Sunday, May 31, 2009

i can walk down my old block, and not a lot can make my old knees knock

but when there's a sad storm in the desert, things that go bump in the night are creepy, just watching the dust EAT people in front of you --

highlight of my time in baghdad this far, having 'DFAC' dinner with my cousin, GREAT to see him, catch up, talk about the family, talking about the time leading up to us getting here, literally and figuratively.

fighting against being exhausted, i'm winning :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

All anyone can ever want is a co-pilot Someone to leave this town and Up and start a secret

Blogging after an EXHAUSTING day, this isn't Kansas, come to think of it, its not like anything I've remotely experienced before, that's why it's a good thing.

I sit at mental gridlock, although tons on my mind. It's hard to look towards the future at the moment, instead the general rule is to live day by day.

This morning's jog with O'Dub was nice, the weather was beautiful.

Everyone chuckles about groundhog day, but you don't really know what its like until you're living it, or in my case, as close as I'll ever come to it --

A typical routine here for you limited time off,

Sun -- Some sort of quick impromptu bbq
Mon -- Flag Football
Tues -- Volleyball
Wed -- Hang out on Patio
Thur -- Ping Pong
Fri -- Movie at 'theater'
Sat -- Some sort of fellowship

I've been the introvert here, mine has went something like get up, go to work, leave work, go to sleep, but I'm working up the energy to break it up, something like this

Sun -- Music DVD of week
Mon -- Call a loved one, tell them they're loved
Tues -- Gym
Wed -- Strum Guitar
Thur -- Hang out in hopes of good conversation
Fri -- Album of the Week
Sat -- A nice introspective meditation and subsequent blogging

Everywhere I look I see opportunity, it reminds me of what my mom always says, everywhere I look I see work. How does one 'weave' themselves in to an introverted and cliquish crowd.

The bigger the crowd, the less vested interested is in the people getting together. No matter how much one wants to give, you can't give what someone doesn't want. That's something new I think about moving forward when trying to bring people together. An oil man doesn't want to talk wind, and a hippie doesn't want to talk to a conservative, etc.

At this moment in my time in the sand, I'm apathetic to branching out, all in due time, slowly but surely. I'm having a hard time bridging the fundamental differences in why people are here, until I can figure out a common thread, its hard for me to communicate.

In times of extreme tired, the song I always go back to is 'inside of love' by nadasurf -- such a cool tune --

Thursday, May 28, 2009

last night I dreamt that I grew wings, I found a place where they could hear me when I sing

Life in Baghdad-e-o isn't all that bad, long hours, hard work, don't even know where to begin with all those.

Just walk with an authoritative walk and do you job, I guess that's the way to roll --

Teamwork is big out here, which is AWESOME -- Pile A needs to get into building, everyone assembles to help, not a 'thats not my job,' etc. Heaven forbid we take our OWN TRASH out, we clean our own area, etc.

Yesterday I started a pflight to get in not just good, not just great, but the pinnacle of my physical fitness. This means 2.5 miles a night, and 3 miles in the morning.

I also read somewhere about, you guess it, food is addicting. Chemicals can make food taste like anything these days...if you want a 'seared' (sp?) flavor, just add a few drops of this, that or the other. Luckily there is a healthy menu out here, and I've been exercising EXTREME self control. My only indulgences, ice cream on Friday night, and two near beers on Saturday, while sitting at my desk at work.

Logistics of the job, getting from point a to b, and also just logistics of living, Things are very organized, everything is, I guess they have to be. The mind is a wash, how did I get here, I belong but I don't belong feelings, but I know great things are going to become of this, I'll definitely be able to mark some things off my list.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

When the past becomes the now, When the lost becomes the found, When We Fall in Love with War, When the Angel.....

Nothing says a hard days rockin' like falling asleep while walking -- I promise to never complain about a 40 hour week again, I won't ever complain about pulling weeds in yards, It's a good hardening effect here.

Meeting all sorts of cool people, linguists, politicians, people studying Arabic, etc, etc. Always the 'dumbest one in the room' syndrome with me.

The 'MWR' facilities are the best, the work hours are the worse -- Starting to eat less, exercise more. 2 weeks down, a ways to go --

Last weekend I was in denial of where I was, totally, this weekend is a sorta bleak acceptance. In a weird sorta way I like it out here, that doesn't mean that I don't dream about my 'happy land' time in Bavaria.

I would say this constituents 'living on the fringes,' -- I'm doing 'hard stuff' now so I'll be set for the unique opportunities coming in the future.

More to come after a nights sleep, or getting used to this schedule, if that's even possible --

WIFI to SKYPE via IPHONE to people in USA --- equals the world is flat, at least for communication, however I wish were had artery style bandwidth instead of a skinny vein.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Because my inside is outside My right side's on the left side

Tonight broadcasting from 'the fish bowl,' the original and only bordello in the palace complex area. Disorientation continues, eyes hurt terribly bad today, burnout has came and went. A few more iterations and I'll be used to this.

