Fellow Bloggers

One of my job duties at work is to create bibliographies of sources that students can use when researching (mostly different battles).  I was working on a recent battle from 2009 in Afghanistan, and obviously there’s not a ton out there yet since it was so recent.  Surprisingly, the most valuable sources of information were mil bloggers who were present during the attack.

I was super excited!  This community is fantastic, and I’m so proud and in awe of the great things we can accomplish scattered around the world in constant transit.  I loved seeing  social media used for something positive rather than only hearing about yet another OPSEC violation on Facebook.

It also got me thinking of how it’s changing scholarship.  I wasn’t quite sure how to cite a blogger, especially an anonymous one.  Anonymity sort of goes against the core of historical research, and blogging is so informal that in my gut I don’t feel like it’s a trustworthy source.  Yet what is more accurate and valuable to the historical record than a person writing exactly where they were, what they thought, and what they felt while getting attacked by RPGs?

I’m so conflicted yet so excited for being apart of this change as a blogger but, more importantly, as a scholar.  Geeze, I’m such a nerd.

The First Few Days

The man is home…and currently on his 14th hour of sleep.

The massages have been scheduled.  It’s something my family always does for our Soldiers (we have several) when they come home after a long absence.  They all love it.  Couples massages are great too.  We love it as a way to reconnect and have quiet time together.  Plus it’s like a huge reward and treat for all the hard work you did while you were apart.  It’s stressful whether you think it was or not.

Only two duffles, an assault pack, and his kit this time.  Laundry might be done by next weekend.  Whoo hoo!

Next up is the grocery list.  He’s always craving something when he gets back, and geographical bachelorette refrigerators just don’t fly with my carnivore husband.

The routine is kinda nice.

Mean Census

Did anyone else just get a census supplement in the mail?

It says right on it that my address was chosen and not me, but it sure seems like every place I’ve lived I end up being “randomly chosen.”  And is it just me or are these census questionnaires really personal?  They want to know how much I paid last month for electricity and what time I left for work yesterday.  I don’t know these things!

But these census questions really bum me out because right on the front it says “do not include anyone who is living somewhere else for more than 2 months, such as…someone in the Armed Forces on deployment.”  Oooo…ouch.  Poke a gal while she’s down why don’t ya.  I understand that most of the questions don’t apply if the person isn’t home, but this is his home.  I want to count him as part of my total number of living at this address.  And 2 months for a military family isn’t very long.  He doesn’t have to be deployed to be gone 2 months.  He could be off training somewhere.  DH is gone now for what looks like 6ish weeks, and that’s prior a regular ol’ deployment that’s creeping up on us.

I guess it’s good that military families can document what their households look like and how they run, but geez, it reminds us how lonely they look like too.

Love And Black Elephants During Wartime

Over the holidays I finished one of the new books from University of Nebraska Press.  Black Elephants by Karol Nielsen was a quick pleasure to read.  The book is Nielsen’s memoir of falling in love and the evolution of her relationship with an Israeli man during the first Gulf War.

I was drawn to the book because it was a different kind of war story.  I’m used to reading war history, but I live war in a certain way.  I wanted to read something that described the “invisible casualties” like I feel and deal with when I live war.

I love how Nielsen describes in the book how much war does affect people without them realizing it.  She lived in Israel during the Gulf War, but the mental ramifications of the conflict haunt her relationship forever.  People cannot be left untouched by war regardless of their role in it, and the full extent to which they are changed comes out slowly.  It’s a cautionary tale as much as it is a personal memoir.

I really identify with Nielsen and her struggles even though I haven’t lived war or attempted to assimilate into a different culture like she did.  She wrestles with how much of herself to let go into this new relationship, especially when the war is changing what exactly that is to begin with.  She wrestles with loving and living with a person who is equally traumatized by war.  She wrestles with wanting something badly but knowing that something is wrong at the same time.  She describes a very human experience that I think most can relate to even if war has never touched their lives.  She really wants to save someone, but that someone ends up being herself.

The book is a very quick read because Nielsen’s writing is effortless.  Much as I’m sure she does, readers are left wishing for a different outcome at the end but knowing that it could not have been different.  As lonely as Nielsen made the war and surviving it seem, the less alone it made me feel for butting heads with the effects of war in my own home.

Meetings

I’ve started back with a new therapist, and I really like her.  We’ve met a few times already, I’ve been meaning to post an update on how the appointment went but things come up–as usual.

Anyhoo… she seems like a super cool lady.  She’s young-ish, which I think I like better.  I’m not ageist or anything, but the last time I tried meeting with an older lady I got a lot of “well, in my 30+ years of practicing…” and that didn’t sit well with me.  We’re both learning about my messed up insides together.  She works a lot with families, so her office has comfy chairs and toys and just feels homey rather than office like.  And because of her emphasis she likes to work in spouses into therapy whenever it’s helpful.  I’ve always felt things would be so much easier if DH could listen in on my meetings, so that sat well.  She works a lot with military families too, so that’s nice.

