Absurdities of Deployment

1. Today, I paid a very nice babysitter $15 to take my sweet 2-year-old to the park for an hour so that I could clean the bathrooms uninterrupted. It was the first time I had been alone in my house in 3 months, and it was the most magical time I’ve ever had scrubbing Clorox into the grout around our bathtub.

2. In a ridiculous, essentially lazy iteration of Bowe Bergdahl’s father’s bearded vigil, I have not shaved my legs since Dave left.  I sure hope he appreciates this charming gesture, this affirmation of my devotion/sloth.

3. I’ve learned that there are some useful (if fairly pitiful) items available to a woman living without a man in the house. I may own two of the following three things:

The Jar Pop.

flying_solo2Mine is plain white, just FYI.

Jar Pop, you are my man-hands — when it comes to opening jars, anyway. Sometimes there’s just a damn jar (pickles, it’s always the freaking pickles!) that resists all my other tricks: running the cap under hot water, tapping it with a spoon, wrapping it in a towel. There’s nothing more traumatic for my children than watching their five-foot-tall mother skid around the kitchen, gripping, swearing, rending her clothes, banging a jar all over the place while hot water steams up the sink, like some kind of ancient ritual of betrayal and despair.

Years ago, “Santa” (that savvy man!) gave me a Jar-Pop in my stocking, and now I can open any jar, any time, any place, all with a placid smile.

The Nik Nak. I bought this thing.


Yes, I seriously bought this thing after seeing it in the Sky Mall (what kind of American buys things from the Sky Mall??!). I’ll tell you what possessed me: it was a bad sunburn on my albino back, the kind that lasts for days and makes you dance around squealing in the shower. My husband used to gamely slap some sunscreen on my back for me when necessary, but no longer, and we’re living in San Diego and the kids always want to go to the public pool for a swim. I can’t, as a decent woman, ask some stranger to rub sunscreen onto my person, and now we can’t enjoy the convenience of spray sunscreen any more, either. (Do they have to take everything from us?) So I  thought the Nik Nak might actually be a handy way to apply sunscreen to the unreachable regions — although now that I think about it, I probably would have been better off just tying some kind of sunscreen-soaked rag around the Jar Pop. Why am I not more resourceful?

Verdict: It works…..okay. Sometimes the wand flaps up on me and flings sunscreen around the room. I should probably have just bought a rash guard.

The Trader Joe’s Single-Serving Thanksgiving Dinner. Haven’t had to take this baby for a test drive, luckily — and, with three kids, it wouldn’t be enough for us anyway. But a friend once pointed it out in the “Fearless Flyer” and, honestly, there seemed to be nothing sadder than a Thanksgiving for One, a microwaveable approximation of our most venerated American meal: turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing. The turkey comes in a bag and honestly looks like a silicone breast implant. Please don’t let it come to this for me.


4. Final absurdity: When in a vulnerable state of mind, certain music will seem deeply apropos to your situation until you examine the words more closely.

Case in point: The song “Time to Pretend,” by MGMT, brought me to tears on evening not long after Dave first left. It was something about the rather moving little synthesized refrain at the beginning, and the opening line: “I’m feeling rough, I’m feeling raw, I’m in the time of my life.” Oh my GOD!

Turns out, the song is about becoming a rock star, moving to Paris, marrying a model, overdosing on heroin, and choking on one’s own vomit — not applicable to my own life in any regard. The only thing out of that list I can ever imagine happening to me would be choking on vomit, but even that will probably not happen.

Still, I like the song, and the words are bittersweet, which is exactly how I prefer ’em. They seem somehow applicable to having chosen a military lifestyle; something about the song got to me, anyway.

This is our decision, to live fast and die young.
We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun.
Yeah, it’s overwhelming, but what else can we do.
Get jobs in offices, and wake up for the morning commute?

Forget about our mothers and our friends
We’re fated to pretend
To pretend

I’ll miss the playgrounds and the animals and digging up worms
I’ll miss the comfort of my mother and the weight of the world
I’ll miss my sister, miss my father, miss my dog and my home
Yeah, I’ll miss the boredom and the freedom and the time spent alone.

There’s really nothing, nothing we can do
Love must be forgotten, life can always start up anew.

6 thoughts on “Absurdities of Deployment

  1. So what you’re sayin’ is that you haven’t shaved your legs in 3 months yet you’re taking the kids swimming at the public pool a lot. How’s that working out for ya? Do you wear pants in the water? Or has your give-a-sh** factor just taken an absolute nose dive? I’m fascinated by this seeming predicament…please do tell.


  2. The nik nak is seriously hilarious! I don’t have one of those, but my mom bought me a jar opener after an unopenable jar of pickles sent me into a crying tizzy last deployment. I’ve been grateful (and pickle rich) ever since.

    I also totally get you on vibing on songs that don’t really fit the situation. I find myself loving a lot of break-up songs because, well, there aren’t that many long-distance marriage type songs on the radio, and break-up songs capture the loneliness. Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” is what perfect: “Who’s someone I can lean on when times get tough. Who’s gonna talk to me on the phone until the sun comes up…We belong together…I can’t sleep at night when you’re on my mind…I’m trying to keep it together, but I’m falling apart.” Sing it, M!


    • “Long-distance marriage songs” could be an underrepresented genre — we need to get someone on that.

      Dire Straits’s “So Far Away from Me” has been fitting the bill ’round here, as well as their “Romeo and Juliet.” But Mark Knopffler can’t belt it out like Mariah!


  3. My husband is the only one in our family who knows how to cook a turkey so the single-serving turkey dinner in a bag resonated with me. Since we don’t have Trader Joe’s in Canada, I had to take my son to a fancy hotel for our Thanksgiving dinner the year my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. Sigh–if only I’d been able to pick up a couple of bags o’ turkey!


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