I have arrived in Kuwait...after a nice, gucci C-17 (from Charleston) ride.
It feels so strange, being out of Iraq. Away from my friends.

They said the next flight out of here that I can get on won't leave until around the 6th... so I suppose I'll be doing a lot of writing, reading, gym/pool.... and being bored. In a way, it's nice because it will give me a chance to unwind before heading home. Almost like a decompression chamber.

I'll keep this short since I may have plenty of opportunity to write at length later this week.


I leave Iraq TODAY.... that is, if I can find a ride to BIAP.

Just wanted everyone to know...

I'll continue this when I get home (hopefully in less than a week), but it will just go back to normal everyday life.
Thank you, everyone, for supporting me while I was here...

~ amber


The General finally released the group I came over here with... we're free to go home. (We were calling ourselves "detainees" for the past month.) Yet there's a catch -- the plane home doesn't leave Kuwait until sometime after the 1st of March (probably after the 3rd). I thought of leaving, and waiting in Kuwait where I don't have to work and will be able to relax, but then I thought about the lack of privacy in the transient bays, the cots, the noise, the boredom... so I'm staying here until Monday, as planned. Some people here think I'm crazy, but it makes sense to me. I have my own room and a bed here, plus the friends I've worked with the past six months.

So... Monday I catch that C-130 and head to Camp Doha, Kuwait. It will be so strange leaving this place. I practically live here. However much I want to leave, it's my most recent home.

~ Amber


guess what i get to do today?? out-process!!! it's SO exciting. i get to drive around and visit all the little places, like the armory and supply, to check out. i leave Baghdad next Monday and i can hardly wait! i don't know yet when i'll get home b/c it could take three to nine days getting there, but it doesn't matter. as long as i get to return to the real world, it doesn't matter if it takes a week getting there.

it's warming up here already. the past few days have been gorgeously warm, albeit a little cloudy. today looks bright and shiny, though.

~ amber


today i went to the "rug shop" over at North Victory and bought three Persian rugs... one from Qom, one from Naim, and one from Tabriz. they're gorgeous. the Qom one (all silk) is the smallest and has a hunting scene on it -- very...well, Persian-looking. the Naim one is blue and white, with a more geometric design, and has the family signature woven into the top. the one from Tabriz is darker, with intricate browns, golds, and a bit of blue and green around the border. i am very please. first personal mission: complete.

i am slowly getting in the mind-set that i'm actually leaving soon. oh, that reminds me. how often does THIS ever happen to anyone? -- i was walking past the fax machine, and it was blinking saying it needed more paper. usually i'd ignore it and walk on, but i was feeling nice, so i actually stopped to feed it. interest piqued, i waited to see what was printing out (we rarely get faxes). to my utter surprise, it was for me (my ammended orders for being extended). it was so random.

found a four-leaf clover yesterday.... i'd begun to wonder if i'd ever find on here. [ok for those of you who don't know, i have this strange knack for finding them.] anyway, now i've gotten my four-leaf clover and my Persian rugs, i can leave.


last night i went to a bonfire... i almost felt i was anywhere but here.

this morning i separated out the things i want to ship home from the things i have to bring back with me to drop off at either Kuwait or El Paso on my way home. it took a while, and then i packed up one of my duffels with stuff for my TX drop-off...one bag is now ready to go. it was nice sitting in my room with the morning light streaming in, lazily rummaging through my things. i'm sending home my DVDs, CDs, extra clothes and boots, books, and other various things. my goal is to have only the bare minimum to carry back so i have less of a weight on my shoulders.

i'm listening to Keane right now, on my iPod. it's nice to have distractions like this, a way to separate my mind from reality whenever i wish. how did the soldiers in WWI, for example, fight off boredom, monotony, and depression?


just a few more weeks.... can't wait!

today is one of those Saturdays that should be spent laying on the couch reading a good book...not being at work in front of a computer all day and all evening.

