Friday, September 10, 2010


JT got fired. From the sounds of how it all went down, it seems like there was some kind of mistake. But that doesn't matter really. There is a story but I don't have the heart to retell it here. Besides, all they told us (therefore all we know for sure) is that they fired him, after only three weeks of academy, for his "overall sub-standard performance."

"But I passed all my tests, and I was only there three weeks," JT said.

That didn't matter.

"I'd really like to know why I'm being fired," he said.

"We don't have to tell you. You're on probation, which means we have the right to fire you at a moment's notice for any reason we want. That's all you need to know. Now if you'd like to resign rather than be fired, sign here."

So he signed the resignation letter. But it doesn't matter. It doesn't give him his dignity back. He'll still be tainted by this if he tries to get a different police officer job.

Three weeks of turning our lives upside-down, only to turn around and ask him to resign for not getting everything right away. JT's department didn't even give him the basic decent chance that his own tactical officers say they would have given him. They were shocked, and felt bad, I think. It was a decision the sergeant made, based on whatever exaggerated or unfair information the tactical staff gave him about JT.

He talked to the dept. he used to work for, tried to get his old jail job back. Isn't gonna happen. He might get a part time dispatch job in his old department though. We'll see what happens with that. We will definitely have to move in any case. Our apartment rent is several hundred dollars more than my overall take-home pay.

The world is falling down around us. It's so unjust. I think the department was just trying to cover up that they're going through a budget crisis. So much for "integrity."

If anybody knows of a book that teaches you how to hold it together for a spouse who has lost his job, please let me know. Because I'm falling apart here. We're starting to argue even, saying things that are hurtful because we're both so scared. I feel like I've been strong long enough through all this academy stuff and now I have to be strong through this... I don't know what we're going to do. The only thing I really feel like doing is giving that sergeant a piece of my mind...

So yeah, if there is anywhere I should turn for advice on how to help a spouse through a career transition or job loss, let me know. So far I'm not handling it that well. I am freaking out. Everything we've worked so hard for has gone up in smoke and they don't even have the decency to give us a straight answer about it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The upside-down feeling in the pit of my stomach

Yesterday, JT took a sick day. Really, a mental health day, because when I woke up he was shaking in a cold sweat. He begged me not to make him go back. What do you say to someone when they say something like that? I tried to keep my composure and told him that I would support him no matter what. If this wasn't for him, better to find that out now.

He made some phone calls to the city jail he used to work in, and to the dispatch center, inquiring if he could get his old job back. They said he might be able to get the part-time dispatch position that just opened up there.

He asked me if I could find a full-time job, so that our baby would still have benefits. I said I'd try. I made some phone calls and did some web searches. No, there aren't any full-time librarian jobs in our area right now--there were some a few weeks ago but I knew they'd fill quickly. I also researched secretarial jobs.

Then for some reason I decided I desperately needed a waffle from IHOP. I was hungry, stressed, overwhelmed. I had a lot of homework to do. I invited JT to go with me but he refused, since he had called in sick and this wouldn't do. So I left him with the baby. I needed to eat, unwind, work on school and forget about anybody but myself for a while. I couldn't find an IHOP or anywhere that serves waffles but I had some pancakes.

JT sent an email to the sergeant at his police dept., explaining the real cause of his aversion to the rope. He told the sergeant about his crippling fear of heights, in hopes that he'd get farther by being honest than by continually covering it up.

In the evening JT talked to his parents, his friends, his former coworkers, and I talked to one of the other recruits' wives. They told us to stick with it and hang in there. They said that what he was going through wasn't that different from the other recruits and he bought it, he went to bed promising me (and his sergeant) that he would go back to academy in the morning.

Today, JT got up and still felt like quitting. I wasn't much help to him this morning. I had been up with JY all night (while I was eating pancakes yesterday she was having a very long nap and couldn't understand that 3 o'clock in the morning doesn't count as "morning"). I asked JT when I would ever get sleep again, and he said "When I quit."

"No," I said. "You really think my life is going to be any easier if you quit? Think again. If you want to do something for me, you will go to academy and you will stick this out."

I didn't know today would be his last day.

As he suspected, JT was given a lot of hell for calling in sick yesterday. But he willingly went to the Lions' Den to get the flags this morning. He says that my words made an impression on him and that he made a commitment to continue and stick it out. But somebody had other plans.

The tactical officers asked JT if he'd been in touch with his sergeant lately. He said he had told his sergeant about the fear of heights. Their mouths dropped. They had been contacted by this sergeant and they were starting to put 2 and 2 together.

As class was ending this afternoon, JT was asked to fall out and go back to the tactical office, at ease.

They said he was a great candidate and would make a good police officer. They said that they were impressed by the way they kept challenging him and he kept coming back. They made him class sergeant that first week and as hard as they tried, they never broke him. They applauded him on his progress at climbing the wall. And although he couldn't climb the rope, they reminded him that this is actually not a requirement for the POST certificate in our state and assured him he wouldn't have this difficulty in another academy.

They said that it wasn't personal on their part, and that they liked him. They wanted him to stay and graduate, but his sergeant had given instructions for him to clear out his locker and report to the police station at 1100 tomorrow. They said that they hoped he would still have a career in law enforcement and that they would have a lot of positive things to say about him, if prompted to give a reference.

So it was his sergeant--not him and not the academy--that finally pulled the plug.

Possibly he will still have a job, and will be sent to a different academy. Or maybe the sergeant has decided to let him go. We don't know. I'm scared right now. I feel like my whole life will be flipped upside-down now. I'm afraid that I'll have to work full time and go to school and take care of the baby all so that JT can walk away from one career and try a new one. Give up my career goals, my future, and go back to office work.

But in the short run, just for tonight, I can think of a few reasons for rejoicing:

I will not have to wash or iron a uniform tonight.
I will not have to wash PT gear.
I will not have to make sense of the messy, disorganized equipment JT needs for class, because he will not have class.
I will not have to pack a lunch.
I will not have to stay up late.
I will not have to get up before dawn.
I will sleep longer tonight than I've slept in a long time.

That is, if I can sleep.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Talk with the Captain...and a Dressing-Down from the Sergeant

JT was called into the hallway for a chat with the academy captain one day last week. She told him that he wasn't the first guy, nor would he be the last, to struggle with the wall and the rope. She told him to hang in there and not to quit, even in spite of the tactical staff telling him to.

But a few nights later, JT wrote an email to the sergeant he reports to, telling him that he will be working on the rope every weekend in his time off. This sergeant wrote back that this was unacceptable and he should have gotten it by now. He also wrote that he will be getting a report from the academy about JT's progress this week and it had "better be good."

So since then, JT's understandably been in another funk. I would be pretty upset by an email like that, too. He's been talking about quitting. Is that normal to want to quit even after several weeks in? Will he get past this hump eventually?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Another Man Down

Another recruit dropped out today. It was his first day as class sergeant and he couldn't take it. I don't blame him. At one point during the day JT tried to talk to him but he said he didn't want to talk and that he was fine. Then an hour or so later he left, turned in all his stuff and next thing the class knew they were down to ten.

JT and his classmates are concerned they might close the academy due to the low enrollment and they'll all have to wait until the next class in November. JT would still be employed at his department but I don't know what the independent guys would do until then.

I went out with two of those guys' wives. These women are amazing--they probably get less sleep than I do and still manage to work forty-hour weeks. Their husbands are military veterans and they were supposed to be getting support from the government. But they're not! One of the girls said she'd write an angry letter to the President, if she could find the time or the energy.

We commiserated over drinks and then went to see "Dinner for Schmucks." I laughed a lot but it's that uncomfortable kind of humor, where you're laughing at something that's really sad. Still, after that movie and the good company and conversation, I felt like my anxieties and frustrations had melted away and I could go home whole to my husband and Jedi Youngling.

Friday, September 3, 2010


JT recently made the "Fitness Auxiliary Team" at the academy. And no, it's not a coincidence that the acronym for this organization is "FAT." The guys were tested for their body fat percentage, and if it was over 15, they were automatically on the team.

JT's was 16%.

So now he has to have his lunches checked out by the tactical staff. I think he even has to go to the Lion's Den to have them check it. He also will have to report what he ate on the weekends. So while we are still going to go on a "date night" Saturday, we may have to consider that veggie tofu grill instead of Applebee's.

Another guy dropped out. I hadn't really been counting but just for the record they are now down to eleven recruits (from fifteen). This guy dropped out because he failed a couple of tests and decided he couldn't do it. This is unfortunate, because ideally JT could have tutored him and helped him out. It's a shame he had to quit.


I haven't been exercising as I should, but I am rejoicing that I dropped another two pounds and my figure's looking good! That's the nice thing about carting a baby around everywhere like I'm a single mom--she gets heavier, and I get lighter! ;)

The other day I was filling my gas tank and a stranger asked me for directions and then tried to hit on me. He said I was pretty. I think I blushed and said "thanks" and climbed hurriedly back in my car. It wasn't a big deal but I looked at it as a reason for rejoicing: If I am still attractive to some men, there's a chance my husband might still really be into me!

