They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...


These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Feb 3, 2009

Welcome Back To The Suck, Soldier Boy...

So I am back, well not quite back yet but I am back in AssCrackIstan, further south than anyone in his or her right mind would want to be. Only one little hop from the land of exploding roads and machine guns. And I cannot say that I am entirely disappointed. Sure Qatar is nice but Bagram is a shithole of epic proportions and at least down here you don't have to put up with people who bust you out for using the wrong shitters. So all in all I am a pretty happy guy.

We haven't done much but travel; I mean we were sure to miss enough flights that we were able to watch the Superbowl in Bagram. For all it's faults Bagram still has those huge projection TV's, and there is nothing like watching a football game in a room full of rowdy GI's on a screen the size of a tank.

We caught a little puddle hopper out of Bagram down south today. I was amazed by the fact that we got to the terminal at about 0700 today, and we were on a plane by 0900. Lightning speed in military space available terms. So now we are here, sitting in a tent as the hail comes down and peppers our tent like a really bad drum-line. Which most likely means that we will be stuck here for at least a couple of days. Fun for me.

However, it does give me the opportunity to respond to a few of the comments from my last posts, and it gives me a chance to talk about a few other things that have been eating at me but I haven't had a chance to think about till now.

First thing, the little poem that I read on the tent wall that so many of my regular readers responded to. I would hope that you all know that I didn't mean you, specifically. I was referring to the American public in general. What I was referring to was the fact that a major metropolitan newspaper in the midst of a huge financial crisis, two wars and the general fuckedupedness of the entire world at this particular moment, was still featuring Oprah and Michelle Obama's clothes as a front page worthy news story. Which is nothing short of stunningly ridiculous.

So hopefully, that puts that to bed. You guys have all been wonderfully supportive of our mission, my boys and I. We cannot thank you enough and what you do for us, the kind words that you have for us, and just knowing that someone back home is thinking of us is comforting in ways that are not easily expressed in words. So...yeah.

Then I remember a few days or a week ago when I was talking about how the guys in Bagram don't seem to really have jobs, and they just walk back and forth from their beds to the Dairy Queen and all of that. And I was trying to figure out in my own head whether I was jealous of them or what. Well as it turns out I really pity them.

If I had to come to this place and got stuck on some big ass airbase where you are in about the same amount of danger that you are in on a flight line in Omaha, Nebraska. Well then I would feel cheated. Yep, I know how ludicrous does that sound? Well I suppose it probably is, but anyone who has read my words for a while knows that I have some pretty strange ideas about the world anyways.

I mean these are the guys that go home and sit in a bar and tell all the stories that they heard other guys tell when they came back from missions. These are the guys who brag about killing people and getting into firefights and IED strikes and ambushes and all that shit. (Note: all personnel reading this should be advised, anyone who actually has been a part of all that shit, will probably never tell you unless you are a mental health professional, or a close friend) These are the guys who look at the guys who have been out there and they feel somewhere deep inside that they are not quite as good as they are. Well that is why I pity them.

I mean who would want to say that they went all the way to AssCrackIstan to do paperwork, or direct traffic, or load real soldiers baggage, or hand out water, or whatever. I am not saying that those are not all necessary tasks that need to be accomplished, they certainly are. However, I wouldn't want that to be why I came here.

Now being the introspective guy that I am, these feelings truly disturb me. If I go off on a pass to a nice place where I can have some fun, make some new friends and drink a few beers and all the while there is a festering guilt in the back of my mind about not being somewhere else. Especially somewhere else like here.

This place does strange things to your mind; there is no way around it. You sit and think to yourself, beer in hand, "I wonder what my boys are doing right now?" I hope that they are Ok, I hope that nothing is exploding, I hope that no one is shooting at them, I hope the commander is not being a dickbag, I hope that the platoon daddy hasn't gone back on the rag, I hope.

But it's not only that, there is so much more. Here, there is always something going on. Now a lot of what goes on here is complete and utter bullshit, but there is always something going on. I wonder how well I am going to be able to deal with free time.

Here, life really means something. There is an urgency to it that you don't get at home. Why is there urgency? Pretty simple concept, here lives end a lot quicker and more violently than they do at home. (For the most part) Every time you roll out that wire you might be coming home in a box, or at least minus a few pints of blood or a limb or two. I am not being cavalier about this, I am just trying to say that when you exist everyday with death hanging over your head you get real comfortable with it. Now I am not saying that we are in firefights all day everyday, or that we are blown up by IED's every 5 minutes or anything like that, far from it. But it does not change the fact that just about every day I have to do things that could quite possibly end my life. At first it wasn't exactly fun, after a while I got used to it, and now it's becoming a comfort. Which I do believe is enough by itself to get me committed. But I digress.

