Friday, February 24, 2006

i just got back from a weird trip. it's been a long couple of days. two of our teams were engaged yesterday, and we almost lost 4 guys, but fortunately we're all safe and sound. i didn't hear about any of this until today when i got back on base. we're a small unit, and we live next door to the distant cousin unit, and they're kinda small, so we frequently pair up for missions. we've been doing this now for almost eleven months, so we mesh amazingly well. anyways, they needed to go to another base and needed to do some stuff at one of the local cities, and needed some extra help with security while they did their thing in the city, so me and another guy went along. we ended up spending the night at this base that's about 2.5 hrs from here.

it's funny, when we first got here, we were living on a fairly small base. if i ran the perimeter it was maybe 3.5 miles most of the way around. we closed that base down and moved to a bigger one, and the base we're on is getting bigger all the time. this is actually not as good a thing as you might think. more people just means more hassles. there's a longer line to do anything, becase we're bigger we've got more higher ranking people here, which means that alot of the rules no longer meet "common sense", they're in place "just because". this is an active duty division that runs the base, so they bring alot of rules from back in the states down here with them. alot of the rules are fine back home, but are kind of stupid down here. anyways. the base we went to is even bigger and more established. while there were alot of the normal headaches that come along with being on the base (guys got tickets for not wearing reflective belts while walking around the base after dark, we had to let people inspect our weapons to prove that we actually know how to unload them and make them safe, etc) it actually ended up being alot of fun.

the guy that i traveled with was the same guy i went on the road with last week. we travel well together. make fun of one another, laugh at alot of the same stuff, fine the same types of girls attractive so we can gawk together... anyways, the last trip was pretty high-stress. since we were really only along for the ride this trip, once we got to the base, we cut lose and went our seperate way. well we found a REAL movie theater on post. and it sold popcorn and hotdogs and ice cream and movie theater candy and soda in PLASTIC BOTTLES! for two hours we were like little kids, giggling and being stupid. the movie was "just friends" and to us, last night, it seemed like the funniest movie ever. was it really that good? or were we just so wrapped up in the moment? i dunno. but it was fun.

the other unit had to be up at 6am. we didn't. so we slept til 11:00am, then proceeded to a new popeye's resteraunt and proceeded to have po'boy sandwiches. i haven't slept that well in awhile. we've all been passing a flu bug around, so someone is always snoring really loud at night because they're congested. then one or a couple of us leave for a couple nights, come back, catch the slightly mutated bug again and the cycle just keeps going.

today was a little spooky coming back. we've traveled on these roads alot. and some of the villages were like ghost towns. where we're normally threading our way through traffic, this time we were the only vehicles on the road. the hair on the back of your neck stands up, and you're wondering if it's like in an old western. the locals have hidden behind shuttered windows because they know the bad guys are in town and trouble is brewing. fortunately we made it home safely though.

i'm not sure what the next couple days are going to bring. but yesterday was great!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

re-up, you're crazy, re-up, you're outta your mind!


guess who re-enlisted today! it's kind of funny, when i was on my first 4 year hitch, i couldn't get out of the army fast enough. but once i was out in the civilian world and realized what all i had, i had to get into the active reserves. and i haven't looked back since.

things have been amazingly busy here. we're shorthanded and our tour is winding down. i'm doing my job as well as two other peoples' so i'm slowing losing my mind. haven't had as much time to focus on good ideas for blog entries lately. also haven't done much running in the last two weeks, which is when i tend to think about such stuff to try and forget how much i hate running.

in addition i'm trying to get trig homework done, and trying to be a good boy and not procrastinate. i should be back some next week though.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

damn the man! save the empire!

rex manning day or not, i'm not retyping the novel i just wrote and lost into the void that is known as the internet.. hah-hah! your loss!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

the dreaded vacation photos!




the start of the second day of driving. or night rather. the truck is still nice and clean. we hadn't hit rains yet, so we weren't floating inside the cab yet...





the moon from the hatch of our turret.
after six days of living in the cab, we didn't really care so much about the cleanliness of the truck. especially since it'd been buried in mud more times than we could count and was nasty on the outside.
after six days he'd grown fairly fond of it and had a hard time saying "goodbye". the funny part of this is that he was originally going to pretend to lick the truck. but he slipped and ended up licking it for real. damn my quick trigger finger!

people ask why do i love the army so much. this is an example of one of the reasons...

