Category: uncategorized media & blog entries

Digital Distractions

Yesterday my poor husband heard my two cents on how perpetually ‘connected’ everyone is. I returned to school on Monday, and I suppose during the two weeks I had spent off I had forgotten how difficult it is for many of my peers to tear their eyes from a screen. Eating, drinking, pissing, walking, taking the stairs, driving–on the phone. A few days ago I was hiking and stopped at a stream because I heard a great “Plopsh!” that turned out to be the largest frog that I’d ever seen. Shortly after, a man was walking along the trail, and I tried to stop him, but he couldn’t hear me because he had headphones in. He courteously turned back, realizing that I had said something to him, removed an ear bud, and replied (appropriately, he thought), “Good morning!”

I can’t complain much because of course it was he who missed out on rana colossus (made that up), but this sort of scene bothers me. There is no fellowship in the world anymore, no experiences really shared among strangers, and no friendships begun from conversations that are struck up spontaneously in the library, at the bus stop, or on the trail. I know that to say “no,” as in “zero” is an exaggeration, but maybe in another few years it won’t be.

Even though I am rather introverted, I sometimes like talking to strangers. I even sometimes like talking to my friends and relatives! Occasionally I will see someone carrying a book that I love, for instance, and I’ll talk to them about it. A few years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for me to have a conversation with a stranger at a cafe, beginning with a comment on my Led Zeppelin t-shirt. I particularly enjoyed sharing pleasantries with some folks who used to take the same bus as me when I was stationed in Pensacola. In Japan, older people would sometimes come talk to me while I sat in a park looking at the sea.

Now it seems like people need a reason to talk to each other. I don’t think we all ought to interrupt individuals who are obviously engaged in a telephone conversation or reading a book… but I do miss when we all fought off our boredom by chatting and joking with each other rather than surfing BuzzFeed and taking “Which Disney Princess Are You”-type quizzes.

Are we afraid of being bored? It seems like it. Of all the time I spend just looking around and making observations, one thing I really don’t often observe is other people doing the same thing! I am rarely bored. I am interested in what I see, hear, and smell around me. I can make games in my mind, can go through my plans for the day, or just think–which encompasses a huge list of mental activities right there. I miss out on these things, I miss out on coming up with (and sometimes even answering) important questions, and I miss out on knowing myself, if I keep my mind fixed on books, apps, music, and so on. The mind and heart are often doing the most when a person appears to be doing the least.

Are we insulating ourselves? When I was a teenager, sometimes I pretended to be doing something to either avoid interaction, or more often, to alleviate the discomfort I felt about not socializing. That is, I felt like it was an embarrassing thing to go to a movie or eat alone, for example. How else to explain this I am not exactly sure because I don’t really feel that way anymore. I cannot help but wonder if a lot of people aren’t constantly glued to their phones because they don’t want to appear alone–like me when I was a teen and got my first phone. There are also people who decidedly wish to avoid interaction with strangers; I’ve had friends who admitted to me they sometimes wore headphones so people wouldn’t talk to them at certain times. I have thought about doing this, but I’m not sure if I ever have done it. Perhaps this is a common behavior and many of my peers are fixated on their screens simply as a signal for others not to approach. I’m no stranger to the feeling of wanting to curl into a ball and roll the hell away from a person or group of people, but is it a healthy or mature thing to do to be so averse to uninvited interaction? There is a difference in not seeking interaction versus actively avoiding it, is there not?

Are we missing out? Yes! Unequivocally, I think. There are the baseball-sized frogs we miss, of course. There is the sound of birds we miss. Half of my school mates are missing out on the gorgeous landscaping of our college, I tell you that! It is difficult enough to see a small rabbit silently and swiftly hop away when you are paying attention–those who walk and text never see these things! I don’t know if their text messages lift their hearts up in joy in the same way the little rabbit lifts mine… This isn’t all about missing out on nature either. When we avoid or ignore each other, we miss opportunities at friendship and collaboration. We become less comfortable when those opportunities to arise, because we are not very practiced. We lose the feeling of community, the feeling of how connected we all really are in some ways. Christians who do this miss out on chances to do the Lord’s work–we are looking down when we could be looking straight into the eyes of someone who needs to be seen! We might feel like there are fewer problems in our lives, our backyards, and our world when we keep our eyes on our games and enjoy our ignorance, but it is a mistake to habitually look away (or distract ourselves).

