27 December 2009

The Fog of Pre-mobilization

Holiday time with the extended family is always a special joy, one full of conversational tripwires about politics, religion, and religious politicians. Add to that all that nog and nonsense, topics such as: What the New Year Can Be Expected to Bring.

There is the Fog of War, and then there is the Fog of Pre-mobilization. My side of the family is prior service. Some Air Force, some Army, some Navy. Everybody has different acronyms, but they all "get" some of the present-day realities of lengthy Army deployments; after all, they've experienced similar separations and deprivations, back in the day.

Household-6's family, however, is generally less familiar with the military, save for one branch that boasts a proud Marine father, an Army ROTC grad already serving her second tour downrange, an Air Force Academy grad who's married to yet another, and one more at Annapolis. (Semper Fi, indeed.)

So, it's hard to come up with an appropriately festive yet realistic assessment of Where Things Are At 2010, in terms of the military world, and in terms of one's place in it, for a concerned audience that

The feelings and opinions are many, and often partially contradictory: First, I'm not paid to have an opinion. Two, you only believe something when you see it in hardcopy orders, and, even then, be prepared for multiple change-documents before the events set out in print actually happen. Three, you do what you're told, because that's the deal for which you signed up; besides, you want to serve your country and community, and you want to do the job for which you've trained. Four, you quickly learn the art of not dwelling the bad things, without losing the capability for planning for the worst.

There is, no doubt, some sort of German word that encompasses all that sturm and drang, a concept that somehow combines schadenfreude--except that it's internally focused--and fingersigzenfeuhl. Translated, the new word would be something about "your finger on the pulse of stormy and stressful things going on around and about you, wrapped in a sort-of-enjoyable gauze, similar to the pleasure one might take from poking at a scab."

So, if there are Rumors of War, dear family, don't go blindly blundering right up to the line and ask a barrage of intrusive and obtuse questions, such as, "When are you leaving? How do you feel about that? What's your wife going to do?" Don't assume that we know anything better than you, or that , if we do, we want to talk about it with anyone but our closest mates, or that you would even understand it fully, given the opportunity.

Instead, express your love, and hope for the best, pray for peace, and leave it at that, until the fog dissipates a little more, and whatever news is at hand becomes reality. Or fails to.

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