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

Nov 19, 2010

Thanks...

For the questions, and here are the answers...more posts to follow because a few of these warrant that kind of attention.



Coffeypot
You have changed, to say the least. What is your life like now that your are a civilian again? Night sweats, nightmares, short tempered...the PTSD stuff. I pray that you don't and that you are dealing well.
Well coffeypot, the PTSD in my case has been relatively mild.  I don’t have any nightmares anymore.  I had them for a while after I got home.  Woke up scared half to death all sweaty and shit (suppose that’s night sweats) Then I’d spend the next day trying to come down off the high level of alert that I was on.  I don’t really know how my mind could confuse suburbia with Afghanistan but it pulled it off on more than one occasion.
Short tempered...with some things.  I get really pissed when I hear people waxing political about the state of affairs in Afghanistan.  I mean like murderously pissed.  I hear so much shit about pulling out and ending the war and yada yada yada.  
Do I want the war over, of course.  But I think the difference between the way that I feel about it and the way others (especially those who haven’t been, along with fobbits) is that the war and its costs are real to me.  The people of Afghanistan are real people to me.  I knew them, I gave them all those warm clothes you guys all sent me, I gave their children candy, I played with and took care of their dogs, I lived right along side them, I even paid one of them to help us tear down a building and construct a bridge over shit creek. (Remind me to tell you guys that story later.)
Hell, some of them I consider my friends.  But when I hear people hear talking about it, I can’t help but thinking to myself, “Hey Asshole, you do realize you are speaking about living and breathing human beings? People with families and lives and loves and all that shit, just like you! And if you had to live like they do you’d certainly want someone to come along and save your sorry ass.  However you live here so you can feel free to run your mouth all you want.  Oh and by the way, you’re welcome for that privilege.”
I have very little tolerance anymore for arrogance...wait more accurately ungratefulness.  Most Americans don’t realize nor do they ever even think about how fucking good they’ve got it.  Homes, money, cars, clothes...a country where you don’t have soldiers in the street.  You don’t have bombs at every corner.  You don’t have to contend with mortars on your way to work.  And all that sort of shit.  So any kind of ungratefulness gets me murderously pissed in a big hurry.
As yet, I have not ended anyone’s life.  Which is probably a good thing.
Oh! And do you ever see a time in your life that you might become a Cubs fan?
I could answer this with a long, drawn out diatribe about my hatred of all things Northside, but how about this instead...
FUCK NO!!!
Joyce
where you'd like to live if the job was available there geographically.
I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but here.  Chicagoland is home to me.  Its what I know, its where my family is, and I don’t belong anywhere else.  I’ve lived all over the country and all over the world and without fail, no matter where I went, I couldn’t wait to get home.

and what we should do now in Afghanistan. or what we shoulda done. 
(this is a whole post unto itself.) which I’ll write very soon, but I gotta get organized.  Can’t shoot this one from the hip.

Love your writing!
Airman Mom
Do you have a desire to return to Afghanistan? 
I want to go back every single day.  It was the last place I’ve been where things made perfect sense to me.  Here, everything seems to be a gray area.  There, everything was a lot easier to make sense of.  Plus, the chore that is dealing with you standard spoiled, obnoxious, narcissistic American is something that makes me want to swim back!

Where do you see yourself in ten years? twenty years? 
I’m still trying to figure out exactly where I’m going to be in 10 days, or 10 minutes for that matter.  I got a lot of other things to sort out before I tackle those questions.  But I’m going to keep on working and going to school and serving until I get my mind right and then I’ll make a move or two.

Have you considered teaching as a profession? 
Actually yes, but History teachers are a dime a dozen and its hellaciously hard to get into teaching here in Chicago right now, unless of course I wanted to teach in the inner city which is probably just like Afghanistan if not worse. (Well that could kill two birds with one stone, get a new job and a good one, and go back to Afghanistan.  Or at least something similar.)

How did your visit with your dad go this week?  Good, I’d tell you about it, but that’s one of those things that I’m going to keep to myself.
How do you feel your life would have been different, had he been 'with you' growing up?
Another post all unto itself.

Write your own Eulogy.
Didn’t I do that already.

