Monday, April 30, 2012

Ordinary and Weird.

What does it take to be who you are? I let a lifestyle define me, but not to a fault. I was a military spouse. Surely, still myself but at the end of the day I wrote here as an Army EOD wife. I wrote about training, deployment- living in the barracks together for the first four months of our marriage. I had my own passions (TSA horror stories, annoyances, alternative lifestyles, being socially liberal), but  it was fantastically ordinary, for the most part. I felt the appropriate level of one percent-ness: that "only so few of our citizens go and do this for everyone else" explanation for why I was special. But for the military, it wasn't special. Spouses go train and come home, they deploy, it sucks. We argued about money. We missed each other and wrote sweet emails. All the usual stuff. I thought it was special, but I have emphasize that it wasn't. I took for granted how "business as usual" our life together truly was going, until September 7th, 2011.

I guess we're special now, right? Not as unique as we should be, because there are far too many service members here. It doesn't even make sense how all this sacrifice makes our country a better or safer place, because I don't think it does at all. But that's not the point of all this (do I have a point?). I just wish I knew how much of a blessing ordinary was when we had it.

It's resonating with me right now that I had a pretty ordinary day. I did a mountain of laundry, pretended to do schoolwork, cleaned up, cooked. Aaron had his stitches pulled out so I went with him to do that. I knew it would be a little rough so I wanted to be able to push him back. Grateful for how ordinary it all was, but still a touch of our new life. Everyday, folks.

Obviously, I'm going through a lot emotionally. I'm not as okay as I was, but I'm not doing too poorly, either. I am actually revisiting an old familiar place that has gotten me through some other tough times in my life. It's not that I feel that I am going through some crazy and moody identity crisis but I'm just allowing some other attributions of my personality to shine through for a bit. It's nice to have these familiar bits back in the game, even if it does complicate me a bit. I've having to let go of my "active duty wife life" and find whatever is going to be the next defining thing. Warrior wife? Hopefully I don't need to be her all the time for too much longer. I don't really know who I am most days, outside of being the same weird kid I've always been. I mean, what this takes to do everyday- I don't know who does it all. I don't feel like it's me because I freak out a lot. Maybe I'm the same person, just now a 30-year-old punk kid with unconventional ideas and a curious mind. What is adulthood? Was I ever a young professional? Me and my friends from Roswell- the last place I was before I got married- were more like the young unprofessionals. None of us were working jobs that exercised our talents, or realizing our full potential, or even making enough money to get by. And to be honest, those people are the smartest people I've ever known. We were just so unaffected by everything else, everyone else. We couldn't really afford cable so we missed out on what everyone else was doing. We were pretty happy, too. And drunk.

Who I was there might have been more raw than who I've been now. I can get through these rough times by expressing my raw self. I feel more anti-social these days, less inclined to make small talk. Definitely not wearing a lot of pink and skipping about. I'm not saying I'll actually pierce my eyebrow- but these days, I feel like my exterior should match my interior a little bit.

It's not an existential crisis at 30. I'm not confused about who I am. We all have personality complexities because we're all unique human beings. My path to individualism just began a lot sooner than most people's because my home life was a little interesting when I was young (that's an understatement but I don't feel the need to elaborate). I learned to layer myself, to be a little more presentable, to edit myself a bit more (which honestly, isn't such a bad thing for me). But occasionally, I feel like I just need to express myself inside and out. I'm pretty comfortable being a weird little woman because I was a weird little kid. Maybe a new tattoo and a summer of this and I'll feel a bit more like my grown-up version. The one who minds a bit more. And wears pink.

I never had a lot of ordinary in my life and I relished it when it was present. I just wish I knew... you know?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What I Feel LIke Looking Like.

Over the past year, I've tried to "grow up" with my make up and clothes. I try on cute H&M outfits and buy them. I love Guess, mainly because it fits me (sue me, I'm thin and it looks good). I definitely have a little edge to what I wear, though. I recently bought a bunch of loose distressed tops to be worn over tank tops. I have a lot of skinny pants because I never take time to hem my jeans. Anyway, I mix it up with boots and heels or whatever. I'm kind of a little punk sometimes. But most days I do what looks good, which is pretty. My make-up is just so, I look fine- but I'm not feeling it. Lately, I've had very little sense of ownership in all aspects of my life so I'm feeling more rebellious than usual. Or maybe more myself? Anyway, I put on clothes and pull this off alright:
I don't ever really look this cute, but I feel like I try to look like this and usually fail. It's a general idea.

And then I throw in my "understated Lancome" make-up:
I actually do the make-up pretty well.

But what I really want to do is this:

And there you have it, folks. One of many reasons I'm back in therapy!

Have good weekends!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Feeling Defeated. Go. Army.

