Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I got an e-mail from a reader recently, who is at Fort McCoy getting ready to start his IA, and he told me that my relief has been identified, and will be in theater no later than November. This rumor was confirmed by my boss. This is very, very good news. First, it means that there is no plan in place for me to perform any in-theater moves, making cryptic “McLovin’” even more of a douche than originally suspected. Second, November is not far away, and the chance exists, and in fact is being talked about at high levels, of sending one Mr. Augmentee home a little early! Christmas is a long shot, but perhaps I’ll be home in time to watch a Penn State National Championship Game? Hmmm? Maybe blow my savings on a trip to Miami to see it? Who knows.
So, everything is gravy. Plus, I returned to the FOB today; deciding that the conditions at the COP were not dignified enough for a man of my stature, I caught the first train out of there and came back here to change out the old underpants. All things told, a pretty good day.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Life out here, while void of some of the more lavish "creature comforts" of the FOB, is actually pretty enjoyable in it's hassle-free simplicity. There are no meetings, aside from a few taking place on the FOB which I am required to teleconference in to, leaving my schedule wide open to engage in my many leisurely pursuits. These consisted mainly of football watching during the weekend, but there was also ample time to watch Platoon and read about 300 pages worth of Zinn's A People's History of the United States. There is a tent with workout equipment, and I can run around the perimeter (9 laps = 1 mile). The shower facilities didn't work for the first few days, but are now back online, and a line of very stinky porta-johns serve as toilets, and double as a breeding ground for a race of super-flies that are unmatched in speed or tenacity by any fly I have here-to-fore encountered in my lifetime.
The flies are everywhere on the tiny COP, but are highly concentrated in the bathroom area, where they torment and frustrate you to the point of tears while you try to brush your teeth. Ten or twelve will position themselves on various parts of your body, and will respond to being brushed off by simply flying a short loop and returning immediately to their original position. Their entire route never takes them more than two inches away from your body, and provides absolutely no relief. Invariably, one or two will choose to take residence on your head or face, and when brushed off, they fly directly through your field of vision before returning, just to let you know that they are still there, and that they will not be leaving any time soon. Your only defense is to continuously pace the length of the bathroom while you brush (an option unavailable while shaving), constantly shaking and kicking your legs and arms around like Michael J. Fox in a vain effort to shake off flies.
Their is rarely a fruit or vegetable to be found, so the meals consist of a meat and a starch, and of course their is always plenty of cookies, muffins, and other assorted crap lying around - so the food is nutritionally terrible but on the whole it tastes okay. All in all, I have no complaints; in fact, I rather like it here.
When I first arrived at my Non-Air Conditioned tent, I was a little grumpy about the disparaging accommodations, and once again wondered if the Army was ever made aware of what a "High Valued Asset" that I am. I unpacked my sea-bag, and arranged my items in neat little piles on the floor under my bed, and to my horror, realized that I forgot to pack underpants! I was riddled with anxiety when I thought of spending 10 days without underpants AND without air conditioning. The sum of which is far worse than either part taken individually.
The only solution I could manage was this; I would take my underpants into the shower and thoroughly rinse and ring them out, then hang them on a bed post to dry out. I considered perhaps using shampoo to supplement the cleansing process, which would certainly improve the scent, but I worried that this might lead to some uncomfortable itchiness should I fail to rinse it out completely enough so ultimately settled against it. This system allows me to wear them on alternating days, and go commando on the between days. This is day five of the cycle, making today an "underpants day," and I have realized that going without undies is not nearly as catastrophic as I had originally made out. It feels good to be free of this unnatural dependence on underpants - I am not advocating this as a lifestyle choice, and by no means to I intend to boycott underwear altogether, I just simply am not reliant on it anymore.
Underwear is a crutch. Hooah.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Once a month or so, I receive an e-mail from someone who happened upon the blog, thanking me for giving them some insight as to what their upcoming IA deployment will be like. While I’m happy that people are enjoying it, it is kind of depressing that Sailors are forced to turn to the world of ego-bloggers to get any information on what their upcoming deployment will be like. I think that shows that although the Navy has been in the IA business for about five years, they aren’t getting any better at it.
While I was home on leave, I spoke with my CO, and he asked me some specific questions about the IA because he was hosting some muckity-muck from the CNOs office that happened to have a heavy hand in IA tasking. Listing my grievances, I realized that the most stressful part of this whole deployment so far was the disorganization of the Navy on the front end. It seems the Navy pre-deployment support policy is still “Good luck, let us know how it goes!” That’s disappointing.
More disappointing still, AFN will not be airing the Penn State game this week. I understand that Michigan is having a pretty shitty year, but ask anyone who went to PSU how big this game is. If Penn State doesn’t win this week, I am likely to have a breakdown of Brittany-esque magnitude. It’s for the harvest – you know what I mean? Let’s Go State!
MAJ X: You’re boss is really starting to piss me off.
Augmentee: You’re my boss sir, that doesn’t make sense.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I have two bosses. In fact, I have two entirely separate chains of command; one Navy, one Army. The Army chain, most immediately led by the venerable Major X, has been the most influential thus far – they write my FITREP and my tour award but most importantly, they rule by proximity; I sleep here, work here and eat here. They are the proverbial “alligator closest to the canoe,” or more aptly “hands closest to my throat.” The Navy chain of command has thus far been of very little help or usefulness, the only thing they could provide would be to step in on my behalf, should I choose to tattle-tale on Major X for some perceived mistreatment – but one need look no further than my previous blogs (or previous sentence) to uncover ample reasons why tattling on the X-Man is not an attractive option.
