Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What the heck is Nancy doing? SEWING!?

Well, sort of. I am sort of sewing sandbags together.

And stuffing them with empty water bottles...

And then sewing them closed.

See my makeshift needle and "thread?"
So, why, you might ask, am I sewing sandbags together and filling them with water bottles? Well, the answer is strange, but simple. I am building a boat. Dan and I are having a raft-building competition, and I am, of course, determined to win. Of course. Competition is my middle name.
We drink a lot of water here each day, and it just seems such a waste to throw out all our empty bottles. We've known for a long time that there must be good alternative uses for these things, but we've never taken the opportunity to explore further...until recently. We work on one of Saddam's many lakes, and we have to walk along a canal to get to our office. Building a water bottle boat has long been a fantasy of mine. What I mean by that is, the idea occurred to me last year, too, but I was too unmotivated to turn my pipe dream into a reality. That was before Dan decided he'd build a boat. Then I decided, "Game on!"
For a while, we thought we might build a bridge. Then I thought about building a cubicle/igloo around my desk. Then we circled right back around to "boat." Competition is fun, and we have nothing better to do with our spare time. Sad, I know.
Dan's technique is to use tape, strapping his bottles into blocks of seven. He's then going to tape those blocks together to build his raft. My technique employes the afformentioned sand bags, laced together in strings of five to form little mats. I'll then sew, I think, three of those mats together to build my bottom layer. Because I figure I'll need more buoyancy, I'll put at least two more mats on top of those three. Then I will add wood, for comfort and balance. And that's it. Right now, I have three complete mats, plus one that is stuffed but needs to be sewn shut. I'll finish that tonight.
Tomorrow, I will continue collecting empties to fill my final mat. I also need to pilfer more sandbags. Heehee. I know where to find hundreds of thousands of them. It takes a minimum of eight bottles to fill each bag, times five bags, which means I need 40 more bottles!!! I'd better get to drinking!!!
I'm not sure when the competition will take place, but it should be pretty soon. Maybe we'll make it into Stars and Stripes! Their offices are in our neighborhood, just a few trailers down. Haha. Anyhow, I'll let you know as the situation develops...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Howdy, all. Well, I have been really bored and lazy lately, so I haven't blogged. I will blog tomorrow, I promise. Tomorrow, I will teach you about another thing we do to stay entertained here. It has to do with Naval architecture.

We have had some incoming here in the past week, and I just want you all to know, if you have heard anything about anything from anyone, that my friends and I are superduper. But it sure would be nice to have something to throw back at those turds. :)

Have a lovely Tuesday!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007, a deployment guide for those deploying to BIAP.
There is no new post today, because I have been working on a CRC-to-Baghdad Deployment Guide. Click here to view it.
Keep checking back, because I intend to update it and flesh it out a bit over the next few weeks.
Please tell your friends about it, if you know anybody who is heading out here. If you like it and find it useful, spread the word at CRC, too.
Please realize that the website is evolving, and it will continue to improve.
Our kill board yesterday.

Our kill board today.

Boredom isn’t good for flies.

We open our office door during the (relatively) cool morning and evening hours. That means we are likely to have any number of guests, wanted and unwanted, poking their noses in. Mostly it’s just harmless “hellos” and “how ya doin’s” from neighboring trailer dwellers. But sometimes, it’s flies.

The flies drive us insane. Apparently, we are not the only ones afflicted by the little beasties, because the PX recently started stocking fly swatters. Now, each one of us has one in our little four-man trailer.

It started out innocently enough…a dead fly here, a dead fly there. But then it progressed. Soon, we were in full competition, with myself and Dan (the Danimator) going head-to-head. Now it is one of our best forms of entertainment.

When one of us would make a kill, the other would ask for proof. The body would have to be recovered and placed on the padded envelope covering the small trashcan in the corner by Dan’s desk. Fly corpses began piling up like tiny little horror film props. Pretty soon, we developed a sort of battle rhythm, and “No guts, no glory” became our mantra.

As soon as a fly is detected, swatters are taken up. The fiercest of competitors hold still and say a silent prayer that the minute, pesky flying enemy will land on their desk, or their computer, or their knee or arm. They are much easier to kill when they land on something. Eventually, the little bugger holds still for too long, and, THWACK! Shouts of joy ring out from the victorious warrior, while the other players demand, “No guts, no glory.”

If the body can’t be found, or if no trace of guts can be presented, no kill. Today, I eviscerated one and then accidentally smeared it into the fibers of our dusty carpet. Luckily, I had enough of his tiny little abdomen on the swatter to prove I’d made a kill.

We have a kill board, and as gross as it is, we won’t take it down. We’re oddly proud of it. We tape our flies to the wall with each kill, and lost or decimated deaths are annotated with a little drawing of a fly.

Dan was winning for a few days, but I caught back up today. He says it’s because he has more work to do, keeping him busy. I say he just isn’t trying. Yes, I will get up from my desk to invade another’s battle space, but I am a competitive little vixen, and I will get my fly. I will win. Oh, yes, I will win. No little 25-year-old civilian , cutie (that's you, Dan) is going to best this former Marine…MUWAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA……

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The sun sets on another day...time to put in a DVD.

Well, I have been a baaaad blogger. I blame Shane. ;) Why? Because, he loaned me his box set of Roswell, and I got hooked on it until I'd finished all three seasons. And then, he forced me to accompany him to the Hadji mart Saturday, where I ended up with another box set that he wouldn't shut his pie hole about and that he encouraged me to buy. He tricked me. I was weak, because I was missing my Roswell characters.

That's one of the things we do over here for fun, in case you were wondering: we feverishly watch as many bootleg DVD movies and TV shows as we can, often becoming slaves to our laptops/DVD players. On Saturdays, you will find us, the real bootleg junkies, meticulously picking through table after table of box sets, music videos, and movies at the Black Hawk. Hadji knows we are slaves to his bootlegs, so he charges us $3 per movie, even though the going rate out on the 'ville is less than a buck.

We don't even care that most of the copies we buy are of the poorest picture and sound quality possible, and that some won't play at all. My first copy of The Bourne Ultimatum actually showed an exit sign and several heads blocking the view, like Mystery Science Theatre 3000. I say "first copy," because I had to buy a new one (Copy 2 was immaculate) when the original quit working about 15 min before the final curtain. But that is the price we are willing to pay. It's a gamble, and we know it. "Damn the torpedoes!" as they say.

