Preface

The Prodigal Son”

It has been eight years since my last return home in Taiwan. I tried very hard to dodge the national service for all those years. At the end, I would like to treat it like a performance project; a year of not thinking and serving a country that doesn’t even exist. The island is more corrupted and crowded ever compare to what it used to be in my memory. Growing up being prepared by my old man with discipline wasn’t easy. He was always saying, “Ya this is what you gotta do once you are in the military”. I never had too long to shower or time to watch TV and chat during meal. My friends believe I will get in the marine by draw, because they are all in marine and it is contiguous so to speak. However, I got into the most boring, plain, dull Army.

Disclaimer

* Disclaimer: this material contains undisclosed classified information and materials and it cannot be documented or broadcasted in order to protect myself.*

In conversation with Teh-Ching (Sam) Hsieh’s performances, which he states his work is about “wasting time and freethinking”, this one-year performance took place in the army of Republic of China. Although I was conscripted to serve in the military for a full year, the constitution of R.O.C made it non-existing since the government lost its civil war in China and escaped to Taiwan in the year 1949. In a way, I chose to serve a country that does not exist when I return home from Canada. According to the following articles of the constitution:

Article 4.

        The territory of the Republic of China according to its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by resolution of the National Assembly.

Article 2.

        The sovereignty of the Republic of China shall reside in the whole body of citizens.

          Article 20.

        The people shall have the duty of performing military service in accordance with law.

Week 1

“From I once was what you are, you will be what I am”

Oh fuck, ya boot camp, I was shipped to the 908 regiment’s 5th battalion. It is the shittiest among all. Oldest building in any facilities, and it’s leaking everywhere. Lucky me, the greenest rookie, landed here by bus from the city hall where they gathered all the kids to go. I was grouped with several other kids within my living proximity, but I don’t even know them at all since I was away for a decade, and also they are couple yrs younger than me too. I got yelled at as soon as off the bus. Whatever, not like my first time being yelled at. BY fate or system, I was put in the weaponry battalion, number 140. And FUCK, it is hot, 38 degree, august midday. I got my clothes, my shoes, and my gears. 139 looks a lot older than me got a baldhead. He tried to speak Engrish to me since I told him I used to live in Canada but his English sux ball so bad with a doctor degree in English literature. 141 got auburn hair and he acts odd. He likes mechanical shit, and he fixes scooters. We share similar obsessions on gadgets such as multitools and flashlights. A lot kids are shy getting butt naked and shower with other 164 people all together, but who really care when that shower is the only comfort things you get whole day? I was pretty pissed that I still got charged by the barber there shaving my hair, cuz I already shaved it before I got in. Bunch of boys gathered up and voiced up. I was being quite an ass to the contracted barber, then I became the only one who got charged, and the rest of the boys didn’t have to pay. Also my counseling officer is onto me. I adapt quite well thanx to how my dad brought me up, shower in a minute, no problem at all. Eat fast; sure, and always be ready, hell ya. Running is not as easy as it seems. I am better than quite a lot people but I guess I might have to quit smoking if I want to do a bit better. One of the platoon leader said the most important thing in the military is being superficial, and we all need to learn that a.s.a.p.

Week 2

“A Thousand Years”

All the trainings are okay, but the temperature is unbearable. Shitload ppl got eczema, some severe some don’t. I have a little on my belly. One of the hardest is the bayonet drill. It’s like a synchronized show the sergeants want to put up which serves no practical function in battles (even if there is one). One particular chief looks outstanding and in good shape. He caught my eye because he’s probably the only one who talked some real sense abt his other trainings else where, like elite marksmen training, advance PE cadres classes, and airborne. Other than that, my squad, the eighth, just keep moving shits around where ever they asked us to go. Shits contain oxygen tanks, 4 coolers of ice, and medical equipments to save ppl from heatstroke. Fortunately it never happened, yet. Along with other gears they want us to carry b4 the whole battalion moved to the spots.  That is tiring, and we also had to do all the trainings. 3000 meters in the morning, and again in afternoon, push-ups, pull ups, sit ups, blah blah blah. Oh the basic postures, they don’t even teach u, they will hone it within this month. I talked to a guy named Han quite a lot, # 136 and we eventually became very good friends by moving shits together and stole some break times covering up each others’ ass. He’s a big hairy dude, solid built, probably the most hairy person I have seen in my life. The platoon leader enjoys petting Han’s arm hair. Another kid got sent home cuz he always has a boner in shower, and it took forever for him to get out. Maybe he got sent home cuz he’s gay? I stared to realize how much I miss seeing gals in my previous art school life, why the fuck is I even here? Cuz I am needed, and it’s my term now according to the counseling officers’ day-to-day talk? Some dumb kid really talked his mind out loud when the Lieutenant asked him abt what he thinks abt the courses we all had to receive on our political view every Thursday. He got balls to tell him it’s all BS and if the Chinese Commie came, we all better run away and surrender. I didn’t know what end up with that kid after, but I guess not too smooth. I miss Katelyn, a lot. I guess its becuz there is not ginger chick around here obviously.

