Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pointless counting exercise

Once again, I am guilty of failure to update in a timely manner. But this time, it's not wholly my fault. You see, the internet/phone center has been moved to the other side of the base, and there was a bit of a gap between when the old one went down and the new one came up. So....apologies.

In other news, my war is over. I am standing a 30-day gate guard post from 2200 - 0600. It is, to be blunt, heaven. I "work" during the cool(er) night hours and sleep with A/C when it's hot outside. The next time I leave the wire will be to come home. The thought of leaving here brings to mind the first thing my father said over the phone to me when I got back the last time: "Thank....fucking.....god."


To celebrate, I was going to put together a top-ten list of things I will never do again. Anne wanted a top-ten list of things I was going to do when I got back. I liked my idea better. Anne gave me the steely-eyed "Honey Do" gaze from across two continents and an ocean. We're gonna meet halfway. Two top five lists of each of the abovementioned categories. So without further ado....

Top Five Things I Will Never Suffer Again:

#5 For the past seven months my eyes have been watering from the godawful smell of pert plus and sulfur intermingled. No more "eau de eww" flavored showers. No more showers with water that smells like sulfur.

#4 "Jeepers, what will I wear today? Maybe I'll wear something that really shows off my ass like the desert camoflage. Then again, I could wear something a little more conservative, such as desert camoflage. And let's not forget my newest outfit: Desert camoflage. You know, I just can't decide. No more utility uniform.

#3 "Hay guys, guys...I have a great idea. Let's all go and get in a great big line, okay? And then we'll walk about a hundred yards that way. Then we'll all turn around and come back, right? And the whole time, we'll pick up every single piece of garbage we can find. It's gonna be a lot of fun, seriously. In fact, let's just cancel everything else we had planned for the afternoon and knock ourselves out. No more police calls.

#2 I think my favorite thing about this country is the majestic, rolling hills of dirt. I really like how it turns into boggy mud when it rains, and moon dust when it's hot. Because that way it's impossible for me to find any comfort. Oh, and the cooling breezes. Yes sir, the refreshing "blast furnace" wind really helps keep the sweat out of your eyes. And the way you can just feel the grit in your teeth as you go through your day... I really feel like I'm a part of this place. No, really. It's taking over my goddamn body. No more dust.

#1 "Well hello there, my good fellow. I see that you have at least four years of formalized education from an accredited university. Allow me to offer my services for anything you may require. Would you like to inspect my weapon and/or uniform? Is my haircut within acceptable standards? I see you have a foolish and time-wasting endeavor in the formulative stages. Perhaps I could help by going somewhere far away to deliver a message with all my gear on in the heat of the afternoon? Splendid. I would hate for you to use any valuable petrol driving yourself to your destination. Good day, sir! No more officers.

Top Five List of Things I Will Be Doing Soon:

#5 Paying full-market value for goods. In a land of .99 Red bulls, $5.00 DVDs and free electricity, I will soon be paying for things at a regular price again. It's a shame, because I've gotten to really like the idea of living on less than a hundred dollars a month.

#4 Alcohol. It's not a huge deal, really, but I find that I truly miss that first sip of a cold beer at the end of a long day. Very soon, the magic goodness of Black Butte Porter will be working it's way through my liver.

#3 Not executing pets. Words can barely express my exitement about not having to turn any future pets I may own over to the police for execution. The "Animals have disease!" scare out here has just been ridiculous.

#2 Not doing a goddamn thing. "Look busy, everybody look busy so we don't get yelled at!" I can't wait to intentionally sit on my ass in full view the general public. No more scrambling to get back to the shop by 1300. No more getting up early for a few days at least.

#1 Try and use your imagination on this one. 25 year old guy coming out of the desert for the better half of the year. Yeah, this is a real toughie. If you haven't figured it out yet, move your mouse arrow to the upper right hand corner. See the X? Click it.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Boredom: Jet fuel for the fun rocket.

If you have been consumed with fear that something might happen to me out here, fear not. I have been taken OFF road repair and put ON interior guard. What that means is, the next time I leave the wire of Al-Asad, it will be to get on a bird.

Another upside is that I now have a set schedule. 0600 - 1400 is guard duty. The rest of the time is my own. Unfortunatley, that time is spent in one spot. With a flak jacket on. Eight hours is a long time when you're standing around, waving in vehicles. Once again, boredom forces me to seek out new avenues of adventure and excitement.

Today, I fed birds. You could have easily mistaken me for the crazy bird lady at the park, except I was sweating a lot more than she usually does. Also, instead of throwing them some tasty bread, they were getting sodium-laden potato chips and delicious oreo cookies.

At first, the birds were like...um....birds. Keeping their distance, hopping around, you know. Acting bird-like. But gradually, the sweet, sweet goodness of soft creme filling between two chocolate cookies brought them closer to me. Soon, they were eating cookies from less than two feet away. Not a big accomplishment, really. Unless of course, you're in Iraq. Then it's hot, hot betting action with the black Corporal on guard with me. The betting on how close I could get birds to come was my idea. His contribution to interracial friendship was asking me if I thought OJ was guilty. No goddamn way I was touching that one.

Stay tuned, as I continue to charm my feathered friends and mold friendships by way of cheap processed food.