Holiday moves are for idiots!

*** Warning Warning This post briefly speaks of gaming... mostly it's off topic. Read at your own risk. You have been warned!!!*** I don't have a whole lot of choices in my current life style. To some of you this may seem a genuinely odd way to live your life. To my military spouse partners in crime, this is our normal. I try and not bemoan my lack of control. Really, I mean it. I have quietly found a place of deeply rooted acceptance that involves gallons of ice cream, chocolate, vats of wine and may include me being dragged kicking and screaming into this quasi reality.

Three letters have haunted my dreams. PCS! For those of you lucky enough to remain uninitiated, they mean Permanent Change of Station. In other words, you are moving.

I have, perhaps slowly, begun to get a wee tad better at change. Probably. Ok, Zeff says I still suck at it, but I think I have improved by leaps and bounds.

Here's the short of the process. The Navy says you are going to move. They then give you the tiniest list of possibilities which is sorta kin to a presidential election form. Bad, worse and OMFG! They give you several months to get used to the idea of your soon to be arrival in the seven rings of hell while they bury you in paperwork. You are then instructed to hurry up and wait.

After recovering from the carpel tunnel they've foisted upon you, you begin gathering your medical records, dental records, vision records, pet records, fill out your change of address form, turn off all your current utilities, set up new utilities... you know the usual. None of this was unexpected. It's part of moving. While it's full of unexpected delays, hours spent on hold listening to really bad elevator music and trying to figure what option will get you an English speaking human person, it's not horrible.

You clean out your closets, refrigerator, and give away a lot of things that seemed important at the time, but now are a burden and will only add to your weight total.

Yes, weight total. You are given an allotment of weight you are not to exceed. I spent hours wondering how much of my library of books, gaming paraphernalia and so forth was going to cost me in overage!

The movers arrive, you pack up and move on. In my case tearfully. I left behind good friends, awesome food and a level of comfort in a southern state I hadn't felt since leaving Texas. Bleh!

But enough whining.

Now, to add insult injury, you don't get to pick when you move. We happen to be afflicted with the awesomeness of our moves occurring in December.

I would like to state for the record before I move forward that I am still married to Zeff. This maybe because he is a saint. Or I am...ha ha ha...nah!

The top three stressors in a relationship maybe job changes, moving, and the holidays. I was handed a trifecta of joy wrapped in brown tape.

Liquor Drive-Thru
Liquor Drive-Thru

We arrived to snow in our new state. I kinda ignored the snow as I gawked at the Drive thru liquor stores on the side of the "emergency snow route" highway. Nothing says welcome home like drive thru alcohol?

For the first time in my life, I didn't have any say what so ever in my home. I mean zero. Zilch. Nada.

I was ASSIGNED my little slice of the good life by an officious clerk with the personality of malt o meal. I was told it was 4 bedrooms 2 bath. After receiving our keys we opened the door to 3 coffin like bedrooms and 2 bath like spaces. Don't look at me like that. I can't turn sideways in my own bathroom!

I valiantly shoved down my rising panic as Zeff pleadingly asked if I like our new home. There was no way my queen sized bedroom furniture was gonna fit in the teeny tiny "master like" bedroom. My sectional was never going to fit in the front door.

Most importantly, there was no room for 2 PCs, desks, our shelves upon shelves of DnD books, Dwarven Forge sets, mini's, dice, empty computer boxes for every game we have bought in the last decade or so, and the dog.

I resisted the urge to down a fifth of vodka and get a plane ticket to anywhere. I told him it was simply wonderful. I loved it. Hey, it wasn't a complete lie. The place has hardwood laminate "like" floors downstairs. It has a kitchen. I have a backyard and deck to shovel snow off of.

I am trying to ignore the hideous brown plastic molding crap attached to every base board, the paper thinness of the walls, that I have to be a contortionist to brush my teeth, and that my neighbor has a two year old who screams most nights.

It's marital bliss :D

Look, we survived moving at between Thanksgiving, our anniversary and Christmas. I have a roof over my head and my husband hasn't killed me. I think we are doing pretty swell.

I am including below a small gallery of photos of the new place from before the movers arrived. This is mainly for my girlfriends who have complained bitterly about my inability to get these photos posted so they could save me from my decorating phone calls, but enjoy it as you will.

