Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Sweet Reward

     Lets face facts, life is nothing more than a constant stream of comparisons.  Good times are only good because there are bad times to be had.  If nothing bad ever happened they would just be called the times.  This works both ways, mind you, If it werent for those pesky moments that make us so darn happy, we wouldnt know how bad things could get.  That being said, I would like to say that everything is done for the reward, whether that be eating to stop being hungry, helping others to feel good, or catching a bandit for that money, you are all just looking to make things better in some way for yourself.  I know reward and I know what Im after - Ice cream.
     Now, I cant speak for everyone but sometimes a man has to put an object just out of reach and force himself to hold back until such a desire is earned.  This pedestal, trophy, icon of all that is good might as well be as simple as a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream on a hot day, in the middle of the desert, all because you earned it.
     The rules were simple.  I set a goal weight that I wanted to achieve and I told myself that when I lost ten pounds toward this goal I would allow myself desert.  Not just any desert, Im talking a sweet, creamy, delicious milk shake prepared by hand in my local dining hall.  Now Ive been hard at work and I have been really good at not sneaking this delicious treat all while sticking to my work out regime.  It consisted of going to the gym twelve times a week, twice a day for six days.
     Every day from about 1100-1200 my workout buddy and I would hit the gym hard for some weight lifting, focusing on one or two muscle groups, then going back to the gym from 2000-2100 (8-9pm) for some intense cardio using the INSANITY program.  This has given us some pretty good results.  At the time of writing this I have been in country for about 36 days and Ive been on this program for about 32 days.  As of this morning I weighed myself at thirteen pounds lighter than when I got here.
     It basically comes down to a lot of work and determination.  I just set my mind to a task and saw it done.  The results are already showing themselves as I am thinner looking and becoming more defined.  The real goal will be to keep this going for the remaining eight months that I will be here.  Personally, I have nothing else to do besides work out, so Im not rubbing this in anyone's face.  The point Im trying to make is that I am working hard, sticking to my goals, and today I ended dinner with a milkshake that I absolutely deserved.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Thing of Memories

     Its hard to say with any certainty that there are days with much importance to the rest of my life.  Sure, this experience is one that will shape me in ways I might not fully understand, but that is a judgement of the experience as a whole.  As the tedium of the day-to-day drags on, one cannot help but get lost in each wake-up, brushing it off as "just another day" or "SOS".
     Its exactly this mindset which makes a special day, almost more special.  Im sure we all have mile stone days in our lives, moments which we will never forget, which we can remember a clear as the day it happened.  This deployment wasnt official for me until July 7th.  That was the day I finally earned the right to complete my uniform.  That was the day I was officially deployed.  That was the day I received my combat unit patch.
     Now, I know that this may come as little significance to most, and to those who have been here, some multiple times, the act of receiving this patch is an empty gesture and probably a waste of their afternoon.  This may be the case, but around the jokes and through the cynicism, you cannot deny the face that you were there, you gave it up and this is the day you are recognized for your efforts.  I may not ever want to sit through that ceremony again, but Ill remember my that ceremony for the rest of my life.
     I have been in the Army for two years this month.  For the entirety of my military career I have had a large patch of velcro on my right sleeve and I have been constantly reminded of that blank space.  I was once told to show some respect to a guy I outranked because he had a combat patch and I didnt.  Sure, this only happened once, but thats the kind of moment that leaves its mark.  I finally have some validation to my choice to join the army. 
     We could argue the ups and downs of history and experiences your friends or relatives had at war and maybe my experience isnt one that would make me heroic and I might not be in much danger, but I still went when and where I was told to go.  I didnt back down from my orders and if I dont measure up to someone elses standards, so be it.  Im walking under the same desert sun as anyone else who has seen the middle east, Im with the men Ive grown to trust, and I deployed in a time of war in the manner my country asked me to.  I have no regrets and I am serving my country with honor.
     I cant say which days will leave their mark in this deployment of mine, but its nice to know that Im not just counting the sunrises numbly as I await my return flight.  There needs to be a mix to the tedium and this is one day that felt better than the others.  I advise everyone to pay attention to the days that mean the most.  If its the destiny of such times to remain only as a good story among friends, then at least when youre asked, you can tell it properly.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Living Like Twilight

     Last time I checked, the Sun was hot.  I dont know who decided to move so close to a star, but here we are and we might as well get comfortable with the idea.  But that doesnt mean we need to be in the worst areas of the planet.  What baffles me is that someone was walking through the desert, getting blasted by my new favorite weather pattern, "Sand", planted their flag and announced that they had found home.
     I mean, seriously, what was the original draw to live in such a barren waste land?  I digress, I wanted to talk about the the heat and the way we are dealing with it, or rather, not dealing with it.  The goal in the desert is to get maximum time of efficient work with minimum people dying out in the sun.  Sounds like a reasonable idea, so a plan must be put into place to fit this goal.  This is whats known as working a reverse cycle.
     Usually when you deploy there is no break in the action.  The base is operational and pieces are moving 24 hours a day.  If the enemy knew you went to sleep at a certain time, it would most certainly guarantee that they would be working at that time and then problems would arise.  I am, however, not in such situation so it is not necessary to keep a full operational force at all times.  Mind you, there are things happening all the time, just not to the same extent.
     In order to make sure that I could get my job done and not die (as I am wont to do) we have been working reverse cycle now for about a week.  We wake up every morning at 2 am and work until noon with a combination of training, maintenance, and classes to keep our warrior minds sharp.  The work is nothing more than we are used to doing on a regular basis so the real complication comes from a frustrating combination of: sleep, my need for sleep, the time difference home, and the schedule of the world around me.
     Its simple, really.  I need to go to bed early to make up for the changed wake up time.  The base, however is not on reverse cycle, so they have normal operating hours as if nothing is changed at all.  My friends and loved ones are 7 hours behind me, so I can only talk to them in my afternoons, and I need to do this all with my time given before said 2 am wake up.
     Ive been working pretty well so far working til noon, getting lunch then going to bed. Ive been able to sleep from 1pm til 6-7 pm (6am - noon on the East coast) then waking up for dinner, gym and anything else my little heart desires.  This way I can talk to friends, enjoy afternoon activities, and have my free time in the middle of the night.  So far so good.
     Only problem is that the world doesnt sleep at noon, Meetings come and go, days off, holidays, and special events have been known to creep up so I am required to "soldier on" and meet the need.  Thats fine but I seem to recall a study about poor sleep cycles and dementia.  Probably not important, Id say.  Time will tell how this all works our for me, but for now its really not so bad.