Sunday, February 28, 2010


Every day there is something that makes me miss Gunnar so intensely I feel like I can't breathe for a second.  For the last week, I've been assembling a few new pieces of furniture (big ones with a hundred pieces, of course) and doing some work around the house.  All of these activities really made me wish he was around, not just to help carry the heavy stuff and turn the screwdriver some of the time, but to help decide which picture looks best on which wall, and to enjoy the place with me when I've finished.  I have a few battle wounds - blisters from screwing dozens of nails into wood pieces etc but the real kick in the pants was trying to open a stupid bottle of maple syrup!  I decided I like my kids well enough to buy them real maple syrup (have you ever read the ingredients on Mrs. Butterworth's?  It's just so wrong!) and I swear it took me 20 minutes to get the top off of it.  I am stubborn by nature, and I really couldn't let the syrup win the battle but I really could not open the sucker!

While I'm struggling with all this my 3 year old says "You should call Daddy, he is a big strong man.  He can help you Mommy.  You should call him right now."  Oh hell.  How am I supposed to keep it together when I hear things like that?  Anyway, eventually the kids got syrup on their pancakes but damn - it just would have been nice to have a little help.

Then yesterday, I took the kids for a walk/jog (who am I kidding - it was mostly walking!) after dinner and I saw a girl trying awkwardly to hang a banner from the front porch.  Of course it was a "Welcome Home Daddy!" banner.  I could tell she was struggling to I asked if she needed a hand, which she accepted.  The poor girl couldn't swing a hammer to save her life, and I got the banner hung in a matter of minutes.  I asked a few open-ended questions, just to have a chat with someone with whom I obviously have a lot in common.  She wasn't too receptive really and she didn't even tell me her name!  So there was another failed attempt at being friendly around here.  I apparently don't make friends too easily, I'm realizing.  Anyway, I was a little jealous that she gets her husband back tomorrow.  I'm sure he's been gone a year, just like mine will be, but it just made me miss Gunnar that much more yesterday.

Friday, February 26, 2010


I talked to Gunnar for a half hour or so the other morning.  Aside from the usual laments about general disdain for the Afghan community he is surrounded by, he is actually doing some pretty neat things over there.  Previously most of his missions were patrolling the town, occasional Taliban body snatching, running checkpoints, and standing guard over the town's bazaar.  Since then, Gunnar has been promoted (which makes me so freaking proud of him - you don't even know) and has been in charge of running these missions.  He generally is put in charge of 5-7 other guys and he takes the responsibility really seriously.  I guess there is a strong effort to make nice with the townspeople recently though so some the the focus has shifted too.  Gunnar took an interpreter with him and just the two of them went into town and chatted with one of the town elders.  They drank chai and talked for a few hours.  This is the type of thing he is doing over there.  It all makes very little sense to me and every time I hear stuff like this I think it's all just so crazy over there.  It's definitely a very ancient civilization, not much more than huts or shacks to live in, tented bazaars in the middle of the town, and sheep and goats everywhere you look.  There are a lot of AK-47s too, and old yellow Toyota station wagons.  There are very loose traffic guidelines and no one to enforce them.  To hear Gunnar tell me stories of 4-5 kids riding in the trunks of cars, and 9 full grown men riding in the front and back seats, just makes me shake my head.  Sometimes (I know this is bad) it makes me laugh so hard - not to make fun of these people, but just at the level of ridiculousness of the whole place.  And how can our military fix crazy shit like that?  I mean really?  We can try to take out as much of the Taliban as possible, but that is a huge and very widespread network of bad guys.  Did you know that more than 90% of the world's opium (used to make heroin) is grown in Afghanistan?  And the A-stan president's brother is the one in charge of it?  It's corrupt, it's ridiculous, and it would take 100 years to undo what's been done over there.  But I guess in the meantime, Gunnar will be sipping chai, and making new friends with old men.  This stuff is crazy!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To Decorate or Not to Decorate - that is the question