It's taken me six months, but I am slowly becoming more confident with my mommy bod. :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Monday

Yesterday, I tried to make the day about JY. She's almost six months old. First I called the library to sign her up for storytime. Those of you who have small children under 2, check out what your library has to offer them! Many libraries have increased their services for the 0-4 crowd and their parents, offering storytimes, sign language classes, and more.

Then I spent the morning before she got up putting photos into her Baby Journal. And in the afternoon, we did arts and crafts! We made some hand prints and foot prints. They hang on the wall next to her crib now. I don't think she understood what we were doing at all (Mommy why are you coating my hand in black sticky stuff?), but I hope it was fun for her. I actually used an old fingerprinting pad from JT's former jail job for the foot before realizing that the kit came with an inkpad that's non-toxic, so I used that for her hand. It didn't all wash off though, so I'm making her wear those newborn mittens until it does.

Daddy came home, and the first thing I noticed were the drops of blood on his sweatpants, and the open sores on his wrist where they came from. He was crying. "They've singled me out as the weak one, and they're trying to weed me out. They want me to drop out." I put my arms around him. "They won't let up on me. They made me class sergeant again--who knows for how long this time."

This development actually happened on Friday. JT was telling me then, how he'll be class sergeant for the day and whenever he comes to something that he knows and can do well, like the twelve daily exercises, they pick somebody else to be class sergeant for that task. I told him this makes sense: academy isn't about showing off what you do well; it's about being beaten down for the things you don't until you do.

For JT, his memorization and academics are what keeps him going. He scored 95% on a test Friday that half the class failed. He took a spelling test yesterday and got a perfect score.

What did the tactical staff have to say about that? "We're gonna call up your police department. Tell them that you can spell but you can't jump a wall and you can't climb a rope. We're gonna tell them that you're not ready for this. You're a disgrace to your department." Then they give him more physical tasks like these as punishment for not having been able to do them.

So you can imagine the state in which my husband came home yesterday, and the work I had to do to put his self-esteem back together.

I held him for a while. He caught me staring at the blood spots on his pants, and asked me what I was thinking. I told him "a lot of things." Sad that he was bleeding and in pain. Wondering how I was going to get the stains out.

He was distraught that he might fail the physical part of academy, and have to look for a new job. He emailed the sergeant of his police department explaining the situation and all he got back in response was a curt, "Get it done." But he's trying as hard as he can--if these people could see the bruises sleeving his arms and the blisters crowding his palms they would see that, wouldn't they?

I brought him dinner in bed, told him that we'd be okay. "I shouldn't have said those things about your masters degree," he said, "because for all I know that may be the very thing that saves this family." I told him he didn't need to worry about providing for the family--that's just extra stress. We discussed what would happen though, if he didn't make it. I tried to do a little "best case, worst case". Best case, he would keep practicing and eventually climb that rope. Worst case, he would fail out, but then you have a range of other possible consequences to consider. Maybe he would just get sent to academy all over again. Maybe they'd send him to a different one. Or maybe he would have to look for a new job, a new path in life, and that's okay. We have a little money set aside, we'll be fine.

He asked me to go to a sports store and get some things he needed--under armour, wrist bands, and athletic tape. I also needed to buy some more Dryel for his uniform, which I've had to clean almost every night. I took the baby with me, carried her around the sporting goods store and and then made another stop at Albertsons for the Dryel and other cleaning products. The baby had been so good throughout this time, but as soon as we came home she started crying.

On our way in I accidentally brushed through a barn spider's web. This used to freak me out but last night I was apologetic for wrecking her hard work. I can relate to spiders now. I have restful mornings but my real work begins at sundown.

As I walked into the door with the baby in her car seat, the first thing JT said to me was, "By the way, I had to write a report because you ironed my uniform wrong. The collar isn't supposed to be stiff, it's supposed to lie flat. I'm just letting you know."

And my night went downhill from there.

You know, there are recruits who do all of this on their own. There's a single guy who lives with his parents and his mom absolutely refuses to do any of this for him. She says it was his choice and not hers, so he can iron his own uniform. I don't want to be that unsupportive, but sometimes I wish I could say the same thing.

I strapped the baby to me in one of those Baby Bjorn type infant carriers (although mine is actually a cheaper Chicco knock-off) and JY hated it. She fussed and cried while I tried to remove everything from JT's uniform, collect up his sand-caked PT gear, and put the one in the dryer and the other in the washer. She was hungry, but I selfishly wanted to get to bed before 1 a.m. and therefore needed to get the clothes started washing before I fed her. "I'm sorry, little bird," I told her. "In a minute your daddy will feed you and you'll have some nice Daddy time."

JT had told me, before I'd left for the store, that he would feed the baby when he was done writing reports. By the time I got the clothes loaded he was done, and already settling down into bed. But he wasn't getting off that easy. I brought his daughter to him and some rice cereal. I stayed with them a minute. When it quickly became apparent that his idea of feeding her was shoveling huge spoonfuls of food down her throat before she even had a chance to swallow, I lost it.

I took the spoon away from him and took over. "The one thing you said you'd do for me tonight was feed our daughter. But I'm not going to sit here and watch you choke her to death! You have to make sure she's swallowing! PAY F---ING ATTENTION!"

I'm sorry, but you put my baby in danger and you're gonna wake the bear.

A while later, the baby is fed but still not happy, and I'm making JT's lunch, and JT is in bed, crying out in pain. I'm starting to feel like Nurse Ratchet, like my house has turned into an insane asylum. I asked JT what was wrong and he said he thought he might have a bruised rib. I was freaked out. I said we should take him to the hospital but he said no. I asked how he's supposed to climb the wall and do ten pull-ups if he has a terrible stabbing pain in his side. He said he didn't know, but he didn't want to look like a baby by reporting his injury and sitting out from PT.

I was like, "Well, which is it then? Are you injured or are you a baby? Because if you're not going to treat this like a real injury then I'm not going to either. I've already got one crying baby to deal with and if you aren't really injured then maybe you could try to keep it down!"

"Ma'am, Yes Ma'am!"

I felt bad for how I was acting. It's just that I go a little crazy with all the crying and fussing that goes on around here. And to be honest, I don't think JT would have handled it any better if it was the other way around. He would have told me to quit. The times when I've been emotional or sad, he always yelled at me because he didn't know how to handle the stress of it. I think, on the whole, I've done okay...

I nursed the baby and put her to bed, and JT took some vicodin and fell asleep. I stayed up at least an hour longer, ironing his uniform and putting all the metal stuff back on it, getting his PT gear together, and cleaning up the kitchen which was a mess.

Then five hours later (at 5 a.m. this morning), I got up with him and walked him out to the car. I apologized for the way I talked to him and asked how he was doing. He said he was feeling okay. I hope his day goes better today. He knows that if he has chest pains again he needs to say something.

Friday, August 27, 2010


When JT started the academy, one of the major questions on my mind was: "Is our relationship going to change?" I think, even after just a few weeks (and maybe only one of those weeks really counts) we've established that, yes, it has changed some things. We have to set aside one evening a week to be together--with really zero time together apart from that. But despite all that, the love is there. It's not going anywhere.

Although my relationship with my husband has been put on the back-burner to a certain degree, it's worth taking a few minutes to acknowledge the other relationships in my life that have grown and flourished, helping me cope through this time.

  • My parents: When I'm feeling like a single mom and I need someone to help me cook or just give the baby some love for a while so that I can take care of everything else, my parents are there for me. They don't judge me. They offer the same unconditional love to my daughter that they gave to me.
  • My in-laws: I used to be paranoid that my mother-in-law judged me--because it just so happens she's like Mrs. Homemaker of the Universe. Her house is always immaculate. Also, it was hard to have much of a relationship because she mostly speaks Spanish, a language I'm still learning. But anyway, she's actually a pretty good person and I think I'm growing on her. Last week she hugged me, crying, thanking me for taking care of her son. I know she loves JY too, and always wants to babysit. As for my father-in-law--we have an interesting bond. Although JT and I don't share a lot of common political beliefs, his dad and I do. We actually talked on the phone for forty-five minutes today, just politics. He's pretty cool. All told, my in-laws are good people and I'm lucky to have them.
  • Police wives: The ladies I've talked to through blogger and policewives and other sites are such a help and support system to me. Although I haven't met you I know I can share my deepest feelings and concerns with you, and that I'm never really alone. You rock. Also, I've gotten to know a couple of the other recruits' wives from JT's academy class. They truly humble me with their coolness. Their husbands are "independents" so they are working full-time to support them and pay the bills. They have moved here from far away, leaving family and friends so that their husbands could go to this particular academy. Their sacrifices are really amazing.
  • Friends: I haven't had a lot of time for girl friends, but when I have gotten together with them, it's been therapeutic and worthwhile. And really, I did get to go to both Disneyland and the beach in the past month. That's pretty good!
  • Last, but probably most important, My Baby, JY: My little Jedi Youngling and I have a wonderful bond. She laughs with me, cries with me, squeals with me, plays peek-a-boo with me. Her smile always brings me joy. I love her with all my heart, and I do believe the feeling is mutual. Together we are learning to be a team and support each other through all our adventures. She's an amazingly good and happy baby, and when she cries it's only because she needs her mommy.
I've been reluctant to share any photos of us for JT's sake. He's a very private person. But I don't think it could really hurt to share a pic of our almost-six-month-old. So here she is, taken a few weeks ago, before academy started:


So I have to apologize for my blog being such a downer lately. My new situation has brought all kinds of old issues back to my mind and I haven't been dealing with them as well as I'd hope. I've been immature, frustrated, bitter and self-pitying. The truth is I go through these emotions from time to time, around once every month (probably menstrual although I haven't had a period since JY was born) and despite my occasional efforts to improve myself this is not likely to change much. At least it only lasts a few days, and then I'm back to normal.