On that note, though I have a few more ideas I wouldn’t mind adding, I should follow my own advice and not be too distracted even by the exploration of my own ideas. I’ve observed out my window a rather low flying helicopter, so I would like to go investigate and take some video! The world is so exciting and alive. Every day and everywhere there is something beautiful, something unique, something that will never be known again! Why miss that so that I can read my email? Forget it.

I can actually calculate that for you when we get home, if you want.

Caltech’s Palomar observatory. Main item here is the 200 inch Hale telescope.

My husband and I returned home a few hours ago from a lovely trip to Mt. Palomar. We enjoyed quiet time together, watched and listened to lots of birds that don’t really live down in our neighborhood, and glimpsed, oh, several dozen stars that we couldn’t spot down here in San Diego. It was marvelous. The tree pollen was marvelous too, and that’s why we’re home a couple of days earlier than we’d planned–but it’s alright, because we were running low on food anyway, to be perfectly honest.

I wish I had more poetic words to tell how wonderful it was to see such a dark sky. What is really interesting is that what we call a “dark sky” is quite the opposite; a dark sky is actually full of lights and glowing patches, and even colors. Of course what we really mean is “dark place from which to observe the sky,” but I realize this is a silly line of thought I’m following. Anywho, we only had with us our eyes and a good set of binoculars, and still sky was amazing. In fact, even with a waxing gibbous moon like a giant, white spotlight shining from the sky, K. and I were both excited by how many objects we could see. Reading about astronomy and looking for what I can see from the city is one thing, but really seeing more in the sky than ever before, I just… maybe we’d all be a bit more religious or spiritual, or at least more inquiring, if more of us grew up in places where more stars were visible. It’s wonderful to open one’s eyes to the universe beyond our planet, sun, and moon.

There was a horse and a cat on the property where K. and I stayed. There were wild turkeys, deer, and all sorts of other woodland animals. The best part was, of course, time together away from civilization. On the way home, we got to talking about guard rails on roads. After a bit of discussion, K. wondered how far a car would fly off a cliff if it were driving 70 mph, and I said I could calculate it when we got home. Of course he wasn’t that serious about it, but it was just interesting because really it was the first time since my Introduction to Mechanics class that I ever wanted to use physics to answer a question in my life. Physics is pretty awesome…

But at the same time, I’m glad I’m going to be doing chemistry at UCSD. There’s just something about not having everyone assume you want to be an engineer. Of course, now I suppose half of my professors will talk to me as if I’m working on a medical school application. Doesn’t anyone just want to be a physicist or chemist or discoverer-of-things just because, and not in order to fulfill some financial, technical, or other objective? That said, I should go do math a bit before I return to sloth status with my dear better half.

P.S. I bought one of these at the Palomar Observatory gift shop:

Curiosity rover.

I know I didn’t talk about it specifically, but the observatory was amazing. I’d still like to make it to Mt. Wilson some time…

Observations about great teachers

Mr. S.

  • he put things into context
  • he wasn’t afraid of religion or politics, but he was never insulting or condescending
  • even though he talked about art, religion, and politics… I think it speaks to his objectivity that I never did quite figure out what his personal views were
  • he cared about us–when I was withdrawing from everyone and in fact feeling suicidal, he was the one person in my life who took me aside and asked about my well-being
  • he was funny, and he incorporated humor into class all the time

Ms. H.

  • she obviously had a passion for her subject, describing mathematics with words like rich, pretty, awesome, beautiful, and magnificent
  • she paid attention to student feedback, and seemed to actually notice her students getting tired by the end of the day
  • she had high standards… it’s really encouraging when someone sets out high standards for you because it means they think you’re capable of reaching it

Ms. S.

  • she was honest with me about my weaknesses and my strengths
  • she played Scrabble with me one day when I had to visit the school on one of those ‘staff only’ days
  • she treated students like real people, and understood that many of us have other things going on in life besides school

Some teachers are no good, and I wonder if they know it. I wonder why they’re teaching if they don’t seem excited while they’re doing it. My heart goes out to them because sometimes it looks like they’re having as hard a time with us students as we’re having with them…. and for some, I’m sure they’ve found themselves feeling a bit stuck in a profession they’re not too crazy about. I sympathize.

