No, the time has not flown by, so please kindly STFU.

“Ooh are they coming home already? Wow the last 9 months have really flown by haven’t they?”

The above are probably the two most dangerous sentences you can say to a Navy wife or girlfriend at the final sprint of a deployment countdown. 

To the friend/co-worker or family member with (obviously) good intentions and also a possible death wish:

NO IT HAS FUCKING NOT FLOWN BY.

It has been an almost hysteria inducing, vast stretching of time that has at times has felt swamping and insurmountable.

Time now, at this final push, is threatening to reduce the strong, capable, independent adult from the last few months into a (at times) quivering, adrenaline pumping, vom inducing, panic stricken bag of nerves and self doubt.


The “flying by of time” should be given more appropriate descriptive metaphors such as-

  • Ninja Snail Time- I.e went really fucking slowly then went all stealth ninja-ey and fast right at the end, catching the poor unsuspecting Military WAG off guard.
  • Untrustworthy Time-I.e the homecoming date and subsequent countdown has changed more times than I’ve changed my knickers. Don’t trust it. 
  • Alternative Reality Time I.e time, as a concept, has passed completely differently for you and your sailor. He is expecting home to be some kind of time capsule of half a year ago and you can’t remember what family occasions and days out he has missed because there have been so bloody many he has missed. You are in separate world and separate times.



To all you who dare utter “the two sentences of time” (outlined above, can’t bring myself to type them again) can I just say this:

Time has NOT flown by for us.

We have walked, limped, crawled, carried and been carried to get here. But we have not flown. (We have not sailed through it either before anyone gets punny on me.) 

So please for the love of God and all that is Holy do not patronise us. Do not comment on it. You don’t get it. Don’t pretend to. It’s like a cat trying to understand why a dog likes walks so much when they can go out through the cat flap at any time. 

Different worlds and different times.

Muchos love,

Olive X 

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Decisions decisions… The great mayo or salsa debate

Why is it that just before home coming I lose the capacity to make decisions? During deployment I can make decisions like a power hungry Cold War dictator. But during those last few weeks I’m less effective than Nick Clegg wanting to pass a new policy.

Last deployment I was able to organise moving house, I found a new one, bought it (without Popeye seeing it), moved in, grew and birthed a human AND organised building a new bathroom and all the stuff to go in it.

All of these things involved a LOT of decisions and choices. Big decisions, big choices. I was able to do these things swiftly and decisively, confident in my ability to choose, and choose right .

However a month before deployment ended I was minding my own business, daydreaming about homecoming and I had a meltdown at the drive through. Completely lost it. And all because they asked me if I wanted mayo or salsa on my chicken burger.

For a good few seconds my mind went completely blank. What had they just asked me? Oh, a choice! A simple choice! Then… “Oh my God, what do I want??? Mayo? Salsa? Ok, I definitely want salsa. No. I want mayonnaise. WHY IS THIS SO HARD????

IMG_1645-0 With people starting to beep their car horns behind me, and Sweet Pea kicking off in her car seat, I garbled in an anxious ridden tone “I don’t know! Surprise me!” And sped off to the pay window with red cheeks and a pounding heart.

I lose the ability “to decide” in those fabled last four weeks. WHY is this? Popeye is not in anyway Mr Controlling, if anything, infact (and I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this) I am the powerhouse in our marriage that gets things done and organised. He’s more of a laid back ideas man.

Maybe in the early stages of deployment it’s just knowing that when he’s away I have no other option than to decide. Theres no choice. The bucks stops here, squarely at me. At this early stage of deployment the idea of him actually being here has taken on a “Stars In Their Eyes” mystical quality that doesn’t seem all that realistic. Homecoming really is a day dream.

Then suddenly, four weeks to go, shit! Get outta the way Mathew Kelly, clear that fog from the fog machine, he’s actually going to be here, to help me!

Crap! I’m going to have to factor in his opinion! His preferences! I’m going to have to start playing as a team player! No more Olive-The-Dictator, time for a UN resolution and swiftly.

This realisation puts my head in a spin. Basically I think my brain stalls.

