Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Viva Las Vegas

Whoosh. I find that word is apt for many moments in my life.
Well, we did it. Out of the Army and out of Washington, at long last. Essentially, we hit every obstacle available to man in our day by day struggle to get away, from lost paperwork to snow days shutting down Fort Lewis to our power getting shut off a day early (since the 2nd of December was our last day in our apartment, obviously the power company took that to mean that we would be GONE from the apartment by the 2nd, so the power was out by the night of the 30th, for some reason. Nice.) to having issues with our Uhaul and our pickup truck, to additional snow storms that halted our progress in Baker City, Oregon. However, once we were on the road, we were ON THE ROAD. And I tell you what, there is nothing in Idaho or northern Nevada worth mentioning.

The closest we came to something interesting was a tiny dusty roadhouse about 150 miles outside of Las Vegas that seriously looked like something out of a movie. Two old guys, a gas pump that didn't work, a few tumbleweeds, a blind dog, and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" playing on a tiny TV above a ranch-style bar.
But 150 miles outside of Las Vegas... hours after sunset... a slight glow begins to gild the blackened clouds... and 20 miles outside of Las Vegas, suddenly the city appears before your eyes like a great cascade of melted gold.

I've never been an "ooooh Vegas must be amazing and fairyland and its my dreeeam to go there!" type person. Frankly, both Andrew and I were kinda dubious about the whole "Sin City" connotation. But now, we're actually here, and our sentiments are 100% changed. (Credit to Caitlin Foreman and Cael Foreman for the following happy picture:)

I love it here. The thing is, the "Vegas" ideal is solely reflected in the Las Vegas Strip, the 1/2 mile where all the big shiny, shiny casinos live. But outside of that, this big city is just a big city, albeit a shiny one. Sure, occasional gas stations have 40-foot-high flourescent cowboys on their roofs, but besides that, there's nothing Vegasy about it. See that cowboy? He's about a mile from our apartment and we drive by him every day :)

Our apartment here is over twice the size of and twice as nice as our Washington apartment, and it costs the same amount, to the dollar. I've already applied for a few jobs, and Andrew's looking into schools (EMT or ER nursing of some sort).
Life is pretty awesome. Maybe things will calm down enough for me to actually finally get some marriage announcements printed up and get my name changed and all that!
More later. I intend to be a better blogger from now on!

But here we are, and the world is ahead of us now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Last night, I returned to North Carolina, after nearly 5 days in Seattle. I had nothing more than my purse, an extra teeshirt and my cellphone charger, because that's all I took with me when I got on a plane at 4:45pm on Tuesday the 13th.

That morning, I had gone to work with Dad and Ben, to help paint a cabin at Camp Highlander. Cue sweat and paint and cobwebs and working next door to a cabin full of teenage male campers whose conversations consisted of little more than rapid-fire successions of "No, you're gay!" "No, YOU'RE gay!"-- and when we stopped around noon for lunch, I checked my voicemail, hoping rather vainly for a message from Andrew (though I knew he wouldn't nearly be home yet), because he had flown out of Kyrgyzstan 20 hours before. I knew there were surely stops to be made in his journey, as usually he has a day or so in Germany before he would even start towards America.
I had a voicemail, but it was not from Andrew. It was from a private from the 1-17, informing me that Andrew would land at 1 and the homecoming ceremony would be at 3.
I immediately started hyperventilating, and all through lunch I tried to figure out some earthly way that I could get to Washington in time. All in vain. I had less than 6 hours. There was no way. So, I stopped hyperventilating and decided to be very sad instead.But once the indomitable men and I returned to the job site, Pvt. Wilkinson called again, to make sure I had gotten the message. Apparently, they are very efficient and attentive in the army. SNORT.
But I digress--the good private told me that the impending arrival was in fact to be at 1 in the morning, rather than in the afternoon. With this heartening knowledge, I thanked him, promised him that I would abuse his phone number if I needed more information or help, and hung up with renewed excitement in my lungs.
But that was not the end of it. Moments after I swore to my good brother that as long as the plane ticket were less than a thousand dollars, I would find a way to make it to Washington in time, Pvt. Wilkinson called yet again. The men were arriving sooner than expected. The ceremony was to be at 11pm, instead of 3am.

I rushed to my laptop, fought tooth and nail for a flight--not on time, not on time, can't get to the airport that fast, too expensive, too expensive--aha, $350 out of Asheville, arriving at Seatac airport at 9:41pm, oh but the airline is evil, oh but I'm scary too--and I was on my way. I took the quickest shower of my life, threw on the first teeshirt and jeans I could find, and rushed out of the house with wet hair, no makeup, and only a hundred dollars in cash in my pocket.

But I made it. I ran through Seatac, desperate to find a cab. "How far is it to Fort Lewis?" I asked a cabbie at ten minutes after 10pm.
"Fort Lewis?"
"Yes, how far?"
"That's a 70 or 80 dollar cab ride."
"Very nice. How long will it take to get there?"
"Uh, well, 20 or 30 minutes?"
"Alllllrighty then."
Nearly 40 minutes and over 90 dollars later, we made it to the visitor's center. I demanded that the unbusiness-like cabbie wait a moment, and I leapt from the car and up to the table with the wee little sign said I must sign in and get my pass. The soldier there asked me incredulously, "You took a cab from Seatac?" before I even handed him my ID, and I begged my ignorance of the area as an excuse, and when a couple near me said to the soldier that they came on post all the time and had a regular pass but needed to check in, and then made small conversation with me, I shrewdly eyed them, and then even more shrewdly eyed their SUV, and then asked in a breathless voice, "Can I ride with you, so I can release this bloody cab?"
They agreed, pleasantly, eager to help this excited young lady. I tossed my money at the cabbie, even though he looked at me (once again) like I was a nutter, and dismissed him.