To update: I did have a chance to bring up my feelings about JT's past lack of support for my librarian education. He isn't class sergeant anymore (thank God!) and last night for the first time in a long time we got to go to bed at midnight, reports all done and lunch all packed.

So he said, "I want to hear about your day. How you are doing."

I thought about it a minute, and finally decided to go with honesty. "I've been depressed, actually."

"About what?"

I paused. Should I do this?

"I've been depressed about how little support I get for my own career and my own hard work. I felt like my scholarship was a big deal, and you barely noticed."

"I told you congratulations."

"But it's more than that. When I wanted to do that internship last year, and you said no... That hurt. A lot. I think I'm still trying to get over it."

"Was that something you really wanted to do?"

"Yeah. And needed to do."


"And when you told me I didn't have a 'real career,' that hurt. And when you told me that I shouldn't do school anymore because I wasn't pulling my weight around the house, that hurt."


This is how he normally reacts whenever I give him a laundry list of grievances. Maybe I should revise my strategy for approaching this stuff in light of that fact. I tend to be the bottle-everything-up,-shake,-then-explode type. But then, exploding isn't really the right image. Maybe just spilling over and fizzing out.

I lay in bed, silent, for a while. Then I put my arm around him and snuggled to his shoulder. I wanted to say, I just want you to know that, even though I feel this way, I am not going to stop being here for you. I am going to show you the same support regardless of whether you choose to return it.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Blood Boiling

Thanks to all of you for the support you gave me on my last post. I'm still feeling kind of down about this. I felt the need to blog about it again.

I woke up this morning remembering how, last spring, I was all set to do a summer internship at a children's library. What I want is to be a children's librarian, which is not what I am currently. I work in adult services right now because when I got this job there were few opportunities in my area for children's librarian assistants. So anyway, last spring I applied for this internship, interviewed, corresponded with them, enrolled for class credit, all that. And all the while JT was saying "I don't think you should do this," it would take too much time away from him and from my other "responsibilities." And I had weathered an extremely difficult spring quarter with insane projects in one of my classes. Because he saw how difficult that was, he was totally against me taking class in the summer. I tried to convince him that it would be all right, that this was something I really wanted to do, but when my financial aid dried up, he put his foot down and said NO. And I had to write letters to my mentors and instructors telling them why I suddenly had to pull out.

I hated that so much. I hated him for the way he had total control of the purse strings in our house, even as most of the money we had in savings was money given to us by my parents and which I thought I should use for the purpose of continuing my education. I was angry about it for a long time, and at one point I was even thinking I didn't want to be married anymore.

Then I got pregnant. I set it all aside and didn't think about it again for a long time. Remembering it now, comparing it to the enormous sacrifices I've made for him and how I've been totally on board with his academy all the way, well, I'm sad to say it makes my blood boil.

I need to get over this. You can't be a loving and supportive partner when you're holding something like this bottled up inside. You have to forgive. I can do this. I chose my marriage and my family over my anger and hate last summer, and I know I can do it again. But I just really need him to know how painful that was and how lucky he is that I didn't leave him for doing that to me. And how lucky he is that I'm smart and that I do have a "real career" (ugh, don't get me started explaining the memory that brought that wonderful little sound byte to my mind) and that I work hard and don't just expect to get through life on whatever he earns. God he's really lucky. I wonder if he's ever taken a moment to think of it that way.

Moments of Weakness

This morning as JT was trying to wake himself up, he had this nervous leg twitch and kept hitting me with his knee. I don't think he knew he was doing it so hard... He was also talking to himself, loudly. In the shower, he was saying "Sir, I didn't mean that sir." I asked him if he thought he was talking to a tac officer. He said, "Why, because I said 'Sir, I don't know, sir'?" And that wasn't what he said. Then he got out and got ready, all the while stumbling around the house like a drunk person.

I asked him if he'd like me to take him there. He objected to my suggestion that he might not be awake/alert/sane enough to drive. I was crying. All I could think was, I'm not going to lose him to the academy, not like this. I don't know if I was even thinking straight myself. We'd both had only three hours of sleep again, since today was an inspection day and there was a lot to be done. PT clothes to wash, shoes to shine, uniform to dry-clean and iron...

I was really beside myself. I begged him not to go and he yelled at me for making him late. When he insisted he'd call me when he got there, I finally let it go. He did call, and apologized for snapping at me.

My cracks are beginning to show. I am not the super wife I try to be. Late tonight, around midnight, I asked him: "So did I tell you that I got the scholarship? One of the biggest scholarships a library student can get?"

"Uh-huh." (writing reports)

"Every year, students from all over the state apply. And I've tried for it several times in the past. This year, it went to me. Isn't that cool?"

"That's great, honey." (more writing)

I don't know why, but I just feel really left out, upstaged. The fact is he's never been very supportive of--or remotely interested in--my masters degree or anything else to do with librarianship. When I was working full time, taking classes and volunteering/subbing at libraries, he used to get mad at me for leaving a textbook or two lying out in the living room or leaving the dishes unwashed. He'd say things like "You're not living up to your responsibilities around here," and he'd scoff at higher education in general, which to him isn't worth much. (God, we are so different.)

Contrast that with how things are right now: The police academy has invaded every room of our house. JT does nothing--and I mean NOTHING--but academy. He doesn't even eat or sleep, let alone help me out with the messes he scatters over every square foot of our floor. And even with him doing nothing but academy I still have to do like 90% of the prep work for that, because it takes him until 1 a.m. to finish writing his reports. But every day when he's down, I tell him he's my hero, that I'm proud of him, that I think what he's doing is brave and noble and hard and I'm here for him...

Is it a lot to ask that I get a little pat on the back from him for my accomplishments, and for catching the notice of librarians not only in my community but in my state? One of the librarians I work with said this scholarship is a pretty big deal. I wish my family thought so. They all keep telling me how proud they are of me for the wonderful job I'm doing taking care of my husband and cooking and cleaning and raising our baby. That's great. Perhaps that's an accomplishment they can relate to. But they can't give me even a shred of support for a goal that is different from theirs--a goal I've chosen, and want, and work hard for, and take pride in.

That's not where the anger/resentment issues end, though. There are times when I want to scream, I'm so tired from all the work. But he's so sick and tired and overworked himself that I keep quiet. Then he does these stupid things that keep him writing reports all night long. Yesterday, he told me about some mistake he made and I actually resented him for making that mistake and giving himself another two reports to write when he really should have known better...

I was reading the book Night by Elie Wiesel about his experience in the concentration camps during the Holocaust. He writes about how he watched silently as a Nazi officer beat his father, and hated his father for calling his name so loudly and for provoking the Nazis' ire. That's the kind of thing I am guilty of here when I resent the way JT always seems to come home with the maximum number of reports. I resent the system, the stupid and merciless nature of forcing a sick man to go without lunch and without sleep, to do push-ups and write reports all day long. But at whom do I target that anger? At my husband. That's not really fair.

I guess I have some serious work to do, on myself. Maybe when I finally have a good night's sleep...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Our Black Mondays

My day started out beautifully. I was actually feeling bad about that, because I knew my husband was in for the worst day of his life, but I thought my day couldn't get any better. First I got an email inviting me and JY to go to the beach with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. Then I got a phone call, informing me that I'd been awarded a very competitive library science scholarship! I was jumping up and down and acting like one of those ladies on Oprah when they win free stuff. Except that I won something much more expensive and valuable than a new brand of perfume or an iPad--I won a very large chunk of change towards getting my degree. And, I earned it.

Jedi Youngling got to see the ocean for the first time ever. She squealed with fright when I held her low enough for the cold water to lap her feet. But at one point she started crying inconsolably until she fell asleep. And the pattern didn't stop once we were home. Horrible crying, slipping into exhaustion, starting up again later. Making strange sounds like she was gasping for air, followed by a pushing or straining.

