Love Letter To Natalie Portman

Dearest Natalie,

How are you? I'm fine, thanks. Sure isn't the same here without you. But I'm keeping my head up. I received a loofa in the mail (thank you very much, you know who you are), and I think it will work nicely with the Axe bodywash that you probably love.

Let me just say that I'm not normally the jealous type, but I saw Revenge of the Sith, and I'm going to kill Anakin Skywalker. No one messes with my Natalie and gets away with it.

While racing across the broken roads scattered with debris, I mentally compiled a Things Me And Natalie Can Do list. It goes as follows. Ahem.

-Take up scrapbooking, whilst laying on our stomachs, kicking our feet in the air and giggling the hours away. Omg I loooove polaroids.

-The Dandelion Test. If it turns your chin yellow, it means you sure do love butter! =)

That's all I have so far, my train of thought was broken when I weaved through a tight Iraqi checkpoint. Actually, I knocked the roof of it off, but whatever, it was just some metal sheet that they'll set on there again. Anyway, aside from Bed Bath and Beyond, and Parade Magazine, I'm tapped for ideas.

Also, sorry for not looking you up on myspace, I've been busy lately, I swear I'm not blowing you off. I should go shower and pretty myself up though, so I'll talk to you later. Don't forget to write back.

The Usual Suspect

The Post That Killed The Fanbase

[EDIT: Guess ya had to be there.]


De-Floured In The Purgatorium

What does it sound like when one's "cherry" is "popped" in Iraq? Does the mind scream "No, no," while the body urges, "Yes, yes"? Hahahaha, no. No, it sounds more like this.

"Suspect! Wake up. Get your gear and be at the motor pool by [Oh-Dark-What-The-Hell O'Clock]."

Of course, there's lots of sitting around, and who knows what time we finally rolled out on. Doesn't matter, not essential to the story.

I've never been out of the wire before. I'm driving. Can't have your cake and eat it too I guess. We start our exodus from the FOB. Empty highways that once were probably really busy, now it all belongs to us, road warriors in big green caged monsters. Palm trees, green bushes and brushes along with the sand. There's actually something to look at. The green stands out so much, and its welcomed by me, that's for damn sure.

The entire time, I scan the road, the sides, everything, looking for something out of place, so that we don't get blown sky high. But everything looks out of place. Trash everywhere. Chunks of concrete. Rubble. More trash. Cars on the side of the road. I wonder absent mindedly if its going to explode as we pass. One minute its a clear road in front of me, the next its cracked periscope lenses and black smoke everywhere.

It doesn't explode. Groovy.

I flip a switch next to me to cut out the company's radio chatter. I only need to listen to the vehicle commander anyway. Beige buildings off to my left and right, flat tops, balconies, I'm half expecting rugs to be hung from everywhere.

There are kids here and there along the side of the road. Adults too. You're in the Raq, dude. Stray dogs. They look like normal dogs for the most part. Mutts, anyway. Not one purebred in this whole country I don't think. But some of them even have ALL FOUR of their legs. Some don't even have permanent limps, because they haven't been hit by enough cars yet.

People glancing, people staring, little kids waving from the sides of the street. There's trash everywhere, its not third world, but definitely second world. Someone described it as the worst ghetto they've ever seen, with exponentially more degradation.

Iraqis are astonishingly skilled drivers. They can weave and dodge obstacles like you wouldn't believe. When traffic isn't suiting them, they'll cross the median and drive along the wrong side of the road, weaving through, with barely any space. And no one so much as flinches. Its like at every second, they know exactly where every inch of that car is and how much space they have before they hit an obstruction.

We arrive at our destination and I watch ahead of me through my periscopes. Little kids everywhere. That's a good sign I think. People coming, people going, and we're just chilling. Little kids wrestling in the street. They're always in the street. And they're everywhere. They come out of the woodwork. Every family must have its own litter or something. Birth control? What the hell is that?

One kid grapples with another and slams him to the pavement. We don't dare give them anything, because then they'll swarm us. They'd never get away from the vehicle. And no one wants to accidentally run over a kid.

"So what happened on the mission, what was it about?"

