Thursday, January 1, 2009 1929 hrs.
So we just got back from our "mission" again. We were supposed to be off today. But apparently, the Taliban called and said that they were sick of us driving around in their back yard and was going to have to do something about it. So we went out to see if they wanted to play, but Mrs. Taliban said that little Osama couldn't play, he was grounded for blowing up his room.
It makes you wonder who is running things up there. I am starting to think that there just might be a monkey sitting in a chair with two buttons in front of him and whichever one he hits determines where we have to go and what we have to do. Oh, and the buttons are labeled, "STUPID" and "NOT STUPID". I'll give you three guesses which one he hits on a regular basis.
Now on to what's happening around here. New Year's doesn't mean shit around here to anyone. Fact of the matter is we haven't even seen a real beer in almost 4 months, and we wouldn't be allowed to drink it even if we saw it so what the hell is the point. But you still had a couple of guys who decided to try and watch the festivities on TV. I was wondering why they would want to torture themselves. Then they went from there and went and tried to call home. Oh that's just brilliant. Now you are going to try and talk to your friends, or wife or girlfriend or whatever when they are blitzed out of their minds and barely coherent. Not to mention they are probably not even home. This is where the trouble begins. You would be amazed at how fast people's minds can race when they cannot get a hold of their loved one. Where is she/he? What are they doing? Who are they with?
Dude, why would you do this to yourself? I just decided that I called home on Christmas, to hell with New Year's and maybe we'll just start calling home once a month or some shit like that. All some people do is sit around and miss home and talk about all the things that they miss about home. About the only thing that I can do to deal with it, is to forget about it the best I can. Which is impossible but I just don't think about it as much as people would believe.
Unfortunately for a lot of them this is the first time they have been away from home and I don't think a lot of people can deal with the fact that the world goes on and on whether you are there or not. Truth be told, none of us are all that important. I was talking to one of these guys here and he said, "I don't know what my wife would ever do without me!" I stared at him, completely dumbfounded, and I said, "Whatever the hell she is doing right now dip shit!" It makes me laugh how self-important people are. (Myself included, I mean I write all about myself) Everything will be different when we get home. We will be completely different. In many good, and many more bad ways. No one has cracked or anything which is good, but I imagine that before this whole thing is over someone will. I am wondering now if my friends and family will even understand me when I come home. I mean they had a hard enough time understanding all the bullshit that came out of me when I was home.
Already I find that calling home and talking to people is getting harder. And all the less appealing. They are living their lives and I am living mine. However, given the current set of circumstances the two are so much different that I don't really have that much to talk about. What the hell am I going to do? Tell them about the latest IED that damn near killed someone, or these missions that we constantly go on, or what pretty hallucinations I have seen the last few days due to sleep deprivation. (I shit you not; I saw a pink elephant running along side my truck yesterday.) While they blather on about who is dating who, my job sucks, and who got fired, or so and so found a job, or the ever classic, "Dude, we went out the other night and got so trashed..."
What got me started on all of this? I'll keep this brief, but we had an extra guy going out with us today. I don't know who the hell he is or what the hell he does, but he rode with me in my truck today. So we got to talking a little bit and I told him about the phone call home and all the shit I got for Christmas (which was great), and he told me that he had no family and no friends back home, all his friends were here. I couldn't help but feel a tinge of envy to go with the pity that I felt for the guy. At least he doesn't ever have to think about "back home". Home is wherever he lays his head. There is part of me that envies that. But enough of that bullshit.
So we got notified that we are on our way again tomorrow. What else is new? It never ceases to amaze me how these guys in charge think about this stuff. "Tomorrow is the day, baby. Tomorrow we get these assholes!" Really? We are driving out into the desert where they can see us coming from miles away and get nice and ready for us, and then strike. Fun for us. When will one of these testosterone jockey's we have running this joint figure out that this isn't a game. People are going to get hurt, and God forbid any of us die. Maybe that is what it is going to take for these pricks to figure out that this enemy we have here is not playing around. All the same, it is truly unfortunate that something as horrible as a death will probably not even register with them as anything more than a necessary sacrifice of war.
