Gooooood Mooooorning, Vietnaaaaaam!

Okay, I would just like to start this off by saying that this weekend… this weekend was absolutely insane. Some poor decisions were definitely made but, overall, a good time was had by all, and the shenanigans were legendary. That being said, I’m glad it’s Monday and I have five days before I have to do it all over again.

As a writer, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if my original plans for Friday night hadn’t fallen through. So, if the ER hadn’t temporarily moved Rose to a different team, and if Chris and Damien hadn’t gone to Ireland, and if CJ hadn’t insisted that Edward and I accompany him to Shamrocks, and if the Martins hadn’t been at Shamrock’s, and if CJ hadn’t been oblivious and insensitive, and if I hadn’t decided to cope by drinking way too much…

The original plan for Cinco De Mayo had been for the squad – Chris, Damien, Rose, Tony, Emmett, Nico, Liz – to go Villano’s in Puerto, one of the only restaurants in the area that serves actual authentic, tasty Mexican food. But, as previously stated, plans changed. The ER rearranged the teams to support manning so that a sailor could take leave, which meant Rosehad to work; Chris and Damien had decided at the last minute that they wanted to spend their weekend (as they had a four-day weekend) in Ireland; and I had forgotten that my best friend/ ex-corps-school Air Force bae, Edward, was coming into town, so I had tour guide duties anyway. As you can see, things had already started to go sideways. Well, on Friday morning, I saw CJ as a patient in my optometry clinic, and he informed me that we would be going to Shamrock’s for dinner, as they were doing a special menu for Cinco De Mayo. I told him I had a friend in town, and he responded that I should just bring him along, so I asked Edward and he said he was down. Further sideways we go.

When we walked into Shamrock’s, I saw the Martins and I waved cheerfully in passing… except that Jaime bossed me into going over and actually talking to them. At this point, I think I had accepted that I had zero control over my Cinco De Mayo evening and I just gave up. We wound up sitting together as a group and over the course of our conversations, some nasty personal stuff from my past with CJ came up and I found myself getting progressively more and more upset. Edward did his best to buoy my spirits – he really is a phenomenal friend – but it wasn’t working too terribly well. So, after CJ left because he had to work the weekend and wanted some sleep, I did something stupid. I got hammered drunk on a cocktail whose ingredients I didn’t know, which is stupid anyway but especially when you take into account that tequila – even in very small amounts – makes me violently ill. I don’t remember much of the night, but I know I vomited in the bathroom for at least an hour before my friends managed to get me home. I have an alter-ego who only makes appearances once every few years; my friends and I have dubbed her Lola, and she is normally kept in an adamantium cage at the very back of my psyche but, for the first time in four years, she made an appearance this past Friday night. It was terrible. I swear I spent 65% of Saturday apologizing to my friends.

Again, if only things hadn’t gone quite so sideways with my original plans… I can almost picture it: me and my squad (plus Edward) sitting around the tables in Villano’s, eating Cali style burritos and drinking cervezas and horchata, bs’ing and talking about life and just generally enjoying our Cinco De Mayo. And then I think back on what actually happened and cringe. Again.

 

That being said, Saturday was actually quite pleasant. I didn’t have a hangover, I got to spend the day with Edward (who had taken care of me all night and then slept on my bedroom floor), and we took the dog I’m taking care of for a long walk around downtown and then on the beach. Edward is my ex-corps-school-bae, as previously stated, but he’s since come out of the closet and now he and I are basically gay best friends. It’s wonderful. He just a fantastic person, so his presence seriously improved my weekend – especially Saturday night, which was terrible for a completely different reason.

