Breaking up is hard to do

Dear AT&T,

We had a good run; it’s truly you and not me.

I am writing you this letter to inform you that we are over. Done. Finished. I can’t stand our relationship any longer; and it’s nothing you can’t change about yourself, either. Now before you get all upset and start asking me what went wrong and telling me how you can change and blah blah blah…let me just say that no you won’t change. If you could change, you would have paid more attention to my Tweets I sent you throughout this nightmare of a relationship we’ve had for three years. You didn’t try to change then so why should I believe you when you say you’ll change now.

I felt trapped, mostly. My new relationship, well, let’s just say I don’t feel that way (no contracts with T-Mobile). I felt like I couldn’t breath or get any alone time when I wanted it. You were always there. There was literally no space between us. Ever. I can’t live like that. I’m not a cheapskate by any means (proved that by being with Verizon) but it seemed like every six months or so you’d always be asking for more from me. I’m not one of those guys that’s financially well off. Understand? You’ll soon see that if you continue to hound your partners continually for more and more money, they too will leave you.

In my heart, I still love you very much. I think in the end this is the best for the both of us and months down the road we will both look back and laugh at this. We did have some good times and I will always cherish those memories. I hope you do the same. If you ever need anything from me you can always call and you know I’ll be there for you. I am truly happy now with my new relationship with T-Mobile.

Thank you for everything, AT&T.

-Wayne

 

Lone Survivor

I went to see Lone Survivor the other day in the theatres. I really didn’t know what to expect and I figured it would be another typical military shoot ‘em movie. Which it nearly turned out to be just that.

The movie takes place in Afghanistan where a team of Navy SEALs endures Operation Red Wings. The mission started out like any other mission in the military except it’s quickly compromised by a couple of sheep herders that stumble upon the Seals who are set up in the wood line. They argue for a few moments of what to do with them; kill them, tie them up or let them go. Ultimately, they decide to let them go and the son of the sheep herder dashes off to go alert the local Taliban fighters of what they found.

After that, it quickly escalates into an all out gun fight on the side of a mountain in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan. Marcus Luttrell is the only survivor of the mission after three of the four Navy SEALs are killed in combat.

The Navy SEALS remind me every day of what kind of people serve in our Armed Forces. They remind me every day to give 100% effort to my day and they’ve always inspired me to do my best and to never give up. I believe it takes a special human being to belong to such an elite team of fighters. If I could go back and change things throughout my military career, I think I would have pushed myself to be more like those guys.

I think the movie depicts that these guys just want to survive. They were trapped like rats on that mountain slope but they never once gave up. They continued to fight and battle even though there was no obvious light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s been nine years since I deployed to Iraq. Seeing these kinds of movies and learning about what some of these soldiers went through makes me angry. It makes me angry because I could’ve done more for my brothers during war time. I could’ve chosen a different career path and been more involved in my combat tour. I may have saved a life. I may have changed things. I may have been able to give someone else some rest or a break from countless missions that these combat soldiers notched on their belts. I hold a lot of guilt and harbor a lot of ill-feelings towards myself for not doing more.

 

 

The Truancy of America

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about America. Specifically about the politics in this country. Every day I want to scream at the top of my lungs in frustration over how this country is being ran. I want to scream in frustration of the hypocrisy and the out-right criminal organization that our Nation’s congress has become.

Let me start out by saying this; I am not a democrat or a republican. I am an American and I am so ashamed to be living in a country with such a vile political system in place.

I had such high hopes for President Obama. Like many, I thought he was the real deal. Look here! A black man is now our president! A black man with a Muslim name! President Barack Hussein Obama! Obama became the mac-daddy of politics! Some nobody out of Chicago with a white mama and a black daddy is our President! Slap me stupid! It wasn’t business as fucking usual in America anymore!

So what happened? The Republicans happened. The Grand ol’ fucking party happened. Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann fucking happened. The right tore President Obama up. The beat him down and continued to beat on him until he screamed mercy. How unpatriotic of a country to force failure on the President. How unpatriotic to push and pull and go after the President of the United States causing catastrophic failure within our very walls. Who suffers when debt ceilings don’t get taken care of? Who suffers when budget deals expire and no one can come to a fucking agreement? We do. The people. You and I. The Americans. Who continues to get a paycheck? They do.

