Friday, December 25, 2009

I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In on Christmas Day in the Morning

It's Christmas! Merry Christmas to all my family and friends all over the world, wherever you may be. I didn't actually see three ships come sailing in this morning. The only body of water nearby is the Tigris River, and there is a 20 foot concrete wall obstructing by view. There was a little get together for all of the Soldiers here on the base last night. Cookies and candy canes were eaten by all. There was some army-style poetry recited and Christmas songs sung by some Ugandans who guard the perimeter. The night was capped by the singing of "O Come All Ye Faithful" by all present. And I am happy to report that Santa did stop by. I saw him with my own two eyes. And I even looked online, and NORAD confirmed it. Santa made a stop in Iraq. My parents sent me some Almond Roca and homemade Russian tea cakes. That was pretty awesome; it pretty much made my life. I probably ate it all in about a day. Today, there will be an army-style feast. I am excited. Mostly because I didn't eat breakfast. There is a Christian service tonight in the chapel, which I plan on attending. I will not soon forget my Christmas in Iraq. I checked Google maps and I am exactly 555 miles from the little town of Bethlehem. It's crazy to think that the sky that I look at every night is (roughly) the same one that, 2000 years ago, displayed a star that led 3 kings from the east to the place where Jesus lay. I wonder if they were from anywhere around here? Merry Christmas to everybody! God bless you all and I pray that you have wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Living in a Conex

Living in a conex is better than you might imagine. Conex: container express. A military word. A metal box eight feet wide, twenty feet deep, and nine feet high. Somebody built four walls, a floor, and a door out of wood. There are two bunk beds, a shelf with four roomy spaces, and a table. It’s better than you might imagine, I say, because there is also an air conditioning unit. I keep it set at twenty degrees Celcius. I still haven’t converted that to Fahrenheit; I would guess sixty-ish. It’s better than you might imagine, also, because I have electricity and internet access. I can blog from my conex. I can watch movies in my conex. I can electric shave in my conex. It’s better than you might imagine, thirdly, because it’s just me. There’s nobody else breathing down my neck or snoring or listening to stand-up comedy on their iPod and laughing at random times and scaring bojangles out of me. This brings me to my fourth and final point. It’s better than you might imagine because I’m not packed in here with twenty or fifty other people. I’ve heard stories about people trying to sneak into America by way of conex. They’re sometimes packed into these conex storage units for months at a time. Some people die. Some people get arrested. Me? I stream Youtube videos in delightfully frigid solitude. Living in a conex is better than you might imagine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Hey all,

Here's a little update. I can't go much into specifics, but let me give you a rundown of my past 6 days. I have been to 5 different Military bases and am about to go to a 6th, and I have been to 4 different countries. I am carrying 4 different computers in my computer bag, which is only meant to hold 2. I have had 2 sleepless nights and slept through the day once. I have had 1 haircut from 1 Iraqi barber. I have flown first class on 1 international charter flight, been stuffed into the back of 1 C-130 and am about to be stuffed into the back of 1 Chinook. Between Iraq and Kuwait, I have seen 1 McDonalds, 1 Burger King, 1 Pizza Hut, 2 Subways, 1 Taco Bell, and 1 Starbucks, and I have eaten at exactly 0 of them. I tried to plug 1 1250v printer into one 100v converter and I fried exactly 1 100v converter. Good times. Stay posted. I may even put up some very non-descript pictures. Later!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Checks Off My List

So I didn't get around to everything...and I got around to some things in roundabout ways. And there were some other things that I never thought I would do. Here's the rundown:
I didn't get around to -

- Getting to the Statue of Liberty - It's booked until Christmas.. but I was it from afar
- Eat in Chinatown or Little Italy - yes, unfortunate, but I did eat lots of NY style pizza
- See Springsteen in concert - but I did see some bands that I have never heard of - amazing baby? they were aight.
- Get in the background of Good Morning America - it's ok, diane sawyer is a ho.
- Grand central station - I hear I didn't miss much.

Things I got around to -

- The top of the Empire State Building - the 86th floor and then the 102nd. Both were grand.
- Ground zero - it's hard to believe there were two gigantic buildings there.
- Central park - It is very big. And there are alot of people. I people watched.
- Broadway musical - I hesitate to say...I saw Mary Poppins. At the New Amsterdam. I got the same.
- I saw the Rangers play the Senators. Bought tickets from some sketchy dude outside Madison square garden. The whole ordeal was sketch. But I saw matt gilroy play, which was pretty awesome. He's been stealing my google hits for the past five years. Funny, he's a ranger and I'm not. Sad, actually.
- Went to the Seinfeld restaurant - had my dish of choice - the bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries. Got a picture of the kramer.

Things I did that I didn't expect to do -

- On a whim, I saw watched a french movie called hadewijch at the new york film festival. About religion and war - two topics that interest me. One topic that doesn't interest me - reading...subtitles.
- Ate at a Pakistani restaurant at 1 am. I thought for sure I was going to get stabbed. I recommend the duck.
- Watched a parade while standing in front of Macy's. Unfortunately, it was just the Korean Day Parade. Ha, they didn't even stop traffic for it.
- Kicked a chihuahua in the face on a crouded street. And just kept walking.
- Went to a Bono concert...also on a whim. At Carnegie Hall. Bought another scalped ticked. Got there a half hour into the show and I didn't want to disturb anybody, so I basically just wandered around the carnegie hallways for a good half hour. I wanted to get back stage, but the ushers kept telling me to go sit down. It was an aids benefit. Everyone was wearing suits and dresses. Was shorts and a tshirt and sunglasses. Lots of good cameos - rufus wainwright and scarlett johansson. Some not so good - Courtney Love and Lady Gaga (a great singer and pianist, but completely insane). Got onto the lowest balcony and and watched from there.
- Ate an excellent steak at columbus circle.
- Slept on the subway for a night. I couldn't remember the address for the place I was staying in Jersey City, and my friend had turned his phone off. So I rode the path subway back and forth from 33rd in nyc to journal square in jersey..until I got kicked off the train by the operator. I thought I was going to get mugged. Then I just wandered around broadway in shorts and a tshirt..and sunglasses..until a starbucks opened. Drank coffee and did a crossword in warmth.

