Monday, 8 June 2009

Jet Lag

i will save everyone some time and synopsize this piece before it even happens: my trip back to the U.S. was really long and not without it's ridiculous parts. that sums it up. for the full version, read on:

after sitting in kuwait for what felt like a month, we were finally given a time to leave. after cleaning out our tent and organizing our bags, we sat around for a few hours. the next step was loading hundreds of 50-pound bags onto a cargo truck and getting our sweaty asses on some buses.

military sidenote: riding on buses is about the most taxing thing one can do while in uniform. there is always at least one person yelling 'fill from the back to the front! don't skip a seat!' while the rest of the people pack into the seats. each seat is designed for children, and if you are above the height of five foot, your knees will be ground into the seat in front of you for the duration of the trip. to make matters worse, all of the seat recline, and as soon as the person in front of you puts their back against the cushioning, your patella is forcefully moved into your hip.

due to the extreme heat at 2 pm in kuwait, and because the army never lets anything good (such as going home) happen without an extremely long and painful process, the buses stopped every 50 feet to prolong the experience. i put my ipod on shuffle and passed out until the 2-hour journey was complete.

we unloaded the buses and piled into a tent to be briefed on things we already knew. after doing some professional-quality sitting and waiting, we filed out to collect our bags and proceed to the crown jewel of the departure process: customs. dumping out 4 incredibly well-packed bags, having some navy guy root through everything, then repacking everything is quite an arduous process. though i had nothing that is considered 'contraband,' i was carrying SPC Diablo-Cono's wooden baseball bat, which drew some odd looks. oh, and if the customs official who inspected my stuff is reading this, I SNUCK THE ROCK SHAPED LIKE A DICK THROUGH!

after customs, we came face-to-face with one of the more subtle terrorists i have ever encountered. this devious enemy of the state apparently cranked the heat up while we sat on the bus for a few hours, prepping us for 30 hours of travel by drenching us in perspiration and claiming that the air conditioning was broken, even though it was working perfectly well when we boarded the bus. to the bus driver: you won the round, sir, but the fight is still going. i left him a water bottle and empty bag of Corn Nuts to clean up, so i took round 2.

the plane was a 747, the largest paradox ever built by man. absolutely mammoth in proportion, the only offer 1 cubic foot of space per passanger. my saving grace came in pill form. SPC D-C slipped me a muscle relaxer before takeoff, and it kicked in wonderfully. as i drifted uncontrollably in and out of sleep, i was fed airplane food that must have contained powerful sedatives, because D-C kept passing out mid-chew.

we stopped briefly in germany to refuel and such. we got bussed to a small building with a snack bar, duty-free shop, and lots of funny words. i felt as if i was in some weird japanese gameshow (most likely an effect from the muscle relaxers), as all of the beverages had names like 'Happy Fun Shine Milk Great' and 'Mineralwasser. sadly, the duty-free booze was strictly off-limits, continuing my army-mandated AA program ('Step 1: don't drink, or youll die. step 2: refer to step 1 until sober').

the flight from germany to the states was uneventful aside from more muscle relaxer craziness. the obligatory cheer went up as soon as the wheels touched american soil, and the fanfare began. generals and colonels lined the steps off the plane, and shaking hands with all of them left me a mean hand cramp. after another busride, we turned in our weapons and were briefed on the unnecessarily lengthy process to get us out of the army. we were also briefed on how, even though we are done with the deployment, alcohol is still off-limits ('step 3: what the fuck didn't you understand about steps 1 and 2?'), wearing civilian clothes is against policy, leaving the base is prohibited, and so on and so forth. glad to be home.

we were then teased with two hours around our families. not knowing when we will see them again makes things harder on everyone, especially the married soldiers, the new mothers and fathers, and the young soldiers who haven't been through the deployment process before. we are now at the mercy of the army to determine when we can return to our normal lives, thereby completing the circle of life in the national guard. with any luck, ill have a beer in one hand and a pulitzer (they give those out for random, deployment-based blogs, right? right?) in the other within a week. cross your fingers for us!

recap: the air in new jeresy smells like sugar and trees, seeing people reunited with their families fulfilled me in a very spiritual way, i can't wait to be free of this uniform in a few days.