10:55pm. We drive.
"Are we near the gym yet?" I asked Josh, the pleasant though rather portly man.
"It's right there," he replied, pleasantly, indicating the gym-shaped building on our left that was swarming with soldiers in ACUs and berets as well as a few jolly and meandering civilians, "We just have to find a place to park."
Oh. Private Wilkinson had advised me hours before that I should arrive at least 45 minutes early, for parking would be disastrous.
"Heh, well, if you can forgive my rudeness, I think I'll just make a run for it right now," I said, gathering my wits and my purse.
The pleasant couple laughed and said goodbye, and I was away. Across a narrow street, onto the sidewalk, into the chilly starlit air and sounds of excited activity. People were spilling out of the doors of the gym, overflowing into a small crowd of soldiers who gathered to peer into the jungles of people. The soldiers parted as I approached, unconsciously forming equal rows on either side of my path, and, much like a nutter, I giggled and trotted through with a smiling "ooh, fancy!"

I stepped through the doors at 11pm precisely. The crowd inside was ecstatic. Wives and little children, sisters, brothers, parents, husbands--noisy with homemade signs waving and anxious grins bursting out left and right. Banners proclaiming the names of the returning regiments and companies spanned the back walls, and a brass band played reverberating and patriotic songs in the front corner. Chairs and bleachers were full, people were crammed against each other, up against walls, up against the band, but nobody could bear to stand still.
And then there was the curtain. The great blue curtain that shielded an entire half of the gym away from prying eyes, the curtain behind which our men would gather in formation, the horrible, heavy, unkind curtain which was the sole enemy left in anyone's mind.

My hands are shaking even now to remember it. The band played song after song, and in every interlude, the whole assembly held its breath--is it time? is it time? is it time? But no... song after song. It felt like an hour, though perhaps it was 15 minutes, when finally a soldier came forward to a podium and said something. I'm not sure what. But was it time? Not quite yet. First, some country singer in the corner had to perform a song about men coming home from battle--they really think they need to remind us that this moment is significant and emotional????---
But at the crescendo of the song, that curtain began to lift, and we all started screaming and weeping already. Inch, inch, inch, and there were the boots of several hundred men, in perfect formation. Inch, inch, inch, knees, bodies, shoulders--
---Faces---and there he was, in the second row, a head taller than the man in front of him, and I was less than five yards away from him, standing in the front of the crowds, my arms clenched around me.

But we aren't to have our men yet. First they go at ease, and I caught my breath at the precision and discipline of every man there, who are just as desperate to rejoin their families, but who aren't to have us yet either. I'm sure a few of those stoic men are making the most secret of glances towards the crowd, searching out their beloveds.

But my soldier has no idea that I even know that he's home. As far as he knows, I'm still waiting for him to get back, get settled, get a cellphone, and call me. As far as he knows, even if I know that he was landing today, there was no way I'd know when the ceremony was. As far as he knows, even if I did know when the ceremony was, there was no way I could be there. As far as he knows, no one is at this ceremony to welcome him. As Andrew stands in formation, his mind flickers back and forth between two tired thoughts--I wish Chelsea could be here--and--this is so dumb. I don't even need to be here for this.
Still in formation, he glances to the side for a moment, and I think he sees me, but in fact, that is him trying not to roll his eyes. At last, the sergeant releases them, and Andrew turns with a bit of a sigh to leave the gym, because of course there is no one there for him. His fiance is in North Carolina, and his brother is all the way back in Afghanistan.
But then a blond woman in a royal blue tee shirt and jeans pops up a few yards in front of him, and though his mind is elsewhere, there is a slight registering of she's cute she looks like Chelsea oh well... in his head, and he keeps his path.
"Andrew," says the girl, and for a solid three seconds, he stares straight at her, almost unrecognizing, because of course Chelsea isn't here--
but then she is here and there's no way in hell that this is real---
but here she is and here his hands are touching her face---
and here he's kissing her and the rest of the raucous rejoicing crowd has disappeared because--- she's here, she's here, she's here, it's impossible but she's here---
and he's home.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I got myself a journalist friend

Hey peeps, read this new article from The News Tribune of Seattle WA---Chelsea got herself quoted about the return of the Stryker Brigades :)

"The impact of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord troops coming back"

Enjoy :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Happy Birthday!!!!!

Happy birthday to my sweetheart :) Andrew is 23 years old today, and just 12 days til he comes home! yay! Andrew and our dear friend Jeremy (droll and braw husband of the lovely Caitlin)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To the best

Happy Father's Day, Granddaddy! I miss you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


You know, the reason I don't write here often is simple. I pull up Blogger, I write a few sentences about how overwhelmed I am by everything, and then, because I AM so overwhelmed, I'm just too exhausted to dive into it all.
It's pretty pitiable, if I do say so myself. Poor me, eh? Yeahh.

The situation with Andrew and me, well, it frankly still sucks right now. I've not spoken to him in a week, and haven't had a proper conversation in two weeks, and haven't had a pleasant conversation in almost 3 weeks. We're not arguing, we're just... really struggling. I'm struggling to muster any strength at all, he's struggling to muster any good feeling at all. The last time I got an email from him, he remarked with a sigh that it seemed like someone up in the government genuinely wanted all of the 1-17 men to die. It just gets harder and busier and more dangerous for them. You'd think it would be getting easier. Most of them are coming home in a week and a half, and yet, it seems like the military is squeezing every last drop of effort and life and use out of them before they leave.

I've gotta set that aside for now. It's too exhausting even to think on.
On another note, today marks the one-year anniversary of my beloved granddaddy's homecoming. I miss him alot. He was the best man I knew. And, in the same few weeks leading up to his heavenbound journey, I was falling in love with the other best man I'd ever know--my love Andrew. I only wish Granddaddy could have met Andrew. But at least, I did have the chance to tell him about my new romance, so Granddaddy knew that I had found the other half of my heart, just like he had, over six decades earlier.

In memoriam, here is the first bit of my senior thesis, which was inspired directly by Granddaddy's wonderful stories. Just substitute "Warren" and "Betty June" for Henry and Annie May, and you've almost got a biography instead of a piece of fiction.
Love you, Granddaddy.