I wasn't going to watch TV this time, honest I wasn't. I was going to read. And study Spanish. But I read all my books, including those I ordered on Amazon, and after about 3000 pages of fine print, I decided to turn to my first love, my vice of last year: the dreaded FOB "crack" known as the DVD. Oh, and I can always learn Spanish later...

So, after scarfing down Roswell and about 35 various movies, I went back to the Black Hawk for some more TV shows. TV is easier, you see, because it doesn't require the commitment that a movie does. It doesn't need 2 hours; it just needs 30 min. Well, that is, unless you get sucked in. If that happens, Lord have mercy on your soul. You will find yourself up into the wee hours every night, sneaking episodes during every free moment you have during the day, and even, yes, that's right, even replacing your blog time with TV time. That's right, I said it. I have a problem, and admitting it is the first step to recovery.

The only problem is, I can't commit to any 12-step recovery programs until I finish watching the TV series I bought during that regrettable recent trip to the Black Hawk. Dave is a Lost junkie, but I had never seen a single episode, and that always made it impossible for us to watch it together at home. He has also been telling me about how much he loves the series called Rome, and how he watched the first two seasons during his deployment. Unable to choose between the two, I bought both.

At present, I am 100% obsessed, a slave to Lost. For the past few days, I have neglected everything I can think to neglect, just to be able to find out what in the HELL is on that ISLAND!!!! A plane falls out of the sky from 30,000 ft, and 49 survive??? And they are not alone on the "deserted" island? I must know what happens to them. I mean, what is that THING???

I just finished Season One, and it is all I can do to sit here and type, knowing full well that adventures, surprises, horror, romance, tenderness, discovery, and mystery abound within that shiny rainbow disc that is the wonderful world of DVD.

I promise to peel myself away for a few moments each day in order to tell you about the other things we have been doing for fun here. And I'll update you a little bit on incoming, and work, and homecoming. I've loads to tell you...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bad, militant rocketeers.
Good Rocketeer.
Well, it seems we got those bastards who launched rockets at Victory and Liberty bases and killed a couple of great American soldiers.
If you must know the truth, I truly will not mind if they are mistreated while in our custody. No, I take that back. We are good and just and will not tolerate mistreatment of prisoners of war, and we need to keep it that way. But it is sooo very tempting. I don't think of them as POWs so much as terrorist bully shitheads.
We haven't had any incoming since these monkeys were captured. (Taunt, taunt.) Um, knock on wood. I guess after a dry week, we can expect something any day now.
Camp Victory attack suspect captured, U.S. military says
Story Highlights
Three other men captured along with Camp Victory suspect, military says [YAY!]
Washington Post reporter, two Iraqi newspaper journalists die Sunday
118 journalists killed in Iraq before Sunday's deaths, organization says
Car bombing targets families returning from post-Ramadan festival [Niiiiice.]

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The man believed to be responsible for last week's rocket attack on the U.S. Army's Camp Victory was captured in an early morning raid Monday, the U.S. military said.
In addition to the Camp Victory suspect, three other known associates of that man were captured in the Iraq Ministry of Agriculture compound in eastern Baghdad's Rusifiya district.
The four were hiding, which prompted U.S. soldiers to enter the compound to detain them, the military said.
The attack on Wednesday killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded 38 at Camp Victory, which is near Baghdad International Airport. Two third-country nationals were also wounded in the attack, but the military did not clarify their nationalities.
"We have reason to believe that, through two intelligence-driven operations over the last few days, we now have detained all of the leadership and the key operatives of the indirect fire cell that attacked Victory Base last week," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Multi-National Division Baghdad's deputy commanding general.
On Sunday, two local journalists and a Washington Post reporter were shot dead in an area between Tikrit and Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
Tikrit police said two journalists working for a local newspaper were killed and three security guards were wounded in the ambush.
Salih Saif Aldin, a 32-year-old Iraqi reporter working for the Post, was shot and killed in the southwestern neighborhood of Saidiya, the paper reported in its Monday editions.
"The death of Salih Saif Aldin in the service of our readers is a tragedy for everyone at The Washington Post. He was a brave and valuable reporter who contributed much to our coverage of Iraq," said Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Post, was quoted as saying.
"We are in his debt. We grieve with his family, friends, fellow journalists and everyone in our Baghdad bureau."
The newspaper said he had taken a taxi from the Post's office to the neighborhood "to interview residents about the sectarian violence there between Shiite militiamen and Sunni insurgents."
The paper reported that "two hours later, a man picked up Saif Aldin's cell phone and called a colleague at the Post to say he had been shot." He was shot once in the forehead, the paper said.
The area where the reporter visited had been dominated by the Mehdi Army, the militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and police believe he was killed by Sunnis aligned with the "Awakening Council" -- the anti-insurgent tribal forces working with the United States, the paper reported.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a group that promotes freedom of the press, said before the Sunday killings that 118 journalists had been killed as a result of hostilities in Iraq.
Other developments
• A car bomb targeting families returning from a post-Ramadan festival ripped through a predominantly Sunni district of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least three civilians and wounding 25, an Interior Ministry official said. The casualties included women and children. On Sunday, insurgents targeted Shiite Muslims in separate attacks in Baghdad and Samarra that
left at least 24 dead, Iraqi officials said.
• Five Iraqi youths were killed and 28 Iraqis were wounded on Monday when insurgents fired mortars at two joint Iraqi-coalition military bases in the predominantly Shiite city of Diwaniya in southern Iraq, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said. The bases are about three kilometers (two miles) apart.
• A U.S. soldier was killed and three others wounded by a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad on Sunday, the military said. Also Sunday, a U.S. soldier died in "a non-combat related incident" in Nineveh province, northern Iraq. The latest fatalities bring the U.S. military death toll in Iraq to 3,829. The toll in October stands at 22.
• Coalition forces across Iraq killed three insurgents and detained 20 people during raids on Saturday and Sunday targeting al Qaeda in Iraq, the U.S. military said.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I have skinny feet. That is a fact. There is no disputing it. When I was a kid, I was known as "Gun boats," "Snow skis," and any number of "Big Foot-esque" names. When I was in the seventh grade, I wanted to buy leather shoes known as Sebagos, so as to be hip and cool like the other kids. I'll never forget those shoes, because when we went to buy them, the saleslady looked at my gun boats and actually laughed out loud at their length/narrowness. Thankfully, at nearly 5'9", I have almost grown into my size 10 footsies.

