May 31, 2007

THE PROOF IS IN THE DONUTS

CaliValleyGirl said she often wants to run off and start her own country. Here's another reason to join her:

Presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined a broad economic vision Tuesday, saying it's time to replace an "on your own" society with one based on shared responsibility and prosperity.

The Democratic senator said what the Bush administration touts as an ownership society really is an "on your own" society that has widened the gap between rich and poor.

"I prefer a 'we're all in it together' society," she said. "I believe our government can once again work for all Americans. It can promote the great American tradition of opportunity for all and special privileges for none."

That means pairing growth with fairness, she said, to ensure that the middle-class succeeds in the global economy, not just corporate CEOs.

"There is no greater force for economic growth than free markets. But markets work best with rules that promote our values, protect our workers and give all people a chance to succeed," she said. "Fairness doesn't just happen. It requires the right government policies.

Great googily moogily. That's an extremely scary worldview.

Of course "fairness doesn't just happen," because what people like Clinton want is fairness of result. And that requires that the government rig the system so that overachievers can't get rich and dumb people don't get poor. What's "fair" about the United States is that anyone who works hard can get rich, or at least move up the economic scale. Just ask the Combodian donut makers, who own upwards of 90% of donut shops in California. They came to this country, invested in a business where they could be successful, and work their tails off:

“It’s not easy work at all. As a family we are working seven days a week, the store is open 24 hours, and we have no family time. It’s tiring,” said a 26-year-old Chinese American who requested anonymity.

No one offered to make things more fair for these people. They came to the US and worked, instead of expecting the government to help them live. And they did it "on their own." I know several people from countries like Poland and Bulgaria who came to the US with the money in their pockets and worked like the dickens to earn every cent they have. If they can do it, anyone can. On their own.

They tried the "'we're all in it together' society" before; it was called the U.S.S.R. And it failed miserably because not everyone wants to work as hard as a Cambodian donut cutter. Is Hilary Clinton really silly-brained enough to think that this is the direction the US should take?

Hey, Cali, if we start this new country, I want the Cambodians to come with us.
Donuts rule.

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STILL OUCH

The flippant deal is still bothering me a bit. I don't think I've ever heard the words "Sarah" and "flippant" used in the same sentence in my life, so I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. I think that's the worst insult she could've given me, considering how seriously I take motherhood. I went to her site and did a search on the word pregnancy, and I read about her miscarriage. It sounds awful, and I am deeply sorry that she had to go through this. But can't she have any sympathy for me? I'm almost 30 and I don't have any children, and I want one. She has children; can't she understand why I would be sad that I am not pregnant? And how could she possibly accuse me of being "flippant" about pregnancy when she wrote this post about being pregnant?

The only person who has moral authority over this blog is Heidi Sims. The other day I wrote a post about how great my husband is; you think that makes her feel good to read that? But she didn't feel the need to comment and say what a jerk I am. Trust me, I think about her every time I post about my so-called troubles, ever since the day when I was moaning about my husband being the last one home from Iraq, she was there to give me an attagirl. Carren Ziegenfuss always says that every person's life is different and you are only responsible for dealing with the troubles you have; you don't have to constantly feel bad that your husband has all ten fingers. I do constantly feel bad about those things, and I feel it in this situation too. I feel for people who really do have infertility issues. I feel for people who have lost children. I don't need a commenter to point out what a jerk I am for not prefacing posts about my life with disclaimers that I know my problems aren't real problems. I am already well aware of that, thankyouverymuch. But they're the problems on my plate, and this is where I deal with them.

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SHEESH

Some people are just complete and utter freaks. Wendy's manager shot over chili sauce
What on earth is wrong with people?

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HARDLY FLIPPANT

Flippant? I got called "flippant" in my attitude towards having a baby. Ouch.

I poured my heart into that post. I cried the whole time I wrote it. I think I'm anything but flippant about having a baby.

How many times have I called my mother, ArmyWifeToddlerMom, Angie, Erin, Kelly, Erin, and many others to ask questions about motherhood? To talk about how scared I am about taking this step in our life? How many conversations have CaliValleyGirl and I had about our own childhoods and which lessons we want to pass on to our future children?

This is practically the only topic my husband and I discuss anymore: how to foster upstanding human beings. We waited five years to get to this point, to make sure we were absolutely ready. And every day we get excited and extremely nervous about what the future holds. We know we don't have all the answers. But we're at the point where we're ready to try.

Cut me some freaking slack that now that we're ready, I want it to happen.

I sometimes forget that things don't always come off perfectly in written form. I forget that people who know me from the internet don't always really know me. But that comment came from someone whose blog I really liked, whose thoughts and ideas I always appreciated even if I didn't agree with them. That comment really, really stung.

