30 January 2010

Do you ever wonder...

Does this military life every leave you wondering "How the heck did I get here"? I don't mean that in a bad way, just that, do you ever wake up, look around and find yourself living in a state you never in a million years thought you would live in, unemployed, thinking to yourself... damn... I didn't see this one coming.

Of course this is part and parcel of being a MilSpouse. The Army's (insert your branch here) needs and wants of your spouse trump anything else... that is expected and at some point you just have to be okay with that. I suppose that I am. (Of course being okay with it and loving it are two different things, but that is a different post entirely.) Moving is what we do. Readjusting is the norm, every three years or so. Figuring out your new duty station and town and state is just par for the course.

Anyway, I'm sitting here on a Saturday morning, waiting out the last bit of this deployment, in a new place I never thought I'd live in, watching a Summerfest concert (Sugarland) on the telly (yay Palladia! I love you!) and getting all sorts of nostalgic for home and the life I (we) had before this PCS. Yes, I'm okay with this move and I am giddy at the thought of living with my husband for a change. But do I miss home? Do I miss the things I used to do with my friends who used to be close enough to do stuff with? Do I miss all the things that make Wisconsin Wisconsin? Do I get a bit homesick for the places that have been home for so long? You bet your sweet bippy I do.

BUT. (This is where the big girl panties go on and all that stuff I spewed the other day about sucking it up and moving on and perspective and yadda, yadda, yadda comes in). I'm also looking at this PCS as an opportunity. No, it isn't the Midwest that I grew up in and love. No, there isn't Summerfest. No, there aren't brats and beer and cheese everywhere you turn. No, my friends aren't mere hours or minutes away. No, I can't stand the local colleges (they ain't no Badgers). And no, it isn't my idea of Shangri-La. And yes, it is a strange, foreign place that I often just do. not. get. But that is okay. That is a reason to go out and explore. Go the the big cities here. Go to concerts here. Go to the insane state fair. Go see all the crazy things that make this place what it is.

In short, this place being so different is exactly I (we) should treat it as a challenge... a travel destination, a place to discover, a place to figure out. We are going to explore and immerse ourselves in the litany of quirky things that make up this state. We are going to walk away from this duty station with at the very least, some great stories about the crazy things we did and saw here.

And maybe one day I will look back on our time here, see a concert or place on the telly, and get all nostalgic for this state too.

27 January 2010

Oh, the things you get excited over.

Yes, the deployment is (blessedly) coming to a draw. Wonder of wonders, this year is almost over. Well, year plus. But I digress. I am over the moon at the prospect of Swiss coming home... but as I have said before, I've had a hard time with it just not feeling real yet. I attribute 99% of this to the fact that we haven't had even a tentative return date. What dates they have given us, in true Army fashion, have bounced around the way Paris Hilton party hops.

Of course, we have our flight number, but that too has thus far been nothing but a number. No time or date or any information at all attached to. And that's been okay. I mean, its not like he won't get a flight, it is just information we don't have yet. Ergo, hard to get all Squee! about his homecoming.

BUT. This morning, I saw on Twitter (I'll explain THAT one in a bit) that the flight before his finally got a date and time. FINALLY! That means his flight is next in line for a date and time assignment! See! THESE are the things we get excited about. The flight before my husband's getting assigned a date and time. Silly. But also? Thrilling! We are getting closer folks!!!

Now, about the Twitter situation. Sigh. The Twitter. I like Twitter. It is like IM with dozen of folks all at once. Both mind boggling and awesome. But here's the deal. About a month ago we got an e-mail from our FRG and the Division that told us we would get our soldier's flight number from them (the soldier) and then have to rely on the Division's web site and Twitter for date and time updates. Seriously. They told us in no uncertain terms that the FRG was not to be called as they were not being given any of this information. It was all between us, the Division site and Twitter updates. Does this bug anyone else? No actual person to call with questions? Posting this information online? I don't know. It doesn't sit right with me. Not that I have any choice, but yes, that is the Twitter situation.

Anywhoodles, yes, color me excited! We're almost done!!!

26 January 2010

The new me?

As I sit here at my desk (still on Swiss' PC) contemplating the weeks and days ahead, the unknowing, the questions, the constant state of "I don't know" in our lives... I am struck by the general calm I have about all of it. Do I get annoyed? Sure (see my last post if you want evidence of that!). Do I get frustrated at times or angry? Yep. But it is almost always fleeting. It comes and it goes and that is it. The emotional outbursts are few and far between, there have been few, if any, tears shed over the uncertainty of Swiss's return. I just put my head down and keep going, only halting to bitch on occasion, then the head goes back down and I keep on trucking. This, in a nutshell, has been the majority of the deployment.

I certainly don't contend that I am special or different from any other MilSpouse for the way I've gotten through this. Not a chance. I know what I'm doing is just par for the course. But what I do contend is that this deployment, this Army life, this war has changed me. It has made me different. I cope differently, I react differently, I move on more quickly, I respond to situations differently, I sigh and regroup and keep going because I've come to terms with the fact that I have little to no say in all of this.

Now, I wouldn't call myself high-maintenance or anything pre-deployment. But I was the sort of weepy kind, the one who tended to mentally obsess over every detail, the kind that would get at least a knot in my stomach with every new curve ball the Army sent out way. I cried every time Swiss left (he lived in another state while we were dating). I cried even thinking about the deployment or the PCS or well, anything (part of which is normal pre-deployment-anticipatory-grief stuff). But suffice it to say, I let the Army's changes to our life highly dictate my mood, emotions, outlook. I couldn't figure out how to avoid it. The prospect of extra days away from Swiss left me a blubbering mess. Just thinking about the deployment, the possible changes that could come, the Army jerking us around, the uncertainty of it all resulted in me constantly dancing around the edges of full on tears and anguish and nearly consuming frustration. Gaw, that does make me sound high maintenance. (I will say that only a few people actually had to deal with this, so maybe that helps?)

The point is that this deployment, this 12+ months of suck that is slowly drawing to a close, this THING that took over our life... it has changed me. It has changed how I deal and cope and I sort of find this fascinating. At 30/31 you would think that these things, how you 'deal', are set in stone... that things like this only further cement your way of dealing with it all. I guess I thought that this experience would only hone my skill set, not give me a new one. I was wrong. Which is refreshing. I'm glad that I learned something in all of this, that I got better at things, that something good came out of this. Though I suppose your definition of "good" would have a lot to do with it.

