May 29, 2004


I got my first thank you the other day.

I just booked a cruise for when my husband gets back. (I know, it's risky guessing when he'll get home, but I had no choice: we had a voucher for a free cruise, and it had to be booked by the end of this month. We're taking a gamble here, but what can you do?) When I called the booking lady and explained the situation to her, she kindly said that she thanks my husband for everything he is doing and appreciates his service.

That's the first time that's happened to me. Of course blog readers have written and said the same thing -- and I certainly appreciate everyone who has expressed their support -- but it was the first time I had heard a stranger say those words to me.

Tim and I were recently talking about the unique situation we find ourselves in on the overseas posts. The only human contact we have is with other military families, who are in the same boat, and German citizens, who don't thank us for much of anything. The only people I talk to on the phone are family members and close friends. I hadn't yet had to go through the "my husband is deployed" explanation with anyone, and it felt kinda weird.

We here are lucky that we don't have much contact with anyone else, because that means there are no pity parties. I can't boo-hoo that my husband is gone because everyone else around me deserves the same sympathy. And the ones whose husbands are not gone know better than to say anything (well, excluding the girl I recently met who complained that her husband is leaving next month, which makes his deployment a good four and a half months shorter than everyone else's.) I'm glad that we don't get to play the victim card here in Germany; it makes it easier for us to focus on the mission at hand.

Deployment in general is a humbling experience. No matter how hot, hungry, tired, or grumpy I feel, I know that my husband and his soldiers have ten times more right to complain. It really puts things in perspective when I'd like to complain that I had to stay up until 2300 booking our cruise and then I think of my husband, who stays up until 2300 working every night (if he's lucky). At the end of the week when I'm beat from working two jobs and going to German class, I remember that my husband has been working for over 100 days straight without one single day off. When I'm sitting here right now thinking of how hot it is in this room, I remember that the highs in Iraq next week hover around 103 degrees. And no matter how much Ben Gay I think I need for my back, my husband wears an extra 65 lbs. of armor every single day. I'm humbled every time I think of how much trivial complaining I do in an average week, and I thank heavens that there are men and women who are enduring a whole lot more and complaining a whole lot less than I.

When the nice lady finished up our cruise booking, she asked if we had any particular food preferences. "Anything that's not an MRE and anything alcoholic," I replied. I'm really looking forward to seeing my husband be able to relax.

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I'd thought I'd add a little note on the rap music. One of my friends here recently told me she was shocked to climb into my car for the first time and hear Dr. Dre. I've gotten that a lot over the past seven years as my interest in rap music has developed. Once on a bus trip in France someone asked what I was listening to, and until I passed the headphones around, no one really believed it was Doggystyle. I guess I don't quite fit the profile for a rap lover, but then again I don't fit the profile for the reasons why most listeners love rap.

As someone who is fascinated by language, particularly the origin of slang and colloquial expressions, my love for rap is based on the amazing use of the English language. Though most consider the men (and women) who rap to be undereducated, the things they do with rhyme and wordplay blow my college degrees away. This is creation of something new with our language, a talent I intensely admire and wish I could do myself. All the school in the world can't help you freestyle. Take some of my favorite rhymes:

So where's all the mad rappers at?
It's like a jungle in this habitat
But all you savage cats know that I was strapped wit gats
when you were cuddlin a Cabbage Patch
--from Dr. Dre "Forgot About Dre" off 2001

No I'm not the first king of controversy
I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley
to do black music so selfishly
and used it to get myself wealthy
--from Eminem "Without Me" off The Eminem Show

Do not step to me - I'm awkward
I box leftier often
My pops left me an orphan
my momma wasn't home
--from Jay-Z "Renegade" off The Blueprint

And there were a dozen more I could have chosen. The rhyme is incredible, not to mention that many of these rappers do this off the top of their heads. Have you ever seen someone freestyle? The dexterity these rappers have with language, the way they can weave and mold it, completely thrills me. It's not really something that you can learn to do, you just have to have it. You have to feel it in your bones and be completely in-tune with your language.

I just can't explain how brilliant I think that is.

Many people say they just don't get rap music. Many say the lyrics are too fast, the beat is a distraction, or the offensive language turns them off. I guess it's not for everyone, though I say that anyone who can do this

So what do you say to somebody you hate
Or anybody tryna bring trouble your way
Wanna resolve things in a bloodier way
Just study your tape of NWA

is worth at least a nod of respect for his abilities.

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May 28, 2004


A challenge from LeeAnn, found at TexasBestGrok:
for each letter of the alphabet, list a band you truly like.

Better than Ezra
Fleetwood Mac
Guns and Roses
Haggard, Merle
Indigo Girls
Kid Rock
Lisa Ekdahl
Moody Blues
Old 97s
Prine, John
Shindell, Richard
Tenacious D
Uncle Tupelo
Violent Femmes
Young, Neil

Yep, weird taste. I'll listen to just about anything.
And as for Tarantino's question, I'm definitely an Elvis person.
The husband's a Beatles person; it's our only argument.

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May 27, 2004


By the way, this is what I did today...



By the way, I'm not even really nutso about dogs. Sure, I like animals, but I've never been the type of person to fall in love with any old dog. The only other dog I've ever reacted to this strongly was poor little Bullet in Illinois.

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May 25, 2004


The phone rang while I was finishing up that last post, and I was shocked to hear my husband's voice on the other end. It was a wonderful call -- no static, hardly any delay, lots of laughter -- until five minutes passed and the line went dead. That was when I realized I hadn't heard his voice in over three weeks, and the silence at the end of the line hurt my heart more than anything I can think of.

This wouldn't be so hard if I got to hear from him more often than twice a month.

