Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Man of Many Trades

Not only has JD gone through several injuries during our time together, he’s gone through a wide range of life plans as well.  

Over the past 2 ½ years, he’s wanted to be a park ranger, a bicycle tech, open his own skatepark, re-enlist in the Marine Corps, re-enlist in the Army, backpack the Appalachian Trail for a few months, be a firefighter, be a counselor at an action sports camp, be a motorcycle mechanic, and probably a few others I’ve forgotten.  He has ADD, he’s afraid of making the wrong choice, and, most of all, he likes driving his wife crazy.

His current (and hopefully final) endeavor is to be a police officer.  Applying to work as a policeman is a lot different than most other jobs.  There’s a physical test, a written essay, a lie detector test (wish I could have been in the room for that one!), a psych evaluation, an extensive background check, and a couple intereviews (and I thought simply going through 2 rounds of interviews were rough).

He’s pretty far along in the process now, and his chances are looking good.  I think this will be a great fit for him, and I think he’ll be amazing at it.

More than anything, I just want him to be happy (well, happy but preferably not halfway around the world).  Every day, I pray that he will be hired and this career path will make him happy.  As much as I love the weekly telephone call to “spring a new and brilliant life plan on my wife while she’s at work,” I think it’s about time we move on from that.

People ask me if I worry about the danger of being a police officer.  Besides the fact that I’m married to JD and worrying about danger is a part of my daily routine, I don’t really worry about it as much as I thought.  Maybe that will change if he starts coming home with stories about shootouts and high-speed chases, but JD’s strength and smarts will keep him safe.  He survived a war zone, and I have faith that he can survive this too.

.......assuming he doesn’t come up with a new plan before then.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Our Boys

Since I mentioned the pups in my last post, I figured it was time to officially introduce them.  

JD adopted Harrier, our 5 year old Lab-Chow mix, when he was just a puppy.  Harrier is extremely intuitive, intelligent, and very protective of us, which I love.  He’s moody and isn’t afraid to let us know when he’s pissed (he pouts for an entire day whenever we get back from the vet).  He rounded out our pairing and made us a family instead of just a couple.

Shortly after we bought our house, we decided it was time to find a playmate for Harrier.  JD had been searching on the SPCA’s site and found a pit mix named Boyd.  It was love at first sight.  “Look babe!  He looks just like me!  He has a big head, broad shoulders, and a dumb look on his face.”

Hey- he said it, not me.

We went to the SPCA to meet him, and soon discovered that the similarities did not end there.   We would toss toys for him to chase, but he was easily sidetracked by a barking dog or someone walking by.  Boyd, like JD, had serious ADD.  It was definitely meant to be.
The shelter staff lovingly called him Big Baby Boyd.  Despite his intimidating looks and the stigma that comes with the Pitbull breed, Boyd doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, and will roll onto his back for anyone willing to give him a belly rub.

Once home, he became attached to us very quickly, following his big brother Harrier wherever he went and jumping up (uninvited) on the bed every chance he got, because he knows one pouty look from that huge head of his, and we can’t bear to make him get down.

I’ve decided that Boyd’s motto is, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I sure am excited about it.”  He’s not the brightest crayon in the box, but what he lacks in smarts he makes up with enthusiasm.  Sometimes, Harrier will start barking at something, and Boyd will start barking too, but we know he doesn’t really know why he’s barking, because Harrier is looking in a complete different direction.  When we take him on runs, he gets so easily sidetracked by a dog in someone’s yard, or simply the pure glee of running full throttle in any direction, that he’ll run into parked cars, bushes, or telephone poles.  He never stops or shows any sign of injury- just keeps running.

And when he sees or hears another dog- well, that’s almost indescribable.  He makes a very loud, very weird wailing noise that kind of sounds like he’s dying.  He is so overwhelmed by the prospect of meeting or playing with someone new that he just can’t contain it.  Between his size, breed, and weird noises, we usually get a judgmental you take that dog out in public?! look from the other dog owner, while he or she is desperately pulling their dog in the other direction, terrified.  We’ve tried explaining, “No, he’s not trying to kill your dog, he just wants to play,” but people generally don’t believe us.