Friday, February 17, 2006

still alive and kicking!

we left after midnight sunday night. me and my buddy were going to join into a convoy that was going past our base to another one. it was supposed to be a 6-8 hour drive. we'd never met the people we were riding with before, we just needed to get a truck up to this other base to a team up there, and lend some technical assistance. after about five hours of getting lost, the convoy pulled into a base that's only normally about 1.5 hrs away. by the time we got everything secured it was about 7:00am. we found a little room (when i say room, i mean they took plywood and closed in a patio and stuck 3 cots in there) and bedded down. by this time the sun was coming up, so we figured it'd HAVE to warm up in there as the day went on. no such luck. it felt like i spent 45 minutes tossing and turning trying to get comfortable and warm. sleep wasn't going to happen. i got up, looked at my watch and was surprised to see it was 3:00pm. guess it did happen afterall. we got the truck ready, met up with our crew and tried again. this time we had MUCH better luck and made it to the desired destination. once the 2.5ton truck went sideways and it felt like we'd slid out on black ice, but that's all fun, right? after getting to the new base and saying goodbye to the folks we rode with, we tried to find our team. we spent two hours driving around an amazingly small base and promptly slid off the road and got stuck in mud up over the top of our almost 5' tall tires. somehow or another between the two of us we knew what to do and managed to crawl out of it. guess what happens to the "moon dust" when it rains for days and days on end?

we're at a another base now, having driven five hours in the middle of the night to get here. someone was supposed to meet us this morning, but he failed to show, so we got here at six am and promptly passed out in the cab of the truck for six hours. we've unloaded the truck, we're about to sign it and the keys over to these guys and wait for a flight home. we haven't been able to shower in four days. we've been traipsing through the mudd and rain everyday, climbing over and under vehicles to install electronics equipment on them. we've been scared silly (i have NO idea how that truck didn't tip over when we hydroplaned or when went into the mud) and i've been wearing the same mud-crusted uniform for five days. but we're having the time of our lives. we've worked ourselves to the point of exhaustion everyday, we met the most awesome group of guys in the last place. i haven't laughed that hard, that often in awhile. we've had some great talks (the unit is thinking about promoting this kid, and even though he's not officially one of mine, i wanted to talk to him about it a little). and today the sun is shining and the base we're on has rolling green hills. it's beautiful.

should be home soon! thanks for worrying!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

ohblahdee, ohbladah...

life goes on...

one of the weirdest things about being over here is realizing that life just keeps happening at home. it didn't stop just because we got on a plane and flew around the world. and you KNOW that, and you get phone calls and letters and emails that let you know what's going on back in the world, but sometimes it still bites you in the ass. while you're gone babies are born, birthdays and holidays come and go, people graduate high school or college, loved ones die, loved ones leave, friends and family get fired and promoted, the works.

my sister passed away during this last year. i made it home in time to see her before the cancer got her, but just the change between then and the last time i saw her was amazing. and seeing the rest of the family and catching up with them and what had happened involved a couple mind blowing moments. since we've been in country over 13% of our unit has had to go home on emergency leave because of serious illnesses or deaths in the family. the other day i was talking to a friend and realized that he'd graduated. here i was thinking he still had a year of classes left. well, that year has come and gone.

the last time i was mobilized and deployed it wasn't for anywhere near as long. but the same effect was there. at the time, i thought i was totally self centered and felt really bad about it. but then i talked about it with other people and just found out it was the nature of the beast. yeah, we are really focused on what we're doing over here, but we kind of have to be. it's the job. but the side effect of it is that it keeps you from missing home too much and dwelling on what you're missing. that's a good thing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

follow-up

last night i wrote about things we do out of a sense of obligation that we probably might not do in other situations. staying up all night with a sick kid and going to work the next day, working double jobs to put a family member through college or to provide for family, doing stuff because it's what parents or loved ones expect from us. in my case, alot of military stuff because i wear the uniform and love it.

right after i wrote the article, and before i went to bed i walked outside to check on the weather. a friend was out there taking a smoke break and we started talking about upcoming trips and past trips. he recently came back from visiting a couple of other bases, and was talking about some of the civilians who are over here as truck drivers. and we were just shaking our heads that these people would actually travel some of these roads for money. you couldn't pay me enough to come over here as a civilian and drive a truck on these roads. yet not a day ago "hey mac, you can drive a deuce and a half and a five-ton, right?" "sure, i got licenses when i was on active duty. why?" "well, we need to take a truck to ______________" "sure, no problem, when?"

weird.

whining and rambling. i highly suggest you skip this...


oh my goodness do my shins ache!