The 'hula girls' from Hawaii were here tonight providing entertainment including song like 'Imagine' Hawaii hula girl style. Airman G says, 'this is great entertainment, just look at everyone out here having a good time.'

This made me consider how critical I am of life in general, and how advanced our society is as to be able to give criticism on such a granular level, i.e. 'he didn't sound that G chord out right', or the show was great, but the theatrics were just 'ok', etc.

How is this going to play out? Regardless of if we leave tomorrow, a month, a year, ten years, or 100 years from now?

-- The Iraqi 'bill of rights' says it best and I paraphrase, 'Anything that goes against the Quran is strictly prohibited.'

The 'marketing' over the loud speakers two or three times a day, and what 'academia' in the middle east teaches will keep it same as it ever was.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Christ could walk on water we can wade through the war You don't need to tell me who the fire is for

4 am venture to the loo's this morning reveals the moon / star that's present on the flag of Islam, man and his symbols.

It's safe to say that 'things' move 3-4 times quicker here than back home, strip the frivolous politics from you day to day work environment and you get what you have here, you need it, you got it. No pet rocks in the building, a great caliber of people all around.

What have I been doing to stave off insanity and attempt to create rhythm? Trying very hard to create a routine. Never thought I'd be happy to say 'I'm glad its Monday, but I am, for its when America lights up, around 4pm here, the people, the markets, the list serves.

I've found a nice walkabout around a lake, inside its about 60 degrees with the computers, outside its 100 plus. I do plan on making 5pm or so 'calling time' to family back home, and 5am calling time for friends back home. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, tea run at the barista 9pm, PX run to look at the same ol' crusty stuff in the afternoon, 'Blackhawk Mall' on Saturday.

There are other options I'm looking at too, all in all, I would say enough to keep busy for the tour here.

Speaking of tours, also plenty time to start planning my world tour 2010. Starting in Iceland, so far the cities are..

St Petersburg
Tel Aviv
Hong Kong
Ho Chi Minh
Buenos Aires

Dept of Defense Banter for the day: 'People often consider if their lives have made a difference, Marines don't have that problem.' --- My hat goes off to these folks, I'd say they have the hardest job in modern day warfare.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

And I'll dance with you in Vienna I'll be wearing a river's disguise

I recall the gently rolling hills / mountains in Austria, and when I see them again I feel 'my heart will search no more.' Same thing with a lot of other aspects of life. Nothing like a war zone, long hours and a desert sun to put life into perspective.

Over here, ever yard is like the last 10 yards, like the 4th quarter, like the player playing with a cramp, like the Nascar with an engine that's missing a beat.

Catch Penny is here in a few days, and although I don't know them, I have the utmost respect for them already. I used to think the whole 'support our troops' was a bunch of rhetoric, and never gave it meaning outside of my kin folk, especially nephew Alex, now it takes on a whole new meaning. Reading through some of the jargon on that website really got to me, in the future I will almost always frame from a human standpoint and not one of ideology.

To me, the meaning of the whole 'why are WE (i.e. we who are actually here) isn't a political answer, it has to do with the execution of a task, the powers that be in a freely elected democrazy pull the make it happen card, and you got a lot of smart, dedicated, courageous people trying to scrap it out.

It ain't easy, it ain't glamorous.

What defines success? As my buddy said, USA and Iraq have a different measuring stick, what we see is failure could be seen as progress on their front. Often people have used the words 'foreigner' (not in terms of the band), but to describe people that aren't like them. In this land we are those foreigners, and it's painfully obvious every step you take.

Friday, May 15, 2009

i'd a danced like the queen of the eyesores And the rest of our lives would 'a fared well

groundhog day, really sank in to me tonight, that i won't have a free weekend for 6 months or so. putting it bluntly, it kinda sucks -- 12 hours a day 7 days a week are just words until you're actually there. the difference b/w this and a silicon valley startup is 12 hours of work doesn't mean mixed in with facebook, twitter, iphone, sushi and checking out the latest trends. it means work, sleep and a couple hundred yards of wiggle room. its tough on the mind, body and spirit, everyone here goes through it.

tired as an old diva is the state of mind, when i'm tired i mispell words all over the place -- layer one of societal paint was removed tonight, knowing that tomorrow is work, sunday is work, and the week starts all over again.

a strange and wonderful perspective is kicking in, a few weeks downs the road i'll have better definition, but where I'm at and why I'm here is a good thing that will only help me down the road. right now, not a lot of doubt, but like tenacious d would say, 'the road is f*ckin hard.'

absence will make the heart grow fonder: of the people in my life, the concerts i go to, the buffalo wings i scarf down, of the hot shower, or a quiet nights sleep.

