6.28.2003

i went searching for carnage...i was curious...this is iraq...i drove my hmmv around just to see what was out there...

i could follow bullet holes...they were in lines where they struck walls...fire fights...on the corner of one building you can see the line of fire of a 50 cal that lit up an iraqi on a roof top...i would have thought that there would have been more blood...i didn't find any...i did find mortar craters in bridges and stair cases...holes demolishing the side walk and roads...big reminders of where i am...they had these holes in sarajevo too...i remember finding them...walking up on them...and not realizing what they where until i had passed them...i paused...looked back...i definitely wasn't in kansas any more...

i found some bunkers...still intact...the majority of these bunkers have been obliterated...wiped off the face of the earth...but there are still a few...inside there were pillows...flip flops...a tea pot still on a little stove...books...it was dark...and i was scared...i don't belong in here...what if i set off a booby trap...blowing myself up because i wanted to take an interesting picture...iraqi troops lived in these bunkers...iraqi troops who were forced into service...iraqi troops guarding the backside of one of saddam's lakes...they had a hole in the ground for a toilet and a spicket for water...no lights...only dirt...these people were our enemy...

the bunkers that have been "cleared" are something to see...the fight that went on to take these bunkers is highly visible...bullets ripping through trees...bunkers turned inside out from explosions...tank tracks and uprooted trees...more flip flops...lots of sand bags...

i found a watch tower that had been used by a sniper...there was a little platform against a window...there were sandbags set up to rest a weapon on...foot prints...and a bullet hole...fired at close range through the window...obvious...i looked down the line of site...it pointed towards a building...who knows what may of happened...surreal...

in a mosque...the doors must have been locked...i could make out the imprints of the u.s. issue desert boot against the doors...bringing them down...soldiers racing in...leaving tracks...clearing these rooms...searching out the iraqi's where ever they tried to hide...there were so many...broken doors...empty rooms...flip flops...
the chandelier in the mosque had been rattled...most of it fell from the roof...it laid on the floor with scattered yellow pamphlets in arabic...

i climbed the tower...the view was a amazing...the lakes...the palace...the city...smoke billowing up from some unknown location...helicopters racing everywhere...c-5's taking off from the "saddam international"...the tower was unfinished...it was going to be beautiful...the marble ingrained...colored...will it ever be complete now???

soldiers are everywhere...living...in blown up buildings...tent cities...in the palace...there are so many of us...doing our jobs...cogs in this machine...making things happen...everyone doing their part...and most of the time it goes so smoothly...you don't even realize that people are working behind the scenes...taking it for granted...some parts of this machine have it so much rougher then me...danger...i'm very internal...behind the scenes...i like it there...my family likes me there...

i had always told my loved ones that they did not have to worry about me because i am not the guy who runs into the caves...or chases down the enemy...i don't get shot at...i just stare at equipment and wait for it to break...but then those soldiers from ft. bliss...the mechanics and the cooks who were taken prisoner...now there was nothing i could say to keep them in good spirits about this thing...there was nothing i could say to keep myself in good spirits...that could have been me...i had friends who left with the first wave...following the tanks...straight through the desert...avoiding roads...in the dust...but it wasn't me...i got lucky...some did not...but i shouldn't count my apples just yet...this thing is still not over and as soon as you relax is when the bad things happen...i will not forget where i am...


i recently finished a memoir called "a heartbreaking work of staggering genius" by dave eggers...excellent book...he wrote something that really struck me...he said that there are 3 types of people on earth...the first kind is just oblivious and boring...the second is so self absorbed that they want every one to know about their painful life...they are seeking some kind of positive reinforcement...and the third kind is also self absorbed but they feel that they are wise beyond their years and they wish to share their wisdom with anyone who will listen...do i picture myself as some kind of guru on the mountain top...sharing "enlightenment"...spreading the "knowledge"...no but i do think that these times warrant an account...if not for others then for me...

i'm actually receiving feed back...positive feedback and it makes me float...who doesn't like a compliment...
but now i almost feel something like pressure...to perform...to create quality...people are watching...
but isn't that the point...