But right now, my long, skinny feet are killing me. I don't know what it is, but I've been having pains for the last week, almost. It started with a searing pain in my left ankle, on the inside. It's not the sort of pain that would usually force me to take time off from running, but it's the sort that will provide a handy excuse if needed. But yesterday, I started getting sharp pains in my right foot, sort of on top, near the inside, where my ankle joins my foot. I'm not at all sure what's causing it.

The pain isn't entirely new. In fact, I have had the same pain, but only in occasional bursts, for a year or two. But right now, the difference is that it keeps occurring. Sharp pains when I push off with my foot. So sharp, in fact, that I usually excrete [sic] some sort of noise, and reflex causes me to flinch such that I nearly fall over. The problem is, I don't know if this means I need to stop running for a spell. It doesn't actually hurt while I am running. It just hurts afterward, and only when I have been sitting and then stand up to move.

I honestly believe this all started from snowboarding. Often, when going heel-side to brake, I have sort of jammed my ankles. That jamming of the ankles, I believe, is what jumpstarted my pain. The reason I believe that is because the pain I get now is the same as I would have if I were stopping on a snowboard and hit a bump, thereby jamming my ankles. The trouble is, it is the gentlest movements which cause the excruciating pain. For example, if I am climbing steps, and I put just the very front of my foot on the step, with the rest hanging off, and then I put weight on that foot to step up, I would probably end up screaming and then writhing in pain.

Melissa thinks I should have it checked out. I think they'll tell me to take it easy and pop some Motrin. I also think lack of proper nutrition might be part of the problem. For that reason, I will forgo a visit with the doctor, and I just bought a pack of multivitamins at the PX. I'll give it a few days without curbing my running. If the pain continues, I'll continue the vitamins and stop the running. If anybody has any suggestions, feel free to send them to me via the comments thingy.

I'll let you know how it goes.

On a more positive note, the weather here has been FABULOUS for the past two days. The max has been in the 80's today and yesterday, and it was a blustery 70 F on my way to work this morning. I was chilled. This evening, it must've been in the 60's, because I was nearly shivering. Gotta love it. Unfortunately, I think the temperature is supposed to heat back up starting tomorrow (Friday). Bummer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Our future puppy's father, Haans.
Haans on the left, and mother Gretchen on the right.

Dave and I are expecting....

...a puppy in December!

I grew up with dogs (Laborador retrievers), and I have been without a dog since graduating high school and going off to USNA in 1991 (geez, I am old). It's hard for someone who grew up with dogs to go without for so long. It's also hard for someone who has been without a dog for so long to again get used to the idea of having pet hair all over the house. I admit it. I have gone all soft. I have become prissy. I hate having pet hair on my sweaters.

A dog is a hugenormous responsibility, and I have never been in a position to commit to a dog, especially as a single gal who tends to be sort of on the move a lot. I've come close several times, but somehow I always managed to escape, pet free.

Dave did not grow up with dogs, but he did have a rabbit named beaner (as in carabiner), and his brother had and has dogs. Dave is great with them, and either he truly wants one, or he is kindly endulging my own need for one. As soon as I heard the word "yes" come out of his mouth, I plopped down the money required to reserve our first pick of boy puppies from a breeder in Buhl, Idaho, called Snake River Griffons. They have a good reputation for breeding Wirehaired Pointing Griffons with good confirmation and great temperaments.

"WHAT IN THE WORLD is a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon?" you might ask. Well, it is an upland hunting breed, a pointer, obviously, and they are thought of as sort of the "all-terrain" breed of the dog world. As previously mentioned, I have an aversion to dog hair all over the place, and any dog we own will be an indoor dog. He'll come and go, inside and outside, as any member of our family would. Well, WHPGs don't shed much at all. Even more importantly, griffs are ATHLETIC. That means they can RUN with me! And griffs also have webbed feet for swimming, like Labs and Newfoundlands. And they are SMART. By all accounts, they are easy to train and very eager to please. They are "people dogs," meaning they hate being alone and need to be around people.

Anyway, my mom discovered the breed a couple of years ago in Boise, while walking Bentley, their 140-lb Newfoundland. She met a very young girl griff who was so perfectly well behaved, and she knew immediately it was the breed for Dave and me. After much research, I agreed.

My parents went to visit our baby mamma last weekend, and they sent pics. My folks returned from that visit all excited about their future granddog. Dave and I are 90% sure his name will be Admiral Brillo von Korthals. Korthals is the name of the guy who created the breed. Admiral is a name Dave and I think is cool, and Brillo is a name I have had in my head since I was a kid. I think it suits a dog with a wirey coat, don't you think?

Anyway, I'm on duty, and I have to get back to doing what I do. Sooooooo....peace out!

Our baby daddy, Haans.

How cute is Haans???

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tongan Royal Marines.

[Photo by Marine Cpl. Darhonda Rodela]
Recently, my teammates and I were delighted note the conspicuous arrival of a group of highly disciplined, extremely polite, completely squared away, and uncommonly big and strong new coalition forces. The newcomers are the Royal Tongan Marines, and they are AWESOME.

When I read their patches to figure out where they are from, I have to admit I didn’t exactly know where the Tonga was located on a map. So I looked it up on Wikipedia. It seems the Kingdom of Tonga (Tongan for "south") is an independent archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean. It lies about a third of the way between New Zealand and Hawaii, south of Samoa and east of Fiji. And their armed forces consist of 450 members. So I guess, like, their entire Marine Corps is here. :)

These guys are guarding the palace, and they actually look at and scrutinize the ID cards of everyone who comes through the gate. They also “Sir” and “Ma’am” everybody who comes through the gate. In fact, I have been “ma’am-ed” by them every time I have seen them, whether at the palace or elsewhere. They always offer a friendly greeting, and I even get "good morning, ma'am" when we are out running. They live near my trailer park, and they are so polite every time I see them. Everybody I talk to receives the same level of politeness from them. I’m half expecting a ma’am sandwich (“Ma’am, yes ma’am.”) if I venture to ask them a question. I guess that's only fitting for troops who come from "The Friendly Islands."

These guys are great, and I honestly feel safer by their mere presence here on the VBC. (In my experience, every country’s Marines are “elite.”) If I ever get in a fight, I want these guys to bail me out.

Welcome to Camp Victory, Marines!

Tongan Marines take over palace security
Monday, 08 October 2007
By Marine Cpl. Darhonda Rodela

BAGHDAD — The Kingdom of Tonga’s contingent of Marines accepted duties to provide palace security during a recent assumption of responsibility ceremony here.
Before assuming their duties, the Tongan Marines were at Camp Pendleton, Calif. with U.S. Marines, where they received pre-deployment training and refresher courses on tactical procedures.

