Saturday, May 24, 2014

This Day Memorializes A Lot

There are three or four days that come along during the year that completely throw me--I just do not have the presence of mind when I am in their throes to realize what is going on yeah, kinda like PMS. I get anxious and weepy and a migraine may or may not be involved and there is definitely tears oh yeah, mos def--tears.

At some point my attention gets drawn to the calendar and I realize that it is April and it was my first husband's birthday just a few days before or it is August and it would have been my 33rd wedding anniversary to Sgt. Airborne just that last week. And the ultimate of all my tizzies, my I-forgot-to-remember-what-everyone-was-telling-me-to-never-forget meltdown over last year's 9/11.

So, when I realized I had been feeling distressed, I automatically chalked it up to anxiety over my recent job change and the waiting game that comes with creating a new book of business. Then, I started to see the snarky little e-grams on Facebook telling me to have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend. Happy? And then my generally restless mood, went from zero to completely and acutely pissed-off in, like, no seconds flat.

Really? Is this what everyone thinks this holiday is for--that Memorial Day is about a BBQ and a beer and a third day off in a row and the Old Navy Item of the Week? If so, that pains me greatly, like down to the marrow of my bones. Because I know differently.

For those who do not know, I was an Army wife. Not for long in the grand scheme of time, but long enough to make a grand enough impression on me. Long enough that I find nothing less than absolute respect and gracious admiration for our veterans, as well as our active duty servicemen and women, to be highly offensive and completely indefensible. Oh, I do not want to debate the better president or who is in charge of congress or the house or the military budget or whatfuckingever. I am talking about sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and men and women just like you and me making the greatest sacrifice of all for the good of the many. For us; as in, the U.S.

Sgt. Airborne and I arrived at Ft. George G. Meade in Laurel, Maryland, on December 6, 1981, and Sgt. Airborne reported for duty to the 311th Military Intelligence Battalion, Company C, and went to work at NSA, the National Security Agency, as an Arabic-Egyptian linguist with a Libyan dialect a 98Golf for those who know or even care to know. Do your math people, this was 1981--Gaddafi, helloooo, McFly.

And from that first cold wet day in March 1982, when ground was broken for the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, better known as The Wall, Sgt. Airborne and I went into Washington, D.C., with another married couple from Ft. Meade and our boys wore their uniforms. The boys did this on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day as we paid our respects, not only at The Wall, but at all of the memorials throughout Washington, D.C. Now, maybe because I am old enough to remember hearing the body counts on the 6 o'clock evening news and seeing some of the older neighborhood boys not come home from fighting in Vietnam or maybe just living near enough to be in Washington, D.C., at the time of the building of The Wall at a time when our husbands still served with soldiers who had served in Vietnam, I identify so closely with this particular memorial and it resides in a place so deeply rooted and special within my heart as to be a part of me.

I have just very recently renewed my friendship with that other boy from Ft. Meade that is a story for another day--out of deference to him and this "holiday", and also because I just cannot seem to write the right thing right now. But in our conversations, this California beach girl, pipe welder/steamfitter's wife and firefighter paramedic's mother is getting to know that young Army wife all over again, and I am thankful to that boy for a lot of things this Memorial Day. I am thankful for his service on my behalf and we have talked about that both in broad strokes and in fine detail. Mostly, I am grateful to this new man I am meeting again for the first time, and for him seeking me out and befriending me once again. And like the Caveman said, "Maybe he needs you as much as you need him, Darya." I pray that is true.

Selfishly, in my heart of hearts, I am just so very glad to have a friend who has known me since I was a 19-year-old newlywed fresh from unhooking the U-Haul trailer and in-processing where we both shared our first permanent party post. For now, just know that I have missed him immensely--more than even I could have believed or imagined. With him comes a little bit of my own tribe; a tribe that has known me longer than anyone but Sister; a tribe that I felt so proud to be a part of and never really properly mourned the loss of because I was so damn busy getting down to the business of surviving.

In honor of all that has come before and all that will go on, thank you, veterans and servicemen and women, thank you for your service and your sacrifice. You all mean the world to me, and especially, too, to that other boy from Ft. Meade.

So, as you can see, this Memorial Day memorializes a lot for me

xoxo Darya

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Beast of Burden

Yeah, all your sickness
I can suck it up
Throw it all at me
I can shrug it off
There's one thing, baby
That I don't understand
You keep on telling me
I ain't your kind of man.
            --Rolling Stones, Beast of Burden

I hear this song in my ear buds almost daily clearly, I need to shake-up my Pandora playlist and all I can think of is the Caveman and when we started dating. See, the Caveman proposed to me on our very first date. 


I just wanted a meal and a drink and a night away from my two-year-old, and this knucklehead proposed marriage. Oh, it was not a get-down-on-one-knee-kinda proposal, but a proposal nonetheless. On our drive home from the restaurant, when I was fully lubed from his attention and touch and equally loaded from a couple of carafes of Avila's house margaritas, and while he drove up Pacific Coast Highway in a hot summer month, he said in an extraordinarily matter-of-fact manner, "I can see myself being married to you, and taking care of you and your son for the rest of my life." The fact that he did NOT look hard into my eyes or lean into me so I could feel his breath in my ear deeply underscored the gravitas of his words. He did not rely on gimmick; he let his words alone speak his heart's truth. How simple. How effective. How scary. 

