February 26, 2006

ROLE MODEL

My friend Angie is a little bummed that maybe her life hasn't turned out exactly as she wanted, and she thinks maybe she's past the point where she can fix it. I've actually had a blog post rolling around in my head for a while, and now seems like a good time to let it out.

When I was in middle school, every kid used to say that Michael Jordan was his role model. It was always Michael Jordan. For some reason I was thinking about that a few weeks back and how silly it seems now to me to have a celebrity as a role model when we've got plenty of real people in our life to emulate. One of our biggest role models as a couple was the Major at my husband's ROTC. He was extremely hooah and completely unassuming. He and his wife had been married for nearly ten years; they had just built their own house (literally, the Major built it with some Amish help) and were all set to welcome their first baby into the home. My husband and I thought that was a great way to be ready for a child, and we want to be as emotionally and financially ready as they were. We still talk about what a good influence they were on our life.

We moved here, and as I slowly got to know Angie, she became a new role model for me. (And my mom will vouch that this is true, because I rave about Angie all the time!) Angie has always felt somewhat inadequate that she didn't finish college, but the reason she didn't finish is because she and her husband decided when they got married that Angie's job was to raise their children. My parents made the same decision when they got married, but it's a decision that doesn't happen much in 2006. Angie and her husband knew that the most important thing Angie could do with her life is to raise these three little boys to be gentlemen, and she's doing a wonderful job.

I know during the deployment that Angie sometimes wanted to tear her hair out. I witnessed firsthand some of the trials of being with her boys, like when a temper tantrum broke out because the older brother ate the little one's imaginary strawberries! It's not easy to be a stay-at-home mom; how much quieter and nicer it would've been for Angie to drop the boys off at daycare and go to a job. But she stays home with them because it's her job to mold their character, teach them manners, and be their mommy. Angie deserves all the praise in the world for the no-so-obvious task of bringing up her own children.

I'm glad that I had a role model like Angie. If/when my husband and I have children, we too will make the same decision Angie and her husband did. And I will be the one to stay at home and break up fights over imaginary fruit. I'm happy that I met someone like Angie who also believes that raising a child is the most important job a woman has.

Angie, you may sometimes feel sheepish that you never finished that degree, but you display qualities far more important than a diploma, and people notice. I noticed, and I hope someday to be half as talented at motherhood as you are.

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PROUD

Every time I walk by the computer, I check to see if CaliValleyGirl has any update on when her boyfriend returns from Arghanistan. I'm a bundle of nerves just watching her wait! Watching OIF III and OEF Who Knows come to an end has made me nostalgic for this time last year. I keep reading my blog entries from the end of February and the beginning of March, remembering the feeling of knowing that everyone -- including the company commander, battalion commander, and brigade commander -- was home while my husband sat in Iraq waiting to go to Kuwait so he could start the process of coming home. It was excruciating. But as I told CaliValleyGirl, as painful as the waiting game is, you completely forget about it the minute they walk into that gym.

I'm really proud of her, which is not meant to sound condescending. Dealing with deployment was made easier by 1) the community around me and 2) that gold ring on my left hand. Cali has neither of those. She dealt with her boyfriend's absence on her own at a German university, which I can't believe was easy. And she handled it with grace: the other day she told me how much she's grown and how much she learned this year, about herself and her boyfriend. I'm glad that she was able to see deployment as a learning experience and not a burden.

And I can't wait to meet up with her at the Taco Bell in a few weeks!

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February 19, 2006

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER LESSON

We gave Charlie a bath this morning, and I decided to cut some of the knots out of his fur while he was drying. One clip of the scissors made him yelp and run away; once I nabbed him and brought him back to the living room, I realized I had cut more than I bargained for.

After his initial yelp, Charlie didn't seem to notice his wound so much. He was up and romping around with his toys; I was the inconsolable one weeping on the floor. And this, my friends, is Reason Umpteen why I can never have kids: I hurt Charlie. My carelessness caused him pain. Every time I look at him, I burst into tears again, even though he seems to have accepted the 8 shiny new staples hiding under his right ear.

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I learned and emotionally (ugh -- and financially) costly lesson today, one that I won't soon forget. I have the power to hurt Charlie. Or my husband, or my child someday. I really don't like the thought of that.

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February 10, 2006

CELEBS

My husband summarized an article about George Clooney for me, which was enough to make me not want to read the article. However, I did seek it out just to check one quote:

Clooney is as vain and materialistic as the next guy in Hollywood - "[F] it, I love my house in Italy. It's big and audacious and ridiculous, and nicer than any human being has the right to have" - but he is also one of the few really grown-up movie stars. "I have Irish Catholic guilt," he says, smiling, "and want to make up for [my successes]."
The way Clooney atones is by making, alongside the romantic comedies and heist numbers, a range of films that bring him a different kind of attention altogether.

My husband was absolutely mortified by the phrase "nicer than any human being has the right to have," as if some Equality Police could come and knock down half of your house because you're not allowed to live extravagantly. For him, the fact that George Clooney thinks that people shouldn't have the right to a big house is just beyond words. I, however, find something differently but equally reprehensible in this paragraph. Clooney's attitude reminds me of something I heard Ben Affleck say on TV right before the last presidential election. He was upset that he had gotten a tax cut because he said he didn't need the money and he would've rather the government kept it.

Do these celebrities want us to think that they don't have any will of their own? You know, the world is just the way it is and I wish it weren't but that's life so I gotta stay ridiculous rich. That's what we're supposed to believe?

