Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Its been a while..

It’s been a while since I have blogged.. I just wasn’t in the mode..

I have made several trips since my last entry, so I will just list them..

Harat, Kandahar, Marmul/Mesar-e-Sharif (MES), Camp Spann


Last time I went to Kandahar, I again, got to take a private plane.. it was pretty neat and so much more comfortable than the normal C-17/C-130 flights..


My last trip was about a week to MES and Camp Spann.  I travelled with a battle buddy that I met in training (we work together over here) Trisha.  We were able to take our first Blackhawk Helo ride together.. that was pretty awesome!! We again took one coming back..  


All these places I travel to, look the same.


There are no brilliant colors over here.. it’s almost as if you become color blind, and all the colors you do see are in shades of gray.. I can’t explain it any better than that.  Its funny, most people that I have met and have already re-deployed (gone home) have told me one of the fascinating things is how bright colors are back home.  I think we just get programmed and don’t notice that we are not seeing color in its full capacity, due to the desert colors we regularly see here, and all over theater.  Between the lack of colors, sand and rocks, green grass will be a welcome sight!


Due to my job, I am now being required to travel about 4 times a month.  What once used to be a terrifying thought to me, has now become something I depend on, something I can’t wait for – because, quite honestly, the traveling part of my job, makes the time move soo much faster for me.  I have been here almost 7 months now.. gone from home almost 8 months. 


I have done a lot in the last month, between the traveling, meeting new people, and setting new goals..

I have met people that I have been working with in theater for quite some time, and it’s always nice to put a face to a name..


I have said goodbye to another crew member who redeployed today, trained a new team, and welcomed a new member.


Team Pic.JPG

(Some of the old.. with the new)



MSgt Gardner, SSgt Devi (9/11/2010)


Buske Promotion 017.JPG

SSgt Buske & SSgt Banister





This is my new team as of today.  I will again, say good bye to all of them, except MSgt Tate (far right in the back) before I leave.  He will be here for a while after myself, but the others

Will redeploy home a couple months before I leave.  Its bittersweet when you say good bye – because even though you’ve only worked together for 6 months,

Here, as I have eluded to before, we build bonds much quicker.  Our emotions are on over drive here, everything is heightened when it comes to personal relationships..

People are coming and going every day, people are dying every day, and I think this atmosphere, even here at NKC where the activity is next to null, the bonds are still as intense.

I said goodbye yesterday to a dear friend, whom I did not have near enough time with.  She will definitely be missed!  I am sure, absolutely positive, there will be more good-byes to follow,

Before it’s my turn to leave, I can only hope that I have made a positive impact on other’s lives, as they have had on mine.


I am still trying to plan for my trip to Germany and the states… its becoming a major pain in the butt, BUT, it will be well worth it… any time away – where I am not carrying a 9M, wearing ACUs, will be welcome time away. 


I have finally gotten over the NKC crud – with a minor cough at night still lingering, but, I believe that will be for the duration.  The Afghans are constantly burning everything.. EVERYTHING from waste to body waste – to provide their heat – during this cold season.. what that means for us, is there is a constant fill of smoke in the air.. almost as if we were breathing in smoke from a fireplace 24/7 – which, we are, its just a lot different material being burnt.. Definitely not healthy for us to breathe in, I’m sure.  I have not been able to kick the cough I caught when I was sick.. Its not near as bad as it used to be, but I don’t foresee it getting better until the cold season is over.   


We have been decorating the office spaces.. What originally started as a Door Decorating Contest – well, became more.. Yes.. I am an overachiever – so my office has decorated 4 doors and the entire space in our little corner..

36280_462749206301_507721301_6255678_2536049_n.jpg 65429_462748526301_507721301_6255674_2789693_n.jpg





That is the sum of our holiday spirit.. J That sad thing is, after all that, the COL decided she like our creativity and asked us to do her door too…

Needless to say, our creative juices are drying up and I will be glad to be done with the decorating!



I will travel again this week… and tell you about it later… but it will be a few locations.. in about a weeks time.. and I will be home in time for Christmas.


Its kinda funny, people ask, are you going to be gone for Christmas.. my answer is.. “I’m already gone for Christmas..” so what does it matter.. LOL

Its true – although, this is “Home” for the next 5 months (the last 7) and its funny how we all look at “Home” being the center piece, the stable ground to be at for any and all holidays..


Its been a long haul so far.. but I have to say, I don’t regret any of it.  I am looking forward to the next 5 months flying by, I hope, as the first 7 have.

My relief has already been identified and will be in theater sooner than expected.. that is always good news!


These last couple weeks have been busier than normal.. Unfortunately there are an average of about 10-14 deaths a week.  Just keep my cell in mind, as you see those Fallen Heroes Reports on TV.  Each and every person you hear about in Afghanistan, we.. my office.. has processed that report and are still processing that deceased case.  It’s a sad reality of war, and sometimes hard to read about, but even harder when we see the reports on TV as well.  It tends to make it more “real” puts a “human” face to a name.. and shows family, friends, emotions, and ceremonies that are difficult to watch, knowing we processed that report.  Its easier processing the reports – without the visual, without the added info, and without putting that face.. to the name.. keep my Casualty Cell Crew in your prayers!


I hope everyone out there has a safe and happy holiday season! We all appreciate the support we have been given from all those back at home!



Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A copy of the original message with attachments will be sent with this email.
Subject: So there I was.... (UNCLASSIFIED)
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2010 19:27:13 +0430
From: Tanya.R.Zinn@afghan.swa.army.mil
To: trzinn@hotmail.com

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

                So, there I was, in Kandahar, a dust filled cesspool (literally) filling your nostrils with the unpleasant scent of human feces.  Yes.  We call it.. “The Pooh Pond”

It was day two of my trip, which each day is always anxiety ridden, awaiting for the sirens, attacks, and of course unpleasant odor which fills the air – especially when the wind blows.

Earlier in that day we had an incoming rocket, so the siren sounded, and we made our way to the bunkers.. but that was hours earlier.  Its now 1219, I’m laying on my  rack in the transient tent watching a movie on my iPod, **Boom**! I hear it.. an explosion.. I remove my earphones and listen again, looking down at my watch to see 1220 displayed.  I am thinking to myself “I wonder if the Alarm will sound” or worse yet “How long will it take.” Again, another Boom, and another.. This continues on for about 10 minutes – still no siren, and to my surprise, of all the females in the tent – NOT ONE of them stirred to the noise.  (Except Me).  I look at my watch again and now it’s 1229 – no siren.  Well, siren or not, I can’t lay there hearing explosions that sound like they are just behind my tent, so I quietly, but quickly, without panic, make my way outside.  My first thoughts are – I should call mom.. LOL (Right? .. I know.. I know..) But – I can’t help it.  As I am making my way outside I hear the gun fire.. and I’m not just talking single shots, I mean bursts.. a few of them.. LOUDLY… by now, I’m outside, speed dialing my Mommy.. cold, shivering, scared and just a complete UNEASY feeling washing over me. 

Now, let me remind you I am usually in a location that receives minimal action – certainly not the sounds of explosions nor gunfire… this is not a common occurrence to me, nor am I complacent in ANY way, shape or form.  I am, however, acutely aware of the casualties that come out of Kandahar and the incidents that occur daily..


Back to the story at hand… I dial my mom’s number, by now, its silent again.  I swear for the last 12 minutes it was non-stop.. had my mom been on the phone, she would have heard it..

Silence.  My mom answers, asks me what is wrong, I lie and say “nothing” of course, she realizes the time and say “what’s going on, can’t sleep?”  By now, the little girl in me comes out and I just want to cry.. I think I was more scared than I had been, since arriving in theater, and it was NOT a pleasant feeling.  So, I spew out to my mom, without thinking about her worry – and tell her what I heard, but that apparently its nothing to worry about because NO ONE stirred, no alarm sounded, and all was now quiet – However, I wasn’t going to trust anyone else’s complacency and made my way to the bunker.  We chatted, worriedly making small talk.. and I realize at this point it seems all clear on my end, but I probably sent a WORLD of worry my mom’s way.. and knew that when I hung up, she would worry through my night, and until she heard from me again.


