Look in my head

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The chapel

Today is Sunday and I have Chapel duty. Today is the most busy day of my week. Yesterday I was at a birthday party for a one year old named Connor, and his mom Brenda said to me, "I can't imagine anything going on at church that could be work." "What do you do on Sundays?" To which I replied, "I count money." I didn't have the energy to explain what happens on Sundays nor did I think it was interesting enough to get into. I have to be the first one at the Chapel at 0700 in the mooring which is a feat in itself for most people. I accomplish quite a bit until 2pm when I am done. It is incredible how many people approach you and ask you questions. Today we ran out of pens for the protestant ushers and they asked me to find more, the catholic choir director wanted me to find a microphone chord she had lost, and a man came in and wanted me to give him street by street directions to another chapel in the middle of my counting one of the offerings, and the micropone needed a new battery. The message in the first service was about how Jesus walked on water and how we have no faith. The second service was about how the Catholic church is against abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, and preemitive war. It was interesting to see a chaplain who is a soldier speak out against the war on an Army post and to mostly retired soldiers. Then he spoke about how the catholic church is a minority with these beliefs and there has always been power in the minority. African Americans were an enslaved minority but because of their presence the civil war took place. Then he spoke about why some people feel it is ok to allow evil if it will do some good in the long run. I listen to three different sermons every Sunday. I wonder if listening to three different sermons each week effects how I think. The third sermon is about unanswered prayer. He read the lyrics to the Garth Brooks song, "Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayer." My favorite sermon today didnt come from a chaplain it came from a really old usher who goes outside to smoke ciggarettes during the sermon. He asked me how my week went to which I replied, It was pretty good....I can't complain." Then he said, "I was listening to a sermon this morning on the radio and the pastor said we need to look at the positive things that are happening in our life and not always dwell on the negative." Then he said, "I wish someone would have told me that fifty years ago I may have had a happeir life." So I had to come back and change todays post a bit. I started out wanting to complain about how much I hate chapel duty but I am truly gratefull that I have a job. I have great health, and every now and then joy sets over me unexplainably. Sometimes I even have fun.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Directing anger

For the last 3 years or so (with the exception of the year I spent in Iraq) I have lived in El Paso, Texas. This is town that is located right next the the border of Mexico. A while back I was driving home and read a bumper sticker on a truck that read, "Don't shoot...I'm not a terrorist..I'm a Mexican!" This was humorous to me for several different reasons. The first reason is because Texas is know for its gun carrying citizens. Many people carry guns for purposes of hunting and self protection. Most Hispanics I have met are very hard working people who are willing to perform tedious manual labor that many American citizens are unwilling to do. There skin color is very similar in complexion to Arabic people so it is easy to see the how confusion would result. The humor comes in when you realize that Americans have become so angered at terrorist they misdirect their anger onto innocent people. This morning I was watching the news and the mayor of a town in Northern California was talking about the Muslim community in his town. They recently found that one of the citizens there had training with Al Queda and his father lied to authorities when questioned to cover up this fact. The mayor of this town was worried about the safety of the 2,600 Muslim people residing in his town. It seems that some people in their anger have a difficult time separating terrorist from the general Muslim population. Of course I struggle controlling the impulses of my own anger when soldiers continue to die in Iraq. I never get angry enough to attack innocent civilians as others may but the saying, "not all Muslims are terrorist but all terrorist have been Muslims" replays in my head at times. I wish I knew how to make this problem of fearing terrorist in our home land to go away but I simply do not have the answer. I found myself wondering what the global implications would be if we decided to nuke Iraq or Iran this morning. I imagine there would be global outrage at the carnage. This type of action would only be justified in the minds of most if another huge attack occurs in the states similar to the 9-11 attacks in NY. So we sit and wait for our water to be poisoned or our school children's food to be tampered with. What will it take to wake the sleeping giant that is America and the UN? I hope we never realize that answer. I don't think anyone wants to see a repeat of what happened in Japan with the wiping out of a huge portion of people. But there are those who argue it saved more lives then it cost. The Japanese surrendered.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bad dreams

Last night I had a bad dream. I was back in Baghdad, Iraq and had just been injured. The anesthesiologist was trying very hard to give me some more morphine and was having problems. She got half a dose in my vein half way up my arm but I was shaking so violently from the lost of blood and the drugs they had used in the surgery that she pulled out half way through out of fear that the needle would break. She tried getting the vein in my wrist next. I woke up in my bed shaking, cold, and full of fear. This is the third dream I have had like this since my return from Iraq. I find myself looking down on soldiers that talk about having Post traumatic stress disorders until I have one of these bad dreams. I think that there minds are weak or they are not tough enough to take in and deal with violence, suffering and death of their comrades. At times I feel like I am immune to my emotions until I find myself shaking in my bed and tears are running down my face as I can't fall back asleep at 2:30 in the morning. I thank God that the bad dreams and sleepless nights only happen on occasion and that I can continue to be a soldier and support my family. I know my mind is just trying to process the most violent year I will ever know. I pray to God that I soon don't return to this place we call Iraq.

