7.26.2003

i'm sending another soldier home this weekend...finally...i've gotten three of them out of here now...i've watched them leave and it gets me excited and depressed all at the same time...i'm glad to see them go...but i do wish that it was me...but that is the burden of the beast...i've still got a job for as long as they tell me that there is one...

i have been using this blog to get me up out of bed in the morning...to track down something...anything worth remembering...worth sharing...but lately i feel like i've been there...done that...three times over...there is nothing more for me to see...and i am so down with carnage...it is depressing...so i try to focus on the beauty...the canopy trees...the smooth glass lakes...the early morning just before sunrise...when the sky turns a light grey mixed with blue...and singing birds come out before the heat...

people...it is getting so hard...my excitement at the notion that i might actually have a date to leave this country is overshadowed by my experience in knowing that the army will find a way to destroy me...i'm trying not to get to uplifted because the down fall will be so steep...but i will survive...this entire enlistment has been a series of rollercoaster’s...and i am old enough to realize that this only imitates life...

i feel it coming on...there is that hole...that comes with depression...with sleeping to much...with agonizing over your loved ones...there is this grandiose foreboding that i deal with each day...i'm scared...have i set events in motion that will culminate in my own demise...have i started a wheel that will spin out of control...

i've read journals and memoirs by authors who had so much to say...and they said it so well...but then their all was cut short...and they left those words as their last...and it is a shame...and it is ironic...that those people...who saw the world in new ways...in beautiful ways...despite the unending barrage of life...should lose theirs...and i don't want that to be me...i can not succumb to the fear that it could be me...simply because i have written about these things...this sounds silly...and contrite...but these are my fears...and they nag at my inside...the longer i stay here...the better my chances of making the news...another soldier...down for the count...a million miles from home...

people...there is still so much that i wish to do...and see...and live...and i am not finished...how could i be...who could be...just yet...i want to come home...and not fear...or think of ironies that do not make sense...and i know that with these travels...and excitements...and fulfillments i have earned a peace...a piece...of that which is mine...and i'm ready to collect...

7.24.2003

i had to mix up the routine today...it's starting to get rough and i just got word that i'm here for at least a few more months...this delay should put me well into the 8 month range...and that's if everything from here on out goes exactly as planned...which i know it won't...i waited for 2 months just for a plane flight home on my last deployment to afghanistan...but i might fall into a military loop hole and the regulations might work in my favor...i'm getting out of the army in january...and a new military reg. says that all soldiers are required to report back to their home stations 120 days prior to the end of their enlistment...we'll see what happens...

so i went out to lunch time chow...i usually avoid it...i don't like to eat three big meals a day...i've got to keep that slender figure...but i do love french fries and they are the staple of the lunch time menu...i watched an arabic man serving the chow give the young attractive female soldier in front of me roughly 8 pounds of fries...i think he was trying to flirt with her...i gladly took what she didn't want...

then i went over to the pool...and i was expecting a nice relaxing soak...i just wanted to float for a while...but there was a squad of infantry pukes who beat me to it...i didn't really mind...they were having fun...although they obviously were not paying attention to the laminated rules clearly posted on the tiled wall...i think they were trying to break every one of them...back flips and squirrel dives...screaming and yelling...the throwing of objects and wrestling...they splashed me occasionally and part of me wanted to yell out to these young troops..."HEY...KNOCK IT OFF"...but i let them have their fun...

i watched them all for a good hour...there were about 10 of them...and they were brothers...it was obvious...each and every one of them were brothers...they had formed bonds out here that i have only read about...the oldest one of them couldn't have been over 22...and the average age looked to be about 19...they were so young that i began to wonder if i had ever looked that green...i'm sure i did...

they laughed like children and they played childhood pool games...like 'fish out of water'...where one swimmer closes his eyes and calls out "water"...each of the other swimmers call out "water" in return...and the blind swimmer tries to tag one of them...if they get out of the pool and run the blind swimmer can call "fish out of water"...and that is as good as a tag...i haven't played games like this since i was in high school...these guys were fresh out...

