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There is one problem with sharing my story.  I have to keep telling the story even when it’s embarrassing.  The story must continue even when I look like a total ditz.  Alright, I will not keep you waiting longer to hear the continuing saga of my car.

Chase called not long after I wrote last night.  It was so good to talk with him.  He reassured me it wasn’t the transmission.  From there we were able to determine that we just needed to take the car to the dealership. Might as well fix everything at once and the dealership is the only place in town to be able to fix the speedometer.  We decided that going ahead and getting a tow truck would be the best way to get the car there.  I felt a million times better just having a plan of action that someone who has a clue was able to approve.  Cars leave me clueless.  Even knowing where to take one when somethings wrong makes my head spin.  This shop does this and the other does that, and the place that fixes this can’t fix that.  I want a one stop to fix it all shop.  Which I guess is what the dealership is, except that they cost more than everyone else.  Chase kept talking about what he thought the diagnosis would be.  And the word fuel kept being thrown around.  Fuel filter, fuel sensor, fuel blah blah blah (my mind just can’t seem to process all those technical car terms).  I had to ask, “Honey, is it possible the problem could be a lack of fuel?”  I’ll give my husband credit for not being the one to bring this up, although it may not have occurred to him as he would never allow the car to run out of gas.  All the sudden though it hit me, the fuel gage had stopped working once before, only moving when the car was near empty.  And it had been on 3/4’s of a tank for a while.  Knowing that the gauge had a problem once I made it a habit to fill up at least once a week no matter what the gauge said.  But over the past couple weeks my schedule hasn’t been quite normal.  I couldn’t remember the last time I filled up.

This morning I drove to the gas station.  The tank holds about 14 gallons, I put in 13.95.  I’d say I was out of gas.  So glad it hit me before I called the tow truck.  As humiliated as I am that I have to confess that I got all stressed out over something so easily fixed, I would have been beyond humiliated to receive that call from the dealership.  “Ma’am, you just needed gas.”  The car is still going to the dealership next week.  Especially as not only is the gas gauge added to the list of things that really don’t properly work, but the trip meter doesn’t work either.  I set it to 0 after filling up so that I could gauge how far I’d been.  After driving to base and back it’s still on 0.  I also noticed that the general mileage meter was stuck, meaning I’m probably over-due for an oil change.

Talking to Chase I also determined that there are no vehicles in the state of Alaska that are really what we need.  While some could do, there are still issues.  So I will work at being patient for a van, waiting for the right one to come along.  Trying to be grateful that I have a car, that runs as long as you put gas in it.

I am so over my car right now. Yes, this is the car I loved and adored when I first got it. The car I hoped to pass onto my son when he turned 16. That was of course while I still had my van, and before my car received the memo that Chase was deployed and therefore it, like the washing machine and the oven and the thermostat, was required to act up. I don’t know who sends these memos, and but I’d like him to stop. Right before Chase left the transmission went out and we had to have it rebuilt. That left me driving a really nice rental van with no snow tires. I nearly kissed the car when I got it back, it didn’t slip and slide all over the road. So I was able to overlook the fact that the speedometer occasionally just dropped to 0, leaving me hoping I wasn’t speeding. Although the way I drive, I’ll be pulled over for going too slow instead of too fast. Then when the driver’s window wouldn’t go down some days, I dealt with it. Thpught it was probably the cold (the fact it is still having the occasional issue rules that out.) Then the blinkers started going haywire, but the speedometer was back to working so I dealt. Then the remote start stopped working, but it’s no longer winter so it’s not very much needed. Then the blinkers, remote start, and speedometer all stopped working completely. But Chase was supposed to be home today or hereabouts, so it could all just wait for him and his manly competence. In honor of Chase not being here today (we decided that r and r would be better for all if taken in a bit) the car decided to sprout a new problem. I was just going to the drive through. I could have walked, but it was raining. So we drove. I was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t have to push the car back home. The hill nearly did the car in. Going up the hill the RPM’s would drop off, I think we were losing speed too, but the speedometer isn’t working so I wouldn’t know for sure. Then they would spike for a second and we would surge up the hill. Then, just as quickly they would drop off. I am officially done with my car. It is parked in my garage until I take it into the shop. Which shop I don’t know, but as they all can’t see me until Tuesday I have some time to decide. If it’s the shop just downhill from me, I’ll drive. If it’s a different shop, I don’t know just how it’s going to get there. I’m not getting on the highway in that car.

