Where It All Began

I moved out West from Ohio in February, 2013.  What started as a visit to see a few friends I hadn’t seen in years turned into me running away from a life I was unhappy living.  My marriage was falling apart, my friendships were far and few; the few hanging on were dangling by a thread, my health was dwindling, and my general levels of comfort in my own skin were plummeting at an exponential rate.  You see, I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from the Ohio State University that prior winter after starting my degree in 2004 and had absolutely no job prospects.  Truthfully, that’s still the case nearly a year later, but I’ll touch on that a bit later.

The failure of my marriage I believe was largely my fault.  My ex was and still is a wonderful man.  He has a lot of potential that I could never make him see, and a heart of gold, but he always lacked the inner drive and motivation to search for the proverbial manual on how to use it.  I hope with all of my heart that someday he forgives me for failing him and finds someone who can bring out the best in him.  Both he and his family will always have a special place in my heart.  His mother treated me like the daughter she never had; his brother, though we never bonded, was always very welcoming and friendly.  I appreciated that.  But moving on from that (which is a relief to get off my shoulders and see it in plain, black and white text), it wasn’t just my relationship with my husband failing.

My best friend had replaced me with a woman we had worked with for awhile who was a good number of years older than us with half the consideration and maturity that would be expected of an independent, single mother of 2 (henceforth referred to as Ignorant One).  Despite regular incidents where the Ignorant One’s immaturity grossly affect my best friend, myself, and oftentimes various others, my friend’s forgiving nature always resulted in some big make-up event which “bonded” the two even more.  Slowly the circle of friends we once walked together with gave up and most of us walked our separate ways.  The only one who stuck around was a beautiful, strong-willed woman whom I may not have gotten to know as well as I did had it not been for the waning relationship with my best friend.  To make matters worse, my best friend endured the emotional rollercoaster of a bad relationship.  One day they would be talking about marriage, the next she’d be throwing his stuff out of windows, and before we knew it they’d be inviting us all out for drinks at a karaoke bar as if nothing had happened at all.  Well, until he slept with a co-worker and knocked her up.  Come to think of it, this was about the time the Ignorant One came about…  Anyway, the Cliff Notes version is this:  He cheated, she forgave him…kind of (she had a tracer on his phone at all times), he cheated again and knocked his co-worker up, they broke up, but they continued having secret rendezvous and sleeping with one another.  During this all, myself and my best friend’s other friends were very supportive, yet firm in that she just needed to cut ties from this guy, which resulted in her pushing us away, lying to us about the secret rendezvous, and ultimately just cutting us out of her life.  It was a jab to the heart, really.  Spend 6 months supporting someone and giving the advice she was looking for with tough love, only to get flipped the bird and slapped in the face with the beginnings of a perpetual Silent Treatment.  Sucks.

To get away from it all, I first traveled to South Carolina to visit my longtime friend, Jessica.  She and I met our freshman year of college and our personalities are so different, yet compatible that we can go months without talking, and then just pick up where we left off without skipping a beat.  I know I can always rely on her to give unbiased advice without fear of anything I say coming back to bite me in the ass.  I spent about a week there, enjoying the beach, her company, and exploring some possible career opportunities before returning briefly to Ohio, then on to Portland.  There I visited my friend Stephanie.  Bad as it is to say, she’s one of those friends you keep around to make you realize your life could always be worse than it is.  Not that it’s anything I could ever hold against her, but if anything bad in life -could- happen to someone, it’s her.  There was something different about this visit though.  Instead of getting the “things could be worse” reminder, instead I saw things she had that I didn’t; things that I never really thought I wanted or valued until I really took a moment to step back and think about it.  She has a husband who, though far from perfect, is perfect for her.  A man who is irritating beyond all 7 realms to Hell and back, but who loves her unconditionally and finds happiness in that despite the disadvantages life has thrown at them.  They have 2 adorable yet incredibly hyper, insanely crazy, terribly rotten boys who have given her something to live for, even though she doesn’t realize it all the time.  I didn’t have either of those.  A pang of jealousy there was no way in Hell I was going to admit led me to jump on the opportunity to head up to Tacoma and stay with a mutual friend of ours, Sami.

