Archive for December, 2012


2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 26,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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My Struggles

We all deal with various struggles throughout our lives.  To others, they may seem trivial or stupid.  “Why are you wasting your energy worrying about that?”  But to us, they are significant things we are dealing with.  You have your struggles, and I have mine.  Today, I will share some of my struggles with you all, the people of the interwebs in hopes of some clarity, or just….. something.  I don’t know.  I guess I should begin…..

I struggle with self image quite a bit.  I’m a pretty big guy to put it mildly, and if you’ve ever met me, you’d be inclined to say that, if only to be polite.  In all reality, I’m a fat bastard.  I’m big, but not in any good way.  I had to go to the doctor while home a while ago, and the number I saw on the scale was appalling.  I never in my life thought I was even capable of reaching that size.  The number I saw was an abstract concept up to that point.  So I made a decision to lose some weight, quite a bit in fact.  But the weight loss will not completely resolve my struggles with self image.  “How could anyone find me attractive?” “How could anyone possibly love me?” “I’m nothing, I’m insignificant, and if I were to vanish no one would weep.  I would not be missed.”  These thoughts are running through my head on constant loop.  I have no idea why, and to chalk them up to mistreatment from certain members of my family while I was younger feel like a cop out to me.  I struggle with that demon constantly, and for the most part, it’s winning.  I have no concept on positive perceptions on me.  They remain abstract.  I cannot see what anyone else would see in me that’s positive.  When I look inside myself, all I see are horrible flaws, sins I’ve committed, people I’ve hurt, and mistakes I’ve made.  I cannot see any good, and I know that’s a problem… yet another flaw.

My relationship with God is another struggle of mine.  My faith in God, my belief that God cares, or even exists at times isn’t always the best.  I have the constant image of all the suffering in the world, all the needless death and destructions.  The wholesale exploitation of entire peoples, racism, apartheid.  All justified through religion, condoned by religious people, executed by believers.  With that I struggle with the concept of God.  I understand the power of that concept to influence people to do all those bad things and more, but I also understand that faith in Gad can bring about a certain grace and strength to do things that are honestly good for all of mankind.  Unfortunately, the amount of people killed by religion and oppressed in its name heavily outweigh the amount of people that have been helped….. or has it.  Billions of people have been killed due to their religious beliefs.  Millions have been enslaved, subjugated, or otherwise exploited by people holding a Bible, Koran, or otherwise.  The oldest form of racism is embedded in the Hindu Chaste system.  Non-Muslims living in Muslim lands may be living under the constant threat of abuse, and are not look at as equals.  They are a lower class than even the poorest Muslim.  Christian nations wrought havoc on the new world as they raped and murdered their way across the continent, all while holding a Bible, and paying tribute to the Church which condoned this because of the profit it was reaping from it.  I so want to believe, but I grapple with the history of these many religions.  My relationship with God is complicated for those reasons.  I want to be close, and I want to believe, but I refuse to be organized and herded like cattle by evil people, so I maintain a distance from it.

One of my biggest struggles right now is my struggling with the loss of my mother.  It has thrown my mind into chaos.  I don’t know what I thought I knew anymore.  I can’t trust the words of others as sincere.  This emotional chaos compounds everything.  It’s a force multiplier of negativity.  Every doubt is that much more doubtful, every hurtful event is that much more hurtful, every pain is that much more intense.  You never know how someone will react to the loss of a loved one.  The death of a mother, father, spouse, child, brother, sister, ect…  can have a profound effect on those survivors.  I never expected my mourning to go this long, or be this deep.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but what I didn’t expect was to feel as lost as I do.  I didn’t expect to feel a pain this intense, for this long.  I didn’t expect to lose control.  This is by far my biggest struggle, and I’m constantly struggling with my ability to express it so I don’t go crazy.  I have people who listen, people who have lost as well who support me, but I struggle with even talking to them.  Not because they are bad people, but because I’m lost and don’t know what to do even when the answer is obvious.

Anyway, these are some of my struggles.  Like anyone else I do have some struggles that are deeply private and will never be published, but I’m willing to share the ones listed above.  Thank you for taking the time to read the words I’ve labored over.

Ladies, and gentlemen of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, I have for you a news flash of sorts: A VAST MAJORITY OF YOU ARE NOT HEROES!

