Tag Archives: military

The Geobachelor’s Wife

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 9.19.18 AMAfter nearly 20 years of marriage, my husband and I decided to separate.

No, he wasn’t having a midlife crisis, although he had become quite heavy-handed with his cologne lately. I wasn’t feeling neglected, although his idea of a fun Saturday night was Dominoes and House Hunters reruns. No one was drinking excessively, although we were buying more lite beer than milk these days. There were no irreconcilable differences, although he never did learn how to use the remote.

Really, we were quite happy. We just thought it would be best for the kids if we went our separate ways for a while.

You see, we’re a Navy family. And like all military families, we’re often faced with logistical dilemmas that force us to consider separation to preserve stability through transitions. In such circumstances, the entire family experiences the hardships of temporary separation.

However, the fringe benefits of such an arrangement are often unfairly dispersed. In other words — the husband totally makes out on this deal, every time.

The last time we separated, I stayed in Germany to let the kids finish the school year, while my husband moved ahead of us to Florida to start his new job. For four months before we flew to Florida to join him, my husband was a “Geobachelor.”

Sure, the Geobachelor’s life can be a bit lonely, all holed up in the base hotel for weeks on end with nothing but work, gym, books, television, and take out; but this temporary period of solitude offers the husband complete and utter freedom from the trappings of marriage and family life.

While the wife and kids are locked into a typical hectic family routine, the Geobachelor faces tough decisions such as, “Hmm, maid service again today, or shall I make my own bed for a change? Sports bar with the guys, or eat dinner at my workmate’s house (his wife does make great lasagna after all)? Read another book, or watch the premium channels we don’t have at home?”

Recently, my husband called from Florida. I left him there on June 10th so the kids and I could take the summer to get settled at our new duty station in Rhode Island before school started.

“It’s hotter than blazes down here,” he said between sips of cold beer, “… so, what have you and the kids been up to?” In excruciating detail, I vented to my husband about repairs being done to our base house, about needing money for our son’s textbooks, about trying to fit in with the neighbors, about the cable bill, about the dog having diarrhea at 3:00 am, about the mouse that ran across the family room.

“Hold on Honey,” he interrupted, “Sure, I’ll take another one of these, and how about the Buffalo Chicken Wrap with Onion Rings?” As I heard him ask the waitress what she thought of the coleslaw, I wondered whether I could convince the kids to eat popcorn again for dinner.

“Where are you, anyway?” I inquired, knowing that he had been staying with friends since he moved out of our old house. “Well, I wanted to get out of Calvin’s hair for the day, so I got a new book, went to the spa, and have been wandering around Fernandina Beach all afternoon.”

“Wait, what? You went to a spa?” I said, looking at my nails, which were mangled from all the unpacking.

“You knew I was planning to get my back waxed, Honey,” he said defensively, “and I decided to treat myself to a massage too. . . . Honey? You still there?”

I was too busy wondering if I’d ever get to extract myself from the never-ending hamster wheel of motherhood and family life, and feel the unbridled, rollicking, deliciously reclusive, self-indulgently relaxing experience of being a Geobachelor.

After a long pause, I finally responded, “Do they have chocolate cake on the dessert menu at that restaurant?”

“Yea, why?” my husband wondered.

“Nevermind, just order it, with a big scoop of ice cream on top.”

I guess someone’s gotta do it.

Indispensable Me

overwhelmed-mom-1950s“Mom! Can you help me?!”

I hear that phrase throughout the day, invariably bellowed from some other room in the house while I’m trying to cook, clean, answer emails, put away groceries, fold laundry, take a shower, write my column, or watch a DVRed episode of The Bachelorette while savoring an afternoon cup of microwaved coffee.

Summertime exacerbates this annoying phenomenon, because I can’t drop my kids off at school to get them out of my hair for a few cotton-picking minutes. Ironically, the teens, while claiming complete autonomy, seem particularly dependent on me to wake them, feed them, entertain them, stop them from frying their brains in front of the television, and remind them to shower.