sorry don't have anything extravagant to say.
oh, i'm learning how to read Arabic. a bit late in my tour, you say? well, yes, you're right, but i don't care. it suddenly seems interesting.

ok lame post, yeah, but i'm brain dead.


on my way down stairs today the Captain called me "Heather." why is it that whenever someone calls me a wrong name by mistake, it is always "Heather?" i have nothing against the name, but it's curious that ever since i was little, that's the name people subconsciously think i should be called. i guess i look like one.

i'm working on writing a page-long piece about my experiences on Iraqi Election Day for the St. Louis Gateway, something one of my friends works on for Hostel International. so far, i've only written a little dit. really, though, i will get onto it when i've got the time. promise.

ok...back to work...


some days are great, and some days i end up feeling like i got run over by a tank...this is one of those days.

for starters, one of the blogs i've been tracking took a sudden dive... the guy said he was going to kill himself, and it seemed serious. there wasn't anything i could do or any way i could contact him b/c he didn't set up the blog to receive comments or have an email address... so all i can do is sit and see if he waits out the depression and makes another post.

sometimes, when i've got the time (like now, waiting for a meeting to start at 10pm), i browse the net for pictures of real life... mostly on Flickr, where there is a lot of random variety. i just want to see what is going on, to ensure to myself that the rest of the world has kept on ticking... one of the pics was a candid shot of some girls talking in a coffee shop. another was of some kids in a playground. another of a mountain ridge, another of the ocean. one of some ice on some fragile branches.... life has continued, and i just can't wait to get back into the real world and see it, live it. in just three more weeks i'll be on my way home, to sunny California and grocery stores, gas stations, jamba juice, movie theaters and malls, Borders... i'll see children again (it feels like forever since i've been around people outside the ages of 20-60) and my Grandparents. i'll be able to pet dogs and go on runs in my neighborhood, past all the houses and different stylized yards. the future, the "real world" is so imprinted on my imagination that i can nearly taste the Thai food and a good glass of red wine, i can feel the breeze off the ocean and smell the salt and eucalyptus leaves. i'm sure everyone is like this over here, off and on. especially when the days are suffocating and packed with frustrations. it makes coping difficult sometimes when dealing with different personality types for hours and days on end, without an outlet. i have learned tolerance as well as confidence here.


a mural at Camp Slayer, probably of the Iran-Iraq or the 1991 Gulf wars...

this past week has been a pretty good one... just three more to go until i'm out of here. (oh, and i plan on keeping this up after my deployment; it just won't be about Iraq anymore)

last night i went to the Brit house and watched Wales beat England in rugby. rugby has got to be the best sport out there....MUCH better than American football (never did get into that game). it all moves faster and you can actually see the players and their frustrations; it's also not as commercialized or media-centered as the NFL is. speaking of the NFL, due to the Superbowl, they were letting us have two beers per person at dinner tonight. not for New Year's; just Superbowl. apparently we know where the commander's priorities are. ;-) anyway, i've not only not seen as many smiles in the chow hall before, i've never seen as many people in there before. no one wanted to skip dinner tonight! i really think they should do as the Brits do and allow a two-drink limit. morale would be higher, and if they policed it carefully enough, there shouldn't be any mihaps with the program. of course, who am i to say so?

back to the grind tomorrow. this day off was blessed. i hadn't had one in three weeks or so, and i loved sleeping in until noon and then doing pretty much nothing the rest of the day. i put some more music on my iPod mini and walked around outside enjoying the fact i didn't have anywhere to be. it was nice to be allowed to relax and unwind.

my replacement should be here soon. when he gets here, i'll show him what to do and then i'll slowly back off. it'll be nice, i hope. too bad i can't be in the first group to go, on the 15th of Feb, but i've got some good friends here who will help the time pass until March 1st. then, i'll be off to El Paso to drop off my gear and then finally home. i'm sure it will all be extremely surreal.


time for another picture... this is the chapel at Camp Slayer. you can see my house straight ahead, on the water....