Lioness' Literatim

Letter for letter, the thoughts in my head.

2011; Ready for Review

Well people, it’s that time of year again where I find myself sitting down and reviewing the past year. So much has changed this year. As with every year, 2011 had its ups and downs. There were periods that dragged on and periods that raced by, all culminating with a New Year’s Eve spent sitting in the office waiting/praying for the phone to ring. All things considered though, this holiday season was much less stressful than last year’s, despite my current settings.

So, without further ado, 2011 in a nutshell:

January

After the most stressful holiday season I’ve ever experienced, I made myself get back on a plane to the middle of Nowhere, AZ because I’d signed a contract that said if I didn’t, I’d be in big trouble. I spent most of January rethinking my reasons for joining the Army, debating every day about whether I wanted to quit or continue on. These debates were fueled by the new knowledge that my darling husband, the kid that convinced me to join the Army in the first place, didn’t want me in.

February

Started hanging out with this one guy in my class who would later become a lot more important to me than I ever thought was possible. In February, I got my second tattoo – an infinity cross with rosebuds and butterflies – and that guy I was hanging out with a lot, he was there. At some point during February, he earned himself the nickname Pikachu. I think it’s safe to say that in February I started being more comfortable in my own skin and more confident about who I am.

March

In March I got the second piece of my back tattoo – a half opened rose with a butterfly – and guess who was sitting right beside me, holding my hand. At this point there was no question that he was my best friend. There was hardly a time when we weren’t together. At the end of March I found myself wishing I could slow down time because, although I was anxious to get out of TRADOC and all the bullshit it brought, I wasn’t quite ready to leave the familiarity of Ft. Huachuca and face the real Army. Especially since in the real Army there were things to deal with like orders that placed me halfway across the country from my husband. In March I also had to face the fact that, despite missing my husband, Pikachu and I had a connection that scared me.

April

In April, Pikachu took me out to my favorite restaurant in Nowhere, AZ to celebrate my 20th birthday with delicious Greek food and Baklava. I graduated at the top of my class out of 120 new analysts and headed home, spending my first week of ‘freedom’ showing Pikachu some of my favorite things about Florida life. I was finally reunited with my husband and after sending Pikachu back to his faraway home I made my way to Ft. Bragg, had a very disappointing first night in my new apartment and began settling into the life of a wife.

May

In May I began my work at the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater). It didn’t take long to figure out that the 1st TSC doesn’t function quite like most other units. It’s a beast of a different color. In May I sat my husband down and told him that something had to change, because I didn’t feel he was treating me the way he should. Things changed, for a few hours. A few days later I sat him down again and told him that things really needed to change because I didn’t appreciate him walking all over me and taking advantage of me being there. I was his wife, not his maid. Again, things changed for a few hours, and this time I made up my mind. I deserved better than what he was giving me and if he couldn’t make an honest effort to treat me right, he didn’t deserve me. So I left. In my new Jeep. Which I love.

June

In June Pikachu came out to Ft. Bragg before he deployed to help me get settled into my new apartment. It was a bittersweet visit because neither of us knew what to expect with his deployment. We’d kept in touch pretty well since graduation, and he was the one that was keeping me sane during the initial stage of my separation. He was who I called when the hubby and I decided we wouldn’t be trying to work things out but would instead be filing for a divorce. But, Duty called and he left for that strange place we call Afghaniland. Luckily, we still able to talk fairly frequently, so my sanity didn’t suffer too terribly.

July

In July I drove from Ft. Bragg to PA to visit my sister that I hadn’t seen since my BCT graduation. My dad retired after 30 years in the Marine Corps and I was lucky enough to get time off of work to be there. In July I admitted that I’d fallen in love with Pikachu. In July, we decided to tackle this long-distance relationship thing that neither one of us really wanted to try. You’ve heard them say “long distance never works” I’m sure. We thought we knew what we were getting into. I got lonely and brought baby Kiwi into my life – silly kitten. In July I went through the Army’s Driver’s Training Course to get my license on the HMMWV. Events being what they were, insecurities and jealousies surfaced and we began to realize what makes long distance relationships so hard. But we fought through it.