There’s no doubt about it: my husband works very hard to support our family. However, he tends to add to my burden at home by being endlessly hungry, inordinately hairy, and pretty much clueless when it comes to using the remote.

To make matters a tad [read: a gazillion times] worse, we just moved from Florida to Rhode Island a few weeks ago. It is our ninth military move, so you’d think we’d have it down pat by now.

However, here it is, nearly six weeks after the movers dropped off all of our worldly possessions, and we’re still eating off of paper plates because no one has volunteered to unpack the dish box.  We’re drying ourselves with washcloths because no one has found the towels. We’ve even resorted to writing down Googled information on something called a piece of paper, with something called a pencil, because no one’s hooked up the printer yet.

Sure, it will all get sorted out, assembled, installed, and put away. It always does. But it will take many weeks longer than I thought it would, because everyone relies on me to figure it all out.

You see, my family lives under the false premise that I am the manager, the foreman, the safety net, the principal engineer, the scullery maid, and the Grand Pubah of all things tedious, arduous and annoying. Despite the considerable responsibility of my multi-faceted position; there are no benefits of which to speak, unless “being needed” can be perceived as advantageous.

If you ask me, it’s highly overrated.

But I cannot protest too much, because this unfortunate set of circumstances is my own doing. Back when the kids were mere munchkins and my husband’s hairline had not begun to recede, I reveled in my Supermom status. I was younger, stronger, more energetic, less forgetful, and significantly less dependent on caffeine to keep me awake during the day. I considered mothering an exciting challenge to conquer, and I did so with fierce determination.

I planned and cooked balance meals, I whipped up Halloween costumes from felt and pipe cleaners, I landscaped the yard with a baby wrapped around my midsection, I orchestrated elaborate birthday parties with goodie bags that would rival infamously indulgent Oscar party swag, I taught myself how to install ceiling fans and sink faucets, I jig sawed my son’s Soap Box Derby car, I endured long deployments without so much as a whiff of antidepressants.

I did it all. But little did I know, my family would come to expect it.

Fast-forward a decade or two, and suddenly, I’m to motherhood what Peyton Manning is to football. What Vicki Gunvalson is to The Real Housewives. What Courtney Love is to the band Hole. What Carrot Top is to comedy. What James Carville and Mary Matalin are to political commentary. Our minions have come to depend on us to carry the team/show/industry/debate, but we’re all getting too tired/injured/pathetic/strung out/disfigured by plastic surgery to do it all.

So, to all you younger stay-at-home moms, let this rant serve as a warning: Dispense with any fantasies of becoming a Supermom now, or later, your family may decide that you’ve become indispensable.

Announcing: The Mess Hall

Legendary photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Legendary V-J Day photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, courtesy of Wikipedia.

In honor of Memorial Day, I’ve decided to get off my duff (whatever that is) and finally create a page just for us military folks. We have our own groceries (aka “commissaries”), our own department stores (aka “exchanges”), our own 7-11s (aka “shopettes”, unfortunately without those delicious Slurpee machines, I might add), so why not have our own page on my blog, right?

However, let me be clear that I do not do book reviews (sorry, I’m a slow reader), I don’t offer guest posting (it’s all about me), and I don’t blog about other people’s products/services no matter how legit (although you can feel free to send me samples!) I don’t mean to be a fuddy-duddy, I just simply don’t have a lot of time [READ: my life is a train wreck.]  I have been known; however, to share certain military related news/products/services on my Facebook page, so if this is something you’d like me to consider, go to https://www.facebook.com/TheMeatandPotatoesofLife and send me a message. Hitting the “Like” button wouldn’t hurt, either. Just sayin.

Anyhoo, this page will be a work in progress (I’ll soon be adding lists of retailers who offer military discounts, classic books every military family should have on their shelves, and even time honored military spouse recipes), but please click on the “The Mess Hall” page tab above to see my first list of military-related items — organizations that honor the troops and their families.

