Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Cleansing the Doors of Perception.....

Lighted Path, Schwannberg Hill, Germany(A nickel to anyone that posts the full quote or the author of said quote in the Comments section)
The last several days I have been quite down. I have been sick and there has been some personnel issues going on. Being sick always gets me think about the mind-over-body issue to which us soldier get used to quite quickly. How much can I push myself to accomplish the mission? But this entry isn't all about me....

I know a soldier that is completely and utterly self-defeating. Given any opportunity for free-will, this soldier will make the perfectly wrong move of not even choosing. I believe it stems from a deep self pity of an origin I have yet to discover. Not that it is my job to psychoanalyze people (not anymore at least), but when I am exposed to this soldier regularly I am left with the need to make sense of it.

This blog entry is not about the soldier, either. This is about how we self-destruct and set false limits on ourselves; our own self-imposed blockades to success. I constantly search myself for traces of anything that stand in my way to the goals I have set for myself. I am honest with myself and cleanse myself of them, that's what is getting me through this deployment. Why should life be made harder at our own hands? Isn't that really a search for truth? Because if we set up excuses and filters through which we need to evaluate our every perception, then how can we ever accurately see the world? That's obvious rhetoric, but something I challenge everyone with whom I talk. They mostly don't realize it. Some people find it challenging to have a conversation with me, but it serves as a defining line, again making my life easier.

No, this is not a declaration of personal success or some new philosophy on life. It is merely another observation. What stands in your way to happiness? An event that happened in the past you can't let go of? An unresolved relationship? A fear? Insecurity? We know what we should be. We know what we want. We know what we want to be. We also are mostly afraid. Afraid of the unknown, afraid of ourselves. We aren't afraid of what might happen. We have a good idea what will happen, we are afraid of our unknown reaction to it. Challenge yourself because it effects everyone around you.

I confess that I have two or three unresolved issues in my personal life that I am constantly trying to resolve. Those close to me know what they are. But I am happy that I have come to terms with so many many more things over the years, and set them aside not as stumbling blocks or curiosities, but as building blocks for wisdom and strength. Otherwise isn't experience just wasted time?

So why is all this an issue? Why did I even bother discussing it? Well, my friend JL got me pondering our collective journey through life with his recent comment. I remember that alley, I remember those days. I saw it recently when I visited home while on leave. I see how far all of us kids have come. Some of us have stopped short along the way, some of us like to think we haven't gotten where we are going yet. And I've always wondered why.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A Quick Note about Registration and Comments

There has been some hesitation to post comments because of the required registration. I would like to clarify a few things and encourage anyone with a valuable comment to please do so. Blogger has just changed how the comments work and you now can post without registering. If you wish to register, I make no money from anyone's registration. This blog is not intended to produce revenue for me. As I am in the Army, it is against regs for me to do so.

Having said that, since I have been deployed many friends and family have asked what they could send me that I need or how they could help me out in any way. In response to that, I have links to the right for anyone interested in throwing a few dollars my way for necessities. I also have a Froogle Wishlist link...it is just that, a wish list. Some of the things on there I could seriously use in my job, some are just fun, and some I really need. But don't take it too seriously. Thank you to everyone that reads my blog and sends the web address to others. I do this with the satisfaction that others are enjoying it.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A New War in Iraq

The other night a FRAGO (FRAGment Order) came down to everyone on FOB Caldwell. In it were updated orders, duties, and a warning about a brewing war starting on base. Now we are all used to the idea that once we cross the berm, we are leaving the safety of "home" for the wilds of anarchic Iraq. But we are not prepared for a war brought to us on our own turf. As the Staff Sergeant read the orders, it became apparent that we were not fighting the traditional war; no real defined front lines, women in combat, unseen enemy, etc. The war was not even started by radical muslims, Iraqis, nor Middle-Easterners. The war seems to have been started by the soldiers on this base, and the battlefield has expanded to the streets. But from where did it start? The latrine walls.

Apparently the wit shared amongst the scribes has sparked tempers to action. Enough so that a LT. General has to be concerned with telling everyone to stop writing on the walls. With this level of aggression going on around me, I started to think about how this could happen.