i'll do my best...

my girlfriend sends my tapes of television shows...the simpsons...the man show...the discovery channel...and the daily show...i've got about 30 of them over my little t.v...like 100 hours of stateside television...i could probably sell these tapes to other soldiers...but we keep and protect them like they are gold...

she started out taping news for my but the military mail system hides the mail for about a month and a half...so the news reports were absolutely worthless...besides i was living it...the funny thing is that i was receiving almost all of my stateside news from episodes of the daily show which were over a month old...i tried to email them and let them know that they were our only source of information due to military imposed news blackouts...i thought they might think that humorous...funny haha...not funny queer...

but now i've got the internet...and i tune into cnn or foxnews to see the action that is happening right down the street...i picked a good job...and i don't get shot at...much...but out side that gate...all bets are off...hmmvs come back with bullet holes...and the drivers won't even realize until after the fact that they have been hit...i've been lucky here...i've only had to leave once and i was relatively safe...and it was long before all of this uprising that is going on...but i'm still worried about having to leave again...my friends go out daily...they've got to complete missions and get equipment...every time they leave...they might not come back...

while i was in kandahar i only had to leave the airport once...with the special forces...they made us put on civilian clothes and get in the back of a tacoma...we wore civilians because we had learned some kind of lesson form the russians...when they occupied afghanistan they always acted as though they were an occupying force...imagine that...military uniforms and vehicles...this fused resentment with the afghanis...and imagine that too...so we wore baseball caps and drove toyotas...we were blending in...

we passed mine fields and afghanis giving us the evil eye...the special forces guy said "worn them twice and then shoot them" like it was directions to the jiffy lube...we locked and loaded...and we left our haven...

we ended up at the governors mansion...about a week before it was car bombed...we went to the roof and we saw the city...mud brick buildings as far as you can see...markets...women in blue burkas...i took pictures...i didn't tell my girlfriend...

we were on our way home and the s.f. guy suddenly pulls over and jumps out...and we are instantly freaked the fuck out...he hands us the radio and says "if there's any trouble just call it in, i'll be back in a minute"...wide eyes...slow motion...he runs away into a shop...sitting in the back of that truck...we were instantly swarmed...a huge crowd...my sergeant was black and they got right in his face...checking him out...they had never seen a black person...i'm actually looking for snipers in the windows...scoping...scanning...unreal...i shouldn't be doing this...some dumb afghani kid reaches for my girl scout cookies and i smack him with my rifle...some people laughed...some did not...the idiot private with us is doing everything wrong...using the left hand...giving the thumbs up...making eye contact...smiling...everything they told us not to do..."if you don't stop using your left hand i'm going to slap you"..."oh"...yeah oh dumbshit...

the s.f. guy runs back to the truck with a bag of flat bread...he says "sorry..we usually have an interpreter who keeps them away from the truck...want some bread"..."no thanks i'm good"...no grenades in the bed of the truck makes me good...

he gets in...we take off and we get back to the airport...and i can feel my shoulders relax...i breath deep...i unload my weapon...and i swear i will never leave again...they can have it...

6.26.2003

i got a big yank back to reality today...i can almost forget where i am sometimes...i get busy...i work out...i take a nap...read a book...watch a boot leg copy of 'the hulk'...and then somebody walks in a drops a bomb shell...a bomb that is big enough to scare me yet i don't think i can talk about it because i haven't seen it posted up on any of the news sites this afternoon...

