Crouched, cramped, hunched in the back of the LAV for 12 hours and damn does it feel good to get my back straight. After three days of that, a hot shower feels even better.

Changing clothes, it strikes me how much stupid shit I have in my pockets. I mean: do I really need a blue and a black Sharpie? I guess, 'cause here I go, dropping them both in my pocket. Doesn't my Leatherman make my pocket knife redundant? Probably, but in they both go. I haven't used this roll of electrical tape ever, and why the fuck do I have marbles?

And here's that letter I meant to read when I could catch a spare moment, a week old now.

And similar to the way there's just enough Christmas around to remind me that I'm missing Christmas, every letter, every email and blog entry is a tiny heartache. Every chance I get, I find myself stealing away to the internet bunker, then getting back in line two, three, four times, and eventually, reluctantly, dragging my feet back out into cold reality, heart invariably hanging heavy until I can distract myself again. I catch myself getting inordinately depressed and frustrated every time we get a shipment of mail that leaves my hands empty.

I suspect this would be easier if I was completely cut off. It disturbs me how much time I spend daydreaming about home, how easily my mind drifts across miles and oceans, and these thoughts really only serve to cast the misery here into sharp relief.

I need to spend less time in fantasy, and more inhabiting myself. This is my life, and it's ending, one minute at a time. This could be the greatest moment of my life, and I'm off somewhere, missing it.

And if I really think about it, there's plenty going on here for me to enjoy: winning a big hand of Texas Hold 'Em (I wonder how many vices I can take up with this war as an excuse (so far: smoking and gambling (though really, Poker is an honest trade))); bad (but hot) coffee and a cigarette in the morning, watching the angry, bloated red sunrise, its movement past the horizon visible; palm groves that line the banks of the Euphrates; the shower and swirling eddy of embers as my cigarette butt hits the night's pavement; the bridge those Army guys bring closer to completion every time we pass by, symbolising to me the tiny increments of progress that I imagine occurring all across the country, giving me hope for its future; microwave pizzas(!); the company of my fellow Marines; EOD setting off some unexploded ordnance in the distance, the ensuing explosion so big on the horizon that I mistake it for the setting sun.

I've decided to focus, concentrate, meditate on the present, to do my best to revel in each passing moment, to savor these tiny joys but let them pass, to enjoy my letters from home along with everything else, but to dwell on them less, to spend less time making plans (because a plan is just a list of things that don't happen), to relish thoughts of home but to not grip them so tightly as these Sharpies in my pocket, to let myself lose a few marbles, because I am here now, the past is done and the future will be waiting for me when I get there.

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