Shh. OPSEC. Hahaha. I'll tell you what I can some other time. Pretty worn out now. But let me tell ya, you probably won't hear anything about it, because only good things came from it.

There's always more to say, more to write, but not tonight. Sorry one and all, tired. So damn tired. Tomorrow is another day, and who knows what it'll consist of. For now, whatever: Mission One is taken care of.

Happy Trails.


Call Girl

Relax, relax, its just another escort joke.

Same deal again, equally if not more awesome today. The dude I rolled out with spoke English REALLY well. Really smart guy, hilarious, and very wise too. As you all can probably guess, it didn't take long for me to start bullshitting with him. Heard stories of him being a guide in the desert, the REAL desert, and teaching a lesson this dude who wouldn't listen to his advice. Best not to describe this guy too much though. Last thing we want is for any of these guys to be targeted just because they're raking in the cheddar helping us out.

My day consisted of cappucino, Burger King, and chilling. I ate lunch with a group of the workers. They laid out a tarp and everyone sat in a circle and munched on The King's finest foodstuffs. It really is a laid back gig.

I also talked to him a little about the situation here, about the cultural differences, the Sunni-Shia deal. He did a pretty good job putting a few things in perspective. Most of these different peoples can get along just fine, they'll sit and have tea and whatnot, and be civil, but they generally won't forge deeper friendships because their ways are so different. Its just how it is. We compared it to America, especially our history. We both agreed that its perfectly ok for these different groups of people to not all be the best of friends. We also agreed that setting off bombs really wasn't a very good way of taking care of problems. Without rambling, let me just say he's a hell of a guy.

Past couple of days its rained with lightning. I don't mind the rain out here at all, its totally kosher with me. Its just when the rain hits all the dirt and turns it into mud. That shit sticks and clings to your boots, and soon you're carrying ten pounds of mud and gravel on your boots. But before it rained, you couldn't even really see the sky. It was like there was a huge orange curtain over the world. Way rad. Then the downpour hits and you're soaked within two minutes.


The Escort

No no, not the type of escort you're thinking. Come on, we could never be that lucky.

I was put on the same detail as yesterday except this time around, there was actual work for me. I escorted Iraqis who were working on the FOB from place to place. It wasn't too bad at all actually. They were all very polite. One guy gave me a pack of cigarettes, they were made in Korea or some place. The label said something about "American taste" which made me laugh. Maybe I'm the only one who for whatever reason doesn't taste the smoke.

By the way, I would like to mention that these guys have balls of steel, I swear. I lost count of the multitude of close calls I saw today. I thought for sure someone was going to be injured, consequently in dire need of my superhuman CLS powers.

Forklift + gigantic tire + tire falling off of forklift right in front of one of the workers = holy freakin crap, that was close. To keep it short, let me just reiterate that I saw plenty of close calls. Didn't phaze the guys though.

One of the workers I spent the most time chilling with was 17 years old and probably spoke the best English out of the ones I talked to. We chewed the fat about quite a few things. Who his wife is going to be. He asked if I was married (several of the workers asked me that actually). I asked him a few questions about public opinion of us being there and a few other FOX News type questions. He calls the NCOs "the bosses" and recounted tales of one in specific making one of the soldiers do pushups and flutterkicks. He said it was "no good." Hahaha, I'm telling ya, this cat rocks.

Pork is good for us. No good for them.
Hashish is good for them. No good for us. I think we drew the shortest straw there.

He seemed to like soldiers pretty well though, which in my humble opinion, is good. He wasn't a fan of Saddam, Uday, or Qusay, which is also a good sign. I asked if the fighting is worse now than it was before, and yes of course, this place is more dangerous with us involved. He didn't really think things would ever get a whole lot better though.

I dared to bring up the Sunni-Shia conflict and he said that it was also no good. Pretty level headed guy if you ask me. He's glad we're here. I asked if he ever gets worried about being targeted since he helps Americans. He said yeah, but he still seemed calm enough. Pretty optimistic for the most part. It was like he pretty much just makes the best of what life gives him. I dig that.

All in all, it was nothing like people said it would be (this detail). I never once had to worry about anyone stealing or doing any shady shit. Just proves that you have to take everything people say with a fat grain of salt. I guess even us "good guys" can be wrong huh?

