Sunday, December 30, 2007

Home for a Moment

We're alive. Exhausted, but alive. I've spent more time in a car with J.R. in the past few days then I ever care to again. And I thought driving home from D.C. was bad!

We may have had a shitty Christmas last year, but we've more than made up for that this season. There are stories to share and pictures to post. However, the craziness wont be over until after tomorrow so for now it's time to sleep (IN MY OWN BED!!!) and warm up after spending the entire day outside.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Stopping by to wish everyone a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I hope everyone remains safe in the holiday season. Hard to believe that a year ago I was on my way to Walter Reed to see J.R. for the first time. How time flies.

As a side note... Remember to be kind to the retail slaves as you finish your shopping or begin returning. We're all putting in long hours!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It's Been A Long Week

Oh what a very long week it has been. I've been itching to sit down and right but everytime I stop moving, I fall asleep. It happens.

Monday marked the end of the semester for me. I delievered my final speech with only one complication.. my visuals. I was silly in thinking that my toshiba laptop would work just the same as the hp laptop Stout provides every student. Wrong. I had a gorgeous powerpoint complete with pictures and information and I did not have the knowledge to use my toshiba. With no memory stick and a file to large to attach in an e-mail, I had to delete every photo slide. I e-mailed the presentation to myself and managed to pull everything up on the hp just in time to present. At least I still had SOME visual aid even if it was just the bare boned info slides. After class finished I received my grade for the previous speech. A!!! I was pretty geeked about that and felt it was a nice way to end the semester. Now I just have to wait and see what the final speech grade is and I'll know my grade for the class.

Tuesday came and went with a blink of an eye. I honestly don't even remember what happened on Tuesday.

Wednesday came fast and marked one year since J.R. had been injured. We woke early in the morning and got ourselves all dressed up. After one last meeting J.R. had with a professor, we jumped in the car and drove to Hayward for his Uncle's funeral. As we drove further and further north all my mind could think about was the drive I made one year ago to tell J.R.'s parents he had been injured. How ironic that on the one year anniversary of his injury we would be making another dreadful drive north to say goodbye to Bobo. I was not expecting this funeral to be as hard as it was for me. Throughout the service I kept thinking about the phone call I had received last year and how scary everything had been. I came so close to saying goodbye to J.R. last year. As we sat in the church saying our goodbyes we listened to the 30 point buck and the tears rolled down all of our faces. I cried for Bobo, I cried for the pain that the family is feeling, and I cried for J.R.

After the funeral we booked it back down to Menomonie. We ran inside and grabbed every Army duffle we could find, loaded the car, and got back on the road. We were heading into the cities to turn in J.R.'s army gear. It was crazy to turn in all of his gear on the year anniversary. In a way it was almost like being cleansed and finally closing this chapter of our life. Finally we are free of any debts we had to the Army and we really are retired. It was bittersweet. Before we left the armory we snapped one final picture and I think it was a good one.

Following the gear turn in we made our way to an italian resturant in St. Paul. We met up with a bunch of the guys from J.R.'s unit and celebrated his Alive day. We drank, we talked, we drank some more, we laughed, and we had a great time. We talked about what life was like a year ago and we were thankful that we were all still standing in the same room able to lift our glasses and say a big "F-you Iraq and F-you Iran. You can blow us up but you still can't defeat our spirit." Life is good.

Wednesday was a long day. We felt every emotion from grief, to anger, to joy. At the end of the day we were both exhausted and glad to be crawling into our nice warm bed.

Thursday brought a whole new headache. I worked from 1-9 and overall it was a good day. After closing the store Dyana and we began the walk to our cars. As I approached my car I noticed something laying on the ground next to my car door. At first I thought it was a Mcdonalds bag that someone had thrown out of their door and left in the parking lot, but as I approached I realized it was far worse. Someone had taken a small animal, tied it's legs in bailing twine, skinned it (even the head), then cut of the genitals and laid them next to the body all in front of my car door. At first I thought it was a small dog. I yelled at Dyana and she freaked out. She eventually shut herself in her car and refused to leave her seat. She rolled her window down and kept telling me to leave. Lucky for me at this moment the man locking the mall doors made his way to the entry we were at. I shouted at him and he came over and checked things out. He kept asking if I had an ex-lover who was pissed off at me. Not knowing what to do he told me to head home and he would take care of it. Before I left I snapped a couple of pictures just in case we would be needing them later. Being that these images are very graphic, I'm not posting them.

It later turned up that the animal was some kind of a possom or something. I went in with my pictures and spoke with the mall manager yesterday. They kept asking if I felt that I was being targetted in any way. I don't feel that I was a victim here. The animal wasn't placed on my car or tied to my car. I think it was someone with way to much time on their hands who felt like creeping out some people. I'm glad that the mall management is showing concern over the safety of their employees. Now if I could just get Dyana to stop freaking out.

Yesterday J.R's cousin Leslie stopped in for a visit. It was a nice relaxing night. We all went and had dinner and some margaritas. We then came home and sat in front of the TV all night. It was a great end to a very crazy and emotionally draining week.

Today we have been lounging and eventually we have to get moving and finish our Christmas shopping. I'm not looking forward to this, but it's got to get done. The upcoming week brings nonstop travel time. I work Sunday and Monday. After work on Monday evening we will be heading up to Hayward to celebrate Christmas. The 26th we will be driving to Michigan to celebrate with my family and on the 30th we have to be back in Wisconsin to attend the Packers vs. Lions game. I'll be freezing my ass off and loving every minute of it.

For now it's time to find the shower and get J.R. motivated to finish shopping.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Is It Friday Yet?

There has been a loss in the family this weekend. J.R.'s uncle passed away unexpectedly Saturday morning. The upcoming week will be long. Finals are here, the one year anniversary is here, and we're both tired.

There is a spider that has made it's home on my living room ceiling. I hate spiders. J.R. wont smush it for me and I'm to exhausted to even really care that it's up there.

I just have to make it through the next sixteen hours and then I'm done with school for the semester. Then all I have to do is get J.R. through the week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Invasion of the Asian

Two days ago I stole J.R.'s shoe. I was attempting to be sneaky but was caught in the act. Go figure. When confronted about WHY I stole one of his shoes I told him it was needed to squash a bug. I was then told that it's to cold for bugs and they're no longer in the apartment.

Well tonight I would like to take a moment to point out that even when it's 5 degrees out the invasion of the asian is still continuing. Here is my proof.

Now I know the picture sucks. Bear with me guys, I've temporarily misplaced my nice camera and I had to use my phone. However, this is a picture of a lovely asian ladybug that is still living in my home. I know my apartment is cozy but seriously, what does this thing eat?! How the hell is this thing STILL alive? Just when I thought I had killed them all another one appears.

In other news, Project Runway was a major bust tonight. I'm not a happy camper. They kept the spit queen and cut the sane designer. Idiots. In other news, the hot gay man had to leave the show and to make up for this they brought back the fun gay man. There was drama, there were tears, there were horribly ugly outfits. God I love this show. We can blame Cheri for my addiction to PR. She got me hooked on the competition last year when J.R. was deployed. It is the one tv show that I watch religiously. Even J.R. knows that it's on every Wednesday at 10/9 central and that at this time he must hand over the remote and keep his mouth shut. He'll probably never admit it, but he does enjoy the show... at least in my own little delusional mind he loves the show.

Make It Work!

Shhhhh.... Project Runway is on :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Today has been a roller-coaster. I slept in till 9 this morning and then laid in bed another hour. It was wonderful. I love that the semester is winding down and I have some added time to do that. On Monday I will be finished with this semester and my Christmas break will officially begin.

Unfortunately the happy feeling faded fast as J.R. ran into the apartment hollering that people were coming over. Not funny. The place was a dump. Paperwork everywhere and just general clutter scattered all over. I was not ready to be entertaining a group of students. So I jumped out of bed, took a shower, and began a frantic pick up party.

After I was sure J.R. had things under control I went to the car to head for Eau Claire. I desperately had to go to the bank and I wanted to pick up a couple Christmas presents. As I took my foot of the brake my car sprang to life. It instantly flew backwards and ran into the trailer parked behind me. The trailer won. My bumper is now scared with a large L shaped crack. Now this whole car problem started a couple weeks ago. The engine is revving on it's own making it very difficult to stop the car. When you only have a few feet between you and a trailer... there's just no hope. I'm not happy.

I made my way to Eau Claire safe and sound but very pissed off. I got through the bank and was off to the mall. I managed to find presents for both of our Moms that I think are perfect. It put me in a better mood knowing I had the two hardest people to shop for out of the way. Looking for another pick me up I stopped at Gloria Jeans on the way out of the mall and grabbed an iced raspberry mocha.. aka heaven in a cup.

Since my return home I've finished the cleaning and I feel so much better just hanging out in the apartment. Being able to see the floor and the table is such a stress relief. I can actually RELAX on my couch now. Plus finding the floor allowed me to have enough space to wrap the Christmas presents. I love to wrap. J.R. thinks this is a wasted use of time. If it was up to him he would throw the gift in a paper bag and hand it over. Must be a man thing. If he knew how much I spent on wrapping supplies he would probably kill me. Now if I could just get a bigger tree...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hello, My Name Is...

