Monday, May 31, 2010

Locked Out

A couple of weeks ago I bought an inflatable pool for the boys but the weather had been so rainy that we haven't gotten to enjoy it yet...until yesterday. I blew it up and placed it on the back deck, which is accessible through our sliding door. The lock on this door has a habit of falling into the "lock" position after it's opened.

It was early afternoon and the sun was scorching. I just started to fill the pool with the boys in tow and decided to get them ready while the pool was filling. I pulled the door and it budged a centimeter and stopped. Oh, you've GOT to be KIDDING me! I gave the door a couple more frustrated jiggles before running to the front of the house. Front door locked. Great. With the kids still in tow, I tried the windows with no luck...except for one: The kitchen.

The good news is that the window was plenty big enough for me to fit just happened to be located above a set of steps. I made several unsuccessful attempts to hop up and through the window, which my boys (who are one and three) found so amusing that they began to mimic me; jumping up and down and giggling every time I made a "leap".

Donning a crusty t-shirt and some old shorts too short and holey to wear in public, I swallowed my pride and went to the neighbors for help. Wouldn't you know, it was the dad and HIS two kids that were home. As composed as was possible, I asked if he had a ladder which he was happy to lend along with his assistance.

So now, our initial three-man party turned into a crowd consisting of a flustered crusty mom, a good-willed neighbor, and four kids now marching into our back yard to watch the spectacle of me trying to balance a ladder on the steps and scramble through my window. If I had more dignity I would have been mortified.

Thankfully, after five minutes of finagling the ladder into position, I managed to launch myself into the window with the exuberant encouragement of four young kids cheering me on at the base of the steps. The neighbor was wonderful about helping me and I was thankful that at least one window was open, regardless of its inconvenient location. Success! That is, until next time...

Remembering Sams

Lance Corporal Sams was a bit off the beaten path, but a good Marine and a great friend. Tall and gangly with a shaved head, he was a country boy as pale as they come. When he wasn’t in uniform, you could catch him wearing Phat Pharm and FUBU around the base. A born prankster, you would be hard pressed to find Sams without a smile or cracking a corny joke that received more eye rolls and sighs than genuine laughter, but everyone knew he was cool. That was Sams.

When our unit of Military Police Officers (MP’s) was activated in January 2003, Sams was one of the only Marines who wasn’t an MP (he was a cook) who got called to pick up a weapon and join the fight. And he did. He got to experience the wonder of coming back onto U.S. soil and it’s astounding greenery (you’d notice it more too if you’d spent a year in the desert). We were home, and everything was good.

Until two weeks later, when Sams took a swan dive out of a five story window.
He didn’t make it. He didn’t fall on the field of battle, but he’s worth remembering just as much as any other fallen soldier on Memorial Day.

Sams and I served on post a lot together. We did some not so bright things to ward away boredom in Kuwait like having a water drinking contest while we still had two hours of watch remaining. BAD IDEA when you can’t leave your post. Or getting into a wrestling match in the cafeteria tent while the Kuwaiti workers howled with laughter. The laughter grew more persistent from all parties when Sams’ foot went through the crappy wooden floor.

Then there was a time where one of Sams’ shenanigans took an unexpected turn. The shotty radio broken and nothing else to do but let humvees in and out of the sandy base, Sams took to throwing rocks past my head. I wasn’t facing him, but I could hear the rocks whizzing past my ear. Agitated, I turned to tell him to knock it off and got as far as “would you knock i—ooof!”. A rock connected with my forehead. I put my hand up to my head (which was covered by a boonie hat) and blood was already soaked through. I took off the hat and the blood came a-pourin. Thanks Sams. By the time the doc got there and Sams was ready to spill the beans on how I got beaned, I quickly told the doc that I fell. On my face. Why didn't I break my fall? Well, my hands were full, naturally. Needless to say, Sams was thankful for his avoiding a butt roasting by the platoon sergeant.

On one of our nightly rounds of patrolling our makeshift base, Sams was talking to me about how things were going out here. He knew that I was having a rough time with some personal issues and without judging or prying, he simply said, “You know Wolf, if you ever need me for anything, I’m here.”

Thinking of it now makes my throat constrict. I don’t know what caused him to end his life, but in the spirit of his good nature, I too will be there for him, at least to honor his memory proudly.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blood, Guts, and Motherhood

As a combat veteran of the Marines participating in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, you can correctly assume that I've seen a lot of ugly stuff. Sparing you the grisly detail, I can sum it up by saying I dealt with the bad encounters well.

Needless to say, I was overly confident that this iron-clad stomach would be able to carry over into motherhood. I consider myself to have a high threshold for handling the gross. I cruised through the first couple of years of my first son's life without an issue; bravely conquering explosive diapers, runny noses that never seemed to want to drain, and prying out half eaten bugs out of my boy's grinning mouth.

Then came the day that my stomach (and will) was tested.

I was doing some schoolwork in my office when I caught the scent of my little one's dirty diaper. Halfway out of the office and on the way to change my then two year old son's little bum, I noticed something on the floor; his dirty diaper...followed by a brown foot-printed trail that let to his bedroom. Oh boy.

There, at the "scene of the crime", was a bedroom massacre. Poop EVERYWHERE!

In the eye of the hurricane was my two year old son, happily running his trucks through one of the brown masses.

Gag reflex activated.

I ran from the room, sucked in a deep breath of air and held my breath as I evacuated my son from the mess and into the tub. Cleaning him was one of the easier parts...the room? Not so much. It took many trips of me holding my breath, scrambling into the room to clean as much as my oxygen supply would allow before I'd have to leave the room to get another breath. Unfortunately, there were some casualties (puzzles, action figures) that didn't make it back to the toy shelf that day, but that's expected on any battlefield I suppose.

Who would've guessed that my nerves of steel and iron stomach, which was able to endure war,would do somersaults over a normal day of motherhood? Go Figure.