Ever since HBO’s The Pacific came out last year I’ve wanted to read the memoirs that the show was based on. I started with E.B. Sledge’s With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. If you know anything about the Pacific Theater or you’ve seen the show then you know that Peleliu and Okinawa, along with Iwo Jima, were some of the most brutal battles of WWII. To make things worse Peleliu was never really used during the war for any purpose during the war so it was a battle that was unnecessary.
Sledge begins the book as he is in college preparing to become a Marine officer. Early on, however, he decides that he does not want to finish college and then become an officer. So he and some others in the program quit and join up as enlisted Marines. He then goes on to describe his boot camp experiences and his training to become a mortar man. Throughout his narrative Sledge sprinkles in his personal insights as an older man looking back on the experience. These insights help foreshadow events setting up the reader for what is to come. More often than not though the insights tend to be a bit contradictory. He definitely sees war differently than he did as a fresh faced young kid. These contradictions are a good thing as it allows him to speak frankly about his experience but to also comment on his actions, other Marines actions, or the war in general from the perspective of time.
Apparently, this is the thing to do now with the anniversary so close. So I will jump in and add my two-cents to the cacophony of 9/11 essays (two particularly good ones are Andrew Sullivan’s and Christopher Hitchens‘ love ‘em or hate ‘em they will make you think). However, in order to properly formulate 9/11 I have to go back a few more years to set the stage for where I was personally at that time. In 1999 I was working at a television studio, doing something that I thought I liked. I hoped that it would turn into something more. Well surprise, surprise things didn’t quite go as a I wanted. Being that I was young and dumb I only exacerbated the situation and proceeded to burn some of the first bridges in my young professional career. I didn’t give a fuck though. I was young and feeling cooped up and I badly needed a change–or so I told myself. So towards the end of 1999 I moved on to a construction supplies delivery job which I half-heartedly worked at (sometimes when I was tired I’d just pull over in a housing community and take a nap). When I got bored with that job I quit. Then my brother started talking about going into the Marine Corps. As he discussed it with me it planted the idea in my head which over the course of the next few months sat dormant in my head but just percolated subconsciously biding its time. About mid-2000 my brother was accepted to Naval flight school in Pensacola, Fl. A fairly difficult school to get into especially when your grades aren’t the best and you’re not a legacy kid. It was about that time that he decided he didn’t want to join up anymore. It was also about that time when I decided I did and I voiced my desire to my family.
I think it’s too harsh to say it was met with outright derision but there was a large amount of skepticism from my father and brother. I mean I was the less athletic brother, I was lazier, and avoided hard work like the plague. But their jokes just strengthened my resolve. I wanted to join not only to prove them wrong (and my ‘friends’ weren’t any more supportive, their mockery was even more infuriating) but because this burgeoning desire to serve my country. I’m not exactly sure where this all came from but I have my suspicions, and I think a large portion of this desire came from my reading list as an adolescent, which ran heavy on titles with Epic poems like Beowulf,The Illiad, The Odyssey and with a different kind of epic like The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. It was definitely a confluence of events though as all these ideas and feelings came together at the same time. Add to that the mockery from a lot of the people close to me and my resolution was set. If there is anything about me that’s true it’s that I a stubborn son of a b.
So I quit my job and went to work at UPS part-time and the rest of my time was spent running and working out. I quit drinking (seriously I’m not lying) and even though I didn’t eat a lot of junk food I quit eating the little that I did. My singular focus was to continue my regiment throughout the winter and go to boot camp in March. But alas, the best laid plans…, as it turned out I never made it to March. Instead, after some poking and prodding from my recruiter, and finally being given some more financial incentives I left at the end of January 2001.
It’s hard to believe that 8 years ago today I was chilling in Baghdad watching a bunch of Iraqis looting and setting shit on fire. Seriously, time flies and days like today make me feel really old. Good thing I got my boy Jim Beam to keep me company.
As an aside, wars suck. Now that I’ve seen one I’m not in a hurry to see another or to send others to fight in stupid meaningless wars. If only more of our politicians felt the same way.
I’ve been procrastinating on finishing up my shadow box for the last few months. Today, however, is Veteran’s Day and I have nothing to do but drink beer and watch The Pacific, so I figured it was about time to get it done. I’m not even sure why I got the bug up my ass to make up one of these, but about three months ago I decided I wanted to do it and now it’s done (with a big thanks to Pheebs for doing the heavy lifting and creating the actual shadow box).
