Sunday, June 29, 2008

D-221: Hadj Politico

An Army 1LT who I work with, and who is becoming one of my buddies here, went to the Hadji shop today to pick up some VIP bars and overheard Hadj preaching to some Private about how George Bush doesn’t want him to have electricity.

This is the same Hadj that I buy my smokes from, the same Hadj who wants to have sex with Shakira, so I’m not mad at him. I’m sure he’s just regurgitating some shit that he heard, and the whole event was pretty unremarkable except that it led to a pretty spirited discussion in the office about the real reason that poor Hadj has no electricity and no air conditioning in the brutal 119⁰F Iraqi summer. In case you are wondering, the reason they have no electricity is because they can’t properly maintain their generators, that we gave them; they are constantly fucking with the power lines do siphon off more juice, consequently crashing the grid, and leaving low-hanging wires for trucks to drive into and tear apart; and the fact that the Iraqi government has yet to even break ground on a power plant despite reporting a $5 Billion surplus for the last fiscal year.

Anyhow, here are some highlights from that conversation:

MAJ: “These people haven’t done shit since inventing the zero.”

LT: “If only sitting on your ass with no shoes on produced electricity, these fucking guys could power the world.”

LT: “The whole thing is just God’s great jokes; I’m going to give you oil, and you are going to want that shit, but I’m putting it all in hell. And I’m going to fill the whole place up with the craziest fucking people you’ll ever meet; people who will literally kill their own baby just to blow out the tire on your truck.”

Quote of the Day: Army MAJ

“These people haven’t done shit since inventing the zero.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

D-225: The Worst Thing That Ever Happened To Me

The following incident occurred a few days ago, but I was so terribly traumatized by it that I wasn’t sure if I could write the post, I was not ready to relive it. In the interest of honesty and disclosure, and my desire to maintain an interesting blog, I will attempt to put it to paper now.

A few nights ago, out on a job, I was lying up on a bridge somewhere in Baghdad, lying flat on my back in my IBA trying to manipulate something with my hands. Of course, I don’t want to divulge any details of the job itself, but it’s not at all important to understand the catastrophic event that is about to transpire. Like I said, I was trying to manipulate something with my hands, and it was giving me fits. It was a pitch black night, and the object was situated in a position that made it difficult to both look at it and get my hands on it and the action required both hands. And naturally, it was a million fucking degrees hot out like always.

I could not manage to prop my flashlight in a workable position, so like always, I just put it in my mouth and held it steady with my teeth. Well, anyone who has ever done that knows that it’s a pain in the ass, and it kept falling out of my mouth and really pissing me off. So someone behind me was kind enough to grab the Mag-Lite and hold it in place for me. With the light in position, I was able to complete the chore, and hopped up to take care of the next step of the project, which I quickly completed and got back down to the original spot I was working to finish up. This time however, the flashlight holder was off, so I reached back and he dropped the flashlight back in my hand.

Here’s the thing, it was really dark, and I was really hot and focused on what I was doing, so I never really managed a good look at who was holding the flashlight. There were three other Americans on the bridge, and four Iraqi Police.

Well, the flashlight issue predictably started kicking my ass again, and without even thinking, I instinctively jammed the fucking thing back in my mouth. I immediately realized my mistake. It was in fact an IP that was holding it, with his dirty nasty hand that he probably had in his ass the whole night. I nearly threw up – Iraqi hygiene standards are notoriously low, and by low, I of course mean non-existent. It is not recommended to put anything they may have touched into your mouth.

I gagged immediately and did a bunch of spitting. My mouth was nearly bone dry at this point anyway, but I continued trying to spit anyway. I was so disgusted, and still am; I considered lighting my tongue on fire, or just cutting it out all together. I quickly wrapped up what I was doing, gave a quick hand wave to the rest of the team and said something that sounded like “leth go,” since my mouth was so dry and I still refused to swallow or let my tongue touch the sides of my mouth. I got back in the vehicle, opened a bottle of water, and poured it in my mouth, spitting it right back out on to the floor of the truck. The guy next to me said something like “what the fuck are you doing,” but I wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. I considered forcing throw up, but I didn’t see how it would help. I did the rinse, spit, repeat routine with about two liters of water, until there a puddle of the tainted liquid sloshing back and forth across the floor of the vehicle.

I told my buddy the story on the walk back to HQ after we returned; through his hysterical fits of laughter he managed a few consoling words:

“Dude, you know he probably had that hand in his ass. He was probably just sleeping with his dick in that hand, shit; he probably had his buddy’s dick in his hand too… or maybe had his hand in his buddy’s ass. You know how these dirty fucks are!”