I had been hoping to wait until Chase got home to buy a new van. It’s very needed. The three kids are packed in the back of the car like sardines when it works. After today I decided I couldn’t wait. So I got to looking. I got so excited about a van that has nearly everything I want in a van, low mileage, and the color I prefer. The price was high, but I thought doable knowing vaguely how much money was in the bank. Doable until I sat down and really looked at the numbers and remembered that all those dollars have other places to go. And I began to realize it’s the van I want, or the home improvements I want. It’s the van I want, or paying off that much extra on the house. It’s the van I want or college tuition for the kids. It’s the van I want or our vacation to Hawaii. It’s the van I want, or the money to fix the car that we will need when Chase comes home for good. And now I don’t know what I want to do about it all.

Deployment makes things difficult. If Chase were home, we tackle this together. We’d both bring our thoughts and ideas into the situation. We’d lift up each other’s spirits. I know he’d have me laughing about something right now. But right now I am just waiting until he gets my e-mails and calls or writes me back. If it were just me, I’d impulsively make a decision knowing that I was the only one having to deal with the consequences. And I’m glad it’s not just me. Chase brings a wonderful level head to the table that I lack. I’m glad I know I can rely on his judgement. And even knowing that I will be able to talk things over with him eventually is better than being on my own. On my own I would have found a way to get that car to the dealership and traded it in for the new van. And while the money would have worked itself out, I do very much love that car and would like to try to fix all the stuff that’s wrong with it.

Now, seriously, person sending my stuff memos that Chase is gone, STOP!!!! I’m not sure my sanity can handle one more thing going wrong.

Wonderful man was able to call. He did make me laugh and I feel a million zillion times better. He also had great input as usual.

It’s 6:30 and my house is silent.  Other than the news I’m actually watching because there is nothing else going on right now.  The boys are off in the land of summer boydom.  They and the other young men of the neighborhood are being Jedi knights, ninja warriors, or whatever their imaginations can think up.  I am so glad that my children and the other children of the neighborhood can experience the childhood right of summer days outdoors.  I’d say “out until dark” but here in Alaska we have forgotten what dark is for the next couple months.  We will intimately know darkness in December, but for now we are making up for lost time with the sun.  Here I feel like my kids are really getting to experience childhood.  At first this summer I had to put restrictions on the boys coming in and playing video games, but they have either gotten the point or are having too much fun exploring the limits of their imaginations outdoors with the other neighborhood boys.  Once released from schoolwork, they are off, only coming in to check in with me and occasionally rehydrating.

You might ask, that’s what the boys are doing, where is Clara?  Poor Clara is suffering the consequences of being the youngest.  She tried to go outside while I was cooking dinner.  She was inconsolable and cried herself to sleep when I brought her back inside.  Poor child, I understand her desire to be outside.  This time of year there is so much “scope for the imagination” as Anne Shirely would say.  I imagine what games I would play if I were younger.  The side garden seems like a castle wall, overgrown with brambles, perfect for Sleeping Beauty.  The front garden has animal statues and brings to mind Snow White.  Tending the vegetable garden, we are out of Little House on the Prairie.  And at any time I could be Anne, naming the gardens and trees, drinking in the loveliness, and imagining all sort of romantic scenarios.  I hope we can extend here for a few more years, so that Clara can have soem unchaperoned outside time, and I also hope that a Diana Barry moves into the neighborhood so that she might have a bosom friend to enjoy it with.

Before I finish I must brag.  Xavier did his daily long division with no problems and little help.  I was worried.  We were out of worksheets with problems with no remainders.  I could have made my own problems, but I just gave him the next worksheet and crossed my fingers.  He finished the problems in the blink of an eye and then asks, “Mom, where are the long division problems?”  They were so easy for him today, he didn’t realize that was what he was doing.  Then he said he wanted to do more!  The key to learning math: repetition, repetition, repetition.  Now, the struggle will be commas.  He keeps missing that you need them for lists or when you are addressing someone.  I’m hoping grammar is like math and with repetition he will get it.  I hope.

Today was a good day.  Okay, it started late.  Yesterday’s workout kicked my booty.  I happily blame Julie for making me go to the gym.  I plan to give her credit if progress is ever made, but now I just blame her for the pain and make faces at her as I exercise.  Yesterday, I hit the point where it just hurts.  We’ve been at it for about a week and a half now.  At first, I was sore, but a good sore, an-I-just-did-something-good-for-myself sore.  Now, my muscles know what is awaiting them, so as soon as I get the elliptical going, my calves are screaming.  And I’m being super wimp right now, level 1.  I know that in theory it should get easier, although Matt says that when it gets easier that’s when you should make it harder, therefore keeping yourself in a constant state of pain.  Matt says constant state of soreness, but I can read between the lines, constant state of pain.  I don’t know having no experience.  This is about where I usually get frustrated and give up.  I can’t see results yet, and I feel worse than when I started so I quit.  This time I have Julie and Krysta, if nothing else peer pressure will keep me going.