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May 23, 2004


I'm almost finished grading all of my students' essays, and the vile beast of plagiarism has finally reared his ugly head. I hate when they do this to me.


After much stress, plagiarism, number crunching, agony, booze, and back-ache, I think I've finished grading my students' papers.

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May 22, 2004


Last night at our 100 Days of Deployment party, I had a moment of pure happiness. As I was sitting next to one of my favorite wives, I looked down the dinner table at Tim and Oda Mae engaged in a conversation, and I felt so blessed. I felt overwhelmed with happiness to be surrounded by such wonderful people, and I haven't felt happier in a long time. I was one of those moments that makes it all worthwhile. I really do have a wonderful life.

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May 20, 2004


I've figured out the absolute worst part about not having a husband around. I can handle the empty house, the loneliness, and the lack of hugs, but there is something I absolutely need him for: a back rub. My back has been hurting so bad for the past two days that I can barely breathe. I have no idea of the cause -- I imagine a combination of sitting at the computer and marathon knitting hasn't helped -- and I certainly can't find a solution. I am miserable, and all I want is a back rub to make the pain go away. I can't even put Flex-All on because 1) my husband took it all to Iraq and 2) I couldn't reach my back anyway. I don't think I'll be doing much blogging in the next few days, what with my back and the fact that I have to read and grade 25 final essays by Monday.

In the meantime, enjoy this via Den Beste. I love #7.


My new best friend is a charming fellow who goes by the name of Ben Gay.

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May 19, 2004


I got to meet the puppy today. He was every bit as awesome in real life as he is in this photo. And he's so lazy! He would take three steps and then plop down on the floor and take a nap. I'm not kidding: this nine-week-old puppy took three naps while we were playing with him. He waddled and sprawled and yawned and snuggled.

I want one.

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May 18, 2004


My mom likes to do genealogy research, and she just found something that blew me away: her great-grandfather's Civil War canteen! I sure wish I had $4000 to buy it for her.

She also found info from her other side of the family:

In 1639 Apr 23, Jonathan Addington, a slave boy to one Edward Travis, was brought to Jamestown, VA from England.

My ancestors were slaves! I demand reparations!

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When I went to visit Tim, we got started talking about literature. He said he's been trying to drag himself through the classics, but most of the time he doesn't really like the books.

I took a wonderful class in college: world literature from 1945-present. We read short stories from all over the world (that's where I found Yukio Mishima) and tried to put them in their historical context. In addition, everyone read one book and presented it to the class. On the last day, we had a frank discussion on the "canon", that list of books that we all instinctually know are classics. Our teacher asked us why none of the books we had read in our class would qualify; it was then that I realized that the canon was bogus. Sure, there are many classics out there that should be read, but sometimes they're just not relevant anymore. There are books that have affected me and my worldview far deeper than any classics I've ever read, but somehow they're not canon-worthy. Mark Twain was right: "A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read."

Farm Accident Digest has a post today about being "the boy who does not get it." If I may apply his story to my thoughts, that's the problem with the classics: most of the time I just don't grok. Why is The Stranger a book everyone should read? He goes to his mom's funeral and then kills some guy on the beach; what's that? Or Bartleby the Scrivener, the guy who doesn't want to do anything? What is it exactly that The Experts want us to take from these books? What is the life lesson? I'm the girl who does not get it when it comes to the classics.

Both Joanne Jacobs and Debbye have posted the list of 101 "books you should read". I've seen the list before: it's the same list my Advanced Placement English class was based on. Anything we read for that class had to be off that list, which is ironic because in my free time that year I was reading books by Pirsig and Feynman that touched my life in a much more meaningful way than The Crucible did.

I haven't made much of a dent in this list. I don't much care, to be frank. I read a lot, but I'd rather spend my time reading Victor Davis Hanson or Carl Sagan than Boris Pasternak. Proust is crap in French and English, Ceremony and Things Fall Apart are just on the list so it's not all dead white men, and most of these books I would never recommend to an 18 year old. The canon ticks me off.


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May 15, 2004


I haven't been keeping track of the days my husband has been gone; instead, I've been keeping track of his absence by counting the letters I've sent to him. Today is a big day; it's my husband's favorite number.


My husband introduced me to Willie McGee when we met, and I don't think I've ever heard of a nicer famous person. My husband has an old yellowed copy of this article that he cherishes.

We're at letter #51, Blue 6. I sure do miss you.

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May 09, 2004


Good morning, Mama.
Happy Mother's Day.

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May 03, 2004


I finished reading The Future and Its Enemies this morning. (If I were going to invent something, it would be an exercise bike combined with a laptop computer, so I could exercise and read blogs at the same time. But at least it gives me time to read books.) I'm a "book marker", a person who likes to mark passages to go back to later; my husband is not. Therefore, I was surprised to find that he had marked his book when he read it. It was nice to see what had struck him while he was reading; it was almost like having him here to discuss the book.

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May 01, 2004


James Hudnall's stepfather died recently, and James been going through bits and pieces of his stepfather's life.

I had a thought the other day about the letters I send to my husband. He's keeping all of them -- actually he said he already has too many to store under his cot and is mailing them all back to me -- and I figure we'll put them in a box or folder somewhere in our home. I started thinking about how my mother-in-law found a box of letters between her father and her grandfather, detailing her childhood, when her father passed away. I started to think that maybe someday my children will read the letters my husband and I wrote back and forth while he was in Iraq. And then I started to panic. Oh my goodness, I'd better watch my mouth in my letters! I better not send him anything I wouldn't want my grandchildren to read!

Would we be the same people we are if we knew our grandchildren were watching?

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