Thanksgiving in the Midwest. On my way from Milwaukee to Cleveland to Philadelphia. Cleveland flight: Husband and daughter in front of me. Settled into my aisle seat when a man in his mid-thirties carrying a large camouflage backpack (I’d seen a number of these in the Philadelphia/Cleveland/Philadelphia Airports) hoists it into the overhead bin and says, “I hope you haven’t gotten too comfortable.”
He says this in such a confident friendly way that I reply, “No, I was waiting for you,” and get up. And when we settle in, we talk all the way to Philadelphia.
He is headed to Fort Dix in New Jersey, headed to his fourth deployment in Iraq, a career soldier serving 20 years with “6 years and 3 months” left before he returns to the family farm “1300 acres of cash crop soy beans, wheat and corn – none of that GMO stuff,” where he will “fish and fish and fish.” His father and father-in-law were soldiers and farmers. He has a wife and a seven-year-old son.
A Marine, he refers to himself in the slang term Marines use, a Jarhead who was part of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, part of the troops that trained for what they thought would be a prolonged war, and then surprised themselves when two months later they rolled into Baghdad and the “war was over.”
“At least the fighting part,” he says.
We talk about more troops in Afghanistan, we talk about his fourth deployment. “Look,” he says. “I think we made a mistake invading Iraq in the first place. I don’t see how we’re going to get out of there. But I can tell you this: The press hasn’t shown the whole picture. I wish there would be more positive stories and more stories about how our military interacts with the tribes and the sheykhs and the village elders. But, a soldier signs up to serve no matter what his or her opinion.”
“Plus,” he says. “Combat isn’t for everyone because you have to learn to separate your emotions from what you are asked to do. Can you look a man or woman in the eye and know when to shoot and when not to shoot? Because, if you are in combat you are going to be asked to shoot.”
He says he wishes that U.S. Presidents would listen better to the military commanders and not advisors who have never served in the military. His sentiment rests equally with Democrats and Republicans.
He assures me that the U.S. has the best-trained, best-equipped military in the world, that a war is good for soldiers in that soldiers like him have a steady a job with a salary for life – for which he is grateful.
He adds that the only thing we as a nation have to worry about in the area of combat is that we don’t have a enough troops – about 500,000. He believes in the draft and that all American kids should serve a year for their country – “And it doesn’t have to be in combat,” he says.
He said much more about weapons and how with the use of GPS you can hit a target with a 150 pound bomb 18 miles away. About how there is usually “collateral damage” a term he dislikes. That he has had the opportunity to play soccer/football with members of the Iraqi Olympic team and how neither side let the other win as a show of comeraderie. How we as a nation underestimated the bonds of religion, tribe, family and culture in Iraq and the Middle East. How he believes we should have more troops in Afghanistan, less in Iraq, and that most success he’s seen is not through force but through education. “When schools are set up and kids can go to school and people can be trained to work, now you have something positive,” he says.
He reaches his arms up and pretends to cast a fishing rod. ”Yes, six years and three months left,” he says. “And then I’m going to catch a lot of striped bass.”
In 2006, Joy E. Stocke founded Wild River Review with Kimberly Nagy, an outgrowth of the literary magazine, The Bucks County Writer, of which Stocke was Editor in Chief. In 2009, as their editorial practice grew, Stocke and Nagy founded Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC.
With more than twenty-five years experience as a writer and journalist, Stocke works with many of the writers who appear in the pages of Wild River Review, as well as clients from around the world.
In addition, Stocke has shepherded numerous writers into print. She has interviewed Nobel Prize winners Orhan Pamuk and Muhammud Yunus, Pulitzer Prizewinner Paul Muldoon, Paul Holdengraber, host of LIVE from the NYPL; Roshi Joan Halifax, founder of Upaya Zen Center; anthropologist and expert on end of life care, Mary Catherine Bateson; Ivonne Baki, President of the Andean Parliament; and Templeton Prizewinner Freeman Dyson among others.
In 2006, along with Nagy, Stocke interviewed scientists and artists including former Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman and Dean of Faculty, David P. Dobkin for the documentary Quark Park, chronicling the creation of an award-winning park built on a vacant lot in the heart of Princeton, New Jersey; a park that united art, science and community.
