Next few months

September 1, 2006

It is now September.  With that, I am beginning to think more about coming home and everything.  I hope that thoughts of home don’t occupy too much of my thoughts because I think it would make time drag on.  The next few months should be pretty busy though.  This weekend I’ll be going to Al Asad for a day.  Next week I’ll be attending a week long Combat Life Saver Course.  Basically, they teach you how to do iv’s and other minor medical procedures that are important to know in combat in case a medic is not within reach.  Although I’m not directly involved in combat operations it will be good training and I’m looking forward to it.  Maybe I’ll actually get to practice putting iv’s into other people.  I feel sorry for the poor bastard that gets stuck with me as a partner.  My guess is that he’s going to be in some pain.  I’ll make sure he goes first.

 I also found out today that I’ll be doing another security detail from time to time for a new general that recently arrived.  I liken these details to babysitting, but its a chance to get out there and do something different.  Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to get to some other bases and see/do some more different things.  I’m going to try and make the most out of my last few months and get as much experience as I can from this venture. 

Iraq

August 29, 2006

As of 28 Aug 2006 I have been in Iraq for 3 months.  Seems a lot longer.  Although time goes by fast it seems like forever since I’ve been home and free to do as I please.  However, since I have arrived in country there is one thing that it is on my mind everyday.  No matter how much I try not to think about it, it always lingers in the back of my mind.  Iraq….is….HOT.  Everyday I think it can’t get any hotter yet somehow later that afternoon, it gets hotter.  The mornings are the only part of the day that is pleasant.  After 9am, forget about it.  After I work out in the afternoon I shower, go back to my trailor, change and walk back over to the palace.  In that ten minutes it take me to walk I am sweating more so than I was during my workout.  That leaves the question, should I even bother showering?  I have debated this extensively and for some reason I continue to shower.  I guess I enjoy that 15 minutes of feeling clean before I start my walk back to the palace.  I can’t really complain though.  There’s plenty of Marines out there in full combat gear walking around all day.  I try to think about that when I’m bitching about sweating my ass off on a ten minute walk back to “the palace”.  I’m sure most people wouldn’t mind going back to a palace to work.  No matter how bad you think you have it, there’s always someone, somewhere that has it much worse.

I got up this morning at 5am went for a run.  Pretty stupid idea seeing my knee has been bothering me.  Instead of taking it easy like I said I was going to, I pushed it and now I am paying for it.  Might need to go to medical and have them take a look at it.  While I’m there I can ask them to take a look at my eyes, because since I’ve been here my vision appears to be going.  People say it’s from the sand and the heat but who knows.  24 years old with  bad knees, going gray and losing my vision.  AWESOME.  Perhaps I should reference my motivational sentence above.  I just did, and I’m still going to feel sorry for myself.

Found out today I’ll be going to Al Asad this weekend for a day to pick up some armor plates.  I’m not sure how long of a helicopter ride it is but I guess it’s inbetween Ramadi and Fallujah.  I’ll only be there a day and a half but it will be cool to get off the base and go see something else.  I’m looking forward to it.  Back to back Blogs I’m on a roll.

OUT

Slacker

August 28, 2006

I know, I know.  I continually say that I’m going to stop slacking and write more; yet it does not appear to be happening.  In fact, I seem to be writing even less lately.  I’m not sure why.  Seems like the more things are going on the less I feel like writing them.  I find myself staring at the computer screen telling myself to write something, but then I can’t find the motivation to do it.  Is this bad?  Is this becoming some kind of chore for me to do?  It shouldn’t be.  I need to find a way to make things more interesting for me.  Need more motivation to write.    I’m not entirely sure where to get it from, but I will, sooner or later.

Not much has really been going on (maybe thats why I never write).  It’s kind of like the movie “Groundhog Day”.  Everyday seems the same.  I wake up at 550am, run(literally) to the bathroom cause I’m about to piss myself.  I’m not sure if I can handle pissing all over myself sober..being drunk, I never had an issue with it, weird.  Anyways, after the normal close call I brush my teeth and shave my face.  Usually seeing the same people in there at the same time every morning.  I then return to me illustrious trailor where I stretch out for a few minutes and get dressed for the day.  All the while I am trying to be somewhat quite while my sloth of a roomate still sleeps.  I then head off for my favorite part of the day…breakfast.  After stuffing my face I head over to the palace.  I come in watch some fox news, check e-mail bullshit around see if anything is going on.  Pretty much I try and kill time until my second favorite part of the day…lunch.  After lunch I come back to the palace and try and kill somtime until I take off for the gym around 130-2.  I usually return back to the palace around 430-5pm.  From there I see whats going on and wait around until dinner, about 6-630pm.  After dinner I usually check back in at the palace for about an hour then head back to my trailor.  From there I usually read, watch a movie or every now and then play some cards with a few other guys. 