Man seemingly has been writing on the walls for tens of thousands of years. But, one must ask if this is the first time factions have waged war over such scribblings. Thinking deeper into the subject, I began to realize that there may be distinct categories that the "latrine writings" could be broken down into. First, there are the obscene arts; inaccurate renditions of the human anatomy which appear to have been drawn by myopic drunkards prone to the shakes. Second are the "potty philosophers" who bestow such aphorisms as "Don't count the days, make the days count!" and "A Chain is only as strong as its weakest link". The motives for writing such bland statements escapes me right now except maybe to be so patently stupid as to spark an outraged response from the next dung depositor. Next are the poems with such angst ridden verses of real-life events, that any man (or woman) reading them can't help but to feel a fellowship. How many of us have truly gone there to sh*t but only farted and NOT left there broken hearted? Ahhh, the memories.

A more frequent entry on the grunt box wall is the "instigation". These statements are typically in response to the aforementioned categories, but tend to breed more of the like. For instance, someone felt the need to express his misogynistic view of the females of a current unit, most likely spurred by his frequent rejection. After the initial statement the trolls started responding; some in support, some in defense. These threads can carry on for major sections of the walls and door, and are most likely the fuel for the real life brawls. My question is, how do they know exactly who wrote what? Which brings me to the next category; Warnings!. "[Name Changed to protect the innocent] is a Meat gazer!" is on almost all of the available outlets on base. Maybe it is he who is providing the intel to each faction on who writes what and when. I don't know, but I do know that while I am seated, I am also scanning the tops of the stall walls for spies.

There are just 2 more categories I frequently find. The least interesting but most curiously motivated of all are the scribbler-outers. Theses are the morally conflicted viewers that wrestle with the temptation to leave their mark on the writing surface, but either lack wit or have a sense of ethical duty to remove the potentially offensive blather someone else has written. Somehow they satisfy themselves by covering up the material with the ever-so-not-effective method of swirlies. Come on folks, swirlies can be read through. Either contribute or poop with your eyes closed. Finally, there are the spell-checkers. These are the people that must want the world to be in such perfect balance and harmony that even mindless graffiti should be given enough thought and care to be spelled properly and correct grammar employed. Maybe it is done to infuriate the original poster. Maybe it is done to show intellectual superiority over the sub-geniuses that originally posted. Whatever the motive, I found myself laughing when one spell-checker so revealingly wrote "Learn to spell you morron".

In conclusion I will confess that even I have succumbed to the temptation one time. It was after some high speed soldier warned the females of [the other unit] that though they may have lots of men paying them attention here as if they are beautiful women, when they get back home they will still be ugly. I merely pointed out that it is an all male bathroom.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

An Excerpt from My Journal.....Part 2

Earlier that day we had to stop because of a truck breakdown. We were in another town which had similar amounts of traffic. We all had to exit the vehicles to pull security around the convoy to prevent suicide bombers, or anyone throwing bombs, into our area. I stood there fully armed and fully geared. My face covered by my gator neck and my goggles, my machine gun in hand fully loaded and ready to use. Some people crossed by on foot, mostly those that lived in houses along our convoy. Then there was a group of women approaching; adults dressed in black, and a little girl dressed in a beautiful red dress. She must have been only 3 years old or so. Understand that it had just rained for days so the streets were covered in slick mud and inches of standing water. Everyone had mud on them, at least their feet. But these women and the little girl were spotless. I had just been tense about some vehicles near me at the end of the convoy getting restless when I saw them. There I stood, a 6 foot 3 inch 215 pound soldier trained and ready to kill to defend myself and my fellow soldiers, looking at this little girl approaching. She walked so daintily. Her eyes met mine at one point and I could tell she didn’t know what to think. I would have been scared if I was her, but she just kept looking at me as she walked. I couldn’t help but soften and I found myself smiling at her as she walked by, her eyes alternating between me and the mud on the ground. As she passed I happened to look up to see that the two women were clearly her young mother and her grandmother. Surprisingly, her mother looked at me then looked at her daughter, then back at me. I expected a look of disdain but instead she smiled warmly at me, too. Grandmother was not so warm as she gave mother a scornful look. As they walked farther on she looked back a second time to smile at me. While this was happening, the crowd at the end became more vocal and restless. I dropped the bipod on my weapon in preparation for a firefight. The crowd calmed after our increased stance and we were able to continue on after a few more minutes. We mounted our vehicles and drove on while the images of the girl and her mother continued in my mind. That was the first I realized how confusing war can be.