Moving 2010

, posted with

vodpod

I am writing this post from my desk which is squeezed so closely to Zeff's I could use his monitor as mine. Our bed fits in the room by the barest of margins. They had to shove my couch through the back door. I wasn't over my weight allotment and only most of my furniture needed to be wood glued, nailed, screwed and held up with hardback books.

I am a survivor :D

Yes Zeff, I like our new home.

Game On!!!

P.S. Just to prove I can handle all manner of change, I took the plunge and started playing World of Warcraft. I have lost my mind. If found, please return to sender.

OT: You are more than just a military wife

***WARNING  The following article does not discuss video gaming in any way! You have been warned!*** I have learned a lot about labels in the last few years. Mostly, how much being labeled can define you if you let it.

For instance, as a military wife, The United States Navy labeled me as a "dependent."

Let's look at that word for a minute.

As defined by Webster's dictionary.

–nouna person who depends on or needs someone or something for aid, support, favor, etc.

Ummm... ewww!  I have no idea whose bright idea it was to come up with "dependent", but I would like to meet him in a dark alley someday. Honestly, as if life weren't full enough of obstacles, the USN thinks of me as dependent.  Fabulous.

I railed against the label for the first year of my marriage.  I had worked the last 7 years to find my independence, further my career, stand on my own two feet, and spit in the eye of any male who looked my way with "I am your hero and can save you" in his expression.   I'd met and married a good man, one who supported my dreams with love, but didn't try and run my life.  I was ecstatic.  Score one for 30 something single women everywhere.

We had been married less than twenty four hours when I began to understand I wasn't in full control of the situation at hand.

My newly minted husband drove us onto a local military base.  I felt intimidated by the guards wearing weapons at the gate, by the institutional buildings, and masses of uniformed men and women walking around.  I didn't belong here, I thought, as he grabbed my hand and walked me into the ID office.  After a long wait, a woman looked over my marriage certificate, passport, social security card, and all manner of documents before telling me to smile and look at the camera so she could get a picture for my dependent card.

I think I stopped breathing for a moment.  In  a fog, I could hear the lady asking me several times if I wanted my picture retaken.  I didn't.

My wonderful new husband had neglected to tell me my new title.  I don't think he saw it as any big deal.  Well either that, or he knew it was a big deal and figured  I wouldn't kill him in public!

I carried around an ID for two years where I wore an expression of shock and anger.

I dove head first into everything Navy.  I took classes on being a new military spouse, volunteered for the FRG, and read every book available on navigating the military maze.

Know what I discovered?

You are only as dependent as you think you are.  All my hard work didn't mean I was any more in control of my life than if I had let myself relax into it.  The Navy still told me when I could see my husband, where I would live and for how long, and how little closet space I would have thanks to the bazillion assorted uniforms.

On the occasion of his re-enlistment, an officer gifted me with a certificate listing among my many attributes, my unselfish and unwavering support of my husband.

I think in that moment standing on the deck of a battleship everything crystallized.   I counted as long as I was with him.  It's like the military lives in a time warp.  A 1950's time warp.

Surely I am more than just his wife?  I've had my own social security number for years, but when asked for it by a doctor's office the other day, I gave his.

I had acquaintances who couldn't figure out how much money they had because their hubby paid all the bills.  One girl moved while her hubby was away and was found outside her place of business balling her eyes out because she couldn't remember her address.  Another doesn't drive at all and has to call friends when her hubby is away.   Another quit college and moved to our base so she could stay home and just be a wife for a while.

Another favorite of mine is the email/phone call game I've watched be played out on facebook, at dinners, meetings, on a picnic or at the beach.

Imagine a group of spouses from the same command in a room.   One says "I've had an email every other day."  Next one counters with "Oh I had one everyday." Only to be one upped by the next one who announces "I had a phone call yesterday and emails every day." This game can go on and on until someone just gives in and walks away defeated wondering why her spouse can't find the time to email 5 times a day and call every night.  

It's sorta sad to watch how we fee the need to prove our spouses love us more than someone else's .  Or, let there be no mistake, one will say "Oh, well your husband doesn't actually have all that much to do I suppose.  Mine is busy working hard and can't spend that much time on his rearend writing me."  (Picture my face when I heard this conversation go on behind me at another command's party!)