Happy Easter to our deployed soldiers and sailors!

God Bless our soldiers and sailors this Easter!

Courtesy of Grigoriy Kogan at http://www.gagcartoons.com.

Happy Renew Year

What's HOT for 2013?

What’s HOT for 2013?

At the risk of sounding like an old coot who walked uphill to school both ways, I must confess, I’m tired of new. Sure, modern technology, progressive thinking, and scientific advancements have enabled our society to do more, but what if I just want to do less in 2013?

Maybe I’m not smart enough (a distinct possibility), or maybe I’m just getting old (an undeniable fact), but I think all the emphasis on new is making life too complicated.

Thanks to technological advances, I can send hundreds of messages simultaneously without so much as licking a stamp or touching pen to paper. But an unfortunate consequence of these advancements is that people today spend countless hours staring into digital screens of all shapes and sizes, checking, organizing, answering, forwarding, and deleting electronic messages.

When I finally got a digital cameral five years ago, I loved being able to snap away without any fear of wasting film, and took countless photographs with my newfangled device. Interestingly, however, I do not have one photo album after 2008. Thanks to modern technology, our family photos are now buried in a massive computer file on an external hard drive.

Television is another gadget that is always changing “for the better.” We finally got cable after watching Armed Forces Network and bad German game shows while stationed overseas for three years. At first we were thrilled to have so many options, and gorged ourselves on sitcoms, movies and reality TV. But eventually, we settled into a television viewing routine: of 999 channels, we now bounce between six shows and football.

Furthermore, progressive trends in thought have enabled us to consider alternative fuel sources, alternative lifestyles, and alternative political policies, but do new ideas always benefit society?

I recently went to a new base department store at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center outside of Washington, DC. As I entered the parking lot, I passed a serviceperson with prosthetic limbs walking beside another in a wheelchair. My heart went out to them.

Then, I noticed that first seven parking spaces in each row closest to the entrances were not labeled “wounded warrior” or “pregnant woman” or “mother and child” or “US Veteran” or “base commander.” No, other than four token handicapped spots at one entrance, the best spaces in each row were reserved for “Energy Efficient Vehicles.” On a base with a huge population of military veterans and hospital patients, our “new” ways of thinking dictate that a 21 year old with the Chevy Volt deserves a more convenient parking spot than the elderly, the infirm, women with children, and decorated military servicepersons. Seriously?

In 2013, instead of moving forward, why can’t we go back a little? Back to a time when things weren’t complicated. Let’s try writing full sentences again, paragraphs if I might be so bold, in cursive (OK, that was going a bit too far), without abbreviations such as “btw,” “idk,” “wtf,” and “lmao.”


Let’s go back to a time before reality television shows followed the morally bankrupt lives of stumbling drunk, foul mouthed, promiscuous New Jersey youths. Why not revive harmless entertainment like The Three Stooges and Hee Haw? Admit it, seeing Gordie Tapp blow raspberries in Archie Campbell’s face or watching Moe poke Curly in the eye was pretty funny, and all without causing irreparable damage to our culture.

I’d love revert to a time before jamming a huge rivet in your ear or showing your thong strap over your jeans was mainstream fashion. Let’s get back to the days when men kept their pants up and women looked sexy in huge undergarments.

Although I’ll never give up modern conveniences like my microwave, and thank the good Lord for boneless skinless chicken breasts, why can’t we get back to the days when families ate dinner together, and there was always a drawer in the kitchen full of aprons because people actually cooked. Let’s stop teaching our kids to value pre-packaged instant gratification, and extol the virtues of hard work, patience, and the comfort of a home cooked meal.

I know, I know, it’s impossible to go back in time. No one is going to forfeit their smartphones, and I highly doubt Hollywood producers are working on a remake of Hee Haw. But instead of blindly moving forward in 2013, desperately grasping for something new, let’s pause, look back, and revive the simple things that worked before.