a couple of years ago, i was driving around and it was a lazy sunday and i had npr or some talk station on the radio... (sometimes i drive a '67 ford galaxie, so it's all am, all the time!). i don't know what i was listening to, but the guy was saying that at one point he'd been a marine, and he'd been out to some social function and was on his way home and was dressed in his dress uniform. as he passed an alley way, someone shouded out "marine, help!" he looked down the alley and saw a guy being beaten up by two other guys. he said the absolute last thing that he wanted to do was walk down that alley, but he felt because he was wearing the uniform he had to. fortunately, as soon as he started walking towards them, they saw the uniform and took off running.

it's weird the stuff we do because of .... something. guilt? obligation? work ethic? parents who stay together in a bad relationship for the kids, dads and mom who slug it away at a job they hate to give their family a better life than they had. kids who go to school for subjects they could care less about in order to please and repay their family...

alot of people join the army for different reasons. over my desk at my civilian job, i've got a print out of the poster that says "what the f**k am i doing here, i just joined for the college money!" not because i feel that way, but to remind me what not to become. you hear comments like that so often here when deployed.
i got mobilized to active duty after 9/11. i did my time, was demobilized and was happy to be a one weekend a month/2 weeks a year kinda guy. then this new unit approached me. said they were coming downrange and needed a radio guy, would i please come. how do you say "no" to that? it's not the normal recruiter pitch. the guys were brutally honest with me. they don't officially have a slot for a commo guy, but realize the importance of good communications. i'd probably be working several different jobs, and when we get back to the states, i'll have to find a unit since they don't officially have a slot. i trained with them for a couple weekends, just to make sure they were good people and that i could really help, but once i saw that, i felt i had to come. if you're going to be in the military, you're in the military. you can't half-ass it. you can't pick and choose. it's not a job, it's a lifestyle. so i get mildly annoyed on a daily basis with people who don't share those views. first time people i'm okay with. they didn't really know what they were getting into. it's stupid, they should've asked some smart questions and figured it out before signing their name, but i'll give them a little lee-way. the ones who have re-enlisted a time or two, and know EXACTLY what the military is about? those are the ones that bug me.

i'm a clutz. and not just a little one. i've screwed up my knees, ankles, shoulders, ribs... broken toes... given myself a concussion. more than once. if a day goes by where i don't trip on something? i probably haven't moved from the couch because i'm already screwed up. about the only thing i did well as a kid was tennis. and "well" might be stretching it. in my mind? i was a young jimmy connor... in reality? heh. let's move on. i ran fairly well. not that my knees didn't knock into one another or i didn't trip while running. i was just too stupid to know when to quit. so i'd usually be one of the top runners in the company, never the fastest, but always in the top five or ten. i remember several times the 1SG would point and laugh because i was bloody from some accident along the way. greg rucka has a book called "critical space". i love almost all of his stuff, but there's a special place in my heart for that book, all because of one chapter. there's a part where the main character is trying to take his physical conditioning to a new level. i can empathize with the pain he goes through.

i could get a profile or something, basically a permission slip from the doctor saying it's okay to stop working out. but i couldn't. i'm in leadership roles these days. how can you be in such a position and not set a good example? get out there and do the 5 miles with a smile on your face. this is FUN! i went to the grand canyon with my dad a couple years ago. hiked in and out. it was funny as hell. on the way out, if he'd be passing someone, he'd do his best to catch his breath and smile a big huge grin at the people he was passing, and give them a big warm greeting. it would crack him up to think that some poor bastard was going to say "see? look honey, he's old and he made it all the way to the bottom and back. he's not even winded! we can do it!" not knowing that dad has done that trip ten or eleven times now, and trains months in advance for the trip. i guess i do the same thing with running and stuff these days with the kids. it's funny what the uniform makes you do.

in the novel, the main character gets more in touch with his body in that chapter. it's weird, as i'm getting older, so am i. not because of the book. but i'm much more aware of alot of the little aches and pains and am able to try and figure out what's causing them and hopefully how to prevent them. it's been great the last couple times i went swimming. really being able to feel the water moving and knowing what i'm doing right and wrong. i wish i had this awareness a decade ago.

okay. i can think of no further way to waste time here. i've rambled about nothing for far too long already.