Sami and I go back as far as Stephanie and I do: to freshman  year of high school.  Though Stephanie and I were far closer back then than Sami and I (we were in the same “crowd” of friends, but in different sub-groups), this time it was different.  Sami and I connected on many different levels, and to preserve her privacy, I’m not going to go into any of it beyond saying she actually understood what I was feeling.  I stayed with her for 2 weeks which was really what I needed.  During that time, I did some self-exploration and was able to figure out some goals for myself and for my future.

1) Get a divorce.

2) Get a job.

3) Start dating.

4) Get healthy.

5) Don’t give up on myself.  [This is probably the hardest one.]

6) If I don’t have a “big girl job” by November, apply for Air Force Officer Training School

I officially relocated to Washington after those initial 2 weeks and opted to stay with her until I could get on my own two feet again.  Conveniently, when her husband returned from his military tenure, my aunt had an open room at her place in exchange for help with rent and physical assistance after she suffered a stroke.  There was a little bit of drama in the switch between Sami’s place and my Aunt’s, but I’m happy to report that she and I are on good terms again and she’s taken the next step with her husband.  Baby Ruby is due in July, 2014.  🙂  Congratulations Sami & Elijah!

I got a part time gig at a crappy casino during the time of my move, which I’m still stuck at today.  Whee.

After I moved, shit hit the fan.

My grandfather, who I wasn’t terribly close to for the majority of my life was failing in health.  The stubborn old man rarely told us how he was -really- doing, so it was a surprise to me to learn he’d been hiding the fact he was undergoing treatments for multiple cancers.  We had lost my grandmother, who still holds a very dear place in my heart eternally the prior December, and I learned that the only reason he had accepted treatment at all was so he could outlive her.  He didn’t want her to think for a moment that she was unloved, and for the past 4 or 5 years made it a daily routine to go visit her at her assisted living center for 2-3 hours in the morning, and occasionally in the evening as well.  She was a victim of early onset Alzheimer’s & Dementia, and it got to the point where he was unable to safely care for her at home, so she was placed in a facility nearby.  The lengths to which my grandfather went to ensure her care as a priority are insane.  I can only hope and pray that one day I can share a relationship with someone as strong and pure as my grandparents did.  Moving on, because I knew my grandfather’s days were drawing to a close, I made it a point to make visits to his home in Lacey a part of my routine.  Every Monday afternoon I would spend 2-3 hours with him.  Most of our visits were him telling stories of his escapades and adventures in the US Navy, sometimes the stories were of his childhood and his battles with illnesses such as Rheumatic Fever.  I talked to him quite openly and candidly about my marriage and relocation out here, but never had the heart to tell him we were getting a divorce.  Despite that, I’m pretty sure he knew.  This was the man who enabled me to buy my first car.  This was the man who is a HUGE reason why I finally graduated college.  He was a driving factor in why I applied at USNA out of high school.  Sometimes I feel like my grandfather was more a guardian and mentor to me than your average grandparent.  Maybe he got it from all of his years in politics.  I don’t know.  But it worked.  It worked for us.  The last time I saw him alive and well (I use the word “well” loosely here) was May 13, 2013.  I remember the visit as an exciting one for me.  I was supposed to start my job that Wednesday and even though it was just a crappy server job, I was anxious to tell him about it.  He pulled a check out from nowhere; some refund check from a hospital bill he’d overpaid, and he signed it over to me.  $428 is about how much it was, I believe and though I declined it twice, he insisted that I let him help.  He said to buy new shoes and some comfortable clothes for work.  So I did.  And I cried the whole way home.  On one hand, I felt terrible for accepting money from an old man living off of his pensions and his SSI, but the other hand, I’d have felt even worse for telling him no a third time and rejecting his offer.  It was as though he knew it would be the last thing he would do for me during his lifetime.

