Friday, January 27, 2006

Returning to the World....of Color

As you've probably noticed, other than the photographs, the overwhelming majority of new artwork posted here has been black and white graphite drawings. Over the next couple weeks I'll try to rectify that with a series of small watercolors. The piece with this posting shows a patrol of Marines from 3rd Platoon F/2/1 along the south bank of the Euphrates west of Ubaydi, Iraq. The north bank, which many Marines thought was Syria, was barren. Along their line of march stretched miles of fields broken by orchards and windbreaks of delicate poplars. Every kilometer or so there were ancient, but still functioning aquaducts. The pastoral stillness was broken only by the shugging heartbeat of equally decrepit pumps drawing water up from the river and channeling it down well packed earthen troughs out into the thirsty fields.

Today I attended the first of several briefs that are part of the standard issue "returning to the world" readjustment process. The Marines are very aware that the transition from Iraq back to the States, from combat to home and hearth, is one that needs to be handled with the same tactical devotion as a full frontal assault on a fortified position. Today's initial meeting was conducted by a chaplain and dealt primarily with family and post-traumatic stress issues. Like the food in the chow halls over here, the ideas and information were mostly very good and dished up in a tasteful and interesting way. The chaplain, like most I've gotten to know and observe, was adept at seasoning the material with necessary dashes of ribald humor, while at the same time balancing that with hearty warmth and deep-dish seriousness. He peppered his presentation with “can I have an Amen”s and “oorah”s. The thing which most caught my ear was the insistence that we "warriors", whether cook or trigger puller, share our stories with each other as often as possible. Prefaced with a brief synopsis of the tale of Ulysses, the palliative value of storytelling could not, according to the padre, be stressed enough. I realized there and then how blessed I am by my mission as a professional storyteller of sorts. People, including myself, often wonder how is it I can go into combat with the frequency I do and not be a raving nut case. ( I recognize that there are a couple exes, marital and otherwise, who might want to weigh in and have their say at this point.) Today I realized it's in large part because I get to tell my story, and knowing that you good folks are out there listening, to quote Robert Frost, has made all the difference. Thanks.


Samantha West said...

You know, you could share your stories in a book, with illustrations. Hmmm, I know a few people who would love that!


yankeemom said...

I agree with Sam!

AFSister said...

Writing is so healing to me. It always has been. I've never been a wonderful writer, but it gets my story out on paper and out of my mind.
I'm sure you experience the same release through your writing and your art.

*whispers in ear: BOOK DEAL*

Mary*Ann said...

ditto, ditto, ditto.

colagirl said...

I love your beautiful pictures. Somehow they give me more of a sense of immediacy than many photographs I've seen. I look forward to seeing more of your watercolors.

Beth* A. said...

Listening, observing, obsorbing, commiserating, at times laughing (along with) and ALWAYS supporting and appreciating what you've granted us by giving us a verbal and pictorial window into life in Iraq for the Marines and for you. I'm extremely glad that you get some benefit out of US in return.

Beth* A. said...

Oh and also, in total agreement with Sam, et al. Just a 'few' would indeed 'love that' - (understatement ;-))

All in favor, say 'AYE'!

Carol said...


It's always such a pleasure to read your posts. Peach of a painting too.

Beth* a, Samantha and I might have to start a fan club, what say, ladies?

Sending good thoughts to you.


Samantha West said...

I'm on board with the Fan Club!


Beth* A. said...

This makes it unanimous: all 3 of us! ;-) Woo hoo!

On a plain cotton t-shirt:

"I went to Iraq, and all I got was this... totally UN-lousy (aka rockin'!)... fan club!" ;-)

Okay, the wording's not quite...there, but REALLY, how many people in this world, Mike D Fay, can say (and mean) anything re-mote-ly similar???

Anonymous said...

This Marine Mom continues her prayers for you till your safe return home. There are no words to adequately convey what your site has come to mean to me. You are highly regarded by your fellow Marines Sir!
They speak very fondly of you and your gift.
I pray you will return home soon to your loved ones but I also pray that you will continue your blog indefinately.
We are preparing for a homecoming with some Marines who spent time with you.
I look forward to hearing more stories of you.
God Bless you Sir!
Becky in Colorado
The L/Cpl who eats with his fingers Mom. :) And no...I did not teach him that. Must be the "Adapt and Overcome" part of his training.

Edward said...

Hi Michael,
Thank you for sharing the information that the Marines begin preparing their personnel for re-entry into life back home while still in Iraq. That is wonderful and astonishing. Certainly not reported in any news report.
The milblogs are certainly filling a need both for the writers and we who read them. They get to share their travails, and we get to learn what is really happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. Your blog is very special, for you give us images of those who are in the field---not just photographic, but interpreted through the human mind and emotion.
You MUST publish your works, either standalone or in concert with some Marine who also writes well and with whom you have spent some time. Your work will stand the test of time.

Beth* A. said...

Sorry to comment so much tonight, but it should be established:

#1. I should have spelled 'absorb' with an 'a' previously. I know that now. (the reason for this clarification becomes clearer below)

#2. I vote that anyone with the inherent good taste and discerning eye to appreciate MD Fay's artwork, such as those other commenters who've expressed their admiration here, also be welcomed into this club.
Based on 3 conditions: It was Carol's nifty idea, so she's Madame President, Sam gets to be CEO and I, if my spelling improves, can aspire to be secretary (Note to self: Spellcheck). - Open to suggestions with all these, Carol and Sam, but maybe something similar?
And, it occurs to me maybe we should ask, is there an existing fan club already? Wouldn't want to step on anybodies' toes. ;-)
Naturally, Fay family members rate a seat on the board (do fan clubs have boards?) for life!
This is FUN! It plays to my sense of the ridiculous tonight; NOT the idea, but the details.

mdfay said...

You are all too kind. I have been approached by an editor at a very well know distribution/publishing house about doing a book about my experiences. He says I need to come up with a good "arc of the narrative", which I take to mean danger, suspense and romance...I hope he'll be happy with two out of three. I think I already have a fan club....does my Mom count?

Beth* A. said...

Without question. The true original!

Terri said...

A book - that's perfect. Thank you for sharing as is, but I'd buy that book and buy a few extra for gifts! (still a little new to your blog but have added it to my dailies so I've missed a lot that I'm trying to catch up with!)

Buck Pennington said...

Great stuff as always, Mr. Fay! And good to hear you're on your way home.

Will your next assignment be as an artist-in-residence, also? Or is your current assignment a one-off?

I could see you doing a series of paintings at a recruit depot, or perhaps as an artist attached to a Marine Air Wing...