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.