So I'm standing in line waiting to check in to get my blood drawn this morning. The hospital was jammed with a bunch of little kids who were all getting blood drawn. Lots of tears were being shed as no one was happy to be getting poked, including myself. I finally made my way to the counter and half way through the check in process the girl looks up and goes...

"Oh, you're J.R.'s wife."

"Umm.. yeah. And you are???"

"Oh I went to school with J.R."

Great. I'm meeting someone that J.R. went to school with and I haven't even showered for the day. I wasn't even dressed in real clothes for the day! Sweat pants and a sweat shit, hat on my head, no makeup, and half asleep still. Why do you always meet people on days you look like death?

I'm going to go shower now and find some real clothes.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lazy Days

My alarm went off at 7:45 this morning. I was going to church. I was going to get out of bed, get all snazzed up, and go sing Christmas songs. Then I looked at the thermometer next to the bed... 5. 5!!!! No way in hell. I rolled over and snuggled back up to my warm hubby and fell back asleep. Sorry God... I was not made for cold weather.

I slept until 9:30. I beat J.R. up. I laid in bed with him for an hour just watching him sleep. Slightly creepy I'm well aware of that. I curled up in his arms and let my mind wander in thoughts of the last year. The phone call, the first few days in the hospital, our room at the Fisher House. The sights, smells, and noises of D.C. all came rushing through my mind. It's a lot to reflect on and at times can be very overwhelming. I had no more than started to get into my deep trance when J.R. opened his eyes and said good morning. After a few minutes he looked over at me and asked me to go grab my laptop and our new favorite movie... Escanaba in Da Moonlight.

Now if you haven't seen this movie... rent it. Especially if you're from Michigan or Wisconsin and you are willing to laugh at yourself. We curled up in bed and laughed all morning. It was the perfect start to a Sunday.

Half-way through the movie we were starving. We hit pause and off to the kitchen we ran to make waffles. As we got breakfast ready I called my Mom to ask her for the pasties recipe (they talk about pasties in the movie and it brought on a craving from me). While talking to her on the phone I looked out the window. Truck... check. X-terra... check. Alero.... ummm... alero?!?!?!

"J.R. where is my alero? Did you move it last night???"

"No, why the hell would I move your car. It's right where you left it."

"No.. no it's not. J.R. where is my car? I left it right next to the garage, I'm positive. Are you sure you didn't move it?"

"Yes I'm sure."

"What the hell! Where is my car!!!"

At this point I wise up and hit the garage button. There inside the garage is my alero. J.R. went into a fit of laughter. He laughed to the point he was CRYING! He was so proud of himself.

"You really thought your car was gone. Who would steal that piece of shit? Seriously... you should have seen your face Jo. You really thought it was gone."

He just thinks he is so funny. My poor Mom had to listen to all of this. I snapped the towel at him a couple times but he just kept on laughing. I think he went on for a good twenty minutes. He stopped long enough to shovel waffles into his mouth and finish the movie.

After the movie I jumped in the shower and got my running shoes on. With no groceries in the house I could no longer put off the trip to Wal-Mart. It was a mad house inside. I even had to brave the Christmas section to get wrapping paper (I LOVE to wrap). Now even my love of wrapping paper couldn't keep me distracted from some of the idiots in the store. There were of course your usual aisle hogging customers. You know.. the ones that walk down the middle of the aisle at a snails pace while you try to somehow pass them. There were the penny pincher's debating over which box of noodles was a better deal (seriously.. two cents more wont kill you.. pick a box). And of course there is the cereal aisle. Now I don't eat cereal just so I can avoid this aisle, but J.R. is in love with anything chocolate and sugary. So... down the aisle I went only to get stuck behind the soccer mom with three kids. None of the kids could agree on which cereal should be the choice for the week. It was not pretty.

Later in my shopping excursion I had the pleasure of being introduced to a new Wal-Mart character. I'm going to call this one the "try before you buy" shopper. Here I am walking through the pop section. In front of me are two women who are in their early 30's. As they pass the flavored water one of them grabs a bottle, cracks it open, and takes a drink.

"OMG THIS IS HORRIBLE! I can't believe anyone would drink this. Here try this."

After the second woman tries the beverage she replaced the cap and placed the flavored water back on the shelf and the pair walked off.

I stood there just staring at the bottle in complete disbelief. I now know WHY products have a quality seal.

I checked out and returned home to begin cleaning. I've managed to completely catch up on laundry, and find my kitchen again. I now have to finish the bedroom and the living room. The office... lets not talk about the office. That is a never ending project. As for now it's time for a bag of popcorn and a glass of milk. All and all not a bad Sunday.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Parking Ticket

Knowing a bartender in this town is wonderful. Knowing a bartender who will give you free drinks... even better.

So last night J.R. and I decided to stop in at our favorite local bar and grab a drink. We were hoping to run into a fellow logroller but she was nowhere to be seen. So we grabbed some food and I polished off my first drink. Before I had even eaten the cherry garnish my friend the bartender had a refill in front of me. Thirty minutes after the second drink it was clear that I was not going to be driving home.

"Hey... how much booze did you put in this?? I should not be this drunk off of two of these..."

"Oh, I guess I should have told you I doubled the booze in your drinks."

"OOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo... that makes a little more sense..."

So off we went. One incredibly hyper, incredibly trashed Josie with her handsome (but crabby) hubby. On the way home we stopped by another bar so I could run in and say hi to some girlfriends. J.R. was not entertained but went along.




Apparently this is not J.R.'s style. After ten minutes and one very quick drink for me (hey.. girls drink free for an hour every Thursday night at this bar) we made our way BACK to the first bar to find the hubby's phone. With phone in hand it was time for home.

Now let me tell you... freezing rain+high heals+booze=DANGER

I managed to slide my way into the apartment without falling, but for a second I thought I was doomed.

It didn't take long for me to fall asleep. The plan was to sleep it off for a while and then go back downtown to pick up my car that was still parked on the street. Yeah, that didn't happen. Apparently I was perfectly content in the nice warm bed and the thought of going outside in the negative double digit weather just wasn't working for me. So at 7:45 this morning we dragged ourselves out of bed and returned to my vehicle. There attached to my door in all of it's lime green glory.... was a parking ticket.

Fifteen bucks! FIFTEEN!!!! With the amount of money I have donated to the City of Menomonie in the parking meters, I could feed the entire Army for a YEAR and now a parking ticket! To put the frosting on the cake there is a $2.50 processing fee when you pay it online. And if you don't pay the ticket within 48 hours they suspend the registration to your vehicle. Parking Nazis.

So anyway, lesson learned. My 17.50 payment to Menomonie was probably the price of my drinks that I got for free. And as Mom pointed out this morning they didn't tow my car. I can just imagine how that would have gone over with J.R. His face would have been so red. I can just HEAR the lecture in my head. "Jo seriously, what were you thinking? The sign is posted right there. NO PARKING 2-7. Now we have to go get your car, pay a million dollars, and it's Christmas time. You had two drinks. What's wrong with you. You're such a lightweight. When I was your age (I always love it when he starts this) I drank Dr. Pepper and whiskey and I was fine..." All the while I would be sitting in the car mocking him. It's actually kind of a funny thought. We're such a loving couple :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Life Coach

Since waking up this morning I have done absolutely nothing. NOTHING. Sure there is plenty of stuff that needs to be completed, but I have no drive to actually accomplish anything. This is just one more sign that I need a vacation. Someplace warm, with no snow (Fiji?!).

Anyway, as I've sat at my computer chair doing absolutely nothing, I stumbled across the blog of a "certified life coach." Here is the pitch....

1. Who are you?

2. What do you want?

3. How will you get there?

Answer these questions honestly and you will be on the path to living a life you love!
If you don't know...then you may be ready to begin the discovery with one on one life coaching sessions.

What a bunch of bullshit.

1. Who we are as a person is CONSTANTLY changing. Everyday we are learning new lessons, reading new stories, meeting new people. Everything we do impacts us in one way or another which in turn changes our views and ideas on life all the time.

2. What we want isn't always what we get and for me.. it's always changing. But I certainly don't need a life coach to tell me that I want a long and happy marriage, or that I want a dog, or that I want a degree.

3. What's the point of having a plan on how to get there? Shit happens, LIFE happens. If you are stuck to this ridged guideline of how to accomplish a goal you may miss out on some other part of life. For instance, I want a degree. IF I had stayed at MSU for four straight years I may not have married J.R. and I would be in a completely different spot in life. I followed a different path than the one I set out to take, but I'm still accomplishing my goal and I feel that I'm better prepared this time around. Planning is overrated.

Life coach... seriously people...

Moving on...

I had a dream last night that I woke up and the snow had all melted. Reality... it's still there. I've been staring at it all morning and I have this urge to go throw my snow pants on, run outside, and make a snow angle. Maybe a snow man too.

Today I'm going to finish my Christmas decorating. Really I am. I've been saying this for a week or so now and it never happens but today is the day. The little tree is coming out, the decorations are going on, and J.R. is going to get in the holiday spirit god damn it.

