A Day in Mosul

Filed under: — lana @ 11:36 am

Today as I stepped outside I had some sort of odd post-traumatic deja-vu feeling that I was back in Mosul.

This was not because anything traumatic happened in Mosul; I was only there for a few weeks before I escaped southwards. However, it was January at the time.

For those who are unaware, the sandbox is not all made of sand. Mosul, in fact, is fairly dirty but not terribly sandy at all. Not only that, but winter sees some combination of rain and snow. When I was there, it was rain. Oodles of rain. I spent my several weeks in the north slogging through streets which lack drainage, presumably because who needs street drainage in what is supposed to be desert. It is also cold, though it wasn’t so cold you were really shivering, just cold and wet enough to be really irritating. The best part about it was that from my temporary lodging to the place where I was temporarily working there was a single street to cross. That street became a muddy, foot-deep river rather rapidly on day two in Mosul. I did not see the sun in the north again, come to think of it, and recall being very annoyed at that river twice each day when it required crossing.

Today felt exactly like those days in Mosul. We haven’t seen the sun in several days already, and it has been irritating, on-and-off rain consistently. About the only difference is that here there is drainage, so instead of a river of mud and sludge it is a river of springtime German snails. Less damp, but more crunchy. The snails come out and stay out until the fall at the slightest inclination of damp weather, lining themselves up like slimy kamikaze pilots on their suicide mission of trying to trip me as I stumble down the path half-asleep to my car at 0530 in the morning. They fail, and all they get is squashed.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling all day today of being back in Iraq. It being German protest season and most of my time in Mosul also saw frequent stormings at the gate only made it more difficult to convince myself I wasn’t sitting in Iraq.

Oddly, though, it somehow made me feel more at home.


Playing at Politics

Filed under: — lana @ 9:28 am

People often ask me why I didn’t come in as an officer, or why I have yet to put in an officer packet. The answer is always the same: I hate politics and the politicians that go with them. Most officers are politicians just waiting for their chance to vote on something or get bumped to another position where they can exert more influence on the masses. I don’t fault them for their job, just like I don’t fault members of the U.S. Congress for voting on 1000-plus page bills they are given three hours to look over, but I certainly do not want that job for myself.

As I wander up the ranks, I have found that it is not all officers who are the politicians. I knew this, but a piece of me did not want to admit it. I have seen evidence of it in myself lately, as a matter of fact. I do not write emails or anything else when angry, for instance, because it usually leads to trouble. This has actually led to less overcrowding in my email sent items box, which is something of a little bonus. If I do draft something when angry, I have someone read it over before I send it to anyone to ensure that I am not about to get myself demoted.

The funny thing about the Army is that you can’t quit. You have to wait for your time to be up, and even then they have wily ways of getting you to stick around longer than you thought possible. My husband, for instance, has only been a civilian three months and just the other day joined the reserves because he needed a school or two that he didn’t get from the Army on account of being constantly sent off to map out sand dunes or whatever it is he did for three of his nearly six years on active duty. The lack of ability to quit, however, does not always stop me from trying. Just the other day I informed my warrant officer that I was done, and he had to take the phone away before I called my first sergeant to inform him of the same. I then drafted a two week notice, figuring that the reason he would not let me make the call was because it was too sudden. He left for an assignment, however, before I could hand it over, so he will see it when he gets back. I have a feeling it will be like the other notices I have given on departing, however, which have all been dutifully ignored by my supervisors.

This notice was drafted on a particularly political day. The details involve a class, bitter people, and over-reaction. Put simply, The Usual. But the past is the past, they say it will all be fixed later. I also have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn if you are interested. For you, my friend, special price.

I am not a politician. When I don’t understand something, or when something doesn’t make sense, I am usually the one asking about it. It makes people grouchy, but I have found that usually they only get grouchy when they don’t have a decent answer other than hurt feelings, which isn’t really a decent answer at all. For the number of feelings I hurt whenever I try to get something done or whenever I ask a question, I could never hold elected office as a career. Plus I just don’t like babies that much, nor do I have an affinity towards bold pantsuits and red ties.

But I was angry, and now I have to wait to sumbit my two week notice until my warrant has had a chance to look it over and probably throw it out and tell me it’s all okay and I will get the course I was suckered into reenlisting for. Me? Well, I’m no politician, so I will just let the rest of them play their games until moving on to someone else’s gig. In the Army or outside of it, the ball is back in their court. My intentions were made known (another reason I cannot be a politician, as I am a terrible liar about my intentions) to my first sergeant; what they choose to do is up to them. For now, I’m going to do the first politician-like thing I have done all week: absolutely nothing.

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