I don't get it.  When I said it was a time warp, I wasn't kidding.  Out of my command, I can only think of a handful of spouses who are happy and fulfilled in their own right.  I am not saying you need to be working full time out of the home to be fulfilled.  You don't.  I just don't know many spouses who feel like they are fulfilling their own dreams and they seem to spend a lot of time being bitter about it.

I've had moments when a coffee creamer commercial brings me to tears and my hands freeze when I do a load of laundry and his socks fall out of the basket.   We all have those moments, but for me they are just moments.  I don't live in the dark spaces in between missions.  I live my own life.  Sometimes he's here, sometimes he's not, but in between I live.

And in living I have found and cherish relationship's with women who inspire me to be more than I am.  In my circle we each have a set of skills the others can rely on when needed.  I've watched a mom of 6 volunteer her time at the USO, for her FRG and raise her kids with joy everyday.  Her best friend, a mom of two, is one of the most organized women I know and never fails to make me laugh at myself.  A fellow gamer and military wife I know never lets  the every changing schedule of missions get her down and takes me out on girly dates.  Another wife I know has a career she's never let the military get in the way of.

Everyone of these women makes me strive to live with more tolerance of those around me who haven't quite gotten to a place where they can find their own way.

I am more than just a military wife.  I can let the label represent me, anger me, own me.  Or I can just say it's a part of who I am, but not the whole.

I am thinking of leaving the following answering message on my cell phone.

"I am sorry I am unable to answer the phone right now. 1. If you are calling to whine, plead or moan about your life, please hang up and talk to a mirror.  If you aren't getting emails, don't panic.  If you are calling to tell me how many emails/phone calls you are getting, please refer to number 1.   If you really feel the need,  please leave a message and I'll probably text you back.  Have a blessed day."

Too much? Probably, but if you are wondering if I am screening my calls? I am :D

DSC00836
DSC00836

As an aside, last time my husband went to sea, our puppy tried to get in his bag.

Cracked me up.

Maybe I can sneak into his sea bag next time? *ponders*

Armour Needed

There is a new patch available for Star Trek Online today. It's got a release note page a mile long. I am patching as I write this so I can check things out before dinner. Supposedly all the new UI changes are in game. I am not sure what I am expecting, but I am hoping SOMETHING pulls me in. In LOTRO, our characters hit 30, the magic number needed for skirmishes. The hubby and I tried them out last night and quickly discovered the ability to duo them is almost impossible, which makes me sad. They are fun, but built for 1,3,6 or 12 players.

If you've been a subscriber to LOTRO in the past, but haven't been there in a while, now is the time. They are offering a welcome back weekend and it starts now.

After visiting Star Trek tonight, I am hoping to get a little time in LOTRO. I have my solo character soooo close to 30 and I am hoping to see how the solo skirmishes work out. Plus, I need to make some coin so I can afford more bank space, so a-crafting I must go :)

***

In other news, I have been thinking about writing about military wifedom blog article for a while. Perhaps its my love for gaming, or maybe its just that I am an odd duck, but learning how to maneuver around the military lifestyle this last year has made me realize a few things.

So, I'll quickly diverge from gaming stuff and hit the highlights of what I'm learning.

Uniforms are a beast all unto themselves. Half of my shared closet has been taken over by the plethora of uniforms. Long sleeved, short sleeved, everyday, dress blues, dress whites and so on and so forth. Have I mentioned he owns more shoes than I do to go with the multitude of uniforms? Or all the are different socks? T-shirts? *shakes her head*

The New NWU's for the Navy have washing instructions telling me to turn them inside out. I have no idea why, but I follow the instructions as if afraid I will be fined by the Laundry MP's. The new very expensive Gortex jacket is not washable. I need to do something with it, but I am not sure how to clean it? Even a google search has failed me.

I do not sew his new patches to the uniforms. I am not a skilled sewer and knowing my own limitations. I am quite happy to support my local small business tailor ship and the talented ladies who are exceedingly capable of doing the job. I am also terrified of doing it wrong. Friends tell me I am throwing my money away. I feel it is simply prudent to know when to say no.

