Boy + Girl + Army + e-Harmony = Captain and Mrs. Butters! This is what we're up to. Observations, opinions, events, images, and more.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I am so angry.

I committed a cardinal sin and allowed myself to believe that Spike would be home by a certain date that was in the next-few-months range. Now his redeployment date has been pushed back. Not only do I have to wait longer; but his return assignment means he’ll be coming back with a smaller group. I won’t even get the big, chaotic, crazy, exuberant redeployment ceremony I was dreaming about.

I know in the grand scheme of things, the extra time I have to wait isn’t that significant. I know I will be so, so happy to have him home regardless of the size of the ceremony. But I want him home sooner. I don’t want to have to tack that extra month onto my mental countdown. Maybe it’s strange, but I was so looking forward to seeing row upon row of soldiers march into a giant room full of smiling families and posters, trying to spot mine, then running through a crowd of joyful people to find him. I don’t want to have to let go of that experience for something later, smaller, and quieter.

What a bizarre last straw. But right now, I can’t hold it together. I’m so angry I want to physically destroy something, while at the same time, I can’t stop tears from leaking out. I feel like I Just. Can’t. Do. It. Anymore. I’m so tired of getting up and going to work and pretending that everything is okay. Filling my time with constructive things so that I don’t wallow has become exhausting.

Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic, but I feel like my experience with the Army (after the Captain’s Career Course, which isn’t anything like real Army life) has been characterized by letdowns. A small recent example: I haven’t gotten even one phone call from my FRG during this deployment. Not one. And yes, I’ve reached out multiple times to let the leaders know that I moved out of the state for my job, and that I wanted to be in contact with a key caller.

I know it can always be worse, but that doesn’t make me feel any less upset right now. I know it isn’t, but this feels like a personal affront. A kick in the teeth from a giant faceless organization that clearly doesn’t consider or care about my feelings.

Ugh. I need some perspective. A need a way to drain all of this anger and bitterness out of me before I explode. Any ideas?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Deployment Brags

I know that a lot of my recent posts (infrequent though they may be) have had a negative tone--that's because I use this blog to "dump" my deployment-related emotions. I don't often talk about the deployment in real life, and only then to a select few people.

Anyway, I thought I'd change things up a bit before I (most likely) write a few sad pieces on missing Spike during the holidays...and brag on myself.

After a month or so of Spike being gone, and thanks to the tough love of some friends, I decided that I shouldn't spend the entire deployment in personal limbo. If I have no choice but to spend the better part of a year geographically spouse-less, I might as well use the time constructively.

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I'm learning to play the violin. Now that I am back in North Carolina post R&R, I have resumed my weekly lessons. Learning new songs and hearing how much I'm progressing (compliments from my teacher don't hurt either!) makes me feel so empowered...maybe because it's something I have complete control over? I'm three songs away from finishing my beginner's book, and I've even played some simple Bach!

At the end of August I sucked it up and had iLASIK surgery done. Worth every penny of the money that would have otherwise gone into savings. (Thanks, Spike!) I went from not being able to read a book that was held 6 inches away from my face to working, driving, and living totally correction-free. And if you're thinking of having iLASIK done, I can honestly say that I felt no pain during the procedure, which only took about 10 minutes. Seriously, I am SUCH a weenie when it comes to medical stuff, and this was a breeze.

My last brag for now is that I've re-connected with art over the deployment. I always enjoyed drawing, painting, etc. in high school and college, but I haven't done much of it since then. Having periodic art projects to work on has honestly been therapeutic, because art is one of those things that gets me  into a state of "flow"--I stop feeling the passage of time and I'm totally focused on what's in front of me. Earlier this year I posted a pencil drawing I did of a friend's in-laws. Here are the other things I've worked on since Spike has been gone. Excuse the poor lighting and blurriness.

I did this for Spike as an anniversary present.  It's mixed media: tissue paper and paint on canvas. He always calls me his Lobster--if you've ever seen the Friends episode in which Phoebe explains her Lobster Theory, you know what he's referring to. There are love song lyrics behind the claws and paint.