I had passed word down to the squad at the beginning of the week that Saturday night we would be doing dinner and pre-gaming for those of the squad that planned on going out, so from about six in the evening until about nine thirty in the evening, I was cooking for nine people. Katharine, Tony, Emmett, Nico, Liz, Mitchell (last name; she’s one of my friends I call noodle, my most serious term of endearment), Edward, Sarah, and Jackson entertained me while I cooked and bartended for them, slinging cocktails and epic burritos until everyone was fed and contently tipsy. When I finally finished cooking, all I wanted to do was take a nap… but everyone wanted to go to Feria, which is similar to a county fair in the States, but moreso. So, we went to Feria. After several hours of wrangling drunken twenty-somethings, I finally decided it was time for us to call it a night and put everyone in cabs, sending them back to base. I took Edward home, then went home myself and passed out around three in the morning, sitting down for the first time since before six PM the previous day. It was rough, man. My feet STILL hurt. But, everyone enjoyed themselves and after I’d dropped Edward off at the airport in the mid-morning, I got to take Sunday as a day for myself, and that was really nice. I went back to the house and did the dishes from Saturday night, cleaning the kitchen top to bottom, then did the same thing at my own house, plus laundry and general tidying up. It was about a half day’s worth of work and I realize that to most people that would sound daunting after that kind of weekend, but for me it was basically therapy. I love to clean, especially doing dishes, so it did nothing but soothe my soul. I blasted my favorite Punk Goes Pop playlist, scrubbed dishes, drank coffee, and just let myself reset for the coming week. I spent the afternoon, once all the cleaning was done, hanging out with my two mini-mes, Liz and Sarah, took care of Sarah for a few hours after she got ill from stress/ dehydration/ lack of food/ lack of sleep (poor kid, I swear), and wrapped the evening up falling asleep while How I Met Your Mother played softly on my TV.

 

This week at work is going to be an experience, given that my docs are both in a clinic manager’s course from Tuesday until Friday, which means we won’t actually be running a clinic. We’ll be handing out glasses and manning the phones and occasionally dealing with emergent walk-ins; it’s actually good, because that means that my boot corpsman can get some training time in and get to practice with some of our specialty testing machines. Hell, I may even let him dilate my eyes, if I’m feeling charitable enough. We’ll see.

Either way, that means that once I get through today, this will very likely be a quiet (if slightly long) week.

 

Until next time, stay frosty, nerds! Excelsior!

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Given that this month – and the approximate next rest of my life – is going to be dedicated to self-improvement in every area of my life, I went ahead and tacked one more thing onto my list: taking care of my spiritual health. As I’ve told people time and time again, I would have to be… well, as stubborn as… Honestly, I can’t come up with an example – even a Biblical one – of how stubborn I would have to be to deny the hand of God in my family’s life. I’ve witnessed first hand what faith can do and where it can take you and I would have to be… I don’t even know. I still can’t even put into words what kind of person I would have to be to deny the existence of someone who is so clearly involved in my day to day life. And it’s not like God is some fairy godmother who just waves a wand and fixes everything and then your life is perfect, and I think that is where a lot of people get hung up. For me, personally, any time I start to get frustrated and feel like my prayers aren’t being answered, I think back to a conversation I had with my dad back in the day. I still remember with great clarity all of our father-daughter trips to Lowes and Home Depot and the subsequent lunch dates and how we spent the entire time talking about stuff that actually MATTERED. I mean, sure, there was the occasional “who would win in a fight, Lion-O or Batman?” type talk, but it trended more to politics and religion/spirituality and REAL talk, and that’s one of the things I’ve missed the most since I’ve been away from home. But. I am getting off topic. I remember the conversation I had with my dad about God and prayer and how, first and foremost, we need to remember that God doesn’t work on our timeline. He works on His, and that’s okay. But it was the second point that my dad made that day that has really stuck with me, and that was this: if you pray for patience, is God going to grant you patience? Or is He going to give you opportunities to be patient? If you pray for wisdom and discernment, is He going to give it to you? Or opportunities to be wise and discerning? And that just blew my tiny teenage mind. I had never thought about it in those terms, but once I had, I couldn’t STOP thinking about it in those terms, and it really did change a lot of my life. So, when I went to work and prayed for patience and then immediately bumped up against a difficult customer or that one coworker that just really got under my skin, I realized it was an opportunity from God to practice the gift I’d been praying to Him for.