I remember when Swiss and I were dating, and I would cry every time he had to leave and he wouldn't. He told me he didn't really get it, because we both knew he was coming back eventually. He said that he'd just had to say so many bigger, worse goodbyes... that I would understand after the deployment. And boy, was he right. I look back on some of those times and feel positively silly. But at the time, that was the worst thing I'd experienced. Now? I've dealt with so much worse, I feel like if I were to go back and relive those moments, I would have handled them SO differently.

Now I feel like I approach these dramas and uncertainties and fears with a new found toughness and determination. I'm wiser and have much, much better perspective (something I will admit I was greatly lacking). I am more rational and matter-of-fact... I've truly learned how to deal with the things I can't change (this is a skill I thought I had years ago, but never really grasped). I have new found tenacity and calmness, two things that when paired together render you practically fearless. I know that whatever it is, it could be worse. I know that I really can handle all the crap life throws at us. With strength and grace and poise. And that is pretty awesome. So thank you Army, for making me stronger (Army Strong?! *groan*) and tougher and for the one good thing that has come out of this deployment.

But we don't have to do it again, mmmkay?

24 January 2010

Molasses.

Ugh. Our neighbor's husband is home. As in home from the deployment. He is in the same group of guys that Swiss is in... and I'm 95% sure he left after Swiss did. And he's home before Swiss is. My patience is wearing thin.

Don't get me wrong, I am super happy for them. (Honestly!!!) I won't begrude anyone their happy homecoming because deployments are hard on everyone and we've ALL earned our celebrations. But the past week has seen a steady stream of decorated cars, banners on bridges, signs on homefronts... more and more. I see them everywhere naturally, at the PX, the commissary, in the Home Depot parking lot, at the mall, next door, on my run, everywhere. And can I tell you that I am so sick of it.

I'm not sick of it because I think it is lame or overly saccharine. The first signs I saw made me happy and misty and left me beaming all day long. Now I'm just over it because I'm tired of everyone else having their homecoming but us. (Okay, that isn't fair, there are obviously other families in the unit still waiting) I don't know. I'm just ready to have our reunion. I'm ready for that to be us. I'm ready for the signs to be on our house and the decorations on our truck. I am ready to not be in this house alone anymore.

Perhaps all of this is just because my patience is wearing thin and the final weeks of this deployment have left we weary, they are moving oh so slowly- sometimes it is hard to believe we've been doing this for almost a year now. Sometimes it feels like less, but mostly it feels like its been a decade. I am tired and exhausted and so, so over it. I'll stop my whining now. But man oh man, I want that to be us already!

23 January 2010

Fear of the future.

Sigh. I am sitting here at my computer after a half hour of job/career hunting. I'm left feeling like I need another cup of coffee with some whiskey in it, a hug from Swiss and a pep talk from Beth. Deflated, defeated and hopeless. Dude, what a downer on a Saturday morning, right?

I guess I just feel like I'm at a really strange place as far as starting over goes. I have a four-year degree. I have a certificate degree in my 'speciality'. But I am 31 and don't know what to do with myself. Do I go back to school? Do I suck it up and keep on track with a career I've sort of fallen out of love with (but don't hate). Do I try to re-enter the job market back at entry levels? Can we handle that financially? Sigh, what is a girl to do???

I don't mind the idea of going back to school in theory. I LOATHE the idea of having to take (re-take) the GRE and I don't like the idea of having to spend money on school to make money... that just leaves me out of the working pool for another 2 years. Blech. And honestly, I feel like if I am going to go back to school and do all that work- it better be for something I REALY love. I don't think I can say that about any of the programs (save maybe art school) Ive looked into.

My degree is in environmental biology. My job experience is medical. There are a few careers out there that I think would let me meld those two together, but most want a otherwise useless Master's in Biology to even apply. Seriously, a MS in Biology is as good as Monopoly money. I won't waste the time, money or energy to get one.

And Swiss always asks me what my dream job is. This usually makes me sad because I don't think I have one anymore... maybe independently wealthy traveler/artist/photographer? But that would require winning the lottery. I used to want to be a Veterinarian... but even that doesn't make sense at this juncture in my life. I don't want to teach. I don't want to be a field biologist. I would love to work at a NFP environmental organization, but I don't see how we can afford to do the things we want on those types of low salaries. I would love to advise students about biology careers, but those are the jobs that want the useless MS in Biology. I could try to hack it as a freelance photographer & artist, but I'd feel guilty if Swiss was the only one really contributing to the household income.

If I'm lucky, I might be able to swing a government job in biology, or at least relating to it. And worst case scenario, I stick with my former career track because I'm already well qualified and trained and *should* be able to land a job (providing there is one near us) without too much difficulty. But it just feels weird to be lost in the sea of "What do I want to be when I grow up" again at 31. I did this a couple of times already and, yes, it does suck as much as I remember. Ha!

Anyway, I am sure things will fall into place the closer we get and once we know where Swiss can get good offers. I am sure that there will be better opportunities when I can hone in on a geographical area, and I'm sure that whatever it is I end up doing, it will be okay. I sort of feel like this should be a liberating experience, like pressing the refresh button on your career, but when you don't have direction or deep seated career desires, it really leaves you feeling more listless and angsty. I'm guessing this is the feeling Swiss has told me about when he talks about leaving the Army...

22 January 2010

Karma, you are such a bitch!

No sooner did I flaunt how awesome my Mac is compared to my husband's PC... it decided to take a crap after I installed some updates. Seriously. The sucker will not boot up. Dead as a doornail.

So, the good news is that I got Swiss's PC set up in one helluva a hurry (cross it off the list!) and am back online. The other good news is that I religiously use Mac's TimeMachine for backups to an external hard drive, so all my goodies are in tact and undamaged.

I suspect that, since we are 5ish years in, this is the death knell of my dear iMac. Looks like a new one is in our future sooner than I had planned. Ah well, at least we have the PC (may I never dis you like that again) for now and I'm back online.

Karma: I learned my lesson and I apologize profusely. Now please leave me alone. Kthxbai!

My own personal Surge.

