31 December 2008

but I'm not gonna let 'em catch me, no

If I were one of those people who made New Year's resolutions, these are what they would be (now with pictures!):

1. Recycle more (read: recycle period)

2. Finally learn how to sew (and make a quilt out of our old t shirts)

3. Volunteer at the animal shelter near my house (how hard is it to walk a dog or play with some cats?)

4. Ease up on the alcohol (actually maybe I'll start this one next week...)

"...and the road goes on forever
and I've got one more silver dollar..."

- Allman Brothers "Midnight Rider" -

30 December 2008

UPDATE: give me back my point of view

12/29, approx 2130 - a comment waiting to be moderated in my blog:

... I'm sorry you saw us as "a group of bitter, arrogant, hateful people who didn't even TRY to participate in the exercise. We aren't that bad, I swear. I don't think we understood each others role in the exercise from the beginning, and that gave each of us a poor impression of each other. I regret we didn't finish out that AAR on the last day so we could both benefit more from the MRX ...

In honesty, I'd searched his blog for contact info, wanting to reach out, but found nothing. I suppose it's a good thing that HE found ME a few days later, because at the time I was still reeling and probably would have said a lot of unfair things - and I KNOW I would not have been open to hearing his side of anything. Calm = excellent.

My emailed response, in part:

... I wish I could explain all of the work that went into [the MRX], that goes into every MRX we've done. This time, for whatever reason, it all fell apart right in the beginning. ... I got a general feeling of suspicion from much of your unit, and maybe some of that, like you said, was just misunderstanding our roles. In our internal AAR, we agreed that next time, all members of the unit as well as the entire training staff will be present so there is no confusion.

I, too, wish the AAR hadn't been cut short. I felt like, after everything that went so wrong, there was no closure; WHY did it go wrong? What can we, as trainers, do to keep that from happening again? I can't speak for everyone, but it was a hugely unpleasant experience for me, too ...

In his initial comment, he'd suggested we get together next week and talk about the unresolved issues we all still had. I agreed, and he's right: the public affairs community is much, MUCH too small to just let it go. Our paths will cross again; I've stumbled across 46-type people I hadn't seen in years in the most random places.

Anyway, he wrote back:

... One thing about having to work at the PA office. We had a serious issue with transportation and it was hard getting a ride to the PA office from our warehouse/office. Our office had a ton of space and power outlets for broadcasters to work. I wish we had thought of seeing if it were possible for the broadcast MTT [Mobile Training Team - us] personnel to come to us. One of our AAR comments should have been that the Fort Dix PA office doesn't have good space for video editing. I don't want that to come across like an arrogant broadcaster thing because we need some space, power outlets, and quiet to do some good editing.

I do hope with all of our bitching, you were at least happy with our product. We worked hard as a broadcast section to put together those stories and the newsreel. Putting up the DVIDS was good training, too ...

He also apologized for the "instructor" thing and even made an amendment to the post, both of which I appreciate very much.

I wrote back:

... As a Q, quiet space to record audio never occurred to me, and evidently [the LT] didn't think of it either. I will bring that to her attention, as well as any other concerns you have ...

I added that I didn't really know what I was looking at in terms of the video products (I'm a print journalist myself) but that their print products were all solid.

There were a few more emails back and forth, mostly about crappy Fort Dix, marketing and DVIDS, and deploying with a PAOC. I also asked permission to use parts from our conversation here in my blog. I'm glad we were able to clear the air a little, and I look forward to speaking more in person. (I'll be sure to add a post on the meeting, as well.)

We're going to try to meet up early next week, hopefully, and any other members of the unit are welcome to come. As for Fort Dix representation, I'm not bringing the LT with me, so I'll be the only training staff member at the meeting; the rest of the staff at the MRX were TDY from other locations.

Anyway, wanted to share that.

Exhausted, and going to bed.

29 December 2008

the girl got reasons; they all got reasons

The holiday... didn't end up being that bad, actually. A brief rundown of the festivities:

24. made the insanely horrible pre-holiday drive back to Massachusetts with the husbo. SEVEN HOURS LATER we arrived at his mother's house. There we all had a little informal dinner-thing (she thoughtfully made veggie lasagna especially for me) and exchanged presents. Afterward, we stopped for a short visit at my parents' house to do presents, then drove to Tree's dad's house and promptly fell asleep. Alcohol units consumed: two

25. had a really nice breakfast spread courtesy of Tree and his dad. Exchanged presents with his dad and brother, then went to my parents' house (again, and with Tree's dad) for food. My sister and her bf came to eat as well and we all had a (surprisingly) enjoyable time. Ate, hung out, stuffed ourselves full of my mom's infamous lady finger cake. Mmmm. Alcohol units consumed: four

26. recovered in the morning and spent a few hours with Coug midday. Then Tree and I drove to Worcester to meet up with Angel and her son - checked out their new (to me, as I'd never seen it) apartment and then onward to Boston for Blue Man Group. Greatest. Idea. Ever. So much fun!! It is how I imagine being on acid must be like. Love. After the show, we searched for the elusive Hard Rock Cafe and (finally) found the damn place. Bought a new pin. Got home after midnight. Awesome. Alcohol units consumed: three

27. the day of two birthdays: my sister and Tree. We'd all (Tree, me, my sister and her bf, my mom and dad, Tree's dad, his mom and her bf and his two kids, Tree's brother and his gf) decided to merge the events into one, so we met at 5:30 and ate locally. My parents and Tree's dad are swiftly becoming actual friends and not just people stuck with each other because of their kids, and I love that. Friends = kick ass. Alcohol units consumed: three

28. showered, packed, said good bye to everyone, left around noon. SEVEN HOURS LATER (again) we got back to New Jersey, and, you guessed it, promptly fell asleep. Alcohol units consumed: zero

In related news, I need to dry out...

"don't turn away, what are you looking at?
he was so happy on the day that he met her"

- Stone Temple Pilots "Sour Girl" -

27 December 2008

give me back my point of view

So, I went ahead and did it. The PAOC we have at Dix asked me if I wanted to go (half joking or not), and I said yes. Yes, I'll deploy again, as soon as possible, in fact. I haven't feel so... relieved in... months. I belong there. I hope you can understand.

I haven't written much in the last couple days for a few reasons.

1. The abortion that was the Mission Readiness Exercise (MRX). I won't get into it too much because it honestly depresses the hell out of me, but I will say this: there have been few other events in my life that have so broken my spirit. The PAOC was great (more on this in a future post) but the MPAD... they were a group of bitter, arrogant, hateful people who didn't even TRY to participate in the exercise. You can't just decided not to qualify with your weapon at premob, so why would you think you can decide not to validate at your mission specific exercise? You don't have a choice.

It seems the leadership of the MPAD evidently didn't pass on the whole purpose of the exercise, leaving the lower enlisteds questioning (a) who we, as the trainers, even were and (b) why they had to listen to us. They missed the entire point. Some of that was simply the leaders not passing down the info from the OPORD, the rest was an overall negative attitude toward everything. The most maddening:

Why did we have to work out of the PAO shop instead of our barracks/warehouse? Because there was an EXERCISE going on. How can we conduct it unless we're all in the same spot?

Why were there so many "hey you" missions? Poor prior planning? Nope, those are called FRAGOs, and if you've been in the Army more than 10 minutes, you know they can happen all the time. And those "hey you" missions were built into the exercise matrix, as FRAGOs, way in advance. I can show you.

