Sunday, July 30, 2006

The rack gymnastics and locker talk...TIMAN AND MURGAH---rice and tomato sauces...IRAQI FOOD YUM!!

The ship, as it was painted, lead me to believe she was from the forties. The way the doors were cut into the hull and how everything felt old had me certain I was riding in a witness to World War II… a date that will live in Infamy… But this baby was new…Just loved in very thoroughly over 20 years… The Whidbey Island was designed with a new navy toy in mind… Those of course being the LCAC’s spoken of previously on this Blog…

Being commissioned by the US Navy meant that this ship had to have all sorts of Admirals ruining the broth…

There were an abundance of hands making this baby the burden of the lowest bidder.
Our enterprising ship builder thought it best to cut costs. And at least recover some of his losses so that his daughter might actually be able to give birth to his grandchild in a hospital rather than a cardboard box.

Those of you, that have been with those “other victims,” in the audience know that cost cutting; means suffering for your poor beloved author.
This suffering came in the form of lack of sleep. I along with several marines whose paths crossed some of the same stomping grounds of my “younger years” held a court. Yes this was full on locker room stuff ladies. Topics ranged from Yuengling… to firing 50 caliber machine guns…From politics… To the mountain of porn these lads had amassed in their idle hours…Their fears that coming home to a 3 month pregnant wife that they had left 11 months ago…Their plans after the military and what life is like in those strange stretches where you’ve only got one thing to do and that is ponder…

These marines were artillery…Just like the boys shooting from Israel…They knew what the rounds did…But unlike me they had not seen al Jazeera and their horrific way of making victims merely Meat!

I was struck by images this morning as they pulled a family out of Khana… I had been through the streets of Khana in the past on my way up to Bint Jbeil… The houses were shoddily put together but even the best buildings would not have held up to that sort of bombardment. The exteriors of these houses were intact… Image remained the sole goal for buildings in Lebanon… The interior and supports folded under… All that remained was the veneer.

The image that strikes me the most is a child clinging to his mother in rigormortis barely it was his mother from the shape of her hands and wedding ring yet to be uncovered by the Red Cross.

I had concluded my discussions with the boys and slipped into an abandoned rack. The brunette whose family had squatted the entire library of prime real estate seemed appalled that I swung myself so slowly deliberately and easily into the rack( plank dressed like a bed) next to the one her father had until recently occupied. They had made the mistake of moving their baggage. The rack was as high as a man’s head so I pride myself on being light and graceful enough to get a pull up grip and hold my body out horizontal to slide in. Mum had told me one of her uncles was a champion swimmer British sailor. I guess those Brit genes kicked in…No sea sickness no discomfort in a completely uncomfortable ship…THIS WAS LIFE AT SEA.

After a bit of shut eye I checked my BG which had bottomed out at 56. I bolted for the mess(cafeteria). All I had time to grab was a waffle and a cup of coffee from one of those frothy machines you find at any government institution. Back to the racks next to the “head” (toilets)… I was reminded by one of the Docs (medics) I had been chatting to that I had to pick up my insulin from the hospital. A quick clip along the corridors that resemble hamster tunnel-ways, a slide down the stairs, hopping off over the two last steps, and I was there. It was good I had brought my bag because these were the people I was leaving with.

I felt it only right…First on LAST OFF.

Leaving involved observing several elderly individuals velcroed into a backboard being dragged around stairs. Several marines were barked at to offload the trash…only moments later to be told by the CO (Commanding Officer (the BIG CHEESE)) that “guests” come first.

I had failed in avoiding a handshake with the guy… I detest people who pander at politics…
It was then my turn…After hours of sailing… after a wedge shaped view of the now battered Manara below my house… The idea that it would be a while before I saw the hamam al askari(bain military) {military sports club}… That was always interesting hamam is Arabic for toilet…it is the military toilets?

After hours of sailing and a walk down the plank… I was in Cyprus.

I made it through check-in to see the bespectacled blonde whom I had met at the embassy. I didn’t know how long my stay would be. I didn’t want the next flight out to the US. I wanted to stay close to Lebanon.

I spent a few hours after check-in and my visa stamp waiting on Logistics…My poor poor family members DID NOT KNOW I WAS ON THE SHIP. Through several panicked phone calls and tag team messages I got in touch with my WONDERFUL Uncle Farouk…

GOD BLESS HIM!!! I was given taxi directions to the “tourist area” and the penthouse he had there. I was given a promise of seeing him…HOW MANY LONG YEARS had it been?!?!? Not since his son came to the US with cancer… He had visited other times but I had been away at school… One of my favorite Uncles… It’s his humor and style…Uncle was a BIG mucky muck in the Police and suffered HORRIFICALLY when the Anfal campaign happened.
(Saddam committing war crimes against Kurds…sending them nearly naked… walking over the mountains to Iran)
Uncle was tortured FIRST…

I pushed the doorbell and there she was….Aunty Layla… That smile of hers will never leave me. Being the Kurdish side of the family I must tell my audience that she has SEA GREEN EYES! and nearly red hair. Yup we Kurds ARE SOOO NOT ARAB!!!

I was going to get some IRAQI COOKING…

I bumped into Salar a few hours later when he woke up… Salar was my family’s Lance Armstrong… His cancer took his knee.. But now… it looked like he had eaten an ENTIRE BULL… The guy was massive! And very nicely bronzed!


Blogger The Devil's Advocate said...

good to see you made it out well man, good read

3:02 AM, August 03, 2006  

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