18 June 2008

Observations on Coming Back From Iraq

Now that I'm no longer living in the stone age without internet, we can now return to the regularly scheduled blogging. Traveling out of theater is a nightmare for most. Endless waiting around in tents at Camp Victory and Kuwait. No one knows what the hell to do with you when you're in the Navy, and plane flights are always delayed for some reason or another. The term "lowest bidder" for these lucrative government contracts to ferry troops between the U.S. and the Middle East takes on a bit of sardonic irony as you wait around for days like an asshole. But somehow we all made it out. Of course I was sans luggage since it got lost in customs at Dulles, but they found it out and it's being shipped. No fanfare for the Navy IAs when we got back to the states, which is probably for the best, since I hate shit like that. Military wives and their smelly kids holding up signs proclaiming how happy they are that they're "hero" is back. Blegh! Save that shit for the rubes. We were just happy to be normal, alcohol-drinkin' people again without all the extraneous "hooah", and we didn't have to run for concrete bunkers every time an explosion went off in the distance. Although, it wasn't all monotony, incompetence, and me bitchin' up a storm. Sometimes in life, the cosmos of awesomeness collide and a great moment happens. Man walking on the moon, Isaac Newton discovering gravity, and me winning four-suited spider solitaire while listening to Madonna and then Rush. Proof is below.

The Final Fantasy-themed MP3 player and the Star-Trek themed background may cause you to be judgmental to my character. If you envision me as some sex-starved loser, you would be absolutely correct.

After hanging out with the fam, I made my way out West. Driving cross country is always peaceful and relatively uneventful, which is just what I was looking for. Here are some observations on America from a guy who's been overseas for a year:

  • Did people get fatter while I was gone: An obese woman almost ran over my foot today on a Rascal while I was purchasing Q-tips and a wireless router at Wal-Mart. This is absurd. I'm not a "public health" advocate and I would never call upon our government to fix the problem via compassionate Stalinism, but I recommend a public smoking campaign. This would get everyone thinner and help our heroic tobacco companies reach new profits.
  • Why does music still suck so bad: Poor economies are supposed to bring about new cultural paradigms of rockin' out. The malaise-ridden 70s saw the birth of both Punk and Metal. Listening to the radio while driving cross-country, all I heard was Jack Johnson knock-offs, dudes who were too wussy to be in The Killers, and a bunch of people singing about the glory of God. I have nothing against JC, but there's something wrong when bands in their twenties are singing about not having premarital sex and how cool it is to be sober. Zzzzz.
  • Floods in the Midwest: I drove down I-90 most of the way, and there were huge expanses of farmland underwater with destroyed crops. I saw lots of cattle wading through these makeshift ponds like it was something out of Revelations. That's not good. We kind of need food, to like, you know, not have a country-wide famine and die. Here's an article about FEMA in South Dakota (which I drove through, but it sounds worse in Iowa). I'll refrain from smartass comments about bureauweenie incompetence, since I believe humanitarian relief is a legitimate application of our government.
  • Jericho Season 2 is out, sweet: I just ordered it, but there' s only 7 episodes. Damn writers' strike.
  • Nothin' about Iraq: The only time Iraq came up in conversation or on the news outside of family is when I talked with a WWII vet at a Perkins in Billings, Montana. It's almost like nothing is going on over there. While there will be no ticker-tape "V-E Day" due to the nature of conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan, ignorance of our policy is a threat to democracy. This is a very dangerous trend as Americans are carrying on while their fellow countrymen continue to die over there. I'll continue to try and seek out the news and highlight it in an easy to read manner on this lousy blog in a humble attempt to correct this disturbing reality. Of course we have it better than the Vietnam vets did when they came back. At least no one threw dog shit at us (as far as I know).
  • I always need to be doing things to keep my mind preoccupied: A lot of other vets have talked about how they have to be busy at all times when they get back. I know what they mean. I've already vacuumed the place up like 4 times as if I was spun out of my head on meth. Good thing I've got the internet up and running, or else I'd be fighting off the demons of boredom.
Some of you asked what it's like to be back, so hopefully this self-obsessed post helps you understand a little better. Of course this wasn't my first deployment, I have no wife/girlfriend, and I was a POG, so take it FWIW, as experiences may be different from one guy/gal to the other. Thanks for all your comments and suggestions to prevent me from going batshit while I was in-country, and I'll be keeping up a regular regiment of posting.