I never got to make Jedi-in-Training the nice dinner I promised him. He came home just as I was really starting to freak out. I was so worried about JY and the weird hiccupy/gasping noises she was making. I was scared that it might be whooping cough--there's been an epidemic lately. He said I should take her to the hospital. I felt torn; I could see that he'd been through a lot today and he still needed dinner and some help and support. But JY was obviously in pain, and the baby's pain has to come first. I took her to the hospital, begging JT to forgive me for leaving him high and dry.

JY was screaming so hard when we got there, and I was so stressed out, that I began to cry myself. Then the problem made itself known: she was pushing out very hard, thick stools. She calmed down a little. I was told to get some infant suppositories, give her more fluids, and we were sent home.

All this time, I'd had nothing to eat but a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Getting her ready for the beach was so involved that I couldn't eat breakfast, and pb&j was all I brought with me for lunch. My arms were sore; I was carrying her a lot all day at the beach and at the hospital I carried her in the car seat across a huge parking lot. So I was tired and hungry, and stopped by for some burgers for JT and me. I put JY to bed, had a burger, and got to hear about JT's day.

When I got home, JT was finishing up the first of seven remedial instruction reports he had to write. He got issued the maximum number of reports for a day: fourteen. Seven of which he has to hand in today, and the other seven tomorrow. On top of that, he's getting a cold. He had snot dripping from his nose while he struggled to scrawl out the letters with the crazy stencil they gave him to make all his letters the same size.

He'd been working on one report for over an hour. I could see at least six papers scattered over the table, all of which looked fine except when he pointed out to me a failure to double-space here, or leave enough room there. I read one of the reports.

"This morning, at 0745, I assaulted Recruit ____ while in formation. I did this because I failed to watch where I was going and lacked common sense. My lack of common sense could cause me to be perceived as unprofessional in the eyes of the public. This could cause me to lose my credibility. In the future, I will not assault Recruit ____. I will use common sense and will watch where I am going."

JT won a kind of award this morning also--he was appointed Recruit Class Sergeant. He fully expected this, given his poor performance on Friday during physical training. So for the next week (maybe two) he is on the spot all the time, having to lead the class and give commands and be the ambassador to the tactical office. What an honor.

A few weeks ago, when the academy was still just a fuzzy dream for him, he told me he would readily volunteer to be Class Sergeant.

Be careful what you wish for.

When approaching the tactical office, there are all kinds of protocol a class sergeant has to remember. You're supposed to take a certain number of steps and then a left-face, then you knock hard on the wooden block by the door (you think a parolee is going to open for you with that knock?).

You request entry, and when told "Enter" you have to step smartly--but watch out, because if a tactical officer happens to be leaving at the same time as you are coming in, you have to stop and say "Sir, by your leave, sir!"

Once inside, there is further protocol. You take two thirty-inch steps (you call that thirty inches?) and make a right-face toward the wall (you just assaulted tactical officer ____'s office with your gun!).

Then you hand the tactical officer whatever papers you were coming to submit--say, the class attendance sheet. He takes it, crumples it, and throws it away. "Not good enough! Do it again."

But every time you make a mistake, you have to drop and give them push ups, squat thrusts, or some other exercise. So a short trip to the tactical office to deliver the attendance sheet becomes a half-hour absence from class--where your fellow recruits are learning things that will be on the test.

JT was especially concerned about all the time he spends away from the classroom. But I really believe that, apart from merely punishing him for his struggles on Friday, they chose him to be the class's first Class Sergeant because they know he will catch up academically on the things he misses. This I will back up with the following incident:

After making a mistake of protocol, JT was asked to give his gun speech. He recited it flawlessly. Then the first paragraph of the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. He said it beautifully. Then the ten-codes, backwards. He aced them.

The tactical officer drilling him said: "Clearly you are not an idiot. But you don't know your way around the academy."

Why do I point to this as evidence of the tactical staff's (dare I say it?) esteem of JT's potential? Because he said that JT is not an idiot!

There's hope yet...

Monday, August 23, 2010


All JT could talk about yesterday was how much he doesn't want to do it anymore. How much he is dreading today. He's been crying too. It's hard to see that; he rarely cries. I told him this will pass, that there's nothing he can't do. He tried to train for the physical demands, but it turned out to be much harder than he thought. Most of the other guys were prepared from their experience in the military. But JT was blown away by it.

I don't know what to say sometimes. "Well, honey, you knew this would be hard and you signed up anyway. There's no going back." What real choice does he have? Our family depends on this now. My part time job is not going to pay the rent. Yet, every time I looked into his eyes yesterday I met a wish, a prayer, that somebody would just tell him "It's OK--you don't have to do this if you don't want to."

When he left this morning he looked like a dying animal. Like he was hoping somebody would just shoot him for mercy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Second-Growth Hickory

Yesterday, while JT was running across the balance beam, he lost his footing. He flipped into the air and landed on his back and head. The tac officer standing over him did not offer his help, just asked him in a sarcastic tone:

"Are you okay? Do you need a fucking ambulance?"

"Sir, no sir."

"Then get up. If you don't need an ambulance then get up and do it again."

"Sir, yes sir."

I told him that he needs to remember the speech for his baton--"It is made of second-growth hickory. Second-growth hickory is that which has been cut and allowed to grow back, doubling its strength."

That's what they are trying to do to JT and to the other recruits. They are trying to break them, cut them down, so that their strength will be doubled.

Cheering Up

So this morning JT got the following email from his sergeant, sent to all the officers in his department:

"If any of you are in the mood for some entertainment on Monday, go down to the ____ Academy and watch Cadet Officer _____ go through his Black Monday. Should be quite amusing."

JT was in better spirits this morning, after some vicodin and a good night's sleep. I went out and bought some toilet paper and donuts. JT has always liked donuts. Then I tidied up the house because we're having a little get-together with some of the classmates and their wives. I hope that picks him up a bit.

JT: "Later tonight, I need you to test me on my spelling."
JW: ^-^ "Oh, why don't we do that with the other guys when they get here? We could have a Spelling Bee! Isn't that fun!"
JT: o_o "Only you would find that fun."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Beaten and Bruised

Today when I got home from work my husband was on the verge of a breakdown. His mother was here taking care of JY. He beckoned me to our room and asked me to shut the door, and he started to cry.

He said he couldn't do it anymore. They did three hours of PT today, and wearing ALL of their PT gear layered on top of each other--their shirts and shorts underneath a thick sweatshirt and sweat pants. It was ninety degrees outside! He almost fell out of a run. He failed both attempts at the obstacle course. He thinks himself a disgrace to his department.

He was in pain all over his body. He showed me countless bruises going all up his arms and clustered over his knees. He had six or seven massive popping blisters on his palms. He said he also thinks he pulled a muscle in his left leg. He said he felt hopeless, that he would never learn to climb the thirty-foot rope or scale the six-foot wall. They were yelling at him: "Oh, come on! Your partner is down, he's bleeding to death on the other side of that wall and where are you?"

I rubbed some Neosporin into his blisters and scrapes. Then I went out and bought him some Epsom salts for a bath and some fast food burgers. He was craving comfort food. He's gotten so thin; he now weighs 158 lbs--that's a twenty-pound drop from what he weighed a month or so ago.

I stroked his fuzzy hair and told him it would be all right, that he'll get it with practice. He thinks he doesn't have enough upper-body strength. That he's just not cut out for this. That may be, but it's my understanding that most of those challenges are more in the technique than the brute strength. I know he can do it.

If you're reading this, honey, I know you can do it. You're my hero...

Caffeine is my Spinach

If somebody had told me three years ago that I'd be taking care of a baby, making dinner every day, ironing, cleaning, taking two classes for my masters, and going to work even when I was feeling sick and exhausted, I would have laughed. "So, Miss Fortune-Teller," I would have said, "maybe you can look in your crystal ball and tell me by what magic I'm able to accomplish all that."

And she would have said: "Coffee."

Of course, if that same person had told me that I'd be married to a wonderful man and mother to a beautiful, happy little girl, that I'd be working and going to school but doing something I like nonetheless, I suppose that would have been a major improvement on my life at the time.

Without coffee, I am nothing. Generally a grouch and a whiner. With it, I become superwoman. A kinder, more upbeat person. I can get things done. I can even think coherently enough to do a bit of creative writing if I actually find the time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lunch, and other missing things

It's been three days since JY saw her father. When I get off work at the library and pick her up from my mom's, I take her home and JT is already fast asleep. I miss him too. I don't think I've had a real chat with him since Monday.

He left his lunch at home today when he left for Academy. I'd have brought it to him but I have no idea where he is, let alone how to get there. I'm hoping he got some food. Maybe the other wives also heeded the advice to "overpack" their husbands' lunches and, thanks to their preparedness, my husband will eat something today.

JY is growing up fast, ready for her 6 months clothes now (and really has been for a while).

Jedi Wife: "Ooo look at these pajamas--they have little duckies on them!"

