Switch It Back On

We poured into someone else's strykers, bags and all, and sweat in the dark all the way back to the FOB. When the ramp finally dropped, we stumbled out into horribly familiar territory and sulked our way back to our tent, dropped our gear, and began getting "normal" again.

This uniform really does do something to you. Being in this place, all of it, it pulls a different side of you out. Already, I'm not the person I was in Japan. Not the person I am when I wear what I want, do what I want, and don't have to worry about anything. This person is bitter, cynical, loudmouthed and rambunctious, dark humor and raucous profanity, arrogant and blasphemous. It's just what the uniform does to me, like that movie "The Mask" with Jim Carrey, it transforms some of us. Some more than others.

But atleast now I know that when the uniform comes off, it all switches off.

I walked back outside and took a look around at the familiar desolation of the FOB. No color, no life. Concrete, gravel, dirt, and hideous sky. The summer heat is on its way, and I'm dreading wearing all that equipment again. I dread walking through the streets of this pitiful wasteland, looking at the faces of local inhabitants. I dread interacting with them, the kids begging for soccer balls.

I'm not the only short-timer now. We're all short. This nightmare ends soon enough, and I don't know how everyone else feels, but I'm dead set on getting the hell out of here. I'm sure everyone else is getting excited, but I've got a scowl. From here on out, no one out there gets close to me. None of the Iraqi Armies or Sons of Iraq or Iraqi Police are going to get any small talk out of me.

Pull security and emanate disdain, that's the fourth quarter game plan. Fuck you, Iraq, I'm going home. And switching off for good.


  1. themorethingschange... said...
    So. The Soldier Suspect is back in the sandbox. We know this guy so much better now because we've met the Civilian Ryan and enjoyed his tales of Tokyo.

    No one note writer you! I feel safe in saying we've all been delighted with your Tokyo posts, drunk or sober...how in the world can you write when you're drunk dude!? Seriously.

    You've picked up new readers while you've been on R&R thanks to Chris Tomlinson of the AP (I think). Is there a story there man?

    Every morning my Google alert has at least one new mention of you/your story. This morning its CBS. If they do a video package on you I'm gonna miss it -arrghh- I don't get that channel, but you can bet I'm gonna be sitting on their internet site today! The media is sucking up the 5th anniversary stuff. Stories on reflection, on loss, on _______, perhaps there's even a story out there on progress.

    I guess the only good thing about being back in country is that you're closer to leaving it behind.
    The media tells us things are getting worse again...I'm glad to know you're sharp, alert, and not lulled by your brief respite in Tokyo.

    You're in our thoughts and prayers. So sleep, eat, write, patrol, scan, and...

    DRIVE ON Suspect.
    Anonymous said...
    Sheesh! Am I verbose or what! That was my edited version!
    Anonymous said...
    I can't imagine being in your shoes. You and your buddies have accomplished your job, and you get the honor of sitting there waiting to come home. And sitting... and sitting... and sitting. But you've accomplished something, both professionally and personally. You're at the point where you should look back and say you did something good. And now you can look forward.
    *On a humorous note, before you & your buds got your mission, the only "surge" I knew was the gay guy who did my hair!!! Thought you'd appreciate that...

    Aunt Sandy (Who, as a tribute, refuses to take her meds until Suspect comes home)
    Sisu said...
    You once wondered if you could ever be Ryan again after this, and now you know you can. I look forward to your posts and I will miss them when you go home, but I'll be cheering when you leave. (and there is that promise of "The Unlikely Fratboy" lurking in the ether) Take care of yourself.

    On a side note, you have introduced a new generation to NIN. My kids rock out as I read and tell me to turn that music back on when I'm done!
    Tokyo Five said...
    I read about your blog in an article in the Japan Times newspaper today.
    So, I'm checking it out for the first time...it's fascinating!

    I was especially surprised that you were just in Tokyo...since that's the city I live in!

    Please check my blog (not nearly as intense as yours, though)...it's at:
    Anonymous said...
    LOL Aunt Sandy!

    David M said...
    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 03/21/2008 News and Personal dispatches from the front lines.
    Aprillini said...
    Question: Do you have anything else you would like us to mention about you, your blog, or your readers?

    My readers are awesome, and I appreciate them the way one would appreciate not being a leper. That’s quite a bit of appreciation: when you acknowledge it, it makes you stop and go, “Whoa…I’m pretty damn lucky. ….Groovy.”

    you are pretty damn lucky.
    Earl said...
    Your music selection still rocks, I liked the uniform making you something like the Mask did -- but it will actually lie inside waiting for a uniform to come out and stomp death and damage -- it never goes completely away. I can carry concealed, and probably never will - no reason to want to kill again, but certain I can for little to no reason. It always awaits that chance. And I want to see more of the beauty of the world - Tokyo a fine example. Rock on, get home we all need you back.
    Anonymous said...
    Thank you for re-introducing me to Nine Inch Nails. I owe you big.

    You're a quality writer. I've never been to Tokyo, but now it's higher on my list of places I must explore. I'm headed to Iceland to explore their own crazy type of beauty.

    I'm sorry to hear anyone feel so much dread and isolation. But if it keeps you safe, you do what you gotta do. Take care.
    Jenni said...
    "(and there is that promise of "The Unlikely Fratboy" lurking in the ether)"

    this makes me laugh. can't say i could see you joining a frat...your utter disdain for frat boys is all too apparent.

    however, i do seem to recall you mentioning something about starting your own...and lacy already coined the perfect name for you: drinka kegga omega =)

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