Saturday, March 17, 2012


"I want to be the unwobbling pivot at the center of an ever revolving universe. I want to be...still" 

I can feel the quiet all around me. It resonates, a soft vibration of non-existent ripples, like soft wind on the water. These are the times when I am most aware of me, what I am, what I've done, what I will do. Silence and stillness frighten me. Silence and stillness entice me. They are a rare combination when your mind's a storm yet somehow also the eye of the storm. It's these moments in which I reconcile myself, I rise and fall by memories and push ever forward. Still.

Here is where the ghosts come out again. As much as I try to make my peace with them, some insist on holding out. Yet I am fine with this, acceptance that some things just do not exist. Like a sorrow come alone or a dream for insomniacs. The ghosts of a veteran...haunting memory and dreams for forever and a day. The ghosts...they know this is the time of weakness. It is that time when the mind and soul try to reconnect and find balance. That area of serenity. Still.

At this moment, I am one and know and try to accept that this is only a moment, like everything before. All moments, the past and future, constantly ebbing and flowing. Like a surfer looking for absolution in that one perfect wave, I will ride it where it takes me. In this time, this collection of seconds to minutes to hours to days etc., etc... I will not seek all the answers because I know that some questions just do not have them. I am willing to accept that. In that be comforted and confrontational of all those things which attack me and bring me back to the pain and suffering. Still.

The truth of all these words is that I will live everyday for the rest of my life on this journey. The stillness is not a constant. Never can be. Those of us who have seen the atrocity exhibition of war can never truly escape the constant risk of being caught in the undertow. We run so far and so fast that we lose family and friends and sanity and all else. But we never lose that haunting, lost feeling. Sometimes it is just to damn much. Do not demonize SSG Robert Bales nor allow the media or our CDR in Chief do so either. They can never know what we know nor understand what it's like to have horrors replay on a constant loop in your mind. They can have the stillness. Our hearts and our minds can never be still.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The robins have come to be seen and known again, like harbingers of the new. The clouds roll that certain way again. Greenery is appearing in the stagnant areas once dominated by the brown and gray. One can almost taste the rain in the air again. Days are growing longer and evening is gently giving ground. The feeling and actuality of Spring is here again. Time for renewal and rebirth, to all new things a beginning, to some things a new beginning.

I mean not a somber tone in this post. I am finding as I grow older that I can associate my bouts of nostalgia through seasons. It's a wondrous thing to be able to assign moments and memories with the utmost clarity through seasonal selection. Maybe it's a weird emotional OCD, the need to put each memory, moment and emotion into a category. Maybe it hints at something deeper. All I know is that I am finding the prospect of the newness of this time of year as some sort of promise. I am embracing an almost Zen like hope that perhaps I have made it through to the other side of my darkest days. I am creating my own Dharma, like some Kerouac character bathing in serenity and awareness after traversing through Hell.

For the first time in a very long time, I am feeling hopeful. Maybe it's the acceptance of all the bad, or the fact that I've put it away in the back corners of my mind and submerged it too deep to swim to the surface. As crazy as it may sound, in my mind I have begun the habit of breaking my life into seasons, only not following any set sort of lunar calendar. Now is Spring. I saw the bad as it hurtled towards me during my Autumn, suffered and raged through the Winter of all things dark and harsh. Now I am welcoming Spring, like an old friend who means the world to you or the welcoming embrace a child has for the parent they miss. I am welcoming Spring.

So in this, maybe hope is truly the greatest belief. In this I truly want for nothing more than my new found faith in progression to ring true. Maybe I'm fooling myself. Maybe I am not. But Spring is a promise of all that is new and allowing for wonder. I'm going to put my faith there. Even a bitter realist such as myself can't argue with that.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Good things do happen...

Michele Bachmann is now a funny anecdote and political joke to be used as an example of what not to do and say in a bid to win a presidential nomination. Her lack of knowledge, foresight and any skills that a president needs( I'm looking at you too, Sarah Palin) proved nothing more than a farce and a distraction from any real issues. Looks like she'll just have to keep fear mongering of Muslims and trying to pray away homosexuality now. Oh, and her amazing ability to not even know the simplest of facts and history was truly an art forum. Hopefully someday soon a woman will shatter that glass ceiling. We have come a long way forward, what with our first bi-racial president. Now it's time to recognize a woman for the strength and leadership abilities we have ignored long enough. I hope one can be recognized soon. And no, not one looking to advance their notoriety( again, looking at you Palin) or their ridiculous agenda. One who wants to lead our country in the right direction.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Some things can take up a special residence in your mind and stay there forever. At some point, those things become symbolic of deeper meanings and become a way of identifying a vast array of specifics. Like, I think of music and different songs as a sort of soundtrack to the pieces of one's life. Or how a phrase said in passing can become the basis of an individuals daily mantra. I think of almanacs to describe the past and progression for one's life. Ghosts represent all those yesterdays that have come and gone, haunting your mind. The one that seems to matter more and more as of late are the fireflies.