The good news is that Boyd will always have Harrier.  They’re the best of friends and wrestle and chase each other non-stop (and when I say non-stop, I mean every second of every day- it’s exhausting).  Life wouldn’t be the same without them.  They complete our family.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Husband, The 5 Year Old

I often refer to JD as “the 5 year old child I have at home.”  Of course, I mean it in a loving way.  It’s not that JD is immature (he’s had plenty of life experience to mature him beyond the average 24 year old male), it’s that he has these childlike qualities- an enthusiasm for the things the rest of us outgrew a long time ago.  It’s very endearing.

For example, he loves chicken nuggets.  They’re not the healthiest thing in the world, so I’m not crazy about him eating them, but sometimes it’s nice to come home and say, “Why don’t you just make yourself some chicken nuggets for dinner?”

It’s not really his affinity for chicken nuggets that makes him child-like, it’s that he prefers the dinosaur-shaped kind.  As he puts it, “How else can you eat a T-Rex for dinner?”  If I bring home the normal kind, his face will drop and he’ll say, “But Jenny, these aren’t shaped like dinosaurs at all.”

While registering for our wedding, he found a dinosaur-shaped sandwich crust cutter.  He was elated.  Like any mother, I fell for his enthusiasm and put it on the registry.  Thinking it was a mistake, no one bought it for us (at my shower, the crust cutter came up and I got a lot of “Oh wait, you meant to register for that?!), but I did surprise him by picking it up for him a few weeks later.  It made his day.

When out for a motorcycle ride one summer evening, he unexpectedly pulled a u-turn into a playground parking lot.  Once his helmet was off, he exclaimed, “I’ve been looking for this playground since my family moved here!  My aunt took me here when I was little!  It’s the best playground EVER!” 

JD soon found he was a bit too big for a lot of the equipment, which drew some strange looks from other parents and gave me a major advantage in our game of tag.  As we ran around the park, laughing like small children, I was reminded what makes him so special.  At the age of 27, I no longer get excited about playgrounds or food cut into special designs.  As we get older, our appreciation for “the little things” starts to fade.  It’s called “maturing,” but I really think we’re losing something.  I’m glad I have JD to remind me that the little things make life great.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mountains, Bare Feet, and Rain

Here is a great example of how JD pushes me outside my limits.  This weekend, we went camping (along with 2 other friends).  And I’m not talking about parking a camper and firing up the grill, I’m talking about hiking down into a gorge and setting up a tent.  Dinner is cold spaghettios, running water is the river and a purification tablet, and your bathroom is squatting behind a rock.

We went for the first time the summer we started dating.  I was nervous that I’d be miserable.  Turns out I love it.  Sure, it’s not the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had, but there’s nothing like waking up to the clean mountain air and washing your face in the cool river.  It’s quiet and peaceful, a welcome break from our lives, overwhelmed with the constant hum of TVs, phones, and computers.

We brought one of our dogs (a Lab-Chow named Harrier) who LOVED hiking the trail and sniffing around the woods. 

 JD, always trying to make things more adventurous and difficult than they need to be, decided to hike down the trail barefoot.  And this wasn’t an easy trail- it was basically a narrow path carved out of the side of a mountain.  He got progressively more miserable and the rest of us could tell.  I begged him to put on shoes, but my USMC husband had to prove he could do it, no matter the cost.

We enjoyed a sunny, beautiful hike down into the gorge, some swimming in the river, and relaxing around the campfire.  But at 11:30, we felt it.  The first few sprinkles of rain.

I don’t know who to blame- myself for the letter to The Weather Gods (at least we don’t have to water the lawn today!) or our friends, who have never had a rain-free camping weekend (I think their count is up to 7 rainy camping adventures).  It rained most of the night and started storming in the morning.  We were dreading the soaking hike out of the gorge, but I was once again surprised.  It wasn’t too bad.  The rain kept us cool (which was nice since up is definitely worse than down), and the views of the misty mountains were breathtaking.  

I’ll admit that I am glad to be home and be surrounded by my modern-day comforts.  I love camping, but I love coming home to a hot shower and a cozy bed just as much.  This may be the best night's sleep ever :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Conversations With My Marine Husband

JD had gotten out of the Marine Corps and moved home to be with me, but he still ached for “The Suck”.  In the spring of 2010, he decided to join the Reserves and spend a few days working with a unit on base each month.  He called me when filling out the paperwork:

JD: I need to know how you want your money if I die?

