life lessons from the sims

I’ve played The Sims since TS1 came out in 2003.  I mostly play TS2, but I’ve dabbled in TS3, and may try TS4, just to see if it’s any good.  In my 12 years of playing this addicting game, I’ve learned a few things about real life:

1.  It’s way more expensive to rent than to buy.

In The Sims 2: Apartment Life, apartments were introduced to The Sims, and while they seemed cool at first, it’s very soon apparent that renting costs a friggin’ fortune.  For example, I have an apartment building that rents one bedroom, one bath apartments with garages and sparse furnishings for $2,382 – $3,270 a week.  A week!  You can get a small house in the game for less than $20,000 (the amount your sims start off with).  That means that in less than ten weeks, your sims will have spent the equivalent of a small home they could have bought if they had just spent the cash up front.

Yeah, this POS apartment is expensive AF. Not worth it.

I went through the same thing when I got my first apartment in the Navy, it was a two bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse that we rented for about $1,800 a month.  We lived there for three years, and spent nearly $65,000 in rent!  Conversely, when my husband and I bought our first house, we put $80,000 down, and we still have that $80,000, because we’ll get it back (and then some) when we sell.

 

2.  Doing well in school tends to lead to an easier life.

In The Sims 2: University, sims can go to college for various degrees, and build skills that come in handy when they graduate and get jobs.  Additionally, young adult sims in college can get up to $1,200 per semester if they get straight As.  I’ve found this one to be true in life, as well.  Doing well in school means that a) you actually know the subject of your major, and b) grants, scholarships, and even financial aid are more readily available.  I’m on the GI Bill, I have to get good grades, or they won’t pay me!  Maybe it’s just my ego talking, but it was pretty sweet to receive an Academic Achievement Award when I graduated with my Bachelor’s for having a perfect 4.0.  It’s also way easier to justify not working when I’m totally earning my right to be a full-time student by kicking butt in school.

School’s not all cheerleaders and jocks, you slacker!

After college, sims have all these skills they’ve built that allow them the opportunity to take higher paying jobs, because they have the base skills needed to work them.  Climbing the career ladder is a lot faster when you start out ahead of the game!  I haven’t gone back to work yet (still working on my MBA), but I’m hoping that this is also true in real life and that I won’t end up answering phones or flipping burgers with my knowledge of business, human resources management, and project/program management.

 

3.  Kids grow up fast.

In The Sims 2, sims get pregnant, and 75 hours later, a baby appears.  After three days, the baby will grow into a toddler, who, after four days, grows into a child.  Eight days later, they become a teenager, and teens have 15 days to decide whether or not they want to go to college as a young adult, and spend 24 days doing that, or waiting until the 15 days are up and growing into an adult.  For 29 days, adult sims do adult sim things (like working in their jobs and making sim babies), until they retire as an elder.  Elders who had crappy lives can live as little as nine days, but if they had a very happy, fulfilling life, they can live up to 31 days!

This one I know is totally true.  I don’t have kids yet, but I’m going to be 30 this year, so a ton of my friends do.  Even just watching them grow up on Facebook is insane!  A friend of mine in Virginia has a three-year-old boy, and I swear, he was an infant like a week ago!  Kids I used to babysit are now graduating high school and college, and some of them even have kids!  A friend of mine who’s a Chief in the Navy has grandkids!  She’s not even old!  Granted, she has these adorable braces and long hair that make her look 12, but still!

You’ll miss this when he’s trying to cook and burning the kitchen down.

On the other side of it, planning for retirement is freaking impossible.  Most people don’t die in their 40s and 50s anymore, so I kind of understand why organizations are taking away 20-year pensions.  When my husband retires at 38, he’s got at least 30 or 40 years before he kicks it.  That being said, he’s obviously going to go back to work, but how long are we going to work?  If we work until we’re 60, and die at 80, we have to save for 20 years of living!  What if we die at 90?  What if we live to be 100??  How the hell is anyone supposed to plan for that??  Right now, we each have a TSP, and he has a pension coming.  It’s not enough.  We need Roth IRAs and 401Ks and 403Bs and all this other crap that I don’t even really understand what it is, but I’ll be damned if we’re old as hell and can’t take care of ourselves!  I don’t let my elder sims hang around their kids’ houses when they’re old, those cranky bastards go to a retirement home!  (No, really, it’s brilliant.  I made a cheap apartment complex for them that is a lot like a retirement home, so I don’t have to deal with their shit…)

Why can’t ACTUAL elders look this good??