I guess it’s hard to quantify, but really, I just got good vibe from her.  She seems like someone I can talk to you, which is the whole point really.  I’ve had to fight incredibly hard to work through the insurance process, which I think is actually half the hospital’s fault, so I’m happy to finally make it to a live person at the other end.  It really shouldn’t be this hard to get help, and it makes me sick at how many people don’t end up getting any because they can’t make it through all the crap in the way.  It sends a huge mixed message to military families when more mental health screenings and awareness are being pushed on us from deployments but then it’s so difficult to see someone.  The amount of time I’ve had to take off work and the long line of people I’ve had to re-describe my issues to so I could simply get an appointment to start really talking about what matters is appalling.  Why is it this hard when getting a referral for a heart of stomach doctor is a routine phone call?  Arg!!

So yeah, to end on a happy note (I’m trying to say at least one thing positive when I get on a negative rant), my lady is awesome and I’m super, super optimistic about our work together.  I’m hopeful that I can regain my sense of calm and control and put some sense to the tangled mess my insides feel like right now.

Aren’t I Too Old For This?

I was a military brat growing up, so this is nothing new for me.  It really doesn’t even matter if were or not though.  The big thing with the military and kids is the “trauma” of leaving/making friends.  It’s what everyone asks about.  It’s the huge question that I think every mil brat has gotten asked a hundred times.

But who is worrying about the adults?   I have met some amazing women here who I plan on keeping as life long friends.  They are fantastic, interesting, intelligent, funny people.  They have helped me in ways that they will never fully understand.

And they are moving.

Summer is moving season for most people, and I knew this day would come, but it suuuuucks.  It’s a small Army, they say.  We can write and visit, they say.  Technology makes the world so accessible, they say.  They can shove it because it does not get easier and you don’t outgrow the suckiness that is saying goodbye to friends.  I met one of my best friends two weeks ago, and she’s moving next month.  We’re already planning trips to visit each other later this year because our time together has just been way too short.

This season is playing emotional havoc with me right now.  I don’t know what I’m going to do here by myself without my battle buddies.  Wouldn’t it be easier to sort of age out of the making friends shit cycle?  Or maybe it’d be easier to stay young and be forced to make friends at school forever?  Military issued friends anyone???  I’m open for ideas.

Didn’t I Just Do This?

Remember Easter?  Remember the big Easter meal and how the Army effed it all up?  Wanna do it again?

I fought so hard to get this holiday weekend off from work.  I usually work every holiday weekend, so every family four-day weekend DH gets as part of the Army’s push to emphasize “how much they care” I spend at work.  I didn’t want to waste another one.  We didn’t have any plans yet, but we were really looking forward to being together.

But that seems to be not in the Army’s best interest.  Arrggg!  I could kick the Army in the nuts right now.

DH was hijacked Thursday night, and I haven’t really seen him since.  I spent the entire day today diving back and forth between the house and his work delivering food and a change of clothes and whatever else arose.  And tomorrow, if I’m lucky, he’ll be home but sleeping off the last few days.  That leaves Monday where he may be home and awake and willing to do something.

And this was specifically designated a family weekend.  Where?!  Where is the family in this weekend?  I’m so frustrated and mad.  I know this is our life, and usually I’m totally on board, but right now I’m lonely and tired and completely wasting my holiday weekend away from my work.  Sometimes eating shitty pizza over a laptop just to be together isn’t good enough.  Sometimes “it’s better than nothing” isn’t good enough.  I know tomorrow I’ll wake up and feel amazingly less grumpy at the world, but until then I’m going to stomp around and slam cupboards…because I can.

Hot And Colds

The in-laws just left this morning, and the hubs and I are glued to the couch sick.  It’s been a busy week.

There’s been no air conditioning at work for over a week and a half, and the summer reading program for kids just started.  It’s like a race between me and three hundred kids to see who can get the crankiest the fastest.

I’ve been wrestling with TriCare on getting a referral for a therapist.  As always, the referral process is cumbersome and slow, but you know, I will be going to a person eventually.  A friend of mine pays out of pocket for her therapist, and I hate hearing her struggle with her mental health versus the cost of care.  It shouldn’t be a factor, and it makes me so thankful for my frustrating, stupid TriCare referral system.  I originally wanted to talk more about that now, but this cold is taking over.

DH surprised me by coming home a couple days early, which was lovely and unexpected.  I don’t know about you, but after a long absence when the phone calls start to drop off, I sometimes daydream that he can’t answer his phone because he’s on a plane coming to see me.  Now that he’s actually delivered once, my daydreams are going to go wild.  Speaking of absences, we got notice for the next deployment.  Boo.