Monday, March 21, 2005

An Excerpt from My Journal.....Part 1

26 Jan 05
Well it has been an interesting few days. We convoyed for 4 days from Kuwait through Iraq. I slept fully geared
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in the truck for 2 nights; in pain, cold and wet. The situation allowed me to see so clearly the simple joys dry clothes or an old cot. It was rough for a while. There were some existential moments along the way that made me stop and take note. I rode behind the driver, Ramos, with my machine gun fully loaded, pointed out the window. Pointed out the window at children. Sure there were hundreds of the despicable adults, but there was one boy, about 10 years old. We were driving through a town full of people along the streets.

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Most looked unhappy at our intrusion since our 2 km long convoy stopped their traffic. Many of the young men looked disgusted and hostile. Then I saw this boy standing on the median about 5 feet away from me. As we passed his eyes fixed on the barrel of my machine gun. It seemed like that moment passed for hours instead of the seconds it took. There I sat, in the middle of a potentially hostile area, with my M249 ready to fire, and all I can think about is what went through that boy’s mind. Shortly after, I was focused back on the task of surviving the trip as people closed in on our trucks. Having the power of death in ones hand is a mighty and humbling responsibility, especially when you don’t know your enemy.
[Continued Tomorrow]

Mailing Address

Here is my mailing address for anyone interested in writing me. I would like to thank all of you that sent me care packages so far (Sprout). Many have asked what I could use, so I started a 'Wishlist' (link to the right). I can wish ;)

SPC Dorman, Dean Michael
C Co. 17th Sig Bn
OIF 3 FOB Caldwell

When sending to this address, the post office should charge regular domestic rates since it all should be filtered through New York.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Wealth, a True Story

Wealth, should be defined as having more than enough of something that is in need by others. Well, today I had to make a visit to the latrines for the obvious reasons. There are 2 trailers set up as latrines. I made my way into the first latrine, opened the stall and found no toilet paper. I moved on to the next stall. Again sans TP. On and on I went until I left that latrine for the next. Finally, I hit the jackpot! A stall had 2.5 rolls of TP. That is when I started thinking about wealth. For a while, I was the wealthiest man on base.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

A Picture Gallery....

A Different Side

Went on another convoy yesterday. This time we also went to Magic Mountain. It is a distant location on the very top of the highest hill on the Iran/Iraq border. I took some incredible pictures that just don’t capture the scope. Standing on that high mountain top, I could view literally thousands of square miles which all shared on common trait; they are completely useless. Ok, so beauty might be a use but thinking deeper I realized that most, if not all, of what we hold as beautiful is actually useless. Take for example the natural terrain that I was looking at. Desert.
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Not good for building, mining, living, anything but viewing. Art, modern art especially, serves no functional purpose but is yet beautiful. But you may think that the new whatever make of sports car is a work of art and very useful. I would say that the beautiful *part* of the car is pretty useless…. The body and paint are mostly for esoteric appreciation instead of designed for function. Contrast that with a HMMWV.

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My point is that anything beautiful is useless. But is that not where we put our deepest assets? In the useless? A picture drawn by a child treated like a Picasso.

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A ring on a finger, a virgin forest, a trophy…… Functional is ugly, useless is beautiful. We work so hard to create and maintain beauty when we just need to be less functional.

On that mountain top was a dog. How it got there I have no idea, there were nomads with flocks miles away at the bottom, so maybe from there. They named the pup, ironically, Paris Hilton. We all took pictures with Paris, and she ended up following me around since I played grab-the-paw with her. That is the universal game amongst dogs.. Paris didn’t care a bit about the view.
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Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Meaning Behind the Name.

To understand the reference to Sysiphus, please brush up on Greek Mythology. Now, how that applies to my life and my writings here should be apparent over time.