Monday, February 06, 2006

so, say you're lucky and really just work 8 hrs a day (when i'm at my civilian job, they're usually 10 at the least, 11-12 on an average, and the bad ones start one morning, and don't end until a couple mornings later. i'm a network administrator, so when things are good? yay! when things are bad?). take that 8 hr day and add 20 minutes for commute each way, 20 minutes for lunch, so in a good sitch, that's 9 hours out of 24 that you're gone. then let's pretend you get an 8 hour sleep everyday. that leaves you 7 waking hours a day with your spouse, family, kids, dogs, roomate, whatever. i think most people would say it's closer to 3-5 per day.

what's this got to do with ANYTHING? well, some of my buddies are in hot water with people at home. and it's crazy. they're not volunteering to stay down here longer, they're not saying they don't want to go home. all that they've said is that they've made some good friends down here and are going to miss them. let's look at how this works. we all knew one another before we came down here for the most part. so we were already pretty good friends. we've all been through basic training and different military schools so we've got common experiences to draw upon. we've all volunteered for military service and this deployment, so chances are we've got similar beliefs. we've been away from home for almost eleven months solid now, and probably have another 3 to go before we get home. unlike spouses/dogs/girlfriends/mom and dad/whatever, we spend pretty much 24hrs a day together within our groups. we've slept on cots that were a couple feet away from one another in tents, on bunkbeds, now in cubicles where we're less than 8 ft from each other. We eat meals together, we work together all day, we work out together, wander of to the px or mwr center and waste time together. We've gone through our honeymoon phase, we've gone through our rough periods where we hated one another, and now we're getting tight together again now that we're getting ready to go home. we've celebrated birthdays, births of kids and grandkids back home, engagements and graduations. we've helped one another through deaths in the families back in the states, divorces, break-ups, and the death of a fellow soldier. we've relied on one another for loans, to act as alarm clocks, to watch each our backs in dangerous situations. i'm not saying the bonds we've formed down here are stronger than any of the ones back home necessarily, but they've been tried and tested. i'm not sure how else a guy or girl can explain that to people back home. i would THINK they should be able to say "you know, i've made some really good friends down here and i'm going to miss being around them all the time when i come home" without making anyone at home feel threatened. weird.

i'm not really going anywhere with this. just musing.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

food stories...


i love easy cheese. now before all of your purists get on your soap box and tell me how gross it is, let me ask how many mre's you've eaten recently? or dining facility take out? let me tell you WHY i love easy cheese. it can make ANY mre taste better. mainly because if you put enough of it on, it over powers the taste. you can keep it on your shelf without a need for refrigeration (can we see why this is important?) it can be mailed to you, and memories of a buddy. we were living side by side in a tent in afghanistan. it was awesome, because as much as i loved easy cheese, he loved it more. so i only bought one or two cans the whole deployment. we stood in line for an hour or longer to get into the px. we bought our cans of easy cheese. we went home, broke open an mre for lunch. *splooooooooooooooooooooooosh*. i put easy cheese on my entree. *sploooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooosh* he put easy cheese on his. the next day i came in and i repeated the process. he shook his can, went to top his entree off, and it just popped and fizzed. he was out. so being the good buddy i am, i said he could use some of mine if he got me a new can. do we see where this is going? everyday i got a new can from him. one day he didn't get me a new one, and i bitched. we use "jackass" as a term of endearment. i came in the next day and there was a new can on my bed, with "love, jackass" written on it in permanent ink.

i love lucky charms. in basic training we had to form a line and go through the chow hall. you went through the line, got your plate, sat down and were supposed to eat without talking. of course you learned to whisper and barely move your lips, all the while looking for drill sergeants out of the corner of your eye. when the last person through the line was done eating, everyone was done. i had no problems with this at lunch or dinner, i can scarf down food with the best of them (one of the HARDEST parts about re-integrating, believe it or not. slowing down and eating with manners), but for some reason at breakfast i was ALWAYS getting yelled at to hurry up. wtf? then one day at breakfast one of the guys sitting across the table said "dude, what the HELL are you doing? stop screwing around!" turns out it'd been habit for 20 years to seperate the oat bits from the marshmallow bits in my lucky charms... i always ate the oats first, saving the best for last. mystery solved!

