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

Mar 31, 2009

HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET TO SIT AROUND AND BULLSHIT WITH TWO GUYS WHO JUST GOT BLOWN UP...AGAIN! OR THE “POST IED BLUES”...

So today was another eventful day. Pigpen got blown up...again. That makes two. He may be trying to set some sort of record. But I don’t know for sure. Pigpen and one other guy were in the truck at the time.

Either way, it made for an interesting evening. So I spent the last two hours sitting around with these two, just bullshitting and making light of a tremendously f’ed up situation. It’s funny the range of emotions that people go through when they have just had a life threatening experience. And by funny, I mean completely ridiculous, somewhat psychotic and infinitely entertaining.

We started with the first emotion. “Holy shit, I can’t believe that happened again!” Which encompassed these guys relating their version of events to me with gusto. Which was fun. Anyone exposed to that intense of a situation and the prerequisite adrenaline dump is bound to be lots of laughs.

Next we moved on to, “I want to kill someone for blowing me up.” For those of you who don’t know this is a completely rational and expected response. They went so far as to try to slaughter the moths that were populating our little sleep area. Ending one things life is a poor substitute for killing a Taliban, but in this case it was the best they could do. However, due to the aforementioned adrenalin dump, neither one of these uncoordinated pukes could even get close to any of the moths with their knives. At times it even looked as though they would stab themselves in the eyes before they got anywhere near one of these flying insects. Which, I have to say was fun for me.

The next stage in this emotional roller coaster that I like to call the “post IED blues”, is “I have to call my mom, so she doesn’t hear this from someone else.” Good call, I think. I still haven’t decided whether or not our dear old mothers need or want to know any of the fucked up things that happen to us here. But given the fact that my mother reads this blog I have made that decision already. Now I have to figure out if I did that consciously or unconsciously. Ah, who knows? No need to dwell too much on that tonight. Anyway, these guys made a B-line for the phones, called their respective mothers, girlfriends, wives and what not, and relayed the entire story to them after leading with the ever present, “Before I tell you this, I’m fine!”

Next in line, the “I want to eat a shitload of candy and bitch about all the goofy Army rules about what you have to do when you are struck with an IED.” This is hilarious because it is the only time you will see two battle tested soldiers acting like PMS’ing 15 year old girls. This stage can occur pretty much anytime in the sequence given that you never know when the Army is going to hit you with the rules. In this case it came quickly, because the command hit them with these rules pretty quick. So they had to go get checked out by the doctor. Or in our case the 22 year old medic who is in charge of deciding your medical condition and whether or not you actually deserve to go to the hospital. I guess that, given the amount of practice we supply them with, they are pretty good at this, irrespective of their age. So they had to do all these cognitive tests. Memorizing numbers, words, and letters and then either repeating them back to the questioner or repeating them back in reverse order. This would be a hilarious sight to see, given the fact that Pigpen probably couldn’t do this sort of thing stone sober after 8 hours of sleep and a Swedish massage, much less right after having exploded for the second time in three months. So as he relates this scene to me I can’t help but envision him standing there with the doctor staring at him, and writing these numbers in the air with his fingers and then asking, “What was the third one again?” Then there are the requisite pokes and prods, and looking into this orifice or that, and the listening to the heart with that ridiculously cold little disc thingy. You’d think with all this modern technology we could make one of those that was warm. But I digress.

Finally, there is the last stage. “I have had enough of this shit for one day, I just want to eat, shower, and go to sleep.” Fairly self explanatory and it comes on quickly. This is the stage they are in now, Pigpen is already snoring, and the other guy is in the shower praying for hot water. As I sit here listening to him snore, I can’t help but wonder if this will have any effect on him later. I hope not, but I am probably wrong. I don’t think you can do this more than once and come out the other end okay. However, in Pigpen’s case he was probably already screwed up enough that when it does rear its head and mess with him. No one will notice. Maybe that’s better, I don’t know.

These stages can be run through in any order really, will come back at any time, and will recede just as quickly and unexpectedly. I just can’t help but think, and once again I am probably going straight to hell for this...but “Better them than me, and I hope karma didn’t hear that.”

Either way, I am done now.

Later,

I love you mom...and I am...well you know.

WHAT? THEY’RE HAVING A LITTLE BIT OF FUN! THIS SHALL NOT BE ALLOWED...

Now this time I don’t know if this is the electric strawberries or who decided this stupidity. My squad leader in his seemingly endless role as the bearer of bad and/or retarded news, just left my room. He had some new rules that the command just came up with to share with me.

First rule. No more bonfires. This is something we have done from time to time just to pass the time with a minimum of boredom. We get together, light up a bunch of old wood, and sit around the fire and talk. Well someone, I don’t know who, got a tad pissed about that. Apparently, they heard entirely too much laughter coming from the area of the bonfire. I guess when military leaders hear laughter they automatically swing into damage control mode and proceed to root out whatever the cause of said laughter is. In this case it was the bonfires.

It also probably has something to do with the electric strawberries because of the fact that they have already pissed us off to no end, we are going around and taking all the furniture that we built. Shelves and desks and tables and all of that stuff and we took that out to the bonfire the other night. Why would we spend all that time building this stuff just to give it over to this bunch of dickbags? However, my furniture has yet to be destroyed so sometime tomorrow I will make sure that all of this stuff is properly dismantled and the wood ruined. I could probably be the bigger man about all of this, but what fun would that be. To hell with all these guys.

Second rule. No more hat days. I don’t remember if I told you but the new commander had authorized us to wear any hat we liked on Fridays. This was kind of nice. Broke up the monotony. Gave people a chance to be themselves. Maybe even had a positive effect on morale. Which as anyone who has read my words for more than a minute knows is a big problem around here.

Well, this is the Army son, there is no room for individuality, and there is certainly no room for soldiers who are smiling, perhaps even happy for a minute or two. I mean, how are you going to kill the Taliban if you are wearing a White Sox hat?

Now that’s it for the rules I remember. I have a nasty habit of tuning my squad leader out when he starts to babble. But there are a few more things that we have to do that made me laugh.

First: We have to move out of our barracks tomorrow. Fun for us, thank God we got rid of all that other superfluous shit the other day. It will make moving infinitely easier. So we have to vacate our buildings by 1300 tomorrow. Making room for the new unit. I know that this is probably necessary, but I still don’t like it. We have been here for God only knows how long so far, we have been blown up a bunch of times, we have been in the shit with the Taliban (ish), and these pricks just showed up from the states. Not only that but we have to move to a place where we are going to be living right on top of each other for the duration of our time here. How about we just let us have our last few weeks in a place where we can actually breath when we sleep? No way Jose, you are moving 40 some guys into a few buildings built for maybe 15 a piece. Fun all around.

Now its back to missions for my platoon. Which means training this new unit, who has already made it abundantly clear that they have no interest in anything that we have to say. So we are going to have to deal with a whole bunch of active duty guys who have chips on their shoulders and think their shit doesn’t stink. I say this, to all the active duty guys, and this coming from a guy who was active duty for almost six years: Blow it out your ass. When you can make it on the outside then you can come and talk to me. Until then, keep sucking on the big green tit, and keep the Army as your really big, really bossy security blanket. (Yeah, I know there was a little bit of malice in there)

What is our first mission? A foot patrol through the village next to the FOB. Wow, is this going to take a while. I mean the village is probably maybe 150 meters long, and possibly 100 meters wide. So for an entire platoon to walk through it will take about 15 to 20 minutes. Come to think of it, by the time the first guy into the village reaches the end of it, the last guy will just be walking into it.

Then we asked, Why are we going into this village? Is there an actual purpose or something we are supposed to do there? We got the standard answer from our squad leader that we always get. Security patrol. Provide security for the FOB by patrolling the village. Okay, now I have been doing this sort of thing for a while and all the guys reading this who have been to Vietnam will know what I am talking about. A patrol through a village in a country like Afghanistan, where all your enemies dress, act, worship, eat, sleep and live, just like the regular people doesn’t do anything at all. As a matter of fact it might even work against you. Because it gives them a chance to get a good look at your weapons and equipment, and it gives them the chance to count you. All the while they will just stand there and stare at us because we can’t tell the difference between them and the townspeople. So they are in absolutely no danger unless one of the villagers rats them out. Which won’t happen because if it does, the Taliban will come right back in and cut someone’s head off. So we are going to spend, at most, 30 minutes giving the Taliban every piece of information they might need to attack the FOB. BRILLIANT!!! Not to mention, these villagers suck at small talk. Seriously, the last time we were out there I tried talking to a few of them and they looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.