He hooked me up with a knit bracelet, and I accepted, but still insisted on giving him a dollar for it. I'm not normally a big bracelet guy, but how many people can say they got something for kicking it on a not so hot day with a laid back Iraqi?

I'd definitely like to see this place calm down a lot more.


Vehement Venting

There's no point in bitching to your friends because everyone just wants to one-up each other and piss their self-pity on the rest of the gang, and the whole collective conversation makes for a nice big No One Gives A Shit stew.

So for the next ten minutes, this keyboard and this blog are my personal punching bag.

The AC went out again. Didn't even take five minutes before the whole damn tent turned into an oven. Its cooler out in the sunlight than in there. The mosquitos know no fear around here. I still haven't even left the FOB. I'm like the only one. To everyone else, it seems that I don't do shit. Personally, I'd love that. But alas, my days consist of me being in random motor pools, babysitting a Stryker that has more problems than Lindsay Lohan. For a description of the heat and all that repetitive blabber, refer to the Best Freakin Blogger Ever Award winning post "Ball Sweat".

Today I was on another lame-ass detail. "I have an idea! Take that eleven charlie loser that got screwed into being a driver, and have him babysit Iraqi nationals while they work on the FOB!" We weren't needed, so we were able to split, thank the sweet heavens. The whole purpose for babysitting these guys is to make sure they don't steal anything. That's all I ever hear about, is these people stealing.

"Yeah dude, when we were out the other day, we had to watch the IAs (Iraqi Army dudes), otherwise they steal shit right out of people's houses. We had to pull one off of a civilian, he just started beating the piss out of him."

Wow, lots of hope for this fucking country. Yeah, we're just going to "repair" thousands and thousands of years of ingrained culture. Whenever we DO leave, and the spineless lie-spewing fuckwits at the news stations orally ejaculate cute phrases like "another Vietnam" and allude to our cowardly retreat, this place won't change a bit. What the hell are we even trying to salvage?

If there WERE WMDs, doesn't look like there are any now. Don't tell me its about oil either. You telling me the US doesn't produce enough, along with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia? PLENTY of oil.

Or is it for the benefit of big business? Kellogg, Brown, and Root or whatever the hell KBR is supposed to stand for? I've heard people calling it Keep Bush Rich. Cute.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to whine and cry over here, I just don't see exactly what we're trying to save. "Fight for the people who can't fight for themselves"? Ok, what about all the OTHER countries full of oppressed people? Are we not qualified to provide them aid? No Allen Qaidas?

Circle jerk.


Ball Sweat

What to say about this one. Its getting hot, still getting hotter, the same rubber chicken dance over and over again. Repeating myself. Hot. And hot. And hot. Slightly rainy, humid, muggy and hot. Hot and sunny. Hot and boring. Hot and mosquitos. Hot and hot. Hot and the AC went out. Hot and its cooler in the sun than it is inside the Stryker. Hot and its midnight.

Hot and they remind us about OPSEC. Hot and you have to peel your pants off your legs to get intimate with the john. Hot and you cool off by working out in the gym. Hot and the same sweaty faces swim past you on the way to the chow hall. Hot and I still haven't left the wire. Hot and everyone back home is terrified.

Hot but thank you for the copy of Rolling Stone.

Hot and I can't tell you. Hot and do me a favor and don't worry. Hot but don't watch the news or read the paper. Hot, yeah, but please, no more questions that you know I won't want to answer. Hot and come on, no more questions that I CAN'T answer. Hot and I'm addicted to "24". Hot but the AC in this room is so nice that I don't feel like walking back to the tent, but I actually have some off time and I gotta see Jack Bauer kick some more ass.

Hot and fifteen minutes after I shower, my face feels oily again. Hot and god protect innocent bystanders on the distant day where I let my libido and thirst for cheap drinks take over for a night of unwarranted chaos and an all-around breach in personal discipline.

Hot and there's too much I can't say but hopefully you can bear with me anyway and trust me when I say that I'm still doing great thus far. Hot and I'm gonna go have me a Slim Jim or ten.




Simmer, Boys

The powers that be sat in their cloud hammocks, digesting holy grapes, dismissing scantily clad virgins who at the time were fanning them with gigantic palm fronds, and quickly hatched a clever scheme.

