How to Go to War

Going into a warzone takes a lot of equipment. And a lot of patience. Few things move with more deliberate, grinding slowness than a military bureaucracy. So while I waited for embed approval and/or the continents of Australia and Antarctica to merge, I put together a shopping list.

Big ticket items are fairly obvious. Flak jackets, for not being blown up. Cameras, for photographing other things being blown up. Helmets and impact-resistant sunglasses and flame-proof gloves, for further non-blow-upableness. Pants. Underwear doesn’t make the cut, with the long intervals of time between bathing and the extreme sweat-producing heat. I was explicitly advised to skip the undies and bring gym shorts to sleep in, so as to “let that junk dry out.” Wiser words.

Then there’s the long list of minor but potentially extremely useful things that will probably end up filling half my pack. Solar charger. Cigarettes, for making friends with marines and Afghans alike. Candy, for making friends with Afghan children. And probably marines and Afghan adults as well. Foot powder, for obvious reasons (see “junk”, above). Waterproofing bags, because everything gets wet (though I have to admit I’m not sure how, Helmand only gets 2cm of rain every November).

I haven’t settled on a book to bring yet. I’ll have my journal to chew up time and in case I don’t have internet access to post here every day. Reading-wise, though, some sort of tome seems appropriate. Two books would be excessive. Something that will last me a month filled with significant periods of doing very little (interspersed, of course, with short periods of great excitement). I’d thought that an apropos title along the lines of “War & Peace” might suit, but then thought that when my entire day-to-day life is about war I might prefer to spend my leisure time reading about something else–My Little Pony, for example. Or Chelsea Handler, for something slightly more childish. Suggestions are welcomed.

About a week now until D-day. I’ll be spending Halloween in Munich, Germany, where I have a fifteen hour layover between 6am and 9pm. Have to think of a readily-portable costume for that one. Had been dreamily aspiring to go as a Zombie in a Penguin Suit (my friend the inestimable Josh Breslow developed & produced that particular slice of genius) but not sure that a full-body penguin costume plus zombie makeup is going to make the short list for What Fits In These Damn Bags, Nothing I Tell You, Dammit Fine I’ll Leave The Fleshlight.

(I am not actually intending to take a fleshlight, despite their well-known popularity with deployed marines. If this makes me a pariah, so be it.)

Still waiting on my ceramic body armor plates to show up. For that extra touch of, I don’t know, je ne sais quoi. And explosion proofing.

2 comments
  1. Andrew says: October 22, 20111:42 pm

    “An oasis of horror in a desert of boredom,”
    -Baudelaire

  2. Tye Short says: October 21, 20114:31 pm

    Go Lars!

    I can’t wait to read about your experience. Safe travels, i hope to catch up with you in person in the new year.

    Good Luck.

    Tye

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