 

4.  If you come from a family with money, you’re set.

I’m not much of a liberal, I agree with the Affordable Care Act, and I support gay marriage and I’m not racist, but sometimes I think that people totally overplay the “you came from a well-to-do family, your life must be easy” card.  They don’t.  It’s totally true.  I have some sim families that are on their fourth or fifth generation and holy crap are their lives easy.  They have all this cash lying around, all this nice stuff they didn’t have to save for weeks to buy, and I have a custom checkbook object I can use to have my sims send money to people, like their kids when they go to college, so they don’t have to live in a crappy dorm, or their kids again when they’ve graduated and need more cash to buy and furnish a house, or their kids again when they retire to the home and don’t need hundreds of thousands of simoleans to sit there and play chess.  Because of that, my “legacy” sims don’t have to get jobs right away, can afford nice beds that recharge that energy bar quick, and kitchen appliances that make healthy food so they aren’t hungry right after eating.  They can take vacations when life gets too boring, and have more time to spend on their hobbies, for no other reason other than they like to tinker, or paint, or whatever.

Maybe it doesn’t translate directly, but it sure as hell makes sense to me that money begets money, and if you come from a family that’s got it, you have a way better chance of making it yourself.

Oh, you mean you’re not rich enough to wear a top hat while drinking champagne at a translucent desk covered in money in front of a saltwater aquarium??

 

5.  Some relationships are not meant to be.

In The Sims 2, you can make sims who are just perfect for each other.  At least you think they are until you try to rustle up some romanticism and one of them goes “eww, no” in simlish with a big thought bubble that says “I ain’t into that.”

I’m not digging your scene, man…

There is nothing more obnoxious than creating sims who just aren’t right for each other, or when you want two kids who have been BFFS4LYFE to take their relationship down make out road, and find that one or both of them won’t have it.

The absolute worst though, is when one sim is head-over-heels in love with another sim, and that sim feels no love.  I know it’s just a video game, but that makes me so sad.  I console my sims.  I tell them I’ve been there (I have) and that it will get better (it will), even if I have to call that annoying matchmaker to find them the perfect partner.

Ahhh, I see in my crystal ball that you think I’m obnoxious and should eat a bag of dicks…

Sometimes, you just have to let it go.  If you try to hold on too tight to someone, you end up scaring the crap out of them, and becoming someone you hate – whoever the hell .38 Special was singing about in that song.

 

What lessons have video games taught you?  Share your wisdom in the comments!

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some people just don’t get it

I wanted to wait a while before writing about this, because honestly, it’s been just too painful to think about.  The girl who threw my bachelorette party decided one day, out of the blue, that she would block me on Facebook to let me know that she didn’t want to be friends anymore.  No text, no phone call, no explanation, nothing.  I texted her and asked why she blocked me (the way I found out was that I found a funny story I thought she would enjoy, and when I went to tag her in it, her name didn’t show up, so I asked my husband to look her up, to see if it was just me or if she had deleted/disabled her account.  It was just me.) and she told me that I was a negative influence in her life, and that she didn’t need it.

Wow.

Some people.

So here we go: I understand that it’s not easy being friends with someone who has major depression and anxiety disorders.  I understand that I’m not always the easiest to get along with and can be a hot-head.  But apparently this whole thing happened because I wasn’t grateful enough for the bachelorette party (that sucked), and because I didn’t go to her birthday party after my bridal shower.  I was having dinner with my mother whom I see once a year, and my maid of honor, who is also my sister-in-law whom I hadn’t seen since Christmas of 2012.  I’m sorry I missed your last birthday in San Diego.  I’m sorry my sister-in-law set our bridal shower for the same day you were having your party because it was the only break she had between her business trip to Dallas and flying back home.  This girl sees her family… I’ve got to say at least monthly, because they always seem to be down here (hell, they were apparently the reason she had to leave my bachelorette party early, because they just drove to her house, assuming she had no plans, and called her when they couldn’t get in).

