Monday, June 13, 2005

The Cartoon Phyics of an Existential Crisis

Wyle E. Coyote...alas, a modern day Sisyphus. Mr. Coyote incessantly pursues the Roadrunner to no avail, always to be foiled by his own machinations and contrivances. In English, he's always caught in his own traps, or more appropriately, he finds himself 10 feet past the edge of a cliff. Literally and figuratively, over the past week, I have found myself dangling unsupported, with little more to do than blink at the situation.

I took a trip to FOB Speicher in northern Iraq. It started out frustrating as usual, not being able to get a definite flight and lots of waiting around. Finally, though, I was able to get on a flight with really no time to spare. We loaded up onto the Blackhawks, I got the end seat facing the rear this time. I don't prefer to face the back, hard to get good photos, but no big deal. Since we were packed with passengers this time, I barely had enough space to get all of me on my seat and strapped in. Not a problem because once the crew closes the doors I can shift around and have a little more space. So there I sat facing a civilian, both of us with out feet dangling out over the edge of the floor.

Funny what happened next. Instead of the crew coming around to close the doors, the engines raced up and we started to lift off, quickly. Understand that I do not usually experience fear; a rational mind tends to eliminate fear. I love roller coasters, speed, and danger, but this caught me off guard. I don't think I would necessarily classify it as fear or fright, but I would admit to having some severe apprehension about the situation. I have been on flights where the pilot did several high speed banking maneuvers that dazzled my sense of physics, all tucked safely inside the closed-door bay of the Blackhawk. Now, with those memories in my head, I sat there staring straight down at the ground, suspended suspiciously by nothing more than the shadow of the helicopter as we turned to our heading. We were a mere 200 feet off the ground at this point, but my general sense of right-and-wrong was being challenged. Had gravity taken a coffee break? I was almost expecting a roadrunner to pop out from stage left and hand me a boulder. Luckily, after a few minutes of this new thrill, I had regained composure enough to grab my video camera and record some of this footage. Look for it in an upcoming video.

That would be the high point of my trip to Speicher. Had I known what was in store for me, I would have missed the flight and stayed at Caldwell. Because I then experienced one of the most profound existential crises I have had in several years. It was all based on self-image and a minor setback.

I had been scheduled to appear before the promotion board. I have wanted to be an E-5 for nearly a year and I finally had a chance. Problem was that because I focused too much on my mission, I had little 'me time' to prepare for this board. It was a mutual failing on my part and C Co. since they failed to provide me with any support for the board. Other soldiers get time set aside for studying, study partners, mock boards to practice. I got undelivered promises. Water under the bridge at this point and I now know better for next. Nonetheless, I showed up at Speicher, at my home unit, at the last minute because I couldn't even get prioritized on a flight. There I had to face my chain of command, whom I truly respect. It wasn't easy telling them how unprepared I was and why. I felt like I was dishing them load after load of bullshit, but I wasn't. I decided pretty quickly to back out of the board to save myself and them any embarrassment. I felt like I had disappointed the few people I actually trust. We then came up with a plan of action for me to attend the August promo board.

During this self-esteem crushing experience, I began to get ill; excruciatingly painful sore throat, sinus pain and congestion, fever. Nothing like a fever in the desert. I sure didn't feel like my usual social self; I couldn't think straight, couldn't stay awake, couldn't function. This, coupled with the fact that I now had several days in which I had no purpose, threw me into a tailspin. I did the wrong thing and started to be critical on myself, picking out the flaws that led me up to this shortcoming. I am definitely not used to failures nor shortcomings. I am much more critical of myself than anyone else. And unfortunately the house-of-cards tumbled when I began to scrutinize the other factes of my life. Many of the disagreeable positions in which I find myself can be traced back to a very limited number of bad choices. I have been paying the price for these choices for years and now find myself in situations where there seems to be no acceptable outcome. Very close friends and some family know the situation, some of you may get an idea. With my illness worsening, I broke down. I found myself without a purpose (at least for the time being), disappointing, and alone. I was consumed with self-doubt; wondering what I had achieved by working so hard, and why. Fortunately I have a close friend here that I could vent to. There were no answers he could give me, I knew that. He just was there to validate me so I didn't feel like my whole life was a self-deluded farce. It wasn't pretty but it helped a bit.

