6.21.2003

living with these guys...so close...is wearing on me...they are always there...2 feet from me...asking the same questions...looking the same way...doing the same things...i notice little idiosyncrasies that drive me berserk...and i try my best to keep my mouth shut...because i know they are noticing mine...i sleep in a tent with 11 other men...there is no a/c...i have no light at my end...they listen to death metal into the night...and they are always playing spades...

everyone gets into a rhythm with this place and not everyone's rhythm is puzzle formed to the rest...frustrations start to mount this late in the game and things will be said...i try my best to escape into my own little universe but i have a brand new, fresh out the box, never been used private who usually has absolutely no idea what is going on...he's been out here 2 months and he complains about going home as if he has been deployed for 6...i try to squash it because i don't need the negativity...i try to answer his questions with as much insight as i can muster with out getting sick to my stomach...he's 1 foot from me right now...in our little box on the back of my hmmv...it's difficult...

these things we call war...that take up our lives...with out question...with out hesitation...with out second guessing...are built on spine of compromise...but only at the lower levels...seniors don't worry so much...they give orders and people start hopping and popping...their world is without compromise...they sleep in buildings with their own rooms and central heating and air...working showers and lights...

your rut that you form...the rut that gets you through the weeks so quickly...that blends everyday into an unending collage of blur...becomes a crutch...it tears on you...you'll pause in the truck...and sigh a deep breath of repetitiveness before you exit...you'll bark the same orders with out effort...you'll phase out of this world only to be brought back with the same questions...even putting these feelings down on paper in the feeble attempt to help with this skull crushing wheel of everyday only causes dread...you fear that you might run out of insight worth noting...and if that happens then you might as well hang it up because then it becomes a machine unto frustration...and not unto living...

that is what i daydream about...living...life...simplicity...washing my truck...washing my girlfriend...sleep...eating food that does not come in a pouch...drinking water that does not taste as though it came from a bathtub...

i could get a job doing what i do as a civilian...i would make over a 100 grand a year...but i would be right back out here...staring at equipment...daydreaming about life...sure my bank account would be obese...but would it be worth it...what is money truly worth...it's not worth a thing if your not happy earning it...

i once read that money does not buy happiness, but it sure makes a nice down payment...that is true...but you would have to already have planted the seeds of contentment before you can reap any rewards...

i dream of working in a field that excites me...that fills me with joy...waking up next to my woman, eager to go to work...that would be happiness...that would create worth...

6.20.2003

there are so many difficulties that come with a deployment to the middle east...a major portion of your life is put on hold for 6 to 9 months and all the areas that could not possibly pause for your war are forced on to the phone lines...this creates so many problems...

emotions can't come across with the same amount of intensity...intentions are hidden under dial pads...ideas are delayed by days...

i've dealt with this dilemma for years...my pretty lady and i have worked through these obstacles for vast, seemingly unending, amounts of time...and it does not get easier...

it is not possible to convey exactly what you mean or what you meant to explain...every thing is misconstrued and blown out of proportion...feelings are hurt unnecessarily because you are not present to quench the fire before it burns uncontrolled between phone calls...

my relationship with M. started from a distance so "luckily" we had already created a "working" order to our lives through the phone...we are used to the miles and the crackle of the airwaves but it does not make things any simpler...it does not make things any more right...between my deployment to afghanistan last year and this one which is 5 months strong it would seem almost unavoidable that there would be problems in the rise...and they would be my fault...

for over two years of love we have only been in 3 "major" arguments...2 of which have been over the phone while i was deployed...not a bad track record compared to most...but they would of course stem from my large ineptitude to think about anything other then myself...

the male and female make up is so different and for all my experience i am still just a beginner...maybe more so then M...because i have never met any one quite like her...i have never shared my life with someone so completely...and i have never swam in rivers of heartache until i uncovered her sorrow...my life was dry and uncolored despite my adventures and travels...and i was ignorant of the love that was in this world for me...while she was always sure of the love that waited deep with in herself...

it is so easy to take things for granted...especially when your life seems as if it is held hostage by the powers that be...you fall into ruts...you become complacent...and complacency breeds error...i am not fool proof...

i forget that there is another that hangs upon my every action and seeks only my approval...not because i am unworthy or unwanting but because i am a stupid man who is still learning what it is to love...what the gentle subtleties of this cloudform-warmth truly entail...

