Thursday, July 31, 2008
I did not go to sleep until about two ay-em. At three-thirty that Tuesday morning, I had to get up and go to the airport. Rich dropped me off, and I checked in both my suitcase and duffel bag for $46 (American Airlines charges not just for the second piece of baggage, but ALL pieces). When the woman behind the counter asked for my ID, I presented my military ID (which makes the airport nonsense run just a tad smoother for me). Upon seeing that I was a member of this nation's armed forces, she promptly informed me that I was not required to pay to to have my baggage checked in, and I was given a refund.
I slept on the flight to Miami. I chilled out in Miami for a few hours. On the way to San Juan, my contacts became so hazy that I couldn't read my book (The Diana Chronicles, by Tina Brown...very good). So I chucked them down the sink in the lavatory and put on my glasses.
I landed in San Juan and walked to claim my luggage. After an eternity, my duffel bag came. After another eternity had passed, it occurred to me that perhaps my suitcase would not be making an appearance. So I want to make a claim, and had to deal with a man with no sense of urgency and a pronounced lisp, who felt the need to translate everything I told him from English to Spanish under his breath as he ever so slowly typed in the information.
I finally met up with The 'Rents and The Sis, and was surprisingly subdued over the loss of my suitcase. Three years ago, the last time I was in Puerto Rico, I landed to find my suitcase damaged, which put me in a bad temper. Then, inexplicably, my right breast became exposed to the fiendish delight of some young airport employees. This put me in a towering rage, and I screamed vulgarities at them in English which they no doubt understood.
So here I am, three years later, my suitcase MIA...and I'm merely subdued. Bummed. Shows how far I've come in stressing over things that are beyond my control. I console myself with a greasy, cheesy, heart-stopping Baconator from Wendy's, and we get into the rental car for the drive to Adjuntas.
We arrive at my grandmother's, get fed, and stay up late, all four of us, discussing anything and everything from movies to history to whatever else crossed our minds. At some point we saw my fifteen-year-old cousin Rodolfo, who has lost weight and now wears glasses, and my cousin Ada, now twelve years old. Rodolfo currently lives alone in the house next-door to my grandmother since his father, my aunt Millie's ex-husband, moved out to go live with a girlfriend or something like that. Naturally I was outraged when told, and couldn't (and still don't) understand why he doesn't live with my grandmother or go live with his mother and step-father in Montana. Well, my grandmother feeds him, but apparently he doesn't want to live in Montana (he's fifteen years old, he's not old enough to have a choice in the matter!!), and besides, he's doing well in school and soon Millie and her husband, Brock, plan on moving to Puerto Rico and into that house, which belongs to Millie in the first place. Whatever.
On Wednesday, we go to my Aunt Aracelis' house to see her and my cousins Geramy and Antonio. We also see Sasha, a friend of Geramy's and the niece of Noemí, a woman who went to school with my mom and Aracelis. We let Aracelis know that the physical address provided for the delivery of my suitcase is hers (my grandmother's house has no physical address, as she lives on the side of a mountain; my aunt lives twenty minutes away in a more urbanized neighborhood on said mountain). We leave my mom with my aunt to look up classmates on Facebook and make fun of them, and take off to mooch on my Uncle Fred's wireless.
I call the 800 number provided by the airline a few times, but the automated voice thingy isn't telling me anything relevant. So after a few hours (and a delicious meal provided by Fred's wife, Cuca), I get a hold of a living, breath representative, who informs me that my suitcase is living it up back in Miami, and she has no clue when it will make it's merry way to San Juan. Frustrated, I hang up. We go back to Aracelis' house, and my dad calls the airline to speak to another rep. After being told that the airline pretty much could care less about my suitcase and my lack of clothing for the coming week which they will not reimburse me for, my dad bitches him/her out and says that if my suitcase isn't put on the next flight out, he's getting a lawyer. And he hangs up.
That evening my parents take me to Plaza del Caribe, the mall in Ponce (where I was born) to buy me clothing. We see my Uncle Edwin, who is head of maintenance at the mall. I get some shirts, pants, and (thank God) underwear, and we head back to my grandma's.
