Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Making Strides...

Just last Friday, I submitted the last of the required paperwork to a university in the northeast that has exactly the creative writing program I want to take on. I'm so excited! Without jinxing myself, I feel really good about getting in. It's not for sure, of course, but I know I have what it takes, and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to learn and grow and come into my skill.

Meanwhile, it's a low-residency program, which means twice a year, I spend a week on campus. The rest of the semester takes place at my computer, in my home.

Needless to say, the first semester is going to be so tough. If I get in, I'll be jetting off to classes during the countdown to Deployment The Second. That will suck foil-coated rancid Easter chocolate balls. Then I'll spend the entire first semester working through the courses and beginning on a novel while YodaMan is chugging around the Pacific Ocean. Then about a week after he returns from that wonderful deployment, I once again jet off for more classes.

All together now, say with me: "Aarrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!"

In other news, India is exporting more than just yoga and tech-job despair. Welcome Indian Supervirus! I have just been indoctrinated into what was called both "Chennaitis" and "Chennai-arrhea" while the guys were deployed. Nimitz made a stop in India - rather historic, too - and for their efforts pulled away with a virulent bugger that took down the entire crew in such a steady stream that the ship had only 50% of its staff standing and working at any given moment. Keep in mind they only had 24 hours SIQ to deal with it. I'm working through day 5 right now. :/

That's right. Somehow, after the bug they caught three months ago had plenty of time to die off and wither away, it somehow managed to reconstitute itself and infect our kids, then me, then my friends. In fact, many Nimitz families have been down for the count with this wonderful bug. Unreal. It's rather gnarly. The vomiting portion alone, which only constituted half a day for me, was violent enough that I managed to pop a huge blood vessel in my left eye.

On the upside, I have one-upped all my friends on Halloween costuming this year. One friend has likened the ick factor of my eye to Mal's after getting pummeled at the end of the movie "Serenity." [All hail Joss Whedon!] I was going to get a pic of it and iconize it so I could pass an image of Stank Eye when I was giving said reproof to someone. Alas, I could not get YodaMan to cooperate, and now the blood pool of death has faded from a Styxian nightmare to a mere Wes Craven movie. Too much yellow as the eyeball recovers, so the Stank is lost. ::sigh::

The kids have been sweet through it all, though. Son the Elder has peeled back my eyelid so he could ogle the Puddle of Ebola Horror, point, and yell, "Eeeewwwwwww, Mama! You need a band-aid!" As I lay on the couch and prayed I would issue forth no further intestinal Niagara Falls-level abomination, they brought me ginger ale and insisted I drink to make my tummy all better. They've even offered me half-masticated crackers to help me digest my own stomach more easily. Aren't they cute?

Then two seconds later, they devolve from perfect angel to fallen angel.

My life is SO cool.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Call to Arms (Not Navy Related)

On MSNBC's webpage this morning, I read an article that made my little heart go pitty-pat: "Recalls spur demand for American playthings."

That's right, a redux on the current Chinese efforts to eradicate the rest of the world by sticking massive amounts of lead into toys, food, coffee mugs, baby bibs, etc. As one of the parents of children who actually suffered from the incompetence of American inspections, the greed of the American consumer and its toy-making enablers, and the unbelievable behavior of Chinese toy makers, I'm heartened when I read that other parents are also reading the Made In labels and putting back items of Chinese origin.

This effort has been very difficult. I've had to pass on items that I actually need (not luxury, but stuff that would make tasks easier, like a steamer insert for pots, toddler bedding, etc.) along with the extra niceties that would have been cool, like holiday decorations. All Made In China. After the first four months of this year, there's no WAY I'll ever be comfortable buying anything made outside of the US, and I'm pretty sure at this point I'll be that crotchety old 92 year-old granny who bitches endlessly about some sixty-year-old topic that doesn't even apply anymore. It'll be me in my rocking chair, on yet another tirade about Chinese lead leeching into our American soil while the great-grandkids roll their eyes and sneak Chinese-made candy to me.

But back to the article. It quotes American toy manufacturers who've seen big growth after each recall this past summer, then follows with warnings that these are temporary and only related to immediate fear. In other words, our MTV microwave minds can't recall beyond a few months how dangerous it is these days to purchase Chinese items that may end up in or near the mouths of our littles.

"It's a blip," said New York-based toy consultant Chris Byrne. "In the fourth quarter, a lot of purchases are made based on supplications to the North Pole — and the phrase 'country of origin' isn't in the vocabulary of children writing to Santa."

After four months of puking and diarrhea that streamed out of diapers to coat walls and floors, after four months of ruined clothes and mattresses, after four months of retarded growth and stunted learning, I beg to differ. My kids know full well now when I say, "No, sweetie, that one's made in China, and that can make you sick again," what it means. They're only 2 and 3, but they understand. And it's an attitude I'll be sure to continue to drum into them until either Chinese manufacturers crack down on their own or American companies forgo that extra bit of pocket change in exchange for consumers who might actually survive to purchase other products.

So hear this: I challenge each of you to at least look at the country of origin when you go to purchase a product. Look one time. It might be the deciding factor in whether to purchase something. It might have no impact. But at least be aware of how incredibly addicted we are to getting what we want right now, on the cheap, regardless of the dangers.

