University of Baltimore MFA student Lisa M. Van Wormer recounts poetically the contents of her rucksack when she served one long year in the Gulf region–the list of items will surprise you.
One knotted ball of light brown hair ties
One of the many challenges of being a woman in the Army was that your hair always had to be regulation: either cut into a bob that did not touch your collar or pulled back into a tight bun. Even in a sandstorm, even under a Velcro-strapped Kevlar helmet, perfection was required. Many of my fellow female soldiers had tools to make this magic occur: hair-colored bobby pins, hair bands with no metal on them that would blend in with a natural hair color (as stated in Army Regulation 670-1), gel and smoothers, even a sock cuff to pull off the “perfect bun” look. I knotted my thick, wavy red hair tightly each morning and always had my cargo pockets full of hair ties as close to my color as I could find, but inevitably by midday wisps would become unruly and slip out of ranks.