July 31, 2004

MEAN

Ohhhh, this is mean. One of the German pop-ups makes the same sound that Yahoo messenger makes! That sound makes any military wife come running, hoping that her husband has just logged in; instead you find a pop-up for T-Mobile. Mean, mean, mean.

My computer programmer friend is coming over tomorrow to do scary things to my computer that include the words "reinstall" and "virus". Hopefully she can teach me how to get rid of all of these damn pop-ups, especially the extremely graphic German porn ones.

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July 29, 2004

CLOSE

Well, we didn't quite make it to a full sewing machine, but we got close (together we donated $300). My sincere thanks to everyone who pitched in for this project of mine. Hopefully the women of Ramadi will be sewing like the wind soon...

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July 25, 2004

UPDATE

Ten seconds after I published the previous post, my friend called to apologize. She hadn't even read my blog yet, but she knew she had been in a bad mood and had taken it out on me. I laughed and said that I know I am overly sensitive and that it's just as much my fault as hers. She finally got me to agree that I would try to say "you're being a bitch" if she is being one, which was really funny to me. And all's well that ends well.

My friend attributed her crankiness to hitting that breaking point in the deployment, the first major hump to get over. I can completely understand, and I know that sometimes I'm just not myself either. My friend is perhaps the strongest wife I know when it comes to the deployment: she's been incredibly upbeat and composed and she does not complain or grumble at all. We three friends have done pretty well for ourselves, I think, yet we all know that we're not quite whole. There's a part of our hearts that's far far away, and it can make us all a little crazy at times. I guess the important part is being able to recognize that and just try to help each other get by.

And she borrowed the Larry Elder book too...

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July 24, 2004

DISCORD

When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend who did a number on my self-esteem. Everything I did was wrong. My taste in music: wrong. My clothes: wrong. My views on social issues: wrong. I spent so much time being hurt because he never gave my views any credence; he simply said, "How can you think something like that?" and then told me the right way to think. I hated it, but I kept trying to please him because I hate disagreeing with people.

I hate disagreeing with people. Not something that someone who enjoys reading about politics should say, right? But I really do hate it. I hate discord. I hate arguments. I hate not having common ground. I usually try to avoid people and situations where I know there'll be discord because I'm so bad at dealing with it. I can't argue with someone and then turn around and be friends again in ten minutes. I just can't; it lingers...

So I do anything to avoid arguing. When someone says, "Ugh, Bush did blah blah blah..." I just ignore it and change the topic. I'd rather just let them think what they think than get myself riled up by discussing the issue. Just last weekend I sat at a table while three people railed on President Bush and I didn't say anything. Until it got out of hand and one person stooped to making monkey noises, at which point I calmly said, "That's quite rude, considering I plan to vote for the man." And that was that. But it lingered...

The way my high school boyfriend treated me has stuck with me, and I never want to be the person telling someone else what to think. I never want to be the person putting down someone's ideas or taste. I never say what I think of movies, or food, or music, or anything, for fear of hurting someone's feelings the way my feelings were hurt every time my boyfriend made fun of my music or views. If someone asks me what I thought of a movie, I always hedge. I often turn the question back on them to see what they thought before I give my opinion. It's a horrible habit, I know, but I can't feel good about myself if I'm making strong statements that others disagree with.

Which is why I started this blog. I don't talk about these things in person. I hate it. I never talk politics or current events in person because I don't want to make anyone feel stupid for holding certain views. Tim talked in his farewell post about how the internet allows people to express views they would never express in "polite company". He sees this as a bad thing, but it has been a very liberating thing for me. I want to work out my own ideas, and writing is how I do that best. But no one is forced to read my site, so it's not the same thing as forcing someone into a conversation they don't want to be having. I say things here I would never dream of saying in person, simply because my blog is the one place where I feel comfortable being direct. I still think people should be civil, and lord knows I hate discord in the comments section, but my blog is an open soapbox where I can air my views and not worry about sounding rude.