Yes. A Surge. A Redeployment/Homecoming Surge of semi-epic proportions (can anything actually be "semi-epic???). I have a few weeks of geographical bachelorettehoodom to go, and I need to make the most of them. So in a relatively lame attempt to keep myself on track, I'm going to post my list of items that either a) MUST be done or b) should get done before Swiss comes home. Ready?
  • Lose 5ish pounds. Not joking... holiday blubber must go! I could stand to lose more, but that is a long-term goal, short term is 5 lbs. I've been doing great eating healthy, I just need to work on my portion sizes... I have this teensey problem of when whatever it is I'm eating tastes really good (healthy or not), I want A LOT of it.
  • Spruce up our yard/patio. We actually have a pretty nice space with no neighbors to the back, so it would be nice for lounging and dining and right now it looks like the sad last hours of a rummage sale. I'm gonna plant some things in the pretty pots I got back in MN with Emily (Hi Em!), hang some festive lights, rake up the neighbor's leaves and arrange the furniture so it looks less like Hillbillies live here.
  • Organize our desk and get Swiss's computer set up. The beauty of having an iMac is that there is, literally, one plug to get the actual computer up and running. One internet cable and the USB stuff to the keyboard, mouse and external HD and I'm up and running. Swiss, on the other hand, has a PC (we are working on that) and therefore a rat's nest of cables is sitting next to me at our schmancy new stainless steel desk. And there are 3 small boxes of assorted crap- er I mean stuff- that needs to find a home before Swiss gets back. And we need a router. Wheee!
  • Wash his truck, inside and out. It should be purty for when I pick him up, right now it looks like someone did a cross country road trip in it. Oh, wait. I did. Either way I need shine that baby up.
  • PAINT! Yes, painting is my hobby, but right now there is a giant nekkid space above our couch on our awesome purple wall, between our kicky IKEA pendant lamps. It looks sad and lonely... and I finally got an idea of what to paint on my 2 24"x30" canvasses. Must get crackin' on this project rightthisminute if the oil paints are going to dry by the time the wheels hit the ground (SQUEEE!!!)
  • Shine up the dog. Fletcher has taken on a permanent scent of dried grass and always seems to have mud/dirt stuck in his hairy little paws. If Fletch is going to have any hopes of winning over Swiss (they have only spent 5 fleeting days together the entire time we've had him), he's gonna have to look and smell the part!
  • Finish the last minute home decorating details. Like reupholster the 2 spare chairs in the dining room with the hand painted fabric I just completed. Do I think Swiss will even notice? Hell no. BUT, I will notice and I will finally feel like this place is D.O.N.E. once this is finished. Also, I need to find homes for the last few scattered boxes of STUFF laying around. That should put the house in tip-top shape, which will make me a very happy gal.
  • Make a sign! You know, a silly but helpful sign that says something like "Tucker!" with an arrow pointing down at me so that Swiss can find me in the madness of the Homecoming ceremony. But no glitter, no ribbons, no whackadoo tchotchkies. Just a simple and straightforward, yet highly effective, sign.
  • Shave my legs and get a mani/pedi. The bonus to having your husband gone for a year is that you can let your legs get pretty furry if you want... because its just you and the dog. But no one wants to come home to Chewbacca in a dress (or this, yuck) so I need to shine myself up too!
  • Lastly, I need to register us for the 5K we are doing in the Big City about an hour away. This is our Valentine's Day agenda (romantic, right?), so I can't screw this up and forget like I've been doing. Oh, and maybe get myself some cute running duds for the big day. I know Swiss is super excited about it and he's sweet enough to not want to "Run" this race for time (because he is a great runner and is pretty competitive), but rather run it with me, however slow I need to go. See? Sweet.
So there it is... my agenda for the next few weeks. Am I missing anything??? Know what is silly? Writing this post has made this homecoming feel more real than it EVER has before. And you know what? I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED I COULD PEE MY PANTS! But I won't.

HE'S COMING HOME Y'ALL! SOON!!!!! Squeeeeeee!!!!!

20 January 2010

Like a mirage.

Last night, on the phone, Swiss gave me the approximate number of days we have left until his homecoming. Obviously I can't give you that number (OPSEC Fairy!) but let me just say this, I was gobsmacked at how close it is. Like seriously, I was almost without words. (Though I think my precise words were. "Shut UP! THAT close?!?!?")

This is such a strange time in the deployment. We are finally close enough that I will let myself say we are close (but only close in the MilSpouse sense of the word- most civilian spouses would still be balking at this amount of time). We are close enough that the panic of all the stuff left to do is setting in. You know, the oh, I want to lose 5 lbs yet and shampoo the carpets and stock the fridge and color my hair and get a pedicure and figure out what to wear and set up his computer and spruce up the patio and, and, and... the list goes on. And on.

But the strangest thing is that, even though I know it is close, it still doesn't feel real. Maybe this is the product of going it alone for so long- like we've all said before, this is the new normal. Me without him. So even though I am giddy at the thought of him coming home and making our new, new normal (I'm starting to loathe that phrase BTW- must come up with a new one), it just doesn't feel real. Like the idea of him coming home is still just a far-away dream- because that's all its been for 11+ months. I know this feeling will subside and be overshadowed by excitement and giddiness as the day draws closer. But I can't wrap my head around how weird this feels... like its a mirage just out of reach and I have no way of making sure its real... strange I tell you, strange!

17 January 2010

Hollywood and the Military.

So, I'm risking getting into deep water without enough water wings here. (But I will call on e-mails from my very learned and smart and amazing best friend Beth, who has TONS of experience and can drop some serious knowledge on this topic.) However, watching the Golden Globes the last night got me thinking... I saw a clip from the movie "Brothers" and recalled a great conversation I had with Beth after leaving Invictus. We had seen the posters for "Brothers" and started talking about how movies like these color the public's perception of what Veterans are. For better, and mostly, worse. We wondered why most MilMovies focus on the crazed, angry, out-of-control Veteran with PTSD. Why do they all show the dirtiest, nastiest and least common side effect of these wars? But before I go on, let me ask y'all this:

How do you feel about Hollywood's current portrail of Veterans in movies?

