Saturday, March 07, 2009

Monday, October 06, 2008

Woe Is Me

Gary and I have tossed around the idea of having another baby from time to time. With him returning for R&R soon, we decided now was the time to decide for sure – baby or no baby.

Today I had an appointment for family planning. I had been told by my primary doctor that another baby was not a good idea. Today the OB/GYN confirmed it – no more babies for me.

I had pre-eclampsia with both Vicky and Gunner. This is the reason they took Gunner at 30 weeks. The doctor feels my chances of having pre-eclampsia –if I were to even get pregnant – would be greater than 50%. I would be a high risk pregnancy. I would most likely spend most of the time on bed rest and in the hospital – the hospital two hours away.

It would be selfish to get pregnant.

This doesn’t make it easier to handle. I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted another baby, but to be told not to was crushing.

While I realize women are far more than just a vessel to carry a baby, it is one of our most primal functions. To bear children. To procreate. Suddenly I feel useless. As ridiculous as it is, I feel useless.

I don’t see other women who can’t or don’t have children as useless. I just feel that I have absolutely nothing more to offer anyone. Yes, it’s very dramatic; however, it’s exactly how I feel.

When I told Gary today he said he was disappointed but my health wasn’t worth the risk. I want to believe him, but a strong part of me wonders why he’s married to me of all people. I’m over five years older than he is. If had married someone younger, maybe he could’ve had all the kids he wanted. I suggested this to him today – marrying someone younger and thinner. He said if he had done that, he wouldn’t have me.

That’s my point exactly.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Mrs. Gibson

When I was in the 7th and 8th grade I had a social studies/P.E. teacher, Mrs. Gibson. She was a stern, overweight (and yet taught PE) black woman. At the time, I was scared shitless of her.

But I’ve remembered her all these years for two reasons. Reasons that have really had an effect on my life and who I am. I would imagine this woman is probably no longer living. She was older then, though at my age I probably thought 30 was old. LOL

The first lesson I learned was that hard work pays off. Seems simple, doesn’t it? I was in 8th grade before I realized that by doing my homework, I could achieve good grades. Sad, but true. My mother’s view on schoolwork was always, “As long as you bring home a C, that’s good enough.” Good enough? No, it wasn’t. I was an intelligent child. I should have been encouraged.

On a day I stayed home from school sick, I did the worksheet that Mrs. Gibson sent home with a friend or sibling. I actually sat down, read the book, filled in the worksheet. Turned it in the next day. I missed two. TWO. I received an “A.” I’m not even sure why it was her class I chose to make this change in schoolwork. I think it had to do with my fear of her. Whatever it is, it was in her class that I learned to do my school work.

The other HUGE lesson I learned was about being a woman and having your own opinion. This would have been in the late-70’s. I remember her saying that even her husband didn’t know who she voted for because it wasn’t his business. It was hers. I don’t remember why she said it. I don’t remember anything else about that day other than this statement.

It was then I realized that you could have an opinion. Even if you were black, overweight and a woman.

Thirty years later I still think of Mrs. Gibson. I wonder where she is. I wish she could know the impact she had on my life. It was that point in my schooling that everything changed.

I went on to graduate my senior class valedictorian.

Sooo, if anyone knows Mrs. Gibson from Twining Elementary at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota…

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's in YOUR wallet?

If you have Capital One, a bunch of headache. That's for damn sure.

I am so fed up with Capital One. I have had nothing but issues with them since Gary deployed. A bit of background:

Gary lost his Capital One card back in January while in Iraq. I receive a frantic call from him at 3am one morning telling me he lost the card, to call and report it stolen. I am an authorized user as well as the Power of Attorney on this account. I call and get the India call center. I explain to the representative that my husband has lost his card and I need to have it cancelled and reissued. He tells me in heavily-accented English that as the authorized user I can’t do that. I tell him I have Power of Attorney. I know this as I received a letter from Capital One confirming this. He tells me that yes he sees the POA but I’m just not allowed to do anything. WHAT! I ask him to speak to an American. I receive a new card in the mail. All is settled.