Its crazy how we spend our whole young adult lives trying to get away from our parents, but once we are adults, wish we could make the appear in a snap..


Anyhow, so, my mom makes small talk with me for about 20 minutes, until my nerves unwind… and I feel a little more relaxed.. so we say our goodnights and NOW I am feeling REALLY bad and extremely guilty for calling her and now making her worry..

I lay in my rack, once again, this time a little more nervous..but eventually fall asleep…

The next morning, I make it in to the office and ask all – “Did you guys hear the explosions and gunfire last night”

To which the Major replies “Yeah- they just opened up a range over there a couple nights ago”


Yea… would’ve been nice to have some warning?

Friday, November 5, 2010

New day

I had a talk with GOD today...
A long much needed talk

I asked him to please help me...
To ease my burdens and heal the pains that were aching in my heart

I cried for a while last night, a relief, quite honestly
A stress relief, an emotional release

It's been a while since I've had a good cry
I felt so alone, I felt so sad
Yet I couldn't understand why

Why something so small, seemed so huge...
But, then I realized, as previously mentioned...
Out here, our emotions are on over drive,
Everything is heightened,
From your sense, your awareness, to your emotions
And sometimes, even the smallest of disappointments can seem like the biggest
Something, that if, quite honestly, had happened back home, wouldn't have been a big deal, seemed like the biggest of let downs...
But, it was not, it is not, and I just had to realize that
I can't control everything..( yeah, I know..big surprise...)
Imagine my disappointment..lol
Really tho, I just had to take a step back, and realize why I am feeling the way I am, and what was really the cause..
It wasn't that minor disappointment, rather than the reality of missing home,
Missing a normal life, (heck..missing civilian clothes....wine.....) did I mention wine? Yea, I miss that too..lol

Life is strange here for me...there are many days I feel soo grateful,
Because I know I have already made a difference here, no matter how small in comparison to those risking their life out in the fields,
I know, I have made a difference for them...I feel appreciated by my boss, which I am very thankful for and appreciated by many others for the work I provide, the work I do, the things I see, and deal with and the things I have created and done to streamline the proccess so that Every fallen hero is taken care from from the first steps in the process immediately following their injury or death.
I feel blessed to be a part of something that can and does make that difference. I know that what I have done here, so far, has already made a lasting impact that will be further reaching even after I redeploy. I have seen things, I will never want to see again, I have read reports for our heroes, that will haunt me till the day I die...but has made me much more grateful with abetted understanding of what we all go thru, and knowing that it could be any of us here...and I am lucky.

Then there are days, that work aside, I feel lonely..the kind of lonely that work achievements can not fix...
And when I feel that, I have learned that really, a good cry, a few vented emotions, and a long talk with GOD heals my wounds...holds me tight, and peals away the lonely layers that try to smother me..

When I woke up this afternoon, these great words came to my head...
So I wanted to share them with you..

Turn over your fears, let go of your tears
I will bear the pain
For you, my love, are in my heart
From the moment you knew my name

Give me your troubles, push away your doubts
And i will lead the way
Tomorrow, my child, will be brand new
A bright, and loving day

Thursday, November 4, 2010



This last week has been pretty busy. I started crocheting again, making some things for the babies here in the local hospitals, and will eventually travel to deliver the things we have made. It feels worthwhile. ;)

Friday, I received an email from the states, requesting me to attend a big exercise for casualty personnel, in Massachusetts. I was pretty excited about this, because I was requesting to go and train the trainers in Ft Jackson, SC, because we have HR personnel that are showing up, without enough training for this job. So, we are revamping their training pipeline. In the interim, I have been asked to present my casualty seminar to more than 700 HR folks during a big annual exercise they conduct. Training 30 people, is a great feeling, training 700 is an outstanding and exciting offer, that of course I could not refuse.

This week I also spent training a new group of casualty team members that will be reporting for our southern units. Subsequently, I was asked to travel down there and assist them with their setup and database they will be using (the one I created back in July). This is also a definite plus for me, in that General Petraeus likes my database, likes the reports he sees from it and therefore wants all the other units to use it as well, to maintain continuity. So, I will spend about a week in Kandahar, helping them out, and then go back to do some more training for the other units. ;)

Last night was Halloween. There were about 10 of us who dressed up, initially, then, the navy ( go navy!) put on a haunted house, that was definitely the hit of the night. It was a great morale booster, to feel normal for a brief moment in our extended time here. It was nice that even in a war zone, we can have a taste of home.

4 Nov 2010

As for me, I'm not feeling so great tonight...lots of stuff goin on upstairs, feeling a little lonely and missing my family, home and friends. I'm quite sad tonight, as I sit out here on my Friday night, (i know its only Thursday) with nothing better to do than blog...for a brief moment, I fit in, I felt like I belonged some where, but tonight, I'm not feeling that... Tonight, the chaos of life, work and social networking has caught the best of me, and quite honestly, it's brought me to tears...maybe I just need a good cry...maybe I just need to get that stiff upper lip, and not let something bother me soo much...

But somehow, it has....

Somehow it's gotten in my head, and I cant help but feel it, and the sadness it is bringing me...
I know, my friends will all say, it's ok, I can hear their remarks now, but the fact of the matter is..they are not here, living my life.. And I know they mean well, but, unfortunately those words of wisdom, those truths I need to hear, just aren't enough tonight, and my heart hurts...

Karma is a bitch... Because just when you think you have it figured out, and things start to get good, things start to look up, reality slaps me...and brings me back down to my reality...

My only question is why... Why not just let me be...let me be in peace... Karma...she's an ass kicker and my ass is sore already... I need a break...

I know..time heals all wounds and I have been blessed to find some peace here,with the one pain that was ever present..
I have been blessed that my heart was able to let go...and move forward....after a long period of grief.... My heart has mostly healed...
I am thankful that I was finally able to move beyond that..

Yet still, here I sit tonight, my head hung low, my heart feeling heavy and my emotions running high..


A tall, dark empty space somewhere inside that continues to try and reel me in.. Every so often it slaps me with it's dooming clouds and sends my emotions in a battle.....sometimes, the dark clouds overcome me....
I think I just need a good cry..lol

I will be fine..I'm just venting... Tomorrow will be better ;)

Being out here kinda puts life in perspective, makes you rethink things you once would never question, makes you realize what you are, or even who you are....funny how when you are separated from all that you love, how it can change you,

For the most part, change is good....reevaluating life in your mid thirties isn't such a horrible thing, it can just get lonely sometimes...
I really miss just chilling out, chatting with friends, with a big glass of wine, and no bigger care in the world than what I was cooking for dinner, or who's homework needed to be done, including my own...

Out here, I feel like I am living two lives....the one back home, that I am not present for... And the one here,
Amongst ore people, in my same predicament, but yet our lives still get intermingled, and they become family here...friends here...
If you think maintenance on a friendship back home is hard, one that you are there for, try maintaining those, as well as the present ones, the ones you are actually present for, here. Who are you real friends...who are these people here...will they continue to be friend once you go home..back to your other reality....
The fact is, the understand like no one else, how your feeling, what your feeling and why you're feeling it...even if it's for no good reason...
They get it...because I think, no matter who will admit it, we all go thru this emotional roller coaster of loneliness...
I don't like this ride..

I'm heading out of town again this weekend, and maybe that's a good thing...get out, get away, and refresh...bury myself in the work that I enjoy doing, teaching...working databases, and just let my loneliness absorb into the dark space it came from...

I will win this battle...I do every time...I will every time...

Monday, October 18, 2010


Camp Julien -COIN Training

We left about 9ish for Camp Julien. After a trip that took me thru streets I have never traveled, and sites I have never seen, we arrived. Because of OPSEC I am truly limited on what I say about the camp, its location and the training we went thru. Without giving too much information, I will simply explain that COIN is a training that teaches us about perceptions and appropriate actions to adhere to in order to build better relations with our local population. We learned more about the customs, perception, and culture surrounding us, and the history of Afghanistan and the Taliban. For those that have not seen the national geographic show, Inside the Taliban, I recommend it. this was truly a great history lesson for me, proving how ignorant I was in regards to the history of Afghanistan, Russia, Pakistan and yes, the US. The funny thing is, Katrina was studying this portion of history (which, btw, I do not remember reading about in my history books), anyhow, she was learning about this before I left for Afghanistan, and now, I get it.