The following Monday I pulled into his driveway to see both my Uncle and his girlfriend’s car already parked there.  I froze.  I knew something was wrong.  Monday was MY day.  Tuesday the hospice nurse would be there and my uncle’s girlfriend would stop by and take him out for groceries.  Yet here they were.  On my Monday.  I walked into the house and my Uncle immediately ushered me back downstairs, telling me I had to listen to him because he didn’t want me to break down crying when I saw the state my grandfather was in.  Evidently, that Saturday, he’d had some sort of fit and had fallen.  A little bit of investigation later revealed he’d had more than a few of these fits around the house, but none as severe as this last one.  When his girlfriend had come by to check on him, she found him passed out on the floor in deplorable conditions, and it’d appeared as though he’d been like that for at least a few hours.  They got him cleaned up and into a hospital bed in the living room with the TV on for when he came to, but my Uncle had said every time he woke up, it was as if he was still in another world, only in a lot of pain.  The brain cancer had reached the end of the terminal state.  Large doses of morphine and Ativan kept him comfortable until his transfer to a hospice facility on Wednesday morning.  I went to visit him that day and had a few good laughs.  When Julia the hospice caretaker asked to shave his beard because he looked like Santa Claus, he was fading in and out of consciousness.  It took her about 20 minutes, then his eyes sprung open and he gestured to his after-shave.  Laughing, Julia applied it for him and said he was a fine, dapper young man at which point I said, “Yeah, until you look at his ugly feet.”  That’s when he grabbed my hand and started  laughing.  It was an inside joke that he, my grandma and I had shared for years.  Before I left I gave him a hug and I heard him say, “I love you, Daniella.”  That was the last thing I ever heard from him.  That Friday, May 24th, 2013, he passed away.

One thing my grandfather always talked about with me had to do with goal-making.  It was good to have a few long-term, unattainable goals, but the majority of them should be realistic and challenging while being productive.  So something like, “be a MILF” wouldn’t count (though, goddamnit, I want that too, LOL!).  He said that goals were meant to be achieved, that they should be designed so I could succeed with the potential to exceed them and inspire others to do the same in their own lives.  That last goal that I made is where I’m standing now, and in order for me to have a chance at succeeding at the attempt, I need a new subset of goals.

6) If I don’t have a “big girl job” by November, apply for Air Force Officer Training School

Well, that means my chubby butt needs to get in shape.  Right now I’m just shy of 5’3″ and sitting between 198 and 206 lbs.  According to the Air Force Physical Fitness Requirements, I must be no more than 155 lbs, with 150 being the limit for 5’2″.

I’ll also have to pass a PT Test and have a composite point total of more than 75 points.  My goal is to fall under the low-risk category for every part of the test.  This means:

  • 1.5 mile run in 14:52 or less
  • Abdominal Circumference of 31.5 inches or less
  • 38 or more push ups in 1 minute
  • 47 sit ups in one minute

Minimum total point goal:  89.1/100

Passing this PT test is going to be the biggest challenge in my application for AF OTS.  As a result, these are the goals I’ve come up with:

1) Complete 120 days of P90X

2) Graduate from P90X to Insanity

3) Give Yoga an honest effort (beyond what P90X offers)

4) Begin indoor weight & running training when the new fitness center at my apartment complex opens

  • Run 2.0 miles in 16 minutes

5) Once I reach my PT goals AND my goal weight, submit application for OTS!

I’ve already kind of started P90X.  Unfortunately with the yoga portion, I have no clue if I’m doing the positions right, so I’ve been researching local yoga studios and am hoping to enroll in a beginner’s course to learn the basic positions (and more) used in the P90X system so I can get the most out of what I do.

Dear Santa,

I want a $120 6-week membership to Source Yoga in University Place for Christmas.  😀


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