I suppose you could consider this one art, though it didn't involve drawing. I thought it was going to be a simple, quick project--it wasn't! Took hours and hours to cut out all the strips of cloth and roll them up. But I like how it turned out.

I did this painting as a wedding present for a dear friend. I tore up the save-the-date, invitation, and wedding program and incorporated them into the piece.

Next I'd like to do a small painting of my dog...or a large one of me and Spike, if I can find a picture I like well enough.

I had considered doing National Novel Writing Month again this year (the challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November--I did it in 2009), but I don't think that's going to happen. It ate up all of my free time the first time around, and while I had a lot of fun, I was also frazzled, reclusive, and had tunnel vision focused solely on meeting my daily word quota. Not sure that's the best idea since I'm trying to stay as balanced, social, and positive as possible while this deployment drags on. But we shall see. I DO have a story idea. Poor Spike--my first round of NaNoWriMo happened right after we'd been matched on e-Harmony. I ignored him for the better part of a month. He'd probably be scared the same thing would happen again! And in any case, that story idea will keep until 2013.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Banner Day

When my dog Ellie and I got back to North Carolina, we were greeted by a banner made by my younger brother. You can see where his priorities lie....

It made me laugh. At least I got a small shout-out in the corner.

In other news, I think I can cross "the big crisis" that's supposed to happen during a deployment off my list...I was Car One in a three-car accident yesterday evening. I had stopped to wait on traffic in the other lane to break before turning left into my parents' driveway after work, and the car behind me had also stopped. However, the car behind them hardly slowed down, hit Car Two, and pushed it into me. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and my car (poor, poor Mini Cooper, less than a year old) is still driveable. I think it will need a new bumper. All in all, it could have been a lot worse. After the initial shock of being hit, I really wasn't that upset; after all, eleven years ago I had an accident in which I WAS the driver doing the rear-ending, so I know how easily it can happen. My parents commented on how calm I seemed. All I could think was, After living day and night with the knowledge that my husband is far away in a dangerous place, something happening to my car--with no human injuries--doesn't even compare.

But still, this counts as my Deployment Crisis, right?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Post-R&R Update

I forgot to write about the build-up, but I think I'll record the aftermath.

Toward the end of September, Spike left to go back to Afghanistan...again. He was home for his two weeks of R&R leave, which he received because his unit is scheduled for a 12-month deployment. Spike may not be gone for a full year since he was thrown into the deploying unit last-minute and had to stay behind to catch up on training, but he will still be gone longer than nine months...and I'm certainly not complaining that I got the time with him.

In a nutshell, our R&R "outing" was a four-day trip to Chicago, two of which were shared with Spike's parents. Mostly, though, at Spike's request we stayed home in Kansas. There were a couple day trips to Topeka and Kansas City, but it was surprising (to me, anyway) how nice the everyday, non-exotic things were: going to the grocery store together. Watching a movie. Smoking a cigar on the front porch (okay, maybe that one isn't normal for most people...). Driving into town and walking through mall. Washing the car in the driveway. Cooking dinner. I hadn't realized until Spike was home how much I missed doing those things as a couple; how lonely they could be as only one-half of a team.

I did notice myself trying to cling to the age-old coping mechanism of distancing myself to lessen the pain of separation, which I knew was coming. It didn't work. Dropping Spike off at the airport was still heartbreaking, but I managed to make it back home before I lost it. Small victories.

So now I'm preparing to drive back to North Carolina, where I intend to spend the remainder of the deployment. There, I'll be able to go into the office every day, which is helpful professionally and personally. (Working from home--aka being alone in the house all day, every day--is a recipe for depression, at least in my case.) Being able to interact with my co-workers in person has definitely been a silver lining of this deployment. Another silver lining is the fact that I get to see old, dear friends who still live in NC!