As for now it's time to go make a cup of hot chocolate, sit on the couch, and knit ONE square for the baby blanket I'm working on. When I finish the project it will be one gift down leaving FOUR more baby presents to go.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We Will Never Forget

Today we remember Sgt Nicholas Turcotte. He was a friend to many and a wonderful soldier. May we never forget his sacrifice.

February 17, 1983 - December 4, 2006

Monday, December 3, 2007

Baby It's Cold Outside

As I ran around work yesterday, my Franco Sarto black knee high boots rubbed a small raw spot on the back of my leg. I place a band-aid over the area and continued my work day. I returned home late last night, peeled my boots off, and made my way to the couch. Completely forgetting about the band-aid I snuggled in for a night of relaxation.

As I awoke from a night of choppy sleep I rolled out of bed and stumbled into the shower. After five minutes of simply standing in the shower while attempting to wake up I looked down and noticed the band-aid still clinging to my leg. Half awake I grabbed the band-aid and yanked it off my leg. Pain. Lots and lots of pain. If I wasn't awake before I grabbed the band-aid.. I definitely was after ripping it off. Just one more reminder that I should shave my legs sometime this winter.


I've decided that if J.R. gets to grow a beard to "blend in with the trees," then I can have hairy legs to help keep me warm. I mean seriously... have you looked at the weather for Menomonie, Wi??? It's NINE degrees outside. That's nine degrees without the windchill. Don't forget about the million (and by million I mean eight) inches of snow we got on Saturday. I needed those hairy legs to keep me warm when I was shoveling my car out at midnight after the snow plow buried it. And tomorrow we'll get to do this all again when another three to five inches falls.

Fiji or bust.. that's all I have to say.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Are We There Yet????

19 days until I'm done with the semester. 19. Not that I'm counting.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Last night while folding laundry I experienced an epiphany. A sudden vision of what would make J.R. truly happy flashed before my eyes and left me with the knowledge of what to give him for Christmas. As I sat on the bed I began to play the never ending game of match his socks. White socks lay all around me. Some with gray heals. Some with gray toes. Some with gray heals and red HANES on the toe. Some go together.. and some who knows. And that's when it hit me... A vision of J.R. in sweat pants and sweat shirt sitting on the floor next to the Christmas tree. A package wrapped in red paper in hand and a smile across his face. As he tears the paper off he sees a brand new package of socks. His smile widens and he thanks me for buying him a present that he truly needs. As he runs to the bedroom to store his new treasures he screams "how I can't wait to throw these old fellers!" The old socks will go, the new socks will stay, and I will fold laundry without matching games. Thank you laundry fairy for helping make my shopping a little easier this Christmas season.

Moving on...

Whatever virus I picked up is still hanging on. It just can't seem to go away. I finally have my voice back but it's still on the scratchy side. It's not quite up to singing standards yet. Ask J.R. and he'll tell you it's torture to listen to me attempt to sing Christmas songs right now. I am constantly coughing up more and more crud from my chest. My nose has produced and unnatural amount of mucus. The only plus side to the constant blowing is that my holiday kleenex box is going to be used up just in time to buy another one for this season. :)

School is winding down and the next couple of weeks are tense. I have a speech to prepare and I'm actually VERY excited about this one. I know I have a lot of prep work to do so pacing myself on this one is going to be a pretty big deal. I'm hoping this weekend I can get the big chunk of data figured out for it. Then I can begin to make my graphs and slide show. After all of that is done I can finally WRITE the presentation. It should be good.

Anyway, today is busy and my shower is calling my name. I still have to get my pay check, drive to Eau Claire, pay rent, deposit my check, drive back to Menomonie, go to Wal-Mart, and be ready to work at 3:30. Not fun.

As for all of you ladies at the spousebuzz conference.... you suck.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Here in Wisconsin it is cold. According to it is currently 16 but feels like 4. When looking at the ten day forecast the high for the week is 30 degrees. That's 30 degrees before adding in the wind chill and that is the high for the next TEN DAYS!

...... I'm moving to Fiji.

More Bambi

Not sure if I mentioned this or not, but J.R. got two more deer last Friday. I have more meat than I know what to do with. At least hunting is done for now and he no longer can tell me he needs the beard to "blend in with the trees."

I returned home to Wisconsin last night. My apartment... it's still messy. I was so hoping that things would just magically take care of themselves when I was gone but apparently that didn't happen. I'm hoping that with Christmas break approaching we can finally sit down and sort things and get the apartment back to normal. Wouldn't that be nice.

As for today, I'm spending my day in the public library catching up on homework. I've discovered the following about the public library:

1. Parking is free
2. It's a hell of a lot warmer in here than at Stout's library
3. It has a view of the lake which is relaxing
4. There is a never ending supply of interesting people to watch and think "what the hell were they smoking before coming to the library."

Very entertaining.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


This Michigan trip would be a lot more enjoyable if I had a voice. It disappeared on the car ride home and apparently it's enjoying the vacation as it's made no attempt to return. The timing couldn't be worse but such is life.

Now even though I may not have a voice I haven't been sitting around on the couch. When you only get home once or twice a year you have to make the most of it. I spent the last two nights out with friends... attempting to talk over the music at the bar. It didn't work very well but made for some very interesting attempts at sign language. Being from a small town I think I ran into half of my graduating class at the bar. It's always interesting when the question of "so what have you been up to since graduation?" comes back to me. Hmm lets see... I got married, I live in the middle of nowhere, Wi, and my husband got blown up. It's always an interesting reaction but it's the best way to sum up my life in the last few years. I did feel semi fortunate for not having a voice.. it was a great excuse to not go into detail about what life after war is like. I appreciate that my friends are concerned but sometimes a girl just needs a beer and a dance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I hope everyone has a supertasticfoodfilled (shut up Beth.. it's a word now) Thanksgiving day.

I'm leaving shortly to head up to Hayward, Wi to spend the day with J.R.'s family. J.R. will be joining me around "nine or ten." In J.R. language this is more likely midnight or later. :)

The guys will be hunting in the early hours of the morning. I plan on spending my morning either sleeping or watching the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. We'll see if I haul my sick ass out of bed in time for that (yep.. still sick). After lounging about for most of the morning we will then head up to Grandma Mary's for some delicious food. Maybe at this family meal J.R. and I will behave and not throw food at each other. Maybe.

Later in the day I will be leaving and heading towards Michigan home. It's only about a gizzillion hour drive and I will be doing most of this at night so I can try to make my way through Chicago without holiday/shopping traffic. At least this time I can actually stay for a while at my parents which seems to make the drive more worthwhile. I'll be in Michigan through Monday and will head back north Tuesday afternoon. I think that's the longest chunk of time I've been able to spend at my parents house since moving to Menomonie in 2005. My siblings work all weekend but I will get to spend time with them so I'm excited. I wish J.R. was coming with but alas.. tis the season to shoot Bambi.

I'm pretty geeked about spending some time at home over the holidays. I haven't made it home in the same week of a holiday in a while. Being that I live so far away I rarely see old friends from school. My best friend Becca will also be home for one of the days I will be there. We rarely cross paths as she is busy in Ohio going to school and I'm living in the middle of nowhere. And even though we talk all the time nothing beats a hug from your best friend.

From bottom to top: Me, Becca, Paul, John, Katy (red hair), and Beth (brown hair)

This is an old picture of all of us but... let me give you the breakdown... Me, Paul and Beth are siblings. Becca, John, and Katy are all siblings. Together we are family.

Monday, November 19, 2007


As promised here is the picture of J.R. and Bambi. I finally gave up on getting the pictures from J.R. and went straight to his mother. It was a much quicker route. :)

Today has been boring. I hate being sick. I watched three hours of Cheerleading U on the WE channel. Now I didn't watch this because I enjoy cheerleading, but because the remote was sitting on the love seat and I felt crummy enough that standing up to get it just wasn't going to happen. So I sat there and tried to sleep. Unsuccessful.

After running a fellow student to Walgreens to pick up her prescription (she cried on the phone... I'm a sucker for crying), I returned home and decided it was time to crawl into bed. Relief at last. Three whole hours of sleep. J.R. even came into the room and checked on me a couple times and offered to get me a glass of ice water. I was pretty geeked about this. He's taken very good care of me. I even managed to get a short neck massage out of him!!

As the evening went on J.R. began to work on tech ed homework and the tv in the living room was distracting him. Taking his hint that I was driving him up the wall I drew a hot bath and moved into the tub. I also took with me my laptop and Nip/Tuck on DVD. Three episodes, two hours, and two smooth legs later (there is nothing like smooth legs when you don't feel good) I decided to emerge from the tub and make my way to the bedroom. I've been in the bed ever since. I'm hopeful that tonight some relief will come in the form of sleep. Good sleep. I have a feeling it's wishful thinking as my fever is starting to climb back up. Maybe tonight is a good night for some motrin and simply sleep.

