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.