Thursday, October 20, 2011

Aloha 'Oe

We had a layover at San Francisco this afternoon on our way from Honolulu to San Diego.  It was about 3pm Pacific time and I turned to Zac and said, "It's no wonder I'm hungry, it's noon back home."  Zac looked at me for a moment and then I realized that Hawaii isn't our "home" anymore.  It gave me a lump in my throat, but I kept it together.  

Tonight we're crashed out in a Days Inn near the San Diego airport.  We're getting up tomorrow morning to meet with our realtor to go look at houses for a few hours in the morning and then tomorrow afternoon we're on a plane, heading to Minneapolis.  We'll spend the weekend there and then my father, Lincoln, Zac and I will drive down to Nebraska.  It will be good to see our families.  Zac and I were talking about it and we think the last time we saw our families was last November/December.  It doesn't seem like it has been a year, but it very well could be.  Time seems to fly by.

I'm pretty much running on fumes at this point.  It has been a week filled with restless sleep and poor eating habits.  I've got a nagging headache, knots in my neck and shoulders, recurrent nausea and an over-all sense of being stressed to the max.  (No, I'm not pregnant.)  Tonight is the first night that I'm thinking that I might be able to get a decent night's sleep.  The sleep deprivation really started on Sunday night, knowing that in the morning the moving company would be there to pack us out.  

Monday morning the movers arrived around 8:30.  There were four of them and the lead mover, "T", did a quick walk-through with us to see what he and his guys were working with.  He was a little stunned to see that we didn't have a dining room set or a couch.  Our dining room set had been deteriorating over the years to the point where there were only three remaining chairs and the legs were barely keeping the thing up.  We decided that it was okay to get rid of it.  We sold our couch to some friends of ours.  We liked our couch, but in hindsight we would have picked something different.  We got a few good years out of it and we know the new owners will enjoy falling asleep on it as much as we did.

After T did his walk-through he told that even though we were scheduled for a two-day pack out that his crew could easily pack us up in one day.  We told him that we would like that as it would give us a little more time to clean the house and give our remaining food away.  During the packing , there were a few closets in the house that I affixed "Please do not pack" signs to.  Movers are notorious for packing everything they find.  Everything.  I have heard more than one story where they've packed up garbage cans - with the garbage still in them.  That must have smelled terrific two months down the road when the families opened them up.  I heard from another family that the movers started wrapping up a small dog kennel before they realized that the dog was actually inside of it.  So in the interest of good communication, I made signs to protect our stuff.  We had our packed luggage that needed to stay with us, plus some food in the pantry.  Apparently my signs did the job as everything that I marked stayed put.

They started at 8:30 and they were done by 3:30, which was really quite remarkable.  Then it was just Zac, me and the dogs left in a very naked house.  We spent a couple of hours cleaning the upstairs and then borrowed an air mattress from a friend to sleep on.  The Navy will actually pay for part of a hotel so those last few nights you have a place to stay, but almost all the hotels on Oahu are down in Waikiki and we didn't want to be driving back and forth getting the house cleaned out.  Looking back, we would have checked out of housing a couple of days earlier and stayed in the hotel for a night or two before leaving.  That would have meant our last couple of days in Hawaii would have been relaxing and enjoying paradise instead of vacuuming, mopping and running errands.  Eh, live and learn.  Monday night I was relieved that the pack out was done, but I knew we still had a lot to do.

Tuesday Zac and I cleaned the house some more and ran a few moving-out errands like turning in the cable box.  We decided that we were going to do a walk-away, where we just pay the flat fee to the housing company to clean the place when we leave, but there were still some things that needed to be done to get it up to a walk-away standard.  We also spent Tuesday distributing food from the pantry and fridge to our friends.  Food is so expensive in Hawaii that you really don't want to waste anything.  A pound of butter cost almost $3.50 at the commissary and it can be more than $5 at regular grocers. You don't waste $5 butter.  We also had to pack all of the bags we were going to be taking with us on the plane.  We were allowed four free bags per person since we were traveling on active duty PCS orders.  Since we may be living out of these bags for a couple of months, we wanted to make sure we had plenty of stuff with us.  A tired Zac