6.19.2003

i'm not a religious man...so i feel a gentle irony in what is going on around me...there is a world at war and it is over so many things...but the main breaking point lies in a difference of religion...any one can see it...everyone is afraid to talk about it...
we, as the american massive hide a sneaking suspicion that all believers in islam are jihad flinging terrorists...while a large percentage of the muslim community, on the other hand, feel we are zionist infidels...despite our differences we all like to point fingers...

i once found myself in bosnia...a country that has seen the face of war many times over and whose population is still at odds while attempting to live in any kind of harmony...sarajevo was a major city whose beauty was known far and wide through out the world...but there was an undertow...ripping at the fabric that held that country together...they too were pointing fingers...
while attending a breakfast with some friends i suddenly found myself sitting across from an irish catholic soldier, a israeli jew, and moroccan muslim...what a strange and unusual predicament...i wonder if these fellows that i was eating with picked up on the importance of this meal...not only did we eat in peace and discuss our lives away from the military we spoke of our plans and our hopes...our ideals and beliefs never seemed to make it out on to the table...while i discussed futures and remembered pasts i fell into a thought that stopped and compelled me deeply...a brick wall of an idea that still sticks with me...an epiphany that pushed me into my own voyage of enlightenment and forced me to deal with all these things that consumed the back of my mind...
you see...as i sat there eating my bits of toast and listening i realized that all of these 3 men individually believe that the other 2 will burn in some sort of hell for all of eternity...they would be wrong in all they hold dear and their work to uncover any kind of semblance of peace, futile...because they are not of the same religious preference...even though there upbringing may have been separated by hemispheres and international date lines...they are still wrong in the eyes of their respective gods...

how could this be...my road to religious reckoning had just been paved before me...all i needed was a map...too bad i had to create it myself...

little muslim children in the middle of iran are going to burn in the catholics hell???
old catholic grandmothers will never reach the islamic streets of gold???
the jews will suffer the purgatories of hell for not excepting jesus???

i remember the feeling so clearly...i knew that i was on to something...i finished my meal and promised to speak with all these men again...but i never did...we simply never saw each other after that morning...

strolling through sarajevo the war is unavoidable...it's a proverbial slap in the face every time you look up from the side walk...real and uncut...these people fought and killed for religions and differences...a war was waged in the name of god...how does god pick sides...has not every force that has ever beset a war known that god was and could only be on their side...how many have fallen in the name of religion...
these thoughts encompassed me for months...

i was raised southern methodist and although i had not been to church in years i had recently felt the "power of the lord"...while in basic training...there are no atheists in fox holes...i tested the waters of many religions while in training because we were allowed to attend sunday services away from the barracks so i used that time as an escape back into reality...i did feel it...i have felt it before...but now i wonder exactly what it was that i felt so strongly...my analytical mind works in over time to make sense of these things around me because they make so little sense...

i sought the help of a chaplain one night while eating my dinner and my depth of questioning shocked him...i do not think he had been tested recently and he provided me with some of his own conclusions in this matter...he had also been forced into a pattern of thought that could only be remedied with a conclusion...

he told me that his conclusion was a simple formula and this formula is what i use to this day...it is the only thing i have ever come to terms with in regards to religion...
he told me that his beliefs led to think of god as an equation

1+1=GOD

now through out history there have been countless religions falling and rising and i feel that these times are no different...who knows what the future holds for our present beliefs...
and through out time there have been and will be religions and answers that come very close to achieving the correct answer...

1+1.1=GOD

and there have been many that are fairly far from the mark

1+6=GOD

the trick is finding the answer that best fits your life...that brings that power out to you...because i know that it is there...and i know that i do not need religion and ceremony to experience the power of the god force that coexists with us in this vast vast universe...

my reservations about religion now run quite deep...i've seen to much pain for them to not...from the president telling the world that god is on our side...to hearing the sermons from the mosques renouncing a zionist god as an ifidel...

i look now and see that religion is only what people use to explain things that they do not have the capability to understand...it is not their fault...and they are only looking for the answer to the equation...and now that my search has neared a close i have realized that for all my searching for an answer i will only remain ignorant of these things that i am not supposed to understand...that is just the way it is meant to be

6.17.2003

the bottled water is giving us kidney stones...as if i didn't have enough to worry about...now they tell me i quite possible have nice little rocks forming in my little meaty kidneys...the hits just keep on coming...
they say it's because of the minerals...i guess all those crazy arab sulfides just don't mesh to well with our weak american bodies...between the MRE's keeping the food in (they cause constipation[what do you expect, they were made 4 years ago]) and the mineral water keeping the piss from getting out...i think i very well might just explode...KABOSH...feces and urine every where...

