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

Oct 31, 2010

759 Words on The War Within...

I wrote a while back talking about the "War Within" which was basically a rant about the difference in treatment given to National Guard soldiers as opposed to active duty guys by the chain of command.

This post has nothing at all to do with that.

This is about the war inside of me.

So, recently I began seeing a therapist.  The guy works out of a storefront office, also known as a "Vet Center" near my apartment.  We went through the initial getting to know you and what's wrong with you and all that good stuff.

Then we got down to the nitty gritty of things.

I consider myself to be quit listless.  Maybe restless is the term I'm looking for.  In any event the fact of that matter is that I cannot, for the life of me, get myself to concentrate on my life and squeeze everything I can out of it.

Since I got home, which is over a year now, I've been doing nothing but floating.  Floating to school, floating to work, floating through relationships, floating through pretty much everything.  Not grabbing a hold of any of it.  And this is not good.

I've written about this before, but because of this little therapy thing its come back to the forefront of my mind.  I even started floating through my writing.  Evidenced by the fact that I haven't written much of shit for a long time.  Just floated in, wrote a little something here and there, and then floated back out.

This shit has got to stop...

Now how to stop it?  I have no frigging idea.  Hopefully, this guy can help me figure that one out.

But I've got a bit of an idea.

He and I spoke about accountability in one of our sessions and we talked about the differences between the war and the things prior to the war and things now.

Intensity.

There is absolutely no intensity left in my life anymore.  Nothing that can get my blood pumping the way the war did.  Nothing means as much anymore, and it hasn't worn off.  Remember how I wrote about the volume being turned down on everything?

Oh, how I was right.  However, that turned out to be a bit of a bad thing.  It means that nothing means all that much to me.  Money...eh I'll make more.  Family...eh I love them but whatever.  Friends...eh I'll see them when I can.  Relationships...eh I'll get to it when I get to it.  Fitness...eh No big deal.  And on and on I could go.

It seems to me as though everything, regardless of importance, has become about as important as a peanut in yesterday's turd.  This my well adjusted friends, is not good.

The more I think about the war, and how I felt before, during and after it, the more I realize a very disturbing fact.  I am at my best there.  I am at the pinnacle of my abilities when someone is trying to kill me, and I am trying to kill them back.  I'm sure everyone here has seen that even my writing was better when I was hip deep in shit!

Now as I pondered that fact I can't help but think that I am completely nuts.  Possibly certifiable.  But who knows and who cares? Hahaha.

The question becomes, can I mimic that feeling I had over there...over here.

Can I turn my life into a fight?  Can I turn the volume back up?  Can I look at all my problems, no matter how big or how small as enemies trying to kill me?

And those thoughts beg the question, should I be thinking like that?

I'm going to go with probably not.  I mean no rational person would look at everything as a fight.  But we don't really have time for rational and/or saneness here now do we.  We aren't dealing with sane.  We are dealing with me!

So things have come full circle.  Gone from a world that was noisy and loud with many things that got my engine running, to a war that turned the volume down to almost inaudible levels and I don't recall the last time that my engine was truly running...

And now I have to figure out how to turn that volume back up...Ugh what a pain in the ass.

Anyway,

Later,

I love you Mom...(I am so ashamed, I totally left this out of the last few posts.  Why didn't anyone say anything?)

Oct 29, 2010

Completely off topic...

Just toying around with some new logos for the top of this page and I want to know what you think of these...which one should I use?

No promises, but I want to hear what everyone thinks.

Some are done, some aren't.  If they aren't done just imagine them saying "Embrace The Suck" across the top and having that Kingsley Amis quote (my favorite about writing) somewhere along the bottom.

Let's hear it.

And to give credit where credit is due, the logo that is second from the bottom was done by "Spray On" himself.  Remember him?  I guess he found time in his hectic work/sleep/tanning schedule to churn me out a pretty damn good logo...





1000 Words On Gays In The Military...

Oct 25, 2010

1000 Words On The Draft And How We Treat Our Troops...


Watch that, and then read the following...


And now my 1000 words.