Our first day, I got to tour the Queens old palace. There are pictures of the ruins that was once a beautiful adorned palace. It was breathtaking and heartbreaking to see the ruins, to walk thru the historical monument. We took many pictures and then moved on. We went on to start our training. That evening, we broke in time for dinner and went to the local restaurant, where between the four of us, we downed 10 baskets of bread, and four entrees...oh, and let's not forget the nearbeer in many different flavors...which, btw, no matter how bad I miss the slight taste of wine, or liquor, I still detest beer and therefore did not partake in Near beer...I figure if I don't like the real thing, why would I like the fake stuff...lol

Anyhow, after filling our bellies with 10 pounds of yeast, and 3 hours of wining and dining..ok..dining... We were able to just go to bed.. What a concept..we didn't have to eat and then rush back to work for a few more hours..nice change...(yes, people, its the simple things in life...)

The following day we had to get up early to get up to the range and refamiliarize ourself with our weapons... Yes, we got to shoot.. And well, all I can say is what an embarrassment I was to myself that day...I think I drank too much of the DFAC coffee..because I could not get a steady grip...my arms and hands shook like I was Wired... I suppose I was...I even shot twice, trying to make myself feel better, only ending with the same results...I went from sharp shooter to crap shooter...yea.it sucked..no more coffee before the range ( and no, I'm not telling you my numbers)

Later that afternoon, we got to go to the old Russian Officers club, I think I labeled it German, on facebook photos, but I will fix that later..this hike, was Bout a 40 minute hike, up hill the whole way..no, this isn't like the old "5 miles up hill both ways exaggeration" it truly was an up hill hike, about 40 minutes, but the view was absolutely amazing..a full 360 view of the city...mountains surrounding us... I could only imagine how amazing and breathtaking it would be, with a slight layer of snow just atop the mountains..fortunately, the hike downhill felt much better, than the hike up..but definitely worth it.

We once again enjoyed dinner at the restaurant that night, devouring pizzas that were definitely worth the wait ( most people here definitely take their time, with EVERYTHING... They are never in a rush....except for on the roads it seems...so only half like New York...the traffic half..) anyhow, it was good.
Our ride back was definitely a bit more interesting than the ride there...traffic was absolutely INSANE. There are prolly 15 (made up) lanes of traffic, heading in all directions possible, yes, its like playing frogger, except, worse... The one thing I have learned, no lie, is that there is no license required here to drive, no joke, but it definitely explains a lot.

After safely making it back to nkc and wanting to kiss the ground, when I stepped out of the vehicle, I was exhausted. I checked in at the office, setup the refrigerator that Donovan had delivered for me, (thank you for getting it here!) and then went to bed..
After traveling the day at Kandahar, then turning around and heading to Julien the next day, for a few days, I was exhausted.

There you have it... My next trip, promises not to be as exciting as this one, Kandahar never is..
More later

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kandahar - take 3

Kandahar take 3

So this was my third trip to kandahar in the last month..
Except today, was much different.
We had our own puddle jumper..special ops plane and was able to fly out this rning and return this evening...
Which is good for those of you that know how much I hate Kandahar...
Today was the monthly conference, where we..the HQ..travel to e South to give some gouge, reminders, and discuss recurring issues..

We left nkc at 0700 this morning... Arrive in KAF about 11, had several hours to kill so we went to TGIFridays for lunch..
Still not impressive... Really...nothing to write home about..so I I'll shut up..
Afterwards we stopped ( since it was on the boardwalk) the orange julius place, which usually has ice cream like dairy queen..
Usaully is the key word..
Today..it was disgusting..nuff said

I am now on the plane back to nkc...we are running a little later than planned so we are stopping at the pizza hut at the airport and grabbing somme good fast food..their pizza hut tastes like the one in the states...the one good fast food here in this region...

Tomorrow I knead to kcamp julienne for some COIN training..
I will explain it all once I get back.. But needless to say there are some tours involved, great photo ops, and new sites..

This week has been pretty rough on me..
I was seriously sick...down hard...still worked daily, but some days I would leave hours to down some nyquil and try to sleep..and some days I would keep in an extra couple hours, due to the nyquil the night before..but it has been a sinus infection turned in to a cough that I cant seem to kick.. Been sick for a week now...hoping I am on the mend.. Will keep you posted...would be nice to not cough every 5 minutes and not constantly feel like my head is going to explode from the pressure (which, btw, being on this plane....does not help....)

Ok, there's the update until next week..more after COIN..

Kandahar - take 3

Kandahar take 3

So this was my third trip to kandahar in the last month..
Except today, was much different.
We had our own puddle jumper..special ops plane and was able to fly out this rning and return this evening...
Which is good for those of you that know how much I hate Kandahar...
Today was the monthly conference, where we..the HQ..travel to e South to give some gouge, reminders, and discuss recurring issues..

We left nkc at 0700 this morning... Arrive in KAF about 11, had several hours to kill so we went to TGIFridays for lunch..
Still not impressive... Really...nothing to write home about..so I I'll shut up..
Afterwards we stopped ( since it was on the boardwalk) the orange julius place, which usually has ice cream like dairy queen..
Usaully is the key word..
Today..it was disgusting..nuff said

I am now on the plane back to nkc...we are running a little later than planned so we are stopping at the pizza hut at the airport and grabbing somme good fast food..their pizza hut tastes like the one in the states...the one good fast food here in this region...

Tomorrow I knead to kcamp julienne for some COIN training..
I will explain it all once I get back.. But needless to say there are some tours involved, great photo ops, and new sites..

This week has been pretty rough on me..
I was seriously sick...down hard...still worked daily, but some days I would leave hours to down some nyquil and try to sleep..and some days I would keep in an extra couple hours, due to the nyquil the night before..but it has been a sinus infection turned in to a cough that I cant seem to kick.. Been sick for a week now...hoping I am on the mend.. Will keep you posted...would be nice to not cough every 5 minutes and not constantly feel like my head is going to explode from the pressure (which, btw, being on this plane....does not help....)

Ok, there's the update until next week..more after COIN..

Nickelback causing random thoughts...

Nickelback.....There's gotta be someone for me out there...
The one question, those of us at are single, for the umpteenth time, after thinking we had "it"
Only to discover we didn't, and now are left wondering...
If there's someone out there for me..

I find myself asking the question, more often than I care to admit..
I know, in time, everyone always says..the right one will come along..the sad part is,
I feel as if my life is already half over... I am missing out on sharing my experiences now..
Experiences that I will never get to redo, those memories i can never get back

I am a single mom of 3 teenage children, 35 years old, and about to retire from my first career..
My whole life I spent believing I would find mr right...whoever that is..and have family, a career and live happily ever after..lol
Okay okay so I know... That's the fairy tale version..
I heard funny line night in a movie...it was
Stories with happy endings, are stories that haven't finished.
I know that is not always true...
But sometimes I feel it applies to me..
I haven't been able to get it right, and for me, as I approach my 40s....yes I said it, my 40s...
I feel a sense of urgency..almost like that of a woman who hasn't yet had kids..and feels that need...soon...now..
I have had kids...and will have no more...so it's a little different I know..
But I yearn to have that special someone to share things with.. To share life with..to plan a future with...

Iot seems each time I thought I had it....every time I thought this was it, life proved me wrong..set me straight
And now here I am..

I truly feel like I am definitely a restless soul.... Yearning for the other half..to complete the puzzle, to reveal the picture...

Sometimes, I just put the thoughts out of my mind, call myself a silly girl...and tell myself to get over it..but who am I kidding..
We all ..ok most of us, long to have someone to share life wiith, to share joy with....we are human beings...

I have spent the last month reading some very spiritually fulfilling books, doing some soul searching, and ultimately, I know I am ok alone
I have proven to myself that I can survive...but I definitely prefer to have someone to share in this life with...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Catching up...