So, this morning, I did listen to my DNCE playlist a little bit and shimmied around my room to “Danza Kuduro” by Don Omar, sure, but once I had gotten to work and had to run out to my car to get my wallet, I set foot outside and heard the birds singing and “This Good Day” by Fernando Ortega popped into my head. I started to sing it, which just made me think about my dad more, because he loved Fernando Ortega. So, I’ve been playing my worship playlist ever since and I gotta say, between my conscious decision to have a good day and be in a good mood and the introduction of Jars of Clay and Bleach and Delirious into my morning, I am in a great mood and I feel like I’m ready to take on the world. Which is probably good, considering that my PRT is this afternoon. I know I probably won’t pass, but instead of having a bad attitude and saying “screw this” and refusing to even try, I have decided to give it my absolute best because, again, work as unto God and not unto man, and why shouldn’t I? I let myself go and let my depression overwhelm my life for too long a time while I’ve been here in Spain and now that I’m starting to fight back with medication and getting closer to God again and every other way I know to combat the monster that hides under my bed and stalks me throughout my life, I see no reason not to start remembering the sailor I was when I first joined the Navy: motivated, squared away, determined to do the Navy, the United States, and my family proud. That is who I am, and the fact that my depression ever made me lose sight of that breaks my heart, but also motivates me and makes me that much more determined to be that person again. I want to make my parents proud. I want my family to be able to show pictures of me to their friends and say “This is my Sailor. She has done so much and we are so proud of her.” I want the God who created me to look down on me and smile and say “That’s my kid. She’s doing my work and making me proud.” And if that isn’t the best possible motivation, I don’t know what is.

Expectations

Nothing stands to make a girl feel as good about herself as finding out that she’s meeting (or even exceeding) the expectations of people whose opinions she respects. After a year plus, I finally got back in touch with one of my favorite instructors from Corps School (training for corpsmen after boot camp and before we go into the fleet). I told him what I’ve been up to and thanked him for his help, mentorship, and advice throughout Corps School, found out that he picked up HM1, and had a good long talk that culminated in him telling me that he’s proud of me and that I’m a “hard charger,” a high compliment in the Navy. It made me feel so good about myself to be making an HM1 like him (multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, highly decorated, and just a generally good person both on and off duty) proud.

I also got a random “I love you and I’m so proud of you” type text message from my sister this morning, a sincere apology from someone who owed me one, and a continuation of my flirtation with a cute MM3 I’ve known since boot camp. Overall, today has gotten off to a really good start. I know it can’t take full credit, but I’m at least partially attributing it to my waking up and making the conscious decision to be in a good mood today. Attitude isn’t everything, but it accounts for a lot more than I think people realize.

Now, with what is going to come for the rest of this week, I think that having this Monday workday start out so well was really and truly necessary. I have my PRT tomorrow afternoon and I likely won’t pass but, again, I’ve made the conscious decision not to let it bother me. It is only due to some physical illness as well as mental health issues that I got to be as out of shape as I am, and now that I have a handle on it nothing is going to stop me from achieving my goals. I’m telling you, this whole positive attitude thing might be the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m sure it will annoy my coworkers a little, but they’ll get used to it eventually. That being said, as much as I might have to potentially worry about this week, I have even more to look forward to. I have a big family dinner planned for the squad this Saturday evening, I should find out on Friday if I got selected for orders or not, and this is yet another week that I get to go home to a wagging tail and some aloof appreciation of my presence (dog and cats, respectively).

On another note, I’m so grateful to have gotten referred to my current psychiatrist. He is excellent at his job, but he’s also one of the few providers I’ve ever seen who treats me as a patient and not as a corpsman. I’ve had so many healthcare providers dismiss requests, talk over me, and ignore my input simply because I’m a low-ranking corpsman who worked for them at one time, when they would never do that to any other patient. On the flip side, my psychiatrist values my opinions, listens to me, and takes my opinions into account. He sees my being a corpsman as a good thing, giving me more say in my treatment than he might for someone without medical field experience. It’s nice, too, because we both know that I do research into medications and treatments before I talk to him about them, so it’s not like I’m one of those “I Googled my symptoms and I have cancer” patients or, heaven forbid, the “well, my sister/aunt/uncle/friend is a nurse and THEY said…” type patients.

