Notes from Iraq

This should be self-explanatory. At any rate, guaranteed to be more accurate than the email from Iraq that Cliff May has been posting. Pretty much unedited, though I’ve deleted some specific name and place references just to keep this guy from getting shit for corresponding with an America hater like your host.

Hello Tom Tomorow/Dan Perkins,

It’s been a while since I last corresponded with you so allow me to give you a quick refresher on who I am. I was the Louisiana guardsman that served in the Superdome, lost his house in the flood, and then got sent off to Iraq …

You asked me if I would give you some periodic updates on what was going on here in Iraq. I must apoloigize for the lateness of my update as I have been here in country for over three months, but various circumstances intervened. The first of which being that the smartfilter our base employs will not allow me to access your webpage due to the “politics/opinion” nature of your content. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise you that that very same smartfilter has no problem allowing me to access the apparently opnion-free website of Anyway, I finally got around to getting friends back home to hunt down your e-mail address so I fire off this message.

I should mention that my job here is not all that exciting. You may remember from my previous e-mail that in my civilian profession I am a high school history teacher. The military, in their infinite wisdom, decided to take advantage of those skills and put me in charge of the base education office at (name of base) in Iraq. Not that I’m complaining or anything, but I’m pretty much like a high school guidance counselor out here. I help the soldiers and airmen of —– Base get the off-duty education in line by setting them up with colleges and proctoring their exams. Anyway, I’m attaching the weekly updates that I’ve sent home to friends and family. Like I said, it’s not all that exciting since I’m stuck on base administering freshman English comp exams, but I try to bring the funny so it should, at a minimum, make an entertaining read. Enjoy!


I just wanted to take some time to send out a mass e-mail and let everybody know that I’ve landed safely in Iraq. I’ve only been here a few days so I can’t tell you much except that it is GODDAM HOT! As in 125 degrees hot. You’d think spending summers in South Louisiana would have prepared me for such temperature extremes, but you’d be wrong. The heat over here is so oppressive it makes it an effort just to draw breath, and it pushes down on you until your whole body hurts. The closest approximation my sordid mind can envision would be like constantly being stuck between the ass cheeks of a sumo wrestler. On the upside, I work in an air-conditioned environment and thus only brave the heat for the long trek to the dining facility or the short trip to the Cadillac (portable shitters).

As for the living conditions, we are billeted in large tents that are subdivided into “rooms” by sheets and wall lockers. There are six men to a tent, and we have a foyer in the front of the tent with a couple of couches and a mini-fridge. The tents are also air-conditioned, but don’t do a very good job of holding on to the cool air. The only time it’s tolerable to spend time in them is in the evening and early morning. And of course, everything here is surrounded by large concrete barriers or towers of sandbags to protect us from flying shrapnel. I haven’t seen anything yet, but I was warned to be on the lookout when all of the Iraqi nationals that work in the cafeteria call in sick.


So, how’s the food you ask? Well, imagine having a buffet of all of your favorite foods….from when you were in college. Want some Tony’s microwave pizza? We got you covered. Pre-cooked hamburger patties topped with guh-ment cheese? All you want. Chef Boyardee Ravioli? Take two ladlefuls. They even have the Sara Lee frozen cheesecake for desert. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not complaining. It’s certainly better than I would have expected, and every now and then they have something that’s actually pretty good (I had the fried scallops the other day, and they were quite tasty). It’s a pretty busy cafeteria since it serves not just Air Force personnel but Army, Navy, the Australian army, the Italian army, and all of the civilians that work for Halliburton. It’s a diverse mix of people and there’s always a good conversation close by to overhear. Allow me to share an excerpt of one from last week when I sat next to two army guys fresh from urban warfare.

Soldier #1: Say man, you know why they call ‘em bricks?

Soldier #2: nah man.

Soldier #1: ‘cause that shit hurts when they throw ‘em at us, man.

Soldier #2: Tru Dat.

A truly sublime exchange. This is now my favorite joke of all time. I’ve told it to everyone in my building, but I don’t think they appreciate the nuances like I do.

Now I’m going to have to channel Robin Williams from “Good Morning Vietnam” to explain this next story. Yesterday, we did NOT get incoming rocket fire around lunch time. While were NOT getting shelled, our newbie squadron commander was in the dining facility about a mile away from his helmet and body armor back in the staff office…which was no big deal because we definitely did NOT get bombed, remember?. Anyway, in response to the aforementioned non-bombing, Captain Pufnstuf informs us in our staff meeting today that we now have to have our helmet and body armor with us wherever we go and then bravely states that he will lead by example. I resist, with great effort, the urge to point out that he has a truck (with air-conditioning no less) which makes it rather easy to transport the fifty pounds of Kevlar to and fro. Those of us without bars on our collars will have to schlep it around on our shoulders in the 120 degree heat. I fear that this may have the rather unintended consequence of discouraging many of us from making the mile long trek to the chow hall. My only hope is that enough army guys will start to snicker behind our now bulletproof backs forcing the Captain to rescind his ridiculous request. Until then, it’s gonna be a desktop feast of Pringles and raisins for lunch. Whoo Hoo!

To be continued …