I didn’t even know she even cared that much, because she never bothered to call or text to find out when/if I was still coming.  The way she puts it, she was pining at the door all night like a dog left home alone, and I know that’s not what she did.  That’s not her.

I’m pretty sure she was looking for excuses to dump me as a friend, which is pretty stupid, if you ask me.  If you don’t want to hang out with someone, don’t!  You don’t have to be all dramatic about it and drag it out!  You don’t agree to be a bridesmaid, attend their wedding, and then a month later tell them to fuck off!  I can’t even look at my wedding photos or watch my video because she’s in everything.  I can’t even put together an album, or submit my wedding to blogs, or enjoy any of that post-wedding warm fuzzy feeling because I’m so pissed that she’s this selfish and immature.

And she is.  I may come off as selfish, but it’s mostly because I have strong opinions and can just be arrogant sometimes, but I’m anything but selfish.  The night I missed her party, I was going to lose either way.  I was either going to feel like crap because I was missing her party, or feel like crap because my sister-in-law was here and I wasn’t spending time with her that I should because I never see her.  So I made a choice, and I chose family, and apparently that was the wrong choice, in her eyes.  So fuck it.  I have no interest in having to coddle and baby some chick who can’t get her own shit together, and who I’m pretty certain harbors a lot of jealousy toward me (at least according to several friends and family members, who offer up some good points).  Don’t be jealous of other people and what they have and where they are in life.  Treat them as mentors, make your own damn goals, and do whatever the hell you want.  I’m sorry that I got married before you.  I’m sorry that I was able to pay for a gorgeous wedding and a brand new car within a month of each other.  I’m sorry that I’m getting my Master’s degree and you’re not.  I’m sorry that you don’t have the things that you want, and I apparently do, and somehow that makes your hurt feelings my fault.  I’m sorry!

What’s that phrase, when God closes a door, he opens a window?  Well, I’m flopping my way through the open window (I can’t do it gracefully, you know, I’m fat and broken), and I’m working on spending time with the people who are still here, and make me happy to be around, and who I absolutely adore.  Ironically, the first three who come to mind were all in our wedding as well, ha!  So at least we made a few good choices, right??

Good luck, J.  I’ve heard you’re moving back home to take advantage of a job offer.  I hope you find what you’re looking for and that you’re happy with your choices.

date night for dog owners vs. date night for non-dog owners

I just read a Huffington Post blog entitled Date Night for Parents vs. Date Night for Non-Parents and while it was pretty funny, I felt like perhaps I could use this to bridge the gap between the “my dogs are my children” and “dogs are nothing like children” people.  So here it is, with the “parents” portion edited for dog parents:

“Date your spouse!” the experts always say. “Just because you’re married with a family doesn’t mean the spark has to die down. Flirt with each other! Keep the romance alive!”

That’s great advice. Really, it is. It sounds fantastic… in theory. Kind of like before you have kids dogs when you swear you’re never going to feed them processed cheap food or let them play with your phone old socks to keep them quiet for 10 minutes. But when you try to put it into practice? Well, sometimes it just isn’t practical. I mean, I’m pretty sure that when I’m brushing my teeth while wearing food drool-encrusted pajamas and telling my husband how I accidentally got poop under my fingernail while changing a diaper picking up dog poop and oh by the way did we pay the sewer bill last month?, I’m the last person he wants to flirt with.

I’m not saying it isn’t important to try to keep a connection as a couple — it is. And relationships take work. But so do kids dogs, and all the obligations that come with them. And when you’re trying to juggle all of that, it’s not usually the children dogs who are shoved to the back burner. Even when you try to keep the spark burning, it’s a whole different ball game when you’re married cohabitating with kids dogs. Going on a date, for example, only remotely resembles the dates you used to go on. Let’s break it down.