(i finally saw that the pentagon has announced the missing soldiers...2 troops...gone...their hmmv missing...and they haven't been seen for 2 days...they were out in the town...convoying...like i've done...like i will do again...my mind can only imagine the terror of their situation...kidnapping and torture would be so much worse then an instant death...i think about these soldiers tonight...and i fear the worst...these are real people!!!)

a nice big slap in the face to bring my little wall of 'barely getting by' crashing down around me...and i pause from my work...from the menial task that i've thrown on myself to keep my mind away from the type of thing that i have just been made aware of...and i'm just glad it wasn't me...

the soldiers are still dying...right out side my gate...my barricade to baghdad...my little fortress that is more like a horrible vacation then a war...the soldiers who are no different then me...hanging out of hmmv's...running with convoys...their number gets pulled and they don't exist any more...

it's a sad state that originates when the death of soldiers becomes common everyday news...and it stops being surprising...and shocking...and horrible...when it takes a really gruesome story to remind you that you are in the middle of this shit...and you can't go home...YOU CAN'T GO HOME...you want to curl up and quit...wrap your legs up tight to your chest and sleep...

we volunteered for this...we sit here because we raised our hand...and sold our souls...most would think that we knew exactly what we were getting into...they would be wrong...we were naive...we were homeless...we were living with our mothers...this is just a job for 75% of us...many do live for it however...many will make it their life and enjoy the sense of pride the military gives you...but a good portion of the u.s. military barely pays enough attention to the news and current events to make a sound stand on any kind of political belief...it's sad...only 40% of america even votes...the percentage slice of the military is even smaller...

maybe that's why we signed up in the first place...because we didn't really know what the hell was going on...

our plan for the aftermath...they expected dancing in the streets and what they got is the next Israel...this thing is far from over...and the tensions or mounting...the iraqi people are tired and fed up with promises...they are turning on us because the past regime has fed them so much garbage that they have no patience for our timelines...they want it all back now...the electricity...even though the militants are sabotaging the power lines...the jobs for the ex military 70,000 strong...but where can we create jobs and who will pay for these wages...they all seem to agree that they did not want saddam any more...but they do not like the alternative...us...i can say that i gave two shits about saddam and this country before i deployed over here...and now that i'm here...knee deep in the military muck and circumstance...i feel over whelmed...under paid...and my 2 shits have multiplied into 20...

these people shoot at us because they are scared...we shoot back because we are twice as scared...they get dead...and we get dead...they are dying in their home land by the 1000's...we are dying a million miles from ours in the hundreds...

we are human beings...and we are all scared

6.25.2003

i took my first day off in 5 months...i think i've earned it...2 nights ago my tent finally put in an a/c...i'm living wild style now...i can actually escape from the 120 degrees of gentle warming warmth...

laying in my cot and not sweating...actually feeling cold...is so foreign to me now...for the first time this entire deployment the night actually flew by...i woke up almost immediately upon falling asleep...the new day had started and i was still tired...i couldn't believe that i didn't wake up once in a hot sweat...not one mosquito bit my feet...and i can't recall any nightmares...

i came back from p.t. and my tent felt so good that i climbed back into my cot...and i was through...it was over...i wrapped my self up in my burrito wrap of a sleeping bag...and i forced myself to sleep for 3 hours...bliss...ecstasy...my little face the only visible part of my body...an a/c vent coming down from the roof of the tent...pointed right at my nose...

i had to grade a physical training test this morning...which means i watched a bunch of people with a hell of a lot more rank then me attempt to do massive amounts of push ups and sit ups in a 2 minute period...i would attempt to correct their poor form..."lock out sir"..."all the way down sergeant major"..."keep your body in generally straight line"...but these people have been in the army for as long as i am old...so who the hell am i to tell them that their push ups look like doodoo...i counted everyone of their terrible push ups...and then i render my little salute...and i graded the next soldier...

their is a large amount of animosity built up inside of me...when i was a young troop...back in the day...i couldn't hide my feelings...my face deceived me...the burning aggression and incumbent frustration poured through my eyes...and i got in shit loads of trouble...i scrubbed toilets until i reached a buddhist state of consciousness...it all made sense...i am the zen master...i learned to tuck my emotions away and keep them for myself...it's so much easier that way...if your forced to play someone else's game...you have to play by their rules...and right now i am smack dab in the middle of the biggest dodge ball tournament in the history of the free world...and in 5 months...i'm out like a fat kid...


i actually look forward to going home to the tent now...laying my little cot...and thinking of my girlfriend really hard...it's strange that even though the living conditions are getting better every day...i grow more frustrated...more eager...and none of the improvements really matter a hill of shit beans...well...at least i didn't get shot at today...always a plus...

