Monday, July 26, 2010

A week in retospect and an homage to Prometheus.


The first week at Camp Hell on Earth was both emotionally draining and mentally numbing. Stuck in a job that requires zero mental stimulation makes for a somnambulant and zombie-like state of mind. While the sun beams down with ambitious resolve, I am reminded of poor Prometheus, chained to a rock on a mountain while a giant ass-hole eagle pecked out his liver every day. And then every night it regenerated so that the next day he would go through the same hell. Until one day, Hercules rescued him from this hell.

And so it is…so maybe I’m not chained to a rock while my liver is pecked out by a psychotic bird with a taste for offal, but I’m still stuck in what seems like daily torture. Between missing my family to the daily discomforts that this place has to offer, it’s only fitting that I wish for a hero to come and rescue me. But as Regina Spektor said “I’m the hero of the story, I don’t need to be saved.” The only thing that can save me at this point is myself and a little bit (about ten months) of time.

So perhaps I’ll get used to the sweltering heat, the loneliness, the separation, the meaningless work, the stupid people, the sand, and everything else that comes with this wretched place. Perhaps I’ll forget what it’s like to walk barefoot in the fresh dewy grass, or the smells of farmer’s markets, or the feel of sea spray during those EWTGPAC morning beach runs.

One thing is certain: I’ll never forget the warm scent of Helena’s face, the way her soft ringlets curl around my fingers, the way her nose wrinkles when she smiles, and how she throws her head back when she laughs, as if this one moment in time is the funniest most amazing moment ever. And as long as I can remember that, no amount of sun, work, or stupid people can really keep me chained to that rock.

Take that, stupid bird.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My first day off


No work, no bullshit muster, I am free to do as I please today. So, while all the other females are snuggled in their racks sleeping like little Narmy sailor babies, I am tick-ticking away at the possibilities of things I can do.

After getting my wireless card, calling the Bug and Bear back home, talking to the guys at headquarters about my work situation, finishing my book, and uploading all the blog posts I couldn’t load up due to lack of wireless, I sit here. The coffee buzz from this morning is beginning to wear off and I forget what the whole point of this monologue was. Ah, yes. It’s my first day off. And even though this place is about as pleasant as cancer, it’s always nice to have a free day.

This is not a porn blog, but I just got effed in the A with a giant D.


If you know you’re going to get screwed over, you can prepare for it. You can brace yourself, shut your eyes and wait for it. You’re mentally ready, so that it’s no surprise to you that, hey, you’re about to get effed in the A.

As many of my friends know, I’ve been working on cross-rating to MC since the opportunity for me to spearhead the Public Affairs program opened up in my last command. Thanks to my experience in journalism during my pre-Navy years, I had been doing pretty well. Even though I was denied the JO rate when I joined the Navy (due to my lack of American citizenship), I had high hopes that someday me and the printed press would one day be reunited in the loving arms of some Naval organization. The complacency and later love that I developed for my current engineer rating has evaporated after years of waiting for advancements that would never come.

In other words, it was time to move on.

So when I found out that I wouldn’t be doing customs inspections out here, but actually working for the Public Affairs Officer, I was more than elated. What better opportunity to display your journalism chops than out here, in the Middle East, where all the good stories are? Sure I had to deal with an undesirable base, a top-heavy command, and a place isolated from all my friends, but I chose it. Why? Because this was headquarters! Sure I would be traveling from base to base all the way up Iraq and maybe even Afghan, but it would definitely bring my journalism aspirations for the Navy to fruition!

I must admit, I was a bit sad upon leaving all my friends as we all scampered to our designated bases, but I was also a bit excited to be starting this job that was preselected for me.

And then we arrived to the new base. We were told it was at least 20 to 30 degrees cooler than Camp Virginia. It was 140 degrees. We were told there would be a barracks waiting for us as soon as we arrived. I’m living in a TENT. I was told I’d be doing public affairs. Nope, washrack for me.

In the daytime.

At 140 degrees.

I’ll be checking dirt. Not the kind of dirt you dig up for an awesome story that could potentially bring scandal and give you a book deal.

No, dirt.

On vehicles.