Which is why it's been extremely weird for me to have people in my "real" life read my blog. Very few people even know I blog, and I'd really like to keep it that way, because there are so many times when I wish I'd never told any of them. Most of the time they agree with me, and everything is fine, until something comes up in "real" life that's a major source of discord. Like tonight when my friends said, "I can't believe you're reading that book." All of a sudden I was back in high school again, trying to defend myself and why I'm reading Larry Elder. "Ugh, I would never read a book like that" sounds in my ears like "You are a huge moron", and it really bothers me. Because I would never say something like that. That's what my high school boyfriend said, and I would never treat someone that way. Even if a person were reading Noam Chomsky, I'd never say anything. When a friend offered to lend me Bowling for Columbine, I simply said, "No thanks; I'm not a big Michael Moore fan." I bend over backwards to avoid offending people, just so they never have to feel as incompetent as I did in high school.

I know I'm over-sensitive about things like this, and I know it's my fault that I can't let things like that go, but I really don't know how to change. I don't know how to let go of the hurt I feel when someone puts my interests down. It lingers...

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July 22, 2004

100

I just put letter number 100 in the mail to my husband!
I haven't quite sent him a letter per day, since I couldn't write while he was in Kuwait and I don't always have anything good to say. But the ratio comes out to 100 letters in about 145 days in Iraq. Not too bad.
Someday we'll look back on all these letters and laugh. And our grandkids will think that grandma had a foul mouth.

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MARK

Erin, your husband left you a message...

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July 19, 2004

CHAT

I am doing a three-person chat with Red 6 and Blue 6 as we speak! Husband and Best Friend are talking shop, and I'm sitting back and enjoying them being themselves. It's great to see them let off some steam and make jokes. I can't wait to see it in person...

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BUSY

Sorry, I put off all my grading this weekend to make meatloaf and sit around doing nothing, so I'm swamped today. You'll have to read someone else's blog instead...

But I will let you in on my backed-up knitting project. Here's my newest sweater:

pinksweater.jpg

Yeah, it's a pile (and not a very clearly photographed one, at that). I ran out of yarn right at the very end, so I'm waiting for my mom to mail me another skein. It's gonna look like this eventually, but for now I'm stuck with a pile of pieces.

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July 18, 2004

SCARE

I was just sitting at the kitchen table grading papers when I looked up to see a Military Police vehicle parked in front of my house and an MP out in my yard. I froze. We live right next to a corner where lots of people get tickets, so I knew he was probably just clocking people, and I know in the rational parts of my brain that MPs do not do casualty notification, but I decided to check it out. He said there had been a noise complaint in the area, so he was listening for loud music. I told him that when your husband's deployed, an MP is the last person you want to see in your yard. He laughed and apologized, and when I walked back in the house, I realized I was shaking and crumbling fast.

No matter how many times you imagine the scenario -- and believe me, we lie in bed on bad nights and think about it -- I guess nothing can really prepare you for that knock on the door. As I shut the door and swallowed the lump in my throat, I wondered if I really would be as strong and brave as I am in my imagination.

I didn't feel very strong ten minutes ago.

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July 17, 2004

MIRACLE

I just finally watched the movie Miracle.
I. Loved. It.
But I bet you guessed I would...

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STORY

My mom sent me a nice story a few weeks back that I meant to post and never did. Here's what she wrote:

I just had the nicest thing happen to me. The Insight repairman just came to fix my computer. He fixed it and I now have internet again (as you can see). He says my computer needs to be "cleaned up."

We visited and I told him you have a blogsite that I read every day and that you're in Germany and [husband] is in Iraq. He has a daughter named Sarah too! He went out to his truck two different times and got equipment to fix the computer. When he left, he said he wasn't going to charge me---that with my son-in-law fighting for him in Iraq that that was the least he could do in return. He wanted to be sure I had internet to keep in touch with you. Technically, he didn't have to stay and fix it. I almost cried; wasn't that nice? You see, there are good people in this world who know that we're doing the right thing.

