I hope this note finds you all well. I'm doing okay. Still getting my bearings here. The living and working conditions are way above my expectations, considering that I had no expectations. I was pretty miffed about somebody stealing my gummi bears and a set of PT clothes out of my ruck sack when I first got in theater, but I tell myself that if that's the worst of my experiences on this deployment, then I'm better off than most.
The days seem to run together so much that I can hardly tell that it's Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Even with that, I feel really blessed and fortunate to be among such a good group of people, many of whom have done this deployment stuff many times over.
So far, I've been through two of the IED/mortar/whatever-you-call-them attacks, and although the booms have been a safe enough distance from me, I still find it a bit unsettling and scary. You should see me scrambling to get to the nearest bunker. Among other things, I'm really thankful that I haven't been in the shower when those happened.
I wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of helicopters and big planes flying over and I lie there for a few minutes before dozing back off, thankful that they're up there doing whatever it is that they do on their watch. I'm praying every few minutes, "Lord, keep us safe." So far, it's working. :) We also have a group of Pathfinders with us. They're an interesting bunch, but not unpleasant to engage. Everybody loves the S1. Some of them are even kinda cute.
More than ever, I find myself thinking about about the men out there sleeping in the ditches, and waking up daily to go on patrols and other missions that put them directly in harm's way, and I'm especially thankful for them and their commitment. I find myself thankful for all the ways that these guys and those like them have paved in the last 9 years for those of us who are out here now, that we have simple luxuries like indoor plumbing and heated tents, able to do our jobs and make our own minor contributions in substantially more comfortable conditions. Is that not amazing? It is to me. Well, anyway, I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!
I knew early in life that I wanted to write for a living. We were a family of modest-to-humble means, to put it mildly, and I used to think that if I could make a lot money from writing, something at which I happened to be pretty damn good, and something I've always loved anyway, I'd hustle my ass off to get it done. I was tired of being poor, broke and wanting, and if writing would be my hustle into some place better, I would write. I wanted to have things and give my family things. It never happened the way I'd planned. Thank goodness for that, because if I'd had my way, while I was getting my writing hustle on, I might have managed to hustle all of the love right out of it. And that would have been tragic. "Getting money," as we now call it, is all well and good, but I'd rather exploit my craft for what can be gained and given out of my love for it...thinking, learning, teaching, sharing, remembering. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Shawn Fish, at Anna K. Davie Elementary School, in Rome, Georgia, gave me the nerve to read in public, assured and reassured me that it was okay to be a black kid who enjoyed and embraced words. And so I did. Because of her, I run this race, striving to be a better, sharper, swifter, more adept student of the written word. Mrs. Fish was a mentor before I ever knew the word existed. I thank God for her blessed assurance. She was and is a precious jewel, still teaching after 30+ years. My uncle (Harvey) Greene Penn Jr., probably without knowing it, through his own compulsion to give away such beautifully simple thoughts, uncomplicated phrases and rhymes, that he'd always strung together without affectation or pretension, taught me the value of these. For as much as his words moved other people, I pray that his example continues to move within me. I love and miss him very much. Money is great, when and if you can get it. We can do great things with it and because of it, but thank God, it doesn't own me. For me, writing for a living means writing to live, that others, Mrs. Fish and my uncle Greene among them, may live through me.