Tomorrow J.R. has appointments at the VA. In my desperation to go but my guilty conscious about spreading a virus to senior veterans, I may make a fashion statement and wear the ever so sexy face mask. I hate being sick.
Strep test was negative. It's a virus. Gotta love it.

Super Sick

There is nothing worse than being sick. Especially when you get really sick, really fast.

Yesterday I spent my day working. I felt great when I woke up in the morning. I even had a great day at work. I laughed, joked around, and was energetic the whole day. Towards the end of the shift, a fellow coworker stopped in and asked if I would be able to cover part of her shift tomorrow so she could go to the doctor for a sinus infection. I agreed and told her to call me later in the evening to firm up what time I needed to be in. She called at six and feeling OK, I agreed to work.

Seven pm rolls around and I'm working on dinner. I started to notice my throat was hurting a little bit but blew it off as sympathy pain for Jacque. Eight pm and I'm eating dinner... definitely in pain. J.R. called and asked if I could come unload wood with him. It was snowing and cold and I felt miserable. Something told me to not push it so feeling guilty I sat on the couch and watched tv. By the time he returned home at nine I was in the bath tub with the water as hot as it could go yet still freezing cold. By ten my throat was swollen and covered in white gunk. My neck hurt so bad I didn't even want to be touched. I decided to make a bed out of blankets on the laundry room floor so that I could sleep without being moved. That didn't go over so well with J.R. He made me move to the bed at midnight. I tossed and turned all night long. Every move of my neck created a sharp pain. By two am my fever hit 99.7. By five am 100.7. I'm curled up on the couch in a pair of sweat pants, sweat shirt, big fluffy cashmere robe, two fleece blankets, one knit blanket, and I'm still cold. I don't even want to know what the fever is at now. When I stand my stomach is in pain. Almost like a pulled muscle kind of pain. Just moving from the bed to the couch this morning was miserable. Don't even get me started on the headache and how my eyes feel.

I HAVE to get an appointment today. If I can't find a doctor then I'm going to immediate care. In under twelve hours I went from perfectly ok to incredibly sick. This can't wait. J.R. has class all day today too. I guess this means I have to be a big girl and drive myself to the doctor. Shitty.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Big Buck

J.R. sent me a text message this morning at 7:30 saying he got a deer. I called him back right away to find out that not only did he get a deer, he got a big buck. He was pretty excited and kept telling me how he shot it left handed. I'm really glad he finally got his buck. Now I just have to figure out how to convince him that antlers don't go with any of our home decor... that could be a tough one.

Just one more reason why we need a house with a man room. :)

*And for anyone that is upset that J.R. shot Bambi, you just have to realize that here in the north woods it's a part of life don't cha know.

Home Alone

This weekend J.R. is doing his part in helping to keep my car safe from man eating deer. That's right... it's opening day of deer season tomorrow and he's going hunting. Keep your fingers crossed that he gets a deer!

With J.R. gone for the weekend I'm suddenly faced with two nights by myself. I'm paranoid, jumpy, and am having a few issues falling asleep. I don't understand this. I went from October of 2005 to December of 2006 living by myself and I did just fine. I even slept with all the lights off in that time. So why now am I freaking out over stupid stuff? Just for comfort I'm leaving the living room lights on tonight.

Anyway, my bed has clean sheets on it and I'm more than excited to slip under the covers. There is nothing like clean sheets.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Baby it's Cold INSIDE

I love coming to the library to study. Every time I enter the building I make my way up to the top floor where it's quiet and there are no cell phones and no talking allowed. It's fabulous. I also sit at the same desk by the window that overlooks campus. My only complaint.. IT'S FREEZING. Now I know that it's usually cold in the library so today I layered. I have on one tank top, one long sleeved shirt, one t-shirt over both of those, a thick hooded sweatshirt, and my jeans. I have also draped my winter jacket over my legs and I am still sitting here freezing. Seriously, I understand how expensive it is to heat this building, but how do you study when all you can think about is how cold your nose and hands are? I'm going to start wearing my snow pants when I come here.

I am desperately trying to catch up on homework from the last week. All of my teachers have been understanding that life got in the way a bit and have given me a few extensions. Which is great, except now I have piles of homework. Not so great.

I have to say thank you to everyone who is showing support over the last couple weeks. I feel as if I've been so down lately and so whiny but I can't help it. It's just one of those ruts I'm stuck in. I'm hopeful it will improve... soon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Theme Song of the Week

This song really sums up life right now. There is so much going on but through it all I have to keep breathing and I have to keep pushing forward.

There are so many conflicts going on inside my head. It can be a challenge to push the thoughts and feelings to the back of my mind and move forward with my responsibilities for the day. If I wasn't able to find a way to bundle them up and hide them when I have to, then the stress that comes from these emotions would be completely debilitating and I would get nothing done.

In the last week, my stress was debilitating. What can I say... I'm not wonder woman (even though I like to think I am).

I hate what has happened to my family. This wasn't suppose to be my family. This was suppose to be the other guy. I hate that I have to sit back and watch J.R. struggle with everything. If it's not a physical struggle, it's a mental one. I hate that I can't help him. I hate that I can't comprehend what he's feeling.

I know that we are still in an adjustment phase and eventually we will settle in. It just seems as if it's taking forever.

*deep breath*

Keep breathing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Words to Live By

"When life gets you down look at a fish tank. That poor fish has no place to go but back and forth. At least you know that no matter how shitty of a day you're having, you can still move forward."

Words to live by from a close friend.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Things are going to be pretty quiet here for a while.

I need to disappear for a bit. Life has thrown a curve ball at me and I didn't exactly keep my eye on it. Such is life I suppose.

However, life moves on and with time things will be OK. Something always works out in the end.

Keep checking on me, I'm not gone forever.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Some days I look at our life and wonder why this has happened to us.

If this is destiny we were given to many shit cards and I would like us to get a new hand.

If one believes in karma than somewhere in life we really fucked up and now it's pay back.

If you believe everything happens for a reason, than WHY is this happening. I can't see the bigger picture just yet and I'm getting a little frustrated. What are we suppose to be learning from all of this besides life isn't always fair? What do we do with that knowledge? Make a sign and stand by the side of the road? That will take us far.

And if one believes in God than you have to stop and ask why has He brought us here. Are we being punished for not going to church? Are we suppose to be learning something and passing it on to the rest of the world? A little help here would be nice and I don't see Him handing it out like candy at the moment.

Why J.R.? Why me? Why our family? Why not someone else? It's such a horrible thing to say but it's such an honest feeling.

I want his arm back, and since I can't have that than all I'm asking for is his smile to return. His real smile, not one that he glues on for the world to see. I want him to see himself as I see him. As a husband who is capable of anything. As a complete man. As a whole person. As someone who is intelligent and has so much to give the world.

We've been to hell and we are exhausted from the climb back out. We're both frustrated, and tired, and moody, and pissed off at the world. We fight. We make mistakes. It's life and it keeps moving forward.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Never again will I hear the words "but Jo, I can't wash the dishes... I only have one hand!"
Last week J.R. created his very own prosthetic attachment. It's the first one he's made and I think it's fabulous. And although I'm not a huge fan of sponges (I hate smearing germs around) I'll let him get away with using these if it means he'll wash the dishes. I'll just be obsessivly microwaving the end of the wand for five minutes everyday to kill the germs. It's an odd obsession.

In other prosthetic news, check out this video of Brian's new legs.

Brian and his fiance Mary lived at Fisher House with us at WRAMC. I'm happy to report that they are FINALLY out of D.C. and moving on to a more "normal" life. I can only hope he is making good use of his new feet and that Mary is learning to keep up.

Now as far as last night goes, we all made it home safe and sound from the bar. I even made it up in time for my eight am sociology class. Just thought I'd share a picture that was taken at the end of the evening.

Thanks to everyone that stopped by and wished me a happy birthday! It certainly was enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Things That Make Me Nervous

Today was senior citizens day at the DMV. Now I'm all for driving for as long as one is capable... don't try to make me out to be a mean person here... but a few of these people made me nervous.

For example:

There was an elderly woman who slowly made her way up to the counter when her number was called. After approaching the counter, the DMV employee began to explain to her that she failed her written drivers test... AGAIN. She was also told that she only managed to correctly identify a few of the road signs on the test and that if she wanted a license she would need to study harder. Then they smiled and told her they would see her tomorrow at the same time. This makes me nervous.

I made it through the lines (it only took an hour!) and I finally have my HORIZONTAL license. I even have a nice picture on my license! J.R. can't figure out why I care what I look like on a stupid picture (men!). After twenty minutes of trying to explain to him WHY it was important I finally gave up and resorted to teasing him that some of us aren't ancient and still get carded. He didn't have much to say after that. Sometimes you gotta hit below the belt to win the match. And no, I don't think J.R. is ancient but when you're seven years younger you gotta poke fun.


Today is a milestone! Not only is it my birthday and I'm turning 21, but it's also my 100th post. I love it :)

Dad had knee surgery this morning. Mom called a while ago to report that everything went well. I made sure to quiz Dad down yesterday about his pain management plan (something I never would have thought of prior to J.R. being injured). The doctors agreed to give him a pain pump so hopefully that will help this time around.

