When I joined the United States military in the summer of 2011, it seemingly contradicted every solid foundation of my upbringing.
My father, the taoist who studied buddhism at the University of Washington, and before that lived in a school bus for 12 years, and before that was a freshman at UC Berkley in '62.

My mother, the born-again methodist who wouldn't watch a movie that was too violent.

They, who met at that poetry convention in Sitka.

This community, the South End, this fucking island. All of the artists and the peace-nicks and the women in black standing on the side of the road every week during the summer.

All these things seemed like deterrents for joining the military.

But all I really wanted was the fucking tee shirt. It was a "Guard the Environment" tee shirt. I still have it around here somewhere, but it's a pretty unlucky shirt. Every time I've worn it, something weird has happened.

But I wanted that fucking shirt.

Other free stuff is cool, too. So when I was in the recruiter's office months later, the free water bottle and the free backpack and the free pens and notebooks were all awesome.

And then he told me about all this other free stuff I could get if I joined.

Sure. Why not. It's not really like I knew what I was supposed to do with my life anyways. I knew where I saw myself, but I had no idea how to get there. So I joined.

And now I'm here, almost six years after that.

I never got deployed. Never fired my weapon. Never killed anyone. Only the dreams of doing so. I've lied and tried to create this alter-ego who had. There is this respect with that patch that you get on your shoulder when you're deployed.

I'll never have that patch. And that's fine with me.

I'm OK now, with having done the little amount of Combat Engineering as I did, and not having been deployed... anywhere. I'm content.

But I did get fat. Which sucks.