Running on Fumes – Musings from the Mess Decks, pt 2

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From Dan –  

Yes, I was aware that children, for a short time, were considered mail-able. It seems weird, but doctors used to prescribe cigarettes for pregnant women, so maybe it’s not too weird. 

We recently celebrated my elder child’s 30th birthday, and of course I was reminded of the circumstances of how I was alerted to her arrival. For you see, I was cruising around South America at the time and communications between me and the States were irregular and crude.

I knew she would be along pretty soon, and it was after a very long midnight watch up in the gun director that I settled into my rack for a precious 3-hour nap before the endless cycle of events of a warship underway, the next go round of eat, work, and watch.  With great surprise my then-Senior Chief (RIP) thrust his hand past the blue-curtain barrier that defined my sacrosanct rack with a just barely not growled “Here! Read this!”

I had been handed, of course, the long awaited for birth announcement. And now, here it was, a telegram for the love of God, sent to me by the Red Cross. Sleep was out of the question, and I walked fore and aft, bilge to bridge making the announcement to anyone who would listen. I finally ran out of people to tell, and I ended up on the port side main deck, smoking a celebratory cigar while watching the wilderness of the Andes Mountains slide aft. I’m sure there are things about that day that I have long since forgotten, but I still have that telegram up in my study where I keep a number of priceless mementos of my life to remind me of that amazing morning.

There’s a wide variety of trinkets and tchotchkes in that cache of memories, an unsurprisingly number amongst them are letters: Honest-to-God, sat-down-with-pen-and-paper letters written at various times and delivered to me (via paths that can only be guessed at) to whatever ship I was on and wherever I was. Those letters are occasionally pulled from storage, their decades-old creases unfolded so that I may again experience an echo of the thrill I enjoyed when I first received them so long ago. A few of them still are redolent of the fuel-oil, paint, and steel smell of a warship underway and it’s that odor that instantly transports me back to a very different time and place.

Today’s Sailors feel they are lucky. E-mails back and forth to the home-front are everyday events, phone calls common, and video chats with loved ones unremarkable. Keeping up with the day-to-day activities of the household and families has never been easier or more immediately possible for the Sailor.

 

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And, I think it safe to say, that very, very few of the Active Duty folks would willingly return to my Morse code and semaphore way of doing things. Hard to blame them, really. If I could have been part of a video call back in 1985, well, let’s just say I might be missing parts of my anatomy. Running your life/marriage via mail that makes it way home via a wandering and unpredictable path (Say, over to an oiler, then to an amphib, and finally over to a series of Air Force Base storage areas[1]) sometimes takes longer than the deployment. Indeed. Stories of mail arriving home after the Sailor used to be very common.

And it is also true that we could on occasion call home by radio, thanks to ham radio operators and long distance phone calls. It was called the MARS system, although it was probably easier to call the planet than it was to call home. MARS was wonderful to have, but weird. We had to use Navy radio techniques (“Over”) which were hard to teach to small children, and there was a very long list of things that were taboo to talk about on the radio. Imagine phoning home and then being prosecuted. Ah, the perils of military life.

But emails and phone calls can’t be kept, cherished, and handed down like the letters and other messages I have from those long-ago days. It might be fun to see a new e-mail in the inbox in the morning, but every morning? I wonder. And, I wonder if that experience can match the intense feelings of anticipation and joy (and sometimes desolation) when the Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch passed “Mail Call!” Remember, that would sometimes happen only twice a month.

It was possible to tell by holding that the letter had power. You were holding something she had held just a while ago. That letter had been in your house! Your daughter can write! All of those things so very far away. A talisman of home, a status hard to convey onto an e-mail.

Mail and its service seems to be failing, albeit slowly, and the whole process is probably doomed. Sad I suppose, but such is the inexorable march of time. I try to remember that everything in the world today will someday be gone and considered either quaint or no longer understood, enigmas from the past like Stonehenge or the Antikythera Mechanism. One of my more ridiculous thoughts is of my great, great grandchildren attempting to decipher those letters found one day moldering away in dusty old box. “Jeez,” I can hear them say, “Who was this guy? Why didn’t he just flash over and see Grammy Lynn instead of doin’ this? And what’s a ‘ship’?” Sic transit Gloria mundi.


