Uh oh

Filed under: — lana @ 2:05 pm

I think I might be having some sort of brain malfunction.

I am considering reenlistment.

Also on my list of options is a six month tour to Kandahar. Fun in the 17%-fecal-matter-in-the-dust-filled sun.

Also, I might just go ahead and get out of this crazy green machine. Though with the new uniforms, it isn’t really green anymore. More like “cubicle gray” machine.

I have also rescheduled my face surgery not once, not twice, but somewhere around four or five times. For the most recent rescheduling I got a friend of mine who works at the clinic to call the doctor for me because I was afraid he was going to reach through the phone and strangle me.

In terms of my options, however, this does give me some time to figure it all out, what with me procrastinating on a moderately painful procedure that will keep me cooped up in a German hospital for a week and drugged up for a second week. I rescheduled a physical therapy appointment for a week later than planned because my husband is gracing me with his elusive presence for a week or so before he possibly departs for all points sandy. This pushed out the next possible medical board visit with my doctor to mid- May, at which point the doctor will be on leave. The day the doctor returns from leave, I go get someone to break my face and have the Army pay for it. Yes, I do have friends who offered to do that for free, but that is not the point. So after I am coherent again I will have about a week, then might leave for a training exercise for two weeks. Then about another week, then I head to Russia for some fun dodging members of whatever the KGB is calling themselves this week and not fooling anyone. So really, I have some time to figure all of this out.

But reenlist for a few more years of fun and excitement or breathe poo for six months or maybe even both options combined? Honestly, now, who could pass that up?

I am starting to think that probe the doctor shoved up my nose a few weeks ago tickled the wrong part of my brain…


Temporary(?) Brain Cell Loss

Filed under: — lana @ 1:59 pm

Strangely, the potentially temporary loss of brain cell activity in question has *almost* nothing to do with alcohol. I’m not convinced yet that it isn’t in the water out here, actually.

Every time a deployment is imminent, soldiers appear to lose their minds. This has been observed unit to unit, job to job, base to base. Something about the phrase “Sealing the containers for shipment” seems to do something to soldiers that no other phrase can do.

Brief tangent: Apparently I am supposed to be capitalizing the word soldiers, what with the instructions of some general or secretary or sergeant major or someone else who fancies that they have a real job but in reality just sits around thinking about what to capitalize and how much better or worse the new physical training winter cap is than the old one. Lately they put out that they also want the word “families” capitalized as well, because… because of something that I read but didn’t pay attention to very well, apparently. I decided to write all of my reports with every noun capitalized. Mental note: that doesn’t go over well, don’t do that again. Right got it. Moving on now…

Soldiers (capitalized because it began a sentence, not because Super Sergeant Master of the Universe General Guy said so) losing their minds is not a terribly good thing, in case one was not aware. They get drunk. They get stupid. They get in fights with each other. They get in fights with other people. They get in fights with (I do not make this up) themselves. And this is not just the males, so it can’t just be blamed on testosterone. The females get catty. They start fights. They instigate fights and then watch the fun. They get silly and stupid and run around like today is the first day they have been away from their parents.

It makes me wonder, because I never experienced this apparent hemmorhage of coherent thought when I was getting set to deploy, but I see the signs all around every day. Broken windows. Yelling at the military police. And more people on sick call than can fit in the clinic waiting room hoping to get a non-deployable permanent profile for the sniffles or for the black eye they gave themself in the most interesting story one could hope to hear all week. No, I never lost my mind before the deployment. I am just not that much of a fighter, I suppose, or perhaps I prefer to focus instead on getting my affairs in order and spending the time enjoying the company I am in rather than sitting in the detention cell at the military police station waiting on my first sergeant to come pick me up. Not to say I don’t enjoy the company of the military police or of my first sergeant, most of which are quite good people, but the circumstances probably dictate just how good of people they are at the time.

Perhaps I am a bit of a pacifist. Not to say if someone is pointing a weapon at me or my soldiers or someone I care about I would have an ounce of a problem helping them along with meeting whatever god or gods or oblivion they choose to worship, but I am just not the type to get into fistfights over something some idiot said at a bar. To me it is a reflection of intelligence, that since you aren’t able to say the snappy retort to make the person feel like the fool they are you need to punch them in the face or pull their hair instead. It is why I have trouble understanding terrorists sometimes, because they appear to feel that any sort of chitchat about what makes them blow up stuff is silly, when really blowing up stuff is rather silly and quite frankly a bit on the pointless side when you get right down to it. I mean, okay, you blew up the market. You did it because the American occupiers make you mad. There were no Americans in the market, so that was a bit silly to begin with if they were your enemy in the first place, but the even sillier thing is that now MORE Americans will be in the vicinity of the market because now the area isn’t secure. If there were security and peace, we could all go home. What part of that is so hard to understand, that if they actually stopped blowing stuff up they would get what they wanted and we could go home, but keep blowing stuff up and unfortunately more of us get to go over there and experience the highlights of your explosive culture?