He and I both agreed that aggressive treatment was best for me – especially given my mental health history and history of suicidal ideations/suicide attempts/self-harm/etc. – and the routes that we’ve taken so far seem to have been helpful, exponentially improving my mental state. I am so blessed to be in a situation where I have access to good mental health care and I’ll say again, as I’ve said many a time, that I am so grateful to the Navy as a whole, because it literally saved my life, not to mention introduced me to some of the best people I have ever met in my entire life.

 

Seeing as how today is the first day of a new month AND a Monday, and given that I spent a good solid chunk of the weekend re-evaluating my entire life, I’m making some serious lifestyle changes. I refuse to participate in the whole New Year’s resolution thing because the fail percentage of the average person to stick to their resolutions is super high, and thus I also reject the label. Lifestyle changes it is. That being said, I do have a rather consistent history of being kind of a flake, which is something that I am actively trying to change. My focus in the coming months will be in two areas: things that I’m trying to turn into daily habits (writing, going to the gym, eating better and tracking my calories, etc.) and big lifestyle issues (getting a better handle on my finances and getting out of debt, losing a significant amount of weight and keeping myself overall healthier, taking a more proactive stance on my mental health, etc.). A big problem that I’ve always had in my life is that I have a tendency to give excellent advice… that I fail to take myself. A good example of that would be the innumerable times I’ve counseled friends and loved ones to take time for themselves/make sure they schedule self care/etc., which is something that I never do for myself. So, moving forward, that will be another thing on my “work on this” checklist.

 

Well, that’s it for this week’s Monday update. Until next week, stay frosty, nerds! Excelsior!

Karaoke, Brunch, and Shenanigans

Not necessarily in that order. This weekend was a repeat of the best kind of weird humanly possible, with an added factor that made it all the more unbelievable that I actually enjoyed the outing. Same story – my coworker (Tony; names have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty), our new kid (Emmett), and a few of our other corpsman buddies (Nico and Liz) all went out – but this time the shenanigans were slightly more legen – wait for it – dary. During dinner and drinks at Brixton’s (tied with Dardo’s for my favorite bar in Rota), we bumped into an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in ages, Katharine. She informed us that she’d recently started working at the karaoke bar next door and told us that if we came and sang karaoke with her, she’d buy us a round of shots, so we headed over after dinner. We spent a few hours singing, drinking, and generally just goofing off before Tony expressed interest in going dancing. I informed the group that I was entirely too sober to dance, so Liz suggested we migrate to the next bar and change that by the time we got to Diamonds. We hit most of the other bars on what we call The Rota Crawl (Los Arcos, Pier 5, O’Grady’s) and, finally, made it down the strip to Diamonds.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a club person. That being said… holy crap we had fun. Emmett had informed the entire group that he didn’t dance, so I told him we could stand awkwardly beside the dance floor holding drinks while our friends danced but, by the time we got to Diamonds, I was tipsy enough that being wallflowers together turned into me teaching Emmett to dance. The poor kid is an unapologetically tall, skinny, lanky white boy, but he did his best and it was adorable. My best friend CJ wound up being there, too, so he and I demonstrated the appropriate method of club dancing/bump n grinding and Emmett wound up sort of figuring it out. We danced for at least an hour before I decided that I needed fresh air and, recalling that Emmett had expressed interest in seeing the beach, I asked him if he wanted to go to the small beach inlet right up the road from Diamonds. We bailed on the club, went wading while singing country songs, and talked about life for a while before finally heading back to meet up with the squad so we could taxi home together.

It was an amazing night, and it just got better when we rolled into Sunday morning and everyone (Tony, Emmett, Nico, Liz, and Katharine) came over to the house I’m currently watching for some friends and we made epic breakfast burritos for brunch, accompanied by Bloody Marys, Irish coffees, and screwdrivers. We listened to music, played with the dog, ate good food, and just generally enjoyed each others’ company before we all scattered and went our separate ways, but not before we decided that brunch was going to become a weekly thing for the squad.