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July 16, 2004

EMAILS

So it's been a while since I checked my blog email. I found lots of nice emails, another $5 for the sewing machine, this beautiful link from Tanker, and an email from my best friend from high school who found my blog and thought she recognized me. Yep, it's me, the same girl who stole a lunch tray from the cafeteria and used to say "buty" all the time. It's good to hear from you.

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July 15, 2004

DEDICATION

I've bragged before about how wonderful my students are; tonight one of them outdid anything I've seen yet. Right before I was leaving my house, my phone rang: it was a student, one of the two students I have who drive more than an hour each way to come to class. He had gotten all the way to post and realized he'd forgotten his wallet, so he couldn't get in. I gave him the phone number of another student so he could get signed in as a guest. When I got to class, he wasn't there, so I figured he didn't have any identification on him and they wouldn't let him on even as a guest. About fifteen minutes after class started, he came in through the door. He had driven all the way back home just to get his ID so he could attend class. He said he was speeding like a madman, but he wanted to make it back in time for our class.

Now that's dedication...

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MONSTER

True story: I was walking the dog this evening when an animal ran out of the hedges and down the sidewalk in front of us. It was in my sight for at least five seconds, running away from us, and I was staring at it trying to figure out what it was. After it dashed out of sight, I stood there, puzzled at what I had seen. I figured it must have been a baby deer, even though it looked more like it was hopping than running. If someone told me it was a kangaroo, no lie, I might've believed it. When the dog and I got to the end of the hedges and turned, there it was again, this time from a side view. As it ran off, startled, I realized that I had just seen my first hare. Lord, was it humungous. It was bigger than the dog, with powerful legs and stiff ears. I then also realized why the flowers in front of my house have not only been nibbled to death, they've been ripped from the earth, roots and all. An animal that big could pull a whole bush up. Man, this hare put Illinois' bunnies to shame; it was a beautiful sight.

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July 13, 2004

STAIRS

I've never been good at stairs. I never take my time, and I fall often. Going up, I usually don't lift my foot high enough and catch my toe on the edge. Going down, I usually put my heel too close to the edge and slip. One time when I was away at college, I came home for a weekend. I ran into the house and down to my dad in the family room, at which point I fell and came crashing down the flight of stairs. My dad just chuckled and said, "Sarah's home."

So tonight as I was walking up the stairs to class with my purse over one arm, my bag of class materials on the other, and a Taco Bell cup in one hand, it's no big shocker that I caught my toe on the step and crashed onto the landing. Since my hands were full, I didn't have any way to brace myself as I fell. The three Soldiers I was walking with were a pleasant change from my classmates in high school: rather than laughing and pointing, they immediately helped me up and made sure I was OK. Nonetheless, it was extremely embarrassing, and now the entire left side of my body hurts. I even have a nice big purple lump on the palm of my hand.

Only I could find a way to bruise my palm.

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July 12, 2004

YAY

WelcomeHomeFlag.jpg

Go and share the joy with Tim and Patti!

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July 09, 2004

MURDER

I just got home from my travels and I was going to write about the Autobahn, high speeds, etc. All of a sudden that seems so stupid.

Base officials saying little about deaths

Air Force officials released little new information Wednesday regarding the killing of two Robins Air Force Base residents found dead in their red brick duplex early Monday morning by base security forces.

I know this couple. Both Andy and Jamie Schliepsiek went to our high school. My brother used to play sports with Andy and they were pretty good friends. And, eerily enough, Andy and Jamie were in line right behind my husband and me to get marriage licenses.

I feel a sort of disgusted shock right now.

MORE TO GROK:

They were a cute couple, weren't they? And he had just returned from a tour in Iraq. Senseless.

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July 08, 2004

BUSY

Blogging will be light these next few days. Tomorrow I have to travel for work, and then this weekend I am taking a seminar on...terrorism. I plan to take lots of notes for blogging.

