Oh there you are!

Almost a year a go I started a 6th month course of Prozac because I was suffering from a sever bout of depression. It was a low does and I monitored my emotions to double check that it was working. After a month I can say I felt like it was working. At three months it definitively was working.  At 6 months I started the step down process while maintaining vigil on my emotions. Once off Prozac I confirmed I was stabilized and did not slip back into depression.  Yay!

Because I continually monitor my emotions I have a way of looking back and seeing where I was.  I can pull out trend lines and check to see in my calendar what was going on during highs and lows.  That’s great, because Depression is a liar.  It will tell you life is awful and will never get any better and that it has always been this way.  The data says however differently.

So now I am almost a year on and what I hadn’t realized is that even though I was stabilized I hadn’t quite recovered.  But in the last two weeks or so I finally felt like I was really me again.  Things that should excite me started to excite me again. My emotions are now tracking normally up and down. My energy level is tracking back up and my…well I guess the only way to put it is internal imagination drive is in gear again.

If feels good to be back, all the way back.

First sentence

I’d heard kids are like sponges, absorbing everything around them.  I’m not sure I ever really understood it until I lived with my wife and our son.

We were sitting down to dinner and my wife had included peas as a side dish. She hates them but I love them so it was a nice thing for me. She was also trying very hard not to just transfer her dislikes of food to our son. So he was offered everything we ate with a two bite rule. He had to try two bites of food. If he still didn’t like it he didn’t have to eat it. That didn’t mean he could eat two bites then demand pudding or something similar, we were wise to that scam. But he would get more of the other things we were having that meal that he did like. If that meant he had an all broccoli meal then he had a all broccoli meal.

We were lucky my wife was a stay at home mom and a good cook so we didn’t have to rush meal prep while everyone was hungry so I know we ate a smaller amount of processed food than most families. Sweet snacks were kept out of sight of the kid mostly. So the food he was introduced to on the whole was healthy and fresh.

All of this was before the boy really started talking. Oh there was a Yes, No!, and various versions of our names not to mention a LOT of “Mama”’s but not really full sentences. We didn’t speak baby talk to him but we did get silly with him, playing around with using the wrong words when he’d ask us to repeat what something was or when we were reading a book to him. He’d catch us every time and say, “nooooo” and giggle at our trying to mess with him. He was paying attention and learning.

So back to the peas.

There we are at dinner. The boy in his high chair pulled up to the table with his own plate of food. He kind of had the spoon thing down but the peas were attempting to escape so Mama gave him a little help. The boy tried his first bite and wasn’t impressed. Now while we are watching him try this stuff we are talking amongst ourselves about food we like and don’t like. It was my wife, myself and my ex-husband, Matt, chatting away and enjoying the company.

The second bite was a one the boy reluctantly took. He chewed it a bit then swallowed.  Nope! He shook his head and pushed the plate with the peas away. We chuckled saying he was like his mama. I took his plate and took the peas. My wife said “well at least you like peas”. We laughed and that was when it happened.

The boy entered the conversation of his own volition. “Matt do you like peas?”

Clear as Day! Boom! He’s off and chattering with us.

I kind love that! Check out the complexity of that thought! Erin Likes peas. I dont like peas.  I am like Mama so Mama doesn’t like peas. Who else is here? Matt. okay does Matt like peas? Lets ask!

Also think about the sintax there. It’s not like we sat down with him and say Okay here’s how a sentence is structured when you ask a question. But he had it down pat just from being around and listening to us.

Kids Are Sponges. They learn how the world works from watching us and being around us while we interact. Once I really figured that out I was freaked out for a bit but it was also a challenge. If I wanted my kid to be a certain way I had to model for him how to get there. It’s hard work but I think it’s worth it.

Simply Music

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I just want to play my music files.