After their training in California, the Tongans went to Kuwait to receive additional military training.

The Tongans will man the security points of the palace formally manned by Soldiers.
“We are happy to be here and work with the United States,” said Tongan Marine Sergeant Maj. Teau Filimoehala, Tongan Marine platoon sergeant. “(The Tongan Marines) are ready to work.”
Prior to their assumption, the Tongans also received right-side and left-side training to help them better understand their jobs.

In one week, the Tongans observed as Soldiers showed them what their role as guards would consist of before taking the reigns and manning their posts.

“They received force protection briefs and other security training,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Barry Toler, Multi-National Corps–Iraq headquarters commandant.

Toler assisted in training the Tongan Marines for their current duties.

“On behalf of the Tongan Marines, we appreciate the opportunity to work with the United States,” said Tongan Marine Pvt. Oliver Kata, MNC-I security guard. “This is a new experience for some of us. If they give us more work, we will be happy to do it.”

The Kingdom of Tonga, also known as the Friendly Islands — the name given by Capt. James Cook because of the friendly reception he received there, is a conglomerate of more than 170 islands located south of Samoa.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I want one of these. He's a slow loris, and he's a type of sloth. I first fell in love with these little fellas back in, like, 1998, when I was on deployment with the 11th MEU, and my friend Lori and I went to the Singapore Zoo during a port call. But how can you NOT fall in love with them? They are so cute, and they move so slowly, like little old men. Haha. Seriously, though, how cute is he? And he looks like a monkey, and everybody who knows me knows I've always wanted a monkey...but that's another story...
Coincidentally, my new friend Wilson Gil (Hi Wilson!!!) just sent me an email with a photo of him and a mamma tree sloth and baby in Costa Rica. Remember Wilson Gil from my posting of Sept 9, 2007? It seems my rock star friend had to help mom and baby across the road so they wouldn't be killed. As he says, "They move sooooo slowly." Yea, Wilson! Glad you saved those little alien monkeys.
And doubly coincidentally, I had only just recently sent this photo to Melissa to try to cheer her up when she was having an off day. Seriously, though. Aren't they CUTE?

Lock and load. Me, pretending to be tough, in Dave's gear.

A word about blogging:

To put out a blog that is worthy of reading, bloggers must assume a certain amount of personal risk. If you don't put a little bit of yourself out there, your blog will be too dry to read. By exposing a little bit about yourself and who you are, you leave yourself somewhat vulnerable to anyone who might be perusing the blogosphere.

I know that, by letting some of my opinions be known, I am inviting people to disagree with me. Great! That is a risk I am willing to take, and, in fact, that's what makes blogging great. I think that's what makes people interesting: that everyone is right coming from where he or she is coming from.

Recently, I have received more and more comments from people I don't know.

This reader shared similar experiences and offered encouragement:

Anonymous said...Hang in there. I hate rockets too! I was 50 yards away from the rocket attack on 7 Dec 06 and walked away only with bruises. I know exactly what you mean about people making fun of others who don their equipment, hit the deck, etc. SCREW 'EM! You'll have a chair when the music stops and some of them won't. I remember exactly your feeling of wanting to avoid open spaces, etc. I lived in DCN and I never enjoyed that feeling of being in the trailers when their was an attack (watching movies, just like you, it's amazing how everyone's CV experience is so similar!), I always felt much safer in my ofc, which was in one of the old palaces. Hang in there and come home soon! Thursday, October 11, 2007 9:53:00 AM

Nancy said...Hey, thanks for the wonderful comment. Yes, I think we all have similar experiences here... What really struck me was how odd it was that at one end of my neighborhood, there was a hubbub of activity while rescuers and medical personel tended to casualties coming into the TMC, while on the other side, not 300m away, people were buying lattes at the Green Bean. And nobody seemed to bat an eye after 10 minutes had passed after the booms. Again, thanks for the comment. I'll get my happy a$$ home as soon as I can! Cheers. Thursday, October 11, 2007 10:02:00 AM

This Blogger didn't like my blog at all [spelling and grammatical errors intentionally left as-is]:

Anonymous said...I see why you would want to write a blog to express what you feel and go through here on the VBC. However, you should be more aware of the info you post. You describe what you did in the after mass of it claiming that you knew more would not follow...HOW CAN YOU BE SO SURE?!!? Its almost like you taunt them. Be more aware what you place in these blogs soldiers have their lives on the line here. I see you too are a contractor well then you would know that these kind of blogs are not allowed. Being a Deputy Program Manager you should know that. You want to write and express feelings go to the Turkish shop and buy a journal. Peoples lives are on the line and people like you give them more opertunity to reach us. Stop thinking about giving people something to read and if you are only doing it for friends make it private. For everyones safty make adjustments

Saturday, October 13, 2007 2:20:00 AM

Nancy said...
[Brackets indicate additions I made to my original comment, which is posted withing the blog about the incoming we received the other night.]

Dear Anonymous,If you are going to lambaste me in my own blog, I think you should at least put your first name, so I'll know how to address you. I appreciate your desire to uphold OPSEC. I strive to do the same with every blog I write. I think you misunderstood my "I knew there wouldn't be anymore." You've probably been here, based on the info I can gleen from your comment, so you should know that once several fall and then they stop falling, it is unlikely that more will immediately fall. [Obviously there will be more attacks. I'm not an idiot. I just didn't think there would be any more booms in that volley...and I was right...there weren't. I wasn't sure. I was making an assumption. What I am sure of is the fact that making an assumption in my head about whether or not there would be more incoming and then arriving at the shelter too late didn't endanger a single person, including myself...because that assumption occurred in my head while I was putting on my flak and kevlar and heading to the shelter. I wouldn't have headed to the shelter DURING the barrage, by the way, so my assumption that no more were coming was relevant. Did you don your gear? Did you go to the shelter? Just curious. I don't know if I saw you there. And I apologize for not reading your comment more carefully. You are obviously still here as a contractor. My bad.] That's all I meant. I was saying that the incoming came in, and I got my happy ass to the shelter, even though it was highly likely that I was too late. [And do you honestly think I was "taunting" them? Try to place your emotions aside for a second and read it again, from a sane and sober mindset. And anyway, I'm pretty sure the hard-charging soldiers and Marines out there are taunting them enough (get some!); I doubt I need to.]

