Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shameless

I might have mentioned a few times how much I miss my family. I miss them... quite a lot. Intensely. Let me try to get you to understand the feeling.

I'd like you to imagine for a moment that you have to move far away from everyone you love. You're not moving to a place where other family members live, or are nearby. You move someplace so far away that you feel pretty alone most of the time. You have a few good friends close by, but for holidays they go spend time with their families, so on the most important days of the year they're not around.

Now, add to that "circumstance" the inability to visit home--at all. You don't know when you'll be able to go back permanently, and you definitely don't know if you will ever get to visit home while you're gone.And I'm not talking about a couple of months. I'm not talking about one year. I'm talking about years. YEARS. Years of just phone conversations, just Internet communication, just letters sent back and forth.

Driving home is not an option, because it would cost upwards of $1000, and your car--while it isn't quite a clunker--probably would need extra maintenance to survive the trip, which you can't afford. It would also take three days to get there, three days to get back, so you'd be taking a lot of time off of work. Flying would also cost about $1000--because, I forgot to mention, you're married, so there are TWO people that need to get back to see their families. Two roundtrip tickets for that great of a distance (approx. 2000 miles) are at least $400 each. Taking the train or bus is out of the question. The train is slightly less than flying or driving, but you have to buy food no matter which you choose. These are definitely more cost-effective options, but like driving, they take too much extra time.

Every time you have a birthday, every time something fantastic happens, you can only talk about it. At Thanksgiving and Christmas you can Skype, or send presents in the mail. You can take lots of pictures and e-mail them back and forth and obsess about Facebook in a way you never wanted to but now you have to because it's the only way you can keep in touch with 90% of your family (because Grandma doesn't have one.)

...Now, before I get ahead of myself, I know what some of you will say. Get an extra job. Sell stuff on eBay (which I've done). Be more frugal, blah blah blah. Or, as one friend so blithely put it during our first Christmas here, "Make your own memories!" (We spend 90% of our time with each other and only each other, we've got plenty of "happy newlywed" memories.)

But my husband has had so many jobs in Illinois I don't know how to describe that chaos to you. Right now he's working 40+ hours as a manager at one job, but will soon be adding a second job (both paying just over $10 an hour.) And do you know what those jobs have amounted to?

Last year, I spent half of Christmas Day alone. That's right, I sat in the apartment all by myself because he was at work. He also worked on New Years Day. And the day I graduated from college, I didn't have anyone to celebrate with except for my husband, but at the last minute he got called in to work. So I, again, spent the day alone in the apartment. I also spent my 25th birthday... alone in the apartment.

Somewhere out there, some military spouse is probably growling at my blog because they have to live without their loved ones all the time. I have a few things to say about that too.

A. You probably still have more ability to see the rest of your family than I do..
B. The average length of deployment for the military are as follows:
-Air Force 4-12 months (120-360 days)
-Army 12-15 months (National Guard & Reserve is only 12 months) (350-450 days)
-Navy 6-12 months (180-360 days)
-Marines 7 months (210 days)

As of right now we have been away from our families for 819 days.

This is the last time I hugged my mom, 819 days ago.
Also, check out my pasty white legs.

I'm not writing this to complain. I have a good life and I love my tutoring job and my husband and my church. But I want to go home for Christmas. WE want to go home for Christmas. I'm not afraid of shameless self-promotion.

So I'm asking you again, to watch this video. I'm asking you AGAIN to please visit our GoFundMe page and to donate--even a small amount helps. I'm telling you again, that there are awesome prizes handmade/handwritten by me if you donate. Please watch the video, please share the site with your friends, and please consider donating. And pretty, pretty please with a gingerbread man on top... share, share, share!

video


Friday, October 18, 2013

Home for Christmas

I know. It's only October.

But every year I'm here without going home is another year you have to hear me whine on this blog about how much I miss my family.

So here's the deal. I stared a GoFundMe account. I made a fantastic video with Sufjan Stevens music in the background and lots of cute pictures, so that you know what's up. On the GoFundMe account, there are PRIZES for donating certain amounts! And most of them are HANDMADE by ME! I make awesome stuff, and you know it.

Here's the video. It's nothing spectacular, but it gets the message across.

video


Please click on the link, watch the video, and consider donating. We're not asking for anything fancy. We just want to go home for Christmas. And the link is below, again, just in case!