But for those Mr. S.’s out there… I hope they know how awesome they are, what a difference they make even years after their students graduate. Why am I thinking about this? I don’t know. I do know that when I think of the great teachers I’ve had, I want to make them proud maybe even more than I want to make my parents proud or my husband happy (he thinks I’m going to get a high-paying job after I finish learning all this physics and math, and be his ‘sugar mama’ haha); I want to make them proud because they did so much for me and I’m not even their kid. I’m going to write them all letters someday if I ever do anything noteworthy!

Does something a teacher did for you or said to you stick in your mind? What makes a great teacher?

“That’s why I’m single.”

Today was pretty good for me. The only bits that weren’t too great were (1) leaving my physics notebook somewhere, and (2) dealing with the sexist attitudes of boys men who don’t think they have sexist attitudes.

If I end up going to a California State University, then I’ll need a couple of general education courses before graduating. Could be Chicano Studies, Black Studies, American History, Women’s Studies, or a handful of others (two courses in the same sequence). I’m always thinking that I have no idea which I’ll choose if I do end up going to State. I thought of this a little bit today as I was standing outside my physics classroom awaiting the professor. Looking around, I thought, “Tell me I’m not the only woman in this class.” Next to me was a black man, and I thought, “He’s probably the only black person in this class.”

Opening my eyes to ‘the patriarchy,’ so to speak–but really more just the denigrating, objectifying, &c. attitudes so many even young men seem to have toward women–has also opened my eyes to racism.

Anyway, the title of this post comes from a Facebook conversation an acquaintance of mine was having. It’s not worth detailing (neither is any of the women-blaming, women-bashing, women-hating, women-wanting ‘tude I ever deal with online or IRL of course). It’s just this aggravating, offensive, and frankly somewhat pitiful things that I’ve heard a lot of male persons say (both online and IRL). Goes something like this:

[Something I hate that seemingly all women do/think/don’t do/don’t think]. That’s why I’m still single.

No, maybe you’re still single because you’re not the kind of man who attracts the kind of woman you say you need.

Well, that’s all I’ll write for now. Feminist that I am, I’m not a man-hater, and it’s time for me to go spend the rest of the evening with my husband–who is basically just…

The cheese with my wine. The drink in my cup. The E & my M. The sub-woofer in my sound system…

Okay, metaphors aren’t my “thing.”

Some little joys

I miss living in a place with seasons. I suppose it’s because I like novelty. I love experiencing the newness of each season, and honestly, I enjoy the little changes in habit that accompany the seasons. Summer means I get to meet my sandals and tank tops again! Winter means layering cozy, dark colored scarves and shirts and sweaters and things. Spring means drinking light bodied wine, and eating lots of food from the grill. Fall means it’s time to start keeping soups and stews in the house. Living in San Diego again, I haven’t been able to enjoy these changes in season as much, but today I had the little joy of wearing my winter boots because it was finally cool enough.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate commuting. Actually, I hate driving in San Diego in general, because it’s just the norm here not to use turn signals, side mirrors, you know, courtesy and caution in general. But yesterday, driving to school, I had the little joy of letting someone squeeze in front of me—after he almost hit my car—but then him giving me the wave! I can forget about all the world’s a-hole drivers for one blissful moment whenever some good soul gives me the wave*!

Even though I am about to receive the lowest grade of my college career in physics, when I think of things like the curvature of spacetime, I have the little joy of a feeling… a feeling that this is what I really want to do: study the magnificence of God’s creation. I don’t expect that we have very much really figured out as humans. I’m not convinced there is even such thing as knowledge, except in the soul. But it is still a pleasure to ponder everything, to try to describe it, to see if you can understand something at least well enough to predict a thing or two about what it will do next. It’s wonderful to think about a benevolent God who created all that is, yet loves us in all our simpleness.

I have the little joy of coming home, knowing there are leftovers in the refrigerator**. It’s so awesome when you’re hungry, on the way home, and man, could you go for some Burger King! But there’s no need for greasy fast food that you’ll regret—not when you know that there’s something healthy and delicious right at home, and all you have to do is nuke it. No one thinks, “I can’t wait to go home and start dicing and chopping and preparing my meal!” That is why I love leftovers, and don’t understand anyone who doesn’t eat them.