Planning activities of any kind leads to frustration. All tickets need to be refundable. He says he will be home and I hear in my head "I might be home!"

I am never sure when he leaves in the morning if he is actually going to come home. Since we are a one car family, it has led me to have an agreement with a girlfriend for emergency car retrieval.

Duty days are a thing to learn to enjoy. I treat them like a mini-wife vacation. I don't need to have dinner made when he walks in the door. I can talk on the phone to my girlfriends for hours without the guilt of missing time he is actually home. I can watch my chick flicks, eat ice cream in bed and game for a whole evening if I want to.

Some spouses treat duty days as something to be endured. I simply try and find the joy where I can.

Friendships are interesting. Some people come into your life for a season and then disappear. Some are simply not meant to last and burn themselves out quickly. Just because we have husbands in the same branch of the service doesn't mean we are going to automatically bond, begin having sleep overs, braid each others hair and paint our nails late at night.

One of my girlfriends equates military friendship's like dating. A first date lunch maybe awesome, and I may leave thinking you are a great person I can enjoy my free time with every once in a while. After two or three outings with you, I may think you are a complete tool.

I now categorize friends. Acquaintances I may only speak to online or on the phone for support or a vent fest. Friends are someone I may hang out with sometimes and spend time doing normal girl stiff. True friends are someone I can call in the middle of the night when he is deployed and they show up at my door in the wee hours to take me to the ER or will stay up late with me on the phone to make sure I take my meds after surgery even though they are hundreds of miles away.

It cycles. One of my closet friends and I will speak non stop for days, then not speak for a month, then jump back without either of us being offended. It all moves around when the boys are home. If they are, we understand the need to give space. When they are gone, we use up all the cell phone minutes we've been rolling over for months.

The commissary should pass out armour when you enter. I won't say my age, but suffice it to say I have been grocery shopping a while. My first trip to the commissary almost led to a fist fight. These people are in a class all to them selves.

I am not the only one who thinks this. We were running errands this last weekend and I asked the hubby to stop at the commissary. He looked at me like I had grown two-heads and was spitting acid from my forked tongue.

Rules I should have known about the commissary before my first trip include: the retiree may look old and sweet but they will mow you down in a new york minute, you park your cart at the end of an aisle and weave through the traffic to get the goods you need so as to not spend 10 minutes in a "buggy jam", never go to the commissary on pay day weekend as EVERYONE for miles around has decided to shop at once en mass, always have cash for the sackers as they work for tips, and don't forget your ID card in the visor of your car or people behind you get really cranky!

Tricare requires a degree to navigate. Never expect a same day appointment, bring a book for the waiting room and apparently 800 mg motrin is the "magic pill" that solves all ills.

I could write about Tricare and National healthcare for pages, but I won't. I appreciate having insurance and when I needed surgery this summer it was a god send, but if you just need a prescription its a nightmare.

FRG's are of the devil. I was on the board for one this past year. I felt I was revisiting my high school years. Gossip, back stabbing and who is wearing the best outfit. I was sure this was just my experience and so asked my girlfriends who were in different commands only to be told its pretty much a known rule that you only attend FRG meetings when the CO makes it requirement for information sharing unless you want to walk around with a knife in your back. Why didn't I know this?

I'll stop here for a rest. I'll save up for a later post.

Can I just say that the "Marrying into the Military Class" I took when I was engaged in no way prepared me for the host of pitfalls I've run across in the last year. >.<

Game on!!!

A Humble Thank You

It's been a long season. While summer might be ending, I personally feel like it's been one heck of a long time coming.

For those who weren't aware, my husband serves in the United States Navy. I don't blog about overly personal stuff that often, but tonight I need to express some stuff.

This was a deployment year. I wasn't looking forward to it. As a new wife, I knew going in he would leave a few months after we were married. There is nothing romantic about it, so erase all those World War II pictures from your head.

When he finally left, I felt so very alone. I had finally found someone I could connect with, uprooted my life to be with him, and he had the audacity to leave?

Needless to say, I learned to adapt very quickly. Everyday that dragged by meant I was one day closer to having him home, every night was one less I would spend alone, every morning a chance to prove to myself I was stronger than I thought I was.

