Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Showered in Filth

I got up at 5 this morning, ran in the perfect spring dawn through date tree groves while birds chirped and cooed. I felt good. This place where I am right now, out in Baghdad near the Tigris, is very nice--trees, grass, local shops, the River, just beautiful. The base where I live normally, looks about like El Paso--only military buildings and trailers and people. Oppressive as hell.

So I finished my run, fumbled around in the dark room where all three of us females sleep for my towel and shower accessories, strode out the door to the female shower facility. Locked. Damn. I looked under rocks and bricks for the key. Nothing. I asked a guy walking by. Nope.

There's an old shower upstairs I can use. Okay, I'm sweaty and not feeling picky, growing more irritated every moment.

But this shower? Filthy. I think the male soldiers piss in there at night, too lazy to go downstairs. The stench of urine was so strong I had to concentrate on not gagging. I stepped in with thick flipflops on, wincing as the grey water inched up to my toes. Quickest shower of my life. And I dropped my towel on the blackened floor just as I reached for it, wet, dripping, and pissed off.

But it is such a beautiful day out there. The smell of lilacs is almost as strong as the urine in that shower. And I got to sit here and watch movies all day--Love Song for Bobby Long, which made me even more homesick because it was filmed in New Orleans. Four episodes of The Sopranos. Two of Alias. Read Runner's World and reminded myself I have three more days to hide out here and avoid all the stupidity going on at my workplace right now. Well, not right now, always.

I'll spend all of July and August working on my house. Which sounds like heaven, honestly.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Deja Vu

I'm back out in Baghdad. And I've concluded that all Iraqi buildings look exactly the same on the inside. The ceilings are high, they are badly in need of a new coat of the bland, putty-colored paint that is just yellow enough to look like white gone dingy. The tile is either irrevocably stained or just hasn't been scrubbed since Saddam assumed power and declared a war on tile filth. And always, always, the six inches of tile space next to each and every interior wall, no exceptions, is coated with grey, sooty spooge.

I watched an Iraqi clean the floor today. He dumped water everywhere and used a squeegie. He carefully avoided the dirty strip by the walls, steered well clear of the corners. Then he used a mop for good show...and mopped filthy water right onto the edge of the Persian rug, as evidently every other local hire before him had done. This gorgeous rug, it sports the same filth stripe as the tile, only it's in the middle of the room where the mop hits it.

As bad as this deployment has been, at least I get to go home at the end of it. This country is depressing. Say what you want about Greenpeace nazi's, I'm glad they're around. This is the alternative: trash blows around any and all open space. Raw sewage clogs the ditches and sides of some streets. Packs of filthy, snapping dogs roam unchecked, howling like coyotes at night and eating everything that the trashpicker children missed. Even in the wealthier areas of Baghdad, trash and filth line the yards. Any if you think Americans wouldn't do exactly the same thing in the absence of stringent environmental laws and the threat of back-breaking fines, I am inclined to disagree. And Korea, it was just like here. Filth, sewage, trash, pig manure everywhere you look.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Men Will Do Anything for a Ribbon

I did get put in for that Bronze Star, which I had all but written off. Truly, all I want are redeployment orders, the rest is gravy. I also wrote four Bronze Stars for folks in my platoon...it looks like they went through, and the four people are very pleased to have been submitted. Even if they don't end up getting signed, at least I cared enough to submit them.

And someone spooked the cat away. I'm not asking what was done to discourage an underfed cat from returning to a place where she was fed. What's done is done, and it would only enrage me. The last thing I need now is more rage. I have enough of a time suppressing what I've got!

I'm putting my resume' together--I think the smart way to tackle the discomfort I'm feeling with regards to leaving the Army is assuming I have to wait until I get home to start job hunting in earnest. The FBI has dozens of counterterrorism analyst positions open in cities all over the country, for which I am superbly qualified. The deadline is in about three weeks for application, and it requires a resume'...so if I put in about half an hour a day putting mine together, I can knock this thing out. Confirming my marketability will go a long way to pushing me out the door, back to a life where I can wear my own clothes and stop pretending to enjoy slogging around in forty pounds of gear. I don't enjoy it. Never have.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Hundred-Year Flood

Good God. The last time I wrote was just before all hell broke loose here. It kept raining. The water rose and came into our office. We had to evacuate. The water was turned off for four days and I had my first shower in quite some time this morning. It will take a month to dry out--there are still full-blown ponds all over the base.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Somebody Build Me an Ark

There has been much discussion around here of the man who was mauled by two chimps. Mark insists he would've kicked their asses, but I set him straight--them sumbitches are strong. And they ripped his nuts off, for Chrissakes. How mission-capable do you expect you'd be after that? One guy opined that now the man would grow man-boobs and get fat, due to the lack of testosterone, doncha know. I'm having a hard time with that one, and it spawned a lively debate about man-boobs and what it takes to get them. Good times.

There was much discussion about balls. The male consensus was that they may not wish to go on living if a chimp ripped off their balls. I tried to explain that women don't care about that, he should be much more concerned about losing his nose, the great gaping hole in his face, the fact that he would forever more look like one of those dried-up little men they pull out of the ice from a million years ago. And the men? Stated they'd rather lose their nose!

The next morning, Mark told me he dreamed I came at him like a chimp, arms flailing and teeth bared.

Yesterday, a great hail storm crashed into Baghdad, and it has rained steadily since. This place is positively submerged. Josee and I ran in it this morning, and it was actually quite fun jumping in the standing lakes of water and mud. There is literally no route you can take from any Point A to any Point B that doesn't involve sinking in mud up to one's knees. And it's raining still. Desert?? I don't think so.