Some of the members of the MPAD blogged about their experience with us and how terrible it was: while I am all about freedom of expression and the need to vent, I hope the blogs will be addressed by people much higher than their commander. The bloggers ignorantly blamed the whole mess on us. I wouldn't be so upset if it were valid complaints, but they simply aren't.

I was even referenced in one of the blogs:

... We called DVIDS and their satellite provider and they weren't getting enough power. So one of the "instructors" comes out to help and said, "I was able to send some stuff when I set up across the street last night." When we did that, we got a sweet lock and sent about 30 min of footage ...

I was that "instructor." Even though I was clearly helping them out, which he admits, I was still an "instructor." I've linked both of the blogs above for you, but I'm going to force myself not to look at them again as they make me want to beat my face against a wall. I'm so angry I can hardly speak.

I know I said I didn't want to say much about it and I did anyways. So now I'm moving on.

2. The holiday blahs. I'm just not feeling very merry this year, you know? If it wasn't for Tree, we wouldn't have had any decorations out, or even a tree up. He jollied up the house, and I'm reluctantly admitting publicly that I'm glad for it. Christmas and all the crap that goes along with it just sucked the life out of me. I wish I could blame it all on one thing (the HHB party, the bleak economy, the MRX, post-deployment depression, etc.) but it's all and none of those things. The more I try to nail it down, the less like the truth it seems.

3. I have the bubonic plague (or something). I have been fighting this mutant cold for two weeks and still can't breathe, can't taste anything, can't sleep. My throat is still sore, my eyes still water constantly, my head still feels like it's going to explode. I wish it would.

4. Trying to be a better wife. This one is the toughest, and the most personal (I debated whether or not to include it here, but fuck it, it's my blog, right?). Tree and I have gone through some extraordinarily difficult times, and I know an impending deployment won't make it any easier on us. But while I'm here, while I can, I'm going to make a real, serious effort to do all of the things I should have been doing all along. He will give me this deployment, and I will learn to give him what he needs as well.

I just finished watching the last part of Band of Brothers and now it's almost midnight. I should get some sleep - it's a long drive back to New Jersey tomorrow.

I'll try to get back into the blogging spirit. I've missed it.
12/30: please read UPDATE: give me back my point of view to see my conversation with one of the bloggers from the MPAD
"oh well, it seems like such fun
until you lose what you had won"

- Jet "Look What You've Done" -

22 December 2008

when I wear it I feel cute


I, evidently, like stuff that white people like.

I came across the blog in the usual way: linkhopping through blogger profiles until something catches my eye. So I scanned the first page, somewhat interested but skeptical ("This site will probably be lame and not relevant to me because I'm not 'white' the way white people are 'white.'"). After a couple minutes of scanning and becoming increasingly concerned, I clicked on the master list of Stuff. Of the 115 specific things white people like, I enjoy 45 (I didn't count some of the general things, like t-shirts and bottles of water). But those 45 things are big, significant things.

In particular, a few creepily personal references: Farmer's Markets, Tea, Microbreweries, David Sedaris (!), Vegan/Vegetarianism, Breakfast Places, Public Radio, Living by the Water (yikes), Toyota Prius (ok, what the fuck), Scarves, Pea Coats, and Hummus.

It was like someone looked into my soul. And found a yuppie.

Fuck! I AM white!

"I like boys with strong convictions
and convicts with perfect diction"

-Kimya Dawson "So Nice So Smart" -

19 December 2008

I'm me, me be, god damn, I am

A. I still feel very wild and restless. I've done the Fort Dix thing, and the mission isn't going to change all THAT much for me (maybe decrease, but not really change...). I've pretty much seen and done all there is to see and do. Sure, I'd like to fit in a couple more professional development classes before I leave, but that's not life-or-death.

The thought of another deployment makes my heart beat a little faster. Iraq? It's like longing for a lover you haven't seen in far too long. I want so bad to see the cluttered landscape, taste the sand, hear the foreign prayers at dawn. 

Do you know that I still roll my shoulders backward sometimes, the best way to make my pistol holster sit comfortably? I haven't touched that weapon in nearly 7 months.

There is a major I know that is willing to take me along with his unit to be the last AFN in Baghdad. It would require me going back to DINFOS for the broadcaster course (great!!), transferring into the Army Reserves (not so great), and possibly paying back most of my reenlistment bonus (exact opposite of great). But I'm really, really considering it: early 2010 is the timeframe for that deployment. I'd get off my OWT orders as scheduled in July, go to DINFOS until November, hang out for a few months and then..

And if not that, there are TONS of other opportunities. As a trainer for all Army reserve component public affairs units going to Iraq, I could easily hop on with any one of them. The current PAOC we have on the ground asked me to go with them; their LTC keeps telling me to pack my bags so I can leave when they do.

Do you believe me, I mean, really believe me, when I tell you that I loved it?

Iraq made me important, needed, a part of something so much bigger than myself, but in that way, big. My heart felt big each and every day I was there.

B. I love my little house, my little car, my little cats, my little life. I love sleeping in, having a weekend off, and the possibility of calling in sick. I love seeing my family pretty much whenever I want, and I love even more not hearing the tension in my mother's voice over the phone. I love having more than 10 cable channels (two of which were in Arabic, three were AFN channels, and the rest were MTV, History Channel, Animal Planet... forgot the other two...). 

I love not eating the same 5 meals over and over again. I love soda that tastes like soda and not watery shit. I love more than 5 minutes of a hot shower.

I love the wintery air and snowflakes. I love not having to pretend that the holidays don't matter to me.  I even love the Christmas tree that I didn't want in the first place.

And the lakehouse - how can I live without this view?? The loft, the outdoor hot tub, the window seat, the screened in porch, the floating dock, the wild ducks... this place is the closest to perfect I could have ever imagined.

Does loving those things make me selfish? Because that's exactly how I feel after typing all that.

"watch me unravel, I'll soon be naked"

- Weezer "Undone (The Sweater Song)" -

17 December 2008

but there's one promise, darlin, I'll see you on god's golden shore

On my way to work this morning, earlier than usual and in the rain, a dying dog flopped on the side of the road, trying and failing to get back up. I didn't see him get hit, but it couldn't have happened more than a minute or two, if that, before I got to him.

I was already running late and needed to make a positive link up or I'd miss the SP, but I pulled over just past the poor thing. I don't know what I was thinking - I just wanted to see if I could tell where he'd come from, so I could get his owners, so he wouldn't have to die in the rainy street alone. He could have bitten me, in that panicked dying state. I just didn't want him to be alone.

There were suddenly lots of cars behind me, so I had to wait to open my door. By the time I got out, he'd stopped moving, but I could see his breath fogging the air above him. I walked to him, only 15 paces or so, and in that time, he stopped breathing. I'm fairly sure he was dead by the time I reached him. Even still, I would have liked to find his owner, to get him out of the street, but he didn't have a collar, and truthfully, he looked a little thin - a stray? I couldn't go knocking door to door at such an early hour. I could feel my heart in my throat.

So I stood there stupidly, suddenly aware that the fact that I'd parked just past a dog laying dead in the street probably looked like I had hit it. And my car is the only one in the neighborhood with Massachusetts plates. And I was in uniform. Ashamed that I couldn't do anything, I got back into my car and drove away.

