Today I got the note from the movers who came and took our UB Packout– official weigh in for my ridiculous crap was 358 lbs. Remember: You are allowed up to 1000 lbs. I packed like I’m planning on being homeless on the beach. A cabana, lots of towels and a plethora of lawn chairs. (Oh! And dog beds and a griddle!) WTF. All I can do is laugh…If you lose your sense of humour along the way, the ride will be miserable indeed…
Monthly Archives: February 2014
Well, it was never my original intention for this to be one of those blogs where I use it as a personal journal. That’s why no names, no rate, no rank, none of that have been used. But– life happens. Anyone who has been a military spouse knows, life (and Murphy’s Law) tend to ‘happen’ at the worst possible times. Or so we think at the time– somehow they always end up being blessings in disguise. Heavy disguise. Invisible Man levels of disguise…
Anyhow– Initially, I wanted this blog to chronicle our move to Hawaii and all the chaos involved in that. I had no idea life would toss us a curve ball like this one. My dad was diagnosed this week with a Metastatic Malignant Melanoma, I mentioned it yesterday. Well, obviously this has really screwed with my chi. To put it mildly. But part of this crazy life (Mil or Civ) is adapting, improvising adn overcoming. This is one of those moments where ones’ tuck n’ roll skills are really important.
Since SeaMonkey is away, adn I am handling this move and now this, a sick parent– I’m going to need this blog to pull double duty for me. I understand, not everyone wants to read about my personal life, and admittedly- I don’t expect it will be anything thrilling. But it’s a vent. It’s a place for me to keep sane during this craziness. So, I’ve added a page to this blog– the division of me adn MrsUSN. When you go to mrsusn.com you will find my moving info. If you want to know how I (personally) am doing– I’ve added a page.. In the menu on the right just click ‘Brain Salad’ and you can see whats in my head lately. Hopefully this will keep my blog relevant to strangers looking for moving advice, or friends/family wondering how I’m doing.
****03/10/14 EDIT: I had to remove the ‘Personal’ Page–simply because I coudln’t find a way to send my updated posts directly to it. Everything defaults to the main page. SO, buckle up or get off the ride, because it looks like anyone who stays is in for both the personal and more public sides of my life. **** ❤ Mrs.USN ****
In the meantime, please enjoy this pitiful look at how my packout went the other day. 2 Days into dads diagnoses, I just couldn’t think straight. As is evident by this shipping manifesto… (go ahead, count how many folding chairs and coffeemakers I packed! ) It truly is ridiculous. (FYI: the bins marked ‘clothing’ were actually just beach towels. Yeah, beach towels. No clothes were packed…)
Holy hell what a week…
So, this week (from Wednesday on) will go down in the books as the WORST week of my life, thus far. Wednesday, I got a text from my mom “Dr’s office called, bad news, both gotta go in. Uh oh.” So, needless to say, THAT was on my mind. That evening I found out just how bad the news could be… My healthy as a horse dad, was just diagnosed with Malignant Nodular Melanoma, Stage t4b. I hate that I didn’t have to ask what that meant. For the uninitiated, cancer runs on a scaling system of 0-4. t4b means tumours, stage 4, and the b indicates a likely spread to organs. My folks walked into the office expecting to hear ‘you need to have surgery’ and walked out with my dad only having 4 months to live. 4. Months. 4 months.
I don’t think I have to tell you, I went to pieces. Still am. We all are.
How am I supposed to move halfway around the world away from them right now?! I just want to go down there and be there for them, and help them in any way I possibly can. But I can’t, not yet. I have to move my house, ship his car, hire the property manager, rent my house, and give my notice at work.
