Monday, August 23, 2010

Shaky Ground

Since I've been deployed (I left on 27 July 2010), I have had issues communicating home. Afghanistan as little to no infrastructure, especially outside the major cities. There is a cell network, and I swear I will never complain about AT&T again. Most calls are dropped, if they even connect at all. There is no voicemail, and a recent study conducted by my Soldiers showed that only about 25% of texts actually make it through (but they sure as hell charge you for it whether it got there or not). There are 20,000 people on Kandahar Airfield, which is where I've been until about a week ago. Those 20,000 people share only a few hundred computer terminals and phones to contact home. There tends to be a long line just to get a 30 minute phone call or 30 minutes online. Then, who knows if there will be a rocket attack while you're on the phone and then you have to get off and go to a bunker. Also, keep in mind that Kandahar is 8.5 hours ahead of Eastern time, which just makes communicating home even more awkward.

My point in this long ramble is to show how difficult communications back home can be for a deployed Soldier. Now, I realize some have it better than others, so if you're thinking, "I know someone who is in Afghanistan, and they call home every day", just stop. Combine this communication issue with my work schedule (6am-midnight), and you will start to get an idea of how often I was able to talk to B during the first few weeks of my deployment.

Recently, I've arrived at a much better base near the border of Pakistan. We have Combat Housing Units (CHUs) that are just little trailers that fit a bunk bed and some personal bags. While they may be small, they do have 2 key components to a good deployment - air conditioning and internet. My internet is fast enough now to do video chat on skype, but it comes at a hefty $130 a month per person (well worth it in my opinion). So now that I've been able to talk to B much more frequently, I've found out that she has filled the emotional void that created after I left by getting a crush on a guy friend of hers.

I'm not exactly sure how to handle the situation, because I have about 400 different emotions running through me, but I will outline as many as I can in the following posts as I sort through them all. For now, I need to go on a mission, so I will continue this when I get back.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Starting over, yet again

So, I'm starting over again. I feel like this is all part of an endless loop, but I know that as long as I learn from my mistakes, the cycle won't continue. I'm deployed again, to Afghanistan this time. This time it is much different for several reasons -

1) I am not here with my significant other, to whom I will refer from here on out as B.
2) The environment here is far more hostile than it was in Iraq. In my first week here we had some suicide bomber attacks and a few rocket attacks, one of which landed 2 tents over from mine. Luckily it was a dud and didn't detonate, but it was still a wakeup call.
3) B and I have been dating in a purely vanilla fashion since March. I'm still naturally dominant in the relationship, but we haven't formalized anything or discussed anything.

The following posts will be our path as I begin to introduce her to the lifestyle and see how it all plays out. I do feel that communication and honesty is important; however, I have always been the type to use the stairs at the pool so I can ease myself from the hot air to the cool water. I'm not one to just run and dive in. Anyone who has any experience in this lifestyle probably understands how many facets of it are contradictory to what is considered the social norm. Simply applying the paddles and charging up the defibrillator will, I think, provide a little more shock and awe than is necessary. So I will ease her into the pool and take my time, always vigilant for resistance or limits.

I hope you all enjoy the ride as much as I will.