When I first started this blog, I flew off the handle a lot. I used to get so fired up and would write about every article I read. I've noticed that the world doesn't shock me like it used to. I'm getting very ho-hum about the 'sphere. I figure if I've seen it on four blogs, you've seen it too. LGF doesn't shock me anymore. I'm used to jihad, war, and terrorism. It's a strange feeling, and it makes my blog suck.
I just haven't been feeling very screedy lately. I hope it's not permanent.
I start subbing tomorrow; I'll be teaching 7th grade math for a friend who is on maternity leave. Fractions. Lord help us all.
And the husband still isn't in Kuwait.
A warm welcome for President Bush in Slovakia.
I'm too young to have seen some beautiful things. Thing #1 I missed out on was the space race; I'd give anything to have seen a man go to the moon. Thing #2 was 1989; I was just a dumb kid who had no idea of the significance.
I finally got that foot locker open, with the help of the bolt cutters Red 6 borrowed from the unit. Inside was everything my husband sent home from Iraq: 15 books, a couple of presents I had sent, a Gortex jacket and some TA-50, an Iraqi flag, a John Wayne DVD, and the medal my husband was awarded. Thrown in the bottom of the foot locker like an aftersight.
Red 6 wondered the other day why everyone keeps mentioning the s-word whenever they meet him. I've seen him deflect praise several times already, heaping it upon his crew and his men. He doesn't want to talk about his award, because to him it's not that big of a deal. Same as my husband's.
I told him that to civilians, medals and ribbons are very exciting. We will never understand what goes on in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we can understand that "getting a medal means you did something brave." And we're in awe of bravery, because we've never been asked to do anything with our lives that merits medals.
Remember in Karate Kid II when Daniel makes that beautiful display for Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor? (I'm telling you, I can relate anything to the Karate Kid...)
Daniel: I made this for you, it's rosewood. I thought it'd be nice to show them off.
Miyagi: Ah, Daniel-san. Thank you for gift. But why show off?
Daniel: Well, you know, it says something about you, winning the Medal of Honor and all that. It says you're brave. I thought it'd be neat.
Miyagi: (Pats Daniel's chest) This say you brave. (Pats medal) This say you lucky.
That's a pretty accurate portrayal of us dumb civilians. Obviously anyone who thinks medals should be shown off has never been awarded one. I fall squarely into that category, and I just tried to explain to Red 6 that he should keep doing what he's been doing: thanking people for noticing and sharing the glory with his men. When someone mentions the s-word, it's just because they're proud of him. We civilians have a lot of pride we want to share with the troops, it's just sometimes we don't know how.
I also mentioned Den Beste's post on heroism to Red 6; I hope he finds time to read it:
Real heroes know that decorations are only given to those who were lucky enough to be heroic while someone important was watching. Real heroes will have seen many other heroic acts which were never acknowledged by anyone, except by the other members of the team. And ultimately that is the only acknowledgement they truly value, for only their teammates really understand what they went through.
A man who brags about his heroism is no hero.
That's what his wife is for! Medals or no, my husband and Red 6 are my heroes.
I guess I'm just at a loss for words today. What can you say when a Marine's remains finally come home from Vietnam?
You know, sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if we hadn't ended up in the military. I'm sure in many ways it would be easier emotionally. I probably wouldn't weep when I read about remains in Vietnam. I probably wouldn't have the vivid dreams I've been having lately, dreams that haunt me all day long. And I most likely wouldn't be living apart from my husband for the 377th day.
But I really wouldn't trade it for anything. I love this life.
I can't think of anything to add to Joe Galloway's words:
Sgt. First Class David J. Salie of Columbus, Ga., went to serve in Iraq because he believed the cost was worth it, even if part of the payment was his own life. He was 34 years old and had spent almost half his life in the Army. He was part of that tiny, tiny minority of less than 1 percent of Americans who wear the uniform and take the risks to protect and defend the rest of us. He had everything to live for, but gave it all up for his country and another country and people 7,000 miles away.
Life. Is. Good.
So I woke up this morning to the wonderful sound of my husband getting online, which incidentally is the Futurama theme song. (Now any time I hear it, I have this Pavlovian response where my heart goes "Husband?". But I digress.) My husband woke me up, which is cool.
But no, he's not in Kuwait.
Anyway, then he called later too, which was excellent. He's so bored, since his transfer of authority was like a week ago. So twice in one day, awesome.
Some things today were not so awesome though, like the fact that we live on an Army post where you can't buy green thread. Nope. None. What on earth? How am I supposed to change his insignia to Black Diamond if I can't buy green thread? Shouldn't that be the most obvious color for Clothing and Sales to offer? Nothing in the military is black or white, but those are the colors they sell. Sheesh.
By the way, Black Diamond is really fun to say, in a super-dramatic voice.
So I went to get the mail this evening, and the yarn I've been waiting for for like, oh, say, two and a half months just arrived. And then I stopped by the Shopette to rent a movie, and there was nothing good to rent, so I was wandering around aimlessly and managed to run smack dab into a display of South Park Season 5. Wha? When I called yesterday, they didn't have any. But now they do...
Yarn? Check. South Park Season 5? Check. Illness subsiding? Check.
And then, as I sat down to write this post, the husband got online again. Thrice in one day.
I'm walkin' on sunshine, woa-oh-oh!
Awww, man. Protein Wisdom linked to like every girl in the blogosphere except me...