-----> Click here! GoFundMe! <---- p="">
Share the link with your friends, ask them to donate! If guys can get a GoFundMe account asking for donations so that he can go on a basketball tour in Europe, then SURELY someone wants to send me and my husband home for Christmas.

Please. Click the link. I love you all.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Patient Heart

I am a creative soul. I thrive on both the act of creation, and appreciating the creations I am surrounded with--whether they are sculptures at the Tacoma Museum of Glass or the desolate beauty of the South Dakota desert.
Like this, but with colors, and a rattlesnake or two. Courtesy of Toothpaste for Dinner.
The other thing I am, quite often, is an introvert. Technically I am an ENFJ (emphasis on the E = Extrovert!) but I definitely "recharge" in solitude and tranquility, with lots of books and not so much human interaction. I try not to focus on this--I'm a person, I'm not just an introvert, and it doesn't keep me from functioning so in all honesty it matters very little. But, in some circumstances, it matters quite a lot.

Being both of these things (a creative semi-introvert) can cause me to be intensely critical of myself. Katie, you don't have enough warm colors in this doodle. Katie, stop staring at your phone (you don't even have texting!) and smile at that acquaintance who's walking by. Katie, write more sonnets. Katie, stop reading and make new friends. Katie, if you really loved sitting in a meadow full of daisies you wouldn't be so prone to getting ants in your socks. Katie, be this, do that, this isn't good enough, you are not good enough, blah blah blah blah blah.... 

We, as in human beings, are ALL our own worst critics. We are not patient with ourselves. We encounter self-hatred in myriad ways on a daily basis, in circumstances grandiose and mundane, so much that we don't even notice. And when we don't notice, we don't stop ourselves. We have patience with our friends and spouses and children (or at least we try) but for some reason it's simply too "weak" to be patient with ourselves. I am not patient with my creative self. I am not patient with my social self.

But this last weekend, I got to be both.

I went on my church's women's retreat in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. This is terrifying on a few levels because women have always intimidated me more than men. I've grown out of that, for the most part, but I was a little anxious about the weekend.

 I was in a room with four other young women, three of whom I was already friends. When I got back to the room on Friday night they were all getting ready to sleep on the roof outside our window. Naturally, they invited me to go with them while they excitedly pulled on layers of socks and hoodies, and insisted that it would be worth it. 

Honestly, I had to fight myself to go out there. I thought, I'm feeling shy, and I'll have to spend the whole night with these girls. But, I know, I KNOW, that if I stay inside by myself I will feel immensely depressed and miserable. I will regret not going with them. So I climbed out the window, which took strain and stretching and twisting my body in ten directions at once, thinking that I would come outside just to "test the waters" and then make my decision. I wasn't pushing myself, or forcing myself to do or be anything just yet--I only knew I needed to try.

It was beautiful. The stars were in these textured clusters like a kid's sloppy glitter-glue art, and the air was cool and calming. I wanted to be there. By not forcing myself to think I had to do it, I allowed myself to want to do it.

The next challenge was getting five mattresses out the window, as well as getting myself back inside to get ready for an outdoor sleepover and then returning to the roof. But once we were settled in I was extremely grateful, to myself, and to my friends, for letting me be adventurous and intrepid. With friends on all sides we stared up at the sky, breathing in the autumn night and marinating in the glory of creation.

But there was one last thing I wanted--something I've always wanted. A photo of the night sky--and this sky, let me tell you, was photographically desirable by anyone's standards. So I whipped out my camera, because I was prepared and brought it onto the roof, and tried for half an hour to get a good photo. I took probably thirty pictures, on different settings, zooming in and out, desperately aiming upward in hopes that I could capture the night I'd given to myself.

In the back of my mind I could hear that voice, telling me to try harder, to be a better photographer with my unimpressive point-and-shoot camera, to be somehow more artistically skilled with this small, digital device. I pushed the belligerent voice away. I thought, if I just keep trying, it might happen. And if it doesn't, I still got to sleep out here, I will still remember the experience even if I can't show it to anyone.

And then it happened.

These photos don't capture even 1/100th of the beauty we saw that night.



Two photos. Seven shooting stars. One patient heart.