Yes, I know that not getting pregnant for four months is not the worst thing that can happen to someone. Duh, I could write the book on Perspective. Every month as I cry, my husband reminds me that everything is OK and that we still have room for hope. I constantly think of people like my friend Kelly who have no hope and I ache inside. Trying to get pregnant and failing is the most humbling experience I've ever had, because it makes me really put my self in some painful shoes. I can't imagine doing this for years.

I'm sorry if I offended you with my "flippant" attitude towards the most important thing I've ever done in my entire life. I have no idea how that came across. But I do wish you'd kept your mouth shut, because I don't think you know me very well.

(Update here.)

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May 29, 2007

UGH

Tonight while cleaning up after dinner, I knocked over and broke a wine glass and one of my nice plates, and then less than two minutes later I put a steak knife into my finger.

Not a good day.

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OUT OF TIME

A while back I wrote on SpouseBUZZ about the agony of trying to have a baby when you're in a race against deployments.

We've now officially missed our window.

Funny how when I was growing up I was led to believe that sex leads to pregnancy. Young girls are reminded over and over of teen pregnancy, thus I have been a birth control nazi from day one. And now I've seen this myth crumbling before my eyes, as I've just spent the last four months charting my temperature and counting days and worrying about egg-white mucus and absolutely failing at making a baby. All the horror stories about getting pregnant from a toilet seat, for pete's sake, feel pretty freaking absurd when you can't even do it when you're trying your hardest.

Every 28 days I feel like the world's biggest loser.

Today we've learned again that we've been unsuccessful, but I guess now the pressure of the race against time is off: my husband becomes deployable again in nine months. Barring a wonderful surprise, we now are pretty much guaranteed he won't be here for the birth of our baby. Hell, that's assuming we will ever be successful. At this point I'm so frustrated that I don't know what to think anymore.

My mom, bless her heart, keeps telling me to relax, that stress can prevent you from getting pregnant. I know she's got a point, but making a baby is pretty darned scientific too. Way more scientific than I was ever led to believe during sex ed classes. I've learned a lot about my body over the past few months, knowledge I wouldn't have if I'd gotten pregnant right away, for which I am indeed thankful. But with this knowledge comes the annoyed feeling that if we're doing everything right on the right days, why isn't this working?

Now I guess we can just throw up our hands and relax. It doesn't make a whit of difference whether I have a baby on my husband's third month of deployment or his sixth. Either way, we've missed out on something very important to me: his presence by my side in the hospital.

Posted by: Sarah at 08:53 AM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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READ AND BE HUMBLED

Peter Collier at OpinionJournal writes

The New York Times, which featured Abu Ghraib on its front page for 32 consecutive days, put the story of Dunham's Medal of Honor on the third page of section B.

He goes on to share with us some of the stories of past Medal of Honor recipients. Even if you've never followed a single link I've ever posted here, I want you to go read this article.

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man, indeed.

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May 28, 2007

MEMORIAL DAY

This evening we went to a nice local Memorial Day service. Actually, we almost didn't make it. I thought I knew which park it was at, but I was mistaken. We drove around for a long time trying to figure out where it was in town. I nearly gave up, but the last place we looked was correct. My husband teased me that I was ready to cut and run.

The ceremony was simple but nice. A local 8th grader read a lovely essay he wrote for the VFW's Patriot's Pen essay contest. And there's something completely humbling about being in the presence of POWs. I got choked up every time I looked at their group.

This year I don't quite have anything poetic to say about Memorial Day. But that doesn't mean that certain families haven't been on my mind all day long. This year I'll leave the poetry to PFC Becker:

We are soldiers.
We are soldiers in the United States Army.
We are trained to be all we can be.

We fight for the freedom of many citizens of the United States.
We are all ready to meet our fates.

We all volunteer to defend the red, white and blue.
Not only the flag, but for the citizens of our great country too.

Since our country's birth for all these years,
we have been trained to be the best on Earth.

Many times we have went to war.
We will be involved in many more.

Generation by generation soldiers continue to enlist.
Some of us will got to war and definitely be missed.

Some soldiers will return and some won't.
Those who do not, we won't forget and we hope you don't.

Many of us are going to Iraq.
Some of us won't be coming back.

We have loved ones we are leaving behind.
They will always be in our prayers, hearts and mind.

If we don't make it home safely at the end of the war,
just remember we died defending the beliefs of those of many more.

---PFC Gunnar Becker, November 2003


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NOT BAD

I think MSN did a pretty good job on this comprehensive article on military pay and benefits.