Jedi Youngling: "Wow, duckies! Can I eat them?" (pulls the fleece toher mouth)

I love the changing of the baby's wardrobe. Every three months or so is like Christmas! I get to dress JY up in all-new clothes that I haven't seen since the baby shower. The most adorable clothes on earth!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Marathon Night

It was about one o'clock in the morning when I went to bed last night. After putting the baby to bed, making JT's lunch, ironing and stitching up the hole in JT's uniform, I wrote a blog post and went to sleep. I knew I'd have to get up early for the cable guy to install a phone line today. But I figured I'd get at least seven hours of sleep and that would be more than sufficient. Life had other plans, as usual.

3:00 a.m.: JT wakes up with an excruciating backache. His back has been bothering him a little for the last few days--apparently gun belts, although sexy, are also the number one reason why so many cops have bad backs. But last night he was in a terrible amount of pain. He couldn't move.

I offer to take him to the hospital--no, I insist on it--but JT keeps saying he'll tough it out. We don't have insurance right now--the new department's plan won't cover us until September. I give him some Ibuprofen from a dental operation and eventually his pain decreases enough to where he and I are both able to get back to sleep.

4:30 a.m.: JT’s phone rings. It's one of his classmates, of course. JT turned his phone off so I never found out what the guy wanted. I know they all get up early (JT sets his alarm for 5:00), but seriously? What was so important that this guy had to wake other people up? I’m sorry, but it’s hard enough trying to be supportive to one recruit--I do not need the rest of the class waking me up at 4:30 in the morning.

5:15 a.m.: JT leaves for class. I’m stunned that he can even walk--but then again he was never one for calling in sick. He reminds me that the cable guy will be here at 8. I ask him to set my alarm for that time.

5:57 a.m.: JY wakes up crying. I hold her, rock her, give her a pacifier, and try to talk some sense into her. “It’s too early, baby--don’t you think it’s a bit early to get up?” The message sinks in: she relaxes and goes back to sleep in her crib.

6:45 a.m.: JY wakes up again--and lets me know that this time, she’s up for good.

Reprimands, Holes, and Other Embarrassing Circumstances

Today JT was reprimanded because he was told he needed to laminate something and didn't. When he showed up with this not done the instructor asked him if he thought he could do it in his own sweet time. JT gave him a "Sir no sir!" and answered similarly when the instructor kept poking at him about it. But it wasn't long before the instructor moved on to other guys who were less concise in their replies. Sometimes the guys try to explain their reasons or justifications for their mess-ups--but JT understands that the instructors are not interested in why you didn't do what you were supposed to. They just want you to do better the next time.

As I was ironing JT's pants tonight I noticed a huge gaping hole in the seam where my mother took them in earlier this week. I'm surprised JT didn't notice it. I don't have a sewing machine, but I couldn't just send him to class like that tomorrow. So I found a needle and thread and stitched it up best I could. It looks like crap. But it's better than having a hole so big you can see his underwear through it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Camp Snoopy

So this week is the week known as "Camp Snoopy" to the academy recruits. But so far, things have been pretty calm. JT's first day was relatively uneventful, with the emphasis being mostly on structured, in-class learning.

His firearms instructor is fairly laid back, and insists that the recruits don't need to go through the formalities because they slow everything down. Normally, if a recruit has a question in class, he has to stand, stare at a space in front of him, say "Sir" and introduce himself. Then he can pose his question and top it with a final "Sir." But this is time-consuming and some instructors prefer to focus on the learning objectives.

The recruits also spent some time in PT with their fitness coach. She told them that they had five minutes to do as many push-ups and sit-ups as they can. JT actually had the lowest number of push-ups of the class: 75. But he felt okay with that. The coach had said that recruits who do less than 50 tend to struggle with the academy. With 25 over that, he's doing OK.

He told me today that he doesn't care if he's not the most athletic in the class. As long as he gets through all the exercises and doesn't draw attention to himself he is fine. But the goal that is closest to his heart is to be the top of his class academically. He is driven to score the highest on the tests and to be the best at memorizing commands and such.

Some officers from his department happened to be practicing at the shooting range nearby today. They saw the name I stenciled on JT's shirt and pants last night, and called to him. They asked him if he's going to pass academy.

"Sir, yes sir!" JT said, smiling.

"You'd better!" they said. "Because it's just day one. And we've got people watching you. Understand? We're watching you."

(Then, according to JT, they waited until they had put some distance between themselves and him before breaking out into a chuckle.)

It's a relief and a blessing to hear how friendly everyone at JT's new police department is. Many police departments hold their rookies at arm's length, letting them know they are not full members of their team. Not JT's department. Perhaps because they are so small, they seem like they've all been informed there's a new recruit and they're curious about him. Like Harry Potter, everyone already knows his name.

JT's anxiety is, according to him, getting a bit better. He's been meditating and this is helping some. I thought it might; it's all in the mind. A big thank you to the other wives who have written me with support and advice for dealing with this. At the moment, he is improving.


I'm exhausted. JY woke up twice last night. Not a usual occurrence for her. Took her a long time to calm down. And this morning I had to get up at 5 to help JT get out the door in time for his first day of the actual, real academy. For JT, today is the first day of "Camp Snoopy," because the recruits will be running around like crazy, confused kids and getting reprimands from every direction. More on that in my next post.

Whenever I need to go to a "happy place" in my mind, I will go to Disneyland. I got to go there this weekend with one of my girl friends. We had such a lovely time. My mom watched the baby for me while she also finished altering JT's uniform. I got to go on rides, buy cute Disney things for the baby, eat yummy food, and enjoy some grownup intellectual conversation with my friend while waiting in lines. It was great to spend some time with her (last time I saw her was 2 years ago!) but it was especially great to get a day for me. A day where I didn't have any chores to do or schoolwork to worry about or meals to cook or crying baby forcing me to drop everything else. It was a day to enjoy being an adult pretending to be a kid. :)

And it's gonna have to last me a little while.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sir, I Made a Mistake, Sir!

JT's Day

I don't think I spoke with my husband for longer than 2 minutes in total today. But according to his facebook page, it was kind-of a rough day. He got his baton taken away during inspection. They try to take the recruits' weapons to see what will happen if a criminal tries something and the recruits have to wise up about not letting their teachers get them. Also, JT got the whole class two extra sets of exercises because he fumbled the words of one of the class sergeant commands.

My Day

I may not have had real police academy instructors yelling at me, but do the voices in my head count?

I was supposed to sing for a funeral this morning for the grandfather of a good friend of mine. Because we only have one alarm clock, and it's always set to the crack-of-dawn time that JT wakes up, and furthermore because I usually work nights at the library, I did not get up. I got a phone call from my friend asking where I was and bolted awake. I climbed into a black dress, started throwing diapers and bottles into a diaper bag, and lugging my purse and some stuff I'd need for work later out to the car. Then I woke up JY, strapped her into her car seat and carried her off...


Yes. I really should get Mother of the Year for that one. But why stop there? I'm sure Friend of the Year isn't out of reach. After all, I was supposed to sing for my friend's very sad and very important occasion and I overslept.

The amazing thing is, I actually made it in time for the beginning of the funeral. I live out in the boonies and it's usually an hour's drive to the city where this funeral was. But I made it in thirty minutes. I didn't even break any laws. There was also an accident that created traffic. How on earth did I make it?

Did my friend's grandpa in heaven slow time down for me to get there? As far as I'm concerned that's as good an explanation as any. The hearse had just driven up and the funeral had not yet begun. There was still time to bring the baby in to my mother (who showed up at the church to watch her for me), catch my breath, and prepare the first song.

Still, I was beating myself up the entire drive there and the entire service. You're such a jerk. You're a terrible friend. You're a terrible person. What kind of person promises to do something to help a friend and then doesn't even remember to set an alarm to wake themselves up?

The kind of person who is already overextended but always says "yes" anyway.

And what was going through poor JY's head as my mother tried to soothe her with the words, "Look up there! Your mama's up there singing! That's your mama!" She burst out screaming. She was probably thinking, What the heck are you doing up there, mommy? AND WHY ARE YOU NOT FEEDING ME??

If only doing twenty push-ups could make my drill sergeant's voice go away.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Family Day at the Academy

Tonight I got to meet the tactical staff that will be drilling their message of failure and incompetence into JT and his classmates for the next six months. And I got to know a couple of other recruit wives which was really nice. I was nervous about it on the way there (I'm the kind of person who gets nervous about a doctor's appointment). I asked JT, "It'll be okay, right? It'll be fun?"

"Yeah. Fun for YOU, maybe."

We all arrived way early for the orientation. We lingered in the parking lot like unwelcome guests for about 20 minutes before going inside all together. We found our seats and twiddled our thumbs for what felt like 20 minutes longer while we waited for the tactical staff to take the stage.

The tac officers marched in, single-file, in the uniforms of the agencies they work for. They were an impressive bunch who commanded instant respect. The captain read to us of each man's accomplishments; many had been given medals of bravery.

