Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stepping onto my Soapbox...

I am not a very confrontational person.  I used to avoid them (confrontations) altogether.  Now I kind of "pick and choose" my battles.  I admit- I usually bite my tongue and keep it all inside.  So I am in awe and sometimes a little shock when I am around people who don't hold back.  I have a friend who has been a Navy wife for more than 26 years- she tells you like it is.  At the Kahki ball last year she told the DJ that his music "sucked" and that he needed to play something we could dance to.  At the holiday party she yelled at one of the younger sailors and told him to keep his pants pulled up.  She makes me laugh.  Maybe when I am older I will be able to be that bold (or maybe just not care what people think.)  That is not to say I haven't gone off on anyone or told someone when they did something wrong- I have had my moments- and I am not ashamed!

Bear with me as I am going to take a moment to step on to my soapbox.  It has to do with being a Navy (or military for that matter) Wife/Spouse.  I don't "know it all"- if you read my post about being knocked down a peg or two- you know that too.  But one thing I am sure of- being a military spouse is hard work.  Being IN the military is HARD work.  Another thing- ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING.

That said I am tired of the negativity that seems to be the only thing to come out of some people's mouths.  I made friends with this girl who seemed like a very positive and outgoing person- she does volunteer work and I really enjoyed talking to her.  So of course I "friended" her on Facebook.  At first everything was great- we talked about her marathon training and about exploring Japan.  Next thing I know she is complaining about her husband's squadron making them work until 1700 every day.  What?  Surely she meant a later time than 5pm?  But then she complains about living on base, and negative people, and all sorts of other drama.  I chalked that up to being immature and felt a little annoyed but just ignored it.  One day she tells me that if her husband doesn't get accepted to a program that will make him go from enlisted to officer, he is going to get out- because "he doesn't like deployments".  He has one whole deployment under his belt.  I bit my tongue and changed the subject. 

What prompted me to step on my soapbox was this post on Facebook: "I hate this fucking base."  To me, that is a pretty broad statement.  Does she hate everyone who lives here, does she hate everyone who works here- does she hate all of the commands, her husband's command. or does she just hate the Navy?
I ignored it.  But I didn't forget.

I saw her last weekend and she mentioned something about going back home this summer.  And she said "you can probably tell from my Facebook posts that I am sick of this place".
"Yep."  that's all I said.  Change the subject.

Am I just chickenshit?  I am not afraid of what she would say- I just don't want to hurt her feelings.  She works with the kids and I appreciate what she does so I don't want to turn her off to that.
But really- she is not the only one I have heard talk like that.  I feel really insulted when someone says their husband got out because they didn't like being away from their family.  Really?  So you are saying my husband LOVES it?  What makes you so special that you can't be seperated for more than 2 days??

It's hard and just plain sucks at times.  I tell no lies.  And frankly- if you or your relationship isn't strong enough- you will not make it far.  The military is not for everyone.  Some people do not thrive in that environment and have other places to where they will make their mark on the world.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Not everyone is in it for a career.  But don't tell me you are too special to handle being separated from your family or your spouse.  Don't tell me you are above being a military wife and are too good to associate with my kind.  (Oh yes, I have known people like that.)  Don't tell me that the military doesn't care about families.  Don't tell me you hate the military because of one bad experience or one person you didn't like.  Don't tell me that your spouse is being treated unfairly because he has to stay late to strip and wax the floors- and he is an E-4.  Everybody does their time. 

It is what you make it.  There are so many resources out there now, and the military is much more family friendly than they used to be.  And everyday thousands of families and spouses make it.  I have known families with children with special needs that deal with deployments.  I have seen women with many children take care of house and home while hubby's gone- without those kind of complaints.  I myself have dealt with pain and tragedy when my husband was deployed.  My son was only two weeks old when Hubby left for his second 6 month deployment.  Yes it was hard but I made the most of it.  I for one am grateful that my husband isn't in a war zone facing mortal danger day in and day out.  In fact, sometimes I feel a little guilty missing my Hubby when I know he is at least safer than some.  I admire those families that have to worry if their loved one will come home or not- they have the toughest job out there.   But separated is separated and it is all hard.  And even when they are home they can have long hours and may not be able to take leave when they would like. 

But what would we do if no one wanted to join the military because it was too hard on relationships and families?  Do you think there would be a draft or mandatory service for everyone?  And lets face it- with the economy I am glad for the Navy right now- at least I know they aren't going out of business!
It's time for me to step back down off the box.  I feel better now.  I just need to come up with a nice way to relay this all to said friend.  It needs to be something nicer than "Suck it up buttercup" or just "quityerbitchin"!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You ripped my picture

My kids love to draw, we have paper and markers and crayons all over the house.  Lately they have been drawing "Pokemon" characters (Pocket Monsters). 