She is president of the Board of Directors at the Cabo Pulmo Learning Center, Cabo Pulmo, Baja Sur, Mexico; and is a member of the Turkish Women’s International Network.
In addition, Stocke has written extensively about her travels in Greece and Turkey. Her memoir, Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses & Saints, based on more than ten years of travel through Turkey, co-written with Angie Brenner was published in March 2012. Her cookbook, Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking will be published in March, 2017 by Quarto Books under the Burgess Lea Press imprint . Stocke and Brenner are currently testing recipes for a companion book, which will feature Anatolian-inspired mezes from around the world.
Stocke’s essay “Turkish American Food” appears in the 2nd edition of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (OUP, 2013). The volume won both International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) for Beverage/Reference/Technical category, 2014; and the Gourmand Award for the Best Food Book of the Year, 2014.
She is the author of a bi-lingual book of poems, Cave of the Bear, translated into Greek by Lili Bita based on her travels in Western Crete, and is currently researching a book about the only hard-finger coral reef in Mexico on the Baja Sur Peninsula. She has been writing about environmental issues there since 2011.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from the Agriculture Journalism School where she also received a minor of Food Science, she participated in the Lindisfarne Symposium on The Evolution of Consciousness with cultural philosopher, poet and historian, William Irwin Thompson. In 2009, she became a Lindisfarne Fellow.
Works by Joy E. Stocke in this Edition
AIRMAIL – LETTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
AIRMAIL – VOICE FROM SYRIA
ARTS – ART
COLUMNS – THE MYSTIC PEN
FOOD & DRINK – ANATOLIAN KITCHEN
FREYMAN & PETERSON- Your Life is a Book: How to Craft and Publish Your Memoir
LITERATURE – BOOK REVIEWS
LITERATURE – ESSAYS
LITERATURE – MEMOIR
LITERATURE – POETRY
LIVE FROM THE NYPL
The Euphoria of Ignorance: Being Jewish, Becoming Jewish, The Paradox of Being Carlo Ginzburg
Fountain of Curiosity: Paul Holdengraber on Attention, Tension and Stretching the Limits of Conversation at the New York Public Library
Paul Holdengraber – The Afterlife of Conversation
2013 – Three Questions: Festival Director Jakab Orsos talks about Art, Bravery, and Sonia Sotomayor
Critical Minds, Social Revolution: Egyptian Activist Nawal El Saadawi
INTERVIEW – Laszlo Jakab Orsos: Written on Water
Tonight We Rest Here: An Interview with Poet Saadi Youssef
Georgian Writer David Dephy’s Second Skin
On the High Line: Diamonds on the Soles of Our Shoes
Car Bombs on the West Side, Journalists Uptown
New York City – Parade of Illuminations: Behind the Scenes with Festival Director Jakab Orsos
The Pen Cabaret 2008: Bowery Ballroom — Featuring..
Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses and Saints
Daring Collaborations: Rolex and LIVE from the NYPL at the New York Public Library Composing a Further Life: with Mary Catherine Bateson
WRR@LARGE: From the Editors – UP THE CREEK
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 1
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 2.5
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 3.3
Up the Creek: Number 4.4
Up the Creek: Beautiful Solutions
Up the Creek: Blind Faith, July 2009
Up the Creek: Create Dangerously
Up the Creek: What Price Choice?
Up the Creek: Before and After: September 11, 2001
Up the Creek: Candle in a Long Street
Up the Creek: Crossing Cultures: Transcending History
Up the Creek: Man in the Mirror; A Map of the World
Up the Creek: Stories and the Shape of Time
Up the Creek: The Divine Road To Istanbul
Up the Creek: What It Means to Yearn
WRR@LARGE – WILD COVERAGE
UNESCO World Heritage Site Under Threat of Mega-Devlopment Sparks International Protests
The Other Side Of Abu Ghraib — Part One: The Detainees’ Quest For Justice
The Other Side of Abu Ghraib – Part Two: The Yoga Teacher Goes to Istanbul