Friday, August 30, 2013

Taking Stock

Every now and then I step back for a moment and realize just how far I've come. I am really quite proud of myself for where I am in life right now, and I guarantee that is not something I'd have said two years ago.

Today I am over a year through a Masters program, and I will graduate in May. This means that in a five year span I'd have graduated highschool, college, and graduate school. That's a pretty impressive task, if I do say so myself. Especially for all that happened along the way.

My freshman year started and my boy was sent to Germany. He remained stationed there for over two years, and deployed out of there in the winter of my sophomore year. My freshman year was typical of a very depressed, lonely girl. I drank too much, made bad decisions that ultimately came to pass and everything is okay. I didn't realize at the time that I was forming friendships, because at the time it just felt lonely and sad and scary. I was kind of a mess.

Then sophomore year came. I was rooming with a friend from band. That was great. I had officially been with my boy for 2 years and seen him all of 88 days (yes, I counted). We got engaged just before he deployed to Afghanistan. Shortly after our engagement, I began my study abroad adventures in Spain (see: beginning of this blog). In the two weeks between getting engaged and studying abroad, I was raped. I did nothing. I did not press charges, I did not go to the authorities. I left the country and tried as hard as possible to forget. I couldn't. I didn't. The damage was done and was real.

When I returned from Spain I immediately decided to graduate the following May, meaning I would earn my bachelor's in three years. I played this off to everyone who asked about it as though I only wanted to be with my boy. But honestly, that was not part of the discussion. The discussion was that I did not feel safe, that I did not feel home, and that I did not feel okay being at that university longer. I don't know why I didn't transfer. Honestly, I never even thought about that. I talked to my boy and a few friends and everyone was supportive and loving. I did not tell my family until just months before my graduation. I don't know why, but I didn't. When I did, they responded with more love and support than I could ever imagine. Everyone has. I have since opened up a lot more. I am not ashamed about what happened to me. I am proud of how far I have come. I am strong, and I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by friends and family who have helped me see that every step of the way.

I got through my final year, was accepted into my Masters program, and moved to South Dakota. I started my masters degree almost right away, and my VISTA year three months later. Today, I have graduated college Cum Laude, I have completed 4 semesters of a Masters program with a 4.0, and have begun my counseling internship. I am in the midsts of writing my thesis. I am very proud of the work I've done and how far I have come. I have made amazing friends along the way, and I couldn't ask for a better support system. Life, it seems, is looking up. It always does eventually.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Is there anything harder than a goodbye?

This weekend is the National EOD Memorial service and ball. Held annually to honor the EOD techs who have been killed in action in the year previous. This year, 15 new names will be added to the wall. This year, I am not attending because my boy is about to deploy again.

And I have to say goodbye.

I am not only saying goodbye to my boy as he deploys, but also goodbye to those heroes, some of whom I have met, many of whom I have not. Whether I know them or not, or know their families, or know their stories, they are all my brothers. I am eternally proud of these men and women. EOD techs, more than nearly any other job, is a job of heroes. They do what they do for one reason: So that others may live.

But sometimes, this means these men and women can't.

The statistics are staggering. The odds are forever against them. The most dangerous job in the US Military. The most dangerous job in the US. The most dangerous job in the world. (Unless you're my boy, who says being a terrorist is way more dangerous!)

I am trying to be strong, but the odds are against us. As always. I don't think his leaving so close to the memorial is helping me at all. A time when we look back on the last year and pay tribute and honor to all the men and women who gave all doing this job. And remember all those who died in years previous. And remember the families who are left behind. The families who must move forward with a hole in their hearts and a lump in their throats. Forever.

I never want to know that feeling. And I am so scared that I will have to. I am so scared. But I am trying not to worry, because worrying about him dying will not make it any easier if he does. Worrying will only make it harder and slower and scarier. So I'm trying hard to honor and remember without putting myself in those shoes.

But how do you do that? When those who were killed were killed doing exactly what my boy does. Exactly where he is. In the exact same war. How do I honor and remember without the worry and fear?

I am trying to figure that out.

But for the fifteen men being added to the wall. May Angels Lead You In.

We will never forget you.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Deployment, Round Two

A few months ago we got notice of an upcoming deployment for the boy. This time around is non-combat, and he will not be in a war zone. I find myself not knowing how to react to it. It just feels like it always did before, when he was stationed in Germany and I was at school in Iowa. He leaves for several months on end, and then he comes home. Nothing more than that. It is weird to go back to feeling like the days of Germany. It kind of makes me feel 19 again. But more than traveling back in time, I feel like I am wearing other people's shoes. Is this what most military wives feel like? All those jobs that aren't dangerous. All those vital, necessary components of the military that never involve leaving the wire. Is this how they feel when they hear their loved one is deploying? Sad that they'll be gone, but not much more than that?

