Sunday, March 19, 2006

Soldier's perspective of civil unrest in Iraq

The Washington Post has published an article after interviewing 100 veterans of the war in Iraq, and there are a few money quotes:

What they experienced was more complex than the war they saw on television and in print. It was dangerous and confused, yes, but most of the vets also recalled enemies routed, buildings built and children befriended, against long odds in a poor and demoralized country. "We feel like we're doing something, and then we look at the news and you feel like you're getting bashed." "It seems to me the media had a predetermined script." The vibe of the coverage is just "so, so, so negative."

An email I got today from a friend deployed to Baghdad, Iraq right now echoed this sentiment:

There is not a whole lot going on here in Iraq; some people would be disappointed to hear me say that American nightly news is full of sh*t with all its doom and gloom prophecies. Even though some battalions feel they're doing a lot, the truth is they're only running 3/4 the missions we were 2 years ago. Iraqi police dot every major intersection and they run as many patrols as Americans do. So, the situation has de-escalated substantially from the JUN 04 era.

I always find emails from him interesting, because it offers another piece of the puzzle to what is going on there. I have read many soldiers' blogs stating the same: that they aren't seeing the civil unrest that they are hearing about on the news.

However, the tens of dead bodies that are turning up in Baghdad aren't a figment of the collective media's imagination.

Just as the main-stream media's reports have their limitations (reporters aren't getting that close to the action), the fact that he and other soldiers aren't seeing a lot of the carnage that is going on right now, doesn't mean it isn't happening, it just means it's not as wide spread as media coverage would lead us to believe. It also means that the Iraqi Army and police are dealing with the unrest, and not American soldiers, which is, in my humble opinion, a step in the right direction.

Military Bride's Fiancé is back from Afghanistan!

When I first started blogging, I was trying to find other women in the same situation as me, and happened upon Erika's blog, Military Bride. We are both young, and unexperienced in the whole military lifestyle, not to mention the realities of a deployment. And our respective significant others were on the same rotation to Afghanistan.

I always found it comforting to read her posts about the trials and tribulations of her deployment experience. And finally yesterday, she was going to be reunited with Matt.
However, before she left, she wrote a beautiful post summing up the past 14 months of her life. There was a part that resonated very strongly with me:

But I also have an enormous amount of good I'm taking away from this deployment.[...]

A subject often approached by those just ending a deployment is that of whether or not it was "worth it" - if I could go back in time and have Matt not be deployed, would I? I don't know. It's tough to say what course the year would've taken if Matt and I hadn't had to overcome this obstacle. [...]

I am thankful to the deployment for what it's taught me about myself, for the patience and understanding it's given me, and for what it's done for mine and Matt's relationship. At the beginning of a deployment the thought of spending such an extended amount of time away from the most important person in your life is so horrifying, it's tough to immediately identify what good will come of it.

Looking back over the past year of our lives, I think it's been a blessing in disguise. It gave me the opportunity to prove to Matt how much I truly do love him. It's helped our relationship to flourish and grow in a way it wouldn't have if we'd spent every day of the last year together. It taught us to be independent and that we can always rely on each other "for better, for worse."

I could not have put it better. Now that I am basking in post-redeployment warmth and happiness, I can only say whole heartedly say, it was worth it. A thousand times over. I honestly don't think that we would be where we are today in our relationship, had we not have surmounted this challenge together. And although draining, and oftentimes traumatic, it was so rewarding.

And Erika, I can hardly wait to see your reunion pics!

(The homecoming was covered by the Las Vegas Sun.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

South Park vs. Scientology

First there were the Mohammed riots caused by Danish cartoons...well, now we might have to make way for Tom Cruise and other Scientologists rioting about South Park. Apparently Comedy Central pulled an episode making fun of Scientology:

The battle began in earnest earlier this week when Isaac Hayes another celebrity Scientologist and longtime show member — voicing the ladies' man Chef — quit the show, saying he could no longer tolerate its religious "intolerance and bigotry."

Stone and Parker didn't buy that either.

On Monday, Stone told The Associated Press, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith in Scientology...He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."

Yeah, so Issac thought it was all fun and games when South Park was making fun of Jesus and Pals, but, no....Tom Cruise is sacred. Oh, whatevers.

Seriously, there is so much celebrity political commentary that I completely tune out...but I always tune back in for anything Stone and Parker have to say.

Here's a link to a part of the show in question.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Anti-Fart Underwear

(Hat tip Roonie)

Oh this is almost too good to be true...but it is! "UNDER-EASE" ANTI-FLATULENCE UNDERWEAR. I love their marketing: "Wear them for the ones you love."