i've been through a couple different survival training thingies. in most of them you have the choice between killing a bunny or a chicken with your bare hands, to learn how to and to learn how to skin and prepare it. it's interesting for a couple reasons. one of the things that is scary about it is the number of people who will protest that type of training. not realizing how really vital it is for soldiers. there is a good chance that we might need to know how to survive on our own for days, and if we do, one of the things we're going to have to do is find food. and it's not just the elite anymore. the next jessica lynch might escape her captors and need to know this stuff. but some feel it's cruel to animals. and it is, but that's kinda the nature of things. and if it keeps one of my guys alive? i'm all about cruelty to animals. anyways, in one of the classes, some of the kids decided they weren't going to kill the animals for ethical reasons. "no problems" the instructors said, "but you can't leave them out here in the woods, that's equally cruel. if you're not going to kill them, you have to carry them back." so they strapped the chickens to the top of their rucks, and after a couple hours of the chickens pecking them in the back of the neck, they were MORE than happy to kill'em. at another class, i cleared it with the instructor not to do the chicken/rabbit thing. i'd already done it before, and he knew it, so he let me slide pass, i was just an assistant instructor for that portion of the training. we had a person of questionable mental stability with us that trip. he decided to kill the bunny. but he was also fascinated with the head/skin. and proceeded to provide us with puppet shows for the rest of the trip. dinner and a movie! several other bad things happened, but i'll not mention those here. what was funny though, was later he was requesting a security clearance and the investigators came to talk to me. one of the questions was something along the lines of "has he ever acted in any type of manner that would make you question his mental stability? cruelty to animals? child or spouse abuse?"

Saturday, February 04, 2006

random stuff...

-does anyone know if you can set it up so comments are threaded? it'd be nice to be able to reply to a specific comment and have it show up that way...

-while running today i came up on a cute girl running. it reminded me of something that happened a couple years ago when i was doing a "race for the cure" deal. this is going to make me look like a total pig and i apologize for that. anyways, when i used to do long races, the race would go so much quicker if i found a cute girl who ran about the same pace as me and i followed her for most of the race. when i'm doing ten miles or whatever, it's my brain that kills me. about the 6th or 7th mile, it'll start coming up with reasons why i should stop running. anyways, following the girl tends to help some. it's hard on the pride to stop when she keeps running. she's cute, so of course you want to keep following, etc. a friend of mine likens it to the greyhound chasing the rabbit. anyways, this particular race, she kept speeding up. it hurt, but so did i. at the end of the race, for some amazingly stupid reason i went up to the girl to thank her for prompting me to have one of my best times ever. she started laughing and pointed to a guy and confessed that she'd been doing the same thing with him, and when he kept speeding up, she felt he was too good looking to let him go...

-our stuff here is so cobbled together. after my run "hey, sgt so-and-so, can i borrow your truck to go take a shower? i don't want to take my hmmwv" "uhm... yeah, you're not an idiot. i tell these dumbasses not to go to fast through the water, but they all think they know more than i do. we had to steal some stuff off another truck that doesn't work, so the cables and distributor cap on that truck aren't the right ones. so when you go through the water, just put it in first and idle through. i'm sick of having to pull people out of puddles." your tax dollars at work ladies and gentlemen!

why'd i even turn it on???

i've seen two things that have disgusted me today. one is on right now on fox, a bunch of panelists sitting around discussing whether or not we should aid israel in their effort bomb iran. i don't necessarily have a problem with that for the right reasons. but they're saying we should do it to stabilize wall street. that is what makes me sick.

the other thing i saw earlier. dateline's thing on men who stalk male and female kids on the internet and try to set up in person sexual encounters with them. words can't express it...

welcome to my weirdness...

i'm having an argument with someone. a knock-down, drag-out fight. and as we mentioned before, i hate confrontations. step right up ladies and gentlemen, here's a wonderful glimpse into my twisted brain. so, this is a serious topic that we're fighting about. it's something that we've argued about before. i'm not saying i'm right and they're wrong, we just view it very, very differently. but if we're not going to agree about it, we need to just not deal with one another on this thing. this has had me stressed out for going on 48 hrs now.
so, as i mentioned before, i sometimes seek approval and affection. and i hate conflicts. so guess what i do at this stage in the argument? i start caving. out of fear that that other person won't like me or something. i dunno. this is the most thought i've ever given it. headshrinkers, where are you? help me out here. logically, i'm not willing to admit that i'm wrong. but i want the fight to be over. i want the stress gone. so i'm starting to give the other person ways out. things that they can agree with, without losing face. "oh, i'm sure you never mention this or that, but surely you've considered this". knowing full well that if we don't resolve it now, like we've never resolved it in the past, we'll just end up arguing about it again in the future. but i don't care about that. i just want the turmoil to cease now. blah.

it's so cool to know that i'm 32 years old, and i'm behaving the same as i did at 16. no personal growth here...

if that's not scary enough. i have "abba" on my itunes. when i first got my ipod was importing cd's like crazy, someone had that cd. i've never liked abba (except for muriel's wedding), but damnit, that was MORE music to suck into my ipod.

