Back To Square One (Kinda)

Well, the post-graduation euphoria was fun for about the 5 days that it lasted. I applied and got accepted to my graduate program before I was done with undergrad, so my progress bar that read 100% that filled me with the predictable pride and joy was quickly replaced by the gravity that it absolutely doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t get credit for that in this new program; I’m just another person with 0% on his progress bar. Again. I’m not nearly as intimidated now as I was when taking my undergrad seriously, but it was still jarring to see that 0% staring at me, daring me to do something about it. I just got done with the first week of my initial class, and it’s as hard as advertised and I have to write a bunch and blah, blah, blah who cares, really.

I got to go home and see Rachel for New Years, and that’s way more fun to write about. It felt so good to just hang out with my wife and do nothing in particular again. She took our dog into the airport with his service vest (Fun California Fact: People aren’t legally allowed to question why you need a service pet, nor are they allowed to ask for verification, so just buy him/her a fake vest from Amazon and take him everywhere. Not saying that we do that…but it definitely can be done.), and he had the nerve to give me the cold shoulder when he saw me! It lasted for a solid 12 seconds, but still! Gut-wrenching 12 seconds.

It felt amazing to feel our son kick the hell out of Rachel and go to her doctor appointments and feel like I’m actively participating in this whole process. We watched a Kings game on the laptop one night and our son literally kicked the laptop off Rachel’s stomach. He isn’t even born yet and already knows that the Kings aren’t worth watching. Smart kid. The only lame part of the trip was that my main circle of friends have all moved away, and I couldn’t catch any of them in town. It really drove home how much everything has changed in a year. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but it’s still strange to process sometimes.

Shawn and Rachel
Rachel, Diego (in her belly), and I. 

Oh yeah, we went to French Laundry! French Laundry. French. Fucking. Laundry. It was the first and likely only time that I thought taking food pictures in dim lighting would just be an insult to the food. The experience would have been incredible on its own, but we also got to take a tour of the kitchen and got a menu that was autographed by the head chef that I’m really tempted to frame and place on a wall. My tastebuds will never be the same, and it’s something that I would recommend for everyone, even if it’s just once. Rachel paid the tab since it was her graduation present for me, but it also doubled as a booby trap for me to pick up tabs for the obscenely expensive restaurants in Europe. She thinks she’s slick.

Of course, I had to leave again and I had to see Rachel cry because of me again and my dog is mad at me again and the whole thing sucked again and I’m counting down to see her from zero again. But it’s ok. We’re going to have our baby 8 weeks (?!?!?!??!?) from today, and that’s basically all that matters at this point.

 

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My Wife is an Easy Preggo…For Now

I have a confession to make: I thought the pregnancy process with Rachel would be an absolute nightmare. Thought I would be looking forward to texts of continued morning sickness, wild hormone swings, and general agony for everyone involved. She gets random cravings (she was ready to kill for salmon the other day) and she already has a maternity clothing wardrobe, but other than that, it’s been pretty normal, run of the mill stuff. Maybe she’s too busy impersonating Superwoman to notice. She’s taking an 18 month Master’s program in 12 months while working full-time and carrying a little human inside her while her husband is hundreds of miles away blogging for total strangers. Not exactly ideal, but she’s handling everything about as well as I could have hoped.

Well, the first couple of weeks were pretty rough. We were both in shock that the stars aligned well enough for me to knock her up in the five day window that we had during our honeymoon. Once that feeling subsided, it was quickly replaced by the realization that this could not possibly have be timed any worse. This is just terrible, hilariously bad timing for us to have a child. It totally changed the trajectory of our plans and turned a regular deployment into logistics hell. As of now, we’ll have to take an 8 hour flight to another continent with a poodle and a two month old, not to mention being shells of ourselves by then. We’ve had to worry about the following issues since Rachel got pregnant:

1)       Find out how early we can get our flight plan since we need to book Spencer (our poodle) on the flight.

2)      How do we get the baby on your orders so he/she is included in travel plans?

3)      Will they provide the baby and your wife with a government passport to PCS or do we need to get a civilian one for baby?

4)      What are German car seat regulations and what car seats can we buy that will fit them?

5)      How much is base child care at Ramstein, how long is the wait, and how early can we get on the waiting list?

6)      How long is base housing list and how early can we get on that list?  Can we put on our application that there will be a child living there before the child is actually born?

7)      Complete visa applications for Shawn, Rachel  (and Baby, if necessary).

8)      Do we need European Tax ID numbers if we work on base?  What if I work off base?  Do we still file taxes in California?

I mean…

Ugh.

We’re not the first humans to travel with a newborn in tow, so we’ll figure it out, but gosh, that’s a ton of etceteras that appeared out of nowhere.

Anyway, after a few days of panicking over how the hell we could possibly survive this pregnancy in one piece, we chalked it up to normal fears that most couples have and regained our composure, which is easy to say in hindsight, but we were not trying to hear that at the time. Don’t tell that to people while they’re going through that, even if it’s absolutely true 95% of the time. It’s their damn child. They’re not going to be rational. Just listen and be there for them and let them cry and get their feelings out and probably cry some more.

