Tuesday, May 4
I hoped when I started keeping this journal that it would help me sort through all of the mental and emotional chaos occasioned by Dan’s deployment. I didn’t expect all the positive feedback I’ve gotten from people who’ve read it, and neither did I expect it to make people angry, but apparently it has done. We got a message on the voice mail at the paper today from a gal who said she’d never read SHR before, and was never going to read it again, and she didn’t know who had written the Letter from the Editor (uhhh . . .), but we ought to be more careful in screening our writers in the future (!). People, she said, were tearing up copies of the paper where she was because they were so disgusted with the column—it was obviously just a Republican with sour grapes because Kerry was going to be in the White House in November—and she had somebody in the military too. (This in a tone that seemed to indicate that it gave her and the people with her the right to vandalize the paper). She declined to leave her name. Well! It sort of left me stunned, and then it made me laugh. But it’s good to know that people are reading and reacting—even if they violently disagree.
Sunday, May 16
M came over for breakfast this morning, and we put together care packages for Dan and S. Between postage and contents, I’ve spent a small fortune on care packages already, and I’ve only sent three. The post-office lets soldiers send mail for free, and I’ve noticed a funny sense of entitlement cropping up in myself over the cost of mail—a feeling that they “ought to” give us (soldier’s families) free mail as well. I have observed that feeling of entitlement in our society at large (McDonald’s “ought to” have warned me that the coffee was hot, but since they didn’t, they “ought to” give me lots of money) but it’s a little disquieting to see it in myself. The feeling that society owes me something is definitely one to be squashed.
People have been good to us—our church, Dan’s coworkers, and various friends have all sent care packages. Even a local grade-school class has “adopted” Dan, and he loved receiving a letter and a drawing from every kid in the class. Knowing that people care enough to take the time and spend the money is at least as helpful and encouraging as the physical contents of the packages.
Wednesday, May 19
Communication continues to be a struggle. His letters come so long after I’ve written mine that it’s virtually impossible to carry on a conversation in that form. Email is better, but not perfect—it’s still very disjointed, as he can’t check his email every day, and he doesn’t always answer my questions when he does check it. The telephone works much better as far as immediacy of feedback goes, but it carries its own set of difficulties. There are two sets of phones—one that’s prohibitively expensive, and one that has a fifteen-minute time limit. That’s not fifteen minutes of talking time, but fifteen minutes from when Dan steps in to the little phone booth to when he steps out of it. With the time it takes to dial the phone company, and his pin number, and our number, and my cell phone if no one’s home, our talking time is often considerably less than fifteen minutes. That, combined with the three or four second gap between when he speaks and when I hear him (and vice versa), tends to make phone calls really frustrating for me. I often feel lonelier when I get off the phone than I was before he called. Our church got together recently and sent Dan some phone cards for the more expensive phone, so this morning we got to talk for fifty-five minutes. It made my week. Ending a conversation on a positive note makes it much easier to wait a while for the next one.
One of the things we’ve been struggling to communicate on in a timely fashion is registering Dan for some online classes. Thank goodness for that Power of Attorney! I’d be lost without it. I’ve successfully registered him for a summer class at the local community college, and my next task is to apply (for him) to Central Texas College, which has a much greater number of degree-applicable online classes than the local cc.
Tuesday, May 25
As Dan is fond of telling me when I get steamed over some particularly egregious disorganization, the Army publishes a schedule so they have something to make changes to. He gave me tentative R&R dates back in the beginning of April, which I totally ignored, because a tentative date in the Army is worth about as much as ice in Alaska. Two weeks later, he gave me dates which he said were definite enough that even he was counting on them. So I waited a week, then called his mother and put it on the calendar. The next day I got an email: “Everyone's R&R got screwed up at the brigade level. I don't know when I'll get it yet.” Of course! Two weeks later, we had a third set of dates, and now, a week after that, not only is there no date, but the word on the street is that there may not be R&R. It’s all so far off that I honestly don’t care one way or the other. If other people weren’t getting upset about it, I think I’d laugh. The lengths of time involved in this deployment—six months till R&R, a year to eighteen months till he comes home—are too big for me to really get my mind around. It’s like talking about six billion people, or four trillion dollars. They just don’t seem real.