I temporarily suspend any “decisions”. Big or small. Or even McDonalds miniature happy meal sized ones. My brain just can’t handle it, knowing that the cavalry is just on the top of the hill. Or at least on the sea surrounding the same continent.

This realisation of help, support and opinion being so near yet so far makes stuff like mayo or salsa become a HUMONGOUS decision, towering above my head, staring down at me like a drill sergeant from some 80s military film, “which one is it soldier? You must decide, NOW!”

And yes, I guess I must. I must decide the little things, or go hungry. But the big things, like getting the car serviced (or not), booking a holiday, painting the baby’s room or getting the driveway paved can all wait. Because at this point I can’t plough ahead knowing that this dictatorship is about to become a democracy. And who the hell has salsa anyway?

Muchos love X

Long distance arguments.

Arguing is a healthy component of any successful relationship. Let me be clear before I start this post, It does not mean I enjoy it. It does not make it fun or a competition. I prefer to think of it as a necessary evil for when Popeye is being an idiot.

I want to address one crucial difference between civvy versus forces arguments:

Forces girlfriends and wives don’t have the luxury of time.

When Im annoyed with Popeye, a situation that may arise that deserves the ‘not answering your phone for a day and ignoring texts’ standard operating procedure.

  
If you’re like me and have navy wife friends, you call up a trusted lady and first, check that you are not overreacting (even if you are they will say you’re not because they are awesome like that). Then you will vow loudly and clearly that:

I will NOT answer the phone if he calls, not matter what, I’m just too angry. Nope. No way. Nada.”

(Your trusted navy wife friend or, occasionally, excellent civvy friend will say something like “you go girl!” “Girl power!”, or, my personal fave recently, a simple text saying “VOTES FOR WOMEN!!!”)

You get on with your day, heart hammering and adrenaline flowing, repeatedly telling yourself if he calls “No way, I’m not answering it. He needs to know I’m properly upset. And just because he’s away doesn’t change that. Good one olive. This is very strong and Beyoncé-esque of you. This is horrible but necessary.”

You managed to not reply to his emails by washing up, cleaning the windows, ironing your pants and/or shampooing the carpets and re-reading that last shitty email on your phone repeatedly.

Until…

Ring ring! Ring ring!

You let it ring, your blood pressure soars, your stomach drops, your palms start to sweat. For some reason you go into the room where the phone is, and stare at it, hands clasped together.

Before you know what your doing you’ve crossed the room and grabbed the ringing phone. With shaking hands that just know voicemail will cut in if you let it ring once more, you answer, cursing yourself to the deepest depths of hades for being such a weakling.

“Hello? Popeye??? I’m sorry I got mad, I love you! I miss you!!!!”

Duuuuuude. What happened? You were doing SO well!

See. We don’t have time to stay angry.

(Also, they often don’t realise you’re not talking to them as comms are down. This is especially irritating, because then you have to tell them they were being ignored, and now they’re not. And this, apparently is hilarious to a deployed husband. Humpf.)

I often don’t bother arguing with Popeye because using paradigm minutes saying stuff like “fine then, be like that” *silence* fills me with irrational horror.

Any kind of silence when we could be communicating be it via email or phone, or Skype, makes me want to combust because usually at least two of the following are true:

A) we haven’t spoken in ages
B) we won’t speak again for ages
C) we don’t have long to speak until he has to go back to work

Sometimes arguing with a sailor is just a waste of time.

Muchos love,

Olive.
X

P.s

Also, just because I need to vent, why is it that:

They always work harder than us.
They are always more tired than us.
Tropical beach paradises are rubbish and we should understand and give never ending sympathy.
We are always (apparently) asking them to leave the navy even when we have never, ever, mentioned that at all. And this would solve every problem, ever.

I feel SO much better now. I think I will answer that phone after all!

“It’s complicated” -my relationship with time.

I think I’m in an abusive relationship. Not with hubster Popeye, don’t worry, he’s a kitten, but with time. Let me explain this analogy, ahem: Time, it treats me badly again and again, reduces me to tears and g&t’s and yet I always go back to it when it promises me it will never treat me like that again and how much it wants to make me happy.