That’s it for now. I should go do responsible stuff, right?

*If you don’t know what “the wave” is, you’re part of the problem! The wave is like saying, “Thank you,” and/or “Excuse me.” It’s the polite thing to do sometimes!
**One of my best friends, God knows why, cannot stand the word “fridge.” Since she and I were once roommates, and often the subject of the “fridge” would come up, since we shared one, I got into the habit of not using that word. Who am I, the queen of England, saying fancy words like “refrigerator?” Nope, not fancy. Just a habit leftover from appeasing my friend’s little neurosis. 🙂

Oh, wait! I also have the little joy of Christmas music! Yessss!

Why I don’t identify as a “military wife.” (Part 2)

I definitely got carried away yesterday, writing nearly 1,500 words. To summarize those ideas, I don’t identify as a military wife partly because I have found it very unpleasant to socialize with 9/10 other military wives I’ve met, and also because I still identify more as a military service member than a military family member.

Another big reason I don’t call myself a Navy wife is because I think men and women are equal. I think my accomplishments and daily duties are just as important and interesting as my husband’s. I’ve met many people since leaving active duty who find out that I’m both a veteran and a spouse of a military member, and do you know what they ask? They don’t ask what I did in the Navy, or for how long, or why I left. They don’t ask what I do now, or if they do, they stop paying attention when I say, “I study,” and couldn’t care less about what I study—and I study physics, so since when is that boring to talk about?

What people ask is what my husband does. Where is he stationed? Is he on deployment? What’s his rank? Is he going to retire? Thank him for his service. Is it because I’m a woman that my service doesn’t matter? I think.

I love my husband, and of course I am proud of him. He’s not an American hero. I know his job way, way better than most women know their husband’s jobs. I’m proud of him mostly because I know he could get away with doing way less work with way lower quality—but because he’s just that kind of person that doesn’t half-ass, gun-deck, or jury-rig (unless ordered to, which does happen sometimes). I’m also proud of him because he gets shit done. He doesn’t like the military, but he has yet to do something to purposely get kicked out. He doesn’t just sit around waiting for his contract to be up. He doesn’t refuse to get qualifications occupy leadership roles because, “I’m getting out anyway,”—which civilians may not know is actually a pretty common thing to happen among enlisted people who realize they don’t want to do twenty years. In short, I love my husband, and I’m proud of his work because in it he shows his integrity as a man. Also, I’m proud of it because it’s how he shows his patience as well; it takes a patient person to deal with some of the inept superiors he has had.

But my husband’s hard work, integrity, promotions—I should mention that he’s probably going to have to try not to get promoted next time up, if he truly doesn’t want to become a First Class—are not my own. My military service record speaks for itself. My grades speak for me. The way I handle myself speaks for me. Being married to a great person doesn’t make me a great person. When I call my husband “my better half,” I really mean it.

So when I say I’m not a Navy wife, it’s partly because I have my own accomplishments to be proud of—but it’s also because it’s not my business to take credit for my husband’s accomplishments. We are married, and we are one in important ways, but not in every way.

I think that’s all I need to write on this topic for a while. I do have strong feelings about it, and there are many misconceptions that civilians have of military people (some of which are definitely perpetuated by military people, such as the lie that we are not paid well). I wish people did not ask questions like they do… or I wish they would put more thought into those questions. I hope in my lifetime I will see women get paid the same as men for the same work, whether in the military or outside of it, and also receive the same respect. I also wish people would get over the military worship in this country, because we’re not all heroes, we’re not all saints, and most of us joined for economic reasons, not “to fight for your freedom.”

(The economic inequality that leads to more poor people going to war and dying versus rich ones is another topic entirely.)

Anyway, I feel a little better writing down some of my thoughts.

Why I don’t identify as a “military wife.” (Part 1)

After I separated from active duty (you can still call me Petty Officer though, because I’m in the reserve), I spent several months traveling, and then I married a fellow Sailor who was (is) still active.

We met when we were both E-nothings in the Navy, stationed on shore duty in San Diego. He got orders to sea duty in Japan while I was considering a career transition from avionics to the legal field. We’d been together for six months when I had to choose a path:

-Left at the fork meant taking orders as a third class calibration technician to Japan a few months later.
-Right at the fork would’ve meant waiting several more months in San Diego, going to school in Rhode Island during winter, a guaranteed promotion, and my boss’s word that I’d get orders to Japan after that.

