From Iraq with Love…

Its been a rough couple of days. My immune systems seems to NOT be adjusting very well to the Afghan life. The usual common cold symptoms: runny nose, headache, body aches, etc. But as of last night you can add kidney infection to that list. Went to the hospital and they said that it was something in the water… really!?! Gave me an IV, some anti-botics, and pain killers. O! And they told me to drink more water. The last thing I wanted to do.

So I was having a rough time at work today, when I got this (picture on the right) in the mail. Curtis had ordered me a book and sent it to me from Iraq! The note said ‘I Love you’. With being sick and not having a good day at work, it just really hit the spot. I know he probably didn’t time it to arrive on the day I was having a sh*tty day, but it worked out perfectly. 🙂

The Bazaar

They have this place on the edge of post called the Bazaar. Think of an American flee market and that’s sort of what its like. But unlike an American flee market they sell items from Afghanistan culture. They sell stones from the surrounding mountains, rugs, furs, hand carved bowls, trinkets, and other misc. items. Some of the local work is very beautiful. There is so much detail and work put into the jewelry, wood, lapis, rugs, and stone work. 

And they have camels! They let you sit, stand, or ride them. The guy – in very broken Enlgish – kept trying to get me on the camel. I’ve always considered myself adventurous and not afraid of anything, but h*ll no! At least not yet. My normal companion of impulsiveness was not with me today.

With my job I have to stay on the bases. Even though I do get to travel to most of the bases in the country, I don’t get to physically leave the base without an escort, which pretty much means not at all. So this Bazaar is the extent of my exposure to Afghanistan culture. Its semi frustrating because I realize that for all my yearning, I don’t get to see this colorful culture right outside my doors.

Unfortunately, its only open one day a week… 🙁 But I’ll try to take more photos of some of the sellers wares. And if anybody wants anything (a rug, a hookah, gems, etc.), send me an email and i’ll pick it up.

While I was in Kuwait

The military required us to stop in Kuwait on the way to Afghanistan, so while we were there we went into Kuwait City.

We visited one of the largest malls in the city. While I’m not used to seeing so many women AND men in robes, everyone was nice and respectful. And the mall was super clean. Cleaner then any U.S. mall I’ve ever been in. There were some oddities though, like in the food court they leave their food right there; they don’t throw it away. The clothes they were selling were really nice and expensive. And while my eye is untrained, their clothes seemed very fashionable.

We also went to see The Kuwait Towers. Apparently, the three tours serve not only as a tourist trap but also for practical purposes. One, the needle shaped tower, provides electricity to the suburbs in Kuwait. The second and middle towers stores up to one million gallons of water. They also house a rotating restaurant and the view was spectacular. You can see a large portion of the city.

At the end of the day we all ate at an Indian restaurant, that had plush cushions and delicious drinks (non-alcoholic! 🙁 ) Its illegal to posses or drink alcohol in the country, so they poor alot of skill into their drinks. Smoothies, non-alcoholic cocktails, etc. I must have tried at least five different drinks at dinner, not including all the sips of my team mates drinks. 🙂

In the last year…

Inspired by my friend Mlah, I got to wondering what I’ve done in the last 12 months… so heres a short list!
-Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan
-Learned how to Golf
-Flown in the Armys largest plane, the C-17
-Lost 2 pants sizes
-Been in sandstorms
-Shot a couple hundred rounds of an M60 from a Black hawk
-Visited New York City, saw Times Square
-Explored old abandoned Iraqi Tanks
-Saw the home of Abraham from the Bible
-Seen a partial lunar eclipse over the Iraqi dessert
-Learned how to play guitar
-Spent hours in the back of an MRAP with no AC
-Rode a train for the first time
-Attempted (& failed) to calm down a medic who had just tried to save his battle
-Rented a mustang
-Bought a Persian rug
-Watched a gangfight in a restaurant
-Spent a large sum of my battles money in Kuwait City b/c he accidentally got KD instead of U.S. dollars
-Visted the Mall of America
-Saw the Kuwaiti Towers
-Lived in a hotel for three months
-Flown in a Chinook in the middle of the night
-Worked 44 hours straight
-Went to a Wedding
-Got drunk on Borboun Street, New Orleans
-Drove someone elses boat in a swamp, while looking for alligators
-Tried to dress up like a Ninja when I’d had way too many drinks
-Learned from a 33 and a KFB
-Showered with a room full of women
-Watched the skin peel off my feet
-Designed and built a website
-Learned how to invest my own $ in the market

Afghanistan

My team and I have arrived in Afghanistan. And, um, wow. Its NOTHING like Iraq. We are in a valley, surrounded by beautiful mountains and the weather is cold compared to Iraq.

Its so much more rugged here then where I was in Iraq. In Iraq I worked in Baghdad near Saddam’s old palaces. Because of all the media attention that Iraq has seen over the last two years, money has been poured into the country, while Afghanistan has been on the short list of attention.

