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.

iWAR |

April 25, 2008

iWAR
Name: LT G
Posting date: 4/25/08
Stationed in: Iraq
Hometown: Reno, Nevada
Milblog: Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal                 

Rumble young man, rumble.

Make it more true than true is. As muddled as war appears on paper, it still has to make some sort of sense to survive the transformation into language. That is why I write. It makes more sense here than it does out there. If I ever make sense of it all, there won’t be a reason for these words anymore. I’ll finally fade into that proud sand castle defying the sea for the sake of defiance. Alone, under the red hot moon. Doomed to fail, blessed to try. That’s all I’ve really ever wanted out of life. To be left alone, to fight impossible on my own terms.

The act of creation. Jimmy Rabbit on a bus. Pogues in a Port-a-John. Emily Dickinson locked away in an attic. God at a pub, liquored up in a dark corner, doodling on a napkin. Like pulling fangs off of a rabid baboon with pliers, as explainable as the board game Wall Street Land to a people who do not comprehend the concept of excess. Diversify those bonds, mistah.

We all have our methods. Mine has always been somehow sitting still long enough to retch up a pile of brain vomit, followed by meticulously rigid editing and re-editing ingrained by journalistic tendencies by way of poking said brain vomit with a sanity stick. Don’t analyze that too deeply. There was nothing phallic about that statement.

WhoWhatWhenWhereWhyandWhyagainandWhyoverandover. Save the Chief Wahoo greeting for the mathematicians and meterosexual drag queens. Invert that pyramid. It takes time to organize random musings into something worth sharing and even more time to make it readable. I used to write at night, beer in hand, and edit in the morning, water in hand. Cue General Order No. 1. Now I write mad and edit sad, whenever I can.

iWar. Fitting, in that succinct, catchy pop culture kind of way. Perfect for this Era of Irony. No LOL-erskates for the whYkids, but they’ll get over it. iWar. It’s not my phrase, though I appreciate it and am happy to Oscar Wilde it. I got it from an article about blogging in the Iraq War that quoted me. Bask in the shameless self-promotion. To be fair, I don’t think it was the reporter’s phrase either. It begins with "i", so Apple Computers probably has a patent on it. Just like iPod, iTunes, and iRack.

I War. Subject. Verb. Where’s the object? We’re still looking for it, five years later. How’s that for iRony?

I get it. My suffering and soul-searching is not as deep or as angst-worthy as your suffering and soul-searching was. Were you in Fallujah, LT? How about Somalia? Now that was some fucked up shit. My war was SO much more trying than your war. Spare me the juvenile sensitivities; internalizing anything makes you soft. We didn’t have time for that bullshit in Desert Storm. How tough can it be? You have internet access, for Mohammed’s sake. And a mattress.

Fair enough. Counterinsurgencies are not nearly as cool or memorable as the apocalyptic offensives that spawn their existence in the first place. Following that logic though, we all owe the survivors of Antietam our first-born sons and a free rub-and-tug at the local Asian massage parlor.

But wait! They had a pen and a pad to write letters home! Some of them even owned socks. They aren’t nearly as legit as Alexander the Great’s epical Macedonian Marauders. They literally did nothing but kill things 25/8, which clearly elevates them beyond mere soldier status. Their rules of engagement were simply two words. Rape. Pillage. The “and” came later, inadvertently fucking everything up, leading to the point where the world’s lone superpower can’t make juice boxes out of the fruit of their enemy’s skulls anymore. Not directly, at least. Now we just hire them to squeeze their own juice while we provide the fruit and the pre-shaped cardboard and the plastic straw.

ShootMoveAndCommunicateBOOMBOOM.

Scouts Out.

ShootMoveAndCommunicateBOOMBOOM.

Scouts Out.

ShootMoveAndCommunicateBOOMBOOM.

Scouts Out.