Whatever, guys who make a lot more money than I do are responsible for this debacle.

Maybe if we were allowed to buy some things while we were out in the village it would be different. Not so much because I need anything that these people have to sell, but if we were spending money in their village they would be much more amenable to helping us because they would want us to keep coming back and buying their shit. Something that the leadership here fails to realize, or has realized and has chosen to ignore is the fact that if there is no enticement for these people to be on our side as opposed to the Taliban’s, then they will, at best be indifferent to our presence, and at worst they will help the bad guys. You see, we have done nothing to help these people. We have given all of our humanitarian aid to the villages where high ranking officials in the different Afghan military branches live. Big surprise there. Not a thing to the village that is right next door. All we have done for them is open up a little medical clinic for about 2 hours, once a week, and we have allowed them to come to the FOB for medical attention if their ailment threatens their lives, limbs or eyesight. Even that is only open for two hours per day. Allah be with you if you get sick after hours. Now there is a rumor going around that the new unit is planning on firing all the local workers when they take over. Oh, I’m sure that will do wonders for relations between them and the locals. I guess there is someone out there who wants to ensure that our commanders work, destroying any and all good will between us and the community, is continued.

You can think whatever you like of the people in this country. Personally, the hippy in me stubbornly refuses to think of them as animals that should be shot. However, that is the prevailing idea within the ranks. Problem with that is you have a mission here, a mission that requires the assistance of the local populace. There is no way around it, the locals are the ones who let you know when the Taliban is around. They are the ones who keep the mortar rounds from dropping on your head. They are the ones who will tell you where the IED’s are. Even if I am wrong about this, I could be, there is nothing to be lost from creating a good relationship with the locals around you. This is not a scorched earth war. We are not here to destroy Afghanistan. We are here to rebuild this country into something viable, and in order to do that we need these people on our side. No matter how distasteful that is to some.

In my humble opinion this may be one of the bigger problems that the US military has here in Afghanistan. You have a mission, which is to build the Afghan military and security forces into a functioning organization that can defend its land, and attack the enemies of that land. You also have a mission to build this country’s government into something that can actually govern this land. Now is there anyone out there who thinks that this can be accomplished without the cooperation of the Afghani citizenry?

...No one, okay good.

On the other hand you have military commanders who have no regard whatsoever for the Afghanis or their land, or their customs, or their religion, or their politics, or their tribal rivalries, or anything at all really. Or so it seems. I am not in those senior leaders meetings so maybe they are doing their best to maintain and further relations with these people, but somehow I highly doubt it.

This is almost like a car on the road. The mission is the road, the military is the car, and the commanders are the driver. So there is somewhere down the road that you want to get to. You have a car driving along, except the prick driving the car wants to turn the other way. Sounds to me like you are never going to get where you are going! Or maybe I just don’t know how to drive.

Anyway, that is probably enough for tonight. That one got deep, I just wanted to whine a little bit about not being able to wear my White Sox hat, and not being able to burn all my furniture before the new unit gets their hands on it. I ended up critiquing the state of affairs and politics between the US military and the Afghani population. Mighty strange how my mind works isn’t it.

I am done now.

Later,

I love you mom...

Mar 25, 2009

Why I Haven't Been Writing Anything Lately...

Because I have bipolar disorder. There is really no doubt left in my mind anymore. I am certifiably insane. And/or the situation I find myself in has exacerbated my unfortunate condition to the point where it has become paralyzing.

What’s been going on that has me in this state of mind? Nothing new, same shit, different day. So, I haven’t really quit writing, I have been writing just as much as usual but I am beginning to question whether or not what I write is true or not. Mostly because I have a pendulum personality. On the one end you have a happy-go-lucky guy who is not bothered by much and who generally has a good attitude about most things. (He doesn’t come out much) Then on the other end of the spectrum, the one where I spend the majority of my time, you have a real asshole, who hates everything and everyone and finds the worst in everything, and could not care less about much of anything, and is sent into psychotic rage by everything and everyone here.
The questioning comes in when I try to figure out which guy is doing the writing. Unfortunately its usually the psycho that is doing the typing. But I don’t like that guy much. He’s a bit of a prick. Then again, it may just be a perfectly reasonable reaction to the rather large bag of ass into which I have been placed. The bag of ass has a big 333rd MP Company logo on the front of it.

However, the question remains for me, “Who is talking here?” I don’t like the stuff that the psycho has to say, I don’t like the way that he says it, I don’t like much of anything about the guy.

I have been trying to sort this one out on my own, and figure out how to shut this psycho up. However, my efforts thus far have been pretty much useless. He’s a bit stronger than the other guy. Most likely because he gets a lot more exercise if you know what I mean.

I tell myself that the reason that I bitch about all this stuff is because its the best way for me to maintain my sanity. Even that, which I have held as God’s truth since I joined the military, is being called into question. Not by anyone in particular, except this other guy, who gets out every so often.

Now both these guys live inside my head. Multiple personality disorder anyone? Psychosis can be fun! Now if they would just get along and maybe trade off running my body for the day then maybe things would be okay. However, what do these guys do? They fight over everything all the time.

I once quoted some guy, I forget who, who said that the definition of intelligence is being able to hold two conflicting ideas in your head without getting a headache. I wonder if that sentiment extends to two conflicting personalities.

There is no way around this one, I have always been a moody dude. One minute, I am on top of it all, the next I am lower than snail shit. It’s just what I do. Now these swings were usually attached to something. I would stay high for a while, then something would happen. Something real, and noticeable would happen, and I would swing way down low. Then I would sulk around like that for a while, then snap out of it, and I’d be back on top again. Here, on the other hand, the swings come out of nowhere and aren’t attached to anything in particular. I get down low, and then something actually happens and it just pushes me further down. I still am amazed that I have ever been able to pass any psychological exams. But I guess I hide it well, when I need to.
That being said, I wish I knew what chemical imbalance, or traumatic life event that I have suppressed, or whatever is causing this intolerable canyon of a difference that I have between one side of my brain and the other.

I am starting to wonder if there is a war going on, or if the war is actually in my head. The only problem being is that the asshole is the one who has all the guns. Sucks to be me. I have probably slept about 6 hours in the past three days. And God only knows how much I have slept since we went onto these damn towers. Getting maybe 3 hours a day, if that. I am sure the lack of sleep is not helping things any. Don’t worry too much though, its not like I am having an “Apocalypse Now”, descent into madness kind of day. It’s more of a holy shit, I am losing my marbles kind of a day.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want, when I want. But also because I figured I had better let all of you know that I am still alive and kicking. I just have some shit I need to sort out in my own head, whether it’s caused by this situation or just intensified by it, and what the hell I can do about it. Not a whole helluva lot here, so it goes.
Just wanted you all to know what was going on. I am fine, physically anyway. Mentally, I am pretty much the same as I ever was, just more so. Now all I have to figure out is how to kill this psycho, then I can get on with my life.

I am done now.

Later,
I love you mom...

Fun Fact: I am about 353 words shy of 160,000 words for this entire blog. That many words fit on 374 pages. Jeez, I need a new hobby!

I Can Say, "Ass" Its In The Bible...

The following is an email that the mom sent me. It’s dated so you can see just how long I have been mulling this over. Afterwards, I tell you what it did to me. As always, mom knew exactly what to say. And even if she didn’t know, she did it anyway.

February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine’s Day! I don’t suppose it’s much different than any other day there, but I wanted to say it anyway.
 
What I’m really writing about is your blog.  I hope you can read this without becoming angry and just think about what I am saying.  I’m very sorry that you decided to take your blog private.  I think you have some really intelligent thoughts and ideas that should be read by many more people than the limited amount of readers you have invited.
 
Shakespeare wrote “Discretion is the better part of valor” (or something like that).  I think that means that you are not a coward if you back down when you think your energy and resources could be better used at another time or place.  We’ve had this discussion many times about freedom of the press and the right of free speech.  When the founding fathers gave us that right, they could not have imagined the way in which society has evolved.  They couldn’t know that radio, TV, and the Internet would invade our lives and homes to the extent that it has.  I still believe that you have those rights, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  I’m saying that although you have the right to criticize people, that doesn’t mean you should be mean and nasty when you do it.  Recent additions to your blog have been giving me the feeling that your old high school attitude has been resurrected:  Don’t tell me no.  That just makes me want to do it more. 
 
