Time to say goodbye

Living the military life can be both incredibly awesome, and totally miserable.

You get to live in places all over the world, on the military’s dime, and you get to experience things you’d never normally experience thanks to this.

The flip side of this travel collage is that you make friends, and you then get to say goodbye. Either you are leaving, or they are leaving, and if you happen to meet them at the end of your run in a place, or at the end of theirs, your time is even shorter. For most this is not an issue, but for people like me (and like the friends I have made – mostly foreigners like me, let me add – but not all) who find it hard to open up to people in the first place, having to speed up the “making friends” process can be horribly uncomfortable. Because of this, I don’t make friends. I actually try and make a point of not interacting too much with people because it takes me so long to trust and to find common ground.

However, I also try very hard to make “doggy friends” so that my dogs don’t feel alienated and “left out” when we move to a new place. Most of these “doggy friends” stay just that: people we meet at the dog park, or occasionally see out walking and join on a loop of the neighbourhood, but then one or two come along where our dogs just click, and we just click, and that’s it for my hermit mentality.

Now, through experience in this life, when it is time to say goodbye I tend to find myself feeling numb, aloof, and detached.

Saying goodbye to my friend Stephanie and her dog Frost, (and her husband Mike as well – though I was closer to Stephanie because of all the time we spent together daily with our dogs) today was difficult. I could feel the walls coming up already as she walked back to her car – “Don’t look back!” I said, because I knew if she did I would probably cry – and my heart turning in on itself, as per usual.  I will be very sad, believe me, but after a few days I will move on with my daily life, back to my hermit ways. Back to weeks of silence, except for enlightening conversations with my dogs.  I’ve done this enough times now to know that while it hurts right now, it will ease and it’s not like this time I’m going to another country – we can still be in touch!

But she and Frost were the reason we got going in the mornings: our walks were important. She also kept us on a routine in the evenings – we had to walk, or Frost would get up to mischief all night!

 

What will kick me in the soft bits later is when we go for our evening romp and stroll to and from the dog park, and the dogs wait impatiently at the fence for Frost and Stephanie to arrive… and they won’t be joining us ever again. That will hurt. My dogs are my children, and knowing they are confused and missing their buddy, that will hurt.

I know all the dogs knew there was something going on today (and for the last week, really, with the coming and going of Stephanie and Frost, and me as well) as Odin was very clingy with me, and Azzie wouldn’t leave Stephanie alone when she came to drop our vacuum cleaner off.

They will feel it when we go out, just the 4 of us, on our walks in the forest, or through the back streets of the other ‘hoods. And no more ‘hood walks, because we no longer have our body guards with us – Stephanie and Frost made us feel safer, even if it was just for the most part positive thinking, rather than practicality.

But, we got our day at the beach,

our walks in the sun, in the rain, in the wind, in the forest,

on the streets with our friends. These memories will stick with us always.

Safe travels, my friends.

 

Welcome, officially, to the military life.

Hello!

And now, time to say goodbye.

 

sometimes I wonder about people

I’m all for sprucing up your home and hanging your photos etc, when your HG arrive and you’re all flushed with happiness and a feeling of “finally this is home…”
But… at 20:30 at night? Really? You feel that hammering things into the wall in the late evening is “OK” ? Why couldn’t you do it during the day? Or wait until tomorrow… it’s a 4 day weekend… nobody would mind if you hammered things into the wall then.
But no, you feel you need to bash away at the wall for 30 minutes or more because it can’t wait until tomorrow and regular hours.
*shakes head*

Sorry. Just having a “moment” – apartment living. Woo.

On a shiny note: The moon is kILLER out there tonight! SO beautiful! Got an aura around it too. Gorgeous!

An interesting article

My friend Steph posted this article about a topic that’s quite inflammatory and divisive and seems to be intensely debated over the last year or so. I know where I stand – I don’t see why women who choose not to have children are vilified and called “selfish” and asked “WHY?!” as if it’s some kind of crime to make a choice that doesn’t affect ANYONE else except the person who makes the choice.

But that’s my opinion.

 

A quote from the article…

Today, 19 percent of women end their potential childbearing years without having had any children—making childlessness as common as it is irrationally controversial. We had the chance to talk about the topic with Meghan Daum: author, LA Times columnist, editor of the forthcoming essay collection Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, which is out tomorrow, March 31.

By email, Daum and I discussed everything from why childless-by-choice people are often forced to produce a “why?” for the (sometimes) well-intentioned crowd who demand an explanation for their decision to not procreate; the hubbub around egg freezing; what drives people to remain child-free; and why the phrase “child-free” itself needs to be retired.

 

Thoughts?

Interesting people

You never know when you will bump into someone cool and interesting.

Dogs and I were on our usual long morning walk on post and a chance decision (from Azzie) to go down a set of stairs instead of along the road led us to meet an intriguing chap – clearly “that other unit” – he was absolutely delighted to meet the dogs and took Azzie’s crazy head butts and crotch slams in his stride. He said they had a MWD and he was the same – lots of rough love. We chatted about tick control and how he thought it must be very hard for us because my dogs had such thick black coats, we chatted about his dogs back home (two boxers) and how they would go nuts when he eventually (and he said that with a slight sigh) got to go back home for a bit. He patted and hugged (much to Azzie’s delight) the dogs (even Gina allowed him to give her a little squeeze, then she came and sat behind my legs as if to say “that’s all you get, you’re not my daddy”) and he said they were awesome and I thanked him. We continued on our way and he went back to his office.

