Monday, May 19, 2008

Lose Your Mind

Yesterday I spent about an hour int he coffee house listening to a sermon by Gordon Keddie, titled "He Shall Justify Many" covering the prophecy in Isaiah about the coming of Christ. It was a very compelling look at how consistent the message of salvation is throughout the Bible. The cool thing was that SSG Emery joined me to listen to the Sermon, so we got a splitter and hooked two head phones into my ipod instead of one. The whole time I feared whether the message would make her feel uncomfortable, since she's still hesitant in her beliefs in God, and I was afraid the candid tone of the message would intimidate her. But then I took comfort in knowing that this passage felt right with me, and I could do nothing to control how Emery would respond, so instead I concentrated on the message itself, taking in what I could from the sermon.

The whole time I also wished to be at home, sharing in the word of God with my beautiful wife, Heather. I remember how we would read a passage and talk about it at night before going to bed, learning new details found in the scripture. It's mesmerizing what a change Heather's belief in God has brought upon her. It's amazing the change it's brought in me. I told Emery later on how before coming to God I would always be filled with so much impatience and so much rage over the little things. In part, some of that is still present, as I'm not perfect. I told Emery how I tried seeking counseling and even reading self-help book or tried to really dwell on the psychological aspect of my anger. Everything I tried would work for a little while, maybe a week, maybe a month, but I would always return to my anger. The struggle was that I've always believed in God as far back as I can remember, but I had never submitted myself to him. It was only once I made that commitment that I felt my anger vanishing. It wasn't anything I was doing. It wasn't a new tactic or a new perspective, it was just a new dedication that landed beyond myself.

I still have my impatiences, of course, and my turn-around in coming to God is nothing compared to many others I've heard from people's lives. Heather herself has become more kind through God, more tender and caring. She's a woman I've found more and more beautiful ever since she began reading the Bible. And it wasn't because of her. She wasn't becoming more beautiful than she already was. It was because God eased my heart towards her through sharing the Word. It wasn't just something we had in common the way people who love each other have personalities that match or similar interests. This was wind-tunnel, but instead of blowing us away, it pushed us together.

Later, after talking to Emery about some of this, I headed off to work and edited some stories that came in. It seemed like an easy day, since only three stories came in, so I spent some time online looking for publishing houses for my memoir, "Child, Hold Me" which is going to be a tough sell since it's so short.

Then lunchtime came and Javi and Emery asked me if I would go with them to lunch. I looked by my desk to grab my rifle, since the two things you need to enter the chow hall are your weapon and your ID, and my M16 wasn't there. Oh man. Where'd I put it, where'd I put it? My thoughts raced, and then I whispered as if out of shock, "I left my weapon at the coffee house."

Before either Javi or Emery could say anything, I was gone. I scattered down the steps, my legs moving quickly, through the long building, out the door, the sun was low but the air felt like a hair drier... My legs must have been zipping like scissors, and soon I could feel the pain in my shins from walking so fast. I tried to comfort myself... "That's all right, you'll walk right back where you sat and find your weapon just where you left it. Don't worry, it'll be there." Oh God, I prayed, please let it be there. I looked at my watch. About an hour and a half had passed since Emery and I had left the shop. I felt a tension in my chest. How could you leave your weapon behind in a war zone?

That's okay. I'll find it. It will be there.

I stormed into the coffee house and tried to act casual. I looked around as if I had lost nothing more than my book, but I'm sure my eyes were giving me away because Soldiers around took notice of me. On the wall, right there, where I had left my rifle... it was gone.

Ah man. I looked on the floor at all the scattered weapons around. Mine had a light blue C-clip hooked onto the butt of the rifle. None of the weapons around were mine, they all belonged to Soldiers sitting by them. I asked around if anyone had seed my rifle, wild with emotion.

I saw Captain Edwards, my executive office, and he helped me look. Fortunately he had forgotten his weapon the other day when heading off for a drive, so he was more concerned and willing to help than anything else. He wasn't even angry, which relieved me, but it didn't put a rifle back on my shoulder so it wasn't total relief.