Sadly, I do know how these “dirty fucks” are, and his words, though intentionally hurtful, were also very likely the truth. And they cut me like a knife. Then he concluded with this humdinger:

“So, basically, you just had an Iraqi’s dick in your mouth.”

Thanks asshole. I used nearly a whole bottle of Listerine until my mouth was completely numb. I considered just boiling water and pouring it over my tongue, and dealing with the burns, but ultimately decided against it.

While the jury is still out on whether or not I have hepatitis, one thing is for certain; my delicate psyche is permanently shattered by this incident.

Quote of the Day: Army 1LT to me.

“So, basically, you just had an Iraqi’s dick in your mouth.”

Sunday, June 22, 2008

D-228: The Terp

The Terp

A “Terp” is an interpreter; for obvious reasons, a lot of interpreters are necessary for our mission to win the “Hearts and Minds” of the Iraqi people. I don’t know a whole lot about the selection or recruitment process of Terps; some are American Military, some are American Civilians, Foreign Born American Citizens, or Third Country Nationals, but most are Iraqi.

This morning at breakfast, after I was finished eating and was up at the coffee counter preparing my coffee to go, someone grabbed my arm from behind, startling me and causing me to spill 4000⁰F coffee on my hand. It was a Terp who I’d never seen before; she was clearly a local national, about 40 years old (but who the hell can tell, she might be 25), skinny, and had a wild look in her eyes that you would expect to see if a person either met their childhood hero for the first time, or identified a person that they would like to kill. My gut was telling me it was the latter, but before I had the chance to throw scalding coffee at her and run away, she started talking.

“HELLO!” she shouted in a single short, loud burst as if it were her last breath. In fact, this is how everything she would say sounded; I will resist the urge to punctuate each individual word with an exclamation mark. She spoke and mannered in such a way, that if I were in Norfolk I would have positively identified her as a crack smoker without a seed of doubt in my mind. However, I am not certain that they have crack in Iraq, and even so, it would be a pretty ballsy move for a Terp to bring illicit drugs on to the FOB, so I am going to guess that perhaps spending the last five years in a war torn city has played havoc on her nerves, but I am not a doctor, and I still have not ruled out using weaponized coffee to facilitate egress.

“Um, Hi”


“The Augmentee…” I am stammering like a moron, because I am so confused. It’s not even 8:00AM and a Terp who I’ve never seen before is literally screaming in my ear. This is bizarre behavior, even for an Iraqi. Adding to my discomfort is that this Terp, like every other Iraqi, insists on standing about two centimeters away from my face when she is talking to me. The Iraqi failure to understand the American concept of personal space warrants a post all of its own, and was the topic of a conversation I had with my brother last week. Perhaps I will write about it in the future, if I feel it has enough substance, but for now let’s keep the focus on this skinny Iraqi crack-head who is standing well inside the borders of my personal territorial bubble and screaming at the top of her lungs.

“I, AM AMANDA!!!!!!” After each outburst, she gives one of those loud exhale laughs. She never blinks.

“Hi Amanda, it’s nice to meet you.” I am very uncomfortable.

“You are very HANDSOME!” At this point I am starting to pick up on the fact that she is making a very aggressive and clumsy pass at me, and hopefully not planning the details of my violent death; but I am not wholly convinced that it is not both.


“Wait, what?”

“THAT YOU ARE VERY HANDSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Oh, thanks… thank you. Um, yes, my wife tells me that.” I very awkwardly hold up my left hand and thumb at my wedding ring, accompanied by an even more awkward, embarrassed half laugh. Under any other circumstance, I would hate myself for behaving like such a retard, but I was so confused and uncomfortable, and even now, with the horror well behind me, I can’t think of a way I could have done any better.

“GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!, YOU MUST SAY HELLO TO ME WHEN YOU SEE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


“PROMISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The word promise could not have sounded more threatening. Kathy Bates in Misery flashed in my head.

“I promise.”

“GOOD, BYE BYE” A wave of relief passed through me as she turned away. I put the lid on my coffee and quickly retreated back to HQ.

I am now recalling a time in seventh grade, when I laughed so hard that snot blew out of my nose and landed in a single large, jiggly mass on the table, directly in front of the girl who I had a crush on for the entire year. I can remember the face she made, as if to say; “you are the single most disgusting person in the world, and I am never going to make out with you.” She never did make out with me.

