Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dispatches and a Portfolio.

From Vanity Fair...

Read: Return to the Valley of Death by Sebastian Junger.

Captain Daniel Kearney..."I want you guys to mourn and then I want you guys to get on with your jobs. Hey, Proctor, why did you join the army?"
"To fight for my country, sir," Private Kenneth Proctor answered.
"Did you expect there was a chance you might get injured or die?"
"Yes, sir."
"Anybody not know this is an option?"

Look: Scenes from the Front Lines. Photographs by Tim

Look: Fighters' Faces. Photographs by Tim Hetherington.

From The New Yorker...

Look: Portfolio on Service by Platon.

Listen to: Cat Power.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Last Tour: A decorated marine's war within by William Finnegan.

This piece appears in the September 29th issue of the New Yorker. Everyone needs to read this. This Marine went to hell and back...his story is insane and heartbreaking and disturbing. I cried. Read it...please.

Staff Sergeant Travis Twiggs.

AND there are also some great photographs in this issue by Platon. He followed men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. (You might actually have to buy the magazine to see these photos but check out his site.) PLATON.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Get Real.

I went to the bookstore today in search of a few good magazines and maybe grab a book. I found myself in the “Women’s Interest” section of the magazines. What the hell. It goes from bad, to horrible, to I really wish I was born a man. Lets see what my selection consisted of… Weddings! Thanks but no thanks. Knitters? Honestly, Knitters? No. Bead Unique, Celebrate the Holidays, tons of fashion magazines, Cosmopolitan, the Oprah magazine, Yoga…it’s a fucking trap. Apparently, I am suppose to be planning a wedding, knitting my winter scarf, wearing some shitty dress that makes you look pregnant just because it’s in style, catching up on all the new sex tips… first of all, pass the tips to the two pump chumps we tend to waste our time on, and I guess still trying to lose that stubborn 10lbs that just doesn’t seem to want to go anywhere…however, if I can’t lose the weight, Cosmo told me to just do the reverse cowgirl to hide my belly. Life is hell for women…according to these magazines. I don’t feel good about myself after browsing this shit. 1) I realize I can’t really cook or knit. 2) My holidays are going to suck because I will probably fuck up my Santa Claus cake. 3) A wedding? Lets all laugh together now. If I ever get married its when I am at least 75. 4) Maybe I should’ve bought the other black flats because the ones I have on aren’t in all the magazines. 5) Cosmo just makes women more insane…Why do they want to decode men for us? I don’t want to know what he’s really thinking when he says “hmmm” while tilting his head at a 30 degree angle…because according to Cosmo, that means I’ll be getting dumping two weeks from today because I didn’t cook dinner enough. So I finally gathered my composer and ventured off into the current affairs section. I grabbed a few magazines and then I went for it…the “Men’s Interest” section. I see gorgeous women licking their lips and pushing their asses in the air, fast cars, intelligent people on the covers of these magazines…I certainly don’t see “Guys! Drop those stubborn 10lbs.” or knit the perfect holiday scarf. It’s just not fair. Then I checked out the military magazines, which are clearly geared towards 60 year old men (The military magazines need to catch up. Stop talking about the Revolutionary War…it’s 2008, we have other shit going on). I walked out of the magazine section with Bust (yes, a magazine for women), the New Yorker and a huge headache.

So here is my point. When will women finally get their chance to be real? I have an idea! My idea…there are several blogs out there by female service members and veterans, why don’t we start a blog for female service members by female service members (for us, by us)…touch on all the topics that seem to be neglected, clarify a few things, openly acknowledge issues and challenges females face, let people into our world…and be honest doing it and laugh at ourselves a little. It would be amazing to get a group of women who would be interested in trying this out…each write something, start a new blog, and see how it goes. I have a few emails addresses of some women but if you’re reading this and think this could work, please email me (arita8x8@yahoo.com).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Al Jazeera English Version.

Iraq signs deal with shell. check out the story on Al Jazeera.

It's the end of the world as we know it...read what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at the annual UN general assembly.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wafaa Bilal's "Virtual Jihadi".

I have to run out the door...however, please check this out. (read it all!)

Virtual Jihadi.

News News News!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I'm so behind with everything...

Whenever I get Vanity Fair I always turn to the last page...the Questionnaire. I love them. So instead of doing whatever I need to be doing right now (however, today was productive so far...cleaned, went to class, picked up a few things for my fathers birthday...he's going to be 75 on Sunday…bless his old old heart, got my haircut (always a disaster)...) I'm going to do the questionnaire. Why? Because I don't feel like doing anything else...it's raining outside...it's cold...and I enjoy being alone. So here is goes...AND please do it also...it will be a great way to introduce yourself.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being totally enthralled in something you love. (I highly dislike the word perfect).

What is your greatest fear?
Letting fear get the best of me.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My stubbornness.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Their fear.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Traveling. I need to travel more.

What is your current state of mind?
Busy. Almost filled to the rim...a few bumps and bruises but my glass is always half full.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

On what occasion do you lie?
Whenever I want someone to stop talking...anything to get them to shut up.

Which living person do you most despise?
I despise a lot of people.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Honesty, humor, strength, and willingness to take a chance.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
A woman needs to know how to laugh at herself.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Who is the greatest love of your life?
He knows.

When and where were you happiest?
Several places and at different points in my life.

