February 26, 2008

INVESTED

Yep, we're invested.

Sitting on a bunk in Bravo Company's outpost, Staff Sgt. Corey Hollister noted the irony that, even as the debate in America remained bizarrely unaffected by the reality around him, "It's really military personnel and their families who don't want [the Army] to leave Iraq."

My husband is frustrated that he could've spent six months learning Farsi only to deploy to Iraq (where no one speaks Farsi). He would've rather learned Arabic then. He wants to be able to communicate with the people, wants to read as many books as he can about Sunnis and Shiites and Arab culture, wants to get another chance to participate in this war. Not for the killing but for the cultural cross-pollination.

And indeed, there's cross-pollination:

Officers in the Grand Army of the Tigris, as one of its senior officers calls the American force, dine with local elders at "goat grabs," greet them with "man-kisses," and routinely punctuate their own conversations with the casual "insha'allah." The vernacular has even followed the Army home: In the halls of the Pentagon, where nearly every Army officer has served at least two tours in Iraq, officers ask whether this or that official has "wasta"—Iraqi shorthand for "influence" or "pull," though with a slightly more corrupt tinge.

It's the military families that don't want to leave Iraq because they are the ones who've become invested. They're the ones who are getting steeped in this culture and looking for ways to make it compatible with ours. And they're the ones who understand the little picture as well as the big one.

My husband has always said that Iraq has way more than a problem between Sunnis and Shiites, because even in all-Shiite villages, there are still feuds. Between this group and that, this clan and that, this cousin's branch and that, this side of the street and that. Put two Iraqis in a room together, and they'll find something to divide them. So I got a kick out of this:

This much was evident at a gathering of 20 local elders, where a young captain named Palmer Phillips cajoled and corralled sheiks three times his age. "Hey," Phillips admonished the feuding tribal leaders, "There can't be anymore of this Dulaimi versus Assawi action going on."

The soldiers on the ground are working with the nuances and getting physically and emotionally invested in the outcome. Really, really invested. And they don't want to fail. But most of all they don't want to be sent home before they have a chance to succeed.

Read the whole article.

UPDATE:

Also read Gordon Alanko's Reconstructing Relationships. "Juggling kittens" indeed.

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February 18, 2008

THE THOUGHTS CREEP IN

I made a list of things to say
But all I really want to say
All I really want to say is
Hold her and keep her strong
While I'm away from here
    --R.E.M. Green Album

The other day, my husband asked me how I think I'll feel when the next deployment rolls around. And I wondered why he'd asked; he said softly, "Well, you know, nothing's been the same since Sean Sims." And he's right.

I've given up with the pretending too. When I'm quiet for too long and he asks me what I'm thinking, I've given up lying. "I'm thinking about what happens if you die," I now answer. And it's awful how often the thoughts creep in. It is so sick, this anticipatory grief. He's right here beside me, and it's weird that sometimes I can't even enjoy him because I'm planning for some imaginary future that I hope never comes.

And I wasn't like this before. He's right; nothing's been the same.
Sacrifice is no longer theoretical when you've watched someone live with it for years.

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February 15, 2008

UPDATE

An update (er, kinda non-update) on our family's current military situation over at SpouseBUZZ.

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February 13, 2008

HEH

Chuck Z is on the warpath...

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February 08, 2008

REASON 8 MILLION WHY LIVING IN GERMANY WAS A PAIN IN THE NECK

Yes, we're still feeling the effects of our lovely OCONUS move.

We paid off our first car while my husband was in Iraq. The lienholder mailed us a letter saying to complete the title, we needed to go to our local DMV. Um, our local DMV was a bunch of Germans working on post in the pseudo-licensing office. The German lady looked at my documents and shrugged. I think I remember her saying at the time that we might run into problems later down the road.

We sure did. But that was nearly four years ago, and I didn't think much of it.

We moved back to the US and reregistered our cars in our state of record. By mail. That car has not been back in Missouri since we bought it back in 2002. Which meant the problem was never noticed...until today. We went to register our cars in our new state, and our lien was never shown as lifted.

So now what? How do I undo a problem that was created four years ago, and 1000 miles away? And through the fricking DMV, of all headaches.

What an unnecessary pain in the neck it was to live in Germany.

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