Oops. Sidetracked again. But it is the same thing I see with soldiers every day, weekends in particular. They get annoyed because they have to deploy. They get frustrated because this is their first/second/third/tenth time heading back to the same desolate sandbox of love and happiness. They get so annoyed they go to the club downtown. They get even more annoyed so they punch their buddy in the mouth. Then they get annoyed with the authorities come to get them and they get to explain the situation to their first sergeant. So then they get yelled at by their first sergeant, and then they get annoyed with the first sergeant as though somehow it is the first sergeant’s fault they acted the fool, and then the cycle starts anew. Add to that the pressure of extending these deployments to fifteen months and you have quite a nastily brainless situation on your hands.

Every day someone rings our office buzzer who really wanted to see the people in the office below us, an office which also deals with some of the less desireable military individuals. I have mentioned this. It appears that even relabeling the bells to spell out the different offices hasn’t made the soldiers any smarter. I said something to one of the people in charge in the other office today, asking him to please tell those coming to see them that they need to collect whatever shoddy excuse for brain cells they have left and make a choice as to which button to push before ringing the bell (this, by the way, is why I am not allowed to make the new sign for the door instructing soldiers to ring the bell, because I can’t seem to devise a sign that does not contain the phrase, “You moron”). He pointed out that, given their job and our job, no matter who comes through that door, if the person has to see either one of us they are probably not all that smart anyway, having proved it through some means or another.

Perhaps that is the problem, that I tend to see a bit much of the bottom of the humanity barrel in my line of work.

Or perhaps there is some sort of stupidity epidemic going around because of impending deployments. I really should buy a new water filter…


Back and Forth and Away We Go

Filed under: — lana @ 7:24 am

So amid login problems over the course of the past few weeks, much has changed in the world which has, naturally, led me full circle to several points. I grow less and less convinced every day that any motion in my life for the past year has had any forward momentum, actually, so I am not terribly surprised at being faced with the same conundrums from months ago.

I contacted my doctor recently asking him but a quick question, namely that I had noticed that my medical sheet states that I cannot wear any gear, to include a helmet, protective vest, and so forth, yet not only do I remain deployable, but I can carry a 35 pound rucksack at my own pace and distance. Now admittedly when I weighed myself in Iraq with all of my gear, ammunition, and so forth I found that I gained about 50 pounds with all the nonsense hanging about my body, so 35 pounds on the ol’ back shouldn’t be too awful, but then again I am apparently not even supposed to wear my “crazy hat” (I have given affectionate names to all forms of headgear over the past few years, with the crazy hat being the kevlar helmet because if I am wearing it, something crazy might be about to happen), which weighs significantly LESS than 35 pounds. Since additional weight has a tendency to make me fall over and fail to catch myself before slamming face-first into the ground, they opted to ban me from certain activities rather than actually fix the problem. This still did not explain the rucksack, so I asked my doctor.

Apparently it was an oversight, and he mumbled about it for a bit and asked me to come in. Which I did, and then sat for two and a half hours in the waiting room skimming though a First magazine from 2005 which was the only English publication they had, and then went in to see the nice doctor.

He sat me down. He said, “Why haven’t you gone to the medical retention board yet?” I said, “You should meet my unit, Sir.” He replied, “I see. When is it supposed to be and do you have a packet in?” To which I responded, “In three weeks and they say they have it almost finished.” After mumbling certain things that I am not allowed to repeat because it violates certain aspects of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in regards to respecting officers, he then said that he was going to scrap the whole process and go back to a medical evaluation board. The same process that they worked on starting in August, canned in January, and now feel like initiating again. Just when the other process was about to get some resolution.

So I told him he was the doctor, whatever he wanted to do was fine, of course, and what do I now need to do? Turns out the entire packet built last fall, the last time I went through this process, is now entirely out of date and must be completed again. Actually, they found one piece of paper that apparently did not need to be redone, but I believe someone might have spilled coffee on it.

And so it goes that the games and the appointments begin again, as today is my fourth anniversary in the Army and I still have no idea exactly what has gone on since sometime in 2003. I vaguely recall signing a contract and then a stiff bout of repetitious behavior and a lot of sand and some pushups.

Funny thing is the medical process isn’t the only deja vu lately. I, shocking and awing everyone around me, talked to my first sergeant for half an hour on Friday exploring potential reenlistment options. Two days after I went back to start the physical that I need to have done to bring the one from the fall up to date to try and get out of the Army in the fall, and one day after the Secretary of Defense muttered about 15 month Iraq deployments. But yet I entertained his conversation of possible reenlistment, and am even considering a few of the possibilities being presented to the point where I dropped my one million dollar signing bonus negotiation criteria.

Will wonders never cease… but this time I have learned from the past, when I first signed some crazy contract into a big green semi-broken machine. Everything, down to the most minute detail, will be in writing. I get what I want or I walk (hobble, really) away, and either way I don’t look back, only forward… and just hope that I can break some of the repetative cycles permeating my existence of late…

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