In this instance (your blog) I think you are leading with your attitude and not your incredible intellect.  I know you’ve always had more consideration for dogs than for people, but try to think about people now.  If you are presenting a case where your superiors and you do not see eye to eye on a situation,  they would be more receptive to any criticism or suggestions if you presented a problem, thought, or idea in a well thought out manner, using proper English and without degrading expletives. They might actually ponder what you have to say.  When you begin with swearing and nasty names, people tend to disregard your writing as ignorant rants and raves.  They also get their defenses up and refute or dismiss  what you have to say.
 
Someone once said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (It’s been attributed to Voltaire, but also to one of his biographers.)  I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to write or say what you want in your blog, but I will take exception to how you say it.  Another old saying:  “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”.  Those words are worth thinking about.
 
I’ve always been incredibly proud of you and TJ, and I am now.  TJ read your tribute to Auntie Buddie at her memorial.  So many people complimented your writing and even asked for a copy of it.  So you know you can project your feelings in a more acceptable format.  Think about it.
 
More later.  I love you and I miss you.  Love, Attila the Mom

Gotta love her. She is something else. So that little note of hers got me thinking. Which as anyone who has read more than three paragraphs of my writing knows is never a good thing.
So where did my thinking start? Just like she said it would, I don’t care what you say, I am going to do it anyway. Which, I admit is a bit childish. But we all already know that I am a bit childish. Its just what I do. Let’s call it my great character flaw. The fact that emotionally, I stopped maturing right around sixteen and have held steady ever since. At least I am consistent.
I think that she knows this, and I think that is part of the reason she does what she does. You remember the movie “The Crow”, well there’s a line in there where the Crow says to some lady, “Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children.” Now I figure that line came from someone a lot smarter than the guy who wrote that movie, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a truism, and it doesn’t change the fact that regardless of how old I get, I am still her child. She reminds me of this constantly. But what does she do that makes her seem so transcendent sometimes?

It’s the way that she is able to say one thing to me, that she knows will send my mind into a tailspin. Just because that is what she knows my mind does. However, she manages to do it in such a way, and with so much love and affection that it disarms the rather formidable defenses that my mind and personality have set up to protect me from any and all attacks from anyone who doesn’t think exactly as I do, and she nudges me into thinking about things differently and after a while I manage to come out a little bit better, or a little bit smarter on the other end.
Well that being said, I would like to tell you mother dear, that this tailspin was a bit longer, a bit stormier, and just generally a larger pain in the ass than they usually are. (I can say ass, its in the Bible) And she always manages to do this kind of stuff when I am in some sort of funk, or depressed about something, or just in one of those general malaises that people get into sometime. Gee, you would think that she could tell, or she knew somehow! (Sarcasm intended)
Well, for the last few weeks my depression level has been epic. I tried to snap myself out of it, but nothing I was doing was working. As it turns out, all I needed was that little nudge to start thinking about the right things. And as has happened so many times before, mommy didn’t even bother to nudge me in the right direction. She took out her verbal baseball bat, and knocked some sense into me. It’s kind of nice to know that no matter how old I get she’s always going to do what she does. That kind of continuity in life is good for a bipolar lunatic such as I. I wonder if she even consciously understands what her words do to me sometimes. Or is it just some kind of maternal voodoo that gets her to do it. Either way, it works, so let’s run with it, shall we.
So I started thinking about the blog, I started thinking about all the things that I have written about, I started thinking about all of it. Basically, this blog is the literary reflection of my life since last July. Normally, that wouldn’t be much to talk about, but given the circumstances, quite a bit has been jammed into that time. There has been a million things happening, new friends, rekindling old ones (facebook is a wonderful thing), explosions, gun fire, boredom, excitement, paying off bills, trying to deal with being a stranger to my own life, working, and the lot of it. It’s been quite an eventful 8 months thus far, and it should be a whole lot more of the same for the next four or five.

Well what does all this random babbling mean? Like I said before, my mind slips into these tailspins. Which normally take me from where I started to someplace completely foreign to where I began. It started as a note on the blog that was supposed to convince me to quit swearing so much, it ended with me snapping out of a depression and getting back on the horse that I had so ungracefully fell off of.

Between this company that I am a part of, this war (if you can still call it that), home, this blog, and a lot of other things, I had completely swung to the low end of the bipolar spectrum. I don’t even know if I qualify as bipolar anymore. I would venture a guess that if any of you saw some of my mood swings you would actually call me schizophrenic, because it has got to be at least two different people. No rational, functioning human can fluctuate from one to the other within the span of four and a half seconds. Rest assured, my well read friends, I do it all the time.
Now my thinking started with the blog, moved onto the events described therein, and finished up with what I was feeling because of all of it. Then I started to think about why those things made me feel that way. Then I figured out why, then I started thinking about why this place, in general, is just so depressing. Then I figured out that it wasn’t so much depression that had taken hold of me. I mean, to a point it was, but for the most part it was a deep seated feeling of pity, coupled with a very strong feeling of thankfulness, which made me ashamed of myself. (Don’t worry I know that probably didn’t make much sense, but I’ll explain it, but right now I need a cigarette. Give me a minute.)

Alright, I’m back. So where does the pity come from. Be advised, do not read the following unless you are ready for a bout of depression.

Here, a baby dying is just luck of the draw.

Home, a baby dying is a rare tragedy.

Here, dirt walls and floors is just the way it is.

Home, we don’t think anyone should live that way.

Here, a person missing limbs is commonplace.

Home, a person missing limbs is an anomaly.

Here, violence and war is a way of life.

Home, war is something that our land hasn’t seen since 2001 and prior to that it was 1941. Sure
we’ve been in a bunch of them, but they never touched our shores. I wish I could say the same about violence, but for the most part it is still something that most of us only see on television.

Here, medical attention is a rare privilege.

Home, most if not all of us, consider it a right. At least emergency care.

Here, children start working before they’ve gotten their first zit.

Home, American children don’t even like to work well into their twenties.

Here, people live to be about 47.

Home, I actually heard the guy on the television say that thirty is the new twenty.

Here, kids beg for food.

Home, kids are roughly the size of Volkswagen’s.

Here, walking from one village to the next is a death race.

Home, walking is considered too big a chore.

Here, a used winter coat is like manna from heaven.

Home, a used coat is considered beneath us.

Here, having the lives of your children threatened if you don’t do something that the Taliban wants is normal.

Home, well has anyone ever had their children’s lives threatened?

Here, being oppressed by this thing or that, Taliban, the police, the army, neighboring tribes, your family, religion, or whatever, is just par for the course.

Home, once again, when was the last time you were oppressed? And I mean oppressed, as in at the end of a gun.

I could go on and on, ad infinitum. But for all our sanity’s sake I won’t. But that’s what I was feeling. Thankfulness, and pity. In my mind, the equation thankfulness + pity = depression. Probably because I was ashamed of myself for having so much and being thankful for it when these people haven’t got a thing, comparatively.

Then I got a chance to talk to the Chaplain (military priests), we weren’t talking about anything in particular, just chatting. Pigpen got around to telling him about how he’s been feeling the same way I have. So I figured that I should stay around and hear what the Chaplain had to say about it. Little bit of free therapy without all the touchy feely, tell me about your mother shit. So as we got to talking, he moved into the words of wisdom part, and he said this. “Yesterday ended last night, today is another day.” I guess he meant that you can’t let all this stuff build up and build up, one thing on top of another until you have an elephant sitting on your head. At least that is how I took it, and for the purposes of this entry that’s all that matters.
I started to mull that one over, and I figured that in this place, whether I like it or not, there are going to be things that suck. There are going to be people that I dislike, disdain or downright loathe. All that I can really do is take everything, one thing at a time, everyday one day at a time, every bag of ass, one bag of ass at a time. I never realized that functioning in the military was tantamount to joining AA. But I digress.

Then, without much effort on my part, it felt like someone removed a rather large hippopotamus from my chest. I could go into all the psycho-babble about this event, but I don’t feel like it.
My happiness level skyrocketed, which hasn’t happened in a while.

Then I started thinking about all of this stuff differently. All these guys that I hate here, and wouldn’t mind seeing them trampled by a herd of Haji goats. I just started looking at them as what they are. Just someone who is passing through my life. You’ll be here for a while, then the deployment will end and I’ll never have to see you again. So to hell with you. All these things that piss me off, once again, the deployment will end and these things will never matter again. All the stuff at home that aggravates me because I am here, which means I either can’t do anything about it, or I can’t be a part of it. Well that stuff, while a bit more meaningful than the previous two, will also pass. So why get my panties in a bunch about any of it.

