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.

Why I Don’t Really Do Twitter Anymore

One day in late March, I scanned my timeline, logged off for an hour, looked at it again, and said, “I don’t wanna do this anymore. It’s old.” I didn’t tweet for the first  week afterwards, but it was difficult for me to do so. The urge waned over time, but the true test lied in whether I can hold off during the NBA playoffs since I’m terribly obsessed with basketball and Twitter is absolutely the best place to talk basketball and live events in general. What was the result? I sent exactly two tweets for the entire playoffs: one congratulating the Clippers on beating San Antonio (shoot me) and congratulating the Warriors on winning the title. Hardly even logged in. So that was that. I was done.

So how did I get to this point? Well, like breaking most addictions (yes, twitter can indeed be an addiction), the process was months in the making. In my tweeting “prime”, my main attraction was that I was really, really mean to strangers. Creatively mean, comedically mean, but mean to strangers nonetheless. I had a great time doing it at first. I was really good at it too. Whether it was a rapper, pro athlete, or random human on twitter, if I had any excuse to be mean to someone, then I just couldn’t resist. In return, people on twitter weren’t very fond of me. Some followed me just to chastise me or use my tweets as an excuse to go on an extended rant and gain followers and retweets and e-kudos and a whole bunch of other things that mattered way too much to me two years ago. But it didn’t bother me. Not yet, anyway.

I think the turning point between “this is fun” and “what the hell am I really doing here” was a tweet I sent to a former friend. We stopped being friends over tweets (I really took this stuff seriously) and after a series of barbs that I ignored over a few months, I finally caved in and tweeted the following: “If I was in the gym shooting free throws and someone told me that ____ died in a car accident, I would just keep shooting free throws.” It hurt her feelings. Really, really badly. I felt guilty enough to send an email apologizing for it. Didn’t matter. She hasn’t spoken to me since.

Being mean to strangers didn’t quite have the same appeal to me after that. I tried toning down being mean to people and changing my subject matter, and I noticed something disturbing. The bulk of the people that I interacted with over those years were overwhelmingly negative, and the further I got away from tweeting like that, the more I noticed that my timeline was completely enveloped in it. Rachel used to comment on the dickheads making fun of an unattractive girl or something similar, and my responses evolved from, “oh babe, they’re just having fun” to “yeah, that’s kinda messed up” to “these miserable fucks need to find something better to do.” And I was one of those miserable fucks for a very long time, whether that was my intention or not.

Besides that, I’ve been the recipient of a twitter avalanche due to something embarrassing. It’s not fun, and it’s certainly not something you should wish upon strangers. Some people like that stuff. They go by the “any press is good press” mantra and relish in strangers saying terrible things to and about them, since it’ll result in their follower count increasing. I am not one of those people. I finally got numb towards people saying bad things about me, but it’s still not something I enjoy seeing, and it got to the point where I was seeing it on a daily basis.

The other reason I don’t really tweet anymore is because I didn’t feel comfortable saying whatever I wanted anymore. I found myself having to soften my tone or rearranging words or eschewing topics altogether because I didn’t “want these yahoos in my mentions again.” And fuck that. Twitter isn’t fun when you have to censor yourself, and between avoiding angry strangers in my mentions and trying not to have Rachel in anyone’s crosshairs over me (because the worst of me comes out when people say bad things about her), I found that I was censoring myself entirely too much. I was basically a shell of my former twitter self, just going through the motions until I either turned over 85% of my timeline or stopped tweeting completely. I chose the latter, and I think I’m better for it. There’s no way I’d be doing well in school or reading as much as I do or even writing this unless I unplugged from the Twitter matrix.

Mind you, twitter isn’t inherently bad. There are plenty of brilliant people on that site who use it to do really positive, groundbreaking things and connect with other likeminded people to improve society 140 characters at a time. My twitter experience would have been totally different had I started off that way. Your timeline is what you make it, and I was unfortunate enough to fill my timeline with garbage. And you know what? It was because I was garbage. I fit right in. I still have my fair share of flaws, but I’m actively trying to improve upon them, and having garbage all around me isn’t conducive to that happening.

I think I’ll come back to twitter eventually. I kept my username (@shawnintheflesh) active for a reason. I’ll spend half a day purging every single negative human from my feed and making sure that no new garbage invades my timeline. Until then, I’ll be here, starting from nothing, trying to get to 100 followers again.

Everyone is entitled to a fresh start. I like this better already.

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.