the water is being pumped through so quickly to meet the demand we are putting on the arab water factories...they're trying to hydrate half a million troops everyday so the demand is pretty high...the water gets purified so quickly that it really doesn't get purified at all...
when we first arrived in kuwait they advised to crush all of our plastic bottles because the water companies will pay people to dig through the trash and bring back "useable" bottles...it's a different world over here...


i usually just pee in mine because that is a major past time of the united states military...i've pee'd in so many bottles it would make your feet sweat...i'm actually pretty good at it...when it would get really really stupid cold in afghanistan i perfected the roll over on your side and pee out the zipper on your cot method...this one is actually quite dangerous and the room for error is considerable...but who the hell wants to get out of your semi warm cot and brave the frigid rain and sub freezing temperatures to walk 200 yards to take a wiz in the middle of the night...i sure as hell don't...i mean you can only hold it for so long...and even though it sounds like a weird thing, just know that the entire male contingent of the u.s. army has done it at one time or another...we're talking millions of bottles...i use two a day sometimes...

just one of the many weird things i have accepted as "normal operating procedure"...

staying hydrated is a major issue over here...the temperature will hit 130 on a day like today...so you constantly sweat non stop for 12 hours a day...i drink gallons of water a day and i pee about ever 20 minutes...some days the heat is so bad that even though i'm drinking insane amounts of water i might use the bathroom once...those are the days that scare me...

my soldier is a three time heat casualty...sever dehydration is a horrible thing...most people will never know what it feels like...good for them...your whole body will turn red...you start shaking...dizziness...nausea...pounding headaches...disorientation...stomach cramps...they train us to watch for it...i have to witness my soldiers drinking water everyday just to make sure that they are getting enough...and they will still get hit with it...every time your body succumbs to a heat related injuries it becomes weaker and you are forever more prone to them...my soldier is now a heat baby...he drinks 10 liters of water a day and still passes out...i have to watch him like he's my kid...i never know when he might fall over on me...not good when your in the middle of a combat zone...

6.16.2003

they said iraqi's were in side the wire...in the perimeter...
i was drowsy still when they woke me up and people have a tendency to over react in these types of situations...the news changes drastically and little things get blown out of proportion...like a game of telephone when you're a little kid..."my mother has brown hair ninja monkey smells her butt"...
but i still got nervous...how could i not...we didn't lock and load because the threat wasn't that real...it was only implied...

so there i sat...watching varsity blues on our t.v. in the tent...with my rifle in one hand...my magazine in the other...and the thought of carnage and r.p.g.'s running rampant and unchecked through my mind...i have a tendency to over react...

i got up and i walked outside...i wouldn't...i couldn't get caught in there...in that tent...unawares...i'm the type of soldier that would rather see it coming then sit and wait for it to appear...it being every bad thing i've ever seen in any war movie...

outside i puff up like a bird...trying to look as menacing as possible...in the dark i walk across the street...scanning from left to right and then behind me...because i've seen too many movies where they sneak up on the lame brained soldier taking a piss...would they get my with the cord...around the neck and choke me to death...life squeezing out of my lungs...face turning blue...look again...make sure...no one there...i stood by my truck...in the dark...and watched the field...the long billowy grass...the silhouette of trees...the moon making everything a dull yellow...they could hide so easily and i would never see them...

would i shoot them...could i raise my rifle and fire...if i feel threatened...if i'm scared...what if i'm wrong...what if it's just some stupid soldiers out for a nature walk at 12:30 at night...what if it's a lame brained troop who doesn't like being in the tent when the iraqi's are inside the wire...what if...

but anything is better then being inside that tent...it's to big of a target...it gives off to much light and noise...you see i have to worry about things like that...and i don't want to...that's a strange feeling...to stress over your life because of light...to worry that things "could" happen...it's hard to explain...it's hard to live with...

how long could i stand out there...did the M.P.'s capture them yet...have they killed anyone...why won't they fucking update us on the situation...WHAT IS TAKING SO GOD DAMN LONG??!!!

i eventually had to go lay down...i couldn't stand there all night...on watch...searching...i turned my back to the field and marched across the street back to my tent to quite literally get caught with my pants down...
i keep my window over my cot open to let in the fresh air because it's better for my lungs...the dust at night creates a painful throat...and with my window open i was to scared to turn on my flash light to read...because i don't want to be a target...there's that feeling again...that feeling that this should not be happening to me...i should not be worrying about death because i want to read a book...how can this be...how can this be and still make sense...