The Stooges during their prime years with Curl...

The Stooges during their prime years with Curly Howard on board. Promotional photo from the 1938 short Wee Wee Monsieur. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you see what I see?

IMG_4584 2Ever since the Navy ordered us to live in sunny Florida, I just can’t seem to locate it. I keep waiting for Marley to show up at my bedroom door, but where will I find Christmas Spirit in the meantime?

Growing up in idyllic small-town western PA, finding Christmas Spirit was easy. All I needed to do was climb onto my mock-brass twin bed with the Kliban Cat sheets, scratch a peephole out of the intricate frost that had formed overnight, and stare out at the Currier and Ives winter wonderland right outside my window.

No effort on my part was required — it was involuntary, automatic, purely intrinsic to my circumstance. With dissolved candy canes coursing through my veins, I’d grab the parka handed down from my brother, and my Steeler cap (a Western PA requirement), and head for the hill behind our house. The kids in our neighborhood would sled, ruthlessly pelt each other with snowballs, and eat gritty icicles broken off the gutters until our numb faces could not feel the snot running out of our noses, which were in imminent danger of becoming gangrenous.

With a warm sludge of hot cocoa and fresh baked cookies in my belly, I’d thaw before a roaring fire, staring up at the hazardously hot but beautifully bright lights on our tree. There was one bulb in particular, a transparent magenta screw-in candlestick bulb, which seemed to emit pure saturated pink splendor, infinitely refracted by sparkling silver tinsel. I was hypnotized by its magical brilliance and spilling over with joy, anticipation and awe.

I didn’t look for it – The Spirit of Christmas found me, drew me in, captured me. I was helpless to fight it and gladly surrendered.

But here I sit in a Starbucks in North Florida in December. Despite the fact that they insist on keeping the central air at a frigid sixty-odd degrees, and I’m surrounded by trendy holiday decor, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas.

After I get my vente latte’s worth of free Wi-Fi, I’ll go out into the sub-tropical 70s Florida winter and head for my minivan. I won’t have to put on a coat, or scrape any ice off my windshield. I’ll drive home on roads clear of rock salt and ash. At home, I might open the windows to let the ocean breeze in. Maybe I’ll take the dog for a walk on the beach. Or maybe I’ll just sun myself in the back yard.

Woe is me….

I’m not quite sure how these Floridians can take it! If the Christmas Spirit is not going to find me down here, then I’ll just have to recreate it for myself.

First, I’ll turn the AC down until my nose starts to run, then I’ll blast “Let It Snow!” on a continuous loop. I’ll double up on deodorant and put on a wool sweater and boots. I’ll cut out paper snowflakes until my fingers bleed, bake a million chocolate chip cookies, and string miles of popcorn. I’ll make our artificial tree glisten with the magical electricity of a thousand LED lights, and in the absence of a fireplace, I’ll set the house ablaze with dozens of pine scented candles. And then, I’ll hang candy canes on every…

Wait just a minute here.

As I sit in this trendy coffee shop buzzing with flip flop and Ray-ban adorned Floridians, I wonder if I need to rethink this. I hear the ring of the cash register and realize that it sounds a little like jingle bells. I sip my latte, and smell a hint of cinnamon. I suddenly notice the cranberry red hue of the Florida Seminoles t-shirt worn by the man sitting next to me. And then, I look up at the trendy pendant light hanging overhead. I hadn’t noticed before, but the blue of its cobalt shade is mesmerizing.

“Merry Christmas,” the strange man in the cranberry Seminoles shirt utters as he gets up from our shared table to leave, snapping me out of my hypnotic gaze. In that moment, I realize that the Christmas Spirit comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, locations and climates, but I had been too clouded by my own memories to see it.

“Merry Christmas to you, too!” I eagerly reply to the festive gentleman, happy to have finally seen the light.




I give and give, but what do I get?

Click on this photo to see a larger version of my column in the October issue of Military Spouse Magazine!

