March 18, 2012 — T: -3 Days – Going Mental
March 17th, 2012
I don’t know what it is. Call it paralysis.
In the last two weeks running up to this embed I’ve been a combination of things. Started off a bit lethargic, slow almost to the point of denial.
Mind: A fortress of solitude. Body, stance: stoic. Awake for a week, time dripping, melting toward Dawn. It was 2, now it’s 3. Stirring, thinking, tossing and turning, mentally poring over what needs done, but then, the sun rises to an almost monkish lack of action.
You can call it consideration. Pause.
See Also: Deliberation.
See Also: Patience.
See Also: Calm.
Then slowly, like water, movement seeped past my outer walls. Purpose in thought became purpose in action.
But there is inertia involved, we all know, in movement, in forward motion.
Those of us lucky enough to live till eighth grade science know that not only does a body in motion tend to stay in motion, but depending on where the body is – atop a skateboard, screaming down a concrete mountain, friends heckling from the sidelines – that motion, I mean real motion, not lab motion, not circle B in science class motion, real life motion can tip into speed, swerve into acceleration.
Suddenly you’re gripping at air that passes through fingers fast enough to actually have consistency, body, like jello, and your body, even more like jello, is teetering at the precipice of this black hole, those same friends, they’re still wondering if you’re sane, except not just muttering at the sidelines peering up a hill but warning you with mortal breath, staring down the rabbit hole while you skip gleefully into it.
The sun also rises to frantic hysteria, focused, calculated, concentrated hysteria, high-fructose frosting atop a fluffy cake of uncertainty, doubt, sprinkled finally with a dash of wild rainbow irrationality – pink is for fear, yellow is for ambition, blue is for that very special liquid, the one that breaths red.
And purple, mmmmm, sweet, cadaverous purple, MaryJane’s lips, lacking oxygen, cold but still so kissable, my contemplation, over gear and equipment and travel arrangements, has become a morbid dance. Checking and rechecking. Packing. Unpacking. Repacking.
Mostly it’s the uncertainty that kills me.
I know the chances are slim that I’ll get zapped, even though the idea sizzles beneath every action. Mostly it’s the uncertainty that gets to me, it’s an aching feeling, and if it could have a smell it would be like burnt fingernails.
I’m a journalist, I don’t necessarily want anything to happen, but what I do want is to tell a story. And in my experience, doing these types of things, it never fails that there is a story, usually a good one, and usually, not always, but usually, I tell it well.
Nonetheless, not knowing is the worst thing of all.
Second to not knowing is “deploying” (meaning ‘traveling to a combat zone’) outside the soft womb of Marine Corps logistics. We used to call it the weenie, the “big green” weenie, but from this perspective, it’s now a womb.
Scientists say that as you approach the event horizon, nature’s laws begin to break down, time slows, certainty becomes uncertain, paradoxes abound.
Yeah, we used to call it “getting fucked by the big green weenie.”
Hardened structure from dusk till dawn. Rendezvous, Zero-Six. Working party. Working party. Move the bags over here, private. Now move them over there. Get on the bus. Stand up. Move. Eat. Sit down. Get off the plane. Zero-Three, 110 degree heat. Working party. Move. Stop. Sleep. Sweat. Strap in. I said: Strap. In. Then you’re out. Off. There’s a shake, then a bump, and the humming sounds of the C130 mark the beginning of seven straight months of 15-hour days seven days a week.
Never thought I would but now I wish for that hum, it’s sound has become like a cooing mother, a lullaby that reminds you of security. Big green arms wrapped lightly around your body. Not hard now, but soft, to be surrounded by 50 19-year-old psychos who will not only help you with your bags, but happily race to dispatch your enemies.
Yes, definitely a womb, and I’m well out of it.
Truly an independent operator. A blogger writing for a blogger, I’m not sponsored by a major news network. I have contacts with them, prospects too, but not contracts. I’m not some Brokaw, I have no handlers, all I have are my hands, and my head. There’s no 50 well-armed guys, ready to kill. Just some insurance, and a knife.
I try to limit my exposure to Afghan hotels, spend a couple extra days in Dubai, dubious of that taxi ride in Kabul, the one from the airport to the hotel. It’s a weak spot, for sure.
Those guys can be bought, you know, and probably pretty easily. Hell, after that psycho dropped 16 civilians in Kandahar, the driver may deliver me for free. All I know is that if dude pulls to a stop in front of some hooded figures instead of a hotel, my knife is … well … let’s just say the driver’s going with me.
Shit, the military doesn’t like journalists, but the Taliban really likes cutting their heads off, then posting the video on youtube. Paradox: I’m not so worried about the whole head getting cut off thing as I am about the youtube video. To me, that’s really scary.
Yes. I’m disumbilicaled. Solo. Exposed, it’s my weenie on the tracks, breezy, on my knees, like a thumb lost and far from the highway.
So I return to the dance. Waltzing through my gear list. Travel arrangements. Checking, updating, rechecking. Pausing to kiss that beautiful corpse. Then packing. Unpacking. Repacking. A nervous dance. Maryjane, it might be yours, but I hope it’s not mine.
Flight is in a few days. I’m anxious, but impatient, excited for the silence in my nerves, the silence that comes once you crest the event horizon, enveloped in dark inevitability.
I’m really doing this.
I’m standing at the edge again. Excited. Worried. Wondering. Writing, as the sun sets on this Sunday evening. It passes the horizon and darkness presses against my window, reminding me of the abyss that sits beside me, silent, stewing, unwilling to talk. T: minus three days and counting.
Checking. Rechecking. Packing, unpacking, repacking.
It’ll be okay. It’ll be fun. Groovy. I’ve eaten the red pill, Alice. I’m going to Afghanistan.
I can’t wait.