I found the following article on the Fox News web site today and thought it was rather fitting considering my post today.

combats Toll on a soldiers Psyche
1 in 7 Return From Iraq in Need of Treatment; Many Are Hesitant to Seek Treatment
By sit Kirchheimer, WebMD Medical News
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD Wednesday, June 30, 2004

June 30, 2004 -- About one in seven soldiers returning from combat duty in Iraq have major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, or other serious mental health issues.
Yet those most in need of treatment are least likely to seek it, according to the first study to explore the mental health of returning Army and Marine personnel fighting the war on terrorism in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
"Most often, it's due to a perception they have that they'll be stigmatized if they do receive care," lead study researcher Col. Charles W. Hoge, MD, of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, tells WebMD. "Among soldiers who screen positive (for mental health problems), about 65% have the perception they will be seen as weak if they sought care."
For his study, published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, Hoge and colleagues surveyed 2,530 members of the armed services prior to their deployment in Iraq and 3,670 within four months of returning from combat in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Most Experience Trauma
Most returned having experienced traumatic events such as being shot at, killing someone, seeing bodies, or witnessing civilian injuries they could do nothing about. Generally, those in Iraq were up to twice as likely to engage in a firefight compared with those fighting in Afghanistan.
Hoge finds that some 17% serving in Iraq met the criteria for mental health disorders requiring treatment -- twice as many as before deployment. That compares with only 11% of those serving in Afghanistan. Iraq veterans were also significantly more likely as those serving in Afghanistan to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"We think the difference results from a greater frequency and intensity of combat in Iraq," says Hoge, chief of psychiatry and behavior sciences at the Bethesda, Md.-based medical research facility.
But what's especially worrisome to Hoge and other experts is that even though the armed forces offers several programs to offer counseling and other assistance to returning veterans, those who need them are reluctant to use them. His study indicates that as few as one in four soldiers who need mental health treatment are seeking it -- largely because of the belief it will hurt their military careers.
'Not Just a Military Issue'
"Eventually, all of these soldiers will be returning to civilian life, so this is not just a military issue," Hoge tells WebMD. "Hopefully, this article will raise public awareness in general about psychiatric manifestations of combat duty. This is something the entire medical system needs to look at."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Don't shoot me...I want to kill myself

Today on Fox News there was a man in southern California who was running from police on the freeway in a white minivan with two loaded weapons. He had apparently kidnapped and threatened someone with his weapons. The police put up a spike strip and his tires were blown. He continued driving on just the rims for a while until he lost control. The police continued to tell him to get out of the car but he never did. He just sat there with two guns pointed at his head. Swat vans were moved in on the scene and they even tried using robotic arms to get a cell phone to him. None of the police wanted to risk their own lives and approach the vehicle, but he wasn't pointing the guns at them either so they couldn't justify shooting him. The ended up throwing a smoke grenade in the van and sending in a dog to drag him out of the van. What a moron. I would be so angry if I was stuck in that traffic and it made me late to work, or late to anywhere for that matter. I wish police had the technology to shock him inside of his vehicle or some other time saving technique. Car chases happen all the time and it amazes me that we as tax payers haven't decided it is worth the money to install devices on police cars that can stop this madness quickly. Police need something that disables a cars operation and this technology is available. In cases like this I think police should have the right to shoot someone after a certain amount of time has elapsed. Its not like the person wouldn't get fair warning. Lets say there was a 10 minute time limit on warnings. As the time grew to a close you would simply count down. You have 2 minutes to comply with the law or you will be shot....You have one minute to comply with the law or you will be shot...Etc. If they shot him we would call it suicide because obviously the person was to much of a coward to take his own life. Of course I understand that there is value in a human life and no one wants to shoot another man, but with such blatant disregard for the safety of others, and with obvious violations of the law and a disrespect and disobedience to officers of the law the ...That criminal has diminished his value. A judge came on the news and said that with his type of crimes he could expect no less that 15 years behind bars if he has no previous offenses. His life is over anyways. That's just how I feel.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The toys children love

The last week in June was my daughters 2nd birthday. I thought long and hard about what type of gift would make her smile on her birthday. First I bough a 100 dollar trailer that hooks on the back of my beach cruiser so she could ride along. Then my mom went and bought a 70 dollar slide from TOYS R US. Then we bought a 30 dollar tricyce. Then we bought special bubble makers and a small grocery cart. We bought several magnet toys and several different sizes of singing Barneys. So there I sat after all the gifts were unwrapped watching my daughter play with her favorite toy.....The protective popcorn and box that the gift came in. Why is it that we as adult put a dollar value on what we think will be fun. I wish I could take delight in such a simple thing. In fact I did do just that. I spend much time "making it snow" in her bedroom and making a huge mess out of the packing supply. It can be so much fun to sit back and wonder what your children will become. My wife has said she will be a musician. I have said she will be an artist. I wonder what my parents envisioned for me?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Change