August

I started going to the gym a couple times a week with some of the guys from work. I reconnected with God in a way that confused me, but I find this connection to still be strong and true. In August I fought with the depression that comes with the territory of being the girlfriend of a deployed soldier. Constant worrying, not enough sleep and increasing stress at work threatened to break me. The only thing that kept me going was knowing he was coming to see me at the end of the month and he’d be all mine for two whole weeks. That and the fresh pain from my fourth tattoo – a scorpion on my ankle.

September

Pikachu was home for the first part of the month, and putting him back on a plane to Afghaniland was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. I had a bit of an emotional breakdown at PT the following morning, and as a direct result, gained a significant amount of respect for the G2’s new SGM. I learned, about three weeks out, that I’d be deploying to Kuwait the first weekend of October, and so the frenzy began. Packing things up and trying to get everything settled before it was time to leave was a new challenge, but I met it. Barely.

October

We left the first of the month and spent more time sitting on the tarmac than we did in the air. We got stranded overnight in Germany and arrived in Kuwait a full day later than we were supposed to. Training was quick, frustrating and confusing, and then it was over and the old team was gone. It didn’t take too long to get settled into our daily routines. A couple weeks in, Pikachu and I managed a phone call, not knowing it’d be the last time we’d hear each others’ voices for a couple of months. I started working out regularly under the guidance of the boss, and when I wasn’t at work or the gym, I was glued to Yahoo, hoping he’d be able to continue answering my emails. Towards the end of the month there was a rather intense, eye-opening email conversation that spanned the length of several days and sleepless nights. But then we heard that he’d be going home early, and that was pushed to a backburner.

November

The beginning of November was tough, learning that rather than going home early he’d be relocating to someplace else in Afghanistan instead. In November I become addicted to working out – became a true endorphin addict. Now I can’t help but wonder if this would still have happened if Pikachu and I had more regular contact. I know I often found myself heading to the gym after being disappointed by an email that didn’t come or contained only a few short words. The gym became my ‘happy place.’ I had my second Thanksgiving surrounded by uniforms and found myself thanking God for all of the amazing men and women I’d had the honor of meeting and serving with so far. And then immediately following Thanksgiving I fell prey to the depression again, but it was worse this time.

December

The combination of being away from home for the holidays and the minimal amount of contact that Pikachu and I were able to maintain had me in a rapid downward spiral to depression that came within an inch of breaking me many different times. Endorphins or not, I was beginning to question the strength of our relationship and whether we’d actually be able to make it through the deployment. I did my best to make sure no one knew what I was going through. And then we talked – and I mean really talked – for the first time in a month and a half or more, and he made me remember why I love him and helped me rediscover the strength I had hidden away that would get me through the rest of the deployment. Christmas came and went, my first away from home, celebrated with an early morning 5k run.

And now, here it is, New Year’s Eve. Less than an hour until the New Year hits and I’ve spent my evening sitting in the office waiting/praying for the phone to ring (and finally getting to talk to Pikachu!) and writing this post. No plates of snack food, sparkling grape juice or champagne. No Times’ Square ball or movie marathons. No family, no New Year’s kiss since the only person I’m interested in kissing is a couple of countries away. In some ways, it’s kind of a bleak ending to a crazy year. In other ways, it’s kind of peaceful. But maybe that’s just my subconscious comparing the stress of last year’s holiday season with the slightly painful ease of this year’s. Either way, it’s been a crazy year with a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for us. It’ll be difficult, with Pikachu changing AOs on me and not knowing how much communication we’ll have during the next few months, but we’ll be home before we know it!

Happy New Year!

31 December 2011 Posted by | Confessions, In the hands of God, Life's what we make it, Sleepless Night Ramblings, That thing called Love, This Army life is crazy | Leave a comment

Confessions about: flirting

I have a confession to make:

I’m a bit of a flirt.