Here are a few for you to reference if you need a cheat sheet (obvs this isn't comprehensive):
Dear John
Brothers
Hurt Locker*
Taking Chance*
The Marine
Stop-Loss
Jarhead
*These two movies are nearly universally lauded as excellent MilMovies, not fitting the recent status-quo discussed below.

Cross reference the "big" military movies (leaving out the WWI & WWII fare) of the last 30-ish years (again, not comprehensive):
Black Hawk Down
We Were Soldiers Once
Platoon
Apocalypse Now
Deer Hunter
Full Metal Jacket

The crux of the matter is this: pre-Platoon, all war movies (depicting active duty soldiers or Veterans) were basically patriotic pseudo-propaganda. They were designed to make you feel proud, make your heart swell with patriotism, make you revere and honor the bravery and honor of The American Soldier. None of which were bad things. They just tended to gloss over the more realistic, graphic issues and realities surrounding war. Platoon changed that. It changed everything. It wasn't sterilized for mass consumption, it was raw and real and gruesome and in-your-face. Platoon was everything the previous movies were not. It was terrifying, shocking, eye-opening, and likely left many feeling less than patriotic.

Was this a good thing? Yes and no. Yes, because it de-sterilized war, it made it real and brought the terrors and gruesome realities of war to the forefront of public perception. It thoroughly de-romanticized war and illustrated that these wars weren't full of John Wayne types, there were slackers and terrorizers and greenies and weary career types. Yes, because it opened up the public's eyes to what wars really are and what our Veterans really went through.

But on the other hand... as revolutionary and eye-opening as it was... it created a reason for fear. A reason to fear and keep Veterans at a distance. It showed the dirty under-belly of combat, it showed the reasons why so many Veterans had mental health issues, coping issues, health issues, why some became so detached from society, why some never recovered from their tours. Keeping Veterans at a distance became the new norm... not men (and women) to be honored and revered, but people to stay away from and be weary of. Because you never know when they'll snap.

In some ways, Platoon, and movies like it, enhanced our understanding of things like PTST and Combat Fatigue, which is good. It gave credibility and weight to the realities of being a soldier, it gave heft to their experiences and personal traumas. But as these types of movies increased over time, it became the only image of the Veteran we saw in the theaters. When is the last time you saw a feel-good, patriotic military movie? When did you last see a soldier -from the current conflicts- not presented as a psychopath waiting to emerge (See: Brothers)? When did you last see a soldier who wasn't being taken advantage of by the Military, bound to turn into a crazed, gun-wielding Veteran? When is the last time you saw one quietly dealing with PTSD, TBI, or combat fatigue with medical personnel and family members? That's right, Never.

It is all about the new cliche Hollywood has created for our Veterans. And admit it, you know it: The guy who just isn't the same as he was before the war... the guy unwilling to discuss the horrors of war, with a terrifying temper just a wrong word/action/sound/memory away. The guy who can't differentiate between reality and war. The guy who is just one wrong move away from blowing everyone away. Your worst nightmare wearing the cloak of PSTD and on a steroids. THAT is the perception of Veterans Hollywood has given the masses since the '70's.

Okay, I hear you. They are just movies. They aren't real... movies are the same places we go to for princesses, Marvel Comic heroes, men who age backwards, romanticized historical epics and ridiculous romantic comedies. We don't think those are real... why would we think THIS was real? But then I ask you this: How many of you have watched a romantic comedy at some point in your life and thought, "That could happen to me!". How many of you have watched an epic historical drama and thought, "Yes, that is EXACTLY how it was... no body odor, beautiful people, and good teeth!". Whether we like it or not, how Hollywood chooses to portray things DOES color our view of those things... assuming we don't have first-hand knowledge to tell us otherwise.

Therein lies the issue. It all comes back to the 1%. Only 1% of movie-goers (give or take an educated few) have ANYTHING to cross reference these stereotypes/cliches against. So where does that leave us? 99% of moviegoers think this is the reality, or at least some permutation of the truth. "Crazy-on-the-verge-of-going-Postal" is what goes on in a Veteran's head. This is why you shouldn't get too close or ask too many questions. The sad trickle-down-effect? A higher Veteran unemployment rate - no one wants to hire the Vet who just might go crazy. It is the obvious disconnect between the public and the Veterans in their communities. It is why funding for Veteran health care (including mental health) gets voted down. It is why people bitch about the Post-911 GI Bill not being fair for everyone else.

I'm interested to know what you all think about this. Have I taken the argument too far? Is there really no discernible link between these stereotypes, Hollywood and Vet unemployment rates? Or is this real? Is this something we need to combat? What do YOU think about the stereotypes Hollywood has created for our Veterans?

Odds and ends.

1. The house is sooooo close to being done. And it feels amazing. Seriously, I could not have done this without help. My Mom rocks, big time. There is so little left to be done, so little that I could finish it all in a day or two, but I won't, because I need things to occupy my brain, time and energy until Swiss comes home.

2. Dealing with the pseudo-step kid who doesn't like me isn't fun at all. I never know what to do or say to avoid living up to my (I think) unearned Wicked Stepmother moniker. He's 21 and has 3 kids of his own (if you do the math here, you'll find that yes, in fact, I am a Step-grandmother as well. Laugh all you want, but if you are going to make a crack about it- make it a good one!) and has held onto the idea that "I'm not going to call her Mom" ever since Swiss and I got serious... even though I've never asked or wanted him to do so.

He wants the lowdown on when Swiss gets home (which of course I have shared with him, even though we have a window 2 weeks wide), but he won't call me to ask, or e-mail me, he uses his wife via Facebook to communicate with me. Blech. But anyway, I invited him and his family down for the homecoming or to visit shortly after Swiss gets home because I know if I didn't, it would be because I don't want them to be a part of our life. Even though that couldn't be further from the truth. I suppose I just keep on doing the best I can and maybe some day he and I will be on better terms... meaning he won't see me as an intruder into his family anymore. *sigh*

3. Dude, it is 61 degrees out. And sunny! And it is fabulous! The windows are open and the sun is shining in and the grass is greening up and it makes me happy. Plus, you should see the beautiful light that my studio room gets!