There was plenty to it, and much happened personally and professionally in the years that followed my decision to go ‘left.’ Eventually, I decided to leave the military and go back to college. There were many factors to this decision as well, but so it happened. My then-fiance was still in Japan when I got out, and he chose his next orders (to the extent that we choose our orders, of course) based on where he could go that had a good university reasonably close. Here we are now in San Diego.

When we moved here, we had limited time to find a place. At first, we completely ruled out living in military housing either on or off base. Why? Because the stereotypes of badly behaved military families are based on something—and I’ll just leave it at that. We lived in a really nice neighborhood for a while, although we did get tired of the many dogs in all of our neighboring apartments. We were going to stay as long as the rent didn’t get raised to a certain level, but after our lease was up, it was raised past that level. It wasn’t worth it to us to stay there, so we looked for another place. Looking for a new place is such a pain in the ass that I’m not going to detail it. Basically, we opened our minds to the possibility of living in military housing, and then were offered a deal we couldn’t really refuse. A way bigger townhouse style unit than we could afford outside of military housing, and for significantly less money every month than anything else we’d seen. It wasn’t even in a ghetto! And utilities were included! So we jumped on it, and now I’m really not sure if I regret it or not.

Oh, you’re in the Navy…

Without detailing why I hate my neighborhood, and the disagreements I have with some of my neighbors, I can just say that I don’t fit in with military wives. I damn certainly don’t fit in with the Marine Corps wives who make up the majority of this area’s stay-at-home assholes moms. I’ve read a lot on the Internet, and had conversations with friends in and out of the military, and the few friends I have who are also married to men in the military, about women who try to “wear their husband’s rank.” The idea is that one woman considers herself superior to another on the basis of her husband having a superior rank. It’s actually an especially ridiculous behavior for Sailors’ wives because in the Navy, pulling rank is really….

How do I explain this? It depends on the unit, of course. But there’s the saying, “You attract more flies with honey.” I have observed in other leaders, and experienced while holding leadership roles myself, that saying, “I’m your superior, and that’s an order,” is far less effective than being the kind of person that your subordinates want to follow. Rank is quite a complicated thing in a social sense, in the Navy, at least, and so I will leave it at that for now.

Anyway, there are the rank pulling wives. But as a Navy person in a mostly Marine neighborhood, I wonder if there isn’t a similar thing going on with women considering their husband’s branch as superior as well. There’s absolutely a swinging dick mentality going on. I’ve trained with and known Marines. I go to school with many Marine veterans now. Everyone has a reason for joining the military, and everyone has a reason for choosing a branch. And I’m not saying every Marine is the same, but plenty of them choose the Corps because of ego. Marines are thought of as elite, as a more difficult force to join than the Army, as a more masculine force than the Air Force or Navy. “The few, the proud,” and all of that. It’s hard to get along with people who seem to think they’re better than you for some reason. For me, it’s especially hard to get along with women who have never served in the military, but seem to think that their husbands’ service in the USMC is superior to my service and my husband’s service in the Navy.

Not to mention the Navy is absolutely without a doubt the greatest military branch in all of history anyway. But I digress.

We never see you…

In one of my exchanges with some of my neighbors here, I told them to talk to me during the day some time. It was ten at night, and I think I was reasonably in not wanting to talk to them at that time. They responded emphatically, “We never see you!”

I guess they don’t see me. I don’t have kids, so I don’t hang out at the playgrounds (though I do go to the playground nearest my unit to do pull ups on the monkey bars). I don’t sit in a lawn chair in my driveway socializing because I don’t have time. I don’t go to neighborhood events because I don’t want their shitty free hamburgers, and again, I don’t have time. Three days a week, before 1600, I’m in my garage with the door open, working out. I run and bike in the neighborhood when I can. I check my mail almost everyday around 1500. I frequently drive in and out, and see the neighbors and their children out and about. I frequently have to stop my car while they yell and drag toys out of my driveway so that I can pull in. They don’t see me? No, they do see me, but they don’t see me at a time when it’s convenient for them to gang up on me and tell me what they think.