Why don't more women blog? Who cares? Just read the stuff and laugh or learn or whatever, and stop worrying about whether the author is wearing pajamas or a nightgown. Stop getting so worked up over trivial crap. Geez.
Now excuse me while I go put on makeup and water my houseplants...
My tie today wasn't Ogg Vorbis friendly either, but it looked hella good with my shirt.
I have this stupid personality trait where I hate taking medicine. I don't know why I hate it so much, but I end up like I am today: it's my fourth day of being sick and I couldn't figure out why I felt so crappy, and then I remembered that I haven't taken any medicine. My mom and I are constantly having this dumb conversation where I say I feel bad and then she says, "Well, did you take any medicine?" and I irritably answer, "No." And then I wonder why I feel bad. I don't know why I do that, it's so dumb, but I do it all the time. It's probably because I don't really think it works. Last night I took NyQuil and two Tylenol PM and I was still awake.
But now, you know, fourteen hours later, I can barely hold my head up straight. Maybe the stuff is finally kicking in. Anyways, I just took some DayQuil and opened a Coke, so maybe that will jolt my eyelids open. Or at least help me stop breathing out of my mouth. I can't even concentrate on knitting today, so you know I must be on death's doorstep.
So the SITREP is still the same as yesterday: I'm still sick and the husband still isn't in Kuwait.
It's easy to get caught up in OIF and to forget about OEF. CaliValleyGirl's soldier just left for Afghanistan, so her year is just beginning as ours ends. We must never forget that the war doesn't end when our own soldiers come home.
Kudos to this military wife for recognizing proper casualty notification and military uniform regulations. Although I'm sure she almost had a heart attack, she was able to recognize this as a hoax because she knows her way around the Army. Let's put her in for a CWB!
Wifeing: showering one's husband with attention and doing the little things that wives do for husbands (e.g. feed, clothe, clean, and take care of)
The thing that's been hardest these last two months is not wifeing. I love wifeing. At least while my husband was gone I could send letters and treats and tokens of affection. When the mail stopped, I stopped being able to properly wife. It kills me that I can't do anything for my husband right now. I can't even open his foot locker! I have all of this wifeing building up inside of me that I won't get to use for another three weeks.
I have to keep reminding myself not to smother Red 6. I'm not his wife. If he'd let me, I'd be washing all of his laundry, sewing his uniforms, and being glued to his hip. At least he lets me cook for him, but only when I beg him.
I just want my husband home so I can wife him.
My sickness is moving backwards. Have you ever heard of starting with deep coughs and filled lungs and then moving to a runny nose and sore throat? Isn't that backwards? I can't figure this out.
Our battalion is home.
I'm in the photo: top row, fourth from the right, waiting for Red 6.
I've been sick as a dog for the past two days, so no blogging. I was just going to check Blackfive before getting back in bed...
Adam of Kim du Toit's Walter-Adam Fund was killed in Iraq.
I donated money to Kim's fund because, heck, snipers are cool. These boys even made it into my "hot" post. I feel for Kim because I know what it's like to have that feeling in your gut, the one where you think it couldn't possibly have hit that close to home.
From the battalion commander's eulogy:
How do you honor such heroes as Clint Gertson and Adam Plumondore? You honor them by telling the stories of their friendship, camaraderie, and fierce bravery. You honor them by continuing to fight to protect the man on your left and right who would lay down his life so that others might live. You honor them by continuing in this noble endeavor providing freedom to a people we do not know or understand the sacrifices that are made – but that is what makes America the greatest nation on earth.
If I know Kim du Toit, he will never let anyone forget SGT Adam Plumondore.
Today is Presidents' Day. I love all of the men who have taken on the burden of leading our country, but today I especially think of the current president, the man who would rather be right than be popular.
Thank you, President Bush. I hope you have a great day.
While I was at Red 6's welcome home ceremony yesterday, my husband left a message on the answering machine. He's now "acting commander" for his entire battalion in Iraq: he's the highest ranking person still in sector. Everyone else is home or already in Kuwait. My biggest sorrow is that those 86 soldiers will be totally forgotten when they arrive here in March. No one will even remember there's a war on.
But when Mrs. Sims leaves a comment on your pity-party post, it's time to cowboy up.
Life could be a lot rougher.
Red 6 and I had a great time catching up. It's wild that the minute he stepped into our house, it was like he never left. How many times have I cooked dinner while he watched Futurama? (Granted, he was always watching with my husband, but still.) It felt like a time warp, like nothing had changed and like it was only last week that I'd seen him on the sofa.
It's good to know that some things never change.
MORE TO GROK:
I still can't get over her comment. She would have been completely justified to start with "Listen here, you whiny bitch...", but she's as polite as can be. She is trying to make me feel better! I will never be able to put into words how amazing I think this woman is.
Red 6 always says that I'm the perfect Army wife. I can only hope to be half the woman that Mrs. Sims is.
Red 6 is home; I can pick him up in three hours.
Operation Iraqi Freedom II is over:
Red 6 is home.
Greyhawk is home.
Sminklemeyer is home.
The Questing Cat is home.
My favorite reservist is home.
I just want it to be my turn already...
I'm trying to maintain the same optimism and cheer that I had all through the deployment, but it's hard. Everyone else has a sign on their door. There are twelve planes full of soldiers this weekend, and mine isn't even in Kuwait yet.
I keep telling myself that today is for the soldiers, that as I stand there in the gym to pick up Red 6, I am celebrating the safe return of the majority of our brigade. I am going to concentrate on the happy faces in camoflauge, not the giddy wives who surround me. I am going to remind myself that one of my best friends is home today, and that my husband will be following in a few weeks.