I cried the rest of the way to work.

"I'm a-bound to ride that mornin railroad...
perhaps I'll die on that train."

- Bob Dylan "Man of Constant Sorrow" -

14 December 2008

that I would be good even if I did nothing

I had a dream the other night that I'd gotten a boob job - no joke. I was sitting on a table, checking out the sizes and picked out a pair. Then the doc had me lay down and I was unconscious... when I woke up, she was hurriedly taking off her gloves and smock-thing and told me she had to leave unexpectedly but that she'd meet me the same time tomorrow to finish up.

"Finish up" ?

......... "Finish up" !!

I pulled up my shirt (I was wearing a shirt during the procedure, apparently) and was stunned (horrified would be a better word) to see that ONE SIDE of my chest had been bandaged. What the doc had meant was that she'd only put one implant in.

How am I going to walk around like this???

And is this common practice to complete one half of an augmentation and come back to it the next day? Someone's going to be getting a call from the Better Business Bureau, methinks.

Further along in the dream, the doc "finished up" and I then had a beautiful new pair of tits (the healing process took only 30 seconds, it seemed). I stood in front of a mirror and lifted them gleefully, squeezing and pressing and admiring them from the side and simply loving.

Weirdly, after the second implant had been put in and I was talking to the doc post-op, I remarked that I was glad that my nipples were now centered on my boobs. WTF?! First, what a fucking bizarre thing to say, and second, my (real life) nipples are quite centered, I assure you.

No idea why I had this dream, as I haven't been especially thinking of my boobs lately... could have to do with the new GIANT tongue stud in my mouth I suppose:

You can't really tell in the photo, I guess, but this thing is two gauges larger than my last stud (which I lost in Atlanta). 

So. What else? New tattoo(s) in the planning stage. I'm going to revamp my little chili pepper tattoo (sadly, the red has faded considerably, so that needs to be retouched, and maybe I'll add some words to go with it) and get a phoenix on my side.

I've been thinking about the phoenix for a long time now and made up my mind to go for it. I'll be getting some quotes this week and I'll go from there. Here is the closest design I've found to what I want - only the tail feathers will be a tad less peacock-like, it will be in color, and there will be more fire incorporated into the overall design. But the size, placement, and the bird's position are in the spirit of the design I want.

Also (speaking of body modification). I have decided I am going to become a Suicide Girl. This is my goal for 2009. Seriously.

"that I would be loved even when I numb myself
that I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
that I would be loved even when I was fuming
that I would be good even if I was clingy"

- Alanis Morissette "That I Would Be Good" -

12 December 2008

open up your plans and damn, you're free

Sitting in a small meeting room off the hotel lobby, listening to all-instrumental Christmas music playing in the next room and thinking, I could really go for some hot chocolate. With marshmallows. Mmm.

Today I finished up the DVIDS Operator Training Course and will be flying back to Boston tomorrow morning to pick up my car so I can drive back to NJ tomorrow afternoon. It's freezing today, yes, in fucking Atlanta. And I was expecting to catch a little tan while I was here. If I were to go outside right now, I'd only get frostbite and maybe windburn. Ridiculous. 'Hotlanta' my ass.

But I'm looking forward to going home, and not just because it's amazingly cold here (NJ may be worse). This place is nice, but I'm ready to be done and move on to the next adventure. Atlanta and the DVIDS course are great, my hotel is sweet (I have a fireplace AND a full kitchen!), love living in transit... I could be a vagabond, it's true. I just sort of feel like I've gotten all I can out of this place, at this time (with these people). You know?

Weird: 63 tried to call me yesterday while we were outside doing setup drills, but my phone was on vibrate and I didn't feel it. There was no voicemail, so I'm only 98.1% sure it was him - but really, who else would call my cell phone from the palace in Baghdad?


Back to the DVIDS course... as part of the training, we all recorded a holiday greeting so we could have a real product to transmit. I considered posting the resulting video of my greeting here in my blog, but in the interest of not putting too much of myself out there (you never know who is looking at my posts), I decided not to... however, if you know me personally, you have enough information to be able to find my greeting on the site. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Have to pee.

"so please don't, please don't, please don't
there's no need to complicate
cause our time is short
this, this is our fate..."

- Jason Mraz "I'm Yours" -

11 December 2008

taking my time but it's time that I'm wasting

I am not an especially smart person.

I know I speak well, I belive I'm a decent writer, and I at least meet the standard when it comes to most things in my life. But smart? Surely not brilliant. I don't really have any marketable skills (out in the *real* world) and there's nothing I'm exceptional at, except maybe at being mediocre. But still, I get by. Even being painfully average, I've found a purpose at Dix that makes me happy (for the most part... and not counting the immense guilt...) and so my life is small, but shiny.

But if I were brilliant - it would almost be an insult to the universe to squander it, to have nothing to show but this little existence that I have to work at to keep spinning. Embarrassing. I wish I were brilliant, that I knew more about politics, that I understood the state of the world a little more, that I could build something beautiful with my hands. Some of this I can work on, but at the end of the day, all I've got is what I was born with. I can't cook, I get bored easily, I'm no good at cars, sports are only vaguely interesting to me, I'm not particularly creative, computers/technology/whatever is overwhelming and foreign. I've got nothing. Do you know how depressing that is?

I don't know where I'm going with this. I'm sitting alone in my hotel room in Atlanta, slightly drunk, and sad. I don't know how to talk to you.

"how many times can I break til I shatter?
over the line, can't define what I'm after...
I always turn the car around."

- O.A.R. "Shattered" -

03 December 2008

were lines that I couldn't change

Here, enjoy this worthless STUFF:

Woke up this morning, got dressed, scraped my car, went to the gym to meet the LT. She was late, I worked out mostly alone (next to the brigade CSM), left the gym to go back home and shower.

Got out of the shower, got dressed, did my hair and makeup, grabbed a FiberOne bar and a bottle of water, drove back to Fort Dix. On the way to HHB, the LT called and asked me to swing by MATOPS to get the banners she ordered for the holiday party this weekend. Picked up the banners.

Parked in the faraway lot and walked to HHB, gave the LT the banners, checked my email, ate the FiberOne bar. Worked on the upcoming MRX (Mission Readiness Exercise) for the two PAO units who will be on the ground next week. Finished the PAOC plan the LT had been asking me for, for like, weeks. Made travel arrangements for Atlanta.

Went to the PX with the LT so she could buy a Christmas gift for her mother. Walked next door to the Commissary to get a cake for a going away party for a girl I don't know. Went to that going away party. Took some photos.

Back upstairs, finally got my other work laptop fixed. Made a note to get the Adobe Creative Suite software out of the hard case for the IT guy to install tomorrow. Helped the LT find her missing cover.

Drove home with leftover salsa from the party in the passenger's seat, cried in my car.

Does it sound as weak and meaningless as it was for me to type it? "What did you do today?" is the bane of my existence.

Sorry, gotta go puke now.

"if you go, if you go
and leave me down here on my own,
then I'll wait for you"

- Coldplay "In My Place" -

25 November 2008

the chaos that controlled my mind

I was volunteered to be a part of the unit holiday party committee. If I believed in Hell, Hell would be the holiday party committee.

Today's committee meeting was TWO AND A HALF HOURS LONG, and we accomplished NOTHING. We decided which room the coat rack will be kept in.