I want to know which portions of my blog you think give the enemy info that endangers any of us. I was a Marine. I am a patriotic American. [My husband is a Special Forces guy in-country right now.] Please don't accuse me of being anything less than someone who is trying to keep my readers filled in as much as possible. If you don't like it, then, with all due respect, don't read my blog. Or turn me in to the security manager. [If you are really concerned that I am endangering lives, then you should actually do something about it. Turn me in and let them decide. I hope you don't feel taunted.] I am highly cognizant of the type of info I put out there, not just in words, but in pictures. So thanks for your concern, but I'm going to continue as I have been. Do you seriously think I care less about everybody's safety than you do? Please reconsider your accusation, and have a nice day. [Better yet, come visit me and let's talk about my blog over a latte. BTW, I realize and appreciate that you are just trying to protect the troops and the friendly forces here; I just think you're picking on the wrong blog. Peace.]

Saturday, October 13, 2007 2:32:00 AM

And this is the sort of comment, like the first one listed above, that convinces me that I am doing the right thing and should continue to blog as usual. I got this one last night, and it made me very happy. Unfortunately, I got that negative one this morning, and it made me very sad. But now I am happy again, after re-reading Deb's comment.:

Anonymous said...Nancy-I just gotta tell you thanks for all of your hubby is over there too and it helps to keep us back in the US updated on all the "happenings" and to see what life is really like for you all...Don't ever think your stuff is unappreciated...couldn't be farther from the truth! Keep your head down and stay safe! Thanks much! ~Deb Friday, October 12, 2007 2:33:00 PM

Nancy said...
Deb, that's the sweetest comment. Thank you. I really appreciate the encouragement, and I thank you for reading. I promise to keep blogging for you.I hope your husband comes home to you soon, safe and sound! All my best, Nancy
Friday, October 12, 2007 2:48:00 PM

Oh, and here's a brand new one:

michele said...
I am tired of the bombs, regardless if they are bigger or smaller of the others that have been sent off prior or the ones that may be sent out later. My future husband is over in that piece of crap hole and I just wish that we could actually turn the tables around and bomb them for once and let our guys come home. Ugghh... Let some of us wives, girlfriends, mothers, or sisters go over there and I bet we could take care of it pretty quick. Sorry to rant but I want my man home in one piece and not injured at all.
Saturday, October 13, 2007 4:49:00 AM

Nancy said...
Michele,We're tired of them, too, and I want your man home in one piece, happy, healthy, and unscathed. These rockets really suck (thanks, Iran).I TOTALLY agree with you about sending the American women over here to duke it out. The bad guys wouldn't know WHAT to do with us. Haha. And my Iraqi friends agree the women could pull off some wonderful distraction maneuvers.Listen, I know your scared for your fiance. Hang in there. ;) And thanks for stopping by my blog. Feel free to rant here anytime. All my best, Nancy
Saturday, October 13, 2007 5:03:00 AM

Now I am afraid of what comments this "comment" posting will receive...

Friday, October 12, 2007

The crosswalk we use daily on our way to and from the office. That's a rocket hole in the left foreground.
The hole.

A car damaged by the rocket. The drivers work next door to us, and they were driving by the crosswalk when the rocket hit. Thankfully, it missed them.

Glass from the car; the hole's in the background.

Whew. The helos are here. All's safe. :)

The sunset over my office. I'm headed home.

A pink flower near the crosswalk on my walk home.

The bridge to my home. My trailer is within the walls on the left.

This is the wall that keeps my neighborhood beautiful.


The Muslims were singing in force today. It was really loud. All the mosques were unleashing the full gusto of their "Allah Akbar"s from the minarets.

HI BOB! THANKS FOR READING!!! (I'm glad you find me funnier than Melissa...HAHAHA)

Now, to answer your questions:

1. Was my friend Melissa wearing anything approaching safety protection?
A: Only if you consider shorts and a T-shirt safe. I do think she was wearing bug repellant.
2. Why was she not answering her phone?
A: Her phone doesn't work. I had forgotten. I thought it was because cells are not allowed in the chow hall.
3. Why does she feel the need to downplay everything?
A: This is a personality quirk (I almost said disorder) of hers. She is not a sensationalist. We probably wouldn't love her so much if she were.
4. Can you please smack her up the side of the head with something heavy.
A: Well, I whacked her unexpectedly with my fly swatter. Couldn't bring myself to use something heavy...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Well, we had another rocket attack last night here at Camp Victory (and Liberty). Smaller rockets than the one that killed the TCN Sept 11, but there were more of them...I was watching Roswell in my trailer when it happened. I heard a boom, felt the trailer shake, and heard several more, with the "incoming" alarm sounding in the distance.
I put on my flak and kevlar and went out to the shelter, even though I knew there wouldn't be anymore incoming. We took acountability, so I went to the baby DFAC to find Melissa and Dan when I couldn't reach Mel's cell. I was relieved to see that the building was unharmed, because I really couldn't tell where the rockets hit since I'd been wearing headphones when they came in. I knew people were hurt, though, when I saw the flurry of activity at the medical clinic near where I live. Damn. I'm glad all my teammies are fine. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who weren't as lucky, and to their families and friends. :(
When the details are releasable, I might tell you a little more about the attack.
Here's an excerpt from an email response to my concerned mother in law, who heard a brief report on the news that said there was an attack but offered zero details (much love to you, Carole):
"Sorry, I should have sent out an email. When in doubt, check my blog...I am fine. My heart skips a beat every time I hear a boom, or a car door slam, or a trailer door being closed with too much gusto, but I am fine. Admittedly, it is getting a lot scarier out here...I have vowed to avoid high-traffic areas, and I have even considered moving into the duck-and-cover shelter, permanently. Haha. I even donned my flak and kevlar last night before going to the shelter to join all my trailer park neighbors. I am getting rather annoyed with people making fun of people who hit the deck, go to the shelter, don battle gear, or attempt to protect themselves in some other fashion. I don't want to be the idiot who could have saved herself but didn't...I also wear my seatbelt when I am in an automobile. Same principle."
A general question: What kind of religion celebrates by killing people? I honestly want to know; I am not making fun of the religion. I know Christianity has its fair shares of historical shinanigans, too. Yesterday marked the day that Mohammad received the first verse of the Koran (for Sunnis), and today and tomorrow mark the end of Ramadan for Shi'ia and Sunnis, respectively (I am pretty sure).
A rocket or mortar attack on the main U.S. base near Baghdad killed two members of the U.S.-led coalition forces and wounded 40 people, the military said Thursday.
The attack occurred Wednesday at the Camp Victory, a sprawling garrison that houses the headquarters of American forces in Iraq, according to a statement.
Two coalition force members were killed and 38 wounded, the military said. It also said two "third country nationals" were wounded. It did not identity them further, but military spokesman Lt. Col. Rudolph Burwell said the term usually refers to foreign contractors and not Iraqis or Americans.
The attack is under investigation, the statement said.
Most troops stationed at Camp Victory are American but other coalition soldiers are based at the complex near Baghdad International Airport. No further details on the attack were immediately released.
Camp Victory and other U.S. bases in Iraq have frequently come under fire, but attacks with such a large number of casualties are rare.
On Sept. 11, one person was killed and 11 were wounded in a rocket attack. The U.S. military said a 240 mm rocket provided to Shiite extremists by Iran was used in that attack.
The U.S.-protected Green Zone, which houses the American and British embassies and the Iraqi government headquarters, is far more vulnerable as it is situated in central Baghdad.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
BREAK, BREAK_____________________________________________

