March 28, 2008

HUMOR IN UNIFORM

How do you know you're not in regular Army anymore? The husband gets reprimanded for wearing his hair too short.

Also, my husband said that he has some reading to do before he deploys. I said that it was fine, that we could sit together and read quietly. But he said that my idea wouldn't work because the reading he has to do is classified documents that he cannot take home from work. I replied that there were ways around this, you know. Just stuff the papers in your pants and socks. If it's good enough for Sandy Berger, it's good enough for us, right?

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March 23, 2008

GETTING MY FIX

Ask and ye shall receive. Nope, not a baby, a deployment.

He's now leaving, and relatively quickly. Not on that perfect assignment I wrote about, but on a different one. (Months ago my husband warned me that I wasn't going to like leaving "regular Army" because I wouldn't be able to blog about anything he's doing. I am starting to see that this is true. I am a blabbermouth at heart, and his top secret clearance is killing me.)

You know, I sat on that Rear D info for weeks. I couldn't bring myself to write about it because we didn't want to accept it as our fate. Finally, I decided that I had to put it in print and make it real. Ha. Two days later, the whole thing was moot. I can't help but think about one of my mom's friends. It seems that my mom bumps into her every time our story changes. First my husband was leaving right away, then his timeline got bumped way back, then it was Rear D, and now we're back to leaving. I bet my mom's civilian friend can't believe that we get jerked around like this, but it's true. This is how the military operates. When my husband asked me if I was OK with finding out so suddenly, I just waved him off with a hand. I am really quite used to this, actually. And when another solder looked at me with care and concern at the ball the other day and asked how I was dealing with my husband's sudden departure, I think I freaked him out with my nonchalance. His eyes got big when I waved him off too. But seriously, this is his job, this is what he's in the Army to do, and we wouldn't be here if it bothered me. A soldier's job is to soldier.

So he goes in the field this week, comes back, we have some block leave, and he's outta here. Lickety split. And he's an "operator" now (I think that is the squirrelliest label ever, so I use it all the time, like White irony), so it's not one of those 15-month deployments. He'll be home in early 2009.

This deployment junkie is getting her fix.

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March 22, 2008

HAPPY EASTER, Y'ALL

Man, my husband's friend has some sweet toys. Look what we got to do today.

range1.jpg

We did some pistol shooting first. I was no good with the .357 Sig, but I did better with the 9mm Beretta. I think I improved a little from my first trip to the range back in October, especially after I tried a different placement for my left hand. It made the kick a lot more manageable. But the real fun was the AR-15.

range2.jpg

I look awkward as all get-out in this picture, I think, but I actually was pretty darned proud of myself here. (I want to submit this to the Army and see if they'll let me deploy. Not bad for my very first try.)

range3.jpg

But I don't look nearly as good as my smokin' hot husband.

range4.jpg

Overall, I was a lot more comfortable this time around. I had fun and improved my meager skills. And the rifle was a lot of fun, though my shoulder is already feeling it.

I'm looking forward to going back. Good thing my husband has a single buddy who's happy to exchange ammo for a home-cooked meal.

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March 20, 2008

FIVE YEARS

I didn't forget today's anniversary; I just didn't really know what to say. But at our brigade ball tonight, I bowed my head and thought of Heidi and Debey when we toasted our fallen comrades.

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SO MUCH PERSPECTIVE

I just finished that previous post about being happy for the things I have and not dwelling on what I don't have, and then I went over to SpouseBUZZ and read AirForceWife's latest post.

I am just weeping.

I think I am pretty good at keeping life in perspective, at trying to see the positive in things. But I am not drinking-wine-off-the-floor good.

I love that story and I won't soon forget it.

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March 12, 2008

CHANGE IS FOR THE BETTER TOO

ButterflyWife found a CNN article called Troops, families changed by 5 years of war. All of the stories are about changes for the worse: death, divorce, injury, depression. I thought I would like to add how my family's life has changed for the better.

I've been thinking about this ever since they were talking on the radio about how 9/11 changed people's lives. I blogged:

Today I started thinking that if 9/11 hadn't happened, my life would be quite different. My husband was slated to join the Army for four years of Finance. My guess is that he would've completed his commitment and taken his business mind elsewhere for more money. Certainly he wouldn't have stayed in and chosen to learn Farsi. We'd probably be somewhere in the Midwest, working and living like most of our peers.

I'm pretty sure my husband wouldn't be in the Army today if it weren't for Iraq. We also wouldn't be reading so many books on Iran and Arabs, there probably wouldn't be a SpouseBUZZ, and I never would've met any of my best friends.