Also during this meeting:

- A MSG in the unit offered to donate $100 to use for gift cards for the 10 older children. After 15 minutes of unnecessarily heated debate whether 10 gift cards would be enough (what if more kids show up?) or if younger kids would rather have gift cards instead of stuffed animals (a valid question) or if older kids would feel left out as their gift bags would be less full (are you kidding me people?), she threw up her hands and said, "That's it, I'm all DONE. I will NOT be donating anything." That's the holiday spirit.

- No one wants to be responsible for supervising the moon bounce. ("Will I be relieved? Because I don't want to stand there all night.")

- Fake poinsettias vs real poinsettias. A more important consideration than this year's election. Your thoughts?

- The HHB commander suggested the following: we buy Santa Hats for all the children, that we buy food for double the people who RSVP'd ("just in case"), that we requisition a giant sign announcing the party to attach to the fence outside the facility (don't know where he expects to get this thing when we're only a week out and this weekend is Thanksgiving), that we put the coat rack in the game room, that we wrap Santa's HMMWV with gold garland (in addition to the lights already affixed to it).

- Someone else declared that the commander wanted garland on the HMMWV because he's "so Puerto Rican," resulting in a collective gasp/awkward silence.

- Should all the volunteers wear Santa hats (since the kid idea got shot down)?

- Who should give out the presents? Santa? (But Santa won't be there that long.) The brigade commander? (The commander's wife gently suggested that wasn't a great idea.) HHB commander? ("But I thought I was helping out with games?") Would it be impersonal to just leave them on a table for kids to take on their way out? (Yes. And the kids would probably steal some.)

- Where is the coat rack going again?

And so on. For two and a half hours. This is why I left Iraq? Fucking send me back. I'm not even joking.

"pretending to feel the same,
then turn around and leave again"

- Maroon 5 "This Love" -

22 November 2008

all this trying has made me tight, and I don't even know where to start

Tell me you love me; surprise me with flowers! Pick me up and squeeze me in the air - spin me around. Offer to paint my toenails. Let me have the good guitar, and don't complain if I want to play bass on Guitar Hero every time. Wait outside the shower and wrap me in a towel when I'm done. Kiss me on the nose. On the forehead. On the lips, and not just when you're leaving for work. Kiss my finger tips. Pull my boots off for me when I get home, and listen to me if I need to vent. Make the bed up the way I like it, with the new sheets and all the pillows. Use extra dryer sheets when you wash my shirts. (Wash my shirts without me asking.) Scoop my favorite ice cream into a mug, my favorite way to eat it. Rub my back. Rub my feet. Play with my hair. Sing me something - a song on the radio or make one up yourself. Or write me a poem. Leave a note for me to find later. Fold a paper bird and hide it in my car. Make me something. Help me build a snowman, or make snow angels with me. Leave me a silly message on my voicemail. Tell me you like my new makeup but that I'm beautiful even without it. Let me kiss you and don't wipe my lipstick off. Have all my candles lit when I get home and let me taste a bite of dinner before you're done cooking. Taste my experimental cooking. Dress up and take me out someplace nice and don't get mad if I drink too much. Hold my hand and give it a little squeeze. Dance with me in the living room. Laugh at the crazy things I find online. Read this blog and talk to me about the things I write about. Surprise me at work and bring me lunch. Let me drive your car. Let me tickle you. Smooch my cats. Carry me to bed. Take a shower with me in the dark. Make me a cup of tea.

Sit on the dock with me and feed the ducks. Let me throw most of the bread. Or just rest with me awhile on the bench and marvel at the serenity of the lake. There are million ways to let me know you care for me. I've just listed a couple. You only need to choose one, and move forward. It's not as complicated, perhaps, as you're making it.

"and it's strange that you cannot find
any strength to even try
to find a voice to speak your mind
when you do, all you wanna do is cry"

- Alexi Murdoch "Song for You" -

21 November 2008

and he comes back home at five-thirty

- Awake
- Snooze alarm
- Snooze alarm
- Snooze alarm
- Snooze alarm
- Shower
- Toothpaste
- Socks, underwear, uniform
- Email
- Cup of tea
- Boots, fleece
- Lost glasses
- Cell phone, keys
- Hat
- Front door
- Driveway
- Snow melting on the roof of my car

"and he's oh, so good
and he's oh, so fine
and he's oh, so healthy
in his body and his mind"

- The Kinks "A Well Respected Man" -

19 November 2008

I know a drugstore cowgirl, so afraid of getting bored

Dear Tom [of MySpace],

This probably won't change anything, but I just wanted to express my displeasure and exasperation at the ads that come up in my profile view. "23 and FAT?" (yes, I am 23) "New Acai Diet Shown on Oprah and Rachel Ray!" "Flat Abs in No Time!" "Want to Lose that Weight Quickly!" and so on.

Really, is this necessary? I am NOT overweight and there is nothing written in my profile to indicate that I have a weight problem, but I feel like MySpace is calling me fat. I repeat, there is NOTHING in my profile to indicate that I have a weight problem. I indicated that my body type is 'average' in the details section of the profile. So why all the "fat" ads?

I get that your ads are supposed to target people they think/hope will follow the links, but this just upsets me. It makes me not want to go on MySpace at all [an exaggeration].

Your friend,
Malibu Niki


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"I tried to keep up;
you wore me out and left me ate up...
now I wish you all the luck"

- 311 "Beautiful Disaster" -

18 November 2008

I'm a brand new sky to hang the stars upon tonight

I fed some ducks again today - not as many this time. The air is getting much colder, even during the day, so I've been seeing less wildlife in general. It was just beautiful, out on the dock this afternoon. I had a beautiful time, just me and the ducks! The air smelled so cold and sharp and wintery - and I loved the sound of crunching leaves as I walked down the boardwalk to the dock. I broke up some rolls that were getting stale (I saved the rolls especially for them, and let them get a little stale so they wouldn't get gooey and sink into the lake right away) and fed a small group - maybe 10 or so.

I have the rest of the evening to myself. Sometimes the quiet is spooky (two whole walls in my great room are windows, so...) but tonight (so far) it isn't so bad; it's kind of nice, actually. I'm going to do some laundry and put on some pajama pants fresh from the dryer and try the new euro shams in the sham covers I got last week. I feel a little more domestic these days, but I still feel like I'm not doing much of anything in the grand scheme of things. My pajama pants will be here waiting for me, no matter where I go to. So why not? Catch a blowing breeze and fly off until I'm done being wild.

I want to adopt a former racing greyhound. I want to hold its sad little head in my hands and look into its sad little eyes and know that my life hasn't been as hard as this creature's has. Maybe the greyhound and I can learn to live as normal creatures, together.

I'll teach it not to chase my (wild) ducks.

"I am a little divided.
Do I stay or run away
and leave it all behind?"

- Foo Fighters "Times Like These" -

13 November 2008

has our conscience shown?

PT this morning pretty much sucked. It's getting colder, so less and less people are showing up (and no one seems to care, for some reason). Today was a run day but no one felt like organizing anything (to be fair, a former MSG from the unit - I never met him - died Monday so everyone was kind of down) so we just had to run 2 miles at our own pace and then go home. Laaaaame.