This morning we were woken up by a 730am text message from the Army squad leader. There is formation twice a week and room inspections (we've been over that here a few times).

I was going to care today about "healing" and being happy, but I'll find something else to do with my time.

I feel like these people are more concerned with the PATIENTS being soldiers than the other way around. We're here for them; they're not here for us.

I quit today. I think I'll have Ativan for breakfast instead of cereal...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I am the Warrior Wife. Hear me roar! (And watch me fall out!)

Oh, man. I know anyone who loves their spouse wouldn't think twice about doing whatever it took, but even I am beginning to understand how challenging this life can be. The shower, would care, and general getting-it-together this morning was all the productivity I think I can handle today! I'm really impressed with us, as we've learned there is nothing a lot of laughter and a healthy dose of patience can't accomplish. As we stumble through all the steps back and forward, revisited painful territory and new horizons, I can't help but feel incredibly humbled by the fact that we're here. Even though I am very clearly "in the bubble" I do realize- on occasion- that this can't be easy. Most days I don't even think about it like that because we do what has to be done. The recent hospital stay was incredibly difficult but it's all water under the bridge. I am so, so lucky to be here. I know that it must be a struggle but it just feels like life to me. Our life, and I love it.

And today, since we got it all done by 10am, I am going to take a nap!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tired and partially clean.

Oh my God, I've been so tired! The regression back to "normal" hospital behavior was quick and fairly unexpected. I mean, I didn't know what I expected when I decided to sleep there with him. I got a sweet little note about how messy my apartment was so my MIL and I spent a little time on it today. There is a note on the bedroom door, however, that reads:
Fear not, for the bedroom will be restored to its former glory Wednesday afternoon. The lady of the house can only do so much while tending to the man in the hospital (and sleeping there). It's all gonna be okay!

I get so tired of all the not-important pressure. There are guys pissing in cereal bowls and putting holes in the walls- no one needs to worry about my messy bedroom. It will all be good for Aaron's return, due later this week. I hate having to take time out for not-real problems.

Everything's good, just exhausted. Hopefully we only have a few more days left and then back to my disgrace of an apartment we go!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Everything went great with the surgery. It was a very early morning and quite a long day. Didn't see that coming. He has been high as a kite since then (an epidural, Dilaudid and two other painkillers will do that to you) and extremely needy. My in-laws are here so I have some time to slip away and catch up on late school work. This first semester back has been harder to manage than I could have imagined. Holy time management batman, throw in a recovering, handicapped husband and you have yourself a deadline nightmare. Let's hope I don't bomb three whole intro classes. Yeah, I'm a whiz.

Also more difficult than expected is this whole second hospital stay. The first was two months, and this should only be a week but it's brought a ton of old feelings back. Him being incredibly loopy and demanding (duh) is weird, as well. He was really independent just the morning of surgery, how are we back here again? But I know better, it's just temporary and everything will be back normal in a week or less.

Isn't that just a funny thought to end on- "back to normal." HA!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Very Much Alive Husband!

Aaron's Caring Bridge Update

Today is his birthday! 33 years of awesomeness... and to think he almost didn't make this one! Last night, we met up with friends at Ruth's Chris, most of whom are wounded EOD techs and their family members. Throw in a few great friends and you have yourself a party! One good friend ordered the appetizers, I made sure everyone had a glass of champagne, and we all ordered steaks. We were ready to enjoy our damn good meals! And we did. We were ready to pay for them too, but some anonymous angel called the restaurant and picked up the whole tab. Crazy! Speaking of crazy, I pretty much bought Aaron everything for his birthday. He wanted a 7-day set of straight razors so I bought him three pretty ones. I got him a Soda Stream and Lincoln Logs. The list goes on. How many "you're not dead" birthdays does a man get? Hopefully one's enough! One is too many but I'll take any reason to celebrate his living, breathing, amazing, sexy body! So I went all out. His mom arrives later today and we're meeting family out for dinner tonight.

Tomorrow he has his HO surgery. We're all nervous and hoping that everything goes as planned, and by July he can be walking. Dear God. Please. This has got to be a game-changer. We're ready!

Have great weekends, everyone!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Notes and observations from the other side.

My sympathy meter is way off. I don't think that one military family life is any harder than another, which is of course is the political correct thing to say but we all know it isn't true. I think my military life was pretty average. Had Aaron not been hurt and things had kept rolling as they should have, I am sure it would have continued you that way. Once, I complained about our pre-deployment leave being bumped up to an inconvenient time. I got some good comments from Navy and Marine wives who didn't even know what it was. I guess I get really frustrated when I find someone mad about something completely preventable. Telling the world you don't think you can do a deployment with a baby is a little bonkers. Writing that deployments are harder because of kids isn't just also bonkers, but short-sighted. But bitching once in a while about how the military can absolute mess up your life and all your plans is normal.

