Sunday, August 26, 2007

On Working Out, Looking Up, and Pushing Through

"...I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier..."

That fact is reaffirmed to me each time I hear the word "magazine" and immediately think of the closest media rag with engaging headlines on the cover. This confusion sometimes runs so deep that when a buddy says he spent the day, "loading magazines" I immediately think of some shelf-like structure with rows of printed material as opposed to rows of bullets and the paraphernalia of war.

It's quiet here. Oh, there are incidents, but overall things are very quiet and almost amiable. Ramadan is just around the corner and most experts expect things to pick up for us during that period. Why not? Ramadan is the month when Muslims fast during the day. Fast from both food and water... Stands to reason that even people who don't mean us harm would be more on edge on a dehydrated and hungry stomach. Heck, I'd be ticked too.

"...I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier..."

I go to the gym just about every day... It's a good stress relief... I'm not gonna lie, I am going on leave soon and I want to look good. Vain much? You could call it that, I guess. However, when you are married to the most beautiful woman in the world, you have to be able to intimidate. Basically, I just like being big and since getting taller isn't an option, I might as well work on another angle.

According to the Army, a soldier my height should weigh 179 lbs tops. That's a great goal... if you're an Abercrombie model. I'm a little more "tankish" than that. Not to worry, the Army has a stellar program for finding out, reminding you, and correcting you if you are "overweight". First step, weigh each soldier every time he takes a PT test.

I took a PT test about a week ago.

I do not weigh 179.

The second step in the "program" is take an innocent seamstress tape and measure the soldier's mid-section and neck three times. These measurements are then averaged by a computer and the soldier's "body-fat content" is determined. Is it just me or does this process resemble "witching" for water?

I have not yet been "taped". There should be no problem with me passing, because my neck is getting bigger by the day. But then, so are my shoulders, chest and arms... hmm, maybe I will be MORE than 20 lbs over next time. ;) Bring it on.

This picture was taken as my convoy sped through the streets of the city on my return trip to the main camp... I think it says a lot about the diversity of the people here. It also speaks to how comfortable people are with the current stability... they are all there and they are all feeling safe enough to move about.

There are very good things happening in this city.

Inside the camp, however, there's a special breed of crazy running loose...

It appears that the most important thing in the world right now, at least as far as my unit is concerned, is that there be two human eyes glued to my weapon at all times. Not just my weapon, but every weapon. Therefore if someone fails to leave their weapon with a human, or they fail to take said weapon with them everywhere they go... it's BAD juju.

Now, I was never one to randomly leave my weapon lying around, but at this point, I can not even lock it in my room. I guess someone found out that weapons like human company and suffer emotional issues when locked behind plywood walls alone... unless it's at the company office. That plywood is holy enough that no human contact is required.

I guess I can understand.

I mean, if a very high-ranking enlisted soldier loses his weapon, those under him really should be treated as if they are just as stupid right?

Such is the plight of two soldiers in my company whose punishment is to stand outside and question others who are trying to get to the bathroom. Question them on the whereabouts of their rifle and who is babysitting.

Exiting my room and heading toward the shower building, I saw my first sergeant, another sergeant and the two soldiers who are responsible for the thankless task.

"Dang it Harper," my first sergeant said, "you were supposed to come out without your rifle so we could write your name down!"

"My mama didn't raise no fool, First Sergeant!" Was indignantly out of my mouth almost before I knew what I had said.


As dumb as things may seem INSIDE the wire, there are good things happening outside.

As for me, I am going home in three weeks for 18 glorious days of leave and love with my wife and family! I can NOT wait to get home for a good time of fun and resting. We are over halfway done with this deployment and there will not be a reason to return because we only have 13 months left in the Army!

I must confess that the Army has provided the context for much of my growing up. It's true. I thought I was grown up when I left home, but it's been a gradual process that has taken longer than I'd like to admit... I mean, I'd count this year as a HUGE growing experience. I have definitely learned more about being a man and being true to myself, my God and my family here than I would have in a normal year of life in the States. Who am I kidding, I would imagine that when I do get home for good, I'll find that growing up is a life-long task. :)

The thing is, God has used the Army in my life... chipping off rough edges and toughening me up so that I can see more clearly and have a strong backbone. Steel that is fired is stronger... I am steel, the Army has been my fire.

There are good things happening at work too. The Marine unit we were working with went home and their replacements see us as people and are much kinder in their treatment. It's been so refreshing to have someone on our side and to have concessions made for our benefit. Yes, things are really going well.

I guess that's about all for now... hopefully it won't be so long before I write again - one of our concessions has been an eight hour workday instead of twelve (which was an 84 hour work week). Yeah, I should be able to write now. ;)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Into the Wild Blue Yonder...

I'm headed off tomorrow for a visit with Mom & Dad Harper in Warren, Arkansas! What fun it will be to spend time with my husband's family--MY family--in his old hometown. I'm taking my camera, so pics will be forthcoming either here or in my Picasa Albums.

4 weeks til my own little V-Day!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lame Template Designs?

I'm kinda disappointed in Blogger. I really want someone to design more and cooler page templates and design options. Sorry, not me. I don't have the time! I just want it done. I should find their "suggestion box"... : ) I mean, look at this! I'm test-driving "harbor" just cause it's the only one I haven't tried. I guess I can do lighthouses for a while...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Earlier Leave Dates

Now, I'm not always sure what to believe about the Army and what "it" says... But the travel manifest (or whatever acronym means the same thing...) now has Andrew leaving Ramadi on September 19th instead of the 23rd. I get to see him a few days earlier than we thought! And that changes our countdowns considerably, as well. : ) Instead of 42 days, we're now at 38. What a jump!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Prayer Request Update

That title kinda makes it sound serious. It's really not. It's merely that Andrew's company was not able to keep the phone after all. But God knows best and He already has planned out ways for us to stay in communication. His ways just may not be at the great price of "free" any longer.

Andrew stayed up way too long when he shoulda been sleeping last night to hook up to the community router and get his own internet connection for his laptop in the barracks. We have to pay a monthly fee, of course, but it's all worth it. We hope to get the webcam back up and working soon! I haven't "seen" him for so long, now. Yeah, weeks seem long.

On the sunny side... I found the perfect place for our belated anniversary get-away when Andrew comes to Portland! And I'm not telling where. But the lady is just handing me great discounted rates AND free upgrades! She must be an angel.
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