"Say there, why don't we have our little minions don all of their gear and walk around for an hour and a half or so in 105 degree weather?"

"Mmmyes, marvelous!"

A thunderclap later, we were outside. Full kit. Drink water, girls. The purpose was to demonstrate that we really want to drink water, so that when we one day roll out of the gate (assuming that there really IS an Iraq and I really DID take the red pill), we will be able to withstand the horrid heat and blasphemous amounts of constrictive gear that will magically save us all from exploding pintos and ninjas with throwing stars and whatever else lurks around every corner.

Wasn't too bad.

Oh my, where has my sense of chronology gone? Earlier in the day, we took a couple strykers out for a little drive around the FOB for one reason or another. So we fueled the big green monsters up and wandered seemingly aimlessly around until we were good and hungry.

"That's more amazing than the miracle of drying paint. What did you see?"

Well I'm glad you asked. There were very narrow roads, foolishly narrow, logic-defyingly narrow roads. Perfect for accomodating a monstrously large combat vehicle with a big ugly birdcage jutting out several feet in all directions. I would say that the city planner should be shot, but knowing this country, its probably already happened long ago.

Along these narrow roads were palm-type trees. Groovy. Little shrubbery and vegetation here and there and some actually bits of flora that could pass as flowers. There was also a beautifully disgusting lake most likely filled with the type of sludge that would probably preclude you from ever coming back into the United States, should the fetid water ever touch your skin.

The sky looked the way it always does around here. Blue, mainly up top. The horizon is always a sandy haze, and it goes up for quite a bit until it fades into almost clear sky. The scope that the haze encompasses sort of reminds me of playing with a colander when I was young and equally stupid. Don't worry, I don't expect that one to make much sense.

Black Hawks flew overhead, all of this painting a lovely picture, irrefutable evidence that I am deployed to another planet. And all of this spectacle coming together, well it couldn't possible mean...

Why yes it does. Yes it does indeed. We drove alongside a palace. Nothing too huge, but pretty damn spiffy, with all the traditional Middle Eastern design. Same color as the sand. This world would be so monochromatic without us here. I guess that's what this war is about. Stirring up the color scheme to make this place more aesthetically pleasing. A fine reason if you ask me.

That aside, as we drove down these roads that were tighter than a politician's sphincter, cars would pull over as far past the curb as they could without mashing into tropical trees and we'd eek our way past them.

At one point, we were crossing this little bridge, and someone in the oncoming lane feels that they too should cross this particular bridge at this juncture in time. Thanks, guy. Both of us are crawling, hugging the curbs. There's inches between us, if that. On my right is a speed limit sign. My vehicle commander is frantically issuing conflicting orders, "Go, stop, right, left, FUCK!"

The sign snags on the cage armor that makes our vehicles such a lovely sight to behold. It twists the top sideways, and we creep along. It snags again on another part of the cage. My VC finally decides that there is nothing we can do, and must push on so as not to hold up traffic any worse. So I commence driving.

From what they told me, the sign, the pole, and a chunk of concrete were all ripped out of the ground. Good. Fuck you, sign. Stay out of our way. We informed our next chain of command about it, so whatever, its out of my hands.

I almost hope someone really important reads this and yanks my license. Hahahaha.

EDIT: So there we were, eating dinner in the chow hall. Ten minutes goes by and I'm staring at my friend across the table from me with the evil eye, which makes him slightly uncomfortable and susceptible to small bouts of awkward laughter, when a loud BANG! echoes through the DFAC (Dining Facility).

EVERYONE is instantly silent, all looking in the same direction the noise came from. A thousand reflexes. For those of you familiar with the Metal Gear Solid games, where the ! appears above the head of an alerted enemy, it was pretty much that on a mass scale.

A balloon popped. Happy Cinco De Mayo.



Its still nowhere as hot as its going to get, and I've noticed an interesting phenomenon.

I look at the thinner parts of my boots, where there's no suede, only canvas or whatever the hell it is. I see it dark. Wet. The rest of the outside of the boot? Bone dry. What exactly causes THIS?