Today is a day to be happy. Today is a day to be happy.
(If I keep saying it, maybe the tears will stop rolling down my cheeks.)
It wasn't so bad. In a way, it was quite exciting: all the soldiers running to grab their kids. Red 6 is doing great, but he's frustrated that many of his soldiers are still back in Iraq. I'm glad to see him.
(Oh yeah, and I got to shake SPC Roby's hand, the infamous corn syrup chugger. Heh.)
I had been emailing with a blog reader for a couple of months before she found out they would be stationed here on my post in Germany. A Soldier and His Wife arrived this week, and we all went out to dinner last night.
We talked a bit about Anheuser-Busch and how supportive they've been of the troops. They made that Super Bowl commercial, they have offered free passes to Sea World and Busch Gardens, and they donate two free beers to every soldier returning from Iraq. They are the King of Beers. We talked about how there really are people in this world who love soldiers, who want to show their support, and who go the extra mile to show their gratitude to the men and women who protect us.
I thought of that coversation again as I read this story from Russ Vaughn. And I cried like a baby at the dedication this woman showed to thank a soldier.
This wonderful article called The Millionaire Next Door vs. the Politician in Washington hits on what I mentioned the other day.
The problem with college financial aid is that for two families with equal lifetime incomes, the one that consumes the most and saves the least gets the most financial aid.
This is the single greatest problem I noticed when I worked for the university and saw financial aid disbursement. The 25 year olds with three kids by three different fathers were the ones going to school for free. We're rewarding the wrong behavior.
Good article on the nonsense that is Kyoto, via Hud.
My husband called tonight; it was the first time we've talked on the phone since Christmas Eve. It was great to hear him, though the static and delay reminded us why we never use the phones. He said he was bored -- amazingly enough, it's the first time he's used that word since he got to Iraq. He seemed in very good spirits, and my favorite bit of the conversation was when he said that his soldiers keep asking him if he has any more news about their departure. He said he keeps replying with jokes like "well, we might have to hunt Easter eggs inside the tank, but we should be home by Mother's Day, so buy a gift." Glad to see they're making the best of a crap situation.
I saw my first busload of soldiers arrive home from Iraq today. People were stopping their cars and waving. It was cute.
Good to go's jerk comment here made me think of something else. We do "depend upon [the government] for everything." The military is socialist system. Health care is free, housing is free, most services are free. And that's the worst part about being with the Army. Health care is free, so there are long lines at the doctor and forget about making a dental or eye appointment. Housing is free, so if you turn down the house they offer you, they take you off the list for 90 days. And services are free, so when we moved here, our flight was delayed for six hours and they put us on a plane with no overhead compartments that didn't have enough fuel to make it across the Atlantic. The movers also forgot to ship our belongings until after we arrived here (and the Army also forgot to pay us for two and a half months).
But all of this stuff is free, so you can't complain. Often the people who provide these services don't have much job pride or customer-oriented goals either, because what are you gonna do, take your business elsewhere? I live a socialist lifestyle, and it ain't pretty.
I just noticed this comment by PAC tonight and I wanted to address it. It's a very normal point of view for a European to have, the same point of view I've found in most of my European friends. It is, I believe, the biggest dividing factor between Americans and Europeans and the source of our value differences.
It's also related to Bill Whittle's social vs. individual responsibility.
When I was a senior in high school, I was trying to decide whether I should go to a public or private school. I really wanted to attend this small private school I had chosen, so my dad decided it was time for a lesson in economics. He knew I wanted to be a teacher, so he made me figure out how much of an average teacher salary would go towards paying off $50,000 in student loans. He asked me if it would be worth going to this school to pay perhaps half of my monthly income towards loans. I agreed that it would not and decided to go to the public school. Only once I had started school did my father say that if I had believed that it would have been worth $50,000 of my own money, he would've helped me go to the private school. But since it wasn't worth my own money, it must not have been that important to me.
That's an awesome lesson that my father taught me, one that I personally think applies to my American worldview. You spend your own money far more frugally than you do your father's, and certainly far more frugally than you do the government's. People are simply more responsible when they have more responsibility to take care of themselves. We saw that with today's link about sharing: you end up with more Hershey Kisses if you're in charge of your own.
The biggest difference between Americans and Europeans is responsibility. In the US you're individually responsible for far more (and not nearly enough, in my opinion) than you are in Europe. I was responsible for paying for my own college, so I chose wisely and finished quickly. In many European countries, you can take as long as you want to get your degree; it's someone else's Hershey Kisses. I wish we were in charge of our own Social Security in the US, because I could do a much better job of managing it than the government can, to where I could pay for both medicine and travel. Me, myself, paying for it, not the government.
When my husband and I met with a financial advisor, he asked us how much money we wanted to set aside for our children's college funds. We slowly looked at each other, looked back at the advisor, and sheepishly asked if "nothing" was an acceptable answer. We both paid for our own college educations -- he through ROTC, I through academic scholarships -- and we expect our children to do the same. I don't plan to pay for my own child's college; there's no way I would want to pay taxes to make it free for everyone. I don't even like thinking about the tax dollars that fund the Pell grant.
PAC's opinion is completely understandable, given his background, but completely incomprehensible given mine. I can respect that he feels that way, but I certainly don't want my government emulating Europe in that manner.
MORE TO GROK:
Response to good to go above.
