It has become quite clear to me that if I wrote exactly how I felt about things…someone would be offended. There would be “hate” mail in my email and I would be called a name or two. So, in not wanting to “offend” anyone…I stopped writing.
Well, that’s not exactly fair nor is it the true solution to any cause. If anyone opposes something there should be respect to the opposing view; no matter how crazy it seems to be. My insane idea by your standards may in fact have some truth or resolution when combined with some of your crazy ideas. That’s how things should work, respect and the willingness to listen, evaluate and blend ideas to have a combined look at things to me makes sense.
Not everyone has this view. Some feel they have a right to shove ideology down your throat and say, “That’s the way it is.” I remember when I was a kid and when my parents said stuff like that to me, it did not go very well. Same as an adult. What I find different now is that many don’t take the time to learn the history or background of a situation. They go by what they hear in short bursts of information and spit it back out like its the truth.
Whatever happened to digesting information, finding out the truth of the information or even the sources motivation of the information. It seems that many do not have the time or don’t want to take the time to develop a strong well supported foundation to an argument. Having different views is good, it’s healthy, it’s important.
Where it is not good is when one can be lead blindly because they don’t take the time to think about the history or challenge the motivation of someone.
Moving with the masses is not acceptable, we all have a responsibility to speak up, to express, to respect and challenge.
Here’s the thing….If we don’t, History will repeat its self.
It has been way too long since I have written, anything. I am sitting here counting on my fingers to see how many actual days it has ben since coming back the US; 2 months and a few days. The time seems to be moving by so fast that I can not seem to catch up. I have learned to rely on Dunkin donuts coffee to give me the needed push and move faster mentality that seems to dominate the New England area. I was reminded that New Englanders are full of coffee and sarcasm and they live up to that comment.
There have been so many changes and new things to learn but on the other hand we have been trying to get use to things that never seem to change. I know, crazy, a little bit of seeing new places, stores, malls, and learning where things are but there also a feeling of, “Oh yeah, I remember that” and may favorite, “Really, I can only write a check.” I have not written a check in 3 1/2 years and I do not even have any.
So, the confusion of trying to find a house, try to get use to a new way a living and all the things that come along with that process I am finally feeling comfortable.
With that said, I wish that there were a few things that I could explain to those that live among me in my new area. Do you really have to tailgate me, even in the slow lane? I mean seriously, I am going 65 mph and you seem to either want to join me in my car and have a conversation with me or you really need to get off the exit to go to the bathroom. Later, I learned that neither was the right answer. Going 65 mph was too slow and they wanted to get there before someone else did. I thought maybe they just wanted to read my plates as they were the same ones I used overseas and looked funny among the Patriot frame license plates of Massachusetts. Some people did want to read my plates and they were the ones I would just slow down so they could see them. I found in my rearview mirror one too many drivers leaning way over the steering wheel just trying to catch a glimpse of my plate. Then there were the stalkers, those that would follow me into the parking lot and park near by. As I would get out of my car, they would shout over to me, ” Hey, where are you from, those plates look weird.” It always amazed me how much space they would have between the two of us. It just reminded me that they really must feel safer in the car and not meeting face to face an actual person.
I considered making up stories like, I am from the royal family on vacation but when it came right down to it, they really did not care. They just wanted to know why the plates looked different.
That brings me to the point of everything is different now and we need to adjust to the changes in people, places and things that go on around us. None of it is easy but much of it has been amusing.
One thing is for sure, Coffee is very important, Dunkin Donuts truly has a presence and there are very few people who do not “Run on Dunkins”
I guess the phrase I was given that New Englanders run on 2 things Coffee and sarcasm, they were right on.
Which reminds me, I need to go out and get another cup of coffee, I am all out.
I never thought the day would come that I would be sitting here writing to you about how we made it home. It really did not hit me until we were on the plane, cruising along when the Captain said, ” We are entering American airspace, welcome to the United States of America“. I did not expect the tears of excitement that we flowing down my face as I stared out the window of the plane.
We had been planning this for months, dare I say ever since we got to Germany we had been planning on our trip back to the States. There is just something about being in your own country. I know that if you have been reading this blog that we really enjoyed being in Europe, we traveled, we learned new stuff and even got frustrated with a few things. Overall, we enjoyed being in Europe but coming home just felt right.
I only had one concern, “Would we still like it? It had been told to us that things had changed…a lot. Even still, it did not matter, we would figure it out and enjoy.
I am not sure if it was the jet lag or just the excitement we had but we were smiling, laughing and commenting back and forth to each other how different, wonderful and refreshing it was to be walking in Boston’s Logan Airport. For starters, we could read all the signs, the English language never looked better. I even started to listen in on a conversation that was going on next to me as we walked. I smiled, I could understand every word and frankly decided for them the outcome of their situation. I never reveled that I was ease dropping.