Write an acceptance speech for your nomination on any level of Political victory.
Not gonna happen...I would never run for office.  I could never kiss that much ass, nor could the soft ass American public deal with some of my ideas...like no handouts!
Who is your best friend and why?  Don’t really have one.
If you could meet anyone in this world (alive), who would it be and why?
I’d want to meet any Spartan male.  I’d like to meet him at 7 and watch him till he was 18.
Give me a few minutes to think about this and I will come up with more...this just spilled from the top of my head. :)

~AM
Marian
Have you heard of this Website - Vantage Point. You might like to submit an "opinion". Alex Horton is a part of it....so did you eat more than pizza last week? Did you go for a walk around the block?.....Looking forward to reading your replies to all the submitted questions.
- marian
Marian, I have heard of it.  Not quite sure how I feel about anyone signing up to be a cheerleader for the VA but if he can do some good for soldiers from there then all the best to him.
I have started working out and eating better.  Dropped 8 pounds this week alone, but that’s kinda like chipping an icicle off an iceberg.  Sure it weighs less but it doesn’t look any different.
OK...more questions (I'll save some for next time!!!)


What scares you?
I’m terrified of being buried alive.  Its just a thing with me.  About the only thing that makes me nervous is the idea that something may have passed me by, or I missed my shot.  I can’t help but want history to remember me.  Trouble is, I don’t think it will. 

Favorite Christmas memory...1999 or 2000 I was stationed in New Mexico, and the mom and my kid brother came down to visit for Christmas.  We ended up having Christmas dinner in their hotel room and opening presents there.  Just the three of us.  Best Christmas yet.

Since you are a Soldier...if you could step back in history, which conflict would you choose to be part of and why?
The American Revolution.  I’ve thought about this a lot.  Was going to give it a long drawn out, well crafted answer.  Then it dawned on me, I would want to be a part of that one because its the only American war that created something.

Should Marijuana be legalized?
Yep, without a doubt.  Cigarettes and booze are legal and are scientifically proven to be a lot worse for you than weed.  Its just a bunch of political, puritanical bullshit.

Would you rather have wealth, fame or romantic happiness?
Romantic happiness, the other two mean next to shit to me.

If you could go to lunch with anyone on Friday...who would you ask?
Living-Mickey Ward (Boxer) He’s the guy that new Mark Wahlberg movie is about.
Dead-My Dad.

If you had to be interviewed by one person, who would you choose?
Chet Coppock, legendary Chicago sports writer.  He’s about the only guy I can think of in the media that would throw me some real hard ass questions and be able to sort out all the bullshit.

When was the last time you cried?
When Buckets died...

OK....these may keep you busy for an afternoon :)

~AM
Wrexie
What advise would you give someone deploying to AF now?
Same as I always have...keep your head and ass down, keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open.  Its better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6, and the only mission you have over there is to bring you and all your boys home breathing.  Bottom line, don’t go looking for trouble.  Its going to come and find you soon enough.

I guess I'll have to read old posts and see WHY you aren't a Cubs fan. ???(It only hurts during baseball season...)
Well Wrexie, the fact of that matter is that if you are familiar with Chicago you will understand this reference...
Boys town and Dyke land hooked up and had a kid and they called it Wrigleyville.
Later,
I love you Mom...

Nov 14, 2010

Another question...

So I'm running low of interesting topics to write about.

Was just wondering if you guys had anything you wanted to hear my take on?

Anything at all, nothing is off limits.  Let's hear it.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Nov 7, 2010

Question...

I just reread James Dao's article about bloggers in the suck (Afghanistan) and he said I was always profane.  Which I most certainly am.  And I've got more than a little bit of s#%* from the mom about this.

Now here's the question.

Should I or should I not make a concerted effort to quit swearing?  I'm just wondering.  Its been a part of my personality and the way that I talk for so long now that I don't even really think about it.  I mean, I can abstain from profanity when the situation dictates, but when it doesn't I drop more than a few F-bombs.

Should I stop?

Its Like I Never Left...

