A phenomenon I've been experiencing a lot more, and to a much vaster degree, and I suppose, to the point where I can actually recognize it, ever since I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

For three months during Recruit Training, my cultural awareness consisted of:

1. News blurbs, Penny Arcade comics, movie updates and reviews, and other cultural relevances my friends would send to me, via snail-mail, in a vain but endearing attempt to keep me somewhat in sync with my former universe.

2. Faint echoes of currently popular music caught in snippets out of the Drill Instructors' duty hut on rare occasion.

3. News from the outside brought in by new recruits and circulated through the Recruit Underground.

When I graduated and was sent home on Boot Leave, I had three months worth of news, technological developments, magazine subscriptions, movies, new music, book recommendations, computer and video games, regularly updating websites, e2, etc. to catch up on and try to cram into a few short days along with spending time with friends, family, student loans, and everything else.

Because next was School of Infantry, where the level of my isolation was not nearly as complete, but profound, nonetheless, because: our weekday schedule was always packed, I quit watching television, and didn't have access to any computers except on weekends at an internet cafe in town.

And then I got sent to Iraq.

Okay, I got sent to Kuwait first. What we had for entertainment in Kuwait consisted of: a few board games, card games, some books that a few of the Marines(including myself) had had the foresight to bring, and multiple copies of the same few issues of Maxim and Stuff floating around. Much later, I bought a Gameboy Advance on a field trip to Doha, an Army base we had the privilege to visit once, where they had fast food, personal electronics, magazines, air-conditioned trailers, solid buildings, and any number of things that we could only dream about back on our Marine Corps base. For reasons I have yet to determine, our superiors forbade us from bringing any personal electronics, to include cellular phones, cd-players, and gaming devices, in-country. The reason they gave us was that the enemy could home in on the electronic signals and lob missiles at us. This was obviously mind-numbingly bogus, and I still haven't figured out what reason they had to lie so maliciously to us and then enforce this ridiculous decree so iron-fistedly. And, of course, when we got in- country, the Marines there had all kinds of shit including cell phones, all kinds of music and game devices, and even laptop computers with projectors to watch dvds.

When I finally got to join my unit(for the first time, no less) in Iraq, I was, of course, completely cut off again. The best I could do in that awful purgatory was to anticipate things I knew were at least scheduled to be released, though this really only pertains to movies. And this was only in addition, of course, to the anticipation of seeing friends and family again, to eating something other than an MRE, to taking a shower, and going somewhere without having to take my weapon.

Now, here I am, back, and trying to cram the last few months into the next few days again. Another several months worth of magazines, books, internet, technology, there's a new ipod that I must possess, and William Gibson is actually writing in his blog(www.williamgibsonbooks.com). Holy shit.

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