One thing people say to me often that they don't know is ugly is how awesome it is I don't have to drag a kid through this experience. What would people say if I did? And the fact that we might have to go through more hell to even try to have a kid only makes it sting worse. I mean, would I just drop the kid off somewhere if I had one with me? No, I'd freaking manage, wouldn't I? There is dedicated childcare here too so thank God the families who do have munchkins don't have to worry about that. Now, don't get me started on the families... one in particular... who drag their ill-behaved youngsters going nuts around the hospital, yelling the whole time. Kids were banned from the MATC (PT rehab facility for the wounded) because of families like this. Odd thing is, I feel that babies are fine. They don't do much and stay contained. When kids start walking, it's time to think about where they are taken.

My sister-in-law is pretty much a single mom all the time. Aaron's brother is a cop on night shift and in the National Guard as a platoon sergeant. They are gearing up for deployment right now too, so he is sporadically gone for weeks at a time. Within the past year, he has also worked for the fire department and done off-duty cop jobs. My SIL takes care of two kids too young for school and works full-time as well. I guess when I see someone take on that life with very little complaint, I get a little judgmental.

What I do here is not as hard as it is frustrating. The services in the building we live in are inconsistent to the point of insanity. The parking lot still doesn't have lights. The sidewalk was repaved to take care of a "lip" issue that was tripping people, but now it's steeper. The handicap curve coming off the steep sidewalk doesn't have hand rails the whole way. There still isn't a place for all the trash for each floor, but no one sure as hell isn't hiking it out to the completely out-of-the-way bin. The new smoking area can't accommodate wheelchairs. It's enough stupid crap to make you crazy. I guess everything else can be such a struggle that when something "little" goes wrong, it is just that much more frustrating. How hard is it, really? How hard can it be to have a safe, reasonable place for these guys to live? Sigh.

Tomorrow is Aaron's birthday but we are celebrating tonight with friends. His mom will be in tomorrow so we will most likely go out with her, too. I am so excited for this birthday. He almost didn't make it to 33, so this is really special!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Traffic Stats.

Everything about my traffic stats is pretty normal. People seem to find me mostly by other blog comments, or Googling a variation of my blog title. There were only two interesting ones:

ddt vomit pool party (really?)

wounded soldier unhappy wife (maybe I need to think about my overall tone a bit)

Tim Hetherington wife- over 2000 hits this way! (I actually know how this happened since I blogged about his death)

last few days I was thinking of you sending (and.... I got nothing)

Not bad. I'm also at over 72,500 hits which is pretty crazy. Alright everyone, have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Scream.

Somewhere deep inside me, waiting to die, is the scream of losing him. After obtaining all the information I could on my husband's incident, I am only more convinced that had things been one millimeter this way or the other, I'd have a quite a different story to tell. There a lot of untold, never-birthed stories, I suppose; he could have faired much better. I do not spend a lot of time on this side of it, but it does live. It's there, with a small pulse if nothing else. There isn't any oxygen to it- just a pulse.

But it's there.

And I am waiting for it to die.

It should have died with the birth of his new life, whenever that moment was. Maybe it was instantaneous, or it happened in surgery. Perhaps it came along later. I am sure though that there was a moment where his life was meant to continue. Call it science or God; luck or blessing. That moment might have cost us something, what we'll never know. But I am so glad, elated, and grateful every single morning I wake up near him that we got that moment. I am so happy, actually, I am more than annoyed that the other moment just didn't pass on right then. The other moment of the scream's release.

Every close family member of a soldier in combat knows this awful scream exists. It holds in the bottom of our throats from the moment their boots hit theater to the instant they're back in our arms. When injury reports come back, it is the lump that rises when we hear of another's misfortune.

And it suffocates you when it's your soldier on the line. It beats you up the most cruel ways: "I'm not coming out, he's not coming home in a box, you get your life!" You're constantly reminded of it by how little it's discussed. You could be drawn to be the drama queen, desperate for that special circumstance (most figure out this isn't what they want at all). Or the family member who can never get past it. Some stay angry. I see that mostly in mothers, but not exclusively. Maybe I'm an angry wife. I honestly don't have much of a scale, because no one really talks about it here. And when we do, we agree with each other.

So this isn't not getting over it. It isn't not letting go. It isn't feeling some perverse urge to focus on death. It just is. And now I'm talking about it.

The scream almost had its chance. It could have; it tried; it definitely got a new resting place. The scream, in the days after the blast but perhaps before the moment of life, sat up at the top of my head. It fogged me, confused. "Not dead- but injured. Never going to be the same again. More surgeries." It felt like everything was happening to me and all I could do was ask someone else to drive. Lean on my friends and family. Forget the way to my battle buddy's house, where women sat waiting to console me, see me, maybe feel better that someone could function enough to see people; that it wasn't going to put me out. And if your friend doesn't go out, you can think- when the scream comes up in your own throat- that it won't. That it can be done and conquered. Evidence of quiet, weak success. But some success nonetheless.