GETTING READY

Non-parents dog owners: Take a leisurely stroll around the mall because you’d like to pick up a new outfit for tonight. Oh, and maybe a new eyeliner or something at the department store. Throw in a manicure if you’ve got time. Arrive home, soak in a tub, deep-condition and exfoliate and moisturize, shave every shave-able body part while blasting your favorite music. It’s like a spa up in here. Spend ample time perfecting your makeup, hair, and outfit. Put on cute underwear. Be excited because tonight is going to be awesome.

Parents Dog owners: Rummage through your closet to find something flattering that you don’t wear every day. Get pissed off. Settle for something. Wish you could take a leisurely stroll around the mall to buy a new outfit. Realize the kids dogs have used eaten your eyeliner as a crayon; make a mad dash to Target use a thin line of eyeshadow instead. Arrive home, look at the clock, freak out because the trip to Target seriously ate into your time budget. Shower quickly, swiping over your legs with a razor, hitting up your pits and bikini line if you have a couple extra seconds. Ignore kids dogs pounding on door play-fighting loudly under the bed. Decide whether to blow-dry your hair or just put it up wet. Put your hair up wet because the dogs are afraid of the blow-dryer. Slap on some makeup. Squeeze into some sort of fat-reducing underwear. Hope you don’t sweat through get dog hair all over your blouse with all this dashing around. Be excited because as soon as you’re able to leave the house, tonight is going to be awesome.

LEAVING THE HOUSE

Non-parents dog owners: Grab purse, cell phone, keys. One last quick mirror check. Open door. Exit.

Parents Dog owners: Make sure the kids dogs are fed and the kitchen isn’t a wreck no food is left out for them to cry over while you’re gone. Leave emergency numbers and special instructions for the sitter wrangle the dogs together and try to get them into the proper crates. Tell the kids dogs goodbye. Wonder why the hell they’re acting barking like you’re about to permanently abandon them. Give hugs and kisses turn on lights and TV, adjust security camera to check on them while you’re out, and try not to get food hair or snot drool all over your decent outfit. Pry clingy children from legs shut crate doors. Slip out the door. Realize you forgot your phone. Come back in and repeat clingy-children barking debacle.

THE DATE

Non-parents dog owners: Go to a high-end restaurant or an upscale bar. Order without looking at prices. Enjoy laughs and animated conversation about movies and current events. Check your phone periodically to see if anyone has “liked” your check-in on Facebook. Discuss where to go next; the night is young and the options are endless!

Parents Dog owners: Go to a chain restaurant because you have a coupon (or go to a high-end restaurant, but order the chicken because it’s cheap). Feel frivolous because you order an apple-tini with your meal. Rejoice in the fact that you don’t actually have to cut up anybody’s food deal with begging, or tell anyone to get out from under the table or stop blowing bubbles in their chocolate milk trying to get on top of it. Check your phone periodically to make sure the sitter hasn’t called dogs have settled down in their crates. Promise you won’t talk about the kids dogs. End up talking about the kids dogs. Keep checking the time because you’re paying the sitter by the hour you can only be gone for six hours, and anyway, you’re getting tired because 11:00 is way past your bedtime and the kids dogs woke you up at six this morning.

AFTER THE DATE

Non-parents dog owners: Return home; decide whether to end the date or take it further. If it ends there, go inside, remove makeup, put on comfy clothes, let out the fart you’ve been holding in. Go to bed. Sleep peacefully. Wake up whenever. If it goes further… light candles, pour wine, put on soft music, and reveal that cute underwear and those nicely shaved legs. Bow chicka wow wow!

Parents Dog owners: Return home. Fork over cash to sitter, trying not to cringe about how much money you’ve spent on this date in total Let dogs out of their crates to the whirling dervish that is their wild and unstoppable excitement. Look at children sleeping let dogs out to run and poop and marvel that you missed them, even though you were excited to be away. Remove makeup, peel yourself out of fat-reducing underwear, put on comfy clothes. Yawn. Decide whether or not to devote a few minutes to “spousal intimacy” with the dogs in your bed with you, or just go right to sleep. Drool all over pillow until child dog wakes you up in the middle of the night for a drink/to tell you about a nightmare to be let out/to tell you there’s pee in the bed poop on the floor. Wake up at the crack of dawn to make breakfast for hungry children let dogs out again because, duh, who else is going to do it?

