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. ;)


sethswifeforlife said...

wow, Andrew. what a time you're having. And how awesome God is using it (as hard as it may be at times!) in your life to mold you and make you more like HIMself! We serve an awesome God. You have an awesome wife, and we can't wait to see her on Saturday. Then a few weeks after that you will!
I know you guys can hardly wait!
blessings on your week,

Anonymous said...

hey guys. I finally figured out how to add your blog as a book mark. Call me stupid -- everytime I have to search the web for your blog to check in on what's up and it seems to take me weeks to find it...

enjoyed reading this post. Wow is right. what a different world... time in your life. Times like this time for you guys do aid in the whole thing of "growing up" -- steel/ and fire, the shaping and molding of who God is making you to be as his man and his woman.

Cass, I can't wait to see you this weekend. I hope we can help pass the time faster by coming so that Andrew's arrival for you will come faster too... did that make sense? ;) whatever, we just know we better come and be with you while he's gone, cause when he's home for good, it might be hard to get you away from him.

love you guys,

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