I started this blog as a way to try to understand the world we live in. Some days I do just fine. Other days I can't believe the monsters who breathe the same air as I do.
It started last night with this opinion column on the ROTC ban at Columbia:
Joining the military is flushing your education down the toilet. Why would people come here if they were just going to enter the military upon graduation in the first place? It’s like, “Well, I just spent four years learning about mankind’s accomplishments, but all I really want to do is kill people.” I’m not really sure how the Core curriculum is going to come in handy when you’ve been ordered to stack a group of naked Iraqi prisoners in a human pyramid.
I, and I suspect most students on this campus, embrace the “civil-military” gap that ROTC bemoans. The fact is, I cannot comprehend why anyone would want to be in the military at this juncture in American history. Meanwhile, our campus is one of the few remaining places where as students, we can be free from the ever-increasing “let’s roll” mentality that is becoming so dominant in this nation.
Wow. I am shocked someone would say something so nasty. But we're talkin' college kids here, so I'm not that surprised. What did in fact surprise me -- shock the bejesus out of me, to be frank -- was this email Greyhawk got, shocking because it's from a Department of Defense high school teacher:
I hope that your children's teachers offer you children the type of education where they see what a close-minded, blood-thirsty individual you are. You are the type of person who will fight for freedom, all right, as long as it is for the freedom of white, American males. Hitler loved people like you. Of course, like you, I am strictly judging you by your comments, not by actually knowing anything about you or your motivations. And, of course, like you, I am taking everything you say out of context without knowing anything about you. The difference is is that I am actually literate. In fact, aside from judging you to be a bigot, a sexist, and someone who probably didn't do very well in school at all, I would further judge you to be someone who has a hard time passing a pt test. Why don't you "ping the wife" about this one? She is probably happiest when you are not pinging her at all.
A teacher employed by the US Army wrote that letter to Greyhawk. I will never, never grok this world we live in.
Perspective: I may be feeling blue, but at least I'm not the soldiers who are face down in 6 inches of snow at the firing range today.
Realization: And it's hard to stay blue when you've got Taco Bell in your tummy and "MMMBop" is on the radio.
In honor of Annika's poetry Wednesday, I offer a selection from This Is My Beloved, my favorite book of poetry of all time. It was my grandmother's book, and I used to read it sneakily in her house and titter at some of the more intimate passages. When my grandmother moved into a nursing home and whittled her belongings down to one cabinet, I got the book. Now that I am older, I no longer titter. I could read this book a hundred times -- I have -- and still find new delights. Today's passage reflects my mood...
I waited years today . . . one year for every hour,
all day -- though I knew you could not come till night
I waited . . . and nothing else in this God's hell meant anything.
I had everything you love -- shellfish and saltsticks . . . watercress,
black olives. Wine (for the watch I pawned), real cream
for our coffee. Smoked cheese, currants in port, preserved wild cherries.
I bought purple asters from a pushcart florist and placed them where
they would be between us --
imagining your lovely face among them . . .
But you did not come . . . you did not come.
You did not come. And I left the table lit and your glass filled --
and my glass empty . . . and I went into the night, looking for you.
The glittering pile, Manhattan, swarmed like an uncovered dung heap.
Along the waterfront
manlike shapes all shoulders and collar walked stiffly like shadow figures.
Later, the half-moon rose.
Everywhere the windows falling dark.
By St. Mark's church, under the iron fence, a girl was crying. And the old
steeple was mouldy with moonlight, and I was tired . . . and very lonely.
When I was chatting with my husband last night, all I could think about was him. He's the one who's devastated that he's not coming home when he thought he would, and he's the one who's ten days longer from toilets, showers, kisses, and rangoons. I honestly was completely focused on his needs...until I was getting ready for bed and realized that all of my friends except one will be snuggling with their husbands this weekend. And I will have three weeks where I have no one to hang out with, no one to be sad with, and no one who still feels like there's a war on. Except for my one friend whose husband will stay as long as mine, and thank heavens I have her. She reminded me last night of what Tim called THE POWER, and she made me laugh that Bunker had told me not to count down on the same day that we realized the count would be different.
Oh, and Red 6 will be here. It sounded like fun to hang out with Red 6 for a week before my own husband got home, but now that I know there will be three weeks between their arrivals, it doesn't seem that fun anymore. On Monday I felt happy for wives whose husbands come home soon. I don't feel so happy for them today, but I am going to try to work on that. Even though mine will be the only soldier-less house on the block, I still will be waiting for the best soldier in the Army to come home. (Best white soldier, huh Kel?)
So I crawled into bed last night with a bowl of ice cream and finished State of Fear. It was a great book. And today is a new day, and my husband comes home in the middle of March. The old arrival date goes down the memory hole and we start fresh. If Tim could do it, so can I.
Bunker's right, I shouldn't start counting down: my husband just found out he has to stay 10 days longer than originally planned. Naturally everyone else is still on schedule to return sometime in the next seven days; he'll be back in mid-March.
And I'll have to sew the CCB on for my husband. He always tells me he's going to nominate me for the CWB (the Combat Wifeing Badge).
If the story actually happened the way LT Pantano says it did, then I'm about sick and tired of our soldiers and marines getting charged with murder in Iraq. If I may quote State of Fear...
If someone tried to kill you, you did not have the option of averting your eyes or changing the subject. You were forced to deal with that person's behavior. The experience was, in the end, a loss of certain illusions.
The world was not how you wanted it to be.
The world was how it was.
There were bad people in the world. They had to be stopped.