Or is it?

Last weekend I accidentally locked myself out of the online account. I called to ask them to re-set the password. This is where the real fun begins. Again, I’m told that I can’t do that. The lady asks to speak with Gary. I tell her she can’t. Can she please just talk to me being as I have the POA. Oh no. For security reasons we simply can’t do that. I ask to talk to someone else. I don’t even ask for an American. I get some dude named Steven. Good ole Steve tells me that I’m “only” the POA and can’t make changes. I ask him if he knows what a Power of Attorney is? He scrolls frantically through his scripts and then reads to me the legal definition of the Power of Attorney. I said, “So you see. As POA, I can make changes.” Getting ever more ticked. Nope. Stephen says I can’t. I lose it. I scream at Steven to transfer me to an American. Yeah, I know, not the best way to make us Americans look good.

I get an American. Well this chick claims she doesn’t see the POA! WHAT!!! I just had two previous representatives tell me they saw it. So I try reasoning with her. I say, “Do you see where back in January a new card was issued?” She says yes. That I did that because I was the authorized user. I tell her that no, no this isn’t why. I’m the POA. She goes back and forth with me.

Then she tells me she sees the POA on the OTHER CARD. I say, “The card that was cancelled and reissued because my husband in Iraq lost it?” She says yes. But that POA is only good for that card. OH DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN ABOVE. I take a few deep breaths and say to her, “You mean you can see the Power of Attorney but won’t talk to me because it’s on another card number, which is this same account?” She says yes. I told her my POA is for all things, not just account XXXX. She disagrees. I admit, I was rude then. I said, “You disagree? Tell me, Jane, what law school did you attend?” Needless to say the call went downhill from there.

Then I call back and get a Nina. Nina tells me that yeah, she sees my husband’s orders but not the POA! That she can’t transfer the military pricing (4%) interest to the new card because it was for the old card which is.. THE SAME ACCOUNT! I have to send in the orders, my POA, everything. I say to her, “You know, I could have had some homeless guy call and pretend to be my husband and you wouldn’t have known. I try to do the right thing and look how this ends.” She’s apologetic but can’t do anything. I try explaining to her how frustrated I am. Nina says she understands how I feel.

OH REALLY? I ask her if she really knows what it’s like to have a husband in Iraq while she tries to deal with everything back home – including credit card companies who won’t help.

I was in tears. Nina admits that no, no she doesn’t have that but she understands. Uhm, ok. I try politeness. I appeal to her sense of good and fairness.

“Nina,” I say, “ Nina… I know you could help me. You see the documents. Why can’t you escalate this to the higher person and have them get it done? Surely this can be done?” Nope.

I hang up. Pissed. In tears. Disgusted.

I fax everything, as well as a letter that I’m sure no one in Capital One will bother to read, the next day. Orders. Power of Attorney. Gary’s re-enlistment contract.

I wait a week.

I call. Get “Mac” on the phone. Mac says he sees that my Power of Attorney is on file. I want to reset my password. Mac puts me on hold. Then transfers me to Renny.

Renny … oh Renny.. she SEES MY POWER OF ATTORNEY but asks to talk to Gary. I ask her why. I try very hard to remain calm. She says I don’t have the authority to make changes. Oh… ohhhhh ohhhhhhhhhhhh. I hold it together and ask her just what a POA is. She reads the legal definition. Still doesn’t get it. I ask to talk to an American. She puts me on hold. Comes back on and offers to assist me. I asked her to admit she didn’t understand what she was doing before. I mean c’mon. I’ve had enough. She says that wasn’t the case. I guess I’m hard-headed now. I ask to be transferred to an American.

So, here I sit. Waiting for an American. I’ve been on hold 25 minutes.

I swear to God when Gary gets back in November with the card, we’re canceling it.

And now.. my call was just disconnected. OH MY GOD. I am going to lose it. Lose it. LOSE IT.