Other than that no news is good news. Tonight we celebrate! We are having dinner with a big group of friends at a Mexican joint so it should be a great time. I'm sure there will be pictures... which I'm HORRIBLE about posting. I still owe you guys a post on prosthetic tinkering. I'll get to it someday.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Did you know...

When our men and women fight overseas their jobs back home are protected BY LAW.

Did you also know...

When a spouse or family member drops everything to care for a soldier injured in the line of duty that they are only granted THREE months of family medical leave.

After family medical leave is used up the employer no longer has to hold the employees position.

If you or someone you know has lost their job (or fought to keep their job) while caring for a soldier injured in OEF/OIF PLEASE contact me ASAP at

More to come on this topic... (I feel like one of those commercials on T.V.)

Friday, November 2, 2007

No Topic

A ton of people are adding J.R. to their "friends" list on various web programs since the ESPN piece. Nobody has even sent me a message. To add insult to injury... I keep getting J.R.'s stout e-mail (becuase his real first name begins with a D not a J and people don't realize this) and I have to READ people telling him how proud they are of him. Thanks guys.

Really... It's ok. I'm only a wife. I've obviously done NOTHING to serve our country.

Welcome to Friday Everyone

IT'S FRIDAY! My morning sociology class is done and over and the whole day is left for me to decide what to do with it.

I returned from class and allowed my stomach to think for me. I made a plate of fries, drowned them in cheddar cheese, and dipped in ranch dressing. All while drinking a beer at 9 am. Why? Because I live in Wisconsin and this is considered socially acceptable behavior here in the north woods. When J.R. asked me why I was drinking a beer at 9 am I informed him that it was "practice" for this Tuesday (my 21st birthday). To this remark he shrugged his shoulders and told me not to complain when I "have a huge ass." We're such a loving couple. :)

Only half an hour later I found this article waiting for me on foxnews. It provides yet one more reason to drink a beer. I love it.

As for the rest of the day, J.R. is currently working on making a prosthetic attachment that will help him move lumber. This shouldn't take very long. After he's finished we are leaving for Hayward where we will load up and move his storage unit back down here to Menomonie. I'm so excited (hear the sarcasm?). I remember very clearly what it took to move everything INTO that unit. My body hurt for a number of days.

Depending on what time we return home tonight I may get around to uploading some pictures of J.R.'s first prosthetic attachment that he made (it's for washing dishes!!!). I also have a video of Brian's new feet which show the wonderful advancements in prosthetic legs. Watch for the post tonight or tomorrow morning.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Today was suppose to be my day off. One whole complete day off with no class and no work. I was pretty geeked about this as it is a rare occasion for me to stumble upon a day with nothing but free time. I slept until ten am, rolled out of bed and made my way to the couch, and there I sat. How wonderful to be there with just me, the tv, and the remote control. As noon rolled around I was starting to think about driving into town and settling down in a crowded cafe to observe human behavior. Just as I started to think about removing myself from the couch my cell phone rang.


"Hey Josie, I was wondering if you could work from 5-9 tonight for me. My dog is super sick and I need to get her to the vet."

Say no. Just say no. It's your day off. You can't say no. You have nothing actually on the agenda for today. If your dog was sick you would want someone to work for you. NO. NO. NO.

"Yeah not a problem. I'll work 5-9."

And with these words I peeled myself from the couch and took a shower. Now the sociology paper I had been putting off all week would really be crammed into my few hours of time.

I made my way to acoustic cafe. I positioned myself in the corner and tried to observe people in a natural setting. Yeah, this sucked. Normally I love people watching but when one has to write a paper about human behavior in public.. well it kind of takes the fun out of it. And so I sat for an hour. As I wrapped up my notes and made my way to the car I promised myself that I would go home and begin to write my two page rough draft that is due tomorrow.

Yeah, we all know that didn't happen. I blame J.R. Him and his stupid remote control care completely distracted me from starting my paper. This car is noisy, time consuming, and guzzles fuel. But it also goes 55 mph and is highly entertaining to drive around the field in the back of the apartment. I only crashed it four times!

I left for work with not even the opening sentence completed on my rough draft. So now here I sit, computer open, book open, notes all around me, and I'm writing in my blog. I have very little motivation to write this paper. Stupid class.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ESPN - E60 - Coming Home


Soup for the Soul

I do believe I need to order this print, have it professionally framed, and place it in my kitchen. This way J.R. will have a constant reminder of his options when he sits down at the dinner table.

A few nights ago I experimented with my own recipe for blue cheese-tomato-basil soup. I bought some ciabatta bread to go with it and was anxious for J.R. to try the soup. I laid out the place mats, lit a candle, and even remembered napkins. He came in for the night to a nice warm meal after a long hard day of standing in the garage staring at all of his tools (what a rough life).

He sat down, placed a spoonful of soup in his mouth, and twisted his face into all sorts or disgust.
"This is.... interesting."

"What, you don't like it?"

"What the hell did you put in it?"

"Food. What's wrong with it?"

"I dunno.. it's just... funky."

"Funky? You think my soup is funky??"

"Yeah. And what's up with this bread, it's tart."

"J.R. it's ciabatta bread. It's not tart."

At this point he grabbed his bowl of soup and made his way to the spice rack. He starts dumping in all sorts of stuff from salt and pepper to cumin. Eventually he came back with the sugar jar and just kept dumping and dumping and dumping in sugar.

"Hey it's perfect. It's a salty-sweet tomato soup. Try this Jo. It's fantastic. You just don't know how to season things."

And he wondered why I didn't care to talk to him for the remainder of the night. Men. So silly.

(And by the way, the soup turned out fabulous. Apparently J.R. just really dislikes blue cheese. News to me.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

December 25th, 2006

It was crisp and clear with minimal wind. Perfect for flying. A relief for my exhausted mind that wouldn't be able to take another set back. I had waited long enough. I was finally going to see my husband for the first time since he lost his arm to a roadside bomb.

I don't remember sleeping the night before. There were so many thoughts and fears running through my head. How many tubes would he have running into him? Would he be really drugged up? Would he recognize me? Would I be able to even hug him? Does he realize that he's lost his arm? Do I realize that he's lost his arm? I couldn't shut my brain off. All I could do was run around the apartment and continue with my busy work.

I went down the checklist:

Unplug all appliances including washer and dryer
Clean bathroom
Wash sheets and remake bed
Clean towels
Water heater off
Breakers flipped off.....

And the list went on. I wasn't sure just how long I would be gone for. It's scary to leave home and not know what the future holds for you. To not be sure when you will walk in the door and sit in the familiar surroundings of home. I lugged the million pound suitcases to the car. It was filled with clothes varying from dress up to sweats, a few summer shirts, and many winter sweaters. I tore as much out of my closet and filled the luggage as full as I could possibly make it.

After loading the car I took one final look around the apartment. With a deep breath I bit down on my lip and told myself now was not the time to cry. I walked out the door and climbed into my car.

As I drove to the airport I made a mental note not to speed. Although I was confident no cop would actually give a ticket to a young wife on her way to be by her injured husbands side, I didn't want to risk a ticket. So I drove slow. The entire way to the airport I kept asking my parents if we remembered everything. They reassured me all was packed and loaded and that they would do a double check of the apartment when they returned.

I walked into the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. J.R.'s parents had walked in just moments before and they were there to greet me as I came in. I said a brief goodbye to my parents and ran through the line to check my luggage.


"Yes, hi. I just need to check these two bags please."

"Where are you traveling to today?"

"Washington, D.C."

"No, what airport are you flying to."

"I don't know. Washington, D.C. Is there more than one airport?"

"Yeah. Are you going to Dallas?"

"Why would I go to Texas... I'm going to D.C."

"No... Dallas.. it's an airport in D.C."

"I dunno, what's the ticket say?"

"It's right here you're going to Dallas."

With great confusion I looked at the ticket only to realize she was saying Dulles. Gotta love language barriers.

"Yeah, sure, I guess that's right."

"Please place your bag on the scale." With difficulty I threw the bag onto the metal ledge. "Your bag is to heavy. Either remove some items, or pay the fee."

"No, it's not to heavy." By this point I'm flustered, tired, and I just want to be at the gate. "I'm on military orders and see... umm.. hold on.. let me find the spot. God damn it. It's in here. Hold on. See.. see right here... this line. My bag is allowed to be overweight."

"Ma'am the government doesn't make our rules and regulations. You'll have to pay the fee."

"No, no, no. I'm on my way to see my husband. My husband that just got his arm blown off so that you could stand here and have a job. These are government orders. I'm not removing anything from that bag and you will not charge me extra. Comply with the orders or let me speak with your supervisor."

"Here's your boarding pass, have a safe flight."

Boarding pass, ID, in-laws, and wow look at that security line. I was amazed at how many people were in the airport on Christmas day. How many of these people were on there way home to celebrate? How many of them didn't have anyone to celebrate with? And how many of them just simply didn't celebrate Christmas? All questions that I will never have the answers to, but they gave my mind something to think about besides my husband laying in bed with one arm.

