First of all, Justin is not deployed. He’s just stationed 7,000 miles away from us.
Also, I had intended on writing a post about me getting peer pressured into doing the Reverse Sprint Triathlon. It will start out that way, but then thanks to “Deployment Law,” it will all go terribly wrong.
Thursday at work, I was convinced by a co-worker to do the Reverse Sprint Tri–I did it last year, so why not?! I hired a babysitter, threw my bike rack on the van, put air in my bike tires, and went out for a 4 mile run. I was ready!
Or was I?
This morning I got there, and got everything set up. I went into the pool’s guard room and dropped my stuff off. 5 minutes into the run I thought, “wait–did I bring my bike helmet into the guard room?! Surely not!” Oh, I surely did.
So, after adding a good 2/10 mile onto the already 3.4 mile run, I hopped on my bike and away I went. Biking has never been so hard. No matter what I did, I really felt like I was putting WAY too much effort into it. At 3 miles I realized the back tire was making weird noises. At 4 miles, I hopped off to see what was up.
My tire was flat. Painfully flat. I pulled out my phone and thought about who I could possibly contact. My list of acquaintances is short, consisting mainly of people I work with–people currently working, or racing. But the truck that was bringing up the rear was rapidly approaching. Quick! Act like you’re calling someone!
I panicked, and FaceTimed Justin. The truck pulled over and asked if everything was ok: “Oh, it’s fine. I have a flat tire.”
“Do you have someone coming to pick you up? Are you sure you’re ok?”
I am a big fat liar. I told them it was fine–I just lived down the street. It’s not entirely false. I do live down the street…and then another take a left and go another 2 miles. Either that, or say, “it’s cool, but I don’t actually know people.”
I cried a little (ok, I cried a lot) to Justin: “why does this crap have to happen!?” It’s the second race I’ve failed this year. No, this wasn’t a panic attack-induced drop out, but still!
After letting him know what happened, I was offered a ride from Dom, aka the co-worker who talked me into this in the first place. I told him it was no biggie; I was almost home. Also not a lie, but I did still have a 3 mile walk back to work so I could get my car (sorry Dom, I’m a liar).
This is what we in my family call “being a Ballschmieder.”
No no, everything is fine! I am a thousand percent ok with walking my bike home, and then all the way back to work to get my car. I don’t want to be a burden–just don’t wait for me.
So, Deployment Law: basically, if it can go wrong, it will, while your husband is TDY, or deployed, or stationed on the other side of the world. Ask any army wife, and they will tell you a horrible story of something going terribly wrong while their husband was gone. It might be the same in the civilian world too, who knows. I was thinking this morning about the fact that we’ve gone a full week, and it’s been going relatively smoothly. I’m staying positive, because my worry is that it’s all downhill from here.
Since Justin left, I’ve been making sure to do all the things he probably should’ve taken care of before he left–making sure the bank knows he’s out of the country, updating car insurance policies, and of course temporarily suspending his phone number.
Verizon took it upon themselves to do one better…I guess?
Tuesday night, after getting home at almost 8, I grabbed the mail and ran inside to help my kiddos get to bed. I paid no attention to the mail, because it honestly looked like junk–until I caught Emma trying to eat an envelope. Upon grabbing it from her, I realized it was from Verizon.
Instantly I thought, “oh, I bet this is a ‘how was your experience,’ letter,” since Justin and I spent 2 afternoons AT Verizon the week prior, trying to get his phone issue sorted out (they were helpless. But hooray to the lady at the Apple Store who, in under 5 minutes, was able to tell Justin his microphone was broken, and hand him a brand new replacement).
I was so very wrong.
Instead, Verizon had sent me (well, Justin, since the account is in his name), a “Dear John” letter.
Did you SERIOUSLY just break up with me in a LETTER?!?!
I read it; I re-read it. This must be some kind of mistake. I’ve had Verizon since I got my first phone, 16 years ago! I made Justin switch to Verizon when we started talking on the phone so much that our phone bills were getting out of hand (remember free Verizon to Verizon calls? Back before calls were unlimited). Then, after we had to cancel our accounts to move to Germany (which they were awesome about, by the way), we came BACK to Verizon when we got back in 2009. When Justin was deployed, all it took was a phone call, and they temporarily suspended his number, and instantly reactivated it as soon as I called and said he was home. I have talked them up for years, because they’ve been downright awesome!
And this is how we get treated?! You’re breaking up with me?!?!
Yesterday, I called. The customer service woman giggled when I told her we’d been voted off the island. “Well, I see how it could feel that way.” After telling me it was perfectly legal, and all companies do it, she said, “but what Verizon does differently is we waive all cancellation fees and pay off all devices.”
Wait I’m sorry, you waive our cancellation fees?! After telling us we’re being evicted?! Are you flipping joking?!?!