it struck me as odd...that these soldiers...these infantry pukes...these unbelievably young men...are the ones out there...fighting in the streets...rushing the houses and mansions...killing saddams sons...trying to stay alive...these men who are barely old enough to grow a full face of hair are the ones dying each day...they are the ones that you read about...they are america's young...our latest generation...and they are being killed in a country a million miles from their hometowns...from their mothers...and their high school sweet hearts...

most of these troops have no idea about life and what it entails...but they are learning...every single day that we are here...they are learning...

i got out of the pool...because i was tired of getting splashed...and i sat down in a chair to drip dry...i watched them laugh...and splash...and jump...and wrestle...they were enjoying life like i haven't done in years...they were being young and they are not yet old enough to be thought immature...i watched them with a smile of admiration at their innocence...and my eyes were drawn to a ping pong table where all their gear was placed...it was covered with assault rifles...

7.23.2003

they cut out the internet access yesterday...for most of the theater...they do that when something big is happening and they don't want it to leak out via email...or blogs...opps!!!

the internet was reconnected a few minutes before i got off shift...so i was able to send off a quick bit of intel...but i couldn't even get to the news...i would rather go to bed...because i am getting sick of scanning the internet...i need some good news...

i didn't even know that they had killed the big guys sons until this morning at p.t....how crazy is that...i'm over here...in the middle of it...and you people at home get the scoop before me...ehh...

now i understand what i saw last night...i knew that the two events (the internet and the shooting) were related somehow...and i knew it was big...i just didn't know how...got to love those military news black outs...
Fireworks are lighting up my sky…not happy to be alive…forth of july fire works…but rather m-249 tracer rounds and parachuting flares…red rounds arcing up in sweeps…distancing themselves from each other…losing their luster the farther they fly…

When I get up on top of my truck I can pick out from where they are being fired…from the individual guard points…and compounds…I think we do it just to let the Iraqis know that we know they’re up to something…I wonder what the Iraqis think…”stupid americans”…

(i was just informed that it was not us...in fact...it was the iraqis celebrating...i guess i just assumed the iraqis would not have tracer rounds...i know the afghanis didn't...shows what i know...they told me that there were about a 100 locals hospitalized from the bullets coming back down...around 50 of them died...maybe they should have just thrown a party instead...)

I think it’s all a scare tactic… I hope it’s working…
we’re just letting the Iraqis know we are out there and we are paying attention…”bring your best shot”…”we’re watching you…watch us…so back the hell off”…

They used to pull this stuff in Afghanistan too…I would do the same thing out there…climb up on top of my shelter and stare out into the horizon…sometimes I would bring up my night vision goggles…you can see ever single star and explosion…the galaxy in it’s unobstructed vastness…and the earth in it’s declining ramp to chaos…a green phosphorescence that looks more like a video game then a real…true to form…danger filled life…

7.21.2003

i'm lucky in a way...i've discussed this with other soldiers and we...your american troop massive...defending freedom and u.s. interests all over the globe...are lucky...because we...the american military...can never again...from this point in time to the unavoidable day of reckoning...take any thing for granted...some will...but they are not allowed...they have not been made aware of the rule...i will let them know...don't worry...i've got it under control...

the national guard troops are angry...they were civilians and now they are full fledged camo clad dirt loving soldiers...they are complaining to national news agencies...there is turmoil...

i personally...am not doing that bad...all in all...this is not a bad deployment...i've seen worse...afghanistan was horrendous...a whole new level...now don't get me wrong...there are those who are sucking wind...as we say...with a tent pitched in the middle of the desert...at fuel points along the iraqi express ways...at borders with not so friendly countries...at supply points...and strategic outposts...they've got it bad...irrefutable...and if there is one thing that i have learned in my 6 years...it's that everything is relative...so i laughed at the air force pukes who enjoyed movie theaters and scuba diving lessons during my kandahar deployment and subsequent R'n'R to the air force site in the united arab emirates...where i witnessed them drink beer and enjoy air conditioned libraries and ice cream parlors...they thought they had it bad...and i'm sure that in the relative spectrum of their lives they did...it was not home...and home is where all of us want to be...it is very hard to be a half full kind of person in the middle of this half empty kind of thing...it takes practice and dedication...and still you will falter...

