Thursday, November 27, 2008

I saw Santa today

I saw Santa today. Really. I was grounded and sitting on a bench waiting for my Commander along with the other Lieutenants and Santa came by. I chased him down as he hadn't seen us, and asked to take a picture. Funny how happy Santa can make a person, even here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

and your soldiers...

It's a funny thing, the bond between an Officer, an NCO and their soldiers. And, it's one that I imagine one would have to be a part of to understand. But I received an email today from a friend, which was signed off with the following:
Please, stay safe and, of course, keep your soldiers safe as well.
I thought it worth mentioning and find it interesting that this is now my life...and I mean that in a good way. That those I consider my peers now live not just for themselves, but for others. What a great thing to be a part of.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I was thinking today about how some things, regardless of how unnatural they may be to human nature, become normal in a short period of time. For example, the first thing I do when I wake up now is grab my weapon. If I wake up at three in the morning to go pee, I don't look immediately for my shoes, but for my weapon. Strange, no?

Also, the first time I was given ammunition that was intended for use on other people was a strange moment. It doesn't matter that if I were to fire my weapon as a Second Lietuenant MI officer, something has gone incredibly wrong. But, to put the rounds into a magazine with the intent that, were it to be necessary, I would shoot them at someone...that was strange. You notice suddenly how sharp the rounds are, and they leave a residue on your fingers that I had not noticed before.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

me bitching...

So I have another Lieutenant with me who has been dating someone for maybe a year or so. Every day, at least once a day, she looks at me saddly and says, "I haven't talked to blah-de-blah in a whole day." and then she quivers her lower lip.

I told her that she was complaining about her steak being dry to a starving man...that I didn't have anyone to call or come home to anyway, so really, I wasn't the one to give her comfort of feel bad for her. She, apparently, doesn't get it. It's now been 8 hours since she's last talked to blah-de-blah.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Obama and Don't Ask/Don't Tell

There's an article in the Washington Times about how Obama may push back trying to lift the ban on gays in the military until sometime in 2010. It seems silly to me, and rather stupid, but what bothered me more was this quite, from a guy who works for a conservative think tank:

Delaying the congressional vote a year would give the White House time for consultation, but it would also let ban proponents organize and possibly sway public opinion, as they did in 1993.

Homosexual activists are overconfident because they have not yet seen a counterforce emerge as occurred in 1993," said Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Media Institute at the Media Research Center, an organization that seeks to balance perceived liberal bias in mainstream news coverage.

"But as the threat grows stronger, we will see groups forming and the resistance building," he said. "Americans go about their business and are not activists until they have a Pearl Harbor moment. That has yet to happen, but it will."

He added that most Americans "are unaware that gay activists have the military in their gun sights."

OK, really? First, when did demanding to be treated equal make on a militant activist. Was MLK a "black activist"? Were women sufferagists "women activists"? And secondly, why is this guy talking about people wanting to serve their country in terms of attacing America? Pearl Harbor, resistance building, "the threat grows stronger," "in their gun sights." Gays aren't trying to hurt anything, they're just trying to be part of the same society everyone else is. What is really so goddamned threatening about that?

Why is it that people can't just let others live their lives? If gays want to be in the military or get married or adopt or whatever else it is that people want to outlaw for them now, why not let them?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I'm still in Kuwait...waiting and waiting and waiting.

The good news is, I've waited so long, I'll probably get promoted in Baghdad instead of Camp Buehring. That means way cooler pictures.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

things about Kuwait.

Things I've noticed about Camp Buehring, Kuwait:
  1. It's actually really clean. There isn't a lot of trash, the tents we moved into with unfinished plywood floors didn't have any stains and there are hand wash stations near every bathroom and before you eat...nice. I haven't even gotten sick yet, which is strange for new military places.
  2. The Starbucks tastes the same as home.

That's about it for now. I've read East of Eden and A Separate Peace again. Two books which take me back to other people and other places, and both of which deal with War as an ancillary event to life. Something which, I think, is prescient considering the world today for most people. I hadn't intended that when I picked them, I just think they're amazing books. If anyone else has suggestions, let me know.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The funny thing about the army is, no matter how bad the conditions are, soldiers will determine variations of suck. For example, MRE's (the army meal in a bag). They are all bad...all of them. However, some are worse than others, so as soon as a box of MRE's are opened, soldiers will fight and clamor for the less bad ones. Kuwait is no exception. Most soldiers have deployed multiple times by now and have been through here once or twice. As we pulled up to our living quarters, which are by no means the lap of luxury, one of my soldiers commented that he was glad we weren't living on the other side of the was, according to him, much further from the DFAC (mess hall). I guess comforts are comforts, and we'll take what we can get.

What I notice more, however, is not just the lack of privacy, but the lack of solitude. One cannot be alone here, but that is compounded by the fact that it is a companionship devoid of affection. There are always people with you, but they are not people you are close with in the sense you would be with a family member or lover. It makes for a strange situation wherein there is always someone at arms reach, but you are isolated more than you have been before.

Friday, November 07, 2008

12 hours to go...

I am off to Iraq in 12 hours. I haven't any clue how often I'll be able to post from there, but regardless, the tenor and content of this blog will probably change again. In any case, thanks to everyone who's already written me well wishes and kept me in your prayers through today. For those of you I know personally, I'll probably add your email address to my occassional mass email updates, and for those of you who do not, hopefully I'll update here often enough to keep you informed.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

why 8 passed...