She then told me that things might change in the coming weeks for military families, but, “you should probably go ahead and have a backup carrier, just in case.” Have a backup carrier?! As if I’m going to hold onto my account with you after you already broke up with me?!
I want to say the last time anyone broke up with me was probably 2004. Maybe. My initial reaction upon reading the letter was quite similar: “I can change! What if I use less data!? What if…” By the time I made the phone call, I was no longer a jilted young girl, worried about how she’d go on without him. Nope–you want to drop me, and tell me if nothing better comes along, you might take me back? Sorry, but I’m gone. I’ll take the gifts you’ve given me over our years together, and I appreciate you paying off our phones (especially since we only bought them a few months ago). But I’m not waiting by the phone, hoping you change your mind. This relationship is over!
Funny story–before Justin and I got married, I remember him telling me about bringing his Woobie into the field. I thought it was some cute name he had given a blanket as a child. It’s the actual term for their army blanket.
That really has nothing to do with anything, other than me being 22 and thinking, “wow, he’s pretty secure with himself, to be walking around the world, referring to his blanket as his “woobie.”
Saturday morning, Justin got on a plane and traveled halfway across the world. And he will stay there for a year. It’s not a war zone, so it’s easier to handle…
…that is, until I had to bring my kids to a birthday party, where I knew next to no adults. I realized I dropped MY security blanket off at the airport 11 hours ago. Xander had “star blankey” when he was younger, and when I was able to convince him to let me wash it, he would soon thereafter end up laying on the floor in front of the entry to the laundry room, pining away for star blankey.
I don’t think I’m allowed to go stand in his branch manager’s office and whine, “Justin Stee-ee-eeves!”
When you’re an introvert, you have to mentally prepare yourself for outings such as this, especially when you know no one. They are worlds easier to manage with a security blanket husband, who I can latch onto and whisper sweetly in his ear, “I will murder you if you leave my side.” But after a dozen years married to me, he knows.
During his last deployment, back in 2013, my kids were still young enough that they never want to leave my side. Small children are little built in security blankets. You are given a pass on being anti-social, simply because it’s ok to ignore everyone and only focus on your children. By the time they are 6 and 8, I would probably have to bribe them with ice cream and toys, just to get them to sit with me for 30 seconds.
I have a year. It’s just a year. And I just have to put my big girl panties on and suck it up, but it’s SO much easier with my security blanket husband.
This past Saturday was my baby sister’s 30th birthday. It was also the Fort Knox Spartan Sprint Race. They only spent the last year promoting it, so it was obviously a pretty big deal. And of course, I signed up.
I also signed my kids up.
I asked Justin if it was something he would be interested in, and he told me he wasn’t “a Spartan kinda guy.” So, I didn’t sign him up–until we were out to lunch with my best friend and she asked him if he was going to do it and he replied, “well, I said I wanted to, but no one signed me up.” Well, I marched right home and signed that sucker up for the Elite category, which means competing against guys who spend their entire summer traveling around competing in these brutal races.
I also spent the last I don’t even know how many months, training.
Saturday morning, I was pumped. Ready to go. Psyched. I was so ready for bad-ass-dom. Justin ran that sucker in 1:06:25. Which put him 101st out of the 167 elite humans. And then, out of everyone who ran yesterday, that put him 223rd out of 4382. Which I think is SUPER badass. His response was, “GIRLS beat me,” and, “I should’ve run faster.” He did zero prepping for it, apart from the insane amount of time he spends in our garage gym weekly, but he refers to that as “training for life.”
The kids raced. And they loved it! And it was super cute to watch. I was getting super pumped.
But I should also add that it was 95+ degrees, with a real feel over 100 degrees. A lot of sweating was happening.
By the time it was my turn, the kids were hot and tired, I was HOT, Justin was sweating so way much. We had been there over 4 hours, in the hot sun. And then, away I went. Jogging through the woods. And jumping over walls. Each wall got a little taller, and a little more effort had to go into jumping them. The final wall was a brutal 6 feet high. I was jumping and throwing myself at that wall on repeat. Nearly everyone else in my heat was on a team, and I watched them hoist and boost one another over the walls, while I ran and threw myself full force at them. My volleyball jumping skills came back to me, and I put every ounce of everything into my vertical leap. I was starting to get frustrated.
Next up–basically, a horizontal log about 5 feet into the air. Not only do you have to throw yourself at it, you have to keep your legs from swinging underneath it. Multiple attempts, quite a few fails, and the feeling of intense bruising on my ribcage. By the time I made it to the final wall, I was feeling intensely defeated. And then the volunteer watching that wall looked at me and said, “you got this girlie!”
Bring on the tears.
I have not had a full on panic attack since 2006, when a Transportation contractor told me there was NO way I’d get my passport in time, and I would NOT be able to move to Germany with Justin.
I jogged on. Compose yourself, Sam. He was just giving you words of encouragement.