4. I am mostly completely in love with our Commissary. (I say mostly because there are minor annoyances, like no fresh seafood, a sort of paltry health food section, and inconsistent brands stocking- like having a certain brand's organic mustard but not ketchup for instance) The avocados are like 79 cents a pound. And limes are 3 for 33 cents. And the chicken is dirt cheap. And the cheeses! The ice creams (though no sorbets)! The German foods isle and the Hispanic foods and the Asian foods and the specialty items! It is wonderful... and juuuust down the street. I foresee much cooking and much deliciousness coming from our kitchen. Hooray!

5. This house is pretty great, I love the floor-plan and the rooms are all super spacious (except the bathroom which are, ummm, let's call them efficient). But the one thing I don't love? There are only 8 drawers in the entire place. Eight. And they are all in the kitchen. Dudes! Where do I put my makeup??? My hairbrushes? My STUFF? Very perplexing. Who makes bathrooms these days without a single functioning drawer I ask you??? The Army!!! That's who!

6. The hubs got word that he'll be getting a promotion of sorts upon redeployment stateside. He'll actually get frocked, but it is a job he will be great at. The only down side? He's gonna be in charge of A LOT of guys and a lot of things... so that invariably means longer work days, late nights, weekends, the works. I want to be peeved about it, but seeing as how I'll be at home for breakfasts and lunches and, well ALL the time, I'm thinking we will make it work and things will be fine. More importantly, Swiss will be happy because he is finally getting the respect and responsibility he deserves. Yay Swiss!

7. My Mom was sufficiently amazed by IKEA. And I bought soooo much stuff! But it all looks 84 shades of awesome in the house and I had delicious Swedish Meatballs with Lingonberry jam. YUM. And it is just 55 minutes down the road. Wheee!

8. The Class Six here has 7 (SEVEN!) kinds of hard cider. Swiss and I luuuurve hard cider. Aaand, 3 of them are kinds I've never had... one of which is local! Squee!

9. The painting/creativity bug has bit me again. All I have to do is get the studio prepped and I can starting painting away. Plus, I bought myself a ton of new high-quality acrylic paints with my birfday money from my parents. I. Can't. Wait!

10. Fletcher has finally started to settle in to life on a military post. "Taps" doesn't bother him like it used to and he's less threatened by all the other bugle calls. The neighbor's car doors though? Not cool. Ha.

Okay- that is all. That got waaaaay long than I intended it to be, but there you have it.

15 January 2010

ZOMG. Are we done yet?

So the house is now 95% finished (roughly... that may or may not be a bit of an exaggeration designed to make me feel better) thanks in large part to my awesome Mom's help. But as I sit here at my shiny new desk in my awesome living room (I will post photos for the more curious of the lot)... I feel bummed when I think I should be excited. We are back in the home stretch, again, and I think I just feel like none of this is what is should be until he gets home, none of this is worth getting excited over until he's here. Does that make any sense?

I'm not weepy or sad about it... I'm past that, but I am just ready to be done with it. I've been ready for months and months and months now. I'm exhausted and weary of it all at this point. We hit the "home stretch" 2 or 3 weeks ago and then got word of an extension of sorts. So I guess that has made me feel like we aren't making any forward progress on this deployment and that, for lack of a better term, sucks. Forward progress is all you've got to keep you going, am I right? I'm tired of folks saying "So close now!" because in no other world is this amount of time apart, even just what time we have left, considered a short time to be apart. I hate that. I hate that this is "nothing" in light of what we've already done. No one else would think 5-ish* weeks is a short time to be away from your husband. They just wouldn't. Don't get me started on the other 11 months.

But I digress. I guess what I am trying to say is that, like most of this deployment, this stage doesn't feel anything like I thought it would. I thought this is when I would start to get excited. I thought the nesting would keep me upbeat. I thought living back on Post would make it feel more real, closer. I thought logging 11 months of this would make the last bit feel like a walk in the park. Newsflash: Not a one of these things makes it any better, any easier, or any less sucky. The only remedy to this malaise (other than more cowbell, obvs) is Swiss coming home, safe and sound.

I miss my husband. I am over worrying about him. I am over a 15 minute phone call as our only means of communication. I am over e-mail correspondence. I want him home already. I want him to get to know Fletcher. I want him to see the new digs and all the cool stuff I got us for it. I want to be able to call him, whenever I feel like it. I want to have face-to-face conversations with him. I want to hold his hand and do things together. I want to curl up with him on the couch- god, do you know how long it's been since we've done that? I want to cook for two, I want to see his boots in the hallway, I want to have ACUs in the laundry, I want to tuck in next to him in the middle of the night. I don't want to be flying solo anymore, its been too long.

Anyway, that's where my head is at. I'm most definitely in the "put your head down and just keep going" mode, and I know there is a HUGE payoff waiting for me in the weeks/month+ ahead. It just feels like our pace is on par with molasses on a cold Minnesota day. Trust me, its S-L-O-W.

But hey, today I get to go buy a bed for the guest room (the PX is having a sale!) and finish putting together our bathroom (Good Maude I have a lot of cosmetic/lotiony things!) and my studio. We FINALLY found the paintbrushes in the 5th to last box we opened and I bought a boatload of good acrylics with my birfday money from my parents (woot!). So the painting will begin next week when my Mom heads back to winter and home (sad). Have a great day y'all!

*Obvs OPSEC is at play here. That isn't the real number. I'm totally lying to you. Still like me?

13 January 2010

Mah craw. (aka: Do better ABC)

So tonight while watching meaningless sitcoms, I got something stuck in my craw. Big time.

Now, let me say this, I love Ugly Betty. I find it campy and funny and irreverent and a nice distraction for an hour or so once a week. But this week? I feel oddly insulted and thoroughly annoyed.

Let me set up the plot for y'all: Betty and her boyfriend are talking about a charity that does infrastructure work in Botswana. Her boyfriend is rich and writes a few fat checks to the group... then he visits their headquarters and feels like the money isn't enough so he volunteers to go on a six month trip with the group to do charitable deeds in a teensey town in Africa.

What does Betty do in the face of this news? Melt down. She whines about the status of their relationship during his time away, about how it isn't fair, about how this doesn't fit into her plan for their life together ... all the while she looks utterly crestfallen and on the verge of tears... solemnly and dramatically moping through the streets of New York.

Because her boyfriend is going to volunteer in a perfectly safe place for six months.

