For GQ, Iraq veteran Matt Ufford recalls his role in the initial invasion:
War going to plan, though, suggests that there’s some neatness and order to tearing a landscape apart and leaving a trail of death and MRE garbage in your wake. I may not have been deployed for 12 months, but I was in combat long enough to kill innocent civilians; in my case, “long enough” was two days. I slept 10 hours over the course of a week. I gestured apologetically to a farmer as my tank’s treads destroyed his spring planting. My friend, a fellow platoon commander, lost one of his tanks during a nonstop road march; we made jokes comparing it to The Beast, a largely forgotten 1988 film in which a Russian T-55 tank crew gets separated from its company—until we learned that the M1A1 drove off a bridge over the Euphrates in the middle of the night, killing all four crewmen. I cursed the boredom while dreading the action. I pointed my pistol at a cab driver who had the temerity to gesture angrily at my tank for obstructing the road to Basra. One of my best friends got shot in the head. I saw bodies strewn in the streets, and my brain processed them as props of war instead of newly dead people with hobbies and passions and newly devastated loved ones. The oil fires turned spring skies gray. I crossed a partially blown-up bridge that the engineers couldn’t promise would hold a 68-ton tank, and when it did, I ended up in a minefield shooting at T-72 tanks, and calling off artillery that was so close I could feel the concussive heat on my face. I prepared to lose Marines to snipers in a prolonged siege of Baghdad. I went a month without showering. I accepted my own death. I saw beautiful women in the Christian neighborhoods of the capital. I smoked tar-laden Iraqi cigarettes that made me long for nicotine manufactured in America. I parked at the magnificent blue Martyrs Monument at sunset, and smoked a cigarette while the fading light turned the pavement an ethereal roseate hue, awash in joy at the cheers that had met our arrival in Baghdad—at the amazing and profound lack of death that greeted us. That beauty is mine forever, even if it’s gone.
In The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz enters the stay-at-home mom discussion:
When [Betty] Friedan was writing The Feminine Mystique, the 40-hour-a-week office job was still a norm, even for executives—a norm well on its way to changing, but a norm nonetheless. Today, whether you’re male or female, if you’re taking home an upper-middle-class salary you’re expected to work an average of 50 hours, and probably more, a lot of it after you’ve gone home. As of 1997, the average workweek for a man with graduate education was 50 hours, and for a women 47—that three-hour difference can be accounted for, of course, by all the women who went on mommy tracks. Among American dual-career couples, in the 1990s, 15.2 percent of those with at least college degrees worked a joint 100 hours a week or more, whereas only 9.6 of couples without diplomas did that. Try to imagine what that 100-hour workweek looked like to a child: that’s five 10-hour days, plus commutes, for both parents. And those are just averages—for people at the top of their fields, the numbers were a great deal bigger.
In the Miami Herald, Dan Le Batard talks about LeBron’s transformation amidst the Heat’s winning streak:
LeBron James is oozing I’m-bigger-badder-better these days, and he foretold what was coming in this very building last year, to save Miami’s season, after a bus ride to the arena that Heat players can admit now filled them with fear. He put together one of the most epic playoff games of all time, at the most desperate of times, and since then has been a gathering avalanche of confidence, sweeping up a Reggie Evans here and a Jason Terry there, engulfing road crowds and Oklahoma City’s stars like a force of nature that should be measured with scales named Richter or Saffir-Simpson.
You’ve noticed this, right? The defiance leaking out of him? This is very new, fueled by 25 triumphs without a loss, and it is the result of stacking successes atop one another, which is how confidence is always built. It is at the core of Miami’s historic winning streak, James caring less and less about what you think and more and more about what he craves.
It would be human, after what he endured for two years in Miami, much of it of his own making, if James had immediately emerged with his championship ring on his middle finger. But he did not gloat after winning, or remind anyone that he had validated his Decision, a Decision that gets more validated with every victory on this streak, the second-longest ever. Anyone arguing these days that he chose poorly in uniting with his friends? Anyone still questioning damage done to his legacy?
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Corned beef, muenster, and spicy mustard on an everything bagel @ Kaufman’s Bagel & Deli (Skokie, IL)
Steak tacos @ Tony’s Burrito Mex (Chicago, IL)