Living conditions are extremely poor. Ex: My showers are only open a couple times a day for an hour. My team is living in a tent with a bunch of TCN (third country nationals). While living conditions may be sh*tty compared to Iraq, I feel like this is where we can do the most good. The job makes it worth dealing with some inconveniences, such as where I lay my head.

Here in Afghanistan I live by an airfield and I get to see A-10s daily flying over my head. The word that immediately came to mind upon seeing them was cute; my co-workers didn’t appreciate my choice of vernacular very much. They said I should be calling them ‘bringers of death’. As if! I may be working in a mans environment but I’m still a girl!

We’re Here…

So we’re back in Iraq. Missing home…everyday. Wouldn’t it be nice if vacations never ended!

We are adjusting to life over here again. We’ve been back a week and Curtis seems to have adjusted fairly well. Except I still have trouble getting him up in the morning. No more sleeping in…..vacation is over!

I’ve spent the week preparing for Afghanistan. I leave in just a couple of days for a three month tour over there. Curtis will stay here. Upon completion of the three months I will come back and work here in Iraq again. I’m excited and nervous.

I’ve heard rumor that Afghanistan is full of beautiful mountains. But I’ve also heard through the media mongers that the country has seen a severe up-swing in violence. Not looking forward to that part. But as I’m still young and restless/adventurous and full of patriotic spit and vinegar I must go where I feel my country needs me most. So I’m off!

Golf….

Since I moved out of my Aunt and Uncles – who got me through high school – and taken on the big world, they have changed. Over the past few years, they’ve started playing golf. I was always a little confused about this, as they are hunters, four-wheelers, and seemingly adventurous people. I wondered how they could possibly enjoy a game like golf. I’ve always assumed golf was for rich fat white people. (excuse the ASSumption!)

On this vacation they insisted that we try it out and so we did…..WOW! It was so much fun. I had a blast. We rented the carts – mainly so we could drive really fast and act irresponsible; those things are so cool.

The best part of it all was Teeing off. I love hitting something/anything that hard. And to watch it fly through the air, knowing that I had hit it as hard and as accurately as I good…..was a great feeling. Also, spending time with the family was great. We laughed, drank beer, hit some balls, and just had an overall fun time.



When we weren’t driving the little go-carts around, we were walking. Being out in the Wisconsin fresh air felt great. Albeit a bit cold for me. I’m used to the 120-130ish degree weather of Iraq. But I did love it.

If you’ve never tried it, you must. You might find out you share the same misconceptions that I had.

R&R!!!

So here we are. Finally have taken our R&R. Or I guess I should call it vacation now. Either way, its great!

The last few months have been long and it feels good to get a break. We’re taking two weeks of leave. Planning on spending a week here in MI, a couple days in New Orleans, and the second week in WI with family.

There are so many things – little things – that I’m so glad to see. Like grass. I even saw a deer less then a mile away from the Mall of America. Really!?!

We have a good interent connection – had forgotten what that feels like – so we’ll be able to post more. Miss everybody. Love yas!

Been a While…

Sorry family and friends that it has been so long since Curtis and I have written. We both seem to get so caught up in what we’re doing that it becomes hard to find the time for anything else. Not for lack of thinking about the people we love the most though! We’re sorry and are going to ensure that we don’t fall off the radar again.

Things have changed a bit in the last month and a half. While Curtis is diving more and more into his job, I have been moved to a new position. Contracts change, and positions change. I now fly all over Iraq doing computer installations and troubleshooting. And I love it! – Curtis is not to happy, but he says its ok as long as I don’t take any unnecessary risks. And I don’t.

I travel to these remote sites for about a week at a time. I get to ride a helicopter and meet loads of new people. I will try to take pictures as I got out to the sites and post them on the blog when I get back. I don’t usually have internet connection at the sites but I do come back to home base and spent time with Curtis and my computer.

Miss everybody so much and love all!

touching my life

The one thing I absolutely love about being here now and last year is all the fascinating people you meet that touch your life. Tonight after work a small group of us sat around discussing some of our dreams and aspirations in life. One of mine, that I kind of threw out half jokingly, was to write a book. Specially, a science fiction or fantasy novel. Well, the group took me very seriously and started interrogating me – as friends sometimes do.  “What would it be about? Why haven’t you started yet? Are you scared?” Etc.

Last year I met people who changed my life, for the better I like to think. People who taught me the importance of an education, how to deal with stress, working long days, and not giving into that desire to give up – when I really wanted too.

Now here I sit again, with people whom a month ago were relative strangers, but now hold serious swaying power over my opinions and at times decisions. Taking me seriously and attempting to convince me to take that first step and write my story.

Its truly amazing how you meet people in your life that touch you in some way or another. It could be that one guy, that said something to you 10 yrs ago, and it held such significance for you that you will never forget it.