Monday, May 16, 2011

Something must be wrong...

by 13 Stoploss

I reached my hand inside the box, pulling out the junk fliers and advertisements and coupons. But on top, above it all, I saw the thin envelope with the familiar two letters in the corner.

It's been five months since I began and I've been expecting the correspondence--I am within the 125 actual and beyond the 90 goal. So everyday, I walk out there, expecting to be let down, that today, and tomorrow today and the next day future today, are not the days.

Today is not that day, either, but still my hands shake and tremble. Might be the caffeine and an empty stomach, the fear and nervousness like when I knocked three times on the boardroom door, listening for the Command Sergeant Major to beckon me in.

That day, then, I passed. I became more than I was. Now, I'm waiting on someone to label me, some far away and unseen person, maybe in an office with a stack of paper people like me on a desk, mixed with stats and statements and charts, or in some cold, brushed steel examining room.

It's the second "we haven't forgot about you" letter I've received since March, the second time my hands have trembled nervous with fear or excitement when reaching into the box. And I wonder whether my nightmares aren't real enough or whether the classroom explosions aren't loud enough. Do I need to spend more time collecting my thoughts, drifting off in mid sentence, while speaking to others? Should I not be polite when some airhead asks me how many Iraqi's I've killed? Should I not go out, so that I can save myself the embarrassment of just finding a corner anyway? Maybe I shouldn't fear the pills, the bottles of pills, that knock me out so strong that not only do I fall asleep, but I can't wake up. And instead of drinking a couple every night, maybe I should multiply the couple by three, so that I am more withdrawn from my marriage and my family and my studies.

I'm wrong, but I'm not a liar.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Dream is Reality?

by 13 Stoploss

3 weeks and a wakeup...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I'm searching

by 13Stoploss

THIS.

Yeah, I'm a little late, I get that. But it's the kind of literary writing I'm looking for--the smart and beautiful prose, Herr and Swofford style, that really motivates me. In this, I see construction and purpose and skill. And I'm going to steal it, along with the others and O'Brien.

Anyway, buy more of that here, which is what I'm doing right now...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Where was I?

by 13 Stoploss



I was 20 years old when it happened. I worked at Disneyland and woke up to a phone from scheduling, something about work being closed today because of the terrorist thing. Something about Disneyland being a potential target.

I answered the phone from bed, groggy and half-asleep.

"The terrorist thing?"

"You haven't heard? Turn on the TV!"

I've never told this to anyone, but I was a student at Santa Ana Community College, enrolled in 10 units. My first schooling since dropping out of HS a year previous. I was taking classes at my own pace and classes that I wanted to take. But at the same time, work was cutting back hours. I was living with my girlfriend and another good friend from work, named Dan.

Dan had already left for work--he had the early shift. When I called, it went to his voicemail. He didn't come home that night and I was scared. Dan was the type to do something drunk and irrational and I had a sinking feeling that he'd join the Army or something...

The next day, Dan called me up and said that he's bringing the recruiter with him. Said he wanted to talk to us all.

Maybe I'll get into another time, but the short story is that I dropped out of college like I did in HS. I put in my notice at work, signed the dotted line, married my girlfriend, who also signed the dotted line, and then after some time and some training, I found myself in Kuwait, waiting for the invasion to begin.

That's how that happened and that's where I was when I found out...

This is me in Karbala, Iraq - March 2003
Karbala, Iraq - March 2003

With SGT Brian Colby in Najaf, Iraq - March 2003
With SGT Brian Colby in Najaf, Iraq - 2003

THIS--this is blood on the streets. Is this avenged now? No.
THIS--this is blood on the streets. Is this avenged for?
No. No, the lives of those lost can never be forgotten.