Recently however, the balance of power has shifted slightly, in what seems to be no more than a petty inter-service rivalry that pits yours-truly in the middle of opposing forces of evil and evil. The one thing that the Navy side of the house has ultimate control over is my “tasking.” Meaning, they have the power to yank me from this unit at any moment and assign me to another one, or worse, assign me to Headquarters where I can valorously finish my deployment making coffee and powerpoint presentations, in the end, making me wish I had ate the Hadj food and subsequently shit myself to death.
The cause of this sudden tumult of my otherwise peaceful (relatively speaking of course) existence is not entirely understood by me or any of my immediate supervisors, but the gist is as follows:
NAVY: We told you to prepare for the departure of your EWO, and you failed to so. So, prepare for the departure of your EWO.
ARMY: Why should we prepare for the EWO’s departure, when the EWO is still here? Is the EWO, in fact, departing?
NAVY: I am not at liberty to say, but you must make preparations.
This exact flavor of bickering pops up every two months or so, in which the Navy proclaims that they are getting out of the EWO business, and that the Army needs to settle its affairs. The Navy seems to have put very little thought into when it is actually retiring from the EWO game, or in what manner it will employ the individuals currently serving as EWO - although, it should be noted, they specifically stated that we would not be getting sent home.
So with the dream of being home for Christmas preemptively shattered, the alternatives to this FOB, where I have made many friends, have my own room, and have fine-tuned my program to a such a degree that maintaining it requires minimum effort (and maximum Battlestar Galactica time), do not seem appealing. I can go to another unit, make new friends, inherit a potentially much fucked up program, and roll the bones on accommodations; or I can be relegated to the horrible world that is the Victory Base Complex, where I can see to the aforementioned coffee. So as guilty as I feel by saying it, especially today, on the 233rd birthday of the noble sea-going service, I am on team Army on this one – and will do all in my power (which is not much) to keep from being relocated.
My personal preferences aside, no one can seem to offer any rational explanation on why I would be pulled from a unit, so close to the end of their deployment and mine, other than “well, we told them to prepare.”
Quote of the Day:
MAJ X: I don’t give a fuck what his hair looks like, he’s in the Navy.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Yesterday, in honor of the end of Ramadan, the XO ordered some kind of feast of local fair, presumably in some sort of display of “cultural sensitivity.” The thing was catered by some Hadj company that one of the Hadji shop owners found, and it looked very suspect from the get-go. It consisted of various parts of a goat’s body still attached to shards of bone that looked like they were smashed apart with a sledge hammer rather than cut with any kind of blade, sitting atop a giant plate of rice-a-roni, accompanied of course by pita bread and several dishes of green, brown, and yellow mashed up baby vomit to dip the bread in. As you could have probably guessed, the whole thing smelled like “Sex Panther.”
Having learned this lesson the hard way back in June, when some local goat filled hot-pocket liquefied my intestines and had me running to the toilet for three days, I bolted from the building the second this meal was brought through the door. Had I stayed behind, I would have had Iraqi’s begging me to eat for three hours; “You’re not going to eat?” Why don’t you eat?” “Won’t you try it?” If they only knew how much they had in common with Jewish mothers, I think the Mid-East crisis would have been over decades ago. Maybe we should just have the Israelis and Palestinians sit down and guilt each other into eating Matzo balls and Goat Kebobs for a few hours and see what happens.
They would all have their feeling generally hurt when I offered my series of excuses for not eating; “No thanks, I just ate yesterday.” “It’s against my religion to eat goat.” Likewise, the truth would hurt their feelings even more; “you’re un-clean food makes my asshole explode.” Then all the Army guys with the iron stomachs would call me a pussy and shake their heads in disapproval.
Quote of the Day:
MAJ X: “Every two weeks we all devour a giant bowl of stupid soup!”
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I’m definitely back in Iraq; things really got into full swing today, and it all of the sudden feels like I never left. I was so relaxed and refreshed after my Puerto Rican vacation, but 24 hours worth of Army bullshit later and I’m more tense than a wigwam and a teepee (sorry, couldn’t resist). The latest is that they may move me to a different unit; which will be really nice, getting to pack up all the shit that I’ve accumulated and start over making new friends and learning a new job. I don’t want to go; I am comfortable with the status quo. I can’t even call this Army bullshit, as it is just as much the Navy’s fault as the Army, and I am just a pawn in this game. Dust in the wind dude… dust in the wind.
Well, I’m not interested in talking about my vacation. The trip back here took 6 days and was hellish; I occupied my time with NCAA ’09 on PSP and Ambien plus a bed so I could sleep away the horror that is Kuwait. The only positive of the journey was that I was actually looking forward to getting back to my base because I hated it so much. When I finally arrived here the electricity was out, and while the team of 125 Pakistanis tried to fix it by digging holes and climbing ladders and otherwise acting like they were in a Benny Hill episode, we treated it as a snow day and found a place with power to play Call of Duty IV all day.
Yesterday I started getting caught up on all the work that I left behind, and today I found out about the possibility of moving and spent the better part of the day whining about it and pouting; “No Fair.” Just sitting in my room and looking around at all the shit I have everywhere between things I brought, things I bought, and things that were sent to me in generous care packages, I am having a little anxiety attack. I will have to end up just giving all this stuff away.
I’m not sure if anyone still looks at the blog, considering how I have posted almost nothing for over a month. The truth is, I have very little to say these days. Iraq is Groundhog Day – it is beating the funny out of me.Important Note: I adjusted the D-Number to reflect how many days until I am released from theater - that number is more important to me because life is easy-breezy from there. Also, that number is smaller.