I’m also pleased to report that I’ve finally gotten my ass in gear with the whole going-to-the-gym-and-getting-fit thing. I’ve resumed my walk to run program (I got up at 0500 Monday and 0445 today) and of course I’m dog sitting, so I’ve taken to taking Luna on long evening walks after work. I’m planning on a some time at the pool and maybe a bodyweight workout after work today, and of course one of my nightly walks with Luna. I probably won’t slay the PRT, but at least I should pass (not that it matters, grumble grumble grouch grouch.) The thing is, though, I’m more interested in building a healthy lifestyle than just training to pass my PRT. I’m working on making bigger life changes now, largely due to the realization that I am, as of this year, closer to thirty than I am to twenty. It is officially time for me to get my shit together. MY goals for this year are to get a handle on my finances, get myself back in shape, and focus on improving my overall health – mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, etc. I’ve only got one life and I need to take care of myself as best I can.

 

Well, that’s all she wrote for today. Until next time, stay frosty, nerds! Excelsior

Homesickness, TCCC, and Stress

For some reason (utterly unbeknownst to me) I woke up today feeling exceptionally homesick. To my recollection, I haven’t felt this strong a sense of longing for home since my first month or so in Spain, but I nearly teared up listening to “Fly Over States” by Jason Aldean this morning. I think maybe Skyping with my parents yesterday might have something to do with it, but it was awfully good to see their smiling faces. I smell like my dad today; I’m not only wearing the same deodorant he wears, but also his aftershave. Dang, I’m about to cry right now! Stupid homesickness. I’m going to have to do whatever it takes to make sure that I can make it home in June for Caleb’s wedding, because I need a break from my life right now, and I really need to see my family. I know that being away from family is hard on everyone in the military, but I feel like it’s at least five times worse for families like mine. Being mostly Irish, we’re such a close-knit unit and having even one of us so far away like this is really difficult.

In other news, work has got me beyond stressed out today. And I was in such a good mood this morning, too… I got to sleep in for an hour, had time to get breakfast at the galley, and got in to work nice and early. Everything seemed to be going well which, in retrospect, should have been my first clue. It is Monday, after all. My doc showed up for work and informed me that despite everything we’d gone through to change things last week, it looked like I would be attending TCCC after all. I was stressing out about that when Spevere showed up and informed me that HE was going to TCCC this week. We couldn’t both go, obviously, because someone had to stay behind to keep the clinic open. We discussed the situation with Doc Miles, who immediately went to talk to Chief, but the end result (despite Doc’s protests) was that one of us had to go to TCCC. We sent Spevere, leaving me to run the clinic solo, and while that’s not exceptionally difficult for me, it bothers me to no end that now neither Spevere nor I get to attend EAP. As much as we’ve studied on our own, not being able to go and learn from second and first classes who have been in for years and learned a ton is something of a crushing blow. I’m just hoping that everyone I’ve talked to is right and that other commands aren’t this bad at communicating and coordinating. You would think that the fact that I work in a two-person clinic would carry more weight and be given more consideration when decisions like this get made, but evidently not.

Anyway. I’m not going to try to do my homework here at work today; I’m going to focus on studying for advancement and patient care until I get to go home, because I’ve simply got too much on my plate today to try to add watching silent movie shorts while at work to the list. I’m wearing approximately twelve hats today, and it’s definitely going to be a stretch, but what better way to prove myself as a corpsman than successfully running a clinic solo for a whole week?? I just hope my Thursday duty day doesn’t get hectic, because if I get called out of clinic, there will be no one here to screen patients for the docs. This whole thing was really ill thought out.

The selection phase for CMS-ID was supposed to be the last few weeks, so I may be able to find out if I got chosen for orders today! I’m super excited but also incredibly nervous. To be honest, I really don’t care where I go next. My main priority is getting out of Rota and getting into (hopefully) a better command. I also would prefer to spend some time at a slightly larger hospital where (hopefully) people will be less in each other’s business and more focused on themselves, if you know what I mean. I just want my private and personal life to be just that: personal and private. I’m not a fan of having people know my business when I’m not the one who told them.

Poor Ben is learning just how small this command is in a bit of a crash course. His first night in Rota, Mercier, Spevere, Arvin, and I took him to Cream’s and he told me that the next day people in lab were asking him about it. I told him that was normal here and he was less than enthused, but what can you do? It’s the nature of the beast at small commands, because people get bored and when they get bored they create drama. It’s a legitimate problem here.

Anyway. I think that’s it for me for today. Until next time, stay frosty, nerds!