I think this is disgusting. In a comparative religion class, no one should be forced to bless Muhammad. Must they also refer to Jesus as "Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior"? I find this outrageous. Comparing religions should be a factual analysis of traditions and customs; students shouldn't have to participate in those customs in the class.
When I lived in France, I developed an enormous crush on this boy at my school. I got all fluttery when he was around, I always tried to find a way to work him into conversations with my friends, and my eyes were constantly on him whenever he was in the hall. For four months, I turned into a mess of butterflies whenever he was around. And then one day he was gone.
I never even spoke to him.
I know nothing about this boy. I don't even know if he was French or an exchange student like me. I don't know what classes he was taking or where he lived or what his name was or anything. And by the time I had worked up the courage to even think about talking to him, he was gone. I have no idea what happened to him, but I never saw him again for the remaining six months of my time in France.
When I realized that my friendship with my husband was turning into something more than friendship, I knew I didn't want to make the same mistake twice. So I flat out told him one night, told him that I really liked him and that I was starting to think about him all the time, and asked him how he felt. He was quite taken aback, and that's when he gave his famous "well, I like you, but I'm not going to marry you or anything" line. He wasn't quite sure what to think, but he slept on it (for two weeks!) and finally told me that he wanted to be with me too.
That was five years ago today.
I still wonder about that boy in France. Maybe he was irritating, boring, or rude. Maybe he could've turned out to be a really special guy. I'll never know, but I'm grateful for the lesson he taught me. I wouldn't be with my husband today if I hadn't told him how I felt. I learned that taking a risk can be a beautiful thing.
I'll never forget that giddy moment five years ago, sitting on the floor in my husband's dorm room and deciding that we were going to give us a shot.
Greatest moment of my life.
I miss you, husband.
A song for you on this special day...
I was working in the lab late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise
He did the mash
He did the monster mash
The monster mash
It was a graveyard smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
He did the mash
He did the monster mash
I choo-choo-choose you.
So 20/20 runs the story of Abu Ghraib, and that photo of the hooded fellow shows up on every news site and I-told-you-so blog. It's on the cover of newspapers and magazines, so everyone knows the Official Symbol of Abu Ghraib Torture.
Friday night, 20/20 ran a story about the UN workers who are raping children in the Congo. They have photos of a French man having sex with hundreds of girls. And what is on the main page of the 20/20 website?
Corey f-ing Feldman.
Oh sure, after you click around, you get some fuzzy photos of freaking nothing at all. I'm not saying we should see this monster with a little girl, but surely there's something a little more damning than that purple wallpaper. Surely there's a Defining Photo that should go on the front page of newspapers and magazines.
Heaven forbid that an investigation of 50 aid workers involving hundreds of raped children -- while Kofi himself said that sexual abuse has "haunted peacekeeping operations for decades" -- should be bigger news than Abu Ghraib.
I guess Corey Feldman's more important.
18 phone calls
2 halves of a broken heart
2-3 weeks until I see this smiling face again.
We're almost there, husband.
Random thought: I still don't understand how the Trojans fell for that stupid horse.
Amritas mentions the French nickname for McDonald's: MacDo. Once when I was in France, my friends and I were walking to the McDonald's, laughing and talking to each other in the parking lot. A man pushing a baby stroller passed us and began yelling at us to speak French or go home. "This is France, we speak French here!" We were dumbfounded, and as he walked away, we noted how ironic it was that he had just walked out of the biggest symbol of American soft power -- where he had likely uttered the words un Big Mac et un Sprite s'il vous plait -- and he had the nerve to tell us not to speak English. Can you imagine that same scenario in the US: going to a Mexican restaurant and yelling at patrons not to speak Spanish?
Ahh, the French.
I said last week that our Rear D is doing a stellar job. Well, I just hit a stupid snag that opened up a whole can of worms.
I have Red 6's car. And his car keys, house keys, and cell phone. I check on his apartment, I get his mail, I help arrange his vacation plans, and I even have made hotel reservations for one of his soldiers. Whatever, I'm a helpful girl. But I realized at the FRG meeting that I need to be notified when he arrives in Germany because he won't be able to tell me himself. Each wife gets a call roughly six hours before her husband gets home, but we only get notified when our husbands arrive, not when other planes of our battalion's soldiers get in. So I asked to get a phone call when Red 6 arrives, so I can welcome him home, give him his car, and let him into his house.
And I got a nasty look like I was arranging something lewd.
Look, I know there are some skanky men and women around here, but I'm not doing anything gross, and it kinda stung that that was the immediate reaction I got. Especially when the Rear D already knows that I have Red 6's car because I had to pick up his registration from them last spring. After the initial condescending look and hesitation, I reminded them that Red 6 has no way of getting home or getting into his house unless I am there for him, and they agreed to call me. I was a little taken aback, but whatever.
I mentioned this story to my husband yesterday, just as a "check out what happened to me" sort of deal, and he went ballistic. My husband is not a ballistic sort of person. He got so mad that Red 6's company was treating me bad when I was doing so much for their own soldiers, and he said he was going to do something about it. Oh crap.
So I got a message from Red 6 today that he had talked to the husband and was mad too, that he had talked to the First Sergeant and told him to ream the FRL, etc, etc, etc. So now I've gotten someone in trouble when that wasn't my intention at all. Sure, I was a little peeved that someone insinuated that I was being a whore, but that's not the first time our close relationship with Red 6 has brought me that sort of treatment. He's my husband's best friend. That makes him my best friend. And if you think I'm gonna have an affair with someone who thinks chugging tobasco is a smart move, you're off your rocker.