On Thursday, the vacation finally swings into action. We drive up to San Juan for some tourism. I call the 800 number again, and this time the automated voice tells me that my suitcase has arrived in San Juan, is scheduled for pickup at 0800 and should be delivered within six hours, hooray!! Meanwhile, we walk the Paseo del Morro (a trail along the seashore that winds around the fortress of Castillo San Felipe del Morro), and we see a lot of stray cats that Trish photographs (she plans on putting together a photo essay concerning these poor animals; or more information on their plight, go to Save a Gato) and Puerto Rico's version of Charlie Brown's Kite-Eating Tree.
We then walk over El Morro itself, and my dad and I continue on while we leave Trish and Mom to chill out on the grass and watch the people with their kites (the inevitable victims of said Kite-Eating Tree). I'm so stoked about El Morro, because I haven't walked through there in at least eight years. It's better than I remembered, and the view is amazing.
We end our excursion with a delicious meal at a restaurant called Raíces. I ordered for the main course mofongo relleno y churrasco (mashed plantains stuffed with a delicious and tender skirt steak), and for desert I had flan de queso (cheese flan!!). We headed back to Adjuntas, and I was looking forward to attending the Patron Festival that night in the pueblo, but it was rained out, same as the night before. On the bright side, we were able to go get my suitcase from my aunt's house, yay!!
On Friday we went with my Uncle Fred for a long drive along the southwestern coast of the island. Our intention was to see the lighthouse in Cabo Rojo; my dad loves lighthouses and photographing them. Unfortunately the road to it was closed off for the day. So we scoped out the salt flats real quick (apparently said salt flats are Puerto Rico's oldest industry), and then ate at a seaside restaurant that I walked away from with a lot of bug bites.
On Saturday, I woke up with the beginning of a sore throat, courtesy of Trish, whom I'd been sharing a bed with. We left my mom with my grandma and went to San Juan so that the two photographers could do their thing while I enjoyed the sightseeing. Well, we arrive only to find that my sister had left her memory card two hours away in Adjuntas. So we drove around for more than an hour trying to find her a memory card so that the day wouldn't be wasted. Finally we found the mall that we used to go to all the time, Plaza Carolina, and found the card in a Radio Shack packed with people and a child screaming so loud I thought he was going to choke and die right there.
My dad then drove us to the rain forest El Yunque, and he and Trish got some lovely shots of the surrounding mountains from the top of a tower. They got some great shots at La Coca Falls as well. At this point the bug that I'd caught from Trish, as well as a very stiff and sore right ankle from the San Juan trek a two days prior, was bringing me down. I was feeling lethargic, my throat was hurting more and more, and I was getting chills.
From El Yunque we were driving along the through a town called Loiza, and I was laying down in the backseat when the two paparazzi I was stuck with began exclaiming in excitement. I shot up in my seat to see that we had literally driven right smack into Carnaval de Loiza!! My dad parked, and we ran around taking it all in. After a while we walk into a store to get some water. I'm starting to feel a tad weak at this point. We go back outside, and after a few minutes I become lightheaded and almost pass out. I try to tell my dad, but he's distracted and not paying attention. So what else is new??
We get back in the car and eventually get out of the town (traffic was crazy backed up), and I make every attempt to get comfortable, but it's not happening. After a couple of hours we stop at El Mesón, a sandwich shop, and eat. We get back to Adjuntas at last where I take a Motrin and crawl into bed. I am full blown sick at this point and I have a fever. Fortunately the Motrin gets rid of it, and a few hours later when everyone is heading to Uncle Edwin's to watch a boxing match, I'm able to tag along.
It was Miguel Cotto (from Puerto Rico) against Antonio Margarito (from Mexico). The Mexican won, damnit.
On Sunday I'm not feeling to hot, but DayQuil keeps me going. We drive to Ponce for the day, and I enjoy myself fairly well. I get some souvenirs for myself, The Boyfriend, and The Brother. My dad took us to see The Cross in Ponce, and across the road was Castillo Serralles. We also saw the Parque de Bomba, and went to La Guancha, the boardwalk, where I chowed on empanadillas and a shrimp pincho, and Trish spotted some authentic looking Taino folk whom I bought a ring from.