Then some crazy shit started to happen. President Obama started to sign things like the Monsanto Protection Act and the Anti-Protest bill and the whole BP oil spill cover-up where he allowed ONLY BP scientists and BP investigators at the oil spill site and blocked everyone else out. BP ended up paying a $300,000 fine after all of that, by the way, and President Obama was caught lying about where he actually went swimming. He claimed the waters were just fine to swim in. Yeah, the water is fine to swim in when you’re 300 miles away from the actual spill site.

My President was soon becoming one of them. He sold out to fucking Monsanto, he was lobbied by big cellphone business for that stupid “Obamaphone” and he hasn’t done one damn thing about taxing the rich or forcing corporations to help in paying taxes. It was becoming more clear that my President was just another empty suit selling himself out to fucking Wall Street.

Now we have these pressing issues like health care and abortions and gun laws and minimum wage …and all we ever do as a country is fight about it. The way I see things is quite exhausting and foolish to some but I’m really sick and tired of capitalism. Capitalism this and capitalism that. It’s like a broken fucking record in this country. Now people say, “It’s not capitalism that’s the problem. It’s corporatism”. Well, what the fuck. Put “ism” on the end of big words and howdy-doody, we’ve identified another form of “government” that doesn’t fucking work. Corporatism, capitalism, consumerism…whatever the fuck you want to call it, it’s not working for everyone.  Isn’t America about everyone? When did this divide and conquer, fend for yourself, winners and losers bullshit mentality take place?

Health care is a growing concern of mine because we all need it. We all shouldn’t have to work 16 jobs just to pay a fucking doctor bill. We shouldn’t have to decide on having to sell the house just to pay for a doctor visit or cancel our children’s college fund because someone got sick. That isn’t America. We claim to be a nation founded on Christian values, right? Well, fuck. Maybe we should all start digesting our own words and actually start acting like a fucking Christian nation. Help the poor, feed the sick, look after our children.. etc…etc. Yeah, we have lazy worthless fucks in this country. What country doesn’t. But we don’t punish the masses by only giving health care to the ones who can afford it and say, “fuck the rest”.

Wages in this country make me sick. I used to be that guy working two jobs begging my employer for hours. I used to be that guy working 65-70 hours a week on shit pay just to put groceries in the fridge. Hell, for the longest time (after I got out of the Army) I lived in my car. So I’m not just talking out of my ass here. People can’t live off of $9.00 an hour. It’s even tough to pay the bills at $15.00 an hour. No one is asking to become a millionaire off of these wages, folks. It’s slave labor under shit pay if anything. Guess who’s paychecks continue to get bigger, though? Yeah, those rich fucking asshole CEOs who WE bailed out with OUR tax dollars. $700 trillion to be exact. And where are our yachts and Mercedes? Where’s my $13 million dollar bonus check? Where’s my 25 Christmas trees for my million dollar suite in New York?

It never seemed to hurt the economy when these rich fucks get huge bonuses or get a pay increase so why would it hurt the economy if a bunch of “lazy, worthless” minimum wage earners started making $15.00 an hour? Someone who earns that little really has to struggle to find any kind of success in life. How does someone go to college on $9.00 an hour? If you’re against the minimum wage increase in this country maybe you ought to evaluate just how hard you’re working for what you make and then compare that to a J.P Morgan CEO who makes $10,000 an hour who let the business fail and then gets bailed out (by the working class) and then gets a huge fucking raise and then gets a huge fucking bonus and then think about who should get what at the end of the day.

I’m sick of people overlooking these shit head politicians. Mitt Romney is being sued in a Federal Court for RICO charges. How could anyone still like that guy? Governor Scott Walker took the state of Wisconsin from the number two state in American in jobs to 37th. Plus, Walker has his head so far up David Koch’s ass, it’s comical. Governor Chris Christie and his bridge scandal, Patty Murray and Paul Ryan taking money from military veterans while they get a cushy pay check of $174,000 a year… I mean, the list goes on and on, people!