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

So its been a little bit since I have written, or so I have been
reminded :) Thanks Laura!
Things have been a little hectic over here.. Both at work and outside of

I returned from my Bagram trip and had a whole new team (here at
my office). My team, that I have been with for 4 months was redeploying
(heading home..) and so not only had I spent the previous two weeks
training a team to work on their own, I now had a team to train - to
relieve my guys. Its always a hard transition to go from the ones you
trust, the ones that know what they are doing, to a whole new team. I
have worked longer days, cleaning up the database, fixing the errors
that were being made. Needless to say the new team is not overly joyed
with me, because I am Anal Retentive about the Attention to Detail.
What they don't seem to understand is that for every block in the
database they DON'T fill in, I have to backtrack, and fill in the data
for my reports to General Petraeus. They may not see the requests, the
reports, and receive the phone calls I get, but soon, they will
understand, I hope? I have heard rumblings already that the two day
shift girls are talking about me behind my back, or sending emails to
each other thru the day (after I've corrected them on something)
bitching about me.

I do not want to work in that kind of environment. I refuse to
work with what seems to be high schoolish antics. I try to be patient,
I let them know they are doing a good job, but I also let them know the
errors I am seeing. Its constructive criticism. It's funny.... they
seem to like me, when I have their backs and get phone calls from
Department of Army (DA) or even our higher headquarters, requesting them
to do something - that is probably not necessary... they like me when I
get on the phone and tell the other end that we will not do what they
are asking, because it is redundant work, or purely not required. But,
when it comes to me correcting or putting out guidelines on how the data
is to be entered, they do not like it. It's simple, there are several
blocks to be filled in, all serve a purpose and all are self
explanatory, each block serves a purpose. Every bit of that data is
tracked, and - like I had once eluded to before, is put in a statistical
slide for General Petraeus. When the blocks are left blank, that causes
a lot of going back, research and needless time taken away.

Anyhow, so, the last couple weeks have been a little
frustrating. I am an impatient person, I know this - and because I know
this, I am trying very hard to not lose my patience.. But, There are
times, when I receive a call, and am told something was not done - that
was reported as being complete, I get a little mad.. This happened..
and this happened on a report to that is briefed not only to the Afghani
Ambassador - but to General Petraeus. Nothing like getting a phone call
5 minutes before that brief, that the report was not received.
Anyhow, so that is how my last couple weeks have been, since returning
from Bagram.

I have also been sick the last couple days, battling what seemed
to be a sinus infection - or simply the crud that seems to be going
around.. not sure just yet..

Other than that, work has been work. I am, once again, going to
Kandahar, to hold another seminar; Apparently, word got out, and those
that could not attend the last seminar, have requested for me to hold
another.. I am glad. It obviously makes me feel like what I am doing it
I am also going to Camp Julien soon, I will take pictures and tell you
all about it, afterwards. For security reasons, I will wait on all that
information, but that time - should be fun. I am going with a few other
fellow LT's and it promises to be a good time. I am actually looking
forward to it.

Its funny, as time has gone on, although the thought of
traveling is still a bit scary, I look forward to getting off of here -
even if it's just a couple days. Traveling helps make the time go by

I also have been doing a lot of reading, which is taking away
from my online time, especially since my netbook broke.. I don't have
internet in my room now, which leaves me to read.. which, although it
sucks right now, I guess is a pretty good thing. I have been reading
some pretty good books (thanks to George, and Jamie!:))
I will be getting a new one, though, because I do miss being able to IM
with my friends there back home, in the evening time.

I will say that I have learned to leave my office a bit more. I
go and have dinner outside with some of the other O3s in my directorate.
I also leave a bit earlier than I used to, mostly out of selfish
reasons, but - it's still after a 14-15 hour day, so regardless of the
reason, it's still good.. ;)

okay, time to post...will write more soon as my travels continue next week...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

BAGRAM Airfield (BAF)

After spending 9 hours at the airport for a flight that only takes 20 minutes, myself and my CLT finally boarded a plane to head to Bagram. We have spent the first couple days trying to get all their accounts up and running, and the Team checked in here at the hospital, before they were finally up and running and able to start business - today.

Once a week, here at the hospital, they do a Purple Heart Ceremony for all the Battle Wounded that are getting ready to be flown out of theater. My NCOIC here will be responsible for walking with the General to see all the recipients, so I decided to shadow this ceremony.

Prior to the General Arriving, we do the rounds and ensure the SM are ready to see the General. As we did the rounds last night, in preps, we happened upon a new patient – he was seriously about 1 hour into being admitted after an IED explosion he became victim to. This SM was, I'm sure, in a pain killer induced sleep, and it was obvious. This poor guy was swollen – what looked like -most of his upper body. He still had shrapnel tears on his arms, face and other places I am sure I didn't see. There was still dried up blood, and even fresh blood on the pillow he lie with, from the wounds that were covering his face and neck. Seeing this, hurt my heart. It was devastating to see the reality of the reports I process daily.

See, I (and my cell) are lucky. We simply process the reports. We can only visualize from the description. But my CLT in Kandahar hospital, and now here in Bagram Hospital, will see it daily.

And its not just the wounded service members. Yes, we even attend to the wounded enemy combatants (ironically, we heal the enemy we shoot – just so they can go back out there and try once again..)
we also tend to the civilian sector who are hurt as a result of enemy fire/IED, etc.

Anyways, we completed our rounds, there were 3 SM getting their Purple Hearts last night. As the General made his rounds, he greeted the wounded Soldiers, spoke with them for a few minutes, and then the order of the Purple Heart was read – and the SM was pinned with that and the Combat Action Medal. I have never witness a Purple Heart ceremony (no matter how small/quaint, it was) and it was truly a raw, emotional sight.

Looking in the Soldiers eyes, watching his face – so proud – so courageous, as the General pinned the medal to his uniform, was inspiring. I was proud for each of them! One of the Soldiers had been there for a few weeks, and the Sergeant Major found out and was having a brand new, fresh uniform delivered within the half hour – for him to fly home in.

Last night was a moving experience for me. I was in awwe at the Soldiers, their bravery, their sacrifice. It was also a humbling experience, in that, I know – I am lucky. Although I am here, in the war zone, I am blessed that I am not in the same dangers that these Soldiers face daily.. the front lines..

This also put a face to the injuries and casualty reports we process daily. I have to say, I truly am thankful this is not something I have to see on a daily basis.

I wanted to cry last night... I felt so bad for them, so proud for them.
I didn't. Instead, I came home, called my mom.

I didn't spend much time at the hospital yesterday – as I normally spend at work – but I was drained. I was mentally exhausted last night.

Today – I escape the reality of war – by watching movies all evening -
I'm okay.. maybe a bit more sullen today than the norm.. but I'm okay.

It is much louder here, than what I am used to.

My first night here, every loud bang, every loud noise startled me. I hear noises that sound like sirens, and wonder – should I be in a bunker? Is that the siren? Before I realize its the humming of a plane of jet engine..

My first day here – I witnessed an explosion – not sure from what – but I watched it happen.. heard the bang.. saw the black smoke go up, that followed...
I stood in anticipation of an alarm – a siren – something but it never followed..
Still don't know what it was..

So needless to say, I am a little more on edge here, than I normally am. The noises are unsettling, the loud planes over head, the constant stream of jets – which sometimes – sound much like an incoming rockets..

My room here is outstanding! I can not complain. I am sitting here, on a couch, feet up on a coffee table, watching a movie on the big screen TV, all while browsing the Internet on the PC that is in here.. There is plenty of room to include a few beds and a refrigerator ta'boot.. Here, I feel like I am living it up.. and for the majority of the days – I have privacy.. more physical privacy more so than audio, though. There is only one piece of wood that separates the female side from the male side – therefore, you can hear everything – but in all – there is NOTHING to complain about! :) Any bit of privacy and luxury – is grand and treasured over here! :)

I will be glad to go home..
obviously much more so to go home to the states – but my temporary home now – is far better than any other location I have seen yet, since my circulation started..