Today I had a nice surprise waiting for me on my front porch. It was a wrinkled, rain warped manila envelope, inside of which was my official Honorable Discharge certificate from the Marines. I’d like to especially thank the postal service for doing everything in their power to make sure that I got this envelope in terrible condition. So thanks guys you really earned your pay.
HBO has had quite a few shows lately dealing with the war in Iraq, and they have all been well done and even-handed. Taking Chance is the newest HBO film that revolves around the Iraq war, and like the others it is non-political and just tells the true story of one Marine escorting another Marine home. I don’t want to try and deconstruct this film like some film nerd, instead I will just say that it is well worth your time. I watched it last night–instead of the craptastic Oscars–and it was an emotional movie. If you can watch this film without tearing up then you must not have a soul or maybe you’re just a cynical hippie (or both). Anyways watch the trailer then check it out:
I know I’ve been MIA lately but there is a good reason which I am going to explain. I have been drinking a shit-ton of alcohol lately while I have been working through some notions that have been rolling through my dome-piece. You see I have been feeling the itch lately (no not the VD itch) but the life itch. Every once in awhile I start getting restless and where I feel like I am in need of a drastic change in life. The last time I had this feeling I decided to join the Marine Corps and spent the next four years moving around the country and the world. Additionally, over the past ten years I have lived in four different states and over ten different apartments. I am just really restless and I am not sure why.
So why am I boring you with this? I don’t actually know, but I do know that I haven’t been able to work the problem out via alcohol so I figured what the shit I’ll blog about it. After writing up this blog though I decided to scrap it and not publish it as I felt it was maybe a bit too personal, and then I came back to it and decided to write it differently and to hell with it being to personal. It doesn’t really matter anyways since most of you all don’t know me, and I figure maybe if I write it out this way–as a dialogue between the warring factions of my grape a la Fight Club–then maybe the issue will work itself out. So here it goes this is basically the conversation that has been taking place, on a regular basis, in my alcohol fueled head over the last few months–and increasingly so lately:
“Yes, what do you want?”
“What the fuck is your problem?”
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
“Oh don’t give me that ‘I’m fine’ crap. Why you being such a sour Sally lately?”
“Why you being such an asshole?”
“Just answer the question.”
“Well, self, I dunno what’s wrong. I just feel like I have to get out of here, you know, move on to greener pastures.”
“What’s wrong with where you’re at? school’s going good, you have a dope new TV, a good apartment, enough money. From where I’m sitting (same place where you’re sitting btw) things look pretty damn sweet.”
“In a sense that is true, but I also feel the need to move on and do something with my life. I’m starting to feel a little too comfortable here, and a big drastic change could be just what I need.”
“It could also be just what you don’t need; ever think of that? Look you’ve been moving around quite a bit lately and it seems to me that every time you start to put down some roots somewhere you just decide to get up and leave starting the whole damn process over again. Maybe what you really need is no change; just try to enjoy life.”
“I do enjoy life but I’m starting to feel that ol’ adventurous streak flare up again. My life has become pretty normal and boring. I thought I was done adventuring and maybe I am, but then again, maybe I’m not.”
“You know you’re fucking retarded right?”
“No need to get snippy.”
“Well you are. What more do you need to do? I mean look in just a bit over four years time you have gotten and BA and a Masters. What else you need? Is that not enough of an accomplishment for you?”
“No it’s not. I need more. I don’t feel like this is accomplishing anything. Do you know how many people get degrees? The unemployment lines are full of assholes who have degrees. They don’t really mean that much. I want to put my stamp on the world.”
“Jesus delusions of grandeur. Here we go again, and I thought you were done with all that bs. But no, you just can’t leave well enough alone can you? Instead you get all these ideas floating around in your head and then you go and throw a monkey in the wrench.”
“That doesn’t even make sense. How does one throw a monkey in a wrench?”
“Don’t change the subject.”
“Well you know what I’m thinking because, well, you’re me.”
“Still want to hear your dumb ass say it aloud.”
“Ok, look dick wad I just think about stuff a lot. I think about where I’m going in this life and where I’ve been and I want to try and figure out which is the best avenue that I should pursue in the next section of my life.”
“I can’t believe that you are actually thinking that thought.”