That night I went with my dad and Uncle Fred to the fiesta, finally. We saw my dad's friend Raymond, who was the only person on the entire island curious enough to ask about my divorce. (I was surprised, I expected more nosiness.) I kinda stood around bored while my dad greeted and chatted up his high school buddehs. I then spotted Noemí and her drunk boyfriend, who kept going on about "la maleta" (my poor suitcase). I spoke with Noemí for a while, and not once did she speak English to me or encourage me to speak English, even though she can speak it well herself. So I got to stumble and stutter over this forgotten language while she and another fellow asked me about military life, more or less embarrassing myself.
Act II, The Sickness.
I'm dropped off at the airport to find that my flight to Orlando has been delayed FOUR HOURS as they wait on a mechanical part to come in from Dallas. I am bewildered; this is eerily reminiscent of three years ago, when the flight out of San Juan was delayed an hour while they fixed the brakes. I go to speak to the guy behind the counter to find out what the hell I'm supposed to do, since the plane would be landing AFTER my connecting flight takes off, and as I waited in line he came over the intercom asking for me. He threw out my old tickets and gave me new ones, telling me as he did so that I'd been re-routed through Miami and that my luggage had already been transferred. Sweet!!
I felt like shit on the way to Miami, sitting there in my seat curled up in a ball. We land, and I set out to get my hands on some DayQuil, stat. I get that, some water, and some Vick's Vitamin C supplements, yum. I sat around eating half the box while I waited...and waited...and waited some more. Oh, noes!! The pilot has been delayed coming from New York!!
Are you fucking kidding me?? Will I ever make it back to St Louis??
We finally take off, forty minutes late. I still wasn't feeling hot, but I wasn't dying so I just sat back and enjoyed an episode each of How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement, and The Big Bang Theory. Finally, after a long day of The Sickness, I touchdown in St Louis and meet up with Rich at M1 to get my luggage. And we wait. And wait. And wait some more. I happened to glance at the screen for M2...and my flight information was posted there. Wow. Thanks. So we went over there and waited...and waited...and...you get the idea. I happened to see the reflection off the metal of the carousel, and I saw my suitcase. I walked around the desk next to me, and there it was next to my duffel bag.
Later that night, I was really feeling like shit as Rich tried to put me to bed. I wasn't any better the next morning, so I went to sick call that afternoon and got hooked up with lots and lots of Motrin and some kickass antibiotics that started working almost immediately.
Act III, MORE GODDAMN SPIDERS.
There's a line of spider webbing that starts at my driver's side view mirror and connects to the driver's side door. I saw no spider yesterday or today, so I was trying to ignore it. I was driving to work, and suddenly I saw a spider the size of a quarter without the legs hanging onto that bit of webbing for dear life. I was instantly in fight-or-flight mode and terrified, on the verge of tears. At the red light before the gate I watched as it cautiously made it's way to the mirror and SLID BEHIND IT.
Once I had parked, I climbed out my car on the passenger side (yes, my phobia is that bad), and walked into work feeling miserable. A few hours later one of my favorite sub-accountants , NM, offered to come out and kill it for me. So we went to my car and saw that the webbing was gone. NM tapped all around the mirror to no avail. He suggested that the spider had moved on, which I very much doubted at the time, but perhaps the spider decided that living on my car was not worth the wild roller coaster ride of my daily commute. Regardless, I will have someone else take a look at the damn mirror. That spider was orange and black, a color combo I have never seen on any spider. If anyone knows what the hell that thing is...wait, never mind, I DO NOT want to know. Not now, not in a million years. I just want it removed from my vehicle, dead or alive.
Epilogue: Belated review of The Dark Knight.
Awesome. Go see it. NAO.
Friday, July 18, 2008
The Brother received an e-mail from his ex who is stationed in another country, whom I delight in referring to as the Red-Haired Succubus. She sent him this e-mail:
Subject: Distance is the problem, Watson.
Do words exist that could entice you to come hither for a hug and a
visit? Well, unfortunately not here exactly... [city named removed to protect said succubus]. In a couple days. Or a month or so?
Here's my attempt:
I have Belgian chocolate.
If you can't come in person, all other forms of hugs will be accepted...
I strongly suggested to him the following response:
Subject: Watson says, "Distance is no problem for me!!"