Anyways, today is a day to be happy.. excited and thrilled for my baby!
Today – is his birthday – all my feelings aside – he will feel celebrated today!

Til next time...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reconciling the past - Reminiscing

As I sit here listening to the music you sent, floods of memories surround me..embrace me in a warmth I can not describe and yet at the same time a despair so great I cant honestly answer if I have regrets in my decision to leave, although I will say that I do firmly believe God had a purpose.. A purpose for you and a purpose for me..

I have such great memories of the adventures we went on together, the explorations, not just physical, but mental, spiritual in a sense, even though we seldom if ever, ok actually never, enjoyed gods love together as a couple, i wonder what greater joys we would have encountered had we trusted in him, together
I wasn't strong enough in my faith to let it spill over on to you, who knew that one day we would end up where we are today, in the presence of gods love and still holding on to the bonds we share I spent many years searching for a path of survivability, freedom, love, joy, spiritual wholeness

But in my endeavors, I got lost along the way

During my years of being lost inside my own soul, you were being found...well let me rephrase that, you were reconnected with the one pure love, the one pure goodness in life..

As I sit here listening to the music you sent to me, sitting perched up against the bench that I am meant to sit on, I feel an overwhelming sadness of the life we left behind

I recall our walks along the beach, holding hands, the sun setting, the sand so fine, so pure that it feels as though we are walking on silk. The love in your eyes, on the 9th deck of the Volendam as we made our personal vows to eachother, the love in your eyes as you looked at me in my princess wedding gown, the joy in your eyes as we experienced some of the great rides at Busch Gardens, the wind blowing thru our hair as we rode along in our convertible Sebring coasting the roads in Florida during our well deserved honeymoon, the excitement in your eyes as we strolled thru Disney world with three young toddlers, even tho it was off to quite a rocky start,just making it up to the hotel room that was over aged, over paid and over populated with bugs, and mold...the proud achievement we felt at your graduation for your associates degree, at my Purdue graduation, at my commissioning, even tho you were burning up with celephane wrapping you so tightly you thought you would faint, the feel of your touch as you honored me with my first salute and I traded with you a silver dollar in exchange for that torture you endured in the heat of the gym at the armory.. The frustrations we Shared during our 24 hour venture in what we like to call PCSing from the muggy south to Indiana..in what would normally be a 12 hour journey.. And then again on our few day journey from Indiana to Washington..the excitement as we moved into our first real place together, in Indiana, one that we could make a home.. The hunger in your eyes, as we said our I dos (the first time) with only one couple to witness these vows, that sadly, we ended up leaving behind a few short years later.. The vows, the promises, we would not know would not last, becuase we were sure we were soul mates, what we failed to realize, was without a soul that was full of his love, our souls were destined to fail...because we couldnt do it alone... Even with each other, we couldn't do it without his love..

Thought it all, I still knew a love I had never known, a security in a man, a strong desire to be the very best, to be the one you wanted for the rest of your life.. The one you would be proud of, the one you would admire, and yet, all the while being an equal...I was so proud to have you by my side...I was so proud to call you my partner in life, my husband, my best friend..

Life changed us, family changed us, and what was left behind, was stranded on a single road, at fork, neither one of us would foresee...a fork, which would change us, who were were, and what we knew, forever..

This fork in the road leading us to different paths, because for the first time since we had met, we chose different paths, unbeknownst to us, we started individual journeys, in opposite directions, ultimately pulling our once united souls, to separate places

I chose a road that I thought would fulfill me, at the point in which we discovered we weren't fulfilling each others needs, needs much more powerful than just the basic food, water, subsistence, needs to fulfill a longing that couldn't not be described..

Along my journeys I have seen some things,shared some powerful moments, that now, looking back, would have been an incredible journey with you..
I was happy in my own way for a while..but my happiness still depended on the one opposite me, and his happiness...

In my ventures, I sky dived for the first time. I jumped out of a perfectly good plane, at 16000 feet and jumped to the earth in a most tranquil, awe inspiring peacefulness that can only be described as feeling like you were floating from heavens abounds, to the rocky bottom. An exhilarating rush, that can only be experienced, by jumping yourself..
I went ice skating for the first time in years, some thing I once loved to do as a child...

And I took a cruise to alaska, discovering the jungle, zip lining 300 feet above the ground through trees and mountains, I climbed a vertical mountain side of more than 80 feet high, with just my hands (although I did have lines attached to me, incase i failed..) although, as you know me, I let nothing beat me.. Nothing physically anyhow..had I only understood then, years before how untrue that would be.. Because one thing did beat me. My resolve for God and his magical touch..anyhow, after climbing said mountain/rock, I then repelled down, yet again, another exhilarating event, both the shaking muscles and nerves as my hands tried with all their might to climb something so high, probably not meant to just be climbed up, but yet, I accomplished it..then repelled downward back to where I started...

I learned to snow board making a few trips to selected mountains, ski tops, but my desire to snowboard well, did not actually couple with my knowledge...I was horrible at it, my first go round, my first trip, I dislocated my shoulder, an injury preventing me from returning for 6 weeks, at least, as it definitely disabled me, however, as stubborn as younknow I am, I was back out there 4 weeks later..still sore, but loved the journey, loved the feel, excited in the sport that was kicking my butt...eager to master it.. So this next visit was a weekend get away...2 full days planned on the mountain....which unfortuantaetly turned out disastrous on the first day....I thought I had finally gotten good...had been down the slope about 7 times...fallen probably double that..but still..I would get up, dust off the snow and keep going, that 7th time down, would prove to be my last, well, so far anyhow... But my resolve was relentless, even after my tailbone thought it could not take yet, another fall

As I was coming down the slope, my speed caught and I felt my self speeding faster and faster, to a point where the speed scared me, so I dug my heals down on the board, trying to slow my decline, only digging too far, to hard, bringing my feet, and the snowboard attached to them up in the air, in front of me, knowing what was coming next, knowing that if I fell one more time on my tailbone, it would probably break, I quickly made the worst errors ever in snowboarding, I put both my hands down, stretched out, behind me, to brace my fall.. You would think falling on fluffy snow wouldn't be painful, but it is like falling on cement, and inn this case it was no different. My hands went down, braced my fall, and boom, splay, poof.. I was down. Iniitally, it hurt, I felt like I sprained my wrists, but just shook them out, after The pain somewhat lightened up enough to bare, then, I told my self to suck it up..and dusted my self off, told dan, "im okay, they hurt a little, but I will be fine" so off he went back to the medium level hillside, as I, still on the easy slope, tracked back to the lift, which took me one last time up to the top of the slope, where, as I made it to the top ( never ever successfully getting off the lift without falling, lol, but doing it anyway..) so as with all the other times, I fell as I was coming off the lift, but it was not a bad fall, just a purposeful slide to the side. As I got my bearings, i started down the slope, my wrists still hurting, but i kept telling myself to suck it up... As i started making my way down, my wrists were now throbbing..both of them...and i fell... Again, ligghtly. But now my wrists are in agony, bringing me to tears, so i stop, i sit on thte slope side for a few minutes, and finally decided to take off my gloves..