Which talent would you most like to have?
To read peoples lips.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I just want to know more…everything if it were possible.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That’s a work in progress.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

What is your most treasured possession?
My memory.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Watching someone endure pain. Slowly lose a battle.

What is your most marked characteristic?
I‘m told…“Your passion”.

What do you most value in your friends?
Their patience.

What are your heroes in real life?
Don’t do the whole hero thing.

What is it that you most dislike?

What is your greatest regret?
Not speaking up.

How would you like to die?
Not knowing I was dying.

What is your motto?
Don’t fall for the American dream BS…it isn’t just about the money.

Vote for LT Nixon!

Milblogging.com (am I suppose to call them something else? Clearly I'm up to speed with milblogging.com) nominated him for his highly entertaining blog.

Vote here!

LT Nixon Rants.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Does Henry Rollins Need An Assistant? Oh, and Waterboarding.

I nominate myself. I'm not sure how much I could stand...however, I would like a shot. Mr. Rollins...e-mail me?

Read a piece he wrote for Vanity Fair. It's about Sleepy John.


Watch Christopher Hitchens waterboarding session.

One of my goals: to write for Vanity Fair.

Monday, September 08, 2008


I've never been good with introducing myself to a classroom full of unfamiliar faces. I get nervous, my heart races and I think to myself...fuck, I'm going to stutter, say something that doesn't make any sense or drool on myself. Now I combine that with, well should I say I'm a veteran? What if people do not support the war? They might automatically hate me. Or will they think I have PTSD and been sexually assaulted? Will they think I love President Bush? Ahh. Tonight in my journalism class, we got into small groups...groups of three. We had to learn about one another. I was with two other females...one was probably 21 or 22 and the other in her forties. We had to ask each other a question...the younger girl, who I'll call Christina asked our (the 40 something year old) could be mom, if she was married, where did she meet her husband, do they have kids, etc. We found out cute little stories about their relationship. Christina asked me, "So do you know what you want to do after you graduate? How did you get into journalism?" I could have played it safe and just said throughout the years I read a lot, enjoyed writing and would love to write for a local newspaper. However, I didn't play it safe. I told them the real story...joined the Army at 17, deployed to Iraq, worked as a photojournalist, fell in love with it, currently write on a blog and am working on a documentary...nothing to be ashamed of but accomplishments at the age of 24 I'm proud of. Christina and could be mom, were really excited. They continued to ask me tons of questions...the best one was from Christina, "did you wear the Army outfit? Camouflage and stuff?". I didn’t hate her for this question…why should she know something so simple? I also learned Christina’s brother wants to join the Army but his parents won't let him (he is 24). Ten minutes later it was time to share our stories. Group one goes...a kid accidentally made fun of midget and now feels really bad about it. The students laugh, the professor asks questions...it's likeable. The professor asked if anyone else had an interesting story, Christina raises her hand. She starts off completely enthusiastic, "I have a story about Kate!", and then she jumped into it...she ended it a few minutes later saying, "I thought it was really interesting because I never met an Army girl before". Christina was sweet and made me feel comfortable. My professor looked at me and said something to the effect of...I'm sure you'll be able to write a memoir piece about your experience. I smiled and shook my head. No questions/comments from anyone. Just blank stares. Awkward. The professor quickly moves to the next group. The group is three females and all from the city (New York city). They do not have a story. One of the girls tells a story about herself. "Well one time my friend got her nose broken at a bar," she says. Everyone asks why. "Someone mistook her for me. I "accidentally" spilled a drink on a girl and my friend got punched by someone who thought they were punching me". Everyone laughs, asks questions...my professor wants more details. I'm staring at this girl. Her tan is fake, she is wearing Coach high-top sneakers, short jean shorts on, a wife beater with her sunglasses hanging on her collar, her hair covered in gel to give it that almost curly look, and an over the top accent. Did I miss something? Please do not get it confused…I do not expect people to be fascinated by a girl who went to war and who is now sitting in a classroom…I do not expect anything. But a typical city girl with a typical shitty bar story, peaks interest in everyone? Who knew being a carbon copy could get you so far. Maybe her story was funny...I would love to see a girl like this get punched in the face but I don't care enough to hear about her pointless story. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, what really matters to people? Can we not talk about the war? I've argued before people do not care. I'm starting to think it might be the way information about the war is being delivered to the public. PTSD, deaths, oil, politics...who really wants to speak about this? Who really wants to speak to someone who has experienced it, when all they probably heard are the horrors of it all? I often think that we can not laugh about war. Nothing is funny. However, if I did not laugh in Iraq and at situations when I came home I would have lost my mind. It is funny...at times. Soldiers are hilarious…I‘ve pissed my pants laughing with and at them, some missions seem so ridiculous that you have to laugh at them, those giving orders are questionable, you find yourself doing insane things...if you cannot laugh, you cannot survive. So where is the humor? Where are those stories? Hidden under piles of what we feel we should know about the war...the stories that would shed some light on the common Soldier, allow the public to step into their boots for a split second, are floating around somewhere...maybe down the road when the dust has cleared, classrooms won't become silent when someone announces they are a Soldier, a veteran...there won't be such a disconnect with citizens and the veterans among them...until then I'll have a nervous breakdown each time I have to introduce myself to anyone, questioning if I should say I'm a veteran...something I am proud of but at times do not want acknowledge for fear of stupid questions and looks, being stereotyped and pegged as a PTSD mutant.