In the middle of the day.

At 140 degrees.

Well, shit. I think I just got effed in the A.

The dispersal of friends and the dread of change.


Today we leave Purgatory and I don’t know whether we’ll end up in hell or, well, a less hell-y place. We were held here in Camp Virginia for a few days to “get acclimated” to the weather and time change and the heat. I’m still not acclimated to the latter. I don’t think anyone could really embrace this climate. It’s like embracing an ulcer; you never really do get quite use to it.

After the initial process in Camp Virginia, my whole battalion has split up to go to the various camps located throughout the country and the region. Sadly, most of my friends have been separated from me and I find myself starting from scratch. Of course, I end up getting stationed with most of the people I thoroughly dislike. The one good friend that is accompanying me is only there temporarily. Great.

Saying goodbye is bittersweet. On the one hand, there’s the prospect of change, the idealism of finding something new, the excitement of transformation. On the other hand, there’s the sadness on leaving friends and even foes. Because even though you don’t like them, there’s a good reason why you don’t and you are aware of it.
I will miss my friends, though. I will miss the shenanigans and the stupid jokes. I will miss the random meetings, the meals together, and laughing for no apparent reason aside from the fact that we were just absolutely immature and incredibly entertaining. Will I find new friends out here that are just as witty and ridiculously funny?

Every deployment is like this. We find each other, we lose each other, and in some rare cases, we keep each other until the end.

I hope this is the same.

I run through Tartarus


I ran almost two miles in 130 degree weather. Yep, that’s about it.



A new day in a foreign land. I open the door to our pseudo tents and am blinded by the nuclear-like flash of sun. The sun should not be this bright this early in the morning. Heat lamps and blow-dryers. That’s what going out in this weather feels like. It’s as if the third circle of hell opened up right on these coordinates. Every step outside is exhausting and painful. The mere thought of walking to the galley is torturous. I’m trying to determine whether eating is worth enduring the walk through hell.

My mind is a fog today. I can’t even think properly and it seems as if the flight attendants gave out complementary lobotomies while we were sleeping on the plane ride. Is this what jet lag feels like? I called Troy last night and realized that I was ten hours ahead of him, making my almost daily Skype session with him and the Bug a logistical nightmare.

On the bright side, my tent has ac, and it feels absolutely luxurious in here. I'm not going out. Nope, you can't make me.

On landing in Purgatory…


Upon arrival to the grand country that is Kuwait, we are greeted by a strong gust of hot wind. This must be the exhaust coming from the plane, I thought. Sadly, it didn’t matter how far away from the plane I walked, there was no respite from the convection oven-like winds.

This is going to be interesting.

The way to Kuwait is paved with no libations…

The morning began at 2 am. Get ready, make sure we’re packed and haven’t left anything behind, and wait for the room inspection that was scheduled for 0330 but of course didn’t happen until almost five. Board the bus, breakfast at the terminal, and then a briefing from the commanding general. Board the plane, sleep, wake up in another state. One of our guys’ mom greets us with baked goodies. Another group of people greeted us at the terminal like we were heroes. I was more than overwhelmed at this reception.

Regardless of where we depart from, the land looks like a patchwork quilt. Ireland’s variant hues of dazzling greens made it look like an emerald mosaic.

I’ve never been on a plane this long. It’s so strange to fall asleep and wake up in a different country. Ireland, Romania, and finally Kuwait. Everywhere I look around me people are sleeping. The energy from this morning, or maybe it was (yesterday morning?) has died down to a complete lull. It’s as if the Wicked Witch of the West’s sleeping spell has taken over the entire plane and I’m fighting it. Let’s just hope the pilots fight it as well.

On leaving Fort Bliss…


Today is the last day, the last hours to be exact and the weather is cool and crisp and absolutely pleasant as if this place is begging us to stay. Like an ex promising to reform, this place has become almost inviting.