As the keyboard Marines of the blogosphere reminded me during the rules of engagement saga, this is war!!! How e-tuff. Thanks for the advice, it’s kind of hard to forget that when you live it and sleep it and breathe it on a daily basis. I play real-world Frogger with IEDs every time we roll out of the wire, Mesopotamian sand rests at the bottom of my lungs like spare change in a swimming pool, the Gravediggers are awaiting CABs for actioning into combat and whistling bullets without hesitation, and I’m still removing bits of Boss Johnson flesh grunge from my memory with a spatula -- and the computer screen dares to lecture about what war is? Typing to kill and repeating asinine banalities found on World War II-era posters are clearly more profound and well-intentioned than ten pages of literary greatness devoted to five seconds of black-bursting clairvoyance written by someone who was actually fucking there. No thanks for the exclamation mark abuse.

Sigh.

To hell with it though, as skewed and as wrong as those individuals may be, at least they are interested. That’s about as rare nowadays as finding a polar bear that thinks global warming is a communist conspiracy.

Give the cute baby seals a hammer and sickle, and put them to work. For the Motherland, of course.

Chew Tobacco

Chew Tobacco

Chew Tobacco

Spit

If You Ain’t Cav

You Ain’t Shit.

I know people care about the iWar. But not enough, given the circumstances. Not even close. Agree or disagree with the war, I don’t care -- just give a fuck. Be able to find Basra on a map, know that the Tigris isn’t some sort of unholy crossbreed found at the San Diego Zoo, try to figure out the difference between a Sunni and a Shi’a even if it conplexes and perfuses your mind beyond repair.

I wish I could issue some loud, righteous proclamation here about the repercussions of such continued resounding American apathy, but who are we kidding? The warrior caste is simply too small nowadays, and too proud. There will be no reckoning for all of this. We’ll fight the fights not because we necessarily want to, but because no one else will. We were bred to protect. Even if we’re protecting nothing more than an isolationistic yawn prefacing the continental slumber history demands occur after protracted warfare.

I used to dream of a life without consequences. Like that defiant sand castle though, it has been swallowed up by a crashing surf of memories, washed away, lost in the swirl of bleeding blue.

iWar. Mine, not yours. This war. My War. Our War. We War. I War.

You peace. Out.

Here’s a secret, though. I’ll let you in on it, if you promise not to tell the chickenhawks or Jody or the Spooks. Sand castles can be rebuilt. The surf can destroy the castles, but not the sand itself. No one and no thing can destroy the sand but myself. And that won’t happen anymore. I will rebuild my sand castle, someday, somewhere else, somewhere where I think the surf can’t find me. In a lagoon where peace is stillness and stillness is peace. Alone, under the red hot moon. Fighting to fight, finding a noble cause in an ignoble world. And tucked away in the deepest dungeon of the castle, where no one will be allowed to go, not even me, will be a piece of scrap paper with the address to this blog site written in smudged ink on it. My link to this iWar, where I finally stumbled into an adventure that I couldn’t sleep off. The last link to a life with consequences.

Rumble young man, rumble.

Comments

I don't count, but I am watching and wondering and praying for y'all, when you come home I will be glad although I expect much of the country will be looking at the hotest belly button of the current over exposed lively ladies... you can watch, too. Mindless entertainment while the world whirls down into the gutter and to the sea...

Kinda reminds me of Micheal Herr, doesn't it you?

Thinking of you, Lt.

Write mad and edit sad? Well, that certainly came through. None of us who have been lucky enough to never serve in a war zone can ever truly understand it, least of all me. But I do honor your service, not with the cheap "Support our Troops" magnets. Rather, it comes from what I've come to know of the lives of WWII vets I'm lucky enough to know.

I pray that like them, you'll one day be able to write and talk about your war with not only anger and sadness, but also a certain amount of pride in what you were able to accomplish.

I am neither a rabid flag waver nor a street corner war protester. I am simply a patriot who happens to be against this war. Thank you again for your service.