FYI, This is an interesting video from September 13. It shows a 107 mm rocket impact in Baghdad. I guess this is what they look like...Below is the news release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASERELEASE No. 20070915-12September 15, 2007
Insurgent rocket attack kills 2 eastern Baghdad residents, wounds 2 others 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAOFORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – Two eastern Baghdad residents were killed and two more wounded in an insurgent rocket attack in the New Baghdad District Sept. 13.
One 107mm rocket impacted in an intersection near Forward Operating Base Loyalty, striking a car and engulfing it in flames. Soldiers with the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, responded to the blast and cordoned off the area. The wounded were transported to Medical City for treatment.
Explosive ordnance detachment Soldiers determined the impact was due to a rocket strike and recovered part of the rocket. Insurgents have regularly targeted Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police officers as well as Coalition Forces. During the month of September, there have been 45 confirmed indirect fire attacks by criminal militia members in Baghdad security districts. Twenty of these attacks occurred in the New Baghdad or East Rashid Districts. Besides the two civilians killed and wounded in the Sept. 13 attack, 11 Iraqi Police officers have been wounded in four separate attacks this month.
This is the second photo I took with Bret Michaels. The first one wasn't great, so he insisted on another. He was awesome. His handlers were trying to get him to knock off signing autographs to go do some other gig he was scheduled for, but he wouldn't leave until every last person got their hat, guitar, paper, reflective belt, t-shirt, poster, orders, or whatever other crazy thing they could scrounge up signed by the legendary rocker.

The Camp Stryker crowd rocking out with former Poison front man Bret Michaels.

Sunday night, Melissa, Dan and I decided to drive over to Camp Stryker to see Bret Michaels of Poison perform. Admittedly, the main reason we went was to witness what we suspected would be a full-on train wreck. None of us knew a lot about Bret Michaels (no slam against him; we just aren’t very savvy), so we figured he was probably some old has-been who couldn’t find any gigs better than the Iraq Tour 2007. I guess we just didn’t expect a good solo guy who used to sing for a #1 American metal band to bother to come and play for us.

Well, I have to publicly apologize, from the depths (the very cockles, actually) of my heart, to Mr. Bret Michaels. I am adding him to my list of honored celebrities who are great Americans and worthy of praise and patronage. Not only did he put on a thoroughly kick-ass concert, but he stayed afterward (for, like, well over an hour) to sign all of the ridiculous items soldiers thrust at him, and to take picture after picture with cammie-clad fans. I, for one, was NOT cammie-clad, and yet he made it a point to get a good photo with me—and he even complimented my “kick-ass” KISS t-shirt. Thanks, Bret! I am so sorry I mentally dissed you pre-performance.

We had an awesome time rocking out with the Camp Stryker crowd. They looked and sounded awesome. Bret’s solo band is very, very good, and they were sweet and accommodating to signature/photo-hungry fans, too. They played all the hits, plus some new ones, and they even played some KISS. I guess Bret’s guitarist is a huge fan, because he sang, “I wanna rock and roll all night, and party every day.” It was awesome, especially since I was in my KISS shirt. After the concert, I was minding my own business, and some soldiers tapped me on the shoulder and directed my attention to the guitarist, who was trying to compliment me on the shirt. Haha.

We all had a total blast at the concert, and I was still sort of in awe of how cool those guys were the next morning when I went to work. Bret signed a copy of my orders, which I intend to put in a protective sleeve as soon as I can find one. J

Thanks again for coming all the way out to Iraq to rock the Coalition Forces! We love you for that.

A portion of "Every Rose."

Melissa and Bret Michaels.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Virgin Radio's Christian O'Connell.

So, Melissa streams Virgin Radio on her laptop during the day, and we sort of half listen to it while we work. Well, there is a morning show (breakfast show) by a rather brilliant guy named Christian O'Connell, and whenever they have a celebrity on the line, they play this “Ahooogah” sound effect siren that remotely resembles the start of our incoming alarm. Very remotely. And only if the volume is low. But I commented on it yesterday, telling Melissa I really hate that alarm because it makes me think I should be hitting the deck to avoid certain death. Actually, a lot of sounds make me think that. For instance on that same day, Melissa had her volume up on her laptop, listening to Virgin Radio, and I kept on hearing a sort of bell-like noise that made me think that either (a) my ears were ringing, (b) the incoming alarm was sounding in a distant part of the base, or (c) there was a major issue confronting the soldier character in the XBOX game being played on the other side of our thin walls. But, alas, it was none of those things; it was Melissa’s instant message incoming sound. I could hear the joking now: Melissa receives an instant message, and Nancy dives under her desk, cowering.

Anyway, so, after I commented to Melissa about my extreme dislike of the Virgin Radio celebrity “Ahooogah” sound effect (the real reason simply being that is extremely annoying), she wrote Christian an email to tell him about it. We don’t have the outgoing message, but it went something like this: “Dear Christian, we listen to your show from Baghdad, and we noticed that your “Who’s Calling Christian” alarm sounds an awful lot like the “incoming” warning alarm here (incoming” referring to bullets, mortars, rockets, or anything else the enemy is trying to kill us with). So, every time someone calls your show, my colleague Nancy hits the deck thinking someone is trying to blow her up. She’s getting very mad at me for listening to your show, so perhaps you could find a new sound effect.”