If this is what that feels like, I could handle this life if it weren't EOD. Especially in the Air Force. 90% of airmen do not leave base when they deploy. If this is what that would feel like, I could really get into the excitement of the military life. I could really do this moving all over the world, being seperated for 4-6 months ever 2 years or so. Yeah, I could handle that. It could be exciting. It could be fun. It could be an adventure.

EOD isn't normally like this. When you hear about an EOD deployment, your heart breaks. You know that they have a higher chance of anyone else in the military of not coming back home. You know they are doing the most dangerous job in the world. You know they can die doing it. You know the odds are against them. In the Air Force, EOD techs account for less than 0.5% of all enlisted personelle and account for nearly 30% of all combat-related deaths. These are the thoughts that keep you up every night of the deployment, wondering if you'll hear his voice tomorrow. These are the statistics that run through your head everytime someone knocks on the door. It doesn't get easier. It doesn't get safer. In fact, it only gets more dangerous the longer the wars go on.

And that, that feeling of a combat EOD deployment, that is why I cannot be an EOD wife. I cannot do this life. I cannot live day in and day out not knowing if he'll come home whole. It's not knowing, if he does come home, who he will be after the dangers and realities and brutalities of war take their toll. It is the ceaseless fear and worry day in and day out. This is why, although he is deploying again, I am relieved. Because he's not going back to Afghanistan. Because he will be coming home. Because he is going to be safe. Because when he comes home, he will still be my boy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


I really hate South Dakota.

I really hate being an adult.

Prior to moving out here I really thought it didn't matter where I lived as long as I was with my boy. That is not the case. He is wonderful. He is amazing. Living with him is amazing. But I miss having friends. I'm becoming close to one of my co-workers, but she is moving back to her hometown in April because she hates it here, too. And my boy is deploying again soon after. So I approach a spring of goodbyes. I don't know what is going to happen to me after she moves and he deploys. What do I do without friends? Who can I call to come over and distract me on the bad days? Who will hold me when I worry, and make me laugh when I feel lonely? Who can I share a summer with?

The biggest problem is I don't know how to meet people outside of school. Of course I've met the shop wives, and most of them are very nice, but they have kids. I am younger than most of them, and childless. Once you have kids, the priorities switch drastically, and hanging out with casual friends isn't as big of a priority anymore. Most people my age in Rapid City have children already, and think that I am crazy for not having them yet. I have been asked if something is wrong with me because I don't have kids. At 21 years old. In addition, most people here are very conservative and have strongly different world views and values from my own. This makes it very hard to make friends. I just don't know how to meet people. And once I meet people I don't know how to make them into a friend. Being an adult is hard work. But it isn't hard work for the reasons people warn you about. Job searching, working, being responsible, paying bills. That's pretty cut-and-dry. You learn how to do those things. You are taught how to do them. They happen on a schedule and are regular and predictable. That's pretty easy. Scary to say the least, but simple. Making friends is not simple. Meeting people is not simple. Meeting like-minded people in a different-minded place is very hard. And very scary.

I am in school still, getting my masters degree, but we attend classes and then go home. Most of my classmates are significantly older than me, and those near my age all have children, presenting the same-old problem as always. I want young, free, independent friends. I want friends who I can call up and see on the spur of the moment. I want my old friends back. But I made a choice, and I moved, and now I feel very alone.

Like a round peg trying to fit in a square hole.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lessons from The Avengers

Last night the boy and I watched The Avengers. During one scene, Iron Man flies through a space warp or something, I don't even know, with a missile to prevent the missile from blowing up in New York City and killing everyone. Iron Man tried to call his fiancee, but could not reach her. While watching this scene, the boy says "look at how much of a hero he is, willing to die to save the entire city." I say "look at how he is willing to ruin his fiancee's life."

I guess that makes me super selfish, but it's true. That's how I feel. Men and women go to war, most of them going into a war they don't agree with or don't think we should still be in, and leave their families behind. To me, that says, I am willing to die for something I don't agree with and ruin your lives forever. I honestly don't know if I could ever forgive the boy if something happened to him. That sounds so awful, but I'm not here to make you like me. I'm here to be honest. I would be so mad at him if he died for a war he doesn't think we should be fighting anymore. It's basically saying this ridiculous war is more important than my happiness.

And worse than that, so much worse, are the men and women who risk their lives for a cause they don't agree with and leave their children behind. How can you do that to a child? How can you leave for months and months on end, missing your child's birth, your child's first steps, your child's first words, first day of school, birthdays, Christmases, school plays, sporting events? How do you leave your child to go fight a war you don't agree with? I just truly don't understand. And if something happened to you, how do you think that child would feel? I know as a child I would have felt like my parents thought the war was more important that my happiness. And, quite frankly, if anything is more important to you than your child's happiness and well-being, I just don't think you should be having children. If you are more willing to die for a cause you don't agree with than leave your career and raise a family, your priorities are messed up.