It wasn't long before we boarded the plane and were safely in the air. This would be the first of many flights between Minneapolis and Washington. It was also the longest. The crew did their best to entertain everyone as it was Christmas day. At one point in the flight the ran toilet paper from the rear toilet up to the front of the cabin. They then hit the flush button and we all laughed and cheered as we watched the line of paper fly down the aisle and down the loo. I highly suggest trying to convince your next flight attendant to perform this experiment. It's very entertaining.

After touching down in D.C. I practically ran to the baggage claim. We met up with our driver and made our way to the car. They picked us up in nice car with a man dressed in a suit. This would be the only time that ever happened. We drove for what seemed to be hours. Finally we exited the highway and made our way down Georgia Avenue to the front of Walter Reed's gates. I stared at the hospital. Knowing that J.R. was inside I wanted nothing more than to open the car door and run inside the building. But first, we had to check into the Mologne House Hotel.

We walked through the doors of Mologne house and my first reaction was "wow." The Christmas decorations were out and the grand staircase was right in front of me. It was a beautiful room and my first thoughts were convincing myself that this couldn't possibly be that bad. We checked in, found the room, and hauled all the luggage in. After throwing the last bag down I was running to the hospital. We were now not on government hurry up and wait time, but my time and I was going to see my husband NOW. By this point it was raining and dark. I had no idea where I was on post and I didn't know which direction to go. With one failed attempt at finding the hospital, we returned to the front desk of Mologne House and asked for directions. This time I was sure I knew where I was going. I bolted out the door and with J.R.'s parents in tow, I walked briskly towards J.R.

We walked in the front door of the hospital only to realize that we had no idea where to go. It was Christmas day, late at night, and there was nobody around to ask for help. All I knew is that J.R. was in ward 57. We found the elevators and went down to the main level and found an information desk. They weren't much help. They told me all the information I already knew and told me to go back to the elevator and go to the fifth floor. Off we went. The elevator doors dinged open as we arrived on the fifth floor. I turned left and saw the sign for ward 57. I'm pretty sure I ran.

As I walked into the ward I wasn't sure what to do. Cry, smile, laugh... which emotion was it running through my body? Then is dawned on me, there are dozens of rooms. Which one is his? The nurses station was empty but standing just across the hall was a family of three handing out Christmas packages.

"Who are you looking for?"

"Salzman. My husband. Do you know what room he's in?"

"Yeah, he's right in here. He's been asking for you. He's been wondering when you were going to get here."

I walked to the door and there sitting up in bed was J.R. He was pale, dirty, and looked exhausted, but he was sitting up.

"Jo, I need a bucket NOW."

"Where, where J.R. where is the bucket?"

"Jo, hurry up."

"J.R. I don't know where the buckets are. Who knows where the bucket is?"

"Here." The volunteer mother grabbed a bucket and threw it under J.R.

Moments passed and I kept waiting for him to throw up. But finally he just asked me to take the bucket back and announced that he was fine.

I threw my arms around him.

"Are you ok? Are you sure? I love you. You scared me. You're sure you're ok? How's your arm feeling? Is it ok? Are you sure?"

He probably wanted to knock me out but hey... it's a wife's duty to make sure everything is ok.

After hugging him for what seemed to be an hour I let go and moved aside. His parents swooped in and he once again listened to a series of questions regarding his current state.

Time passed much quicker now that I was finally with J.R. Soon it was late and his parents left for the hotel room. It was time to get down to business. J.R. had barely had a sponge bath since his injury. He was dirty, sweaty, and his face needed attention. I rounded up all of the supplies that were going to be needed for a bath. I scrubbed every inch of him down. As I washed him we both resisted tears. Never in a million years could we ever have imagined this. Faced with caring for my husband who had very little use of his hands, I began to realize what I was up against. After his bath, I brushed his teeth. By the time we were done cleaning him up we were both exhausted and frustrated. The idea of sleep began to sound very inviting.

I began to make my bed from the pull out chair for the very first time. It wasn't until I sat down that I realized how hungry I was. I'd barely eaten in a week, and had had nothing but a handful of trail mix all day. I ran to the nurses station and asked if there was a cafeteria or any food being served in the hospital. Negative. I was suddenly facing a night with a very empty tummy. Seeing my state of despair and frustration the nurse left on a mission. Moments later he returned with a steak, baked potato, and green beans. I cried. I cried over food. I cried over J.R.'s arm. I cried at my clumsiness when giving J.R. a bath. I cried from exhaustion. But mainly I cried from happiness. I had my husband alive and in front of me. I could see his face and touch his skin, he was real. What more could I possibly ask for?

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Exciting news! This Tuesday at 7 pm eastern time (6 pm for all of our central time zoners) ESPN will be broadcasting E60. We have been working with a crew of people over the last six months or so on filming an extensive interview for the program. It will be airing THIS TUESDAY on ESPN. So tune in. It covers everything from the Fisher House, to therapy at WRAMC, to his units homecoming, to logrolling for the first time, and of course shots of my very unorganized apartment (try to ignore the clutter, we had only been home for a few weeks).

Please help spread the word.. we have all worked really hard to put this together and I think it should give everyone a better idea of what life is like as you will be able to SEE our surroundings (it's always good to have a true mental image).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fisher House Memories

I've spent my evening surfing the web and watching T.V. It wasn't until I came across this photo at Blackfive that my evening took on a little more meaning.

The moment I saw it, my memory instantly took me back to my cracker box. The picture above was taken at Fisher House III at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The table in the back is the same table that J.R. and I sat every breakfast, lunch, and dinner for months on end. The artwork on the wall is the same artwork I stared at as I ate in silence. It is the same table that J.R. and I had our chocolate cheesecake food fight at (which I still say HE started).

Tears have already started to flood my eyes. So many memories that are crisp and clear in my mind come flooding back when I look at these pictures. Throwing a laundry basket at each other in a heated argument, smoking cigars out back with the men, stalking the washer and dryer, cooking with Sandy, Mary, and Faith all in the kitchen. It is such a confusing, emotional time in our lives that I wish I could describe, but I don't know how. Maybe someday I will be able to tell to the full story, without holding back. But now is not the time, or place, for the true life account of life after injury. You will all just have to live with small snippets and hope that someday this wife will find the courage to tell the whole story.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Safe Space

All across campus this image is posted on office doors with the words "safe space" underneath it. I take pride in attending a university that is so open and accepting of all students no matter what their personal choices are. However, as a student that has been affected so severely by the war in Iraq I have to ask, "Where is my safe space?"

One of the truly beautiful values our country holds is the freedom of speech. The freedom to form our own thoughts and opinions about the world around us and to express those views out loud. However, there is a time and a place for standing tall on your own personal soap box and making your thoughts known to the world.

It is my firm belief that it is an educators job to guide young students in the direction of becoming analytically capable adults. An adult that is able to view the world around them and make decisions based on facts, life experience, and ethical judgement. Before going into the world of teaching it is important for one to ask themselves, "What do I want my students to take away from my class?" College is a confusing time when many students are just beginning to learn who they really are. Democrat, Republican, straight, gay, religious, or atheist. There are so many different paths to choose from and the role models we have in life often shape our future choices.

I believe there is a way in which politics should be addressed in the class room. I am all in favor of political discussions with my fellow peers. However, as a teacher your job is not to present your own personal ideas to the class but to become a moderator. Create class room discussion and watch as your students debate ideas and form opinions. Allow them to express their own thoughts and opinions rather than the ideas of others. By teaching them to dream, you teach them to be independent.

Upon walking into offices hours with my professor, I am hit with the following images that are smeared on his door.

Unfortunately, not all educators are able to be objective and many feel it is their right to teach from only their point of view. But how do I enter this office and tell this professor what is going on in my life with confidence that he will be accepting? I cannot know what to expect of his reaction when I tell him that my husband had his arm blown off in Iraq. Will he be understanding? Or will he look at me in disgust and begin to tell me why we should not be fighting this war?

This is not a safe space for me. I will not ever be able to sit down in this office and discuss my life with you. I will not give you a story that will add fuel to your fire. You will not use me in defense of your stand on the war. My husband is a survivor, I am a survivor, and we are proud of what we have given to this country. I'm not asking for anyone to change their views on the war. I'm asking for compassion. I'm asking for understanding. And I'm asking for support.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Advisement Day

Today is advisement day. The blessed day when classes are cancelled and students have a day to "dream about the upcoming semester." Faculty sees this day as educational and worth while. Students see it as a day to party and drink till the keg is gone. Being that this last weekend was homecoming, I'm sure there are plenty of kegs to finish off.

J.R. has just left for his psych appointment at the VA. The appointment is at five, it's currently quarter after four, it takes an hour and a half to get to the VA, and J.R. just left. Yup, sounds about right. I'm bummed that I can't go with but work is on the schedule tonight so I suppose I have to go be a "responsible employee."

Speaking of work... the store is so quiet. It's such a change of pace and it's still taking some adjusting. I'm still getting use to all the small odds and ends that need to be done in the store when I'm working. It's just a time thing I guess.