No, wicked succubus, there are no words that could lure me into your frigid embrace that I was fortunate to escape once. Who knows if, once there, I would be able to make that desperate escape again??
No, madame, not for all the chocolate in the world (or Guinness for that matter, so don't even try it) would I depart my safe haven here in the Midwest. Not in a few days, not in a month, not anytime in the next century.
If you're so desperate for a piece, try the locals, I hear red hair fascinates them.
Until we speak again (and may it not be too soon, for the love of Christ) I remain the one and only
Brother's response?? "Brutal."
Indeed. But worth it if one could witness the reaction on that pale, narrow face.
I couldn't stop myself from sharing this with The Parents and The Sister. Yeah, I'm a nutjob.
After blogging yesterday afternoon, it occurred to me that the smart thing to do would be to just go and see him and tell him how I'm feeling.
Easier said than done.
Mostly, I just sat there next to him in silence. While he sat there next to me, watching me and waiting. And suddenly I couldn't find the words. How do I tell him how I feel without coming off as being completely selfish and self-centered?? I want this for him, I really do. I just don't want him to leave. It's going to be a whole year of not seeing him, not hugging him, not kissing him. A whole year without having him at my side. I have a month to get used to this, and it's not gonna happen. Until the day he flies home and I throw my arms around him again, it's gonna be the hardest thing to deal with.
On a lighter note, I'm going to be taking a grand total of four classes this coming semester. Elementary Spanish I and Basic Algebra are full-term courses (yeah, remedial math...what can I say, bad math skills are genetic in my family), but I really scored with management. I need two management classes for my Community College of the Air Force degree, and I'm going to be able to wipe out both of them this semester because they're offering Entrepreneur Basics and Business Plan Basics back-to-back as accelerated (one month) courses; EP from August to September, and BPB from October to November. How awesome?!
Once this semester is done, I still need to take another remedial math course before I can take one that will count towards my CCAF, and then I think I'm done. I'm gonna be going to school non-stop through next summer, but it'll be worth it if I can graduate before I separate from the military. I won't have another chance, and it's what I get for putting it off for so long, but I can't wait. Hooray!!
Then I can get to work on my history and psychology degrees. Whew, I got a long way to go.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The more I think about Rich leaving, the more I feel panicky and upset. I should really be talking to this about him, but I hope he’ll forgive me; I can’t keep it in any longer.
I don’t want him to leave. It a whole year!! To the other side of the world!! Why couldn’t someone offer him $130K to stay here?!
I’m a big girl. I can deal.
I’m afraid to find out. But I’m going to, whether I like it or not.
It’s the end of the second day of this suckiness, and I’m on the verge of tears. I went to his place for dinner last night. When I left, he gave me a hug and a kiss. I had to fight the urge to cry right there in front of him. He hasn’t even left, and this is already incredibly hard to deal with it.
Watching him leave is going to be the hardest thing I ever do.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The company that originally wanted Rich to do a one-year stint for them overseas (six-figure salary) finally called him back on the heels of him finding out that another job he was wanting would possibly have to cut back the pay the originally offered him because he didn't have two years of "general experience" on top of the six years of specialized experience that he already had.
So which one do you think he's gonna take??
I told him before I'd support him in whatever he chose to do, that I wouldn't leave him just because he'll be gone for a year. But then they never called back, and then this job became more of a reality in the past week-and-a-half.
And to be honest...I was a little relieved. He'd have a good paying job, and not have to go anywhere. Selfish of me, you may think. You'd think wrong.
Because if for some insane reason he asked for my opinion, you better believe I'd tell him to go Afghanistan. And why the hell not?! Earning nearly twice what the local job is willing to pay him at this point, gaining a lot more experience, and getting approximately 30 days of vacation time per year on top of that??
Ladies and gentlemen, The One and Only Leach has just informed me that he had a bagel this morning. No information concerning the type of bagel, the condiments used, or the accompanying beverage has yet been forthcoming. However, we will keep you posted.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Once upon a time, a girl asked a guy, 'Will you marry me?'
The guy said, 'No,' and the girl lived happily ever after and
went shopping, drank martinis with friends, always had a clean house,
never had to cook, had a closet full of shoes and handbags,
stayed skinny, and was never farted on.