I’m aware of this and have absolutely no problem admitting to it. I think it started in high school. Most of the guys that I hung around were older and single. They were also in ROTC with me, so we spent quite a bit of time with each other. It’s kind of inevitable in ROTC that you end up flirting with almost everyone of the opposite gender. It happens. In fact, it’s practically expected. In my group of friends, flirting was a form of friendly banter that meant you were welcome to stick around – you were part of the group. As such, I’ve always considered it to be a completely harmless and fairly acceptable form of communication with members of the male species. Even from within a relationship, a small amount of outside flirting was still accepted.

Which is why it came as something of a surprise to me when Pikachu told me how much it bothered him.

At first I didn’t understand. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t crossing any lines. It was harmless, so long as I knew when enough was enough. I tried to explain that to him, and I think he understands that I meant no harm by it, but it still made him uncomfortable. It boiled down to him asking me to take a step back and look at it from a different angle – reverse our roles.

There’s more to that story, in the form of a rather long, in-depth and emotional email conversation, but the exact details of that are extremely personal so I’ll leave them out of this.

So, long story short, I told him I’d work on minimizing my flirting. I understand where he’s coming from now because when I took that step back and reversed our roles, I didn’t like what I saw. And so, for the past month, I’ve been doing my best to cut back on my flirting. Hence, the real reason behind today’s post.

Pikachu, I love you. And I’m sorry. I didn’t realize just how much I actually flirted until I tried to stop. I promise, those guys never meant anything to me. My passing smiles are now friendly but as flirt free as I can manage. There are no coy glances across briefings, no “harmlessly” flirtatious emails between 2-shops. Now, if I meet a guy, it’s either business or friendly. If they flirt with me, I don’t return the action and so far, they’ve all backed off fairly quickly once they’ve realized I won’t take the bait. A conversation can be friendly without flirting. Who knew? But perhaps the most important thing for you to know in regards to this situation is that even with the significant decrease in male attention, I don’t feel at all attention deprived. I can now confidently say that I wasn’t flirting because I was unhappy with you or the amount of attention I was getting from you. It was simply just what I was used to doing. But no more. I am yours and yours alone and my flirting is reserved for you.

Just thought you should know.

10 November 2011 Posted by | Confessions, Long distance love | Leave a comment

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25 April 2011 Posted by | Confessions | Enter your password to view comments.

Confessions of a red-head

I’ve been a red-head for just over a week now, and after eight days of people asking why I dyed my hair, I’ve finally decided to reveal the answer to those bold enough to venture this far into the NIPRNET (that’s the un-class network, for those of you that are slightly less acronym savvy).

So, why is it that I, a natural born blond, suddenly decided to dye my hair copper without telling anyone about it first?

It’s quite simple really.

I wanted to see how many people would notice.

And take the time to comment.

See? Simple.

Call me vain if you want, but that’s not it. I just woke up one morning and found myself among this group of people that I barely know. Yes, I know their names (well, most of them anyway), and some of them I actually know something about, but those people are few and far between. I find myself rather lacking in people that I’d consider “friends” out here. Acquaintances, I’ve got plenty of, but even though the Army has instilled a new sense of courage and confidence in me, I still seem slow to make friends. Real friends, not the kind that I’ll hang out with while I’m here and then never communicate with again. Real, honest to God friends that I’ll want to keep in touch with after we graduate and go on to do bigger and better things.

I can count my actual ‘friends’ here on one hand. Then there are my classmates, the guys that hit on me and the ones that I flirt back with, the people I went to basic with, and the ones that I have something else in common with. And then there are my friends. My current room mate who was my battle buddy more often than my old room mate, and one of my classmates that actually likes hanging out outside of class. These two people are the only ones that I would actually consider ‘friends.’ Everyone else just doesn’t quite cut it.

So, long story short – I know who I know, but I wanted to see who actually knew who I was, what I looked like. I wanted to see how many people, outside of those that I hang out with all the time, would actually notice that something was different and would comment on it. I wanted to see who actually knew about my existence. I got a pretty good reaction. The funny part though, was when people who don’t really know me would ask ‘did you dye your hair?’ and I’d say, with a straight face, ‘no,’ and they’d shrug and walk away, confused because they could have sworn that my hair was a different color, but they must be imagining things because I’d said I hadn’t dyed it.

14 February 2011 Posted by | Confessions, Life's what we make it | Leave a comment