Andi wrote a good post on the fifth anniversary of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. The story is a story of strength, of resolve, of commitment. That is what has changed in my life, for the better. Without Iraq, my husband's job would just be a job. Instead, it is more like a calling. In the CNN article, they talk about a chaplain:

When Etter himself returned on leave to Pennsylvania to officiate at the funeral of a close friend, he turned to his wife and said he wanted to go home.

"I said, `OK, get in the car. Let's go home,"' said Jodi Etter. "And you said, 'No, my home in Iraq. I just want to go home."'

When his tour was over, and he went with his wife to buy furniture for their new house in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, he had to remind himself that it was important to her -- even if it seemed trivial to him after the war.

I think they mean for this story to be a bad thing, but I don't see it that way. Our troops are invested in Iraq. They live their lives for a serious purpose, so yes, furniture is going to seem trivial. That's called Perspective. And my husband says all the time that he wants to return to Iraq to see this thing through. As an Army wife, you make a choice: when your husband says he'd rather be in Iraq on Valentine's Day, you can either be selfish and resent him, or you can be proud that your husband has such convictions and deeply cares about both the future of the US and the future of Iraq. I'm impressed that my husband would rather be "stuck hear n Irak" than safe and snug at home, and I'm proud of him for putting his country ahead of his family.

That's how we've changed in the past five years. If you'd asked me as a teen what the height of romance is, never in a million years would I have come up with the answer "having your husband wish he were in Iraq every Valentine's Day." But it is. Iraq has matured us, as a couple and as individuals. We read more, we think more, and we love more.

The chaplain goes on to say:

Now executive director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Veterans Affairs, Etter says a deployment is like a magnifying glass.

"Personalities that are strong become stronger," he says. "Personalities which are weaker are made to become weaker."

We are better for having been to war.

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March 11, 2008

SO MAD I CAN BARELY BREATHE

I have never hated the Army as much as I hate them right now.

The time my husband got turned down for Civil Affairs because Finance wouldn't release him comes close, but even then I was more sad than mad.

I can't explain many of the details, but Civil Affairs units go to more places than Iraq and Afghanistan. And one of the places they're going, it would be the perfect assignment for my husband. He is more qualified to go there than anyone else who is going there. But the Army is so fracking stupid that they don't consider merit in placing people. They just deal 'em out like a deck of cards and let the chips fall where they may. So they end up with Arabic speakers going to Afghanistan, French speakers going to Iraq, and Farsi speakers staying home on Rear fricking D.

Today was already a really disappointing day, but this just sealed the deal. I don't know whether I want to scream or cry. Or puke.

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March 09, 2008

DEPLOYMENT JUNKIE

My husband has been home from Iraq for three years. Three years. It's embarrassing to type that. I've had him to myself for three years. Not by choice, of course, but what can you say? "I promise he volunteered to go and traded orders with a guy for a case of beer, but it fell through. I swear we haven't been ducking it; he even changed branches so he'd be able to go back." But it still sounds incredible that he's been home so long.

I wrote today at SpouseBUZZ that I can't remember my husband's homecoming day. I was camped out in my archives, trying desperately to remember what I was doing before he got home, but I have no idea. I do know what I was feeling though, since I carried on Tim's tradition and gave a peek at the end to CaliValleyGirl.

Reading that hurts a little though, because I miss that feeling.

I love having my husband home. I need to have my husband home if we're ever going to successfully have a baby. But three years on, I miss the deployment feelings. I miss the sense of connectedness, of purpose, of conviction. It probably sounds strange, but I miss the feeling of sacrifice, of knowing that I've given up being with someone I love for the good of our country. Honestly, for me, the deployment feeling hurts, but it's a good hurt, a deep and satisfying pain. And I haven't felt it in three years. I feel ashamed that I've lived too ordinary of a life for three years.

I'm ready to do it again. I knew it was coming, and I was ready for it, waiting for it, starting to yearn for it. My husband finished his language class and was waiting for his assignment. He was worried that he might get sent to Iraq even though he'd studied Farsi and wanted to go to Afghanistan.

So we never imagined the assignment he got: Rear D.

For civilian readers, the Rear Detachment is the one guy the unit leaves behind to man the phones and take care of the homefront. He's the liason between the deployed unit and the families. He works his butt off back at home to take care of unit affairs.

My husband is being left behind while his unit deploys.

One would think that this would be welcomed news for the Rear D family. If my husband had only been home 12 months since his deployment, I might enjoy this assignment a little too. But three years later, I can't believe this is what we'll be doing. I can't believe my husband doesn't get to do what he's longed to do since the day he came home -- go back and help some more -- and I can't believe I don't get to satisfy my unnatural craving for deployment feelings.

We're just so stunned that this is the hand we've been dealt.

Some guys have already spent enough time in Iraq to last them a lifetime. When it's all said and done, my husband will have been home for more than four years before he finally gets his chance to go again and do what he loves.

Despite our best efforts, we're watching history pass us by.

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