Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I was driving when it hit me, full force, a thousand heavy fists hammering a point into my skull. Never in my life had I wanted anything to be over so bad. Never been so homesick and fed up and tired, just TIRED.

I changed lanes and thought and thought some more. I don't even have a battle to fight, wouldn't want to if I did. Stuck. Not sure what to do. Re-enlistment NCOs love that too. Next time he comes around though, I'll lie. Cook up a whole elaborate plan, leading all the way up to my retirement and binges on a yacht. Whatever he doesn't want to hear. Whatever sounds solid and foolproof. Whatever saves me from the "you're going nowhere, getting out without a plan and you'll be back, why not re-up and get a bonus?" lecture. A total siege on your sense of self-reliance.

Sorry chief, I can't. Not this guy. I want to have rights again. I hear stories about the barracks that other units have and I get pissed. Apparently ours are astonishingly bad. Pitiful. Prison cells. Two guys crammed into a small room and goddamn you if you can't keep that shit clean.

When you aren't at war, you're supposed to be miserable. I see dudes getting their asses chewed during PT. You aren't supposed to exercise to the point where you're in pain. It's an individual thing, but God help you if you don't keep up with flutterkicks. The Iron Fist mentality is everywhere, unnecessarily so. There's no fucking reason for it.

My friends joked the other day that I'd be the one short-timer of the group to re-enlist. Yuks and laughs. I joked right along with them, "Fuck you, die in a fire." If half of these people even knew what I've been thinking lately.

I'm in my twenties. I should be done with college already. I should be well on my way to getting my life together. I should have had atleast one apartment of my own by now. I should have credit, good or bad. I should have some sort of foundation. But I don't. I'm still in an Army that treats the single lower enlisted soldiers like fucking children.

I can't have my girlfriend in my room. I have no place to call my own. The barracks are not mine. That's just where the Army keeps me. I have no sense of identity in this fucking uniform. I have no sense of accomplishment, I still feel that I was fucked out of my war and that's probably a good thing.

I pissed away four years. Life experience be damned. It didn't make me better. It made me bitter. It made me uncomfortable around the normal world, twice over now than before we deployed. I suspect everyone of harboring violent intentions and sadistic plans. I drive with a sense of impending doom. At any moment, I'll be fucked.

I'll be late to work.
I'll say or do the wrong thing.
Murphy's Law is going to get me.
I'm going to get pulled over.
I'm going to merge the same time someone else does and get shoved under an eighteen wheeler.
Gonna get shot hanging out off post in some freak occurance at the mall.

It's all going to go downhill, and fast, and I won't even see it coming. Rock bottom is staring up at me with a shit eating grin.

So now ask again if I'm thinking about re-enlisting. Nope. My gut tells me that everything here is wrong wrong wrong and I need to get out.

But I can't. Not yet. Trapped. Serving my time. I don't even speak my mind anymore. That's how convinced I am that they're going to get me somehow.

On my own, I do fine. Better than fine. Everything is great when I'm home, feeling like a normal person again. Start the countdown. I'm going to get my life back eventually. This little relationship I have with the Army, it just isn't healthy, and I tried, I really did. It's gotta end. Got too many other things to do. It's not you, it's me. Really.

Leave the GI Bill on the dresser.


Anonymous said...

reading your blog is like riding a roller coaster. i always get motion sickness when i ride roller coasters, but i can't make myself hop out off yours. it makes me want to scream, vomit, laugh and cry in a speeding, swirling whirlwind of words and emotions.

hang in there. time will pass. i admire the stamina and humor which you bring to every single post i've made it through so far.

time will pass.


BigD said...

Hi Suspect,
These are the kind of posts that make me want to take the Army and wring its collective %&*$% neck!
The list of Army bullsh*t is long and tedious and I can only ask why?
1) Why do our soldiers have to live in conditions that resemble a prison? The conditions of the barracks on many of the military posts are deplorable!
2) Why are soldiers continually subjected to dehumanizing exercises in futility that only serve to erode their already fragile hold on sanity?
3) Why does the Army "eat its young" and take pride in its ability to do so?
4) If the military machine wants us regular citizens to respect and honor its warriors, should the Army not be held to the same standard?

You stick with your gut Ryan and get out while the gettin' is good. You have seen the underbelly of the beast and it is not pretty.
When those re-enlistment NCO's come ripping out of that belly like the creature on Alien, stick your fingers in your ears, click your boots 3x's, and recite out loud...
"There's no place like home."
"There's no place like home."
"There's no place like home."

