Friday, July 17, 2009

Random Photographs

One half of my CHU. Duck rug courtesy of B.

The other side of my CHU. Penguin courtesy of Michelle and her son. Fish rug courtesy of Judy. Thanks!

My desk. My own little corner of my own little world. Note my IBA hanging in the left's the new, improved floral version.

Our studio. Note the expensive soundproofing. Yes, those are authentic wool rugs hanging on the walls.

The other side of our studio with the green screen.

The view of Camp Liberty from the roof of our building. The long, white building in the background is the PX.

The friendly 1SG monster who shares my office. He's a little shy, but can be coaxed out with some lemon cookies.

My "Taco Thursday" calendar that 1SG talked about in his post. I've since marked off two more tacos.

My Top 10 List

Who doesn’t love a top 10 list? We’ve come up with a few here in Baghdad, but I decided to sit down and write one all my very own. Here are the Top 10 Things I Miss While I’m in Iraq. I am going to leave off the obvious…family and friends. Everyone misses them. Well, not MY family and friends, but…you know what I mean! :)
1. Museum hopping on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Or a sunny Saturday afternoon. Heck, just going to a museum any old time of day.
2. Picking my own food. Now, I’m not much of a cook…but at least even in restaurants I knew what my dinner was going to be before it was placed in front of me. Now, some nice guy in a shower cap plunks food down on my plate a mere 3 seconds after I’ve first seen what they are serving. Of course, it’s usually some form of chicken, so there’s not much guesswork involved.
3. Being in the same time zone as friends and family. It sucks to be 8 to 10 hours ahead of people. By the time I get in the office in the morning it’s the middle of the night for those in the US. I miss conversations on Facebook because I’m not in sync with people!
4. Going to restaurants, perusing a menu, having someone bring me my food. I also miss having a cold beer or glass of wine with dinner. I’m especially going to hate football season…not being able to go to the bar, ordering beer and nachos, and watching my favorite teams on the big screen.
5. I miss my TV. My large, HD, DLP television and my HD channels. I miss my red furniture…my big red chair and my red couch and my 4-poster bed and my knotty pine dresser. Well, at least it’s nice that I can remember my furniture, since it’s been 18 months since I’ve seen it. I miss all of my “stuff”…my DVDs, my books, my wine and champagne glasses, my dishes, my pictures, my shoes, my jeans, my scarves, mittens, and heavy coats, my computer. Everything I own, I miss. I can’t wait to get my stuff out of storage, open my boxes, and just roll around in my “stuff”.
6. I miss doing my own laundry. And my own chores. That might sound insane…who likes to do laundry? But when you can’t do your own, you miss it. I miss sorting my laundry and knowing it’s going to get clean. I hate the fact that they just dump my bag of clothes into a washer and then a dryer. That’s why my towels, sheets, etc. are all one color…so nothing fades. I do get to clean my own CHU…sweep the floor and then Swiffer the dust away.
7. Flowers. Greenery. I miss the colors that nature has given the rest of the world and seems to have left Iraq off the list. Everything is brown, mostly because it’s covered with dust. Even the birds are brown. I miss the cardinals and the freesia and the pansies. But mostly the cardinals.
8. Driving my car. I have a truck here, but I don’t drive it that much. I don’t really have anywhere important to go! I miss my car and my XM Satellite radio system, my sunroof, and my heated seats. Kitty and I are going on a lllllooooooonnnnnnggggggggg road trip when I get back.
9. My first name. That’s the weirdest, probably, but I’d be willing to bet that most of my Soldiers don’t even know my first name! They just call me “ma’am” or “Major”. Only a few officers call me by my first name…anyone else is inappropriate. Even the Ugandans and other workers call me “Major”. It’s like Annmarie doesn’t even exist anymore.
10. Wearing jewelry. I can wear a watch…I bought a nice one a few weeks after we arrived. I can wear two rings at the time although most of the time I don’t because I sweat too much and it irritates my skin. A few nights a week I’ll put my earrings in so the holes don’t close up. I just have to remember to remove them before I leave my CHU the next morning! I did forget one time…got some funny looks from the guy in the laundry. I miss picking out earrings, necklace, bracelets, etc. to go with my outfits. I am so buying jewelry when I get back!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Happy 4th of July!