That was yesterday. Well, this morning, Melissa was listening to the radio again when, suddenly, Christian started READING HER EMAIL. We freaked out as he read the whole thing and then said he would look for something new. So, of course, Melissa promptly called the show. And she actually got through! So, she introduced herself, live from Baghdad, and talked to Christian for a moment, then handed me the phone. I had no idea they (we) were live on the air. When I got on, he played the sound effect, and I obliged him by screaming and then banging the phone on the desk as if I’d hit the deck. Melissa got back on the line and let him know that I was cowering under my desk and was very distraught. Hilarious.

Christian’s entire morning show was about sound effects, and he is even holding a contest to pick a new one. It seems Melissa had provided Christian with all the fodder he needed for an entire show. Throughout the day, he kept playing the alarm and telling his listeners about those of us in Baghdad who are hitting the deck (all two of us who are actually listening in Baghdad). My suggestion for Christian's new sound effect was the “fix bayonets” bugle music, which I loudly performed in the background while Melissa talked to him on the phone. I didn’t know that his intent in getting me on the phone was to record me performing the sound effect so he could play it every time they had a celeb on the line. Dang. I would have done it if I’d known. Oh well. Apparently, they are going to send us a bunch of swag for being on the air with them. BopbadaBAAH, bop badaBAH! Bop badabopba, bop badabopba, bop badabababa! Bop bada ba ba ba ba BA!
UPDATE: I have sent Christian the following message, in hopes that he might start using the sound bite I thought of last night:
Dear Christian,
I am Melissa's colleague in Iraq, the one who greatly dislikes your Ahoooogah! celebrity-on-the-line alarm. Rather than juts complain about how it sounds like our "incoming" alarm, I figured I'd send along a possible solution for you to consider.
I rather like Maury Ballstein's "bopbadaba, badabahbahbahbaaaaaaah" from the movie Zoolander. It might work for your showgram.
Nancy (In Iraq)

Listen to Virgin Radio - the music we all love

Listen to Virgin Radio Xtreme - new music, no limits

Listen to Virgin Radio Classic Rock - the classic rock authority

Listen to Virgin Radio Groove - non-stop classic soul and Motown

Monday, October 08, 2007

If you look at the Weather Channel's forecast for today, you'll notice it says, "Smoke." That is, no doubt, a result of the tire burning that is going on right here, right now. It blackened the sky yesterday, and it continues today. I know it seems bad, but we are generally pretty good stewards of the environment...
Actually, look at the picture I took at noon today. It's clear again. No more smokey.

A movie from yesterday. Those are bats flying by.

Today, no more smokey.


A Ditto Machine!!! I love the nostalgic smell, and I want my kids to know the smell, too.

Anybody my age (34) or older should remember the lovely Ditto machine and its yummy purple copies. Remember when the teacher would come back from the teachers’ office with a stack of quizzes or worksheets, fresh off the copier? She’d hand them out, and if we were lucky, they would still feel cold and wet. We would all immediately hold them to our noses and inhale, deeply, before the spirit duplicator fluid dried and the stink dissipated (we didn’t know what it was; we just loved the way it stunk). I sat near the front of the row so I’d get to sniff the whole stack. DEEE-LICIOUS!!! There was no smell better than that. It could almost make even pop quizzes seem enjoyable.
It breaks my heart that people as old as my coworker, Dan, 25, never experienced the wonder of the Ditto Machine. So, I want one. They are hard to find, but they do, in fact, still exist. We had one in the math building at USNA as late as 1995. I wonder if it is still there….

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Award winners, all lined up. I look like the Great White Amazon Woman. Besides that difference, notice any other way in which I don't quite fit in? I'm the ONLY non-Army (hooyah, Marine Corps) in the top five men and women.
[Photo by Staff Sergeant Lorie Jewel, MNF-I Command Group Photojournalist]

This would've been a much better photo had I not been going, "Wooooo!" Notice the double shaka, though.

[Photo by Staff Sergeant Lorie Jewel, MNF-I Command Group Photojournalist]

Today was a good day. I had been tossing around the idea of running the Camp Victory satellite version of the Army 10 Miler, but I was nervous because I hadn't trained for it at all. Last year, I ran the same race on the very last day of my yearlong tour here. I got third place, showered, and hopped onto a plane headed home. That was one year ago today.