So, after 2 days of pretty much non-stop sobbing I came up with my tentative plan. I need to save my dad. I’m not ready for goodbye. I called HR for my school district today and got my leave balance: 35 days. I asked the hardest question: “Can I use my sick leave for a terminally ill parent?” The answer lifted a weight: YES. I know right about now you are probably thinking ‘What about FMLA?’– well, FMLA goes into effect AFTER you have used up your own leave. It also is unpaid and really just exists to protect employees jobs, should they need extended leave. I’m not coming back here. I don’t need it. What that 35 days WILL allow me however, (with a doctors note explaining this) is to leave as soon as the packers move me out. I’ll head straight for my parents home, down in FL. I will use my last 3 weeks stateside to be with them. I need to be there. Additionally, what I will be able to do is give my “last day” as May 1, so I can still be on payroll, but use my sick leave for the month of April and still get a paycheck. That last paycheck is how I will be able to afford to fly home if dad loses this battle. Which he can’t. He just can’t.
I spoke to my sister and brother (Seattle and Rome,Italy) and we’ve decided to spend “St.Paddy’s with Daddy.” So we will all be converging on them at the same time, flying in from our various points on the globe. He will be one month past diagnoses and should be already following whatever agreed upon protocols it takes to fix this. I’m guessing he’ll be feeling it by then, so having all 3 of us home to help should be good for both him and mom. The part I’m dreading though, is going to be when I have to get in the car and leave. At some point, I will have to leave for my cross country trek and then board the plane that takes me so far away from him. I hate it so much. This move that I was excited about, is suddenly weighing so heavily on me. SO much is depending on how his treatments go and how he responds to them. I’ve found cases of Stage 4b’s actually recovering! I HAVE! It’s not a big percentage, but it’s big enough for me to have faith. And pray. Not gonna lie– right now, I’m taking prayers, wishes, karma, light and love, and anything else anyone is willing to give to keep my dad.
Meantime– today was my UB packout. You’ll forgive me if this wasn’t a priority?
In a nutshell: I didn’t pack. I haven’t slept since Tuesday night. I’m a hot mess. Packing did not happen. Since sleep didn’t go so well either though, I was up early and tried again to pack. I grabbed some of the Rubbermaid tubs I have saved from so many moves, and started throwing things in them. Now, mind you, the UB packout is supposed to be things you need to set up your new home. The vitals. What did I consider vital this morning? Sigh… yeah. Not much. As a result, when this shipment arrives in HI — opening these boxes will be like Christmas in the Alzheimer’s ward. I say that not as any kind of insult to anyone with Alzheimers, but simply a commentary on how random my packing was this morning. Example: one box, labeled by the movers: “Dog beds and Griddle.” Because, you know, I TOTALLY kept those items together. (What?!)
I already warned the SeaMonkey– I’m pretty sure I packed a coffeepot, linens, a beach cabana, and about 65 folding chairs. Don’t ask. I was (and am) distracted.
Oh, I failed to mention the part where I fell apart on the movers. Yeah, that was magical. One of the movers was about to remove a strip of blue painters tape from one of my rubbermaids and I flipped out. On the tape, in my dads neat-but skritchy handwriting were the words “Muffin Pans”. I flipped out. “NO! Don’t take that off!! My dad wrote it…” and I fell apart , before managing to squeak out “…he’s stage 4.” He understood immediately, and bless that man, he took clear packing tape and covered the painters tape. “We’ll protect it. It will be there when you get to Hawaii. And I’m sorry about your dad.”
One thing I am always amazed by— when confronted with cancer, even in a stranger, people are compassionate and want to help. This man had been in my house for 30 minutes, I blew up on him over a piece of tape, and he was still so kind and took measures to protect what was so important to me at hte moment.
A little kindness and understanding really do go a long way. ❤
So, this week.
OH, this week.
This week? Oh NO!
Whats on this weeks agenda…? Well, I’ll be interviewing potential property managers, packing out another load of stuff for goodwill, getting the info on shipping the SeaMonkeyMobile, getting said SMMObile ready to ship (oil change, nearly empty tank, replace windshield, deliver to port…), waiting for the call that says when the movers are coming, pay for the pet movers and car shipping, do our taxes, and —oh yeah!— packout on Friday!!!
Yup. First Packout (UB) goes out on Friday. What that means is, all the urgently needed crap goes first. (Urgently needed in HI but somehow not here for the remaining 6 weeks..?) Wait.. 6 weeks?!?!?
