Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Typhoid. Or maybe Malaria. Or Small pox, perhaps.

I think Will brought home some sort of Taliban goat farmer desert disease. For a week now the two younger kids and I have had blinding headaches which occasionally produce unexpected vomiting. There's nothing more fun than surprise vomit!

But mostly it's just a headache that never goes away.

So I haven't written lately. Obviously.

Tomorrow (or possibly Thursday) I'll start posting some of the guest posts.

Thanks to everyone who has submitted something. And it's not too late to send one in! I'll be posting them off and on over the next two weeks.

(But honestly, Will's been on leave for less than a day now and we're already bickering. So, I may be here more than I planned just to get a break. We'll see.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Reintegration revisited.

So, Will has been home for five days, and is on day four of reintegration training.

Remember when I talked about sitting through hours of briefings and Power Point slides and warnings that he might try to kill us or buy a motorcycle?

Well, when the soldiers get home, they immediately begin seven consecutive partial work days where they go in to hear all the same stuff. While one purpose is to get the information out there and have a chance to get some necessary paperwork and medical screenings done, its bigger purpose to ease the transition home. Going to work for a few hours a day for a week is far less jarring than being gone for a year to suddenly being home 24/7.

And as I've discovered this week, I need it just as much as he does. Maybe more. I might be the one who attempts to murder him.

I've been doing my own thing on my own schedule for the past year. If I wanted to see what my friends are up to on Facebook, I did. If I wanted to blog, I did. If I decided to shampoo the carpet some random morning, I could. But now he's home. Just hanging out. ALL THE TIME. Most of me wants to spend every second with him and soak up his being home-ness. But part of me wants to read blogs and Facebook for awhile without feeling guilty for neglecting him.

These hours he's at work give me time to myself. And I need it.

Also, now that the first heady days of reunion are over, the same things about him that annoyed me before he left are still annoying. (And I'm sure the same is true for him.) And living in a crap hole (literally!) for a year can lead to some bad habits. After his first dinner home, he swiped a big pile of crumbs from the table to the floor. Deliberately. Like our dining room was suddenly Medieval Times.

There may have been some yelling about common courtesy and what are you thinking, you barbarian??? I'll never tell.

He came home about 20 minutes ago. In that time he's interrupted me to show me a box (just a box...just because it was folded oddly), a cord, a stuffed dragon (really?), to tell me stories about riding the bus this morning at work, and to ask if we were out of chips.



So the moral of the story?

They say the week of reintegration is for the soldier. I am discovering that it's more for me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Now that I don't have to edit for the terrorists, I can tell you that Will got home on Sunday night.

You've all seen heart warming videos and pictures of homecomings, I'm sure. I've sobbed over seen them many times myself. And a lot of it was heartwarming and wonderful and tear inducing. But let me tell you, it is not all hugs and cheers. Really, by the time we were able to get in our van and drive home, I felt like it would have been better if they had just sent everyone home in cab and forgone the ceremony all together.

The first time he deployed, he was by himself--not deploying with a whole brigade like this time. When he got home, we drove to the airport and picked him up at the curb. I would take that any day over the ordeal Sunday night.

Before I get into all the sordid details of that night, let me give you the heart warming part. (The still shots are stolen from the brigade's Facebook page. Every electronic device I brought was mysteriously sapped of all power and died hours before the plane landed. The video was taken by Ben. My apologies.)

(The things in their hands are yellow roses.)

Now, the parts that sucked.

His flight was scheduled to land at 5:30 PM. We were told we had to be there by 3:30 for various reasons. So, we packed a couple of back packs with dinner and books and crayons and other stuff to keep three kids entertained for a couple of hours and off we went.

We arrived at the hangar and they had the heaters blowing full blast. That would have been great if it hadn't been 70 degrees outside with 90% humidity.

But, Will was coming home! It was totally worth sweating in a crowded room with several hundred other sweaty people for a couple of hours.

Fast forward two long hours. The kids are done. I'm done. Everyone in the whole hangar is done. And sweaty.

But, Will was coming home! It was totally worth being crammed onto uncomfortable bleachers for hours with cranky, tired kids and adults with zero common courtesy and other people's children who needed a roundhouse kick to the head.

And lo! We heard a plane land! We were a bit confused because they were supposed to send us out so we could see it land. But whatever. The plane had landed!

Except it didn't. Someone got on the microphone to tell us it was a different plane. And oh, by the way, the plane we were waiting for was delayed an hour in Indianapolis.

