musings

The Fear Factor

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I’m usually very zen, but when my limit is reached, I do get pissed off. And I’m not at all shy to express it. After a brief discussion, the boy and I reached an agreement of sorts and put the matter (including ourselves) to bed. The next day, early in the morning, he messages me.

H:  How are you this morning?

M:  Well, I slept good, so I’m not that pissed off anymore.

H:  Last night I told my guards to watch my door very closely.

M:  So I put some fear in you. Good.

Well, I’m glad we got that resolved.

 

 

Your Secret Sober Heart

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Bartenders give back your tips: “Cab fare, buddy,” they say and you

would like for them to mean it but your secret sober heart knows,

it knows that really, they’re just scared your luck

would slide off the greasy bill and take on life as an infection,

the bastards are quick to wipe down the counters in your wake.

You’ve become a thing

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“ you’ve become a thing whose only threat is

the flesh that promises sourness

the pit filled with the intent to choke.

(I told you so) ”

 

  — from a work in progress

 

 

In Lieu of a Hand-written Note

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If only all goodbyes could be said with a gif.

 

All Quiet on the Afghan Front

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Friday is everyone’s day off, and most of the guys here, exhausted from the 10- to 14-hour-day work week, would shut themselves up in their rooms and sleep it off. I’m the only one that takes the day off on Saturdays, so on most Fridays it’s just me out on the camp and the few gurkha guards that rotate and stay on security duty all days of the week. Fridays are time sheet days, that’s when I spend most of the day going over the hours everyone logged flying planes and choppers, repairing them, or doing other support work that is necessary in getting our birds to fly.
As a brief diversion, I like to take my coffee mug and sit outside at the little gazebo where we have our barbeques and gatherings. On Friday afternoons such as this, at 1400, with no missions, no flights coming in or out, no one else is around. I have the entire sweep of the view to myself. The camp looks abandoned, everything seems at a standstill. The gates are closed, the hangar doors are shut, the helicopters are still. Even the dust seems to have stopped its incessant swirling. I sit still and enjoy the quiet. No one will be in sight for hours, if I am lucky.
After a week of being attentive and tending to people’s needs, I feel relief just sitting here, no one to talk to, no one to listen to. Kandahar is home to such contradictions–a frenetic pace all week, and then suddenly you have this pocket of absolute quiet. The sky above is a cloudless blue, so crisp and clear it makes me think of the hidden island beaches of my hometown. Looking out on the flight line, I can almost believe there is a sliver of blue out there on the horizon, a secret beach with waters warm as milk. Almost.
I think about everything and nothing in particular, letting my mind drift and relax for a few minutes. A lot of times, I hear people complain about the bleakness of this place, how there is not much to do or see, how nothing much happens. At times like this, in the stillness of the moment, I don’t mind the bleakness as much. In fact, it is a welcome respite from all the noise of the week that was. I miss the quiet that allows for a little bit of introspection, sometimes I think I crave it.
This is my second year here, and I admit there are times I curse the luck that has brought me to Afghanistan. But for most times, strangely enough, I am grateful–glad even–to be here.

Trouble Me

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In yet another one of those politically incorrect, sexual harassment-fraught episodes that make my little life here so interesting, one of our gung ho guys comes into my office asking for help. After some Q & A and a bit of explaining, it turns out he wants me to do a creative interpretation of the rules so that he could buck the system, so to speak.

Me:  No, Muscled Guy, you know I can’t do that. Against the rules. You’ll get me into trouble.

MG:  Oh no, I wouldn’t get you into trouble, no Ma’am. I won’t mess with your work [pause]. But…  let’s say I take you out on a date, then that’s when I’ll certainly get you into a whole lotta trouble [big grin].

Me:  [Roll eyes. Shake head.] You should be so lucky.

MG:  Oh, I wish [Shit-eating grin, all the way out the door].

All in a day’s work, my friends.  All in a day’s work.

Loving, Leaving

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Lately, I have been re-visiting Vagabonding, the travel site that I have liked for years now. I chanced upon this entry that is about loving and leaving: the perils of falling in love while on the road, or while temporarily ensconced in some place. I can truly relate, and left a comment on the post, something I rarely do.

“For commitment-phobics, this could be a sweet deal, knowing that the relationship already comes with a built-in way out. For me though, while I am not strictly traveling 3-4 months a year, I am a temporary resident in another country and I go home every 3-4 months. It effectively puts relationships in limbo status — you can’t expect to form fully committed relationships where you are currently in country, and yet you can’t keep up a steady one at home because you’re away for most of the year. It does not mean you can’t have any relationships, though, it just means (well for me, at least) that you have to set more realistic expectations. That, and you better be prepared for a lot of goodbyes.”

I wonder if this will be true for me anytime soon.