Here is an IM conversation between a conservative gay friend of mine that we had on Friday:

CaliCdt (3:51:06 PM): have you donated to no on 8 yet?

J (3:52:04 PM): i know that its not going to pass already

J (3:52:04 PM): lol

J (3:52:09 PM): why donate

J (3:52:10 PM): lol

CaliCdt (3:52:27 PM): you realize how close it is right?

J (3:52:45 PM): its a blue state, how canit be?

J (3:53:05 PM): blue state, and Obama is against it

J (3:53:23 PM): the black voters will do as Obama tells them

J (3:53:32 PM): dont worry, it will not pass

J (3:53:33 PM): lol

Apathy kills.

Victory and Defeat

With the euphoria of last night, it's easy to understand how such a miserable setback for the LGBT community went essentially unnoticed. As written on the DailyKos, it appears as though the new front in civil rights is gay and immigrant issues. Race, we have overcome. Gender, we have overcome. But last night, LGBT issues were losers across the spectrum. We have not one, not two, but three more states in which it discrimination is now institutionalized and, beyond anything I can understand, in Arkansas, gays and lesbians are now forbidden from adopting.

2010 will come, and we can fight these fights again, but it will be a while before I can accept the fact that my fellow Americans can be that petty, that personal and that biggoted. There is a feeling in the pit of my stomach much like the one I had the day after the election four years ago. That we can move so far as a nation and yet, choose to leave behind our fellow Americans.

We cannot enjoy the freedoms we have until every American has those freedoms for himself.

How can I look my friend in the face when she comes back from Iraq to a wedding she and her partner have been planning for the two weeks they have off together between deployments and tell her...sorry...we took a vote and, you're not good enough.

Why can we not mobilize? Why is it that the friends and families of gays and lesbians in America are not involved in the fight? For that matter, why is it that there are not more gays and lesbians involved in the fight? I'm rambling because I'm I'll stop.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

prop 8...

Why write about Prop 8 on the night Barak Obama was elected the first African-American President in our nation's history? Because, it seems sad, ironic and, at the least, mentionable that, at the same time, it appears as though California, arguably the blue-est state in the Union, is going out of its way to strip gays and lesbians of their rights.

Maybe I am being harsh, but if this proposition passes, or even fails by a small margin, I blame gay people. Complacency kills. Specifically, I blame any gay person that didn't write his family and tell them how to vote. I blame any gay person in America who didn't donate money. I blame any gay person who old enough to decide for him or herself, but who is still in the closet.

This proposition should not barely fail, it should go down in flames with a resounding thud. Californians should be upset that there are some who think civil rights are something to be voted upon by the masses. Instead, we have ads "scaring" people into believing children will be taught, horror of horrors, that gays and lesbians are people. We have churches claiming, against the very wording of the California Supreme Courts decision, that somehow this will change them. Instead, we have people who, beyond any explainable measure, believe not stripping gays and lesbians of their rights somehow infringes upon their free speech.

I hope I am wrong, and that I wake up to the news that California is still a state of tolerance, diversity, hope and pride. I hope.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween party...

Last night, I was invited to a Halloween party that one of my NCO's threw. It was an odd situation for those of you not in the Army because, in general, it is frowned upon to drink with and/or go to a party with NCO's and soldiers if you are an officer. In this case, however, I felt it was OK to attend, because it meant so much to this NCO that I attend. His parents would be there, as would my whole team, and we are going to deploy in a week.

So, I went to the party (with a last minute Halloween costume of "worlds biggest deuchebag" wearing two polos with collars flipped up, a temporary bad tribal tattoo, artfully ripped jeans and spikey hair). The party was fun, and reminded me a lot of myself six years ago, when I was a Specialist. But, more importantly, my admiration for soldiers and their families, which has never been low, increased.

To see these kids (and yes, most of them are kids), with families of their own--husbands, wives and children--all of whom were going to spend a year in Iraq, not knowing exactly what that would hold for them, many of whom had already spent a year in Iraq, celebrating one last holiday together was inspiring. They were all in good spirits and were, frankly, more certain of themselves and confident than even I.

I've written before what an equalizing effect the Army has on people. That when you strip people of their shallow identifiers, they begin to act as, and judge one another on, their character and what really makes a person a person. That being the case, you can take almost any group of soldiers and see an amazing cross section of America that, I believe, you will not find anywhere else. What other group of 18-22 yr olds will you find today in any profession, job or club, that has hackey-sack playing hippies from Sacramento, musical theatre buffs from Arizona, low riding Mexicans from Texas, hunters from Georgia and prep schoolers from the northeast? And, where else would you find such a group united in purpose and caring for one another? They watch each other's backs, not just in battle, but in life.

My NCO's and I shared a beer and had a shot and talked about what next year will hold. They are counting on me, and I on them, and while I'm scared shitless, I'm also excited. There are very few times in life that I've faced such a benchmark. With the guys I'm going with, I'm sure I'll be fine...they won't let me fail.


I read this quote in slate, and it got me to thinking (but first, the quote):
And only last week the chiller from Wasilla spoke of "prayer warriors" in a radio interview with James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who said that he and his lovely wife, Shirley, had convened a prayer meeting to beseech that "God's perfect will be done on Nov. 4."
Here is what I am wondering. If one prays that "god's perfect will be done" at some point in the future, and doing so with the hope that that "perfect will" be the outcome that he hopes for, doesn't that mean one isn't praying that God's will be done, but that his will is God's will?