Friday, January 30, 2009

Did you feel that?

That shift? That slight movement? That indication that we finally...finally...have a flight to Iraq. All I can say on this unsecure blog is that it's midweek next week. :) We're finally going! Going to be a long flight, though...not looking forward to that.
I thoroughly enjoyed my four days in NYC and it was hard to get on the Amtrak for the ride home. My hotel room was very nice and I enjoyed my afternoon naps and sleeping late in my king-sized bed with about 150 pillows. I arrived early Monday morning and wandered around Broadway and the diamond district. Went to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. It was a 30-minute shortened version but still awesome to take Communion in the best-known Catholic Church in the US. I went into the gift shop and bought a St. Christopher's medal. I thought it was very appropriate to have one from the patron saint of travelers.
I had dinner with and spent time Monday evening with my stepbrother, Simon. I haven't seen him in years to it was nice to sit and chat and catch up in the limited time that we had. He was there with his wife and several of their friends. We all got to chatting and the inevitable question of "where are you from?" came up. It's hard to explain...I'm at Ft. Dix getting ready to head to Iraq within a week or two. Some surprised expressions and lots of good luck wishes. One woman in particular asked a lot of questions...and I was happy to answer. As an Army Public Affairs officer I'm used to answering questions about Iraq. I have access to information and probably follow the news more than the average person so speaking about Iraq, my job, my unit, the training we've been through, etc. was easy. As we were getting ready to leave she said "you're so calm".
Guess I forgot to mention the butterflies that I get when I think about what's coming up! Especially now that we have a flight.
But then again, how could I not be calm? I'm trained for this, my unit is trained, and I have faith in the Soldiers that make up my unit. It's easy to project a sense of calm and trust because of the officers that keep this unit running. I can't do everything (I'm just responsible for everything) so I have to rely on my officers to do their jobs...and do them correctly. And they do. Over and over again they have proven their mettle. And my 1SG Sergeant...knowing he's got my back makes it easy for me to be calm. I don't have to step into NCO issues because 1SG Martinez is usually one step ahead of me, making things at the NCO level run smoothly. Even my E4 Mafia knows their job, does it well, then imbibes in well-earned pizza and goofy movies in the dayroom.
Yeah, I'm calm. It's hard not to be.
Anyways, Tuesday I went to Liberty and Ellis Islands. The statue is an amazing work of engineering and it was a thrill to be standing at the base of the pedestal and looking up at the face that greeted millions of immigrants to the New World all those years ago. I tried to imagine myself standing on the deck of a packed steamer, tired, hungry, dirty, and looking up at that face of freedom and what she stood for. Ellis Island was also amazing...such a story! If those walls could talk (and when the paint peeled off they actually did)! So much family history in those hallways and rooms. I typed my last name into the database but came up with nothing. But apparently you have to put in first and last names, date of arrival (or as close as possible), the ship, etc.
Wednesday I wandered around and went to the matinee production of Equus at the Broadhurst Theater. Now, I'm a fairly open-minded person, but that is just one weird play. Thoroughly enjoyed Daniel Radcliff (of Harry Potter fame) as the slightly-to-the-left-of-crazy stable boy. I always like to see actors branching away from typecast characters, playing someone totally opposite of what we're used to seeing.
All the while in NYC I sat in cafes, sipping coffee and watching people zip by. People walk so fast in NYC!! I felt guilty wandering the streets that all these people has someplace they had to be while I was out ambling around...nowhere to go and all day to get there.
But it was back to reality last night...formation at 2000 (that's 8 p.m. for you non-military types). Time to take the earrings out, put the civilian clothes away, and get back to work.
All that's left is for me to receive my specially-fitted protective mask. Will get that Monday. Once it's fitted and been tested for leaks we are validated. Done. 'Bout time!

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