In the meantime, you can read stuff on my sidebar. And consider donating for a sewing machine.

MORE TO GROK:

What do al-Sadr and Michael Moore have in common? Read this.

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July 04, 2004

INDEPENDENCE

I wanted to write something really special for the Fourth of July. I read through lots of my old posts, through old emails home, through papers I wrote when I took that year of ROTC, searching for inspiration. But I just didn’t have anything else to add. I realized that when you live every day as an American – when you are proud of your country and wear your service flag and regimental crest pins every single day – then you don’t need to step it up a notch for 24 hours in July. Independence Day to a diehard patriot is like Valentine’s Day for newlyweds: it’s simply a day where the rest of society notices what you cherish daily.

When I took the Military Science class, the first year of ROTC, we were required to write an autobiography. Most of the students in the class were in their third week of college; I was a senior with a strong background in writing. I had a bit more experience to draw from than the rest of the class. The teacher, our beloved Captain R, told me mine was the best ROTC autobiography he'd ever seen and that he was passing it out to every Soldier he knew. I didn't think it was anything amazing; it was just the truth. I read it again yesterday, and I still feel the same way (though I must resist the urge to revise). Excerpt:

I am one of the oldest students in the MS 100 class, since I find myself rapidly approaching the ripe old age of twenty-two. As a senior in the class, I have been surrounded by people who are just beginning the scholarly journey I started long ago.

The most important part of this journey for me was last year, when I was a student in a French university. I spent an entire year on study abroad, which accounts for my tardy enrollment in Military Science as a senior. This was a pivotal moment in my scholarly life as a French major, because my outlook on the future has been radically changed by this time I spent away from my homeland. I found that France was nice, but it was not home. I felt aimless and rootless. I had a difficult time placing myself in a society into which I did not easily fit. I found myself standing up for my own country and facing people who were hostile to that for which my country stands. I found myself shying from the French thought and becoming more American than I ever imagined I would be.

I had always been a patriotic person. My favorite holiday is Independence Day, and I won the Daughters of the American Revolution award in high school. But once faced with people who did not respect the basic tenets of the country which I held so dear, I found within a great longing for my motherland. I returned from this year in France with a confused sense of what it is I want to become as a French major and a heightened sense of who I am as an American.

And then I began MS 100. Originally, I had just thought that it would be a better option than Health and Wellness. I would learn something to which I had never before been exposed: how the military is arranged and how it runs. I soon found that I enjoyed the class more than I had previously foreseen. On the first day of lab, even without a uniform, I envisioned myself part of something larger than I could fathom. As the cannons blasted and words were read, words of unity, justice, and freedom, I felt so proud. I felt very proud of my country, very proud to call myself an American, and proud to have called myself an américaine in France.

I never imagined that standing there in the group with me on the first day of lab was a young man who would one day be the most important person in my life. I signed up for MS 100 because of the paintball and rappelling; I'm happy to have stayed because of the values the military represents. The closing paragraph of my autobiography is ironic, considering the turn my life took when I met that young man in ROTC.

I had an argument with a foreigner the other day. He comes from a country where military service is mandatory and therefore seen as a burden and a hindrance to young men. Therefore, our opinions on the ROTC program clashed fiercely. What I said, on behalf of my experiences, was that the ROTC is a wonderful program, one that can provide students with a taste for the military, however diluted this taste may be. And through this experience of MS 100, a scholar can decide if he has been called to become a part of this greater collectivity of brave men who devote their lives to the country I cherish so much. I am proud to associate myself with these ideals, even if only for one year.

I believe these things every day of my life; I don't need to act any different today. I'll fly my flag, wear my pins, and be grateful that brave Americans today and yesterday have fought and died for what I cherish. Just like I try to do every other day.

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July 02, 2004

CHECK

There's nothing that makes me smile quite as big as doing our online banking and seeing Electronic Check Tikrit as a transaction. Good to know he has access to money.

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