I go to work every day and put in an honest day. Why can’t we have a government established in this country that does the same? Members of congress worked a total of 18 weeks out of the year in 2012. What the actual fuck, America? 18 weeks out of the year in 2012 yet they won’t extend unemployment benefits another 26 weeks for 1.3 Americans (and 4.9 million by spring of ’14). What’s the goal of congress? To make everyone fucking poor? Well, it’s happening.

Good luck, Nation.

By and Down

Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me. Woke up to the sound of the Trans-Continental Railroad trying to get me.”
I want so badly to self-medicate.
I want to run and hide. No amount of money the VA can give me will make my life comfortable. It is just a mere vehicle to keep me from living on the streets.
My tears would not let up today. I felt miserable, beat-down and helpless. I felt alone and afraid.
The nightmares I have seem to invade my very soul and crush me single-handedly night after night. I used to think I had some kind of control. I thought I had figured out a way to make them disperse. At the very least, figure out the system at which they come. Not anymore.
I wake up with a splitting headache wounded from my battle scars. I see dark figures escaping out of my windows and doors. I see dark silhouettes in the corners of the room. I reach for my pistol and chamber a round. Ready for anything. I curse at them and chase them around. I shoo them out of the room and try to go back to sleep. I know they are not real. I know what they are. I’ve lived with these shadowy bouts since 2005.
It is yet another night I wish to not remember. It is yet another sleepless night in which I lay awake waiting for the day to start so I don’t have to be harassed and tormented by the demons of combat. I can walk out into the light and be free from the madness in which my mind creates and projects onto me while I sleep helplessly in my bed.
I want so badly to self-medicate.
I want so badly for a normal life.
I want so badly to be a worthless soul walking the earth instead of what I am today.
I want so badly.

Thanksgiving in America

The United States of America is a country of consumerism. We aren’t producers. We are consumers. America sits at the top of the list of top consuming countries at 28% of the market. It’s no surprise. We’ve managed to put nearly 20% of our society in poverty by closing factories and shipping jobs overseas for cheap labor in the name of greed. Philadelphia has 430,000 people out of work due to this method. A state of so called brotherly love.

When I found out that KMart is going to open their doors at 6AM on Thanksgiving morning was no shocker. I was actually anticipating this. It was just a matter of time and the question of which retail chain would take the plunge and cancel Thanksgiving for their workers altogether. KMart is not alone. Walmart will also join them and Macy’s will break a longstanding 155 year tradition this year by opening their doors at 8PM. Best Buy will open their doors at 6 PM and Toys R Us will open at 5 PM. Despite 30,000 Walmart employees petitioning for no work on Turkey Day, 1 million others have stated that they are really excited to work on Thanksgiving. Absurd.

We can’t put all the blame on the corporations or the people who want to work Thanksgiving, though. That’s a little one-sided and unfair. The American culture is to spend, spend, spent. Buy, buy, buy. It’s how we’ve kept our economy going for so long. Go to work, get your paycheck and go spend it on stuff. Anything. The corporations are eager to take the money you’re so willing to part with.

My concern is that consumerism in America has been a run-away train for too long and I’m afraid it’s gotten to the point where it’s unstoppable. Where does it end? This year we have more retailers opening on Thanksgiving than ever before. There is no family time on our beloved Turkey day. It’s all about the best deal on a flat screen or a Playstation game console. We’ve put materialistic bullshit before our own children, relatives, friends and family members. Sure, employees get paid time and a half to come in and work a 10 hour shift but when will that end? When will working Thanksgiving become just another normal day where everyone is expected to work? When will the benefits of having to work Thanksgiving go away? And when will our insatiable hunger to consume start affecting other holidays like Christmas? Only time will tell.

I have to work Thanksgiving and although I’m not excited about it, I suppose it’s the culture I live in and maybe I should quit complaining about it and just accept how things are now. I don’t buy a lot of things and I do my best to save my money and stretch my dollar as far as I can. Call me cheap, call me frugal, call me whatever. I call it smart and thrifty.

Shop on Thanksgiving if you want to. Buy buyer beware. A lot of companies like Sears, Walmart and KMart manufacture cheap electronics and other crap specifically for this day. It’s not made to last or be efficient. It’s simply made to turn a profit.

