffering?

Truly, sometimes I just wish that I could. I'm sure it would hurt a lot less.

Jul 14, 2007

A Day Completely Off

Today I took the day off. I know, some of you are probably saying, but you've had a FEW days off from Ceres, what do you need another day off for? However, I don't mean a day off from work. I took a day off from...everything. This morning when I woke up, I knew that I should go to work at a side job that I have picked up, fixing boats for a friend of mine from the waterfront. I knew that my phone would ring some time between 0900 and 1000, and that it would be Goose telling me that I can't make any money sleeping.

When I finally opened my eyes this morning though, I felt like crap. I had a stomach ache, and even though I had slept nine hours the night before, I was still tired. Anyone who knows me well knows I don't sleep past eight most mornings unless I REALLY put an effort into it (or I've worked the night before). When I finally extracted myself from beneath the blankets, it was 0930.

When I had to go digging in Ben's dresser to find a clean T-Shirt to go walk the dog, I knew I needed to take some time for myself and just be. I looked around our bedroom, and then the apartment itself, and realized that it was a wreck. This is abnormal, considering that usually (especially when Ben is not around) I am a self-confessed neat freak.

So, this morning I told Goose that I was under the weather and I wouldn't be joining him today, even though it meant giving up a pretty good chunk of change. Instead, I put a load of laundry in the washing machine, grabbed all of the stuff to clean the bathrooms, and went to town. In a matter of an hour, I was feeling a little bit better (not to mention my bathrooms were sparkling). I tossed in another load of laundry, and went to work on our bedroom. It is amazing the crap that just piles up on the dressers. Half the time, I don't even know how it got there. I even dusted. Where does all of the dust come from? I mean seriously...

By the time my kitchen was clean, I was in a downright great mood. My stomach was still upset, but my house was clean. Although I felt guilty for bailing on Goose (who had already called me, asking me again to come out to work on a boat with him), I knew I had made the right decision.

After vacuuming the floors, I did something that I haven't done since Ben left over a month ago. I sat down by myself and watched TV, not just turning the TV on for background noise or to catch a baseball score. I sat on our couch, kicked out the recliner, and turned on the "boob tube." As luck would have it, "While You Were Sleeping" was on - one of my favorite movies.

I don't know what the rest of my day holds in store. I may go sit down by the pool for a while (providing that the thunderstorms that are in the area break up for a little while. Maybe I'll read a book.. Who knows, maybe I'll read a book down by the pool! I have a puzzle here that I've started to put together twice now, and never finished...maybe I'll do that. Maybe, if I get bored, I WILL call Goose and see if there's any work that he needs me to do this afternoon.

I guess the main point of this entry is this - so often, I try to keep myself busy because I'm afraid of what will happen when I slow down. If I keep moving, I can't think about how much I miss Ben, or how much I miss my family. I don't have to worry about what will happen if I can't find something to do in the next ten minutes. I don't have to think about how I really want to go back to school, or how Ben might be in Bahrain this time next year.

However, while I've been running from all of these things, I've forgotten the simple joy of doing absolutely nothing - and just how wonderful it can be....and if you will excuse me, there is a swimming pool that is just screaming my name.

Jul 4, 2007

Freedom Is Definitely Not Free...In Fact, It Can Be VERY Expensive

Tonight as I sat on the front balcony with my neighbor "Ms. G" and her husband Ed watching the Folly Beach fireworks, I discovered yet another level of pride for the country that I live in, have served for, and would serve for again if given the chance. You see, Ben is in port tonight, celebrating the Fourth in yet another Third World country, just counting the days until he can come back home. When Ms. G asked me where "my man" was for the holiday, I explained to her that he was still at sea, but they had pulled in for a couple of days. Conversation turned, as it always does, to where the ship is moored. When I told Ms. G where they were, I noticed Ed puff up with pride. He informed me that he spent more than a few holidays in this port as well, not to mention the births of two of his three sons. Ed was in the Navy for several years during and following the Second World War.

As Ed started reminiscing about his days at sea, I couldn't help but listen with rapt attention. You see, tonight was the first time that I've ever met Ed. He doesn't come out often because he is getting on in years. However, as he talked of his service in the Navy and the pride he still has for the organization to this day, it seemed that the years faded away. It was as if he was transforming in front of my eyes, and the grumpy old man that was sitting there ten minutes before was gone.

Once again, I thought of my Ben, serving his country on this day, far away from me and his family.

I thought about all of our soldiers over in the Middle East (the ones I know, and the tens of thousands that I don't know), serving faithfully to protect others in a war that has little support from their countrymen. They are putting their lives on the line, protecting the ideals that we hold dear.

I thought of my uncles who served in Vietnam, in a very similar situation as our men that are fighting today.

I thought of my own service to my country, and how proud I am to have completed it.

Most importantly though, I thought of the meaning of this day. For anyone that is not an American, July 4th is just another day throughout the rest of the world. For Americans though, it is a celebration of our independence and our right to rule ourselves; a giant birthday party if you will. It is a celebration of the rights we have as Americans, whether we chose to fully grasp their importance or not. Most importantly though, it is also a celebration of the victories won and the battles lost -both on the battlefields of the world and off - in the fight to preserve our way of life as Americans.

In a previous post, I discussed the importance of birthdays both as a chance to reflect on the events of the year gone by and as a day to reflect on the year to come. Normally politics is not something that I would be comfortable blogging about. After all, aren't we free to all have our own opinions? Isn't that what was fought for back in 1776? However, as I listened to Ed talk and reflected on the sacrifices that are being made all over the world to maintain the freedoms that we as a country take for granted, my thoughts always came back to one simple idea. As Americans we ALL need to do our part, be it serve in the Armed Forces or just voting for what we believe in. After all, the freedom that we enjoy is not free.

Happy Birthday America. I hope that you enjoy many more.

Jul 1, 2007

Another Day on the big blue...

These pictures are for all those people who do not think I smile...Emily??...or that I don't enjoy myself at sea. As you can clearly see, I have posed for the camera..willingly...and I have a smile on my face. No, that is not a muse. The Operations Department on USCGC DALLAS is in good hands, you can see my leadership in action. I'm also setting a fine exampe by showing everyone what a real baseball team is. GO BRAVES!

Fast Times on Folly Beach...

It has been an extremely busy week. I know, it doesn't make up for the lack of postings that we have been experiencing here at "The World According To Emily...", but hopefully, you all will forgive me.

My parents came into town this week to visit me. They like to see where it is that I'm living every time that I move. That is the only way that my mom can be comfortable with me living in a new place. My dad likes to see where I work. That way he is comfortable knowing that I have a job in a place he can visualize.

I was able to cater to both of them this weekend, even though I had to work while they were here.

While they were here, Mom and Dad got to see Morris Island Light, the Folly Beach Fishing Pier, Fort Sumter, and the IMAX theater at the aquarium. We also went to Kiaweh and Seabrook Islands (snooty doesn't even BEGIN to describe it...they wouldn't let us into their towns because we weren't registered residents...we came back to Folly Beach to come hang out on the beach here with normal folk), and they went out to Sullivan's Island. All in all, it was a pretty productive visit.

I miss them already. I can't wait until they come down again.