The bus ride from Fort Drum. Thus begins our Christmas leave. Willy and Ray in the foreground, completely knocked out.

First stop, my apartment in New Paltz. I love my apartment. This is the walk I used to take to and from school as seen from the Fall. The great thing about living with two girls is you get to have a nice place without Queer Eye for the Straight Guy having to visit you. You just have to endure a lot of Jack Tripper jokes.

My roommates, Erin and Kristin, respectively. Two of the sweetest girls I've ever known. I am unable to adequately explain how much I prefer living with them than all the swinging dicks I do now. Then again, it is nice to be able to fart and pick my nose with impunity.

Next stop, New York City. I loved living in the city and am eager to get back. This is what my walk to and from lunch on a typical day was like when I lived at my dad's photo studio in SoHo. My friends Brian and Amy at Brian's loft and studio in Williamsburg. (Missed Elizabeth, Brian's fiancee. Darn.) I love how Williamsburg is painfully hip, full of artists and musicians and (in Brian's case) painters and so forth. I am the proud owner of this painting. The Bedford stop of the L train is like being in the hallway between classes at Hip High School. Everyone's the same age and in the hipster uniform: clothes handmade or purchased from used clothes boutiques for way too much money. I can't get over how in the apartment next to Brian's lives Evan Seinfeld, the lead singer of Biohazard and an actor on Oz, one of my favorite shows on HBO. He drives a Hummer (so do I! sorta!) and his wife is the porn star Tera Patrick. Gotta love NYC.

In Williamsburg, lighting a cigarette. Amy is an actor and a singer-songwriter, performing recently in bunkerbaby. My friends are cool. :)

Next stop, Salt Lake City. Christmas dinner with the family. In spite of all the time I spend criticizing my conservative Christian upbringing, I'm grateful that my family has always made it a point to sit down as a family for dinner. The only difference between Christmas dinner and dinner on any other day is we bust out the china for Christmas. From the left, Brent, Andrea, Taylor, my dad Jim, my mom Linda, and Angela. My brother Tom is currently serving a mission for the Mormon church in Rio de Janeiro and couldn't make it to dinner. Taylor served in South Korea, Brent served in Romania and my dad served in Austria. I think Jesus is really upset at me for abandoning Christianity, so He has seen fit to send me to Iraq. Thanks Jesus.

This pot, full of oil and on the stove, caught fire and almost burned down the house. Taylor and I quelled it and saved Christmas dinner.

Once family time had adjourned, Mikey-O picked me up and we were off to Port O' Call, one of the only bars in SLC that serves Guinness. This is important because Guinness is important.

Eric and Mikey-O. Mikey-O is a filmmaker.
It's good to see that the homoerotica extends beyond the infantry.

Amie and Steve. Steve is a superyuppy. He has the phattest home theatre ever, complete with Italian leather sofa. Amie is a model/actor and a friend of mine from back in high school. As far as inappropriate levels of personal openness are concerned, Amie is my female doppelganger.

Group photos after drinking Labatt's all night. So much for Guinness.

Before heading back to the airport, Mike and I made a quick visit to my boy Mark and his eight-month pregnant wife, Suzanne. I used to own a Mossberg 590, but I sold it to Mark so I could buy a Singer 5040. We drank the Jim Beam Mike gave me for Christmas and we practiced field stripping the Mossberg on his coffee table.

After slowly getting hammered with Jack on the redeye, I woke up at JFK, groggily dragged my rucksack to a cab, passed out in it, woke up at Spring and Mott, gave the cabbie forty-one bucks (which I think was less than he was expecting) then crashed at my dad's studio. (I have a SLC dad and a NYC dad -- adopted and biological, Ned Flanders and Batman, respectively.) Slept the stupor away then headed up to New Paltz to have dinner with Ian, Theresa and Julie. Theresa ended up being sick and Julie and I went to the wrong place (we were at Canal House; Ian was downstairs at the bistro). The meal was incredible, nonetheless.

And thus ended our Christmas leave. From the bus that would return us to the festering carbuncle that is Fort Drum, I paparazzi'd a few pics of Rich and his wife as they clung to each other one last time.