Today, October 25th is St. Crispin's Day.  Any man or woman who has ever served their time, or anyone else's time in the military has heard that speech.  Without fail, no one has escaped its magic.
Now I posted the video because I wanted all of you to see and hear those words.  There is a bond between soldiers that cannot be broken.  And the bond between soldiers that have seen combat together cannot be explained.  Only God and the soldier will ever understand that bond. 
And I used the clip from the movie “Renaissance Man” because its got a bit more personality than the Kenneth Branagh movie “Henry V”
Many have asked me about instituting a draft again.  To which I have always answered with a resounding FUCK NO.
The author of the NYT Op Ed seems to think that a draft would raise awareness of the war because it would be hanging over the heads of all this nation’s young men.  I’m not really sure if women have to register for selective service, I’m pretty sure they don’t.
Is he right?  Probably.  
Do I care?  Not in the slightest.
One of the greatest bumper stickers I ever saw was one that my mom had me have made for her.  On the left hand side it had a silhouette of a soldier marching with his rifle and on the right hand side it had the words, “My son serves, so that yours doesn’t have to.
Is that sappy? Yeah, and a little obnoxious too.  But it doesn’t reduce the truth of the statement even one iota.  In today’s military you serve because you want to.  You ask to be there.  You go so far as to request the honor and then follow it up with a trip to basic training, followed by a stint in Advanced Individual Training and then on to a duty station and near constant training in the years that follow.  
You travel to the far corners of the earth before most your age have even left the country.
You endure hardships that would break the back of your average American your own age.
You adapt to the most challenging of circumstances without so much as a whimper.
You go where you are told to go, and you do what you are told to do.  Not because you are a mindless automaton as so many would like to call you, but because you are a patriot born of the idea that there are things greater than yourself.
You face unspeakable horrors in the midst of combat, and you come back to a barrage of questions from the knuckle draggers of, “Did you kill anybody?”
You live under constant threat of death, and in it you not only find humor but some of the greatest friends anyone could ever have.
You come home to a disinterested populace, and you can’t help but keep on thinking that you want to go back...as soon as possible.
You look around and see a decadent, self absorbed, and generally ridiculous culture and you find yourself wondering what you really went over there to defend.
Then you remember its not about them.  It never was.  Its about your boys.  Its about the man next to you.  Its about the guy who never left your side, regardless of how many bullets were flying or how many bombs were going off or how many rockets were coming in.
Sleepless nights, going hungry, endless guard shifts, convoys that stretched on for days, firefights, IED’s, fear, apprehension and abject terror.  Combat is the fire in which that bond between soldiers is formed.  Combat forms the tightest bond any human could ever feel.  
Henry said that, “Any man that sheds his blood with me today, shall be my brother.”  With all due respect to Shakespeare I would modify that statement slightly.  “Any man who volunteered to shed his blood with me, was, is and always shall be my brother.”
So to anyone who thinks there should be a draft, I say; oh hell no.
I don’t want anyone to go into those fires with me that doesn’t want to be there.
I don’t want anyone in those fires with me that doesn’t understand the bond.
I don’t want anyone in those fires with me that doesn’t think that there are things greater than himself, that there are things worth dying for.  And those things will be standing to your left and right as the bullets start to fly.
Could we treat our troops better?  Of course, but until we have ourselves a culture that cares more about its members than the Jersey Shore that’s nothing more than a pipe dream.
In the meantime my boys and I will continue to fight for you.  We will continue to do as we’re told.  We will continue to be a part of something greater than ourselves.
And for this we will never apologize, nor will we ever invite you in.  Honor cannot be bestowed by a draft.  
If you want what we have, then volunteer.  Join our band of brothers, come and shed your blood with us.
That he which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart; his passport shall be made...And gentlemen in England now-a-bed Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks 
Of all the things that we have been doing.  Gladly, and without reservation for all the years of war that have been thrust upon us.  We shall never waiver, nor shall we ever fail you.  
But you will never be a part of us...
So in closing, I say no to any draft.  And I say no to anyone who thinks it would help.  The desired effect it would most likely have.  It would thrust the war upon all young men and would most likely raise public opinion against the war until it was ended.
My honor doesn’t ask for the end...it only asks for a chance.