SERIOUSLY? This just shows me how utterly out of sync the American public (and media for that matter) is with our military families and way of life. I know I shouldn't be rallying about a silly TV show, but COME ON.

Try putting her boyfriend in ACU's for a change... send him to Iraq or Afghanistan. Try having him gone for a full year (or more), in grave danger, avoiding IEDs, RPGs and suicide bombers. Have him do it over and over again every 12-15 months. Have him loose a leg. Have him miss their first anniversary, have him miss Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years and the 4th of July and her birthday and every other important day in a given year. Have him only get one 15 minute call a day after waiting in line for 2 hours. Have him struggle to help her carry the burden of everything she's taking care of at home solely via e-mail and phone calls. Have them live our life... make him a soldier or a marine (et al)... make him wear the uniform... make her one of us.

That would give her something to cry about and that would be a story worth telling.

But instead we get weepy girlfriends over six month volunteer trips to Africa. Thanks ABC, you really are paying attention.

11 January 2010

Thirty-one.

So, today was my birthday (or birfday to be more precise). I turned 31. I've recently discovered that I tend to look back and view my life through the years of my life rather than calendar years. Strange, I know.

See, 30 wasn't all that great. Not because it was "30" or because I was late for my quarter-life crisis. It kinda sucked because my husband was gone for 95% of it, I had to sell our house which was a nightmare, my sweet Grandfather died, and I had to move a long ways away from my friends and family, and Fletcher was the dog from hell the first 7 months I had him. Oh yeah, and Swiss was gone for 95% of it. Oh, wait... did I already list that one? My bad. Though it sucked enough to be listed twice for sure.

But on the plus side, 30 brought me so many amazing new friends, all of which were internet based (Brittany, sister from another mister! LAW! Jenny/Trixie! Jennifer! Lopsided Mom! Never Apart in Heart! Hillary! Bette! Hellcat Betty! USMCwife! Snarky Navy Wife! etc...) *I'm now realizing that I missed some awesome people- Sorry Kimba, Molly, Loquita, Slightly Salty, and Amy!* This I find to be utterly amazing for so many reasons and my sanity thanks you all, I feel blessed and beyond lucky to have witty, savvy and strong women like you in my life. 30 also cemented the most important friendships in my "real" life, Beth, Valerie, Emily, Shari... you all are amazing and you will likely never know how integral you all were to my making it through this year relatively intact. You 4 always amaze me, you are bright, bold, caring, and perfectly unique- and I am grateful to have you all in my life. 30 also made me grateful for the wonderful relationships I have with my Mom and Dad- you two are totally responsible for turning me in to what I am. I don't know if that is a good thing or not, but I'm guessing you'll take it.

30 also taught me how strong I really am. 30 toughened me up, made me less weepy and more resilient. 30 showed me that I growed up alright, and that my life was, against all odds, pretty amazing. 30 showed me that I really can do anything and that I am more than the sum of my parts. So, maybe 30 wasn't all that bad. But here's to 31... may all the wonders of this past year continue and may this new year, with Swiss home, be nothing short of spectacular. Fingers crossed, knock on wood!

Thanks dear readers, for making this past year a helluva lot better than I thought it would be! <3

09 January 2010

Mah weekend.

Yesterday I did 80 flights of stairs, lugged up box after box of stuff and helped my FRG put together close to 200 single soldier barracks rooms. We hung up shower curtains, plugged in lamps, set out shampoo, TP and laundry detergent, folded towels and made beds... complete with a pair of condoms, neatly placed on the pillows, sort of like the fancy hotels do with chocolates. Hey, let's all be frank... after a hot shower, the condoms are probably pretty close to the top thing on most of those guy's priority lists! It was awesome to meet a few other ladies from the unit- most were really nice and interesting and friendly, so that was great. It was also nice to be able to help and do something nice for the guys coming home to an empty dorm-style room.

Today, my Mom flies in. HOORAY! She very kindly offered to come down to help me with the unpacking, organizing, decorating madness that I find myself currently floundering in. I'm very much looking forward to the company (you can only talk about so much with a dog, you know?) and the fresh perspective and also, for our pilgrimage to IKEA. Woot! So, hopefully by this time next week, the house will be TOTALLY put together and painted and decorated and looking so fabulous I won't believe it. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, that's it! Have a stellar Sunday everyone!

08 January 2010

New MilSpouse blog!

So, my Twitter friend USMCwife8999 has started up her new blog and I think y'all should check it out!


She is embarking on a PCS and her son is graduating and they are selling a house and we've already been trading battle stories! She has a great family and she's got boatloads of amazing MilSpouse experience, and she's really sweet. So go check out her blog and support another MilSpouse blog, mmkay? Thanks!

07 January 2010

Awards? Cool.

Well, sweet HellCat Betty sent me an award. Apparently she enjoys my blog. She might be crazy, but then again, that may be why we get along! Thanks Betty!




So, there are rules. Awards have rules? Anyway, here they are:
1. List 10 things that make you happy
2. Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day
Ten Things That Make Me Happy
1. Sappy as it may be: My husband. Swiss is the best and nothing, no one, no place makes me as happy as he does. (you can feel free to gag or vomit if you please, sorry.)
2. Painting.
3. Crisp fall days and nights, preferably with a bonfire and wine.
4. My awesome family.
5. My most excellent friends for which I would be clinically insane.
6. Photograpy.
7. Cooking.
8. My nutty dog, Fletcher.
9. Traveling.
10. Laughing.

Ten military related bloggers that I enjoy:
1. Brittany @ My Army Wife Life
3. LAW

5. Bette @ Vissi d'arte

6. Matt and Molly @ Here and Far

10.
Lopsided Mom even though she's been quiet on the blogosphere for a bit
Dude... I DO NOT know what happened with the formatting on this guy. Sorry for the wonkieness.

SAHW: Sports edition

I am sort of giddy. And by sort of I mean really, really giddy.

I just realized that this year, this non-working year of mine, includes not only the annual bliss that is March Madness (Rock Chalk!) but also the Vancouver Olympics AND the World Cup. All deliciously uninterrupted and work free.

BOOYAH!

So I get to stay up late or get up early to watch it all live from the comfy confines of my sofa, I get to watch the games not on the internet but on our glorious TV in HD, and I get to see my favorites play (Spain! Kansas! England!) for the first time in years. Color me one happy SAHW. Remember that bit about me saying I've not been watching copious amounts of TV? Come mid-February, throw it out the window! Wheeee!