Friday, February 03, 2006

we're silly

once upon a time, we lived about 15 minutes down the road, right in the middle of tikrit at a place called FOB Danger. life at danger was really nice in a lot of ways. it was a small base and very scenic. i could almost forget that i hated running there, because i was so caught up in the beauty of the place. great lakes to run around, some good hills to push yourself on... we lived in a house with marble floors, indoor showers and a kitchen with huge chandeliers and a tower that overlooked the river. great, great stuff. okay, so the bad part about it was that to do anything we had to drive to the base we live on now, and that was kinda hairy from time to time. an i.e.d. here, some small arms fire there...

now we live in the dustbowl. just a couple miles away is the difference between almost paradise (everything is relative. for iraq? that place was damned nice!) and an upper level of hell. there, you didn't notice the 130+ heat quite so much. here you feel every bit of it. the environment is just so different and depressing in some ways. so why'd we move? so we could turn danger over to the iraqis. we didn't want to seem like an occupying force. so the plan is, move all the americans to all the crappy places that are so bad, no iraqi will complain if we live there, and give them back the nice places. great plan. but they're not ready for it. from what i'm hearing, less than two weeks after we turned the other base over? everything of value was stripped from the base. and over here, we've got our soldiers either burning up or freezing in leaking tents with limited power.

what's funny about this is we knew the looting would happen. the locals knew the looting would happen. but the decision was still made. we do that alot around here. soldiers can't drink booze here. we don't want to offend the locals. yet the locals sell booze here, many of them partake. but we checked that cultural sensitivity box. we have locals who come on the base to do work. we don't make them come on the base on fridays, out of respect for their religious holy day (totally disregarding that fact that some of them are different religions) yet we make them come on sundays, and make soldiers miss church services to go guard them. part of the problem that we're having here, is a lack of religious tolerance. yet aren't we furthering that by not showing them that respect for religious practices needs to be mutual? i'm not 100% sure, but i think we're really sending some confusing and conflicting messages to the locals.

i'm also not 100% sure that we need to be a touchy-feely army in this thing.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

it's raining tonight. i can remember how excited i felt my second or third day back here in october when there was just the lightest misting for about 5 minutes. it all evaporated within the hour, but it was rain. after a summer that was so miserable and dry! this last month there has been a fair bit of rain. no monsoons like back home, but a solid rain for several hours at different points. enough that some people hate it, and complain constantly. they hate walking in it to the showers or latrines, they hate the mud, they hate running in it, blah-blah-blah.

not me, i still love it. there was a point this summer (several actually) where it was so hot that our vehicles were overheating. what do you do when a vehicle starts overheating? that's right.... you turn on the heat. over a 140 degrees, us sweating to death in all that body armor that they want to keep lumping on us, buttoned up tight in our armored vehicles... it's amazing we didn't drown in pools of our own sweat. it was so hot, you had to wear gloves to keep from burning yourself when you touched any metal, in or out of the vehicle. on guy put his water on the transmission housing. went to pick it up later and burned himself. tiny blister on his hand, and burned his mouth. so do i love the cool, refreshing rain? uh-huh. give me more please...

anger management...

we've already discussed that i don't really do a ton of editing after i write one of these right? maybe i'll see a glaring spelling/grammatical error and have to correct it, but that's about it. well, this should come as no surprise either. while i might have a lot of ideas kick off during the day and say "hey, that'd be a great thing to write about", i don't really put a lot of effort into these before hand either. no outlines, no multiple drafts... so when i start talking about one thing and finish talking about another? i apologize. dunno if that's going to happen here, but if it does? whoops. my bad.

once upon a time, i was a young, dumb private. i finished basic, a.i.t. and jump school. i showed up at ft. bragg, excited to get to my first unit and really see what the army was like. not too long before i got there bad things happened at bragg. a guy went nutso and started shooting at other soldiers early one morning while they were doing phyiscal training. another guy went nutso and killed a couple walking downtown. everyonce in awhile people crack there. think of it as the hellmouth without the supernatural. so i got there and i was just doing my normal stuff. which includes not sleeping. i've always had a problem falling asleep. once i'm asleep, i'll sleep all night long, and good luck trying to wake me up to get to work on time. but i can't shut my brain off. well my roommate was the complete opposite. he'd stay awake long enough to talk to his girlfriend, and then he was crashing. well, he'd wake up to go to the bathroom or whatever and i'd still be awake. then he'd wake up again, and yup. still awake. but then i'd want to nap all day. so he mentioned it in passing to our boss. well, since the other crazies had decided to do the crazy thing, if you acted the slightest bit weird, you were automatically sent in for a mental evaluation. this was considered weird. next thing i know i'm being driven to the mental health clinic (not because i needed to be restrained or anything. just because i didn't have a car yet.) so then all of a sudden, they automatically decided that i must be repressing anger and that's why i can't sleep. next thing i know, i'm enrolled in an anger management class.