Oct 24, 2010

1000 Words On Accountability...

Tonight an inmate (child molester) said to me, “Well all I allegedly did was look at some pictures.  I’m not as bad as the assholes who make the pictures.”
To which I responded, “did you ever stop to think that if shitheads like you didn’t want to see those pictures then the assholes that made them wouldn’t do it?  You know its kinda like McDonalds, if everyone all of a sudden stopped eating Big Mac’s eventually McDonalds would stop making them, Fuck Stick!!!”
Most people know that in my job you have to have some exceedingly thick skin.  And I do.  I don’t mind listening to inmates calling me a turnkey, or a half a cop, or an abused child that wants to get back at everyone by fucking with them, or whatever the hell else they want to say.  They talk about your mother, father, sisters, brothers and everyone else.  They call your sexuality into question, they disparage your girlfriend, your wife, your kids and anyone else they can think of just to get a rise out of you.  To all of this I respond with a very simple, “Yeah, but come 10 o’clock you’re getting locked in a cell like an animal and I’m headed home to do whatever the fuck I want to do.”
All the insults and jabs are easy to take.  The only thing that has ever gotten under my skin with these guys is their moral relativism.  Meaning that they look at the world through comparison.  “Hey, I’m not as bad as him so I must be okay.”
Wrong again fellas, but its not just them.  It seems that its everyone nowadays.  What the fuck is going on around here?  When did we become a culture that doesn’t accept responsibility for our own problems and shortcomings?
From so many people that don’t have a job, and haven’t had one for a while you hear a constant chorus of excuses and “its not my fault”.  
From many people who can’t seem to make a long term relationship work (myself included, except I realize that its my own asshole fault) you hear how it was the other person’s fault and they ruined everything.
Fat asses blame the fast food industry.
From those in prison I hear this one all the time, society made me this way.  My mommy didn’t love me enough so I dealt drugs.  My daddy hit me when I was 8, so I had to mess with 47 little kids.  But hey at least I’m not as bad as him.
You hear about all the lawsuits that people file whenever something doesn’t go the way its supposed to.  Usually due to the negligence and/or stupidity of the person in question.  Tobacco lawsuits are a prime example.  In my entire life, never has ANYONE ever told me that cigarettes are okay.  I realize that back in the day (WAY BACK) doctor’s even endorsed cigarettes.  But for at least 40 years everyone has known that cigarettes are bad.  And if you didn’t know that cigarettes are bad, well then I pray you keep smoking so that you die early because we can’t be keeping people as dumb as you around without incurring some big time societal costs.
Now where did this all come from?  Hell if I know.  I’d like to know.  If you know please tell me.
What do we do about it?  Hold everyone accountable, for everything they do!
The only people in this world that can’t be held accountable are those who through either birth, or twist of fate, are physically or mentally disabled.  Those are the only ones that I can see cutting any slack at all.
Accountability is the only way out of this snake pit.  You do this or that.  You earn the just reward for that action.  Regardless of whether that reward is good or bad.  NO exceptions, no extenuating circumstances, no psychological evaluation, no good time, no nothing.  
You steal, you go to jail or you restore to the person you stole from equal value.
You kill someone unlawfully (loophole for soldiers), its over pal.
You molest a kid, its over pal.
You rape someone, its over pal.
You smoke, enjoy your cancer.  Oh and by the way, you either pay for your own medical treatment or you don’t get it.
You don’t save for your own retirement, enjoy working until the day before you die.
You don’t pay your bills, enjoy living in a cardboard box.
and on and on I could go.
But I won’t because I realize that some of these stances aren’t really defensible but I can dream can’t I.  A world where a person is judged by their actions, and nothing else.  The rewards that a person garners in their lifetime are simply a reflection of their character and actions.
This epidemic even applies to people that are doing the things they should be doing.  For example, I heard a guy talking in a bar to his buddy.  The guy actually uttered the words, “Hey man, I take care of my kids!  I send her money every month, just because I slapped her around a bit doesn’t mean I should have to have a babysitter just to spend some time with my kid.”
Pretty easy to break this one down.  First of all, married or not, a real man takes care of his kids.  Its not something that you should be rewarded for.  YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO IT.  There’s no other option, either you do and you’re not a shithead.  Or you don’t and you are a shithead.  So I guess the reward for taking fiscal care of your kids is not being a shithead.
Secondly, when you slap a woman around, guess what?  You do deserve to have a babysitter when you see your kids.  Simple.
Judge me by my actions.  There is right and wrong.  Good and bad.  Black and white.  Anyone who says differently is selling something.