Basically, I went from thinking the sky was falling. To remembering that the sun will come up tomorrow and today won’t mean a thing. I even got over the pity thing. Pity won’t help anyone. These people don’t need my pity, nor do they want it. They could care less. These guys have been living like this forever. Who the hell am I to judge them and/or their lives. I’ll tell you one thing I know for sure, the way they live is so much harder than the way that I do that I am almost envious of them given the fact that they can do it.

This is what my brain does. I can go from my mom telling me to stop swearing to figuring out some (in my own tiny mind) cosmic secret that wrests me from the grip of one hell of a depression.

So here we go, its another day... And thanks again Mom. You always say the right thing. Whether you know it or not.

And with that, I am done.

Later,

I love you mom...

Saint Patrick's Day, A New Commander, And Taco Night...

What a great day! It was St. Patrick’s day, which is one of my top three holidays. Any day where drinking and debauchery is encouraged is my kind of day. However, the fact that I am here where there is no drinking and little debauchery, is kind of depressing, but I’ll get over it.

Then it was also taco night, which is easily my favorite meal here in beautiful, sunny Afghanistan.

But on the greatest gift ever was laid upon my doorstep today. I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie “Cocktail” with Tom Cruise when he was a bartender. But there was another character in there named, Coglan. And he had these laws that he would spout off with in any given situation. Now one of the laws was this, “Anything else is always something better.” Which I think is a fitting rule to use for the situation I find myself in. As you all well know my opinion of my commander is decidedly shitty. I couldn’t care any less for the man than I already do. He has managed to make everything here suck to one degree or another. Maybe I am wrong about some of it and its not all his fault, but the fact remains that most of it is and he is a convenient target for my malice.

However, now the dynamic has changed. Instead of all of this being just a bunch of soldiers bitching about their commander it is now a battalion level decision to remove him from his command and send him to some paper pusher job where he can’t screw anything up.

St. Patrick’s day became all the more wonderful for me when our new commander stepped off the helicopter today and strode into the FOB and hopefully will change all of this shit around here for the better. Now I could be wrong and this guy could be just as big a douche bag as his predecessor, or he could turn out to be a great commander. That remains to be seen. Regardless, he is not the commander we have now and at least for a little while I can hold onto the hope that he will actually be the commander that everyone wished for. Either way, its like Coglan said, “Anything else is always something better.”

So tomorrow, after a 12 hour shift in the towers, we have to go to some meeting with the first sergeant. I don’t know yet what it is about, but I’d be willing to bet that it is to introduce us to our new commander. It never ceases to amaze me though, that they could reach down into their bag of tricks and pick the absolute worst time imaginable to have a meeting. Here you go kid, work 12 hours then you get an hour and a half to eat and shave and what not, then you have to come sit in a meeting. Which, given the fact that our first sergeant is a yapper, will probably take up most of your afternoon, when you should be asleep because come midnight you better be right back in them towers.

Regardless of all of that, because basically that is just the Army way, beat them down, and keep beating them down. But it is what it is, I can take it, so what the hell.

So between St. Patrick’s Day, Taco Night, and one new Commander, my day was golden. Between the revelations of the past few weeks and today, I don’t know if I can contain my glee.

Oh and please stay tuned. I have found a new way of passing the time. A pal o’ mine and I have started a little “photoshop war”. For those of you who don’t know, photoshop is a computer program that enables you to take any picture and alter it in any number of ways, and to even combine portions of one photo with another. And the hilarity ensues. I’ll be posting the pictures for all to see in the coming days, but until then here is a sampling. Enjoy!

I am done now.

Later,

I love you mom...

Shame On You...

So today, for the first time, I am truly ashamed of being in this company. They, and by they I mean anyone of any consequence who can make real decisions that affect the day to day operations of this FOB, and the way that business is conducted here. So basically, I mean the commander and the first sergeant. Both names are purposely in lower case. These fucks don’t deserve to have their titles capitalized.

What did they do? Well, let me tell you. Now I realize that in the grand scheme of things what I am about to tell you doesn’t matter much but it just shows exactly what my chain of command thinks of the people here, and an extension of that is how they treat us and how they deal with everything else that comes their way on this deployment.

Here’s what has happened. Remember a little bit ago, when I told you about the RCP. Well they got here and then they left. On their way out of here 3rd platoon was tasked to go with them for a while to make sure that they made it safely into the next unit’s area of operations. Well on the way to or from I don’t know which, they went boom. Totally destroyed a truck. Luckily for us, no one was seriously hurt.

So we had to figure out a way to get this truck back to the FOB, otherwise we would’ve been stuck out there guarding this thing until the Army figured out a way for us to recover this thing. Which basically means that we would’ve been out there for a couple of weeks waiting ever so patiently for the Army to get off its ass and do something. However, someone was thinking fast and they pulled one of the civilian flat bed trucks out of the RCP. Now this guy who was driving was operating under the assumption that he was still under American protection and was still working for the Americans. So he was expecting those two things. He was expecting to be protected by American soldiers, which all the truckers who haul our shit for us are. He was also expecting to be paid by the American Army for his trouble.

If you ask me these are two valid assumptions. Well he didn’t get either one.

So we loaded his truck up with what was left of the humvee that had exploded, and he drove it back to the FOB for us. To add insult to injury, on the way a piece of the humvee fell off his truck and smashed into one of the side wheels and jacked up his truck, but he got it back.

We brought him inside the FOB to offload this truck and once that was done...we sent him away.

No food, no money, just get the fuck out of here!

I can’t even use the word “we” because most if not all of the people here who are not in positions that make the majority of the decisions would have been more than happy to help this guy out.

Now this guy is just sitting outside the gate waiting for the RCP to come back in like three weeks or so. Fun for him. Why is he just sitting there? Because he lives about 40 miles north of here, right through the heart of Taliban Land, and there is no way he could make that trip with any hopes of getting there alive without our help.

So now this guy is stuck between a rock and a hard place. We forced him to come back here with our truck and we apparently are refusing to pay the guy for his trouble. Now we cut him loose right into the middle of the Afghan countryside which should probably be renamed Taliban Central, and we won’t even help this guy get back home.

What a bunch of dickbags!
Now let’s get one thing clear. This guy, if he were to try to drive home would run into one of two things. An IED meant for us, and given that the Taliban are making these things big enough to destroy armored vehicles his little truck with its paper thin exterior will not have a prayer. Or he will be stopped by the Taliban in one of the myriad of mountain passes between here and his home, they will remove him from his vehicle, ascertain that he has been working for us, and promptly cut his head off.

Or he can sit right outside our front door, not get paid, and not get paid for the load he brought down here originally because they pay you when you return and given that he did not return with all the other trucks they will probably not pay him, not be able to get any word to his family of what happened to him, so they will naturally assume that he’s dead, given what he was doing, and on top of all that, he has to figure out a way to survive through the next few weeks while he waits for the RCP, but he has no food, no water, maybe a little bit of fuel, and since he didn’t get back to get paid, he has no money.

Well don’t worry, we have been sneaking food out to him during the day so at least he won’t die. But can you believe this shit?

We are supposed to be winning hearts and minds here! So we find some locals that will help us with the monumental task of moving material from one place to another in this hole, which makes them bigger targets than we are by the way, Taliban figures that we are just infidels we don’t know any better, but these guys who help us are people of the faith that are actively helping the infidels, they don’t stand a chance without us. But we find these guys, they help us, expecting money and protection, and we give them a resounding “thanks for the help, now fuck off.”

Everyone knows that the guy is not a terrorist, and he is definitely not Taliban. Usually when they come to work for us something explodes shortly thereafter. They don’t usually want to volunteer to do extra work for us. So how hard would it be to search the guy, make sure he doesn’t have any weapons or bomb making material, search his truck, then let the guy park the truck on the FOB, and let him sleep in the same area as the terps? Let the guy go to chow everyday, let him wash his ass, let him send a message to his family, let him sleep someplace warm, and wait for the RCP to get back. We let locals on the FOB everyday so obviously we don’t mind everyone knowing how many guys we got here, how many trucks we’ve got and the layout of the FOB. If we cared about that we wouldn’t have all these workers here doing our laundry and all the other shit that we don’t want to do.

