Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Season Change

Background: I’m from Texas.

So, I’m FINALLY understanding four seasons! You know in elementary school where the four seasons are displayed on the school calendar in class. Well, I guess I never thought they actually looked like that. I figured it was in some era or place far gone and we were keeping history or fantasy alive by displaying fall with brilliant leaves, winter with snow and ice, spring with melting snow uncovering flowers, and summer… well, I understood that one pretty well.

But, there are four real seasons in Rapid City. And they actually fall close to the calendar season changes! How novel. September, October, November is fall here. It’s been (Texas friends don’t read this part! Or at least don’t be jealous) in the 60s and 70s and sunny. Personally, 60s is a little chilly for me, but other people seem to think it’s an ideal range of temperatures. I haven’t turned the air conditioner on since mid-August. I know!! Who does that??

Winter is not that bad here – I’m (kinda) looking forward to the times when a new blanket of snow covers the brown slushiness of previous snows melted. I also love the sun shining brightly on fresh snow when everything feels very still and quiet.

Spring leaves a little to be desired. From day to day it changes – there’s a sunny comparatively warm 50 degree day, then an overcast rainy not-quite freezing, just wicked-cold day. Snow melts, flowers bloom, rain pours, and sun shines. When it came around to May I had a growing concern that I would NEVER be able to wear any of my Texas warm weather clothes as it was still a little too chilly for flip flops. By this month in Texas, I’ve broken out the tank tops and shorts and joined my fellow Texans, boating in the sweltering heat over Memorial Day weekend.

But, then FINALLY June came! And I felt like my muscles and bones could finally relax. When I’m finally warm, it feels wonderful! Like a cozy blanket, or a warm fire, or a sauna except happily it’s all around me! I can’t NOT be warm! I LOVE IT! I joyously broke out the warm weather clothes and found myself enjoying an entirely different wardrobe. NOW I get it! I would sometimes hear of people in far off worlds who put their clothes away each season and when they brought them out it felt like all new clothes. For those of you who don’t know: in Texas one does not put away any clothes any season because you can pretty much guarantee that you will need that tank top at some point in the winter and that sweater at some point in the summer (if only for the freezing air conditioning at the office).

Summer, obviously, is my favorite season in South Dakota. It is beautiful! The weather is the kind of weather that makes you want to be outside. We have a few of those days in Texas, but not with enough consistency to spur the state on toward all the outdoor activities that Rapid City does. Really, the majority of summer events is scheduled to take place outdoors. So, in case Mount Rushmore hasn’t made the case enough for a visit to this underrated state, perhaps escaping the summer heat in Texas will draw you here.

Then, you’ll finally understand the answer to the question I asked January through April – why do people continue to live here?? Now I know.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What My Husband Misses

Over the months, I’ve been accumulating a list of things Rob has mentioned that he misses and have chosen to share it with you today. For fun.

The cafeteria sounds like it tasted good the first few months, but now that he’s been there a while…

Rob misses:

  • pork cooked by people allowed to eat pork
  • real mashed potatoes
  • blanched vegetables
  • steaks cooked rare
  • eggs cooked easy
  • crispy bacon
  • sausage that doesn’t float in grease
  • beer
  • pizza
  • peanut butter and jelly that’s not made by Heinz
  • sandwich bread that’s not white
  • shrimp that’s not as hard as a rock
  • fish that’s baked, not slathered
  • turkey products that actually look tasty
  • real dessert (pies, cakes, cookies, brownies) that are not overly processed and will survive as long as a twinkie.
  • overall brilliant, rather than subdued flavors
  • metal utensils
  • eating off real dishes
  • Saturday mornings
  • good coffee
  • drinking from a glass

Rob misses:

walking somewhere he doesn’t have to salute at least 14 people between his room and the chow hall (he swears his left arm is getting stronger carrying all his stuff so the right can be free to salute every few seconds).

things that are soft

walking into a bathroom that doesn’t smell like poo.

showering without shoes

showering without fear – fear that the water temperature will suddenly change, fear that the shower head will explode, or fear that a hand will reach into your shower to turn off the water because you’ve gone over your 5-minute “combat shower” limit (not Rob, but definitely happened).

rational perspective with the uniform – because seriously? will the taliban win if your shirt is untucked? your socks too tall? or your reflect-y belt not properly adorned? I don’t think so.