1000 Words on Wikileaks...

So I wrote 600 words on weddings the other day.  I kinda like the format.  It keeps my writing to a minimum.  Which is probably good for everyone.  But mostly, it restrains my writing from getting out of control.  Focuses things.  Anyone who has been reading me for a while knows that I can get a bit wordy, or perhaps talkative when I really get rolling.  So I think I’m going to stick with this for a bit.  I’ll take my marching order from Esquire magazine (yep, I read it.) and keep myself under 1000 words.  Maybe two, single spaced pages in Mac Pages.  
So let’s get down to it.
So how about these guys at Wikileaks?  
Supposedly, they just recently released over 400,000 pages of documents on the Iraq war.  This coming on the heels of them releasing a bunch of stuff on the war in Afghanistan.  I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to find out that I was mentioned several times in the Afghanistan papers.  I was mentioned by my call sign.  A friend of mine from the deployment was nice enough, or more accurately had enough time on his unemployed hands to sift through all those documents and find about 10 that mentioned me by call sign.
Now for those of you who have read my words for any length of time remember my troubles while I was deployed with the higher ups in reference to an interview with the New York Times.  An article ended up being written.  I was quoted.  Which was good for the ego.  If you want to read all about it CLICK HERE.
At the time I did what I was supposed to do.  At least I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do per my chain of command.  I was writing, they did not require me to have my work vetted as the Army recommends.  But I kept any names of persons, or places out of the work.  I made up a myriad of nicknames.  Pigpen is still my personal favorite.
Then I was asked my Mr. Jim Dao of the NYT to do an interview about a piece he was doing on blogging.  I wanted to do it.  My chain of command wanted to see questions and they wanted to see my answers to the questions prior to me sending them.  I complied with all their commands.
Now here’s the thing.  And let me preface this by saying that I haven’t the faintest idea of what is in the Iraq papers, and truth be told I don’t have the foggiest idea of what’s in the Afghanistan papers either.  I don’t have the time or the inclination to sift through all that shit.  I was there, I saw it.  I sure as hell don’t want to see a bunch of military mumbo jumbo on a piece of paper that tells nothing.
Okay, NOW here’s the thing...information is probably the most valuable thing that we have in this world.  Nations, religions, corporations, and people invest immeasurable resources and time in defending it and keeping certain pieces of information secret.
The military controls information through a bunch of different regulations.  They also control it by issuing security clearances which determine what you are allowed to know.
Religions control information by classifying different pieces of information as sins.  The release of which could result in your immediate condemnation to hell.
Corporations control information through encryption on their computers and a million intellectual property lawsuits.
People guard their information in a ton of different ways also.  We all know what they are.  Just think of what you do to protect your information.  Shredding, passwords, safes, lock boxes and what have you.
Now I’m not getting at a completely open world where there are no secrets.  That wouldn’t be feasible.  Banking would undoubtedly get a bit tough under a system like that.  However, I am saying that there are many pieces of information that the government shouldn’t be allowed to protect.
The military has a habit of coming with a knee jerk reaction to any release of information by saying that said release of information endangers current and future operations and current and future military personnel.
How well this reaction stands up to scrutiny remains to be seen.  The fact is that how can an electorate or the body politic or whatever you want to call it make educated decisions about their leadership if they are ignorant of the actions of that leadership?
But the government continues to try to control the information that makes it out of there so that the debate can be framed in their own terms.
The military has made efforts to shut down blogs (normally the ones that portray the military in anything other than a pristine light) they have tried to restrict the troops access to social media websites like MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook.  This is pretty easy to figure out.  They don’t want troops telling the people at home anything that the powers that be don’t want them to hear.
This isn’t going to fly.  Not with me, and I hope not with you.  When you look at the number of men and women being sent to these dangerous places to take their own lives into their hands, they deserve a government that is transparent.  The people who finance all these wars (all of you who pay taxes) deserve to know how their money is being spent and how their children are being used toward this war’s ends.
Transparency breeds accountability.  If everything that you do, and everyone you talk to, and everywhere you go, and everything about you (speaking about the military) is recorded and released to the public for scrutiny.  Then quite possibly you will think twice about how you are going to handle yourself.
I know that not everything can be released, some secrets must be kept.  But truly, what is the military afraid we are going to find out?  Could be interesting...

Oct 22, 2010

600 Words on Weddings...

So yesterday I went to a haunted house with my mom, my brother, my one cousin, my other cousin and his girlfriend.  Now after all that was said and done we jumped in my car and were headed home.
Now, my cousin was in the back seat with my mom and they started talking about my other cousin.  He’s in the Marines and right now is on some boat somewhere over somewhere.  I have no idea where, but that’s not the point.  The point of this diatribe is what the two of them were talking about and how women and men communicate differently and how far apart we are in our thought processes.
So the situation was this, my cousin is getting married next year sometime (the Marine) and his fiance is still here while he’s out doing whatever the hell Marines do on boats.  But they’re getting ready for the impending wedding.  
So the cousin in the back seat went with his fiance to the store to find a dress.  She offered to buy it for her and she accepted.  Now this other woman was there and she got into the mix about don’t buy this dress because then you have to wear it and if you return it you’ll only get store credit and blah blah blah.  And my cousin got pissed about her doing that because she had offered to buy the dress for my other cousin’s fiance.
At least that’s what I remember of the story.  About half way through this story my brother and I looked at one another and rolled our eyes.  Its never ceased to amaze me how women react to things.  So we all started talking about weddings.
This is when I got another lesson in what women hear as opposed to what I said.  My brother said, “Who cares, she saved you some money and you’re off the hook on buying that dress.”  I added to that, “Why do you want to get into the mix of planning and putting together a wedding anyway?  Just let them do what they want and show up on the appointed day and time.”  
They shot back with a myriad of things that all seemed to degrade into the clucking of two hens in the back.  There was something about wanting to help out, something about that woman should’ve kept her opinion to herself, something about how men don’t understand weddings, something about you’re just a dumb ass guy anyway.
Then I had the gall to say something about guy’s don’t really care about weddings anyway, all they really care about is that the woman is happy.  No guy really gives a shit about cakes or napkins or centerpieces or any of that shit.  
Now all they heard was the “I don’t give a shit” part.  They went crazy on me.  
Here’s the question.  Why is it so important to women about weddings that they damn near force the guy to do all this goofy stuff and pick out all the napkins and centerpieces and halls and churches and yada yada yada...
Especially when we ALL know that the woman cares very little (if at all) about the guy’s opinion.  So long as the guy wants what she wants, its okay.  If he wants something she doesn’t there’s a fight.
Everyone knows a wedding is HER day.  The guy is there mostly just for the open bar and the sex at the end.
Its not like I’m being evil.  I was just trying to explain to them that whatever she wants is fine with most guys.  Why is that so wrong?