Now for the rest...
Don't worry about being "behind" in your life. Take it from someone who has a 26 year old and a 22 year old still living at home. And don't worry about being "finished" with college by now. I guess being in the Raq for 15-months you haven't heard, but, most people your age like to stay in college forever. It is called being a lifetime learner. Two of my son's friends were visiting and one is going back to go to medical school (he already has a history degree) and the other is getting another degree in Latin Studies and then he might go back again to become a veterinarian or something. They don't have their own place either. Most guys and gals your age have been named the "Boomerang" generation, because they go away to school and then they come back home again. I am sure your family would love to have you home for even just a little while, before you go careening about the countryside.

You still have plenty of time to get an apartment, establish credit, have fun, smell the roses, and figure out where to file all you have learned, seen and done in the Army. Once again, I would say that you are light years ahead of most of your contemporaries in maturity and perspective on the nuances of life. Take all that and put it in your back pocket, pull it out when you need it. Otherwise, keep a lid on it. In time, I hope you will feel less bitter and lots better (see Regina S. "Better") and I hope you will find ways to enjoy the hell out of all the new adventures you will be starting when you get out of the Army.

You will get your life back Ryan and I pray that you will find a future full of joy, happiness, love and promise. In the meanwhile, please don't think so much while you are driving...talk about people harboring violent intentions and sadistic plans...that's how I feel when I drive home through Baltimore City every night. :P

God(s) bless you Ryan. You are an accomplished soldier who has given four years of his life in service to this country. I do not question or care about your motives, I am honored and proud to know you. You can do this. You have fought fiercely to keep them from taking your soul, please don't stop now!

Anonymous said...

So much of what is essential is invisible to the eye. Countdown to FREEDOM is ticking away.

lorraine said...

Hey Baby: While I was reading your post the song "Don't Bogart That Joint" was playing on the radio - a new version from the one that I remember from some God knows - 35 some odd years ago - time is relative - didn't Uncle Albert say that? Don't worry - be happy! I'm 60 - beautiful - and making good money doing something I love for work - when did I start college? you may ask? at 40 - after traveling the world - getting sick - getting well - hanging around the ink well - it goes around and around over and over and this too shall pass and every cliche you ever heard - not to mention that when entering the public restroom at work I pushed the door all the way open to the wall & looked in & around before entering taking a "sniff" for "bad guys" - so even the hyper awareness is there too. We are all the same basically - just with different skill sets. Remember the "chill room" and find it for now to get you through this. You are loved. Come stay with me & I'll kick my renters out and let you have your own apt for awhile. You helped me - I'll help you. Love - Lorraine

Anonymous said...

It'll get better, and until then, it will be tolerable.

Find your happy place, even if, for now, its the backseat of your car doing nothing but bullshitting and bitching about how lame it is you have to be there. There's alway the suburb.

And remember that there is ONE redeeming quality to this ridiculous state and it should more than compensate. At least it better ;)

Anonymous said...

It sounds like maybe you're dwelling on this a little too much. Get over it. You're in it. Find something to occupy your time to keep you from the pity party. Ok, so you don't like it. Why don't you talk to someone who DOES, and maybe they can give you a reason to deal with it until your time is up. Pick up a productive hobby. Take classes.

Quit bitching.

admiyo said...


Get your college applications together and get them in. The deadline for most of them are in December. Apply everywhere. Hell, apply to Harvard. Tell the reup NCO's that you are going green-to-gold, that'll shut em up (OK, no it won't they just want to make quotas). You don't even have to go to the damn school, just get the paperwork in to make it look like you are. Maybe if you fake it long enough, you'll want to do it.

Make some movement on the post-Army plans and you won't feel as trapped. Right now you have that same immobility that comes from wearing a wet set of clothes: If you don't move, you won't feel the cold sticking to your back. But if you do move, you'll generate the body heat to keep yourself warm.

Go see the National Guard recruiter on post and find a unit in your area and settle in. Preferably, one that just did a long tour in the suck, cuz you know it will be unlikely that they will get sent back. Make the movement to get assigned to them so that when you get out and you still have the reserve aspect of you enlistment hanging over your head you will have some assurance that you won't be yanked back out of civilian life.

I reiterate my advice from earlier, find a different job on post, even if it still in the Battalion. There are a lot of marketable skills that you can learn in the Army, do it while you still can.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the part about "I should have credit, good or bad." What keeps you from opening a credit card at some department store and making monthly payments? DWilliams

sheena said...

hey guy! do whatever you want...in the end, its your life...not anybody else's. remember no matter what you do...somebody will be there to criticize...its the ones that stand behind you that you can count on!

Anonymous said...

Your barracks are deplorable. Not sure what happened to getting the new ones....
But as someone said, why not buy a car? Or get a small department store card (Best Buy anyone?)
If you wanted your own place, maybe you should have moved up in the ranks, say, E-5, the one you said before you didn't want since you were getting out. At least your last year you could have walked around with a smidgen of respect. Though, with your Top, there's no respect to be had.
Still enjoy reading your blogs. I can sit here, smiling, knowing exactly what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

"One day, I see something dangling from the power line...a pair of desert boots, painted red and completely covered with red glitter. Ruby Red, dare I say." --you...2.23.07

In 9 or so months (fewer if you get your terminal leave) these will be your boots.