How does this wonderful technology work, you ask?

Under-Ease are underwear for protection against bad human gas (malodorous flatus) and are made from a soft air-tight fabric (polyurethane-coated nylon). To maintain the air-tightness, elastic is sewn into the material around the waist and both legs.

A triangular "exit hole" for the flatus to be expelled is cut from the back of the air-tight underwear, near the bottom. This "exit hole" is covered with a "pocket" made of ordinary porous fabric sewn over the "exit hole". This unique design forces all expelled gas (flatus) out through the "pocket".

The pictures are even better.

Now after having laughed about this all, I am sure it is a product that many people, with more than just mild flatulence, are very thankful for. It seems that the core customers are made up of sufferers of Crohn's Disease.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Simple Pleasure Nr. 76 of having my boyfriend home from his deployment:

...being able to pick up the phone and call him.

Or conversely, getting a call from him and seeing Caller-ID identify it as him calling.

May sound like nothing, but I squealed when I called my boyfriend's apartment and he picked up. He just laughed.

Life is good.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Picture Tag

I got tagged by ArmyWifeToddlerMom!

I really liked this tag. It almost felt like the internet version of some kind of collage. I remember making those in kindergarten, looking in magazines for the perfect pictures, then cutting it out, and pasting it in the picture.

1. Choose a search engine (e.g. Google), click "Images".
2. Pick 5 random blogfriends.
3. Think of a word or phrase that you feel describes each friend.
4. Do an image search of that word or phrase.
5. Pick an image that makes you say, "Aha! That's it!"

Military Bride: She probably won't have time to play this game as her soldier is finally coming home this weekend! (Okay, so it's not an Army groom, but still, reminds me of Erika).

Okay, so Katie doesn't like being tagged...but I couldn't resist. Could you resist this face?

And I couldn't decide which picture I liked better for Household 6, so I will post both (Her hubs is back too, go read her post about the homecoming!):



And last, but certainly not least Itzy Bitsy Nicole:

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Back Home

Yesterday evening, after spending two delicious weeks with my boyfriend since his homecoming from Afghanistan, I got on the train, back to my apartment in Cologne.

As we sat in the car in the parking lot of the train station I was a little melancholic. My boyfriend asked me if I was sad to be leaving him, and I said that yes, I would miss him, but that wasn't what was making me sad as we will be seeing each other again next week, and then for our 3 week trip. Rather it was the realization that the last time we had said goodbye to each other at that train station was the day before he deployed. It was a sad memory, and I was reliving it in some sense.

We hugged goodbye, and I boarded the train. The train ride was uneventful, however the closer I got to Cologne, the more of a sense of foreboding, or going back to a place I didn't want to be, crept upon me. I couldn't really understand it, because I was happy to get back to my apartment, to see friends I hadn't seen in a month, and to finalize some exam preparations. Then I realized that for some reason, I was associating my apartment with my life pre-redeployment. As if when I would get back to my apartment, I would be back in my life of the girlfriend of a deployed soldier.

It didn't make any sense, because the deployment is over. But I felt like crying. It was as if I was suddenly remembering how hard it had all been, everything I had forgotten since he had returned. Redeployment is sometimes compared to a birth. That you are waiting for something that you know will happen around a certain time, but the date is only projected and not certain. And it can be a long and strenuous and emotionally painful event. But afterwards, when your soldier has returned to you, you almost forget all that, and are just happy to have your soldier back. Suddenly, when my boyfriend wasn't physically present, I was remembering the sadness of the deployment.

But all those feelings of dreading washed away as soon as I entered my apartment. I saw all my familiar belongings, things I had almost forgotten while living in the bliss of reunion at my boyfriend's place. And there was a message on the answering machine from my mother welcoming me back home.

And I realized that this was another milestone in the whole deployment. Now it really seems officially over. I am back home, and my boyfriend is back home, and we are back in our pre-deployment lives. Such sweet bliss!

Monday, March 13, 2006


Friday night two weeks ago, my boyfriend and I were at the video store on post looking for some DVDs to rent for the weekend...and the store looked as if it had been robbed. There were hardly any New Releases left, and many of the other shelves were looking pretty bare. So we were pretty dejected going through everyone's leftovers, when I happened upon Arrested Development, a series I had first heard about through Bee, when she was pouting about its cancellation. So I convinced my significant other that we should should rent that disk. So we went home, unsuspecting of the whole new world that was about the unfold in front of us.

We sat on the couch and were introduced to the Bluth family. And the rest was history. We are now the proud owners of Season One, and will soon purchase Season Two.

