Friday, May 23, 2008

PROUTness, IVAW Speaks Out, a Survey, a Break Up, and a Fat Army F*** In a Chow Hall in Iraq

Yesterday, I broke up with my girlfriend (long distance, Santa Cruz) of nearly one year by text message. Before you start throwing vegetables, let me explain. I was in California recently, and for a long time, the plan had been for her to move in at least for the summer, and she was going to fly back to DC with me. Well, I found out two days before leaving for California that she had not yet bought her ticket, and was not planning on coming out at all. Apparently, she was not ready.

I had rearranged a lot of my life for her, both literally and figuratively. I had even gotten her the furniture she had asked for and made room for it, including a desk in what would have been “our” bedroom. However, it was not the first time that she had made me feel foolish. There had been various times that she would seem to disappear for a week or so and not answer phone calls, emails or text messages.

We used to send each other a dozen text messages or so a day just to keep up and remind each other of our love. I would call her every night before going to bed and she would usually call me every morning when she woke up, even if just to say, “I love you. Have a great day. I'll be thinking about you.” So when she stopped answering my calls, I would always get worried, only to find out that she was just sick or something and was embarrassed, and did not want to speak to me.

Then, I decided to give her another chance after coming back from California, alone. Of course, all of my house mates asked where she was. She said she could come out for three weeks in June and for a while it seemed like things were patched up and we were going to go back to our lovey dovey calling and texting mode, but then she started ignoring me again, and I could not take it. Then she texted me, but would not call me, or answer when I called her, or respond to my text messages. I could not take it any more. After realizing that, I tried to call her several more times to no avail, and even left a few messages. Then I broke up with her by text message, and she finally texted me back to say she would mail me the things I had left with her, including my dog tags.

I still love her, and I think that I always will. Tragically, we had a close call, but as much as the stars seemed to be aligned in our favor, perhaps it was not meant to be.

So, on to lighter fare. “What is PROUTness?” I can hear you asking yourselves. Well, while I was breaking up with my girlfriend, I was driving down to Radford, VA, from Washington, DC for the World PROUT Assembly “Building a New World” Conference. I had committed us to doing a panel and a truth-in-recruiting workshop so I dragged along James Gilligan, James Morriss, Ray Curry, and Bill Main to help me out. Jason Hurd also hitched a ride up from Asheville with Dahlia Wasfi. We got in Thursday in plenty of time to get settled before the opening session.

In her keynote address, Lynne Stewart, quoted John Brown very poignantly, “Had I interfered in the matter which I admit, and which I admit has been fairly proved . . . had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, or the so-called great . . . and suffered and sacrificed, what I have in this interference, it would have been all right. Every man in this Court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.” When the conference organizer, Garda Ghista introduced us, she said that we had affirmed we were no longer soldiers of the rich and corrupt powers in America.

And it occurred to me that we as members of Iraq Veterans Against the War are not just witnesses and advocates. We are people who were all at one point ready to commit our lives to something we believe in. And we still are. And in “the movement” there are many warriors and we by no means have a monopoly on this role. Or as Camilo Mejia said at the end of Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan, “We are your new winter soldiers.” I don't know if he meant it that way, but I get it in a new way now and it really makes me want to shave my head again and get IVAW doing more close order drill.

So we did our panel yesterday and it was a resounding success. We tried an entirely different format from what we would normally do and it created an amazing energy in the room. That's the only way I can describe it without spilling the beans, but it was recorded, so hopefully the video will be posted soon. A significant chunk of the conference attendees were there, and it seems to have created quite a buzz. Apparently, they will all be at the workshop this afternoon. I'll let you know how it goes.

Take the Washington Post Survey "Should Veterans For Peace be allowed to march in the Memorial Day parade?"

This photo was sent in from a Marine buddy of mine, who also happens to be an IVAW member. The image says a lot, but the best part by far is the smirk on the Marine's face. Hoorah!