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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sometimes the strangest things will help you let go

I started watching Army Wives right after I got out of the Navy, I think at the beginning of Season 2.  I wasn't sure about it at first, but the more I watched and realized that it was just about the ONLY military-oriented show on TV that actually did its homework and got the details right, the more I found myself getting into it. I've been kinda hooked, and gotten somewhat attached to the characters on the show.

SPOILER ALERT: If you're a fan of the show, and haven't watched last night's episode yet, stop now.

They've pretty much dealt with every possible situation that a miltiary spouse, family member, or friend could deal with in real life over the years on this show. They've had relationship troubles, kid troubles, transfers, battle injuries, dealing with the aftermath of losing a colleague in action. But up until now, while they'd had some legitimate scares, none of the main families had ever had to deal with a KIA. That is, until last night's episode, when the son of Catherine Bell's character was killed in Afghanistan.

I try to keep bad words off my blog, even though I don't do well with keeping them out of my speech, but last night, while I was watching this show, I LOST MY SHIT. I mean, the show was sad, and I can understand tearing up. Which is all I did at first - I mean, they had the official notification crew show up to tell Denise that her son had died during his fiancee's bridal shower. SERIOUSLY? If that doesnt make you cry then you have a cold, hard lump of coal where a heart should be.  But it wasn't until later in the show, I think the scene where Emmalyn spoke at his funeral, that I really lost it and started sobbing uncontrollably. 

At first I couldn't figure out why I was crying so hard at all of this. But then it clicked. A little over a year and a half ago, in August 2009, a friend and Naval Academy classmate and company mate, Capt Matt Freeman, USMC, was killed in action in Afghanistan. While we weren't super close, we had always gotten along well in school, and we had kept with each other's lives through the years through myspace and later facebook. When I got the news that he had been killed and that his funeral would be in his hometown near Savannah, I knew I had to go. Its only about a 4 hour drive from Atlanta, and I felt like there was no other option. Up until that point, my class had been very lucky. While we'd lost several classmates since graduation, none had been combat deaths. This was a new experience for all of us.

Nine members of 12th company class of 2002 made it to funeral. Most of those eight others had been much closer to Matt than I was.  Two in particular were the ones that had always tried to be "tough guys" at the Academy, as much as one can exist there. They did a pretty good job holding it together, but I saw them both cry the day of Matt's funeral. I don't really know how to explain it, but I think maybe I felt like I didn't have the right to just let it out if they weren't. No matter that women are much more likely than men to let it go in public. But I felt like I couldn't.  And while I cried a couple of times, I don't think I ever really cried for the loss of my friend.

I realized near the end of last nght's episode of Army Wives that I wasn't crying for the fictional Specialist Jeremy Sherwood, I was crying for Matt Freeman.  I was letting out the tears that I'd been afraid to let out that day in August 2009, that I felt I had no right to let out. I wasn't crying for the fictional fiancee, I was crying for the real Theresa Hess Freeman, who had married her husband just a few days before he left for Afghanistan.  I was crying for Matt's parents, for his friends, for his neighbors, and, finally, crying for myself.

So thank you, Army Wives. Thank you for giving me the chance to finally cry for my friend, and to finally let go of the grief I had kept welled up inside of me that day. And thank you for reminding those who watched the show that may not always remember that we ARE in two wars right now, for reminding them that our Soliders, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are still over there, fighting for freedom, and paying the ultimate sacrifice.  I don't think I have to tell anyone here that war sucks.

On a final note, one of the things that struck Matt during his short time in Afghanistan was the fact that kids wanted pens and pencils and school supplies more than anything else, more even than food. They were starving for education.  He asked his mom, a teacher, to send some supplies, and two days later he was killed. His mom started the Freeman Project soon after, not because of his death, but because of his life.  More information can be found on the Project's website.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Please pardon my progress...

I'm experimenting with some new looks for the blog. I really want to kick it up a notch, so over the next few weeks I'm going to be playing with the look and feel a little bit. It'll settle out soon enough, I promise...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Everyone should have a cause, here's a little bit about mine

So, I had this great post written, and I just accidentally deleted the whole thing. I HATE when that happens!! So here's an attempt to recreate the greatness....

First and foremost, I want to welcome those of you that are new followers and readers of my blog. Please say hello and let me know you're reading!! I know I'm not always the best blogger ever, but I think its really cool that anyone, especially people I don't really know, are even remotely interested in anything I have to say.

However, the real reason for this post is to tell you about a cause that has been extremely important to my family for the last 16 years. In early 1995, at the ripe old age of 3, my little sister Emily was diagnosed was Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  "Wait," you might be thinking, "arthritis? I thought that was for old people!" Believe me, you're not the only one who thinks so. But according to the Juvenile Arthritis Alliance, nearly 300,000 children in America live with JA.  In 1998, my family (minus me - damn that Plebe Summer) attended their first Arthritis Foundation event, a conference specifically for families dealing with JA.  It changed all of their lives, especially Emily - this was the first time she had ever met other kids like her other than the occasional passing in the doctor's office. Since that time, my whole family has been involved in the Foundation and its events.  For the past 8 or so years, the Arthritis Walk has been a big part of that.

Now, I'm not here just to ask for money. Don't get me wrong - if you want to donate, please click here and your money will absolutely go to an amazing cause. But what would make me just as happy, or even happier, would be if you would click on one of these links to learn more about JA and see if there's a way that you can help:
Find a walk near you
Be an advocate for health legislation and policy
Learn about Arthritis Foundation events
Volunteer at your local AF office
Other ways to donate

Again, it means the world to me that people are reading my little blog. Hopefully I can use it for a good cause!