 

Mr. Alex Shelton, 2/70th AR

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It’s hard to put into words how I’m feeling right now. The last couple of days have been a little exhausting after hearing the news of a former Thunderbolt taking his own life. I’m sure it’s been much, much more exhausting for others who were much closer to Alex Shelton. The thing is… I think about my deployment to Iraq every day. Since I’ve been out of the service, not a day goes by that I don’t think about my battle buddies, Iraq or Army life in general. Hell, I survived ten years in the service. It’s a lot longer than I thought I’d go.

Iraq was a difficult deployment for me because it wasn’t some field exercise in Hohenfels, Germany or somewhere in the backwoods of Kansas where everyone gets to go back to the barracks after a long day of training. Soldiers were getting killed on the battle field. Soldiers weren’t coming back for chow or to sleep in their bunks after a long day of running around in sector. Soldiers who were my friends, people I knew.

I joined the Army in April of 2000 as a tank mechanic because there wasn’t shit else to do with my life at the time. Who knew I’d be in Iraq five years later. I got out of the Army in 2003 and quickly rejoined the ranks in 2004 when America sent it’s men and women across the pond to war. I wanted to be an MP. I begged the recruiter to sign me up as an MP. I was just a shitbird needs of the Army recruit. Back to turning wrenches, back to wherever the Army needed me. Fort Riley, Kansas.

The shit I deal with every day probably doesn’t even come close to the some of the things my fellow soldiers had to endure during their time in combat. I’m not even going to sit here and compare. For most of my tour I sat in radio rooms, turned wrenches in motor pools and pulled many hours of boring, uneventful guard duty. All the while, my fellow soldiers were driving around getting blown up by IEDs and ambushed by the enemy.

I snuck out as much as I could. I ran with the Estonian Army and the Scouts (when they’d let me). I wanted to do my part on the battle field and not feel so useless in the radio room. I got to sit in those plush chairs day in and day out while the Infantry, Scouts and Mortar platoons trudged in and out of the outpost we managed to take over. Tired and beat down, they went on mission after mission.

I don’t know what Shelton endured during this tour of duty. Obviously, he had been through enough that he was fed up. For the most part, I can say I understand the pain. I live with guilt that I didn’t/couldn’t do more in combat for my Brothers. I live with physical pain from ten years of physical exercise that has worn my body down to a nub. I live with never-ending night terrors that, on most occasions, keep me up for hours on end at night. I have crying fits, long bouts of deep depression, paranoia…as some of the doctors say, my “combat switch” is still on, years later. If this is anything what Shelton has been feeling since he was honorably discharged from service, its extremely difficult to live with.

Some soldiers cope with this better than others. It doesn’t make us weak or lesser of a person if we cry or can’t soldier on through the day. We are human and we have been through a lot. The most important thing is; we have each other. Despite political beliefs, religious beliefs, personal opinions, or whatever…we have each other. I think of every 2/70th Armor Brother I had the pleasure of serving with in combat every single day of my life. I enjoy your Facebook updates, (no matter how fucked up they are) I read them and think about you guys every day. I love you like no other.

For the rest of you guys, Hurricanes (1/63AR) and you crazy 116th INF and 4-1ARTY guys, we had some awesome times as well, and like I said, despite any differences, I love you guys all the same.

 

Dear IRS

This weekend has been much of a blur. I worked some seriously ridiculous hours in two days and they weren’t those easy 9-5pm hours. They were graveyard shifts; two back-to-back and that plays hell on my body. I got home Monday morning after putting in an 9 hour day and literally crashed. I woke up Monday afternoon, groggy and still tired and I dinked around on the internet before I finally got a shower and something to eat and then that late afternoon sleepiness got to me again and before I knew it, I was crawling back into bed.

I finally was able to pull myself together, get some decent clothing on, paid my rent and checked the mail. To my surprise, I had a thick envelope from the IRS. As soon as I saw it was from them, I instantly cursed aloud. Nothing from the IRS is ever good. I got back to my apartment unit, cracked open all my mail (saving the IRS letter for last) and found out I actually saved a bunch of money on my motorcycle insurance by switching to Progressive. Thanks, Flo!

I hesitantly opened the IRS envelope and saw in large, bold print: Amount due: $3,357. I simply shook my head.

