Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Suicide Watch Over.

Okay, I'm back in Tikrit. Crazy depressed Beckie has disappeared (not forever b/c I will have to return to Kuwait for all future exits from Iraq) and I'm getting back into the swing of things. One thing that is not working out for me is getting my sleep routine back to normal. I'm a pretty cocky sleeper, b/c I can sleep almost anywhere, at any time, and for nice long stretches uninfluenced by things like noise, movement, etc. The only condition I usually have a hard time sleeping in is the heat. I mean, I'm the girl who has no problem falling asleep on a flight for 12 hours and sleeping every moment except free meal time. But this jet lag is kicking my rear. I'm currently writing this at 4 a.m. my time after waking at 1:30 a.m., not able to go back to sleep. I attempted for an hour, knowing my body was exhausted, but to no avail. So I turned on the t.v. to discover a classic Lost episode from season 2 where Sayid takes Ben in (though at this time he's going by Henry Gale). Remember when we all thought Sayid might be wrong and Ben was just a harmless victim of the island? Crazy times.

Anyways, now that I'm back, I'm in a much better state of mind. I've already gotten my packages I sent to myself a week ago (great timing), so things are humming along nicely. Turns out my job is still boring, in case anyone was wondering. I'm running low on movies to watch, so I got another Hitchcock selection on Amazon. The people making these collections must have talked before b/c this one includes 8 movies not in the collection I already have. Perfect! It has Strangers on a Train, which I'm most excited about. I love that one. However, I only watch those movies on Saturdays, so I think I'm going to have to delve into the small collection my office has of semi-crappy movies. One's I will only watch if I have to exert no effort to get the movie in my hands. I'll keep you posted. Maybe one will surprise me.

Just to reiterate, it was great to see everyone. Thank you for doing Thanksgiving early for me. My biggest disappointment is that no games were played in that glorious weekend, but I figure if that's my biggest disappointment, I can count myself pretty lucky. We did play domino's my first night back, and that was pretty cool. But this just means the next time any of you see me, I will be merciless in making you play any and all games with me.

Thanks for your prayers for me. Love you all...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Living it down in Kuwait

Hi all. So I just realized that I didn't blog at all while visiting all of you in the states. Not that I had anything interesting to say, but you think I could have made something up. Actually, I didn't do a lot of things I planned to do. I guess I got caught up in the socializing part of it. I hardly interneted, I didn't grocery shop and ship myself back some healthy things, I didn't see as many movies as I wanted, and I definitely did not get to sleep as late as I planned.

Well, here is my chance to make up for some of that. Sleep. I am stuck in Kuwait, and I find that all I want to do is sleep; except when I need to. For instance, I needed to be somewhere at 6:30 a.m. this morning for accountability (basically, sit in a room till they call out your name, proving you are here and they can now start worrying about getting you on a flight), but i couldn't fall asleep until 5 a.m. So that led to me sleeping from 8 a.m. this morning until 4 p.m. I guess I'm still on American time. Very frustrating.

Also, being here in Kuwait is not quite the adventure it was the first time. There is no anticipation of going home, no break from 4 months of straight work, nothing like that. The rose-colored glasses are off, and I am super depressed. I need to get back to Tikrit and back in my routine b/c I know I would feel so much better, but until then, I walk around this camp like a zombie, just dreading every minute I have to be here. My only escape is all the sleeping I do, and episodes of 30 Rock on my laptop. I've already plowed through the first season and if I am still here all day tomorrow, I will be done with season 2. What will I do then????? I wish I could write with some more humor and optimism, but my spirits are low, and will stay that way until I am home (my temporary home in Tikrit). It didn't help that I had a miserable experience at the airport. Basically, I was told a person from the USACE group would be waiting for me when I got off, but they weren't. This could be because our flight got in 30 minutes early, but I waited at the gate for a while, then tried to be proactive and go to baggage claim, thinking they may be there. I got stopped before that saying I needed to get a visa. What??? No one told me about this, so I went back upstairs, wandered around a bit, realized I needed to call someone but had no phone numbers. So I went into a bathroom stall, had a 5 minute panic attack, and went back out.

I knew I had the phone number for Dave on my laptop, and knew he could help, so then I began the airport wide search for an outlet. I literally walked the whole upper floor before finding the one random area where they have outlets, and thanks be to heaven, had my adaptor in my laptop case. Further thanks, the airport had an unsecured wireless line I could use. So, knowing Dave prefers email, I emailed him with my quandry, and it only took 5 minutes to get a response. According to him, yes I need a visa, and no, no one waits for us...we have to go outside, look for the american's standing in a line, and get on the bus headed for Ali Al Saleem (Tent City). So fine, I calm myself down a bit, and go to the visa area, where I have to wait almost 2 hours to get my visa. Get my visa, head downstairs to get out (yeah, you have to go downstairs first to get out upstairs), encounter no trouble, and head outside. No American's. Just a large ant farm of various middle-easterners running about. I am so lost at this point. I finally spot a couple of American's (they have the military backpacks, that's how I know) and hang out around them. They look like they are waiting for something, so naturally I assume it's the same thing I'm waiting for. I sit outside for about an hour and a half, not asking, just assuming. To be fair, these guys were not friendly looking, and you know how I hate looking stupid or helpless. But when one by one, they start going back into the airport, not on a bus, I am forced to ask someone if they are trying to get to Ali Al Saleem. Of course they are not. They just wanted to smoke until their flight was boarding. Luckily, a random American had come to that area to smoke and was like, "you need to talk to a girl in a blue-striped polo at the starbucks downstairs. I had to the last time I came back from R&R." Clearly, there is some random procedure for this that they don't deem important enough to tell me about. I go back downstairs, no girl in a striped blue polo is there. So I ask a couple of older guys who looked like contractors about it and they directed me to two girls who were checking people in (no polo's in site). I got checked in and found out there is a shuttle leaving at 10:10 p.m.. Mind you, I've been at this airport since 4:30 p.m. I am so done with the airport, but also grateful to have a plan. All goes well with this, and when I get to tent city, I begin the process of getting checked in. Only to find out by the USACE girl, she WAS there, waiting for me, and I never showed. WHAT???? Yes, I showed, she never showed. Or no one was clear as to where I should have been. I mean, I'm getting all the blame in this. And because I got to Tent City so late, I have to wait another day to get my flight clearance. If I had gotten there by 8 p.m. like planned, I would have gotten clearance the next morning. This is at midnight I'm finding this out.

To ice the poison cake of my crappy day, I get to my tent, all the bottom bunks are taken, and I have to sleep on the top bunk. Crap. I slept 13 hours straight, and woke up wishing I were anywhere but there. Not to continue being a debbie downer, but I am truly downplaying all of my overwhelming feelings of being lost, confused, tired, scared, angry, all of it. I didn't think I could have a worse travel experience than my initial one here, but I did. Oh, and I didn't even go into the leering I recieved from 1 out of 10 middle eastern guys. I mean, blatent leering.

So, hopefully my next post will find me in better spirits. But I think the only way that could happen is if I am in Tikrit. I truly am dreading my next R&R if my travels are even half of what I experienced this time. I may end up stuck in Iraq for the rest of the year just to avoid the absolute misery. Not really, but I shudder to think of what new things will be thrown at me the next time around.