Two months ago, I only looked at toys. Now I look at everything since clearly the problem is more widespread than we at first thought. Check it out for yourselves. If we throw off the shackles of automaton consumerism, it can only be a good thing.

Right?

And never mind the amount of insane packaging that will no longer end up in our landfills if we each were just a little more discriminatory in our purchases....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oh, almost forgot something funny...

I totally didn't blog this last week and I truly meant to.

The family goes to get some ice cream for the kids the other day in lieu of a real lunch (I opt for a sandwich - aren't you proud?). As we leave, I hear someone say something behind me, and while I initially ignore it as background noise, something triggers me to turn and see if it isn't random after all.

Indeed, it is not. Someone is speaking to me. Someone I don't know. If I'd been "back home" in the South, I'd have thought nothing of it, launched into my life story, handed over my social security number, invited him home for dinner, offered to hook him up with my sister and dentist and GYN, etc. But I'm in SoCal and have been away from "home" long enough now that I'm immediately on edge when a stranger says anything besides "Would you like whipped cream on that latte?" to me.

So I immediately scan the speaker for weapons, insanity gleaming in his eyes, an unhealthy appetite for small children, etc. He seems fairly normal, for someone who'd randomly speak to a stranger in SoCal, so I do the 'scuse me dance.

"Do you work at Pendleton?" he asks.

My eyes shoot to the military tag on the car, and I shake my head. "No, we just went there to get our tags because it's closer than 32nd Street."

"Oh," says he, then points to his companion. "She worked at Balboa."

OH NOOOSSES! my brain screams. Balboa. A.K.A Bal-blow-ah, The Pride of Navy Medicine, the teaching hospital for the west coast sailors and Marines who are unlucky enough to become ill or injured within a Life Flight trip's distance.

Instead, I smile and nod. "I've been there many times," I say aloud. More times than I care to think about, I think, and yet I live to tell the tale! When I'm not feeling sensitive to the feelings of others, anyway.

The female companion turns and gives me a half-smile, and I have a sudden shot of insight bury itself in my core. I realize the smile is one of apology, or at least partially so.

Regardless, I decide to haul ass out of there since being in the presence of anyone affiliated with Navy medicine these days makes my ass twitch, hives sprout all over my body, and my liver shut down. Fascinating that the reaction to them is still so visceral, and it's only been about half a year since we finally wrested our sprogs away from the negligence and incompetence of the Navy Hospital at Camp Pendleton.

Anyway, nothing hilarious or life-altering, but I thought the sitch was bizarre and oddly telling... and hence worth sharing.

Snark-Free... for now!

Amazingly, I have nothing to bitch about today. That's new for me since I've managed to see something crappy about every Navy-filled day of the last thirteen years. Is it surrender? Maturity? A ball gag? Or - gasp - maybe I genuinely have not been confronted by anything nasty in the realm of Navy?

I'm not holding my breath, mind you. Could still be a ball gag I haven't quite gotten wise to.

The past several days have been overwhelming, between hosting a spiritual gathering this past weekend in beautiful Julian, preparing to walk the 3 Day in a month, whining about my wrist and my knee bothering me, and applying to Seton Hill University's Master's degree program in Writing Popular Fiction. Yeah. Lots going on. And not a bit of it snark-worthy.

Unless my knee warrants snarkage. But since it has only just decided to crap out on me, after thirty-some years of tender use, the ungrateful sodding joint, I really can't whine too much yet. Yeah, it hurts. Wah. Tomorrow it'll be fine again. [Note to knee: Timing could be better. Please to work on that.]

I've also decided lately that it's time to pursue some of my physical interests. Namely, yoga and tribal belly dance. I need the workout, and my body screams for movement that encourages my increasingly kala lifestyle. I haven't seen any tribal teachers in the San Diego area, so I might be screwed outside of DVDs. But that's fine, since I dance like a white girl strapped to a tree trunk with poisoned barbs and cheap drugstore no-heat bikini wax strips. Much better to get the feel for the style in the privacy of my own home before instilling a dark nugget of despair in the hearts of all who witness the travesty that is my dancing.

Bah! Stay tuned. I'm sure in another three or four days the Navy will pull more of its shenanigans, and I'll be back, snark firmly in hand, flailing away at the injustice of it all.
;) Kidding, universe! That was *not* an invitation! Kthxbye.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wow!

Something strange happened today.

YodaMan announced the plan for the deployment happening early next year. The plan includes tentative dates, which ::drumroll:: total only FOUR months! OMG OMG OMG hawtness.

Then I sat back and thought about it. Four month deployment. Four months, not six.

It's amazing to me that another six months' separation seemed unsurvivable. But four months... piece of cake!

I know it's not. Four will be hard. At the four month point of this past deployment, I was already half-gray and crying in my nightly toddy, sneaking handfuls of cat food, cackling at random strangers, hording voodoo dolls and labeling them with various names from the current chain of command, and cruising eBay for the "going rates" for toddler boys.

However, I'll just convince myself that it was the 2/3 point that had me sobbing, that four months being Not the End of Deployment was what had me going so nuts. Just under three months will be the 2/3 point of the next one. So maybe I can survive it. Four will be hard, but it won't be impossible.

Another six would have been impossible.

New personal theme song: I Will Survive