Writing Workshop: First Time on My Own

September 11, 2014

I don’t want this blog to die. It’s not that I haven’t been writing… I journaled and I journaled this summer in Hawai’i and at camp. (And we had a discussion about how journals are private, not meant for public consumption.) And I’ve been answering a few random posts on the Merchant Marine Wives Facebook group page … I am so verbose. Some of my answers are way too long.

It’s not like I don’t have things to write about… come on, Hawai’i was amazing and I have another great Personal reflection on my time at camp. Our oldest just entered high school and is in an accelerated program–that decision alone was nerve-wracking but I am so stinking proud of her. My PsA is doing great but I am dealing with bouts of depression–a reality I am loath to admit and while I’m working on it, I think I’m keeping my thoughts close to my heart rather than put down on here.

But I don’t want this blog to die. At some point I think I’d like to tell the MMW FB group that I have this blog. That would really blow my anonymity … not to mention at least two of the Chief’s coworkers (one directly under him) are on the page and we have all “introduced” ourselves. Maybe that is the conflict that is keeping me from writing … and writer’s block … and self-censorship … and a little bit of passive-aggressive hostility.

So I had the thought that maybe I should go back to my early beginnings and do a Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop post. Interestingly enough I feel I can take #3 and relate it to the merchant marine life.

3.) Write about what it was like to live on your own for the first time.

My story is not a typical story. I was 21 years old… two weeks shy of my 22nd birthday. I was a newly wed. I found myself the owner of a 3-bedroom 1,600 square foot home, a burgundy Mercury Sable, a purebred lhasa apso, and I had power of attorney to manage another piece of real estate. I didn’t know too many 21 year olds in my position. The Chief (then a lowly 3rd) was shipping out for the first time.

I had never lived on my own. Not really. I remember sitting in the car, on a cold day (remember we were married on the Blizzard of ’96 and much of the world around us was still snow-bound) either just before we went to closing or right after, and just kind of stared in awe at the chief as he began calling the phone company and the electric company and whatever else utilities you needed to call to have service connected to our new home, in our name. I guess I just kind of thought all of that was automatic. It never would have occurred to me you had to call to set those things up… every year I was at school you just walked in, picked up your phone and it was all done for you.

I’ve always said I got to grow up with the biggest safety net underneath me.

It could have been worse. There are some wives who either run home to live with their moms the entire time their mariner is away or live across the street from their parents or in-laws. We at least lived 10 minutes away from both sets and only because I worked in the city.

It was about three days after he left and I totaled his car. Not my finest moment and not my last accident. I had no real way of contacting him. I was at the mercy of his port schedule. My father had given me strict advice not to call him with the news. So I waited for the Chief to call me but it was the first thing out of my mouth.

And his first words: Are you okay? What car do you want to get now?

This is not to say that over the years he hasn’t nostalgically sigh about how much he misses “that car.” To be honest, I miss it too.

I had to deal with the insurance and a court date (his dad took me and advised me to plead “no contest” even though I had gotten out of the car and took responsibility when it wasn’t exactly clear that I was 100% responsible). I had to keep on top of bills and house maintenance. I had to deal with the lhasa’s psychotic behavior at being left alone 10 hours a day instead of going over to my MILs … I did finally call them and said “come get this dog or so help me … Oh my GOD! there are bloody paw prints on the doors! Come over NOW!!!”

And I got a puppy, with the Chief’s knowledge but not waiting till he got home. Never again. Never, ever again. The tiny adorable thing was a holy terror at 6 weeks old–yup, puppy milled and sent to the animal shelter too young and filled with worms. Chewbacca, or Chewie more appropriately, chewed everything and even got herself stuck behind the washer and gnawed little holes in the drain hose … a fact we didn’t discover until two days later when the Chief got home and ran a load of laundry and flooded the entire floor.

It was the silence that seemed to get to me the most. Although for most of my time at college I did have a room to myself, there were other people on the floor and the noises of communal living. I would walk through the house turning on lights and radios. I would stay awake till exhaustion hit because I didn’t like the empty bedroom. I’m not as bad now but even after the girls go to bed I don’t like the quiet of the house those first few nights.

Living so close to family was an issue. My mother wanted me to check in–seriously? I lived 3 hours away and only called once a week but I had to check in after work every day? Not going to happen. It got worse as the year wore on. Now in all fairness, I did have a trusted observer tell me that half the year I acted like I wasn’t married (my new-found relationships with my in-laws was going so well that I was like a daughter, not a daughter-in-law) and the other half I played at being married. At their church most people still assume I am their daughter even though my parents attend there as well. (A fact that if my mother were honest with herself and others, irks her to no end.)

I have had to deal with many household crises over the years… how many heat pumps does a person have to replace? The Chief was here for one hot water heater and I just took care of the last one… I was more prepared to handle all the utilities when we moved to this house–the Chief was at sea and I had an amazing realtor who held my hand the whole time and gave me a great check list.

Oh, this all reminds me that I need to get the car in for an inspection.

The Prompts:
1.) September is National Apple Month, create a blog post inspired by apples.
2.) Write a blog post inspired by the word: goals.
3.) Write about what it was like to live on your own for the first time.
4.) You won an award for at some point in your life…what was it for?
5.) List activities that keep your kids busy on rainy days.

Click on Mama Kat’s Trophy in my side board to join in on the fun.


  1. Oh boy, can I ever relate! Anyway, to being married to a Col. in the Army, and living on my own. But, I do enjoy my quiet, my space, and freedoms that go with it. In fact, I love it! What I don’t like is maintaining the orchard, and dealing with all the house, yard, and irrigation problems. Only the Col can do that. So… I guess I really do miss him and would rather have him home so I’m not home alone!

    Sounds like you found some good ways to not be alone so much. Hopefully, your Chief can retire soon. Mine does in two months!

    • The Chief will have 25 years in 2017. As long as he doesn’t up and quit, that’s our goal. 30 years would put both girls in college and make me feel more financially secure but it is not my decision and I’ll support whatever he wants. I don’t want the job to kill him so if 25 is enough, then 25 it is. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. It is not just silence, but silence at night that gets me. Though I do prefer it to a bump in the night!

  3. I just don’t know how people cope with a spouse in the military, I feel like it would break me even though I understand it’s necessary and very noble of them. I’m sort of selfish like that. 😉

    • Mama Kat! thank you so much for responding to my post–you reaffirm my choice to get back into blogging and not let this blog die!

  4. Military life is nuts! I met my (now ex) husband while in the military… It’s a different world. I was never away from him for too long, though. I can’t imagine dealing with house stuff breaking and car accidents ALONE in my early 20s… I would have been a mess. You did good!

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