[1] My days in the Navy started before Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Mail services had been archaic/slow for years, but improved drastically after American service members started going to the Middle East in serious numbers. I’m not complaining, it’s just the way it was. And, we could always tell when Oprah or Sally Jesse Raphael had a story about the folks in the Persian Gulf as after those shows, we would receive a mountain of mail on the fantail addressed to Any Sailor/Soldier.

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As always, a huge thank you to my friend, Dan, for his sole contribution to this RoF special piece. I know I have many other friends/family with stories for days of their time and I’d love to post them, too. Please contact me if you have a contribution or if you have a story but are unable to put it into words that make sense – I’m hear to listen and write on your behalf. Always! -Kel

Cake, Cake, Cake!

My new phone screen! Sometimes we just need a reminder. And a little smile. Amazing what one small change can do to perk us up in this rather dismal world. Not always dismal. Just don’t watch the news.

I read a great quote: don’t mistake my free time for being available. Or something like that. You get the point, right? As a mom, human, type-A personality, it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of fully completing my calendar then dreading all the things I now have to do. Really, I think this is the norm. There lies an expectation to constantly be doing, going, succeeding, moving forward lest we be considered lazy, inconsiderate, sloth-like.

As I mentioned before in this POST, prioritizing what we want and need sometimes means saying no. Haha easier said than done.

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Cake reminded me of a few things. Specifically how the Navy has cake for literally every event. Change of command – let’s have cake. Promotion ceremony – the CS’s bake a cake. Suicide awareness month – we’re having cake. Cake makes everything better. Even suicide? Come on. (I am absolutely not making light of very real issues; I am making light of the preponderance of cake available at events dealing with personal trauma.)

As for priorities, sometimes balance is the goal. Other times, we eat cake until we’re stuffed and regret the decision dearly. I can’t be talking only to myself.

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I ask you-

When was the last time you changed your phone background?

If you had to choose only one, would you pick cookies, cake, or ice cream? This is hard for me because I adore ice cream, but I think I would have to pick cookies haha

Tell me what balance looks like for you! A cookie in each hand!

Humor Knows No Bounds + Tetris Master?

The adventures in Bonnywood Manor are some of my favorites to read. Brian’s humor is the best!

In keeping with more office-themed things, here’s a few nuggets: my title should be changed to calendar girl. But not the sexy, mildly inappropriate calendar girl you may have immediately been considering. More like I play Tetris with calendars and am on standby for changes at a moment’s notice. In fact, a wonderful co-worker called me with these words – “Let’s play a game!” – which really wasn’t a fun game at all because it involved moving around days’ worth of events to accommodate some last minute silliness. Good thing I love her.

She said “Can I take my own picture?”

Also, as the reigning queen of dad jokes, it’s my sworn duty to entertain strangers with punny, simple jokes. To my own delight, of course. I feel like our security team draws straws on who has to deal with me when my car rounds the bend. I’m on the “do not engage” list. Occasionally they laugh with me (at me?) and I congratulate myself on a job well done. I’ll be here all week, folks!

Hallelujah for the return of football

Lastly, soon they’ll be requiring IQ tests in my workplace. Hahah, I wish. Short of missing a few crayons, inability to decipher which floor we’re on, and following basic computer instructions, I think it’s going well! It’s just a three ring circus without a grandmaster.

Clap, clap. Ohhhhhhh, cabana boyyyyy!!!

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I ask you –

Want to join my circus?

Are you the problem child of your organization? Be honest!!

Please check out fellow blogger, Brian Lageose. He’s hilarious!

Office Life / Cold Front

My office has a serious Crumbl cookie addiction. As well as donut addiction. If you want to get something into the hands of leadership quickly, we can be bribed. Everyone has a price!

Speaking of office stuff, when the going gets tough, I remind myself of an instance where I helped a stranger get into their master’s program. Well, it was a miniscule part but I played it. Seeing as how it was several years ago, I imagine they have since graduated. Pretty proud!

Again, on the office theme, I have encountered some really beautiful sunrises lately. The only problem is I’m usually driving and too lazy to pull over. Being punctual is my thing. Although my phone doesn’t take the best sun photos, you get the idea. I adore the mornings. There’s just something about a new day, waking up before others, the quiet stillness of the world early in the day. Before life gets crazy. Before the sun starts boiling me alive. The days are getting shorter hence the darkness is lasting longer. Bring on Fall!