The next few days found me languishing in illness and purposelessness. Usually when I visit Speicher, I work, work harder than when I am on my mission at Caldwell. I talk with people all day, feel missed, and feel part of the shop. This time I had no equipment to fix, no real reason to be here. So I kept feeling like an odd-man-out, the guy that accidentally peed in the pool on the 4th of July weekend party. I figured I just had to wait it out, maybe feeling better would help me recover existentially. So I began waiting for my flight home to Caldwell. That's when Hansen and I started to hang out a bit in the evenings, playing guitar and singing songs from A Perfect Circle and Slightly Stoopid.

I am still waiting, hopefully flying out late tonight. And I am starting to feel better, so I actually feel like socializing again. I have picked up a lot of the pieces and seem to be moving forward again, now with a slightly different set of goals. I have 2 months to prove to myself what I have believed about myself all along. I will stay focused.

27 Comments:

Blogger Crystal said...

sounds like you needed a bunch of fudge. with a blog as interesting as yours, i know your life has a great purpose.

setbacks will only make your success that much greater.

good luck!

12:23  
Blogger Crystal said...

michael jackson was acquitted, boo ya!

16:19  
Blogger Dorman said...

another NAMBLA victory :(

17:13  
Blogger mattandriver said...

I am currently training a man at work that reminds me of you in a big way. (I will become personal in this comment. Most people who read this do not know we grew up together.)

He tends to over think things. Most times this is good. A little anal retentiveness is good in a dangerous environment. Sometimes it is bad. Bad for him. After I give him a comment on his work, good or bad, he tends to analyze the comment for up to an hour. "What did he mean by the word 'you'?" "Why did he look over there for one second while talking?". I need to get him to stop over thinking every little detail of what takes place.

How much does this apply to you? You decide. I am sorry to here you where down and out. I hope you feel 100% soon. I also feel your pain of disappointment. Especially considering the situation. I guess your experience over in the Gulf area was a little different than mine. Why don't you ask if you can be flown to Patia Beach, Thailand for a week on the way back to Germany. Just trust me!!!!

Wings dude! Oh, and beer! You can stay at my place for the night!

20:48  
Blogger Saije said...

I could try and say something really inspirational and encouraging but I don't know that it would help in this your hour of need. So instead I will ask? what are the benefits associated with this promotion? more money, status, power, prestige? or just more work, responsibility, burden and sacrifice?

22:08  
Blogger Crystal said...

tag dorman, you are it. read my blog to find out how to get untagged

22:32  
Blogger Dorman said...

saije, welcome back!

the promotion gives me more credence and (perceived) authority. My role is really my authority but some only see my rank. I also get more money and to be part of the Brotherhood of NCOs ;)

I now have to find more blog friends to get untagged :)

06:46  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Glad to know you're feeling better physically if not emotionally. Timing is not ours to decide. Despite being born without the gene for patience, I'm working on becoming more patient. It pays off most of the time.

09:37  
Blogger Crystal said...

on the operation truth page, its weird that in the history section, they have a pic of amir faysal on the independence part, and never mention him...

11:04  
Blogger Dorman said...

I now have an angel on my dog tags :)

I.L., the true test of patience is carrying a loaded machine gun and not pulling the trigger. I am not talking about Fish Man here either.