The sad thing is that our most recent battalion newsletter called for "designated huggers", for wives to volunteer to come to the ceremonies and welcome home single soldiers, not just their own husbands. I thought it was a great idea, and one darling wife had a t-shirt made that says Designated Hugger. But if the Rear D is going to treat us like hookers when we ask to be informed of single soldiers' arrivals, then what's the point of asking for huggers? It makes no sense to me. Either they trust us to show our soldiers respect and admiration, or they ask us not to come. But don't ask us to be huggers and then smirk at us when we roger that.
I help Red 6 and his soldiers because I want to show all soldiers that I love and appreciate them. They all deserve to have someone there to pick them up and buy them a beer. I hate that I got leered at when I asked to do our best friend a favor, but I also hate that I got someone in trouble, because I don't want to look like the officer's wife went and complained she was being treated badly. Ugh.
I started feeling tears well up in my eyes as I read this story. And then I let out a long, deliberate ho...ly...crap when I got to the punchline.
Amritas pointed me towards John Ray's response to an article about how much better Europe is. Hud has an interesting post on Europe's stagnant economy. Both of them made me think about my friends' jobs.
Some jobs here on post are German contract jobs, and the only two Americans I know who have these jobs are my friends who work for the quartermaster here. When soldiers have TA-50 that needs to be laundered, they bring it to my friends. My friends sort it, tag it, and bag it for when the laundry trucks come. They don't actually launder anything; they are just the middle men for the operation. Some days they're quite busy, especially at the end of a deployment. Other days they see very few customers. If no one is coming in, they can do whatever they want: homework, quilting, knitting, watching DVDs, hanging out with Sarah.
Remember, they're employed by the Germans. For this job that a monkey could do, they get paid 10 Euros an hour (which is $13 right now). They work only 20 hours per week each but get six weeks of paid vacation plus Kindergeld (the child allowance the German government gives you just for having a child). They know that they have it good; if they did this same job in the States, no doubt it would be minimum wage ($5.15 per hour, not $13), and there would be no benefits since it's just a part-time job.
I'm glad that my friends have such a great job, but I simply can't understand it. How can the Germans afford to pay them so much for a sinecure? They make more than I did teaching English for the college! I think part of Europe's problem is that they pay way too much for jobs that require no skill. I don't know how they'll continue to give lavish benefits to the monkey jobs.
(No offense, girls: you know I'd love to get paid to knit.)
I have a couple of things I want to blog about, but to be honest I've been feeling too grumpy lately. Today was just one of those days where everything went wrong: I drove to the next post to re-register our car and realized that I had left my ID in the pocket of my gym sweatshirt. So I drove all the way home and back, only to find that they close for lunch, which they failed to mention when I called for their hours. I got the car registered and then went to drop the dog's stuff off at my friend's house; naturally I had forgotten her key. And so on. Just one of those days.
But it's more than just that: I can tell that I am getting irritable with the end of the deployment. My husband has been on ten billion long-term missions before, but the one this week seriously irks me. I'm grumpy that 1-77 returned from Iraq after only 361 days. I nearly ripped some heads off last night at the FRG meeting; why would you attend a briefing on the redeployment schedule and then just sit there and loudly gossip with the wife next to you, making it impossible for others to hear the guest speaker even when she was using a microphone?
I'm finally tired of the deployment. Thank heavens I've only felt this way for a week; I can't imagine being one of those people who's felt this way all year.
They say PTSD and Combat Operational Stress can include loss of motivation, crying spells, and irritability. Chalk me up as a sufferer.
Steve of Hog on Ice is a Native American, just like Ward Churchill.
Under a plan unveiled to Congress on Wednesday, active duty soldiers could expect two years at their home base after a year of deployment. Reservists would see five years of “dwell time” after each year in active duty service, and Guardsmen would have four to five years at home between deployments.
Army Secretary Francis Harvey said that plan likely won’t go into effect until at least 2007, when other major training and force adaptations are complete. Officials want to shift the service to a brigade combat team focus over the next two years, growing from 33 brigades to 44.
Lex: "Did it ever occur to you that maybe the hero of the story is Segeth?"
Best ending line in a Smallville ever.
FX is making a TV show about Iraq. Cool. But unfortunately all they can show is good soldiers doing their job.
But not any and every angle of war is being depicted. One aspect is glaringly absent from most projects: negativity. The U.S. soldier is the hero; his cause is just. Storylines featuring the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal or war protests are no-nos.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: damn those Abu Ghraib soldiers. Because of a handful of dirtbags, every mention of Operation Iraqi Freedom from now on will have some disclaimer about torture at Abu Ghraib. It used to be that every article about the war had that line about the number of troops who had died since Bush waved his Mission Accomplished banner. Now every article has to mention something about Abu Ghraib.
There are plenty of stories that can be told from Iraq without harping on the naked pyramids. Tell a story like SFC Smith's. Tell about 1SG Kasal, shot seven times and still fighting. You want humor? Throw in syrup chugging. You want suspense? Follow the soldiers of 2-2 INF as they kicked in doors in Fallujah. You want drama? Good and decent soldiers are dying all the time, and there's never a dry eye in the house.
Just don't tell me that what people want to see when they turn on a program about Iraq is scandal and unethical behavior. There's plenty of that crap on Nip/Tuck.
Did you see that CB's signed a book deal? Commenters at Armor Geddon keep suggesting Red 6 do the same about his time in Fallujah.