I survived with the help of friends all of whom I need to give a huge thank you.

What in the world does this have to do with gaming, you might ask?

Well friendship comes in all shapes and sizes.

To my static group in DDO, who put up with my tears, wine soaked gaming sessions, surgery woes, questions about what to send in a box, and all other kinds of complaints, whines and queries, I say a thank you for sticking with it. For making me laugh. For being a constant in my life week after week for several years now. I couldn't do it without you.

To my DDOcast crew. Thank you for the checking up on me emails, offers to join your server for game time, making arrangements to record a show when I had the time and energy, and never once telling me I was letting you down when I wasn't up to getting a show in. Thank you.

To my guild in DDO, Chaosknights on Argonessen. You gave me a place to spend a few hours and forget the quiet of my life. You welcomed me into groups, chatted with me, PMed me on the forums to remind me to come out of hiding and visit Stormreach. You made me feel like a member of the family. Thank you.

So many out there may not understand the bonds that form in an online game. I came to find them reassuring over these terrible few months. I owe so many of you a thank you for being there in the still moments when there hadn't been a phone call or an e-mail, when I cried over seeing a commercial for his favorite coffee creamer, or I just needed a quick reality check.

To all my other friends, and you know who you are, thank you for the late night phone calls, watching TV with me, taking me to dinner, movies, shopping and ferrying me to Dr appointments and so on.

Tonight as I take stock in blessings of my life, I am deeply humbled by each of you.

I am posting up a couple of pics. To be honest, I was so darn happy to see his ship I barely remembered I had a camera!

The ship pulling in with the Battle flag waving!

Almost the first sighting I had of him. He's in the white hat :)

I don't think there is much else I can say except, he's home.

And now I get to game with him whenever I want to! He loaded DDO his first day home and jumped in. So very glad I married a gamer.

GAME ON!!!

Waiting Game

"Hurry up and Wait" I hear the above phrase uttered unendingly in my new military spouse life. It's a mantra. I try and put a good spin on it, but in all honesty, its absolutely true. For those wondering, I am acclimating to the Navy lifestyle with all the sputters, murmured curses and feet dragging you would all expect of me.

Tricare remains a black hole into which I am swallowed anytime I make a call or log onto their website. Oh and filing a claim with them is worse than filling out your taxes every year. A Standard HMO can be a nightmare to manage, add the military red tape and you find yourself in the rings of H E L L!!!

I am grateful to all my old and new friends who send me encouraging words and listen to my rambling vents on the newest kink I find in my life everyday.

For all the negatives in learning to live your life in the Navy fishbowl, there are a ton of positives. I am attending a formal ball next week. I am thinking this is sort of along the lines of a Prom for adults, except we won't be sneaking alcohol we will be paying through the nose for it :)

There are a bazillion wonderful people I have met who fill my life with snippets of humor and hold my hand, or lead me back along the right path... oh and well they might slap a hand across my mouth to keep me from cussing out the hospital or Dr or screaming from frustration as I stare at the little pull tab with a number on it while I wait in line for a prescription :) Seriously, why does it take almost 2 hours every time I go there? *sigh*

Life is fabulous and I complain, sometimes loudly, but I wouldn't give up a second of it!

Gaming time has been a mixture of Mass Effect and DDO.

I play DDO because I love the game. At the moment, I play it to remind myself of this fact as we "Hurry up and Wait" for Mod 9. Still no official word on it.

*Taps her foot*

Zeffy has been loving gaming time.

I have a *gasp* PINK ottoman under my desk for long sessions at the computer. Zeffy has taken it over for her naps when I am up here. Cracks me up to see her all sprawled out. At least she's comfy, but why do I think this is only the first in a long line of objects she will usurp???

I ran into one of my favorite bugs in DDO the other night.

I logged into the portable hole on my newly minted level 14 sorcerer. I guess it was moving day? The store keepers, bar and even the stairs seemed to be missing in the portable hole.

This bug has been a round a long long time. It's random. Doesn't happen often.

And it never ceases to make me giggle when I load into a zone and the graphics are just missing.

I am off to game...I can't decide if I want to finish my mission in Mass Effect, or go work on a project I have going in DDO.

*ponders*

GAME ON!!!