In the age where everyone gets a trophy, this is by far the most infuriating.  Telling an entire generation of military men and women that they are heroes when they are not gives them a false sense of entitlement, and achievement.  Please don’t assume that I’m talking about ALL military men and women, just the ones who sit on major FOBs like Bagram and Kandahar and waste not only space, but my tax dollars as well.  If you actively manned a gun, kicked in doors, jumped out of planes, or provided fire or air support, you are a hero.  If you pulled the wounded out of battle, or patched them up when they touched down, then you are a hero.  If you sat in your office, bitching about shitty coffee while wearing an M-9 you have no clue how to operate, you ARE NOT a hero…… and you know it.  Please stop acting like your tour here was so difficult.  Please stop carrying yourself like we owe you something.  Please stop pretending that you were at any point, useful.  You don’t deserve a parade upon return, and none of you deserve a Bronze Star just for playing Nerf-Warfighter.  To all those folks that make the actual mission happen, you have my respect.  To all those who have lost someone in combat as I have, you have my condolences.  To all you who lost your reflective belts and couldn’t go to the DFAC on Steak and Lobster Day…. Fuck you!

If you are unclear after all the words you may, or may not have read.  I have included pictures of people who are heroes, and pictures of those who are not heroes.  And just because I can foresee someone getting butthurt and calling me out, I’ll say this.  I know where I fit in the whole equation.  Contractors have never gotten parades…….

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Hero…..

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take notice of the attachments… not a hero

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heroes……

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I’m sure he has PTSD from the THOUGHT of SOMEONE ELSE in combat…. not a hero

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world class door kicking… heroes

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“Seriously mom… I didn’t do anything today…. it was so hard. This 3 months is just so brutal” not a hero

Ladies and gentlemen of the interwebs, I have compiled a list of my favorite words from the year 2012, and their assumed definitions.  Some of the words are new, others have made a comeback, and some just never went anywhere.  Without any further delay, (except your reading speed, that’s the only delay.  You might want to work on that…. Or not.) here is your list!  Oh, the list will contain some very salty language.

1: Fucktard:  This word is derived from the phrase “fucking retard”.  It rolls off  the tongue perfectly, and is used to describe someone who you may feel is “fucking retarded”.  Not to be used to describe someone who is actually mentally deficient.

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Seemed like a good idea at the time….

2: Twat Waffle:  This is a $5 word for cunt.  Cunt is not as popular in American dialogue like it is in British, and Australian dialogue, but we have many euphemisms, for that particular euphemism.

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Yep…… you dirty minded people…..

3: Douchhammer:  Someone who is such a douchebag, that they transcend your basic garden variety douche behaviors.  If douchebags were mystical weapons, the douchehammer is Thor’s hammer, of doucheiness.  Guys who wear fauxhawks and wear Tap-Out clothing.

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Another term for this person is “Sir”…..

4: Fuckwit:  Yet another word that is based in a phrase, “fucking nitwit”.  I would assume that the individual deemed a fuckwit is probably frustratingly stupid, but not quite as much as the fucktard is.  And as a bonus, Microsoft Word failed to spell check the word which gives it some serious legitimacy.

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Put him in greens and there you go….

5: Dipshidiot:  A wonder blend of the terms Dipshit, and Idiot.  While technically not a swear word, using it in public will garner looks as you blaze a trail into the insult wilderness.  A Dipshidiot is someone who simply lacks common sense, and is kinda presumptuous about it.

6: Struggle Snuggle:  A colorful term used to describe rape/sexual assault.  It is usually used between friends in an attempt to make someone feel uncomfortable.  This is probably a military/fraternity exclusive.  Nowhere else would it be remotely acceptable.

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It’s OK, they’re only fruit…..

7: Surprise Sex:  Rape.  Apparently someone figured out that as long as you yell “SURPRISE” before penetration, that it’s not rape….. but is it.

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I hope he’s getting his fair share of surprise sex…. prison style

8: Fuck:  This word has endless uses.  How could it not be on the list?

9: Thundercunt:  An exceptionally horrible woman.  The word can be used to describe males as well, but this word is normally used to describe a needlessly rude, abrasive, or otherwise dickish woman.

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Another term for this one is “ma’am”

10: Blue Waffle:  Just Google it…….  I’ll wait.

11: Pacqiouing:  To lay face down on any horizontal surface and have someone take a picture of you.  Boxing gloves are used to enhance the photo.

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The hopes and dreams of a nation were unconscious on the mat for about 3 minutes….

12: Afghandyland, Dirtbagistan, Douchbagistan, any horrible word -istan….:  Derogatory terms to describe Afghanistan either due to the actual country and its flora and fauna, its people, or the rules and regulations imposed by the military.  Can also be used to describe Pakistan.

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What they don’t illustrate is the fact that all the folks here suck.