I have thousand of hours of music. A Lot of them ripped from actual CD. I just want to load them on my phone and play them. But Noooooo first the computer is cranky about talking to my phone. Then once I manage to transfer a few files to my phone the music player on my phone gets cranky about finding and playing the files. Thumps head against desk.

Look I don’t LIKE ITunes. Its grabby with permissions. It is touchy about files and forgets what I was last playing. It also has a tendency to duplicate all my music files for some unknown reason which bloats the hard drive. Also my phone is an android which means no itunes on it so I need a reliable plain jane music player that doesn’t think my audiobooks and podcasts should also be part of a playlist when I hit random.

I kinda miss my simple little sandisk mp3 player. Load that bad boy up and let it play. No telling how many times I dropped that or ran it through the wash it still played just fine. It’s also the reason I have a ton of random MP3’s without all the album art or file info that lets most music players get fancy with the file and show you album art while the music is playing.

*grumble grumble*

OK I see I need to spend some time deep in my files organizing crap so I can have what I want how I want it. This is a thing A.I. would be good for. I can see it now, one day the earth will be taken over by intelligent machines all because we just didn’t want to do the grunt work of organizing our music collections our own selves. 🙂

Drop and Plop

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The Helo I used to work on in the Navy had several… shall we say… Quirks. One of them is that occasionally when the landing gear was deployed the nose gear would fall off.

Naval Air Station Norfolk, specifically the hangar I was based out of sits on the side of Willoughby Bay. It had a view of Willoughby Spit and the Hampton Roads Bay Bridge Tunnel. At that time we were the last hangar in a line of hangars with a huge open concrete flight line between the front of the hangar and the seawall. There was a line of hangars stretching down the taxiway for about a mile on our hangars port side and a vast open and empty concrete field to the starboard side. I know for a fact that the distance to the far end of the starboard airfield was a bit over a mile because when we did our PT runs we would leave from the locker room right next to the hangar and run to the far end of that field then run back. The round trip was considered 3 miles.

Those hangars were all torn down and new ones put up now but back then the area was kind of considered the ass end of the Air Station. Hence when the helos lost their landing gear it was to our nice open space that they flew and hovered over a pile of mattresses (Yes I said a Pile Of Mattresses. There were about 8 stacked and strapped to a few padeys to keep them from blowing away in the rotorwash). Someone with my job would then be volunteered to help direct said hovering helo to land squarely on the pile of mattresses.

Considering that this was a training squadron that flew thousands of flights during the years I was there it’s still impressive that this happened more than once. I remember 3 times distinctly and suspect there were others that happened on the other shifts that I didn’t work. I am also surprised that no better procedure than a pile of mattresses was ever developed.

Think about it for a second.

Here’s this pilot and his trainer coming in for a landing. They deploy the landing gear. There is a klang. The pilot double checks but the light that the landing gear is down and locked is on. The trainer on the other hand knows that sound. He takes over and radios the tower that they need someone to visually confirm that the landing gear is deployed properly.

They hover and someone in the tower with binoculars confirms that while yes, all the landing gear are down, the nose gear is now missing its wheels. There is just a Post sticking down out of the gear housing. The squadron is notified. This sets off all sorts of fun things.

First the pilot is told to go fly around for a while and waste his fuel (less weight being a good idea)

An airmen with a truck heads to the barracks to commandeer (steal) 8 single wide mattresses.

Crews move any equipment or other birds out of the way and safely into the hangar (in case this maneuver goes disastrously wrong and there is shrapnel)

An airman with landing qualifications is volunteered to guide the bird down. He then reviews the landing procedures with two other spotters. (I was specifically told that as a female even tho I had the quals they would be sending a guy out there to do this. Ah sexism in the early 90’s)

The airman with the mattresses returns and the khaki clad chiefs debate how far away to have the helo attempt the landing. Too close to the seawall won’t let the crane that has to come after and lift the front of the helo get properly positioned. Too close to the hangar risks shrapnel if things go very sideways. The debate always lasts until there isn’t much fuel or a senior khaki clad person makes his choice an order and therefore the steps forward as the one willing to be blamed if things go pear shaped

The mattresses are positioned and chained down while all crews including Fire crews are positioned.