It is Pokemonmania here.  This is a by-product of living in Japan of course.  We have even visited the Pokemon Center in Yokohama.  It was all crazyness with people everywhere and someone talking on the loudspeaker- didn't understand a word they said.  I admit, some of the little guys are pretty cute- my favorite is the monkey name Chimchar.  At the commissary they sell a lot of Japanese baked goods (because lets face it- bread coming from the states is not very fresh.)  They have these little sweet rolls that come in Pokemon packaging.  The kids love them because there are stickers inside.  You want to see a fight- watch one try to take the other's sticker!  Like I said- its Pokemonmania around here.

Last weekend Sister spent a good deal of time coloring her pictures- one she was especially proud of.  This time, instead of Pokemon- she was working on her Littlest Pet Shop animals (those with little girls know what they are).  After coloring we ran to the store for a few things, leaving Brother at home.  When we came back to the house there was a note left for me saying he went to his friends house.  Ok, no big deal. 
He came home an hour or two later and next thing I know the kids are fighting (not unusual these days.)  Sister comes to me with her picture- it has been ripped!  She accused her brother- he denies all wrongdoing and then goes back out to play.

A little bit later- Sister notices the note Brother left me.  It is small piece of paper that was torn from a larger piece of paper- namely her artwork.  She was livid!  When he came back home he was made to apologize- but it wasn't sincere.  I knew it, she knew it. Eventually she managed to move on and created some more masterpieces.

Later that night after the kids were in bed I saw something that made me bust up laughing.  In the same spot where Brother had left me the note on the stolen paper- was another piece of paper.  It read:
[Brother] you riped my pitcher

I love it.  The woman in her would just not let her let it go!  I love that little girl!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What I miss so far

I am sure whenever someone moves to a new town, city, country- whatever- one has pre-conceived notions as to how things will be.  I did my research and talked to people who have been to Japan.  I thought I totally knew what to expect when we got here.  I was WRONG about so many things.  But one of the things I was right about was that I would miss things I didn't know I had back in the states, and things I did know I had.  It's coming on 6 months since our arrival- here's a little list of the things I miss since leaving the states:

Big wide roads.  Driving on the other side of the road is no biggie once you get used to it  (just remember- "ass on the line".)  But driving down what looks like a one-way alley- but is actually a two-lane road- is nerve wracking.  Not only do you have to judge whether there is enough room for that oncoming car to pass you, but there are the pedestrains and bicyclists to worry about.  And don't get me started on the scooters and mopeds!  They appear out of NOWHERE- I kid you not.  Needless to say I have scraped a few curbs, turned on the windhshield wipers instead of the turn signal, and cut a few people off.  I haven't actually heard anyone cuss me out in Japanese (did get honked at once)- but I know they are!  If it was the other way around- I would!  And then there are the three way stops at the train tracks- I hate those!  The freeways are nice at least (though I haven't actually driven on them yet.)  Of course you have to pay hefty tolls to use them- but they are worth it.

Red Robins. I didn't realize how much I would miss American food.  After all, I was sooo excited to try real Japanese food- especially the sushi and gyoza (pot stickers).  But I miss being able to say "the heck with cooking" and hop on down to Red Robins for some yummy french fries and a burger.  That said we do have some American restaurants here.  Some of the bases have Chilis (just not the one I am at.)  And there is an Outback Steakhouse in the next town.  But they still are not conveniently located to my liking.  Oh, we have plenty of fast food here on base as well- yuck.

The smell of a wood burning fireplace.  We actually had a gas fireplace back in Washington- but many around us had wood burning stoves and foreplaces.  I LOVE that smell in the winter time.  It puts me in the holiday mood and gives me a cozy feeling.  They just don't have those here- at least not that I know of.  But they DO burn the trash!  Weird, I know.  We actually seperate our trash into- burn, non-burn, and recycle. 

Shopping Malls.  There is some great shopping here- I can't lie.  But it is just not the same as stateside.  What I really miss is Sephora.  Did you know they won't ship to FPOs (military post office box)?  All they have to do is fill out a little customs slip and mail it regular US mail.  I have emailed to complain- no response.  And then the bastards go and tease me and mail me the catalog.  Bastards.
I miss Old Navy and Target the most.  The Navy Exchange here is VERY limited and everyone ends up wearing the same clothes- especially the kids.  And there are some things I just can't find and can't get shipped here- like floor lamps and a memory foam mattress topper for Brother's bed.