I have not thought about that moment for years, but now, fifteen years later, I can remember every detail of it as if it happened yesterday, and remember that girls horrified face as if I was looking right at her. That is because it has just been ousted as the single most socially awkward and embarrassing moment of my life. Screaming Amanda, with her shrill voice, and the look behind her wild eyes that suggested that she was wondering how long it would take for me to bleed out, made me feel more frightened, ill-at-ease, and awkward than any junior high school crush could ever manage.

Quote of the Day: Army Major to me on my plan to "test" some electrical gear on a BFV.

“Well, that’s all well and good, but I’m the one who gets my fucking starfish punched if a Bradley gets fucked up!”

Friday, June 20, 2008

D-230: Real Joe Part I

Actual conversation:

"Yesterday, when Brian was bitching about his swamp-ass, I started wondering if Gold Bond could be directly applied to the ass."

"Yeah, what'd you come up with?"

"I tried it..."


"It's awesome (drawn out emphasis on "awesome"), you're gonna need some privacy to apply it though."

"I could imagine, that's not the type of thing you should be doing in the shower."

I can't make this stuff up.

Epilogue: Curiosity got the better of me, so I tried it. It is awesome.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

D-235: Harold and Kumar? Really?

After reading a GQ write-up on the merits of Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, I am very seriously considering the idea of watching this film that I had long ago written off as idiotic stoner nonsense. In spite of several recommendations from friends, many of whom claim this as one of the funniest movies ever, I still have very serious reservations. Many of my friends are, after all, idiot stoners, many others just idiots, and still many more just have bad taste. But one or two people, who's opinions I generally value in matters of this kind, have caught me off guard by encouraging me to see this film.

The article in the May 2008 GQ, paints a very lofty picture of the film, by portraying it as a sort of journey of two Asian American young men trying to achieve the American dream in a the white man's world, all cleverly and metaphorically hidden beneath a thick layer of dick and fart jokes.

"John Waters in his prime couldn't have packed a better Whitman's Sampler of our national dementias into eighty-eight goofball raunchy minutes."

I don't happen to know who John Waters is, but I do know what a Whitman's Sampler is, and I also believe that I understand this conclusion sentence to suggest that; not only Harold & Kumar a funny movie, but it is an important film and that I should watch it to get in touch with our national conscience as well as be entertained.

The second half of the 3 page article goes on to examine the role of the stoner comedy in American society and film history, and draws on some ominous examples. It calls on comparison to Airplane! and Talladega Nights, both movies that I loved, but also brings up the Cheech and Chong franchise, which is the reason I never wanted to watch this hippy piece of crap anyway.

I know many of you just love those Cheech and Chong flicks, but as I alluded to already, many of you are idiots. I hate them, and I'm also not a big fan of Borat or Jackass, and I absolutely hated Dude, Where's My Car? So much so, that typing that comma in the title annoyed me more than a little bit.

I'm relatively certain that I could dig up a copy of the DVD pretty easily, as idiots are abundant in Iraq as well (perhaps more so), but eighty-eight minutes of my precious free time is something I value, and I don't want to waste it on any crappy kick in the balls, sex-pun, hack comedy. A kick in the bag or a fart make for a great youtube clip, but I have to draw the line at feature films. Further, I'm not the type who can cease watching a movie just because it sucks, I stick it out to the bitter end (except in the case of Just Married with Ashton Kutcher, god that was awful; in fact, I am just going to go ahead and blanket everything with Ashton Kutcher under the "shit that I hate" column except the first few season of That 70s show, but only because that Red Foreman kills me).

So over to you friends, should I or should I not watch Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

D-239: Sherlock Holmes and the Golden Bottles

Today the sign poster's identity was revealed. Apparently, he was taking out the trash a few nights ago, and an improperly sealed bottle of piss leaked on his leg. He was so upset, that not only did he post his signs, but went door to door threatening to kill anyone who he caught pissing in bottles. Further, he routinely sifts through the trash looking for piss bottles with clues, so that he can track down the vile person pissing in bottles:

(psst... It's everybody.)

Today he found a bottle of piss in a plastic bag, inside that bag was also a receipt. He brought it to his First Sergeant. Finally, a lead; the bottle pisser SHOPS! Not only does he shop, but he shops at the PX!

(psst... So does everybody.)

I will keep you posted to any more breaking news from the case.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

D-240: Family Reunion

I went over to BIAP on Sunday to see my brother, he is just getting here and had a short stop in Baghdad before moving along to his final destination. I almost wasn't able to get there; there was a huge dust storm that lasted almost two days and grounded most flights. Luckily, my unit put together a convoy to Liberty, so I rode along with them.