See? Time+navy+me=abusive relationship! Or at the very least some kind of unhealthy codependent relationship based on love/hate.

When you are doing a deployment countdown you view time as your mortal enemy, and I, at least, spend a large chunk of each day taking it down a peg or two mentally (hang on maybe I’m the abusive one…). I spend a RIDICULOUS amount of time thinking about time (ironic) and how months and weeks are really not all that long. In short, when Popeye is deployed I demean time, I shorten it and patronise it, I beat it into submission until its not too scary.

For example, two months sounds scary, eight weeks, not so much. Also to say he’s still away for two and half months is awful, but if I take time by the gonads and twist, two and a half months magically turns into ten weeks! Tah dah!

You can also do this not just with months and weeks, but also with days. *gets magic wand and magicians hat*. Firstly, this works best when you’re in the ten week countdown. It also works best when you are alone in the house, holding a giant bar of dairy milk, standing in front of your calendar. No one knows why this is, its just physics or something.

Basically you don’t count the day they are coming back, nor do you count the day you are currently on. This means you can easily, at any point, shave two days off of your countdown as and when needed. Viola! Take that countdown! Here’s some more time magic…

You don’t count the day they are back, because omgomgomgtheyarebacktodayimawakeat3amandIwenttobedat2.45.

You can also not count maybe two or three days before they are home because omgomgimsoexcitedandihavetocleanthehouseandwashthedogandthecarandmyselfanddefuzzandbuyfivenewoutfitsandemergencydiet.

Not enough? You can also cut off any days you are meeting up with friends or staying at other peoples houses, or hotels, because then you won’t miss your sailor as much when you go to bed if you are tired and tipsy and also (as every navy wife knows) time passes quicker when you’re busy.

At the beginning of a deployment round up how much time you have done to give yourself an ego and moral boost. So if they’ve been gone for ten days, that turns into a fortnight, which you mentally say as “half a month”. And then abracadabra-10 days = half a month! Which sounds a hell of a lot better than telling yourself “they’ve only been gone a week and a bit”.

A month consists, always, of four weeks, not five, no matter what the calendar (or the bank) says. This way you can say “one month down, five/six/seven to go!” sooner and feel smugger faster. (I know “smugger” is not a word, but I am employing word magic here as well as time magic so there). You can then use this feeling of amazingness to combat the ‘I don’t know how you do it’ well meaning people’s looks with an “aha but I have already almost,kind of, I’m getting there, DONE it biatches!”

Aaand the best thing is, this feeling of wowzers look at me surviving and time passing aren’t I brilliant only gets better as more time passes!

I suggest you continue lengthen time in this way so that you feel freakin awesome until you reach the halfway point when you can start to shorten time again because, hey you’ve done half a deployment now chick and you are feelin pretty fly.

So that’s one side of my relationship with time, the other side is the side when Popeye is home on leave. Suddenly the very fabric of time changes! Three weeks, which was a very short and laughable amount of nothing-time during deployment is now a beautifully long vast insurmountable amount of time that will last forever. Three weeks becomes an eternity that you refuse to see the end of.

That is until time tricks you once again. Because no matter how 100% sure you are that three weeks is, in fact, forever and ever, no matter how much stuff you plan to cram into those weeks, you will wake up one day, usually for me around about day 17-18 and go “oh crap we haven’t done anything apart from stay in bed,walk the dog, watch walking dead and eat subway for two and a half weeks! How did this happen???”

Answer: Time has tricked me, once again.

And so it starts again, the feeling of super-duper-time-on-steroids whizzing past us both, heading terminally towards him going back to that bloody ship again to spirit him away for odd weeks here and there until the next deployment.

It makes me feel like Wiley coyote and the “meep meep” bird. It really does.

One of our strengths is, as navy wives and girlfriends, we can weave a mysterious magic with time. But, as Spider-Man taught me, with great power comes great responsibility. And time will come back around and bite you on the bum the second you start to relax your attention to it.

My advice, never take your eyes off it, it’s a tricky, sneaky thing, which is simultaneously my best friend and my greatest enemy.

Muchos love,

Olive Oyl
Xxxx