Then each recruit had the opportunity to introduce himself and his family. I was surprised: most of the recruits are not sponsored by any agency. These men have sponsored themselves (and it costs around $6,000 just for tuition I'm told) so that they can get the POST certificate and have a better shot at employment. There are much easier academies they could have enrolled in but they wanted this one, and I applaud them and their families for dedicating themselves to this. I hope that it yields a bounty of opportunities after graduation.

The recruits were all nervous as they introduced themselves. The first guy addressed the captain (a female) as "Sir" and got a chilly "Excuse me?" from her in response.

Let the games begin.

After each recruit and his family was introduced to us, the tac staff showed us a video and then talked to us a bit about the recruits' nutritional needs. Then the recruits went into another room where they were yelled at for not sounding off loudly enough in their introductions. They were given instructions to fill out a form and anyone who had questions was picked on by the tac officers. JT said he was expecting the onslaught and was fully prepared for it. He actually didn't get yelled at a whole lot. The foreign guy in his class who is still learning English--well, JT's glad not to be him right now.

Meanwhile, the wives, girlfriends and parents were in the auditorium with a recent academy graduate and his wife who told us about their experiences and shared some valuable advice. Some of the things I learned:

  • Wash fruits and vegetables and pack them into snack bags at the beginning of each week.
  • Overpack his lunch--and remind him to eat a breakfast!
  • Buy a gun safe.
  • Meal time is family time--other than that, don't expect to see much of him.
  • JT will have a minimum of seven reports to write per day--even on weekends.
  • Weekends may be busy for him, with study groups and charity runs, etc., so be flexible and understanding.
  • Have a support person--I am the support person for JT. But who is there for me when I need support? My parents, my friends, and my readers. :)
  • Under NO circumstances am I to burden JT with my feelings, worries, complaints, problems, etc. That's what my support person is for.
Last, but not least, no matter how many times JT says he wants to give up, don't let him. This was told to us by the captain, the academy grad, and several other tac officers.

But when JT and the recruits were separated from the rest, they were given a very different message:

"You're gonna hear a lot of people telling you not to give up. Don't listen to them. Walk away. Now. You're not ready for this. Get out of here and don't come back."

One guy actually got up to leave. "Sit your ass down," they said.

After that, it was a little clearer to the class which of these contradictory messages they were supposed to listen to.

They picked on that guy a lot tonight, apparently. They said he had no "command presence." It sounds like you're supposed to yell when they yell, but at all times you're supposed to have a kind of quiet power and control. Fortunately, JT's jail experience has prepared him well for this particular expectation.

Anyway, I'm feeling a bit better about the academy now and all the work that will be expected of me. It's the same thing that's expected of all the other wives. Is it crazy? Demanding? Hell yes. But what JT has to go through will be far more excruciating for sure. It's only six months of our lives. Only six months of staying up until midnight. I do want to be as supportive as I can be. It's important to both of our lives that he passes and has a successful law enforcement career.

My Time of Day

Midnight to about 2 a.m.--that's my time. When the baby is asleep. When my husband is asleep. When the uniform, suit and PT clothes are all washed and ironed. When lunch is packed. When the dishes are loaded into the dishwasher. When the house is looking a lot cleaner than it's been in a while, because all of JT's stuff is by the door ready to go. I sit here at my computer in my reclining chair, read a couple of blogs and emails, and write. Now is my time, when I can put aside thinking of others and think about myself.

I've been feeling a little down today. If I may risk sounding uncharacteristically ungrateful and self-pitying for a moment, I have to confess that I don't completely understand why I have to do all of this. I've never been big on manual labor. I've always been more the kind of person who likes sedentary jobs that use my brain and very little else. I don't think I've ever worked this hard in my life.

Why must I work until midnight every night just because my husband decided to be a police officer? Why does the academy give its recruits such an impossible number of tasks to do when they know it's the wives who will be doing the bulk of it? What did we wives do to deserve that?

Recently two very good full-time librarian job openings came to my attention and I decided not to apply. They would be great for my career and my interests but how am I supposed to work 40-hour weeks and keep working on my masters classes (which start next week!) and take care of the baby and complete JT's everyday list of chores? No, it's not the right time. Once JT is done with academy and training, once JY is a little older, then it will be a good time. Then it will be my time.

The problem is that things have changed. Jobs are scarce now, especially in the public sector which has had to slash library budgets and jobs right and left. Jobs used to be like buses; you could pass on one and wait for another to come along. Now I have to cross my fingers and hope I'm not marooned on a cold wooden bench.

Monday, August 9, 2010


About a week ago, I noticed a deep cut on JT's left wrist. When I asked him where he got it he said he didn't know. Well, last night he told me. He gave it to himself.

He explained that he gets anxiety attacks every morning now. These are marked by nausea. So sometimes he digs his fingernails into his skin to keep from throwing up.

JT has had anxiety his whole life. He used to be afraid of Disneyland as a child. He used to be afraid of school too and would stay home with stomach aches that went away after a few hours. But the minute his parents took him back to school he would get nauseous again and spend the rest of the day hiding out in the bathroom.

When I met him, he had grown out of this anxiety for the most part, with the help of some medications that did damage to his liver. On our third date, he told me that he was nauseous, because he always got nauseous in the face of something new and exciting. But apart from that one day, the only time I ever saw him anxious was when his band was playing gigs (they're on hiatus now). He never ate before a show. He said he was afraid he would throw up at any moment.

Now that his life is changing, now that he has a new job and will work for a new department and has a ton of new things to learn and a ton of pressure to get them right, his anxiety has come back full force. And he's mutilating himself in an effort to keep it hidden.

He's looking for remedies. He no longer takes medication but is considering going back to that. Personally, I believe in treating the problem at the source: I think meditation or hypnotherapy could do him some good. JT is a Buddhist, but he never meditates. I think if he could try doing that for a little while every morning it might help soothe his mind.

What do my readers think? Any other suggestions for dealing with anxiety--herbal remedies, mental remedies, etc--are welcome.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

After he was finished with the great lunch I made him (roast beef & swiss on bagels with avocado slices and a frappuccino--a concoction made from instant cappuccino powder, ice cream, ice and milk) I asked JT to change the baby's diaper and clothes.

"But I don't know what to put on her."
"It doesn't matter," I say. "Just give her a onesie or something."
"Why do I have to make all the decisions?"
"What are you talking about?"
"It's too many decisions! You try making decisions sometime!"

I'm genuinely confused at this point. So I shut up and continue folding cloth diapers fresh from the dryer.

Finally he chooses the green "Daddy's Princess" onesie.

A minute later, she's still in nothing but a diaper.

JT: "I can't get it over her head. Her head is too big now."
"Yeah. Her head has grown. But it's not too big."
"I've forgotten how to do it," he says.
"Here: I'll show you--you just roll it up this way and make the opening wider..."
"I can't do it."
"Well, honey, how are you doing it when I'm not here?"
"I don't know. It just happens."
"It does, huh?"
"I think you should do it."
"Honey, what's wrong with you?"
"You do it, okay?" (Walking away) "The definition of a crime is an act, committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it..."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Not Welcome

I thought it would never come, but the weekend is finally here. JT came home early from preacademy today. He told me that he and the other recruits have been informed that they are "not welcome." What he means is that when they are dismissed they are to vacate the premises immediately, as though in disgrace. They are not to look at any of their instructors in the eye. And if they are walking somewhere and one of the instructors or other tactical staff walk by, the recruits are to stop and ask for leave before continuing on their way.

We spent the afternoon making flash cards to help him memorize things like the members of his department's city council, facts about his city, the definition of a crime, the vehicle codes, penal codes and "ten codes" which officers use to communicate. Furthermore, he still has some drills to learn for the various jobs he could be assigned from week to week. JT had an interesting analogy for it yesterday. Drawing on his knowledge that I used to enjoy acting in high school, he said: "It's like you're in a play that opens in two weeks. You have to learn all the parts because you don't know which part you'll be playing, and they're not going to tell you until 20 minutes before curtain."

He's been preparing me for what to expect on Family Day, this coming Tuesday. I'm going to be invited to the facility where he's doing preacademy, and they'll be providing cookies and refreshments, and some little pens and other giveaway items. JT and the other recruits are not to take anything--they are not welcome. The instructors of the academy will be nice--but JT says "Don't let it fool you!" They'll show us videos of previous academy classes, tell us jokes, and remind us to be supportive and patient while the recruits go through this program. During all that, the recruits will be asked to step into an adjacent room where they will be yelled at for any number of things. When JT comes back, I'm not to ask him where he's been or if he was getting yelled at because the mic system will pick up even the lowest whispers. I'll have to be on my best behavior. This is gonna be interesting.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


JY is squeaking and squawking happily in her crib--unaware that her daddy is trying to sleep. He got a new name today: “Four Eyes.” Also “Goggles” and “Numb Nuts.” It could have been worse: the heavy guy in his class was called "Dough Boy."

JT had to learn how to sing a jodie while doing push-ups and getting yelled at. The recruits took turns making up jodies for the class to sing. The instructor for the day, a marine, would tell the recruits to do ten push-ups, then stop the recruits in the middle of a push-up, ask them to hold it, and have them say in unison:

“Due to lack of motivation, the class will start over at zero. To work off the national debt, the class will perform ten highly-motivated push-ups.”