We’re getting closer to the closing of Hell’s Gate aka end of summer in Tejas. Not close enough. Sadly I missed the opportunity to run last week when it was a blizzard-like 59°. Break out the parkas, folks. I’ll get my cold weather running gear. It’s a party!

Alas, a day later, it was 99° outside and 78° in the office. Have I mentioned I miss teleworking?

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I ask you –

Does your office have a particular addiction?

What are the average daily temperatures where you live?

Tell me an office skill you’re not proud to be good at! I’m getting good at work order requests.

Fall Training Schedule

Considering this upcoming race. Coincidentally – or is it? – a trip to TN would enable mini to see her dad and family during the Thanksgiving timeframe.

No word yet on Morgan from Oregon’s plans to attend Run the Rail mid-October. Since I got the plague from hell in August, discontinued my run streak, and had to remember how to breathe properly, anything long distance before November is probably a no go.

There’s also Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio. The Stars at Night Half isn’t a viable option this year because it will be the same weekend mini heads back to TN for Christmas break.

Speaking of, I was a few paragraphs back, there was a week in there where I went to the doctor or was on the phone with a doctor at least once a day. They are nice and all, but I try to avoid, know what I mean? Anyway, I began to notice a troubling pattern. They don’t measure how tall adults are anymore. Yes, they ask how tall you are, but they don’t physically verify. Two problems: 1) I could be lying when I say I’m 6 ft (yet she didn’t even blink an eye) and 2) hearing the words “You’ve grown” isn’t exactly a compliment as an adult. Bet she didn’t really write down 6ft on my chart. Hmmmppphhh.

Relatedly, sort of, in the Navy they called shoes “go fasters”. The more I think about it, I realize that was the ‘kind, new Navy’ saying something positive about passing a PRT, etc. because I have never called my new running shoes “go fasters”. Instead, I internally refer to them as the shoes that will kick someone’s a**. I will outrun a cheetah in my new shoes! I am faster than Olympians in my new shoes! There’s a meme circulating on social media that says something like…why doesn’t anyone ask me (as an adult) how fast I can run in my new shoes…and I totally agree. It’s BS. You better ask me!! And I’ll be happy to demonstrate. But sometimes I just ask my shoes to get me home. You know what? That’s ok, too!

Hotter’n Hell Hundred went off without a hitch, to my understanding. More like best guess, Kel. I went to my usual viewing spot and didn’t see a single thing. Not one kit-clad cyclist was located. For a minute, I thought I got the date wrong. Alas, my final thought was since the annual bicyclist event was not held last year, they had an extra year to work on speed and sped through the course in record time. It could also be because I slept in and was approximately 2 hours late to the location. Or I read the map wrong. Really, it’s anyone’s guess what happened. I’m going with extraordinarily fast cyclists though. Just pretend there’s a super awesome photo here of thousands of cyclists.

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I ask you –

Any race suggestions? Or know of something I’m missing? Preferably early December.

Does your doctor ask how tall you are or take a measurement?

Participants in Hotter’n Hell Hundred next year – leave your name below so I can get insider information. I need an accountability partner!

I Wasn’t Ready!

Well, it happened. I don’t know yet how I feel about it, but it didn’t wait on me to decide. Kindergarten just sprang up, like a sudden slap in the face. You’re overly dramatic, Kel. Yesterday she was a baby, today is Day 3 of the beginning of her not needing me anymore. Sigh. If she’d just sleep in her own bed, I might not complain so much. Fat chance.

“Remember when you won Bluejacket of the Quarter?” No, actually, I didn’t remember that until you mentioned it. Reminiscing on my time in the Navy can be something else. The Air Force does an event called a Release Party when Airmen promote. I find this interesting because the Navy celebrates everything with cake. I don’t know about you, but I prefer cake to a party any day. I love cake!

So I’ve been sick for weeks now it seems. And as soon as I get well, then someone else in our house gets sick. If we could all just be well at the same time I’d really appreciate it.

My run streak is broken. A tragedy. See above sickness. I could have ran, I know I could have. But I didn’t. I just wanted to get well! In other related news, my running friend, Morgan from Oregon, has an interest in running Run the Rail. In the late 1990’s, two railroads, the Union Pacific and the Chaparral, decided to cease active service and “railbanked” this stretch of rail bed making it available for non-motorized activities, hence the 6th annual Run the Rail Half Marathon. This year will be the first time a marathon distance is offered. I’m considering running with Morgan, but the decision needs to be made like…NOW…because there’s only 6 weeks until this race and I’m currently training at a max 5k distance.