Finally they announced that they could see the plane approaching and we were all sent outside to watch it land and see the soldiers file off. And as we all stood there watching, the skies opened up and drenched us all in a torrential downpour.

We filed back in, wet and cold, but happy that it was all finally over.

The soldiers marched in, a General said a few words, and then they were released to be with their families for a few minutes.

I have no picture or video of this because Ben was in charge of filming. What I have is a five minute video of the floor.

After 15 minutes or so, they sent the soldiers off to turn in weapons and other assorted things and bused the families back to where our cars were and where the soldiers would be sent to pick up their baggage.

We knew it would take some time, but we did not expect it to take an hour and a half. Except that it did.

And after all that waiting, the soldiers finally arrived at the second location, only to discover that more than 100 bags were missing. Including Will's.

So, we waited another 45 minutes for him to fill out the necessary paperwork to get his bags back. Someday. If they ever found them.

Six hours after our arrival, we finally headed home. We were all exhausted. The kids were sent to bed. We went to bed.

And we all had a lovely, peaceful night's rest.

Except we didn't.

We were woken in the middle of the night by tornado sirens. So, the five of us crammed into our tiny half bath to wait out the storm. Will compared it to being in a bunker during rocket attacks.

To quote Ben, "Why are we cursed?"

So there you have it. Our heart warming, exhausting, frustrating, sweaty, tornado filled homecoming tale.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

One is the lonliest number.

Except when it's the awesomest number.


114-ish days ago

Friday, January 20, 2012

Help Wanted

So, I was going to write about how I think there's a serial killer dressed as Santa hiding in my house, but I have a blinding migraine (maybe the killer is poisoning me!), so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

If he doesn't dismember me by then, that is.

But I did want to get this plea for your guest posts out there today.

My husband should finally be home sometime this weekend. Next week he has to go into work every single day (including the weekend), so I'll still be writing to keep myself occupied. But the following week he begins two weeks of leave. I don't plan to be on here very much during those two weeks. So, my dear internets, I need you. I need your guest posts.

They can be about anything you like. And you there--yeah, you! The one thinking you can't write very well--yes you CAN. You can write just fine.

And hey, the last time I had someone guest post, it was featured on BlogHer.

So, send them in! (brandidouglass@gmail.com)

Now I'm going to go lie in a dark room before my eyeballs explode.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guys, this is actually kind of important.

Arrrr, mateys. Piracy is bad, but censorship is worse.

So, you may have heard about SOPA/PIPA. No, it's not a Mexican dish. Trust me, I was just as disappointed as you are to find that out.

SOPA and PIPA are proposed bills that are meant to help fight online piracy. That sounds good, right? It is. Except, this is the US government we're talking about. Our government is the master of taking something good and fracking it all up.

If either is passed, the US government will have the power to--without trial or legal recourse--block any website it feels infringes in any way on a copyright. And we're not just talking about one individual site--we're talking the host as well.

For example, the title of my last post was "Crow: The other white meat." Anyone who has seen TV in the past 20 years knows that that was a play on the slogan for pork ("Pork: The other white meat"). If the people on the Pork Council [I dare you to say Pork Council out loud without giggling] decided that my title was somehow harmful to them or taking away their income, they could file a complaint.

The government would then have the power to not only block this blog, but ALL OF BLOGSPOT. All because my title is sorta kinda like the pork slogan.

And legally there is little that could be done if that happened.

Here's a video by some of your favorite internet people about what the bills mean and how they could--and WILL-- affect you.

And HERE'S a post from my internet boyfriend, Wil Wheaton, about it. I like his take on it because he is one of the people this bill is meant to protect.

Oh, and check out The Oatmeal, too. Just for the giggles.

This isn't some internet panic over something not likely to happen. These are real bills with millions of dollars in backing from the movie and music industries. They will be voted on in six days.

The internet is where I live. It's where my friends live. I will pretty much cease to exist if blogs and Facebook go away.

Contact your congressmen. Tell them to vote NO on SOPA/PIPA.

Do it for the internet. Do it for me. Do it for the kittens.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crow: The other white meat.

  • "Poorly behaved children are that way because they have lazy parents."
  • "The worst that could happen is that he gets sent to Bosnia for six months."
  • "I will never be one of those people who gains weight back after gastric bypass."
  • "I can't possibly get pregnant--I'm infertile."
  • "If I ever had to pay $3.50 a gallon for gas, I'd take public transportation."
  • "No one will ever read it anyway."
  • "Thirty-five seems so...old."
  • "Of course it's true!"
  • "Why do we need anything faster than dial-up?"
  • "They can't keep him there for more than a year."

