30 September 2012

Behind the headlines

This is the story: Audacious Raid on NATO Base Shows Taliban's Reach

This is my story...

I received a Facebook message from Randy (one of my best friends who started working for the USO the same day I did, and worked in Kuwait, Kandahar with me, and then Camp Leatherneck)

"As i walk up to the uso so does he and the big voice comes on for opp lockdown. bastion is currently under attack. we can see the helicopters firing. there are big fires on that side of base that we can see glowing. nuts. not like kaf. they just called all off duty fire fighters to their stations."

At this point a Google search turns up nothing.  The world doesn't know yet.  But I do.  I know my friend's base is getting attacked, and she is there, with only one other USO staffer, locked in a tent, unarmed.

Everything else quickly becomes fuzz.  Everyone's updates featuring pictures of the food they made, and the people they saw are insignificant blips.  They keep updating, they keep popping up, unaware of the attack raging half a world away.

Randy's message was sent to our close group of former and current USO girls from KAF.  The conversation right before Randy's message was laughing at one friend's drunken Facebook ramblings about another friend's relationship.

"update. there are people in the wire in uniform - taliban members. everyone is to report to accomodations and stay inside. small arms fire and cobras firing rounds. fires have subsided. Marines have started filing to their vehicles in full gear."

News outlets begin updating their sites with brief 3 paragraph long stories about the attack.

Then her messages stop. 

We're all familiar why.  It's a blackout.  To my understanding with 30,000 plus people KAF never had ordered blackouts because they would be too difficult to enforce, but at smaller bases when there are deaths they order a blackout.  They want to ensure there is time to inform the next of kin before someone posts it on Facebook.  I couldn't think of a worse way to find out about the death of a loved one than Facebook, but it happens.  I experienced my first black out at Camp Marmal in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.  A Captain came quickly pacing into our USO tent, asked for the manager and then quietly, but with forceful seriousness, told me to disconnect the internet and phones until further notice.

One night has passed since Randy's first message and I'm sitting between my parents in my dad's truck on a 4 hour trip to my aunt's house checking my Facebook, USAToday, FoxNews, and Yahoo News every 10 minutes. 

We joke in our Facebook messages to each other to lighten the mood, only our jokes wouldn't be funny to most.  Randy was supposed to travel back to the states in a few days, and Erin lives in Dubai.  We discuss forming new identities for them since the Middle East isn't exactly keen on Americans at that moment.  These two blonde beauties, could they be French?  South African maybe?  We all laugh thinking about Randy with a head scarf and her trademark leggings on.

I talk to Randy's mom for a half an hour that night trying to reassure her.  There's a lot we don't tell our parents while in Afghanistan, but it's a little hard to hide when it's all over the news.  I feel for her mom.  Being on this side of the globe now, I get how my family must have felt. Although, I'm not sure if I'm worried more or less having been there.

The attack had ceased, Randy and her coworker were fine, and her flight was rebooked.

"oh how i am thrilled that you girls are home safe and sound. however it would be nice to have some friends to be in lockdown with"

Randy returned to America safely a few days later...and Erin flew into Camp Leatherneck.

I've never been in a battle, so I can not even begin to comprehend the bond troops have when their lives are in one another's hands.  But when you have your face in the dirt right next to a girl after feeling the ground shake beneath you from an incoming rocket, it forms a special bond. (That was during Megan's going away party, the Taliban sure know how to send us off with a bang).

We all met in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Now we're in Colorado, DC, PA, WV, Dubai (with trips to Afghanistan), and NC but soon to be England.  We're spread across the country and spread across continents, but at a moment's notice we can all be there for one another.

Most of the headlines  wrote about Prince Harry's safety or questioning the drawdown tactics.  Prince Harry wasn't my concern, Randy was.  Thankfully she was fine, because of the bravery and sacrifice of the military men and women defending the base.

United States Marines Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, 40, and Sgt. Bradley Atwell, 27, were killed in the attack on Camp Leatherneck on September 15, 2012.

21 September 2012

Fool me 15 times

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

Fool me 15 times… how did I not get the bloody hint?!

Since I started job searching I have applied for 15 jobs I thought were perfect for me!  I had the experience.  I tailored my resume to each one, and I wrote a cover letter even if it wasn’t required.  Before my interviews I scoured their website learning everything I could about their company and the department in which I would work.  I borderline stalked their employees on LinkedIn and Facebook.  I phoned a friend and called in my connections.  I dressed nicely and didn’t wear any of my rings during the interview (I have a nervous tick where I CONSTANTLY switch my rings from finger to finger or twist them).  I kept my sarcasm to a minimum and my charm to a maximum.  Yet, I am unemployed (and ironically don’t qualify for unemployment, my bad for quitting my own contract).  What am I doing wrong?
I even made an organized job search binder with color coded tabs!

I am applying at the same companies (multiple positions) for the same types of jobs – military non-profit.  This is my passion, my dream job…right?  Question is: when does it stop becoming admirable and start becoming ignorant? 

At first I thought I was resolute and determined for unwaveringly applying for the same types of jobs.  But repeating the same action over and over again and expecting a different result is the very definition of insanity according to Einstein.

When I was in college I dated (I use the term very loosely) a boy who I was enamored by.  I thought everything was going lovely even though he wouldn’t ever admit we were dating.  (I know in hindsight this sounds really stupid on my part, but wait, save that judgment for about 3 more sentences).  Well then after months went by I finally rid myself of him by moving 3 states away and severing all contact.  I’ve always been rather dramatic I guess.  Well 2 years and 2 cities later I ended up back where it all began, back with…yep, him.  Ol’ Einstein was right, this situation produced the same result.  Only this time I totally outdid myself on the move and moved a couple continents and oceans away.

I guess I’m just an optimist…to a fault.  Nah, that’s an easy out, blaming it on a character flaw.  I think the real issue is I find something I enjoy, and I get comfortable.  And who wants to leave that comfy spot on the couch you just nestled yourself into that’s already warmed by your butt?

I just thought it would be easier than this.

I remember I attended a TEC retreat (Teens Encounter Christ) and I was on this great “yay God!” high from a weekend of fun faith filled activities.  Our leader warned us that although we felt changed by the weekend, the world had not changed.  We were in a protected bubble and the real world was a harsh reality that would smack us in the face. 

I’ve left my protected bubble of Afghanistan, and now I’m smack dab in the real world armed with experience, a degree, and a waning sense of confidence.

I am confident in one thing though; I’m not insane.  So, it’s time to do something different.
pretty brilliant dude