So you see? Bringing romance into your relationship is important, but becomes slightly tricky when kids dogs — and everything attached to having them — are thrown into the mix.

I think until they’re older for their lifespan, I’ll just be thankful for Netflix and popcorn, and the fact that my husband doesn’t care so much if my legs are stubbly or my outfit is old.

Just as long as there’s no poop under my fingernails.

Much thanks to Rita Templeton, the original author of this article.  Rita, if you’re reading this, it means that you’re awesome, and I hope that my blatant plagiarism is seen for the admiration it represents and not because I’m trying to steal your thunder (okay, maybe a little bit of it, until I get picked up as a blogger for HuffPost or HelloGiggles).

depression

Depression and anxiety are cruel masters. One minute you can be fine, the next you want to die and you don’t know what hit you. The smallest problems are complete catastrophes. The dumbest things will make you cry. Things that should be no big deal will make you seethe with anger. You lash out, and then regret it, but you don’t know what to say, so you think maybe it would just be easier if everyone was mad at you, because then they would stay away. You still crave social interaction, though. So you throw a party, clean and cook all day, and no one comes. You try to be extra supportive and give your friends things to try to show them you care, and then realize the sad truth that it’s not reciprocated. You try to come up with a guest list for your wedding, and can only list a few people whom you really care about to come, you have to widen the criteria so the day isn’t depressing. Then only a third of those that were invited say they’re going to come. You know even fewer will actually show up. You become extremely judgmental of others because you’re extremely judgmental of yourself. You set these unachievable goals, and when the inevitable happens, you lay in bed or on the couch for a week doing nothing, because you feel like you are nothing. You question people’s affections, sabotage relationships, and hurt the people you love. You overeat, or you don’t eat, or you pull out your hair, or you hit things, or you cut yourself.

Living with mental illness is not only hard, it’s impossible. Please, don’t give up on us. We’re capable of so much more than we believe. We need you to believe for us.

the catch-22 of finding a job

I finished my bachelor’s degree in February (Bachelor of Science in Business Technical Management with a concentration in Human Resources), and I’m now in my second semester of grad school, pursuing an MBA with an emphasis in Project Management.  I’m due to graduate at the end of October 2015, and I’ve got to say, I’m incredibly worried.

I’ve been perusing job listings, seeing what’s out there, what I could do with what I have, looking at the job descriptions for the jobs I want and seeing if I have the right prerequisites; but there’s always one thing listed as “required” that I just don’t have: experience.

So everyone out there wants to hire someone with experience, but no one is willing to hire people without it in order to give them experience.  Basically, you’re telling me that I need to go get a job that I am grossly overqualified for, so that I can get some experience in the field, but still not in that particular position.  Obviously you all want someone with experience!  That’s a pretty “duh” question to ask: “would you rather take a risk on someone that’s unproven in this particular position, or hire someone who’s done it for years?”  Really??

I get it.  The employment situation still isn’t great, and companies can afford to be picky, but they’re really limiting themselves by not wanting to hire the hard-charging recent graduates who are chomping at the bit to prove themselves and show a company what they can really do.

So I can’t get a job until I gain experience, but I can’t get experience until someone will hire me.  Alrighty then…

There’s another problem, too.  I’ve applied to a handful of positions, and I haven’t heard back from HR on a single one.  At first, I just thought this was incredibly rude and I was angry, but for purely selfish reasons, and then I came across this piece by Dr. John Sullivan on TLNT.com: Why Aren’t Job Applicants Given Decent Feedback?  In the article, Dr. Sullivan poses a pretty good argument for why companies should be giving rejected applicants feedback, and it’s not just about manners.

Furthermore, I’m hearing more and more from old Navy friends that they can’t get jobs either.  What happened to hiring preference for veterans?  I thought we had all this great experience that everyone wanted!  There’s pretty decent tax breaks for hiring veterans as well, especially us disabled vets!  The White House has even released a Guide to Hiring Veterans, it answers all kinds of questions and goes over all of the incentives, so why are we also getting slammed with the “you need more experience” line?

