Friday, June 27, 2008

Running on Fumes

One thing that is good about being out at war is that I don't have to fork over a large pile of money to fill up my gas tank. That's all going to change before too long and I'll be back in the land of pumping gold into that tank. In fact, I'll be paying more then most because I drive a diesel.
I remember back in the early 90's, if I wanted to make a weekend road trip to Arizona, 20 bucks worth of gas would get me there and I would have enough gas to drive around for most of the weekend. Even being an E-3, it wasn't a strain on my budget, my biggest bill was the cost of insurance.
Fast forward to now, with the current gas prices, the same trip one way at 25 miles per gallon costs 68 dollars. While my wage has doubled since then, the price of gas has gone up 500 percent so road trips take up a larger piece of my financial pie and make me rethink taking those long road trips. My son from a prior marriage lives in Northern California and the cost of travel to see him has made a huge impact on my choices for my next duty station. I turned down some great orders to North Island to try getting orders to a place out in the middle of nowhere called Lemoore just so I didn't have to drive as far to see him.
Even so, I don't have it that bad, I make it a point to live as close to work as possible to avoid the commute but what about those people who live in the suburbs where they purchased a home because it was cheaper?
The popular place to buy a house if you live in San Diego is up the 15 freeway. Directly north lie the communities of Murrieta and Temecula which were at one time the secret place to get a good deal on a house. Traffic can be a bit heavy with the 55 mile drive but the bang for the home buying buck did make the drive worth it. Eventually, it wasn't a secret anymore and developers turned the entire area into new homes which many military people I know bought into the American dream of home ownership.
But now with the gas prices breaking records on a daily basis, when will that point come when they can't afford to make the drive home? Or how many Marines and Sailors have already hit that point? That's not even counting the 22 percent lost in home values for the San Diego area (taken from article titled "Four years of gains in home prices wiped out"). The economy in general is hitting the military right in the pocket book.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Making a Video

The hardest part of making a unit video for me is the first step, coming up with the music and theme then bending my mind around that idea. Once that’s done, everything else does start falling into place, the gaps get filled in and there’s a sense of accomplishment as sections get done till finally, a finished product. With a good enough idea and the proper eye and ear candy, the video can take on a life of its own. I’ve discovered that these video projects tend to take over the creative parts of my brain and other things that I normally do like write, talk and read for pleasure, all of that get chopped off at the knees and I mumble, spill drinks and my blogging goes to crap.

I was the unit videographer my first trip out here in 2004 and had a bunch of spare time to make movies and post pictures on my fotopage and it was still a huge job. This time it’s a different story, I’m actually working pretty hard. Yes Anonymous Guy, I am at Camp Cupcake with a nice pool walking distance away but that doesn’t make my job any easier or change the distanc that I'm separated from my family. I'm just cleaner and a bit safer and no, I haven’t gone out to Salsa night (don’t need strangers to see my lack of dancing skills). Even though I was getting mortared and shot at on a somewhat regular basis in 2004, my job back then was worlds easier. Now I’m living in a paperwork jungle and miss the easy, drama free times when I was just a squadron corpsman and could work on these huge products while sitting around at work instead of on my spare time after a 12 hour workday.

But I admit, there was one perk about being at Camp Cupcake, Puddle of Mudd came out a couple of weeks ago and put on a show for the troops. I got to watch from 15 or so feet away and it was an awesome! I even got to use some of the bandages I had packed into my cargo pocket at the end of the night, a guy who was leaving 4 days from then got gashed in the eyebrow by a flying CD. I estimate 12 sutures.

Well back to screening music, still haven’t figured out the soundtrack for the second quarter, wish the bride was around, she sees everything through the lens of song.

Monday, June 02, 2008

My brain has stopped adding words together

I’ve hit the slump of the deployment along with many of the Marines and Sailors that I work the only difference is this is the first time that the slump has shut down my writing cold. I would put an idea on paper and try to expand on it and would end up having monosyllable conversations with myself. As painful as it is to have a conversation with one of those people, it’s worse to read it.

I did a two blog post a while back ago called Twilight of the Deployment (take one and take two) and I can’t really improve on either of them with this block filling up my head just to note that my unit is in that period of time.

The Dear John’s or Jane’s have started trickling in one party, here or there is shocked and can’t believe it’s happening to them. It’s that season of the deployment, between the middle till right before we get home. I’ve been here before and most of the Staff NCO’s I work with are on their second or third marriage, it’s the junior guys that worry me. Right now is where relationships crumble, one party realizes that they really don’t like being alone or that their significant other isn’t the “One” or meets someone special who isn’t far away and don’t know how to break it off with someone on the other side of the world then waits till right before they get home. There is no easy way to break off a serious relationship.

Where one party is lonely and falls for someone they are interacting with daily and breaks the relationship off. The spouse that cleans out the bank account and max’s out credit cards out of spite and disappears. Tired of the lack of email, phone calls, letters, etc. Tired of how the other party is spending their finances.

I see these stories every single day, the names and faces change and as a leader or a healer, you have to help these people make something constructive out of the crap that life took on them. For an air unit like mine, it’s not the suicide bombers or the mortars that cause most of us to toss and turn at night or think it’s not worth it anymore. It’s the worry about the person we expected to spend the rest of our lives with on the other side of the world. The military is tough on family life any way you look at it and there isn’t a cookie cutter solution that can fix all of the problems.

For me, this trip I’m just soul weary tired, 4 trips out here is beginning to add up and it’s tough to keep that cheery grin on my face or to find the words to put words down on paper. The last year was a bit rough on my psyche and I haven’t a chance to patch all of the holes that have been made. It all adds up in the end.

If I haven’t proved it in the past, I do write when I’m depressed but that’s not exactly what I’m feeling right now. I just a sense of numbness in my brain, I’m trying to talk some of them out, the heartache I’m feeling isn’t for me, it’s for the people whom I work with and care about. It sucks not having an answer to such big questions when they are so desperately. My head feels like I’ve stretched something too far and it broke away.

Speaking of away, while I wasn’t typing on the keyboard I did get a chance to read everything by an author named Jim Butcher and Bane, I agree, thanks for the tip. One of the ingredients that probably added to my writers block was the lack of sleep I was getting because I couldn’t stop reading. Seriously, he’s good.

I’m sorry for not popping my head up for an entire month, every writer I know hits a low point in their writing and this has been mine. Some days they flow from my fingers but I just haven’t found it lately and I’m not one of those people that like tossing up words.