I know people care about the iWar. But not enough, given the circumstances. Not even close. Agree or disagree with the war, I don’t care -- just give a fuck. Be able to find Basra on a map, know that the Tigris isn’t some sort of unholy crossbreed found at the San Diego Zoo, try to figure out the difference between a Sunni and a Shi’a even if it conplexes and perfuses your mind beyond repair.

Thanks so much for your words. And your service. I love your blog and I'm rooting for you to come home and continue on with whatever life you want to live. You deserve it. I give a fuck. Maybe even two fucks. :)

Why don't you get your CIC to do something about it? He will never read your story. He has his head in some cloud trying to make peace in the Middle East. You make an impression on us, the taxpayers but the big shots still have their heads up their butts!

Profound...and no I'm not talking about the brain vomit. That symbol of thinking is rare indeed in todays society. To actually care and think?! You have nailed much of this countries mentality, unfortunately. But, as for the rest of us, we do what we can...the Patriot Guard, Soldiers Angels, American Legion, and any volunteering of time and finances that can be spared. If you have any further suggestions to the aformentioned, I would seriously like to hear it. It is amazing how a sand castle can survive the troubled waters if there is enough support to keep it safe. Sometimes we are not given the opportunity to try.

Good to hear you again. Write however you can and edit the same. We love that you do it and need to do it. We need to hear you. Yes, you will rebuild your sand castles, repeatedly. And, yes, some of us are paying attention in our comfy living rooms with digital cable and many versions of bread and circuses. Laptop typing on the sofa.

The war "news" is mainly hidden deep where the buzzline skimmers don't have to bump into unpleasant news over coffee. I am deeply shamed by that. It is not a new thing, but you are there in my name now and that reality surpasses the latest trumped up craze or pop scandal.

You are in it and it is dangerous--it is real.
My son-in-law is in it as a bomb finder and for him it is dangerous and real.
When you get home it will be real for the rest of your life but on a different level.
At times you will wonder if it was all a weird dream.
It was that way in '68 also.

It never seems enough, but thank you and I care.

I guess whatever news reports you get to see aren't mentioning that opposition to the iWar is growing stronger every day. No, it isn't affecting our lives anywhere near like it is yours, but the American people are sick of it and we want you all safely home. Hang in there -- and keep writing.

Man you can sling the wordage. I really enjoyed this bit of writing. My son's just arrived in Iraq and I hoped he would be a fobbit but I don't think that's happening. And now I have a whole platoon of sons to worry about because that's how it is with my family, they're like Jello;there's always room for more. Been an ayah-man meself but one with a gun protecting nukes from Sandanista cows. They were the ones with sunglasses and spanish accented "moos". We did a good job. No cow ever threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction until Barbara Bush sent her retarded son forth to punish the nation for its gullibility and greed. Keep writing. Keep living. (And I say this not lightly) God Bless you soldier(s) LCB

Man you can sling the wordage. I really enjoyed this bit of writing. My son's just arrived in Iraq and I hoped he would be a fobbit but I don't think that's happening. And now I have a whole platoon of sons to worry about because that's how it is with my family, they're like Jello;there's always room for more. Been an ayah-man meself but one with a gun protecting nukes from Sandanista cows. They were the ones with sunglasses and spanish accented "moos". We did a good job. No cow ever threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction until Barbara Bush sent her retarded son forth to punish the nation for its gullibility and greed. Keep writing. Keep living. (And I say this not lightly) God Bless you soldier(s) LCB

Lt. G, thanks for the glimpse of reality. Please keep writing, and take heart (yeah, right) that some of us who teach do make sure that their students CAN find Basra on a map. The bummer in all this is that this semester I had an OIF vet as an undergraduate. This @#$%^ war has gone on that long!
Hang on and keep hitting that keyboard.

I went shopping and found a pair of used .357 Sigs in a gun store, a really nice P229 with what I later learned was a set of beautiful wood Elite grips. And they also had a plain Jane black P226 in .357 Sig. Both were good guns at about the same price, so I decided bigger was better and went for the P226.

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