Wednesday morning we had to take the dogs over to our friend's house so we could have the house empty for the final inspection with the housing company.  They said that they would be there at some point between 8-noon.  It's really, really, really boring sitting in an empty house waiting for someone.  Finally the inspector arrived at 9:45.  We passed, headed over to the office to pay our final bill, and ran to the post office to mail some last packages back to the mainland.  Then we headed up to a different friend's house to drop off all of our luggage.  We were going to spend the night at her house so she could drive us to the airport the next morning.  Next we went to the harbor to drop off the car for shipment.  Then back to our friend's.  *sigh*  So much running around.  We took showers and hung out at her house for a couple of hours, trying to unwind.  We went to dinner with a group of friends one last time and crawled into bed, knowing that we'd have to be up at 4:15 the next morning to get to the airport on time.

Another was another restless, sleepless night but Thursday morning found us watching the sun rise as we took off from Honolulu International airport.  I couldn't help it - tears spilled out as I watched the island get smaller.  I loved my time on the island.  Four years ago, I never would have thought I would live in a place like Hawaii.  I never would have thought that I would have become a scuba diver and swim with manta rays and sea turtles.  I never would have thought I'd look at the stars from the top of a volcano.  I never would have thought I'd live close enough to Australia to make it a reasonable vacation destination.  I never would have thought I'd eat sushi and like it.  (Well, some of it.)  I never would have thought I would love the beach as much as I do.  As excited as I am about our new adventures, I was sad to be leaving.

I slept on and off on the flight to San Francisco, and then San Diego, but I'm still pretty wiped out.  I'm relieved that most of the heavy lifting is done at this point.  The purpose of the next three weeks is to relax and enjoy the company of our families.  I'm going to try and take this opportunity to de-stress.  Yes, I still have to get our dogs from Honolulu to San Diego, but I'm lucky that I've got great friends back on Oahu that are able to help me out with that.  It was sad to say goodbye to the pooches yesterday, but I know that I'll get to deal with all their dog hair soon enough.

And now, even though it's only 7:40pm back "home", it's time for bed.  Here's hoping for a restful night.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Biggest Loser induced anxiety

Zac and I were watching the Biggest Loser on tv the other night.  As I was watching the contestants working out and talking about nutrition, I could actually feel my stress level rise.  The next five weeks are going to be filled with socializing, eating out, alcohol, big meals with family and traveling.  Plus we're going to rarely be near a gym, not that we'd really have any time to go to one even if we were.  I hate this feeling of dread that's welling up inside me.

Zac and I try to be healthy.  I like to think we succeed more than we fail.  We try to eat balanced meals, we like to cook at home, we don't eat out too often, we try to exercise regularly and we have spent time learning about exercise and nutrition to help us make good choices.  Of course we're not militant about things - cheesecake is still Zac's birthday desert of choice and I'm never, ever going to turn down a glass of wine - but we're finding that as each year passes keeping those extra couple of pounds off is a little more work.

Part of Zac's job is to be physically fit.  Physical training (PT) is incorporated into part of his work day.  But even without command-led PT, Zac would be more dedicated to working out than I am.  He's plenty happy to go for a run or hit the gym.  Me?  I need someone to push me.  For awhile I had a workout buddy in  Bernadette.  Bernadette is a personal trainer so she had plenty of knowledge of what we should do each day and her personality made it fun to be at the gym, despite being sweaty and stinky and gross.  She'd tell me what to do and I'd do it.  When Bernadette and Ken moved I was lost as to what I should do at the gym.  I felt self-conscious going by myself.  I took a long break from the gym and just resigned myself to running as my primary (i.e. sole) form of exercise.  (I still hate running.  But that's for another time.)

I was in a rut and finally decided to call up one of Bernadette's personal trainer friends up at the gym where Bernadette used to work.  (Schofield - the Army base up the hill from where we live.)  I signed up for 11 sessions.  And then 11 more.  And then 11 more.  I would go once a week, so that's almost nine months of having a trainer.  And honestly?  I loved it.  I love the strength training.  I love how she'd mix in weights, TRX, Crossfit and other sorts of functional exercise.  I love not having to think about creating a workout and just following orders.  I love being challenged, knowing that I would have picked up a 15lb weight when she hands me a 20lb.  I love pushing out those last few reps, knowing that I would have stopped at 15 but I don't want to fail in front of my trainer so I push out the last five to get to 20.  That's just my mental make up - I won't (can't?) push myself when it comes to exercise.