Today is my last official day at work. I have re-enlisted for reassignment to the San Antonio Texas area. While I cannot quite say that I am sad because I know this unit will be deploying once again pretty soon...I will miss some of the people. Time to begin the huge job of packing up the possessions and outprocessing. Outprocessing in the military is such an ordeal that you are allotted 10 working days to do it. You must go around and acquire a signature from just about everyone stating that you owe them nothing. At least it gives you a good chance to say goodbye. I am purchasing my first home and am very excited about that. It is 2,575 sq feet and made of brick. The floors are wooden and it has an open kitchen plan where I can talk to my wife while she is in the kitchen. The master bedroom has two walk in closets! Oh enough bragging....But it is an amazing house. I am no longer allowed to perform Physical training with my unit. I don't know if this is because they just don't care if you are fit when they are losing you or because they want you to be able to make your early appointments. Nothing is open at 600 in the morning anyways what appointments could you be missing? I am leaning towards the we don't care about you anymore because you are not going to be ours any longer.

I am a bit nervous about new supervisors and subordinates. Who you work with makes such a huge difference in what goes on at work and how much you enjoy it. I am hoping for a really laid back boss and hard working subordinates. Really hard working wouldn't be as important as having soldiers who stay out of trouble and can show up on time, in the right place, in the right uniform. It doenst sound difficult but I am always suprized how many cant do that. Well seven minutes remain in my work day. How pathetic is it that everyone else leaves at four but I stick around until five just because my boss does. I think I may have some issues when it comes to being controlled. Anyway I spent a lot of time looking at questions that people have wanted answered on google today. There are some interesting ones. I became aware that there is a web site called "a small world" where you have to be invited to be a member. I became sort of jealous that I wasn't a member and hadn't been invited but not jealous enough to begin asking friends if they happened to be a member. It is probably pretty overrated. The grass is always greener on the other side. Well what can I say with 3 minutes left in my day....I know....Bye. It will take me that long to log off. No spell check today...No time

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

You have a gift

Have you ever met a person who you want to be with when you are apart, but when you are with them you are sort of uncomfortable? Today I decided that I wanted to spend lunch with my friend who makes me feel that way. He couldn't go to lunch because he was wrapped up at work but even in the 5 minutes that I had with him, I had that strange feeling. He told me I have a spiritual gift that he does not have. He said I am very approachable, and that me and my wife strive to see the face of Christ. He mentioned that being married makes people open up to me. The things he says don't make me feel strange it is the body language that he uses. We were at his work place and so much was going on. Many of his subordinates wanted to ask him questions but they knew better then to bother him at that moment. It was as if I was the only one that existed in that 5 minutes. We could have been standing alone in that space filled with people. I have only ever met two men in my life that would tell me that they loved me. It feels strange but nice at the same time when it happens. It seems that a man who can openly say, "I love you" to another man are very intouch with their feminine side or maybe just were never taught the male machoism that prohibits such statments.

I think that perhaps there are certain biological and psychological differences that make some men more in touch with there feminine side then most men. I am one of those men. I will never be able to notice the details in life the way that a woman will. I don't feel what happened in my childhood as intently as most women, but the fact that I am talking about that rather then last nights basketball game proves my point. Was a basketball game on last night? I was busy watching nanny 911. The other day I was pestering my cat and petting her in a way she doesn't like. I noticed that her tail would wag back and forth in faster than normal manner for quite some time after I left her alone. This feminine trait extends beyond my pet. The other day my wife said, "I am going to get my hair cut and colored." To which I replied, "Why to gain your mothers approval." She responded simply "no." Then a significant amount of time passed when she asked, "why would you say that?" Her internal tail was wagging more rapidly the whole time. Homosexual men can be even more in touch with how their surrounding and things people say effect them than women. This is why the show "queer eye for the strait girl" exists. Why do I enjoy being around feminine men? No I am not gay. I think it is because I would rather talk about real life issues then the run of the mill "How is the weather" talk. In the midst of this internal dialog I am currently studying abnormal psychology in college. I wonder how dangerously close I have come to being schizophrenic, in my earlier religious claims about hearing from the holy spirit. This type of thing where you are typing to fit your self into a crazy category is called "medical student syndrome". I know that I can't control the actors on TV, or the cars on the road, and the pictures on my wall aren't talking to me so that is a good sign. To bring this little walk through my mind back to the original thought I need to remember that no matter people make me feel I need to remember that I can learn something from every person I meet.