Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Purged By Fire

Friends of family, family of friends, and persons unconnected to either,

You may now pull forth your journals, note pads or stick-it notes and mark up the calendar of life (insomuch as we assume time to be a totally linear description of movement) the day that I, your humble hero--vested by God with the charge of sitting resolutely and waiting indefinitely, without thought for my own safety but only the safety of two courageous trucks--have seen it all. By 'all,' of course, I mean 'most of it.'

To the point, as I drove recreationally across the endless plains of desert sand this very morning, feeling quite suburban in the comforts of an SUV, complete with airbags and air conditioning and white picket fences, I found myself looking in my rear view mirror to notice that the vehicle following so closely behind me had embraced Frau Gravity in such a way that SUV's were not meant to embrace. Thus I found myself in the throes of panic, visions of heroism flashing before my eyes as I thrust myself atop the toppled vehicle to open the free doors and pull the occupants to safety. All had gone gloriously in my mind, replete with a score to do Mr. Williams proud, until the grim reality of my hand, resting on the exhaust pipe for oh-so-too-long of a brief second in passing woke my body to the joy of second degree burns.

If only I were of higher rank and authority, I might dictate these words to the rapt ears of an eager pupil; but, alas, I must myself painfully peck away at the keyboard until my burden of relating this adventure is complete. One might think, momentarily, that the sheer pain of typing would keep my wordiness in check, but alas--such is not the case.

My right hand has found itself the unwelcome home of a bitter blister, the size and scope of which we shall not here discuss. Now, my poor team members have the added weight of an unserviceable soldier as well as our aforementioned dead trucks. Fortunately, hope is in sight. While I remain in Kuwait, my comrades paving the way to freedom ahead of me in Baghdad, news has arrived that we (a friend of mine and I) may leave as early as Saturday for that fated land.

I don't actually know what day it is today, but the sound of 'Saturday' suggests a close proximity to me; it's reassuring and comforting, not like the bitter days of the week, like 'Thursday' or 'Monday.' At any rate, the doctor expects that my hand should heal sufficiently enough to use more than my forefinger in a few days, at which time I expect my verbosity to reach unprecedented levels, as my days in the tent have afforded me little other activity than brandying words about with my tent-mates, the rats and lizards, who find the accommodations considerably more desirable than I ever would (as an objective surveyor).

I would like, of course, to hear from you all; my poor laptop (which housed all of my addresses and phone numbers and whatnot) through which I hoped to send letters abroad has suffered an unholy fate and now waits in the dark recesses of some military mail room to find its way to a doctor of its kind. As such, all that I ask for are addresses for, to use the local vernacular, 'snail-mail' correspondence. Time is something which I have in abundance--though content, as I'm sure you have already surmised, is lacking.

That is all; I have finished. I shall report my victories and failures as they arise, given what opportunity I have.

Take care and goodnight.

Friday, May 16, 2003

One Last Hoorah

Friends of the U.S. Armed Forces,

This may be the last email that I send for some time, and by 'some time,' I of course mean, I have no idea when my fingers will touch a keyboard again. The last of my company is convoying out, taking with them this fine machine, whose virtues have allowed me to stay, shall we say, "in touch" with the outside world.

All I see is desert, but I wish I could say "dead people" there, instead. Alas, no tried metaphors for me. If any of you are curious as toward the fastest way to completely destroy a diesel engine on a HMWVV (better add a few more M's and V's in there), I would recommend the following, easy to perform, one-step procedure. Put any mixture of soap and water into the gas tank, preferably while the truck is running. Now, I, of course, was not so emboldened to try this daring maneuver; however, some of the Army's finest mechanics decided to live life to the fullest and take care of that challenge for me. The end result, you ask? Two blissfully dead trucks. My trucks. You should see them. They sit there so peacefully in the sun, not a care in the world, oblivious to the twists that Fate has thrown them.

So instead of heading North with my comrades in arms to rush into certain danger in a country full of people who increasingly hate Americans, despite our valiant efforts to convince them that water really isn't necessary to survive in the desert; I will be guarding my tent, until the Army sees fit to send a TET for myself and my vehicles. At that time, I will be whisked away to a land of milk and honey, or at least as close to the land of milk and honey as I have ever been.

Two keys to staying alive in the desert. One, don't go there. Two, if you do, find air conditioning until you can get out.

I've had a good run of it so far, surviving sand storms, general stupidity, water rationing, camel burgers, and those nasty little black flies that burrow into your skin and try to build condiminiums there. I feel almost complete. But then, I haven't been shot at yet, so I have that waiting for me.

Habel, wish you all the luck on the road--hope that the not-replacing-3rd ID non-mission mission works out well for you. Balan, I should be back in time for that wedding. Jonathan, hope that Residence Inn doesn't cramp your style. Craig, thinking about you--got your books and ready to chat. And for everyone else whom I don't have time to write personal messages to, take care--especially Lt. Farrar, who I hear is suffering down at the S-1 shop at OBC.

Much love