When I saw our name on the sign from the car company that was picking us up, I was thinking about how different our life was starting to become. Some may ask as they read this, “You had a car company pick you up?” Yes, we did as we, my daughter and I, were not moving forward to the next Army installation. We were not going to be a part of the Army system, we were truly going back home to the life we had before we became a part of this Army adventure. Michael would be going on to finish out his time.
With teenage daughter and Lyndie, the dog in tow, we started to go to the car. Michael, was getting a connecting flight to New York helped the driver of the car and us pile the luggage, crate, and us into the black SUV. The smell of the leather seats made me close my eye as I reflected on our new situation.
While driving we broke out into conversation with the driver and his assistant. They were laughing at us. Madison was shrieking in delight with the sight of multiple malls along the highway. Our conversation turned into a tour of the area as we were traveling to our new home, a local hotel where we would be calling home for a few weeks prior to finding a more permanent home. It seemed so surreal as I watched American flags flutter in the breeze over a building or two. It was as if I had come home to visit an old friend that had grown up but never really changed all that much. A friend that seemed happy to see me home.
With all the excitement we had arrived at the hotel way too soon. All I remember was Madison saying was how she wanted to go here and there, then back to here….. all I could see was the flag hanging from the flag pole in the front of the hotel. Fluttering as if to say, “Welcome home.”
I smiled, told Madison we will go everywhere she wanted to go but tonight we sleep.
We filled six cargo crates and now living with borrowed furniture. There are suitcases filled with clothes and we are eating off of paper plates. We have shipped a car and have another one for a few more weeks before it heads back to the States. We are exhausted.
Exhausted would be an understatement but as many other faithful military family wives have said to me,” The light at the end of the tunnel is here, cheer up.” It made me stop and think about the families that do this as a career. They move all the time, every three years to zig zag around the world to serve our country. They do it with kids, animals and husbands who sometimes are heading off to the latest war. It made me wonder, how many people really realize what goes on within the military family unit?
It is truly a way of life. One that is full of ups and downs that can not be defined or explained to someone who has not been there or lived the experience. I never really gave it much thought before we, I mean, he, signed up to serve in the Army.
And that brings me to the point of, when he serves, the family serves too. We are subjected to the ups and downs of deployments, changing of duty stations (PCS) and all that goes along with being uprooted from family, friends and even ones own country.
Frankly, it has not been easy and in many ways I am extremely grateful to have had this experience but am really looking forward to going home in more ways than one. Home means that we will no longer be subject to the ways of the Military. I do not have to wake up to bullets being shot at ranges that are near by, hearing mortars that make the houses shake, seeing soldiers everyday running in formation and chanting while running PT (physical fitness) at 5:30am, trying to negotiate driving behind a convoy of stykers or military vehicle’s, learning military time ( which I never really got), showing ID’s at checkpoints or standing at attention facing the flag at 1700 (5:00pm) everyday. I also will not have to watch the busses of soldiers leave in the morning going to war and knowing that some may not return, will not need to learn how to explain to my daughter that some of her friends dads/moms are not coming home, that I had a special letter for her in the dresser draw in case I get a visit telling me her Dad is gone. I can stop worrying about being blackout from the internet and wonder who was just injured, hurt or killed. Better yet, I will not have to go to another funeral. I will not have to worry about getting a speeding ticket on post and have it affect my husband. Mostly I will be able to go about doing what ever I want, where ever I want because I live in a free country, I live in the United States.
How do I go about thanking all those who have helped me go though this experience?
How do I tell them that the kind words, the help, the smiles and patience they had for me truly made me see a small picture of a world that so many judge, justify or do not even acknowledge exists?
All I can say to them is THANK YOU! It is simple, pure and full on the love that the words are meant to share. I know that I will see some of them again, somewhere, either on face book, on television, in person or by chance. I have built a new family that shares a special bond .
With a tear in my eye and pride in my heart, I am grateful for them and the great nation they serve.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.
1. Ausfahrt isn’t funny anymore, and roundabouts are second nature.2. You no longer mind the person behind or next to you only giving you half an inch of space.3. 2 hrs for dinner is “fast food”. …4. You judge mustard by how well it opens your sinuses.5. Jumping across the border to get away for the day is no big deal.6. You reach for the Jägermeister instead of Pepto Bismol.7. You think family pictures taken at a castle are “so cliche.”8. You forgot how to use round doorknobs.9. You forget how to flush a toilet that doesn’t have a push button.10. 100 MPH seems like you’re driving really, really slow.11. You no longer think it is strange that beer and water are the same price.12. You never go shopping off base without a shopping bag or VAT form.13. You NEVER shop on payday or the day before a German holiday.14. You never leave home without your keys, ID card, license, and passport.15. You think anything with chocolate sounds like a good breakfast.16. You think it is natural to pass Army tanks on the highway.17. You answer the phone “Hallo” instead of Hello.18. You need a power drill and sledgehammer to hang a picture on the wall.19. You rig your lawnmower and vacuum cleaner to give you an electrical shock if you try to operate them on Sundays.20. You no longer even want ketchup for your French Fries.21. Christmas is incomplete without Gluhwein at a castle.22. You sing “Tschüss” instead of say Good Bye.23. Your children no longer say please or thank you … it is bitte and danke.24. You wonder how you ever lived without Rolladens.25. You wear a scarf every single day …. even in the summer.26. You plan your route around ESSO locations.27. You believe AFN is quality programming.28. You own shoes just for walking …. and know you will walk everywhere.29. You no longer need google translate at the grocery store and last least ….30. You have said out loud at least once …. Damn Americans!!