Kids have been very good today.  Not much complaining about homework.  Okay, Clara complained.  She complained when, after an hour, I made her stop. I had other stuff that needed to be done.  She reluctantly played after that.  All three worked hard, even though it’s summer break here in Alaska.  I don’t believe in summer break, however, I do believe in summer slow down.  Especially on beautiful summer days when the outdoors and friends beckon, an hour was enough time to keep their brains in shape.  We will have plenty of time for all day school sessions when the snow comes back and the sun leaves.

Got back to working on my own Bible study.  I’m very excited about it, and keep thinking about all that I might just learn.  However, while working on it, it’s overwhelming how much, not knowing Greek, I need to learn.  There are lots of words I need to look up.  Did I really think I could do this?  But I will try.  It’s good for me, right?  I am getting much better at typing as I transcribe all the pertinent verses on the computer.  I am also seeing the Bible characters as much more human than I used to.

We also planned Austin’s birthday party today.  The theme will be Lego.  I had been waiting to make exact plans until Chase came home.  He was supposed to be on a plane this week.  However, things got busy and he’s pushing his leave back a little.  Now, not knowing just when he’ll be home I’m blazing ahead with plans without him.  Army or no Army, we have a life to live and the coolest Lego party a six-year-old ever had.  We planned the date, the guest list, the menu and the games today.  I am so excited.  The guest list is short.  I like children for the most part, but only in small doses.  Small numbers of children that is, we can hang for a long time as long as there aren’t too many of them.

So last night I came to the conclusion that I’m always right.  Or at least that’s what my actions and behaviors show of myself.  According to me I am never wrong.  The truth is, that isn’t at all true.  I am a very fallible person.  But rarely do I act like I could be a fallible person.  I act as if any difference in opinion is a failing of the other person.  The sad thing here, I have been known to accuse others of that very failing.

I must give props to my husband for putting up with me all these years.  He has probably suffered the most from these prideful thoughts.  God forbid he ever find fault with me or disagree with anything I’ve ever said or done.  He is an amazing person who has not become beaten down or become bitter or stopped listening to me through all these years.

He’s not the only person who has fallen victim to my superiorly right complex over these years.  So to the world I now apologize.  I’m sorry to all of you I have arrogantly not listened to.  I’m sorry to the people for whom I have run right over their ideas and opinions.  I will say that a few of you may have had more of an effect than you ever realized.  There are some people whom I originally dismissed off-hand, but their words have haunted me for long, and some have even caused me to make major changes.  And now I promise to actually listen, to not just hear and dismiss because I have my own theory or idea.  I will be a more teachable person because I’m not always right.

However, while I’m not always right, I do know the One who is alway right.  While I may be fallible, I know His Word is not.  So while I will be more open to new ways of looking at life, doing things, whatever, I will continue to refuse to entertain ideas that are contrary to His Word.  In fact, this lesson has taught me that I need to look harder into His Word for the Truth, and to cling to that Truth as I become more intimately aware of it.

We are officially at the point in the deployment that I miss my husband.  Not that I haven’t missed him the whole time he’s been gone.  But this is different.  It is total, complete missing him, there is nothing I can do that I don’t miss him.

I went shopping today.  Finally getting around to going shopping with my birthday money.  So while I’m all excited about my new clothes, all I can think about is showing them off for Chase.  I hope he likes the stuff I got.  I like it.  But as I sit here in my new top and shrug, I think it would be a perfect going out outfit.  I’m planning what jewelry and make-up I’ll wear and deciding for what event I’ll wear it when Chase is home.  I’m currently leaning to a night out, maybe dinner with friends.  What I’m really thinking though is how Chase will look at me throughout that night.  That look that says “wow, she’s gorgeous.”  I like that look.  I miss that look.