Well my dear idiot-enlistee, your nasty, disgusting funk-ridden feet are sweating so much that it bleeds through your boots.

I doubt chicks dig that sort of thing. Bummer, really.


Where Are We From Again?

Distant small arms fire, the occasional explosion. Just a quick low rumble, and we barely turn our heads, still chilling in Neverland. The one without Michael Jackson.

I heard several blasts, all close together. Short time between each of them. It sounded more like when a garbage truck puts the dumpster back down. A slam down the alley or something. Yeah, well these were really different slams. God knows what happened out there.

And I got my hair cut today. GO me.

I watched Emilio Estevez' new movie "Bobby" about Bobby Kennedy. Amazing movie. Go buy it or rent it or steal it or download it or have a microchip implanted in your brain so you can see it. If you don't, I will personally shin-kick you with all the might of a rugby player.

I started thinking about something that I wonder about once in a while. What does it actually MEAN to be an American? What defines the American spirit? And more importantly, is it even PRESENT in the majority of my generation?

I don't think most of my generation even knows what the hell it means to be an American. I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm in no way preaching or telling you all that this is how it is, its just what I see and percieve, and I easily could be very wrong.

But a lot of what I see? Well let's have it in a nice inarticulate projectile-vomit or a rant, because that REALLY seems more fitting.

I see TRL brainwashed MTV titfed masses of young consumers who open their mouths wide, wide, wider for spoonful after fecal spoonful of fear, which is the most profitable market out there, just ask your news anchors when they get in their cars. Everything is a product. Moral decay? Oh most definitely. I don't care what your religion is, but maybe archaic little things like prayer in school were atleast PARTIALLY a good thing. Where did the discipline go? Why didn't my parents beat my ass like I deserved?

APATHY. Don't give me that whiny "my vote doesn't count" bullshit. Of course YOURS doesn't, when you lie down and call it quits and take it up the ass like the rest of the benchwarming selfish pissants. Survivor is more important than global events. Good news isn't worth the airtime. IS YOUR PENIS TOO SMALL? BUY OUR FUCKING PILLS, YOU MORON!

Are you fat? These pills will fix you. Depressed? Have another skittle, courtesy of your APATHETIC doctor, with carpal tunnel-ridden prescription-filling hands. There's a pill for every problem. These clothes, this car, this house, it will all make you desirable and erase that Daddy Didn't Hug Me anxiety.

Do everything by the numbers, monotonous, droning through life chasing dollar signs and checking your reflection in the mirror as often as possible. DAMN YOU IF YOU'RE UGLY!

Find the easy way out. Don't bother thinking about the meaning behind anything, to hell with the Grand Scheme of Things. Its easier to be an empty shell, because goddammit, American Idol is on! Don't tell me THAT'S the American spirit! Bovine Psuedo-America chewing their cud and adopting the first opinion their favorite talking head spews. Don't tell me its not bad, when there are buzz words for that shit. PUNDIT? I shouldn't even know what a pundit IS.

Are we working and busting our asses to make the US better? Or did the past generations do that for us. Its not "This country can be great, lets do it."

Its "This country is great! Everyone beat it into my head, so I don't have to lift a finger. I can watch other people work, look at my watch, and wait for something else to deliver me from the arduous task of living each day.

What about mom and pop shops? Locally owned and operated? And no, dammit, I'm not talking about fucking FRANCHISES. McDonald's? Christ.

What about taking pride in your work? In the old days, wouldn't blue collar men bust their ass day in day out? Just seems like that old spirit you hear about isn't as present. Don't get me wrong. I know its not gone. It just seems to me like its harder to find.

We're a little low on John Waynes lately. Fresh out of gunslingers. Ironically, in one of the Dark Tower books, its mentioned that JFK was a true "gunslinger" of sorts. Guess this little rant comes full circle huh?

Any maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm still too new at all of this to see it yet. But I'm going to figure it out. I wear the flag on my sleeve, so I should damn sure know what its all really about. I'm gonna figure it out.

Comments and Emails

Just taking a quick second to thank everyone who writes me comments and/or emails. Its always cool to hear back from people, and a lot of you are really insightful, and all around masters in the art of being Way Rad.

So a big thank you for that. Til next time, same Bat time, same Bat channel.