In a nutshell this is my life.  Day in day out without fail.  Maybe this is why I don’t write about it all the time?  Same people, same places, same things everyday…hence the reference to “Ground Hogs Day”.  Chow and the gym are my main motivation.  I decided today I’m going to start a journal of what I eat everyday and what I lift and run.  Exciting stuff huh?  Not really, but it’s a way to rack what I’m doing and what I’m not doing I guess.  Something else to occupy my time.

The other week I got a chance to do something different.  Me and a couple other guys got hooked up and we took a blackhawk helicopter over to the international zone where he got a tour of Saddam’s court room.  It was interesting to see.  I took a lot of good pictures.  We also got a chance to see his cell that he stays in while he’s there for the trial.  Hopefully one of these days I’ll get my pictures online.  Besides that, nothing too interesting has been going on. 

From this day on I will post something everyday that I am able to even if it’s just a few words…..hopefully.

Birthday # 24

August 16, 2006

Today I turn 24 years old.  Seems weird to say.  I don’t feel 24, don’t think I look 24 but somehow I am.  Although with the few gray hairs that I have sprouting I guess my age is starting to catch up with me.  I can only assume my hair will start falling out in clumps, and I’ll surly be completely bald by 25.  I could then probably get a job in a sideshow as Frankenstein’s son because of the scars all over my head from various incidents.

Some people make big deals out of their birthday.  They make sure everyone knows it’s their birthday and that everyone says happy birthday to them and all of that noise.  I’m not really into all of that.  Birthdays and holidays are for the most part just another day.  The only thing that I reallly ever liked about holidays was being home and seeing everyone and going out all night.  It’s not really about the day.  I guess thats how it is with birthdays though too.  Just another reason to celebrate and get together with friends.  I don’t mind being in Iraq on my birthday.  Last year was the first year I had been home for it for a few years.  Over the last few years I’ve been away for most holidays and birthdays.  In guess that is why I don’t put a great deal of emphasis on them.  So how am I going to “celebrate my birthday”?  I’m going to go to the gym and try to beat my legs up until I can’t walk out of there.  If I accomplish that it will be a good day.  Hopefully the package my mom sent me will come today and I can start eating peanut butter by the jar for the next few days.  Thats something to look forward to.  Who needs a birthdays when you get gifts like that on any given day.

Now that I think about it though, where have the last 24 years gone?  When I was younger it seemed like the years were never ending, school years could never end soon enough.  Summer vacations seemed like an eterenity.  Now I find myself trying to hold on to each year just to have it slip away from me.  Another year gone.  What did I accomplish this year?  Not enough.  Spent too much time drinking not being productive.  Although I guess this year was probably a little better than most.  Doesn’t say much though. 

Focus, something I’ve lacked over the years  but I starting to find.  Need to focus more.   I often get on the right track for a while and then I get sidetracked, fall off the track.  Consistancy.  Something I also lack.  My 24th year on this planet will have more focus and more consistancy.  I’ll focus on being more consistant.  Does that make sense?  I don’t know.  Feel like I’m rambling now.  24.  The year I’m gonna really get it together.  Once and for all.  Let’s just see if I can back up all the talk.  Am I all bark and no bite?  Only time will tell.

What I’m Going to be When I Grow Up

August 15, 2006

I’ve really been slacking on my writing lately.  Not sure what it is.  I always have a million thoughts going through my mind it’s just a matter of organizing them and putting them in writing.  It’s a lot more difficult than I would have expected. 

 So what have I been thinking about lately?  Mostly I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do when I leave Iraq at the end of November.  I know I’m going to go to school and I know that I’m going to have a job while I go to school.  However, the question that lingers in my mind is, “What am I going to be when I grow up”?  It’s a question you’re asked and that you ask of yourself throughout your life.  It seems like alot of people I know already have this figured out.  Mostly all my friends have degress and are on their career paths, mostly teachers.  However, are most people just settling or is that what they really want to do?