I’m going out on a limb here and say that the majority of you have a bottle of mustard, a can of cooking spray, a stick of butter, or some other food item in your kitchen that you did not purchase. No need to bother with FBI profiling, exhaustive research or statistical analysis. We all know it’s true.

You did not pay for that jar of Spanish olives or that bag of frozen meatballs, did you? Now don’t get your cammo undies in a bunch here, I’m not accusing you of being a thief. To the contrary, I’m merely pointing out what’s unique about us military spouses.

Unlike most in the civilian world, we military spouses are accustomed to people coming and going in our lives. Deployments, PCSes, and frequent change are part and parcel of our military lifestyles.

And every time your neighbor or best friend PCSes, she bestows to you memories of afternoons chatting on the patio during deployments, of the times she took care of your dog when you visited your parents, of the night you brought her wine and Dove Bars because she was crying over her husband’s new orders.

Finally, she bequeathed something that will last for months to come: that bottle of cocktail sauce she had in the pantry.

You really don’t need her half-used tub of margarine, but after all the support and friendship you gave each other, this was her final act of friendship. She gave these things to you because that’s what we do in the military. We support each other because we share a common experience and understanding.

So, every time you see that bottle of French dressing on your refrigerator door that no one in your family likes, you will remember that being a military spouse is about giving.

Give strength, community, camaraderie, and that is exactly what you will get back. Well, that, and a half bottle of ketchup.

Sure, the monthly potluck dinners can be a real bore. Yes, watching your friend’s kids while she goes to her prenatal appointments can be a real pain. No doubt, getting another phone call from a worried squadron wife right in the middle of the Survivor finale can be really annoying.

But think of it like this – The bottle of balsamic vinegar your fellow military spouse left you only cost about $3.75. The gas you spent dropping her family off at the airport set you back at least $7.50. However, the common understanding and support she offered you when you were in need was priceless.

Give and you shall receive.

Read the PDF version here: October Column.

What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?

My column in the September issue of Military Spouse Magazine!


Dear Mrs. Molinari,

Thank you for your completed application.  However, the work experiences you listed in section C were all prior to 1996. Without work experience from the last five years, I will not be able to offer you employment with our company.

Best of luck,

Ms. Julie Robinson,
Employment Manager

Wait, what? No WORK experience? Seriously? Ms. Robinson, do you have any idea what I’ve been doing the last 19 years as a military spouse?

Have you ever lived in 7 states and two foreign countries? I have. Have you ever completed the complicated paperwork necessary to file two successful Household Goods Claims? I have. Have you ever flown Space A as an unaccompanied dependent without getting stranded at Wright-Pat Air Force Base for three days? I have.

Have you ever moved three children, a 110-pound dog, two hermit crabs, a car and 15,000 pounds of household goods to a foreign country while your spouse was gone and you were suffering from a lingering sinus infection? I have. Have you ever read a set of military orders and understood them? I have. Well, sort of.

The point is, Ms. Robinson, that anyone who has ever lived military life has “work experience,” no matter whether he or she has an employer or stays at home to manage the family. In fact, ask any military spouse which she’d rather do — spend a day working in an office, or find another new gynecologist after her umpteenth PCS move – and I’ll bet she’d be running for her briefcase.

Despite its rewards, military life is hard work, and military spouses must necessarily be resourceful, resilient, frugal, independent, and mentally stable (most of the time, anyway.) Military spouses have to be multi-taskers, interpreters, accountants, decision-makers, entertainers, short-order cooks, mechanics, coaches, gardeners, mothers and fathers all rolled into one.

Many, like me, have professional careers that had to be put on the back burner so that we could support our active duty spouses and supervise our families through deployments and multiple moves. Other military spouses have managed to find employment after each move, but they are usually at a major disadvantage, starting each new job back at the bottom of the ladder, or having to apply for costly additional licensing in each new state.