The other day I bought myself new glasses.  Let me tell you how much I missed him then.  My current glasses are who-knows-how-many years old.  I talked to Chase the other night and neither one of us could remember if I’ve bought glasses the whole  time we’ve been married.  I know for a fact I haven’t bought any since before Austin was born.  In those at least six, possible more than eleven, years my glasses have become seriously scratched.  Being that I have a week and a half before I can wear contacts again, I need new glasses.  There’s an issue here though.  To see what the new glasses look like, I need to take off the glasses I’m wearing.  To see, I need my glasses.  So I need the help of a trusted advisor.  Chase is good in the role.  He is my personal sunglasses shopper and I think he’d do very well helping me pick out glasses.  He’s halfway around the world.  My kids were there.  I’m not sure if helpful would truly describe them though.   Clara wanted me to wear purple glasses, because they were purple.  Even with my poor vision I knew I’d look horrible in them.  Xavier loves green, so his only help was to tell me that he thought I should get any of the numerous green pairs.  I will say my final choice will made Austin happy, I choose blue frames, his favorite color.  But I still wish Chase wast here.  Fortunately, he will be here within the take the back and exchange them period, so if they are horrible, we’ll be able to fix it.

Then today, watching tv, I hear the song from the musical card I bought him for Valentine’s Day last year.  It made me want to dance with him.  So what did I do?  I bought it on my I-Phone so I can torture myself with it for the next few weeks, and then he’ll be home and we can dance to it.  Speaking of torturing myself with music, I need to just stop playing music until Chase comes home because it all makes me think of him.  I either want to dance, or there is a memory associated with it, or it’s one of his favorites.  There’s one song I keep playing all the time that covers the first two very well. But it’s the song I play nearly every time I start playing songs.  “Six-Pack Summer”.  As winter has finally really left the great state of Alaska, the first verse is perfect: “The winter sure was cold and miserable cooped up, shoved dow baby it was pitiful.  Anyhow it’s over now we owe it to ourselves to have a little fun.”  Yes, I love Alaska even in the winter, and I’m sure in a few months I’ll be ready for it all over again.  But currently I’m over it, so I’m feeling those lyrics.  However, by the time you get to the chorus “Sing to me babe, I’ll be your dashboard drummer.  Turn the radio up as loud as it can go.”  I’m transported to another time.  June 2001, riding around Cleveland in my new-to-me car windows rolled down with Chase at the wheel, radio blaring this song.  What makes this memory so poignant?  We got married June 2001.  It also happened to be the first summer we spent together.  School was out, normally we went our separate ways, but that summer we got married, we were finally together forever.  And being in that memory, all I want to do I grab Chase and dance and share the memory together.  By the end of the song my heart aches for missing him.  Yet, I torture myself with that song at least once a day, often more because “the winter sure was cold and miserable.”

It doesn’t help that he will be home soon, so I’m making plans and getting ready for two weeks of paradise.  Getting myself ready.  Trying to decide what would get that eye-popping “that’s my woman” look from him.  Doing some shopping to get ready.  New clothes.  The good shampoo so my hair looks like a million bucks.  Do I have the right make-up?  Irresistable-smelling body wash (and linen spray so our bed smells divine).  Making plans for a hair cut and color so I look fabulous.  Making sure I exercise regularly.  Not expecting to lose weight, but wanting to make sure I have the stamina to do whatever hiking we want to do, and trying to make sure my shape doesn’t get any more out of proportion.  Organizing, making sure cabinets and closets have all that they need so we lack nothing while he is here.  Constantly asking myself, what would Chase like?  That doesn’t make me miss him less, that’s for sure.

But above and beyond all those things, I miss him no matter what I’m doing. When putting on moisturizer on in the dark getting ready for bed, I remember how that’s how I do it at times when Chase is home. Because he’s already laying down for bed and I don’t want to turn on a light and disturb him.  Then I want to be able to look over at him lying in the bed and say something, or do something to get his attention.  But he’s not there.  Folding clothes I can picture him helping me, and I think of what I’d do if he was there.  As I’m finishing getting the kids ready for church I can almost see him at the sink taking care of the breakfast dishes, and I want to flash him a smile and let him know that I appreciate him.  Watching tv, I think of the analysis I’d be giving him.  At the store, I see movies I think he’d like and I imagine watching them with him.

I just really miss my husband.  And it’s hard right now.  But I’m grateful that it’s that hard.  I’m grateful that we have the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” kind of love, not the “out of sight, out of mind” kind of love.  I’m thankful that I’m married to my best friend.  I’m thankful that I just can’t seem to get enough of my husband.  And I hope that a year from now, when I’m starting to get used to him being back I remember just how much I missed him today and I appreciate him all the more for it.

 

Lyrics from “Six Pack Summer.”  Phil Vassar.  Phil Vassar: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, 2006 BMG