Week 4

The Death of God, Towards a Better Understanding of Life without God aboard The Ship of Fools”

The basic training is almost ending, and I started to figure how much wildlife is around me. All the cadres and officers tried to BS you abt ur score can be related to where ever u sent to. I knew it’s pretty much lying thru their teeth cuz my friends told me all abt that. Happy or not, a lot kids gotta sent home and don’t have to do the military thing cuz they are “unfitted”. So the process took this long at the last week, even to the last day of training. I went for the art department of the headquarter, but then…. They won’t let me in even I was qualified. Cuz I have been living in overseas for too long…and I am under a list of things. I was left for three choices: Coast guards, Logistics, or Boot camps. Considering that I cannot swim, so I guess I m not going to CGs, and I am afraid of explosion in the manufacturing part of the military, so I guess I should just stay in the boot camps. And they sent me to the other bigger boot camp, 907th. And I got sick on the last day…

Week 3

For The Love of God”

After they gave us two days off to visit home, I am all recharged. SO far I can do like 50 push ups and 50 sit ups, 5 pull ups, and 3km in 14:30 and 5 out of 6 in 175m shooting, which is good enough for the rookie standards. My shooting score is not consistent, cuz the guns kinda sux. It’s T65k2, made in 1976, a bootleg version of M16 without the forward assist, and you have no idea whether or not you get good ones or shitty ones. They said it’s better than m16. Cleaning became the Maj. works for fifth and sixth squads. The typhoon hit, and this lill hill of boot camp became the Maj. thunderstruck zone. Yes, we are out of electricity, so no clean water. Every squad is collecting water with the big garbage cans, no shower, and fuck, people got really cranky. Eight out of ten people are sick. Kids almost started fighting with the slightest conflict. I pushed couple away. The Funny gang kid who got a very long rep sheet told me he remembers me. Ya I did quite few stupid things back in high school. Opps, I gotta watch my fucking ass I guess??? Anyway, I volunteered to go to the art and performance department of headquarter, but due to the restriction on me, I really can’t. Whatever, it’s only a year. Chief said there is no way anyone can land two shots in the same spot. So I got some idea, I m gonna gamble with my holidays for a week lock up if I couldn’t do it. I jacked an older version ammo and filed it with my nail clipper all nite, tried to make it smaller and lighter. Then I slipped it in the magazine the next day, betting that I can make two shots in the same spot. Maj. was curious of how ridiculous rookies like me can be, so he agreed to let me gamble. Opps, Randy did it, but they were like okay, kid, let’s see how you would do in 300m range. I landed 5 out of 6 as usual, and they are like okay, lets push it to 500, if I can nail three, I could have three extra days off. They drew a 2” square on the target; I landed 2 inside, one on the line. Opps, I guess that doesn’t count, said the chief.

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Week 6

“Hymn…”

The counseling officer wants me to work in the political warfare department in HQ, cuz he thinks I m qualified. The main reason is he’s gonna be transferred there for Liaison of the convenience store in the regiment next month, so he put me in first for his own good. My assigned position on the book is fuel supply, but I don’t even know where the gas station is so far.  I started to learn how to live with the fatigue by not to think about it. I stopped talking about the weathers. The military police platoon will be withdrawn by the end of the month, and I wonder how things would be in the future. So far I m trying to learn everything I could in the Political Warfare Office. Mostly counterfeit and forge documents to make things easier for all the officers. I would do whatever not to clean up shits and recycling every meal. It is always a pleasure to avoid senior privates under any cost, even get ass slapped by female Sgt. every day.

Week 5

“Beautiful revolving sphincter, oops”

On the ground now and crawl into the gate, said a Chief to all of us in the transportation vehicle, ”so I end up in a bigger nicer place, It seems like a fucking park. The food here is much better cuz I got sent to the head quarter of the 907th regiment, which mean I eat whatever the regiment commander eats. People here are intense, and my feet have been bleeding for a week because the new shoes are way too stiff. Me along with few others kids from 908R5B was asked to drop and do a 90, which I failed, so I got bitched at. Being rookie sux, they asked me to get a bottle cap, get 30 caps load of water, put it in the cup, and take a shower. I figured I better wet my towel just rub my body with it, better than nothing. After shower, they asked me to get their lost change under the bed while I was butt naked, okay…so I crawled under the bed and wiggle through all the crap and dust for hours till the seniors told me he found it. 3 other rookies were asking to recycle the trash after every meal. Mountains of those from HQ are crawling with maggots and smells like some yogurt, cheese, or fucking dead bodies all mixed up together. And we were asked to do it barehanded, and I kinda barfed after my lunch. The rookies are pretty tight; we watched each other back quite well. A studied French in college and he planned to go somewhere else after this. B lives near by, in fact almost next to 908th, and he got some blood pressure issues, but just slightly over the average, so he still gotta do this thing. C is a vegetarian of religious reason, and he is very skinny. The only thing I m glad for is rookies have every weekends off for the first month and no guard duties since we douno where things are yet. Oh there are also ladies here, and they are alrite. Hey I still gotta do some shooting with t91 rifle, which is another bootleg of m4, and it is not as good as the longer barrel t65k2 on 175m range.