What’s that you say, Ms. Robinson? Being a military spouse doesn’t qualify as “work experience?” Let me put it to you this way: If you have something that needs to be done, ask a military spouse to do it. I promise, you’ll be surprised by what we can do.

Coo, coo, ca-choo.

The October issue of Military Spouse Magazine is out! Check out my column “What drives us CRAZY! — I give and I give, but what do I get?”

When Strangers Marry

On this day, eighteen years ago, I promised to love, honor and cherish a man I really didn’t know all that well at the time.

In fact, prior to committing ourselves to each other until death, my husband and I were pretty much clueless. We had no idea what kind of husband or wife we might turn out to be. As long as we were in love, we thought, nothing else mattered, right?

Time marched on, and with each passing year, we made new realizations about each other and our relationship.

Most significantly, our vastly different childhood experiences forced us to redefine our pre-conceived notions of “man” and “woman.”

My husband grew up going to private school as the son of a neurologist in the affluent DC suburb of Chevy Chase. At weekend cocktail parties and crew regattas, parents chatted over canapés about politics, world events, and their children’s prep schools. They drank bottled water and bought their food from overpriced grocery stores. They had things like capers and pate in their refrigerators, and drove imported cars.

I, on the other hand, grew up in a town with only one high school, where we thought every one in the world had two days off for hunting season. To the people of my small town, “Chevy Chase” was not necessarily an affluent neighborhood, and it was perfectly normal to get your water from a well and your meat from the woods. Our refrigerators frequently contained bricks of Velveeta, cans of Hershey’s syrup, and in the spring, fish with the heads still on. My parents’ vehicles were pre-owned, and other than one Volkswagen Beetle, none of them were imported.

My husband grew up believing that all women can throw sophisticated dinner parties at the drop of a hat, while being charming and looking fabulous in the latest styles from Lord & Taylor or Talbot’s. He did not realize that he had made a lifetime commitment to someone who shops at Target and whose idea of a party is opening a bag of Fritos and watching a Steelers’ game. My poor husband has had to redefine “woman” to include those, like me, who would prefer a hot poker in the eye than the obligatory social events required of a navy officer’s wife.

Similarly, I have had to adjust my definition of “man” to include those who don’t own any thing that is fluorescent orange. I’ve had to realize that there are men out there who actually prefer white wine to beer, and not all men demand space in the garage for a work bench. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my husband is afraid of tools, guns and knives, and shudders at the mere thought of putting a worm on a hook, much less eating a fish with the head still on it.

I’ll admit – I have felt somewhat guilty that I’ve never fulfilled my husband’s expectations of what his wife might be. I’ve often wished that I was more sophisticated, more formal, more “fancy.”

And I’ve seen self-consciousness in his eyes too, like the time I had to put the barbecue grill together because he couldn’t understand the instructions, or the time I snorkeled on a beach vacation for four hours alone while he sipped a Pink Squirrel and read an Oprah Winfrey book selection under an umbrella.

If we knew back then what we know now, would we have eternally promised ourselves to each other before the altar of Graystone Church eighteen years ago today?

Without a doubt, I say “Yes.”

When we first met, the one thing we knew for certain was that neither of us was perfect, but we instantly gave each other the pure and unconditional acceptance that had been missing in our lives. Unless one later discovers that one’s betrothed is actually an axe murderer or a spy for the Russians, unconditional love and acceptance is a powerful thing that can transcend unknown personality quirks.

Besides, I’ve also discovered along the way that my husband is incredibly disciplined, dedicated, and hard-working. Better yet, he is fiercely loyal and his love for our family is deep and sincere. Best of all, he makes me laugh.

We may not be the husband and wife we thought we’d be eighteen years ago, but deep in our hearts is the underlying truth that we love and accept each other just the way we are.

So, Happy Anniversary, Honey. Always be yourself, and I will always love you for it.

Sharing Happiness

My phone rang this week, and for once, it wasn’t my kids or my husband or my mother or my carpool partner or my in laws or one of those pre-recorded doctor’s appointment confirmation messages.