After calling back. Another 25 minutes on the phone. A lot of crying. My blood pressure probably hitting stroke level, I was able to finally get the account unlocked. All of this was because no one bothered to look in the proper section of the notes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rambling Post

This post is going to be rambling but I so want to share this … even with just my blog.

I’m in therapy. Have been off and on for years. I have depression and an anxiety disorder. I recently re-started therapy. Today was my second day with Mrs. R – my new therapist.

While taking my psychosocial history --where I tell here where, how and with whom I grew up – we got to the part where I told her that my older sister and I were sent back from the Philippines (where my step-father was stationed in the Air Force) to live with our grandparents when I was about six. The two younger siblings, not in school, stayed to finish the rest of the two year tour with my mother and her then-husband.

The therapist asked me why I was sent back home. I asked if she wanted to know the truth as I knew it or the truth as my mother told it. The answer was both.

The truth as I know it:

Due to the poor schooling system, older sister and I were sent back to live with our grandparents.

The truth as my mother told it:

My sister and I were molested by Filipino men and we were sent away to save us.

I never believed the molestation memory. My mother’s version of truth is often at odds with what other people actually see. Today though, for the first time ever, I had a moment where a memory came back so real. So clear. So right on I actually became dizzy and light headed.

My therapist told me she thought perhaps someone within the school system had noticed (or been told) of the sexual abuse that was on-going at my home. I was being molested by my step-father. Mrs. R suggested that maybe, just maybe, a teacher told the authorities and that is why we were sent home. This would have been 1974-ish. Reports of abuse would have been investigated, but more or less swept under the rug. My sister and I were sent home. Problem solved (in my mom’s eyes).

Much of this time frame is a blur to me. I was between six and seven years old during this. Years later, when I asked my mother why, she told me that it was the school system that was so lacking and we were sent home for educational reasons. Another time, she told me it was the molestation of Filipinos,

Looking back now, I see how ludicrous this was. First, I was going to a Department of Defense school. These are wonderful schools. Coincidently, Mrs. R informed me today that DOD schools became some of the first schools required to report abuse. Remember, this was before the mandatory reporting laws.

There are so many facts that are now swimming in my head. I remember my sister and I had a female escort – an Air Force officer. I remember this clearly. Why? Why would we have an AIR FORCE escort if the situation was one that was only of poor schools?

As I sat talking to Mrs. R today, something hit me so hard from out of the blue. Not a repressed memory but a buried memory. Not long before I was sent home, my sister and I were caught playing “doctor” with the children of a couple my parents were friends with.
The parents of these children were far more concerned than what I remember my parents being.

So now, my mind is reeling. I have a new reality. What I firmly believe is a closer version to the truth. I was not sent home because of the schools being horrible. Or strange men molesting my sister and me. Rather, my sister and I were sent home because either my sister or myself told someone, or our actions told someone, what was going on. Back in the early to mid-70’s the way this would have been dealt with was to send the problem away. Thus, my sister and I were sent back.

When I had this revelation today, I seriously got light-headed. It was a genuine moment in my life where the facts finally, FINALLY, added up. So much of my childhood is a re-telling of the facts via my mother. My mother, the queen of fabrication. Today, cold-hard facts, finally made sense to me. Things that never had quite fallen into place, did today.

While I’m “over” my abuse. I have “dealt” with it. It no longer defines who I am. It certainly attributed to some of the issues I either have, had or will have, but I don’t dwell on it. I have not been mad at my abuser or years. I have long ago forgiven him. I actually feel sad for him and wish him the best.

Today, though, I realized something wonderful: SOMEONE HAD CAME TO MY DEFENSE.

For many years, I would mull over my abuse and wonder why, oh why, did no one do anything. Did teachers not see things? Did no one suspect things? All these years, I really felt that I had been abandoned by so many people so many times. Nameless, faceless people.

But someone, all those years ago, PROTECTED me. He or she bought me a year of living away from my abuser. Living with my grandparents in a stable home.

Whoever you are, thank you.

