Peregrinatio ad oram vitae
(A Pilgrimage to the edge of life)
Raised mostly in Kentucky. Although I lived in Germany, Tennessee, Georgia and Indiana for brief stints as a child and teenager as well. Actually, my parents moved to Tennessee after I had joined the Military. So therein lay my claim to Tennessee. I wouldn’t bother if I weren’t such a huge fan of Andrew Jackson.
I’m a huge history buff. I live to travel to exotic locales. Love photography. Landscape mostly. But people as well. I’m into politics as well. But mostly interested in foreign affairs. The Affairs of State.
I grew up a Pentecostal. I’ve been baptized Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Evangelical and Mormon. I’ve had hands laid on by almost every major evangelical preacher of the modern era. Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, Katherine Kuman, Jimmy Swaggart. I’ve probably been to see Jim Bakker and Pat Robertson as well. These days, though, I try to follow Buddhism. I don’t do so in near perfect a fashion. But I strive to be better each day.
I served in the U.S. Army for a little over ten years. A confluence of events led to my exit from military service–an aggravation of an early training injury and the Clinton Era. I met Bill Clinton twice and he seemed like a nice fellow. Even so, I feel that his presidency nearly gutted our military. I could stomach it no longer.
After leaving the military, I attended various schools. Worked various jobs until I was hired in 2003 by Kellogg, Brown and Root to come to Afghanistan. I have been here off and on since. I have travelled to Bagram, Kabul, Qandahar and Herat since coming to Afghanistan. I hope to see more. This is a fascinating country and culture even as it can be a wretched, horrid and petty culture. I am currently working as an Instructor for the Police. It is a pretty cool job. I talk to interesting folks. I get out into the city and some of the country side. More importantly and more of interest to me is that I get to meet the Afghan people. They are hard scrabble survivors. I can say that much from my interaction with them.
I have enjoyed my time in Afghanistan. It has been an adventure.
Last thing. I’m a huge fan of University of Kentucky Basketball from Basil Hayden and Adolph Rupp–the Baron of the Bluegrass to JOHN CALIPARI and Patrick Patterson…
GO BIG BLUE!!!
This is my spiritual sister Becca. The only person whom I know who is both brave enough and free enough to travel the world with me.
This is my Momma. I’ve carried this picture in my wallet since 1990 when I was stationed in Fort Knox. I was on extra duty punishment when this pic was taken. Momma came down to see me and my commander–CPT Iddins–let Momma take me out for a bit. CPT Iddins was a pretty cool cat and my Momma has always loved her wild boy.
This June, I took two months off and traveled a bit. I visited Egypt for the first time since 1998. Becca and I traveled Egypt from Alexandria to Abo Simbel. I met some great folks down there. Shaimaa, Hamdi and Nora plus our tour guides down south–Fatima and Abdel. I also traveled to India. Ran all around Agra and got to tour the Taj Mahal. Magnficence. A tear in the eye of eternity. Or so it’s called. I climbed around several forts that were just humongous. The Red Fort of Agra and that of old Delhi were imposing structures. I could not imagine being asked to charge those walls in the old days of muskets and black powder. What magnificent soldiers those must have been. Such discipline and pride.
I also returned to Cambodia and, of course, Thailand. Thailand is my original lady in Southeast Asia. Magnificent Temples and Beautiful ladies. I toured Angkor again. This time with two lovely friends who joined me from Phnom Penh. Amy and Rey. My good friends from the Riverside Bistro on Sisawath Quay Road. I had planned on hanging out in Siem Reap for a few days more. But on a whim, I decided that I had waited long enough to see Laos. It was time to jump. I’ll tell more about that adventure later.
It was an excellent trip. Enjoyed all of the sites. Loved the ladies and children. I can’t wait to do it again come December of this year.
I am truly blessed to be able to lead such a life.
Recently, I was finally able to visit Chaghcharan in Ghor Province. Shoaib and I gave our Property Management Course to the Ghor PHQ. COL Barakzay presented me with a very nice carpet at the end of my visit. I was extremely grateful for the gift. These people–the Afghans–have been so welcoming to me. They don’t really take our course all that seriously. It would cut into their profit and corruption to implement our program. So we get a lot of small talk. A lot of talk about change and lip service to our program, but, they will not adopt the new program. The powers that be know this. They ignore it. It’s as if no one cares. So long as it seems that things are improving and we give them numbers, they are happy with our program. It all seems a waste of time and money to me. And again, no one cares. No one pays attention.
This December I will take my holiday back to Thailand. Unny and I will visit Vietnam. We’re going to do the backpacker tour. Let the road take us where it will. I am hugely excited about this trip. We’ll start in Phnom Penh. Take the boat down river to Chau Doc. Travel on to Saigon. We’ll spend a few days there touring the Mekong, Saigon and the Cu Chi Tunnels. After Saigon, we will journey North to the highlands. Hue City. Da Nang. Pleiku, if possible. Take to the Perfume River. Take in Hoi An. Then it’s Hanoi and Halong Bay. All the beautiful sights. The people of Vietnam and the ancient cities of what the French called Indochine.