So I guess it is definitely not this place that I missed. It's the people that come with it. So I guess the $64,000 question is how the hell am I going to feel about all of this when I get home? Furthermore, how am I going to deal with the drop off in intensity, and fascination that I have here? I mean there are not a whole lot of real dull moments here. Not like the dull moments that permeate life back home anyways.

But when I get home, as we all know, there is going to be quite a bit of dullness. I'll get my time off, probably about 2 months or so before I have to go back to work. During which time I'll rekindle old friendships, drink a lot more than three beers a day, sleep for 20 hours a day, and eat everything I can get my hands on, maybe fly out to Vegas or down to Florida or someplace where there are a lot of bikini's and strip joints. But there is only so long you can do that before you have to get back to your life.

Which in my case, like just about everyone else is boring. I'll get up in the morning, have my breakfast, take a shower, go to work, come home from work, maybe run some errands, eat some dinner, and fall asleep watching TV. This process will be repeated daily for the next 30 years. Jeez, when it's put like that it's just a tad little bit depressing.

I know that will be the hardest thing for me to readjust to. The difference between the intensity of life. Here, exciting (or at least it has potential). Home, same thing every day, forever. How depressing?

Well I think I have a pretty good idea as to what is going to happen. I think that I am going to miss this place. Whether I like it or not, I am going to miss it. I am going to miss all my boys, I am going to miss the action, and I am probably even going to miss the bullshit. If for no other reason than it gives me something funny and interesting to write about.

I think that is what bothers me the most, and why I just cannot seem to tear myself away from the Army regardless of how much it sucks at times and how much shit they send me into. You just can't find this kind of stuff in the society that we have created. Now don't get me wrong, I love western civilization in all its glory. I am by no means demeaning the culture that we have created, it is simply put the greatest one that the world has ever seen.

But you have to admit that for those of us who live the standard lives. You know, grow up, go to school, get a job, get a wife, get a kid, get a mortgage, get a pension, retire in Key West, and get dead. It's for the most part, quite boring. There are always exceptions to every rule but think of how many people you know who have never left the country, and be advised, Canada and Mexico don't count. I mean I know guys back home who haven't left the Midwest.

And whereas in some cases I envy them. They never had to put up with this sort of shit, they never had to do the sorts of things that I am doing now, they never had to strap on a weapon and go find the bad guys, they never had to smell the wonderful aroma of burning shit, they never had to know the terror of an IED, they never had to feel the adrenaline that accompanies getting shot at, they never had to know the pain of looking into your mother's eyes as the tears well up and you leave to a place you may not return from, they have never known the adventure that is defending your country. Wow, wasn't that poetic.

But it is for all those same reasons that like the fobbits in Bagram that I also pity them. They are the ones missing out, not me. They will never understand the friendships that you develop in a situation like this. They will never understand just how deeply you can feel things. They will never know just how wonderful something as simple as a glass of beer can be. Their freedom will never mean as much to them as it does to me. Their country will never mean as much to them as it does to me because they never had to stand up and grab a weapon as the wolf prowls at the door. And on and on...

And to end things on a lighter note, they will never understand just how far down the volume of life gets turned on one of these deployments. Now I am only speaking for myself I don't know about anyone else, but there isn't much going on in my life other than here that really means anywhere near as much as it did when I left. Credit ratings, credit card bills, relationships, jobs, mortgages, car payments, who is boning whom, clothes, cell phones, and all the other shit that makes up the average American's life, just ceases to be important. Not to say that I am not going right back to all of that when I get out of here, because I am. But the volume on all of it just got turned down. When you can say that you have looked into the eyes of a man who just got blown up by two double stacked Russian made anti-personnel mines, then what kind of car you drive just doesn't seem to matter all that much anymore.

That's one thing that came out of here that I am grateful for, it took a few really loud explosions and gunshots to turn the noise that is everyday life down far enough that I could start to hear the music...

Well I am done for now.

Later,

I love you mom...

8 comments:

  1. Good to see a post, getting a little nervous with the malfunctioning airplanes and all.

    You truly are a soldier's soldier. It's OCS for you when you get home. I currently only know one other person who worries about "his" men the way you do. I could switch names and no one would know who wrote what, they are so much alike.