Being a SAHW, sans husband.

So pretty much I feel like a slacker (apart from the mighty task of getting this house together). I also feel like a college kid home on Semester break, wondering when this easy, breezy gig will be up. Which is to say that I don't think I've entirely grasped the fact that I'm not going back to work for a long time... at least not for another year, which seems like a long time to me.

Now that isn't to say that I'm not digging it. Work is overrated... though only in the sense of 40+ hours a week all dressed up doing what someone else tells you to do. However I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I do miss the intellectual challenge, the secretly awesome feeling of putting my degree to really great use, the satisfaction that comes with actually helping someone and doing something that matters... and getting paid for it.

But this life of leisure is pretty great too... I finally feeling unstressed (for the most part) and able to do a lot of the things I have always wanted to do. I'm running! Two weeks in to the Couch to 5K program and I'm staying motivated and actually doing it. Something I never really had time for when I was working and keeping the house clean and running errands every weeknight to keep the weekends free for Swiss, or when I was constantly cleaning, tweaking, obsessing over the sale of the house and prepping for the move. Excuses? Maybe. But before there was only so much I could do and maintain my sanity... working out was what got cut. Now? I have the time. And I dig it, plus the side benefit is that I'm getting in better shape and feeling better about myself. Win, win.

Do I watch a lot of TV? I suppose no more than I did before. Honestly, apart from my dedicated 2 hours every morning to watching the West Wing (Good Maude I love that show!)... I pretty much work throughout the day and only sit down for a few half hour stretches here and there (I can never say no to the Barefoot Contessa or ColorSplash) until dinnertime which is usually after 8. Which sort of surprises me. And I'm truly looking forward to having my studio totally set up and ready to go... then I hope to set aside an hour or two every day for creative me-time. I need to get my paint on for serials.

I've also done some awesome reading in regards to healthy eating and cooking. I read "Eat This, Not That" which was eye-opening and alarmingly helpful (the yogurt I've been buying has 28g of sugar per serving!!! Holy crap!). I also bought "The Food You Crave" which is an awesome cookbook with all sorts of healthy substitutes in the foods we (Swiss and I) love and Ellie Krieger is awesome and a registered dietitian so her recipes are full of flavor and healthy and well balanced. So there will be a lot of time spent in the kitchen, whipping up drool-worthy meals that aren't all bad for us, with a few tweaked gems from "Nigella Express" because, secretly, I want to be Nigella Lawson.

But I digress. Do I sometimes feel weird about being college educated with a certification in cytopathology sitting at home doing laundry and cooking? Frankly... Yes. Do I sort of feel like I'm not living up to my potential, not using the brains the good Lord gave me and the education my dear parents paid for? Yep. Do I also feel like, for the first time in ages, I'm able to relax and breathe and focus on me and my relationship? Yes. So despite all the conflicting feelings I have over this... I'm happy with my, our, decision. And I'm guessing that being home every day when my husband comes home for lunch and home from work and being able to explore the more creative aspects of my personality will go a long, long way to making me a happy person. But I'd also bet I'll be pretty stoked to get back to work in a year. Then again, maybe not!

06 January 2010

THS: Unpacking.

Well, aren't y'all lucky? Two posts in one day!?! And here I thought I'd run out of stuff to blog about once we got close to homecoming. HA!

So, this one is for any of you who have yet to or are about to embark on the joys of a PCS. There is a seedy, dark underbelly to this PCS business. No, it isn't smarmy movers and no, it isn't the boatloads of paperwork, and alas, no, it isn't how the Transportation Office will do everything in their power to avoid having to pay you money for your damaged stuff.

Its about the Hangover.

See, when you get to where you are going, you are super excited and giddy about the possibilities of your new place. You are thrilled to have cable and internet and a sofa and you are all fired up about getting your place set up. You are ready to rumble.

And then you start. And then you are doing it for 2 days (if you are lucky, with help) and you are still up to your eyeballs in cardboard and packing materials and you have 5 loads of laundry and need to wash every piece of dish/bake-ware you own and all of your clothes are wrinkled and you can't find your new sheets and you still haven't really made any headway, or at least that is how it seems. And your place looks like something from that show Hoarders (which, I cannot bring myself to watch). At this point, if you are undertaking this alone, it is my experience that you start looking around and think 2 things: #1- The hubs better damned well appreciate all this freaking work and how awesome the house is going to look when he gets home because MAN did he ever get over on not having to do any of this, and #2- Do you think we could leave it this way and just watch HGTV and eat bon-bons?

I was at #1 this morning, shortly after the drains clogged and I broke two platters. Now I am at #2 after hanging up, shelving or folding at least 400 items of clothing this afternoon. But hey! I found the lampshades! In a box labeled "Clothes and Shoes"! I also discovered just how poorly the majority of my items were labeled. Apparently "Clothes" means any box with at least 2 items of clothing in them regardless of the other contents. Also, "Art Supplies" means yes, art supplies, but also 45 lbs. of Pro-Gear. Hmph. Oh and "Clothes" also means "Laundry supplies", "Sports Equipment", and "Pictures" in case you didn't know.

So, with this being said, let me offer you one piece of advice for those of you about to embark on a PCS: It is ALL about the labeling. If you are doing it yourself, be anal retentive and write everything that is inside on the box and where it is going to- not the room it came from (BIG difference when you are moving to a place without a basement/attic from a place with one!). If you are having someone move you- make them mark the boxes well, mark which room they are going to, what is in them, and don't let them get away with labels like "Supplies" and "Clothes". You will be SO much happier when you start unpacking because you will actually KNOW what is in them!

Anyway, I suppose I have shirked my unpacking duties long enough. I'm off to fold Swiss' t-shirts #105-263 (I wish I were kidding) and find a drawer big enough for all of my socks, which seem to have humped like bunnies while in storage. And with any luck, tackle the other 4 boxes labeled "Clothes". It'll be like a treasure hunt! HA!

The new digs.

Ah, on-post housing. First off, let me say that I am grateful to have a nice big house that doesn't require a lease or us actually cutting a rent check every month, for having a house that doesn't involve any of the 6-8 rush hours there are getting on and off post, and for having a place big enough to hold all the stuff we procured over the years... its a lot.

