I wonder if you ever got my real letter. I didn't get yours until a few months after you sent it because my roommate had accidentally had it hidden somewhere and didn't find it until we moved rooms. I wrote mostly inane bullshit, I think. It was one of those things where if I didn't just hurry up and write something, I would have been mulling over it forever and never would have actually got anything down.

I always felt like I should have written something here about the time we met outside Benaroya Hall, but I could never figure out what. It was an amazing experience. To be honest, I think I was still in something of a daze, my head full with recent experience, and, well, I was a little starstruck, too, I guess.

You're right about iceowl; he's a fucking super-badass. What else is there to say? His stories overwhelm me. His experiences fill me with awe; his writing fills me with envy. I can't read too many of his writeups at a time because I start to vibrate, but after reading one of them, I always always always feel like I want to be a polie when I grow up.

I wonder when I will feel like a grown-up. I turned twenty-four recently. I don't know what to make of it. iceowl said you feel all your growth until you're twenty-five, and that's when you stop feeling older, inside, but I'm not sure that I've felt much older than twelve, ever.

Is it all going to feel this overwhelming forever? I walk around these days in a perpetual state of feeling like I'm in over my head. Like I missed a really important lecture and now I'm scrambling to figure out what's going on, and saying things that make it sound like I know what I'm talking about, but hoping nobody figures out I'm faking it. How long can this go on?

Sometimes I feel like killing people is the only subject I can talk about really intelligently without feeling like a fraud. It's not a good feeling.

But I've got less than a year left in now, and that's a pretty good feeling. I've contacted UW about reinstatement, and that's got me thinking about the future, and I'm all overwhelmed again. I laughed with recognition when I read iceowl's thing about how the amount I can possibly learn approaches zero. I guess that makes me free to learn immeasurably little about whatever I want, right?

But with so many infinities in front of me, how can I choose? How can I? Isn't it presumptuous of me to choose one over the others? Won't the other infinities be mad at me? What if I choose wrong? Because I'm pretty stupid. Can I?

Whatever infinity I choose, it's all so connected with everything. It seems there are so many tiny evils I commit every day, just by participating in these giant machines whose far sides I can't really see. How can I know about sweatshop labor in Indonesia and still buy clothes? How can I know about PCB landfills in China and still updgrade my computer? How can I know about American meat-industry practices and still order a delicious burger?

And I guess I knew all this before, but I always managed to keep it all in the abstract compartment, in order to function in society. It's getting harder, for some reason. This isn't normal, is it? Is there something wrong with my brain? Is it paranoid schizophrenia? I know you're not a doctor, but you're a playwright, which is close enough.

But then, this seems more sensical. Shouldn't thought and action be more collapsed? Isn't it really everyone else who's crazy, to be able to know these things and continue to do the things they do?

Maybe it's that I've seen the other side of one of these machines, that I've been one of the ones bleeding for oil. How can I drive my car, when my brothers are dying?

I teach people how to kill people more efficiently. I teach them about hydrostatic shock. And speed-reloading techniques and magazine retention. And three-dimensional threats and mechanical offset and remedial action. I guess I'm pretty good at it. I give them my best, I make sure they know, in the hope that they won't die for my petroleum sins.

As it turns out, I will get one more chance to get myself killed over there. I'm on the MEU, so once we get to Oki, my platoon will get on ship and float around, ready to go to wherever we are called. We might go to Australia, or the Phillipines, or Thailand, or Korea. Or it could be Afghanistan. Or Iraq. I won't know for sure until we're there.

I still dream about the Euphrates occasionally. My hands always smell like cordite, even when they don't. I get all pumped up over nothing, sometimes, and sail through near-death in a state of expressionless calm. I can't hear much in my left ear. Gasoline is getting pretty expensive.

Sometimes when I wake up, I reach for my rifle. I said once, "what is every earnest soldier's ultimate goal, but Peace?" but I guess I've come to realize there are few enough of those around.

I suppose I will start wearing clothes made from bamboo and hemp, shop at American Apparel. I suppose I'll reuse, reduce, and recycle. I will stop eating animals, or at least try to eat certified organic, and free-range. I suppose I will get a bicycle. I suppose I will try to live as green as I can.

Is it enough, though? Shouldn't I feed the hungry and clothe the naked? But where? Palestinian refugees? Poor South American villages? India, Pakistan, Bangladesh? What about North Korea? What about New Orleans? What about the homeless shelter down the street? How do I choose?

I don't have to grow out of wanting to do good in the world, do I?

I wonder how iceowl chose South Pole. How did you choose playwrighting? You did choose, didn't you? Or did it choose you? Will something choose me? Do I just wait around, or what?

So, I met this girl. She's indicated that she likes me more than I feel like I warrant liking. So, in this, as in everything, I feel like a fucking fraud. I feel like soon she will learn the truth and not like me anymore.

I felt like that with you, too. I feel like that with most people. Like I could slip at anytime and reveal myself for what I am. Because I am so very small inside and don't know how to do anything. Except kill people.

Did you ever feel this way? Will it stop?

So, anyway. Thanks for all your encouragement. It meant more to me than I know how to describe. Your children are beautiful. I will do my best not to die during this next deployment so I can maybe meet them. I'll post my deployment address on my homenode as soon as I find out what it is. We leave the first week of December. I hope you find time to send me some paper with ink on it.