Oh, I fed some ducks (and geese) the other day. We were sitting on the bench next to our dock after raking the front lawn and a small group (flock?) floated by, so I ran to the house and got some stale-ish bread I'd been saving for them. When I got back to the dock, there were maybe 5 or 6. Soon there were about 50, creating Vs behind them as they swam from across the lake to get to our dock, and dinner. But it was nice, feeding the wild geese (and ducks). It felt civilized and quaint and sweet. I'm going to pick up some more bread for them when I go shopping tonight - for reasons I can't explain, it's really important to me that these wild creatures like me.

One more thing before I get in the shower and go to work - my eye is broken. I was messing around with my cat last night (he has this chair that he loves and will attack anyone who bothers him when he's sitting in it) and he swatted at me - and got my directly in my right eye. Luckily he must not have had his claws out because I didn't bleed or anything, but my eye swelled up and I couldn't see. He hit me pretty hard - it felt like my eye had been knocked loose and was just floating around in my skull.

My cat punched me in the eye. Yup.

"and I laugh at myself
as the tears roll down"

- Collective Soul "The World I Know" -

08 November 2008

somewhere a queen is weeping

Sometimes I think I am still in Iraq. My weapon - where the fuck is my weapon?!

When I am dreaming, I am almost always shuffling my feet through the dust. Sometimes I look down and watch how it settles on the toes of my boots, like I've been standing still too long. I can feel the comfort of my IBA around my torso, weave my fingers through the loops that hold my gear to my vest. My medical pouch is full of sand. Sometimes, with all the shit I have to carry, I think about taking out one of the plates to make my IBA a little lighter. I've already given up on my side plates - they'll sit in a duffle under my bed until we're ready to go back to the world. It isn't safe, I know, but being constantly on guard has a way of wearing on you and making you stop caring as much. If I get shot, then I get shot.

We were joking, when the IDF was really bad around Easter, that the Iraqi barbers who worked in the palace were actually the mortar team that was responsible. They worked in the palace with us and the State Dept., so they knew the rhythm of the work day - when the most people were in one place. We'd look in the mornings to see if they'd posted a sign: Closing at 3:00 today, or whatever. They're leaving early, we'd say to each other. That means we'll get attacked later this afternoon. It wasn't funny, but it was funny. 

If we got attacked while at work, we had to move to the secured part of the palace - right near the cold sandwich bar. I took to making myself an soft serve cone while we waited for the All Clear. If you don't eat ice cream during an attack, the terrorists win, we'd say to each other.

The IDF was an annoyance - I just sat down at my desk! Fucking insurgents, I was trying to send an email to my father. And I'm getting sick of soft serve. If I was in my trailer, my day off or sleeping or whatever, sometimes I wouldn't even try to run for the Duck and Cover bunker. I'd just lay there, waiting for the sirens to stop. 

I don't think I can tell you what those moments felt like. Not paralyzed - I just felt made of air. I felt like I literally weighed nothing, like I wasn't a solid form anymore. I felt like I could lift up and float away. I couldn't hear my heatbeat anymore, I stopped having conscious thoughts. For that split second, I was as closer to death than I was to life. 

And just as quickly as it comes, the sensation is gone - replaced with a nauseous urge to start moving at lightspeed. Colors are vivid and the air smells so great and the ground has never seemed so solid beneath my feet. Have you ever realized that you are alive? That's what it is. You're alive and that's the most beautiful thing in the world.

Even thinking about those sirens is bringing tears to my eyes. Sometimes the sirens were worse than the sound of the explosions. Sometimes I'd lay in bed staring at the ceiling, hyperventilating long after the All Clear.

When I first got back, I spent a lot of time trying to sleep and not really sleeping. I drank too much and paid for it. I had to keep moving - felt weird and anxious and uncomfortable if I had time to rest. I'm a little better now, but loud or sudden noises still make me feel spooked.

Once, right when I first started at Fort Dix (about a month and a half after I left Iraq), I was getting my camera out of the back of the van to go shoot some photos at the counter-IED / IMT lane. I had my back to the lane, which was on the other side of some trees.  I was changing lenses when one of the range cadre threw an artillery sim - it whistled and exploded - and I burst into tears.

I'm not afraid of the sound really, but my responses scare me. That empty, light feeling I was talking about? It's the greatest feeling, but it's also the most terrifying feeling I have ever experienced.

I'm not trying to tell you cool war stories or to make you feel bad for me. (I'll be the first to admit that I was lucky - I only had to deal with IDF, no direct fire.) I don't want you to try to comfort me, or even to talk to me about this. I just needed to write and feel like I'm normal again.

"will the wind ever remember 
the names it has blown in the past?"

- Jimi Hendrix "The Wind Cries Mary" -

04 November 2008

my salsa makes all the pretty girls want to dance

A long departure from my entries, but I'll offer this cocktail as an explanation: one part not-enough-hours-in-the-day, one part remarkable-exhaustion, one part lack-of-inspiration. Add a splash of limited-computer-access. Serve over ice.

Things that currently have my attention (in no particular order, except the first one):

1. The election. Namely, the self-loathing associated with not being able to travel back to Massachusetts and vote. Why didn't I send away for an absentee ballot? Because I'm an idiot. It's pretty obvious which candidate I support, but that's not really the point. Today is a crazy-huge important day, and I can't participate in this life-changing event. 'Angry' and 'disappointed' don't even come close.

2. My career. The E6 list comes out in the spring, but will it even matter? Still appears to be a problem finding a slot... going to have to shop around to other states when the time comes. But I think I have problems getting my unit to help me out NOW, when I've known them all 6 years of my career and fucking deployed with them? How will it be being the Fucking New Guy in some other state, a name on a piece of paper, an abstract Soldier in distant New Jersey? Unless I transfer to the NJ National Guard and promise to drill with them, which I don't have to do and don't currently do. Sacrifices will be made no matter what I decide to do, oh yes.

3. New house! I will post photos on my MySpace as soon as we're done unpacking and tidying up, but WOW, I can't even describe how much I love the place. It's on a fucking LAKE. How can you beat that? It's the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

4. Iraq. If everything goes as planned, Josh will be deploying in the spring, and fuck, I'm kind of jealous. Scared for him, sad about being apart (again), but yes, jealous. And - this could really be a whole entry by itself - I know that I need to go back. I can't get that place out from under my skin. I want to go bathe myself in dirty sweat and coat my lungs with dust. I miss the smell of burning and how the heat makes the skin on my face feel like paper. I miss feeling like I was making a difference.

5. Volunteering. This doesn't sound like me, even to me, but I found a project that I believe in and want to help out with. Rebuilding Together is a non-profit organization that rehabilitates the homes of low-income families. One of the NJ chapters has a program specifically for veterens who are in need of assistance, and they are looking for other veterens to help with the rebuilding. I think I'm going to offer to help. I guess it goes along with the not-feeling-like-I've-done-enough (in Iraq and at home) and the feeling-of-uselessness-here-in-NJ. I want to feel like what I do matters, and I want to see someone's life get better. Doesn't mean this will be a substitute for a deployment, though.

6. Summer to Autumn to Winter to Spring. Seasons! How novel! Love it.

7. The Office. I am pretty much hopelessly addicted to this show (the US version) and can't even tell you how unhealth-ily I quote the characters, reference scenes, contemplate putting my LT's stapler in jello, want to marry Jim... (ahem) Also important to me this season is the old standby, House. He's so deliciously sinister... and those dreamy eyes...