So, internets, what are some the most naively stupid things
you've ever said?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Starving children don't have to worry about fat pants.

Let me preface this post by saying I know that I have a relatively easy life. I have a house with ample space, plenty of food, two working vehicles, (mostly) healthy kids, my husband's job is secure, I have the option to stay home rather than work. I went to college. No one is beating me. I don't have to put my mad pole dancing skills to use to put food on the table. I have access to good health care. I have friends and family who love me. I'm lucky. I know it.

I know that there are people living in horrific situations. I know there are starving children. I know there are people dying of illnesses. Any hardship I might be enduring is nothing in comparison. I acknowledge that.

And now that that's out of the way, screw the starving children! I don't care about them or the horrible situations others are in right now. I am unabashedly, shamelessly, selfishly feeling sorry for myself.

A few months ago I had a minor Lupus flare up. I kept it on the down-low because the people who would worry the most about it had other things to worry about. Like not getting blown up. It's mostly gone now, but it's left me tired. The steroids I had to take have packed on yet another 15 pounds, thinned my hair considerably, and have given me a lovely fat-filled hump on my back. At least Quasimodo got to live in Paris. My hump and I are stuck in Hicksville, Tennessee. The accompanying arthritis is still lingering. The stretches of days when I don't write? It's not because I have nothing to say. It's because my knuckles are so stiff and swollen it hurts to type.

My quiet, lovely neighborhood is rapidly becoming "the hood." Remember on Halloween when my neighbor yelled, "Hide the weed! The popo's here!" when Liam went to their door dressed as a cop? Well, last night the popo dragged that same neighbor off in handcuffs. And last Saturday there was a meth lab explosion a few streets away. Ben took it upon himself to explain what a meth lab is to Liam and Amelia, and now Liam thinks selling drugs is a dangerous yet viable career choice if he's not accepted into the Justice League.

And this morning I awoke to yet another e-mail letting me know that Will's flight out of Afghanistan has been delayed another two days in addition to the five they'd already tacked on. I know it's only a week extra. I know. But my brain, my body, and my will to keep functioning have all gone on strike.

This is basically how it went down this morning:

Me: "O.K., brain, body, will to keep functioning--I know promises were made. I know you thought a break was coming. Things happened. We've got ten more days to get through. Maybe more."

B, B, WtKF: "Look, bitch. We had an agreement. We were told a year. The year is up. We're going to be over here on the couch watching Project Runway and eating chimichangas. You're on your own."

So, that's where I'm at right now.

If you tell me to look on the bright side, I will punch you square in the taco.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'll have something to say about this. I just don't know what yet.

Ben is on the "Black History Quiz Bowl" team.
Everyone on the team is white.

Monday, January 9, 2012

From bad to twisted.

So, I had high hopes for today. It was supposed to be the one-week mark until Will comes home.

Except that it wasn't.

I woke to an e-mail telling me that his replacement was delayed, therefore he would also be delayed. For five additional days.

I know those of you who have never been through a deployment are probably thinking, "It stinks, but really, Brandi, it's only five days. It's not like they added five months." And you would be half right. It is only five days. It could be so much worse. Back when the war in Iraq was in its early days, a friend of ours was deployed there for a year. He came home, and two days later they told him he immediately had to go back for three more months. So, I'm grateful that it's only five days.

BUT. When you're down to six or seven days and they suddenly double it on you, it feels like they added a year. Adding links to a countdown chain sucks. And while the replacements are hanging out on a beach on the Mediterranean while they wait for a working plane, Will gets to spend more time in a leaky, cold tent on the shore of a raw sewage lake, taking cold showers and using a porta potty because he's already been kicked out of his room.

So, needless to say, the day started out craptastically.

But then I ended up getting stuck in traffic for thirty miles behind a car that had a bumper sticker that said, "I will butt**** your soul." Except there were no asterisks, and it rhymes with truck. I was equal parts curious and scared.

When I got home I did a search to see if it came from a movie or something. Surely there had to be some reason someone had it on the back window of their PT Cruiser.

And that's how I discovered Action Figure Therapy.

You guys. Watch these.

There's A LOT (really, a lot) of language, so if you're the easily offended type, you should probably go read your scriptures instead. But for the rest of you, set aside an hour and watch them all. It took my day from depressed to hysterical laughter in four minutes flat.

The first one is the one that spawned the bumper sticker, and the second made me laugh so hard I may or may not have peed a little. There are tons of them, though, and they're all funny.

