Friday, March 2, 2012

Tales from Afghanistan, Chapter 16: Dropping the pack

 Nate's blog: Mar 2

There comes a time for every Marine and soldier, where it becomes really tough to do your job. Your attention wanders, your motivation drops, it’s harder to get things done (like update your blog), and you focus on things in your life that you probably shouldn’t be. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Office Space”, you understand. In Marine language, it’s called “dropping your pack”.

Well I think I can officially say that’s how I’m feeling right now! In one small way I suppose it’s good, because it means I am SOOO close to coming home. But in Afghanistan, maybe it’s not the best point of view to have haha. But it’s so hard to concentrate now! My bags are packed and loaded, I’m basically living out of a backpack and I can say to within a week of when I will be home. In Marine language, I have 3 haircuts left.

Those who keep up with the news (and I try my best to be one of them), might say that this is not the best time for that attitude. They would be right. At a time where an Army base screwed up some of the Afghanistan soldiers have just plain lost their minds. There are now multiple accounts of Afghani soldiers killing US servicemembers on our own bases and FOBs, and without giving away classified information, I can tell you it’s been pretty crazy over here! At a time when the deployment should be winding down, and things should be quieting down, it has just become the most intense part of our time here.

The culture of Afghanistan is very strange, and recent events have only made it more apparent. Soldiers that have ostensibly been our allies fighting for the security of their own country turn their guns on us. Policemen spit on the ground when we pass by. How can they switch from being allies to enemies, even enemies of their own national self-interest, so quickly? It’s something that I think no American understands. And I think it’s something we can’t understand. The culture here is so different than what we know; it may as well be alien. It’s been said that Afghanistan isn’t ready for Democracy, or any real government. It’s been said that they are not mature enough, and won’t be until through their own hardships, demand a fair elected government, much like what has happened to the countries transformed by the Arab Spring. Maybe those people are right.

Whatever the motivations are for these strange people in this strange land, to be honest no longer matter to me. I wish this country all the best, but I think it’s going to be a long journey for them, and I think they want to make it alone. I don’t mind. I find my thoughts and eyes more and more drift to the West, to sunny California my home, and the series of adventures and challenges that await me there. At least at home I am familiar with them all and for better or for worse I know I will make it. I’ll have my demon cat, my charity races, my trips to San Diego and family in northern California, and of course a new tattoo, waiting for me. And hopefully orders to Embassy Duty. So much to look forward to, how can I not drop my pack?!

I’m doing my best to balance work and play. I’ve signed up for 2 charity races already, with my eyes on a few more. I’m planning on a new set of running shoes, running watch, and some sexy shades. One of my friends has told me to expect a bottle of tequila when I get home (Thank you DD, haha you know me well!). But I’m also going on at least 3 more “adventures” over the next week, and I know that the last part of the deployment is the busiest. And the most dangerous. So I’ve got to keep my eyes on the prize! I’m trying to keep my head up, stay alert. I’m working out and keeping up steady 4-6 mile runs (to my friends, I know those are “short” runs for me but it’s so boring to run on a treadmill!). And I’m packing up my stuff and throwing away the junk that I thought would be SO useful but has done nothing but gather dust! Next week I send a big locker of stuff home, and that’s when my figurative pack will be REALLY heavy. 3 more haircuts Nate, you’re almost home…

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