Now. Hope that has left you as satisfied as I feel at this moment. It's November in New Jersey, 55 degrees, breezy, leaves all over the ground. My LT is out of the office and I'm going home early to paint the trim in my great room. I have a great room! Who could have seen this coming?

"and by now, the rest of the fellas get jealous,
especially when I drop the beat and do my acapellas"

- Eminem "My Band" -

30 July 2008

strangers down the line, lovers out of time

It starts out perfect - catch your breath, can't stand to be apart, hold hands, kisses in the car, late nights talking... then the good manners fall down, you start to resent quirks you previously found interesting... tempers become short, you forget how to compromise, grudges are held, you fall asleep angry... and finally you find yourself eating meals together in silence, because to open your mouth would be to invite a fight, and saying nothing at all is better than the screaming.

Why bother?

I travel too fucking much - I can't sustain a decent relationship from across the globe. And I'm not willing to give up this life I've made for myself. If it comes down to love or this life, this life wins hands down. And I'm not saying that the travel is everything - maybe I'm just not programmed for a long-term relationship.

I am about to move again - tomorrow, actually. I'm moving to New Jersey for a year (at least a year) unless I can find another deployment (but that's another conversation in itself...). I am moving despite only being home (really home) for a month... a week in Florida in June, last two weeks in Mississippi... so much time away from my own bed, the comfort of a whole house... so much time with my things in bags, packed in three drawers and a wall locker... and yet here I am, on the verge of another adventure... the whole highway stretched out before me... a long monotonous trip I've grown so fond of. And then - alone! A new place to live, more bags to live out of, yet another strange bed and yet again: feeling my way around a different place with people who don't know me.

(scared and) Alone.

(can I do this) Alone.

(don't want to be) Alone.

I work the word around my mouth like it were a marble... foreign, cold marble... cold... alone...

I miss us so bad it hurts. SobadIcan'tbreathesobaditfeelslikeImightexplodesobadIcan'tstopcryingsobadit'skillingme

"so please...
you know you're just like me.
next time I promise we'll be perfect.

- Smashing Pumpkins "Perfect" -

30 June 2008

I'm tired of holding on to all the things I leave behind

Ok, well I know it's been quite a while since I've posted a blog - call it laziness, lack of inspiration, shell shock: I'm home.

A short breakdown of my activities / whereabouts:

Week 1: tried to sleep, with little success. Woke up more than a few times thinking I'd heard the duck & cover alarm. Had a recurring dream (nightmare?) that I'd misplaced my weapon [read: I no longer carry a weapon] and woke up sweaty, with my heart pounding.

Week 2: flew down to Florida with Coug and stayed with her mom. Went to Busch Gardens (it rained), tried to go swimming (started raining), enjoyed the best orange soft serve ever (while watching the rain) and managed not to get even a little bit of color (tan cancelled on account of... rain).

Went to a martini bar with Coug, her cousin, and a friend and managed to make a complete and utter ASS of myself. That night really deserves its own blog post, but I'll summarize in the interest of time: got trashed, ended up puking (up everything I think I've ever eaten) in the bathroom while people came in and out, commenting on the smell ("Is someone puking in here?")... had to be CARRIED outside where I proceeded to puke into the bushes and try to lay down in the mulch. Was carried to the car, laid on Coug's lap and physically could not unclench my hands (weird!), was carried into Coug's mom's house, and fell asleep in my clothes on top of the covers. I prayed for death - it would have been less embarrassing.

Week 3: occupied the couch and sulked. Continued having the dream about the missing weapon.

Week 4 (last week): went back to work at Joint Force Headquarters, Massachusetts National Guard. My sole accomplishment for the week (I'm not joking):

Well, I didn't want him to run away from boredom! We're in this together, Camel.

Really, I hate being back here. Sometimes I think that it's really changed; a number of my friends are either gone or are on their way out; the leadership is all new now and the changes they implemented while I was deployed are mostly less than enjoyable. And the walls upstairs have been painted a bright, mental hospital white that creeps me out everytime I walk down the hall to my office.

But then other times, I look around and marvel at how everything is exactly the same. There's still the same drama, same gossip behind everyone's back, same building full of broken deployment-dodgers. Don't mean to come off as a snob, but it's rather interesting I think that the majority of personnel in the HEADQUARTERS element of the MA National Guard have NEVER DEPLOYED. Aren't we, like, fighting a war?

And that's actually a part of the changes I was talking about: a number of officers in the system were not retained at the last retention board, and rumors has it that lack of deployment time was at least a partial factor in the decision to retain/not retain. Can't say I really blame the leadership... although my boss was one of those not retained, and he's a really great guy... but then everyone has their own backstory, right? You could probably plead a case for just about any of them. So where do you draw the line? 20+ years in the Guard, 0 deployments, 0 battalions commanded... I don't know. It makes me kind of sick to think about it. Obviously I'm a long ways away, but I cannot imagine having the rug pulled out from under me like that. One day they type up a memo saying I'm all done, mandatory retirement, GTFO - and then what?

Strange when you realize that your life so revolves around a single thing that you really think you might just die without it. Stranger still when you consider that you hate a sizeable chunk of this thing (the chunk being JFHQ, in case you aren't following).

I need to get the fuck out of here. I never should have left Iraq.

"...she said I need you to hold me
I'm a little far from the shore...
and I'm afraid of sinking..."

- Santana feat. Steven Tyler "Just Feel Better" -

23 May 2008

the shit's so deep you can't run away

Today after formation, Signal-R suddenly interrupted a conversation to notice my tongue piercing and gave me a rash of shit about it, "Sergeant" (love that condescending tone... takes me back to the arguments we got into at Dix and then once in Kuwait - on the fucking range, no less). He then proceeded to point out the high level of brass here (really? I hadn't noticed... and truth be told, there is WAY less here at Striker than there is in the IZ... but I digress...) and told me that if some SGM catches me, it'll put "everyone" in a "world of hurt."

Ok - I know the policy on body jewelry, I shouldn't have this in while in uniform (and more importantly, I suppose, in formation), I get that, I admit that. But spare me the doucebaggery. If a SGM catches me (unlikely, but possible I guess), he's not going to seek out Signal-R (who is not even in my chain of command) in particular and demand to know why he didn't do anything about it. Even if this hard-charging theoretical SGM came and found MY SGM, he could alway deny knowing about it and promise to take care of it. And maybe I'd get counseled (oh no). So Signal-R's playing of the "think about the unit" card is bullshit (it also implies that I CARE about the unit... but that's another story...).

A silver lining to the horseshit (in my increased annoyance, I just upgraded the conversation to horseshit: less commonly heard than bullshit, so therefore worse): EBRI and M5 both deflected a little of the above rash of shit by piping in and trying to distract/lighten up Signal-R. In light of that and in light of other recent events, I will admit that I judged both prematurely and unfairly, and for that I apologize. Sometimes I don't know decent people when I see them, and sometimes I see "decent" people despite glaring examples on the contrary (isn't that right - ?).

Also - only a few more days of being stuck with this group of imbiciles and then I am free! Three glorious months and then...! SAB, please don't fail me... my sanity depends on it...