The attraction to Arrested Development is hard to describe. It is basically a very un-PC show, with story lines that leave you laughing out loud at the witty dialog and wildly outlandish scenarios. I think I can most closely compare it to Fawlty Towers and BBC' The Office, or alternately its American counterpart, NBC's The Office, and a little bit of The Simpsons and South Park thrown into the mix.

And after each episode we lamented the fact that this wonderful series was canceled. However, last night while chatting with my mother on the phone, and telling her again about how fabulous the show was, she mentioned that she had read that some other TV channel was looking to pick it up instead. Showtime is looking into picking it up where Fox dropped it off!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Come fly with me!

Plane Tickets? Check.

Travel Insurance? Check.

Visas? Check.

China here we come!

Yesterday my boyfriend and I drove to the Chinese Embassy in Frankfurt to get our visas for China. This was the final check on our list of things to get done for our trip that starts in two weeks.

This has been an adventure we have been planning almost since he left to Afghanistan. Yesterday were were trying to pinpoint the moment we decided that was where we were going on our post-deployment trip. It almost seems now like I can't remember a moment where it wasn't in our grand scheme of things.

We will be starting in Beijing and zig-zagging down through China, to end our trip in Hong Kong. We are both excited about seeing all the amazing sights like the Great Wall and the Longji Valley to mention a few, and trying to get a sense for ourselves of this huge monolithic communist regime, the sights you don't always see. Like, will there be military presence everywhere? To what extent will their political regime be present and visible?

This is also a first for me: a major trip with my boyfriend. We have made a lot of little trips together, weekends away, and visiting familiar surroundings, but this will be the first longer trip to a foreign country together. I have traveled a lot alone or with friends, but this is the first time that I will be traveling with my boyfriend. We tease each other about the possible pressures of traveling together for 3 weeks through a foreign country, but both look forward to sharing such an experience with each other.

I am sure that I will have loads to blog about when we come back...;-).


I can remember when I was sending my boyfriend some things downrange, when he had first arrived in Afghanistan: a spare set of boots of his, his wireless computer router, and an army issue fleece sweater. I was just going to pack them in a box and a friend was going to send them for me (free military post). But another friend, who was in the army, advised me to insure the packages, since theft seemed to be rampant while he was in Iraq. He cited cases like a friend's X-box not making it back to Germany post-deployment, having found a new home between Iraq and Germany.

However, we never heard any stories of theft in the post while our unit was in Afghanistan. That is, until my boyfriend redeployed. He sent a total of 14 boxes back to Germany, with his gear, his sheets, clothes, towels, books, i.e. everything he had used or collected during the last year. Thirteen boxes made it back. And one of the boxes had been opened and a small electronics device of his, that he had forgotten to put on the customs slip is missing too. It was a smart and calculated theft: since it wasn't recorded on the customs slip, my boyfriend can't file any claim for it. Because technically, it wasn't even in the box in the first place.

The other box he will be able to file some kind of loss report on. In it was a compact computer printer, a cigar humidor I had sent him for his birthday and ALL the letters and cards he had received over the course of his deployment - the latter being irreplaceable.

That would be the first complaint.

The second: theft in the mail room here in Germany. I ordered something online, and had it sent to my boyfriend's APO, taking advantage of his US mailing address, so that I wouldn't need to pay international postage or customs. However, the package never arrived. A friend also mentioned that she had also ordered from the same company, and her package arrived, however it had been opened, and items removed. She assured me that the company was very understanding, and immediately sent her a replacement package.

Sure enough, I emailed them, and they offered to refund me or send me the package again. So I took them up on their offer, but had them send it to my mother in the US, since I am not ready for Round 2 of losing the same package. But that just doesn't sit right with me. I mean, it's obviously cheaper for the company to have a satisfied customer, so they replace the package no questions asked, but it irks me that someone is getting away with theft. Just taking what they want, and there doesn't seem to be the sense that anything will be done about it.

My boyfriend's commentary, in his typical tough stance, was: “Sometimes I wish they would bring back corporal punishment.” And I found myself nodding in agreement.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Homecoming Pics

Blogger is working again, so I can upload some pics from my boyfriend's homecoming ceremony. They aren't the best quality, but they give you a good idea.

The gray is a long curtain, that separates the tent into two parts. On one side are the families waiting for their soldiers, and on the other, the soldiers.

Then the curtains opened to magically reveal our soldiers standing in formation. Imagine the restraint and self control those kids (not to mention us adults) had to practice upon seeing our soldiers standing there, but not being allowed to run up to them until after the short ceremony.

Me and my soldier. *Sigh* What bliss. (Don't ask me about the weirdo walking in the background.)