Saturday, December 12, 2009

Baby Days in the Army

Imagine if a newborn child, blessed with precocious literary ability, kept an online journal. Would it discuss when, what, and why it burped, nursed and napped? (And if it did, would anyone care to read such a record?) Or would the baby confide the tastes, smell and feel of his surroundings, the endless surprises and emotions he feels as he engages a new world?

The infant, of course, would share feelings rather than facts, senses in place of a census. It would be a journal of experiences that left him inspired or depressed, wanting to scream at the sun or harness his juvenile energy and race beyond the moon. And he would tell you of waking up for days on end at all hours of the night, because that is the life he knows.

For security reasons, I intended to argue that my own journalizing approach would mirror that of any newborn child. The funny bit is that after a week and change in the army, I actually feel like a newborn thrust into a very foreign world. A world timed to the second, every minute from five in the morning till eleven at night meticulously tracked by the stopwatch in my commander's hand. A life guided by the strange assortment of Vietnam War era gear that bursts out of the equally aged kit-bags that are of necessity closet, cupboard and clothing rack. A reality I have embraced eyes wide open, alternatively loving and despairing at the linguistic or pedantic demands that leave my mind whirling faster than ever even as it tries to stave off the crippling effect of limited sleep.

Perhaps my childlike like wonder and despair at army life is obvious to my peers. One of them does not let a day pass without looking at me with a grin and insisting, "ooooh, I looove you so much. You are just the cutest thing in the whole world."