Yes, it kills me to not be there, even if there are worse things than not getting woken up at 4am to make trips to Safeway. I don’t even know if she would do that to me. Yes she would. I hate her. The first trimester is supposed to be the most difficult, and she’s about 2/3 through it without any hitches, so hopefully it continues that way. I don’t really hate her. She’s the greatest.

A Bit About Me

This probably should have been the first post. I forgot that I’m not plugging this to a Twitter or Facebook audience that’s been familiar with me for the last few years, so I basically did the equivalent of starting a book with page 80. And yes, a lot of this info is in the introduction of my blog, but nobody reads that stuff. I can’t blame you guys. I don’t read them either. I’d like to see if I can build a reader base strictly from WordPress, and exactly one human (my wife) has read my first post in 12 hours, so I’m off to a roaring start!

My name is Shawn Gregoire. I’m in the Air Force. I’m very much into sports, helping children, and gratuitously offering my opinion on various subjects and issues. I have a wife. Her name is Rachel. We’ve been married for a year. She’s carrying my seed. She’s totally out of my league. It’s ok.

I’m on a deployment for a year, so I have free time to do stuff like this, especially since I don’t tweet anymore. Rachel and I will be moving to Europe with a newborn  and poodle ten months from now. I think this transition is a worthy subject to write about, and this will be quite funny to look back on years from now, provided that they aren’t deleted from sheer embarrassment.

I can’t describe my writing style. I just write with the hopes of getting better. I can’t describe my personal qualities. In fact, don’t trust people who can describe their personal qualities. All that stuff is subjective. I used to tweet really often. The page is still up (@shawnintheflesh), but all the tweets are gone. I used to be quite the polarizing figure on there, but I stopped because being mean to strangers got old.

I appreciate feedback, especially from people who write better than I do. I’ll start strolling around for blogs to read and maybe I’ll even get humans who aren’t my wife to read my posts. Starting from scratch sucks. Oh well. I’ve started a lot of cool things from scratch lately, like kids. It’ll be fun as long as I don’t quit doing this in three weeks like I did my promising hoops blog. We shall see. Welcome!

My email is greshawn12@gmail.com.

Anniversaries and Pussy Papers

So this past Sunday was my and Rachel’s first anniversary, as evidenced by one of the rare instances when I get more than 10 likes on a given Facebook or Instagram post. I’m not complaining; it’s my own doing. I genuinely enjoy being off the grid and not feeling the need to check my twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat feed every waking moment of the day. I guess I’ll return eventually, but what I do on a daily basis right now is solid. The fact that I actually…do stuff at all in my spare time now is solid. Well, Sunday wasn’t particularly solid. Needless to say, this wasn’t how I planned to spend our anniversary a year ago.

After the mayhem on Facebook subsided following the baby announcement (women, especially other mothers, go APESHIT when one of their fellow female humans are pregnant. Motherhood seems like a hilariously stressful fraternity to join), I ended up looking at old pictures and seeing how much we’ve grown together as a couple and getting nostalgic about a woman who I’ve only known for 30 months yet somehow managed to marry and knock up within that time.

I’m not bringing up Sunday as an excuse to talk about how great Rachel is (there’ll be plenty of time and opportunity to do that). I’m bringing up Sunday to talk about how much deployments suck. Don’t deploy if you have a wife, a remotely serious girlfriend, or even a really cool dog at home. I’m on a base that could double as a vacation resort in Central America with the ability to go off base to party and buy groceries, doing an easy job that puts me in absolutely no danger yet still polishes my skill set, and it still sucks. I’ve only been gone for three months, and I already feel like I’ve missed too much of our marriage. Sunday really drove home the fact that I can’t be in the military for any longer than my current enlistment. My ambivalence about being theoretically willing to die for a country that continues to find incredibly inhumane ways to justify killing people who look just like me aside, I just can’t miss any more fucking anniversaries. Anniversaries are for nice dinners, sex, looking back on memories together, sex, drinking wine (along with Rachel being mad that she’s preggo and can’t drink wine with me), hiking together, and more sex, not for whatever I did instead.

“Whatever I did instead” involved food on the grill, which is normally a good thing, except that it was shared with people I work with, but don’t necessarily like. I don’t have anything in common with these people.  I tried. I really did. I can only take so much fucking honky tonk music and debates about Mustangs and their insistence on drinking nothing except for Miller and Bud Light and how “rap was so much better in the 90s” when the only rap songs they know are Nuthin But a G Thang and Gin & Juice and “cops have a really hard job out here so it’s okay that he shot that black kid” inferences when we (not us per se, but the infantry guys on this base) combat people who are actually trying to kill us under a very strict guideline called the LOAC (Law of Armed Conflict) while being held accountable for actually breaking those laws before I’m at the end of my rope.

I’m sitting in on a conversation, and this guy starts talking about how he used to stash porno mags under his bed when he was a kid. Being from down south, he and his friends affectionately referred to them as Pussy Papers. Even if you take out the adolescent details of sticky pages, the best places to hide your stash and really hard rags, there’s just no way you can say “Pussy Papers” in a southern accent without laughing. It’s impossible. That story almost made up for an all around crummy day. Almost. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with some Pussy Papers of my own, since I can’t do what people are supposed to do on their anniversaries.