Listen, Mr. Hiring Manager, we have experience.  We have experience coming out our ears.  We have experience doing things you’ve never even dreamed of.  We know how to get things done with limited resources and time.  We know how to treat our supervisors, especially those that are newly discharged.  My veteran friends are some of the most respectful people I know, so much so that it sometimes humbles the people they interact with.  We know how to work as a team, because that was drilled into us from day one in MEPS.  You succeed together, or you fail together (sometimes this can be a bad thing, check this out right here).  Veterans understand safety, following instructions, policy, procedure.  We learn fast because we have to, and many of us are incredibly smart.  Just because you don’t know what an SQR-19 is, or have any clue what it means that someone has worked on the CIWS, doesn’t mean that we don’t have experience doing some very relevant jobs to the position we’re applying for.

Stop looking for the perfect resume, it doesn’t meant the person who wrote it is the perfect candidate.

the issue of all-or-none

flip-flops-bad-for-politicians-even-worse-for-your-feetI know I was supposed to be writing about other stuff, but this is something that’s been on my mind lately.  Feel free to continue waiting for school/Zoink/wedding posts 😉

Why have so many people gone to this whole black-or-white, all-or-none way of thinking??  I recently read a post about how a zoo is trying to breed a species of tiger (I can’t find the link now, thanks Facebook…) back into the wild, and some chick commented about how the “anti-zoo people” need to accept zoos because they do stuff like this.

Hold up.  You’re both wrong!

The chick is wrong because simply allowing zoos to keep animals in captivity for the sole purpose of human entertainment is pretty messed up, and the “anti-zoo people” are wrong because that’s not what all zoos do, they also rehabilitate and reintroduce animals into the ecosystem when they are/in danger of becoming extinct.

Like the Seaworld Thing: people want to shut down the whole operation because they keep whales captive and use them for entertainment.  Well yeah, but they also rescue and rehabilitate animals, and you know what pays for that?  Revenues from the amusement park patrons.

The issue of calling politicians “flip-floppers” bugs me too.  You know what?  Sometimes changing your mind, and thus your stance, is a good thing!  Someone who can “flip” between the Democratic and Republican parties is what we need more of in our government!  Who actually agrees with 100% of either party’s platforms??  Isn’t it more likely that the average American will have a mix of both?  (For example, I’m 100% down for marriage equality and making LGTBI people a protected class, but I also think we need more conservative fiscal and immigration policies, does having opinions from both sides of the track make me a bad person?  No!  It makes me freaking moderate!)  We don’t need political fanatics who lean so far left or right that they’re practically falling off the edge of reality!  We don’t need to have this all-or-none view of the world.

Too much gluten is bad.  Don’t eat gluten.  EVER.

Too many carbs are bad.  Don’t eat carbs.  EVER.

Too much alcohol is bad.  Don’t drink.  EVER.

Some GMOs are used so that we can spray more pesticides on food, therefore all GMOs are bad.  Don’t eat GMOs.  EVER.

You see where I’m going with this?  This kind of thinking is an excuse to, well, not think!  It’s trying to simplify very complicated issues, and instead of actually taking the time to think them through, weigh both sides, and make informed decisions, people just jump to the easiest ones they can come up with.  It’s like instant-gratification for decision-making.  The obsession with “now-now-now!” has even infiltrated our overall way of thinking about the world!  That’s scary!  Making shortcuts in your thinking and logic mean you’re making shortcuts in your decisions in everyday life!  People are taking shortcuts when it comes to diet, exercise, relationships, raising children, school, careers…  It’s everywhere!  I think this might be the crisis of culture that so many people see but don’t know how it happened.  I think this is the problem with the Information Age.  We have so much information at our fingertips, and no one wants to actually take the time to access it and form their own opinions.  It’s easier to let someone else do it.

why i’ll never sing again

I used to sing.  I’ve always sang, since before I can remember, but I used to be good.  I remember just before my sophomore year started, my mother and I visited my choir director and she asked me to sing for her; she said that my voice had matured a lot over the summer, and that I should expect many solos, which I got, for the next three years until I graduated.  I was an alto, but I could sing anywhere from tenor 2 to soprano 1 (the latter being difficult, but possible).  I had the supporting female role in the Spring Musical my sophomore and junior year, and the lead female role my senior year.  Also my senior year, I was ranked the second best alto at Districts, only missing a perfect score because I was awful at sight-reading.  I’m pretty sure my mother still had my scorecard on the refrigerator at home, even though it was almost eleven years ago.  I also started an a capella group, along with a friend of mine, called the Husky Voices (our school mascot was the Husky, and the irony was that our voices were clear as a bell).  We performed along with two college groups, and were told by many people in the audience that we actually sounded better than they did, I was honored!