13: Moon Dust:  The extra fine dust that permeates everything you own.  It ruins air filters, shoes, clothing, pretty much everything.  When wet, it absorbs just enough water to become a sludge that stick to everything.  It is normally found in such places as Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, or any country where a majority of the populace wants to kill us.

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“Are we landed yet?!” “I don’t know sir, let go of the stick and we’ll find out! I can’t see shit!” “Roger that crew chief!”

14: Dirty Contractor:  Someone who was once a member of the military, but left to make more money as a contractor.  They are usually looked at with disdain by those still in uniform until they are about to retire, then they are looked at as potential employers.

yep, pretty much....

yep, pretty much….

15: Fuckbag:  Someone who cannot be described as a fuck in the singular sense.  This person has angered others to where they must be described as a bag of loosely organized fucks.  This is not a term of endearment.

Words that didn’t make the cut:

YOLO: This word is stupid, and only stupid people use it.

Snooki:  I hope she dies in a fire…

Planking/Owling:  Usurped by Pacqiouing….

I was going to write a piece about my favorite words of 2012, but I’ve decided to write about something a little closer to the heart.  I’ve decided to write about the loss of my mother, which has affected me in ways I could not have anticipated, or prepared for.  It’s affected me in ways I don’t even fully understand, and can barely articulate.  I’m going to attempt to put these changes, and feelings and everything into writing in hopes that those few people who actually read the words I labor over can make some sense over who I am right now.  I hoping I can make some sense over who I’ve become.  I hoping SOMEONE can make some sense of it all.  I’m struggling with it, and I fear that my perception may not be what it should be, or that’s it’s sharper than it ever has been before.