My personal trainer up at Schofield gave me an awesome rate for our sessions and I highly doubt I'll find anything even close to that in San Diego.  I also don't know what gym I'll be going to.  Military gyms are free for me, but if we end up living 15-20 miles from one I'm not sure I'm going to get off my butt and go.  Paying for a gym membership might end up being the way I go, if it means that the gym just down the street.  But then again, I don't want to pay for a gym membership and then end up standing there in the middle of things, trying to figure out what the heck I need to be doing, getting frustrated and eventually giving up to go home.  You would think after months and months of working out with someone that I'd have a good idea of what to do.  You would be wrong.  I get that you're supposed to do legs, core, back (upper and lower), shoulders, biceps and triceps.  But so many of the exercises we did incorporated multiple muscle groups that I never really was sure if exercise X was an arm exercise or a core exercise.  And exercise Y?  Yeah, that could have been legs, but it could have been arms too.  With my luck I'd end up accidentally doing 10 arm exercises and only two legs.

I don't know why this is so hard for me, or why it causes me so much stress.  I guess I'll just always be one of those people that has to dish out money to have someone tell me what to do.  And frankly, if it keeps me going to the gym and keeps me in shape, it's money well spent.  But these next few weeks are going to be tough.  There's no doubt about that.  I'm just hoping that I'll still fit into my jeans when we pull into San Diego.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

T-minus two weeks

I just looked at the calendar and we leave in two weeks.

Two weeks.  Yikes.

The last four weeks has flown by in a blur.  Every day a new item is added to the moving to-do list while another item is crossed off.  We're making progress, but there's always something else that we discover needs to be done.  Mix that with my sine wave-like emotional state and it's been exhausting.  I never seem to have the time I need to complete tasks but then I find myself occasionally paralyzed, trying to figure out why I have nothing to do in that moment.  So forgive the disjointed ramblings.  My brain is scattered.

Here are some things that have happened in the last four weeks.

--We sold the truck.  When we moved out to Hawaii the Navy would only ship over one vehicle.  Zac owns a F150 pickup (the true love of his life - which I'm ok with) and we also owned a Ford Escape hybrid.  We decided that the Escape was the better choice for getting around the island.  Of course we had been on the island for only a few months when both of us realized that we were going crazy only having one car.  Me?  I hated being stuck at home while Zac drove to and from work.  True, I work from home so I didn't really need to leave but the idea that I couldn't go places whenever I wanted to irritated me.  And Zac?  He missed his truck.  He went from driving a big, bad beast of a vehicle to a SUV that turns off while you drive around parking lots.  He was a man without a country, er, truck.  So he went out and bought another F150, which he promptly drove very little because he had gotten used to the fabulous gas mileage that the Escape gets.  (Although we did drive the truck a lot when we went diving - it was nice to toss all that salty, sandy gear into the bed instead of inside the Escape.)

Like coming to Oahu, the Navy will only ship one vehicle leaving Oahu as well.  It took a while and a couple of price drops, but we finally sold the truck about a month ago.  We've been very lucky that a few of our friends have been off island for the last three weeks and have let us use/watch their cars so we've been able to maintain a two-car status for awhile.  When we leave Oahu we'll ship our car to San Diego.  Our moving travels will take us from Honolulu to Minneapolis to Nebraska where we'll pick up Zac's beloved truck and drive her back to San Diego.  By that point, hopefully, the Escape will have arrived and we'll both be able to come and go as we need to.

--We've continued looking for a house but haven't put in any offers.  We've resigned ourselves to the fact that we really want to see the neighborhoods and houses in person before we start making any decisions.  To ensure that we weren't homeless upon our arrival in San Diego we signed up for military housing.  We've been assigned a house already so we'll be able to move in as soon as we get there.  Added bonus: there is no penalty for terminating the lease early if we buy a house.  SD is a large, urban area and there seem to be houses popping up all the time that are in our price range and desired locations.  The trick is trying to get to them quickly.  It seems that a lot of houses are only on the market for a few days or a couple of weeks and they're gone.  We're going to have to be fairly aggressive when we get there to purchase something.

