Wednesday, March 30, 2005

This moving thing is complicated!

I'm in the process of moving from this place to the Great Midwest (can you just detect a pinch of sarcasm?), and the army has given me 2 weeks to do so.

That's not enough time, according to both the army movers and civilian movers.

We've got a lot of $*&t to pack, and so far, we're less than 1/3 done.

Of course, the person responsible for handling my moving with the gov't is out today also...

...I think I'm about to pull out my pubes!

Monday, March 21, 2005

On the other view of the war...

Below is an except from "", from the newpaper "The Olympian":

Division over war bared

OLYMPIA -- Two years and 1,519 U.S. casualties after the start of war in Iraq, family members of a soldier who died early in the conflict said there is no reason to keep fighting.

The widow and older sister of Spc. Joe Blickenstaff told more than 200 people Saturday that the continued occupation of Iraq would only bring more harm to soldiers, both U.S. and Iraqi.

Read the Entire Entry...»

The group gathered Saturday on the Capitol Campus before marching downtown, while a smaller group marked the day on an overpass north of Lacey, where they have gathered every Saturday since the war began to support the military.

Blickenstaff, a gunner with the Fort Lewis-based Stryker Brigade, died in Iraq on Dec. 8, 2003, in a rollover accident in his Stryker. He was 23, the youngest of four children.

"My baby brother drowned in an irrigation canal filled with mud," said Susan Livingston, a teacher's assistant in Bellingham.

Angela Blickenstaff, the soldier's widow, spoke out against the war for the first time. Blickenstaff is in the National Guard, and has refrained from joining peace movements because of her military service, she said.

"I was told by other members of the military it would be OK to put a bumper sticker on my car, but if I spoke at a rally it would be unpatriotic and unsupportive of the troops," said the 25-year-old widow, who lives in Tacoma. [...]

Near Fort Lewis, about 20 people gathered to wave U.S. flags at the Interstate 5 overpass at exit 122. Like some of the peace protesters, many of them were veterans and family members of soldiers.

Mark Ceccarelli, a retired Marine from Lakewood, plays the trumpet on the overpass almost every Saturday to show his support of the soldiers.

"They won't let me carry a rifle anymore, so this is how I support them," he said. "I carry the flag for them. It's what I can do."

Olympia resident Mitzi Leifer often attends pro-troops rallies, although she didn't Saturday. Her son is an Air Force pilot stationed in the Pacific, who occasionally flies missions in the Middle East. Iraq is better off now than it was two years ago, she said.

"The election was one major event that will help the tides to change," said Leifer. "There are still some car bombings going on and people wanting to kill us. When the president said it's going to be a long road, I believe that."

Seeing peace protests sometimes upsets her, although it doesn't seem to upset her son, she said.

"I've learned to ignore them and kind of bless them," she said. "If they want to believe that, that's their right, just don't spit on my son when he comes home."

Livingston is still proud of her brother's military service, she said. But she wishes she could see him alive again. She said she wants to see more soldiers' families spared that grief, and save soldiers the pain of injury and mental illness like post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I said goodbye to him in November of 2003. He came home in his coffin a month later," said Livingston.

Livingston and her mother met with President Bush at Fort Lewis shortly after the soldier died. Bush was visiting the Army post and meeting with Gold Star families -- the families of dead soldiers.

"He told my mom, 'I'm going to make sure your son didn't die in vain.' He was telling all the mothers that," Livingston recalled. "I admire staying power, but in this case it terrified me. He's not going to stop.

"A thousand coffins have come home since Joe's and it's still in vain," she said.

*Not to get political here, but when I'd think about the seemingly unfounded connection between the weapons of mass destruction issue (that was subsequently glossed over when none were found in Iraq.), and the "Axis of evil" concept (now Iraq is a hotbed of anti-US insurgent activities.), it does also make me wonder about when will Mr.Bush be satisfied and start devising a more sound plan to revitalize Iraq, instead of having all these soldiers come back from Iraq and Afghnistan in coffins, and suffering from permanent injuries/PTSD's) Is it any wonder that the military is having a hard time maintaining its retention goals? After all the commotions and emotions has passed, you are going to have people question if its all really worth it.

Not to get on a soapbox here, but one of the ways to improve the present situation is by dialoguing between those who oppose and those who support to military cause. Learn as much as we can from this experience and do it better next time around.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I had a good time hanging out with my sister!

My sister's 26 years old, and we did not grow up together like other siblings. She is my only sibling,and shortly after she was born, my parents got divorced. She came to live stateside when I was about to graduate from high school. Not having much interaction with each other, we sort of just left each other alone to do our own thing.

