The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


December 20, 2006

Name: SGT Brandon White
Posting date: 12/19/06
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Diamond, Ohio
Milblog url:

The boredom is irreversibly maddening in this place, where keeping your mind occupied is the name of the game. And I am losing, miserably. It's like getting to level three in Super Mario and never quite making the leap over that gigantic pit of nothingness. I can see King Koopa off in the distance there, irking me on with his fiery nostrils, but alas I am unable to attack him. That is a mission for the ANA. I can only mentor.

I wish I could say we were in our seventh-inning stretch, but I can't, not yet. It is only month six. I sit out on the patio of our building watching a bird pick at the lone Christmas decoration we have emplaced, a piece of red garland perhaps three feet in length which bedecks our small camp's tree. Not a Christmas tree mind you, just a tree. How the hell does it live with the lack of water in this place? Man, I wish a mortar would land and take it out. Perhaps that would cure the damn boredom.

I wonder how my wife is doing. Are the bills being paid? I hate paying bills. I'm glad I don't have to pay bills right now. I know, writing will keep my mind sharp. But what to write about? I saw a local contractor washing his feet with the run-off from a running washing machine yesterday. He was using the hose that sprouted from the rear of the machine, hosing off his sandals as well. Now there's a story. How do these people wear sandals year-round? Wow it's cold out here.

I once again step to the edge of that pit, I lean out ever so slightly and try to make sense of the black nothingness below. All at once the old familiar images begin flashing in rapid succession in my mind, like a warm hand on my shoulder encouraging me on into insanity. I see a fly-covered corpse lying in a sewage-infested culvert in An Najaf, black from the number of flies. I see an orange and white taxi with holes the size of tennis balls lacing its exterior. Inside, blood and bits of skin are splattered everywhere.

No, I can't. I won't go there again. I look across the pit. The princess is standing there. She waves a white hanky at me. I must get to her. I must leap over this pit, save the princess and collect my coins.   


It sounds like you miss video games. Do you not have a gameboy over there?

Hang in there Brandon... Boredom can be a fate worse than death... Keep writing, keep doing and we will keep reading...

Since you are a thinker, here's one for ya...

I saw a strange creature:
Long, hard, and straight,
Thrusting into a round, dark opening,
Preparing to discharge its load of lives,
Puffing and squealing noises accompanied it,
Then a final screech as it slowed and stopped.
Say what I mean.

On first glance, it's apparent the under-tone of the question :) But after thinkng it through. I'm gonna go with:

A train pulling into a train station, dropping off passengers?

Hang tough, Baby. Most of war, according to those I know who have been there, is boredom. And the ugly slideshow - its on endless loop. BUT, you can dim the screen and look over it to the more beautiful things to come, with practice.

Sounds like paige is trying to get you to think of the old hotdog through a donut rolling through the lincoln tunnel thing. Supposedly guys think of it every 57 seconds. Its one distraction but one I hear is contrary to regs.

You will come back. You will have a spruce with tinsel another year. kinda silly to wear shoes when there isn't the water to wash socks....

LOL!! Its actually not dirty at all.... Its a riddle; just wanted to make him think for a while. Great everyone at work is looking at me wondering why I'm laughing so hard....

Hey Brandon, check the link for photos of some puppies being raised here in VA as livestock and family guardians - these dogs are originally from the part of the world you're in now. The nomads raising flocks there 1000's of years ago bred them to protect and serve - and each one will grow up to be a big strong, loyal and brave protector, whether of flock or family. Right now you feel a million miles from anything like home and puppies, but any image you can put in place of the horror show is worth looking at. There are folks back here holding you in their thoughts, praying every day for your health and safety, even though we don't know you. Write more, we're here, we're reading you. Hang in there, and thank you.

your Mario Brothers game seems like what other people go through. the only thing you need to focus on is encouragement to get across that big space of nothingness. sometimes you need to go back a bit, and run a little faster, and jump in order to make it. your princess i would guess is your wife. not saying you have to save her, just stay focused on her. keep writing, draw a bit if you want, and keep trying to beat that level.

I see a fly-covered corpse lying in a sewage-infested culvert in An Najaf, black from the number of flies.

I wish a mortar would land and take it out. Perhaps that would cure the damn boredom.

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