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May 27, 2007

WAR AND PEACE

I found a new blog today called The Shield of Achilles. He had a link to the story behind his blog's name, which comes from the design on Achilles' shield in The Illiad:

The engravings include two cities, one at peace and one at war. In the city at Peace, a man had been murdered, and an argument was ensuing over payment of blood-money. In the city at war, besiegers were divided over either sacking the city, or allowing it to pay a tribute for peace. Among other messages, one was clear: Times of War and Peace are both filled with conflict. Moreover, wartime is not always evil and peacetime is not always virtuous; while there is suffering in War, there is also courage, heroism and honor, and during times of Peace there is still murder, cowardice, and greed. Even people negotiating Peace sometimes have self-serving aims.

This is just genius. What a fabulous name for a blog.

One thing that has always frustrated me is the naive idea people have that war is the opposite of peace. All the people who want to Bring the Troops Home Now seem to think that if there's not officially a war going on, then there will be peace. But peace for whom? Before we went into Iraq in 2003, there was not peace in Iraq. There was no peace for Adnan Abdul Karim Enad, the man who tried to climb in Hans Blix's car to escape Iraq. There was no peace for the children who filled jails or the folks who went through a plastic shredder. There was no peace for the women raped by Uday or the families gassed by Saddam. Just because we weren't there, it doesn't mean everyone was flying kites and eating gumdrops.

Conversely, there's no "war" going on in North Korea or Zimbabwe, but I'm not sure I'd want to live in their "peace" either. France is at peace, but that doesn't help you if your car is set on fire during the night. And peace didn't do much for Pim Fortuyn either.

There will always be terrible, awful, inhumane, horrific things going on in the world. Most of them don't fall neatly under the bumper-sticker label of war. There is no such thing as peace; there's just calms between the storms.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:43 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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May 26, 2007

READ

Good article written by a Muslim: How to end 'Islamophobia'

Islamophobia could end when masses of Muslims demonstrate in the streets against videos displaying innocent people being beheaded with the same vigor we employ against airlines, Israel and cartoons of Muhammad.

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May 25, 2007

DONE

Once I got on a roll crocheting borders on my colored squares, I really got into it. I sewed the squares together as I went, so I could avoid having to do all the sewing at the end. Et voilà. I am really happy with how this project turned out. Charlie agreed to model the blanket, since he did such a good job last time. He's so funny the way he averts his eyes any time we hold up the camera. He hates looking directly at it and will rotate his head any which way to avoid it.

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Now if we just had a baby to wrap in the blanket...

Posted by: Sarah at 08:09 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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May 24, 2007

WOW

This article on illegal immigration is excellent: The Promise of Home

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May 23, 2007

THE KNIFE CYCLE

At the Milblogs Conference, Andi decided to kill me with her first question. I was expecting softballs, and instead I got a fastball at the head. She quoted an old blog post back to me, and I swear that for the first ten seconds of her speaking, I had no idea what she was talking about. I didn't recognize the writing as my own, and I completely panicked. As she read the very end of the post, I finally figured out what I had written, and then I had two seconds to react. I think I reacted poorly, so I'd like to revisit the question here.

Andi wanted to know what was going through my head when I wrote about this:

My husband's visible discomfort that he might not have another opportunity to put to use all he learned in Iraq, all he has digested and mulled over for two years, stands in stark contrast to the Iraqi quoted in this article:

“What was I going to wait for that would keep me on the force?” said Mohammed Humadi, a police captain who quit in August after one of his commanders was killed and beheaded. “Nothing was going to get any better. I have children, and if I were to sacrifice myself, it wouldn’t change anything.”

I struggle daily with the two opposing camps of the War in Iraq: those who say that the US has no business trying to set up a utopia halfway across the world, and those whose idealism bubbles over into dreams of playing Iraq in the World Cup. But the one thing I do know is that it's a knife in my heart that my husband would give his life for Iraq while this Iraqi would not.

I've had this feeling several times over the years, most notably one year after Saddam's statue came down. I wrote about the knife in my heart much more eloquently that year:

One year ago today, I was so happy for the Iraqis. I sat on the sofa at Fort Knox and cheered wildly as they tore that statue down. I wept for the Iraqis and their newfound freedom; now I weep for their newfound vengeance.

If you remember, the statue of Saddam wasn't the only thing to come down from that pedestal last year. The American flag an overzealous soldier hung up there was quickly taken down, lest the world think we came as conquerors. We were there to give Iraq to the Iraqis, and they've repaid us by burning our dead and hanging them from a bridge.

I felt the knife again when I saw protestors in Pakistan carrying a sign saying "Our religion does not allow unconditional freedom of speech."

The past five years have been a cycle of conviction and doubt.

I read this comments section today at Standing By, and I don't know what to say. I don't want to argue for or against the war anymore; it's just my job to help my husband as he fights it. The fact that he still wants to fight it speaks volumes to me. He's the one who's worked with Iraqis. He's the one who's been to Najaf. He's the one who has to work on cultural cross-breeding. I will defer to his opinion on this matter in nearly every case.