When I did, I was terrified, in my own way, but not enough that anyone else around me would know. What I saw was horrible... On both wrists, on top at the bend, I had knots the size of golf balls .. This had never happened to me before, so although its painful, I had no idea what was wrong, or how bad it really was..but now, at this point, my hands are useless.. I was defeated.. I had to unstrap my snowboard, and walk the rest of the way down the slope. I made my way to the bottom, and went and sat on a bench to look at my wrists a little better.. Someone beside me saw and immediately went to the first aid counter and had someone come look at my wrists...now all of a sudden it's a big deal.. I still had no Idea how bad it was..just that it was painful. As the first aid station scurried to get splints for BOTH my wrists, I called Dan who was on the slopes, told him That my wrists were hurting pretty bad, but not to worry, just meet me done at the first aid station ( I was just gonna get ice) (lol as if there weren't enough snow around..ehh?) and to meet me there when he was done...about 10 minutes later, he finds me at first aid, both wrists being splinted and we're being told to go get x-rays.. They were pretty sure I had broken both wrists...he was furious at me for underplaying how hurt my wrists were... But we did go to the closest hospital..my hands now, completely useless.. I could not move a finger,without excruciatinng pain, let alone my wrists, which shot me thru the roof... About an hour later, we are leaving the hospital, I had fractured both wrists, my left one once and the right one in two places.. but i was on some pretty good painkillers, so, as long as i didnt hAve to do much with my hands, i was okay. We stayed..and i just watched people snowboard the next day ( it was a weekend plan..and just becuase i couldnt snowboard, doesnt mean i couldnt enjoy being the cheerleader at the bottom of the slope... ) i would not let my fall ruin the weekend plan..lol i wasnt casted yet..too swollen...but splinted on both wrists... Ultimately, i ended up with a half cast on my right wrist and a more stable splint/partial cast on my left wrist....Heres the big surprise.. I still love the thrill of it, and would go back given the opportuity lol
Even tho my wrists will never be the same.. I can still feel the pain during push ups... Etc..but, im a sucker for the thrill.. What can i say...

But of all things I have experienced in the last 4 years, one of the most truly religious, physically demanding and inspiring trips I have ever taken was to the mountains in Washington (Mt. Rainier). I took a 6 day back packing trip with just a 40 lb pack on my back, hiking more than 63 miles in about 6 days, up elevations totaling more than 12000 feet in one day, and down the same in less... This trip took me around the mountain, which in all totaled 93 miles. This was a trip where I saw lakes in the middle of the snowed in mountain tops, 8000 feet Above the earth, a lake, so beautiful, so magnificent

I hiked 100 feet from a mother bear and her two cubs, admiring the beauty of a nature so exquisite, a feeling of smallness overwhelmed my world as I gazed at the beauty of this mountain, the wildlife, the bear which could have easily chased me, And quite literally eaten me in seconds, yet all she did was watch her cubs from a distance, eyeballing my closeness to her babies, ensuring i continued my hike and out of her way...I have never seen such a beautiful site, as I did, spending 6 days, with nothing but a pack, my legs to move me along this journey, although I may not have finished the journey completely around this mountain (severe blisters and lack of first aid to treat them endangered my health) I accomplished so much more in that 6 days, than I had in other endeavors..this was a peaceful, spiritual journey, that made me feel closer to God, and his wonder than I had ever felt. It was beautiful, wonderful and an adventure of a lifetime, but the spiritual rebirth at those moments it so deserved, was not given the full attention it deserved, and for that, I am remorseful.

Having said all that, Mt Rainier and all its beauty, its trails, the path which ironically was called Devils Peak, only led me to a new appreciation of God and all his wonder

Back to today...

So what does all this mean now, everything, everything that i have rambled on about? I don't know yet, but I think I am on the start of a new journey, this one, bringing me to where I need to be in my spirituality. My relationship with God is being strengthened, with every book I read, every road I am taking now is leading me in the right direction...I can feel it in my core...and I only hope that at the end of this journey abroad, I will have found and preserved what I am looking for inside myself...

And you, well, you are a great help....a positive force in that direction...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kandahar Take 2

Have I ever said how much I enjoy Kandahar...?
If I did, I was lying.

I was supposed to leave for Kandahar on the morning of the 21st.  I woke up at 4 am, was at the airport by 545, watched our ride drive away. I decided to go check the schedule, make sure the flight was on time, and discovered that my flint had been remissioned, and the next show time for the next flight wasn't until 1940....

I was not about to stay there 14 hours, so I got ahold of my office, arranged a ride back, and went back and took a nap. I left again, and this time all was well. I boarded my flight to find that it was the same crew that I had flying out the first time. Only this time there was a general inboard, so he got the front seat view. It's ok, thought, as the plane reached cruising altitude, one of the crew brought me a drink and candy bar, letting me know they were sorry I couldn't be upfront with them again... That was pretty nice..  About the only nice thing of my trip lol

I made it in Kandahar about 11 at night, where I was given billeting in e transient female tent... This tent holds about 130 girls, and is not always quiet..lol

My conference went off without a hitch. I provided training for about 30 people, 20 different units down South.. Mission accomplished by about 11 am, and after going to the terminal to see if there were any flights avail that night, I went back to the tent and napped for about 5 hours..lol
It as hot and extremely pungent there. The odor is horrible.

After 5 I hit the boardwalk with SSG Wyatt, ate some ko-bobs, then a flurry and headed back to the tents. Just as we arrived, the incoming rocket siren sounded,  letting us all know to seek shelter...

What surprised me is the complaceny in KAF (Kandahar Airfield) that many have.  95% of the girls stayed in the big tent, that is simply that, a tent covered in stucco... I was astounded, but needless to say I wasn't one of them...

Finally the all clear was given, and I made my way back to the tent, and read and finished my 2nd book, in two days and started #3. flew back to NKC, without incident, and was definitely grateful for where I lived!

If I never have to return to KAF, it will be too soon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Shack

"For although I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is." Colossians 2:5

When I was a teenager, 15,  this verse saved my life. I was  in the midst of some life changing events, and had some major choices to make. On that path, on that journey, I met God. I never met him in the physical sense, but I met him, I rediscovered the love within my heart, that was him. I was given my first bible at age 12 (which I still have). I read that bible, every day, eager for the knowledge, the joy, Whom I now know as GOD. I read and reread to understand, which of course at age 12-15, took a lot.  I started attending a youth group in high school (to be honest Church always has bored me) I never felt at "home" in a church. I felt at home in a youth group, with people my age, suffering some of the same of lifes tragedies, as I was. I felt less alone and more understood without the confines of a solitude church service.

One night, mid January, 1991, as I lay in my bed talking with God, I discovered his voice within me. This voice was not of yours or mine, it was in the form of verses, verses from the bible - how do I know these verses came from God? how do I know it wasn't just my mind randomly thinking of verses? Because god spoke to me that night. In a time of dire need, in a time of needing something much more powerful than anyone on earth could provide, he provided.  Before this, as I would lay down at night, I learned to keep a pencil and paper at my headboard, in order to write the messages God was sending me, in the form of verses from my bible.  Most of the time, if it were late, I would write them down, and then look them up in the morning.

One night, at the height of my discovery, my understanding that GOD sooo loved his children, he gave his only begotten son, to pay the consequences of the sins of his children he created, in order that they be spared, and loved in such a perfect love, that no words can quite describe it, in it's deserved way.
As I lay there wrapping my head around this, wondering if this were true, then why all my pain..?? How can I believe in such a perfect love when at such a young age, I lived thru soo much pain. Surely I had not sinned enough at that point in my life to deserve so much struggle?  I was always told and retold that God will never give you more than what you can handle... I believed this but really believed I must be one strong kid, because he was testing my strength continuously. I wonder even still, who came up with that line, but more on that later..

So this night, this night I lay there, I spoke to God, praying, asking for guidance, and the verse that instantly came to me was Colossians 2:5. On this night, I decided to look at that verse immediately, so I took my bible from my headboard and quickly looked up his verse. What was God telling me.. I needed this answer..I needed to know.

I was not prepared for what was about to happen. First of all let me tell you I was not brought up in a church going home. The only two times in my life I remember going to church as a family was at my brothers funeral ( I was 14) and then again the Easter following his funeral. It's not to say my parents didn't have their own relationship with God, I am quite sure my mother did, but it was never crammed down our throats or forced upon us. A relationship with God is an Immensly personal thing, and can not be forced, but fed, nurtured and built on bonds that are within ones self.  I am lucky to have had parents that let me find GOD on my own. Now, it has much more meaning in my life.

On that evening, as I read the words of the verse that was spoken thru my heart, my heart was transformed. my soul was released from the pain it had been suffering, my heart felt whole and soo full of love that I was jumping on my bed that night (while everyone in my house slept) I was celebrating my newfound relationship with God, my faith in his love for me, and the new comfort and peace that he provided me.