My brother is a contractor, he's pretty guarded about what he does and where he goes, so I won't get in to it; this blog is about ME anyway. The set-up that his organization has got over at the VBC is super nice - shit, they live better than I do at home. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but it was nice. The highlight of the trip was at dinner when my brother actually complained aloud that his lamb chop was a little overdone. I looked at him as if to say "are you fucking kidding me? I've got scorpions in my bedroom and your lambchop is overdone?" He admitted to being spoiled but his lamb was over-cooked none-the-less.

We smoked a cigar and bullshitted for a few hours, then we had to part ways, but it was certainly a nice day. As far as deployment goes, that is about a good a day as you can have; to sit around with family and smoke a cigar. It was almost as if I wasn't in Iraq for a couple of hours.

The real bitch of it all is that neither of us had a camera; does that suck or what, a picture of two boys smoking a cigar 7000 miles away would have made a pretty nice father's day gift.

Monday, June 9, 2008

D-241: Bottle Peeing II: The Plot Thickens

The sign above was posted on every trash can and on the walls up and down the hallway the day after my original post. It is possible that someone here has discovered my blog and is fucking with me; it is much more likely that one of the Joes responsible for collecting the trash has gotten tired of hauling 300 pounds of other peoples piss out to the dumpster. It is very unlikely that this is an order from on high; of which a violation will carry some kind of legitimate punishment. So my conclusion is that we bottle pissers are facing some sort of “Joe Ninja” revenge scheme, should we be caught dumping our wares into the trash bins.

So while a Joe punishment may not be a legitimate punishment, he has the power to make it an actual punishment none-the-less. “Personnel caught, will be dealt with” is ominous language indeed; perhaps the sign poster should be taken seriously. After all, how much do you want to screw with a person who has access to a virtually limitless supply of bottled urine? I could come back to the room one day and have gallons of piss dripping from my ceiling tiles. That certainly would not improve conditions in my scorpion infested abode.

So now my moral dilemma has turned into a risk vs reward analysis. I do love peeing in the bottle; and I’m reasonably certain I could make it to my urine bottle dump spot undetected; but the consequences could be disastrous. This is a tough one; your thoughts?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

D-244: Moral Dilemma

OK, look; I know the bathroom is not that far, but it's not all that close either. I'd call it about a 500 ft walk over loose gravel. The bigger issue, is that if you are wearing you're ACUs, then you have to put on your boots.

I drink about six to eight 1-Liter bottles of water everyday. The result is two-fold; one, I always have to pee. Two, spacious 1-Liter water bottles are plentiful and always on hand. I think you see where I'm going with this.

Is it OK to piss in water bottles in my room?

I'm not saying all the time. Just in times of distress, or at least extreme inconvenience. If I happen to be sitting around my room in PT gear, there's no question. I slip on my sneakers and run to the head. If I'm out and about, I'll always choose to go to the head rather than come back to my room specifically to piss in a bottle there.

But what about the middle of the night? Or how about when I am still in ACUs, stealing a well-deserved hour or so to listen to an album or watch Battlestar Galactica? Can I piss in my room then?

On the ship, it was common for a 6 or 8 man stateroom to designate one sink the "pissing sink." That's much worse, since the bathrooms are all pretty conveniently located nearby. But also better, because you're not left with a bottle of piss to get rid of. I was never really a big fan of the piss sink anyway, so this little sidebar is completely irrelevant.

Anyway, obviously I have and will continue to fill water bottles with urine in the same room that I sleep in. I'm just wondering how guilty and nasty I should feel about it. Your thoughts...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

D-246: Kennedy Assassination - Uncovered

One of the Joes really made me laugh yesterday. A really young Private stands the night duty behind the desk at the entranceway to the building that I live in. I usually stop and bullshit with him and whoever else is hanging around on my way to the head, maybe smoke a cigarette with him. He's a nice guy, and really happy to tell you everything on his mind, emphasis on "everything.".

Well, when I walked up yesterday, the young Private had the stage, making a very animated and apparently convincing argument about something, and waving his hands around a lot. His audience was giving him 100% of their attention. Once I got close enough to hear, I discovered that he was uncovering every truth about the assassination of JFK that the government doesn't want you to know. He had a tattered JFK conspiracy theory paperback in his hand, which he waved around emphatically and referred to frequently. I was a little impressed with how well he seemed to recall all the books arguments, which are the standard JFK stuff that you've been hearing forever.

The thing about it that I found funny, was that he just seemed like he had completely gotten to the bottom of this big mystery that everyone has been wondering about all these years. All the answers were right here in this book, it's just that no one ever thought to look there before.