Sunday, July 27, 2008

What are you doing in October?

This week I turned in my travel request for my first R&R and got approved almost immediately!!!
I was fairly confident there wouldn't be any issues with getting approved, but it still feels great to have it official. Now I'm waiting on Kathy to get approved (she turned hers in today) and then I can buy my ticket. For those of you who don't know, I plan to leave Kuwait on October 1st at 11:45 p.m., arriving in Kansas City on October 2nd at 10:24 a.m. Ah, the wonders of jumping time zones. Why Kansas City you ask? Well, I plan to do a lot of visiting and driving, so I wanted immediate access to my car. I've managed to convince Kyle to drive up to Kansas City, pick Kathy and I up, and head to Columbia, where I will say quick hello's to family there, and head on to St. Louis. I will be spending the bulk of those first two weeks in St. Louis, doing bridesmaid duties for my friend Jenna. Kathy and I have decided to use our accrued vacation time (a whole 4 days!!!) to extend the visit, and I don't plan to leave until October 22, from St. Louis, in the afternoon. What does this mean for you readers? Well, I'm sure Mom has gotten with you and informed you of an early Thanksgiving the weekend of the 17-19, and I think even Juli and Elise are driving up for that. So I know I will get to see you then. But if you catch me early enough, I would love to set up other hang out times. Emily and Noah already get a day from me, but that's easy, as they are in St. Louis. And I realize this might turn into a schedule-a-thon, which I don't want b/c who can have fun when obsessing over what appointment I have next? I guess what I am trying to say is that if there is something you really want me to do with you, let me know, and we'll work it out.
I'm so excited to be getting this ball rolling. The main scheduling I'm doing is planning out what delicious food I'm going to eat. I'm not kidding here folks. I think my first meal will be in Columbia at Chipotle, while I wait for the optimum number of loved ones to be home so I can say my much-anticipated hellos at once. I plan to eat Blackthorn pizza that Friday night in St. Louis, and work in some Jimmy Johns for lunch one of those days. This is only a hint of the planning I'm doing. I've missed great food so badly, I dream about it. So take a moment the next time you eat some delicious chokes and cheese from Flatbranch, or a chalupa from Taco Bell, or anything Ben and Jerry's related, and be grateful that your best meal of the day doesn't involve oatmeal with flavorless watermelon on the side.

Now, after I buy my ticket, the hardest part is yet to come: getting off of Speicher. It is notoriously hard due to weather and other circumstances; therefore, people start trying to get out as many as 5 days before their flight is scheduled to leave in Kuwait. So, when the time draws near, pray for me and an issue-less departure from base. Don't worry, I'll remind you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I came to Iraq and all I got was this sand-flea bite.

Okay, I don't know if I've actually been bitten by a sand-flea yet. I mean, I've had a couple of mosquito-esque bites in the past month, and haven't seen any mosquito's, so I'm assuming it's the dreaded sand-fleas. At least it isn't flesh-eating ants, which DO exist in parts of Africa. Who was watching that Discovery investigation with me about the baby being covered in them? Kirsti?

Now that I've sufficiently horrified you, let me continue to do so by saying that as we speak, Barack Obama is in Iraq. I don't have the same feelings as most of you about the democratic nominee, so I find this kind of exciting. I mean, I still plan to vote independent, so it isn't politically motivated. But just the fact that I'm in a country that is a destination spot for a presidential hopeful is pretty cool. And the thing is, Kathy might get to meet him. I was telling Steven earlier that Kathy has to wear her Kevlar vest for the next couple of days, not because Barack might take a shot at her, but b/c they anticipate extra action around the IZ. Apparently, Barack plans to stop by the Palace there (once housed Sadaam himself, but now houses offices and a DFAC) and do his usual kissing babies, spreading propaganda schtick. I mean, she comes to Iraq to meet a possible future president. How crazy is that? So I am sure the security measures I went through for the visiting military officials pale in comparison to what she will go through.