This is not a story many people know. I have never been a "bible thumper" nor "preachy" to any, however, what I did have, what my heart flourished in was this love so unconditional, so fulfilling, that i did share with few of my friends...I wanted them to know my excitement and feel that same love. Come to find out, I was behind the curve, because for those friends I wanted to share this with, I discovered in them, what I had just found myself. I shared, they shared and it only built a stronger bond than what I had before.

I have never considered myself a Religious person, which, I am happy for now. I did try to attend church regularly, but soon discovered that church was just a front for those to get in their Sunday best, and put on a facade to the outside that they lived this holy life only to return to their normal activities within hours of the service. I felt it was hypocritical at best and was doing a major disservice to GOD and his love for us. For that reason,  my relationship has stayed private, and is seldom shared in the company of a church service.

I have faltared and hurt and realize that I was not always honorable to my relationship with God, in that there were times as I got older that I did not trust him with my heart, with my pain, and therefore tried to go it alone, only feeling more pain and sorrow later. I know that now, because in those moments when I realized I couldn't do it on my own, GOD was always there, waiting for me to ask for his help, and help he would provide. He may not have answered questions I may have had, but he would always wrap me in the warmth of his arms and provide a comfort that warmed my heart and eased my pain. His help came in the form of an eased pain, and sometimes even a nagging desire deep within, a nagging need to attend church.  Twice, this has happened to me in the last ten years. Each of those times, was at a time I soo needed a bigger message, as always, he provided.

In early 2000, I was struggling thru a (yet again) rocky marriage, I was raising three kids, as an E5, and struggling mentally, emotionally and physical in finding happiness, and the answers i soo needed help with. I had this overwhelming urge to attend church. I wasn't a church goer, and therefore didn't even know which church I shuld attend.. but GOD led me, right where he needed me.  This service started out with a song that started my interest and began my journey to GOD when i was only 12. This song, as it started, reminded me of the love I had for GOD, and the trust I gave to him, from the beginning. Does he still fell the Nails is the name of it... And I knew, as this song started, this was GODs way of reeling me back to him, with a message so profound during the service, thru the song, that I knew..I knew this was him, reminding me, he has always been there....I just didn't have my heart opened to him enough, to hear him, or feel him, at the times I thought he had abandoned me.

That was my first time. The second time was just last year after moving to CA. I was dealing with some major changes, and some major heartbreak, and so badly needed GOD to help me, more than I thought he was.  Everyday, on my way from work, I would see a big church off the side of the interstate.  I felt a slight pulling, but not enough to attend... Just enough to say "I should go.." the following week, I received a post card in the mail, this was an invitation to attend a new church, and yes, it was this same church, this very church I would see, but now, I now felt like I had an invite from GOD. I went the following Sunday to this church, to receive the message that I know was meant for me.. It was about the unknowns, the fear, of change... Again, GOD was right on target, and I began to feel better and remember that he is always watching and always present..

As we get busy with life it seems, the only time we remember to talk to GOD is when we need him.  I am guilty of this too. Every relationship we have takes effort, not necessarily a bad, hard effort, but think of it as UPKEEP. It is no different with GOD.  although our God forgives us, that most of us get too busy in our daily life to give him a second thought, except for when there is something we think he can help with...we pray for strength, for peace, for healing, we ask GOD why, but do we ever take the time to just say Thank You...

I have been on yet another journey, that has strengthened my relationship, and reminded me of what I have.  I was sent a book, The Shack, which is an accurate depiction of how we stereotype what we believe GOD should look like, act like, as well as how we view it as s fault when something bad happens, I won't spoil the book, but suffice it to say, I get it. I don't understand everything, but I get it, I understand much more, and feel such an overwhelming gratitude to (1) GOD and (2) George for sending me this, at a time I soo truly needed it.   I followed up this book, with a movie called A Perfect Stranger & Another Perfect Stranger, which was a great visual to the book, delivering the same message.

After reading this book, and watching these movies, it makes me feel like l found GOD, again, today, only this time, with a much better understanding, a clearer view of my expectations and his, and I guarantee mine, were more than his.. His expectation of me, to love him, to trust him, and to let him live inside me. That is it. The rest will happen as it should, so long as I love him and allow him to love me with an unconditional love so powerful, that only GOD can give it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010



So I was warned.. A few times, about a few things.
1. the pooh pond sucks
2. The camp is filthy from the sand that is a constant nuisance
3. Don't go to TGIFridays
4. bring plenty of wipes
5. Be prepared to run to bunkers at least once a night

It was supposed to be simple. We were reserved on a flight, which ended up leaving an hour and a half before schedule, so we missed it. We had to sit at the airport for another 9 hours for the next flight. It wasn't so bad..KIAI has plenty of shops, pizza hut, coffee places and a MWR with free wifi..so it was easy to kill time there..

Flight time approached, finally and we were boarding the plane..as we were boarding, it was getting full, I was about 4th to last but was told to back up..and me.. To head up the steps where the pilots were...yes people..I got front row seats to our flight. I sat in the engineer seat, headset and all, and bullshitted with the pilots as we made our trip.. I got to watch everything, and learned some pretty interesting facts about take off, winds, and the equipment they use that was similar to the ships.
It was great! Todd..the LCOL pilot and 3 British guys, one of which was called Foxy..

Anyways, it s pretty sweet...as tired as I was, it was interested to be in the cockpit so to speak thru both our take offs and landings (we made a stop along the way) and to see the cities thru the NVGs.

We didn't end up arriving until about 330am...and I could instantly feel the crud on my hands, and face. The dust finds it's way into every crevice possible and makes you feel like you need a shower, constantly. We didn't get to our berthing until about 430, so we decided to sleep in until about noon...which then we met on the boardwalk for lunch. They have a boardwalk, which holds many different shops, pizzeria, TGIFridays, all surrounding a hockey court and volley ball area. The boardwalk was probably the size of my Camp..in and of itself..
We walked around, took a few pics and then settled in for pizza for lunch. Overpriced, but a nice change. We made our way to the conference and then met up with our Casualty Liaison Team that works at the hospital here. If you think my job is difficult, I can't imagine theirs. They are there where they se the casualties first hand.all of them from this area, coming here to get stabilized, or treated prior to evac out of theater. It was a sobering experience to tour the hospital with them, seeing some of the injured. The thought of having to not only read, and write the reports as well as seeing them in person, is a depressing thought. I can only say GOD Bless my CLTs and what they have to see. After our tour of the hospital, we took the NCOIC out to dinner at TGIFridays. It was actually pretty good and similarly priced to the states... What would have made it better..? A glass of cold white Zin.. ;)

So, to the list of warnings,
The pooh pond sucks and stinks ridiculously bad...the smell is enough to make you gag.. Basically, their drainage system, is to a pond a couple blocks down from the berthing and boardwalk, but he odor, lingers throughout the entire base...it's disgusting... Imagine living next to a sewage for a year...and the leas pleasant odors it emits..
The camp is very dirty..sand everywhere...constant haze of sand in the air and layers of it everywhere..
TGIFridays was pretty good...we'll see how my stomach reacts tomorrow..
Wipes...well, to get the constant layer of dust off your hands and face
bunkers....so I have heard that they usually have incoming fairly regularly...but it's the norm here..and has become a routine they have grown to know...last nit was quiet..let's hope for tonight..
Heading home tomorrow...will write more upon my return..;)

Camp Phoenix

Camp phoenix...
as I get in the car to leave, we get our briefing. This is to allow is to know the threats, and know what to be on the look out for...
We are told that there is suspected to be 3 suicide bombers in out general vicinity, and what to look for, so you can imagine the a fear that built up...along with the adrenaline, as we departed NKC and made our short commute to Camp Phoenix..
the ride was uneventful,which allowed me to take some pictures, most of which you can already view on my FB account. when I arrived, Donovan took me under his wing, and gave me the grand tour. He showed me the shops they have, their Bizaar and basically the entire base..it was pretty enlightening to see the differences in the Camps...
I went to the unit that I needed to give some training to, spent about an hour with them training them. It was a great session.
After completing my training with them, we continued our tour and I met some good POCs for future reference. We ate dinner At the BBQ shack...which was missing the BBQ..lol but all was good. I saw many new faces which was nice after seeing the same thing and the same people for the last few months. We finished our tours and food and then it was volleyball time. Luckily we were early, so I was able to get my own workout in..to include ab Ripper X. ;) Finally most people showed and I watched Don in action as he played valley ball with the French and Bulgarian guys...it was a pleasant site.. ;)