Henry had two weeks of shore leave and a girl at home to propose to. When Hughes, Greene, and Berger told him they had scrounged up a Ford and did he want to drive across country with them, all he could see was her in that green dress standing on her mother’s porch. He stepped on land, it was early June, and her name was Annie May. Annie May Mills. There had never been such a beautiful name on such a beautiful girl. Fourteen months on the destroyer, and his mind was just as drenched with her—the high lashes, the typists’ fingers, the well-made linen dresses, the gardenia cologne. They had written letters, and though sometimes his letters were sentimental, she always wrote so calmly. So cool, so clever, so old-family South, just what he liked about her. She wrote about her sisters, and about her painting, and her job, and he could tell that she always wrote exactly what she meant. He wrote about seeing the Polynesian islands and all the pungent sweat-and-flowers smells he’d never forget, when he wanted to write about how he remembered the scent of her hair. He wrote about his Catholic bunkmate, when he was really thinking about the times she’d let him escort her to the Presbyterian Church. He wrote about hard-as-shoe-leather Navy biscuits, when he was yearning to recall the light-as-a-cloud meringue pie she made for Easter last year. He wasn’t a shy fellow, but something about her and the thought of how she’d read his letters knocked him to pieces.

When he wrote her about his two weeks in June, he told her he loved her, terrifically, and that she’d better watch out or he might ask her to marry him. He had shoved that letter directly into the hands of the petty officer and ran off again before he could change his mind, and then he had cold sweats for the rest of the morning. He drank a lemonade, paced on about on deck, and told Hughes to physically restrain him if he attempted to go steal it back. They both got shouted at for brawling, but back in their quarters that night, Henry shook his Hughes’ hand and called him a good friend.

The Washington port was thick with rain, but a little damp didn’t bother the four young seamen. It was not yet dawn. They laughed and pushed as they climbed over each other into the faded ‘36 Fordor Sedan, as the little wiper worked madly over a cracked windshield. Greene ridiculed the prickly holes in the upholstery and the coughing engine, but Berger thumped him in the head and asked if he thought he could have done any better. He kicked on the low beams, and waited with a temper as the doors were shut the door.
“I’ll leave you all here to go moldy,” he growled as the car nosed its way out of town, but when Henry offered him two dollars for gasoline, he shut up quick.

Henry didn’t see or hear much of the first day of the drive. He stared out the window at the gray landscape, cut with distant black forests, and thought about Annie, and how well she’d look on a Scottish moor or by an Irish garden. When he squinted, he could almost see flashes of red hair among the trees. Oh, perhaps he just thought she was perfect because he loved her, and perhaps every man would claim such things, but Annie truly was the loveliest creature he’d ever seen. That red hair, how it haunted all of his smiles and all his frowns. Most girls needed some treatment from the beauty parlor to get what Annie had naturally. Pristine dark red curls, set just so, like a movie actress. When she said yes, and he got out of the Navy, one day he’d watch her wake up and brush those curls, and do the tricks ladies do to make themselves so pretty every morning.

September 5th, 2007. Mimi and Granddaddy, with my wee sister Anna.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

We continue...

I tell you what, the army isn't nice.
I don't even know where to start. Suffice to say, for now, that my heart is breaking for Andrew. He was so excited to come home. He was so excited...and now, I don't think I've ever seen a man so disappointed. He thought he was almost done, he thought he was almost safe, he thought he had gone on his final mission last week. They changed his return date on him again... and most of his men are coming home June 20th. Not him. He gets to stay for another 3 weeks with his sergeant to wrap things up.Now, I think he's equal parts angry and scared. He said today... lots of his men are heading back to the Forward Operations Base, and he remains, being sent out to do all this special forces-type stuff that he never trained for. He's already feeling so alone, and he's gonna be in more danger than before.
He was so excited to come home. He was so excited. I hate what that place does to him--that horrible, dry, dirty, evil place. It destroys all hope, all happiness. I hate it. I hate what it does to him.All I can do is keep praying, and hope that he lets me in enough to help him.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Good sir!

I've exhausted much of my strugglings, which may sound nice, but still indeed means that I am left exhausted. Life has many trials and vexations. But there are reasons that we as men are not islands.

As my beloved said to me today,
"Chelsea, you're imagining this huuuuuuge beautiful portrait, and you want it to be so, but you haven't even lifted your brush yet... Just slow down and take your time--you have too many people that love you and will happily take care of you for you to be so stressed.
People like... me :)
Everything will be fine. I promise. In less than 2 1/2 months, you're gonna be living with ME, and you're gonna look back on all this--on this conversation--and say to yourself ''ya know... I really didn't need to be that stressed, cuz there was no reason to think things wouldn't work out'' and you're gonna turn around and see me standing there, and I'm gonna smile at you and I'll probably ask you ''What is it, sweetie?''
and you're gonna say ''...Nothing. Everything is perfect.'' :)"

Of course, I'm still a wee stressed. More than a wee. But less than before. I never intended this blog to end up as a constant platform for my affection for my fella, but sometimes I can't help it. When he came into my life, he brought nothing but light.
I guess, he's the light at the end of the tunnel :)

Oh and P.S.--it looks like (possibly, tentatively, Army-willingly), the wedding's gonna be the weekend of July 16th or 23rd :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

All of this

I'm so over all of this. What people say, and the motives and thoughts on which they actually base their actions and decisions are very different things.
I'm tired of everyone telling me "it's your wedding! Do it your way!" and yet, when it comes down to it, it's not really my wedding. This wedding apparently belongs to everyone else. I have to answer question after question, I have to fend off ideas and offers for help, and point by point, the list of requirements lengthens.
Maybe I sound really bitter, or ungrateful, or something. Yes, my friends and family got me to where I am--why can't they participate? Why can't this be a "celebration for all of us together"?
Because I hate being the center of attention. I hate it when "everything is about me." And every time some little aspect of this wedding is added, suggested, required, or just there because it would "mean alot" to someone, I lose interest in the whole thing.