Oct 11, 2010

Where Have All The Good Men Gone...

To see what got me riled up in the first place, CLICK HERE.

Now, here's what I think of that.

This country is driving the proverbial bus right over a cliff with this kind of shit!

The mortgage crisis and all this crazy lending that was done over the past decade or two that artificially inflated housing prices to unsustainable levels and led to the inevitable crash of the economy are, at the same time, the fault of not only the bankers but also the assholes that borrowed the money.

I truly despise debt.  In part, I went to Afghanistan to get out from under it.  To EARN my way out from under it.  Now I was overextended on my credit, but it was not an untenable situation.  I worked, I earned, I saved, I paid that shit off.  Just like I said I would when I signed the credit contracts.

Now you have people who one day look up and say, "I know we can afford the mortgage, but with it I can't afford to live the life I want.  Life's too short, fuck the bank, to hell with my word.  I'm not paying it!"

On the flip side you have all these bottom feeding bankers who take huge bonuses out of the taxpayer funded bailout.  And the myriad of other fucked up things that they are probably now doing with our money.

Finally, on top of all of that you have a government that is currently rushing to sign into law as many entitlement increases and programs into law as they can because they know that they are about to get their asses handed to them by the Republicans in the next elections.  Not to mention, the government is the only entity I can think of that can vote to raise its own credit limit.

Can you imagine that?

-Sir, your card has been declined due to being maxed out!

-Hang on a sec, try it again, I just voted myself an extra $25,000 on that card.

-Oh, okay now it works!

So maybe the Republicans win the next election.  At which time those Republicans will take the torch from them and begin spending our money hand over fist and sink us into an even deeper hole.

I believe the term I'm looking for is this folks...WE'RE FUCKED.

And all because no one with any kind of clout or power in this country seems to understand how to balance a checkbook.

Easily, one of the simplest mathematical problems you have out there today.  You begin with X amount of dollars.  You've got two columns.  One credits, One debits.  From one you subtract from the balance, from the other you add to the balance.  When all is said and done, at the very least you want to be at zero.  It'd be nice to come out with a positive balance, but we're talking about government and banking institutions here so let's just start them off at getting to zero!


SNL could teach the government a thing or two.

Now taking their cues from the banks and the government, the people have jumped on the asshole express and are doing the same thing.

Here's the deal.  And in the following I use the masculine words to refer to all people.  It just sounds better in my male brain to hear it in the masculine.  Please do not skewer me for being sexist, which I probably am, but we'll deal with that later.  Anyway, here goes...

A man does what he says he is going to do.  Its one of the pillars of being a man.  Being dependable, being responsible, living up to your word.  If you don't do that, then what good are you?  You sign a mortgage contract or any contract for that matter, you live up to your end of the bargain.  I don't know about you, but once you don't keep your word to me, I don't believe another word out of your mouth.  You walk away from a deal that you made and you are lower than worm shit.

(this is meant for politicians, bankers, and strategic defaulters.  And for anyone thinking of going into a contract.  If you truly, without a doubt cannot pay your bills, declare bankruptcy and see what happens.  But this is meant for all those who would break their word when it becomes inconvenient.)

Its simple.  You make X.  Your spending < X.

C'mon folks, that's high school accounting right there.

Vote them ALL out.  Find out who the incumbent is, and vote for the other guy.  No matter What!!!!

If there is no challenger, write in Mud Puppy, or Kermit the Frog, or Santa Claus, or the beer man in sec 119 of US Cellular Field.

Later,

I love you Mom...