Friday, September 19, 2014

Little Black Dress

Today, I will put on my funeral dress. Yes, I have a funeral dress. The last few years of my life have seen a good bit of family and friends taken from me, and at each occasion I found myself turning to the same black, knee length dress. Add the pearls and the tiny, black heels, and you have a perfectly appropriate outfit for mourning.

When I bought it, it was my favorite new "grown up" dress. As a short twenty-something, it is hard to find outfits that don't make me look like a flippant teenager or a child trying to dress too old for her age. But this was it. The perfect middle ground. Something that actually made me look my age. Praise, Ann Taylor and its petite section.

I'm not sure how it started. My guess is that I wore it out of lack of time to find something else, but I found myself wearing it to every funeral I attended. I put it on each time and psychologically let it bear the weight of my grief. Afterward I take it off, along with my sadness, and hang it in the guest room closet. I leave it there, so I don't have to be reminded of the loss it represents. I leave it there until, I need it to bear the weight of another sad day. Like today.

This will be the first police officer's funeral I will attend. In my heart, I hope to never see another day like this. But I know this is, sadly, unlikely. Each day I send my officer out to do his job, knowing today could be the day. But each day, you just pray like hell it isn't. Anyone who has ever lived this life understands this feeling. The ones that have not are the same people who ask me "Oh, did you know him?" No. I did not know him. I did not know his favorite foods or the names of his parents. I did not know what his favorite thing to do on his day off was. I did not know where he lived or even the date of his birthday. But I did know him. And I know his wife. And this is why I attend the funeral of our fallen brother.

Natalie Stahl, a police wife, wrote on the Facebook page of the Arizona Auxiliary of Wives Behind the Badge, Inc:
When an officer dies, the question is always, “Did you know him?”, like somehow it can diminish the pain of a fallen officer if you had never met them. As the spouse of a police officer, I get that, as well – with an added, “Do you know his wife?”
My response? Yes. I know her.
I know that she finds herself alone a lot. I know she spends a lot of time explaining to family members, friends and co-workers why her officer husband is not with her. I know when someone asks what her husband does – she may have an alternative answer like ‘he works for the city (county or state)’ or ‘he’s a trash collector’, yet someone in the room always clarifies for her – he’s a cop.
I know she probably has an alias on her social media profiles in case a suspect decides to find their arresting officer’s family. I know she’s proud of him and wants to put LE stickers on her car, but won’t because she’s worried about getting run off the road or targeted. I know she looks into every police car she pulls up next to. I know when he speaks to her in number code, she answers him in English.
I know she cringes every time she hears the words “officer involved” and HATES the words “routine traffic stop”. I know she spends a lot of time defending her husband’s career choice and sometimes realizes that her silence is necessary. I know the justice system frustrates her, yet she relies on it anyway. I know that people feel it necessary to tell her of every contact they’ve had with LE – especially if it was bad, yet never seem to remember to tell her when they saw one do something nice.
I know she sleeps alone a lot, spends her birthday, anniversary and her children’s birthdays wishing he were there. I know “date nights” on Wednesdays are better than a Saturday every single time. And I know when on that date, he will have to sit facing the door.
I know when they do get a chance to go out, she’ll let him drive so as to not have to hear about her “escape route” or recite portions of the traffic code. I know that he’ll always recognize someone somewhere that he’s arrested. I know they probably have a ‘code word’ that means grab the kids and head the other way – I’ll meet you at the car.
I know when her children are little they are proud of their super hero. And as they grow into teenagers, they no longer offer what their dad does for fear it will make them unpopular. I know high school boys don’t want to date cop’s daughters.
I know that she finds things in her washer that most people don’t have in their homes – from blue gloves to bullets – and thinks nothing of it. I know she’s picked a handcuff key out of her dryer more than once. I know she has learned to ignore the smell of his vest in July and buys Febreeze by the gallon. I know her biggest load of laundry is black (or tan or blue). And they’re usually washed separately to make sure that any bio-hazard he’s come in contact with doesn’t end up in the baby’s clothes.
I know that she wants him to eat better, but knows a ‘good day’ for him means more than one trip to QT. I know that she buys Tupperware by the case to store leftovers in hoping he’ll eat a ‘real’ meal when he gets home. I know she’s watched him age, his hair gray and the sunspots show up on his left arm and neck.
I know she has a hard time scheduling vacations because shift change is coming. I know that when one of his brothers is hurt – his vacation time will probably get donated to him anyway. I know that when it’s his regular day off, he will probably still get called to court – even if he worked all night.
I know that a text message with two words – I’m okay – is like a sonnet or love song to most... especially when we see “breaking news” flash on our TV screens.
I know that her favorite sounds are the garage door and the sound of Velcro. He made it home safely. And I know she can tell by the sound of his boots on the floor whether or not to ask how his day was.
And I know that even though she knew his job had risk, and officers are dying in the line of duty – she never TRULY believed it would happen to hers.
Do I know her? Yes. Have I met her? No.
But when I do – you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Note to Self: Original post by Natalie Stahl, here. Rest In Peace, brother. We'll take it from here. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Disney Binge

It has been a hard week. Several police shootings and line of duty deaths, shortly after which the piggy got called out on his first middle-of-the-night SWAT call, immediately throwing me into an anxiety attack at 1:30 in the morning. This was swiftly followed by Panther's sympathetic yacking on the floor, which distracted me enough to calm down. After cleaning up dog food-laiden vomit, I stayed awake for all but a few hours and then went to work. As luck would have it, I had the following two days off - one of which I spent nursing an over-exhausted piggy. The second day, I spent on the couch. Watching Disney movies. (Thank you, Netflix!)