I've been talking constantly about meaning, worth, and value, and it seems like no one has picked up on what I actually mean. How Andrew and I have learned, through alot of pain, what matters in this world, what actions and arguments are worth it or not, what time is valued or wasted.
Here's the simple thing-- every thing has value, but not everything matters. Does that make any sense? Flowers and family and beautiful dresses and receptions and being the center of attention and letting people give me presents and hug me alot all have value. They're good things. I love my family. I love my friends.
But every day that goes by in which I have to watch Andrew suffer makes me care even less about all this nonsense. Every conversation I have with him in which, at some point, I remember, "oh yeah- he can't hear as well as he used to anymore," makes me care less. Every time I see this damn war rip him open and drag to the surface pain from twenty years ago, I care even less. Every time I look at photos of him from before he deployed, and compare them to photos we took in February, I realize that my beautiful, carefree young boyfriend has aged fifteen years and so much of the light has left his eyes-- and I DON'T CARE about anything else.
I need him to come home, and I need to be his wife, because sometimes that's the only thing keeping either of us alive. God has shown me, at every turn, that His path for us is very clear-cut, simple, and largely untouched by human ideas, and I don't want to lose sight of that.
Don't make me think about bridal showers and bachelorette parties. I'm trying not to cry every night.
Don't talk to me about programs and invitations. I'm praying that I get even a sentence-long email today.
Don't ask me when the wedding's gonna be. He's out on mission right now and he doesn't even know when he'll get to sleep again.

The fact is, anybody can ask any question they want about my supposed wedding. I don't have any answers. I've NEVER had any answers. I naively thought "once people know he's deployed to Afghanistan, they'll forgive me for not having plans yet. They'll understand." Yeah, not at all. People don't understand, they just don't take me seriously. Yeah, I don't have an engagement ring. Because he asked me the night before he had to go back to a war zone. Yeah, I don't have a date set. Because he doesn't know when he'll come home. Yeah, I don't know what my freaking "colors" are. I haven't planned a honeymoon. I haven't picked out bridesmaid's dresses. I haven't registered. There's no bridal shower, there's no bachelorette party, there's no ceremony venue, there's no reception site, there's no officiant, there's NOTHING, because HE'S NOT HERE, and apparently I'm not as "engaged" as other girls are. My engagement isn't as legitimate. We're just stupid kids, who don't really know what love is and we just got really excited about the idea of getting married--but oh, no, it's not as "official" because we don't have any plans. Apparently the things that I think matter in my wedding aren't what really matter.
"What, you can't make plans? Because... you don't know when he'll be home...? So... you're just gonna try and throw something together...? Okay, well, um, that's..."
I want nothing to do with any of this anymore. Yeah, my life and my engagement don't look like everybody else's. Who is it really hurting? Who really cares? Who is really gonna mind?

Well, apparently, everyone.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Common than a Comet

Things shake, lose strength, and my hands have forgotten how to hold on. I don't mean that metaphorically--lately there's something wrong with my peripheral nervous system, and it's rather annoying.
Such are the unsung effects of who I am.
But enough. I must keep my brain moving with happier things.
I realize that almost nothing is in my control, but it feels like they should be, so my body is aching and groaning with frustration. My heart won't sit still. I can't make more money appear. I can't bring Andrew home sooner. I can't make my hands work or my feelings balance, simply out of sheer will. Believe me, I fight as hard as I can.
I get angry sometimes, because Andrew can't pour himself out for me. No, that's not accurate--I get angry that I get so drained that I can't take care of him, and he can't take care of me because he's also drained beyond measure, and so I'm angry at the whole situation, not him. I told Dad that it feels like my bones have been scraped out.
I don't blame Andrew. I don't blame the war, or the Army. That's just where we are right now, and I don't mind it. I don't know what I blame. I blame myself, I suppose. I hate that I can't be strong. I hate that I can breathe and calm myself and psyche myself up and muster every ounce of courage I have, but then someone looks me in the eye, and I fall to pieces.
I've ended up crying in front of two different people at work today. I feel terrible. I feel like I'm letting them down, because these are people I love, and this is a place that I love, yet--my insides are abandoning them, and I hate it.
I hate being so weak. I hate that everyone sees me weak. I hate that everyone else has to pick me up. I hate that people suffer because I'm weak. They worry for me, they fear for me, they stand around feeling helpless as they watch me wasting away. They blame themselves because they can't help me (a feeling I understand, as its one I often carry when I see Andrew suffering).
This is the second time I've responded in anger to this. The first time was last semester, when I needed to be at my best. It was my last semester, for god's sake! I was excited, confident, brave--and then I was eaten away from the inside out. But I wasn't sad, or scared, or nervous like before. I was freaking pissed. Furious. Why the hell do I have to do this yet AGAIN? That angry energy did not bode well for my nerves, but at least it kept my eyes clear, for the most part.
Now I'm angry again. Anger, and anguished. My hands refuse to grasp. I drop things, misjudge distances and hit my arms and hips and feet on everything as I try to walk and move. I've honestly been screaming at God a fair bit. Not blaming Him, but pleading with Him. I hate the animal sound of my own cries.
I can't show Andrew what I'm going through. How could I? We talked Saturday night, and just before he got online, I prayed, as fiercely as I could, "God, please, please, let things be okay with him. I can't help him today. I need him to help me. Please, PLEASE."
But last week, it turns out, was one of the worst weeks his unit has had in a long time. Horror, death, destruction, they finally walk back onto their base, dirty, torn to shreds, and hello, emails from wives--I can't do this anymore. I want a divorce. And full custody of your children. So, yeah... you get to come home from war in a few months... come home to nothing and no one.
Andrew was a wreck. He was watching the men he loved suffer, watching their hearts break at a time when they needed their hearts to be strongest. It was almost no comfort for him to be reassured that I would not leave him. The pain wasn't his, and it couldn't be healed by me.
I did what I could. Luckily, we were only chatting. It's easy to type, "Oh, sweetheart, I'm so sorry" over and over as he spilled his burdens. It would not have been easy to look him in the face or hear his voice. With the chat at least, I could weep and weep and weep on my end and he would never know.
Of course, majestically, he recovers so quickly, and because of the amazing man he is, he can turn around with a day or two and cheer me up and, if nothing else, give me certainty. Of everything in the world, of everything in me, of all that is in turmoil (whether in truth or in my perception)--I know he loves me. Even if he can't be here to hug me, or put a bandaid on my pain, he shows me that he loves me. He can be in the worst of moods, suffering through the worst of memories, angry and bitter and railling against all the evil, but he'll manage to drag himself through the thickets and say, "I know you probably don't feel it, and I kinda don't feel anything right now, but you know I love you, right?"
That's something. That's a huge something. It sounds pretty sacrilegious, but I don't feel even as certain of God's love right now (I know He loves me, but I don't FEEL it, ya know?), because part of me thinks He just wants to piss me off right now.
But Andrew's love IS a part of God's love. Andrew belongs to God, I belong to God, God gave us each other. Our love is a reflection of Him. So maybe, when I feel loved by Andrew, that's God's way of showing me His love, reaffirming that there is good to be had, and He is the one who brought it.
My favorite verse for a long time has been James 1:17---every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
There's so much promise in those short words. Every good thing is from God. God is the originator of all light, of all good. He does not change from His good ways.
But the problem right now is, I don't feel any ways. I don't feel good ways. I don't feel bad ways. I feel like nothing has a way to it.
But I'm loved. That's a start. I guess the paths and ways will be found later.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Must stop procrastinating... They should have a pill for this...