Hang in there...

Love you,

themorethingschange... said...

Once again Admiyo appears with the wisest, most level-headed advice you could want. Sounds like this guy/gal has walked the same path you're on and made some sense of it.

Hope you're doing the college app thing. As my son learned, getting the GI Bill money takes time. He had to begin his studies on his own nickle. Couldn't hurt to get that paperwork going AS SOON as you're accepted to college.

I guess college will seem strange at first too, but what counts is that you keep moving forward -- baby steps are cool so don't be thinkin' aw this won't count for anything - ANY positive forward motion counts.

Gotta say college was one of the best times of my life - go to class, study at the beach, make fun of fraternities. All night study sessions in my apartment with people who had totally different opinions and lives than me....photo journalism and writing classes, reading tons of books. It was all great, even most of the classes I saved 'till sr year turned out to be A's, not easy A's cuz I was scared spitless of Oral Interp and a couple of others but I did a good job -- except for math which I think was a mercy D. ;)

Thing is -- I still remember most all of it. Forty some years later I still remember the people, the walks in the rain, the beach, the long, long talks at my apt, more long talks over pizza and beer, the first time I worked as a journalist, the clothes I ruined
developing photographs.

It was all new and scary but after the first year I knew I was changing...I developed some sort of core I'd never felt before...I knew I could get my feet wet without worrying about making the rent or losing a job if I biffed it...amazing how a few kudos can make you feel 100 feet tall.... :) :)

Or maybe college isn't for you. If you wanna jump right into a job that you think suits you thats cool, it sure seems to have worked for Colby Buzzel...

Personally I think you should grab all the bucks the Army owes you and
take a few years to get rid of the feelings you have now while earning a diploma and having a ton of fun. No stress, no expectations but the ones you place on yourself. When you arrive at the college of your choice you're a blank slate.

I really loved playing with topics I'd never been offered before. I went off in all kinds of directions with my electives -- still have the books! You can't major in everything and my college required me to declare a major from the beginning. I only changed it once.... duh .. I tend to be verbose (I'm doing it here and I know it) and that works way better in English than in Journalism!

Turns out the Keep It Simple rule became necessary in my work and I'm glad I'd put in the time as a journalism major .. but in my life it just doesn't work at all!! As you know.

I've said this before and I repeat: take advantage of the talk time you're being offered. If you don't want to deal with the lady ask for a man. I understand her specialty is PTSD. AT some level the Army knows what they put you and your buddies thru and they're offering this to all of you so you don't have to deal with these feelings alone. DO IT. You don't want to find yourself coming out of your seat when the fireworks go off at a concert 40 yrs from now.

It took me some time but I've learned being happy is a choice. Its not always the easy choice but its sort of like cellular memory --you make the decision every morning to be happy and pretty soon you find yourself being happy without even trying.

Ok. If you're still reading this remember your family, your friends and your readers want the best for you. But we can't do it. Thats gonna be your job. We'll be here offering love, support, and lots and lots of exposition. ;-)


Office Lady said...

My *much* older sister is right. Being happy is a choice.

But more than that...not being miserable is a choice too. Self talk goes an amazingly long way towards determining your reality.

Just sayin'...

(sorry about the "older sister" dig there P...sorta)

Vixen said...

Take a deep breath, exhale slowly and repeat 6 more times. Relax. Getting stressed and aggravated is just gonna clutter your head. Your next move is to take that GI bill and go to college, seriously. You're a smart guy, it's time to prove that to yourself...and the army.

Anonymous said...

But you have a girlfriend...that's good :)

Francisco Enriquez said...

Hey man,
Don't worry about it. We get out at the same time. You know how I get the re-up NCO off my ass? I told him my bad ass plan that he couldn't top it. It helped that I told my one 1SG and XO about it when they asked me if I was going to Re-enlist and they totally backed me one hundred percent. I know our units are different completely and we have a different mind set here. Don't waste time man, make use of the extra time you have dude. The barracks fucking suck I know, I've had to sneak girls in mine all the time. But, none of my buddies cared when girls were in there. Fuck it though. Get out and do nothing. Get out and do great things. Just say no to RE-UP. I love what the army has done for me, but I'm also done. I made my career successful. Remember there are only two kinds of soldiers who stay in: The one who is a true patriot and actually loves the job, but could be doing anything else be super successful. And the one who has nothing else going for them outside, has no purpose, and will stay in retire as an E-6, becaue in the real world he would be working at Wal-Mart.