Me and Red 6, before he got all famous on us!
I told him when he gets home, as payback for all the boxes I've lugged up to his apartment and trips to the travel agent, he owes me steak and Cristal. He said, "more like Santa Fe Gorditas and Dr. Pepper." Ha. I realized the other day that not only has my husband been gone for a year, but so has one of our best friends. I can't wait to hang out with him again.
(I am seriously out of focus in that photo. What's the deal?)
I've been meaning to point out something Oda Mae steered me towards:
Cox & Forkum's tribute to Ayn Rand
Mud wrestling? My husband's platoon barely has time to eat or sleep, and some units in Iraq have time for parties that would make fraternities jealous? What on earth is going on?
I've avoided writing about it so far, but one of the hardest things about the deployment for me to handle is the difference in mission. Some soldiers are working around the clock while others have so much free time that they're bored or causing trouble. Where is the sense in that?
I know I'm biased and think that my husband works harder than anyone else in Iraq. And maybe he does get more down time than I'm led to believe. But his company's sector is the size of Kosovo, so he doesn't even have time to go to the gym or talk to me. He's allowed 30 minutes on the computer, but often he doesn't take the full time because he's got too much to do. When he was in Najaf, he fell asleep on the phone with me: his platoon was working four hour shifts with two hour breaks (four on, two off, four on, two off) for an entire month. Not all units in Iraq are doing that.
I am trying to understand the distribution of missions in Iraq, but I can't. I hope that when my husband comes home, I can ask him more about what he's done. Perhaps I've misunderstood, but I think at the end of the day my husband would be far too tired to go to a mud wrestling party.
Bunker pointed out a great post by Michael Totten. The hook:
Believe me, you don’t know what a tense political fight feels like until the person yelling at you is from a country you recently bombed and currently occupy.
It's was a very interesting evening. And don't miss the Iraqi's one sentence summary of feelings towards the US.
I know it was a commercial and it was staged, but it sure choked me up. We OCONUS folks can watch the Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl ad here. I don't care if we are in Germany; Budweiser is still the king of beers.
Yesterday I came home from the middle school all fired up to write. I sat in on some classes, and I think 7th graders aren't as scary as I'd imagined. I had some observations that I was going to post -- nothing too riveting -- when I walked in the house to find a big old mess.
I'm still dogsitting, and the dog had gotten sick all over the rug. I couldn't even tell which end it had come from! I borrowed my friend's steam vac and cleaned it all up, and then dumped the dog in the tub for a bath. And immediately after his bath, he threw up again. It was a long, disgusting evening.
Lately my husband and I have had the worst timing. He logged online while I was wrestling with the dog in the tub. Two nights ago I heard him log on and I jumped up so fast I dumped my drink all over the recliner. Last week the phone rang six times during our ten minute chat.
I think we just need to talk face to face instead. And maybe wait a little while until we get our own puppy.
My friend sent me a wonderful email forward:
Rarely do I send emails to everyone in the command. I highly suggest you take 3 minutes and 12 seconds (the length of this video) out of your day to view the fruits of your labor. With all the negative spin and focused attention on the struggles, difficulties, and bloodshed going on in Iraq, this should be a true verification of what the REALISM is behind our sacrifice and dedication as American Soldiers. As an augmented Special Forces guy on the ground in Iraq during the early part of the war, I saw it every single day. But trying to communicate what that is like, is often difficult. If this doesn't make you proud to be an American, and TREASURE what we have built here in the United States, now alive and well in Iraq, then nothing will. To each and all who have given everything to uphold, support, and defend FREEDOM THROUGH MILITARY VICTORY, I offer my personal thanks for a job WELL DONE.
LCDR Keith Harrison, USN
So go watch it. And smile.
Congrats to my awesome husband, who made the Captain's List for 2005. He's still got several months until promotion, but at least he's already squared away. Of course, that's because Household 7 takes such good care of him...
MORE TO GROK:
Plus I completely forgot that January brings a pay raise!
Reintegration Realization #1
Sarah: I got your foot locker
Sarah: I don't know the combination though
Sarah: do you want me to leave it or open it for you?
husband: oh yeah
husband: I'm not sure where the combo is
husband: you can cut it for all I care
husband: I don't even remember what's in there
Sarah: um, with what?
Sarah: I dont have scissors that good
husband: oh yeah
husband: every army unit has bolt cutters
husband: we lose keys and cut locks all the damn time
Sarah: our house doesnt have bolt cutters
husband: yeah most houses don't
Welcome back to civilization...
The husband sent me a cute article: It's True: Guys Join the Knitting Craze. I love the motto "Man Enough to Knit; Strong Enough to Purl."
His good buddy in the Air Force, one of the manliest men I know (carves his own baseball bats, used to work as a taxidermist) crochets. It adds an interesting dimension to his personality, but to him it's just another way of using your own hands to create something.
I've tried to encourage my husband to learn to knit, but he's not buying it.
I finally made something for myself that I can post on the blog. It's a scarf that took me the entire season three of Alias (read: four days glued to the recliner) to knit.
I was just watching Insomniac with Dave Attell, the one where he goes to Germany (compliments of Amritas, who is a dear and makes me tapes of Comedy Central). I had another thought about English as the world's language: Insomniac could only be an American show. In no other language could you travel around the world and hope to find people who understand you to participate in your antics. Attell just walks into clubs and starts yammering in English, and he makes a whole show of it. That couldn't happen if he spoke Portuguese or Finnish.