There were surprisingly not as many street musicians as I thought there would be. When I did see them, I didn't have cash, and when I had cash, they seemed to disappear. This was the biggest disappointment of my trip. But all in all, it was a good trip. Baghdad is next. Then Sydney.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lists Allow Me to Function

I make lists. I have alot of things to do at work lately, and if I don't make lists, I end up forgetting about things and eventually getting blindsided. Not good. I'm going to New York City this weekend. Here is a list:

- Top of the Empire State Building
- Ground Zero
- Crown of the Statue of Liberty
- Central Park
- Times Square
- Grand Central Station
- Eat in Chinatown
- Eat in Little Italy
- Eat some New York Pizza
- Broadway musical
- New York Rangers game
- Bruce Springsteen concert
- Get in the background of Good Morning America
- Find the Seinfeld restaurant
- Tip a street musician

These are just a few goals. Some are much loftier than others. I am open to suggestions. Peace!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Look Ahead

My next month-plus will be fast and furious. 2fast2furious, one might say. It will start tomorrow. This next week will be crazy with all kinds of Army pre-deployment requirements. I will be busy. Then, that next Monday, I will fly home. Portland, Oregon. I will get to see the family and friends. A few plans:

Spend time with family and friends.
Go to the beach.
Not get a hair cut.
Not shave.
Go to Powell Books.
Bike the corridor.
Play street music.
Annie's Donuts (much better than voodoo).
Stacatto Geltao.

The only restriction on my trip is that I will fly out of Boise on the 13th. How I get from point a to point b is in the air. I-84, says my best intuition. Hitchhike maybe? Rent-a-car? Bike? Who knows. Here are some plans when I am in Idaho:

Sleep in Andrew's bed.
Climb on the new science building.
See old friends.

Okay, I really don't have many plans. But it should be a blast. Shortly after my return to New York, there will be another flurry of work, and then I'll be off to war. I will visit my sis in Columbus sometime in there. It will be crazy, but I'm excited. Australia on R&R! Peace! Or war! Or something!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Maine and Lobster Rolls

I drove to Maine this last weekend. My options were either drive to Montreal and see Coldplay, Jason Mraz, and Josh Ritter in concert or drive to Maine. I decided that I wouldn't make the decision until I got to Vermont (which is nice this time of year), at which point I would either go north or south on I-89. I chose south. Coldplay will have to wait. I started running low on gas in New Hampshire on Friday night, so I pulled off in New London, a place I didn't know existed. I proceeded to drive to 3 other gas stations, only to find that they were all closed and that they all looked like a scene out of the Mothman Prophecies. Oh, not only did I stop at the gas stations... I ran out of gas at the fourth one that I so happily visited, so I had to sleep in my car and wait until the station opened (luckily at 5:30). I honestly think the mothman may have been trying to forcibly enter my car. Anyhoo, I got gas and quickly ditched New London for Maine.

Portland, Maine. The other Portland. The not quite as agreen Portland. The Portland that I have not grown to love, but that many, MANY seagulls call home. I got to Portland early Saturday morning. I parked my car and went for a little bike ride through downtown Portland (weird?). The streets were almost empty, which was nice, but I quickly realized that I had a slow leak in my front tire. Shame. So after maybe a half-hour long ride, I tossed the bike back into the veh and drove on to bigger and better.

I inadvertently drove headlong into a 10k race, so I was forced to park my car and wait until the race was over. Apparently, that's why the streets were abandoned; everybody in Maine was running in this thing. So I stood by the sea and watched as the runners collapsed across the finish line. Just when I thought it was over, they started the kids race. Painstaking is the word that I would use. Not for the runners, but for me not being able to leave. And I was in loafers, so everybody knew I was a fraud.

I ate some lobster rolls. They are New England delicacies. I saw a PBS special on regional foods and have wanted to try an authentic one ever since. I had another regional sandwich when I was down in Louisiana, BTW. The poboy! I sounded so white when I ordered it. Anyway, the lobster roll was good. It reminded me of a kind of bland, kind of fishy, kind of expensive version of a gyro. But it was good. Both of them. I had 2. And some fries and Coke. Oh yeah, PS, I locked my keys in my car probably at the busiest intersection north of Boston, while blaring a used CD that I bought when I was passing through Saranac Lake, NY, consisting of (kids) songs from around the world. Lots of girls jogging by. Lots of girls in summer dresses shopping at the trendy waterfront shops. Lots of good looks possessed by girls and weird looks directed at me. They no doubt heard my bizarre music and saw me feeding the meter as I waited for the pop-a-lock guy to show. Man, I was glad to get out of there.

All in all, I hit 7 states: New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. 6 of which I had never been to. All of which had probably one Dunkin Doughnuts for every resident. Not too many Starbucksesiz. Almost hit a pack of old people who didn't look both ways. One thing I have learned throughout my travels: musical tastes tend to differ by region, but everybody listens to public radio. NPR. And everybody watches PBS. Everybody listens to Garrison Keillor. Well, not everybody, but at least a good chunk of people from every place. Everybody state has NPR on FM frequency and it is always one of clearest stations on the dial. End of rant. End of post. Here are some pictures. End of post now.