now, let's be honest. we've all got issues. me? i avoid confrontation like a mo-fo. nowhere near as bad as i used to, thank the army, but i do it. and i suppose that might lead to some pent up frustrations. i don't deal with a problem when it's little, and then it's big, and then it's too late. but i have PLENTY of coping mechanisms. what i'm saying is, i really didn't need anger management classes. i'm not saying i'm perfect, but i'm fairly normal. i'm really a pretty level guy. so i show up for the first class and we get to go around the circle and explain why we're there. this guy threw his roommate out a third floor window. this guy beat his supervisor so bad he was in a coma for three days, this guy beat his wife and kids, this guy purposely rammed his car into the car of the guy who did something bad to him... and me. i don't fall asleep until past midnight. boy. i sure fit in.

so. funny thing is, guess who actually listens in class and gets something from it? i know several of those other guys got thrown out of the military for bad things, i know one got locked up. be me, i'm constantly remembering things we learned in that class. and using them on people. doesn't always make you popular in an argument. heh. one of the big things they talked about was how 99% of the things that we take personally that someone did to us, weren't done with malicious intent. "you made me feel so angry!" well, no. they didn't. they just did what they did, probably without considering us or our feelings at all. the fact that we feel hurt or sad or angry or whatever is just the way we interpret their actions. there's a sign that says something like "no one can make you feel incompetent (or stupid, or whatever) without your permission, you'd be stupid not to give that permission to your drill sergeant".

some people don't get this. another example of it is something i heard on npr. a salesperson was talking. he said that the golden rule is wrong. it shouldn't be "do unto others as you would have done to yourself", it should be "do unto others as they would have done to themselves". basically saying that because we all come from different backgrounds, different beliefs, values, etc. our perspectives are all different. to be successful at sales, don't treat the customer as you'd want to be treated. treat the customer how they want to be treated. i call these things leaps in logic. i'm not saying someone is illogical when i'm having an argument with them. they're just being logical in their head. i'm being logical in mine. but there is a leap to get from their logic to mine or vice-versa, and we can't always make that leap. now in reality, that's probably more of an emotional leap, but... don't look at it through your eyes, found out about them and try your best to look at it through their eyes, with their perceptions and beliefs and values and biases. A lot of arguments come from that. we're saying something the way we mean it, and the person we're talking to isn't hearing that. they're putting the spin of their past on what we're saying and that's what they're hearing. the telephone game.

once upon a time there was me and a girl. she wanted to go for a motorcycle ride, i wanted to as well. this story and the next kinda are meant to show the dangers of trying to get into that other person's head. away we go. it was a cold night. i was wearing a sweat shirt with hand warmer pockets, she had no gloves. i told her she could put her arms around my waist and her hands in the pockets. next thing i know her hands feel like she's groping me. but no. that can't be. she's sweet and innocent. can't be! and to this day i firmly believe she was unaware. nothing was mentioned. hard to describe this girl. she was just everybody's little sister. always went to church on sundays, religious ed classes wednesday nights after work, etc. and she was morman and i wasn't. so she definitely wasn't hitting on me. but she was. she wrote an email a couple years back saying she’d been hurt when i didn’t return her advances.

today there's another girl and me and 3 other people going for a ride in a truck. other girl is wearing shorts. she sits in the front between me and one other person, while the other two are in the back with this large piece of equipment. as i'm driving i'm constantly brushing up against her legs while shifting the car. her arm goes around me, she leans into me during all the turns. as i later find out, she had had a relationship with another member of the unit, and some video of the two of them got out and lots of people saw it. apparently she's quite adventurous. so everyone else in the vehicle is sure she's got her sights set on me now, based on this totally unplanned car ride. i'm convinced nothing was going on with this girl either. she didn't plan to sit next to me that close, she didn't know that other person was going to jump into the front seat at the last minute. and sure, she leaned into me when we turned in the one direction. but guess what? she leaned away from me when we turned in the other. but it's funny how if i wanted to try to get into her head based on what people have told me about her i could get carried away and really fool myself into thinking there was something there when there's not. and treat her wrong based on those poor assumptions. and make a total ass of myself in the process.