My scream won't die. It gives me nightmares. I'm seeing dead family members and watching mass destruction when I sleep. For months after the fifth injured came through these hospital walls, I dreamt that the whole unit died. It wasn't until about a month before they came home that it stopped. I know this is the scream, lessening its howl of total loss and bleeding out in other ways as it shrinks. At least it is only dreams. The scream itself whimpers in its uselessness. It's losing its zest.

I have screamed over loss. I have lost a parent, family, a best friend. I know the variations of the scream. The war scream is unique- the main difference in the scream reserved for my husband and the others is the element of shock. Rarely do you think about someone's death. War brings out the worst, and there you are: their chances of it have increased. One could calculate the statistics- I am sure someone has. This particular valley; a certain time of year; this job; that sort of mission. Some days bring more promise than others. During WWII, they fed the plane crews better on the type of days that might not bring them a sunset. Their wives didn't know it, though. Their mamas couldn't turn on the TV. I'm not sure if the scream of days gone by was worse than the ones now; I really think they're all the same. Time is a human concept, you know. I doubt the scream has any generational significance other than charting wars.

I just want it to die. I want it to die in some sort of fit of realization that it won't be used. That moment is gone. But there it sits, reminding me occasionally of how close it came. It might have even put on its hat and gathered its things. Maybe it didn't even get off the couch; I'll never know. But the numbers, the information, the facts are all there: the scream was just an inch this way or that from escaping. The bitch, the bastard.

It can sit, though. And wither away from boredom. For the scream, as ugly and violent and brutal as it is, as truthful as it is, as simply sad as it is, still just sits. My dreams may be full of haunting sights, there might be some small moment during the day where I simply bite my lip and look away; but it still just sits. It might not be dead yet, but it drifts a little further away from me each morning, each time I wake to my husband's breathing body. With each kiss, the passing moments of life, I know it dies a little.

And while it isn't dead yet, it's at least getting the idea. And eventually, I am sure, I'll get there and I will know it is gone.

The scream will die. Unlike my husband, who did not die, and therefore not sending any real strangers to tell me that all I loved was lost, but just some soldiers to tell me it was not. It wasn't. It's not. He lived. And now the scream can die. it can accept defeat.


And until then, I'll just keep waking up to him, my husband, and biting my lip and looking away and trying to forget my terrible dreams. I'll keep on with that, and the scream can keep on with dying.

And that's truth.

Happy Anniversary & Homecoming Talk

That's right, folks- two years of marital success! Since yesterday was the day we pulled away from Fort Drum- very possibly for the very last time- there wasn't too much time to really carve out just for our anniversary. I bought him the cutest Lady and the Tramp card that said, "You're the only one I ever want at the other end of the spaghetti," and presented him with a Winnie the Pooh plaque that read, ""We'll be friends forever, won't we, Pooh?"asked Piglet. "Even longer," answered Pooh." I know- real cheesy stuff! I usually don't do Disney, or decorative stuff, but since we aren't doing presents I wanted to let Aaron know how sweet it is having him around! We began our drive later than intended, and it was only after a half-hour break of doughnuts at a gas station that I asked for us to stop for the night. We could get home before 10pm, but we'd be exhausted. And it was our anniversary! So we found a Sheraton. Aaron ordered up champagne and strawberries, we dipped in the hot tub, and ordered pasta for a late dinner. It was a lot like our wedding night, except without the absolute exhaustion!

While back at Fort Drum, we saw all of my friends and spent a few dinners with a some of the returning soldiers. My feelings on the whole event are pretty complicated, but it was neat being an observer to the goings-on of a homecoming. I got to see my friends all super-excited and dressed up, and even witnessed a few first kisses. One of my friends attended to support me, and I had her man the video camera. She caught a good friend's reunion, but right next to her and her husband, someone is making out with her soldier. Like, full face sucking. It's kinda funny. I was happy to see everyone else happy, which is exactly where I'll leave it. I wish I could say it was some life-changing moment that brought loads of closure on all of my feelings about deployment, the unit, and other related matter- but it didn't. It just didn't. Maybe later I will make sense of it all, and I'll be sure to write about it.

We're not far from Gettysburg, which we might visit, if Aaron ever wakes up. I am so sick of him having long days full of pain and fatigue. I knew this morning today was going to be a waste, and it just hurts. We can't really plan anything anymore because we never know what will be a good day with little pain or a terrible one in which he can't even get out of bed. Over it. Surgery in a week, so hopefully this summer will bring a very welcomed and long-overdue change of events.

Hope you all have a great weekend!