I'm hoping that the holiday rush (and fingers crossed--more violin lessons) makes the rest of the year go by quickly. And once 2013 hits, I think I'll be able to say that we're on the downhill slope of the deployment.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Election Season Rant

Let me preface this by admitting that it is a complete and total rant. But that’s what personal blogs are for, right? Also, I know that to some extent this post is the pot calling the kettle black, as not every word that comes from my mouth is dripping with perfume and honey. (Far from it.) That said…

One particular aspect of election season disgusts me. Why do we have to validate ourselves by demonizing others? Why do we have to define our own positions by telling others how and why they’re wrong? And why—instead of trying to work together and find common ground—do so many people spew hate and contempt?

I’ve removed several people from my Facebook newfeed because of obnoxious (and frankly offensive) political postings. So many things being shared are hateful, hurtful, bigoted, and devaluing. I don’t care what “side” you’re on (for the record, my personal beliefs don’t align perfectly with either of the major parties), but for heaven’s sake, don’t insult, demean, or belittle those who disagree with you. (Oh—and it might be helpful to fact-check before posting something inflammatory.)

There are multiple solutions to most problems. And if someone sees an issue differently than you do, that doesn’t automatically make them an idiot, stupid, or a sheep. They are not any less worthy as a human being or as an intellectual thinker because they have come to a different conclusion. Honestly, what do you hope to accomplish by throwing those types of accusations around?

Nothing constructive, productive, or helpful can come from this type of hate-filled, narrow-minded speech. All you are doing is making yourself look small-minded and prejudiced. You are attracting others who share your self-righteous worldview while repelling anyone who disagrees. You are making the divide worse and squandering an opportunity for mutually beneficial, constructive dialogue. And at the end of the day, is your quality of life any better after spreading opinions that only serve to tear others down?

…rant finished.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lately I've been feeling tired. Tired of going through the motions of living a "normal" life when the truth is, life is pretty darn far from normal. There are a lot of "big" changes I could get used to--moving to a new place, starting a new job, etc.--but having my husband in a war zone is not one of them. I was warned that I would hit my first major wall around the three-month mark; I guess this is it. I think that three months is daunting because it feels like Spike has been gone for ages. I've had time to develop new routines, take up a new hobby, and resurrect an old one (more on that later), but we're not even close to being done. The majority of the deployment still stretches before us, and we're not even within hailing distance of the halfway point.

Besides the obvious worries that I refuse to dwell on or even type out, I think my biggest fear is what "the new normal" will turn out to be once this period in our lives is over. I can feel myself evolving and changing in ways that Spike isn't a part of. Even though we're very fortunate in that we are able to communicate regularly, Spike isn't participating in the changes I am--he's just hearing about them. I know the same thing is happening with him. It's true what they say: in many ways, we really will be two new people saying "hello" at homecoming, rather than the same two people picking up where they left off.

What I need to remind myself of is that the BIG things are remaining the same. My values, defining personality traits, character, and commitment aren't undergoing any big shifts. It's just that the trimmings are going to look a little different when Spike re-enters daily life in the flesh. I know that the same is true for him. And since those big things are what attracted us to each other in the first place, I know we'll be okay.

So, change of gear: since I put my original deployment project--writing a historical romance novel--aside due to the fact that I write more than enough at work these days, I am pursuing another goal that I've had for years: learning to play the violin. So far I've had three lessons and can produce a few recognizable, if not perfect, songs. Eventually, I want to focus in on bluegrass and Celtic fiddle tunes. Loving it so far! Practicing gives me something to look forward to every evening.

From my first lesson--hadn't yet begun to learn left hand fingerings at that point!

 I have also returned to doing art on a more regular basis. In June I created a pencil portrait of a friend's in-laws for her father-in-law's birthday.

Hadn't quite finished it in this shot, obviously, but it's almost there. 
Now I'm working on a painting of a good friend and her new husband as a wedding gift. I'll try to post a picture of it when I'm done, since it's in a completely different style.

So, I'm keeping busy and endeavoring to have productive things to show for my time.Onward and Upward.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


They used to be about planning vacations, buying houses, and writing books.

Now they're about final countdowns, surprise homecomings, and the warm body I miss sleeping next to.

Funny how perspective can change.