Me: Huh?

JD: I’m filling out beneficiary stuff.  If I die, do you want a lump sum or payments?

Me: Well, I’d rather you not die at all.

JD: That’s not an option.

Okay then.  JD has often joked about his fear of getting old and how he’s trying to kill himself by 35.  Joking about it is one thing, but this was reality smacking me in the face.

I get the impression from a lot of people- based on things they say or the way they look at me- that they think I should be asking JD to give up his activities.  I understand that these people are really only concerned for my well-being, but the truth is that I could never do that.   I won’t try to pretend his lifestyle doesn’t scare me (I have nightmares about it) but JD loved dangerous activities long before we met.  It’s part of who he is and part of his charm.  

Due to scheduling conflicts, he has since left the Reserves. Not that he doesn't have plenty of other dangerous activities to keep him occupied :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making the Cut

JD and I have recently gotten into a show on Discovery Channel called “Making the Cut.”  It’s about elite branches of the military and the training they’re required to pass in order to make it in.  So far, we’ve seen Army Ranger School, US Air Force Pararescue, US Marine Recon, and Special Forces Combat Divers.
I consider myself relatively strong for a girl, but the things these guys do are beyond extreme.   I'd probably last 7 minutes (8 on a good day) before I got yelled at, started crying, or both.  Their training usually involves 2 things I’m terrified of- night ops (I'll admit it, I'm still afraid of the dark) and some sort of near drowning experience.
Um, no thanks.
At one point, JD was considering Recon, but his first knee injury stopped him.  Not surprisingly, Recon is extremely dangerous and involves doing things like gathering intelligence behind enemy lines.
This is one of the many things that I can appreciate about JD, but will probably never fully understand.  Why would you enjoy being miserable?  Why would you volunteer to put your life at risk every day?  Besides the typical answers- he loves his country, he wants to give back, he likes the challenge, etc, I think he just flat out thrives in that kind of atmosphere- misery, danger- in a way most people can’t grasp.

I think we all have a calling in life- something we were born to do.  Sometimes it's a job, sometimes volunteer work, and sometimes it's simply raising a family.  JD was meant to do the jobs that a lot of people don’t want or are afraid of because he is strong physically, mentally, and emotionally.  
He also needs to feel passionate about his career.  He needs to feel pride when he answers the question, “What do you do for a living?”  Most of all, he needs to feel like he’s making an impact.  
And hopefully, stay alive and healthy while doing it.  Please.

Because being in a war zone isn't dangerous enough... JD decides humvee snowboarding is an excellent idea.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thank You Letters

Contrary to previous posts, my life does NOT revolve around JD and his injuries.  Sometimes other people inconvenience me too :)  Here are today's thank you letters:

Dear Men In Truck Who Were Holding Up Traffic,

Thanks so much for leaving your car sitting in the middle of the highway.  I really appreciated sitting in stop and go traffic for 25 minutes.  I'm really sorry your car died (believe me, I've probably had some of the worst cars on earth and I know how you feel), but there were 5 of you.  Couldn't you have pushed it off to the side of the road?  Or were you enjoying watching all the rush hour commuters curse while you made an already-crappy commute even worse?

Just curious,

Dear North Carolina,

Your soil sucks.  I want something in my yard.  Something green.  Even if it's just weeds.  Since we have dogs and settling for AstroTurf isn't an option, anything you have to offer besides clay would be great.

Work on it,

Dear Lawn Care Company,

Thanks for leaving the gate wide open.  Did the thought ever occur to you that we have all of our gates double-latched for a reason?  Perhaps it's because of our 2 dogs.  Our 2 dogs who had quite an adventure yesterday wandering around the neighborhood.   Also, it's hard to take you seriously when the name of your company reminds me of a certain drug and a certain Ludacris lyric.

You might want to rethink that,

Dear Weather Gods,

Seriously, the drought is getting old.  I am generally not the type of person who wastes money or water on behalf of my lawn.  However, our lawn care company has informed us we will never have anything green if we don't have "standing puddles" to get the grass seed started.  So, if you could help us out, we'd really appreciate it.