On a scale of one to ten, what's the blasphemy level for thinking God placed that profane bumper sticker in front of me for thirty miles just to brighten my day?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Human trafficking, American Girl Doll style.

So, I related a story about my daughter's escaped-slave American Girl doll on Facebook. The whole idea of a slave doll concerned one of my friends. So, I posted the link to the doll's story, thinking that the inspirational tale of her brave escape to reunite her family would soothe any concerns she might have.

I was wrong.

What she found only disturbed her further.

(Click to embiggen)

I can now add slave owner to my long list of accomplishments.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

There are no walk-throughs in real life.

So, Ben bought a new video game with his Christmas money. During the school week I don't allow the kids to play video games, but over vacation I let them play as much as they wanted during their designated TV time. Ben spent every second of it playing his new game.

I noticed that every half an hour or so he'd pause the game and get on the internet. I realized he was looking up how to beat the levels.

I'm not sure why, but it really annoyed me. So I forced him to sit through a long winded lecture we had a talk.

One of the reasons I'm not vehemently opposed to video games like some people is because they teach you to problem solve. This particular game he was playing required a lot of problem solving and using what you'd been taught as the game progressed.

But he was skipping all the thinking and problem solving.

There are no walk-throughs in real life! At some point in time you're going to be stuck without access to Google or your GPS or your parents or teachers and you're going to have to figure out what to do based on your knowledge and experience alone.

Just like a video game gives you training and tools to complete a challenge, real life gives you parents and school and life experience--they are your training and the things you learn are your tools. But unlike the video game, when you get stuck in real life you can't just push the pause button to look up how to complete the level. You have to keep trying and trying until you figure it out.

There are going to be days where it's nothing but turtle shells coming at you. But you keep going. You could spend years of your life thinking you're about to win only to be repeatedly told that the princess is in another castle.

But you can't just quit the game. And you can't spend your life taking the easy way out and expect to learn how to beat the Big Boss.

So I banned walk-throughs and cheat codes. Ben thinks I'm the most unreasonable parent on earth, but I think it's one more step toward making him a self sufficient, functioning member of society. King Koopa has great balls of fire*, and I want my kids to have the knowledge and experience necessary to figure out how to defeat him on their own.

*The kids were watching some Mario Bros. show on Netflix, and Luigi said, "We'll never defeat King Koopa! He has great balls of fire!" Liam, perplexed, asked, "How do they know he has great balls of fire? He's wearing pants!"

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Five Love Languages of Brandi

With the exception of my husband and kids, I'm not very good at expressing (or receiving) affection. It's not that I don't feel it--I do. I just don't know what to do with it. I'm not a hugger. Compliments, even when I really mean them, feel awkward. And coming right out and saying how I feel about someone just makes me feel ooky and uncomfortable and paralyzes me with anxiety.

If you're not an immediate family member and I've ever hugged you, sincerely complimented you, or said anything remotely close to "I like you and I think you're great," then you can be pretty certain I'd give you a kidney if you needed one. I like my kidneys, so that's a big deal.

But besides those very rare occurrences of blatant affection, there are other ways that I show I like you. You just might not realize it.

1. Texting: I text you without a specific purpose. Setting up a play date via text doesn't mean I like you. Texting you that I'm contemplating homicide and need you to either talk me out of it or be my accomplice does. (Extra affection points if we've ever come close to sexting.)

2. Facebook: If I like your statuses or comment on them, it means I like you enough that I haven't hidden your posts. If I've gone the extra mile and posted something on your wall (Happy Birthday not withstanding), I obviously think you're extra special. If we belong to more than one mutual secret or closed Facebook group, odds are pretty good I'd consider taking a bullet for you. Maybe.

3. Blogging: I read your blog/comment on your blog/have your blog in my blogroll/have blogged about you. Any of them qualify. The more categories you fall into, the more I like you.

4. Insults: If I have ever insulted you to your face, obviously I love you. If I don't like you, I do it behind your back. On that same note, if I have ever bitched about someone to you, you can be certain I haven't bitched about you to someone else. I do have some standards.

5. Secrets: In many ways I'm an open book. (Hi! I started my period yesterday! The cramps are intense and the clots are golf ball sized!), but in many other ways I'm fiercely private. If you know things about me that I haven't shared with the general public, that's pretty much the equivalent of me giving you a full bodied hug accompanied by an open mouthed kiss. The more you know, the more tongue down your throat.

So there you have it. The jig is up. I'm not the feelingless, heartless robot you thought I was. And if you ever question if I really like you, now you know all you have to do is look at Facebook. Each of those thumbs-up is like a tiny hug from me to you.