So its surprising just how good one can be made to feel just by being in the presence of those with whom you went through so much.
Translation:  It felt really good to be back with my boys for the weekend.
What the fuck am I talking about?  I had drill this weekend.  Normally, drill weekends are comprised of me running this way and that trying like hell to get out of any and all work that they have for me to do.  Finding new, and wonderful hiding places to stay out of the line of fire.
Its just what we do.  Its how the game is played.  The officers give the NCO’s jobs to be completed and the NCO’s in turn get us (the lower enlisted) to do these jobs.  That’s how it works on the way down.  When you look at it from the other end you get this...
Lower enlisted soldiers basically do anything and everything they possibly can to get out of doing anything, while the NCO’s chase them around like the whacked out mother of a particularly rambunctious toddler, and then they offer up a million well crafted “reasons” why the particular task was not completed to an officer who most likely doesn’t understand any of what is happening around him/her any damn way!
But there was one significant difference between this weekend and all the others over the past year.  I was back with the good ole’ 333rd Military Police Company.  I left my other company because they dicked me out a promotion.  (No need to get into all those gory details.  Suffice it to say, I felt like a brand new 105 lb. kid in prison!)  But I made it back to the company with which I went to Afghanistan.
How did it work out?  IT WAS LIKE I NEVER FUCKING LEFT!!!
Flowed right back into the old act.  We laughed, we joked, we told stories about the suck.  We reminded each other of all the crazy, dangerous, laughable, hilarious, and downright whacky things we did over there.
We talked like old friends.  For me it was like time had frozen and we were just picking right back up where we left off and that made me very happy.  Like a puppy with two peters.  (A doughnut to whoever can tell me what movie that’s from!)
I talked to one guy in particular.  The ninja.  If you remember him.  And we started chatting about how things had changed in our world views since we got back.  I went into my traditional, tripping over your dick description of what I’ve been feeling since I got back...well nothing grabs me anymore, nothing gets my engine running, yada yada yada.
He just sat there smiling at me and waiting patiently for me to finish running my mouth.  I wrapped it up with a, “You understand what I’m saying?”
To which he responded, “Nothing feels very important anymore, does it?”  (dramatic pause as I stared at him incredulously) “Don’t feel special or anything, I think everybody feels that way!”
Talk about your moments of relief.  I knew that there were a lot of guys that felt the way that I do, and were having a lot of the same issues that I was having.  But I’ll tell you what, it didn’t mean shit up until the ninja told me that he was feeling the same way.
Misery loves company I guess.
Or maybe it just helped me out a lot that I could talk to someone that knew exactly what I was talking about.  I mean the ninja and I had been on pretty much every single mother fucking mission together.  Every minute we spent outside the wire or inside it was spent within 20-50 meters of one another.
Was it a breakthrough moment?  Not by a long shot.  I still have a shit ton of work to do.  And whether I actually do it or not is a matter of some uncertainty.  But knowing that someone else feels the same way I do after going through the same thing that I did is like a little security blanket.  Kinda makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
Maybe I’m nuts (little doubt about that) or maybe I’m just fooling myself.  But it all seems a bit easier after this weekend.  Even the words feel like their flowing out of me with a little less effort.  I’m not asking for a life of ease, far from it.  I am still young enough that a strenuous life is still infinitely appealing to me.  I don’t want my life to be easy, but I want the life to flow out of me easily...does that make any fucking sense at all?
But regardless, I felt home again.  Like I was back where I belong.  Back with all my brothers...where I am supposed to be.
And that feeling is worth a million bucks...
So now, what’s next?  Well tomorrow is another day, and I have to go to work.  Ugh, what a royal pain in the ass.  But that’s life and its time to get your ass in gear.  Easier said than done?  Sure it is, but Shawshank style we all have but one choice.
Get busy living, or get busy dying.  
And I think Frank Sinatra put it best when he said, “You gotta love livin’ baby!  Because dying is a pain in the ass.”
So the Mud Puppy got to go back where he belongs.  Even if it was only for the weekend.  Maybe that’s what I needed.  A new place to be coming from.
Well I got it, I haven’t smiled as much as I did this weekend in a very long while.  And that my friends, is a good thing.
I think I’m going to stop off and visit my father sometime this week.  I reconnected with all my boys this weekend, maybe its time I reconnected with my old man.  Stay tuned...
Later,
I love you Mom...

Nov 4, 2010

The Mystic Art of Getting Off My Ass...

So I've got another appointment with the VA head shrinker tomorrow.

I've identified my entire problem.

Lazy, listless, unmotivated, apathetic, careless, comatose, indolent, inert, indifferent, lackadaisical, lethargic, passive, procrastinating, torpid, trifling, un-energetic, un-industrious.

I have yet to master the mystic art of getting off my ass.

I've been telling myself that I'm going to get moving all this week...tomorrow.

Everyday its the same shit, I'm going to get up and do this, and that, and then go to class, and then to work, and then I'll hit the gym and...

Then I get up, look at the clock and hit snooze until I absolutely have to go to class, then I drag myself out of bed kicking and screaming, go to class, barely stay awake, and then go to work.  Which consists of me staring at a wall for 8 hours.  Followed by me saying to myself, alright bud go to the gym.  Then I drive home and write about how lazy I am.

This is the definition of insanity.  Or at least stupidity.