Thursday, 4 June 2009


With less than 100 hours until some half-assed government airline takes me back to familiar soil, I have reached a feeling of floating. The sun isn’t as bright, and the temperature doesn’t matter as much. We have been left alone for the most part, with only minor inconveniences over the course of a normal day. Thankfully our ‘decompression’ period here in Kuwait has been fairly worry-free (if you don’t count the seriously disheartening rumors and palpable anticipation for the lives we have left at home), and even blogging has becoming something of a chore. Who knew that writing would be so hard without .50-caliber Idiot-Piercing Incendiary (.50-cal IPI) ammunition in my word processing sniper rifle?

I’m seriously hoping that this little webpage isn’t the 15 minutes of fame I was destined to attain; that would be very disheartening. When I was young, I wanted to be a marine biologist until I found out that they spent more time researching plankton and sea slugs than playing with dolphins. This turned me off to that profession around age 10. Since then, I have felt that I have a lot to offer the world, but unsure of how to best go about sharing my God-given gifts. My fortes in 27 years of life have included:

- Being on time for everything. I am mercilessly punctual, and am quite certain that it hasn’t gotten me ahead at all in any way. It may have prevented me from getting fired or yelled at certain points, but it has never bettered my life.
- Not dying. Through my three tours in Iraq, I have encountered quite a few sticky situations. Thus far I am still alive. There has to be a marketable skill in there somewhere, right?
- Sarcasm. I’m great at snide remarks, and parlay this ability into making people around me either really like me or think that I’m possibly the biggest jerkoff to have ever lived. Disclaimer: by reading this blog, you have agreed that I am great, and, thanks to you, my ego is slightly bigger with every read. Great.
- Being a good friend/brother/son. I could list references (Dr. and Mrs. America, for starters), but I think you should take my word for it.
- Listening to music at high volume. You might think ‘well Matty, most males go through phases like that.’ You are correct. I’m just a normal guy who enjoys eardrum-shaking Finnish death metal. Oh, and I enjoy John Mayer. Interesting fact: if you listen to Mayer’s song ‘Neon’ backwards, there is a shout-out to me. True story.

Aside from these things, I have no real talents to use or share with the general populace. Maybe I will find a neat trick to do at a party or on Letterman, but at this rate I’m thinking that I am much more likely to have a disease named after me.

Recap: I am alive, I am quite possibly going crazy, I need beer.

Monday, 1 June 2009

memory lane

Please note the dark leg of Spc. Diablo-Cono on the right.

The interesting thing about memory is that time tends to round the edges of the sharper more painful experiences in life. When I think back to particularly hard times, I remember that they weren’t pleasant, but it’s hard to conjure the exact feelings of pain, misery, and suffering that I was experiencing at the time.

It is this fact that keeps me from going completely bat-shit crazy while deployed: years from now I will remember the laughs and friends, not so much the overpowering ignorance and stupidity that have guided my unit through the past twelve months.

While we sit and wait (we are ‘Kuwait-ing’ as Spc. Diablo-Cono put it so eloquently), select handfuls of people are chosen to depart before the rest of our unit. These decisions might seem random if looked at from above, but are highly preferential when viewed from another standpoint. It is the people who have supported the bullshit and hailed our spineless leaders as visionaries and modern-day Paul Reveres (“The douches are coming!”). It was this circle of sycophantic behavior that will most likely require lengthy and complicated surgical procedures to remove heads from some of our mid-level leadership’s asses. With any luck no one will survive the operations, strengthening both the army and the gene pool simultaneously.

As the chosen few trickle out like farts before a shit, the rest of us sit here, comatose. The only good thing I have found about this place is how utterly enjoyable the nighttime is. The temperature drops to a lovely 75-85 degrees and the winds die down. I venture happily out of my tent without my sunglasses and bask in the glory of painfully slow Internet. Since there is nothing more enjoyable to do here, we will endure sub-dialup speeds for hours at a time.

Rumors scurry around here like the child-sized rats that live among us in the tents. Everyone has a friend who heard that it might take an extra two weeks to get home. It might take three days. The sun is supposed to collapse within the next few hours. There is even a rumor that Tupac is not dead, he has just been stuck in Kuwait for the past decade. Who knows what to believe any more. The only thing I know for certain is that my blog is full of truth and honesty. Take my word for it: you can’t take anyone’s word for anything.

Recap: Kuwaiting to exhale, relating people to farts is comedy gold, should be home by December if all goes well!