Ben Affleck, if you want to take your $1.5 million tax cut and donate it to charity, guess what, you can! Hell, you can even opt to pay more taxes in Massachusetts, as O'Reilly trapped Affleck into admitting he didn't even know. Here he is, complaining that he couldn't give more in taxes, and all he had to do was, you know, give more. You could donate it to cancer research or stem cells or veterans benefits or all the other stuff you say you care about. You don't have to wait for the government to do it for you. Your hands aren't tied because they gave you your $1.5 million back; it means you have MORE OPTIONS.

Same for you, Clooney. No one is forcing you to live in a big house. If your wealth makes you feel guilty, then buy some land, build a modest-sized house on it, and start donating some of your money. But don't you dare say that the way you compensate for your Catholic guilt is that you make more movies. Even if it is Syriana and you think you're doing some good by educating people to the Ways Of The World, you're still raking in the dough doing it. That's supposed to make us feel better about you? Poor Clooney, he's so big and famous, he can't help but be a bazillionaire, but at least he makes Films That Matter. Are you serious?

Last night we got the Grammys here. I swear I nearly spat on the TV when Alicia Keys said "this is the most important night in the world." Get over yourselves, people. You know, I can accept it if you're filthy rich and lovin' it. I read once that Christopher Walkin will do any movie that's put before him because it's a job and he's in it to make money. I can respect that; my husband and I are out to make as much money as we can too. But to hear celebs ask for millions of dollars for each movie they do and then complain about being rich, that's too much for me to accept.

No one put a gun to Clooney's head and made him buy that stupid house. Get over it.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:51 AM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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KUDOS

When I attended the University of Illinois, I used to get so mad reading The Daily Illini newspaper. I would seethe for days over some of their editorials, and I'm sure I could maintain this website by just blogging about some of the stuff they print (I don't visit their website anymore out of respect for my blood pressure). However, I was proud today to hear that they printed the "offensive" Mohammed cartoons. Good for them for actually reporting the news instead of censoring it to make sure no one's feelings get hurt...or embassies get burned down, as the case may be.

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February 09, 2006

DOUBT

For the past few years, I've been a steadfast warmonger. I have believed that all people on this planet, given the chance, would choose freedom over chains. I have believed that everyone is worthy of democracy, that my country was doing something Good by opening up Iraq to democracy. I have continued to believe in the fundamental value of democracy, even as my husband began to scratch his head. I've been an idealist, but he's actually been to Iraq. The seven signs of non-competitive states have troubled his mind and made him wonder if Iraq really will be able to pull itself out of the Dark Ages. I have insisted that it must be so, that all people must want to be free. But my heart sank when I saw this today:

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This photo from Pakistan feels like a punch in the gut. It makes me want to cry, just as the al-Sadr photo did two years ago. Why doesn't my ideal chair ever match up to the real chair?

I don't want my husband to be right.

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February 07, 2006

A TRUE FRIEND

On Thanksgiving I wrote about how happy I am that I've found my two best friends because part of the reason I started this blog was because none of my old friends agreed with me politically. It wasn't until we got into the Army that I started to make friends who valued the same things I do. In the comments section, Pericles said, "So we can safely assume that you've never distanced yourself from friends because of THEIR politics?" He says he was joking, and I don't think he meant to be rude, but I have thought about that comment for a long time.

It's true that once I started to meet people who agreed with me, it was easier to prefer their company to the company of others. I'd much rather nod in agreement than argue! But before that, back in college, more often than not I'd find myself talking down a road less traveled and then backing off when I realized the other person wasn't following me. I usually changed the subject or tried to find ways to agree. I began to feel more isolated, especially after my Dinesh D'Souza experience. But the war really tipped the scales; I have very little contact with anyone I was friends with before OIF. Heck, my maid of honor hasn't spoken to me in about two years. I have no problem with people growing apart, but it's sad to me that we could be friends when I knew others' political views but not when they knew mine.

However, there's one friend who has shown me that two people can be respectful of each other and put aside their differences. I met my friend from Sweden back in 1998, and we're still as close today as we were then. She's a Swede through and through; I don't think we agree on a single thing politically! However, we always manage to talk civilly and explain our positions in peace. Maybe it's easier because we come from two different worlds: we can easily shrug and say, "What else would she think, she's Swedish/American?" But we manage to make the friendship work even when we have fundamental differences in thinking: she about had a heart attack when I whooped after Timothy McVeigh was executed, and I nearly keeled over when she told me that Swedish parents receive School Supply Money from the government! She's been nothing but supportive about my husband's deployment, even though I know she's not such a fan of the military in general.

She visited over the weekend, and we had a wonderful time. She was interested in my husband's photos from Iraq and learning about the new functional area he's applying for. She even met my two best friends here; I wonder what it's like for her to listen to my right wing friends' conversations about re-enlistment and school bullies! Erin even thought later she should apologize for sounding so American, but I think it's good for my Swedish friend to hear us as we really are. She's tolerant enough to hear the truth!

So in response to Pericles' joke, I have indeed distanced myself from many people in my life who have expressed hostility towards my husband's career or towards my views. But it doesn't have to be that way. I am completely capable of accepting my Swedish friend just the way she is because she's willing to do the same. We have a wonderful friendship, despite the fact that we're ridiculously different. She's a true friend.

Plus she uses me for my commissary privileges to stay stocked in Starbursts. I can live with that...

Posted by: Sarah at 02:36 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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