I'm losing it.  I don't know what's going on.  This is easily the strangest ailment that I've ever had.  Something in my brain just doesn't want to let me get up and get moving.  I've got things to do, I've go a life to live.

Waistline steadily expanding, depression gripping tight, outlook dimming, its all so slow.

Nothing can get me hyped up anymore.  Everything is so ordinary and uninspiring.

Maybe another deployment would snap me out of this shit.

I know this, somethings gotta give.  Somethings gotta change.  Somethings gotta happen.  Otherwise I am going to go completely out of my mind.

Getting off my ass is truly a mystic art for me.

The shrink said a lot of things, but he thinks that we may have to try a different approach.  Whereas some people can think their way through things that's most likely not going to work with me.  If I could think my way through this then I would've done that already.  I'm smart enough, and I've got enough mechanisms for self reflection (this blog) to have figured it out on my own.  He thinks that I am probably going to have to "work" my way through it.  Meaning, do things.  Force myself to "DO" things.  The things that I want to get done of course.  Now how the hell do I accomplish that.

Now one thing that the shrink told me that stuck out in my head is that you have to be accountable.  Accountable to something or to someone.  Now I'd like to know, since I've already proven that I can't be accountable to myself.  Do you think it would work if I were accountable to you?  All of you that read this shit.

Just a thought, and an opportunity to chew my ass when I don't do what I'm supposed to.  100% honesty assured.  It wouldn't do any good to do it any other way.

Later,

I love you Mom...

Nov 3, 2010

Couldn't Go To Sleep Without...

Saying something about the election today.  It has completely dominated our 24 hour news stations today.  Its all anyone can talk about.  I checked MSNBC and the first headline I saw was that ridiculously orange man with a marquee above him that said, "Putting Washington On Notice."



Oh please, somebody get my boots.  The bullshit is getting a little thick.


Today I was reading an article in Newsweek about the election and I came across a few ideas that were worth repeating.


Some shit about Americans in general.


It also shows in glaring relief the schizophrenia that I talked about in my last post.


First idea was that Americans like the idea of liberty and small government (tea party/Republicans) but they also like their entitlement programs (like medicare, medicaid, social security) and their liberal social programs too.


Basically, Americans want the freest country in the world (which we don't currently have, that honor goes to Hong Kong followed by Singapore according to the Heritage Foundation. Check it out...)


The more I look around, and the more I talk to the younger generation at school the more I believe that Americans have lost some of what made this country great.  It pretty much breaks down like this, they want everything done for them and handed to them.  Its like the recent college graduate that wants a $60,000 a year job without putting his time in, except on a generational scale.


Then you hear the usual drivel from some people about why they don't vote...


Several answers as to why are:
1.  It doesn't matter.
2.  My vote won't count.
3.  Its just choosing between two evils.


and I'm sure there are many more, and without condoning their views, they are absolutely right.


Here's where the problems start.  When you have one person that thinks like that, it really doesn't matter. However, things have gotten so bad that there are hundreds of thousands, even millions of people who think that way.


According to the state board of elections, as of January 30, 2008.  Illinois had 7,203,827 registered voters.  A quick check of the Chicago Tribune's election tracker indicates that 3,621,437 people voted.  About half the registered voters.


What the mother fuck is that?  I'm not so concerned with how many people voted as I am with who the people that voted are.


Its a simple fact that when only half the population is voting, then that means that a lot of people who's voices need to be tempered by the more reasonable of our citizenry are voting.


Energized voting blocks are not usually the people you want choosing your leaders.  Stupid (easily led) people, Crazy people, religious and/or political wackos and then you have the politically connected.  Those of you who live in Illinois know that these guys and gals are definitely not the ones you want picking out our next Governor.


Everyone needs to vote, if for no other reason than to keep the wackos from running the joint!


But these are things we all know.  Politics is a dirty business.  However, politics is one of the most important (arguably the most important) businesses around.  


But the questions I want to leave you with tonight are these...


Why would any decent person with dignity and self respect want to be a politician?


And if a politician who has learned to play the game and is good at it, vote to change the rules of the game?  Meaning, why would any politician vote for meaningful reform when it would threaten their job?


Just askin...


Later,


I love you Mom...

Nov 2, 2010

So...

Yesterday I wrote about how I didn't really feel much of any connection with the things going on around me.  How I felt kind of like I was just floating through life with little and/or no direction.

And perhaps I'm completely losing my grip on things here, but I decided to take a few minutes out of my busy workday and brainstorm like I was going to write an essay about the lack of aggression in my life.