Since we arrived here in Baghdad in February, our camp has been visited multiple times by entertainers that the (male) Soldiers consider to be the best group ever...NFL Cheerleaders. While the guys get to go ga-ga over the scantily clad beauties in their respective team jerseys (cut up like they're from the movie "Flashdance") the gals just stand in the back and wonder "when will the females get some eye candy?"
Okay, NFL coaches might not be eye candy, but they're men and they're more fun to talk to than cheerleaders. The 2009 NFL Coaches Tour was supposed to stop by here on Thursday but weather (read: dust) cancelled that trip. Thankfully it was rescheduled on the 4th of July and I used my PAO powers to get up close and personal with 5 of the NFL's finest: Tom Coughlin, head coach of the NY Giants; Bill Cowher, former head coach Pittsburgh Steelers; Jeff Fisher, head coach Tennessee Titans; Jon Gruden, former head coach Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; and John Harbaugh, head coach Baltimore Ravens (who IS serious eye candy).
A good time was had by all! Bring on NFL Football! And leave the cheerleaders at home!

On another note, our interview with the Cincinnati Reds went well. Our Soldier-in-the-spotlight had a 15-minute interview with one of the game's announcers. In the press booth with the interviewer were the Soldier's parents, sister, and grandfather. While the Soldier only had audio, his family members had audio and video. The Soldier said it was the first time his parents had seen him since he left 5 months ago and it was very emotional for all. So, while Public Affairs Officers get the brunt of things gone bad, sometimes we get to use our powers for good. :)

Oh yeah, another dust storm today.

Me and former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Bill Cowher.

Me and Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher.

Me and NY Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. Probably the closest I'll ever get to Eli Manning.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Be kind to your web-footed friends...

...for a duck may be somebody's mother..!
First and foremost, let me say today (Saturday) is hazed over by yet another blanket of dust. The dusty days are outnumbering the clear days. There are Soldiers who left for R & R three days ago who are either a) still sitting at BIAP; or b) have come back to Liberty after being told "come back tomorrow". There is little or no air movement at all. But for us today, that's a good thing. It's only 93 degrees outside and we're enjoying the "break" in the heat.
Second, the A/C in my quarters went out AGAIN last night. This makes the third time. First it was frozen in "High" and my room was freezing. I tried to go to sleep under two blankets and a quilt but I was shivering and miserable. So, I got up and turned it off for about 20 minutes. Big froze in "air" mode, meaning it was lightly blowing air, but not chilled air. It wasn't too bad through the night but when I was getting ready to go to work this morning I thought I was going to get heat exhaustion. Hopefully KBR maintenance will have fixed it by the time I get there tonight.
Third, Happy 4th of July! Unfortunately for us, it's just another day at the office. Or out on patrol, or pushing paperwork, whatever. The military can be notorious for having holidays and extra days off...if a federal holiday falls on a Monday then we usually help ourselves to the previous Friday off as well. However, if mission dictates that Soldiers work, then we happily go to work. I spent almost 3 years as staff Public Affairs Officer at the 88th RRC in Minneapolis. I got a few holidays off here and there and I loved those 4-day weekends. But for the most part, I was usually participating in a ceremony somewhere that often required me to travel. I went to 4th of July ceremonies in Illinois, unit welcome home ceremonies on Christmas Day in Wisconsin, and unit briefings on New Year's Day in Ohio.
But that's what I do and, for the most part, it's a small price to pay for the priviledge of serving in the US Army. While my job can be frustrating, draining, exhausting, and sometimes bordering on mutiny, I do enjoy Army Public Affairs. And working on holidays is just part of that job.
That's not to say that Camp Liberty isn't celebrating our nation's independence. The 1st Cavalry Division band is giving a big concert tonight at the Al-Faw Palace over on Camp Victory. There is also a naturalization ceremony at the Palace as well...Soldiers who are serving the country that they finally get the claim citizenship. The DFAC is all decked out in red, white, and blue tablecloths and other decorations. They'll probably have some form of BBQ for lunch or dinner. Maybe the camp's fire teams will fire off the Phalanx sometimes looks like fireworks if they shoot it off at night.
I am also facilitating a live interview with a Soldier from one of those fire teams and the Cincinnati Reds tonight. We will hook him up via satellite to the stadium and he'll be able to talk with his family and the spectators in the stadium. Unfortunately, he won't see any of that (we don't have the ability to receive satellite feed) but he will hear them.
So, enjoy your time off, your BBQ, your beer, and your fireworks! It's a great day and a time to remember that freedom isn't free.