i'm going to come back smarter, damn a lot smarter -- self enrichment at the cost of isolation in many ways, kinda like the count of monte cristo getting his learn on in prison.

the food is still damn good, but very impersonal, the best thing about mammas home cookin' is mamma.

the laundry service, STELLAR

the green beans coffee, TO BE DESIRED, the 4 shot expresso, PRETTY GOOD

the palace, DIRTY

the air, STINKY and sometimes SMOKEY

the people, still GREAT

did I mention a PESTERING HEAT?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

hand out, faces that he sees time again aint that familiar

its a clash of civilizations, on one side you have players who see nothing but a finite game, played to win or to lose. on the other side, half play the same finite game, the other half play an infinite game, a game where winning is to have the factions play again.

such polarizations seem to never turn out well, so you get what we have here, helicopters choppin on the right, muslim prayer over loud speaker to the left. question is how many people on either side believe that there is something worth sacrificing for an ambiguously defined objectives on either side? how do you fight apathy, i think we have a hard time fighting it at home --

-- the smell of smoke in the air
-- the gap in between the lakes of the palaces, and the drought caused by this in the south
-- the setup here, i mean, wow

what pokes its head up from the ashes is what you have here, some are curious, some are profiteers, some are adventure seekers, some are marksmen, for most, it's their job.

somewhere in between all of this is a ripple that i have a hard time framing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The daughter of the biggest big town banker He kept her like a princess I stole her like the Fort Knox gold

More bullet points until cohesive though can sink in --
  • I haven't seen bigotry here, people, political, religious, etc -- the caricature I saw of the war fighter or those that support it has always taken a 'conservative' stance, I see the question framed differently here. The ant nest has been kicked, now you have the ants rebuilding the mound, In a way, I boil down the critical success factor in this endeavor as 'do the people of iraq want it enough,' then I think, that's not a fair way to frame the question, which brings, 'can these people handle what we are trying to give them,' that's the question. 21st century advanced citizenship with secularism is much more different than a 12th century theocracy. I see the disparity big time here
  • Rollin' to the loo at night 100 yards after sleeping isn't fun at all, you can't go to sleep afterward, and I refuse to resort the 'the bottle' in the least as my mind stands now.
  • Here its Spain hot and sunny, but add dust and dirt on top
  • I'm finding much of my 'desert attire' that I brought with me isn't working very well. blisters on my feet, sunburn on the tops of my ears, taking less showers than 'i should', and fighting overdrinking / underdrinking water, all part of the equation -- i have to adjust, and change the way i percieve this life in general. for the next year i have to figure out how to 'become one' with my surroundings
  • the chow halls here are like pinocco island of food, first day i had veal, then prime rib, the sausage gumbo, all grade A stuff, probably the caliber of what you'd get at a 5 star hotel back home.
  • I know I'm going to come back to the states and see inefficiency and stuff taken for granted everywhere, from water in the showers and bathrooms, proximity and availability of stores, laundry, etc, etc -- its very efficient here, perhaps because of the abundance of money thrown at the problem
  • the enlisted folks as well as the contractors are some of the best people i've seen at the table for a meeting -- same tired debates, but lots of creativity and though thrown into the equation, not a lot of 'brainstorming' goes on here, just pragmatism and decision making, and quick turnarounds.
  • last night, two senior enlisted guys were outside the palace, playing covers of songs like pearl jam and weezer, this debunks the notion that all people here are kid rock toby keith loving war mongering rednecks
  • fundamentalism and sensational here are shokingly absent (except for the morter lobbers outside the camps). when bad news hits about a soldier taking the lives of 4 buddies then himself, the news back home has it on for days, taking a deep dive, here's there is empathy for the victims, and for each other, and mental support, at times its not plesant, but everyone's in it together here, and I'm finding that to be a strong bond
  • eating, sleeping, working, exercising with the same crew all the time, something good has to become of it, never had to do it, i'll be blogging about it as it goes on --
  • the crowd here is transient. just so happens the group i sat with at the dinner table last night, two captains, two contractors, will all be gone in 3 months, and new faces will be there. i'll have seniority on systems that i barely even know how to spell yet.
  • on a 'down day' i'll walk at least 3 miles, some days i've been walking 5+, the body doesn't really per se sweat, but i can tell its taking a toll. trying desperatly to find sunglasses that look right on a fat head, so i don't come back to the states all squinty.
  • lots of thoughts floating around, the uncertainty is sorta gone, but the funamentals of a routine haven't sank in yet, i'm told when it gets much hotter we can work through the night and sleep durning the day.

