Yesterday was my 1/2 day off...and I had intended to use the pool for the first time. However, much to my chagrin, just as I was leaving we found out we had to go to "full battle rattle." (Kevlar helmet and flak vest) The first thing I thought of was the pool. Dismayed, I mentioned, "well, I guess I can't go swimming now." One of the guys in my shop said, "Well, you could, but you'd have to wear your vest and helmet." The image of trying to swim in that gear came to mind, and I laughed, "Yeah, but I wouldn't swim. I'd sink." We have metal plates in our vest, and it adds quite a bit of weight. (You can jump a little higher on your bicycle if you weigh more, I've discovered.) Then I thought of rugby, and playing in that gear. Fortunately, when I showed up for the game, everyone else took their gear off and we "chanced it." I actually think it would have been more dangerous to play IN the gear. Someone would have broken their neck b/c the kevlar helmet is fairly heavy. The rules, however, say we have to run/exercise in full battle rattle.

So, all in all, yesterday was pretty interesting. Once I got back to my room, I was able to change into PT gear (shorts and a t-shirt), but I still had to wear my kevlar and flak vest. I'm sure I looked quite a sight. Before going to rugby, I stopped by the DFAC (dining facility) to pick up a sandwich for dinner. As I was leaving and trying to juggle the helmet and my food, one of the officers that walked by said, "Guess this is what makes Iraq special." I agreed. This is what we get the little bit of extra pay for. The mortar rounds haven't been any worse, but people are worried because everyone knows what is tomorrow (September 11th). The mortars and rockets may increase just a bit. Fortunately, no MNF (multi-national forces) have been killed on my base. We're nestled snugly between Camp Slayer and BIAP (Baghdad International Airport). It's amazing that every time a trailer has been hit, whoever had been in it had just stepped out -- to use the bathroom, go to dinner, or brush their teeth. Sort of makes you think of "divine intervention." I was laying in bed last night, though, thinking of how often I've heard the booms and felt the concussions. I take it for granted, a little, that it won't hit me. This isn't WWI -- THEY got shelled a lot. I try to not think about it and am usually successful, but every once in a while reality kicks in and I have to acknoweldge the fact that I'm not far from those mortars/rockets.

I am SO excited because next Thursday is my first whole day off since I got here. That is, as long as nothing happens between now and then. I haven't slept in yet, and I think that will be VERY nice.

Well, I better get back to work!

~ amber

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