Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kuwait, both everything and nothing I expected.

Hi family. I'm sitting here, in Kuwait, like a tool b/c I brought my laptop to an internet cafe, not realizing they provide the computers, and relieved to have that big chunk of the journey over with. And oh what a journey it was.

So, this past week has been filled with a contained excitement, and in hopes of pushing the anticipation to it's breaking point, I decided to wait until the end of the week to do all the things I needed to in order to prepare for the trip. I don't know why I do this. It's the same at Christmas time, when I push the bulk of my shopping off until 3 days before Christmas, and lately, Christmas Eve. I have a sick problem. I had turned in my AMR papers a week before (Air Movement Request) and asked to leave as soon as Saturday. So, I'm foolishly thinking I can push things off (packing, finish work, clean out email, get important documents together), and go about my week with coming home at the back of my mind at all times. I did get a few things done ahead of time, like give Dave a calendar of all the projects I do through the week so he knows when he needs to do them, and I shipped a box home of dvd's borrowed from you lovely family members, and books I've read and need to move so I can acquire more books. But that's about it. And I had S-Tina/Florentine telling me to pack early b/c I might be asked to leave earlier in case bad weather was predicted or something. And I laughed, and agreed with her, all the while knowing I would do nothing. (I know this is a lot of preface, but meh, I don't have much to do here but bore you all with the details).

Well, Friday morning rolls around. I oversleep a little bit b/c I went to the gym the night before and that had me revved when I should have been trying to go to sleep. I go in, send a couple of emails, and get a phone call from our Operations guy asking me to see him when he gets a moment. Still thinking everything is cool, b/c we are usually told what time our flight is leaving the day before. Well, I go down, and he informs me that Saturday and Sunday are Red Days...basically, no one but super important people or emergencies are going to get out over those next two days. As a contractor going on R&R, I am at the bottom of the totem pole. So he recommends I go down to the ADAC (airfield) and put my name on the standby list so I can possibly get out today. WHAT????? is what I'm thinking in my head, while telling him that sounds like great advice. I clearly don't want to push it until after the weekend because if weather becomes an issue, then I would potentially miss my chance to get to Kuwait in time for my flight.

Okay, this story is already getting way to long. I'll sum up with the highlights, and details will come when I get to talk to you all face to face. Basically, I go and find out that I need to be back at the ADAC in 2 hours to see if I can get on (you are supposed to be there 4 hours before the flight to see if you are on the manifest). I get back, do the fastest packing job ever, go to work and do as much as I can (send in my vacay timecards, clean out my email), and rush to the ADAC, only to sit for 7 straight hours, weasel my way onto a flight, sit for 5 more hours, and finally fly to Kuwait. Events during this trip include waiting on the actual airfield for our plane to land, only to board it 5 minutes later, nearly throwing up on the flight over (no joke, I had cold sweats and everything, and was convinced the trip would end in me barfing in my helmet), get to Kuwait and become incredibly confused over Kuwaiti Dinar (their currency...I had to withdraw some Dinar to pay for my visa, thought they said thirty, when in fact they said three, withdraw 40 to cover my bases, only to discover I withdrew approximately 200 dollars worth of dinar), get to my tent which is filled with 6 bunkbeds and a light that never shuts off, get lost the next morning and have to go back to billeting to discover where I sleep, and spend my day reading and getting more familiar with the surroundings.

Needless to say, it's been a very eventful 36 hours. Now I am at the internet cafe, with only 22 more minutes on my session, tired and dreading the return to the tent, and wondering how I am going to fill the next 4 days. But, like I said, this is one huge chunk of my journey done. Soon I will be in the Kuwaiti airport, weeded out of my mind trying to figure out my ticket, find my gate, and entertain myself for 4 hours. Good times in the Middle East.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

So much to do, so little time...

In two weeks, if all goes well, I should be sitting in Dulles Airport right about now, waiting 90 minutes to board a plane that takes me to Kansas City, where Kyle should be waiting to pick me and Kathy up. It's a moment I've thought about a lot, and one that is getting closer and closer.

How do I feel? Well, excited, of course, but as the time draws nearer, a lot of other emotions are going through me as well. Panic, that I will forget something crucial (like my passport or check card). Curiosity, has four months changed my perspective, or is that all hooey that I tell myself to convince myself I've grown. Anxiety, that my planning for this wedding shower will still not be enough and I'll be left scrambling the two days I have before it. Hope, that I will not drag my heels when it's time to say goodbye again and know that the next stint over here will allow me to go to Europe. Irritation, at all the grad school processes I have to take care of while home and still haven't gotten done over here. Dread, at that stupid GRE. Fear, that all the steps I have to take to actually get to Kuwait, and then get to the Kuwaiti airport, will be hard and influenced by factors out of my control. Glee, at the thought of all the friends and family I get to see, and that my only responsibility while being home is to see all of you.