Dear Previous Owners of Our House,

You were pretty crappy landscapers.  I'm sorry, but you were.  We knew what we were getting into when we bought the house, but some things you did really just baffle me.  Thanks for planting a holly bush right next to the water spigot.  It turns a normally mundane task into a fun game of "How Many Red Scratches Can I Get On My Arms Today?"

Thanks for thinking that through,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cocktails Make Everything Okay

Two days before our wedding, I was out with my girls enjoying cocktails and manis/pedis at a fabulous place downtown that has managed to combine these wonderful activities.  Meanwhile, JD had gone out on a group motorcycle ride.  Let’s just say, it was a good thing I already had 2 cocktails in me when the call came in.

“I’m okay.  But I had a little accident.”

“An accident?!” The tone in my voice caused my entire bridal party to look up, even though they weren’t that surprised either.

“I laid the bike down.  I thought I was going to die.  But I only hurt my wrist.”

Good Lord, what is he trying to do to me? *Big sip of cocktail*

“I took a turn too fast and thought I’d be okay just riding into the ditch.  But the ground was soft, and my front wheel sunk into the ground.  I flipped off the bike and my bike flipped over me.  But I’m okay.  And I love you.  All I could think about when it happened was how much I loved you and I thought I was going to die.  But I just hurt my wrist.”

Our wedding pictures wouldn’t have been complete without some kind of brace.

In the next few days, I did think about how lucky we were that he wasn’t more seriously hurt.  (He does always wear full gear when he rides, so I have to give him credit for that.)  Sometimes my thoughts were something like, “I could have lost him from my life forever,” and a tear would come to my eye.  Sometimes my thoughts were something like, “We could have spent our wedding day in a hospital instead,” and I’d be tempted to smack him.  In a weird way, the incident really touched me.  They always say your life flashes before your eyes during a Near Death Experience.  In JD’s case, it was me.  It reminded me how much I loved him and how much he loved me.  Nothing in this world could change that.  

Luckily, the honeymoon was relatively safe.  He did manage to get hit in the head by the mast while windsurfing, but other than that we were happy and healthy :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wait, You Had Other Plans?

His parents warned me.  That’s right, JD’s OWN PARENTS warned me about the patience that was required to be with him long term (or even short term for that matter).  Being with JD can certainly be exhausting.  But I decided early in the relationship that it was worth it.  Late that summer, we moved in together.  In a small 1 bedroom apartment, we made our first home.  

A few months later, we planned to have a few friends over.  JD had gone out for a few hours to ride BMX with his buddies while I enjoyed baking appetizers and preparing to play hostess.  We hadn’t been to Urgent Care for a while, so I probably should have known.  About an hour before we expected people to be at our house, the call came in.

In a muffled voice he said, “I’m okay.  We don’t need to cancel.  But I scraped my face a little bit.”

“Okaaay.  What do you mean a little bit?”  JD likes to sugar coat things in an effort to avoid disappointing me.

I’ll give you the short version. Bike + ramp + face in the cement = blood everywhere.

He stopped by his mom’s house so she could take a look.  She called me, “He might need stitches so we’re going to Urgent Care.”

Still not wanting to disappoint me, he encouraged me to still have people over and said he’d “be there later”.

I, of course, called my friends to cancel and headed over to be with him.  Besides, I missed the Urgent Care staff.  They were probably wondering where we’d been.

When I got there, JD was freaking out because he didn’t want stitches.  I smiled and relished the moment.  “Let me get this straight.  You’re a Marine, you’ve been to war, you’re heavily tattooed, and you’re telling me you’re afraid of needles?!” 

“Not all needles!” he cried defensively.  “Just needles in my mouth!”

That didn’t stop the harassment from me or the rest of his family.  It may sound mean, but if you knew how much JD teases other people, or how sarcastic he can be, you’d understand why we seize every opportunity possible to make fun of him.