The airmen and pilot then coordinate bringing what amounts to a flying school bus that can lift a M1 tank down over a 4’ x 6’ pile of mattresses.

The Pilot lines up on the pile

Then he touches down his back landing gear and slowly rolls forward over the pile with his nose high. Imagine if you will a giant bumble bee alighting on just its back legs then still beating its wings frantically walking forward.

The pilot can’t rear too far back with the nose or the tail rotor will hit the ground and that would be all sortsa bad

Now comes the fun part. They begin lowering the nose down slowly letting the pile of mattresses take more and more weight of the multi-ton aircraft. The pile compressing more and more. Not all mattresses are made the same and if the nose dips too far down the front of the giant rotor blades that hold this thing aloft will strike the unforgiving cement. That would be catastrophic since they are basically 25” flexible shafts of fiberglass. Shattering is too kind a word for what would happen.

Slowly the pilot reduces power to the rotor head until finally the bird is at rest. That pile of mattresses that once was head height is now a third of its size and barely holding that bird off the ground.

Crews swam that bird afterwards stabilizing it and getting the crane into position once the rotor head stops spinning.

It will be days before that bird leaves that spot.

Fun times!

Too good to be true

I have an excellent relationship with my wife.  My kid is pretty fantastic and seems to be pretty trouble free. I live in a decent house, drive a reliable car and work at a job that lets me pay my bills on time.  I don’t drink or smoke or do drugs.  Taken on the surface you might think I’m a goody two shoes.  (Is there anything more 80’s than that video?)

At the very least some suspicion might creep in that all is not as awesome in my life as it seems to be.  I must not be telling you all of the story!

Well yes and no.  Yes, I am really this happy.  I really do get along with my wife this well and yes all that other stuff is true. The “but” to that is that I’ve paid a price to get here. I’m in the happily ever after part of a fairy tale story that started with a lot of tears and pain and an epic journey that included sacrifice and loss. That journey is part of my history.  I tell pieces of it now and then but its painful and some of it is very private or may show others in a bad light unfairly.

I had to learn to be confident in who I was even when almost everyone else had reason to doubt me. I’ve made hard choices that turned aside dreams I’d held on to since childhood.  I’m headed for a different future now. Living with choices like that does change you.  It’s given me perspective about where I am at right now.  That perspective lets me look around and say Yes, its OK to be happy.  It is OK to have a good relationship and be proud of it. it is OK to be feeling joy.  How many people let themselves feel that way more than momentarily?

I’m not hiding some deep dark secret I’m just OK with myself. Its a powerful thing.  It’s an empowering thing. I hope telling my stories will help you embrace your own inner self so that you can be OK with you too.

For Anjie

 

First time for everything

One of my most favorite things about being a parent is watching my kid do something for the first time. It’s also one of the times it’s easiest to fuck up as a parent. Knowing when to lend a hand or hold back as they struggle with mastering a skill is hard. We have always wanted to teach resourcefulness and resilience but when you know the answer to a problem it’s hard not to just blurt it out or take over a hard project. Because competing with our parental desire to equip our kids with all the right tools for success in life is the desire to protect them and keep them safe from all of life’s harms or challenges. It’s a constant internal war of worry for them and pride in them.

Right now I am so proud of our boy. He’s handling this growing up thing pretty well. One of the things he’s started doing for the first time is driving. He’s taller than me so sitting in the driver’s seat he has to actually adjust the mirrors. So far it’s short trips around the neighborhood or practicing parking in a empty parking lot and nothing on the main streets but still I’m working on practicing my own patience as I sit beside him and encourage or guide him on learning this new skill. It won’t be long before he’s out driving around on his own figuring out his limits and that of the car he’s driving. He’ll be meeting friends or going to school or making a run to the store for his Mom.