The thing is, even though they definitely see me and have opportunity to talk to me, and even though I do spend many hours at home during the week, I am a busy person. Very few of these women work, though some have small children they care for all day. Hell if I know what the ones do whose children are all in school until 1500. They don’t see me because I’m busy. If I’m home, I’m working. I may just be a student, but I generate income from being a student, and I put in my 40 hours a week. In a very real sense, I have a job. My job happens to be preparing for another job (partly).

Work is what I’m getting at. Work is an amazing thing. I have a desire to work. I have a desire to do work I consider meaningful too. I am not satisfied simply to support my husband in his meaningful work. It is difficult for me to identify with a group of women of whom so few women are driven to do their own shit. Being a mother is one thing, and it’s more than I am ready for right now (well, ya know, unless God decides otherwise). But of all my friends who are mothers, I really don’t know any who are satisfied to stay at home. Some have taken time off for the baby years, but all have put great efforts into home businesses, education, or plain, old-fashioned, earn-a-paycheck jobs. I guess that’s just who they are. That’s who I am. Maybe someday I will have a greater ability to click with someone who is happy putting 100% of herself into other people, but for now…

I simply don’t know what to talk about. << 5 / 12 / 14 I’ll continue this post another day.  >>

The people you meet.

As much as I sometimes hate Facebook, I do think it can be illuminating. Yesterday was the second of December, and when I saw the date, I thought, What’s today? I know there’s something on this date…

It’s the birthday of someone I used to call a friend. This girl had grown up in the same neighborhood as me, and while our home environments weren’t the same, we did both witness some types of abuse–and when I say “some types,” it’s because I don’t like to talk about some things. My friend, on the other hand, was never particularly reserved on the topic of her terrible “father.” Now that we no longer speak, and only now that I have realized that what I grew up with was not normal, I wonder if she ever even knew what I was dealing with. Sometimes people become so obsessed with their own suffering that they end up venting about it to someone who is also suffering in a tremendous way, but handling it more gracefully. I don’t mean to emphasize my suffering at all, but I know this is true because it happened to me.

When I was on the ship, I found out I’d be going TAD, Navy speak for, “working in another shop for a while.” Some of my friends already knew the man I’d be working with in the other shop. They told me he was a really cool guy, but they felt so bad for him because he had a toddler son who had been born with a heart defect. I told myself I had better not gripe and complain and get wicked pissed about Navy BS with this guy. The truth is, however, that in a year or so working with that man–someone I highly respect, and still keep in touch with on Facebook–of course I did gripe and complain and get wicked pissed about Navy BS.

I don’t think it’s really right to even anonymously write on a public forum about the things this man told me about his life. But I can say that many things he told me shocked me and still weigh on my heart–and not a thing did he say seeking pity or feeling sorry for himself. The wrong things that happened to him are not lost on him, but he does his best, enjoys life and family and friends, and gives thanks. He never talked about his problems with the sick sort of pride that sometimes people do, as though they think they’re better than you for having been victimized or screwed over somehow. That is one man I’m glad I met.

Back to my friend whose birthday was yesterday. We met in middle school because we rode the same bus, but we were not friends. We didn’t like each other, but we did get teased by the same boys. To be honest, I can’t remember how we really became friends, but we did, especially in high school. The two of us would often sit on the bus together. Almost every lunch period, she and I and another friend or sometimes more, would sit outside and eat. Three of us would sometimes go out on “photography days,” and just find some secluded or abandoned spot to shoot. We’d go to a stream or a large cemetery or a botanical garden. We had some really great times that I truly miss.

Both of us had been in a program to graduate high school in three years, but both of us decided only weeks before graduation that we wanted to stay in school for the fourth year after all. We had to appeal to the school board or something like that, but stay we did; and it was during that year that we grew apart. There’s no need to detail it. We were both teenaged girls, and we both did and said stupid things, and had generally shitty attitudes. Both of us. I went away to the Navy, and I don’t know what she did for a while… I just remembered that even though she was a great student, she delayed going to college. I had a bad feeling that she would quickly end up a young single mom with no car and no time for an education, just like a lot of girls in our old neighborhood.