it doesn't help that i have nightmares every night...i think it's the pills they give me for malaria...the bottle says they cause "lucid dreams"...what ever the hell that means...it should say "will cause paranoia and fevered sleep"...
i'm always fighting for my life...it's always the same scenario...even when i was in afghanistan...i spend all night running...fighting...shouting...punching...i wake up exhausted...and i almost always remember them because they are that real...like the time i dreamed we were at war with the canadians but it wasn't funny...it was quite serious and they were handing us a well overdue ass wiping...and i was running and hiding from guys who spoke english...from guys i was in kandahar with...people i knew and trusted...and they wanted to kill me...
and then there was the one where i was inside the matrix and i was jesus...but again it wasn't funny...and i wasn't a biblical jesus i was a new age matrix jesus...with good hair and crazy clothes...jumping over walls and pounding on mr. smith and his cronies...it was so real i woke up and wondered if it had really happened...you know those kind of dreams...where you think back on them and are confused as to whether or not they really took place because they create a memory of themselves that stands out and sticks with you that tight...they are so real that you actually think you could have been jesus inside the matrix...eyes popping open...you look around wondering where you are even though you are waking up in the exact same place you have woken up in for the last 4 months...

this morning when i pushed myself out of my cot...still exhausted...i was still here...still rubbing off the dreams...still breathing and aware...i put the magazine back in my bag and lumbered into my uniform...i washed the sleep out of my eyes and picked up my weapon...it was time for another day at the office...

6.15.2003

i puppy dog came into my tent yesterday...i saw him...kinda sneaking...like puppy dogs do...one foot in...he looks around a little bit...second foot in...he looks a little more...takes a sniff...peeks around some more...i leaned up out of my cot and said "what you doin"...and the puppy froze...i held my hand off the cot and he flopped over to it...he was soft...

i could feel the muscles in my face working in ways they weren't used to...tightening...cheeks squeezing up into my eyes...lips spreading apart over my teeth...i was smiling...
when i saw him...the little iraqi puppy dog...i smiled...i smiled so big and i realized that i haven't smiled in 5 months...

that was shocking...sure i laugh and i joke...but i haven't grinned...although i may be content enough to make it through each day and attempt to place some kinda of taoist affirming ideal in my daily life...that doesn't mean i'm truly happy...how could i be...

i read once that a person only needs three things to be happy with life...something to love...something to look forward to...and something to do...
although i can say i have all three...heavy on the something to do and something to look forward to...i have nothing here to love me...no one is happy to see me come home...no one is sad to see me leave...no one is content to sit with me in a chair and look at the trees...

but a little puppy dog!!!

i fed him MRE meatloaf and he ate it off the spoon...i cut a water bottle in half and he drank from it...i cleaned off his "wittle" nose and my soldiers started laughing at me...
"how will we ever take you serious now after hearing you use a word like 'wittle' sergeant?"
"you'll take me serious because i will smoke you until you wet your 'wittle' pants private!!!"

i thought about claiming this dog...making him mine..."i could give him a collar and feed him everyday and name him gomer"...
but i'd get in trouble...we aren't aloud to have mascots...
i've heard stories of units adopting a pet and getting him all his shots so that he could go back to the states...but not my unit...we take ourselves very seriously..."we are an island of standards in this war"...even though the soldiers really fighting this war look at us and laugh...our leadership is very hard on us because they want this unit to come off as the toughest SUPPORT unit in the army...you would have to be in the military for a while to realize how funny that is...the real military units accomplish the real missions and treat their soldiers differently...they worry a lot less about things that don't really matter...like whether or not i'm wearing my headphones while in my physical training uniform...or if we feed a stray puppy some MRE meatloaf...they are more concerned with keeping their soldiers motivated enough to quite possible give their life in combat...so they ease off on the silly things...

i've seen the pack of dogs around the camp...resembling grey hounds...real skinny with long legs...they chase some kind of iraqi antelope through tent city...and we get excited...you can see their ribs through their thin layer of skin...tongues flapping out the side of their long snouts...shifty eyes sizing up everything and everyone around them...scared...their all wild...but smart enough to take a hand out...

i miss owning a pet...i've always had one my entire life until i joined the army and i forgot for a long time what it was like to have that little tail flapping and paws jumping up on you when you come home...they're always so glad to see you...i guess it's just one more thing to put on the list of things i will never take for granted again...that list is starting to get quite long...