All of that future crowds in on me while I remind him to turn on his blinker before the turn and to be a little more gentle with the brake. He’s ready but I’m not ready for him to be ready! These memories will be what I remind myself of when he’s off on his own to convince myself we’ve done a good job making a Thinking Human Being instead of just a cog in the machine. For now though we just need to make sure we all survive him learning to drive.

Beer Goggles

There are like a hundred reasons I don’t drink. One of them is that I don’t like most beers. Drinking them gives me bitter beer face. The second is that drinking beer also leads to Beer Goggles. Ima tell you a story…

I was 21, lean, healthy, and enjoying the attentions these traits brought my way one night at the club on base. I had broken up with my long time boyfriend and wasn’t looking for anything more than a fun time playing pool and hanging out on a Saturday night.

Enter Ernesto. Ernesto, who was was 5’9” which is barely taller than me but who stood with a stoop, he had a classic nose (read that as big), nice eyes, and even though he was purportedly Puerto Rican he had frosted blonde hair that looked like it had gotten that way via a dare, very unnatural looking. And his hands? They were bashed up and seemed too big for his slight frame. Overall the effect was of a kind of goofy looking character. Not someone you’d call classically handsome at all next to the young marines flexing and strutting around the place.

He put his quarter in line to play the winner at my pool table and miracle of miracles I managed to win the game so we ended up playing against each other. Those large odd looking hands played an excellent game of pool. He beat me by a mile. I was delighted he hadn’t tried to hide his ability while he flirted. As a concession to his flirting I let him buy me a beer as we played. We ended up playing a couple of more rounds before being bumped from the table. By then I was happily buzzed.

Ernesto was charming and got more so the more beer I drank. We found a side table and kept up our conversation. By the time it was getting late there were more than a few empty bottles on the table. I’d stopped tasting the nasty things somewhere around beer 3 so I was a happy drunk. The two of us decided to get out of the club take a walk to look at the stars.

I don’t really really remember looking at the stars much because the added benefit of all that beer was the change it made in Ernesto too. My yellow haired Goofy with black eyebrows and a big nose became an unexpectedly well built latin ladies man with bronzed skin and talented lips. And those too big hands of his? Those hands were just right!

Where I’ve Been

Yup that was a long break from blogging.

So while my blog posts themselves have been pretty thin on the ground I’ve been putting my time in on another project that has been happily eating up all my creative energy. Some of you may remember the failed canoe restoration of several years ago. Well that poor sad thing hung from the rafters in my garage for years gathering dust and mocking my other projects with its incomplete status. Last summer we cleaned out the garage. I insisted on bringing it down out of the rafters and sawing it in to pieces so we could take it to the dump with the rest of the junk.

With that out of the way I found it much easier to work out in the shop.  I built a consumables/cordless drill cart and a grinder stand.  Pretty soon I had my tools all squared away. The shop seemed more open and inviting.  However I didn’t really have anything I needed to build.  I don’t like to putter for putterings sake so while my shop was clean and organized I had nothing to do out there.   Then work blew up with plenty of overtime earned.  I do believe I was a bit discouraged by my 100 days failure so I utterly distracted myself by putting all of my spare energy into working with my hands on a fun little project called a Hunting Harbor Kayak.

I got the plans for free and the beginning materials were on the less expensive side so I moved right along on it until I hit the parts where my budget whined about the acquisition of more materials.  I’ve gotten as far as I can at the moment without more resin.  There are pictures of some of the process here. I’m farther along than the pictures here but need to upload them to the site

In other news, I was interviewed for a friend’s podcast, The Marriage Question.  I’m delighted and embarrassed to say Jaime and Becky say nice things about me and yet still manage to disagree with me on some points. You can listen to the episode, Forbidden Love, that I’m in on ITunes here or you can listen here

Also I’ve been painting rocks. More on that later.