After the capture of John Adam, an American renegade took matters into his own hands, issuing an ultimatum to the insurgents:
(Photo taken by my favorite reservist)
I hear people talkin' bad
About the way we have to live here in this country,
Harpin' on the wars we fight,
An' gripin' 'bout the way things oughta be.
An' I don't mind 'em switchin' sides,
An' standin' up for things they believe in.
But when they're runnin' down my country, man,
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.
I read about some squirrely guy,
Who claims he just don't believe in fightin'.
An' I wonder just how long,
The rest of us can count on bein' free.
They love our milk an' honey,
But they preach about some other way of livin'.
When they're runnin' down my country, hoss,
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.
I heard a touching story from my favorite reservist, a blog reader I've followed for his whole tour in Iraq. A husband and wife couple ran the alterations shop on his camp in Baghdad, and a few months ago the husband was killed by insurgents. No one knew what had happened to the wife until the other day when she reopened the alterations shop. My reservist says:
When we walked into the shop, it was packed with soldiers and the shelves were rapidly becoming bare. The wife was dressed completely in black but still had a smile on her face as she greeted us. I literally could find nothing to buy and she refused to accept money for nothing. Even her entire stock of fake Rolex watches were gone. One soldier even bought a bootleg Barbara Steisand movie just to give her business and money. No one laughed and one soldier thanked him for helping out as he walked out.
The generosity of the American (soldier) is beyond belief at times. I hope she restocks and stays open.
Something about that story just touches my heart.
-- When, when, WHEN is Viagra "medically necessary"? I honestly can't figure it out. Medicare is now going to pay for Viagra only when it's necessary, but when in the heck is that? Please explain it to me, because I can't quite figure it out.
-- The German economy is the worst it's been since Hitler came to power. Heh, just wait until troop realignment!
-- Janeane Garofalo was disgusted that Republicans wore blue ink to the State of the Union. Naturally, she managed to compare them to Nazis. How can a show of solidarity like that be disgusting? Yale students did the same, and I would've done it too if I had thought of it. I think it's a wonderful display of support. What a grumpy old bitch Garofalo is.
-- And my favorite news bit from today: U.S. General Says It Is 'Fun to Shoot Some People'. Always a touchy subject to bring up, but you've read Red 6's blog; true soldiers love battle. My husband said once that getting his soldiers to go on regular missions is like pulling teeth, but offer them the slight chance that they might get into a fight and they're immediately all business. Many bloggers have said that the hardest thing about war is not enjoying killing, but no one has quite voiced this truth like LTG Mattis. And who could be easier to kill than the people who oppress and abuse women, force the handicapped into suicide bomb vests, and behead prisoners? It's not hard to dehumanize this enemy.
(If you're not obsessed with South Park, you might not get this post. But I think it's wicked funny.)
Appears there's an air of mystery surrounding LTG Sanchez's vist to our post, though I didn't get that impression. He did ask at the beginning of the briefing if there were any journalists present, and when there weren't, he said, "Good." I took that as dislike for the press, not that he was being secretive, but that's probably due to my own dislike. At any rate, whatever your secret is, LTG Sanchez, it's safe with me.
I started working at the education center at the same time as the counselor's aide and the ed tech. When the counselor's aide quit, the ed center chipped in and got her a $100 gift card. When the ed tech quit, the ed center got her an engraved silver serving platter. When I quit yesterday, I got squat. Nothing. Not even a card. And no one even came to my office to say goodbye.
To quote Daily Kos: "Screw 'em."
The socialists can keep their little ed center; I'm movin' on to greener pastures. Next Monday I am going to start sitting in on classes at the high school to get a feel for the teaching style, and then we go from there. I'm actually a little nervous about making the jump from college to high school, so hopefully sitting in on classes can put me more at ease.
Wish me luck.
SFC Paul Ray Smith is the first soldier from OIF to be nominated for the Medal of Honor. His story is a beautiful one.
For some reason tonight, when I looked out at our piles and piles of snow, the phrase "now is the winter of our discontent" came to mind. Google helped me find this translation of Richard III, which had me in stitches.
When BG Hertling said that the last month of the deployment would be the worst, I really didn't believe him. I thought it would be just like any other month, but I have eaten my words. This past week has been excruciating. Theoretically, my husband comes home in exactly one month.
And now is the winter of my discontent.
I just have to say that our military community is so wonderful.
Today LTG Sanchez came to talk to us. He and other top dogs in USAREUR spoke about reintegration issues and gave quality information on the return of 1ID. When LTG Sanchez opened up the floor for questions, he even cracked a joke: "Heck, I'll even answer Abu Ghraib questions if you have them." I giggled loudly.
I had a question about the timeline for my husband switching units after the deployment, since he will make the move from armor to finance. LTG Sanchez gave me a good answer, but immediately after the briefing, several people came to follow up on my concerns. The rear detachment lieutenant colonel immediately started asking me how he could help, taking notes on a small pad of paper. The finance major and captain approached me, having recognized my last name and realizing I was talking about their lieutenant. The armor rear detachment commander also approached and made sure that I got the information I needed, and he quipped to the finance major that our armor unit isn't willing to lose a top LT, which was kind. It was amazing. So many people from so high up the chain of command were making sure that I was taken care of.
And the answers I got were very encouraging. I can't wait for my husband to get home from his current mission so I can put his/our worries to rest. I can't speak higher of the treatment I just received. Our Rear D exemplifies "no mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great." They're high speed.