Was that enough emoting for you? The robot feels. It's true. Right now, the more negative ones are taking over. For three and a half months, it was all excitement, but now I'm filled with all the things I need to do. I need to study more (I've slacked in the past few weeks), I need to write a rough draft of a personal statement, I need to make a good list of everything I plan to borrow from Mom and Dad (sleeping bag, pillow, piece of cardboard covered in foil for the cake I'm decorating,)(see? I've already started), I need to make a good list of things I need to do before the wedding, I need to see if my dress still fits, I need new clothes and shoes, I need to ship some boxes home, I need to clear my desk of all my work and make procedures for those who are taking over my duties, I need to go to logistics to get my air and ground movement papers filled out, I need to not eat that delicious ice cream bar that calls my name every day at the DFAC, I need to get my lodging set up and finalize plans, I need, I need, I need.

Okay, just breathe Beckie. These are good weeds. They get you closer to the goal. You don't need to stress about this because in two weeks, you will be in America. You will be chilling with Kathy, planning out your first taste of American food (she's thinking Chipotle, I'm leaning towards Jimmy Johns). You will be getting your haircut the day after, and you know how much you love someone to touch your head (you were a dog in another life). You will be eating Mom and Dad's homemade pizza soon. You will get to hold Noah and see how much he's grown. You get to drive your own car and listen to NPR. You get to sleep in. You get to go to the movie theater and pay way too much money for popcorn you never finish and watch a movie that is more than likely not worth the build-up (if only The Road could be released in October). You get to sit around various tables, laughing with friends and family, and just be.

Wow, when starting this entry, I didn't realize it would become three paragraphs full of lists. The past two days though, this has been my thought process. And I have a feeling, it will be for the next two weeks. Pray for the weather to not be crappy when I'm trying to leave Speicher and Kathy is trying to leave the IZ. Pray that I will figure out all the steps I have to take both here, and then at Tent City while I wait for my flight (I'll be there about 3 days). Pray that the flights are on time and travel safely. Other than that, just hold tight b/c I'll be seeing you all soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is there a fall in Iraq?

I hate that September is when the season of Fall officially begins. I mean, what a tease. You begin to anticipate that cool weather, the smell of burning wood, the anticipation of sweaters and brisk mornings. I remember the first day of school always had a bite in the air that seemed appropriate for the new things starting. Now I'm starting to wonder if I imagined it all. If my memory filled in the blanks with what I wish September brought. I think I did. I'm pretty sure those yearly pictures of us going of to school the first day are filled with shorts. And shorts do not go well with brisk mornings. Maybe I'm getting sentimental for the chilliness of Indian summer because I am in the armpit of the world. I mean, I thought the heat of June and July was the worst it could get. And I was quite proud of myself for the graceful way I handled it...i.e. I didn't get angry at random things like I normally do when hot. Then August rolled around and I realized my ignorance of the past two months. August was a beast. It was even hot at 4:30 in the morning, a time that I previously cherished b/c it was so cool and pleasant.

So I've eagerly been anticipating September, hearing that things cool off right about now. And I don't know why I'm so surprised to find they haven't. They never do back home. My fake memories are just that, fake. September is just as miserable as August, but worse somehow, because you are so ready for fall. You've drug out all of your sweaters and cute closed-toed shoes, eager to rock the layers, only to discover the layers would cause a heat stroke if you were to actually attempt them. I think the heat is finally getting to me. I'm so irritated by it that I'm even imagining being back home in the states and getting irritated with it. I have multi-continental irritation with heat right now.

On that scholastic note, I just got Sarah's calculator in the mail, so I must begrudgingly begin my math preparations for the GRE. Horror. I hate to sound like a cliche, but seriously, most of the stuff I'm having to study for I will never use in my future life. In fact, if faced with a stupid analogy or algebraic problem, I will run in the opposite direction and sign up for the first garbage collecting job I can get. Seriously, none of the things I want to do truly involve the contents of the GRE. I understand the necessity of the LSAT, and the MCAT and even the one for engineering. But the GRE? I think Kaplan just found another way to make a buck off of desperate students. Or it's another government conspiracy to keep us distracted from the sheer ineptitude of the balance of powers.

Maybe I need a break...I'm finding conspiracies in everything. Time for a vacay.

Oh, and thank you so much Sarah. We have a lunch/ice cream date in our near future so I may show my utter gratitude. You are the best!