So to whomever made this decision, first of all fuck you, and second I hope that someday you help someone out of a jam and they promptly tell you to “get lost.”

Shame on you!

I am done now.

Later,

I love you mom...

Mar 12, 2009

The Little Prick Wavers Are Back, And I Am Over Half Way Home...

So I jammed into a tower today, after having been out picking up the pieces of the biggest IED we’ve hit yet. I was out there for 30 hours straight. You know at one point in my life 30 hours wouldn’t have seemed like that long, I mean it is just a little over a day, right?

Bullshit, 30 hours is a lifetime in Taliban land. Staring at the same 3 villages and then back at the same burned out vehicle with parts strewn over an area encompassing about 200 meters for that long is enough to make your average man insane. So thankfully, I am decidedly below average.

If there were anything to tell about my little jaunt into the Afghan countryside I would tell you. However, if you were to take the thirty most boring hours of my life up until this deployment and added them all together they would pale in comparison to the boredom that was the thirty hours I spent watching this truck or what was left of it and then bringing it back.

We had to go out there and secure the sight because apparently the US military has a real problem with littering. Meaning that anything we take out there with us, regardless of whether it gets blown up or not, we bring it back. So when this truck went boom we had to pick it all up and bring it all back.

Problem being, this thing had caught fire. And had burned for probably a good seven or eight hours prior to us getting there. So we had to wait for it to cool off. Then we had to get all the unexploded ordnance out of the damn thing. Which was fun to watch. Thank God I didn’t have to do it. Playing with grenades that had just been in an oven for about 8 hours is not my idea of fun. Then we had to drag this thing out of the hole in the ground that was made by the rather large amount of home made explosives that were buried underneath it. Then we had to walk around this huge area and pick up every little piece of this truck that had been blown to hell. Let me tell you, when these damn things go off they send pieces of shit sailing in every direction. And we had to go and find them all. Fun for us.

So we finally got done with that, they left us alone for about 8 hours. Then it was back to the same old bullshit. Once again, fun for me.

I got sent to a tower for a guard shift that was only four hours long. Shit, only having to work for four hours is paramount to having a day off in my book, so I had a wonderful day. That and my shift went by all the quicker given that the little prick wavers came by the tower to entertain me today.

Remember them? The little guys who will wave their pricks at you if you don’t give them Pepsi, or Coke. Well, apparently they have traded their theatrical ways for a sort of mimic the GI game. Which means that everything I said to them was mimicked. Which was hilarious.

Hearing a bunch of Afghani kids, ranging in age from about six to twelve say things like...

Fuck you, get out of here.

Kiss my ass you little prick.

I like to hump sheep.

Take that Coke and stick it up your ass.

I like to suck...you get the idea.

(Another thing I am probably going to hell for)

But whatever, this is how I killed a good two hours of the time I had to spend in that coffin that we like to refer to as a guard tower. Teaching Afghani children the many intricacies of American profanity and slang. Well maybe, if I am lucky, these kids will grow up to be our next generation of interpreters. That way they can make a ton of money and use the words that I taught them when they meet the next generation of American soldiers that comes here. Alright, so that may be a bit far fetched but it makes me feel better so back off.

And with that I will talk about my last point of the day. Two things have happened recently that brought me out of the funk that I have been in for a few weeks now. One, was that the Friendly Ghost returned, which has made this entire place 10 times more tolerable.

The second thing is that I looked at my Hooter’s Calendar the other day and I realized that I am over half way home. By my calculations, I have 173 days to go. Which is less than 180 which is 6 months, so I am on the back end of this bitch. I am over the hump. It’s all down hill from here, baby!

173 days till I get some beer.
173 days till I get some hot dogs.
173 days till I get some...
173 days till I see the mom.
173 days till I see the brother.
173 days till I see every one of my friends.
173 days till I sleep in my own bed.
173 days till I drive around without worrying about blowing up.
173 days till I never have to see my fucking commander again.
173 days till I get to shit in a real toilet, that flushes!
173 days till I get to walk around without wondering if this is the guy who is going to kill me.
And on, and on, and on...

So that’s a good thing.

Anyway, I am done for now.

Later,

I love you mom...

My Mom, The Cougar and The Friendly Ghost Is Back...

So I just got off the phone with my dear old mother. We were talking about this, that and the other when the subject of me coming home came up. She told me about a new restaurant that she found that she wants to take me to when I get home. I told her that would be fine, but the first place I wanted to go was always the same, and she knew exactly what I was talking about. Mothers are kind of funny that way. They pretty much know you so well that there is very little you could actually surprise them with. She knew that I wanted to go to “Parky’s” a hot dog joint on Harlem and Madison in Forest Park, IL. Greatest hot dogs on the planet. And to all my buddies at home, this is my blog so as far as this is concerned the argument is closed.

Then I told her that the bikers from the bar that I used to work at were going to come and get me from the airport or wherever the Army releases me from. To which she asked why no one had called her about this yet. You know, because she’s my mom and if anyone sees me before she does she will probably try to kill them. I told her not to worry, they are going to include her or risk their very lives. She then proceeds to tell me that she would be happy to ride on the back of one of their bikes! A proposition that I quickly forbade. She protested, why couldn’t she ride on the back of one of their bikes? I said, (with all due respect to my biker buddies) that there is no way that I would allow my mother to ride with one of them. It’s kind of funny how life changes over time. We go from mother protecting me from all those girls that I shouldn’t be hanging around with, but wanted to anyway, to me protecting her from all the guys that I don’t think she should be hanging around with. (Which basically encompasses all men!) But to cap it all off and to completely wrap my brain around the axle she finishes by saying, “What, why can’t I be a cougar like some of the other moms I know?” Then she asked me if I knew what a cougar was? Unfortunately, I do.

Really? Are you fucking kidding me? I’ll tell you why not, because I carry a firearm and I will gladly put several new holes in any guy that tries to make time with my mother. And as far as the cougar thing goes...Well let me say this.

Every guy has their MILF story. Every guy has their cougar story. Mine happened when I was seventeen. And knowing how I have told this story since then I can say in no uncertain terms that NO ONE will ever have a story like that involving my mother. Not if they value the breath in their lungs.

Now I know that my mom is a sweet old lady. Check that, pull the sweet part out. She is a ball-breaker of the first order. She is the toughest person that I have ever met. (And I work in a prison, and have been in the Army since 1998.) She is harder than a coffin nail and I love her to death just because of that. Now granted, she has softened a bit given her ever advancing age, but it doesn’t change the fact that when I or my brother need anything she comes through with a vengeance. And God help you if you were to ever fuck with one of us. She raised two boys on her own and made a couple of pretty good guys out of us. And I dare anyone to get in her way.

That being said, the cougar thing is a moot point just because it’s like this...

“Mom, I am pretty sure that you would make mincemeat out of any guy that came along anyway, so I ain’t worried. Even if one of the kids tried you would probably just leave him bleeding and broken on the floor.”

But still, just hearing her say it was disturbing. So don’t do that again! Please.

And just so you know, a few of the guys heard me yelling on the phone and now everyone of the FOB is asking me, “Hey, so I hear your mom is a cougar!” I hope you’re happy.

Now onto the next thing. It’s amazing what the presence of one person can do for your morale. The Friendly Ghost, whom most of you should know because of his “Monkey With a Typewriter Experiment” that he wrote for me a few weeks back. He went on leave and was gone for like a month. And he came back today.

Within five minutes of seeing him my morale shot through the roof, in a totally heterosexual, so very not gay way! And within that same five minutes he came up with a new motto for the ever expanding list. You’ll remember that a while back we wrote a whole bunch of mottos for the regiment, but apparently none of our submissions made the cut. I wonder what could’ve happened. Anyway, this is what he came up with.

“Leadership, It works until you ask it a question.”

How perfect is that?

At least now I have someone to talk to that has an intellect superior to that of a chimp. Which makes my day all the brighter.

Side Note: To the Friendly Ghost’s mom, if you want to know more about anything that I write or have any questions at all just ask me. He told me you were asking him about it at home and it agitated him a little bit. So if you got anything you want to know just ask. I’ll tell you whatever I can.

