Friday, August 8, 2008

Short-Timing Ain't Easy

You can define "short" in at least a couple different ways. Could be someone that's very close to getting out, going on R&R leave, getting out of Iraq, getting out of the unit, out of the Army, out of that desk job, whatever.

For me though, it's a state of mind. A method of prioritizing. It's knowing that I'm not staying in. Knowing that I made good on the little oath I made on the inside, and now I'm required to make good on the oath that was put on paper.

Let me tell ya, it isn't easy being Short. On some days, it's downright painful.

The formations. Ceremonies. Details. Everything seems asinine and redundant. None of it seems like it should apply to you, because dammit, you're short. Don't these people get it?

Then you see one of your buddies walking down the sidewalk with a neat package of papers, gleefully jumping through the hoops of seperation. Turns out you aren't as short as you thought. Atleast not on the outside.

I'd never really been one to get homesick, ever. But this time around, I know I'd much rather be there than here. Home, with all the simplicity. Familiarity, predictability. Relaxed. I sure as hell belong there a lot more than I belong here, doing jack shit.

And the funny thing about this "home" thing, is that some things come full circle, some things change completely, some things you didn't understand became much more clear, and you realize that some of the people you knew are completely full of shit, and others aren't ever going to make anything of themselves.

Those awkward encounters you have with people you never cared to see again, but for some ungodly reason you both talk to each other, briefly, out of some skewed sense of obligation, even though both of you want nothing more than to get the hell out of there. And half the people you run into didn't even know you were gone, let alone staking a claim in Baghdad.

But hey, the good news? Who gives a shit in the first place? HAH!

After seeing how things changed around town, how other things remained exactly the same, and soaking it all in, knowing you have to leave, it's almost a kick in the sack to return to something that there isn't much else to gain from, when you KNOW that there are better and brighter things you could be doing. Thanks to contractual obligation, everything has to wait, still on hold.

Every day I ask myself why the hell I didn't just do a three year contract. I'd be rabbitting to and fro getting paperwork taken care of and equipment turned in, clawing my way out of this bitch.

I raise my hand in formation, like a schoolkid. "What's the earliest that one can begin the clearing process?"

Pushups. Some things don't change.

Doesn't matter though. Like I said, I've taken inventory of what matters to me and what doesn't. Garrison life in the Army is just a puppet show. Still going along to get along, but I tell ya what, I'd much rather be home, scratching my dog's ass and catching up with everyone, cuz, now, between you and me....


But hey, no big deal, I got ten of em to go, give or take terminal leave. Fuck it.


Anonymous said...

Reading your post, I flashed back to FIGMO posted on barracks doors of short-timers. (F**k it, got my orders) Weird sort of limbo, that period of time.

Anonymous said...

Fuck it. i give a shit. Rock on kid. ;-)Plan past the weekend.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there, kid! You can do ten months! You know you can, or you wouldn't have put yourself in that position in the first place. Use the the time to observe and process, and SIT on your hands. I'm glad to see you're talking again. Cheers!

red said...

Hey, I give a shit. Don't know if that's worth anything, but there it is.

themorethingschange... said...

"And the funny thing about this "home" thing, is that some things come full circle, some things change completely, some things you didn't understand became much more clear, and you realize that some of the people you knew are completely full of shit, and others aren't ever going to make anything of themselves."

Yeah. The inevitable process of growing up. Your insight has come earlier than most, if not all, your HS peers and it's right on.

I always loved 30-day leaves cuz we could totally disengage from the military for awhile. Still have fond memories of those camping trips.

So happy to see you write that home=relaxation!

And hey, as I recall it took almost a month to out-procress, so you've only got 9 months and this one is almost half over already!
See how time flies?!


BigD said...

Hi Suspect,
Sometimes we want the clock to go faster and other times we wish we could make time stand still.

I guess it is "painful" for you right now. You waited for 15 months to drag by in Iraq and now they want you to spend ten more months doing all things "asinine and redundant."

The Army needs a new regulation that reads..."All those short-timers who have completed a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan may use their "Get out of jail free" card NOW! Talk about some gleeful hoop jumping!

I would also add that all returning soldiers should get a minimum of 90 days at home, to rest, relax, recharge and rejoice in all the simple pleasures that come with being in a place where you are loved by family and friends.

"Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other. It is the place of confidence. It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts." ~Frederick W. Robertson

"Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new... but who can understand and measure its sharp breath, its mystery and its design?" ~Paracelsus

Don't let your "contractual obligation" keep you from all those "better and brighter things
you could be doing." Use this time to your advantage. Live in the moment and find joy in the absurdity of it all. Let your inner Zen out.

Don't worry about all the other num-nutz in the neighborhood. What do they know anyway?

God(s) bless you Ryan.

P.S. - Stop raising your hand in formations. Less pushing that way.;)

membrain said...

Ahh pushups. I don't think they came into regular use as punishment for small acts of stupidity until WWII. Been with us ever since. Effective though.

I'm glad to see that you are writing on your normal plane again. Still as wickedly funny as ever. But grounded.

I bet you will find that joining the Army was the best thing you have ever done. And when you do get out you'll miss it just a bit.

The best piece of advice that I have ever read by a combat veteran is: "Cherish those you seved in Iraq with while you still can. Even the ones you didn't like, because those are the ONLY people in the world who will EVER understand your experiences in Iraq.

So to recap: One month to out-process and one month of terminal leave and now it's down to 8 months.

All the best.