Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chuck Norris Lives in the Latrine

Ok, not really...But from the graffiti I read in the portable plastic boxes we all know so well, he has assumed the mythic stature of a Norse God of yore...For example, one scribe intoned n the wall of our latrine..."Chuck Norris doesn't do pushups, the earth does push ups on him"

That is just one of the many diatribes exalting his strength, virility and stamina. I mean, to read this thing Superman would be quavering in his little red boots if he had to do battle against the Chuckster. Someof the comments can really bring a dose of hilarity. Of course other comments are not printable, and BTW we also have some great artists here too.

It's early morning, cool, breezy. Waiting for breakfast...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Poem for today

Was speaking to a guy in my tent and he gave me an idea, for a poem I had been thinking about. I partly wrote this on the way to the chow hall, and finished the rest over a sandwich. Perhaps a pensive poem....usual subject matter...Make it be whatever you want...

A Place to Learn Forgetting

On the edge of another beginning,
Trying to forget you in this place.
Believing this is where I can fix my mind,
Making it like you never were.

There is no sound here except what men have made,
Gurgling throats of generators,
Fast heartbeats of slick black rotors.

Not a bird’s asking voice,
Or that mystic rolling sound of wind,
Rushing along on its own highway at the top of Georgia pines.

The soldiers’ sleeping noises,
A tired, night time choir.
It is like heavy fluid,
Pouring around my home of wood and plastic and canvas,
Covering me.

You’re still in my head.
But, I think that this place must be the cure.

January 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cold in the Desert

Transportaion of people and equipment is a huge task, and although the Army has a good handle on it, invariably there are delays, down time and lack of sleep. One thing any service member may know is the chaffng and mild swelling of hands that comes from lifting rucksacks and dufflebags and equipment. I guess my civillian hands were too soft, and now they are somewhat cracked and coarse from lugging around bags and gear. Reaching deep down into a duffle bags also scrapes the hands against the abrasive surface of the material. It is a feeling I had forgotten.

I am in the middle east. It is cold, and the sky is a dull slate grey. It completely blends with the desert, so it seems that there is no horizon, and land and sky are one.. The desert stretches out as far as you can see. If you have looked at the ocean and seen it disappear into the horizon, it is the same with the land desert. Just flat and scrub. The morning yesterday had a terrible clinging and penetrating fog from which there was no relief and the wind blows constantly.

Moving on from this location soon.

Didn't expect this amount of cold. It is a cold penetrating fog in the morning and evening. The yellow glow of overhead lights makes the compound look surreal.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Armed and Dangerous...But Friendly !

Training continues, but with a different flavor...After being issued weapons and body armor, I carry my weapon everywhere. If an external observer had seen us over the last few days we would have appeared as nothing more than a bunch of people engaged on some traing course. To see us now, the observer might raise an eyebrow as we eat meals, exercise, watch movies, write email with our weapons at our sides.

Our weapons offer feeble protection agains blasts or snipers, but they are part of what we do, so I suppose one takes comfort in being armed. Finally got some decent sleep last night...

Yesterday, one of the civillains on the bus said to me "You don't seem sad to be here." I guess I must have been smiliing at something...But it made me realize how important it is to try to maintain a good attitude, and make others feel better too.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Breakfast in America...

In certain settings we all resort to a particular personae, and now that I am back on full time active duty, I have moved into a different and more optimistic mindset than I usually have. I also had my good old standard Army breakfast of eggs, grits, coffee and brown bread. I love grits, and we just don't get them enough up north! I guess I could have this particular breakfast anytime, but I save such simple pleasures for my Army life. Anyway, it is much easier to have a standard breakfast, because there is always eggs and coffee, except with MRE's of course. Perhaps it is just part of taking on a different character that comes with wearing the colors.

I feel comfortable to be back in uniform. The myriad acronyms, the customs, the talk, even the coarseness of my wool sweater, and the harsh brush of the velcro on my uniform reminds me of working for something above myself.
BTW, my arm throbs from my vaccination today...guess that reminds me I am back in the Army too!

"they gotta' have 'em in Texas, cuz everyone's a millionaire."

Army Friends

Ahhh...back at Fort Benning...

Brings back memories of my last deployment from here. I met some great people on that tour...I often think of them, especially now that I am here again. One thing about the service is the continual forming of close and intense friendships for a short period of time, and then the bittersweet parting as each person moves back to their duty station or goes back home. I guess with the internet etc. It is easier to communicate and keep up with them now...
I was going to write that making new companions and then parting from them takes a little away from me each time, but I think that it may be very selfish to say that. I should ponder on the things that the people have added to my life. It does not do them justice to say that they have placed a toll on me. Their companionship provided me with something good and hopeful, and that is something that should be remembered too.

The way life is so transient now it seems that our friends often become our family. Certainly they know more about us in many ways than our parents!

As for the CRC...plenty of paperwork, lots of good briefings too. It is the same and also completely different from last time. I'm not really willing to post much about the training because of security etc.

Anyway, one thing I can say is that it is very cold here!

I listened to U2's song "Beautiful Day" this morning in the airport.
There is a line there I often say to myself "What you don't have, you don't need it now."
We should live this day for today.

Saturday, January 19, 2008 in the lounge!

Yeah, ain't it great sitting in the airline lounge?!
The Delta Crown Room at Newark is a real oasis.

I sit here pondering my deployment as I get ready to head down to the CRC (CONUS Replacement Center) at Fort Benning, Georgia - and ship out from there to Iraq.
Alas and to Atlanta are canceled because of weather, and so back to the starting point and do this all again tomorrow.

When a person is mobilized, there is process of disengagement...I quietly go around detaching from people and things as I build my personal defense mechanisms to deal with being away. Of course, the people left behind do the same thing too... So naturally, saying goodbye is not something you want to do twice!

The thing about the Army is that if you know you are going to miss duty there is a compelling desire to tell all and sundry that you can't make it. In my case, there is no way to get to Atlanta, but the first thing I did was notify the CRC. Almost like telling a parent that you are going to be delayed coming home from the movies. I guess it's the legality of it all...But, there is a strange sense of comfort in checking in too. perhaps it is that one has someone that cares where I am and why I am not there
Of course with my regular civilian job I would tell them I would be delayed also, but somehow if I didn't all would be well.

As I start this blog I guess I better put up a poem too...Something about love, or losing it or whatever...

Dancing This Life

Dancing this life with damaged women,
It is my own dry emptiness that drags me to them…
Flailing like a floundering lifeguard,
Needing my own rescue,
As much as seeking theirs.

If only I could really encompass them-
Staying permanently lost,
In a tiny patch of freckled skin,
Behind my lover’s ear.

There would be no thinking then.
Only laying with her, quietly entwined,
With my lips to her ear,
Breathing into her mind,
Just letting her sleep.

June 2007