I’ve been so busy with my working on my paper and finding distractions to keep me from writing my paper that I completely forgot what today was. I guess that could be considered a testament to how much things have changed of late. Today is the Marine Corps Birthday. 223 years ago on November 10, 1775 the Continental Congress ordered the creation of the Marine Corps. As legend would have it the Marine Corps, appropriately, was formed in a bar in Philidalphia–Tun Tavern to be specific. Even then they knew that someone would have to be either crazy or drunk to join, I was both. Just a little more than a year later, Christmas Eve 1776, a detatchment of Continental Marines would cross the Delaware River with George Washington, and proceeded to kick the crap out of the gawddamn redcoats at Princeton. Over the years the Marines have made a name for themselves as fierce fighters and epic drinkers. For over two centuries the Marine Corps has been striking fear into the heart of America’s enemies, and with luck they will continue to do so for the next 200 years. So to all my fellow devil dogs out there Happy Birthday.
I wanted to wait a bit and digest yesterdays events before I wrote up my feelings. So first off unless you live in a cave you know that Obama won. I’m exceedingly happy that he won, since he was who I was pulling for. His campaign was the first campaign that I have ever been interested enough in to donate some of my not-really-hard-earned-skrilla.
I sat around for most of last night waiting and waiting for the results to come in, and hoping for the best. Most of the tension came early in the day as once the results came in there wasn’t much drama. McCain got trounced, and one of the main reasons was the Palin-monkey. I could have handled a McCain administration sans Palin, but with her I would have been worried about McCain’s health 24/7. In the hours after Obama was elected all I really felt was a bit of shock and tons of relief. Relief that the election was finally over, and relief that Bush’s stank will soon be over. I woke up this morning still tired but feeling much happier than I have in months. I attribute this to knowing that Bush’s reign is almost over, and with it I feel like there is the light at the end of the tunnel in Iraq. This war plagues my thoughts on a daily basis, and I spend so much energy thinking about the war, the deaths, the monetary costs; and then that transposes itself into my burning–like the duel Tattooine suns burning–hatred for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. On this one issue Obama gets no lee-way at fucking all. I will give him the benefit of the doubt of a lot of issues, but on Iraq there is none, for me. On all the other issues I will be patient, vigilant, and actively involved in making my views known to my representatives. Obama will have my goodwill and full support, but I won’t give him a free pass.
Another outcome of last night is that finally being built up year after year the youth vote finally showed up. We had a decisive effect on the election helping to tip the scale, and I think the better candidate won, but that remains to be seen. Ask me in four years. Even more encouraging was the fact that the voter turnout was higher than any election in the last century, as over 130 million people voted. Some regions of the country saw up to 90% of their registered electorate vote. Amazing numbers.
McCain last night gave in my view his best speech of the campaign, and it reminded me of why I wanted him to win in 2000. The money quote:
I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
This was an important note for McCain to make especially since his rallies have been extremely angry and volitile lately. Like John Wayne said after Kennedy won “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.” Wise words for all of us to take to heart, and you can’t argue with The Duke.
Combine that speech with his appearance on SNL a few days earlier, and you have a couple of the best moments of the McCain campaign. Unfortunately, I think he was swayed by the neo-cons on his staff and the religious right. He sold his soul to the worst elements of his party and I think that if he had run a more moderate campaign like the old McCain, and if he would have picked a real VP, things could have been much different.
Obama’s speech last night wasn’t quite what I expected but it was a good, solid, conciliatory speech. This was the quote that struck me:
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.
Hopefully I can come off saying this without sounding like a groupie, but Obama winning is important. The first minority president of a major western nation. Where else could this happen. Not many places, but we are the first, and I think that speaks volumes about our nation. The only nation on Earth that wasn’t founded on race or ethnicity, but with an idea. The idea that everyone is free, and that free people can govern themselves. Some of the founders didn’t think that our republic would last 20 years let alone the 232 we have lasted. It has been painful for me to watch the standing of our country fall precipitously over the last few years. Watching the current administration conduct a war like two virgins fucking in the dark, learning about our government conducting torture in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, learning about the administration spying on innocent Americans without a warrant. These types of injustices have been hard to watch, and have lost us all kinds of respect throughout the world. With that loss of respect I’ve had to listen to all these wanna-be leaders around the world talk shit just because we are a bit down on our luck, and no one’s manning the helm. Well last night the world got put on fucking notice. America’s back bitches. Regardless of what you think of Obama, we all witnessed history last night. I really feel that our founders would have been exceedingly proud of what happened last night, especially Alexander Hamilton.