I even asked one of the Indian guys working behind the counter, but he said nobody had made note of the missing weapon. Somebody must have grabbed it. It wasn't anywhere in here.

I wanted to cuss then, but I tried to compose myself. It's gotta be somewhere. Maybe whoever noticed it brought it to the Militar Police Station.

I was in trouble if that was the case. If you lost your ID, they sent you to the MP station where you had to sign a counseling statement and made you feel like a fool for losing something so valuable. This was my weapon, though, not just an ID.

I walked to the MP station thinking back to the numerous talks both First Sergeant and Maj. Spagel had given us about securing our weapon.

"You can lose and forget anything you want," Spagel had said on several occasion. "But you better not lose your weapon. That's the last thing anyone should ever leave behind."

I'm done, I thought to myself. I'm so screwed. People are going to have to call me Specialist Sauret from now on. They would demote me for sure. This was my weapon, I thought again. No. Not specialist. Private. They're going to rip off my Staff Sergeant rank and bust me down to private after this. Heather is going to be so mad. Oh man. She's going to be so ashamed of me.

I looked at my rank on my chest. I'm going to miss you little guy, I said to my E-6 emblem. So much for saving up toward a trip to Italy. I was angry and scared and ashamed all at once.

At the MP station I said hello to the Sergeant behind the glass and asked if anyone had brought in a weapon. There was no other way of inquiring about the weapon in any less ridiculous way.

Some guy in a PT uniform gave me smile that said, "So you're the idiot."

I returned the look with one that said, "Yes, I'm the idiot."

The Sergeant asked me for the serial number of the weapon, I gave it to him, and he checked it agians the rifle. It was mine. Thank goodness! Now what though? They would have to file charges. They would have to track the incident with paperwork. They might even keep me in a holding cell until I admitted to everything that happen. They would make me cry and do push-ups and stick me in jail, surround in a circle of military police men and laugh at me...

The sergeant handed me a piece of paper.

"All right, go ahead and sign this."

Sure, anything, I'll sign anything. The paper was just a statement that an Australian trooper had found the weapon and brought it to the station, and all I was doing was signing to get it back.

"So what happens now?"

"Here's your weapon."

"So that's it."

"We're supposed to report it to Corp, but the weapon's been in here only ten minutes. Figured someobody would come by and pick it up. We haven't had a chance to call it in yet. We'll just keep the paperwork for record."

Just like that, they sent me back into the "war" with my weapon slung from my shoulder.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Care package

Heather sent me a huge box for a care package and it arrived yesterday, plus a little one she mailed at the same time filled with granola snack bars. She sent so much stuff! Even a big pound bag of organic coffee. I just gotta find a decent coffee maker because all the ones around the office are pretty crappy. I can't wait to make the first brew, though.

I realized though that receiving the care package doesn't really quite fill the void. No new theme here. Stuff is just stuff. It's nice having a big bag of beef jerky, but what I'm really missing is the people. I wish I could receive a big care package of family and friends from back home. If there was only a way for you all to send part of yourselves. That's what really lifts my spirits. Heather already does that with emails she sends and talking on the phone. I still miss her terribly, and I thought that at least receiving a care package from her would make it seem like she was with me. I always loved it when I was home or hanging out with her, and she would surprise me with little treats. I always thought it was the treats themselves-- the goodies-- that I loved. Man is that shallow. What an idiot.

Really it was the fact of Heather giving it to me. And I know that's obvious. I know I'm not blowing anybody's mind with any of this... but it's strange how I never appreciated the gesture before. I always thought I appreciated the deed.

It's hard to enjoy goodies, though, when you don't have people to enjoy them with. Sure, sometimes I want to horde chocolates all to myself and not share with anyone... and there have been times when a simple, delicious Ferraro Roche could lift my spirit for an entire day. I guess it's the chemicals in the chocolate, I don't know. But it doesn't really work the same here.