It looked a lot better once they’d cleaned up the blood.  He didn’t even need stitches.  But he does have a nice lump of scar tissue on his lip now.  Sometimes I look at it, smile to myself and think, “Oh, JD.”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kneecaps Aren't Supposed To Do That

JD and I had only been dating a couple of months.  It was a beautiful spring day and he had taken leave to watch his brother and sister while his parents attended a funeral.  Base was over 2 hours away and I only got to see him every few weeks, so I was selfishly excited (of course, not about the funeral part).  He was coaching his little brother’s soccer practice and was going to call me after so I could come over.  The phone rang earlier than I expected.  I was elated and answered with a cheerful, “Hey!”
I was greeted with a wail so loud, I had to hold the phone away from my ear, “AAARRRGGHHH!!!!”
I seriously thought he was dying.  Stabbed, shot, I didn’t know.  Weird things happen at kids’ sporting events.  I panicked and yelled into the phone, “Are you okay?! Oh my god!  What happened?!”
Between wails, I got a “My knee.  Kicked the ball.  Something tore. Ambulance coming.  Meet me at hospital.”
A few minutes later, I was on my way to the hospital when I received another call from him.  Preparing for more wailing, I received a totally chill, “Hey babe.  Sorry for ruining our weekend.”
Yep, they had him on the good drugs.
Then, “I need you to swing by the school to pick up my Mustang.”
Ah, the priorities of a 20-something male.  Thinking his Mustang would be safe in the elementary school parking lot of one of the safest suburbs in America, I decided going straight to the hospital would be fine.
When I got there, his eyes were dilated and he was licking his lips.  “They taste so good!” he said, laughing.  I definitely liked Morphine JD better than death wail JD.
After a bit of waiting, the doctor came in with his X-Ray results.  Let’s just say, we were underwhelmed by his professionalism. “Um, was your kneecap broken in half BEFORE today?”
WTF kind of question is that?!  What did he expect us to say?  “Oh sorry, we forgot to mention it.”
No, moron, his kneecap was not broken in half.... but apparently it is now.  
It was a complication of a prior knee surgery.  A one in a million complication.  Only JD could pull something like this off.  It took another surgery and a few metal screws to fix it.
The plans for our weekend together had changed drastically.  Instead of hanging out with him while he watched the kids all weekend, I suddenly found myself volunteering to take 2 days off work to take care of all 3 of them.  
And this was only the beginning.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just Huck It

The thing about JD is that he doesn’t just enjoy dangerous activities, he always has to find a way to make it more extreme.
He doesn’t just ride a BMX bike, he masters back flips and immediately turns his attention to the more-dangerous front flips.  He doesn’t just ride a sports bike, he takes it on curvy mountain cliffs and pushes it at amateur race days (his goal is 160 mph).
He earned the nickname “Hucker” at the BMX park because he would think of a new trick or goal, shrug, say “just huck it,” and throw the trick with little to no preparation.  This is kind of the way he lives his life in general, which is both endearing and scary.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Inspiration

Let’s get one thing straight.  I have no business starting a blog.
I don’t have the wit and eloquence of Kelly, nor the colorful stories of the bitchy waiter.  My life is boring.  I work for a big company doing boring stuff that I happen to love.  I’m married.  We have a house in the suburbs complete with a fence and 2 dogs.  Then, it hit me.  What I DO have is a husband who is the joy in my day, and also happens to be the subject of the best anecdotes I have to share.

JD (that’s what we’ll call my hubby) is an adrenaline junkie.  As a former Marine, he’s been searching for something that fulfills that “life on the edge” thrill of being deployed in a combat zone ever since he got out in August ’08. 
His two favorite hobbies are riding his BMX bike and riding his motorcycle.  In the Marine Corps, he was a firefighter.  These days, he’s applying to be a police officer, and aspires to one day join the S.W.A.T. team… because, ya know, being a police officer isn’t dangerous enough on its own.
In the 2 ½ years I’ve known and loved him, he’s had a major knee reconstructive surgery, a concussion, smashed his face into the cement and nearly bit through his lip (he still has a lumpy scar to this day), dislocated his thumb, sprained his wrist, sprained his ankle, cracked his elbow and I’m sure a few more things I’ve managed to forget.  We’ve been to the ER once, Urgent Care at least 3 times, seen a concussion specialist, an orthopedist, and of course made several visits to his general care physician, who could probably retire by now based on JD’s business alone. 
Anyone who knows me would probably not have guessed this would be the man I would end up with.  Still, he’s my absolute best friend and my other half.  I often say we balance each other out because he pushes me outside my comfort zone and I keep him (somewhat) grounded.
And, as he recently reminded me, “Your life was boring before you met me.”