Growing up in the South, Summer was always a time of long days under long, blue skies packed with whatever you and your group of friends could fill them with. The nights, despite their hazy, humid thickness always seemed to be of it's own individual wonders. To me, it was always the fireflies. The way in which they became stars against their own night sky of the trees and fields fascinated me. Catching several to place in a jar and watching as they illuminated in a soft, yellow or green glow was one of those summer wonders you grasp as being magical and never think of the hard science behind it. Being a child and fireflies being part of nature, you never think of these things disappearing, of leaving and going away. Then you grow and you lose sight of those very things that seemed magical. Fireflies, like those days and moments, seem to be disappearing. In drawing comparisons, fireflies are disappearing due to over development and minimizing and outright destroying of their habitat. Man made light and light pollution also play a role in the decline of the firefly population.

The importance of this, the comparison, is fireflies tend to represent the people, places, moments and intangible things of significance to me anymore. It seems that these things go away with greater frequency now. Losing what's important to you never seems to get any lighter in weight, a heaviness that is constant. No matter how much you tell yourself to hold on, no matter how many reminders, it always seems to pass. Hearts break, bodies give and yet the mind holds true to those things that were better then. Every day passes and turns into weeks, then months, then years, taking you further and further away from those summer evenings filled with fireflies and your own night sky and the little stars you could collect in a jar.

The harsh truth of this is that I have probably served as the one over developing due to my own over thinking/analyzing every little thing. My myriad of issues and detachments serving as the man made pollution that sends the "fireflies" away. As Summer gave way to Autumn, the fireflies were confined to the magics of warm nights at the end of long days. Is that some sort of Raymond Chandler like symbolism? I hate to believe that I am in the Autumn of my seasons. Or am I only there mentally and spiritually? If so, does this mean that if I can make through the Winter that I get another Spring? Another Summer?

As a man, you tend to realize that the halcyon days of your youth are awarded retroactively. They serve as bittersweet reminders and as lessons to impart upon your own children. Some things, like I said, become symbolic. Fireflies, for me, are symbolic of those  people, places, moments and intangible things of significance. They hold a place in my heart where my love and devotion resides. I read where at some point fireflies will be gone. I hope that isn't true. I hope the same holds true for all they represent to me. I will always want another Summer night filled with fireflies. Both real and in what they stand for in my heart and mind.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Per chance to dream...

"You spend all of your days just waiting for the nights..."

So goes the lyric in a song, funny how it reminds me, better yet, provides parallel to thoughts in my head. Despite what the posting time says, it's now edging closer to 3:15AM and I am yet to sleep. Sleep, in all of it's multitudes of benefits both physically and mentally, brings dreams. Or nightmares. Or bitter realities and memories. What a strange, uncharted area, the landscape of the mind where dreams gestate and live. To some they find their Fiddler's Green, to others it's a Dante inspired circle. To soldiers who've seen real war it becomes another place we tend not to go.

Last night beget another wonderful night of repressed thoughts/memories bubbling to the surface. Being sick, I foolishly took medicines which while providing cold relief, also rendered me from the usual defenses against the visiting ghosts and all the baggage they provide. What's worse is my inability to recall the slightest details from these "episodes". Is it because my mind is attempting desperately to keep me from reliving it in a constant loop? Or is it because I already know what everything is about and I am merely in acceptance of it? I wish I had a God damn clue to what is going on during these moments. Other than apparently my Iraqi Arabic is perfect, I haven't an idea as to the depth and scope at all.

I wish I could offer some clarity to this. Like my other posts before, I would love to deliver my usual soliloquy in a humorously clever, smug fashion. But I can't. Instead of lying in bed sleeping, I'm typing away to a non-verbal laptop hoping to have answers like a gift from above delivered to me. Does it make any God damn sense? If I were to live forever, would it make any God damn sense? I feel like Roy Batty, clutching a dove on a rooftop in the rain saying "I've seen things you wouldn't believe...". Humans for centuries have fought wars. Killed in the name of Gods, kings, countries and beliefs. Why does it seem as though we still haven't found another way forward? Centuries and we still can't figure it out. I know how naive that is to think that. I know the necessity of wars and the actions therein. I just wonder at what cost humanity? Sanity? Personal sanctity?

As a soldier, I stand firm in my beliefs and what I do with and for my brotherhood. I am resolute. It's all the God damn repercussions I have trouble with. I don't want to look at my children and think of children there who were caught in cross fire during a fire fight or lay dead on the ground from bullets and/or blasts, children caught under vehicles while pushing through areas of hostility. I don't want to always sit with my back to the wall in a restaurant. I don't want to scan crowds and have my alert not falter. I want to not smell a smell or hear a sound that brings me back somewhere I don't want to be. I want to see the the world in a way other than as something you have to grab by the throat and force to make sense. I want to believe in God and his wonders. I want to not defensively react to sudden movements by those I love. I want to sleep, like I did before I was a veteran soldier.

