I’ve been here in Iraq almost 2 months. My 8 week mark passed on Sunday, 1 June. It feels like I’ve been here forever, but the days have been going by quickly–and I’m not going to complain about that. Rumors fly that we’ll be going home earlier than our original November date, but again I’m not going to hold my breath. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best; the Marine Corps has taught me well.
Each day on duty here has been very similar. Besides the bustle of getting on deck and settling into our new positions, life has settled into a predictable routine. Recently, I spent three days on a guard tower instead of working in the guard shack, doing sentry duty for a Marine attending a vehicle class. It was a welcome change of pace–when I wasn’t on watch, I could catch up on my reading and Sudoku. Plus the administrative issues and paperwork stayed away for a few days. But for my Marines who have been on a tower for the last 2 months, 8 hours a day, every day–somehow, they’re still holding up OK. I don’t forsee any change in the schedule or mission for now.
What’s been getting to me (irking me may be a more accurate term) is the lack of freedom or mobility I have in my Marine life versus my civilian life back home. My life revolves around very few locations: my sleeping can, the chow hall, the work shack, and the phone/internet center. Sometimes the gym. There’s a few more MWR (morale, welfare, and recreation) facilities here at TQ that I can use, as well as the PX, but I only do that occassionally. Everything I can go to on my free time, and much of my work time, fits within a 1 mile-diameter circle. Now, in my civilian life, most of my time was also spent at home (sleeping, resting, eating, hanging out) or at work–but it’s the variety of choices in my free time that clearly defines the difference between being at home and being deployed. No In-N-Out Burger. No OSHA Thai. No John Colins. No shooting pool at Thalassa across the Bay with my buddies, followed by a late night run to Top Dog.
And no alcohol. No beer; no glasses of shiraz; no vodka gimlets. Arrgh!
But I get by. Somehow, with my reading and my MacBook Pro as my all-purpose entertainment system, I get by.
I was online earlier this week, and I saw pictures of the recent graduation ceremonies at Convent of the Sacred Heart High School, my former teaching home. This marks a full year that I’ve stepped away from teaching to pursue other things–and knowing another class has moved on tugged my heart a bit. Couldn’t say my goodbyes in person–but I think I’ll run into a few of those students in the future sometime.
Well, I think I’ve drained my “brain housing group” of thoughts for the time being. I’ll try to hit back sooner rather than later.