3.33 am, still can't adjust to the sleep patterns, I'm going to crash and burn this afternoon --

Special shout out to Praveen, the barista at Green Beans coffee hear, thanks for the twice a day quad shot Americano

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

and when you're lookin' for your freedom, nobody seems to care, and you can't find the door, no you can't find it anywhere

day in the life --

-- 4 am wake up, pushups, lots of them, leg lifts, lots of them
-- out the door by 5, breakfast at 5.20
-- watch mavs for 30 minutes in chow hall at breakfast
-- work at six
-- tinker around with environmentals for a few hours
-- 10 oclock meeting
-- 10.45 tea with the british multinationals
--11.15 spam america with email
--11.45 chow hall run
-- 12.15 hooked to the plow
--3 pm - 20 minute nap
-- work till 7.30pm
-- chow with team
-- go home 20 minute nap
-- volleyball at 9pm
-- 10 back at home
-- clean up get all the logistical stuff ready for next day
-- shower
-- do mini version of browsing what i used to (back down to the basics)
-- my kingdom for bandwidth
-- 20 minute call to mom in the state @ 3 bucks a minute
-- hit the sack
-- do it all over again, except that time between 8-10, that will change up a little everyday

Monday, May 11, 2009

Down in the valley a choice has been made a new reputation, it sleeps in your bed like you said: it never was better than how it was

4 hours sleep first night, tonight almost 5, things are getting to 'normal'

-- work is good
-- chow is amazing
-- intangibles surreal

The camaraderie is something I've never quite experienced, I know I'm going to come out of this with some lifelong friends.

-- The dust is brutal, everything is dirty
-- You see the best and the worst of the human spirit here
-- You see many people grinding it out

You have to bring integrity and responsibilty to an endeavor like this, because it's not going to find you here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Every day I wake up and it's Sunday Whatever's in my head won't go away

In the last 24 hours, Tampa to DC to Kuwait to Baghdad.
  • Gryphon Air I was nervous about, but turned into being a really 'nice' flight to Baghdad
  • Met 3 people enroute, one medic heading south, one security guard heading south Baghdad, and one teacher who is working to integrate people and teach them modern stuff
  • My room is small, spartan but enough to suffice and keep it all good for a while, my roommate is an older gentlemen from Korea that's very friendly
  • The surroundings are beautiful / surreal
  • It's dusty and dirty
  • Saw a Becks beer bottle, after closer look, non-alcoholic of course
  • I've already been signed up for a dodge ball tourney next Sunday
  • There seems to be plenty for moral
  • 3 of my coworkers picked me up at the 'airport'
  • Throughout the night I'm hearing sounds that I've never heard before, planes, etc, etc
  • flying over the 'outskirts' of Kuwait City reminds me of Tatooine, the other parts of the city look very modern and exciting. Flying over Baghdad things look very impoverished.
  • The smell isn't all that great
All in all, ready for the 'new adventure,' feeling strangely fine.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Birds beneath my window dustying their wings upon the lawn I hear them in the morning light giving last amen to a migratory song

Last post from the US of A for a while, heading to partake in a risk / reward scenario overseas. What to bring, a good attitude at the least.

With a belly somewhat unsettled and an open mind, I can see a decoupling of societal constructs, it'll only do me well.

The mind always imagines things worse than it actually is, here's the worst of my imagination shining through
  1. Having a sloppy / snoring roommate
  2. Eating bugs for dinner
  3. getting shot at or riding helicopters
  4. not 'fitting in'
  5. getting hooked to the plow and working your butt off relentlessly
  6. living 'groundhog day' over and over
  7. 750 yards of roaming space
What DO you do when you have to live groundhog day..., the non Hollywood and glamorous version. Well, you can electrocute yourself, jump in front of a train, or retreat to the room in silence.

OR, you can take the experience life has given you and choose to enjoy that experience. You can build / morph true feelings, true experience, bonding and reverence. You can make it a time to leave the distractions behind and see what really lies in the core.

I'll be blogging more, I'll have more time to think, I want to catch a rhythm, I want to make it good.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Out on the Desert and I'm Feelin' Lost, The Bonnet Wears a Wire Albatross, Monster Ballads and the Stations of the Cross

Today begins a new journey, or as Monty Pyton would say, 'and now for something completely different.' I've always talked about perspective, but find myself staying in my mental 'safe' zone.

The more you look, the more you realize the facts are so far removed from our 'civilized' and advanced societies that everything is abstact, everything is personality and emotion based, and things seldom appear to be as they seem.

I think of 'the core' of your soul as the ball, and society has washed layers apon layers of 'crap' on you, new adventures, perspective, SELF-enrichment and a sky full of stars in a open desert will wash away these layers, leaving the core visible, malleable, discoverable, approachable.

The journey of self discovery starts with a step, for years to come, drunken steps, back and forth, 5 - 10 years from now I'll have the walk of life down to a T, with a balance of perspective.

State of mind is an open book and a blank page.