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As I write this, I'm looking across the table at my beautiful FIANCEE Tana, aka Miss [livejournal.com profile] mepeachykeen619 as she makes playlists for our New Year's Eve party tonight, the light from her monitor making her face glow softly in the muted lighting we usually keep in the condo. A year ago, we were in Charlotte, hanging out with my old high school friends Andre and Gerin (aka [livejournal.com profile] capt_hornblower) at some overcrowded, overpriced irish pub place in downtown Charlotte, watching in amused fascination as some ridiculously drunk UNCC student (an oxymoron, I know) prattled on and on about why she was a political science major. Had somebody told me then where I would be in my life right now, I think I'd have had a hard time believing it.

The biggest news of the year, without a doubt, is that Tana and I are now engaged. That just happened a little under two weeks ago- December 19th, to be exact, at the base of the fountain at Balboa park after taking her out to dinner at The Prado, one of the best restaurants in San Diego. I've been fortunate to hook a girl like her, and I know it's not the kind of thing that happens every day to a guy. I've been through so much this year, put her through so much, and she's never wavered, never swayed at all in her devotion to me, to us. I know I'll never be able to thank her enough or show how grateful I am, but I'm happy to spend the rest of my life trying to. We just reserved the place for the wedding along with the date- October 18th, 2009 we'll say our vows at the Ocean View Room at the Point Loma Submarine Base. I don't have the foggiest idea about anything having to do with weddings, but I know that Tana, her mom, her sister, and the rest of her family will help there. Just tell me where to show up, and make sure there's beer there and I'll be happy. In my opinion, we could be running off to Vegas and just have it done with- the important thing in my opinion is that I just want to be able to spend the rest of my life with Tana. And I know she feels the same way too. ;)

On another note, I'm less than 3 months from finishing this 3- year tour in hell that has been Recruiting. This last year has been the hardest all around- getting moved and promoted to running an office, getting cursed out, fired, and moved back to Orange County, and having a crosshair securely on my back for most of the first part of the year took its toll on me- one day at the beginning of July spent at Balboa Naval Hospital following a nervous breakdown and lots of anti- depressants later, I'm doing much better. Lord only knows where I'd be right now if it wasn't for Tana once again being by my side. I'm looking forward to spending most of the beginning of January starting my check- out process and getting ready for 60 days of paid vacation on the Navy's dime. Then, it's a simple matter of figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. Easy, right?

Christmas was a different affair than usual this year as well; Tana came back to New York and Charlotte with me last year, but we both knew beforehand that she wouldn't be able to do it again this year- she's got her own family out here as well, and I knew that I didn't want to be away from her for the holidays. So, in probably one of the hardest calls I've ever had to make to my family's house, I told them I wouldn't be home for Christmas this year. In reality I kinda knew it was coming- I'm 27 years old, and it's really time for me to start doing my own thing when it comes to the holidays anyway. Spending it with Tana in our own place was a very nice plus- and this time next year we'll be married anyway, so it's been good practice.

We'll be married this time next year.

Wow. Yeah, I really just said that. Strangely enough, it feels good.

2008 has ended really well- I couldn't have asked for a better way to end it, and I'm looking forward to 2009 as a blank slate, a truly fresh start, and another year of truly momentous changes. Here's to love, luck, success to everybody else as well!
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  1. I'm sitting in the USO at Charlotte- Douglas International with [Bad username or unknown identity: mepeachykeen as we wait for our flight back to the West Coast. Thought I'd kill some time. Stolen from Megan, because I'm not that creative when I'm hung over. ;) 1. What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before?Brought a girl home to meet my crazy family and friends. 2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?I don't think I bothered to make anyresolutions last year- but I most definitely didfor this year. And hopefully folks will help keepme in check on those. 3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Kelly, and Lori (shudders). 4. Did anyone close to you die? Not this year, that I can think of... 5. What countries did you visit?Stayed right here in the U.S. and A. the whole year- recruitingsucks away any attempts at having a life outside of work. 6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?Time off from work, lessstress, more fun. In other words, a life outside of work. 7.What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory? March 3, 2007. Firstdate with Tana. We went to Aussie Pub and talked for a long, long time over pitchers. 8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?Not going crazy or killing somebody as a result of my job. 9. What was your biggest failure?Screwing up certain plans that certain people made for birthdays and such. Not doing more to ensure I was getting to use the time off that I'm supposed to be entitled to. 10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I caught a couple of crazynasty flu bugs in March and September, probably brought on by an immune systemweakened from too much stress, too much work, and not enough sleep. 11. What was the best thing you bought? A 4-day cruise with Tana for this coming April. :) 12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Michelle and Tana for being so forgiving, and everybody else who helped me stay sane over the last year. 13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? My stupid vengeful bitch of an ex- girlfriend 14. Where did most of your money go? Gas, uniforms, food. Recruiting- related expenses. 15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?Flying home for the holidays with Tana. 16. What songs will always remind you of 2007? good question. 17. Compared to this time last year, are you i. happier or sadder?Happier, in mostways... ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. And not happy about it in the least. iii. richer or poorer?Richer. And not just in monetary means 18. What do you wish you'd done more of?Working out, spending time with friends, just living and appreciating where I am. 19. What do you wish you'd done less of?Working. 'Nuff said. I hate my job. 20. How will you be spending Christmas? SPENT Christmas with the family and Tana in New York. Had a blast while we were there. :) 21. Did you fall in love in 2007?Most definitely! :D 22. How many one night stands?Um..... that really depends onhow you look at it. But more than I'dreally like to admit to. 23. What was your favorite TV program?Lost! The only onethat was on late enoughfor me to be able to watch when I got home from work. 24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? The list is long, but distinguished. 26. What was the best book you read?The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. Brilliant read. 27. What was your greatest musical discovery?Federicko Aubele 28. What did you want and get?A wonderful lady in my life( who I promise I'll write more about soon...) 29. What did you want and not get?Out of recruiting. :( 30. What was your favorite film of this year?Transformers! Made me feel like I was 6 years old again! 31. What did you do on your birthday?We had onehell of a busy weekend- went out, went to brunch at the Wave House, drank all day, and played beer pong until well aftermidnight. 32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?Not being inrecruiting. 33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? 98% of my waking hours were spent in uniform. You figure it out. 34. What kept you sane?Tana, Michelle, Jason,Colin, Billy, Zeke, Mike Jenkins, Beer, Vodka, Rum, and karaoke. 35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?EIther Edwards or Obama 36. What political issue stirred you the most?Either Immigration or the handling ofveterans returning from Iraq (or lack thereof). 37. Who did you miss? Everybody back east. 38. Who were the best new people you met?Tana,her friends, and re-connecting with Mikey Jenkins again. 39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007: Karma will always come back around and get you. ]
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I love free wi-fi at the airports! I should've written this a long time ago, and I'll proababy backdate it later. This is mostly in response to all of you who've left me such kind voicemails, IM's, emails, etc. I really do appreciate it. :)