    You must have the adrenalin "high" as I call it. If you weren't in the Army you would be a steeplejack, bridge painter, law enforcement, or something where the blood gets flowing and fast.

    Keep your butt down and helmet on.

    Pops

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  2. I know exactly of what you speak. I've been out since '95, and I wish I was back again. I miss 'my' boys, the constant BS, the training, the missions, all of it.

    No. It ain't the same back in the world.

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  3. Yeah, I hope you go into OCS when you go home Mud Puppy. The Army needs officers that give a shit about thier Soldiers these days.

    Stay as safe as you can.

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  4. so i think with all your pensive writings, you are on your way to your answer. Yes life can be boring, but you don't have to settle for mind numbing boring. If being in the army makes you feel alive, and that is my interpretation, you need to go back to your life and attempt to find something more "activating" Don't settle, you are simply too alive to do that. That is my advice my friend, I know easier said than done-but I have walked that road and I am pleased to say that I no longer have to pull armhairs to stay awake at work. I also have a blog, but it is invite only-it got into the hands of people who I do not wish to know such things about myself. I will show you mine if you show me yours! Deal?

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  5. and that is what makes the world such an interesting place. not everybody wants or need the same thing(s). it seems that life gets boring when you are not a part of it and for everyone being a part of it is different. your time in A'stan is one small part of your life, it is not going to be your whole life. when you get home your "old" life may no longer suit you and that is ok. You change it. If nothing else life is all about change.
    take very good care,
    marian

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  6. Hi Mud Puppy,
    Wow...you are such a prolific and terrific writer, I don't know what to say; and that's saying something, for I am not one who is often lacking for words. But, just give me a minute...

    You have a wonderful way of taking quite a circuitous route around a topic and yet your ability to get straight to the heart of the matter is uncanny. Your posts cover so much material I often find no need to comment because there is nothing I can add to what you have already said.

    For this post I will say this...
    It is not often that we experience something of a magnitude that can "turn down the volume on everyday life." For you it is the Army and being deployed in a war zone. That is a huge life altering event that suddenly puts all kinds of sh*t into perspective. For me, it was having an adult son diagnosed with leukemia. I cannot express it as eloquently as you, but, I will tell you as I go through this experience with my son, I really could not give a crap about anything that has to do with the humdrum nature of every day life. "Credit ratings, credit card bills, relationships, jobs, mortgages, car payments, who is boning whom, clothes, cell phones, and all the other shit that makes up the average American's life, just ceases to be important." EXACTLY! This is how I have been feeling for the last eight months! Yes, it is a completely different scenario from being at war, but, it is the same in the danger that you feel either for yourself or for a loved one. "When you exist everyday with death hanging over your head," suddenly, "life really means something."

    As I go through this process with my son, I feel like I am in the midst of a hurricane. In his few moments of wellness, the hurricane has stopped long enough for me to suddenly feel like, "Oh yeah, I need to go back to my life now...pay bills, do laundry, job, etc." However, I am no longer motivated to deal with any of this stuff because it's not important to me anymore. It really messes with your head.

    Now I find myself questioning everything about my life that brought me to this place and I am trying to figure out what to do with my future that will make a difference, for what we do with our little bit of time on this earth is important. MP, it seems that you have already figured this one out!

    Anyway, MP, you can see that I am quite circuitous in my own way.
    Take care MP, it is good to know that some soldiers out there do enjoy the job, despite all the Army BS that comes along with it.
    I hope you can find a balance between the soldier you and the civilian you. When you figure that one out, you should write a book. Be safe and take good care of you MP.

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  7. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 02/04/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

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  8. "they never had to know the pain of looking into your mother's eyes as the tears well up and you leave to a place you may not return from"

    Dearest MP,
    Tears welled up in THIS mother's eyes reading your words. You are truly, deeply loved. I read your eloquent, authentic description with greed, as my own son isn't as forthcoming with his experience. He's coming home from deployment next week in shame and disappointment because he didn't have a job like yours. I'm going to print and send him your story with my "Christmas Gifts" so he'll understand that I get it, despite the welling of tears. (Mothers are wired with them tears and there's no kill switch!)
    Without individuals "wired" as you are there will be no freedom, no security and no opposition to evil forces. Don't for a minute believe you're forgotten or unappreciated. It's just that the lambs are consumed with enjoying the freedom that you defend. There are still those among the sheep with eyes and hearts wide open to the full range of good and evil. Please keep us informed and enlightened. You're a brilliant writer with much to tell.

    PS: I'm anonymous to protect my son's embarrassed pride. Just call me flyonthewall

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