Moving on, not much else is going on. I’ve talked a little bit about this in the past but, 3rd platoon is running missions for the first time in like two months and they are managing to find every IED in this country. To which all I can really say is, “Better them than me.” And I still am wondering if I am going to hell for saying that. But none of them has gotten really hurt bad, and most importantly no one has died. I am beginning to wonder if the desensitization process that I am experiencing here is going to be permanent. Any time that something happens, regardless of what it is, I ask a simple question. “Did anyone die?” When I hear, “no” then I immediately want to go back to sleep and could care less about anything else to do with that situation. If it didn’t kill anyone then it’s not worth the time...

Pretty sick, huh?

I got to think about that a bit more.

I am done for now.

Later,

I love you mom...

Mar 8, 2009

Chasing Cock, And Other Random Shit...

So finally, after such an extended period of time, something funny happened. What happened? Well this chick and I chased some cock around the FOB!

Let that one sink in and marinate for a minute. Just let your brain run with that sentence. Trust me, it’ll be fun...

So now that you are done imagining what two soldiers chasing a cock looks like, I’ll give you the lowdown on what actually happened.

I was watching our trucks today, don’t ask me why because I don’t know. It’s an American FOB, with very few local nationals working here. I mean the Americans aren’t going to go anywhere and the local nationals, what are they going to do? Drive out the front gate with the damn thing. But I digress.

I was talking to a group of my fellow soldiers, bullshitting about this and that, uni-boobs and what not. (I’ll explain that one later) When I look up to see somewhat of a commotion developing over by the wall between our FOB and the ANP compound that is right next door. What is causing this commotion? A cock! Or a rooster, it’s the same animal really. Apparently, the ANP’s were getting ready to off this bird so they could eat it for dinner, but the thing got loose. Hopped the wall into our house and started to run around. Well one of the locals who works at the chow hall was talking to the ANP’s over the wall and started to chase this cock around.

Now being the naturally energetic and mischievous person that I am couldn’t resist. I started looking over at what was happening and I do believe that my leg started to bounce with excitement. So this girl that was there with us looks at me and says, “I’ll go if you go!” To which I responded, “I would love to chase the cock with you!”

Another first, I mean how many times in his life does a devoutly straight man get to say, “I would love to chase the cock with you!” To a girl, no less! Anyway, moving on.

So with that, she and I ran off to chase down this cock. It took us a few minutes and I thought I was in a “Rocky” movie for a minute there. But we managed to corner the thing, and the local worker from the chow hall grabbed the bird and gave it back to the ANP’s.

However, on the way back the worker, playfully nicknamed Babu, took the bird and kind of flung it at the the girl I was chasing the cock with. She responded by screaming like a little girl and running away from him. Which I found hilarious given the fact that she was the one who actually initiated this little chase. I find it funny how these chicks around here walk around all day with their bad ass personas on. They strap on their weapons and act just like us. These girls could make any normal man blush in about 3 seconds flat. I mean there are times when the profanity that flows from these wonderful young ladies mouths makes me take out a pen and paper and take notes! So it is infinitely entertaining for me when something, whatever it may be, in this case a cock, gets them to break down and act like girls again.

Well that is the story of me chasing cock. Hopefully, that’s the last time I can ever say that I chased some cock today.

Now another definition for you.

UNI-BOOB: In military terms.

The term used by soldiers to describe the way that female soldiers, especially “well endowed” female soldier’s chests look after wearing a sports bra that is entirely too tight for an extended period of time. After an entire day of missions where their assets are compressed underneath a sports bra and a bullet proof vest that is designed with men in mind, their breasts are compressed from a set into one breast. Hence the term, “Uni-Boob”

All the following should not be read by my mother. Yes, mom I am telling you that what I am about to write is not something that you would appreciate. I am still going to write it but I am telling you that all the following words in the alternate typeface should be completely disregarded by you! (How much does anyone want to bet that she reads it anyway?)

So do you all remember the kid that I convinced the girl he had a crush on was in love with him? Well he’s at it again. Entertaining me that is.

Now first let me say that, I love a good joke and if said joke is at my expense I will be gracious. I am not the type who gets really mad about shit like that, I just get even.

Well the first thing that this kid did was just so damn simple that it was brilliant.

He told me that he had a video of the girl that had been a part of my little scam. Apparently, this video was of her dancing on a bar in her birthday suit.

Well there is no way around the fact that I am a bit of a pig and if there is one thing that I would love to see it’s a girl, any girl for that matter, dancing on a bar bare assed to the world. This is fun for me.

But the fact that it was THIS girl was too much for me. I tried in vain to see this movie. Why? Because the little shit wouldn’t show it to me. So he jerked my chain about it for a few minutes. It lasted about 5 minutes. Then I realized what was happening and I have to say that I was just...so very PROUD of this kid.

I mean he found a button of mine and he pushed it. What’s the button? Naked girls! Especially ones that live just down the street from me.

So anyway, I have still not seen this movie. I don’t even know for sure if it exists. I asked her about it and she doesn’t know for sure. Which makes me all the more curious. But whatever. The little prick got under my skin...and for that I am so very proud of him.

Now the next story should not be read by you, mom, unless you want to lower your opinion of your first born son exponentially!

Second thing that he has done. Another momentous event that has made me so very proud of this young man.

Everyone here, all the males anyway, do something in particular copiously. What is this thing that we do so often you would think that we were going for the world record? Masturbate. (To all those readers disgusted by this, this story will last for the remainder of the time that I use this font so feel free to skip to the end.)

Anyway, part of the little game we play with the sheer number of times we have done it, which has gone by the wayside due to the fact that most of us cannot count that high, is we have taken to doing it in places where we probably shouldn’t and then bragging about it later.

What has this kid done? He has run the gamut of all the towers plus the ECP. Entry control point. Which is basically the front gate.

The towers is not that big of a deal. They are like little closets on stilts. They are enclosed and at night if you turn off all the lights no one can see you or what you are doing. So pretty much everyone who has been in those towers for more than three minutes by themselves has done it. I am really glad this blog is private. If the Taliban read this they would have a field day with it. How would you like to explain that one? Why did the enemy overrun your tower? Because I was punching the clown, SIR!

The ECP on the other hand, is a portentous accomplishment. You see, the ECP is right by this thing that we use to watch the entire FOB plus the surrounding areas. It is laden with cameras watching every move of every person on the FOB and every person within 25 kilometers of the FOB makes. It’s kind of like Vegas’s eye in the sky.

So with that thing breathing down your neck most of us have just decided that the repercussions of doing such a thing where the “man” can see you is just not worth the hassle.

Is that what this kid thought? Hell no, he said fuck the “man” I am going to do it anyway. So he waited until he was left alone for a few minutes at the ECP, dropped trou, and proceeded to spank Elvis. Therefore completing the cycle that so many have begun and yet only one has finished.

Once again, I am so very proud of him...but remember young man, age and treachery will always defeat youth and vigor. I am going to fuck you up!


I’ll leave you though, on a high note. Wouldn’t want everyone to think that this is just filth and debauchery followed by an IED or two.

We adopted an Afghani kid! Well not really, but close. There is a kid that works at the clinic. You have seen him, he’s the one holding the sign in that “Cubs Suck” picture I took.

This kid has been trying to get a job here forever. But the FOB mayor that we have is a dick. (FOB mayor is just like a city mayor, he handles all the contracting and public works and all that sort of shit while we get blown up) Anyway, the kid could never get a job. Finally, we had some work for him to do

We’re tearing down a building so that we can get to the beams they used to build the foundation so that we can use those to build a bridge over the shit moat that runs along side the FOB. (Yes we tear down an entire building just to get at 4 boards.) The shit moat is where everything that we don’t want goes. The dirty dish water, the shower water, the water from the laundry, the runoff from the piss tubes, you know all that stuff. Well we don’t want to fall into this moat if we ever have to hit the wall to defend this hole from the Taliban. I’d hate to have to say that I got medically evacuated from Afghanistan because I fell in a shit moat! I’d much rather get blown up or shot than spend one second soaking in there. So anyway, we are using this kid and the guys on extra duty to tear this building down.

So this kid is here everyday. And is he ever getting spoiled, but I got to give it to him, he is a hard worker and he tries really hard to make sure everyone likes him so that he can keep a job after this project is done. I hope he does, or I am going to have to do something heinous to the FOB mayor just to remind him not to be a dick!

But the other day as I was packing up all my shit to leave I found I had a bunch of stuff that all you wonderful people have sent that I can no longer use. Long underwear and t-shirts, and sweaters and what not. So I gave them to this kid. He’s got a whole bunch of Afghani winters left to go, my winter in this country is already over so what the hell. Hearing an Afghani kid say, “Good, very good” after he looks into a box of shit that I was about to throw out is priceless.