But…everyone else is with a team, and they’re all helping each other, and I’m ALONE!!!
The men at the water station were also quite friendly, as I paused, tried to stop the overheating feeling that was not helping with the on-coming panic attack.
Finally, we had made it to the first obstacle that would require 30 burpees if it could not be completed. And, panic I did. I was hot. I was uncomfortable. I looked out into the crowd–if I could just see Justin, he could talk me down…but I had sent him and the kids back to the van to cool off, since I figured I would take at least twice as long as Justin did.
Twice as long?! I was ONE MILE IN! I had over THREE MILES LEFT!!! I looked back–Terry the Torturer was in the heat behind me. If I could just COMPOSE myself and wait patiently, he would most likely be able to talk me down. IS THERE NO ONE OUT THERE ABLE TO TALK ME DOWN?!?!
I stood off to the side for what seemed like an eternity, trying to keep myself from crying. It wasn’t working. I was crying. I was standing, looking out at the first REAL obstacle and I was crying.
There’s no crying in Spartan Races!
I found a gap in the fencing, wide enough to fit myself through. And I tapped out. And then spend the next 30 minutes wandering around, trying desperately to find Justin. While crying. And not wearing sunnies, so people could actually see me crying!
I was the little kid, lost in the mall, and I couldn’t find my family.
WHERE IS MY HUSBAND!?!?
Finally, I decided to just take my crying face back out to the parking area. If they weren’t there, then I guess I would come back and have the Man with a Mic make an announcement.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, this crying lady has lost her husband. And it’s obviously super serious.”
I wandered around, trying desperately to remember where we had parked. We were one of the first people here, so close to the front. WHY DOES EVERYONE DRIVE SILVER VEHICLES!?!? Finally, I glanced to my right and saw a sweaty man, standing near the back of a minivan. And I CRIED. So many tears happened. I walked up behind him, and as soon as he saw me he looked instantly concerned. “What happened!?”
“I tapped out like a bitch! I just started crying, and I couldn’t stop. And it’s so hot. And I couldn’t find you guys. And I looked ahead and every obstacle looked IMPOSSIBLE. And I’m still crying. And…”
“What do you want to do?”
“I just want to get in the car, and cry myself home.”
And that’s what I did. I cried. And then I laughed about how foolish it was. Did I seriously just have my first panic attack in over a decade?! All because of a foolish race?!
But seriously, why was it so dang hot!?
Could I have finished it? Physically–yes. But my head said no, and there was no talking me down. I could pretend that it was something else. I’m absolutely COVERED in bruises, which Justin has been teasing me about–“I FINISHED the race and I have two little bruises on your elbows! What the heck were you doing out there!? You didn’t even make it to the REAL obstacles!”
Next year, I’ll be trying this again. And next year, I’ll force someone to run it with me. Not Justin–even if he was around, I know he’d either tease me the entire way, or take off and leave me (only to run back after he’s finished, to say, “you’re all the way back here?!?!). And I’d spend the run saying, “just carry me!” Which he wouldn’t do. No–I’ll find some equally fit/unfit human, who will whine with me when it’s too hard, but who will keep me from reaching the point of no return.
Our darling puppy, Emma, is often confused about what she is. It probably doesn’t help that our cat, Captain SparklePaws, taught her the fine art of hunting–and killing–mice.
Sometimes she takes credit for Captain’s kills; sometimes she does the deed all by herself, with minimal help from Captain. He brings her live mice, and she finishes the job. Just this morning she posed with her prize.
Last night, I was sitting in my usual spot on the couch, watching tv with Justin after our kids had gone to sleep. I kept smelling a smell. “Justin, do you smell something?”
He didn’t, and I spent a few random moments sniffing nearby pillows, our pug, Bruce (who already thinks I’m crazy, so I’m sure sniffing him solidified that feeling), and even nearby shoes.
By the time we went bed, I had failed at locating the odd smell, and I was beginning to think maybe Bruce’s feeling about me were correct.
Until about 30 minutes ago, when I once again found myself smelling everything. I was beginning to feel like the little kids in room 309 (from Four Rooms, for those who are unaware). I smelled the pillows. I tore the cushions off the couch. None of them smelled. And yet, something smelled.
I moved the couch. And instead of finding a dead prostitute crammed in a box spring, I stumbled upon a large mouse, hidden perfectly under the computer desk. Thanks, Emma!
I then remembered that only Friday, Emma was trying to cram herself between the couch and desk. She was shoving her nose into the hidden space next to the couch, tucked away under the desk. My gosh, I also stuck my hand into that space and fished around for what I thought must’ve been a lost toy she simply had to get her paws on. I’m super grateful that I didn’t stumble upon it then. I might’ve saved myself from 2 nights of the stinky smell, but I ALMOST TOUCHED A DEAD MOUSE WITH MY BARE HANDS!