I know the entirety of this post I have implied that these men and women don't agree with the wars they are fighting. In my experience with military members, this is almost always true. Most of these people, by this point in the game, do not think we should still be in Afghanistan. They think it's a lost cause, or a wasted effort, and we should not be there anymore. But still, they go back when they are sent. And they leave everyone who loves them behind. I just don't understand. And maybe that makes me selfish, but so be it. I am selfish, and I don't understand.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Before moving to South Dakota I was sad, it was no secret. I was depressed and anxious and sad. And when asked what would make me less sad, I always knew the answer. I always knew, without hesitation, that being with my boy is all I needed to be happy. All I needed. I was wrong.

I've lived here for nearly two months now, and I am still sad. I am still anxious. I am still lonely. Because I'm still missing something. Except this time I'm missing friends. Back in Iowa I had friends, not many, but I did. They were few and they were close. We didn't hang out every day, or every week, or hell with the exception of my roommate every month. We just knew that we had the other's back when things got tough. We knew we were a phone call and a short walk or a few hour drive away. Here, I have my boy. And that comfort is irreplaceable. I go to bed each night in his arms and know he is safe and know he is here and I have my best friend and my soulmate by my side each night. It's truly just great. But what I don't have is, well, anyone else. Everyone else I love and care about in my life is a 9 hour drive away. I honestly thought when I moved out here that a Skype date here and there, a phone call, a text message, would keep things the same with my friends since we never did hang out much when I was around. But no. It isn't the same. Not at all. Nothing replaces knowing that a girlfriend is a few blocks away. Nothing replaces going over to your best friend's house, watching Disney movies and eating buckets of ice cream while you cry your eyes out about all the stresses and worries of life. A night that ends up the two of you cuddling each other's shaking bodies to sleep. Not having that is hard. Knowing it is so far apart is harder.

This is what military life is. It is choosing to be with your love the precious little time you have between deployments and TDYs and VIPs and trainings, or choosing to be with your family and your friends. It's never ever both. It's always a choice. It's always throwing your life out of balance. It's always ripping you away from something you love and something you need. It is always leaving you half empty, with a hole in your heart and a lump in your throat. It is always hard, no matter what choice you make. No matter where you go. There will never be balance. There will never be harmony. That is what military life is: Out of balance.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Human Rights

This post is a change of pace. This post is about love, and the importance of recognizing all forms of love. I recently moved from Iowa to South Dakota to be with my boy as he is stationed out here. This transition has been very difficult for me in general, but particularly for me as a bisexual female. In Iowa, all LGBT individuals are protected in housing, employment, bullying laws, and hospital visits. We are also one of the few states that have legalized gay marriage. Iowa is truly a state that protects all citizens, regardless of color, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. I felt so protected in Iowa that I almost didn't even think of my sexual orientation on a daily basis. I didn't think about how it affected my life, or how it affected how other's viewed me, because I am so comfortable with myself, and so comfortable with the law I had at my back. Then I moved to South Dakota. Here, I could be denied housing if I was living with a same-sex partner instead of an opposite sex one. I could be denied a job or fired from a job if my employers found out my sexual orientation. Same sex partners do not have hospital visitation rights. Same sex partners cannot adopt children. Same sex partners cannot marry, nor are they even given the option of domestic partnership or civil union. Now, my sexual orientation is very obvious to me. I have to hide it. I have to keep my mouth closed. I could be in danger, and completely under protection of the law, if I am honest and open about who I am. I feel like I am less than everyone around me, and I feel like it is painfully obvious. 

Last weekend I went to Pride here in Rapid City. The event was small. There were 5 booths set up, and a few people playing songs throughout the day. It all took place in a small park, less than one square-block, and fewer than 300 people showed up throughout the day. It was sad and small. Afterwards, I decided I had to make a change. Monday, I start volunteering at Black Hills Center for Equality. My goal is to raise awareness about the necessity for legal change, and if that is not possible to at least create a more powerful, united community so that no one feels alone, even if everywhere else in the community they feel attacked.

It has never been more apparent to me how necessary legal protection is than when I was suddenly denied them. Only now do I really realize, first hand, how important that legal protection is. How much harm it does when it is not present, and how degrading it is to be treated, in every aspect, like a second-class citizen. I deserve the same rights as every straight person in our society. I deserve to hold a job if I am qualified, regardless of my sexual orientation. I deserve housing regardless of who I am living with. I deserve to visit a loved one in the hospital even if my loved one is a same-sex partner. All children deserve to be protected from bullying in school regardless of sexual or gender identity. All people deserve to be protected from hate crimes regardless of their sexual or gender identity. It should not be political. It should not be religious. It should be obvious. Human rights are for all people, of all color, of all walks of life, of all socioeconomic statuses, of all genders, of all sexualities. Human rights are for all of us.