Sometimes while doing exercises, a recruit would get called on to recite one of their various speeches, then they’d start a new exercise and somebody else would have to pick up where he left off. Basically a lot of paying attention and multi-tasking. And getting called belittling names.

JY’s been doing some multi-tasking too--she can hold her feet with both hands! :)

My parents watched her today while I worked. They said that she is learning to grab her pull toys--the ones we’ve been dangling in front of her for ages now. But sometimes after grabbing one, she recoils and fixes her gaze on the hand that was doing the grabbing. We surround her with all these beautiful things to play with and look at, and half the time she’s just mesmerized by her own fingers.

(Indeed, they are hypnotically cute!)

JT weighed himself today at 168 lbs. He usually weighs around 175-180. He’s looking so thin.

I also weighed myself today, and I am happy to report that I am finally back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 148 lbs! That isn’t a super high bar I set for myself, seeing as I considered myself a bit overweight even before getting pregnant. But a month ago, I thought I’d never get there. Now I can stop making excuses and start really getting back in shape!

Although I haven't been doing as much exercising as JT, I'm doing plenty of multi-tasking. For example, folding laundry and making it a game so that I can keep JY entertained at the same time. Or washing an endless pile of dishes and snagging bites of breakfast cereal here and there. Or finishing this blog with one hand while I feed the baby!

I broke a glass and cut myself. Kitchen, thou art still my mortal enemy.

Glossary--for the readers who aren't familiar with the military/police academy phrases I'm using:

"National debt": An arbitrary number of exercises set at the beginning of academy which recruits have to complete before academy's end.

"Jodies": military sing-songs like "When I say 'work,' you say 'harder.' Work!" "Harder!" "Work!" "Harder!"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

First Day of Preacademy, Pt. 2

JT got home just in time to give JY a bottle and have his dinner. The lamb came out great, just slightly more cooked than medium rare. JT was in pretty good spirits when he came home. The first thing he told me about his day was that their lunches were inspected, and that he was praised for having a highly organized, healthy sack lunch :) (That was me.)

Of course, he didn't actually eat his lunch. He had the carrot sticks and grapes but nothing else. He says he was studying and too stressed out to eat. He found out today that everybody else actually started on Saturday! Nobody told him about that. Apparently it was a day for everyone to just get used to the facility and learn the drill for approaching the tactical office. So he's already a little behind on some things.

But he's ahead on others. All the time he's spent memorizing speeches about his weapon, baton, handcuffs, code of ethics, etc., has served him well! He knows this material more than most of his classmates. He says that his classmates are very helpful in catching him up on the things he missed on Saturday. Two of his classmates are "recycled" recruits who didn't graduate in an earlier class, and are thus very knowledgeable. JT says they really feel like a team and they look out for each other.

One of his classmates is friends with the officer who did JT's background check. When JT introduced himself and what department he comes from, the recruit knew his name! He said that the lieutenant spoke very highly of JT as a good new hire and this boosted JT's confidence and self esteem quite a bit. :) Thank God for the nice people we come across in every difficult situation!

After our lovely lamb dinner (maybe the kitchen and I can patch up our differences after all!) JT practiced some new things he has to memorize and we all went out for a walk with the stroller. He's stressed, but he assured me that he's not going to bring the stress home--that he's going to let home be like a haven where he can take a break from the stress. I hope so, because I think that will be the best experience for him. For my part, I will try to keep it as havenly as possible. :)

First Day of Preacademy, Pt. 1

JT left this morning for his first day of preacademy. He set his alarm for 5:30 a.m. and I got up too and tried to help him get ready. He had a ton of stuff he had to carry to the car, and insisted on taking it all himself because he will have to get it all out of the car himself.

I wish it didn't take several cups of coffee just to get myself awake through the day. I spent the morning doing all our laundry. I had to stay up with JY last night who was crying for no reason at 11 pm and wouldn't calm down until close to 12:30. It woke JT and he rocked her for a little while in the rocking chair but eventually he got tired and I took over.

People ask me when her bedtime is. I tell them "Whenever she decides it's time." With a baby, you can't just say, "Go to bed." You have to coax them to sleep. If they're not sleepy but in a good mood you might be able to leave them alone, but if they're cranky you're not gonna get a wink of sleep yourself until you comfort them.

I promised JT a nice dinner and I should get going on it. I'm attempting a relatively uncomplicated lamb chops recipe I found in Men's Health (his favorite magazine). I am not a cook. I am honestly terrified of my kitchen. This is usually JT's thing, which he does with pleasure and artistry. Suddenly it's my job to make sure he has a healthy dinner five nights a week, maybe seven... even when I'm working at night. Ah well--I figure that with all the new things my husband has to learn and all the new challenges he has, I can muster up enough courage and energy to cook him a decent meal each day and keep the house looking clean. This is my task.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Last-Minute Preparations

Tomorrow JT starts his preacademy. It's a two week long orientation for the academy--that should tell you how difficult academy will be! He went to pick up his uniform today, and then when he got them home he found they didn't quite fit. So he had to go all the way back (it's a long way from our house) and ask them to hem the legs.

Yesterday we bought him this fancy silver Cross pen and pencil set, which is apparently the only pen or pencil he's allowed to use while at academy. So today, I snuck it out of our closet and took it with me to the mall. I got the pen and pencil both engraved with a simple message: "MY HERO." It looks classy and I don't think his instructors will catch the deviation. I just wanted to give him some message of hope and confidence and thought this was the simplest, most meaningful way to do it.

JY is doing very well. She gets cuter all the time. She has long dark eyelashes and a beautiful smile and likes to squeal loudly--it's sort of like the sound a monkey would make if it were trying to quack like a duck! She looks like a princess but sounds like a chimpanzee!

We got her a little jumper yesterday, which she's still too small for but she's having fun with it anyway. She's so wonderful. You can hold her hands and lift her arms up and down and back and forth and she just lets you play with her like a little doll. If we could only all be so flexible, so pliant!

I wish I could spend more time playing with her but I have a lot of chores to do to help JT get ready. There's three loads of laundry, dinner, and shaving his head again (the hair grows so fast!). Plus other odd jobs helping him pack for tomorrow. He's been polishing his gun belt. So much to do!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rewriting the Manual

At this moment, JT's got one hand in the cradle, holding JY's, and one hand on the keyboard. When I asked him what he's up to, he said, "Writing."

I did a double take. "What are you writing?"

"Oh, just compiling the parts of the manual that describe the class sergeant's duties. I'm taking this list and expanding it to include the detailed instructions from this part over here."

He's rewriting his training manual.

We were trying to figure out what certain words and directions mean. Why do they say "cover" when they could just say "hat"? And what in God's name do they want you to do when they tell you to "move your right hand in a circular motion perpendicular to your body until it is at a ninety-degree angle, and your elbow is close to your body, and your forearm is at a forty-five-degree angle to your elbow"???

Meanwhile, I'm doing a little writing myself--a grocery list. We've been relying on fast food for about a week now, both of us too tired to go shopping or do any cooking. But I know JT would love a home-cooked dinner when he comes home from preacademy on Tuesday, so I'm going to make him a nice one: lamb chops!

JY is almost ready for solid baby food. We're starting her slow on rice cereal mixed with breastmilk. She's developed a bad habit lately of sucking on her right wrist. It's got this huge red bruise on it like a high school hickey. To entertain her while I write this, work on my grocery list, eat my breakfast and get ready to go out, I've tied a little jingle toy around her foot. It clangs its bells when she kicks. Oh, the tacky things your mommy resorts to--you poor little baby!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

This is my rifle, this is my gun...

JT has a new mantra to learn:

"My weapon is a Glock Model 21 forty-five caliber semiautomatic handgun. It has a four-point-six-inch barrel with an overall length of seven point fifty-nine inches. It carries thirteen rounds in the magazine with one round in the chamber for a total of fourteen rounds. It weighs twenty-six point twenty-eight ounces unloaded and thirty-eight point twenty-eight ounces loaded. It has standard sights. The barrel has eight lands and grooves with a uniform right hand twist. The serial number of my weapon is..."

Over and over he says it, the words and numbers echoing softly through the house like Gregorian chant. I think I've just about memorized it myself.

He practices it while he washes the dishes, and repeats it while he changes JY's diaper. He's been helping out a lot around the house, and I think it's sweet--it's like he's buttering me up for when his needs start to become more demanding. ;) Or maybe he can sense that I'm nervous about how much our lives are going to change. He's trying extra hard to reassure me: I'm still the same guy. You remember the guy who, our first year together, packed you a lunch and brought it to you every day at work and we ate it together picnic-style at the park? Yeah, I'm still here. :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gun Belts Are Sexy

JT just got his hat and his gun, both of which are cool and beautiful and scary all at the same time. The hat has a shiny badge-type crest on it with the seal of the state of California. The fabric is either black or such a dark shade of blue that it's almost black. The seal is white and yellow gold.