One thing that I’ve noticed about the military is that many of the people that end up doing 20 years do so because they settled.  They didn’t want to have to get out and look for another job.  They got comfortable in their world and scared of what else was out there.  So every fours years they signed back up.  Sign a peice of paper and you’re guaranteed work for the next four years.  I could see how people could fall into this trap, so to speak.  It’s not an easy life, but it offers you assurance.  It sounds ridiculous but the military is the “safe” option for many people.  It beats getting out and risking being unemployed and not being able to support your family.  Don’t get me wrong you do come across the motivated, dedicated Marine that stayed in for the love of the Corps….ooohhrahh and all that kind of shit.  For the most part though, this is not what I have seen.

I’ve always said that I am going to do something that I love to do.  I’m not going to let myself get stuck in a career that I do not love and have a passion for.  I REFUSE to live a mundane existance where I dread work and have to savor the weekends.  I want to enjoy everyday as much as I can whether I am at work or off.  Most people would say, DUH, that is what everyone wants.  However, how many people actually have the courage to go out and find that thing that they love and actually do it.  Most people don’t and they don’t for many reasons.  Some people can’t take the risk because they have a family, some have debt, some are lazy and some are just plain scared to see what else is out there.  The world is a huge place with unlimited potential.  There are endless jobs and places to live, it’s just a matter of finding your place.  It may take days, weeks months or years.  Your place could be right at home or on the otherside of the world in China.  The only way to find out is get out there and explore.  Try new things, go new places. NEVER SETTLE.  Don’t be scared to move to a new place, try a new job.  You can always move back, you can always find a different job.   Put yourself out there and see what happens. 

So what am I going to be when I grow up?  I have a few ideas.  One thing I will be though is happy doing what I’m doing because it will be what I want to be doing.  It may take me sometime, but I’ll find it.

Daily Shower

August 7, 2006

Everyday after I workout I walk over to the showers to take care of business.  Just about everyday there is a couple guys in there trying to shield themselves from the sun.  These guys are the ones responsible for cleaning the showers/bathrooms.  They do a good job cleaning but when they’re done they like to hang out in there because it is generally pretty cool I guess, temperature wise that is.  It’s funny when I open the door it seems like they get a little nervous like they’re going to get in trouble for sitting around on the job. There is usually one to three guys in there but I have noticed that everytime I see one specific guy in there he is reading a book.  Today I decided I would ask him what he was reading.  I had my suspicions that he was learning English and I was correct.  He and the other workers are from India.  He seemed excited that I was interested in what he was reading and he jumped at the chance to show me his book that had phrases in Indian and then the English meaning in the next column.  The guy must have been at least in his mid 30’s but his face lit up like a little kid when he transated the sentence “hurry up now” for me; showing me the way it is writtin in his language and then that he could read it in English.  He went on to talk more but I couldn’t really understand much because of his accent.  I just kind of grinned and said “ohh ok”.  The only thing I gathered from his talking was that in Bombay, the major cities there is a lot of English speaking people but not in the surrounding smaller cities. 

I have noticed that most of the manual labor workers on the base are Indian.  This is pretty interesting seeing that for the last month now I have been reading “The World is Flat”.  One of the major topics of this book is how India is taking many technology jobs away from Americans through outsourcing and such.  However, it appears that it is not just technological jobs that this group of people are after.  The uneducated and unskilled are also fighting for their peice of the pie.  I haven’t completed the book yet but I doubt there is a chapter on Indians coming to Iraq to clean showers, but I do find it interesting that these people as a whole seem to by fighting tooth and nail to make it in society.  Whether it be computer jobs or labor jobs these people are out working and trying to improve their status in life. 

I’m going to try and make a habit of talking with this man daily to find out more about how he and so many others ended up working over here in Iraq.  I am also kind of impressed by the fact he hides out in the showers to teach himself English.  It shows a kind of determination that I think most of society lacks today, including myself.

