kabultrout

Kilgore Trout is an ill-famed science fiction author. He is currently living in Kabul, Afghanistan, amidst Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines. Here he would like to show you what he sees during his visit.

Archive for June, 2009

Free Written

I felt like writing something today, but to be quite honest, nothing interesting seems to be happening today. Or in the past few days.

Things are slowing quickly. With just a handful of time left to spend here, replacements showing up, and the workload lessening, we just don’t seem so occupied with much of anything anymore.

Time is funny to talk about. The concept goes over my head in this environment. The deployment environment.

For you: days can be an hour by hour affair, a day by day affair.

For me: Time is. I don’t know what time is. Do you know what time is?

Each day doesn’t feel like a day, it feels more like part of a day that never ends. My commanding officer described it perfectly: “I feel like I’m in Groundhog Day (referring to the movie),” he said, “Every day I go to the office, then to the DFAC, then I go to my hooch, then the PX, then the office, then the DFAC… etc.”

With so little space and limited activities at our disposal, the month long stretch feels more like no time at all. Not that time is going by fast, but more like there is no such thing. It no longer exists. Nothing progresses and there is no past, because there is no change.

The only change I actually see that connects me with the rest of the world, shows me time is still thriving beyond the walls of Camp Phoenix, is a sad reality. Because the only thing here that signifies progress, that signifies change, is death.

I would be happy never going to a funeral as long as I live once I leave here.

At home, death is like the dark corners of your house. You never pay too much attention to them.

Here, death is like the bottom step you always forget about as you descend on the stairs. Once you reach the bottom, that step reminds you of its existence. But somehow you will forget about it the next time you descend. And it will remind you again.

Do not let this lead you to believe I am extremely grief stricken and in a sad state of affairs. Personally I am quite well. It is simply war in general that saddens me.

I’m closer to war than I have ever been before, and the only thing different about me being here rather than home viewing war through the skewed window of television: death. Not numbers and year-to-date totals, but personal, one at a time, face after face death.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Hours.

I try to use my free time wisely.

This morning I went to the gym. I go 5 times a week and lift weights.

But I work 12 hour days; for the past two or three weeks. That twelve… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Half a day.

Reading each number at a time isn’t as stressful as reading each hour on the clock from a desk. Every day.

So where do I get the time to keep learning Spanish? I never had the chance to get past ‘Greetings.’

There’s really no important reason to stay in the office so long. Everyone loses focus by the time it hits 1800 (6 PM). I guess my boss just wants to prove a point. I still have yet to figure out what that point is.

Now I resort to: Books+office=not such a bad day.

I finished Breakfast of Champions. Got to love K Von. He’s by far my favorite author. Starting Cat’s Cradle. And wading my way through Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky.

Listening to some Tokyo Police Club. And really getting into the Bible-inspired lyrics of Nick Cave. I still have yet to finish downloading his newest album.

Today is my half day. It is 0916 (916 AM) right now. I have to be in at 1000. Shower first.

Someone tell me how 12 hours minus two hours equals 6 hours. Because I’m almost positive that coming in at 1000 instead of 0800 does NOT give me a half day.

Hopefully this catastrophe of work hours ends soon.

2 miles

A dark cloud has been settled on Kabul for only God knows how long.

What’s in that cloud? Burnt plastic; feces; oil; gas. They burn everything.

I’ve been told that by the time my tour in Kabul is over, I will have inhaled at least a brick of “shit.”

As my feet awkwardly stumble steadily across the pavement, and I try swallowing the air, what little that’s available, I wonder how much more than a brick I will inhale because of running.

My throat burns, a different burn than I’ve ever known before. As I round each painful corner, hoping my lungs will learn soon how to breathe, the burn reminds me of the black cloud I’m currently wading through. Not that you can tell how black it is from the inside.

It hurts more with every lap. Not my legs, they’re strong enough to keep pressing on. It’s just my lungs. They seem to be shrinking with each breath.

Soon the saliva builds up to the point I need to spit. But it’s only around the inside of my mouth. My lungs won’t afford me the luxury of a wet throat. The air dries everything beyond my tongue to nothingness.

This sucks. Mantra time:

“The brain is strong.”

“Cool. Fast. Light.”

“I will finish the run.”

“The brain is strong.”

“Cool. Fast. Light.”

“I will finish the run.”

This hurts bad now. Not a physical hurt. It’s a mental hurt. Your lungs are making you think they can’t breathe. But it’s just that they’re filtering out all the dirt in the air: Burnt plastic, feces, oil, gas: All manner of trash.

I’m getting much closer now. Once this registers in my brain, things become much easier. Signifying the realization that most of what I felt prior was mental.

Foot hits pavement. Knee jolts. Lungs continue to die. But everything is so much easier. There’s the finish.

I’m done.

I spit all the dirt, the “shit,” that piled up in my lungs, onto the ground.

It’s beautiful; it’s not in my lungs anymore. I’m happy; I’m done now.