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Jul. 29th, 2005 @ 02:50 am dreampocalpyse: the liberal nightmare
In the worst dream I had last night, I have been drafted. I'm in an enormous granite military complex with lots of fluorescent bulbs and no windows. They direct me to what is either a shooting range or a defensive rampart, I can't tell which. They tell me to get behind one of the heavy guns and start shooting. I crawl up to a howitzer and through the port I can see hundreds of men in army fatigues crawling up a hillside. I can hear the roar of other howitzers to my left and right, and the men are firing back with all manner of small arms. I see a man crawling up to my gunport, so close that I can see his deep blue eyes through the black warpaint. He is taking potshots at the base with his assault rifle. I reach for the trigger to my left, but I stop as what feels like a swarm of angry mosquitoes grazes my skin. Are those bullets? I cannot reach the trigger without moving the rest of my body into the path of gunfire. I cannot bring myself to reach across the gap and pull the trigger. The man inches closer and closer. I can see his face now; he is angry, so angry. He is a fellow American. He has done nothing to me. I cannot bear to kill him. I cannot bear to reach across.

I am relieved from duty by a smiling drill sergeant in a blond crew cut. "Dude, welcome to the Army!" he exclaims, thumping me painfully on the shoulder. He is the complete opposite of what you would expect a drill sergeant to be--unkempt, laid-back, possibly stoned--and he frightens me immensely. He leads me to a large circular mess hall, where thousands of out-of-uniform soldiers are eating and arguing at thick plastic tables. He points to the quartermaster's office, a small door in the column at the center of the mess hall, tells me to go there in fifteen minutes to get suited up, and runs off to take a nap. I find a small enclave of Obies and former NEHS classmates, also drafted, hungrily eating from plastic trays. They express great excitement about the career opportunities and great pay and life-altering experiences promised to them in the months ahead. Their enthusiasm makes me sick, and I say so.

"You're going to be killing people!" I shout. "Is that worth getting all excited about?"

"Dude, chill out," Howard says, "it's not like we're going to be doing any fighting or anything. We're going to be doing science and stuff. Like hydroponics and food aid and stuff like that."

"What the hell are you talking about? This isn't the fucking Humane Society. This is the Army! What do you think the Army does?"

"Shut up. You're gay," Kevin Jiang says. Howard and Kevin share a giggle.

"You know," says Jamie passive-aggressively, "some people have a duty to their country that supersedes saving their own rotten hides." (It should be noted that, in real life, Jamie is one of the most vehemently anti-war people I know.)

"Yeah," says Jenny Hwang, rolling her eyes. (Waking-world Jennyh is the most hardcore liberal I know.) "Just goddamn shut up and cooperate for once! Jesus, it's always a fucking uphill battle with you."

"What?" I exclaim. "I thought that was a--"

"Oh, fuck you, Kevin," Bess tells me angrily. (Bess: another conscientious objector.) "I don't know why I even call you a friend."

"I don't even want to talk to you," Jamie says. "Coward."

"JENNIFUH LUBB HEWITT!" screams Han jubilantly.

There's an orientation ceremony in the briefing room, which looks much like the NEHS music room except redesigned to fit fifty thousand people and fitted with an IMAX screen. The orientation is given by a smiling USO soccer-mom in a "GO ARMY" t-shirt, and is very generic. It much resembles some the orientation for some kind of summer camp for college students: a welcome to the "Armed Forces family", the obligatory "You wouldn't believe how excited I am to see you all here today," the vague promises of fun and excitement. There's a lengthy tour of the facilities and a Powerpoint presentation on standard military operating procedures. I heckle the ceremony with Michelle (oddly, the one person who would be outraged at me resisting the draft in real life had nothing to say about the matter).

"Isn't it funny," I confess to her at some point, "that I would have no qualms about killing every single person in this base if it meant I didn't have to go out there and kill people?"

Michelle is not the slightest bit concerned. "You always say that," she says, "and besides, it would make you a hypocrite."

"That's precisely the point," I say, "but it's more than that. I'm not afraid I'd make a terrible soldier, I'm afraid I'd become too good at it. There is a bloodlust in me, and I fear it will take over. Furthermore, I don't even want to be here. I don't want to be part of this stupid war. I don't know who we're fighting, I don't know who we're fighting for, I don't want to die for the mistakes of this stupid administration. I don't even know why I'm here. I should have just stayed at home. I should have hid in a closet or something."

"Oh, sack up, Kevin," she tells me. "It'll be over before you know it."

"You don't understand," I continue. "This isn't some selfish thing you can just get over. This isn't just another hurdle in our own fucking personal development. Innocent people are going to die at our hands. I almost killed a man this morning, Michelle! An American soldier!" I am crying, perhaps because my subconscious has a poor sense of the melodramatic. "They wanted me to kill one of our own, Michelle! What makes you think they aren't going to do the same to us?"

"You think too much," she says. She is not the slightest bit concerned.

"And we have a very special deal for you today at the USO," says the orientation lady excitedly. The image of a bucket of fried chicken flashes across the IMAX. "As new members of our wonderful armed forces family, we are offering you an entire bucket of chicken wings at Kentucky Fried Chicken for twenty-nine cents!"

The auditorium is in an uproar. "Twenty-nine cents!" people throughout the auditorium whisper.

"And that's not all," the lady shrieks, clicking the Powerpoint, "we'll throw in an order of popcorn chicken and a large Coke, absolutely free!"

Chaos. Absolute chaos. People are throwing orientation pamphlets in the air, hugging each other, laughing, dancing. I am the only one sitting down. I am weeping.

Later, the quartermaster gives me a pair of striped blue boxer shorts with a bandolier around it. "For swimming practice," he says, beaming.
About this Entry
dd2guy
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From:aesvir
Date:July 29th, 2005 12:42 am (UTC)
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Kevin, thoughts of you in the Army is why I don't support the draft. And I do not mean that in a nice way. I understand that dreams are as much a reflection of subconscious fears, but please remember that whatever your disagreements with our government, the men and women of the military are intelligent, honorable professionals. They aren't the caricatures from novels or movies. I understand that this was a dream, and if I offended you, I apologize.

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From:erf_
Date:July 29th, 2005 08:26 am (UTC)
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I'm not the same person in my dreams as I am in the waking world. Rarely am I the same person between two different dreams. Therefore, it should go without saying that the opinions I express in my dreams are not the opinions I hold in waking life.

Furthermore, my only exposure to war for at least the past couple of months has been through video games and HBO. Is it really fair to expect my subconscious to create an accurate, realistic depiction of war? Besides, nearly everyone is a soulless cariacture in my dreams, because when you spend as much time alone as I do it can sometimes be hard to fully grasp the concept of other people.

On a side note, while the military is certainly full of intelligent, honorable professionals, not everyone in the armed forces can be characterized as such. They are brave, patriotic individuals, however, dedicated to the protection of our country and our freedoms, and that is why we elevate them above the average Joe. As you say, they are not cariactures from novels or movies. They are human beings who made the difficult choice of sacrificing many of their own freedoms to protect ours.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 29th, 2005 02:18 pm (UTC)
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To be fair, my dreams involve a lot of masculine hunks who sweep girls off their feet and drag them to their Aussie ranches for...poetry readings. :p

Sorry if I overreacted.
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From:erf_
Date:July 29th, 2005 06:53 pm (UTC)
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You have a thing for Australians? o_0
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From:hatmaster
Date:July 29th, 2005 07:28 am (UTC)

dam

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and i'm not in the frontlines killing people?

forgive but the only thing that separates us from other lifeforms is humor.