When I learned that my mother had actually passed away, I was in the Delta Airlines lounge in the Atlanta airport.  I had jumped on WiFi on my phone and began messaging my wife.  She had told me that she had died, and when.  She told me how she found out, my crackhead uncle who was there for the whole thing told her via phone call.  It’s thought amongst the family that he lost himself after the passing of his mother, my grandmother.  Since he was the youngest, he took it the hardest and simply lost himself in drugs.  As my wife tells me that my mother has passed, I don’t really feel much at that point in time.  I had steeled myself so that I could complete my travels, which I took to viewing as a mission.  A mission that I couldn’t fail no matter what.  I completed eating my snacks or breakfast or whatever you would call what I ate, and proceeded to my next flight.  I sat in the terminal, still not really feeling much.  I might have e-mailed my boss in Afghanistan to what happened just so I could keep them abreast as I moved about taking care of things.  Honestly, I can’t recall my whole thought process at that time.  I got on my flight, and ultimately I made it home.  I was still hardened to information, still emotionally offline, still not allowing myself to feel anything.  It was business, business only I could address, as I had no faith that my family would be available to support, or even willing.  I had a fairly low opinion of my family.  My uncles in my eyes were abject failures who could not be looked to for any kind of support or guidance.  I saw them as petty fools, unable to get out of their own ways to accomplish the simplest of tasks.  The fact that my crackhead uncle survived by exploiting my mother’s kindness did not sit well with me, and adversely influenced how I saw them as a whole.  My grandfather, now a feeble old man was apparently the cause of all of this madness, but I never saw why they never made an effort to change their own lives.  I had steeled myself so that if I was to be met with disappointment in their inability or reluctance to assist, that the shock would not be as traumatic.  I also felt that I had to be the strong one for my family.  I had to be the man, or at least what I thought was the man and be that unmoving pillar of perpetual support for all those around me.  I’m home, but emotionally I was elsewhere, it was all business.  I load up the family to begin the 5 hour drive from our home in Jacksonville, to my mother’s home in Mount Holly, which is near Charlotte.  While I was there I would address her belongings, the funeral preparations, and her cremation per her wishes.  It was all business.  I felt nothing.  I was not emotionally there yet, I could not allow a weakness such as emotion to arrive lest I fall apart and fail to complete my mission of making sure she was laid to rest.  When the paperwork had been completed in Mount Holly, I had to view the body.  I wept.  I simply said the words “Thank you” and I wept.  I wept and I held my family so close.  I squeezed my wife and daughters and I cried harder than I have in all of my adulthood and adolescence.  I’ve lost friends, mentors, and fellow Marines, and I have always been saddened which led to anger, but for my mother I wept.  I sobbed like a child, because I was her child.  I remembered all the things she had done for me.  All the sacrifices she had made for me.  Everything she had tried to teach me.  I remembered how she did all these things on her own as a single mother, while trying to fill the role of her deceased mother and hold her family together.  I remembered her trying to stay strong during her fight with the cancer that killed her, so she would be there to watch her granddaughters grow.  I wept for all these things.  My emotions had finally arrived.  When faced with my mother’s body, the one who bore me onto the earth, I had broken and my emotions were allowed…. Finally.  With that burst of emotion out, I was able to steel myself once again.  I had not laid my mother to rest, and I would not rest until I had done so.  I have no idea why I followed this train of thought.  I felt that she deserved nothing less than my full abilities and talents, and I felt there was no way to give her that if I was openly grieving, but a part of me wishes I had.  After the viewing, I was able to pull myself together enough to go back to handling business, and handle business I did.  Despite several snafus along the way, I was able to deliver her urn to Philadelphia where she would be honored and finally laid to rest.  There was a beautiful service, and I was very very involved in the entire process down to me actually designing the programs for the service.  My cousin Darren was a big part of this too, as he works in the funeral services industry and helped do some advanced work in Philly prior to our arrival.  After the service, which coincidentally was on my oldest daughter’s birthday, we went to have some fun.  I did not want the specter of her grandmother’s death forever clouding her birthday, so we did what we had to in order to make sure she would remember having a good time on her birthday.  Little things, I wanted my kids to be happy even when I was so sad and broken inside.  Fun is over and we return to Jacksonville, and attempt to return to some sense of normalcy.  The kids went back to school after missing 10 days, and I tried to help along things there were happening in the house.  I tried to help with homework, home improvements, and the normal things I would take care of if I were home.  Something normal.  If I stayed busy enough, I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotions that I knew were stirring inside.  I was able to make it all the way back to Afghanistan before my emotions saw fit to manifest themselves in a variety of ways.  Self-loathing took on a whole new light.  I have more days where I feel like a worthless hunk of shit here, than I have anywhere else in my life.  The solitude of this place has allowed me to descend into a great sadness.  I’m surrounded by people who care about how I’m doing, but it’s of no comfort to me.  I’ve found myself engaged in self destructive thinking, to what ends I don’t know.  I wept in my office, I’ve wept in my room.  I feel like there is something missing in my life.  Like I’ve come home to find that my home is empty.  That’s how I feel, empty.  I feel lost.  I feel forsaken, and forgotten.  I feel unloved, and unlovable.  There is dark cloud over me these days, and I don’t know what to do about it.  Up to this point, I wasn’t able to look inside to see why I was feeling how I was, but here I am 60+ days after the death of my mother, and I am grieving.  I am alone, I am cold, I am desperate, and I am grieving.  My world no longer makes sense to me, and even though I know why I am here, I still question myself, then I chastise myself for wavering.  Hell, a part of me is upset because I ripped off the Band-Aid and sat down to write this, once again allowing emotion to flow.  I’m at a loss people.  I’m adrift inside my own mind right now, and I don’t know how long it will take to regain steerage.  I ask that you bear with me, through my good days, and my bad days.  I ask that you don’t turn your backs on me, because I need you now more than I ever have before.  I don’t need your sympathy, just your understanding.  I don’t need your words of encouragement, just your ears sometimes.  I need to be able to be weak, without being judged.  I need to be human.  I need to be a son who has lost his only mother.

2012 in 1 Million Words or Less

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Well ladies and gentlemen of blogworld, I have returned.  Back I am with the usual amount of snark, and bitterness you have come to expect.  It’s been since January since my last post and quite a lot had happened.  I have thus returned to Douchebagistan from my unsuccessful attempt in gaining entry into Iraq.  I’ve had some good people leave this place, as their tours have come to an end and it was their time to go home.  I’ve had people whose companies lost contracts which forced them to leave.  I’ve also had people who were simply relocated somewhere in the ‘stan.  For a while I was hemorrhaging buddies, but then a couple key folks came back.  Good times I guess…….

 

Let’s go down the line shall we?  When I came back from Kuwait, I learned that Kandahar had actually had some snow.  I missed the whole thing, which of course is the norm for me, but I did get to experience the ball shattering cold that KAF had to offer in the winter.  We don’t get the awesome snowy landscape that the northern camps get like Bagram.  No ice, no sleet, nothing like that.  Just shitty cold winds adding to the already awesome contributions of the Poo Pond, and the trash incinerator that runs non-stop.  It was magical….