The main reason why I've not blogged at all in the last month is not because I have nothing to say, but because I'm too lazy to scrounge out the necessary charming photos to accent my posts. With my new awareness of this handicap, I'm throwing caution and tradition to the wind, and we'll see at the end if I wanna do pics [update-obviously I did]. So here's my life:

In the post I wrote a few days after Andrew left, I anticipated that since the first 7 months flew by, the second part of the deployment would fly by, and be an absolute breeze, because oh-look-at-me-what-a-stoic-faithful-lass-I-am. I raised my eyebrows at my darling roommate Whitney, and inwardly pitied her for being practically bedridden because she hadn't spoken to her Ranger boyfriend in a week. What a green thing she is, I thought to myself, I, in all my majesty, at times have gone over a month without hearing a word from Andrew. I am obviously quite superior.

But then, bam. Andrew and I discover Skype. Unlike the first part, in which we got scratchy phone calls every 6 weeks, an email every 2 weeks, and perhaps a facebook chat every 3 weeks if we were lucky, at his new Combat Outpost, there are webcams. Webcams, oh, webcams, I think these make up for Noah's flood. God was all, "Hey guys, sorry about that flooding the earth thing. I know it was tough. Have some webcams. It'll make it better." And, being God, He was right.

I got to see his face, and hear his voice (Andrew, not God), and watch him smile at the things I said, and tell me I look super foxy today, and that he loves the new haircolor, etc. I can't describe how wonderful this has been. Over the last 2 weeks, I've been able to talk to him almost every other day. Every. Other. Day. After spending 16 days with him, nonstop. He smiles so much when he sees me. Even though things are just as sucky over there--since he's been back, they've already lost several men, had a bunch of injuries, and managed to have a whole Stryker pretty much annihilated--he's not losing himself in it again. He's happy. No, he's joyful, because he knows what healing and happiness is possible, even in the midst of such ugliness. I'm joyful, because I get the chance to care for him, and witness him being so darn alright.

But here's the rub---all my separation-callouses have been pumiced away by love and togetherness. (Ew, that's actually a really, really, gross metaphor. I apologize). I start getting shaky and weepy if I haven't heard from him in 48 hours. I know he's okay, of course, and I know he's got stuff to do, of course. But I can't stand it. I look at Whitney, and I marvel. How can she do it? How can she go for two whole freaking weeks without a word from Erik?
As always, in my relationship with Whit, the pendulum swings back and forth. I spent all this time comforting her, and being the strong one, and now, I'm falling apart, and she knows what to do.

But, the end is in sight. Because of how hard their company has been hit, it looks like the oh-so-disheveled Army is gonna pull them out of the red zone early (back to Kandahar Air Field, where the POGs [non-infantry people] sit in chairs all day, whine because there wasn't enough hot water for a hour-long shower that morning, and hog the computers, as Andrew describes it). Then, they'll only be in KAF for another month perhaps. As in, they may be coming home at the end of May, instead of the end of July.

ZOMG, ya'll. That's only another 12 weeks. Even if I can't toughen back up, heck, I can handle being shaky and weepy and lonely for 12 weeks. There's alot to look forward to. Getting married, ya know. It's pretty good consolation.

Friday, February 19, 2010

blogging is a terribly self-centered activity

Whoosh. My whole self is numb. Suddenly I'm just me again and I kinda can't think straight. When I came home from the airport yesterday, wearing a two-sizes-too-large hoodie that smelled like Kilo Axe and Monster, and walked into my own house, it seemed so empty. Sure, there were still Monsters filling my fridge, and leftover cheesecake, and the Xbox was still hooked up to the living room TV. My room was in disarray still from the early morning departure, but I couldn't bring myself to clean up a single thing. I couldn't even straighten a pillow because Andrew had piled it there on the end of my bed when he had built his "house" Wednesday afternoon. All of his clothes (purchased on his second day here) were still folded on the futon where he had left them, because he had to reluctantly resume his light green and tan uniform and big sandy boots before returning to war, and would not be wearing jeans or hoodies or sneakers again.