once upon a time there was me and a girl. the girl wanted a new car. she was sick of the used cars that had broken down a time or two. didn't see the value in not having to make a car payment, etc. i mentioned that a new car was no guarantee that break downs wouldn't happen and pointed to a mutual friend as an example. he had bought a brand new car less than a year before and had already been stranded twice by it. i said the only guarantee to not have a car break down was to walk. i have NO idea what it was about her past, but she received that as me telling her to walk, that she wasn't worth the money it would cost to buy a new car. it's amazing more guys and girls don't kill one another.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

it's all about the little things...

i know that this is no new sentiment. it's not like i'm the wise man who discovered it. but it's amazing how many times i have to remind myself of it, or find myself reminded of it. i get so wrapped around the axle about whatever is happening in life and make myself miserable worrying about this or that and forget that so much of happiness is found in the little things. that doesn't mean i should be totally hedonistic and forget about grandiose plans for the future, but that i shouldn't lose sight of the fact that i need to enjoy today as well.

the big thing that reminded me was yesterday on guard duty. it was freezing. i jumped into the truck and cranked the heat and was squirming around trying to get the perfect angle so the warm air would blow down the next of shirt and down my back. a little piece of heaven. for the next 8 hours i lived for my couple minutes in the truck every hour to warm up. i didn't care about how much money i was making, what was going on at home, what new person in the unit is trying to micromanage me and is irritating the hell out of me, none of it. just the warmth of that heater vent.

today i was running. i hate running. with a passion. i never experience a "runner's high". i experience running pain. shin splints, side aches, sore muscles, owwie knees... but as much as i hate running, somedays there are good days. today i was running on this main road that crosses the base. roughly two miles from end to end. it's usually pretty busy, but today for some reason, there were moments when it was totally quiet and i just felt an amazingly peaceful calm settle over me. i felt like i was at my dad's place, running in the desert trails in arizona. just the perfect weather after yesterday's cold. the fourth mile, my mind had to keep slowing my body down, it just wanted to go faster and it didn't realize just how much further it had to go until it was time to stop. why i couldn't have a "closer-to-God" moment while i was sitting on the couch or laying in bed, i don't know...

a couple months ago, a nice soul sent me some 300 thread count sheets. the best i've seen here are some rough 150 tc. i waited until after a LONG convoy, came home, showered, put the new sheets on the bed and passed out. glorious! i'm ordering some 1200tc sateen sheets and having them sent to my house. it'll be a nice "welcome home" present to myself...

for christmas a friend sent me a box of imported chocolate truffles from trader joes... each one was an almost orgasmic experience. i now understand the sway chocolates have over girls...

there is a girl here who wears the most awesome fragrance. i have no idea what it is, some mix of body wash and spray. she's tried to explain it once, but you know? i'm a guy. anyways she'll come into our building every once in awhile to use our copier. it's so awesome. she's a nice girl, i don't want to to flirt with her, don't think impure thoughts, blah-blah-blah... it's not about that. i just like to sit there for a second after she passes by and savor the scent.

i love seeing a movie by myself. it's one of my guilty simple pleasures. no one to interrupt in the middle of it to ask about a storyline or anything. no one to go on and on about how stupid it was afterwards. i just like feeling like a little kid eating my popcorn and getting lost in the moment.

a dairy queen ice cream cone with crunchies. they're hard to find, a lot of dq's don't have those anymore. but there is one on my way home from work. sometimes i'm bad, and stop on the way home from work, and have one all to myself and don't tell anyone. or stop at sam's club for a churro. or sneak out to waffle house for a cheese steak sandwich. a nice, wonderfully greasy cheesesteak. it's totally bad for me. but it makes me happy.

teen angst shows/movies. i have NO idea why. i can watch 16 candles over and over. smallville? i'm there. i remember watching the first season of 90210 and thinking it was the best show ever...

riding my motorcycle after a rain. sometimes without a helmet. just the smell and cleanliness of the city. where i live in the states, there is a technology area. high-rise office buildings and the area is a ghost-town after about 8pm. one of the better rides in town in my mind.

a cold, rainy weekend day. i LOVE rolling over, looking out the window, seeing how awful it is outside, and realizing i have an excuse to do NOTHING all day, but stay in bed reading a book. and napping.

uh, napping....

there are tons of more. these are just the ones popping into my mind now. what're the little things that you can totally get lost in happiness in?