He had an interesting accent that I struggled to place – American mostly, but almost French sounding, so perhaps from New Orleans, or a former European citizen? I counted at least 3 healed bullet holes on his body – and that was all I could see outside his tshirt and shorts. Such a gentle soul, to be in such a violent career.

I wish him well.

Strangers in a Strange Land.

I am an Army wife. I live on an Army post with my Army husband.

He is American. I am not. We live in Europe. We are both foreigners here, except when we are on our little “piece of the USA” which is the little post up in the mountains where we live. Then I am the foreigner. It’s a strange concept to me sometimes, but not a terrible thing. I like being different, and I don’t really need social interaction much, as I live with my best friend anyway! 🙂

If we were living in the USA, I think this would be more of an issue than it is here. Here, there are many “foreign” wives – wives who are not American, I mean. I have met many German spouses living here – so they are only foreigners when they are on post, like me – and I have met many Russian, Spanish, French, Italian and other European spouses. We (the “foreign” wives) seem to be drawn to each other in many ways. The language issue – not so much in my case, as I do speak English as a first language – seems to be the biggest barrier for making friends with the American wives. Another major thing is the cultural issue. Americans are very different to the rest of the world – it’s not a bad thing or a good thing, it’s just a fact of life – and this stands out very clearly in a place like this. They stick with each other and tend to gravitate toward each other in the same way us “Ausländers” do. Perfectly natural, anthropologically. Trying to explain these cultural differences is very difficult when you can’t see it in person. It’s little things and big things.

The unfortunate attitude toward family pets is the one that gets to me. It’s not everyone, for sure, but it’s an upsetting amount of the military/American population living here. They don’t seem to understand that dogs need space. Dogs need to interact with other dogs. Dogs need to WALK. Dogs need mental AND physical exercise. Big dogs need physical exercise, small dogs need mental challenges and lots of exercise. A large majority of the people living on this post (and I’m told, generally everywhere) don’t seem to get this idea. They seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to keep a big dog (there are many Golden Retrievers, Labradors, GSD’s that I have seen/heard) in an apartment and only take them out twice a day to pee and poop. And that’s it.

And then they wonder why their Chihuahua is nasty and nippy and attacking visitors, or their Labrador chews on their furniture and shreds their socks, or their poodle is pooping on their bed, even after going outside. It boggles my mind that, despite so much evidence for exercise and social interaction as a correction for this, they just don’t see this correlation. It actually pisses me off. I offered my services, when I first arrived, to walk dogs for people who were just not getting the time (babies, half day jobs, etc) to do it themselves – but I had no responses. It was quite surprising to me! I wasn’t even charging much!

As I said – it’s not all of them! I know quite a few who walk their dogs regularly and take them to the dog park to play almost every day or on the weekends. But they are, sadly, not as many as you’d hope. But, in comparison, I know FAR more “foreign” pet owners (especially the Germans – they love their dogs) who are truly dedicated to the well-being of their pets. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met ONE foreign spouse here with a dog, who I have not seen out walking with them daily.

Of course the rest could just be inside and I’ve never seen them because they never get out! *shrug* I am open to convincing arguments…

The number of pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, you name it!) that are abandoned on army posts when the family leaves, is disgusting. It’s not surprising that the local rescue centres and adoption agencies generally won’t ALLOW Americans to adopt animals from them. They refuse. If you are in any way affiliated with the US military, they won’t let you even look. They’ve had enough of cleaning up after them. This is sad for the wonderful people who DO care for their animals and DO want to make a difference.

The reason I am ranting away is because recently we have been trying to catch a stray dog running around on post. Initially I thought it was a friend’s dog, but thankfully, he is safe and sound still. So this big, stray dog (and he’s most likely a mountain dog, like mine) has been “loose” for about 2 weeks or more now. Sightings have him looking thin, bedraggled, matted and dirty… and very scared. 2 Weeks and there have been no posters put up (and you CAN get permission for a lost dog poster) nor any postings on the local animal support websites or Facebook pages (and there are quite a few) and the MPs have only now gotten involved because someone actually piped up and said she’d seen him digging in the garbage and was worried for the poor boy and she posted this on our local animal support site. So now that more eyes are involved, the search and rescue operation is now in full effect. But, TWO WEEKS? How can any caring soul have just done NOTHING when their dog went missing? They could have told neighbours to be on the look out, or told the MPs, or asked for an email to be sent to their unit to keep an eye out.

If it was intentionally left out, so they didn’t have to deal with the cost of flying him/her home to the US, what does that say about them? How does a HUMAN BEING make a conscious decision to just abandon a trusting, loyal dog? Or their cats (so many are just left in the buildings, or in the stairwells, or just kicked out into the cold completely) and even rabbits? German animal shelters are no-kill shelters. Surely they could have tried taking the dog to one? The Germans won’t refuse any animals if they have space. If they are full, they suggest somewhere else. They _love_ their animals and they are RESPONSIBLE for them through their whole lives. There’s a sad lacking of that in the military community. Everything seems to be disposable. And that’s very sad, to me.

Once again, it’s not all of them – but it’s a scarily large number and it breaks my heart. It gives the good military people (and that’s 90%, seriously) such a bad reputation and it makes things difficult for them to do any good.

Ok. Rant over.

I just needed to get that off my chest.

My thanks to all my friends (foreign and “domestic”) who love and care for their animals – AND other people’s animals – and are trying to do the right thing, always.

I hope we can catch this poor bedraggled pooch before it’s too late.