Over the years, however, concerns about our birth parents and grandparents sort of brought us together. I try not to lecture like a typical older sister, thankfully, she's stubborn enough not to really listen to me. Even though I'm older, I'm not sure that I'm that much wiser.

She eventually met this man and got married after being with him on and off for the last 8 years, and divorced little bit before the year was through. He basically used her and for a while, then basically got sick of her and left.

So now she lives along with her beagle and is feeling quite lonely. Since I only see her during family gatherings, I decided to take a weekend and go see her. I got really lucky and got to fly for free because of frequent flyer miles.

She lives in the surburb of Milwaukee, on the Illnois side, and before I started my journey, I told her that we were just going to hang out, eat, and play with her dog, and that's exactly what we did. Between bites of Japanese, American, Indian, and Thai foods, we talked about everything. There were tiny moments of almost complete disagreement, but we just relaxed and didn't pursue the issues too much further. We're very similar, but also very different, we'll both do whatever that we wanted to do, just with different styles and different levels of guilt.

I can see that she feels quite lonly, but out of her recent heartbreak, she has come out stronger and better.

I had a good time, it's good to have a sister that I can get along with!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Congratulations, Colby Buzzell!...and other stuff.

I ran across Colby Buzzell's blog today, and it seems like a major publisher will publish a book on his experiences in Iraq, a lot of it will probably be taken from his blog "My War".

I don't know if he's still in the army, but he's way to creative to stay in. I'm pretty proud of him, in some ways, he's sort of like a war buddy who had made it. We were both in Iraq around the same time, even though we had stayed on different bases and didn't know each other.

I wish that I was as good of a writer as he is, I mean, picking up a publishing deal is a big thing. Not only will one get a lot of $, but just imagine if also your book got picked up for a major motion picture! I think one will also have the first say about who plays what characters...pretty cool!

I wonder if the powers that be are already developing screenplays about this war, somehow, I didn't think that "Three Kings" had a really good perspective on what it was really like back in the first Gulf War, but then again, it was only a semi-factual fiction.

I'm trying to not watch a lot of documentaries which were recently made about the war, I don't want my brain to be saturated with that stuff. I mean, most of the people in this world do not wear desert camoulflaged uniforms or eat MRE's. Occasionally, a few of those documentaries are really worth looking at though. One of my biggest, and probably the most irrational, fear is that I'll be so deeply entrenched in the military and its ways of doing things that I can no longer really think for myself. (on a grander scale) Yet, look at me, less than 4 months after I came back, I'm back in uniform again, working on a military post, and probably will stay this way for at least the next 2 years (and that might even change!). Doing exactly what I said that I no longer wanted any more part never say never, I guess.

It's not all that bad though, I work for and with some of the smartest and most relaxed people that I've ever met, that's one step closer to the job nirvana. I'm of the school that one should get the tasks at hand completed, minimize the bullshit, and pack up and enjoy the rest of the day.

I miss the girlfriend and the pets...what really matters, above the jobs and everything else.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bradli N. Coleman

It has been about not quite 6 months since I've gotten back from Iraq, and once again I have to say that I've been fairly lucky not to have any body parts missing, or dead. I did witness quite a few close calls and one of which ended up with the death of a very young soldier, unfortunately. His name was Bradli Coleman, and I couldn't say that I knew him in life, but I wonder if he has any ideas how he's influencing me in death.

I don't know why I've chosen to write about him and the event of his demise about almost one year (will be in May) after it had happened, but I've never stopped thinking about what had happed that day....especially when I could not goto sleep. I'd also think about my friend Hakim, one of the native translators who had gotten murdered shortly after our group had left. Sometimes, I'd see Bradli laying there, covered in blood after they took him out of his burning trailer, his trailer was mortared that afternoon while he was sleeping, since he had worked the night shift, he had on this army brown tee shirt and army PT shorts, and he was just lifeless while medic tried like heck to revive him. Not exactly the way that I'd like to remember someone, I'm not sure if anyone would like to be remembered like that either.

Yet, it's not always that sad. I don't know if having watched him die had conveyed also a different message to those who where there also. You see, Bradli was only 19 and barely got started in his adult life, and I'm 32, also kind of barely lived. Oh sure I've been to many places, and met a lot of people, but I can't say that I've done that much or have been intimate with many people, and I'm not talking about sex. His death reminds that, for God's sake, start living and do it like you mean it, because for whatever reasons, guys like Bradli won't get to do it.

It's like that scene in "Saving Private Ryan", when Tom Hank's character was dying, he told Private Ryan to "live a good life", in some ways, Bradli has been telling me that, and I hope that, somehow, he knows how much I appreciate him for that.