As for the rest of my week, things are FINALLY starting to quiet down. My intro to business class and my aerobic dance class are both completed. It's nice to now have any classes on Tuesday and Thursday as there is a ton of stuff I want to finish around the apartment before the years end. Hopefully I can get some of it done.

Anyway, this has to be a short post. I have to get in the car and head to work. I'm not looking forward to it. Such is life though.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Foot Model

I am currently sitting in the fifth floor of the library, with no sock or shoe on, letting some random boy draw my foot. Only at a campus filled with art majors would this happen. I am trying to hide my giggles and continue writing my papers but I must admit I'm not overly successful at this. Lets just hope he doesn't have a desire to lick my toes when he's done...

It's been an interesting day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wedding Season

This last weekend my sister-in-law Crystal was married. The wedding was down in southern Wisconsin so we took a little road trip for the wedding. The ceremony was short and sweet and the reception was a blast (I thought). J.R. even got up and danced with me.... once :) I'm even including a picture in this post just to show off how handsome J.R. looks in a suit.

We didn't return home until late Sunday night. I'm so glad I worked ahead in class. This week has been packed full. Two papers, a test, training for work, laundry, laundry, laundry... the list just goes on. It will be a small miracle if I manage to complete everything I need to have done before we leave for yet another wedding this weekend. It will be another road trip but that's ok. I happen to be a fan of weddings.

There is so much more to write about but I'm so far behind on school work today that I have to return to the world of research. Oh the life of a student.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Take One Pill, Once a Day

Last week I had my yearly physical which of course included blood work. I got the results today. My thyroid is still messed up. Surprise surprise. The new doctor that I am seeing has decided to start me on medication for it. I'm not excited about taking a pill everyday but if it makes me feel better than I'm happy. I'm sick of being tired all the time, having my weight go up and down, and my hair shedding like crazy. I'm anxious to see what happens in the next couple of months.

Yesterday I received the score for my first speech. B+ I'm happy with that. I have a feeling that he is a very hard teacher to get an A from. Our next speech is persuasive and we get to pick the topics. I'm thinking about speaking on the importance of being an organ donor. Just an idea for now.

Tonight we are heading to the VA for our first mental health appointment. J.R. asked me to go with him which surprised me. In the past the mental health thing hasn't worked so well when we went together. I feel so much more included in his life since the antidepressant switch. it's so wonderful. Anyway, J.R. stayed up all night working on a project. He didn't go to bed until 11:30 am today. He's still sleeping. I should probably wake him up so we can get out of here. It's going to be a long drive into the cities.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Restraint- the act of restraining, holding back, controlling, or checking

Lets use this in a sentence.

Today I practiced restraint when I did not punch the student in my sociology class.

There I was, dozing off during death by PowerPoint. My professor was going on and on about resocialization. We had just finished discussing how prisons are a perfect example of this when he asked what other groups go through resocialization. Of course the military was brought up. This lead to the question of "what does the military teach it's soldiers." A student in the back raised his hand and the words that followed made my blood boil.

"Our military teaches it's soldiers how to be cold blooded killers."


For a moment I debated on just keeping my mouth shut and blowing it off. I clenched my teeth and crossed my arms until I could take it no longer. My hand shot up in the air and my mouth started running. I was as easy on him as I could be.

I simply don't understand how someone can think this is what the army teaches. They obviously have never looked at the rules of engagement. The army goes through every possible action before firing a weapon. Add on that most of the time we can't even see our enemies in Iraq. Our casualties are caused by roadside bombs. There usually isn't anyone around to point a weapon at.

I made my point. I was a little disgusted when the professor said "both of you are right." I didn't pay much attention to the rest of his class. There was no point.

I returned home after class. It wasn't long after I walked in the door when the UPS man showed up. Now the UPS driver shows up pretty much everyday with a package for J.R. We are getting to know each other VERY well. As he walked towards me I realized he had not one but FOUR packages. I laughed and pointed out that none of them were ever for me. He just smiled and told me to just wait. He had ELEVEN packages today. I hollered at J.R. and asked him what he could possibly be purchasing. I also pointed out to J.R. that he never bought anything for me. Just after I said these words the UPS driver brought out a box with a new bissell steam cleaner.

"See Jo... I do buy you things."

Please note, I once again practiced restraint. I did not kick him, hit him, or even yell at him. I just rolled my eyes and said "gee thanks."

Thirty minutes later my phone rang.

"Hi Mrs. Salzman. I'm with the department of the army and I'm just wondering if your family is still at the Fisher House."

"No, we've been home for over two months now."

"Oh, well.. that's interesting. Our records still show that you're at Walter Reed. Lets get that updated."


I restrained myself once again and simply gave her the new address. It's a never ending battle.

I'm crabby today. I should be able to blow all of this off but I can't. I'm thinking a nap is in order. I stayed up late last night gluing bubbles to an egg for J.R's project. He has to use a mouse trap to catapult an egg and have it land without breaking. I would like to point out that I am a fabulous bubble gluer. And even though I may be tired at least I was able to help J.R.

For now I'm going to take a nap before my speech class. Today is the day I get my grade! Lets hope it's a good one.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Eight pm Sunday evening J.R. returned home from a study group on campus. He no more than walked in the door when the following conversation took place.

"Hey Jo, don't hate me."

"Ummm... OK? What's going on?"

"Just promise me you're not going to be mad. Say it. Say that you're not going to be mad."

"OK. I'm not going to be mad. What's going on?"

"Well, I drove your car to the study group and.. well... just go look at it."

"............. J.R. what did you do to my car."

"Just go look at it."

"J.R. did you rear-end someone. I swear to God I am going to be so pissed if you crashed my car."

"Jo, just go look at the car."

I walked out the door only to realize that the light from the deck didn't really reach the car. I ran to the front of the car. Being pitch black I could see nothing. I bent my head towards the front of the car desperate to see the damage.

"J.R. I can't see the car. Turn the lights on or something."


He set the car alarm off right as my head was bending towards the front of the car. Then he ran off laughing.

"Oh you should have seen your face. I got you so good! Oh that was priceless. You really thought I wrecked your car. Oh I wish I would have had a camera. Priceless."

As you can see... he has not lost his sense of humor. A week ago this would not have happened. Things in the Salzman house have not been pretty. Since we have returned home the stress levels have been high and the tempers fly. Maybe someday I will be able to write about what has happened in our lives since returning home, but now is not the time or place. The good news is that last week brought a change. J.R. dropped one of his classes which has lowered his stress levels considerably. He has more time to focus on his other classes and a lot more time to relax. Since dropping the class we've been able to spend real quality time together. Being able to hang out on the couch together and laugh together has made such an improvement in both of our moods.

We also made a change to J.R.'s antidepressant. The doctor said it would take about a month for us to see the full effect. It's only been a week and wow. For the first time in months J.R. is smiling, laughing, and joking around. His mood swings aren't nearly as drastic which is a huge relief. Before the medication switch I never knew when things would turn ugly. If things have improved so much over the course of one week, I'm anxious to see what will happen over the course of a whole month.

My stress levels have also dropped considerably since being done at Macy's. Not having to worry about driving to Eau Claire for work is amazing. Not having the pressure of selling and commission and all that fun stuff is such a relief. And even though I'm still working retail and I still have sales goals to meet and credit cards to sell, it's a much more relaxed environment. I know I'm going to be able to take the time off that I need to. And I also know that this store is much smaller and much more quiet. It's a good change of pace.

Change pages... I am happy to say that the last test score for sociology has finally been posted. 44/42. At this point I am still well over 100% in the class. Gotta love it. I was a little disappointed when I looked at the syllabus today and realized the paper I'm working on is only worth 15 points. It seems like a lot of time and energy to put into something that is worth so few points. Not only do we have to watch news programs, but we have to read multiple articles. Then we have to sit down and write comparisons on everything. I'd much rather sit down and write a paper about the effects of social isolation on children. At least that would be interesting.

Tomorrow I will be spending a large chunk of my day at the schools career conference. It's the first assignment in my business administration class that I'm excited to do. I have no problem putting on dress clothes and walking around talking to people about their company. It's always a good time to begin the networking process.

For now I'm going to drag my aching body to the shower. There is a lot to get done in the next five hours.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Death by Wal-Mart

I have to go to Wal-Mart. I don't want to go, but I have to. I've been putting the trip off for as long as possible. All week I've found reasons why I can't make it to the store. However today is the day we use the last roll of toilet paper. And so my trip can no longer be put off and I will go and fight off the senior citizens. I will drag around my cart in search for the missing items on the shelf. I will roll my eyes at silly people who leave their carts in the middle of the crowded aisle. I will read the tabloids and fill my brain with useless half truths as I waste minutes of my life standing in line at the checkout. Which makes me wonder... how many minutes of our lives do we really waste standing in line at the checkout of Wal-Mart? If somebody did a study on that I'd probably cringe at the results. One can only guess that if you added all the minutes you have ever waited at Wal-Mart it would result in some outrageous amount of time like two weeks of your life. Gotta love small town living.

