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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My story is up!

First of all, thank you SO MUCH to all of you that have supported In the Shadow of Greatness, whether that be by buying a copy, watching the videos, reading the links, or just putting up with me :) I hope that if you have not yet bought a copy of the book that you will please consider doing so - its totally nonprofit, I get nothing out of it, but its a great collection of stories and the profits go to some really awesome veteran charities.

As I have mentioned a few times, my story didn't make the hard copy of the book, but will be featured with about 20 others in the e-book version. The publication of the e-book has taken a little longer than expected, but my story and one other are now available on the book's website. It's a little bit different than the version I posted on the blog a while back, but its pretty much there. Please take a read, share the link, and make sure you read Derrick Hunt's story as well.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

This seems to be happening more and more...

This thing keeps happening where I feel old. My baby sister is a senior in high school this year. My 10 year USNA reunion is next weekend. I have grey hairs all over the damn place. Kids I used to babysit as toddlers are out of college. I came to the realization that at my age, my  mother already had 5 kids. You know, the normal things.

It happened again today.

I've connected with a few of my master's professors on LinkedIn, so I looked up my current one. And in his education experience he has like 7 degrees, but the one that made me die a little inside was the Bachelors - 2000-2004. I'm currently working on convincing myself that he just took a couple of years off after high school and waited to start his degree. Maybe he's Mormon and went on a mission, or backpacked through Europe, or something. But I think, in reality, he actually is younger than me. He's good, don't get me wrong. But tell me you wouldn't feel old if you realized that one of your professors was older than you. And I will then proceed to call you a liar.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What a week.

I started this post last week. I just couldn't get it finished. Its a bit disjointed, but those of you that have read my blog for a while know that I tend to do that sometimes...


This week has been an incredibly emotionally draining week, but also an incredibly exciting week. I went into it knowing it would be busy - helping out with a course at work that took me away from my desk, the book launch for In The Shadow of Greatness, a book signing, 9/11, the most reading and writing intensive course I've had in my entire masters program... But I had no idea.

Monday started out fine. Typical Monday morning, nothing special about it. I knew I was a little bit behind in my reading, but I had 4 days to get the book read that I needed to read and get the paper written that I needed to write. No problem. I stayed up a little too late watching the finale of Bachelor Pad (because who doesn't like a good train wreck?), but felt fine about the week to come.

Then Tuesday hit. The last time 9/11 was on a Tuesday was in 2001. I remember that morning being so beautiful, just a perfect, crisp, clear fall morning. Leaving for work on Tuesday morning, all I could think was wow, it was just like today. I put up a short post on Tuesday afternoon about how much I hate that day. I was happy to not be at my desk, because all of the TV stations were just replaying their broadcasts from 2001. No thank you. I'll stick to escorting and facilitating, thanks, and do my reading while I'm sitting there.

Well, it turns out that the absolute last think I wanted to read on 9/11 was a book about the guy believed to have been the brains behind 9/11. So that didn't so much happen. I think I got about 5 pages read.

I left the Pentagon to head up to the Navy Memorial for the book launch, it was great to reconnect with some classmates and see some people I hadn't seen in a long time. But it was also FAR more emotional than I had anticipated. It started with the wreath laying ceremony outside, which was pretty short, and not too bad. Then we went inside the memorial for a presentation about the USS New York, where we were treated to a slideshow of pictures from a Tiger Cruise the ship had taken from Norfolk to New York last September. On board, they had NYC firefighters and police, as well as several family members of victims. They also showed a video of several of the shipbuilders visiting the 9/11 museum with family members as they built a ship made using 70 tons of steel from the World Trade Center towers. That started the emotion - while the video was a bit of an advertisement for the shipyard, it was very well done. And the photographs were amazing, and you can see them on the Navy Memorial's website.

The book launch part of the evening went wonderfully, with great words spoken by my classmates and a fantastic answer to a less than ideal question by our illustrious class president. Once the link is up on CSPAN, I'll post it and you can guess which one I'm talking about. I knew that Matt Freeman's mother would be speaking, but I had no idea how hard her words would hit me. I lost it. It was actually kind of embarassing, but luckily my dad was there next to me to hold my hand, and a super nice lady from the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society was on the other side and gave me kleenex. Which I almost needed again at the end of the talk, when my dad prefaced his question with, as a member of the last all-male USNA class, how proud he was of me and the other women that have gone through the Academy. The talk was great, and once again I'm super proud of my classmates.

After the book talk, I had a chance to catch up with classmates, mingle a bit, and speak to both the photographer, C.R. Richardson, and Mrs. Freeman. The photographer, when she spoke, basically said that she didn't have much to add and that she had been honored to get to take the photographs, and she hoped that we all could feel the emotion that she felt as she took the photographs. I made sure to go up to her and tell her that she needn't sell herself short. She may not think she has much to add, but her art is her voice, and I absolutely felt it. I think sometimes people who have little to no connection to the military come into a situation like that and are intimidated, think that well these people are in the military, and I just take pictures. But in reality, those people contribute just as much. Those pictures, or those paintings, or those songs, or whatever they are, those things were, and still are, a lifeline, for me at least. They express feelings and emotions in a way that oftentimes I felt as though I was discouraged from expressing. They provide an outlet, a relief. I couldn't then, and can't even now, find the words to express what I wanted to say to her - and I'm sure the wine that night didn't help either. But I felt it was important to at least try.