Sure, all the saccharine sweetness of Disney movies is the same across the board - magic, love, cool animal sidekicks - but there is nothing like a good princess movie and some leftover mac and cheese to chase away the blues of an otherwise horrible week. Besides, I could use a little sweeping off my feet right about now. Or at least some wine and a nap.
So while my prince charming is off fighting dragons, I'll be here on the couch.

Note to Self: And maybe I'll have some ice cream. And pie. Lots of pie.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Moment

Today is the day that Facebook will be inundated with posts about where people were on the day the airplanes hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. A sad day. A horrible day. You'll see a lot of "freedom isn't free" and "God Bless America" posts shared through Instagram.

What you won't see is a lot of posts about how people were changed by that day. Really changed. Thirteen years later, can we even be honest with ourselves about what we have learned? Is it just one more day out of the few in the year where we will put on our patriotic faces and don our flag pins? Meanwhile - for the rest of the year - we take our freedoms for granted, we ignore the needs of our veterans, we hate our police departments, and we neglect the budgets of our first-responders. We are so busy being politically correct that we are forcing ourselves to ignore what is truly harming us - who the true enemy is here.

So today, I ask you to reflect on not just where you were 13 years ago, but on how it changed you. And if it hasn't changed you, then perhaps you should think about why it should. Because it should change you. It should change all of us.

Note to Self: For me, the change was not immediate. It was when my husband became a police officer. And every year on this day, I think of the loved ones lost. Of the ultimate sacrifice. Of how my husband one day, any day, may be called to do the same.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dusting It Off

*cough cough*
[waves away the proverbial dust]

I have been thinking about this blog for quite a few weeks. I have thought about reviving it several times over the past couple years. I even tried a few times with no success. I haven't had a lot of time on my hands. Or maybe it's just the order of my priorities that are different. I'm not sure.

I got a new job, but not before signing a contract for a year and a half of gym membership that was conveniently located to my previous job. Which is now about thirty minutes of extra driving time after work. The aforementioned job that I quit was the same job that had me move from my hometown, leaving behind a home that we could not sell. Still waiting on Bank of America to foreclose on that sucker. This new job... not super awesome. Better pay and more stable, but not as fun or fulfilling. And I had to leave behind the few people I considered friends that I got to see on a daily basis. Now I see them maybe twice a month for lunch or gym time.

This has been the story of my life for the past year. One depressing fact after another. It's hard to see the shining future from here. I know it's there, but MAN the tunnel is dark between here and there.

SO. I turn to something new. A new way of thinking. A new philosophy. Whatever you want to call it. It basically says: I'm going to do what I want, when I want, if I can. If it makes me happy, I will run wildly - arms flailing in the air - toward it, embracing it with all my strength and hanging onto it like I might die without it. At this point, I have to. I just have to.

So here I am. Dusting off my blog for the umpteenth time. Maybe I will be back for real. Maybe not. But my priorities are in a different line now. So I will find out if this makes me happy. If it does, I will be here more often. If not, then assume I am out doing something even more amazing.

That's all.

Note to Self: "Happiness depends upon ourselves." - Aristotle

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Customer Service

Dear Customer,

We haven't met, although you have accosted my management staff several times. From what I understand, you have tried to return some items you felt the need to hold onto for several months despite our 60 day return policy.

When my staff tried to accommodate you with an exchange or store credit at current value, you were having none of it. So, per usual, we gave you the customer service number, and you got hold of some poor guy there who you recounted your sad story too. He told you the policy and what we could offer, which seemed to appease you. What you did not tell him was that we did, in fact, also offer you what we could per policy. Pants. On. Fire.

He told you to come back in, called my manager and told her the sad story too. Fortunately for me, my manager understands that anyone who calls customer service on my store is probably just a raving bitch or a compulsive liar. You are both, ma'am.

You came back in, and we told you the same thing we told you before. Again. You screamed something about the guy from customer service - "He told me I am a 'valued customer'!" (Hint: He tells everyone that.) And back out the door you went, still with no refund to your liking.

You called customer service again. I'm sure by this time you thought you would have my job or something similar. Unfortunately for you, I had also been in contact with this nice man who overvalued you. I told him what I had offered you. To make my life easier, he also offered to send you a check to appease you, but you refused. No, you wanted to make sure you could torture every manager in my store one last time.

Except you never came.

And that makes me sad, because I so badly wanted to meet you for myself. Oh, and that guy who called you a "valued customer"? He also called you a "crazy lady" and authorized me to do anything to make you go away. Hope you're proud of yourself, since you've become nothing but an adult bully.

Note to Self: Maybe you should read this if you feel you are constantly receiving bad customer service wherever you go.