Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stick A Fork In Me

I would have never guessed being home would be this hard. Sure Iraq sucked and things happened and whatever, but I figured it was no big deal. I've been back for over a week now though and things just seem not-normal. Maybe I don't know what normal is, or I forgot while I was gone. Maybe my stomach always ached and my mouth always had this taste in it and I was always tired. Maybe...

We have had to fill out half a dozen surveys since our return. Checking boxes and filling bubbles rating how we feel and if we're likely to kill ourselves. Have we noticed we're sleeping less or drinking more? Are we less interested in things or on edge? Do sirens and loud noises startle us?
The part I have difficultly with when signing and dating and filling out my forms is simply that I don't know. I don't know if I'm not sleeping because I can't or because maybe I'm jetlagged from our 20-hour plane ride home. I don't know if I'm drinking more because I have barely been able to drink since NOVEMBER. I don't know if I don't enjoy the things I used to because I've been working almost every single day since I got back so I haven't had the chance to do them. And if I feel isolated and alone it might just be because I have been given ZERO chance to see the people I care about and the home I don't believe even exisits anymore.

So forgive me Big Army if I simply check all the NO boxes on a survey and UNINTENTIONALLY use very foul language when getting my pre-evaluation with a shrink. Its just when some asshole with a clipboard tells me to be honest and I tell her that honestly she's wasting my fucking time with this Mickey Mouse bullshit because OF COURSE I think about hurting other people, I wouldn't be very good at my job if I didn't, (MY JOB IS TO HURT OTHER PEOPLE) I get frustrated. I get angry and tired and fed the fuck up and I would really love a little leeway here. Its hard to know the status quo when you've been so far gone, and its harder when you're not so sure you ever really had a handle on it anyway.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'll Always Have A Story To Tell

I'm a gambler. At first glance I don't look it, but who really does? I don't go to casinos much or have an afinity for the ponies. I abhor poker (especially Hold 'Em. I mean jesus fucking christ who wants to play a game where half the cards are face fucking up?) and can barely stomach Black Jack. Craps is just that and Roulette is for people who like shiny objects. Gambling for money just seems so blase to me because I don't like money much. If I loose then who gives a fuck and if I win then who gives a fuck. I'll never bet enough to really risk something and thus never risk enough to win anything.

But when it comes to unconventional things I'll take the bet. I'll play Plane Delay Poker. I'll step up to Stay-Up-All-Night-Drinking-Before-A-Test Roulette. I'll run around a pool deck in a thunder storm with an umbrella pole or gun an MRAP with no helmet on or cross the border with a little something extra in the trunk. Fuck lightning and snipers and Border Patrol, I do what I want.

Sometimes I lose. Sometimes I get caught up, I get beat-down, I lose. But it is always always worth it.
I'm about to set off on another gamble. A long-term, high-stakes deal with enough risk that conventional-thinking people tell me to use my god-damn senses and slow my roll. But as any of those people can tell you, that ain't gonna happen. I don't listen to reason and I don't let risk or fear stop me. This might pay off big or it might burn me, but at the end of it all I'll be able to take pleasure knowing I went for it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

1,975 Miles

Time to go home. Or something. Not home, home's gone. It snuck away from me somewhere between 2006 and Monday. Dirty bastard. Can't really blame home though, I knew it was happening and honestly who wanted to stick around with me anyway?

You can't go back, but what do you do when you can't go forward either? I can't. At least not for a few months. Time. Give shit time and it'll work out. Bullshit. Fucking stupid ass old person, Hippy bullshit. Not everything works out and not everything is worth it.

Times like these call for whiskey. And it just so happens that in the United States of America whiskey is abundant. And it abounds within my cabinet. Don't mind if I do...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"I'm Dying Leon..."

I'm back and I don't want to write. If I start a lot of bad shit will come out. And I'm so sick of it. I'm sick of fucking people 'understanding' and telling me I need to give shit time. I'm sick of this world of shit I live in.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Disregard The Counter

What do you do when you want to get something out but its already out there? What do you do when you've said before what you want to say again? What do you write when you've already written? Why do I feel the urge to even do so?

I'm five days out from home and I'm scared. Its really hard for me to say that. I don't like being scared. I haven't been scared of anything in so long because I've spent years making myself numb. If you don't care about anything then you can't be afraid. If you don't care if you get hurt, then you're not afraid to get in fights. If you don't care if you're loved then you're not afraid to be alone. If you don't care if you succeed then you can't be afraid of failing. And If you don't care if you're alive then you're not afraid of dying.