- Green Day "Walking Contradiction" -

19 May 2008

you gotta give the other fella hell

Had a pretty good day today, all things told. I know you can only kind-of see it, but [above] this is me getting my eyebrows "threaded." Is that the word? You can read about the process here if you want to (gotta love Wikipedia!), but basically it is two strands of thread that are rolled over your hair and pull it out. It was more painful than waxing, only because it took longer, but the woman at the salon (named Cleopatra's Saloon - but I think she meant 'salon') was really great. Before she started, she asked me when I'd last had my eyebrows done and I laughed... so she handed me a tissue.

I needed it.

Unrelated, but been thinking a lot about this whole promotion thing - and I will not be screwed over twice. Z is staying in Iraq so - good. I'll be an E6 before he gets back.

- Guns 'n Roses "Live and Let Die" -

18 May 2008

mother, do you think they'll like this song?

I'm having a hard time selecting a song for today's blog. It's usually pretty easy - listening to my iPod on shuffle as always - and my iPod always seems to know just what kind of mood I'm in. For example, last night (back at my hooch) I was feeling irritated and my iPod chose three angry Metallica songs for me, back to back. Sometimes I feel my iPod might be the perfect guy for me - knowing how I feel without me having to tell it so, and selecting songs to make me feel better.

Did I just seriously say that?

But today - my iPod is really letting me down as far as knowing which song would compliment this blog.


Found a great, funny article about being a vegetarian - please check it out if you have some time. The author talks about the strange looks and head shaking he experiences when he tells people he doesn't eat meat. [I am not above admitting when I suck: a couple days ago I ate a chicken quesadilla - it was delicious, but I still feel terrible about it!] I laughed through the entire article, because there were situations he described that have happened to me - and my meatless life is only a fraction of how long his is. [Again, sorry about that chicken...]

So I just had the best sandwich since I've been in Iraq, I think - pinto beans, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, mushrooms and cheese in a pita flatbread - soooooooooo good I almost want to go make another one. Mmm. Only took me 9 months to perfect it. Delish.

My iPod just picked a song for me... is it just me, or is it slightly creepy considering what I just said about our relationship? (shudder)

- Pink Floyd "Mother" -

17 May 2008

please excuse me while I tend to how I feel

This will be bland. My fingers do not work today.

I saw SAB in the PX this morning, before he left... he promised (again) to do all he could to help me get what I want. He also sent an email a short while later with his contact info, so I can keep in touch and follow up once I'm back in the states. Good stuff... as it turns out, I need this more than I realized.

So then I got back to my desk and started watching the movie I bought at the PX...

Got a phone call, and a little piece of me broke off and blew away (really, Tree?). Is it possible to feel the moment the air is sucked out of your chest? Possible to feel your tear ducts swell the moment you find yourself unable to swallow?

Fuck you. Fuck everyone.

Mama, they try and break me...

- Metallica "Hero of the Day" -

16 May 2008

she loves to move, she loves to groove

Ok ok ok ok ok ok okokokokokokok I'm ok! And everything is going to be ok.

I shouldn't be getting too excited yet (it's wayyyy to early to get my hopes up) but I don't care, I'm fucking bouncing off the walls - I'm crazed!

I thought about what he said some more - woke up restless this morning - couldn't shower fast enough! And then I went to work in PTs even though I knew I was going to ask to talk to SAB in person - can you see that I didn't even have enough time to get my uniform on? So I got in, logged on, sent him an email... he said he'd meet me in the Green Bean right away. And as soon as I told him that I wanted to come back here, his face lit up with an idea. I won't tell you what it is just yet - mostly because if this doesn't work out, I will be crushed and any reminder will just make it worse - but if you see me, ask me and I might whisper it to you.

We have all been afforded the same opportunities. Fuck yes.

- Journey "Any Way You Want It" -

15 May 2008

always living in the final hour, there is always sweet in the sour

I am elated, dizzy, glowing, spinning - I am vibrating so fast now, I am a blur against the dusty sky - can you see me? I'll always exist in the places that I loved: I'll be there at the counter of the Green Bean, ordering my usual spiced chai latte. You'll see my wet hair and tired eyes, makeup-less face turned toward the screens to watch the BUA every morning. I'll be there out front, between the pillars, a cigarette frozen in my hand, watching the birds dip and chatter into eternity. I'll be out by the pool, enjoying dinner beneath the palm trees. You can find me leaning back in my chair while collecting my thoughts, then rocketing forward to fire off a perfect email, the perfect response. I'll throw a blue football at you if you aren't paying attention, but mostly I'll be there in the MOC juggling the phones, putting out fires, networking, keeping it together. You might see me hurrying by in the hallways of the palace with my camera gear and body armor, cursing at my watch. You'll catch a glimpse of me on the front balcony, listening to my iPod and pointing out flares over the landing zone. Later I'll be walking slowly back to my trailer, enjoying the sandy quiet of night.

And you'll see me at the Rhino stop, crying, because this is the tragically unfit ending for the greatest thing I have ever been a part of.

We've all been afforded the same opportunities, he said - and I agreed with him without really considering it. Today I thought about that a lot, and decided that I'm a damned fool for not pushing harder. OWT at Fort Dix is good, but not good enough, and I never should have been content to settle for what is easy.

...but for now, grit my teeth and make it through. Falling to fucking pieces is only making it harder. I'll get this right next time - MNF-I hasn't seen the last of me.

- Wolfmother "Joker and the Thief" -

14 May 2008

little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear

I've... I've been pretty substandard lately. Laziness.

And that's really the thing I hate most about myself, I think. I'm not very good at self motivating. I don't even really feel like writing right now, to tell the truth - but I always feel so much better after I write. Same thing with going for a run. I feel good once I get going, and feel great afterward, but it's so hard to get started. And smoking! I can already feel physically better after 3 or 4 days of not smoking... but putting down the lighter is sometimes too hard.

Ok - enough being negative. What are some good things going on right now?

1. Yesterday afternoon I discovered that I'm not half bad at ping pong.

2. I have moved into transient housing (blech) but the upside is I no longer have a roommate, and my room is right by the pool (yay!).

3. No indirect fire attacks so far today.

4. TOA is tomorrow (finally) and already I'm on a relaxed (read: non existant) work schedule.

5. The photo of me and the CG was waiting for me in my inbox when I got in today!

And now I feel like going swimming... I'll try not to have a cigarette on the way to the pool.

- The Beatles "Here Comes the Sun" -

12 May 2008

before she sleeps in the sand

I'm irritated as fuck and I can't find the write today.

I was just thinking - if I ever meet Bob Dylan (doubtful), I will give him a hug and offer him a cigarette. It's rediculous how cool that guy is.

I'll come back to this later. Blahhhh.

- Bob Dylan "Blowin in the Wind" -

10 May 2008

it's too late - ready or not at all

Found out today that our TOA has been postponed - now what? Are we ever leaving, or what's the story? This is like the moment of anticipation right before you get a shot - there's the needle, turn away, should I wince yet? Hold my breath... still nothing... look over at the nurse, she's put the needle down and is doing something else - breathe easy for a second, but I know the shot's still coming - oh, she's picked it up again, pulling up my sleeve, look away-

TNM is basically trained. I'm going to (try to) let her do it herself today. I know she's capable - just hard to let go, you know? I've gotten so proficient - I feel like I'm spinning an elaborate spiderweb, or conducting an orchestra - up here, attach a strand, pull down here, cellos - a little louder, weave through these, get this just perfect, dip and weave and hum and create and mix and look! there in the sunshine, drops of dew and music notes have attached themselves to my web - isn't it beautiful? Now take it down, carefully, and tuck it away - a new day and a new symphony-web to create -

I fucking LOVE my job! I'm not good (really good) at many things, but this I am very, very good at. I guess that's part of why I don't want to give it up?

