Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sunday in the Park with George

As our days here in Iraq start to dwindle I’ve been spending some time reflecting on our work schedule during our time running the Media Operations Center. It’s been a vicious cycle of steady work interspersed with bouts of sheer madness and sessions of inescapable boredom. This is definitely a theater of operations on its way out the door…but that’s a good thing.
My job here has been relatively steady…as the commander EVERYTHING this unit does is my responsibility, which is why I was careful a year ago to ensure that I had officers and senior NCOs who could do their job.
So, what’s a typical week like for me? Here goes…
Monday: This is the day where I tackle all of the things that I, uh, postponed over the weekend. Time to read through the emails sent over the weekend, tasking us to do this or that, catch up on other emails, and generally get caught up on paperwork. I have one meeting at 1700 (5 p.m. for you non-military types) at the DSTB. This is the first meeting of the week and all of the battalion’s commanders and first sergeants get together and discuss their last “24 hours” and their “next 24-48 hours”. We keep it simple and quick because that’s just too close to dinner time to be yapping about stuff that you can talk about “off line” or at a different time. I also make sure out that three reports that are due every day go out: the personnel status report, the “green” report, and the SITREP (situation report), which lists all of the products my journalists are either working on, have submitted, or have been released.
Tuesday: A day full of catch-up and the time we try to schedule appointments, etc. No meetings on this day, but it is the day the DFAC (dining facility) has quiche for breakfast. They do good quiche here. I do spend this and every other day reading the over 100 emails that I tend to get. Most of them are summaries of media articles regarding Iraq. I breeze through them, skimming the titles to see if it’s something that catches my eye. I also spend free time daily reading various on-line news sites (CNN, Fox, Drudge Report, Slate, BBC, and many others).
Wednesday: My first meeting is at 0900 but thankfully it’s a briefing FOR commanders, not by commanders. So, we sit and listen to information regarding incidents around MND-B, personnel updates, redeployment status, anything that the battalion commander deems necessary for us to know. I usually get back to the MOC in time to head out for lunch. Wednesday is fried rice day at the DFAC for lunch. My XO has a meeting at the DSTB at 1330 and then at 1700 we head over to the 1st Cav Public Affairs office for our PAO “Huddle” (which we now combine into just plain “puddle”) to discuss any issues we might have. Then it’s off to dinner.
Thursday: Thursday is another quiche day in the DFAC for breakfast. If Tuesday’s quiche is mushroom, then Thursday’s is broccoli. But never the same on both days! It’s an open day, like Tuesday, meaning no meetings. Lunchtime is the infamous “Taco Thursday” (see previous post regarding the calendar). Only lately we’ve given up on tacos and head to Burger King instead. Perhaps we should call it “Burger King Thursday”. But then I’d have to print a new calendar. The Division CUA slide is due today…won’t bore you with the details, but it lists all of the main events we’ve done the previous 7 days and the ones planned for the next 7 days.
Friday: Ahhh, Friday. The weekend is fast approaching! Just think…two more working days until Monday! J Training schedules are due, as is the Breeze Slide (explanation on Saturday).
Saturday: All of the PAOs in MND-B get “together” once a week via computer link-up to discuss issues, events, etc. in the weekly Breeze. No video, just audio and some PowerPoint slides that we can all look at. Usually this lasts a half hour and then after that…it’s more paperwork and finishing up the day. Oh, and Saturday night is the night I put my earrings in before I go to bed, so the holes in my earlobes don’t close up.
In between all of this fun, I answer personal emails, go to the gym or the track at least 4 times a week, turn in laundry, go to the PX to see if there is anything new or just sit quietly and read a book. But my favorite day is, of course:
Sunday: This, for the most part, is almost like a real Sunday back in the States. (Well, I tell myself that, anyway). It’s the one morning where I don’t set my alarm clock although I’m usually up by 0800. I start getting hungry after that! Breakfast is usually a big one…things I don’t normally eat: bacon, biscuits and Gravy, Pepsi. The morning at work drags on. It’s the day that I move up our large wall calendar one week. That has been my Sunday morning ritual since we began. On this calendar we mark our meetings, milestones, suspenses, products (green for print, red for broadcast). Anything that we need to remember and act upon. I head to lunch usually around 1300 and for me…that’s the end of the day. We try to take ½ day off around here and Sunday is my day. I get lunch to go and head to my CHU. I get to put on my physical training uniform (although I sometimes put on a pink shirt, but have to change into the Army Tshirt if I go outside) and enjoy not wearing combat boots. I usually clean my room…sweep and Swiffer the floor, and then relax with some DVDs. I can watch multiple episodes of a TV show to pass the day. Occasionally I go get some dinner (fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and sweet potatoes) but most of the time I have a pop-tart and Diet Coke and be done with going outside until Monday morning. It’s a great day to relax and recharge and pretend like I’m back in civilization, even if it’s only for a few hours. And, it helps to know I really only have about 4 more Sundays to do this, before we move into the transient tents and then it’s time to GO HOME. Yay.

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