Youth Football and Cheer  They have youth sports here- but it is very limited.  Brother was playing full tackle football back in Washington.  Here- due to lack of resources- they only have flag football.  It is sooo not the same!  Sister joined the cheer squad- once again- not the same.  I was so glad when that was over.  I am not a huge football fan- except when it comes to watching the kids.  There is nothing better than watching your son get his first interception and knocking other kids on the ground (in the game of course.)  Here no one even came out to watch their kids play!  Like I said- it is just not the same.


Local TV and Real Commercials!  We get AFN- All Forces Network.  It sucks.  I think AFN is where all bad 80s movies go to die.  Its not always bad- sometimes they show movies that are pretty recent- ones you would have had to have HBO to watch.  But the commercials!  Since there are no advertisers- the AFN has its own commercials.  Some of them blatantly copy real commercials.  Basically they are PSA's- they remind you to recycle, give you safety tips, how to mail packages via the Military Postal System, etc.  The last one is terrible- it is a cheesy computer animation showing some soldiers working in the post office.  The theme is "Can't Ship This"- to the tune of MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This"- they do the dance and everything.  It makes me want to run screaming through the streets it is so bad.  There are other more serious commercials related to drug use, PTSD and sexual harrassment.  There is one about huffing that basically tells you that huffing will kill you (true- we know that for a fact).  Well I had to explain to the kids what huffing is.  So the next time I am fixing Sister's hair and use the hair spray- she asks me if she is huffing because of the hair spray fumes.  Geez.  Needless to say- we rent a lot of movies.

Well that is all I can think of at the moment- I am sure I will be adding to my list.  I do realize there will be a lot of things Japanese I will miss once we move back- so for now I am going to try to enjoy it all I can!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Hour Friday

Two weeks in a row!  If you want to join the fun- go see The Wizard of Otin and share your link to your own Happy Hour post.

This week started off crappy- but ended up great!

I am happy that my back is now feeling better (I strained it on Monday picking up a stupid bag the wrong way).

I am happy the kids seem to big over their colds/viruses- whatever.  Knock on wood no one else gets sick!

I am happy because I had  a GREAT time at the grown-up party on Thursday.  It was for Hubby's work- they like to have their "holiday" party after the holidays so that everyone can make it (and not on vacation/leave.)  We both drank way too much.  Our table was right next to the keg and  had only to share the bottle of wine with one other person at our table (and the shot of jack and the cranberry vodkas I had didn't help).  I even went home with an extra bottle I found on one of the tables after a lot of people had gone home already.  I am sure I didn't look like a wino carrying that out to the car (no we didn't drive.)

I am happy that after I got the kids off to school the next day- I was able to curl up on the couch and take a nice 3 hour nap.  I felt MUCH better after that.  I had felt like death warmed over when I first got up.  (I think I am getting too old to party like a rockstar anymore, ha!)

I am happy that people are reading my blog! *big smile*

Here's to a great weekend!  I might have to finish off that extra bottle I brought home now...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Knocked Down a Peg (or two)

I was a know-it-all.  I had it ALL figured out.  I thought I knew everything there is to know about being a Navy wife and could handle anything and everything.

And then I moved to Japan.

I am going to be presenting at a class that is geared for new Navy wives.  My presentation is called "Navigating the Maze".  It is for Compass- I became a mentor for the program this last fall.  It is a class to help new wives become educated about the Navy way and to help them understand how things work, and who and what are out there to help them when needed.  It is an AWESOME program- wish it was around when I first got married.

Anyway.  Part of my presentation has to do with attitude and to best approach life as a Navy wife.  I was thinking about how cocky I was (suck it up buttercup!)- I thought that because I have been a Navy wife for 14 years that I could handle whatever.  After coming here to Japan I felt like a total sham.  I was whiny, I was complaining.  I wanted to go back "home".  I hate complainers- and I became one!  For a while there I thought I should step down from being a mentor.  Because- frankly I felt like I was the one needing a mentor!

I just didn't realize it was going to be this HARD.  I mean- I had the worst time trying to get a damn passport.  I really thought that once I got the passport (still no no-fee passport by the way), got our stuff packed up and shipped out- the hard part was over!  I was not prepared like I thought I was. 