i have personal experience to keep me in the frame of mind that allows thankfulness...i've been with out...for many months on end...i've seen the full spectrum...i remind myself everyday...through the widening hole inside of me that i'm not out there convoying...i'm thankful that i sleep in an air conditioned tent...i'm thankful that i have a phone and internet...hot chow...a weight bench...good soldiers...and a swimming pool...

for the rest of my life...i will pause and look around...and reflect...because i will not be in a tent...in the middle of the god awful desert...in a country filled with people who wish to see me dead...i will be in traffic...or the super market...or my own bathroom...and i'll feel it...my shoulders will relax...i will exhale...and i'll nod my head down in a quiet moment of happiness...that will be mine...and no one can take that away...

unless...of course...they activate the inactive reserves...in which case i will promptly move to Tijuana... I EEEE!!!!

7.20.2003

the cursor...it blinks...as it waits...for something prolific...so you type...something heroic maybe...a story of valor...or the mundane...and as soon as you stop...it's blinking again...

i feel like that cursor...in an automatic mode...doing things with out thought...because they have become a part of me and my day...each day...off into the unending infinity of everything...blinking...

still waiting...it hangs on my every word...literally...

i get out of the rack only when i have to...i would be content to sleep the day away...but lately i get up...to go find a story...an event...something to write about...i have to search out something interesting because absolutely nothing of interest happens to me...but i'm not complaining...if i'm bored then i'm safe...my family knows this...my women knows this...i know this...

but i try to pay attention...because there is always something to see...something of note...like today...they called in iraqi vendors to hold a bazaar in our 'moral building'...they call it 'THE CHILLVILLE'...it's equipped with some huge a/c's and a flat screen t.v. pumping in the cnn or foxnews...we watch bootleg copies of the latest movies burned off the internet...it's a good place for the troops...

the vendors like that 'money money'...who doesn't...they bring in persian rugs...jewelry...copper pieces...leather shoes and jackets...video games...oil paintings that i think were recreations of famous iraqi art...and knock off electronics with names like 'SUNY' and 'MAGNAVOK'...we eat it up...because we've got more money then we know what to do with...hazardous fire pay will burn a hole through a flak jacket when a soldier is bored out of his kevlar'd mind...

the vendors aren't dim...in kuwait...at the bazaars...they will research MTV...and they will be up on the latest lingo to grab your attention..."very BLING BLING"..."makes you look dope yo"..."this is how we do it"..."the honies will love it playa"...it's hard to say no to these guys...with their middle eastern accents...they put you in a good mood...because you realize that they probably have absolutely no idea what the hell they are saying...they just know that you think it's funny...

there was a table...in the back...with the rugs...that had some very interesting pieces...either they were very old or they were very ill made...i hope they were old because i liked many of them...amber bracelets and silver necklaces...there was so much to see...i used to love buying souvenirs of my travels...i had always dreamed of a home with walls of shelves filled with tokens and trinkets...glass ware and platters...from my rotations around our earth...but since afghanistan...i just don't care any more...maybe because i'm not enjoying myself...like i did in venice...or san fransisco...or thailand...or amsterdam(where i really enjoyed myself)...

i usually shop for gifts...i'm a gift giver...even if it's small...i know people will cherish it because i lugged all the way around this stinking planet to deliver it to their hand...and most people respect stuff like that...even if its a little MRE tabasco bottle of dirt from afghanistan...they will treasure it always...

i think i'm just ready to come home and have someone bring me presents from their travels...i'm ready for a break...

*UPDATED PICTURES OF THE BAZAAR*