Day 2

First day of school takeaway: lunch is the best part of the day. Can’t argue. I guess it was so great she left her thermos in the cafeteria and decided to eat school-offered lunch vice taking her own on the second day. In her defense, Friday was pizza day.

Anybody else remember school pizza? It was amazing!

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I ask you –

What year did you graduate high school?

Do you have little people in school? What grades?

Tell me your favorite school meal!

Is this the…Tipping Point?

Podcast debut! The Modern Idiot (affectionately acronym’ed TMI) graciously invited me as a guest onto their pod. What a fun night! Spoiler alert: one half of the dynamic duo who hosts this podcast was a US Navy classmate. We have history, you could say.

In the same weekend, an old article I wrote for a different blog, Pregnant and Perfect, was reposted by a surgeon in Beverly Hills, California. This may not sound like a celebratory moment for anyone else, but the fact it’s still relevant information is astounding. When I mentioned this article to my sister, even she said she didn’t remember anyone using or sharing info on maternity belts when she was pregnant with her children, 16 and 14 years ago, respectively. Don’t ask me how I they’re so old. I don’t know. Granted it may not help with all pregnancy-related issues, but my personal belief is using a maternity belt regularly during the workday and when I expected to be on my feet for prolonged periods of time was key to a lack of stretch marks and ligament pain during my own pregnancy because it lifted my belly up and back which helps with posture and pain. Much like a girdle, it’s not sexy by any means but it gets the job done!

“It was not the perspective of the painting that had been wrong all these years, it was the perspective of the people looking at it.” I fully realize this post is behind in the publishing process because the above events happened nearly a month ago. For those that don’t know, I make it a practice to wait a few weeks to post, if possible, to protect mine and my family’s privacy. And it helps me to disconnect.  So I waited on this post for one reason: I needed to step back in order to not get consumed with doing too much at once. Granted, it took me how many weeks to get a merchandise page going (nearly 2 years of weeks). But anyway…

About the painting? I don’t know. I don’t paint. I can barely walk and chew gum. You get the idea.

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I ask you –

Have you listened to my podcast episode yet? Your thoughts?

Do you paint? Draw? Chew gum?

Other bloggers: tell me how much time typically passes between writing and publishing your posts.

Buckets of Lists!

(pt 2 of my bucket series)

I could have my very own Cool Runnings experience. Check it out!

Always wanted to learn how to curl. Curling is like shuffleboard meets bowling. Since I’m not too bad at bowling and shuffleboard is fun, too, then I think I’d be a natural. Who knows. Maybe I missed my Olympic calling!

Volleyball season is….errrr, was…upon us; specifically, mud volleyball. In true Texas fashion. But I kind of got my feelings hurt when I went to sign up and the lady I’ve been communicating with for over a year suddenly forgot who I was and told me if a team was looking for a player, she’d call me. Rather dismissively. I was supposed to be her teammate. Sigh. What can you do? Spectatorship is my new position.

Winner, winner!

Spoiler alert…I killed the first game. The second game killed me. Way to be humble, Kel. I also golfed a few days prior to the bowling excursion! It did not go well at all. And the bugs kept attacking us. I don’t like bugs. The good news is I didn’t break any clubs, windows, or body parts. Never mind that one time my golf ball hit the golf cart. Minor.

Then I found myself at a change of command ceremony humming “Anchors Aweigh”. Whoopsies! What do you mean the Air Force doesn’t sing Anchors Aweigh?! Couldn’t have been as bad as everyone looking at each other, lips moving, no sound coming forth. Pretty sure they didn’t know the words. Calamity of errors!

Weirdly, I haven’t heard one Navy song yet on this base. Troubling. And where’s the reveille tunes? What about Sailors in their dress whites? You know, the little things. P.S. while you’re reading this, I am on vacation enjoying the sun and sounds of the ocean. Scheduling programs really are lifesavers!

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I ask you –

Have you seen the movie Cool Runnings? If not, why not?

Have you been bowling lately?

Tell me your favorite winter sport! Drinking coffee haHA