Time to stop stalling and get in the shower. Have to be at work in an hour.

- Green Day "Waiting" -

09 May 2008

when I was down, you just stood there grinning

Today - today! Today was fantastic! Today was one day closer to getting the fuck out of this psychotic place. That's not really fair - if I could spend all my time in the MOC and not have to worry about unit bullshit (and all sorts of other bullshit), then I think I could stay here forever. And I really mean that with all of my heart.

I'm actually starting to feel myself getting resentful of our replacements. That's crazy! I want them to succeed, obviously, because the public affairs mission over here is a very important one... but - for example, yesterday, The New Me (from this point forward to be referred to TNM) changed the way I'd been upkeeping the press desk inbox. Granted, my system wasn't perfect, and I was really the only one doing any significant deleting out of the inbox (too long of a process to explain - just stay with me, people), but TNM has been here, what, three days? That's MY inbox, bitch! And that's really how I still kind of feel about it. I keep trying to talk myself down out of it - I'm fucking leaving, this is going to be her show pretty soon - but I'm... having a really hard time with this. I've made such great relationships with so many spectacular public affairs professionals - I want to be special. I don't WANT to be replaced. I'm going to bawl like a little fucking girl on our last day - whenever that is.

And that's the other thing. TNM and TNMD (figure it out) are basically trained up. Tomorrow I'm going to just hang out in the MOC and see how she does. But I still don't know when we're leaving - and I really need to have something to brace myself against. I'm afraid one day we'll get an email from the SGM saying 'pack your shit, we're leaving tomorrow.' I'm not ready! Where did April go? Where did 2007 go? This place is MINE, my fucking HOME, I know how everything goes and what to say and who to talk to and I'mnotreadytoleavenotreadytoleavenotreadyyoucan'tmakemeyoucan'tmakemeleaveI'mnotreadynotreadynotready.

And I hate crying. Why am I crying over Iraq? I've spent the last year of my life crying. I'm not sure I'm going to make it.

This sucks. (understatement) :/ (also an understatement)

Disclaimer: This is unrelated:

If one more fucking person asks me why I didn't answer my phone, I'm going to throw it against the fucking wall. Yes! Yes, I'm a fucking hypocrite, and I don't give a FUCK. I'm here another two weeks or so, maybe less - can I be happy for awhile? Kthanks.

It's Positively Fourth Street, my friend! (look it up)

I'm going out for a cigarette.

- Bob Dylan "Positively Fourth Street" -

08 May 2008

a black fly in your Chardonay

Tomorrow we may go swimming. I told him I'd talk to him tomorrow and gave him my email address. Despite all of these things, he came off really genuine, and even a little sweet. He probably even listens to Toby Keith. He didn't say it, but I'd bet he came from a small, blue collar town and believes in hard work and pride. I feel like I should hate him because of how much he loves the Infantry, because he has a tribal armband, and because I'm certain he bleeds red white and blue. He has a really defined jawline. I'm making him sound gay, but he's not gay. He told me I speak really well, and couldn't belive I went to a public school (??) and was very interested in my toenails. He told me about his sisters and confessed that he likes Enya - and Nickelback (shudder). He told me about his job over here and how he used to be in the Marine Corps (he's NG now) and that he enjoys fighting (professionally - if there is such a thing). And anyway, we were just talking. This is just a random guy - I only know his first name. Really, though, I do try very hard to be likeable, and I guess that could be taken as flirtatious (is that a word?). I guess that might be part of it. 63 says I'm too nice to people, that I'm a flirt, and that I need to learn how to tell people to fuck off. Why does this happen to me? I actually had a really nice time. Someone I didn't know came by my place tonight and talked to me for over two hours.

- Alanis Morissette "Ironic" -

07 May 2008

if you call, I will answer

it's not that bad - i'll stop before it gets any worse
tomorrow i'll quit
this is it, this is the last time
if it ever feels like this again, it's done
or as soon as this is over (just let me get through this), i'll stop
one last chance to feel better - i mean it this time

...i think i must know how addicts feel

make excuses, make excuses, make excuses
make excuses so you don't have to
deal. . . . . . . . . . . .
with. . . . . . . .
reality. . .
the mess you created.
and you know you have no one to blame but yourself.

i have always loved you - this is why you will kill me.

...but if i could, i would go back and take a huge eraser to the day i met you. i thought you had a nice smile. i never asked for this.

- Barenaked Ladies "Call and Answer" -

05 May 2008

take your protein pills and put your helmet on

1. Finish packing, throw shit out

2. Train replacement

3. Stock up on cigarettes

4. Take pictures of everything I'd been meaning to

5. Save crap from computer on thumb drive

6. Get everyone's contact info

7. Mail home laptop

8. Clean IBA

9. Finish packing (seriously this time)

10. Stand on the roof one last time

11. Charge iPod and camera

12. Buy more cigarettes

13. Say good bye

- David Bowie "Space Oddity" -

04 May 2008

hey man, free rides just don't come along every day

So... probably I'm going to hell over this... (if I'm not already for laughing at the My other car is a VBIED bumpersticker outside the Green Bean... haha, still hysterical) but I'm writing a press release about the mock-street corner-dedication to W and S. You might remember them as the two most broken people in our unit (and that's really saying a lot)... now they will be memorialized at Whatman Square, down the road from the CSH. I hear someone even got a street sign made for the corner. Anyway, I drafted a press release for the ceremony (there will be no ceremony) and changed all the names of the guilty, so if V doesn't post this on our last day here, I will. Although... I'll probably have to fuzz up the unit name some more before I post it, because even with name changes, you could still figure out who I was talking about.

And you know what's surprisingly hard? Writing really good quotes. I can spout talking points like nobody's business, and while they are factually correct (if you ignore the IO), they sound canned. I am incapable of giving a good, genuine sounding quote. I would be the worst subject for an interview because I'd be trying too hard to get the perfect quote, get my soundbite just right, that it would sound fake. I'm starting to notice that I unconsciously slip command messages into my normal conversations now. What is wrong with me? I've been in public affairs too long. Blech.

Also - the live version of "Melissa" by the Allman Brothers is waaaaaaay better than the studio version. Just in case you were wondering.

- The Offspring "Why Don't You Get a Job?" -

02 May 2008

let me forget about today until tomorrow

Go away, world. I'm not ready to deal with you today. Go away and shut the door behind you, but gently; I don't want to feel the draft from your departure - I don't want to be reminded that you exist at all. I've cried enough over you lately. Go.

When I woke up this morning I knew I wasn't prepared for the sun, or your harsh criticism. I don't want to see anyone, can't bring myself to form words for you. My heart is feeling too faint, my fingers are tired, and I don't have the energy to talk anymore. I'm too old to play today. My knees and hands are swollen and sad; let me rest awhile.

I just can't take your judgement today - so go away. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel stronger, maybe my friend St. John will have me feeling bolder, maybe it won't seem so bleak, looking out over the destruction and not knowing where to even begin. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to see the horizon... and I wouldn't mind a little of your sunshine.

- Bob Dylan "Mr. Tamborine Man" -