Speaking to Mrs. Freeman... oh man. I told her a little bit about how I felt at Matt's funeral, how I had felt as though I had to hold it in there, because if the people that had been closest to him could hold it in, what gave me the right? I almost lost it again telling her that. She is an amazing woman, so strong, and I felt bad that she was the one comforting me.

Even though I was in bed by about 1030 that night and slept pretty well, I was definitely emotionally drained an I was still exhausted when I woke up on Wednesday. It took two 9 hour sleep nights this weekend to finally recover. And I'm happy to report that I got all of my schoolwork in on time, but my social life definitely suffered - I think Matt got a little bored with me :) 

The book is doing wonderfully so far, which is super exciting. The first print sold out on Amazon, and the Chief of Naval Operations added the book to his 2012 reading list. The additional stories are running a little bit behind, but that's OK - they'll be out soon. All of them will be available in the Kindle version of the book, and mine, along with one other, will actually be featured on the website. Its pretty exciting to be a part of this project - I just wish I had done more. And, like I said, its been really awesome to reconnect with some of my classmates from USNA. We're totally different people than we were 10 years ago when we graduated. Well, most of us are anyway. I'm actually looking forward to the reunion in a couple of weeks more than I was, because all of this has reminded me that even the people that I wasn't too fond of while we were at school, or even at the 5 year reunion, have changed and grown up just as I have.

I think the week of 9/11 will always be hard for our generation. We went through a lot that day, and in the days and years since. I think for me it will always feel like yesterday, but so long ago. I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to handle watching the footage from that day, or the movies about it. I haven't even been able to go to the memorial here at the Pentagon yet, but I think that I might be just about ready to do that - just not today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I hate this day.

9/11 will never be easy. The constant replaying of footage. The movies. The songs. The memorials. People constantly trying to get you to remember their way. I'd like to remember my way, please. Because this day is personal.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Patriot Week and In The Shadow of Greatness

This week marks the official launch of my Naval Academy Class's Book, In The Shadow of Greatness. I've posted about it several times, and hopefully some of you reading this have had a chance to check it out. We're super excited about the book and everything that is happening with it. We've had some great feedback so far.

In light of the anniversary of 9/11, we're working an effort we're calling Patriot Week - basically this week is an opportunity to reflect on the day our homeland was attacked, take pride in the servicemen and women who defend our way of life, and support veteran charities. One way to do this is to buy a copy of our book. If you go to the book's website you'll find an awesome video about the book and the efforts of Patriot Week (also at the end of this post), information about each of the charities that the book will support, and more information about how to buy it. If you actually buy from one of the charity information pages, all of the proceeds will go to that charity. Otherwise, the proceeds will be split among the charities.

Tom Brokaw has called the book "...a must read for all Americans." An interview with two of the editors is on the Time Magazine website. There are feature stories this week in several newspapers (here's one from the Miami Herald), and multiple radio and TV outlets will be talking about it as well.

Please consider buying a copy of the book - hard copy or E-book. And while all of the charities are awesome, consider supporting the Matthew Freeman project. Again, I've written many times about Matt, and this charity was created by his parents after he died.

Also, my story will be featured in the "additional stories" section of the website, along with about 35 others. They should be up at the end of the week.

Thank you for your support!!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Hey look, I can cook!

Going paleo has lighted some sort of a cooking fire in me. I guess out of a desire to really stick to it, I've been cooking a lot more. Now, I'm not a great cook, but I can follow a recipe all day long. Here are some of the best ones I've followed so far:

Moist Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Spicy Pineapple Chili

Sugar Detox Pumpkin Mug Cake

Apple Shallot Pork Chops (from Everyday Paleo) and Cauliflower Mash (from Paleo Comfort Foods)

Puerto Rican Beef over Mashed Sweet Potatoes (from Everyday Paleo)

Coconut Shrimp (from Everyday Paleo)

Sweet Potato and Chorizo Hash (modified from Everyday Paleo)

Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs (although we did them in a skillet, not on the grill), Curry Roasted Cauliflower (from Everyday Paleo), and steamed broccoli
I also tried out the concept of using spaghetti squash instead of pasta. When I first cut into it, I was a little unsure - it basically looks like the inside of a pumpkin, gooey and thready and lots of seeds, and the flesh looks very much like any other squash you might come across. But I went with it, cooked it in the pressure cooker, and when it was done, this is what it looked like - just like angel hair pasta! Its a little sweeter, but works perfectly as a vessel for a nice hearty meat sauce, as well as in this recipe, which I didn't take pictures of.
My new favorite thing - spaghetti squash!
Its been pretty fun, and I've been pretty proud of my accomplishments so far. Next up, I have a couple of chicken recipes and a couple of beef stews that I want to try, although I'm trying to wait until it cools off a little for those. The Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook also has a recipe for Tom Ka Gai soup, which is one of Matt's favorite things, that I'm excited to try to see if I can live up to the Thai restaurants :)  And I'm not sick of cooking yet, but I am sick of doing all the dishes!!