Sometimes... I just get so frustrated!!! Grrr!!! I had written a really good entry, and when I pushed "publish post" the page didn't load up correctly and I lost everything! I hate that!

Well... I mostly talked about the elections. Of course. It's a gorgeous day outside, and hopefully the majority of Iraqi people will show up to vote, defying the insurgents who've threatened them. So far, after the polling sites have been open for four hours, it looks good. I am glad that Iraqis around the globe participated. My favorite snippets from the news were of the Imam in the US quoting Martin Luther King saying, "We are now free!" and Geraldo Rivera saying, "I'm so happy; damn the insurgents!" The energy of the day is rippling throughout the country, all the way into the Palace I work in. It's like a jolt of caffeine.

Last night I watched "Identity" with some housemates. At one point, during a very loud and scary point of the movie, we could hear gunfire from outside. Iraqi surround sound, you know.

I'm off to eat my Mystery (MRE...Mr. E....Mystery) lunch pack now. What shall I get?

Sorry the earlier version didn't publish. I promise it was more profound. Something about the significance of the elections and the impact it will have on history and upon myself.... I am not a sage, however, so it wasn't too profound, and apparently I don't have picture-perfect memory because I couldn't recreate it.



Thanks for the comments, guys (comments with the pic below). I read that comment last night just before heading home and was not only stunned, but mystified. I racked my brain most of the night, in between being a little disturbed by the shooting going on and having just seen a lot of tracer rounds from my kitchen, wondering why someone would say something like that and then wimp out by just posting a comment instead of emailling me directly. Next time someone wants to accuse me of un-gentlemanly behavior, he should be a gentleman himself and let me know what it was he thinks I've done wrong directly, via email. Posting in like that, in that tone, was not only unprofessional, but dishonorable. Really, there are other things I've got to worry about over here than vague accusations. Well, enough about that. I shall make extra care I don't say anything dishonorable or unladylike anymore. Really, though, my grandmother reads this, so I'm fairly certain I've kept it clean.

On to other things... work is very serious and very busy lately. Today I did find time to eat lunch out on the balcony of the Palace (which I've never done before). We're on MREs now since the DFAC is closed. Eating MREs isn't bad. It's a little like opening a grab-bag - you never know what you're going to get, and there is a communal feeling to it as everyone trades around the peanut butter and brownies and tobasco sauces for something else they prefer. (Today I had the beef raviolis, which is generally a good bet.) It was so nice sitting out there, avoiding the pigeon droppings, overlooking the rest of Camp Slayer. In the distance I could see the squarish houses outside the wire, where the real world begins, and a colorful circus-tent-painted Mosque. I haven't had a lot of time or energy to write on this blog because I've been writing a lot at work, and my eyes get tired. I do occasionally check the comments, though, on my way home (like last night).

I am currently reading a book on Nepal. It's a collection of personal accounts and stories written by people who have traveled there, with a short tour-guide at the end of the book. Exactly what I'd like to get in to. I wonder how freelance writers manage to pay the bills and plan for things, though. Anyway, the stories are really fascinating. One was about just walking around the cities, and another about a guy with a bloody nose who later found out he had accidentally gotten a leech in his nose after drinking directly from a stream (won't find me doing that now). I've been reading the stories while loading music onto my computer -- I bought an iPod mini and it finally got here (I love it).

Well, I have to get back upstairs and get to work! I dunno.... is writing emails and blogging dishonorable and unladylike during working hours? ;-) Of course, here, working hours are ALL the time!

Oh, I listen to music while working, too. Is that bad? Today I've been particularly fond of Badly Drawn Boy and Franz Ferdinand. ;-) Everyone, take care! I am SO glad the Out-of-Country voting seems to be going well. Pray for all people manning the voting stations tomorrow! They'll need it.


Here's a pic of when I was at the Muff Bar in Qatar with my best friend and two guys she worked with there.


don't really know what to write today... every day is much the same. from an outsider's point of view, i'm sure this is boring. i'm really just updating my posts to let you know i'm still alive.

ever since the dining facility bombing in Mosul, things have changed. no longer can you walk straight into any building without first getting checked by the MPs and clearing your weapon (i've not shot mine in about a month, but they're extra careful now), and they've put up barriers around the dining facility -- so there's just one entrance, to save on the number of guards that must be present. so, security is enhanced. i don't know if this has to do with the threat of the upcoming elections or if it's indefinite. at any rate, it's a necessary evil, i suppose.

the thought of getting out of the AF in 2006 and becoming a writer seems more delicious each day.... but i'm not so sure how i'll be able to live off of my writing, not having any basis to start from, not having a novel already-written in my back pocket to wow the publishers. i guess if i end up getting close to starvation or can't pay my rent, i'll get a job in the government as a civilian or go teach English in eastern Europe. it's actually nice not knowing what will happen -- my future is a blank slate. it seems much more interesting thinking of my future that way. thinking of staying in the AF for a full career.... it looms ahead of me, the timeline already flat and uneventful, full of the stresses of promotions and leadership, continued deployments.

i should get back upstairs to the office. i just came down here to look up clubs to join when i get back to San Diego. i've got 40 days left in Baghdad!
cheers~ amber dawn


the past few days there was a horrible smell in the big room I share with the other girls in our house (our little rooms are like cubbies, with blankets as doors). I couldn't figure out what the smell was, exactly, or where it was coming from, and as the days went by, the stench grew. It reminded me of the smell of the rotting cattle we'd ride by on horses in Bahrain when I used to live there.... so I had a hunch it was a dead rat. After four days of not being able to find it, I called the contractors to see if maybe it was in a pipe or the vents. He looked around outside, on the roof (it's flat), and then we went back inside. I said, wandering around the room, "the smell hits you right here." Just as I said that, I lifted the blanket of the girl who's room is next to mine, and saw a tail...a furry bottom.... and I both screamed and jumped about three feet back. Then the contractor jumped a few feet. The rat had been there for several days, dead. I had to leave the room, it was so disgusting. The man took the dead rat away, I swept up what was left behind (gross), and then went to the gym. As I was falling asleep last night, I couldn't help but think of the dead rat, and of how many more rats must be running around at night.