He let me hold his gun, which will never be loaded while he is in academy except during shooting lessons. It was heavy, and I had difficulty lifting it level to aim at anything. I told him that we have to buy a very strong safe for it, and that I don't want him to even tell me the combination. I don't know why I said that. It's just that guns freak me out a little. All the time in the news we're confronted with their deadly and tragic effects. When I was a kid, a boy at my school killed his best friend because they were playing with his daddy's gun. (His dad was a police officer.) These friends were only six or seven years old.

Maybe as a result of that story, impressed on me very young, I have always been very anti-guns. But there's no getting around it now; my husband has to carry a weapon to protect himself. So it's weird that, for all my anti-gun sentiment, I can't help but find JT kind-of sexy with a gun belt.

I am a die-hard fan of mob movies. Ask me what the best movie ever made was and I will tell you every time, it was The Godfather. I could write a dissertation on the women in The Godfather, and their fatal attraction to power. And it just dawned on me: Am I the same way?

Am I attracted to men with power? I don't think so... It was JT's music prowess that initially hooked me (every man I've ever been with, for that matter, was a musician). Power is a whole new territory for me, and it scares me that I kind-of like it...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Talk

Yesterday JT had to go to his old department to turn in a tape recorder he never used. Just one of those things they gave him eight years ago when he started, and it's been collecting dust in his parents' garage. We took JY (our baby) and made an evening of showing her off to his former coworkers. A lot of them had given us gifts when she was born, and I felt a little guilty about not having brought her over sooner. They loved her of course, and our little empress even deigned to let a few of them hold her!

While they were tickling her toes and arguing over who she resembles more, I got a couple different versions of The Talk. I'm sure every spouse of a police officer has heard it before--the "Hang in there because it's gonna get rough" Talk.

They say he's going to change. That the mild-mannered, "cuddly" person I married will disappear once he starts learning how to survive and establish control. It was JT's former chief of police who said to me: "Police work takes a toll on any marriage, but it's the couples who are already married before academy that have the roughest time with it." (Thanks for the sunny outlook, Chief.)

I'm not going to pretend this doesn't scare me. Marriage is hard enough when you vow to spend your life with someone you think will stay relatively the same for the next fifty years (no matter how annoying they become in the process!). Women are told not to marry a bad boy and expect him to "change" because that will never happen. Well, I was careful to avoid that scenario--only to find myself in one where my perfectly lovable husband may go and change on me after all!

So how do I plan to deal with it if one day he comes home and, in El Jefe's words, becomes a "completely different person"? I have no idea. But this blog will at least give me a place to reflect on everything as it happens. It will be my lifeline to dignity, sanity, and self-respect.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gearing Up

Okay, so I need to come clean: I began this blog four months ago when it looked like my husband would be going to the academy in a matter of weeks. But as an example of the economic climate we're in right now, they had to keep canceling academy classes! They don't have enough new recruits to keep it going. Police departments all over the state have hiring freezes, and the ones that are hiring are only taking laterals. So JT had to wait for an academy class to open up again, and two weeks ago he finally got the word that it will be happening in August.

Throughout this time, JT has been training hard. He's been running four to six miles a day, up hills and down, in ninety degree weather sometimes. He has all sorts of speeches he has to memorize verbatim, including the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics and his department's mission statement. He even has to practice a long list of spelling words (as the resident writer in the family I'm helping him with that part).

Meanwhile, I've been back at work part-time and raising our little daughter. She was a newborn when I started this, and I quickly discovered how foolish I was to think I'd have any time to write. I didn't have much to report here, anyway, as academy kept getting pushed back farther and farther. So this blog got pushed WAY to the bottom of my priorities list, as sleeping, eating, and mastering the difficult art of breastfeeding crowded the top. Now that she is sleeping through the night, I'm beginning to get into more of a routine, so I've decided maybe I can write this blog after all.

JT is very excited to be starting soon. The other day, I shaved his head for him. He kept telling me, like a Buddhist novice on his ordination day: "It's just an attachment to hair. Just have to let go." I keep looking over at him expecting to see a thick head of dark hair, and am continually surprised by its absence.

JT will be going to a "pre-academy," a sort of two-week orientation for the academy that will teach him all the inane, mind-numbing drills he will have to learn if he doesn't want to get screamed at like a scene from Full Metal Jacket. His department is anxious to send him fully prepared, and yesterday they took him out to buy all his equipment. He came home with the following:

  • California Penal Code
  • California Vehicle Code
  • Criminal Law and Evidence & P.C. 832
  • California Criminal Law and Evidence Flash Cards
  • A "logistics bag" for all his gear
  • Two caps with visors
  • Safety goggles (for the shooting range)
  • Two keyless padlocks
  • Two report writing templates (these are really strange: they're like stencils and all I can figure is that you're supposed to use them to keep your letters small or something)
  • Lettering stencils (for creating a sign or something)
  • A tie clip
  • A gun cleaning kit
  • A baton (the long one--he was rather disappointed not to be getting the short one that flips out)
  • His "Batman belt" (as he calls it), consisting of: two sets of handcuffs, cases for carrying them, gun holsters, magazine pouch, and baton ring
He also got fitted for a uniform, and is excited to be getting some shiny "cheat" shoes. They're boots that you don't have to shine, so that takes one thing off of his (or rather, my) daily to-do list!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Meet The Family

JT (Jedi-in-Training)

My husband has always wanted to be a Jedi: to protect and serve. He was raised by a city councilman who taught him and his sister the value of working hard, volunteering, and serving one's community. His ideals about justice, integrity, and sacrifice are part of what make him so loveable.

I liked him from the moment I met him, and though it scared me a little, something just told me "I'm gonna marry this guy." He was sincere, he was serious, but so pleasant to be around. He was working as a jail officer, and despite all of the crap he took from inmates who spit on him, screamed at him or tried to fight him, it never phased him. He still had patience enough to treat them like human beings, and energy enough to go out on fun dates with me after work, introducing me to everybody at the station with an enthusiasm you just can't fake.

He plays in a rock band, but he's never used illegal drugs. He's a god with a microphone, but he still gets sick with nervousness each time he goes on stage. He's totally geeky about Star Wars, but his taste in movies generally favors indie and foreign films over mainstream blockbusters. His dark side, and perhaps his biggest weakness, is his perfectionism---and I mean that. He's incredibly anal about being on time and having a clean house. He loves cooking and has a natural talent for mixing spices and uncommon ingredients, but ask him to build or repair something and he might have a heart attack. He's the only man I know who's got his own copy of the Martha Stewart Homekeeping Handbook. He's fluent in Spanish and Beatlemania; all of his favorite bands are British groups. His favorite books are Harry Potter and Mein Kampf.

JW (Jedi Wife)

Okay, so that picture couldn't be farther from what I'm really like. There's the huge gun, the spandex, and the amazingly fit, definitely-not-a-mother tummy. So you'll have to accept it for now as a mere imaginative projection of my fantasies of badassness.

Like my husband I also work serving the public, which occasionally brings me in contact with the homeless, the mentally-ill, the uneducated, the rich, entitled and opinionated. My service is information: I work on the reference desk of a public library and my primary tasks are helping people find books and other materials, helping them research their projects, and helping them use the computers. I love my job and get a thrill out of finding a book or article that's perfect for somebody. I always had a love of learning, and now I spend a lot of my time finding the answers to questions I never would have thought to ask. But I also deal with the occasional abuse of difficult people, and my coworkers say that my shy, sweet voice makes me an automatic target for both the very kind patrons and the very frustrating ones. My work is challenging at times but one that carves me every day into a more compassionate, service-oriented person.

I got into this line of work when I discovered that my English bachelors degree and lack of supplemental skills hadn't prepared me for much more than a lifetime of secretarial work. I was turned on to the very doable possibility of a masters in library science by a beloved aunt (now deceased), and I applied for the online School of Library and Information Science at San Jose State University. I started taking online classes in January 2008, and by the end of that year I had enough knowledge, contacts and passion for this field that I was able to land a job as a part time library assistant and say goodbye to office work forever.

The dream that is closest to my heart is writing, although sometimes it is more of a dream than a goal I'm working toward. So far I've got one novel that will probably never be published, and a handful of poems scattered around the web in online literary magazines. My favorite authors are J.D. Salinger, Junot Diaz and Dostoevsky (in no particular order).

JY (Jedi Youngling)

Trust me, our little girl is infinitely prettier than her picture. (But like the Chinese proverb says, "There is only one pretty child in the world, and that's yours.") I chose this picture because, although she's just a baby, babies are born into this world already enlightened and living in the moment. Any difficulties they pose to parents are completely innocent of harm or malice, and must be taken in stride. I once heard someone say that babies are like little Zen masters, pushing all your buttons and challenging you to be a more patient person. Yet it's impossible not to love them, admire them, and sacrifice everything for them. My little girl is my reason for living and my constant joy.