I knew I needed to run today, for old time's sake, but I like to do well, and I haven't been running very much; I've just not been motivated lately. But I was registered, and some people who wanted to run didn't get to, because the event "sold out." So I had to run. And anyway, I would have kicked myself if I'd cheesed out of it.
Well, I'm glad I did run, because I ended up placing first out of all the women. I got a plaque and everything! Here is my long-winded, run-on, braggy version of the story. I think you'll be able to tell that I am abnormally proud of myself.
I was really pacing myself, because I knew I hadn't been running more than 3.5 miles, and even worse, I hadn't run more than a couple of times per week for the past month or so. So, I was thinking I should run about 7:45 or 8 min pace (my 3.5-mile pace is 7:06/mile). But we started out at around 6:30-6:45, and it took about 3 miles to finally start slowing down and settling in. And then I just wanted to cruise and keep the girl who was ahead of me within striking distance.
I was feeling good, and I discovered that if I thought about Dave's recent visit, I didn't notice the run at all. Around Mile 4, a girl passed me, putting me in 3rd place. I knew for a fact both girls were good runners, because I had seen them before (they look like runners), and I raced against them in the 5K I ran when I arrived here. Of course, I crushed them mercilessly then, but a 5k runner and a 10 miler are not the same animal. So I thought it could be tough to beat them.
I ran along and tried to keep my HR below 165, preferably right at 160. I was chatting with a couple of guys who were near me, just to pass the time. It was windy, so I drafted whenever I could. The turnaround point was the top of Signal Hill, at Mile 6, and I was feeling good. I had gained on both girls, significantly. At the base of the hill, a group of people were yelling for the runners who were heading up, and I heard them yell, "Yay! First female! Good job!" to the lead girl. I was right on the second girl's heels, and I thought it would be cool to be completely relaxed and smiling. So I smiled all the way up the hill, hot on Number 2's heels and gaining on Number 1. But I don't like to waste energy running uphill, and I was trying not to let Number 2 know I was there.
Unfortunately, the slow pace forced me to pull up alongside her. We chatted a little. I told her to go get that girl. She said she was hoping I would. I told her that's not my thing. She started speeding up, and I let her go. I didn't want to run near her, and I didn't want to push the pace before Mile 8. So I just relaxed and stayed within striking distance of both of them.
We were still gaining on Number 1. She wasn't more than 50 yds ahead, and that's where I wanted to keep her.
It was windy along the stretch below Z Lake, where it goes past the helo pad. I drafted as much as possible. By Mile 7, I could no longer stay behind Number 2; she was too slow. So I went ahead and passed her right before Mile 8 started (at the traffic circle). People were yelling, "Way to go, second and third female" as we ran by, so I couldn't sneak up on her, anyway. I told her good job as I passed, and she told me the same. She was nice.
I didn't want to do it, but just past Mile 8 (along the road behind the Palace, where the Brit house is), I got on Number 1's heels. She's about 4.5 ft tall, so she was no good for drafting, plus, she was too slow! I pulled up next to her and said, "Great job running up front this whole time." She didn't reply. Either she didn't understand what I said, or she wasn't overly nice, and she was definitely not chatty. So I decided to stomp her.
I picked up the pace to around 6:45 and left her in the dust. I figured I'd have to hold that pace all the way in, so I was glad when I saw we were turning left on the road that heads south past the Aussie pool and my office. I held it pretty well, although I sometimes sank back toward 7-minute pace. We ran down the road toward that tower with the lights on it that someone used to live in, and we turned left to head toward the finish at the Big Chow parking lot.
There were two Army chicks at the tower yelling for the runners. "Girl power!" they yelled. After I turned the corner, I was able to glance to my left, up the road I'd just run down, to see if I was in any danger from a finish sprinter. I couldn't even see those girls. I was home free.
The swing-style Army band that absolutely love was playing, and I ran as fast as I could across the finish, throwing two "shakas" with my hands, Hawaiian surfer style. I hope the photographers caught it. I was all smiles and acting silly, just to show I wasn't tired from that wimpy race. Haha. I talk a lot of crap.
Anyway, this is the amazing thing. I wear a Garmin 305 when I run, and it records my pace, heart rate, splits, distance, etc, etc. I have runs stored in there from the first day I wore it, and the first day I wore it happened to have been right here in Baghdad, last year. So, guess what run I was able to pull up? Yep. Last year's 10-miler. This is what is so amazing:
Last year's finish time and avg speed: 1:12:22; 7:17
This year's finish time and avg speed: 1:12:49; 7:21
How about THEM apples?!! I am nothing if not consistent. I guess I really do have pretty much one speed. Crazy. Absolutely, positively nuts. Hmm. So, I ran slower, but I placed higher. The competition this year just isn't what it used to be, but it still felt good to finish ahead of those two Army captains. Hahahaha. Not bad for an old lady...

Receiving my award from Brigadier General Joseph Anderson, Chief of Staff, Multinational Corps-Iraq. This guy is a stud. A 1981 USMA grad, infantryman, warrior, master parachutist, Ranger, Pathfinder, Air Assault, and owner of Panamanian, Brazilian, German, and Thai Jump wings. He is an avid runner, and I reckon he ran at least 10 miles zipping around the course to yell for the runners. Very cool, and very motivating. Check out the bio:

[Photo by Staff Sergeant Lorie Jewel, MNF-I Command Group Photojournalist]

This year's prize: a plaque. Look back at Oct 7, 2006, and you'll see last year's prize: an Iraqi flag with embroidery on it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Night vision goggles...


My neighborhood.

First picture, taken upon arrival at the airfield.
My warrior. We were playing with the NVGs and his IR stuff.

Honeymoon in Baghdad.

Sounds like a movie title. And it doesn’t sound like a half bad movie title, does it?

After my second failed attempt to fly to Ramadi to see Dave, he booked himself on a flight to Baghdad. He was determined to see me, and his commanding officer was determined to improve Dave’s sour mood. It seems everybody would soon benefit from a flight of Marine Corps CH-46’s. Ooh, rah, Marines.

Dave arrived at the Liberty helipad Wednesday evening, and I couldn’t believe it when I saw him walking toward me out of the darkness. He looked like Splinter Cell with all his special tactical gear on. I wanted to run and jump into his arms and squeeze him, but there were a lot of people around, and public displays of affection just are not done here. So we went for pizza. It was good pizza, too, from a place on Liberty I just discovered, Called North End Pizza…Now back to the story…

We had a ton of fun. It was very surreal having my HUSBAND here, touring him around my home away from home. The last time we saw each other was when I told him goodbye in the SEAL Team 7 parking lot in Coronado April 16th!!! I showed him my old stomping grounds, my old trailer, where my tent used to be. I was here for a year, and all Dave got to experience was what I was able to explain to him through conversation, blogs, and photos. Now he was here, experiencing it with me, and it was awesome. We were both quite taken aback by it all.

I loved walking around with him. Everybody was staring at his cool weapon, and his S.E.A.L. pin, and his fancy spec ops gear. He notified me whenever any of the boys were checking me out (it happens when you are one of VERY few civilian chicks around here), but I think he got checked out just as much by the chickies, and his weapon got checked out more than either of us…

I introduced him to my crew, some of whom (Shane and Haidar) he’d been hearing about since last year, and I even got to introduce him to my sweetie from last year, Sabah. It was really cool.

We went to the baby chow hall for yummy sandwiches, and we went to steak and lobster at the big chow hall. He saw my sitting-duck office in mortarville/rocketville. We toured the palace, and we went to the PX, and we drove around Lost Lake (too lazy to actually run). We watched at least four bootleg movies in my trailer, we went to the Green Bean for coffee, and we basically just had fun goofing off for two days.
I told him I thought it was probably more relaxing and fun here than it would have been if I'd visited him in Ramadi, and he said Ramadi would have been better. I didn't believe him. He said, "But everything is right there, and they bring food to us." And I didn't think that sounded too exciting. But then he said, "We're right on the river." That sounded good, but I wasn't really convinced that could make it better than Victory. I mean, we have lakes. Then he said, "The range is right there, and we could fire AK-47's and 50 calibre sniper rifles." He had me at AK, but the sniper rifles are what really float my boat. I am really pissed that I never became a sniper, because I think I'd have been a darn good one...

So, it was a wonderful honeymoon, and we’ll have our second one when I get home in a couple of months. We’re thinking about Hawaii. Dave will be home in a couple of weeks, and he’ll start working on the house while I am still over here. Soon enough, we’ll be back together again in awesome San Diego. Woohoo! I can hardly wait! Thanks to this recent visit, I might actually make it through the next two months without losing my mind.
Oh, and as for PDA when I dropped him off at the airport? Well, I didn't really care who was there to see me give him a quick smooch before watching him walk off into the darkness to board an awaiting Blackhawk. So there!