I wonder how many cubic inches of physical space a 230-pound, 6-foot 3-inch man occupies? Because suddenly there's a bit of a vacuum everywhere I go. The inside of my car seems absolutely huge. The couch at Caitlin and Jeremy's house has room to lollop about now, and poor Cael actually gets a little space to nuzzle between the three of us. When it was four of us, Cael had to be content to weave between legs or climb awkwardly onto laps--laps that were always laden with plates of food, bottles of beer or cups of Cranberry juice-and-Coke, sewing/knitting projects, Xbox controllers, or the clasped hands of sweethearts (I'm talking about Andrew and Jeremy, mostly).
I stayed up as late as I could last night, nervous and unhappy at the prospect of waking up without him. I asked Whitney late in the evening, "The last two weeks were a dream, right? And he's actually flying into Charlotte tomorrow?" and she smiled and said, "Of course! Go to sleep and he'll be here in the morning."
I put on one of his black teeshirts (it completely engulfed me--the sleeves are almost three-quarter length on me) and gathered up next to me all the pillows he used for his little nests, the teeshirt he had worn on Wednesday (still smelling wonderfully Andrewy) and my laptop. He had given me a little 17-second video clip that he and some of his men had made in Afghanistan, and I probably watched it a hundred times last night. In the video, you see a shaky scene of four or five soldiers in a mortar pit, outside a dusty Forward Operations Base in the twilight. Andrew is holding a small wooden crate meant for holding their ammunition, and he looks at the camera and says, "Hey, check out these new rounds we got!" and he sets the crate on the ground. The camera leans close as he unclasps the lid, but someone exclaims "What the HELL?!" when a little brown puppy pops its head out. Andrew laughs and scoops up the puppy and tries to load him into the mortar, and all the guys are laughing---and my video player restarts and plays it over and over, and I touch my screen and touch his tanned and freckled face.
I'm devastated without him, but after all, seven months went by in a flash. Five more months, and I'll never have to put him on a plane and watch it disappear into the sky ever again.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Because of the wonderful things he does! Ladededumdededum

I feel as though I should update this here blog. My head is spinning so fast and and and and and I've somehow managed to forget how to talk lately.
So... it looks like Andrew will be here the 3rd or the 4th, most likely. I had a few minutes on Facebook chat with him on Wednesday, and he said that after a few days at Kandahar AFB, he and his gal pal White will fly into Germany for a few days, and then -- gasp -- he'll be on his way here.
Here. Wow. He'll be here. I've got that marvelous rummaging shiver deep in my stomach, usually felt as a kid during the week before Christmas. I feel like at every instant, there's some part of my body or heart or psyche that is trembling with anticipation. I told God the other night that I wanted to be quite miserable with anxiety and excitement until the day arrives, and He's obliged me quite charitably.
In just a day or two, Andrew will be safe, finally. He'll be out of the Middle East, and, as Da said last night, "He'll leave behind the 7th century, and go hang out in the 18th century for a while, before he comes to the 21st century next week."
- gasp -
I can't say anymore. I'm too excited. Just enjoy the fun fun pictures I've included in this fun fun post, and I'll try to collect myself later. (Note to self: write about Ranger weekend! Love! Romance! Scandal! Drama! Demolitions!)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

t.s. i love you redux

I went to see a nice movie on Saturday with my mum. It was called "Leap Year." It was about nice Bostonian woman with nice shoes named Anna who went to Ireland to nicely propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day, because for some nice reason, she can. Of course, all sorts of nice disasters ensue. Flights are cancelled, some rain happens, then she's forced on a nice adventure with an Irish pubkeeper named Declan, who was not very nice at all.

Very nice, of course. I can safely say I'm offering no spoilers when I say that Anna and Declan sorta fall for each other accidentally, and there is great personal conflict in Anna's heart, because her boyfriend is pretty nice and she likes him an awful alot, and he is a cardiologist, after all. Cardiologists are romantic, you see, because they are well versed in all matters of the heart.

The point of my discussion of this nice movie is not exactly because of the movie itself. It was a shallow romp, with nice music, and nice scenery, and it made me want to visit Ireland but probably never want to live there. Anna really did have nice shoes, but they got dirty. ("Tro' 'em in te wash; they'd be grand").
The point is, Declan's character made me finally understand what Caitlin means when she talks about Irish humor. She's always said that she belongs in Ireland because her humor is dry and rude just like the humor of the Irish. I always thought to myself, "eh yey sarcasm is awesome," in a negligent and undedicated fashion.

But here comes Declan, and gadzooks. He's downright frickin' mean. He never shows her an ounce of sympathy, and openly declares time and again that she's a bloody idjit. He ridicules her job, ridicules her clothes, her outlook on life, her determination, everything. I found myself thinking in a strangely deep manner at one point, about something he says to Anna. Because of zany chance, he was required to pick her up, and commented with a huff, "Oh, you're quite a lump." Cue chuckling from the audience.

Now obviously, I'm the last person in the world to care about people's feelings for the sake of caring. And obviously, I'm not challenging Declan's manner. But this movie made me realize--the humor of the Irish is not dry and rude, per se. It simply is honest, with no concept of sugarcoating. Honest to a fault, but honest. I think it comes down to a cultural consciousness, almost entirely unknown to Americans, that to speak with any kind of hidden intention is a waste of everyone's time, and a builder of walls and false, unnecessary sensibilities. Even if that hidden intention is to save your own hide, and save her "feelings," when your friend asks if that dress makes her look fat.

People aren't so breakable as we've been convinced we are. As much as I've learned and benefitted from the psychologists in my life, all this delving into minds/personalities/emotions has us all believing that the human psyche is something to be pampered and catered to, and that each person's individual "self" should be maintained, and ultimately, bowed down to. Frankly, this thinking encourages outward self-improvement, but condemns any denial of your "unique nature". If you're a sensitive person, by no means should you seek to toughen up, because by Jove, everyone's self is important (but yours is a little more important, hush... keep it quiet and subconscious)

The fact is, it's pretty hard to screw up a person. Rather, it should be hard. I'm gonna say something now that probably will be unpopular but here goes:
Unless you've suffered some violent offense, witnessed horrific trauma, or recently lost a loved one, you don't need to be protected emotionally.

