I find it odd that the older I get the tougher I seem to be. I don't think it's a matter of being stronger or able to endure more by overcoming physical obstacles. I just think that when some people get older, the mind allowes them to get used to things more easily. Since I've been here in Iraq, I've had to deal with some folks who can't get used to the idea of being here. Depression, anxiety, etc, are a daily struggle with these people. There are a few however, who mold this experience into a craze. The insanity of getting used to things has taken over, and these people are indeed out of control insane. It's these old men that will defend with their last breath that there is in fact a reason for their insanity, but they will never display the reason in an order that makes sense. I'm lucky to be over here with a few old men that are as nutty and out of control as me. One such fellow, Mark, aka, Big Mac aka, Ron Jeremy, decided early on to sign up for and win the local "Biggest Looser" contest. He ended up loosing in the neighborhood of 35 lbs took the 1st place trophy, and won a nice digital camcorder. He is currently in a mad sprint to build a smoking fortress outside our building complete with roof, deck, railing, etc. Of course he doesn't smoke himself, but to understand the gist of this entry, you will most assuredly understand that such a thing wouldn't matter. (I'll add a picture of the smoking fortress later)
Pictured above, John Barber, aka Jon Ba Ba "Jon" (French for John) Ba Ba (Japaenese for Old Hag) runs a half marathon around our living compound. Jon was on board to enter a 12 mile ruckmarch/run, when he decided that 12 miles was not quite far enough. Why waste your time running a mile or so shy of a half marathon? So the Ba Ba skipped the organized gaggle, mapped out a course, and ran on his own the next day. Jon also marches the 2 miles in to work everyday in complete battle gear (not required to be worn unless directed). This is a very heavy way to get to work. I think that should we get attacked between the hours that Jon is walking in, his chances of surviving unscathed are unmatched.
I came to Iraq with 1 single personal goal; to quit smoking. I've managed to be completely tobacco free for almost 3 months now. I have also attended to some other personal goals by chance. My list of achievements follows: 1. Quit Smoking, 2. Lost 23 pounds, 3. Can now do 10 pull-ups (yes, in a row), 4. Treadmill 5K best time 22 min 30 sec 5. Treadmill 10 k best time 51 min 05 sec. In this last paragraph I'm tooting my own horn, bragging, etc. I'm proud of myself and I want this logged, because I know once I get home it's probably over. I'll be extremely busy and will probably end up back to normal, a chubby, beer drinking, selfish, sportsman, glutton. As long as I can keep from smoking (my ultimate goal), I'll be satisfied.
There is a phrase in Japan, O-skaresamadeshita, that roughly translated means; thanks for the hard work, or in some cases; thanks for managing to get through this less than easy situation along with me.
To the insane old men of the 14th I say, O-skaresamadeshita, and good luck my friends.
Sakura cherry trees at Heian Jingu Kyoto
3 hours ago