--The movers came today to pack out our first shipment of goods.  The Navy provides two shipments - a small shipment of about 600 lbs and a larger shipment of everything else.  (Up to a certain weight limit based on rank and the number of dependents.)  The idea is that the small shipment gets packed out first and is delivered "quickly" to your next duty station so you're not living in a vacant apartment/house for any length of time.  You're supposed to send things like some pots and pans, dishes, linens and clothing in that first shipment.  The larger household goods (HHG) shipment follows and sometimes takes a little longer to transit to the new duty station.  

The Navy will allow one delivery of each type of shipment and will hold your goods for you for about 90 days before they start charging you for storage.  For us that means that we will have our smaller shipment delivered when we get to our military housing assignment, but we're going to wait to have our larger HHG delivered when we buy a house.  (Otherwise we'd be responsible for moving that smaller shipment and the larger shipment into the new house on our time and our dime.  I don't want to un-pack and re-pack everything we own within a couple of months and frankly, with Zac being on sea duty, who knows if he'd be around to help.)  The end result is Zac and I will have to live up to three months on the stuff we shipped out today.  It's really quite amazing how much 600lbs is, but I'm sure it won't look like much when we move into military housing.  I'm guessing that's going to be a pretty empty house while we're there.

--Zac re-enlisted in the Navy for three more years.  I was excited that I was able to be there for it.  Zac has re-enlisted once while we've been together, but that was while he was in El Salvador so I wasn't able to be there for it.  Usually when a sailor re-enlists he picks where he wants the ceremony to take place.  Sometimes sailors can be pretty creative.  A lot of sailors out here re-enlist on the USS Missouri, which is always cool.  Zac was debating where he wanted to do his and he finally settled on doing it out in Pearl Harbor, on a rigid hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) in front of the sunken USS Utah memorial.  (On the opposite side of Ford Island from the USS Arizona memorial.)
When Zac first mentioned it to me I thought, "That's awesome!  What a cool place to do it!"  But then it dawned on me that I probably wouldn't be able to go out with him on the RHIB due to safety issues or Navy regulations or some sort of protocol that would prohibit civilians such as myself from going with them.  Luckily for me, Zac's Commanding Officer was more than generous and let me accompany them on the RHIB for the ceremony.  I even got a certificate thanking me for being a supportive wife.  That was really neat.  I'm really grateful for the chance to be there.  It's a short ceremony.  Zac leaves the Navy, he's awarded a letter thanking him for his service, a couple of seconds pass and then they swear him back in.  Lots of photos and handshakes.  Once of Zac's favorite parts of his job is tooling around out there on the RHIBs, so it was only fitting that that's what chose for his location.  And doing it in front of the USS Utah just added to the day.

--I resigned as Zac's command ombudsman earlier this week.  While I was relieved to be taking that task off my plate, as I handed over the information and passwords to the newly appointed ombudsman I found myself sad to no longer be involved in Zac's command.  I know some spouses like to be involved and some don't - everyone needs to do what's right for them and their family - but I enjoyed helping out.  I like knowing what's going on and sharing that information with others.  I understand that at Zac's command here in Hawaii that the ombudsman wasn't called upon to do much but I felt like I tried to be available to people so I'm chalking it up as a successful experience.  Maybe I'll do it again someday.

--I also tried to volunteer with COMPASS in August and September.  I say "tried" because while the volunteers showed for the class none of the participants did (save one lovely woman who showed up for the September session).  The August session fell victim to some internet registration technical glitches and the September session was just a bust.  I wish I could come up with another way of putting it, but it really was just a bust.  We had something like nine people sign up and on the first day of class only one person showed, despite reminders the day before.  Two people had people in their family fall ill so they couldn't attend, some people had other things come up, a few we couldn't get a hold of and two of them just plumb forgot.  It was really frustrating for a number of us volunteers that had tried two months in a row to get the classes together only to have them fall apart the day of.  I'll hopefully be able to volunteer with COMPASS in San Diego so I'll have other opportunities to contribute and meet people, but I really like the people I volunteered with out here and I was really quite sad that I didn't get do the class one more time with them.

I've been pretty good so far at keeping my stress level in check, but I think it's going to be increasingly difficult as more and more things become the "last" time I do things out here.  The last time I drive over to the North Shore, the last time I go to the beach, the last time I go to our favorite Thai restaurant, the last time I see my friends.  Only two weeks left.  Eek.