When I joined the Navy, someone told the RDCs (Recruit Division Commanders) they had heard me singing and thought I would be a good ARCPO (Assistant Recruit Chief Petty Officer), so when our RCPO (Recruit Chief Petty Officer) got fired, our ARCPO took her spot, and I moved up to ARCPO.  I called cadence for my division (945!) for most of boot camp, but I figured it would stop there.  When I reported to ATT (Apprentice Technical Training), I somehow ended up calling again, and when I reported to my A School in San Diego, I was volunteered by my roommate to call cadence again.  I didn’t mind it, I actually quite liked it, but I didn’t want to be the “look at me!” sailor, I found out really quickly that you don’t want to draw attention to yourself in the Navy, not like that, it appears ostentatious.

Even when I got in trouble and went on Restriction (oops…) my “extra duty” was to call cadence for the 50 State Flag Team, as I was the only one who was loud and clear enough to be heard by all members, even when they were standing in a row, marching single file.  I even got to go to the Chargers game – while on restriction, mind you – in order to call cadence.

I remember one time, I was in the NMT (Naval Military Training) office talking to the LPOs (Leading Petty Officers) and somehow the subject of my singing came up, and one of them asked if I could sing “real” songs, not just cadence.  I started singing “Think of Me” from Phantom of the Opera, and had everyone in that office staring at me, and many of the students from the next door lounge standing at the door as well.  My LPO told me that he had a hard time distinguishing my voice from Amy Lee’s when I sang along with an Evanescence song, he said as soon as I graduated school I should try out to sing and act in his theater group, because they needed a strong female singer.  I was that good.

I had suffered from strep throat multiple times a year since I was a kid, but I never had my tonsils removed because my pediatrician was convinced they would eventually do me some good as an adult.  However, by the time I had gone through winter in Chicago – still calling cadence, by the way – they were constantly filled with pus (ew), took up most of the back of my throat (they touched when I stuck my tongue out), and when I was sick (yeah, the previous two were when I was feeling okay), they would bleed.  I had had strep enough times that a little less than a year after I reported to my first ship, I was referred to ENT for a tonsillectomy.  I was excited!  I had a slight speech impediment that made it sound like I was swallowing my words, my throat was always hurting, and singing was getting harder, more painful.  I thought for sure getting my tonsils removed would be a good thing.

And it was.  I stopped getting sick, I could breathe better (I had obstructive sleep apnea from those damn things…), and my speech didn’t sound so… weird.  Recovering was tough, I do not recommend getting your tonsils out as an adult!  I lost 30 pounds because I couldn’t eat anything, and while I looked fabulous, I was freaking miserable.  I did eventually recover though, but I found that I couldn’t sing very well anymore.  I thought maybe I just needed time, or practice, or to quit smoking.  I did all three and it’s now six years later and I still can’t sing.  I’m so depressed.  I watched the 2004 movie rendition of Phantom of the Opera last night, and I started crying because I knew I’d never sing the way I used to.  I would give anything, I would take it all back, I would just deal with the sickness and the pain and the weird speech, if it meant that I could still sing.  Getting my tonsils removed was medically right, but I’m absolutely miserable.  I want my beautiful voice back! 😥  I don’t even have any really good recordings of me singing, so I sometimes wonder if my fiance even believes me, if anyone does, when I say I used to be a great singer.

I used to sing along with everything.  I’d watch Phantom, or Chicago, or Disney movies, whatever, and I would belt out those tunes like it was nothing.  Now all I can do is sit in silence while the tears spill over and remember all those wonderful times I sang, just for the joy it brought me.  I feel like I’ve lost everything…