I’m thrilled to have Jessica Scott on the blog today! I know Jessica through my local RWA chapter, but we really got to know each other (ironically) while she was in Iraq. I’d be working late at night, she’d be getting up, and we’d trade pages to read. So it’s totally apropos that Jess is here today talking about hamsters. (Okay, not really the hamsters, but it is appropriate that her current book is The Long Way Home, which she developed from her blog of her time in Iraq and her journey home. Don’t miss this one, folks!
And now, without further ado, here’s Jessica Scott, hamster-wrangler extraordinaire!
How to Lose a Hamster in 10 Minutes
Thanks so much for letting me crash the blog with my rodents, Julie! This isn’t exactly a typical topic, huh, especially not for a book about coming home from war, now is it?
So if you’ve followed me on Facebook or Twitter, you know that for the last year and some change, we’ve had some pretty *cough* exciting times with the hamster population in our family. What started out as a pre-k class pet somehow morphed into two permanent members of the family.
So, Squeak. Squeak arrived shortly after Fluffy went to the great hamster wheel in the sky and promptly escaped inside of ten minutes. That beat even Fluffy’s record.
Squeak is, well, an industrious little hamster. She’s constantly getting into things and when I moved to Georgia, I took them with me (for a lot of reasons that we won’t go into today).
Anyway, the other day, I was cleaning the hamster cages and I put Squeak in the kitchen sink because it’s the safest place to keep her out of trouble while detoxing her home. So I ended up on the phone with a friend of mine and got distracted by the dog asking to go out. I take the dog outside, walk him for a little bit, then come back inside, having completely forgotten about the rodent in the sink.
Well, she wasn’t in the sink any longer. Somehow, she climbed out and was sitting in the middle of my stove like What’s Up? when I walked back in. Needless to say, the ghost of Fluffy is disappointed that she once again wasted the opportunity to escape. After such a promise future, Fluffy remains continually let down by her padawans.
Hamsters are just one facet of my life that’s changed since I came back from Iraq and started on that transition. As a mom, getting used to being mom again – to include caring for the hamsters – was a big adjustment.
I’ve included the trailer for THE LONG WAY HOME: One Mom’s Journey Home From War. I hope you’ll check it out!
Check out the :
Below is an exclusive excerpt from The Long Way Home:
December 27, 2009
WHEN YOU GET HOME from deployment, the Army sends you through all this reintegration training. Some of it is worthwhile, a lot of it is a waste of time and even more is a check-the-block exercise. I understand the intent behind it, but frankly, I didn’t need or want most of it. There was, however, one class that I really got a lot out of and it was taught by the chaplains. They discussed reintegrating with your families and I paid attention because honestly, I’ve been worried about reuniting with my kids.
They talked about expectations and reactions and how you and they are different now than when you left home. I knew all this but still I paid attention. There was a lot of anticipation within me about seeing the kids and getting my family back together.
I thought I was prepared.
So when we’re in the middle of a busy rest stop in New Jersey last night and my youngest starts crying out of the blue, I wasn’t prepared to hear why she was upset. She had real, painful tears, the kind of crying that sounded like her little heart hurt. When I asked her what was wrong, she sobbed, “I don’t think you love me.”
It was not a fake cry. It wasn’t a cry for attention. And I had no idea how to react. Instantly, I started crying. In the middle of a rest stop, with people wondering what the heck was going on, I was trying to get my oldest’s coat on her while trying to get my youngest to understand that I did love her and I had missed her.
My husband freaked out when he walked up and saw me and our youngest both in tears. My oldest rested her head on my shoulder and told me she knew I loved her. But none of that helped until I could make my youngest understand.
It was a brutal episode and one I did not expect. They tell you about the babies not knowing you or your grade school kids wanting to talk incessantly but nothing prepared me for my three year old’s confusion and true heartache.
It’s better today. She’s back to normal and so am I, but the pain from last night lingers. So today, I’m hugging both of them more and telling them I love them. I’d already been doing that but apparently, it wasn’t enough to make up for a year of no hugs and no up close “I love you”s. The web cam was good but it wasn’t enough.
I don’t know if I can ever make up to either of them for being gone. I don’t know what else is coming.
And I don’t know that I’m prepared to deal with it.
Make sure you check out the reviews on Goodreads and if you haven’t already, add it to your shelf!
From the back cover:
My name is Jessica Scott. I am a soldier. I am a mother. I am a wife.
In 2009, Army second lieutenant Jessica Scott deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. She thought deploying was the hardest thing she’d ever do.
She was wrong.
This is the story of a mother coming home from war and learning to be a mom again. This is the story of a lieutenant making the grade and becoming a company commander. This is the journey of a writer persevering through a hundred rejections. This is the story of a soldier learning to be a woman again. This is the story of a wife waiting for the end of a war.
This is the journey as it happened, without commentary.
This is her blog. There are many blogs from the Iraq war, but this one is hers.
Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she’s a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.
Oprah has called her. True story.
Her debut novel BECAUSE OF YOU launched Loveswept, the first Random House digital imprint.
She’s written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and is currently a company commander stationed at Fort Hood.
Most recently, she’s been featured as one of Esquire Magazine’s Americans of the Year for 2012.
Connect with Jessica at
Thanks so much, Jess!
So, readers — Have you or a loved one served in the military? For that matter, do you have a hamster? Hamsters or war, we want to hear your thoughts!