It turns out in 2011, I didn’t pay enough taxes. When I filed, I was supposed to add in my state unemployment numbers because unemployment is a form of income. Not only did I allow the state of Illinois to tax me at 10% instead of 3%, I didn’t see an opportunity to pay federal taxes on unemployment wages. If it were there, it either got missed (probably because I’m not a tax guru) or the unemployment office didn’t cover that.

2011 was a tough year for me. Not only was I living in my car, but jobs were scare and the hours at my current job (Sears, Loss Prevention) were like, little to nothing because Sears was into this whole cost-cutting trend. The pay sucked, finding another job to go along with another part-time job was literally impossible but somehow I made it work and I generally put in 50-60 hours a week, Anyway, I’m not writing this to whine about the past. Things have improved for the most part.

I decided to pay the IRS to shut them up. Or more importantly, do my part as an American and pay my fucking fair share of taxes, right? Since so many of our top executives at large corporations, oil companies and large banks don’t really think paying taxes is all that fun and something that’s important, I figured my measly $3,357 will help contribute. I’m also sending them a letter with my check and it goes a little something like this:

“Dear IRS,

 

April 14th 2000, I wrote the United States of America a blank check when I joined the United States Army. I served ten great years for my country and I also served one combat tour in Iraq from 2005-2006. After I was honorably discharged from service, I started a new chapter in my life amongst the civilians of this country. I filed for disability/compensation with the VA and they deemed me 90% disabled through 24 months of a long deliberation process. I finally started receiving the benefits I served this great nation for.

When I got out of the service, life wasn’t easy. I applied for unemployment within the first year of being out because jobs were tough to come by and I couldn’t get anything that paid better than $10/hr. During the last three years of my life outside of the Army, I worked mostly two jobs trying to make ends meet (thank goodness I don’t have a family to support). Both jobs combined, I barely made over $20,000 a year. In the meantime, I was living out of my car and trying to improvise ways to make sure I got my showers (utilized a local gym) and on my days off from work (which didn’t come often) I would move into a Hotel 6 or another cheap outfit just so I could sleep in a bed and stretch out a bit for a day or two (living in a car started to get a little cramped).

Eventually, I was able to obtain a better paying job by continuing to fight for myself and what I believed to be a better life would eventually come along the way for me if I kept my work ethic to the grind stone. With my Army benefits and my new higher paying job, I no longer have to live in my car. I live in an apartment complex with a community of people who are probably in the same situation as me; just trying to survive. Now I have a new fight on my hands; trying to have a future for myself.

I’m not writing you today complaining that life sucks; it is what it is. The whole point of this letter is to inform whoever that America is struggling. Well, at least the majority of us. Thank goodness I’m good with my money and I’m not one of those typical, full-blooded Americans divulged in consumerism. The other point I’m trying to make is; you’re taxing the wrong person/people. You want to send me a bill for $3,357 after a year where I made a whole whopping $18,000 claiming I didn’t pay enough taxes? A year where I, an American Combat Veteran, was living out of his car making barely over minimum wage? A year where I had to utilize the local gym (which was $19 a month) to take a shower once a day and put in a 65-70 hour work week for what, $18,000 a year? You’re asking me to pay more taxes? Remember that blank check I wrote for the United States of America back in April of 2000? I guess you can just put this on my tab, right?

Let’s take a closer look at who is paying taxes in this country. Me, that’s obvious, because the IRS is sending me a bill for $3,357 in the mail. Maybe we should look a little closer at who isn’t paying taxes in this country. I suppose I could give you a laundry list of large corporations and names of CEO’s, CFO’s. Presidents and VP’s of companies that pay less tax percentages than I currently do. I currently pay 22% when I work straight time at work and it goes up to 60% when I clock overtime hours. Mitt Romney pays as little as 13% on capital gains on his investments.

You have a job to do and I’m not against paying taxes. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. If I didn’t pay what I was supposed to pay, hold me accountable. You’ll find along with this letter a check for $3,357 and not a penny more (Mitt Romney quote). I hope you spend this money wisely. My time on this planet is very valuable and I don’t work for free.

 

Very respectfully,

 

Wayne Anthony Peck

United States Army Combat Veteran”