But the knife in the heart comes in the cold sweat of realizing that his convictions could someday take his life. The perspective comes when I realize that it's better to lose his life to convictions than to cancer, car crashes, or crap.

I struggle. I think that's jarring for some people because they want me to remain this caricature of a warmonger. The times when I express doubt about the war are the times I get the most comments from anti-war types, chipping away at my armor or jeering me for setting down my flag when my arms get tired of waving. But I'm a normal human being who thinks about issues, not just some automaton who does whatever Karl Rove says. I actually think about this war, and some days I feel stronger than others.

I assume the Iraqis do too, which is why it's not always fair to cherry-pick things to doubt.

I figure I may never know the lasting effect of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I could be long gone before we really know the legacy of the War on Terror. But I can hope, hope my husband's work will bear fruit.

And doubt some days too.

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May 22, 2007

REASON #__ WHY MY HUSBAND RULES

My husband is so smart it's scary. I'm fairly certain he'd choose dinner with Benajmin Netanyahu over Superbowl tickets any day of the week. The thicker and more boring the book, the more excited he is to read it. He never ceases to frighten me with his knowledge.

My husband's brain is like a sponge, and he completely absorbs anything he thinks is important enough to notice. Several years ago, he realized that understanding this Islam Stuff was important, so he set to work learning what he could about Muslims and Arabs. Someone like me can hold her own with names like Sadr and Zawahiri and can handle basic conversations about the region, but my understanding of Islam and the War on Terror is positively pedestrian compared to my husband's. He set out to learn this stuff, and I'll be goldarned if he didn't learn it.

The Army hires college professors to teach the history and culture portions of Civil Affairs training. The other day in class, the professor admitted that my husband knows Islamic history better than he does, after my husband gently corrected him on a couple of historical points.

Because my husband thinks this knowledge is crucial, he doesn't slack off. He knows names and dates and Mohammed's lineage and tidbits I can't even begin to fathom. He knows more about Tajikistan than anyone from Missouri should ever need to know, and he's already speaking basic Farsi sentences despite the fact his language course doesn't start until September. The man is phenomenal.

Our fifth wedding anniversary is a couple weeks away, and I can't help but think about the time I heard Neal Boortz say that you don't even know what love is until you've been married for five years. I think he's right. The qualities that made me fall in love with my husband back in 1999 -- the fact that he wanted to talk about Sartre and Charlemagne at frat parties and that he was captain of the College Bowl team -- have only grown more pronounced over the past five years.

Love is knowing how truly lucky you are to have such a person in your life.

Posted by: Sarah at 07:01 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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KNITTING WOES

The heavy lifting is done.

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But the perfect method I had concocted for how to put all the squares together ended up looking like absolute crap. I thought I could just crochet the squares together, forming a nice border between each one. I didn't count on it looking like garbage. So we're at a standstill, and I've moved on to another project to calm down a bit.

I think what I will end up doing is crocheting a border around each square and then sewing them together. Not something I am looking forward to doing, but oh well.

yougottado.JPG

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GO

Bill Whittle's newest is finally up: You Are Not Alone

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May 20, 2007

FAREWELL

Annika, who will quit blogging in exactly six and a half hours, isn't going out with Miss America waves and reruns. She managed to find these hilarious quotes from rockers who are wising up to the fact that their benefit concerts don't really help much of anything.

Annika, you will be missed.

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GOOD CELEB BEHAVIOR

I almost didn't want to go see Spiderman 3 because of the crappy behavior of the lead actors. Nothing says "hype our movie" like the actors talking about how much they resented having to make a third one. God forbid you have to be in a movie that people actually want to go see. How tragic. Sheesh, I was almost too annoyed to go. The older I get, the less I can stomach celebrities.

But we were treated to a real class act when Billy Blanks showed up at SpouseBUZZ Live. He acted like the military spouse audience was the celebrity, which was downright touching. He was super-nice, and I hope he knows how much we appreciated his visit.

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DISGUSTED

Last night we watched The Last King of Scotland, and I was so disgusted at the end of the movie that I lost sleep over it. Yes, I know the story portrayed is fiction, but Idi Amin was most certainly real.

What disgusts me the most is that there are rulers out there like Amin, yet people persist in calling President Bush evil. Have we no sense of evil? People in North Korea are eating children, but some American citizens can't stand to be associated with the American flag.

Google gets 1,850,000 hits for "George Bush evil" but only 178,000 for "Idi Amin evil." 65,700 for Arafat; 623,000 for Kim Jong-Il; and 264,000 for Mugabe.

We make me sick.

Posted by: Sarah at 06:23 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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