But I care about coming home. And I care about being loved. And in five days when I get back and I get to hold her I know I won't be afraid. Everything will be ok.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

One Day You Be All Alone, Way Out There In A Combat Zone

Today I was awarded my CIB, or Combat Infantryman's Badge. It is an award given to only to infantrymen who have been in combat. It cannot be awarded to non-infantry soldiers, nor members of any service besides the Army.
For the last 30-some months earning my CIB has been a goal of mine. It is the goal of every infantryman because it denotes proficency and practice in our job; to engage the enemy in combat. If you have a CIB you have been to a war, you have fought in a war, you came home from a war. Everything we do is to prepare for war and win at war, no secondary task or more complex directive than that.
So now I have it. A 3-inch piece of black metal on my chest that tells those who know what I did. Make no mistake, I am proud to have earned it. I am proud of my job, proud of my choice to serve and proud of myself. I don't regret anything involved with my time in the Army in the least. But against my will I think; is it all worth it? Is the money and the pride worth spending three years of my life in a series of deserts? Strangers trying to kill me, people making me feel awkward in airports, crippled friends and watching the world pass me by? Is it worth a handful of cash and a matte black scrap of metal?
I can say no, it is not. But its ok because the more I think about it the more I realize I'm forgetting something. I'm forgetting I didn't decide to join up and come to Iraq for money or medals. I came because I wanted to. I had an urge, I felt a pull deep in my soul to go forth and take from this world what I could, for good or ill. And I have done that. I have followed my heart and taken a right turn off the beaten path so readilly layed out for me.
So to me my CIB means more than the combat it certifies. To me it means that in spite of my fears and uncertainty I can do fucking anything. And I'll be ok.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Maybe That's What She Meant

I feel the need to start with a warning so I am not misunderstood here:
The last thing I want is to go back to the past. The last thing I want is to be my younger self. I may have a terminal case of Nostalgia, but please do not confuse that with a practical desire to return to Kilmer or Madison or even Ship. Good? Glad we're on the same page.

Every now and then I very randomly come across a memory that has been dormant for some time. It might be a song or a smell that does it, but most of my memories tied to smells and sounds and sights pop up with some regularity. Often its just out of the blue and unexplainable in origin, coming to me in the shower or during a run. Its a memory that doesn't have the makings of a good story or is topical to any conversation I might have. It rushes up and smacks me in the back of the head without provocation and leaves me (usually) smiling.

I think about my first girlfriend and some of the times we'd spend together. The feeling of being in love for the first time, so bright and new. Fearless of the pitfalls and certain of the outcome in spite of being 16.
I think about riding on the outside of Evan's SUV all the way to school Friday mornings. Or how Freshman year Alex, Chase, Josh and I would walk to Brittney's bus stop for shits and giggles.
I remember how in 6th grade Brittney wore a red shorts/skirt thing that confused me. (Those things still do. Why would you combine shorts and a skirt? Just pick one.)
I remember the very first 'Goats party I went to. How no one even recongized me in real clothes at first. Or how at the very first practice Soap described DRod as "the guy who looks like Jesus" and I knew instantly who he was talking about.
I remember being in the school band at Kilmer and having no idea what the fuck I was doing during the winter concert, but not feeling embaressed at all.

I don't mean to romanticize my youth, as I hope an elder me won't romanticize the current one. I have not forgotten the not-so-nice times, and while I find it easier to laugh at my mistakes I do so without forgetting how painful they were at the time. But there is something to be said for being young and dumb and up for anything.
And the best thing is when I remember though sometimes it sure doesn't feel like it I'm still young, I'm still dumb and there isn't very much I won't give a shot. And even going places you've already been, feeling things you've already felt, playing games you've already played they are all still just as awesome the second (or third or uncounted) time as long as you look upon them with the same passion for life.

Peaks And Valleys Of Different Sorts...

I didn't take this picture, but I wish I had. I wish I was there to seethe sight in person.
I don't understand a lot of this world, (More things in Heaven and Earth indeed...) but I know beauty when I see it. I don't know why its beauty, I don't know what it even means really. But I know how it feels to see something beautiful.
I think landscapes are beautiful. The Grand Canyon, the Alps, the empty desert at sunrise.
I think many women are beautiful. Soft in skin, smooth in motion and always a suprise underneath the surface.
I think life is often beautiful, based purely on the merit that in this moment I exist. I am lucky to be a part of the universe that spawned me in my insignificance among its unending vastness.
I do not see art as beautiful. I do not see poetry or writting to be beautiful. And I do not think of music as beauty. I love them in their own way; I use them, cherish them, even depend on them everyday, but they are not beauty. To me they are products of people who expressed themselves in the best way they could; crying out into the world their joy and pain and lonelyness and satisfaction and horror and pride. When they move me they do so because I understand them, and thus understand something about myself.
But my concept of beauty rarely gives me insight. It moves me while remaining unmoved. To the earth, the universe and most women I pass without note. The mountains continue to stand, I continue to exist and beautiful women keep living their lives without me in most cases.
Still, I consider myself blessed by my existance and the places I've seen and the women I have been lucky enough to know.