At one point or another over the past few weeks my entire platoon has been introduced to Mr. Taliban Man to one degree or another. And let me tell you the truth, the man is a real fuck stick.
War is a funny thing in that it alters your perception of things without you even knowing what is going on. So I am sitting here listening to "Jersey Girl" by Bruce Springsteen and I can't get around how damn depressing this whole situation is. I would much rather be home dealing with some pain in the ass woman than here dealing with the pains in the ass I have to deal with. I mean at least usually, the girl's don't actually try to kill you. At least not with guns (Tony). But some of these guys around here make me nuts. I don't know where they are coming from. I lost my interest in war right about the time that the first rounds came flying in my general direction. I can't help but laugh about it now. But at the time my butt-hole puckered like you wouldn't believe. I was just standing there and I heard the first shots, and I couldn't quite place what that sound was. I have heard plenty of gunshots before but always from behind the gun, never on the business end of the damn thing. So my gunner leisurely turns around and starts looking around, and I ask him, "What the hell is that?" And without so much as an elevation in the tone of his voice he states, ever so flatly, "Some mother fucker is shooting at us” Shortly thereafter I became intimately acquainted with the ground so as to make myself the smallest target possible. Now this has happened a few more times since then, and each time whether literally or figuratively I have become intimately acquainted with the ground. Because I have no interest in leaving here either in a box, or minus any body parts that I came here with.
But some of these guys are chomping at the bit to get out there and kill shit, as they so eloquently put it. Some of them give off their war cries whenever we leave out of here. Some others have developed a rather elaborate ritual that they perform prior to us leaving on mission. And still others have just withdrawn into themselves. Finally there are those amongst us who just don't seem to care one-way or the other. Whereas I have just become that much more jovial about the whole thing. I have to find the humor in it; otherwise I would probably just want to fucking cry all the time. Not so much about the intensity of the conflict, because this conflict over here is anything but intense. It's mostly a whole lot of boredom followed by a few minutes of sheer terror, and a quick return to being bored out of your mind. I would be crying about the incompetence of our leadership. It just blows my mind when I look around this place. We have some of the best and smartest and most humane and courageous guys I have ever met here. Too bad most if not all are either privates or at most a specialist or Sergeant. I mean our leaders run the gamut from complete pussies to those hard charging, ego maniacs who think war makes them more of a man, to just veritable imbeciles. Now why is it that such men have no real trouble gaining rank within the military whereas others, myself excluded, (not a typo) who are good men, men of principle, intelligent men, compassionate men, and generous men who think of their soldiers before themselves are doomed to middle management at best?
So tomorrow we will do it all over again. Day after day, we dig ourselves deeper into this war. Fighting an ever more defensive war on land we don't own. When will someone appear that realizes the futility of how we are doing this? I believe down to my bones in this war. I volunteered to come here. I believe in what we are TRYING to do here, and I believe it is something that should be done. Freeing these people from the (insert "tyranny and oppression" synonym here) of the Taliban was and is a good thing. Disrupting terrorism and the terrorists was a good thing. Staying here to stabilize Afghanistan was a good thing. But is what we are doing now a good thing? Is it good that we have 4 villages just outside the FOB that most if not all soldiers here could not even tell you the name of? Why do soldiers here have to actually break the rules just to give an Afghani kid some candy?
But enough of that serious stuff. At least tomorrow we'll have enough time in the truck together that my team and I can swap some more "drunken idiot" stories. So far the two winners have been my infamous, "I backed my car into the building in front of the police car" story and my ever so classic, "I was so drunk, I fell asleep in the back of the cop car and he forgot I was there until his shift was over." story.
Well at least iTunes loves me tonight. I have been going through just about every Springsteen tune I have, and at least that makes me feel a little bit better about having become such a good friend to the ground. I think I'll go to sleep tonight to a little bit of Meat Loaf. Sure, who doesn't love the Loaf? A little "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" it's good for the soul.
I am done for now.
I love you mom...