6.24.2003

the army has sent me so many places...from croatia to san francisco...from italy to guam...from paris to georigia...from germany to iraq...all over the world...

and when i look back...or i listen to another soldier reminisce about the times past...the craziness...the fun...the drunken stupors...it amazes me...the sheer amount of friends...true friends i have made through out this enlistment...people that i would take a bullet for...buddies i would lay my life on the line to protect...and then one day i get on a plane...and i never see them again...i get restationed...my deployment ends...they get out of the army...and i watch them leave...you try to keep in contact...but everyone is so busy with their new life...it all just kinda fades...

when we are trapped out here in Iraq...or in afghanistan...or any where...on pause with life...the past becomes so important...the memories remind us that we have lived...and that we will live again...we all think a lot about where we have been...and soldiers are always willing to throw in a good story about some dumb private they used to have and how he actually thought he was a were wolf...or the drill sergeant who started dating the same girl you were...or how they used to get plastered at the german beer fest and try to lift their lieutenant over their head, while standing on top of fold out table, in a drunken feat of strength...

we all have stories in the army...the hardships bring them out...we speak about them...the time so and so got drunk off his ass and had sex with the church youth group counselor...or when so and so drove his little german car off the bridge into the shallow river bed...or even the time so and so died in the drunk driving accident and my room mate went to jail because he was behind the wheel...

in every duty station i have made friends that have rivaled my most coveted high school relationships...and I look back on them all constantly...i wonder about mackie's kid...is caswell still a german mail man...will luna quit being a nurse and join the army again...has paco gotten his top secret security clearance...

the internet helps if your dedicated to keeping track...but it's almost as if that friend dies when they leave...your life really doesn't change...the army keeps you busy...and you move on with out them...new friends fall into old molds...and it all continues...

when i exit the army in a few months i know that the friendships will be the only true things that i will miss...not the friendships that i have now...but the friendships i will not be able to form...

i look back and it is almost hard to believe that these things really happened...they seem so long ago...and to sit and listen to my young soldier talk about his good times from training in georgia just a few months ago...all i can think is that his times are just beginning...his road and it's adventure are just now being formed and part of me wishes that i was back there at the start point again...there is so much that i would love to do once more...i could live in so many moments for ever...

but i take solace in the fact that a new campaign is being set before my eyes...and the truest friend i have ever known will be getting on that plane and leaving with me this time...and i will never leave her behind...

6.23.2003

daydreaming is a part of this life...with so many hours of down time it is hard not to fantasize about your days back stateside...

i slip in a good house c.d....or punch up some trance mp3's...and all of sudden i'm back there...behind my tables...looking out over the crowd...spinning at the house parties...feelin' it...

i started spinning records during my first deployment to bosnia...i had made some club friends and they let me sit back up in the booth...they were the first to put my hands on the 1200's...they put the vinyl under my finger tips...and it's been love ever since...i bought mail order turntables and had them shipped to sarajevo...i bought records on line and i was so young then...i couldn't even tell the difference between the many types of electronic music...some one who knows nothing about it will think that techno is a vast all encompassing globule of noise...but there are an infinite amount of sub genres...it's like saying that muddy waters and metelica are the same because they both use a guitar...i've been teaching my girlfriend...she humors me...i quiz her...in my truck...we're driving...the music's on...i point all of sudden..."which kind is this"..."um...it's funky...the beat is straight...there's someone singing...it's house?"..."i love you"...i'm still trying to make her understand what break beats and jungle are...she'll get it...shit...but even i can't tell with some of the new stuff...it's all coming out so fast...the field is growing...

when i get out of the army next january i'm going to go to school to be a recording engineer because that is how much i love this thing...i want to work with it...my job...to be with it everyday and shape it...to make money with it...i've played instruments my whole life...i've always been in punk bands...the bass...the trombone'a'phone...the drums...if it's inside you have to let it out...