 

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There was an awesome flood here on KAF that made portions of the base look like we had a little zombie apocalypse.  Heavy rains resulted in a flash flood that wiped out half the base.  Vehicles were abandoned all over the place, regular vehicles I can understand being bogged down and abandoned, however the tactical vehicles I could not.  I saw hummers, and LMTVs stranded and ditched in the middle of the road, side of the road, in ditches.  It was pretty bad.  I suppose you wonder how I was able to get access to all these various sights.  Easy..… Four.  Wheel. Drive.  I have these things call thumbs, and they allow me to grasp things like the knob that puts the Toyota Hi-Lux SUV I was driving into 4-wheel drive to navigate the flooded roads.  Apparently the people driving these massive, high end, highly engineered, specifically designed vehicles being operated by these highly skilled, trustworthy, professional soldiers either did not have 4-wheel drive, or the idiots behind the wheel didn’t think to put the damned things into 4-wheel drive.  It was a huge pain in the ass driving around them as well.  The road was littered with these pilotless vehicles, and here I am, in the 1993 Toytoa, driving around just fine.  This place is awesome!

 

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After all the freezing, and flooding, the weather warmed up, and things dried off.  Then things got hot.  Really fucking hot…. Again.  The cycle continues.  It gets hot, it gets cold, it rains, floods, dries, and then gets hot again.  So let’s talk about the damned heat shall we.  It was so damned hot here, the Devil himself was bitching about the heat.  It was so damned hot, that if you were to take a piss outside on the rocks, it would sizzle away before it even hit.  It was so damned hot, that going to the Port-o-Johns to take a shit was a trial of endurance and dedication.  It was like an ancient rite of fucking passage.  It was so hot out here during the summer that you would strongly considering not wearing pants, ever.  Kandahar is a super duper place to be.  I sympathize with those Marines in South West, and the soldiers out here that had to wear body armor, and hike in that heat.  Fuck that shit.

 

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After the summer months had wrapped themselves up, when autumn was settling in and getting cozy I got for very bad news.  See, I was home a couple of times this year, and I made an effort to see my mother whenever I was home.  I made sure that she would get to see her son, daughter, and grandbabies.  The last time I was home, I could only spend a very short time with her as I was not able to be home for an extended time.  The news that I got was that her chemo was killing her and that she was stopping treatment.  Having just returned, I didn’t know how I was going to be able to return, or if I even would.  As her health degraded rapidly I began making the arrangements to get home, to see her, to do…. Something… whatever I could.  As I was in the air between Dubai, and Atlanta my mother passed.  It was heartbreaking when I heard the news, just as it’s heartbreaking to type the words.  After I touched down in Jacksonville, I gathered up the family, and we began our traveling.  We went to Mount Holly to handle all the funeral/memorial prep.  We then returned to Jacksonville for a night before trekking to Philadelphia to lay her to rest.  During her service, I had to give the eulogy, and it was the single hardest speech of my life.  I was so awash with emotion, that I could barely speak, but I did it.  With the support of all those in attendance, I was able to complete my speech, and say what I needed to say.  After the service, we returned to Jacksonville where I tried to wrap up several things.  I stayed busy, and that kept me from being dwelling on her loss so much.  I knew I would have to deal with it, and openly mourn, but I just couldn’t.  I had to be the strong one for the family.  For my children.  Either way, this was the longest I’d been home since I departed April of 2011, and I took comfort in being with my family.

 

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Once I returned to KAF, I began to notice a lot of anti-contractor policies being put into place.  No PX at certain hours, not MWR gym at certain hours.  It started small, but the writing was on the wall, THE ARMY COMMANDERS FUCKING HATE CONTRACTORS!  As useless as most of these people and THEIR people are, they hate contractors.  It’s pretty bad that an Afghan bomber gets better medical care here than I do, but to further treat us like we are sub-human is just plain mean.  I’ve come to expect this type of behavior from the haters that think they run the base though, but I won’t forget who they are.  They will need a job after they retire (the irony of which is not lost on me), and I hope I can influence that process.

 

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That pretty much brings us to where I am now.  Well into December, gearing up for another exciting year, of smoke, dust, poop, and rockets.  I have my Charlie Brown Christmas tree in my office, and when I get shit from Amazon.com, I’ll put it under this poor little tree.  It’s one of the little things I can do to make this place bearable.

 

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All in all, 2012 was both a good, and bad year just as most years are.  I watched my hours get cut, treatment of KAF further degrade towards absurdity, and my beloved mother pass away.  But I also had a lot of good things happen for my family.  My happiness is tied to theirs.  As for me, my 13 years in the Corps has prepared me for the adversity I’ve been dealing with out here.  As long as I have good folks to smoke with, and a job, I’ll be OK.  It’s been real 2012, now get the fuck outta here!  Thank you, and drive safely.

 

And remember, leave a comment.  I like comments.  I like them quite a bit….