Christmas.

That magical time every year when friends and family gather to cut down and decorate a young coniferous tree, eat all kinds of sugar-laden treats and fat- saturated meals, and grown adults break into open fistfights in an attempt to perpetuate the spirit of giving supported by the retail industry and making sure their kids have the newest and greatest toys in the world. For many, the idea of spending large amounts of time with friends and family is enough to make anybody want to shotgun a half-gallon of sweet, thick, Bacardi- laced eggnog in an effort to make the inevitable confrontations between family members that much easier to deal with.

OK, I’m done being cynical for a moment.

I know that after my recent entry talking about how terrible things were going at work and my complete lack of a personal life, a lot of friends expressed their concerns for my wellbeing, along with a lot of personal testimonials on the wonders of modern-day pharmaceuticals to help brighten up those dark times that we all go through (some more than others, I know). Thankfully, just when it felt like I’d hit rock bottom, as is often the case, I had a bit of help from the most unlikely of outside sources.

It was a Saturday night about 3 weeks ago, and I got home late- as usual- to find that Kayla was busily puttering around the house, Christmas music blazing from her laptop’s perch on the kitchen counter, the tiny Christmas tree in the living room was already glowing blue, white, and green, and I could smell the previously mentioned sugar- laden treats in the oven baking. As soon as I came into the house, still in uniform, physically and emotionally drained from a long day, the expression on her face brightened.

“Oh good Ted, you’re home just in time! I could use some help figuring out how to hang the lights on the balcony, and I found a couple of strands that Ron left in his room when he moved!”

Who was I to say anything? Before I could even think about it, I could begin to feel my mood improve. The hot neighbor girls upstairs had set up their decorations the weekend before, and I could feel my competitive spirit starting to come back as I chuckled and went to help Kayla hang the lights. You see, Christmas time has always been one of my favorite times of year. As much as I may dislike having to fly up to Bath and freeze my ass off for a week or two (and just dislike Bath in general- sorry Laura and Nora), there’s no way I would ever want to miss spending the celebration of the birth of Christ with my family. As a matter of fact, the loneliest I’ve ever felt in my entire life was Christmas 2002, when I wasn’t able to go home, or even take leave, because of the testing schedule Reactor Department was on to ensure that we went critical in both reactors on time. As a matter of fact, for some reason that year the Supply folks decided that traditional Christmasy foods were overrated and instead served a meal that would give any Filipino a hardon. After eating Pork Adobo and Lumpia (among other things I couldn’t even recognize), I went down to take the watch for my 4 hour shift before our crew was relieved- and immediately realized that something wasn’t quite right in my body. I spent the next 4 hours running back and forth to the head at least twice an hour, before puking my brains half an hour before watch relief. I went home, crawled in bed, and didn’t move for the next three days after that, not even to call my folks, who were kinda pissed, as I’m sure you can imagine.

But I digress- shit, I don’t even remember now why I brought that story up again. Anyway, back to putting up Christmas decorations.

So sometimes it’s kinda cool having a girl roommate in the house, even if she doesn’t cook very often, hates doing dishes, and still hasn’t learned that when the other guys and I are watching football on the weekends, she should remember to ask us if we need another beer any time she walks into the living room (just kidding- really!). So in spite of her glaring shortcomings, there were some good things that came with having her in the house anyway. Walking in after a long, terribly painful last several months and seeing her setting up Chirstmas decorations was definitely one of those good things. As I fought with the strings of snowflake- shaped lights for the balcony and spending an hour or two after that perched precariously on a stepladder hanging more lights on the posts and railings of the patio outside my room, I could feel a huge load lifted off my shoulders. I actually felt a small grin tugging at the corners of my lips, and it wasn’t long before I was chuckling to myself as I fought with a hammer, molding nails, and twisted, tangled strings of lights in an attempt to out-do my neighbors. As a matter of fact, just as I was finishing up hanging the lights and getting ready to plug in the whole assembly for the first time, Maria stepped out on the balcony, saw what I was doing, and immediately accused me of trying to copy what she and her roommates had already set up the week before us. Of course, I pointed out that while they may have had their decorations up first, ours were MUCH better. Now, while this is still a point of contention between us (their tree looks like they got it from the top floor of the Hustler Store- it’s covered with pink and purple ornaments), I have to admit (privately, of course), that with the exception of the tree, they do have better decorations than we do. But, as I told Amanda last night as I was getting ready to leave for the airport for the flight back to the East Coast, it’s going to be on like Donkey Kong next year. Besides, it wouldn’t look very good to go and get beat by a bunch of girls, now would it?

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