BUT.

I'm only one week in and I've had a live-in "waterbug"... THEY ARE CALLED COCKROACHES PEOPLE!... a MP stationed outside our back yard every day to keep the hoodlum middle schoolers from kicking in, breaking, and otherwise defacing our housing and fence... and now my kitchen sinks are clogged. Like, straight up clogged. I was trying- obviously in vain- to clean our dishes as I took them out of their packing materials... that stuff has been in storage for 3 months with God-only-knows-what-else so I figured a good scrub was in order. And then the sinks stopped draining. Seriously. So Operation Kitchen Assembly is on hold for the next 24 hours. I swear to you, I'm going to be eating every meal for the next week in the PX food court. Ugh.

But on the plus side, I've enjoyed rediscovering all of our sweet stuff. And discovered that both Swiss and I are clothes horses. I've also discovered that much of our home furnishings were meant to go in a house with colored walls. Cause this stuff is BEIGE! Thankfully Swiss is 110% on board with doing a bit of painting in the digs... he even picked out appropriately bold colors from the ones I had picked out. We are going to have a "Marmalade Glaze" dining room (think pumpkiny orange) and a "Spiced Plum" (eggplanty purple) living room. God, I love that man!

Also, not having a basement sort of sucks... how do you southerners do it???? Us Mid-westerners all have basements. You put all your stuff that you don't know what else to do with there... you store your holiday decorations there... you keep all your STUFF there. We have no basement. So where does this stuff go? And don't say the garage!!! We don't have one of those either! Ha!

Anyway, until the plumber comes (within 24 hours hopefully) I will have to shelve Operation Kitchen Assembly for the most part and get on with Operation Stock That Closet! Wish me luck and have a stellar day... there will be another post forthcoming about the strangeness that is being a SAHW... which is either a Stay At Home Wife or Snarky Ass Hillbilly Wanker. You decide!

03 January 2010

Stuff.

First things first: Watching the Food Network is a horrible idea when your pantry is bare and you have not a single cooking utensil at your disposal. Just so you know.

Second: Buying a washer and dryer should not be more complicated than buying a car. For cereals. I've now been to the PX 3 times, Home Depot once and Lowe's twice. No one has the same stuff in stock and the prices are all sort of the same but delivery, vent packages, tax or no tax, gift cards, military discounts- bah! I finally picked one out today only to find that they only have it in red. Not a problem for me, but Swiss distinctly said "get one in white though". So back home I go. I'll check out AAFES online and maybe Sears too. But I swear to you all, I WILL have a washer and dryer by the end of the week! Even if it kills me and ends up being red!

Third: ZOMG!!! Our stuff!!! It arrives tomorrow between 8 and noon!!! I will have a real bed and a couch and kitchen utensils and a big TV and hangers and our STUFF! Wheeeeeeeee!

Fourth: Fletcher has GOT to stop waking me up before 6:00am every day. I do not know how to remedy this... any ideas folks? I might just have to leave him out to run around more and take him on walks late in the day. Goo. But the plus side is that since I am always up so early I've been doing really good at my Couch to 5K program. I'm going to call that a silver lining. Or something.

Fifth: IKEA here I come! My Mom is coming down to help me find homes for the 9,000 lbs of our STUFF that is coming tomorrow. And this place is big, so that means more furniture! More curtains! More rugs! More STUFF!!! Can you tell I'm a teensey bit excited for some serious IKEA spending? Also, it is my Mom's first trip there- can you believe it? Anyway, there will be Swedish Meatballs consumed and there will be a truck bed full of ready to assemble new furniture! Hooray!

Sixth: Have a stellar week everyone!

02 January 2010

Happy New Year and I made it y'all!!!

So, 1,200 miles, 8 Diet Cokes and and 10 radio stations later... I am in our house at Fort X. I finally have cable and internet (woot!) and our household goods arrive on Monday (double woot!!). Color me relieved.

I've met our next-door neighbor, she's super friendly and was very welcoming. She even gave me the low-down about the hellions that cross the bridge behind our yard from the middle school on their way home. Apparently it got so bad in the past that they now station MP's outside our backyard fence to keep the urchins in line. Good to know, right? I've already made like 14 trips to the commissary and/or PX and need to go again once I finish up this post. Restarting a house is expensive y'all.

Some interesting things have happened since I last wrote... I had received a call from the Rear D just before I left telling me Swiss would be home on the 31st of December. Swiss then told me that, no, it would be late January... and the date has since been pushed back even further... past the year mark.I'm sad and frustrated by it all, but have since resigned myself to the fact. There isn't much I can do, is there? The worst part of it all was when I had to go to the PX and had to drive past the headquarters on the 31st. I saw all of the families anxiously waiting on the bleachers, flags flying, anticipation and excitement thick in the air. On my way home I saw all the guys (and gals) embraced by their loved ones, I watched the homecoming we should have had and, naturally, I started bawling in the truck knowing that it could have been Swiss and I out there. It could have been us hugging, breathing sighs of relief, spending New Year's Eve in reunited bliss. Instead I went home and went to bed early on the air mattress alone. Sigh. But enough of that...

Our new home is nice, spacious and pretty good for military housing circa 1970-ish. We have an awesome balcony-deck thing upstairs and the views are pretty great. The sunrises here are spectacular (I have Fletcher to thank for seeing those) and I very much appreciate being able to wear flip-flops in December. It still feels weird being here without him... but soon that will change. I'm looking forward to doing stuff with the FRG and I've started the Couch to 5K program because Swiss has decided we are doing a run together for Valentine's Day (I think that's romance Infantry style, no?). So, all in all, things are good if not a bit boring- thankfully all of that will change on Monday when I will have 9,000 lbs of stuff to find a home for!

The worst parts about Fort X? The gargantuan cockroach that I discovered living in my kitchen light fixture. I baked it to death overnight. But for reals folks. They don't make bugs that big in the upper midwest. G.R.O.S.S. Also, catching glimpses of guys in ACU's that look like Swiss. Talk about heart twangs. But I suppose we are in the pseudo-homestretch.

In any event... I'm looking forward to reuniting with my bed and the couch! It is good to be back internet friends... I wish you all a very excellent 2010!