Today’s session wasn’t a life-changing moment, per se. But to have a small fact from so far in the past finally neatly explained makes me feel more whole. More solid. Sounds hokey, but it’s true.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Homecoming

Today I was thinking about the homecoming that is still about four months away. I realized I get something civilian spouses probably never will. No homecoming that I can imagine can compare to the excitement, the nervousness, the jitters that you get while you’re waiting in the bleachers listening to the piped in music. Being told that the buses are X minutes away. Hearing the patriotic music (usually a bunch of Toby Keith songs..lol) and then… it happens.

The music stops for a minute and the chosen song starts. In they march. All in formation. Knowing so many of them are using what little self-restraint they have to march orderly. To stand at attention while they hear one last speech and thanks from a higher ranking soldier.

You scan the rows of nearly identical people. All identical until you see him. Even though you haven’t seen him in what feels like forever, you know his walk. You know his stance. You scream louder. Cry harder. Wave more frantically trying to get his attention. You see the slight smiles of the soldiers trying to be stoic when they hear the ruckus of everyone screaming their welcome. You blink through the tears, looking in amazement and awe at the man you love with all of your heart. And know that tonight, tonight you sleep in the same bed with him.

Finally, at long last, they’re dismissed. You make your way to your soldier –through the crowds of other eager family members -- and that sweet moment that you are finally in his arms for the first time in too many months .

There’s no homecoming near as sweet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

So, I Gave Birth to a Serial Killer

I am raising a serial killer. Here is proof:

Monday I go to pick my darling son – the soon-to-be serial killer—up from daycare. Out of the corner of my eye, as I’m signing him out, I see the teacher sitting at a table and sternly telling a few children something about a frog. You know that split second where you can think one million things? Yeah this is mine… I was putting the time on the sign out sheet as I hear the teacher tell the children in a very grave tone that shaking the frog was wrong. VERY WRONG.

I’m putting the pen down, starting to turn around… hoping, praying that I don’t see my son at the table of frog torturers. All the while hearing the teacher railing against the injustice this poor frog has suffered. Sure enough… there’s my little killer…err angel.. sitting at the table with two other boys. He notices me noticing him and runs crying to me. I take him back to the table and sit down to listen to the case against him.

Apparently he and the two hooligans he was hanging with that day decided – even after strict warnings from the teacher and class room aides—to shake the terrarium. Yes, the little devils shook the house of the frog. Then thumped on the plastic.

I had been listening to the teacher tell the kids how wrong this was, etc. In my mind I’m wondering how my little boy has turned into such a horrible person. I wonder if maybe, just perhaps, this whole deployment business has finally done him in – he’s torturing animals!!!! I’m planning my finances, wondering how I’ll afford the bail and legal defense of my offspring.

Then I hear it… the teacher actually says: This poor frog is having a panic attack. A panic attack? The frog.. yes the frog.. was having a panic attack. I look up at the teacher to be sure I understood correctly. I realize that I’ve been sitting here for at least five minutes listening to her chastise these poor kids about a FROG.

I finally say, “Gunner, apologize to Ms. S for not listening to her instructions.” Dutifully he did so… then started crying again when Ms. S. told him he was forgiven but that the frog deserved an apology. Seriously?

Thankfully, before I had to actually come up with a response for this, we were interrupted by some other ruckus in the classroom. I gather up my fiend of a child and we head out. I catch the eye of another mother of a felon-in-training. I can tell she’s not sure if she should laugh or scold her son.

Out in the hallway I have a conversation with the little guy:

ME: Baby, you know that we shouldn’t hurt animals, right?

G: Yes, ma’am.

ME: I mean you wouldn’t shake Kado while he was sleeping in his cage, right? ::Kado is my in-laws 100 lb German Shepherd::

G: MOMMMY! Noooo, we don’t hurt animals.

ME: Ok. Just checking.

G: Mommy? You aren’t going to shake a dog are you?

ME: Of course not.

G: Good because then a dog would shake you back. Then you’d be a frog. Then Ms. S would yell at the dog for shaking you.

And he bursts out laughing hysterically. Oh how I love my son – even if he is going to be in prison before he hits third grade.