Lastly, just watched Rear Window the other night, and I completely forgot how good it was. I think I was just in an unenlightened time when I first saw it, b/c I definitely wouldn't have put it on my top 5 Hitchcock movies of all time. But I'm going to have to amend that. I love all of the sharp dialogue, and the feelings of paranoia and not being believed. Everything. I recommend everyone give it another go, because you won't be disappointed. I mean, I was so thoroughly entertained by every part of that movie. Icing on the cake would be to watch the Simpsons parody afterward, but alas, I don't have access to such things.

That's all...enjoy your week everyone.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"We'll follow the old man *er* woman..."

Tomorrow is a big deal for the USACE group. We are changing commanders. Our former commander is returning to the States, and a female colonel is taking over. Don't ask me what the military titles mean, just know that this is a big enough deal for the general over camp Speicher to make an appearance. Now, while I may not be working directly for the military, I'm still required to participate in all activities the rest of USACE does. I'm not allowed to exclude myself, that way, an attitude of togetherness can be fostered. So I will be with my fellow workers, sitting in the heat of Iraq, listening to various figureheads posture on the state of construction in Iraq. Pardon me if I'm not too excited about this. The one cool thing is that they are bringing dogs in tomorrow morning to sniff out scary things. I assume this is for the General. And while I am a bit resentful at the concept that they only bring in the dogs when a bigwig shows up, I am appreciative of the fact that they are making the camp the most secure it can be. I just wish I could play with the dogs, but I think they have a no-touch rule. Too bad.

Meanwhile, the power went out for about 20 minutes today. I was shocked at how quickly my south pole-like trailer became a stuffy closet. For that 20 minutes, I had horrifying visions of having to sleep and eat in this condition. I nearly worked myself into a heat-induced frenzy. I can't begin to tell you the things I will do to avoid being hot when trying to sleep. They may involve Fear Factor-esque tasks. Thank heavens we don't have to find out how cheaply I'm willing to sell my dignity for a working air-conditioner (yet).

Work continues to be the same. Nothing too interesting to report there. I'm finding these past couple of weeks dragging. That's not how it's supposed to go! I'm supposed to live a half-like existence where the days drag, but the weeks fly by. Sadly, this is not the case for the month of July. Many of you already know my goal is to make it to August, b/c this means that I will be on the downhill cycle of this ride. So, here's hoping the latter half of the month goes by more quickly than the first couple of weeks.

On another note, I've started Planet Earth. So far, it completely lives up to the promise. I'm actually quite surprised (pleasantly) at the number of times I've laughed out loud. Animals are funny. They also are quite tragic. This documentary does not hold back on the realities of nature and her patterns. When an elephant started going the wrong way towards much needed water, I nearly started bawling. And while I respect and understand the film crews need to remain objective and detached, I still was wishing they would land their helicopter and lead this elephant back in the right direction. I hope to finish quickly, so that those of you who don't want to shell out the cash can enjoy the delights of this series. I only wish I could watch these with someone. Specifically you, Mom. I keep imagining the comments you would make, back at your sewing machine, and the things that will make you laugh. (There's one part in the first one about Birds of Paradise that I know you will love!) But that is for a future date. For now, I love you all and hope your summers are going fantastic!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thanks a million!

To start, I would like to thank you all for your support and advice. Bad news first, I don't think any of the advice would work. I did a pretty effective job of screwing this up. It was my recovery software that erased all of this, and I think unless I committed a lot of time to a computer nerd (which I don't have), I might be able to get some things back. But I don't want to be parted with my mis-behaving baby, so I will move on. Also, the IT people here are super busy and not too friendly, so I would rather avoid that. Therefore, my loss will remain a permanent one. But your suggestions were fantastic. And if I were in the States, I would follow every last one of them.

The good news is that I can track down all pix except one folder. And I am sad for that folder, but they didn't have my most precious photos. That makes me feel a lot better. The itunes thing is not as easy. I just finally got it to download on my laptop, so now begins the slow process of accumulating music.