So there’s that, and the guy he is working with takes him to chow three times a day. So this kid gets eggs, and bacon and sausage, and all that, and then whatever they are serving for lunch and dinner too. I’ll bet this little shit is in seventh heaven with all the food we give him, not to mention I am sure that I am not the only person who has given him all the useless crap we have lying around. It’s a little depressing to think that something that I have no use for could be so valuable to someone who has next to shit. But there isn’t much I can do about that other than give it to him.

Then the crown jewel came. I was talking to the guy that he was working with, and he was telling me what a hard worker the kid is, and how helpful having him around is. I asked if he was getting paid for the work he was doing. The guy told me that he had to pay the kid out of his own pocket because the assholes in charge of this place wouldn’t pay him. Which I found admirable. The generosity of lower enlisted GI’s is really something to see. I asked how much the kid was making. He said he was getting $2.50 per hour. Which to this kid and his family is probably a mountain of money. So I couldn’t resist, I reached into my pocket and slipped the kid a $20 bill. I winked at him and went back to my room.

Funny part is, if I gave a $20 to an American kid he would run out and buy a toy, or candy or some shit. Either that, or he would complain that it wasn’t enough. This kid on the other hand will probably take that money home and feed his mother, father, sister and brother for a couple of weeks with that.

So why is that the crown jewel to me? Did I tell you that just to make myself feel better? Maybe a little bit, but for the most part I did that because I wanted to feel like I did something good while I was here.

My opinion of this command, and the things that we do here is well known to all of you. I did it because that is about the only way that I can help out in this country. My command has already taken from me all the other ways I could’ve helped. So my ability to help anyone has been reduced to slipping a kid something that, back home, would take me about 45 minutes to make, and yet he could use it to feed his entire family for God only knows how long.

How depressing...

And with that I am done.

Later,

I love you mom...

Mar 6, 2009

COUNTERINTELLIGENCE? THESE ASSHOLES HAVE BEEN COUNTERING INTELLIGENCE THEIR WHOLE LIVES...

Wow, that is about all I can say about what is happening right now. There are no words that could accurately describe the level of idiocy that this company has sunk to. But I am going to give it a shot.

Now since there are only those I choose reading this, I can pretty much say whatever the hell I want and I will.

So there is this thing coming down here today. It’s called an RCP. Route Clearing Package. Basically it is a whole bunch of really big trucks, with some nifty little toys that find IED’s and what not, followed by a convoy of civilian trucks that are carrying all the supplies for all the different FOB’s that they will stop at during their trek across this great land.

We have been tasked with tower guard for the past couple of days and the next week or two. With tower guard comes the QRF, which is like the guys that run out to deal with any of the little problems that seem to arise around here all the damn time. Like a stuck vehicle, or a blown up vehicle, or some guy digging in the road. You know, all that shit.

Well the commander, in his infinite wisdom has made a decision that I have to take issue with. You see the RCP is being run by a new unit. So they don’t really have a good handle on what they are doing and as a consequence, they take longer than usual.

So the RCP is still pretty far away from us, but they still sent the other platoon out to meet them about 25 kilometers from our house. That was this morning at 0500. They still have not met up with the RCP and right now it is 1650. Needless to say this is going to be an all nighter. So the entirety of the other platoon is out doing this RCP thing. They were supposed to drive up there and meet them, and then show them the way back here. Simple enough mission, and something that actually makes sense. They took something like 12 trucks, and like 35 people up there. Which is more than enough. The route is pretty easy, and even though our intelligence reports say that this is the most dangerous route that we travel, it has never been a problem for any of us. Which always makes me laugh. The fact is that military intelligence is a joke of epic proportions. When we first got here they wouldn’t shut up about how the route that the other platoon is on is so dangerous, and we are going to get hit all the time, and blah, blah blah. Well the funny part is that the exact opposite has happened. We only get hit when we go the exact opposite direction. Not a damn thing has ever happened on this route that is apparently so dangerous.

Well someone once said that in any military intelligence report, 15% of what you are reading will be true. The trick is figuring out which 15%.

So now let’s take stock. The RCP has all their huge trucks, and guns and guys. Our other platoon has all their trucks, and guns and guys. So there is probably about 100 trucks all in a big group up there somewhere. Now because the new RCP is moving so damn slow, they are not going to be able to get here before dark. And the RCP does not move after dark. So they are going to do what they are trained to do, they are going to circle the wagons, set up some security, and get some sleep and they’ll make it the rest of the way here tomorrow.

What does our commander want to do? He wants to send the QRF up there to help with security. Okay, I guess I can see that you want to help the guys. However, there are other considerations that I think he may be neglecting. Half our fucking shooters are out there with the RCP, or at least waiting for them. The other half are here working the towers. So now of the half you have back here, you are going to send a third of them out to help secure a convoy of 100 or so trucks. He is going to send 15 guys, and 5 trucks to help these guys out! If I were them I would laugh at us, we are just going to be in the way.

Be advised, I kind of got interrupted. We got called out to go up north to help out with an Afghan Border Patrol soldier that got tore up by an IED. He’s dead. So it goes.

So because of that we couldn’t do what the commander wanted us to do. So I guess we got off the hook on that one. Too bad someone had to die.

And with that I do believe that the desensitization process is now complete. Maybe I’m wrong, hopefully I’m wrong. I really do hope that in the future someone dying is not going to be paramount to them not having chocolate cake with dinner for me. That would be wholly depressing.

Anyway, so now here we sit waiting for the RCP to get here. They should be here in an hour or so. So long as they don’t hit another IED or two, so long as Mr. Taliban man stays at home, and so long as the P.O.S. Military vehicles they drive keep running. Well then, they’ll probably be here next Tuesday.

Well there isn’t much else to tell you until the RCP gets back and we get the avalanche of war stories from 3rd platoon and the RCP guys. So with that I’ll leave you in the care and favor of the Lord.

Later,

I love you mom...

Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho, It's Back To Towers We Go...

So we just got notified that we have to go back on to the towers tonight at 2300. Fun for us. It’s always nice to work all day...and then work all night. But whatever, it’s easy duty.

Finally, my life is going to have some semblance of normalcy. An actual schedule even.

The funniest part is that 3rd platoon is all hopped up, all excited that they actually get to go outside the wire a few times prior to us moving. Well that’ll clear up once they go boom. But we should let them have their moment in the sun.

Other than that there is not a damn thing going on around here. Once again, this is the most boring war ever! Sooner or later I think they are going to cancel the whole thing for lack of interest.

There are a few perks to going over to the towers though. At least we will not have to do all the stupid little details and jobs that come up around here. 3rd is going to have to do all that shit now. They are going to get a taste of the Combat Blue Balls that we have all been experiencing here as of late. They get to see what it’s like to get all dressed up, only to have them tell you that the air is not flyable and stand you down. They’ll get a taste of what these patrols are like. Just a whole bunch of driving around waiting for the road to go boom. They’ll get to see what it’s like to have the road go boom, and then have the commander tell them not to do anything about it. I just hope that it’s everything you hoped it would be guys. Because take it from me, it’s not that big of a deal. As a matter of fact it is a rather large bag of ass, but you’ll know that soon enough.

All right, I am done for now.

Later,

I love you mom...

Ah, And Now We Have To Move...

Well the level of suck has just been raised. I haven’t talked about it much because it was just speculation and rumors, or at least that’s what I hoped it was. Apparently, I was wrong. Hmm, it seems that me being wrong is becoming a common theme around here.

What was I wrong about? Well the title should tell you, we have to move. We have to pick up from the FOB we are currently at and move to another one. This one further north and closer to the border. Fun for us.

Not really, but I guess it will be good because it will break up the deployment. It will be a kind of half way marker for me. We’ll move at the end of this month, and by the time we make it there which is supposed to take like ten days, we’ll have like less than six months to go on this little adventure of ours.

So what does this mean for me? Well we already saw pictures of the place that we are going to and it seems that they are jamming an entire company of soldiers into a place that was built with maybe two platoons in mind. You could walk from one end of this place to the other in about two minutes. Depressing. We have to take all these trucks, all the medical supplies, all the food, all the equipment, all our personal shit, and all the rest of it, load it into our trucks, and drive from here to there.

