Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scary How Much a Two-Year-Old Knows

So far, my time off from Baghdad has been great. I've been able to relax here at home with my wife, take care of some issues (dog @ the vet, car's oil change, etc). I've been able to visit North Shore, seeing friends and former students (who attack in packs not by themselves). I've taken in a lot of caffeine (Deidrich's and Starbucks) and watched quite a few new movies (Slumdog, The Burrowers, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Let the Right One In, Doubt). The big thunderstorms and flooding that's been going on have kept me inside too. I've also been able to enjoy my little girl and see how much she's learned and grown.

She's learned a lot of words and is pretty good at putting them together into phrases and small sentences. She'll say, "Good morning, everyone wake up!" when we go to her room in the morning. She knows almost the whole alphabet (we play with the letters in the tub) and lots of animals. She's also pretty intuitive...when I dropped her off at her daycare this morning (a lady we know watches her), she had a big fit. At first, when we pulled up into the driveway, she was saying, "Yay!" After we walked in, however, the clinging began.

She wouldn't let go of my leg saying, "No, OK" her version of 'no'. If I tried to explain to her that I had to go or tried to pry her from me to go she'd start jumping and crying. I bent down to talk to her and she wrapped herself around me, squeezing with her arms and legs in a little monkey vise grip.

We tried giving her a snack in the kitchen...with me in the living room waiting for her to go into the kitchen so I could leave. Loren stood right in between the kitchen and the living room, looking both ways...at the snack, then me to make sure I wasn't moving. I turned; she went nuts. I was finally able to leave and I could hear her outside screaming my name. She knows. She knows I'm leaving again and it's affecting her already. She's just two...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Leave, R&R, EML...Whatever You Call It...I'm There

Today is the day that a lot of service members look forward to when they're deployed. Well, actually, it's when you get home...but today is the day I leave Baghdad for home.

The process that gets us from here in Baghdad to home is something that we don't look forward to. It's long, it drains you mentally, it leaves you exhausted after traversing eight time zones...but it is sooooo worth it.

I'm looking forward to being in my own house, being with my wife, playing with my daughter and our crazy dog. I'm going to pack some good food in my belly, see a lot of friends, visit my students at both schools, and relax.

So, here I come...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Easter Bunny Was AWOL

It's Easter Sunday. SFC Q wakes me up a couple times because he had to head out early. I roll around in bed until around 0800...gotta get up for chow. No Easter candy in my CHU.

I get dressed and head out...to a cloud-covered day with rumblings in the distance. Thunder. No way. We don't get that here. It's really dark over by BIAP. Wow. It's really raining over there. Dang...I have to deliver the paper today all over VBC in the rain. No Easter chocolates or eggs hidden on the way to chow or to the media operations center. The chow hall was teasing people this morning because there was a huge, brightly decorated basket by the exit...with NOTHING in it.

Osman, our linguist, and myself head over to ECP 13 to meet Mofead and pick up the latest edition of The Crossed Sabers, the paper I'm in charge of. It's raining on and off and it's pretty windy. Weird. This weather reminds me of the August thunderstorms at home. Wait, I'll see home really soon because I'm going on leave!

Oh and no Easter eggs or candy so far....

So PFC Ward and I hop in the Nissan Patrol...an SUV that's been acting up lately. It doesn't want to start for me. Dang gremlins! We have to keep the car running throughout the entire delivery so we don't get stranded. We get to Camp Striker and we found out the Easter bunny paid them a visit. When I went in the chow hall to pick up some food, there was a lady (KBR employee) dumping loads of jelly beans, small solid chocolate bunnies, and chocolate on a table. I walked by and grabbed two solid chocolate bunnies as she was saying, "Take, take!"

I had to go all the way to Camp Striker to get some dang Easter goodies! What kind of place is this!!? Oh...it's Iraq. Happy Easter everyone. Now I need to get off this thing and send my daughter some Easter bunny art that she can color and show to me when I get home.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

President Obama Visits Baghdad

Something pretty cool happened yesterday. I heard that the President was coming to this area and was glad that we didn't have that type of PAO mission (media facilitation) because when a VIP of that stature comes here, things get asinine. Anyways, I thought it was going to be a presidential meeting...like with the Prime Minister of Iraq or something. Nope.

Our First Sergeant comes into our office, "OK! The man is here, who wants to go see him?" We all stared at him; silence engulfed the room. "Well?" he said. "You better decide now because you don't have much time."

We all jumped at once. I grabbed my personal camera, my cover, and my weapon. "No weapons, leave them with me!" said 1SG. We brought our M4s into 1SG's office and six of us squeezed into the truck. I drove to the al Faw Palace and noticed the tight security at the intersections. We had to park down the street and walk to the palace gates.

As we got in line (long line too!), the MPs were shouting instructions about metal in our pockets, knives, etc. We entered the building and it was like walking into a concert. The band (don't know which one--1st CAV Band?) was playing songs from Cold Play and Radio Head. They were rockin'. Then they started playing the traditional American presidential music and we knew that the motorcade had arrived.

I was by the main entrance when President Obama walked in, staff and media pool in tow. Everyone started clapping and yelling. Everyone's personal camera was up taking in video or taking pictures. He walked up to us and shook hands...making his way around, until Gen. Odierno brought him into the conference room for his brief.

After that, the President came out to speak to all the service members in the rotunda of the palace. The speech was short and to the point. Thanking us servicemembers for our work here and thanking our families for their sacrifices. It was cool seeing and listening to him.

I felt a little strange while I was there with the media going nuts with their news gathering equipment. Weird because as a Public Affairs NCO, I'm used to facilitating these events for the media. We did A LOT of that in Afghanistan. At the palace, I was able to just stand there amid the mass of uniformed personnel and enjoy the moment. By the way, I believe that this visit was Obama's first as President. I've attached a short snippet of video of the President speaking to the bottom of the blog. It's been compressed too so it's a little low res.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cuts Like a Razor...na na na nana naaaa na na nana...

We all know that razors are sharp. What helps us guys is when a company slaps 4 or even 5 little razors on a handle and says it's a technological breakthrough. Why does it help? Well for one, it cuts down on the razor burn and the amount of cuts you get because the razors are close together.
So, yeah, what I'm getting at is....last night I went to the showers to shave my head and take a shower. When I walked in I saw my first sergeant. I put my stuff on the shelf and proceeded to lather up. After that, I began shaving with my handy little Headblade (love that thing, it's got 2 razors on it).
The Headblade makes it easier to shave our noggins...obviously, just look around the chow hall sometime and noticed the guys walking around sporting their baldness. It looks like a little car. So, 1SG then asked me if I was aware of who he and the XO ran into earlier in the day. I told him yes and shuddered.
1SG noted the nastiness in my voice and continued on about his run in with one of the worst officers I've ever met. I started laughing at one point and nicked myself a little on the back of my head. I immediately knew it wasn't bad, so I kept shaving. 1SG got to the part where he left the XO with the aforementioned officer and I really laughed knowing what a torture that is and then I REALLY cut myself. It wasn't pretty and I started cussing as blood began seeping out, down toward my ear. That thing dug out a hunk of skin and I had to pat it back down to stop the blood from coming out. 1SG took off after that. After he left I took a shower...
So, don't shave your head and laugh at the same time...no matter what the discussion is about.