I would also like to publicly thank Juli for the completely unexpected, amazing, perfectly thought out, care package she sent me. While there was no official contest as to who loves me the most, there was a scorecard in my head going, and Juli officially wins. Not only is she the first to send me a package, she was the first to send me regular mail. Mom's letter from AZ came the next day, but "close" doesn't win games. I could go on and continue to force my competitiveness on the love you feel for me, but that seems petty.

Truly though, Juli, it was perfect. I will be riding on a natural high from it for a while. I love you so much. If only there were a need for endless sand and shredded paper in your life, I could return the favor. I'll figure something out.

Okay, off to battle itunes.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ashes to ashes...and all that stuff.

My memory is gone. Kaput. Never to be seen again. No, I have not been hit with flying shrapnel, and no, the stress has not dripped an acidic like hole into my hippocampus (some neurological psych nerdery for you all). My hard-drive is gone. I mean, it's still there. But the memories are not. No pictures, no music, no nothing. If today had been slower at work, I would be in a depression so deep only cookie dough and 8th season episodes of Seinfeld could bring me back. I won't get into the nitty-gritty details of it all. Lets just say I thought I could fix something myself. That should have stopped me dead in my tracks. Beckie, fix technology? Beckie, who can barely operate her Ipod and never figured out her 20 dollar phone? Laugh it up everyone, I had a moment of insanity spurred by the thought of being without my laptop in the shipping process with circuit city. It would have been forever and I can't live without this baby for that long. I'm paying the price now.

I had hordes of music on there, much of which I will never get back. I mean, I will, but it will cost more money and a lot of hunting down. I also had an enormous selection of Christmas music which was going to be my only link to the season come December. I definitely spent in the past 3 years, over 100 dollars at itunes. I hate this. Then the pictures. I fear that some of my pictures on there were the only hard copies left in the world. I will attempt to get them back, but that's going to require a lot of hope. Also, they were my link to everyone back in the states. I didn't need internet to look at my album of Noah pictures. Now it's gone.

So, I am still feeling pretty crappy about all of this. I'm angry at my computer for failing me, but scared to get too angry in case she tries something worse. I dread having to upload my music onto itunes, not that I have much. I only brought a few c.d.'s because, hey, I have it all on my computer! I'd laugh if I weren't so busy dry-heaving.

Therefore, everyone has even longer to wait for pictures that are definitely not worthy of this build-up. If you need an image to last you till then of Iraq, picture a sandbox surrounded in cement.

I'm going to wrap this up, as I have nothing positive to say right now. I mean, there are silver spots on this cloud.
I just choose not to see them right now. I'm in mourning.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of what???

The 4th of July, in sense of time, means nothing here. We officially celebrated the 4th on the 3rd. Celebrate is a rather strong word here. I think I would be more apt to say "forced to not work more than 2 hours and entertain yourself" the 4th of July. I've been thinking and thinking, and still don't have a decent reason why the 3rd. That's government for you. So, in an abstract sense, I still hold Independence Day near to my heart. Oh, and the actual day too.

I am nearing the end of my fourth, which was filled with a lot of work and presentation making and such. Those are the good days, as they usually pass by more quickly. I spent my (mostly) day off watching the LOTR trilogy. Not very patriotic (unless you're a kiwi) but as I brought the movies over with the intent of viewing them again, I thought I would take full advantage of a 12 hour stretch of free time. I mean, if I were to try and fit them in with my work schedule, I would be splitting the individual movies up into parts. I just don't have a 4 hour chunk of time. Getting to the point, it was the perfect (almost) day off.

I'm going to try and add a picture to the end of this post. If it comes out, it is of a sign that is posted in numerous places around the laundry room. If it doesn't, two dollars to the person who can guess what it will say.

Enjoy your freedom to celebrate freedom everyone.