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

Sep 1, 2009

Objects In The Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are...

(Was written while I was at Fort McCoy, I've been home now for a few days. Almost a week. I got a few more things to say before I cap this off. But don't worry, I think Embrace The Suck will go on even now that this is all over for me.)

Well, we all know by now that I set my entire life to music, and the song today is Meatloaf’s “Objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are.”

Why? Because that’s one of the songs I kept on going back to on my iPod while we made this flight home. All in all we spent about 16 hours in a plane. We stopped off in Ireland after Kyrgyzstan, then we flew to Bangor, Maine and finished up the whole clusterfuck in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin which is where I am writing this from.

Unfortunately for me, and for you, nothing good happened on the flights over here. Just a whole lot of sitting around, eating terrible airline food, and sleeping. Not a thing worth writing about. But I did get a lot of thinking done. And we all know that leaving me alone with my thoughts is a dangerous thing.

What was I thinking about? Home. What the hell else could I think about? Nothing. So I thought about it. Then a few questions started to form in my head.

You see they keep on telling us about all the weird shit that is going to go on when we get home. They tell you about the honeymoon period where you will just be so happy to be home that not a thing in the world will bother you and it’ll just be like you are a relative who hasn’t been seen in a year and you came to visit.

Well I guess that’s not so bad. I don’t want much. A few hundred beers, a lot a days spent sleeping in, a weekend NCA (if you don’t know what NCA means do NOT ask me) trip to Vegas, and a road trip to Graceland with the mom, and I’m good. And that’ll about take care of the honeymoon for me.

So what happens then? Life returns to normal. Correction, my life returns to normal. How the fuck is my life ever going to return to normal? After this how is anything that goes on at home going to compare with this past year’s worth of shit? It’s not.

But I wonder.

What’s going to bug me about home?
How are people going to deal with me?
How much have I changed?
How much have they changed?
How much have they NOT changed?
What’s going to be the first thing that sets me off?
What’s going to stick with me the most?
What’s going to haunt me?
How the hell am I going to explain any of this shit to them?

I mean I have been back in the States for all of 15 hours so far and shit is already starting to bug me.

We got off the plane and there was a line of soldiers waiting to greet us. (A nice gesture) But there were some pretty high ranking folks in this line. Sergeant Major’s, Generals, Majors, Colonels, the whole kit and caboodle. I walked past and shook each and every one of their hands, said hello, and noticed a surprising lack of combat patches on these pricks. I guess they must’ve spent the war playing Wal-Mart greeter to all the returning soldiers.

I went to the chow hall today for dinner and was pissed when I found out that they don’t have gatorade and pop that we can just take with us. Apparently, here we have to go to the PX and buy gatorade and pop. What the fuck is that? (All that stuff was free in the suck)

I walked outside to look for some water and realized that they don’t have the piles of bottled water every 50 meters here. I had to drink my water out of this strange contraption that is bolted to the wall. In Wisconsin they call this thing a “bubbler”.

Then came the one that I really don’t like. I was unpacking all my shit and someone living on the second floor must’ve dropped something heavy. Like a plate from their vest.

It hit the floor.
There was a loud THUD!!!!
Followed by my entire body shuddering.
My palms starting to sweat.
My eyes darting from side to side, and up and down.
My hands darting around to my hip and my back...
Searching, feverishly for a gun.

Well, isn’t this wonderful. Just what I always wanted. A psychotic reaction to loud noises. This should be a lot of fun. The next time some kid drops and breaks a glass, I may try to shoot him. Well, there goes my part time babysitting gig!

But they said this would happen. Okay, that’s nice. Now that we’ve established that its going to happen, the next step is telling me how to make it stop.

Alright, enough of that. What else has been on my mind? Trying to think of all the odd things that will throw me for a loop when I get home. The funny things...

I will no longer have to put on either shoes or a coat to go to the bathroom.
I have already flushed the toilet about 900 times. It still fascinates me.
I caught myself flipping the lights on and off. Electricity is fun.
I got pissed on the bus on the way here because no one got out of our way. (All vehicles in Afghanistan pull over and get out of our way, otherwise we might shoot them.)
I still find myself wondering what the hell is under my feet when I am walking on pavement.
I don’t have to keep candy in my pocket anymore just to keep kids away from my car.
I no longer need two weapons, nor do I need 70 pounds of armor to walk across the street.
I will probably accidentally steal my first tank of gas. We just filled up and drove off in the suck.
A drive through the country will no longer require a belt fed weapon.
Roads do NOT explode here. Except I have caught myself looking for IED’s on the highway!

Well that’s all I’ve got for right now. I’ll probably think of a few more in the coming weeks and months. Which is either going to be really funny, or incredibly depressing. Either way, I’m home now. Or at least back in the States. Home is tomorrow. Its all behind me now, but objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are...


I love you Mom...


  1. Dude, you didn't get this way overnight, nor will you return to some semblance of normal overnight. Just stay aware of who you are and where you are and you will be alright soon. Just don’t carry any loaded weapons around for a few months.

  2. Welcome home again Mudpuppy! Take one day at a time and breath deeply. Now I am wondering what "NCA" is? hmmmm

  3. Ok, I gotta find someone who knows what "NCA" is! One day at a time, one day at a time and just when you think you have settled in you will realize you still have a ways to go and that is all kind and patient with yourself.

  4. I won't ask about NCA either ... welcome home. Sorry about the bubbler, and the no free gatoraid, and the traffic in your way and the ... well, anyway welcome home!!!

  5. Uh, oh. you said not to ask what NCA means. so I googled it:

    National Cheerleaders Association
    National Communication Association
    National Credentialing Agency
    National Confectioners Association
    National Cosmetology Association
    Newfoundland Club of America

    I don't think you meant any of those?

    Curious mom

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