I can't say the weather is helping my motivation at all. It is once again another dreary day here in Wisconsin. This morning I walked to class in the pouring rain. All of us were soaked when we sat down. For now the rain has stopped but everything is soaking wet and cold. All I want is a little sunshine! At least with the cool weather I can finally start making some of those favorite fall meals. Soup, soup, more soup. Ok... I'm a soup fanatic, but can you blame me?

Tonight I begin my mass media paper for sociology. Not looking forward to this. It will definitely be interesting to hear the different points of view from my fellow students, half of whom could probably tell you the life story of Britney Spears but would fail to list any candidates for the 2008 election. You can see I have such a positive attitude today. I'm blaming the weather for that.

I have now officially procrastinated for yet another fifteen minutes. Go me.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The End of Macy's

I have worked for Macy's since October of 2005. My coworkers became my Eau Claire family. When J.R. deployed they offered me a shoulder to lean on. When we were married they threw me a bridal shower. And when J.R. was hurt they cried with me. I couldn't have asked for a better place to work for the last two years. Unfortunately all good things must someday come to an end and yesterday I closed this chapter.

A few months back Macy's decided to cut the commission rates in the women's shoe department. In the shoe department we work on straight commission with no flat rate, so when rates are cut even just a little bit it really affects our pay. After working for a few weeks and bringing home very little money I decided to take the severance package that was offered. It is to hard to drive thirty miles one way to get to work and then put half of your pay check towards gas.

The good news is that I have found a job here in Menomonie and I'm anxious to start. The pay is decent and the discount is lovely. Tomorrow I start at Maurice's (it's a girls clothing store). It's a smaller store with a small staff. I'm looking forward to it.

Jumping back to Friday, I had my second sociology test. This one wasn't as pretty as the first one, but I'm still confident I passed with a B or higher. At least... I hope. Now this weekend I have to outline a chapter and write a paper for the class. I'm not excited about the paper. It's all about the media and how different news companies are slanted in their view. The assignment involves watching multiple hours of the news. I try very hard to avoid the news. It tends to piss me off.

Aside from work and school this weekend has been fantastic. It has been the first weekend in a long time that J.R. and I have had a chance to spend some quality time together. Friday night we had "date night." We sat on the couch and watched cops all night. There is nothing more entertaining than watching the toothless wonders of the country trying to out run our nations finest. We even managed to go out to dinner by ordering applebees car side to go. Gotta love the convenience of America.

Anyway, J.R. is still sleeping and I think it's time to wake the dead. He doesn't get to sleep all day today.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

It Never Ends

Tuesday was our first visit to the VA hospital in Minneapolis and what a depressing visit it was. We were the youngest people there. It was just one realization that this is going to be our life for the next fifty years. One can't help by wonder if the government is really going to take care of us for that long. Are we going to be covered for everything we need? One can only hope for the best.

Yesterday was insanely busy. I start off the morning with class and then left for Eau Claire for my yearly physical. I'm healthy. They ran some thyroid blood work and we'll look over the results next week. Later in the evening I presented my speech on The Sword of Damocles. All went well. It was definitely one of the stronger speeches that was presented and I'm anxious to receive my grade next Wednesday.

Before presenting my speech I noticed I had a little headache that I just couldn't shake. By the end of the night it was a full blown migraine. Not fun. I went to bed last night around 8 pm and slept until 7 this morning. I felt a lot better when I woke up. I think it's just one more sign that I've been burning the candle at both ends and have been under a lot of stress lately. Fun times.

Today has been much more relaxing. I got up this morning and went to class. Returned home to do a frantic clean of the apartment. Right around lunch time we had a specialist in voice software come and help J.R. with a new version of the dragon naturally speaking software. I can't believe how much better J.R. is doing with the software now. It's so much faster, and easier for him. Hopefully this works a bit better for him now.

J.R. took off a while ago to unload some more lumber. He called about twenty minutes ago frantically looking for his checkbook. I remember seeing it in his pocket when he left so I couldn't figure out how he had lost it. No more than five minutes after his call the cops were knocking on the door. All we can figure out is J.R. pulled the checkbook out of his pocket to get to his keys and left the checkbook on the top of the truck. It slid off a few blocks away. Thankfully somebody was kind enough to turn it in. However, the person that turned it in is said to be "a character" according to the cops, so the officers weren't so ready to hand it over to me. I had to show them TWO id's and go through about ten minutes of questions. That was fun.

Now here is where I'm going to insert my gripe for the day. Since J.R. has been injured we have had a lot of people who like to "preach" to us. So many people stop us and ask to pray for us. That's fine, I'm cool with that. But when you stop and tell me a whole sermon and ask me if I'm saved and tell me why I should be saved and ask if I'm going to heaven.... you get the picture... it makes me want to throw something at you. I'm all for religion. If you believe in God, great. If you don't, great. Just back off a bit when you talk to me please.

Now that that is out of my system I need to keep moving and study for my sociology test tomorrow. Hopefully it will be another easy A.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

You Drive Me Crazy!

There are days when I really hate our society. We have become so obsessed with stupid people that Britney Spears losing custody of her kids makes the TOP STORIES section of EVERY news site. I'm disgusted. She is a washed up singer. Get over it people. In a country that has so many serious issues at hand such as Iraq, obesity, an upcoming election, crime, poverty.. just to name a few... we should be talking about something other than Britney Spears.

*deep breath* moving on.

It's raining here. Again. Why this rain couldn't have come earlier in the season is beyond me. It's to much, to late. It always seems to work that way. I will say that it has been a nice gentle thunderstorm. The kind of storm that makes it impossible to crawl out bed. The sound of the rain, the cool breeze coming through the window, and the gentle roll of thunder made me stay in bed and sleep an extra hour.

Later today we will be off to Minneapolis for our first appointment with the VA. It should be interesting. I'm sure there will be news to report in later. For now it's time to shower and practice my speech over, and over, and over.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Time to Share

Tonight there is victory in the Salzman house. I have finally won my battle over my desktop computer. As some of you may already know, I managed to forget the password to my computer after J.R. was injured. Not sure why I forgot it... it's not like there was anything else on my mind. I have finally recovered the password and I beat my Dell at it's own little game of hide and seek. I feel so smart yet so stupid all at the same time.

It is so amazing to finally have my music collection back. I've have my head phones on for hours singing off key. My poor, poor neighbors. I also now have all of my pictures back. THANK GOD! I started looking at all of the pictures J.R. sent me during the deployment. It was rather emotional and left me pissed off at the world for a few hours tonight. Kiss my concentration on my homework bye bye. I really hate that he lost his arm.

I also have stumbled across conversations that we had via instant messenger programs. The first being the messages he left while I was working that told me when he was coming home for R&R.

JR Salzman: punkin!
JR Salzman: I'm in Kuwait
JR Salzman: i got my flight info
JR Salzman: i get into Atlanta like 0800 on the 16th
JR Salzman: i have a 1219 flight out to Minneapolis
JR Salzman: i will get into Minneapolis at 1403
JR Salzman: its delta flight number DL6456
JR Salzman: i love you punkin
JR Salzman: i probably won't contact you until I'm in the states
JR Salzman: i fly out of here tomorrow night
JR Salzman: in like 20 hours
JR Salzman: i love you
JR Salzman: i will call you when i get to the states
JR Salzman: 1400 on the 16th, pick me up!
JR Salzman: i love you
JR Salzman: bye punkin
JR Salzman signed off at 4:25:13 PM.

I can remember the excitement that rushed through my body after I read these words for the first time. Over and over I read them. I knew he was coming home soon. There was relief that he was still safe. In the two weeks that he was home I don't think we could have smiled wider, laughed louder, or loved more passionately. As the time drew near for him to return to Iraq we knew. We knew something was off. Something was going to happen and it was only a matter of time. The following conversation took place on MSN messenger after he left the states in the beginning of December.

J.R. says: you were great at the airport

Josie says: what do you mean

J.R. says: you handled yourself very well

Josie says: i did not. i cried

J.R. says: yes. but you weren't hysterical by any means. you were very reasonable. i love you... i cried with you

Josie says: i love you too. i don't think i will ever forget the feeling of walking through baggage claim to get out. it was almost completely empty. a few lost bags here and there. two or three people and have yourself a merry little Christmas was playing. i felt like i was in a movie

J.R. says: kind of summed up how you felt huh

Josie says: i just about lost it

J.R. says: surreal?

Josie says: very. i wanted to just sprint through baggage claim and leave. but i didn't think that was appropriate airport behaviour. so i walked... very fast

J.R. says: oh punkin

Josie says: sooooo whatever. it was just weird.. i was angry when i heard the music. but just... another part of me found it completely hilarious

J.R. says: i know hun. i don't know how everyone does this

Josie says: "everyone" has been doing this since people were on earth. you just do it

J.R. says: it sucks ass though and i don't want to do it anymore

Josie says: agreed

J.R. says: i want to live a normal life. i love you. i wish i could give you another big hug.

Always interesting to look back. That was the hardest goodbye I've ever had to say. I'm so glad that I don't have to do that again.

There is so much more to be shared but for the time being I have to go focus on my speech. I have it completely written and polished and now it's time to began the presentation. The homework never ends.