there's something about it...just doing it in your room...all by yourself...it's the love of the music...the creation of something more then what it is...taking 2 records and making them one...blending...the perfect mix...it creates a charge...and your proud of what you have just done...sometimes others are around...sometimes you're alone...it really doesn't matter...but when you get to the point where you wish others were there to witness your meticulous match work you're finally ready for the big time...to take it to the road...to share your impeccable musical taste with the masses...

dj's make more money then most people think...and they only work at night...during the weekends...it's enough to support them...and the good ones get rich...i don't want all that...but i do want the nights...the lights...that feeling that you are the man making the whole night happen for all those people...you brought the party in your little record case...and the good times that people will remember...

the house parties are so great...it's very intimat...your surrounded by friends...by people you have never met...drunkenness prevails...and inhibitions are gone...great fun...

i didn't always like dance music...i didn't feel it for a long time...i was brought up on rage against the machine and tool...but all that changed with my first duty station in germany...the birth place of techno...europe is so far ahead of us musically...but we'll never admit it...you have to live there to see it...hard to believe but true...i missed the rave scene in the states...it seems to have came and went with out much help from me...i found a few dirty desert parties in phoenix...i danced as hard as an underage guy can in jacksonville...but my life started in the dorain grey...i was reborn inside ms connexions...

the dance culture in germany is accepted...it's not fought...it's everywhere and it is so much fun...sometimes i feel as though i am paying for all the good times i had in europe with these last few years of deployment tedium...karma...the full circle...hopefully i'm due some happiness...

i've often wondered what a dirt poor afghani would make of a club...take him from his cave or mud hut and drop him off in the middle of a mega club...most of the world is so shrouded from the magic that is available to us...I feel sorry for them...but music is the one language everyone speaks...the one voice that every one can comprehend...

6.22.2003

i've read that many soldiers are being repositioned into military police duties to meet the rising demand for law enforcement in baghdad...soldiers with little to no training in that area are being sent out into the city to keep the peace...that's where people are dying...
they are driving around for 12 hours a day with the wrong equipment for the job they do not know how to do and are expected to do things correctly...


reservists are here and they are what we call weekend warriors...they don't do these things year round and many of them are only doing these things out of a patriotic respect for america...but now they sit...with no idea as to when they will go back to their normal lives...many were reporting for their normal monthly weekend when they were given the news that they were being called up...some were not even allowed to go and say good bye to their loved ones...for fear that they would not return to do their duty...

when i left for my first war...it was rather quick...very all of a sudden...friday i'm skateboarding down sunset blvd. going to record shops...saturday i'm in full battle rattle back at the fort...there were cryptic phone calls and tear filled good byes...heart ache that i hope to never feel again...i cried like i was a child...it was 3 in the morning...i was heading toward the expressway...luckily there weren't many people on the road because driving is difficult through tear filled haziness...

we had plans for big bear and snowboarding...they were cancelled...all was not right with the world...i left her and i did not see her again for 8 months...

this last time it was a very gradual process...the word came down and they began preparing us...i had just returned in august and they started talking about our next deployment in october...i prayed things would disappear...they have a sneaking way of doing that in the army...everything is subject to change...most times for the bad but occasionally for the good...i hoped...

we began packing...we waited...we put the trucks on a boat...we waited...we got on a plane in february...we waited...we arrived in kuwait and still we waited...like turning the heat up on a pot full of lobsters...

and here we are...on the other side of the wire...battle is won but the war is far from over...this will be the new Israel...they will be fighting for years and we will be the police...we will go where we choose and make the people of the region our business...we do this in so many places...and i wonder why...korea...bosnia...kosovo...macedonia...germany...japan...panama...

we over stay our welcome...we kick your ass and then we put up a fence...because we need your airfields to launch our next counter offensive...

1000 years ago they would have called this type of behavior an empire...but we all know the real reasons that we do these things...don't you???