Sunday, February 27, 2005

White white snow and red tape

It snowed all last night and the world is covered in a blanket of white. Even the sky is white today, it’s hard to tell where the earth ends and the air begins. The tops of houses melt seamlessly into the sky, leaving me with a feeling that I’m living in a Guadi painting. Another perfect day for staying home and smoking a million cigarettes to occupy the empty spot in my gut. But that is not to be... someone scheduled a frisbee game for this afternoon. It's going to be sooooooooo cold, but it's better than sitting at home feeling sorry for myself for not being on a tropical island somewhere.

In other news, the American Scottish Swede, the laughable Bitter Jew (who I promptly deleted out of my address book the day after we met - within five minutes of meeting him, I'd learned he was fiercely proud of being Jewish and had a love hate relationship with Prishtina, and generally everything else in the world - leaning heavily on the hate side) and I went out to Bondsteel yesterday for Burger King, Cinnabon and shopping at the PX. Camp Bondsteel is one of the largest Army bases in the world. It's like a little American city, with fast food, shopping, just a nice piece of home. Everything was all set to go, we were in an OSCE vehicle, all had proper credentials to get me on base (or so we thought) It seems even with the high-up you still need 5 other types of special passes to gain entry. No one had a Yellow KFOR badge to sign me in, so they wouldn't let me on the base. Booooo! Guess what I got to do while everyone else was inside enjoying a little taste of Americana? I sat in the guard shack at the gate chatting it up with Mr. Jones, head of security. I didn’t have a book, magazine, or even a pamphlet on the dangers of crossing the street in Prishtina with me to read. I got everyone’s life story who popped through the door, and just made the best of the situation. What else can you do?

None of the guards are Army (at least not anymore), and yet they choose to live on an Army base where they have to follow the same rules as the soldiers. Most places that wouldn’t be such a big deal, but on Bondsteel, the soldiers are not allowed to leave without a lot of Red Tape, nor are they allowed to drink alcohol in any way form or fashion. And these people were there by choice. Most of them were Army brats, or had served and retired already (like Mr. Jones). I still have a hard time understanding the military attitude. Some of the soldiers I’ve met are just the nicest sweetest things, and you can’t imagine them ever feeling the need to harm another human being. They look so out of place with an M-16 hanging over their shoulder – the kind of boys (and I say boys because they are 18, 19 20 years old – my brother’s age) you can’t imagine in combat, because you’re afraid the minute the bullets started flying, they’d start to cry. Then on the other side of the coin, you find people that are so freakin’ gun and combat crazy, you can’t imagine them being anything but military - and you’re awfully glad they’re on your side, and not the other. It’s a strange world, the military.

Anyway, and hour and a half later Sven and Andy reappeared with a bag full of guilt-goodies for me: Lucky Charms, Burger King, candy, and the real winner – TWINKIES! I put them in the freezer for true enjoyment this evening. That'll be NICE after an afternoon of hardcore Ultimate. :D

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