I just stared out the window and pulled a long drag on my Marlboro Light 100 thinking how much I wished he would slow the car down enough so I could just jump the hell outta there I had a mental picture of a perfectly executed tuck-and-roll thereby protecting my precious and expensive teeth, as well as my ubiquitous Marlboros but, sadly, I was glued to the seat. I did not turn my head. I did not answer him. Boom. 

I just let it lay there. 

Later on in our relationship when I was fussing with staying or going or this-ing or that-ing because of my age or his earning potential or whatever I thought was so important that it should keep us apart because I have that wholly unique ability to confuse the problem with the issue when it is so perfectly clear to him. He simply told me, "You know what, Darya, do what you gotta do. I will always love and take care of you and your son. I will always be there for you--you are gonna have to chase me away with a stick." And he did not say it in a way that gave me that shotgun-in-the-back-of-my-head dread shiver as I went to the door nor were any Star 80-esque alarms going off and if you don't understand that reference, Google it, girl because it holds the key to what I came from and where my head was at. Because it was not a threat. 

It was a vow. 

Go ahead, Darya, throw it all at me, girl. I can take it. And he still can. I can shrug it off. And he still does. And I will still be standing right there by your side holding your hand. And he still is. It gives me chill bumps to even write all this out loud because as I grow older I realize how precious and gracious and tenacious the Caveman is naturally. His actions and his words still say these things to me--just like the other day when I was once again this-ing and that-ing over some stupid-ass nonsense that had me all worked up and ready to tell the whole wide world to shove it.

He is my beast of burden. 

And I am glad his back is broad 'cause the weight of my worry would prolly crush an average man to smithereens.

xoxo Darya

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Slobbification of America

I freely admit that I have never felt like one of the pretty girls--never ever.  And I really am not that smart nor have I ever had that much money.  So, maybe because I have never felt like or had any of those things, I work harder to be all of these things so none of that shows.

And because I work hard to appear "put together", I hear things like, "Oh, do you look this nice for everyone?" from Dr. Pain--obviously, Dr. Pain is my pain management physician; "Gosh, you look nice; are you always this dressed up?" from Dr. Headshrinker, which BT-dubs has to mean something because everything means something on his couch.  "You look pretty today, but you look pretty everyday!" from the girls and boys at work.  "You always smell so nice" and its Sunday morning at our neighborhood breakfast nook.
In the '90s, when the casual Friday phenomenon first took hold, people opined that they did their very best work when they were comfortable and wearing relaxed clothing. Unfortunately, exactly the opposite was true.  Studies showed that productivity went down and people did not treat each other as professionally when they were not wearing their "work uniform".  Basically, if you dress like you are going to a BBQ/swapmeet/potluck/garage sale, you will work/act like you are at a BBQ/swapmeet/potluck/garage sale.

And let's be honest, it wasn't until after the grunge movement of the very early 1990s when clothing options and stylings of the casual Friday mom-jeans transformed into the fully slobbified versions of the 2000s with just about every Ugg-boot footed gal sporting the de rigueur double-camisole top with or without the coordinated or even clean bra strap peeking out from underneath and the super skinny long slinky neck scarf and gauntlets with the uber low-slung pajama-pant bottom. And let's just call a spade a damn shovel: Everyone, quite frankly, started to smell like bong water or dirty hair or ass or dude or really I don't even want to think about what everyone started to smell like, but it was bad and not in a stay-cool-Slipknot-slang sic sorta way, either.

 Clearly, I do not believe in being part of the slobbification of America--never havenever will.

It may sound exhausting and prideful, but I think to myself, what should I let go?  My hair? Just throw a Hurley cap on over 3-day-old-dirty hair?  Don't put on a nice clean outfit everyday? Maybe I should just pull on some dirty ol' sweat pants and flip-flops?  Wear no make-up?  That is not good for anybody who has to look at me! And. I. Just. Cannot. Do. That.

Every single day I pick out an outfit, not an especially expensive nor trendy outfit, with a decent pair of shoes and make sure that my hair is "done" and carry one of the only two nice handbags I own because it comes down to mostly this:  I believe that by doing these things I say, "I respect and care about you as my coworkers and my doctors and my trainers and my dentist and hygienist and my hair stylists and my manicurists.  And because I care about you, I am going to get up every day and show you that you are worth it to me by showing up looking nice for you."

And please do not get the idea that I have the big pants for myself or that I am a snobbish designer-only-kinda-gal; I am equal opportunity all the way, baby--I am perfectly willing to pair my precious banged-up-worn-every-single-day Tiffany cuff with Target pleather with JCrew cashmere.

I truly believe that I serve the people around me and they deserve the best from me. To me, it demonstrates to you exactly what you mean to me.  This goes hand in hand with being on time and all the proper pleasantries and courtesies of a caring and decent society, as well as taking care of those I love and well, you get the idea.

So, yes, I guess you can call me prideful.  But I do it for you!

xoxo Darya