Oh, and by the way, Emily is doing AWESOME. She was lucky in that she had an amazing doctor from the start and her body responded well to medications. She's had some rough times, but for the most part she's your normal college freshman. She's studying nursing, hoping to help kids like her some day. Pretty cool, I think!  She's an amazing young woman who's likely been an inspiration to more people than she'll ever know, and I think will continue to be. Here are a couple of pictures from last year's Walk - Emily's the one with the cool yellow glasses, and the other one is our equally awesome youngest sister, who's been as much of a support system to Emily over the years as anyone else.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I really need to .... what? Squirrel!

I'm bored with my car.  There, I said it.

Don't get me wrong - Jethro is a great car. He's been good to me, he's held up well even after having to get most of his passenger side replaced over the years. He drives wonderfully, and gets good gas mileage, and has room in the back seat for two adults to sit comfortably. But I've also had him for almost 5 years, the longest I've ever kept a car, and I've got the itch.  Thing is, I've only got 3 payments left, and I really need to wait at least another year to use the car payment money to pay down some credit cards and save up for a down payment on whatever I want to do next and build a little more savings back up. But I'm constantly looking at other cars, and wanting something newer and shinier and with some more features. Lately, it seems to be three in particular. And I'm starting to have a really hard time not looking.

The ones I'm looking at right now:

Honda CRV

Ford Edge

Nissan Rogue

What do you think?

Monday, March 21, 2011

I got a new toy

My mom got one of those single serve coffee pots for Christmas. Its super fancy, holds a ton of water, perfect for her. Ever since I saw it, I wanted one. I hate having to wait for coffee to brew, and wasting coffee, and having to clean the pot and the bits... basically, I hate regular coffee pots. This one, though, is easy - no mess, just the occasional cleaning out. All the mess stays in the little cups.

I couldn't bring myself to get the same big fancy one she got, but I did get myself a mini version of it today. (Hooray for Bed Bath and Beyond coupons never expiring!)  The biggest difference, other than the obvious size, is that while hers holds a reservoir of water, mine has to be filled every time you use it. I also got a neat little drawer that it can sit on and can hold 36 cups - a plus, since counter space is at a premium in my kitchen.

I bought a box of Twinings Earl Grey tea (one of my absolute faves) and it came with a 12 cup sampler, which included just one decaf. Can't wait to try it out after dinner!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Let's call it a moment of clarity

You never really know when something you're doing might be affecting someone else.

I started this blog in 2005 just for fun. It was a great outlet for me, a diary of sorts, but one that others could read too. I've gone on and off with it over the years, and lately I've been trying to do a little more with it. But I've never really thought much about it.

But yesterday, my friend Lee blogged about her day, and revealed that my blog was part of the reason why she'd started blogging regularly. I was FLOORED. I mean, she does SO MUCH with her blog, and she's an amazing writer, leaps and bounds better than me. How in the world could I have anything to do with that?

I still don't know the answer, but it made me feel good to know that perhaps I've had a positive effect on someone else's life.  It is absolutely not what I ever set out to do, but I'm glad. So Lee, thanks for sharing that with me. It really made my day, and reminding me that we may not always know how our actions are affecting others, even in positive ways.

On a similar but entirely different note, this week in Tampa has confirmed the fact that I really do miss living  in a warm climate near the water. Perhaps the job search will start soon...

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I love a good story

Some of you may know that I'm a This American Life junkie.  I get the podcasts every week (although iTunes hasn't been updating them right lately, so I've been missing weeks... grrr.) and I'm not gonna lie, I kinda look forward to some car time on the days when I have some fresh podcasts to listen to. It makes my day.

For those you that are not familiar with This American Life, its an hour-long weekly radio broadcast put on by a public radio station in Chicago and broadcast on public radio nation-wide.  Every week, they pick a topic and tell stories about that topic - usually 3 or 4 "acts" to fill the hour.

The one I listened to yesterday was called "Slow to React," and one of the stories was just so sweet.  It was about a man who was always a good kid, always quiet, never a partier, and the last person anyone in his family would expect to find love and settle down. As a young man stationed in Korea, though, he had met a woman and fallen in love. When he wrote home to his mother that he was in love and wanted to bring this woman back with him, his mother suggested against it, and being a good Irishman, he listened to his mother. 

He lost touch with the woman, and some years later realized he'd made the mistake of his life. He spent the next several years trying to track this woman down - calling people, taking out ads in Korean newspapers, doing anything he could think of until he finally found her. He wrote her a letter asking to meet, and it took another year for her to agree.

At their first meeting, he asked her to marry him, she said no (she'd apparently built quite a life for herself in Korea), but they kept meeting a couple of times a year, having a great time together.  Every trip ended the same way - he asked her to marry him, and she said no. Seven years later, she got really sick, and he called her every day, sometimes even twice a day, while she was sick. It was then that she realized that she needed to marry this guy. Her doctors had told her that she shouldn't work anymore (she was some sort of trainer and owned several gyms), and she realized how much he truly loved her.

So soon after she was cleared medically, she came to the US, and 2 days later they got married. Now mind you, the man had not told his family ANY of this while it was going on, so the first they heard was when he announced that she was coming to the US and they were getting married. So for most of them, the first time they met her was at the wedding. But the overwhelming opinion was that they were perfect together. The mother said that if she'd known then what she knows now, she never would have told him not to bring her back to the States back then.

After 20 years, this couple, against all odds, got married and are living happily together. Doesn't that just give you hope? It sounds like a movie plot - a feel good, romantic comedy, perfect for a girls night in with popcorn and wine kind of movie plot. Sigh...

Oh, and you can listen to the story on This American Life's website by clicking here - you can pay $0.99 for the download or stream it for free.