Anyway, she didn’t end up that way. We eventually reconnected, and she graduated college. Now she works, is married, has a bunch of cats, and lives in Canada. Sounds like a good turn out to me. We met the one time I went back to Florida on leave, but it wasn’t as enjoyable as I’d hoped it would be. Her then boyfriend was there, who I didn’t know at all. A mutual acquaintance was there… who… I have had good times with, but find to be unappealingly dramatic (at least back then). I also was smoking cigarettes at the time, and when I look back on it, I can’t imagine the three of them wanted to be in the car with my stench, although nobody said anything. (I didn’t realize at the time that cigarettes stink. I grew up with people who smoked inside, and people told me it stank, but to me, it was normal. I began to smoke, and it was nothing to me. Only when I quit smoking did I begin to find the odor as disgusting as most people do.)

Over the years, we exchanged some cards and photos, talked online a few times, and planned to see each other again, whenever work made it reasonable for one of us (or one couple of us) to be in the other one’s area.

But it all disintegrated over time, and on Facebook. We never said, “Goodbye.” We never said, “Buzz off.” We never said anything. She unfriended me I don’t know when, and I only realized it because one day I think there was something in the news I expected her to post about, but I didn’t see any post. I was a little sad because I still remember the fun we had, and you don’t meet someone with a lot of the same passions as you everyday. But I was also okay with it. I had considered unfriending her myself, but it had seemed petty, and I didn’t want to burn a bridge or act hastily. Facebook makes it so easy to throw a friendship in the trash, it seems like.

It’s sad to lose a friend, but it happens. Sometimes people or circumstances change. I’ve seen friends who were in love with people before, and weeks or months or years later, couldn’t see anything in that person to love. I can still see a lot to love in my old friend, but I can see some things that very much annoyed me that I do not miss. Maybe she feels that way about me. Maybe she just thinks I’m 100% asshole. Maybe she hasn’t thought a moment about me since she clicked, “Unfriend.”

The people you meet. That’s what the second of December was about. Friendship, I guess. And Facebook aside, because it really isn’t the same as “real life,” though it is certainly real, I wonder how things are going for the woman, in terms of friends. She lives in a foreign country now, and as long as I was in touch with her, she never mentioned a Canadian friend. I know she has many friends in Florida and probably elsewhere, but… I also know from experience and observation how those long-distance relationships go. Even when you vow to stay the best of friends, keep in touch via telephone or letters or email, and promise to see each other as often as possible…

How do I describe it? Life happens. Even when you speak with someone everyday–someone back home, when you’re living overseas–they’re not telling you everything. You’re not telling them everything. You’re not seeing the same programs on television, being appealed to by the same advertizements on the street, or even seeing the same fashion trends in magazines. Distance doesn’t just kill relationships. I’m not saying that. My husband and I have had to spend months thousands of miles apart, and it has worked so far. My best friend and I only see each other every few years, and there have been a couple of times where we went months without saying much to each other. I don’t know if a lot of people realize it when they leave town and make all the promises of loyalty, but even when and if you do see your old friend or loved one again, even if you spoke with them everyday you were away, it won’t be the same. It might not be like meeting a stranger–but sometimes it is.

So how is she doing? I don’t know. Will she come to understand some of the things I’ve seen and been through? Granted, she’s a civilian artist, while I was a Sailor and sometimes just a civilian traveler. I don’t know. Part of the reason I think of it is that here I am in San Diego. I used to have many friends here, some I thought I’d have forever. Most are gone. Some are very different. I am very different. Some are very busy. I am very busy. Time and chemistry are also necessary to make new friends, and maybe luck… The story is the same in my home city in Florida. Who would I return to? My mother, yes, but even she is completely different: taking medications, married to my stepfather, raising a little boy, living in a house I’ve only spent about three weeks of my entire life in. I don’t have a great sense of “home” there, and I most of my friends are gone.

You can’t hold onto people. At least I can’t. Maybe if I didn’t travel. Maybe if I didn’t join the Navy. Maybe if I hadn’t left home. But in this world, even if I hadn’t left, I’d probably have been left behind. My best friend, for instance, she’s no longer where we grew up. She lives in Tennessee, of all places. Even when you know you can’t maintain a friendship because of practical reasons if nothing else, it is still sad when they end. Still, you never know what the people you meet will teach you. You never know how long it will last. You never know they’re a rabid Republican until you add them on Facebook (joking). You never know where you’ll be next year, let alone them.