I'm not saying that everyone has to be a hard ass all the time. But damn it, you do need to learn what matters and what doesn't. This whole modern mentality of taking everything personally is so destructive to the honest relationships between human beings.

Point being, at first I thought Declan was mean. But well, Anna was being an idiot. Her $600 shoes were still just shoes. And when he picked her up, she was a heavy object. She didn't need sympathy, because she stuck herself in her own situation, and what good does coddling sympathy do? All it does is keep you from cutting through the BS and dealing with what matters, because you're so often encouraging to swim about in your feelings of how bad things are.

Of course, I'm a hypocrite in all this, too. When I'm in my depressive moods, I'm incredibly sensitive and the smallest thing will send me up to cry myself to sleep. But does that mean I need coddling all the time? Heck no! It means I need kindness, but then I need a kick in the bum to make me choose to change. It's not always easy. Mostly, it's pretty impossible. The times that my mum has been hard on me, well, they hurt pretty badly, but she was right. Maybe a little unpleasantness was entirely good for me.

That's one thing I really appreciate about Andrew, even when it bothers me in the moment. He's so straightforward with me, and he really truly doesn't care about silly sensibilities. About a month ago, when I was IMing with him, home alone, and I was hearing noises outside the house (and I'm prettttttty sure it was a bear when I looked out the window), I told him about it and I kept being nervous and talking about it (deep down, I was trying to get a sweet, sympathetic response from him) and all he said was, "what do you want me to say? 'go hide in a closet with a baseball bat because it's probably gonna try and eat you?' It's outside, babe, it's not coming in, and you don't need me to play to your fears." Of course, that made me a little mad, but then I said (in honesty, with no 'intentions'), "I just want you to be gentle with me for a minute, because I'm scared, even if it's irrational," and with no pretense, he did just that, and he didn't mind at all. Even though we didn't say a word about it, we both knew subconsciously that the only time we don't communicate well is when we're not being naked-hearted, no-excuses, no-intentions, no-pretensions, truthful with each other. It's a delicate difference. I wasn't lying about being scared--but I had motives for how I told him about it, and even through instant messaging, he could tell. Good lad.

People talk alot about getting out of your comfort zone. But the biggest, most invisible comfort zone of all is the zone where you're surrounded by people who are nice to you. Maybe we should all take a trip to Ireland and get called a idjit and a great lump, so we can start to see the nonsense in our lives.

Friday, January 15, 2010

An amusing moment

I've not much to say, at this very instant. I've been thinking about books, and eyeballing my bookshelf, and longing for the day to end so I can go to Barnes & Noble and buy Voyager, and I came across this lolcelebrity, and I had to share it. Here's to you, Heroes/Twilight/sexy dudes fans. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Shining

God is good. Maybe you haven't noticed lately, but I certainly have. That statement seems to fit into the triteness catagory along with "prayer is powerful," and "God's angels are surrounding you," and other such--but darn it, when it comes down to it, every one of those statements (that we all hear all to often from well meaning relations) is completely true.

Short history: for the last week or two, I've been having night terrors. To call them nightmares is far too tame. Night terrors, in which I spend a few hours when I first sleep; unsure of my consciousness and in terrible, wrenching fear; unsure of whether I'm dreaming or if there are spirits of evil physically manifesting around me; afraid to close my eyes yet afraid to keep them open--night terrors that have left anxiety and fear seeping into my waking hours. I've been too afraid to even sleep alone, they've been so horrific. But I've had my sister and my two roommates available for me to run to, and the trustest folk around me have started praying. My dear Josiah called me on Sunday night, a few moments after he left my house, and talked to me for 15 straight minutes, telling me that I belong to a God who is far greater than any evil, and that I am NOT alone by any means.

Last night, after a scrumptious dinner with Laura C. (that cheesecake...the blackberries...zomg...) and then a stop by the Jer/Cait/Cael house, I decided that even though I was fighting the fear, I was still admitting that it had some power, because I wouldn't sleep alone in my own room. I was feeling pretty solid yesterday, because I had an hour-long chat with Andrew on Facebook (and he sounded... like himself. Just like himself. Not Andrew in a warzone, or Andrew in the stages of grief, or Andrew who has lost so many friends. We laughed and teased and flirted and I flatly fell in love with him all over again).

When I went to my room, before I even put my purse down, I prayed for blessing for the house, claiming it in Christ's name. Before I went to bed (before I even wrote my nightly letter), I read the boldest verses I could find, and when I found Psalm 4:8, I wrote it down in big preschooler letters and taped it above where I would rest my head to sleep--

"I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

And I slept well. More than well--I spent all night feeling awake (just as I do during the night terrors)-- but instead of darkness and evil swarming around me, I opened my eyes and saw light, and people; faces of creatures I knew were angels. For some reason, each angel was leaning over me, and offering me a shining platter.

So, God is good. Prayer is powerful. His angels are surrounding me.

And I'm not afraid.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A new self-concept personal growth experiment

My dad, being the strange and reflective creature that he is, posited an idea to the family last night, after our nice winding conversation of existentialism, the sexual revolution, quotations on morality by Joni Mitchell (who is slowly becoming a new hero of mine), brilliant methods of Rick-rolling (Never gonna GIVE YOU UP), the futures of Colin Meloy, Conor Oberst, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and Brad Pit, and occasional intrusive comments from me bemoaning my lame problems.
It being still the first week of the year, Dad suggests that we all write down and seal in an envelope until next year, three things we hope for in 2010, and two things we hope won't happen in 2010.
My thoughts are quite provoked. Even though Ben made strong attempts to turn it into a contest and see who had the most correct predictions (I admit, I rather supported the idea at first), we all left the gathering that night with our brains a-churning.