What a lovely thought. Heh.
So I got to chatting via e-mail with a former co-worker, Joe, the other day. He lives in Alaska now, and is deployed. He said when he got out, he'd probably come back to the Midwest since he and Kristina liked it so much out here. I asked him if he'd married her yet (I still remember how excited he was when he popped the question to her several years ago when he still lived out here.) He more or less told me that they would probably never get married. He still thinks proposing to her was the most awesome thing he could ever do, but he's since come to the conclusion that one does not need an official piece of paper in order to spend one's life with a significant other. He explained this to Kristina, and she was completely understanding of his desire for them to simply be "life partners."
And why not?? It's still working for Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.
I am at the moment engrossed in a blog entitled Dump the Chump, wherein the author, Almost, regales her audience with tales concerning the trials and tribulations of her divorce from her paranoid and ridiculous Ex. I'm loving every word of it.
I think the idea of a life partner is a beautiful idea. To be with someone your whole life, not because you feel you have to, but because it's what you want every day of your life. These days that piece of legal paper that bounds you to someone seems more and more like validation for someone who may not be entirely secure with themselves or their relationship, and less and less like a mere symbol of a promise to be faithful and stick together through good times and bad. Like that paper is going to guarantee that your significant other will always be there, will never leave you.
But that's just not always the case. And thank God, because if it were Eric and I would be friends locked in misery who would eventually have come to resent and possibly hate each other. We ended things before it could turn into a train wreck, and we're happier for it. Unfortunately, some wait until long after the wreck to finally, reluctantly call it quits.
I told myself and everyone around me as soon as Eric and I separated that I would probably never marry again. It's not that I'm jaded from my failed attempt, I just don't wanna make that mistake again. To my surprise, the boyfriend did not like hearing me say this. "I might wanna get married in a few years. So, what, when I'm ready get married, I can't, because you don't want to??"
I still say I'll never get married, but...I don't really mean it anymore. I mean, if I spend the rest of my life being someone's life partner, that's fine with me...I think. I don't know. The thought of getting married again isn't as scary as it was months ago.
My relationship with my boyfriend is by no means temporary. We've been together for more than ten months, and we're still going strong. He says he's in this for the long haul; if he's in this for the long haul, then so am I. I can easily see myself being with him for the rest of my life; loving together, fighting together, laughing together.
Too soon to tell. There's a big difference, in my opinion, between spending one's life with a significant other, and making a legal commitment to another person.
I think, though, that if the right person were to ask me...I wouldn't say no.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Tuesday: The payment for my traffic ticket was returned to me because there wasn't postage on the envelope when I dropped in the drop box by the post office labeled "traffic ticket payments".
Wednesday: Talked down to, as usual, when attempting to offer reassurance. That's what I get, I guess. Then spent twenty fucking minutes trying to find parking. And finally, checked my bank account to find that I have five dollars in savings and less then eight dollars in checking.
And, really, I bring all this on myself.
- The coffee maker leaked because I forgot to replace a vital piece.
- I should have already been keeping my card at work, not in my wallet.
- I should have paid the damn ticket on time.
- I should have learned long ago this person doesn't want my reassurance.
- I shouldn't leave so late for lunch when I know that I'm not gonna find a spot at 1:40 in the afternoon.
- I shouldn't have gotten an apartment that costs me $665 a month. When Rich invited me to move in with him, I should have taken him up on his offer. But I didn't wanna dump the cats. That's what I get for being attached to the ungrateful wretches.
The only good news this week is that Rich finally has interview with company he wants to work for.
Why am I here??
Monday, July 7, 2008
I think it's time to get a second job. I considered a Falcon Loan from the Family Support Center, which pays out up to $500, but I don't wanna go that route. When you gotta take out loans just to pay the bills, you need to stop and take a closer look at your finances. I've already made my No-no list for the rest of this pay period: no fast food, no quickies at the gas station (ie soda, candy, etc), no books, no magazines, no toys, no socializing that involves me spending money or wasting gas. And I'm gonna have to start cutting that stuff out permanently. I have food in my fridge, I don't need to go to Taco Bell. I have water at home, and I'm supposed to be on a diet, so I don't need to buy a soda when I'm thirsty. Why throw away my change at the snack fund when I can bring stuff from home?? And I have plenty of books at home that I haven't read yet. And if my friends want me to come hang out, they'll just need to understand that I'm not gonna stick around for long if they're hitting up the bar or driving across the river (unless they wanna drive me and pay my way?? Ha!!).