Will Obama make everything alright, well shit no of course not, but we have done something, once again, that sets a benchmark for the rest of the world follow. So if that allows me to gloat, and gives volume to my constant assertions that this is the best fucking country in the world, then so be it. I don’t need the validation, but for a few months at least the rest of the world will have to again acknowledge that yes America is the shit. No one knows how these next four years will work out, but I can say with certainty that it will be better than the last eight. I hope that the republican party crawls out of the cave they have been in and take a good long hard look in the mirror. They need to come home to the true principles of conservatism–limited government, individual rights, modest foreign policy, etc–because this country needs two parties. We don’t need the neo-cons, we need real conservatives, because while I am hopeful about Obama, I am not hopeful about Pelosi and Reid.
I will continue to feel happy, hopeful, and relieved for the next 75 days until Bush gets the fuck out. Then the real work of putting this country back together starts. But until then I will sit back and celebrate the history made, and the fucking awesomeness of America. Speaking of celebrating here is a video I got from The Daily Dish of a celebration going on here in the ‘fake’ America last night:
For me that was one of the worst aspects of the McCain campaign, and a slap in the face to everyone I know who doesn’t live in the ‘real’ America, but yet served their country honorably. It’s not often that you see a group spontaneously break out into singing the American anthem. I love that video, and it sends chills up my spine. I wish I was there for that moment. I have to say I truly, deeply love country, our flag, and our anthem. Even though at times the Marine Corps was unbearable, if the need ever arose, I am still willing to die for my country and the ideals of our Constitution.
After that it will be time to get to work, because as the old saying goes politics is a contact sport not a spectator sport. So I implore everyone to keep your enthusiasm up, stay in touch with your representatives, and let them know where you stand on the issues as they come up. One last thing since I’m on the East Coast and it is relatively close by, I’m thinking of going to the inauguration this year. If you are planning on going let me know.
Well this is it the last game perhaps ever at Shea Stadium. This season has been a roller coaster of emotions and I have risen to tremendous heights and desolute lows with this team this year. However, it all comes down to the last game of the season, and the Mets have to do it, again, against the Marlins. Last year Glavine didn’t even make it out of the first inning, and hopefully this year they can pull it off, and with a little help from the Cubs, make it into the playoffs without having to play a one game playoff tomorrow. I’ve been watching the pre-game show for an hour and a half and it’s good to see all the old Mets at the stadium talking about Shea, and some of the old memories.
One moment they have been talking about a lot in Piazza’s homerun after 9/11. That moment was voted the #2 moment in the history of Shea Stadium (#1 was game 6 of the 1986 WS where the Mets won on the Buckner error). For me, however, that is my favorite memory. Only in retrospect do I realize how much my life was changed by 9/11 even though I was 3000 miles away. I was stuck on base when Camp Pendelton was put on high alert, and we were all ready to ship out at a moments notice. All of us were still reeling from what had happened. It seemed like, even in California, that the nation had come to a grinding halt, and everything that we thought we knew seemed foreign. Baseball helped to normalize everything again, and when the Mets were set to continue the season against the hated Braves, I was able to put the tragedy in the background for a bit, and ressurect my absolute hatred for the Braves. When the Mets came back with that dramatic Mike Piazza homer, it was pure elation, and just for a moment everything was forgotten. Anyways that’s probably my fondest Mets memory, because I was a bit too young to remember 1986, and because still 9/11 is one of the moments that has so dramatically effected the course of my life.
Currently still in a rain delay, game time is now set to 2:00 PM EST.
Here we go, games about to start. I really nervous about this game, and I’m even more worried about how Perez is going to pitch on 3 days rest–especially with CC pitching in Milwaukee. Hope for the best that’s all I can do.
1-2-3 inning for Ollie, and with only 7 pitches to boot. Like Gary Cohen said “no 7-run inning this time.” Thank God.
Nothing doing for the Metties that inning, but they did make Olsen work–25 pitches that inning.
A brief scare when Ollie tried to grab Uggla’s ground ball. He stayed in but his control was terrible afterwards, but he managed to get through the inning. 23 pitches through 2, and no score in Milwaukee yet.
1-2-3 inning for Olsen. The Cubs scored before the inning was over, however, and the Shea faithful gave a rousing cheer.