OMG. Shit’s gettin’ real folks. I am moving to a tropical island in the South Pacific in a few weeks time. I had a feeling this was going to happen fast, even when it seemed like it was forever away. I think that has something to do with SeaMonkey being gone. Deployments, schools, underways, field-ex’s, whatever the reason he’s gone– we dread them and hate all the lost time, but somehow, they always go SO fast. I might be an anomaly. I seem to always be hearing or bumping into wives who are CONSTANTLY bemoaning their husbands absences. Don’t get me wrong, I hate that he’s gone, but I understand it’s not personal. He’s off to work. I’m pretty sure this is what it must have been like for Lois Lane and Superman. She understood, when he took his glasses off and put on his spandex (er…SuperSuit?) he was off to do his job. She just hoped at the end of the day, he would be home, take off his cape and put on his Clark Kent flannel PJ’s. That was their time.
This doesn’t mean, I don’t wish he were here to handle some of this…He is going to owe me SO big for this….
I wasn’t going to do it, but I’m gonna. Double-post today!
If you are reading this blog (hi!) chances are you are looking for info regarding a PCS move overseas or OCONUS. Rest assured, you’re in the right place, however today I’m giving a commercial interruption. Or- if you grew up in the 80’s- cue the spinning block letters on the black screen: SPECIAL . This is a very special episode… lol! (Anyone remember those? Anyone?) Usually they were indicators that a tv show was going to take on an ‘edgy’ topic such as anorexia, suicide, drugs, or abuse and it would announce that it was a “VERY SPECIAL EPISODE” and encourage parents to open the gates of discussion with their kids. Which they never really did, beyond “Psh. Drugs. You know better.”
Todays VERY SPECIAL EPISODE is about Cancer.
Today is my one year Cancerversary. I am one year past the point of hearing the words “Cancer Free.” and it’s AMAZING. It’s easy to think of what cancer takes, but it’s more important to think about what it GIVES. Yeah, seriously- it gives! I swear!
It’s given me an amazing sense of perspective. I have learned how to brush off A LOT of things that just aren’t important to me. People get worked up over the dumbest of things, and thanks to cancer- I really don’t anymore. I guess you could say my ‘give-a-damn’ is broken. Don’t get me wrong- you don’t lose your passion for things that matter to you, you just become more selective about what you LET matter to you. Traffic? Care not. Rude people? Whatevski. Changed plans? Please. Get Cancer and you will write the book on changing plans… You learn how to tuck and roll, whether you are ready or not. Believe it or not, you are readier than you think and more capable than you would imagine. Cancer reveals things– inner strength, acceptance, fight, determination, and yes, hardest of all– vulnerability. None of those are positives or negatives, they are just truths. Things you find when you’re digging for … well… you don’t know exactly what. You’re looking for a reserve that you aren’t sure you have, of a supply of something that you can’t put your finger on. Strength? Focus? Trust? I have no idea. Even after walking across those coals, I can’t tell you much about it. I know that cancer strengthened me. I know that it strengthened my marriage. How weird does that sound? Cancer is THE Destroyer to end all destroyers (agreed!) but it’s also rather Phoenix like. Out of the ash, comes something stronger, and more amazing than you could ever think possible.
I am a NavyWife. Nav.Wif. MilSpouse. Dependant. OTHER. I’m used to tucking and rolling. I know when a fight just isn’t worth having, and how to accept what is out of my hands. I know how to make the most of a bad situation. I know I am stronger than I’ve ever given myself credit for. But what I didn’t know- was sometimes, you have to let yourself be weak. Sometimes, no matter how much you value your independence, you have to let others help you. Take care of you. Let them show you that they are there for you. My SeaMonkey does not do ‘powerless’ very well. He rages against it. No matter the situation, he is going to do SOMETHING dammit!! But Cancer? He couldn’t rescue me. That fight was being waged at the surgical and cellular level and was just completely out of his big monkey hands. So instead, Cancer taught him how to be gentle. How to be understanding. How to nurture. How to take care of me when I was sick. He was my knight who rode into CVS ready to battle to the end, the pharmacist that took too long giving me the meds I needed. He learned that nausea is a game changer and deal breaker for any and all scheduled plans. He learned that Ginger chews should be kept in every vehicle, end table, coat pocket and location in the house.
