31 December 2008
30 December 2008
... 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 ...
... 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 ...
... 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 ...
... 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 ...
29 December 2008
27 December 2008
... 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 ...
22 December 2008
19 December 2008
17 December 2008
14 December 2008
12 December 2008
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.
there's no need to complicate
cause our time is short
this, this is our fate..."
11 December 2008
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.
over the line, can't define what I'm after...
I always turn the car around."
03 December 2008
25 November 2008
22 November 2008
21 November 2008
19 November 2008
18 November 2008
13 November 2008
08 November 2008
04 November 2008
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?
especially when I drop the beat and do my acapellas"
30 July 2008
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
30 June 2008
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.
23 May 2008
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...
19 May 2008
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
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)
17 May 2008
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...
16 May 2008
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.
15 May 2008
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.
14 May 2008
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.
12 May 2008
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.
10 May 2008
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.
09 May 2008
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.
08 May 2008
07 May 2008
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
with. . . . . . . .
reality. . .
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
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
04 May 2008
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.
02 May 2008
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.