What do I want this year? What do I want to avoid? There are the obvious things, like uhhh I want Andrew to come home safely. I'm not gonna say "I want to go to grad school," because I'm not sure that's what I want yet. I want to... not get hit by a train (Lots of respectable people have been hit by trains. Judge Hobbie over in Cookville was hit by a train.)
So my hopes have to be deeper than that-- it can't just be plans or desires or even resolutions. I think I'm very much at a crossroads in my life, and, as Amy says in Little Women, "we'll all grow up some day. We might as well know what we want."
But I don't know what I want. Ben asked the question to Mum and dad last night- "when you were our age, what did you expect or want your lives to be by now?" My parents' answers made me rather jealous. Mum said, "Well, I wanted to make pottery and have a bunch of kids one day, and I have exactly that." Then Ben asked Dad, "Are us kids what you expected?" and Dad said, "No, it's so much better. This is every parent's dream--to sit and talk and have real relationships with their kids once they're grown."
I just don't know what I want. I know some basic things--I want to write, I want to travel before I have children, and I want to share every moment of my life with Andrew. But where do I start? I feel like I'm waiting for something, a sign, a great opportunity, a change, and I don't know what it is.
Maybe in answer to Dad's experiment, I should say "I hope I find my path in 2010."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rings of Glory, Sands of Silver

It's strange to think that I've not written in this blog in almost three months. I suppose I've had alot going on, what with graduating, and ... yeah, that's about all the excitement. Let's attempt to recap, in a decorative and highly charming manner.

Worldviews brought me to an amazing place in my life. By the end of the semester, I felt so close to those previous dumbasses in my class, and on my final exam, when I was asked the question "what impacted you the most about this class?"-- my answer was the dude who actually annoyed me most. We'll call him Jimmy-Jimmy. He was super conservative, and I disagreed with him every class, and once or twice, he got frustrated and told me that I was exhausting. But I was SO challenged by him, and, in the end, when I looked past his worldview, and really tried to understand him, I realized what a solid, good man he is. It was such a revelation. The final paper for that class ended up being nigh on... 36 pages, I believe, and I cracked through so many of my heady, rational, fix-it-smartly-and-handle-it-without-emotion tendencies. I realized that, as my dad has told me a thousand times before, I shouldn't doubt in the dark what God showed me in the light. What is human intelligence and wisdom compared to the wisdom of God? Is that in the Bible? Don't even bother looking for it, you won't find it anywhere.

My thesis turned out to be the most important piece I'd ever written in my life. I didn't mean for it to be so important. I thought I would throw together something, in a decorative and highly charming manner. But on the beach in October, I realized that I wanted to tell one of the stories of my dear grandfather--and I wept as I trod through the waves, and went back and wrote the entire short story in three sittings. That story become an honored shrine of memory to one of the best men I've even known, and I'm unspeakably proud of what I did. The fact that it made a good thesis was immaterial; yay for me, I passed and graduated. But the real accomplishment was the reflection of my grandfather.

So I graduated. Summa Cum Laude. The college president complimented my "bling" as I shook his hand and took my diploma. I'd like to think he was commenting on my decorative and highly charming medals and honors cords and scholarship pins and such--yes, that was a blatant plug for my own awesomeness-- but, in truth--I think he noticed the dogtags I was wearing above everything else. As a retired Navy dude, Dr. Struble rocks the respect.
My family was kinda... really proud of me. I'm kinda...really proud of me. But it still hasn't completely sunken in yet, you know? Everyone tells me that I'll feel it for sure, once school starts in a few weeks and I'm not there. Sniff.

So, yeah. I'm thinkin'...grad school. I'm thinkin'...within the year. I'll give it time and thought and prayer and counsel amongst my lofty few (read: Da, Mum, Cait, Jeremy, and Andrew, pretty much), but I know for certain where God wants me--St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. I'll basically spend two years reading Aristotle and trying to make sense of it. H-AMAZING. But, again, there is much to confer about. Applying, money, timing, moving, work, a place to live, etc. I'm working on my application, but I'm not making any definite plans til I can talk to Andrew. The fact is, yar, I am waiting for him. But the other fact is, I don't have to putter about in the same old job in the same old city whilst I wait. But the third fact is, I don't want to be in the middle of a semester when he gets out of the Army and have to say "Sorry, can't come road trip with you-- gotta discuss Proust."
Another fact: these are still all my mental brain-things inside my head. Andrew tends to have this nifty way of seeing a situation or idea, and finding this occam's razory answer that makes me feel both stupid and relieved. But he's very patient with my little acronym-forgetting peabrain, and that's one of the one-thousand-and-one Arabian reasons that I love him.

Speaking of which, he'll totally be here in about 29 days. I can't believe the first half of the deployment is almost over--so much has happened here, and so much has happened there. His unit has lost so many men. I've watched Andrew, albeit sporadically and from far away, go through the stages of grief. The denial phase was fun, before they lost anyone, and while it was still a bit of an adventure. The anger was hard, because he turned very inward and became annoyingly selfless (as in, he was telling us not to send him stuff or write so much, because it probably was so inconvenient for us...{what a dumbass}), and honestly, he was pretty uncommunicative. That was unbelievably difficult. That was when I found myself crying constantly, and questioning constantly--but thank God--that was also when I wrote my Worldviews paper and discovered (to my chagrin, I managed to weep about it in class) that I was doubting in the dark.

I think Andrew may be in the bargaining stage right now, the whole "just let me live until mid-tour, so I can see Chelsea and my family one more time" thing. Being as resilient as he is, he's pretty optimistic, I think. But also, his unit got pulled back to the big base, and they got to stop dying for awhile over Christmas. He's lost so many friends... I've also been agonizing about how to help him. It's been driving me half mad, because I feel so inadequate to fight against the monumental brutality of the things he's suffering. But as always, Mister God was right there, and in the middle of my agonizing, He said to me oh-so-gently, "Andrew was mine first. I will heal him. I love him more than you do, and I always care for those of My household. I will heal him."
So here I am. Counting down days, filled with plans that can't be settled yet, but still happy. I feel... like I've relearned how to trust, lately. It's a peaceful thing.