And of course, Rob misses: ME!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stages of Deployment

I should have guessed earlier, but there’s apparently seven emotional stages a spouse goes through with a deployment. Yeah. They’ve done studies.

Stage One: Anticipation of Departure

Stage Two: Detachment and Withdrawal

Stage Three: Emotional Disorganization

Stage Four: Recovery and Stabilization

Stage Five: Anticipation of Return

Stage Six: Return Adjustment and Renegotiation

Stage Seven: Reintegration and Stabilization

Interesting, huh? And while the psychiatrists may disagree, I haven’t found my deployment emotions to follow the “typical” stages… Mine went a little more like this:

Stage One: What’s an MC-12?

Stage Two: A couple all-nighters finishing the upstairs bathroom before Rob and I left for Atlanta and his training, arriving on Christmas Day. Not much time for detachment or withdrawal, just lots and lots of tile cutting.

Stage Three: Recovery and Stabilization. I know it’s supposed to be stage four in the pattern, but I was pretty fine with the whole thing.

Stage Four: Emotional Disorganization. I’m not entirely sure what this stage is meant to encompass, but I found that as the squadron we’re still technically a part of began to deploy, my emotions about the whole thing came a lot closer to the surface. I described it to Rob like this:

Me: You know how I am capable of compartmentalization? Rob: Yes. Me: Well, I’m discovering the walls of my compartments can be a little thin – you know, maybe like Japanese rice paper walls? Rob: OH YEA! Me: Oh. You didn’t have to agree SO heartily… cute.

And then, I guess I did Stage Four again with Recovery and Stabilization. I LOVE all my new friends who are newly singled and very often ready to hang out, go out, or just visit!

Then, I discovered I missed testosterone a little. And guys are WAY funnier than girls. No offense. It’s just girls are not that hilarious. I miss laughing from the gut.

Now, I’m on to Stage Five: Anticipation of Return. I can totally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Not that it’s been a dark or horrific time, I’m just excited like a birthday, or a wedding, or a big graduation trip. It’s got magnitude. But, I’ve noticed I’m a little more unstable than I’ve been in any of the previous stages. I don’t say this to gain pity or to say in some sort of subtle way, “Help me.” It’s not that. It’s simply observing, almost in a scientific way – hmm, that’s interesting, I didn’t expect that.

Some of my more random unstable moments come while driving. Perhaps I’m simply not used to driving this much without Rob. I miss him in the seat next to me. I love it when he drives and I get to ride. I haven’t been in the passenger seat of my car for 9 months.

Another moment when my paper-thin compartment walls were compromised was when my very good friend had a baby and I teared up as she was describing how hard it was for her husband to watch the labor because he felt so helpless. I guess I empathize. Is that it?

I can nail this one down a lot easier: You know the pie that I love. The pie that merited its own ode and entry in the blog. The pie that gives me comfort each week throughout this deployment. Well, I’ve been without pie now for over two weeks. She wasn’t there last week and I missed her this week. I learned this because I called the store in Pierre and she said there was a rush this morning and they ran out early. I’ve been tearing up all day when I think about how I don’t have pie.

I think this one’s a little more obvious – pie = comfort. duh. Then, the very sweet yet sometimes a little “I told you so” Holy Spirit reminded me that my comfort should lie in God. Me, ever a little bit petulant, said I still would like some pie, but thanks for the reminder. If I have to live without pie for two weeks to be reminded that the Holy Spirit is my comforter, that’s okay. … But I have ordered three pies for next week.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next two stages of deployment emotions – the ones that occur when he comes back!! YAY!!!! Really, there’s not enough explanation points to convey the excitement (and apparently a little bit of instability… ) that comes with this stage.