Well that's about all the time I've got this morning.... ciao!


The weather has been beautiful lately... cool and crisp, but clear and not too windy. Yesterday, just before sunset, I learned how to play cricket. It's really cool, and not that difficult...with a tennis ball. Having a real cricket ball flying at me would probably scare me off. I have some not-so-fond memories of softballs crashing into my cranium... Learning cricket is one of the benefits of having Aussies and Brits to work with.

One of my friends brought back an Eddie Izzard dvd from England for me... I'm going to go watch it.



Today has been pretty good, considering... it's Iraqi Army Day, Epiphany, Orthodox Christmas Eve, and my own, personal, Quarter-Century Day. My co-workers gave me a plaster tablet copy of (I think) Hammurabi or something Babylonian, and I got some books (I love Bill Bryson). After work (we're getting off "on-time" tonight, which is early) we're going to the Camp Slayer Lion's Den for "karaoke night." I haven't been yet, so I have no idea what it'll be like, but my whole team is crashing the event. It'll be glorious, except for the making me sing in public bit. Are we at war, or are we singing? For today, I'm glad to forget. Of course, I am still working as usual and not letting up on the effort.

Our own little cheeky slogan (after observing the leadership here, you'd understand): Fighting the tactical fight at the strategic level. Our best analyst, who went home in December, used to say that.

I was writing out something by hand first, before typing it into my computer, and the Brit that sits next to me said I should "come to the dark side." I asked what he meant, and he said, "leave America for Britain." He said that because I was doing things the "old-fashioned" way. I said I was just doing it MY way. (Sometimes, I just have to write in pen first, to get the juices flowing.) I would like to visit England and Scotland some day, though...

Yes, I'm rather wordy today. Usually I feel rushed when down here in the computer room, but today I'm taking my time. I'm also taking muscle relaxants because of my back, so I'm just (un)naturally relaxed anyway and not in a rush to get anywhere. (I do hate the fact I have to keep popping pills, but they don't have a chiropractor here, and this is the best they can do. It makes me think, being so expectant of "immediately resourceful" health care, what it is like for those that can't get to a doctor when they really need one, or of people who have chronic pain and the thought of getting relief doesn't cross their minds because health care has never been there for them before. What lives. I may have to just deal with the pain for now, but I know when I get back to California I'll be taken care of. I can't fathom having to accept this for the rest of my life!)

I'll go to the other cyber cafe, where they allow you access to the CD drive, and put some pics on here.... later. Oh, I'm so sleepy today! (And spacey.)

The tsunami has diverted some of the news away from Iraq and the elections, but at a terrible price. Now, at the chow hall, instead of playing news on Iraq (as if we don't know what's going on here), we get images of IEDs in Baghdad and stories of poor children who had to cling to doors and trees for days out at sea in southeast Asia. It's sobering, at the least. I'm torn between wanting to hear more of what's going on and wanting to drown it all out and ask for cartoons instead. How do people process this information and accept reality? If you asked me, would I rather live a life of fantasy (the unreal, and hence, a lie) or a life of reality and truth, I would immediately ask for the unreal, the happy fantasy I could protect my mind with. Alas, we don't get choices like that. No matter how much we may try to get to that fantasy world (either through books, or movies, or drugs, etc), reality always steps in. And of course, reality=disappointment. (That sounds much more depressing than I really feel, so don't think for a moment I'm in a bad mood.)

Time for me to stop. This is very long today. Have a lovely day, and go read something that will take your mind off of reality, for me, since my job makes me face it all day long.

Cheers~ amber dawn


Came back from Qatar a few days ago... couldn't post anything there because this site was blocked (as were all the useful sites). Anyway, yes, Qatar was amazing. It was so odd to be out in the "real" world. I went from eating at the chow hall here with plastic forks to a restaurant in the Ritz with fine silver. Needless to say, I was speechless most of the time, staring out of the car window in awe. Qatar was gorgeous, and strikingly similar to Bahrain. I loved going around the round-abouts at 90kph with tires screeching.

Rest. I really think that was what I needed most. Now I'm ready to tackle the elections here. Funny how I know so much about the Iraqi government and political situation and really haven't paid any attention to US politics.

Just two more months! Suddenly this will all be over (for me) and I'll find myself back in sunny San Diego in my old job -- but with "more experience and credibility" as they say.

For my Quarter-Century Party on Thursday we (my team) are going to Karaoke Night. Although a real bar with real alcohol would be more fun, it should be entertaining. We'll sing some sort of military song then too, since it'll also be Iraqi Army Day.

When I get my pics from Qatar online, I'll post a few here. Wow I'm in a good mood. Now, off to save the elections....!