It feels like San Diego here and I can’t help but think of my babies back home. If only they could see the sunset, the lightning storms and the way the puddles reflect the light here, like beacons of cool refreshing hope. I hated this place for so long, and yet, I am filled with a sense of nostalgia on leaving. What will I encounter when I get to my final destination? How quickly will I adjust to this new and alien land rumored to be harsh and unforgiving? Change brings both anticipation and dread and at this moment, this very moment, I breathe in the smell of rain and wet desert sand. Will the new place bring such sensory joy as this moment brings right now? Will I make new friends? Will I see my old ones? My mind is flooded with questions on what is to come. All I can think of in the twilight hour is the smell of rain.

Oh, I will miss it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Reluctant Reunion

One too many snoozes makes for a hectic trip to the airport. The goodbyes were uneventful. We didn't have enough time to park, so Troy dropped me off at the curb. He hugged me, kissed me, and that was about it. The Bug was watching Snow White on her DVD player and shooed me away for interrupting her shows.

At the airport I met with Bergeles, my buddy and accomplice to many an annoying prank. We exchanged pleasantries and then proceeded to annoying the crap out of everyone we knew there.

Upon arrival, we met with more people from our battalion. It was like going back to school, except the school is a crap-bowl that takes you away from the life you love. I am forced to interact with people that, although pleasant in their own right, came with the package of this turd sandwich of a deployment. I could see it in their eyes too. Their mouths said "hey, nice to see you again" but I knew that it was a reluctant reunion for them too.

So I see everybody again, we arrive at Camp Mcgregor, I enter my berthing, and's like I never left.

It was a strange feeling, this distortion of reality. As if all the good memories from home were a mirage, a dream, a figment of my imagination. A daydream concocted to keep me sane. It came and went so quickly that my mind had no time to process the memory and stored it as some murky fable invented by my mind in a moment of extreme homesickness.

After mustering for some BS reason, I head on over to the only place on base with free internet and fight with some software that ended up kicking my butt.

And so here I am...happy to see everyone, but wishing I didn't have to see them again. Not under these circumstances. I'm sure they feel the same way too.


Last night was my last night with my family. The Bug, with her broken collar-bone compliments of that aweful accident the day prior, and Troy were nestled in their beds without care while I fretfully paced around the apartment, grasping at the last hours, minutes and seconds before my departure. I was doing this and that, updating my ipod, packing, charging my electronics; all in an attempt to stay awake enough to peek in on them while they gently (and in the case of Troy, not so gently) snored the hours away.

tick tock...three hours and twenty eight minutes left..... hour 12 minutes left.....22 minutes left...10 minutes left...what the hell? why is the time flying by so fast? Stop! please! just freeze, stupid clock! 2 minutes left.....alarm rings, Troy snoozes it. I lay between him and the bug and inhale the warm, sweet aroma emanating from their pores. Alarm rings again....snooze. I don't care if the plane leaves me. I don't care about court marshall, or getting chewed by the chain of command. all I want is a little more time to share this perfect moment. to snuggle with my babies and bask in the warmth of their embrace. Alarm rings again. The bug drowsily opens her eyes and reaches up towards me. Her little hands explore my face. She smiles.

I feel like going UA at this point. I can't leave this face! I can't leave the warmth of this bed! I can't leave these little hands. I can't leave Troy! I can't leave the Bug. I'm willing to make a deal with the devil for another hour.

Alarm rings.

It's far too late to snooze.

Five more minutes.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A very disagreeable day and the pre-deployment blues.

I'm going on deployment soon. Let me rephrase that; I'm on deployment right now, but home on leave thanks to the Powers that Be that allowed me to come home after my training in Hell Paso's ill-named Fort Bliss. I was supposed to be leaving on Sunday morning but some jackhole sent me an email today notifying me of my departure for Friday morning. Today's Wednesday. Yeah, way to be organized, jerks. And then the giant pickle on my shit sandwich was the spill Helena (my one year old Bug) took HEAD FIRST out of the shopping cart at Sprouts. I felt so bad I cried at the doctor's office.

I'm so not ready to leave.

So I have today and tomorrow before my 300 days of solitude begins. 300 days away from my family; my lovable husband, Troy and my beautiful and precocious daughter, Helena (often referred to as the Bug).

300 days away from pleasant weather, farm-fresh produce, good restaurants, rad new music, and unlimited access to bookstores.

Away from civilization.

Away from my Bug.