In three short months, I’ll begin another mobilization. We’ve known about this one for a long time, and its approach has cast a long shadow across almost everything I’ve done for the last year. Most notable has been its effect on my purchases – most everything has been run through the deployment filter, sorted into categories of “don’t buy this, won’t need it next year” or “better buy this, will need it in the war” or “doesn’t matter either way.”

As an example, I bought a Kindle recently, which will eliminate the vast piles of books I had to deal with last time around. On the other hand, I haven’t bought anything for my drum set lately, since that falls firmly in the “won’t need it next year” bin. Hell, there are video games that I’m holding off on playing, saving them up to make sure I have a meaty backlog when the boredom of the desert comes into full effect.

The differences between this deployment and the last will be a continuing theme, and truthfully I’m sick of the comparisons already. I embarked on the last trip with a sort of wide-eyed innocence and full receptivity to any experience that came at me. Now, I’m more or less a crusty old NCO, much more experienced and capable, but also more crotchety and jaded. Instead of a grand, potentially tragic adventure at the dawn of the war in Iraq, now I’m faced with returning to the same war at its end, faced largely with drudgery and boredom. (Of course, last time was also full of drudgery and boredom, but I didn’t know that’s what awaited us – I (like most others) assumed it would be the fight of our lives.) I must improve my attitude before we go, though, because otherwise I’ll be largely miserable. The only thing that kept me going during the last trip was my willingness to roll with the punches and to just experience the damn thing, to the extent possible. I must seek to recreate that mindset.

And yet, it’ll still be a year-long disruption, a sandy time capsule into which I’ll be placed, to emerge a year later, hopefully with sanity mostly intact. Life will still go on at home, as I while away the days, hours, minutes in the desert, plotting for my inevitable return and the resumption of life in “the world.”