They told me the big black Lab’s name was Reggie, as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, no-kill, and the people really friendly. I’d only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street. But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn’t hurt. Give me someone to talk to. And I had just seen Reggie’s advertisement on the local news.
The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn’t look like “Lab people,” whatever that meant. They must’ve thought I did. But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes and a sealed letter from his previous owner.
See, Reggie and I didn’t really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike. I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that.
“Okay, Reggie,” I said out loud, “let’s see if your previous owner has any advice.”
To Whomever Gets My Dog:
Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. I’m not even happy writing it. He knew something was different. So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.
First, he loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hoards them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn’t done it yet. Doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll bound after them, so be careful. Don’t do it by any roads.
Next, commands. Reggie knows the obvious ones —“sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.” He knows hand signals, too: He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business.
Feeding schedule: twice a day, regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand. He’s up on his shots. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car. I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he knows.
Finally, give him some time. It’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially. And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you…His name’s not Reggie. He’s a smart dog, he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name.
But if someone is reading this … well it means that his new owner should know his real name. His real name is “Tank.” Because, that is what I drive. I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander.
You see, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could’ve left Tank with .. and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter … in the “event” … to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption.
Luckily, my CO is a dog-guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he’d do it personally. And if you’re reading this, then he made good on his word.
Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family, too, and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me. If I have to give up Tank to keep those terrible people from coming to the US I am glad to have done so. He is my example of service and of love.
I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades. All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. Maybe I’ll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.
Good luck with Tank.
Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight – every night – from me.
Thank you, Paul Mallory
I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure, I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies.
Flags had been at half-mast all summer.
I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog.
“Hey, Tank,” I said quietly. The dog’s head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright.
He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn’t heard in months.
“Tank,” I whispered.
His tail swished. I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood him.
I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.
“It’s me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me.” Tank reached up and licked my cheek.
“So whatdaya say we play some ball?” His ears perked again. “Yeah? Ball? You like that? Ball?”
Tank tore from my hands and disappeared into the next room.
And when he came back, he had three tennis balls in his mouth.
The other day I read this post, “Could we please get gas for under $3.20?” I realized that the question was an innocent one, one that was full of exasperation as gas prices are extremely high. Though my response to the post was probably not exactly what the person asking the question may have been referring to. If you want to to get gas Overseas at United States prices and you are in the Military, you are rationed it or pay double the price; the economy price.
Rationed gas? Really, you ask. Yes, it surprised me too when I first landed overseas but now it is an everyday realization that if you want to get gas your option is to go to the military installation gas station and fill up. There is only one station and the price, is the price. No options, no competing stations, no specials. You get what they have at the price they post and that is it. Period. Another option is to go to designated gas stations that accepts your ration card and not all gas stations accept the rations card.
When you get your gas and pay for it you need to present your card that has your rations for the vehicle predetermined on it and it will calculate how much gas you have left for the rest of the month. Your predetermined amount is granted to you when you register your vehicle and is calculated by an average monthly usage for the type of vehicle you own.
If you go over the rationed amount you pay what everyone else does on the economy and that price is usually double. Sounds fair, right?
I am not so sure but Here’s the thing, Americans love their big SUV‘s. I love mine as it carries everything. Over here, we have stopped using it as much as we did in the States and have taken up a more conservative view on gas intake. Using public transportation when we need to, think twice before we travel somewhere and make many stops along the way and even have bought a more cost conservative vehicle that gets great mileage. So, in one way by being “forced” to think about my gas consumption has made me more aware of how much I use.
On the other hand, I miss the freedom that I had to “shop around” to various gas stations and use my vehicle as I wish and not have to worry about how much it will cost me. I miss the days of taking long drives to where ever. That freedom seems to have been taken away and admittedly I miss it.
I am not sure if it is because I am locked to a certain rationed gas amount or that I enjoyed the freedom of doing what I wanted, when I wanted without the concern of how much gas I used.
Then again, with gas at $3.20 or more in some States, I may be more compelled to think before I hit the “freedom of the road.”