I've been keeping myself busy the last few days (well, trying to anyway) working on some home improvement projects.  I really like our house on post.  It was very apartment-ish though with all the white wall, white blinds, white linoleum and beige carpet.  I had Gus's room set up pretty early on because he already had lots of colorful things to use, curtains my mom made, paintings my sister made etc.  But the general living area is pretty dull.  We have one gigantic room that is the dining and living room and it was just big and plain and echo-y with the lack of decor.  So I started installing curtain rods, buying and hanging curtains and wow!  What a huge change!  It's really starting to look more like a home and less like a place we're just staying at for a bit.  Then last night I was admiring my handiwork and was struck with the thought that Gunnar will be coming home to a totally different place than he left.  It made me so sad to think of it that way.  It seems totally ridiculous to not buy a new rug, some curtains and new bedding (can I get a hell yeah for tax returns?) so this place is welcoming and comforting and cozy for me and the kids.  But a big huge part of me wants this place to be exactly the same for him. 

I wonder if it would bother him if he went to grab a dish towel and can't find them because I decided 7 months ago I like them in a different drawer.  Would he be upset about things like that?  Every time I buy a new article of clothing for the kids I think of Gunnar seeing them in it and not even recognizing it because it wasn't here when he left.  Those are things that would really bother me if I were away for a long time.  I don't know why, but they would. 

I guess I've made up my mind that I am going to get this place looking good and not waiting for Gunnar to go shopping with me for area rugs.  I really hope he likes what I'm doing with the place.  The curtains I ended up with look more feminine than I anticipated but they were a pain in the ass to hang so they're staying put, dammit.  To make up for all the floral I got sleek modern bedding that I think he'll really like! 

It's too early right now, but once I get around to hanging pictures, I'll post some pictures of the place. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

And We're Back

Back in North Carolina enjoying the warm February sun.  Ok, so I have to admit the weather around here is pretty awesome.  I was so happy to wake up and not see snow!  It had been quite a while since that happened.  So in the deployment world, we are 4 months (the same amount of time he was in training this summer) into this nonsense and still making it through.  Gunnar's birthday was yesterday and he called us and a few other people too.  Apparently the signal for the satellite phone that he uses had been upgraded somehow and we were able to have a clear conversation for the first time in months.  Usually the call is dropped several times and Gunnar ends up quite frustrated.  He is definitely not in love with Afghanistan or the Afghan people.  He hasn't had a day off since moving to the new Combat OutPost and is completely exhausted.  His days generally consist of building the COP during the day, and going out on patrol each night.  Basically that leaves him with very little time to eat or sleep and subsequently he is losing a lot of weight and the grumpiest I may have ever heard him. 

People ask me pretty frequently if Gunnar regrets his decision to re-enlist.  There's a lot of complicated ways to answer that.  And no really clear answer.  Some days, hell yes he regrets it.  But most days the pros outweigh the cons and we just keep looking forward to being back together.  There are a lot of perks to the military lifestyle in general, the biggest drawback being these long separations.  Our future still is a big huge question mark.  We are going to have to decide if Gunnar is going to re-enlist in a different MOS, stay Infantry, finish these 3 years and get out of active duty, enlist in the Reserves.  Lots of things to consider.  Right now I am just trying to get through this stupid deployment and get him home safe and sound. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No News = Good News, except not really

So it's been a few weeks since last talking to Gunnar.  I know logically and practically that if something were to go terribly wrong if Afghanistan, I would know about it pretty darned quick.  But these huge gaps in communication make me worry still.  This is so far the longest we've gone without speaking or instant messaging or something.  And basically I'm just not dealing with it all that well.  I will never get used to this.  The first few months of the deployment weren't that bad, compared to now.  We were talking on a semi-regular basis and still seeing pictures of Gunnar and his platoon frequently.  Now, I got nothing.  No idea how he is or what he's doing.  There was a recent update by the commander that said Gunnar's company just got hot showers for the first time in weeks.  Some of them are even turning their port-a-potties into makeshift showers.  Seriously?!  Is this the best the United States Army can do for it's soldiers?  Seems pathetic to me!  I can only imagine what the conditions are really like.  I assume that the information we get is filtered many times and that they only tell us what they want us to hear, which isn't much. 

The good news is, we made it past the 3 month mark.  Seems like a decent milestone in the grand scheme of things.  In a few more months (dates uncertain) Gunnar will get to come home for 2 weeks for his R&R break.  I'm definitely counting down the days till he gets here, and already dreading having to say goodbye to him again.