College

August 3, 2006

I just got done filling out an online application for the University of Buffalo and Buffalo State College.  I saved it online because there is a few things I have to go back and fill in before I submit it.  I’m applying as a transfer student so hopefully they process will go smoothly and I’ll be accepted.  Although my last semester of all F’s probably will not help my cause.  I was doing fairly well before I stopped going, expecially seeing I put in very little effort.

Looking back I think I missed out on a great oppurtinity with college.  I had a full scholarship for Army ROTC.  Subsequesntly, I lost the scholarship and stopped attending classes.  College could have been a great experience I think.  I look as people that made it all the way through and have all those experiences and I sometimes envy them.  I receieved a different kind of education.  While all my friends were in college partying, I was in bootcamp, or Marine Combat Training or working in Maryland where I was stationed.  I had a different kind of life, a bit harder of a life I would say than my friends that went to college.  At the time though I didn’t appreciate what the Marine Corps was teaching me, just like I didn’t appreciate what I had when I was in college.  However, now that I am a little older I think I am beginning to appreciate things a little more.  I’ve learned alot from the Marine Corps and I have learned alot from the little time that I spent in college.

The bottomline is that I wasn’t anywhere near mature enough to be away at college and be in ROTC.  Between drinking and fighting I was destined for failure.  I wouldn’t say that I’m the most mature person around, but I think finally at 24 (almost) I am ready for anything.  When I retun from Iraq I plan to return to school fulltime and also work fulltime.  It’s not going to be easy, but it’s something that I know I can handle at this point in my life.  I have my priorities straight and I know what I need to accomplish.  This time I’ll get it right.  There’s no excuse for failure.  I’m setting my goals high and I plan to acheive even higher.  Just have to stay on track…..gotta “walk the line”. 

Interesting Start to the Day

August 1, 2006

I notice that I feel more inclined to write on mornings after I run.  However, I am going to have to learn to like writing other days as well, seeing that I only have been running twice a week. 

The morning started well.  Got in a good run, although I ran a little later today so I think I missed the morning prayer.  Not long after arriving back at the palace there was a loud crashing sound that felt like it shook the whole palace.  Everyone went to the window and off in the distance you could see a large billow of black smoke.  Most people concluded that it most have been a car bomb right off base.  There’s another one.  Second one in about 15 minutes.  You would think that they were going off directly outside with the way you can feel them vibrate through your body.  However, from my estimation they’re at least 10-15 miles away.

I can tell a lot of people are concerned right now with having two bombs go off in the last 15 minutes, but since I have been here that stuff hasn’t really bothered me.  My first two weeks it seemed like they were going off every night.  I would be sitting in my rack and the vibrations would feel like they would make you sway a little.  Kind of like if you were sitting in shallow water and a small wave washed past you.  Everyone would run outside to look, but most of the time there was nothing to see.  I’m not sure why it hasn’t really affected me.  I think it’s because its off in the distance.  The threat still does not seem real eventhough I can see it and feel it. 

I could only imagine what it is like to have one of those bombs blow up underneath your vehicle or right in your vicinity.  When it explodes miles away it feels like its right next to you let alone if you were actually right next to it.  I’m sure it would seem real to me then.  Then again I think something like that would feel more surreal than anything else.  It seems like it would be a very personal experience, no ones is probably the exact same. 

Off to start the day.

Running

July 28, 2006

Today was my second morning running outside.  I had previously been running in the gym on the treadmill, but I decided I needed to get out and hit the pavement.  I always liked running in the morning, especially outside.  The mornings here are perfect.  It’s warm out, but I go around 5am and by the time I’m done the sun is just beginning to peak its head out.  The mornings are by far my favorite time of the day.  The entire time I was running I was thinking about how I would write about it and describe it.  Now that I’m sitting down and trying to, it’s much more difficult.  Things are always easier in your head.  The thing that was different this morning, as opposed to the other day, was that I could hear the “morning prayer” being played in the distance. The  “Morning prayer” is played over a loud speaker from out in the city.  It sounds like a mixture of singing and chanting in arabic.  I’m not sure how many times they pray over the loud speaker each day, although I believe it is 3 times a day.  It was interesting to be running around a lake in the dark hearing this chanting off in the distance followed by loud shrilling screams towards the end.  Kind of felt like I was in a movie; at least I was pretending I was.  It also kind of felt like I was in prison though because all around are guard towers and highwalls with barbwire.  Anyways, It was a good start to the day.

July 28, 2006