Monday, December 26, 2011


As a kid I always loved almanacs. Maybe it was the collection of facts and records as they correlated to nature and the forces thereof. Lunar cycles coupled with the best times of harvest, the precise time the sun rose on a particular day for decades before...amazing. When I was a kid, it held a great swath of power over me and the way I saw things. It seemed to hold a chart for me that offered some consistency in a linear fashion of probability. It was, in essence, like a book of magic. As I grew, I for some reason lost interest in almanacs. Or maybe not lost interest in them but in the wonderment they held for me.

I tend to ruminate on things more these days. My past, my future, my current. I look at my mistakes and the successes and failures they've delivered to me. I look my acomplishments, great and small, and I see that which was lost and gained from them. I look at the things I have done for survival and how my need to continue breathing meant another would draw his last breath. In doing this, I find that in order to cope and process these various moments I list them in order of occurrence and the several reactions and results by each specific event. It will never, if I live to be 100, falter my amazement at how humans try to always rationalize and make sense of things. How some things can be so epically grand in their scope of  impact on the human mind and psyche that there lies a defiance of understanding yet we attempt it anyhow. So we build categories and containers to put it in and/or away.

Life is a collection of facts and incidents, moments and occurrences, split seconds in a small window of a day that tend to hold meaning forever. You will always remember that exact moment forever, reminding yourself each year at that very point of the moment, good or bad, that meant so much to you. We tend to clutch like a cornerstone, building our future upon it. It plays into our decisions and directs our paths. In it we take comfort in the notion that this is where our history and futures intersects, the common ground in which the tangible and intangible meet for the briefest of forevers and shape the next future history for us.

In all of this, I believe our lives are basically an almanac. A collection of moments and incidents, instances and chance happenings that serve as a linear history of who we are and our probability of that which we are to become. We find our true North in what we are, our history making and showing us the variables of what our paths have produced thus far. Our lives are our own individual almanacs, but they are all part of a larger significance. Our moments, be it sad or happy, cast an effect on others like ripples in a pond. We look back and see our past as a whole. Our almanac is a living, breathing history of what makes us. A standard almanac tracks things like time and tide. The almanac we create tracks our  lives and the sum of what we are...our own linear history. In that, I think I can maybe find that wonder again.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The word itself, conjures a sense of emotions and let's loose a wealth of thoughts like water from a broken dam. These past months I have given a lot of thought, more than I care to admit, actually, on brotherhood. Whether it's the loss of connection to your actual siblings or to the brothers you share blood with, it seems to have a strange currency. It's in it's own mysticism, like the relationship of a father and son. But is brotherhood defined by the actual connection of blood and heredity passed down from parents or is something deeper, esoteric and born of bonds.

As of late, I've tried to recover those bonds with my actual brothers. To be a part of their lives and have them as part of mine was something I desperately wanted. But, as with all things a person wishes for it's not exactly what you really wanted. A sad realization is the one that takes place involving reality colliding with perception. Some people will be what they want to be because it is their nature. The bonds created by blood are not exactly thicker than others I have discovered. Sad as a concession as that may be, what you find on the other side of that is better and stronger.

Growing up, I had three cousins who I loved and would've died for. The feeling was mutual amongst us all. As we grew older, our paths were beset by all the trials and tribulations boys encounter on the road to manhood. It drives you apart, keeping the memories that you hold dear and praying that time doesn't bleach away the vibrancy and color of those memories. I can't say it doesn't but sometimes...the paths cross once again. Maybe when we find our ghosts and demons to much and you need that one person who just knows, they return. To stand with you and by you. To remind you of those good times and to help you through the bad. To be that friend of objectivity who will tell you what you NEED to hear and not just what you WANT to hear. To be that guy you know gets it without any words being said. To be a brother.

Another area I've found that in is my Brotherhood of fellow soldiers. The incredible connection held not only by men who served in combat but who served with you there...amazing. War will do things to you that leave scars that those who don't understand will never know. Ever. But to have a group of guys who were there beside you on your darkest days, who know what it's like to hold your life in their hands and vice/verse sometimes proves to be another, surrogate family. It becomes a Brotherhood. And once those bonds are established they are not broken. They can be tested and strained but not broken. As I sometime find myself lost in thought or feeling like a boat broken against the rocks over war and service, I think of my brothers, my real brothers, who have been there too. I know they suffer also. In that I find my strength to rise and fix my broken soul once again, for my family, for them, for me.

So, true Brotherhood is not what is found through the genetic lottery. It's found in the love, trust, devotion, loyalty and fidelity of those who've proven themselves time and time again. Those men who stand beside you no matter what your past may be. Those men who who hold no grudge and harbour no ill will. The very men who will rise to defend you when defenseless, hold you up when weak and be your strength. It's those men I call my brothers. It is those men I proudly share a Brotherhood with.  The understanding of these fundamental truths and qualities are unspoken amongst us but we know. We know what it all means. To stand with you and by you. To remind you of those good times and to help you through the bad. To be that friend of objectivity who will tell you what you NEED to hear and not just what you WANT to hear. To be that guy you know gets it without any words being said. To be a brother.