a picture of Becci & Reton she emailed to me while I was in Iraq

It’s often a matter of perspective…

18 September 2005: Excerpt from Email to my sister, Becci
“Things are good here.  I’m just a little lonely.  I don’t really have a peer group at all.  Patrick is the only other Lt and there are 3 Captains but they are older and married and there are no other Marine units on our side of the base.  So, there’s no one for me to even mingle with most of the time.  I have A LOT of friends in Fallujah, though, and am jealous because their life is more normal in a lot of ways.  They can meet up for lunch, they have better facilities, there are more people around, etc.  That sounds like a funny thing to say! Haha.  “I wish I was in Fallujah.”  Oh well, I’m not complaining because things could DEFINITELY be worse. 

So far I’ve got a pretty good routine going but it hasn’t turned into “Groundhog Day’ yet.  It’s already been almost a month since I left.  Wow, that’s hard to believe.  Anyway, I moved rooms again yesterday, then had an awesome run, crappy sleep, and a decent day at work.  Then this morning I got to talk to a buddy for over an hour and then Dad for almost a half hour.  I couldn’t believe they let me stay on the phone that long at the phone center.  Then I went back to my room and got the best day’s sleep I’ve had in a week because my new room is much quieter and I fixed the AC.  Then I got up went for a walk, lifted legs, and got ready for work.  I am not eating very much here at all and apparently have already lost a bunch of weight.  I originally was thinking this was a good thing…but when I wake up sick because I haven’t eaten in 18 hours, that’s probably NOT a good thing.  Hopefully I can find a balance between eating enough and not eating too much.  I don’t think I’m in any danger of eating too much, though, b/c the midrats we get (which is my “lunch”) are usually terrible so it’s nothing I want to eat a lot of anyway.  Ok, so enough about food. 

Overall, I’m pretty happy and with the time passing quicker now that makes things SOOOO much better.  I am very dependent upon email and mail for emotional support, though.  My job isn’t that demanding because my Marines do all the real work, but it is nice to be in a job where I have to worry about someone else other than myself.  I don’t think I’m going to do the Defense Language school because it is about 2 years long, and then after school you owe 5 years.  If I’m going to owe 5 years for anything, it’s going to be for flight school.  But, really, I think I’m going to end up sticking with intel and getting out in September 2007.  I want a family someday…or at least the chance to be with someone in one place for more than a few months at a time! haha J  This lifestyle in the Marine Corps just makes it impossible to have any “normal” relationships.  It’s very frustrating.” 

Those last couple of sentences captured a popular topic of discussion among my female Marine friends: the dichotomy of our professional lives and personal lives.  Even early on in our careers we already had the sense that the separate spheres of our lives would be irreconcilable in the near future.  It’s not that you couldn’t have a family while you were in the Marine Corps – or while both you and your husband were – it’s just that it would be an extremely challenging lifestyle, one which (under ideal circumstances) you likely would not choose.  Especially as young officers, we’d have at least two back to back deployments, if not more, and you weren’t likely to find a man to wait on you back home while you were in Iraq, or to follow you around from duty station to duty station the way the guys seemed to find women who would do so.  Of course men did face some of the same challenges we did in regards to family life, but the nuances of our challenges were more poignant. We had to physically make those babies afterall! 😉  Plus, it was/is still more socially acceptable for the man to go off to war and the woman to stay at home than vice versa – generally speaking. (I know there are exceptions to every generalization.)