Coming Home Early

Exciting news!!! My soldier’s deployment is being cut short AND he will be home in time for the birth of his child! YAY!!!!! Of course, before we all get too comfortable, he’s already been informed he’ll be deploying again this year. But for now, we’ve hit his mail-stop date and all kinds of joy are just around the corner.

This is the same soldier, Sergeant (Sgt.) K, that many of you helped me support with my snail-tweet project (one postcard a day, every day.) Thank you for all the messages you left here for me to send. Thanks also to everyone who sent me postcards from their home state to use.

He did get most of them. And he loved them. That’s the big win. If I ever do this again, there are a few small things I would change. And many things I wouldn’t.

Snail review

1. Getting postcards ahead of time and having snail-tweets from other people is a huge help.

2. Writing to the same person every day made me more aware of the passage of time. And gave me an even greater appreciation for what Sgt. K’s family goes through.

3. Deciding after you start snail-tweeting to create a craft project and photograph each one (both sides) in different locales with different backgrounds adds a layer of complexity that is not necessary at all.

4. If you travel, bring more than the exact number of postcards that you need in case something goes wrong. Like you are ambushed by a sneak rainstorm while visiting your mom in Florida a few months ago.

The ambush

It was a beautiful sunny day. See?

(I blurred out the last names and address for privacy.)

(I blurred out the last names and address for privacy.)

Do not trust this shade of perfection-blue. It may turn on you. Innocently, I wrote out that day’s postcard. Then, adhering to my Mom’s outgoing mail system, I used a wooden clothespin to attach it to her mailbox. The mailbox is protected by an awning that extends five feet. I put it on and went out with Mom to run an errand.

In my absence, it rained hard for 10 minutes. Sideways. The postcard was soaked. Gingerly, I peeled it free and then attempted to return this near-pulp object back to a solid state with a blow-dryer. After I was done, I still wasn’t sure the structural integrity would hold so, I put it in an envelope. Back it went to the mailbox with the clothespin but this time I kept a steady eye on the skies.

Trying to save snail tweet #31

Trying to save snail tweet #31

Luckily, it survived all the way to Afghanistan. This is part of Sgt. K’s office wall.

Some of the snail tweets that made it to Afghanistan. #31 is among them.

Some of the snail tweets that made it to Afghanistan. #31 is among them.

Since this picture was taken, more 4×6 doses of morale-boosting care have arrived and been added to the wall. Soon Sgt. K will take them down and start concentrating on a much better decorating project: the finishing touches on the nursery for his new baby.

© Gina left the mall, 2014

Snail-Tweeting My Soldier

The first soldier I ever wrote to is headed back to Afghanistan soon. So I’ve been thinking about doing something special for him. Technically, this is not necessary because he’d appreciate anything. And technically, this may not be easy. During his last deployment I got creative a few times (like the golf ball episode) and occasionally lucky (help from a hockey team.) After a while I jokingly told him, “It’s all downhill from here.” But I also know this:

1. Little things mean a lot when you’re far from home. Even the smallest kindness.

2. Continuity helps. Contact throughout the entire deployment has a greater morale impact than sporadic contact. Sporadic has a greater morale boost than no contact.

3. Do what you can. I learned this lesson the hard way after taking on projects for him that were too big and/or not asking for help when I needed it.

Obviously, these three things add up to the invention of Snail-Tweets. Or my version of it.

Snail-Tweeting

What if I could send him a tiny bit of support for every day that he is deployed? Hearing your name at mail call is a powerful thing. However, if I sent letters every day I’d run out of things to say pretty quickly. But what if I kept it to 140 characters or less? What if, instead of tweeting online, I did it on postcards?

As I started thinking about stockpiling interesting and fun postcards, point #3 -Do what you can, popped into my head. So this is where I ended up:

1. I will try to send him a snail-tweet every day. “Try” being the operative word in that sentence.

2. If I need help coming up with snail-tweets, I will ask for it. My daughter often has memorable lines. I bet my wonderful readers do too. It may even be more interesting if they’re not all from me. If I ask strangers, I could make their “handle” something descriptive like GuyAtHotDogStand.

3. I’ll number the cards so they’re easier to track. I’ve mailed things on the same day before and one will get there in two weeks and the other arrives months later or not at all. I know anything topical becomes historical when I put in a mailbox, but to me they’re moments. Being deployed, our troops miss so many everyday moments. It may be nice to get a few back.

Urban Dictionary has Snail-Tweet defined as, “a conventional postcard.” I think my version of it is less conventional.

The plan

So that’s my plan right now. Of course, like all plans related to the military, it is subject to change. Plus, you never know, there could be an outbreak of world peace. And those last 64 characters would be well worth giving up snail-tweeting for.

postcards

postcards (Photo credit: petit zozio)

© Gina left the mall, 2013