Friday, September 21, 2007

Time keeps on tickin'

And then I was back in Taji, back to my daily routine, back to trying to figure out ways to convince the Iraqi's to work more efficiently, a little harder, and a little longer. There was a new wrinkle to this challenge when I returned from the IZ, though: Ramadan. Ramadan is the 9th month on the Islamic calendar and represents the month that the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. To observe this, Muslim's increase many of their religious activities and fast from sunrise to sunset. Ok - this is an abbreviated explanation of what Ramadan truly is, so if you are really interested in learning more I encourage you to read this (ps - I love wikipedia). So what does this mean to us? Well, their fasting is an all-inclusive fast, meaning that they don’t even drink water. This is a huge challenge to us since Ramadan is in September - it’s still hotter than Hades out and a collection of dehydrated Soldiers doesn't do much to increase productivity. Many of them will drink water though, since there is an exception in their religion for sick people and people who must break the fast. (I wonder if this is like an exception to policy letter? Hopefully it didn't require as many signatures!) The briefing we get about Ramadan is kind of funny, too. We basically get this PowerPoint show chronicling the events of Ramadan past, and then reminding us not to drink or eat in front of the Iraqi's for this month. Now, this is fine for those people who might only work with the Iraqi's in passing, but when we are out in the 100 degree heat sweating alongside them, its kind of hard not to drink any water! Luckily our counterparts understand this and encourage us to continue to drink water. I think we are best just not being blatant about it, like sloshing it around or pouring it on each other (for some reason the "freak gasoline fight accident" scene from the movie Zoolander keeps popping into my head).

So as I settled into a nice post-vacation melancholy caused by sudden lack of having fun and being back to work, I received a huge pick me up from everyone at home. As i got back into my room, our mail person called me and told me he had some boxes for me and that he would bring them by. When he pulled up and I looked in the truck, my mouth dropped. "Are they all for me", I asked? He just nodded his head. There were probably 14 boxes, none of them really tiny, and they literally took up the whole back of his truck. After we unloaded them I excitedly started tearing into them, and then stopped myself. I turned on my computer to see if Rache was online, because I like to share my excitement with her, and she really loves birthdays so I knew she'd want to hear about what I got. So I sat there and opened each box, describing most of them to Rache through Google chat. The best part was that everything in the boxes was wrapped, so it was almost like I was really at home opening presents on my birthday, even though it was 3 days past my actual birthday. Which was fine, because over here time is pretty flexible, so I just let myself pretend it was my birthday and I was at home with my family in our dining room, the smells of my dad's cooking still lingering and smoke from the birthday cake in the air; everyone excitedly staring at me as I opened their present and trying to judge my reaction. I can tell you, I was truly excited and happy about each and everything I opened, from Cailey's Eagles paraphernalia to the sneakers Rachael sent me, and even the hula pineapple I got from the Gliemi's. Mumsey sent me an awesome pillow and the chocolate truffle's were better than birthday cake, Mom! I also got a big surprise when in my parent’s box I found a Nintendo Wii and two games! This was part birthday present and part gift from our local republican party (thanks George and Sue!). I was really happy about this gift because it wasn't just for me - I am planning on setting it up in a common area for everyone in our unit to use and play against each other; when I showed everyone the box they all got as excited as I was and clamored for me to set it up so we could play. I also got to give everyone some J&J products as I got 3 huge boxes of stuff from work, perfect because we can never have too much hand sanitizer or Visine! I got an awesome T-shirt from Yosemite and got to brag about climbing the rock in the card Cathy and Jeff sent me; some great new books from Mom-Mom, a PSP game from Mrs. B, and about 100 other things that would probably take up 2 more pages if I listed them. What a pick me up! Oh yea - Laura and J - loved the surprise!

I can almost taste being home for leave, but at the same time I am starting to see a light at the end of this deployment and so my motivation has picked up considerably. I realize I won’t get to see alot of my projects through to the end but just having them started under my watch will be something to feel good about. With all that we have going on, time is really starting to move quick and before I know it, I'll be at home blogging about the latest beer I made!


David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 09/21/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Bag Blog said...

Happy Be-lated Birthday! It sounds like the packages really made a difference. It encouraged me to keep up my Soldiers' Angels work even when my soldier does not write back.

Bag Blog said...

Wow, thanks for the email! By the way, my husband and son make beer. We just got back from a trip to Candad, and what did my husband bring to my son - beer!

Barbara (Marissa's cousin) said...

Sounds like your family is as good at shopping as is Marissa's.. I can just imagine the response from your comrades when you unwrapped the Wii - we have one at work ( I work in online advertising) and every once in a while I go punch out some frustrations with the boxing game - better than hitting other people :-)
Stay Safe - Barbara