(currently trying to untag myself)

11:51  
Blogger Crystal said...

im rather impatient myself. i hate waiting. for christmas, for people to make up their minds, for my pay check, on people, for the next opportunity in life. patience is a virtue i really don't have.

but as for the gun, trigger, not fish man thing, that would be sort of messy. if you are gonna do it, pick a nicer way to go. but don't do it at all, cuz then, you wouldn't ever get your fudge, nor would i have a blogger friend to continually bombard with my non-essential, but substantive comments. besides, you couldn't do something like that with an angel so close to your heart :)

12:32  
Blogger Dorman said...

Being impatient, I need to know if anyone that is good at making high quality mp3s or can 'acquire' them (192kbps or higher) would be so gracious as to email me some new albums: Judas Priest and Nine Inch Nails.

Just let me know, would appreciate it very much.

Also, Bob, where you been?

Christy and anyone else interested in penpals must send or post pictures. Kessler and some of the other guys like to see who they are chatting with.

My next post may well be greater in scope and impact than the Dancing Baby Screen Saver. I can't wait to post it :)

It is so nice to feel better.

13:26  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Assuming you mean the new NIN 'With Teeth'? And Judas Priest 'Angel of Retribution'? If so, I might be able to get my hands on some good quality audio to send to you.

15:50  
Blogger Crystal said...

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/C?c109:./temp/~c109c4g123

is this an accurate portrayal of the guilt of america, or is it an attempt to correct historical grievances?

Passed unanimously by the Senate, June 13, 2005.

21:55  
Blogger Dorman said...

Crys: "Please resubmit your search.
Search results are only retained for a limited amount of time.Your search results have either been deleted, or the file has been updated with new information." So says the URL.


I.L. Those would be the albums I was referring to, thanks.

23:31  
Blogger Crystal said...

ill just tell you, and you can google it.

its legislation on lynching, saying it was wrong, 78 legislators signed onto it, it was a little more controversial than it should have been. but it finally passed unanimously after sen. mary land...(can't remember the spelling, but she was from louisiana) authored it in febuary.

00:11  
Blogger Crystal said...

9:11 a.m.

that is an ironic time. do things like that stick out in anybody else's mind, or just mine????

00:13  
Blogger Dorman said...

lynching? Like the laws for murder aren't enough? Oh and maybe this was passed just in case Michael was found guilty. But typically Blacks were lynched.

00:32  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

Dorman -- I have those files. Just let me know where you'd like them to be sent. :)

Crys -- I read that in the paper today...but what was noted is it was an oral vote, not recorded. So, an 'anonymous' apology...not exactly whole-hearted?

09:16  
Blogger Dorman said...

I.L. Thanks a lot. Check my profile for my IM name, put the yahoo to it,and voila!

09:45  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

OK. I sent you the NIN files. There should be 13 files total. I hope I didn't mess them up order-wise. Let me know when you've downloaded those (don't want to kill your inbox) and then I'll send the JP files over. :) Enjoy!

10:42  
Blogger InterstellarLass said...

All but one of the JP files have been sent. There's a really large one that I'm going to have to re-cut at a lower quality, but not less than the requested 192kbps. I think I cut everything else at 320.

14:09  
Blogger Crystal said...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-050606lynching,1,2444363.story?coll=chi-news-hed

ok, i found an article a little outdated in the chicago for you dorman.

yeah, it was sort of half-hearted. that is what caught my attention as well, because it took some arm twisting to get our two texas senators to sign on as co-sponsors, kay bailey was one of the last ones. doesn't really look good for someone looking to be running for governor. but what really does that matter, we do live in texas...

01:55  
Blogger Crystal said...

yall are funny, im the college student who is supposed to be hip on the music transferring stage and i know so very little about the whole process. when i want a song, i just go to a friend and they get it for me. sort of makes me vulnerable, dont think i could survive without others to download for me. ahh well, im sure i will learn with maturity and time

01:59  
Blogger Dorman said...

maybe another feminist dilemma?

:)

02:35  
Blogger Crystal said...

absolutely not!

09:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ric

21 years later and I'm glad to see that you can trace much of this back to a few decisions. I feel the same way. Here's to a distorted and painful learning curve.

19:25  

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