I ran it down beginning with the phrase, "We learn to hate war."  That's where I started.  And having said that, this is how that essay would've turned out if I were to actually write it...

We are taught from a very early age that war is bad.  Fighting is bad.  It hurts people.  It kills people.  Violence is not a solution to your problems.  Violence is never the answer.

These are the things we are taught.

Unfortunately, these sentiments have about as much basis in reality as Puff the Magic Dragon.

Contrary to popular opinion, violence does in fact solve most every problem.  Let me qualify that by saying, its may or may not be the solution you were looking for but violence is in fact a solution.

Someone is talking shit to you, violence shuts them up.
A country invades another, killing a few thousand of them will get them out of that country.
Someone invades your home, killing them stops that.
Someone breaks the laws of this land, we lock them in a cage.  (By all means, a violent situation.)

I'm not saying that violence is the best or only solution.  But there is no doubt whatsoever, that violence is a solution.

Now where does this insistence that violence is a poor option come from?  About the only thing I can come up with is our society is softening.  And that softening is a function of time, it does get worse as time goes by.

The famous men of the past were men of action and in most cases men of violence.  Theodore Roosevelt, Beowulf, King Arthur, Captain America, Audie Murphy, SGT York and others.  (I realize some of these guys are fictional, but the fact that someone made them up at that time speaks to their ideas on violence.)

Now who are some of our famous men?  Dr. Drew, Dr. Phil  Oh boy, we're all going to get crushed under someone's boot if we listen to these two jokers.  And at the same time, we make movies and TV shows about criminals, vigilantes, bounty hunters, and fighters.  By their very nature these are violent professions performed by violent people.  I'm pretty sure that America has a really good case of schizophrenia.

Back to the function of time thing.  I do believe that if you were to ask a man from 1945 what he thought of violence he would probably have an entirely different view than a man from 2010.  And that says nothing for the men from even further back.  Could you imagine what the guy who wrote "Beowulf" would have had to say about violence?  And that was written sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries.

Well we've come a long way from solving a problem by cutting off Grendel's arm and hanging it from the rafter in the great hall to sensitivity training and multicultural awareness.

Some call it feminization of society, which I suppose to a point is accurate.  However, given some of the chicks that I know that doesn't fit.  Softening is a much better term.  Just out of respect (and fear) of them.  But for the most part our society is moving more and more toward feminine occupations and a feminine ideal.  Which is wholly depressing given my personal proclivities.

The new ideal has no room for aggression.  It makes no allowance for hardness or conflict.  Everything nowadays is geared to avoid conflict and resolve problems peaceably and without any hint of violence.  Most likely these are good things.

But I ask you this, and this is a question asked from the viewpoint that assumes that all this crap is feminine.  Why do women go for bad boys?  Guys who have little if any fear of conflict or violence.  And on a broader scale, if violence is so bad, why does society call soldiers hero's?  By any objective measure soldiers are simply government trained enforcers and killers.  You don't like that characterization kiss my ass, everything a soldier's job revolves around is ending someone's (the enemy's) life.  My entire world rotated around my weapons!  They got cleaned before I did.  My purpose in Afghanistan was to be a paid enforcer of American foreign policy.

That's a very base way of describing it, but its absolutely true.  When the chips are down, and the bullets are flying, none of the flag waving, or poetry, or songs, or marches, or any of that matters.  Its our soldiers versus their soldiers and someone is going to get fucking killed.  One son will prevent another from ever seeing home again.

So how can a society try to suppress violence on the one hand, and yet produce such lethally efficient soldiers as this nation does?    Again, we're schizo!

Now I've said to you before that I don't like soft solutions to my problems.  Which is why I don't particularly like being fucked in the head.  You got a cold, take some cold medicine and lay down.  You'll get better.  You don't know something, look it up.  You need something, go out and get it.  You need money, get a job.  Someone fucks with my country, throw me and a few thousand guys like me in a plane and we'll go and kill them.  Simple, direct solutions to problems.

Being fucked in the head doesn't have any simple or direct solutions.  If it did, I sure as shit wouldn't be writing this.  But my head is what's giving me trouble.

One of my favorite quotes is, "A reasonable man adapts to his environment, an unreasonable man forces his environment to adapt to him.  Therefore, all progress is made by unreasonable men."

Can't really force my brain to cooperate when it doesn't want to, now can I?

Still have so far to go, so many things to reconcile.  This ladies and gents is already shaping up to be the toughest battle I have ever fought...

Later,

I love you Mom...