You're So Good

Its the littlest things that make me happy sometimes. I think that's what's so tough about being here, the little things I don't really get. Missing Christmas or Thanksgiving or the 4th all suck, but not as much as you'd expect. Dealing with that is pretty easy if you don't dwell on it. You just do your job and when you wake up the next day its no big deal.
But the little things sneak up on you and wear you down. Day in and day out being apart from the life you knew and the people you miss really chips away at your well being until one day you realize how much is gone.
The advantage of it though is when you get even a small bit of what you're missing it makes you so happy. It calms your crazy thoughts and smoothes the rough patches. Your whole day can be brightened by any little thing that slips into your life for even the shortest moment.
Maybe that's what happiness is; little joys that make big ass differences.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I need a drink. I need multiple, strong alcoholic drinks. I need gin, swilled from a coffee mug. I need Everclear and Red Bull in a 50/50 mix. I need to down 8oz of Vlady so fast I blackout instantly. I need to get shitty so all my shit drops away. I need to get out of my head for a little bit.
I don't deal so well with things I guess, but I don't really give a fuck. People call me an alcoholic, and it gets harder and harder to refute the claim. But I've stopped caring. I do what I have to do to get by and I am who I am.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jolley Ranchers Help In Both Cases

My days have taken on a ruckmarch-like quality. One day after another, one foot in front of another. Don't think about the distance, don't speed up or slow down. Just keep marching, just keep living. Don't think about what you're doing, think about where you're going to do. Don't think about the rucksack on your shoulders, don't try and shift the weight. Just keep going.
Wake up, work out, take a nap, read, sit on the computer, sleep a little, do it all over again. And again. And again. Remember to breathe. Remember to eat. Remember to shower.
One foot in front of the other. One day at a time.
Take an ambien, wig out for a while, sleep for 20 hours. Drink a liter of mouthwash, get a raging headache and sloppy drunk, sleep for 12 hours. Huff a can of dust-off, start hearing things, sleep for 8 hours. Work out, get sore, sleep for 6 hours.
Or just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Day after day, week after week.
Keep your head up, back straight, and legs moving. Every step gets you a little farther, every day a little closer.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sorry I'm Not Sorry E...

Its the 234th birthday of America today and my intention is to write about it somehow. But as often is the case I cannot stop thinking about sex. So I'm going to do my best to keep on track here, but forgive me if I vear off or stop suddenly.

July 4th is my favorite holiday by far. Is it because I love America? Sure, why not. Is it because its in the summertime? That might have a bit to do with it. Is it fireworks and hot dogs? No, even though I love them. The reason I love the 4th so fucking much is because it is one of the few full-blown holidays where I had autonomy from my family.
Lots of holidays are family-affairs. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and such. But my family would make a maditory family event out of New Years and Memorial Day too. And when I was younger I would join the fam in heading down to the Mall and watching the fireworks. But as I got older we missed a few years due to rain and things became a bit less regulated.
So for many years now I've been slying solo when it comes to America's birthday. I've hung out on the Mall until 3am with rando UVa girls, got sun posioning in New Mexico, seen the Vienna fireworks explosion, got conned into working CH by Scotty, flown from Canada to Mexico along the west coast and had sex in E's bed.
So it might wreak of the cliche that a holiday about national freedom has been for me in particular about personal freedom, but I don't really give a shit.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

When Will I Learn? Tom Petty Is Always Right.

In spite of the fact that I have been living in a tent with my entire platoon for a month, in spite of the soul-crushing boredom of having honest-to-god nothing to do all day, in spite of the fact that now its summer time so I'm missing some awesome outdoor, day-drinking, tanning and CH-ing opertunities I'm in a pretty alright mood.
I bought a little webbook laptop thing so I have real interent access again. I can talk to my girlfriend with some frequency now. I have ONE MOTHERFUCKING WEEK until I leave Iraq and only a handful of days to suffer through in Kuwait left. I'm done with the grenades and the roadside bombs and begging children. I can see the exit sign here people, and it makes Christmas morning look like a NAMBLA convention.
I'm less than two weeks from returning to aMURica and just a little longer until I step off another plane in VA. And that's the real goal here; a few days of good 'ole fashioned fun, sans clothes with a sexy girl and little bit of liquor.