I thought I would be all gung-ho and take Tokyo by storm as soon as I got here.  It took me several weeks for just a short little visit.  I thought I would go out to eat sushi every day or every other day.  I didn't go to eat sushi until I had been here at least 6 weeks.  I thought I would learn the language by osmosis.  I am still struggling with "check please!"  I thought I would have all kinds of people asking me to teach them English.  I have yet to acquire one single student.  I thought my kids would be all for going to new places and trying new food.  They never want to leave the base and hate the train.  I thought Hubby would love it here and enjoy his new job.  He is not happy.

So what do I make with that?  The best that I can right?  It really isn't all negativity- there has been a lot of highlights too.  My attitude HAS improved as of late.  When it gets tough I stick to my navy wife motto- Fake it 'till you make it.  Amen.

So I have been knocked down a peg or two- thank you Japan.  I still love you and I am glad I came. :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy Hour Friday

Its Friday!  I missed the last two Happy Hours since they were both holidays.  That means that Hubby was hogging the desk top and I was too lazy to drag out my laptop to post anything. bleh

I am happy that it is Friday and tomorrow I will be sleeping in.

I am happy that Sister is feeling better and her fever has gone.

I am happy that I got in three good workouts this week before Sister got sick.

I am happy that Brother's grades are improving.

I am happy that we found a great place to eat curry at.

I am happy that I have lots of books to read on my shelves.

I am happy that I have lots of fabric to sew with.

I am happy that my friend just had a healthy and beautiful baby girl.

I am happy that I have a beautiful baby girl to sew pretty things for now.

I am happy I get to go to an 'adult'  party (as in no children allowed- not the other kind of "adult"- get your mind out of the gutter!) next week.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

50th Post-( what does the future hold???)

This is post #50- does that make move me from beginner to intermediate blogger? Haha  Actually, I am quite proud of sticking to this.  It doesn't hurt that I enjoy it!  I like to talk a lot so this is a great outlet for me.  People can read my posts or - not.  I have 10 followers now, I feel like a rockstar!  Well, not really, but it is exciting nevertheless.
2010 seems to have a lot of promise so far.  I just wish Hubby felt the same.  He has been mighty stressed out at work and keeps talking about when he gets out of the Navy.  I hate that talk because it scares the crap out of me.  What the hell are we going to do?  We will both need to get good jobs I suppose.  Or we can just shack up with his mom- she has a nice big house (really- it is NICE).  But his brother is living there right now- he would have to go or there could be blood shed.  Not literally, but you know what I mean.
Well the good news is that Hubby still has until 2013 before he can officially retire- so we have some time.  I just know it will go fast!
Will I still be a Navy wife when he retires?  Or will have to find a new identity?  I am sure I will think of something to do with myself.  Hopefully I will still be blogging- and will be on my 5,000th post- or whatever number corresponds with a prolific and successful blogger.
For now I need to focus on the present- much to do!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

20 minutes ago they welcomed in the New Year in Tokyo- we watched it- on TV that is.  Actually I think the boy bands we were watching on TV were in Osaka.  They go all out here, I am quite impressed.  Of course I would have been more impressed to watch the festivities in person.  That is- opposed to watching it on TV after finally getting Hubby to quite playing Madden '10 for 5 minutes so we could watch the local Japanese TV station.  (I have myself to blame for the video game- it was my gift to him for Christmas.)

So did you make resolutions this year?  I don't normally make resolutions because I tend to get carried away and never carry anything out.  I know- join the club right?

But this year I AM going to make that list.  I don't know why- just feel like I should for some reason.

My first resolution is that I am going to do something fun for the next year- 2011.  It was depressing today not having any plans.  I bought a bottle of French champagne today- all in vain.  I didn't bother to open it.  Hubby prolly would just take a sip and the kids... well they WOULD sleep very well...  Just kidding! ;) So next year- Hubby or no Hubby- I am going to do something fun.  And no- I don't mean if he is on a ship somewhere I will go out anywhere.  I mean even if he is home- I am still going to make plans- whether he wants to join me or not!  I will walk down to the bar by myself if I have to, DAMN IT!  hee hee

My second resolution is to get back into shape.  I was actually on this path earlier this year- but the holidays and Hubby's homecoming put a wrench in the works.  So not only do I want to get into shape- but I would like to run a 5K at some point this year- they have them several times a year here.  I think I can do it without killing myself... I guess I will find out!  I am not going to put a number on how many pounds or how many inches I want to lose.  I figure if I get into good enough shape to run a 5K, then I will have met my goal!

I can think of a billion more resolutions- but I won't get carried away here.  I did join a reading challenge- so that takes care of my desire to read more.  I do want to sew more as well- I guess I will have to find a challenge for that one too.


I wish you all much happiness in the new year and the years to come!