The unit that is replacing us is going to be here in about two weeks, so that should be fun. All the females here will go ga-ga over all the new guys that are here. We’ll still be here for another week after they get here so that will be plenty of time for at least a few Article 15’s and OEF babies to be produced. (Dear God, I hope not, but I do tend to think the worst of people)

Right now though the big deal is the RCP. The Route Clearing Package, who is coming down from another FOB north of us. They are bringing with them the largest convoy that has ever gone this far south in the history of this conflict. Or so that is what they (our leadership) has been telling us. So, if that is true, I get to be a part of Operation Enduring Freedom history! Well, someone get me a cookie.

So I guess I should take stock of what has happened so far. You know, given the fact that this is half over with and all. I have yet to be blown up, personally I mean. I have yet to fire my weapon in anger. I have yet to do anything of what I would consider any real consequence. All I have really done here is drive around Afghanistan, lay around the FOB, play poker, smoke entirely too many cigarettes, write 342 (so far) pages of bullshit, and punch the clown. How very depressing. Ah, so be it. Nothing I can do about it, so why worry about it.

Well all is not lost. I have come to grips with a whole lot of stupid shit in my own head. Not to mention, I am going to be debt free for the first time in my adult life. Which I have to admit has become the all consuming passion of this entire deployment for me. What else am I going to worry about? I think I might go on another one just to save up a shit ton of cash for later. I mean how many 30 year old guys in this day and age, literally owe money to no one? So I’d have to say that that is a very good thing. I might even be able to save up a few bucks before I leave and then when I get home and I don’t have any bills then life should be really good. At least for a while, until I have to get a new car, and a new place to live and plunge myself right back into a mountain of debt. Once again, fun for me.

But back to this moving shit. I cannot help but think that whoever is in charge of this whole thing. I mean the whole country, or at least the section of the country that we are in, is hiding us away from all the action to ensure that we can’t fuck anything up.

Regardless of why we are moving, I have some work to do. It’s time to trim the fat. I have to say I have gotten used to this place. It’s heaven given the country that we are in. I mean we have plenty of space, we have computers, we have TV, we have all that creature comfort shit. Now we are headed somewhere that doesn’t have any of that kind of stuff. Not to mention, and I am not complaining here. Given the tremendous outpouring of support that I have gotten from about a hundred different places, I have a mountain of shit. Just about everything that an entire squad of GI’s could need, I’ve got and I have jammed it all into a space roughly the size of a Chevy Monte Carlo. I know this, because this room is about as big as my old car.

But the new personality is mellow, so I am going to stay just that...mellow. Calm as a Hindu Cow.

Later,

I love you mom...

ONE AFGHAN NATIONAL POLICE COMMANDER, ONE AFGHANI FLAG, AND ONE KNIFE (AT LEAST SOMETHING HAPPENED TODAY)...

This is a strange country with some strange customs. Most of which I have absolutely zero knowledge of before I walk right into them with my rather cumbersome American boots.

So here’s what happened this time. The other day when I went out to the clinic I traded one of the Afghan National Police Officers a knife for an Afghan flag. What can I say, I wanted one. No big deal right? Well apparently not.

Today I got a visit from the ANP commander at my barracks room. Which was uncomfortable to say the least. He brought with him, the ANP First Sergeant, and a Captain from the medical section of our FOB. He is important enough to warrant an officer escort.

I have to admit that when they first showed up I started to wonder if I had possibly broken some international law and was about to be arrested. Luckily for me, that was not the case.

The commander then explained to me that the flag I had traded for was a flag that many ANP’s had died under. Which made it a special flag, not one that could be traded. Flags are not tradable items, they can only be given as a gift. Turns out that the guy who gave it to me was punished severely. He was a new guy, he didn’t know any better. But there is nothing that I can do about that so we will just have to let that one roll off.

He continued to say that he was returning my knife and was bringing me another Afghan flag as a gift. Apparently hospitality is a pretty big deal to Muslims. So he presented me with the flag, and I must say that it is a nice one. Brand new, with the Afghan national crest and all the verses from the Koran and what not on the front.

So he returned my knife and presented the flag to me, folded up by one of his soldiers, and he shook my hand and apologized profusely for all that had gone on. Personally, I couldn’t have cared less, I was wondering what was happening to the guy who had traded me for the knife. Afghan discipline can be some pretty severe stuff. The commander even went so far as to sign the flag for me. Which I have to admit was pretty cool. I mean how many people have shit like this? Not too many.

So that is how that all went. It is a bit humorous to me that the ANP commander hates my commander with a passion and is almost to the point of refusing to work with the man, he already refuses to meet with him. He’ll just send his guys over to go out on mission with us. And yet he takes the time to come and right a wrong between the ANP’s and a lowly enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army.

So I guess that I did my part for international relations today. Felt pretty good.

Anyway, I am done now.

Later,

I love you mom...

SO I HAVE DEFINITELY BEEN LOSING MY SENSE OF HUMOR LATELY...

I assume that if my mother has noticed the rather sullen tone of the majority of my recent posts, save the two about the fabulous jokes that fly around this place like so many grains of Afghani sand. Other than that, if you haven’t noticed I have been in a pretty pissy mood.

I have been abundantly clear as to why. It’s because this war has turned out to be so much less than I had hoped for. (And yes, I do realize that I should probably be very thankful for that fact, but it still sucks.)

So I have come to a conclusion. And the conclusion is that I will let that which does not matter truly slide. (Homage to Fight Club) I read the serenity prayer just a minute ago and I decided to write this, because in all of about 5 seconds I made my peace with this war, I made my peace with this command, I made my peace with this place, and I made peace with myself. To hell with it all, there isn’t a thing in the world that I can do about it, so I am not going to allow it to make me nuts!

I know that is a lot of peacemaking in a short period of time for someone who’s soul purpose is war.

Anyway, we all know how that goofy prayer goes. Serenity, things I can change, things I cannot and la di da di da. But the words took up residence in my brain and luckily for me, my brain processed, understood, and reacted to the words favorably.

So I have little choice but to let this whole thing slide. Given the fact that right now, and at my present station in life there is next to shit I can do about any of it. (Damn demotions!)

I don’t know why today turned out to be the day that all this peace came crashing down. Maybe it had something to do with the pissy mood that I woke up in this morning. I do that from time to time. Normally, I am really loud, gregarious, and funny, obnoxious even. But today when I hauled my ass out of bed I just was in no mood for any of it. I didn’t even want to talk. So I didn’t.

Apparently, there are a lot more people here that care about me than I was willing to previously admit. I think all of you have realized that I don’t like to identify myself with anyone other than me. I don’t like to think of myself as dependent on anyone, for anything. Yeah, I always have wanted to think of myself as the one guy who could be an island. Well, I am full of shit.

I didn’t get it right away but it worked out for me. Almost immediately after getting out of bed and acting the way I was. (Like a 2 year old who just got his favorite toy taken away) People started to ask me what was wrong. When I wouldn’t tell them, they chased me around about it. Annoying as it was, I couldn’t help but realize that, “Hey asshole, these people care about you and want to make sure everything is Okay!, or at least they want to make sure that they haven’t given live ammunition to a psychopath.” Either way, I am loved.

Turns out that there are at least eleven really annoying yet caring people on this FOB, and that was just the ones that hit me up prior to lunch when I snapped out of it. I still cannot bring myself to admit any form of weakness to anyone though. I just told them that I was playing a game to see how many people would ask me what was wrong during the course of the day. One thing at a time people, I am an emotional infant. First I realize this stuff in my own brain, now tomorrow maybe I’ll actually share some of what’s inside of me with those around me. I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible. Why do you think I write this? Because it’s a helluva lot easier than actually having to say any of it to anyone in particular.

So in addition to coming to grips with the bag of ass that is this whole situation, I have come to another realization. This isn’t about the war, this isn’t about terror, this isn’t about Afghanistan, or the United States, or me, or the politicians, or the officers, or money, or duty, or honor, or any of the rest of the shit that is spoon fed to us.

The only thing that matters, the only thing that really matters is the guys. The guys next to me. The ones that are going through all the same shit I am going through. The guys who have been there with me when the road went boom. The guys that have been there when the bullets started to fly. The guys who have been there when I was dangling a hot dog from my button fly. The guys who have been there...always. The guys who were there to ask me what was wrong when I would’ve been perfectly content to set the entire world ablaze. Yeah even those annoying pricks.

The guys. That’s it.

And that’s good enough for me.

I’m done.

Later,

I love you mom...