To tell the truth (and I'm sure I've said this plenty of times already) it's not just that I miss my family and wife and church... I miss my own unit. We're all so split apart and scattered with so many different hours that we barely get to see one another. We barely get to laugh together the way we would in Kuwait or during training at Fort Dix. If I can't have my wife with me, I wish I could at least have my own unit. There's something just joyful about receiving a care package and sharing it with your buddies, because then the deed from home seems to be that much more powerful. They're not just caring for you, but they're caring for your fellow Soldiers as well.

I have to admit, I'm terrible at sharing. Like I said, I'm definitely guilty of hoarding... but right now I really wish I had somebody to join me with a snack of beef jerky and granola bars. I don't think I can eat all of them myself.

Oh and I just wanted to include a picture of the Kinder eggs Heather sent... I guess the heat wasn't too good for them.

I still ate one today and it was delicious. You should have seen me try to peel the wrapping off, though. I did it in the bathroom where people looked at me like I was loony. The chocolate was so yummy!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Taking the lake hostage

Yesterday morning I kidnapped the lake here, and I'm not letting it go. It was beautiful being able to go on a long walk, taking the minutes at my own pace. Here are a few pictures I snapped.(It almost looks like a vacation spot, doesn't it?)

(Can you hear the desert chiming?)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dog Faced Soldier

Yesterday we met the commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Lynch, and we were kind of nervous because 1st Sgt. Speaks told us we might have to sing the "Dog Face Soldier" song in front of them, which is kind of a big deal for the 3 ID soldiers. So, as we waited for the general to arrive at the media operations center, we were all pacing back and forth, reading over the song, correcting each other over this word or that word, the whole time creating a hybrid melody because none of us really knew how it went.

I Wouldn't Give A Bean
To Be A Fancy Pants Marine,
I'd rather Be A Dogfaced Soldier Like I Am.

I Wouldn't Trade My Old O.D.'s
For All The Navy's Dungarees
For I'm The Walking Pride Of Uncle Sam;

On All The Posters That I Read
It Says The Army Builds Men
So They're Tearing Me Down To Build Me Over Again

I'm Just A Dogface Soldier
With A Rifle On My Shoulder
And I Eat A Kraut For Breakfast Everyday.

So Feed Me Ammunition,
Keep Me In The Third Division,
Your Dogfaced Soldier is A Okay.

Speaks sang it the best with his jazzy broadcast voice. He kind of put every one of us to shame, but he already knew it from having deployed with the 3rd ID before.

The entire time as we rehearsed the song and waited for the general to arrive felt a little bit like a surprise party. Every time the door opened we braced, eyes wide and then finally relaxed when we saw it was someone else. In the end when he finally did come we just said hello and introduced ourselves and that was it. He went into another room to conduct an interview, and we all just stood around thinking, "Was that it?"

"Go on, scatter before he comes back," 1st Sgt. said.

The problem now is that the darn melody, now that I know it, is stuck in my head. This morning I went running and I couldn't get the first three lines of the song out of my head. "I wouldn't give a bean..."

The reality is that I don't give a bean about the 3rd ID, and I'm so happy to see more and more Soldiers with the 10th Mountain patch on their shoulder around here. Two nights ago we finally moved into our CHUs (containerized housing unit). The rooms aren't big once you have to split it with a room-mate but it's a heck of a lot better than staying in a tent. The bed is comfy and I finally have a closet to keep all my clothes and army junk organized.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Just some shots

I'm not going to go word-heavy with this entry. Just wanted to upload some photos I haven't had a chance to do lately.

Enjoy!(Center four: 1SG Speaks, 1LT Glaubach, me, MAJ. Spagel) at the "Forgotten Soldier" monument in Baghdad.

My very first ride in a Blackhawk.

(I'm so strong!)

(Sitting on the throne in Saddam's al-Faw palace)

(Toby Keith concert at Camp Victory)