Now back to my kleenex box.  At least there’s AC at home.

To FRG Or Not To FRG

For my civi friends, FRG stands for Family Readiness Group and it is definitely part of the Axis of Evil.  It is meant to act as a go between for the families left at home and the unit.  It is supposed to answer questions, provide comradery, help out in emergencies, and overall be the point of contact if anything happens while the soldiers are gone.  The group meets regularly to provide outside stimulation, conversation, and distribute the lack of information.  All services have something like this, although FRG is an Army term.

I am so happy for those people out there who have found help and friendship in their FRG.  I have heard it is possible.  My FRG is pathetic, annoying, gossipy, and completely useless.  Very few people attend meetings.  It is totally and completely stay-at-home-mom focused.  It is friendship based, so if you aren’t in the “in” crowd, you don’t get phone calls or even notified when the homecoming plane is landing.  I loath FRG.  The mere mention of it makes my skin crawl.

The FRG has levels.  It roughly relates to the level you fall at in the Army rank and unit wise.  So, to make things complicated, you have different level FRG meetings.  They are almost completely volunteer run, the kicker being that as you get up in rank, your spouse is expected to volunteer.  I absolutely detest the Army’s practice of mandatory volunteerism by the way.

Here are my issues:

  • DH is approaching the rank of mandatory volunteerism.  I should probably make some attempt to see how to things run before I’m thrown in the deep end without my arm floaties. I really don’t want to though.
  • I hate how FRG seems to be structured like the officer wives provide this help to enlisted wives.  Why do officer wives seem to be the only one who are required to volunteer?  Don’t we need help to?  And what about being an officer equals a ton of free time to spend planning fundraisers?
  • Mandatory volunteerism does not take into account the volunteer at all.  I work a full-time job.  I can’t make 2 pm teas on a Wednesday.  I really hesitate to commit myself because big things like this can quickly start to overwhelm me when my mental state deteriorates.  Deployments, when FRGs are super active, are (surprise, surprise) mentally rough.  Not a good combo.
  • My issues mean a whole lotta nutin to the Army.

I can hear every counter-argument to my complaints.  Join and try to make it better for everyone else who hates it.  Join and try and make friends.  Blah, blah, blah.  I try and support all the Army’s hooah-ness, but this part just blows.

Potpourri Episode 1

I read Tina Fey’s book Bossypants recently, and I had to share.  I usually stay away from all celebrity books.  Just because they are famous for something doesn’t mean they can write or even have something interesting to say.  I don’t find how to deal with my “momager” or how to make my skin look great by eating only sprouts and cottage cheese useful information anyway.  Tina Fey’s book is none of those things.  It’s hilarious, and her writing experience really shines through.  I would put it on your summer reading list if you have time.

DH is gone on TDY (army lingo-temporary duty-away on business…catch up civies!).  It’s sleep diagonally and holding the remote time!

Oh, and with my newly acquired free time I’ve drug out an old project that I had barely gotten started on.  I’m making the picnic blouse from Sew Liberated.  I’ve put away the yarn and hook for awhile.  I’ve made three baby hats and a blanket and have two more hats to go for my coworker, but I wanted to capitalize on the empty dining room table while DH was gone.  I’m seriously thinking about getting some super nice (expensive) bamboo yarn and working on a big blanket.  I really enjoy keeping my hands busy while I watch tv in the evenings.  Maybe after I get done with the blouse.

I met an old friend from school for supper.  She’s down here for school before she gets stationed overseas.  We did our bachelor’s and master’s together, and she’s really cool.  She did her law degree and her master’s at the same time. I know…wha?!?

My annual vacation with Red got canceled this year due to a sudden babysitter cancellation.  We’re so bummed.  We currently have no plans to reschedule, but I’m looking at my summer plans to see if I can go visit her anyway.  It all depends on DH’s training schedule, which has yet to be nailed down more firmly than just “in and out all fall.”  Thanks.  In other Red news, she’s having baby #2!!

I found this super sweet  framed art of three lighthouse prints at the local thrift mall.  $15 and it’s already framed and matted to match my living room!  I looked up the artist (Doug Brega), and he’s very well known for doing coastline prints of New England.  I got these prints for a steal compared to what galleries were selling them for.  He has one in fog that looked great too and is going on the wish list.

So that’s what’ I’ve been up to.  I’ve had a hiccup the last week or two and have been feeling really low.  I’m not exactly sure what triggered it, but it’s been really significant and worrying.  We’re trying to keep tabs on it, but we’re also considering therapy again.  If I have time while DH is gone, maybe I can delve into that further.  We’ll see.

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