We’ll celebrate New Years in Bangkok. Probably with a group of folks from the website Thailand Friends (thailandfriends.com). 5 days later, I’ll fly back to Afghanistan.
I want to make it to June 11 here in Herat or down South in Kabul. I don’t know, though. I’m pretty burned out on the Afghan thing. I feel as if I am no longer making any progress. We’ll see how it all hashes out in March or April. The contract is up for re-bid. There are supposed to be changes. If the changes are positive, perhaps I’ll stay. It’s good money here. There is no life here though. The military makes sure of that. What life we could have is closed off to us by all of these silly rules. The American miilitary is run by puritans and old ladies who want to run the lives of young people in to the ground. General Order #1 is a joke. What granny thought this nonsense could possibly make sense. I have no idea. It’s ludicrous. The new active Army units seem intent on doing nothing except squandering time and resources. They virtually ignore us. Who knows what will come of all of this. I suppose we shall see.
I am coming more and more to believe that we should leave Afghanistan to the Afghans. Let them find their own way. Why are we wasting valuable treasure here. To what end? Are we making a difference anymore. I don’t see it now. I did. Once upon a time, I felt that we were making a positive difference. I no longer feel this way. We’re just pouring good money after bad. I say we pull out.
But I’m not in charge. “Greater minds” than mine are in control. Even if they are simply draining the national coffers. Perhaps that is the only end. The Military Industrial Complex in charge and taking advantage of the fears of the globe. I don’t know.
17 February 2010
I’ve got 11 days left in Afghanistan. About 5 in Herat and 6 in Kabul. It’s been a rewarding 30 Months up here near the top of the world. I’ve met hundreds of great folks. A couple of real live taliban. A few Iranians. Hundreds of Heratis and other folks from all over Afghanistan. And then there are the great group of guys I’ve worked with at MPRI and those military folks from all over the States and the coalition countries. It’s been interesting. Sometimes exciting and sometimes boring.
I’m about to move on to a new path.
Heading home for a month to see family. I’ll catch the SEC Tournament and, hopefully, see my CATS dominate in Nashville. First though, I’ll be hitting Senior Night at Rupp Arena with the CATS playing the Florida Gators. This will be the first live game I’ll have seen since 2006 (I think). I plan on spending some good time with my Momma and Grandma. Ginger will be in town at the end of March. I’ll get to visit with her and Rob and the kids.
I’m planning on taking a trip out to Washington DC to see the Smithsonian. I haven’t been up that way in a decade. Looking forward to that. Maybe I’ll head up to Gettysburg as well.
Of course, I’m looking forward to hanging out with the best two friends a boy could ever have ~ Rick and Becca. We’re heading down to Lextown for a weekend. My nieces will join in on the party. Should be a truly fun time for us. Bonus ~ I’ll see a bunch of fellow Wildcat fans and friends down there.
Gonna wrap it all up with a big ol’ party at the Fox and Hound. Hoping to see friends from the whole of my life there as well as family that I’ve not seen in a while. Some, it’s been years since I’ve seen them.
So much has changed. My life is heading in a different direction than I’d have thought back in 2003 when I first ventured this way. Back then, I was rudderless. Dating a crazy girl who had a young boy and working a dead end job. No real plan.
Now…I’m moving to Bangkok. Planning a life with my GF Unny. She and I are getting a little pup together. Our little Pug Malalai (Named after the only real Afghan hero. Malalai Joya). I’m planning to ask Unny to marry me in the coming year. Another plan is to write about my travels. I feel lucky to have lived a pretty unique life. Unique for Americans at any rate. It seems that most Americans know very little about the world outside our borders. Many don’t seem to care. They’re comfortable and that’s about all that matters.
I take a different view on geo-politics. I can’t help but do so. I’ve seen the chaos wrought by our interventionism. I’ve also seen the good that America is capable of effecting in the world. I’d much rather our nation be the author of great good in the world. As opposed to great chaos and destruction.
Perhaps, I can be a part of effecting some change. Perhaps not.
I’ll move to Bangkok for at least a year. If I can become financially independent, I’d love to move to the South of Thailand. Down on the islands. Have a son and a daughter with Unny. Raise them well. Live out my life in happiness and relative comfort. Nothing fancy. Get me a big Dish to being in the joy of watching the Big Blue. Open a small cafe. Not for income but for the potential adventure and interesting company it might bring my way.
We’ll see. Life has been nothing if not surprising for me. The paths that I’ll take in the future are known only by the Gods. Hopefully, they’ll keep me in their company and in their favor.