“Hey Lisa, what have you been up to?” she asked. I was dumbfounded. I had not received a purely social call in months — it was as if I had forgotten what to do. My mind raced as I tried to remember how to engage in idle chit chat.

Why on earth is she calling me? I thought. I mean, we only know each other because our husbands work together, and besides, I’m new here, but  she’s lived here for years. She has plenty of other friends to call . . . there must be some problem.

“Oh, you know, the usual . . . busy, busy, busy!” I lied, waiting for her to ask to borrow money, or give her a ride to the airport, or buy overpriced candles for her son’s baseball team fundraiser.  

“Well, listen, I really need some exercise… would you like to go on a power walk or something?”

You’d have thought I was a double winner on the Price is Right Showcase Showdown by the way I reacted.

“Really?! Yes! I would love to! What time?! Where do you want me to meet you?! I’ll go anywhere! I already have work out clothes on, so I am ready to go whenever you are, so just say the word and…”

“Nine-fifteen at the Park and Ride lot on Wonderwood Drive,” she interrupted my pathetic ramble.

“You got it!”

I arrived twenty minutes early, and sat desperately waiting to spot her mini van. When she arrived, I bolted from my car as if it had burst into flames.

“Hi!” I yelled and waved across the parking lot, startling her out of her morning haze. For the next hour, we did what housewives do so well – analyzed, pondered, proclaimed, opined, pontificated, empathized, chastised, gossiped and even listened a little bit, all under the guise of exercise. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Back in the parking lot, my new friend suggested that we make the outing our new Thursday routine. I eagerly agreed, and nearly skipped back to my car with a goofy grin.

On the drive home, I thought, Finally, a real friend. I can’t wait for next Thursday. Boy, I wish we could meet Tuesdays and Thursdays. But maybe that’s too much. I don’t want to scare her away. Hmmm. Come to think of it, maybe I did come on too strong. I don’t remember listening all that much, actually. I think I did most of the talking. Why do I always do that? She was probably wondering whether I’d ever shut up. I’ll bet she will call and cancel next week because she thinks I’m an annoying blabbermouth….

I pulled into my driveway, put the car in park, and looked at myself in the rear view mirror. Not only did I realize that, on the walk, my bangs had fallen into that unflattering middle part that made my face look like a full moon, it also occurred to me that this had all happened before.

Suddenly overwhelmed with that bizarre déjà vu sensation, I tried to recollect the past. It didn’t take long for me to recognize that the internal conversation I just had with myself was the same one I had in 2008, 1998, 1996, 1994 and 1993 – basically, every time the military has ordered us to move.

After every move, I busy myself with setting up our new life – new house, new schools, new doctors, new dentists, new music teachers, new gym, new church, new pizza place, new routines — a daunting task which keeps me occupied for several months. But once the new routines are in place, there’s nothing left to do except live.

I don’t care whether you live in Poughkeepsie or Prague, boredom eventually sets in. You find yourself dawdling on the internet, throwing dinner together last minute, ignoring housework, and eating too much. You put on work out clothes every day, but never make it to the gym. You call your husband at work even though you know he can’t chat. You write long e-mails to friends from the past who are too preoccupied to write back. Even your own mother tries to get off the phone when you call, and your last resort, the family dog, has no good gossip to share.

You are bored out of your mind.

As I fixed my bangs in the rear view mirror, I remembered the story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who disappeared “Into the Wild” (the name of the book by Jon Krakauer) to live free from obligations and relationships. After spending over three months utterly alone, he finally realized that he had been wrong about life all along. Days before he died of starvation trying to make it back out of the wild, he wrote “Happiness is only real if shared.”

Remembering the quote helped me understand why I always get a little pathetic every time we move, and although I’m in no danger of starving anytime soon (quite the contrary in fact,) I realized that everyone needs a good friend or two to nourish the soul.


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