My folks? Also amazing. They supported me through it, flying up to be with me when I would have otherwise been alone (ship was out) or when they knew SeaMonkey needed a little help. For them though, I think it was *slightly* easier. I say slightly, because Cancer isn’t easy on ANYONE. But for parents? From the day their child is born, they nurture them. They take them through every childhood illness and injury, and it becomes instinctive to them to take care of their kids. Now, they don’t usually expect to still be doing it when their adult-child is sick– but they somehow still know what to do, say and how to do it.
Now? Cancer is now one year in the distance of my rear-view mirror. I can still glance back and remember my visit to that town, but I sure as hell have no plans of returning. I have my scars. They tell my story better than any blog post could. I learned my lessons and I’m keeping my car in drive…
Really. HOW? HOW in the world could I have crossed off SO much stuff on my January/February to-do list for this move, if it weren’t for the last 2 weeks of Snow Days?! 😀
Seriously. In the last 2 weeks, I have only been to work twice- and both were half days due to the weather. It’s been A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. With a capital ZING. In the last 2 weeks, I have managed to firm up our move (Both DD1299 and DD1787 have been submitted and confirmed), set our HHG packout, our UB Packout, double checked and confirmed flight info for me and the 2 pups, confirmed hotel reservation in Honolulu (finding Pet Friendly accommodations means PLAN AHEAD!!! We are using Navy Lodge on Ford Island), visited Fleet & Family for some more ‘heads up’ info (regarding pack out, unpacking, assessing our movers, etc), hired the Pet Mover (FYI: Island Pet Movers), and called San Diego about ‘Opportune Sea Lift’ for my vehicle. After speaking with the gentleman I reached, I decided against using it. OSL is a VERY cheap way of getting your car to the island, BUT (and it’s a big But–heh heh..) there is NO way of knowing when your vehicle will arrive. HUH? Yeah. So, imagine paying $250 to ship your car (such a deal!) but then the car may not show up for 6 mos. How much would a rental vehicle cost you in that interim?? Penny wise-Pound foolish. Scrimping on one end, willl end up costing you more on the other end. So, I’m looking at hiring Pasha (based on reviews I’ve read) to ship my car from San Diego to HI. It will run me about $2100 BUT (another big but! lol) it will be on island within a week. Which means… only a week of a rental vehicle. Since I want to (need to…) find a job on the island, I need my car. So- $2100 it is. (**reminder: SAVE RECEIPTS!!! What the Navy won’t reimburse, you can claim on your taxes as moving-related expenses!)
Next up on my hitlist: Continue trashing/donating everything that is striking me as clutter or less-than-vital. EVERYTHING. Scrub my house down and make it look nice, because I have a hot date with a Property Manager on Friday. He’s coming out to have a look at the house, tell me what he can offer me, answer my questions, etc. If all goes well, I may have him on Payroll by the end of the day. Which then means, I have crossed off: Movers, Flights, Pet Movers, HI Accommodations, Vehicle shipping arrangements, and House off my list. Pretty much, anyway… 😉 What still needs to happen of course- is I have to get his car ready to go in the next week or two, and get it gone. I have to have everything ready for the UB Packout on Valentines Day. (*Prior to that is getting both bikes re-conditioned so they are RTG with the UB, so we can ride our bikes in HI while waiting for our HHG to arrive) Whew!
So, there’s that. This is where I’m at. Sitting at the computer, instead of hurricaning through my house and tossing stuff in the trash/donate bags. This WILL happen today.
But for now? I’m indulging a bit in some procrastination. Today is my one year Cancerversary. I have made it one year cancer free, and honestly? I kinda just want to take it all in and enjoy that simple life-changing fact. 🙂