So, yeah, definitely time to get a second job. I'm thinking Barnes & Noble. Job applications are available online.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Simi has taken to napping on it.
Ya' know how cats knead stuff that they wanna curl up on?? Simi does that. But with the Baby Seal...he sinks his fangs into and then kneads it. Like the Baby Seal is gonna put up a fight.
I thought it was funny.
I would like to replace SrA Deviousness for this [assignment]. I have the [required] training already. To paraphrase a good movie "You want me on this [assignment], you need me on this [assignment]." What paperwork do I need to complete to replace The Deviousness on this mission?
The Greatest Supervisor of All Time
I'm not gonna lie. It's a weight off my shoulders if they take him up on this.
Now, let's switch gears here. I have a talent for royally screwing myself over from time to time. Underage drinking in the dorms, not paying my government credit card in time, etc. And it seems I've done it again.
A while back, I got my first ever speeding ticket. Oh, what a milestone. Well, the guy wrote a date on the ticket, 27 May, but I couldn't figure out whether that was the deadline for paying the ticket, or if I had to go court on that date. So, I decided to pay the ticket and not worry about the rest.
One slight problem: I forgot to pay it.
I got a letter in the mail the order stating that I had missed my court date, and that I had to show on 7 July, or a warrant would be issued for my arrest. So I'm thinking I was supposed to go to court and pay the ticket then. I wonder how much trouble I'm in??
Don't bother lecturing me. Don't bother calling me up and blistering my ears. I've kicked myself enough, thank you. I'm a big girl; I got myself in this mess, I'll get myself out of it on my own.
DM called 'em up. See, on my ticket it never specified whether or not I was supposed to show for court. Also, and this is a tad frustrating, there's NO PHONE NUMBER anywhere on the ticket or the envelope given to me in case I have questions. DM looked up a number, made a call, and whomever he spoke to said just to drop off the money (late fee included) in the envelope into the mailbox at the courthouse, and I wouldn't have to worry about the court date.
See, I would have just gone to court. I have gained knowledge for future speeding tickets.
Much much later...
I don't know what to do for the fourth of joolie.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I don't even know where the hell I'd be going!! And naturally the boyfriend isn't completely psyched for it, and neither am I. But I'm not as upset today as I was when they tried to ping me a while back. For one, I'm not the same person I was a year ago. Emotionally and mentally, I have improved a hundred times over, so I'm pretty confident I'll be able to keep my head above the water this time. I've done this already, so I know this time around what to expect. And finally...there is no sense of dread. I feel better about this time around. Last time, as soon as the words, "I'll do it" were out of my mouth, I knew I would regret it. This time, not so much.
Rich commented that I didn't sound as upset this time. I told him I had no room to be depressed, because I'm too busy stressing about what to do now. Living arrangements for three cats (because no one in their right mind would take in three cats, let alone just the one if it was Simi), putting all my stuff into storage (I'm still getting stuff from the house!! I'm barely unpacked!!), breaking my lease (goody, house hunting upon my return), finding someone to start my car for me once in a while (at least I'll be saving on gas money). Oh, what fun.
Several hours later...
Afghanistan. It's to Afghanistan. Requesting training in my line of work, which leadership calls "an omen". Alright, now I'm feeling a little weird. If it was Qatar, fine, I've done that. But this is definitely the unknown...living in tents and what have you. Possibly carrying firearms?! Me?! Watch out, she's got a gun!!
I think I'm gonna vomit.
DM, my supervisor, wants to take it for me. I mean, this is all still up in the air, they won't know for sure till the end of the week, but apparently he wants to do this. It's not even his rotation!! He has to ask the significant other, and talk to the head man, but that's right decent of him. I mean, I'd be bothered if he was doing it just to get me off the hook. But he genuinely wants to go, so it's cool with me.
Ugh, I just wanna know for sure already.