After a couple hours at the gym, and a shower later, we met back up at Dons office and just chit chatted with him and his crew until it got so late, we were both exhausted. The following morning I headed back to my own camp. All in all it was a nice night away, and one I most definitely needed. You learn to appreciate what you have, what other FOBs have and a make comparisons. Truly we are lucky to be where we are...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

You hear the sound of Alarms...Air Attack alarms, then INCOMING, INCOMING, INCOMING

So, I was thinking I wouldn't have much to write till I started traveling, but the Insurgetns proved me wrong and brought a little excitement our way last night...not in a good way...
so...imagine this...
you..sound asleep...ever so slightly you hear a humming of some sort..and slowly wake to it..it gets louder...
You speak out to your roommate, who has now heard it..you realize youre not dreaming..and ask "what the he'll is that" as you start to climb out of your bed..knowing the answer...
Then you hear.."it's the air attack alarm" oh shit..
You suddenly are wide awake..a mixture of emotions..no time to feel...
You are still trying to digest it..knowing time is critical.. You are in a tinfoil house..and you know it's not safe...you need to get to a hard stand..
Priorities... Shit..mind racing..
Pants.. You need pants on.throw on your sweatpants ..quickly.. Cant walk out in tshirt, underwear and gun, yes even in an emergency you do think of that..
You grab your case(enclosed is your laptop, iPad and black book of your lifes accounts, names, numbers, etc.. Yes..smart..keep it all in one case..priorities...
So..there you are 5 seconds after waking, you have sweats on, grabbed your belt, your gun and your case, slip on your flip flops and head out your door..
There is no time for primping, and worrying about anything else..
Now..you have to run the approximate distance of about a block..maybe 2to your hardstand...the office...
You step out the door..people are whizzing by...running for their life..really..
As you step out e door you hear INCOMING INCOMING INCOMING again...imagine in that few seconds the vision of. Issiles hitting your ass if you don't hurry... That's the thoughts running thru your mind..is it me that will get hit with it... Will it be me..
He'll no..you run as if your life depends on it..BECAUSE here...IT DOES

I made it to my work within about 60 seconds tootle from the time I wearily heard the alarm..to the time of arrival to safety...
Yes..that fast...
In retrospect..that was some of the longest seconds ever.. People were running in all different directions, depending on their job, their assignment for such an event..

We were stuck in our positions/locations until all was clear and all activity ceased.
This took about 2 to 2 1/2 hrs... So finally about 330/4am we were released back to our rooms (for those of us that lives in RLBs..which really are like they are made of tinfoil.. )
I am not sleepy yet...are you kidding... My adrenaline,,my fear...you name it... It took about an hour at least to fall back asleep...so maybe 5ish?
0630 the sound of Air attack alarm wakes me again...
This time..I'm a little piste... "shit..not again"
Yes..the alarm..again.. Within seconds of the alarm a voice comes over to tell us what is going on.."a controlled detonation" seek safety of hardshell...
Atleast at this point I knew my life wasn't in jeopardy..but I went thru the process again...and bustled to my office..where again we were secured in our locations for another couple hours...
When finally released I went back to bed.. It was about 815, should've technically been at work already..lol t not in my pt gear and flip flops..lol
I slept a couple hours ..this time..going back to sleep was easy...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

1 Sep 2010 - Wednesday

I have been very fortunate in life.
I have overcome many obstacles, accomplished countless goals, and have
had a successful, prosperous career.
Much of this, though, is owed to my family and friends along the way.
Those that were in the time of need,
And those that still remain. I know that without that support, I would
not be where I am today.
So thank you... thank you for all your support, love and encouragement!

My blogs have become more and more scarce due to the groundhog day
affect - that I don't want to impose on them.
It truly is the same thing here, everyday. Same routine, plus or minus
multiple casualty reports.

This week has been a busy week - with a count of upwards of 20 deaths -
this week alone.
Prior to that, it had slowed down quite a bit from the July rush and
influx of injuries and casualties.

I will begin battlefield circulation this month. Next week starts a
whirlwind tour of Afghanistan which will take
me on many travels and adventures throughout the next month.

I guarantee there will plenty to write about for the coming month... LOL

Friday, August 27, 2010

the process....27 August 2010

There are very few times in my life that I can remember going through
something so emotionally trying, as what I have put myself through over
the last year.

My first Divorce - was pretty painful. It was not my choice, although,
obviously I learned how to accept it and move on.

A relationship that was so powerful, so emotional, and helped me thru
some pretty traumatic times in my life - painful loss.. but, it was his
loss - so I later learned - as I discovered he was not faithful at any
point in our relationship.

It's always easier - in a sense - to be the one to leave. To be the one
that left. The sense of loss is not nearly as great - as when you have
the rug pulled out from under you, with no idea it was coming.

I've been on both sides of the fence. I have experienced the loss in
such a way that I wouldn't have fathomed was possible. I sunk to a new
low, as in depression. I fell on my face so hard I was unable to get up
for days. My children had to watch their mother curled up on a couch for
4 days, refusing to eat, sleep, drink - just cry. I then held on for
dear life to some resemblance of something, some small part of a
connection as possible, only furthering my loss - only enhancing the
emotional pain I allowed myself to suffer.

Not only has it been teaching me about myself - my limits, it has taught
me about my actions, as well. How I hurt someone, by doing the same
thing. Kharma really is a bitch - and at some point in your life, when
you don't even understand what is going on, you will look back and
remember - and realize... Kharma found you.

At one point in my life the song I'm Moving On had great meaning for me.
It inspired me to write, and write, and write - until I could write no
more and I felt this great emotional release. I felt as if that 5000 lb
elephant had been lifted and I was free again.

Things I discovered about myself as my life progressed, as I matured,
and things I kept buried for many years surfaced, leading me to look for
closure in nearly the same way as I am doing now..

Maybe that is what I am trying to do now. Purge. Write, until I feel
the same release. Write until I hurt no more. Write to make it easier -
to let it go.

Usually pain provides a drive I never thought possible. I move passed
it with a renewed dedication to accomplish something.. Something else to
focus on. Something to distract my heart, my mind and my thoughts.

I am taking that with me here. I am trying to take the negative energy
and put it towards something positive.
That is exactly what I am starting today.

Today I approached my Colonel with a new idea for a USFOR-A Casualty
Training Team - Theater Wide. (Thanks to the Navy and all their
Training Teams..lol) I am putting together training material,
references, and will be hitting the road. I will travel to all Casualty
Teams in Afghanistan - Training them on Casualty Reporting. Face to Face
visits, Teleconferences and Training Team Assist Visits. Then, sometime
later this year or early next I will be traveling to Ft Jackson South
Carolina to Train the Trainers on Casualty - so that all personnel
coming into theater for this particular job - are trained appropriately.

Maybe its not the answer. Maybe I should be sitting alone, thinking
about everything I've done, everything that has happened, why I am where
I am at today - but for me - I can only view that as prolonging my
pain.. prolonging the hurt - Letting it go, removing it from my life,
and moving forward has proven to be the only answer to a situation like
this. One day, I will go back to it - and have great memories, and
think about the great things I accomplished and experienced during those
years - for now, those thoughts simply twist a knife further into my
heart, so I would rather pick up a new project - and run with it. That's
my goal.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Healing Process - 25 Aug 2010

I finally did it tonight.
I can't say that I feel any better yet, as the pain is stil searing thru my heart.
After almost a year, I let go of the final piece that was holding me back from a full recovery.
For those of you that know what I am talking about, you will be semi laughing saying "it's about time"

For so long my heart has been broken...
It has suffered regularly for the sake of my emotions....
What I didn't realize was that my emotions were not getting any better either...
No matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise

This is the next phase in my recovery plan...
Taking my heart back...setting it free from the prison I have kept it in
Unlocking the the locks that's have been chained around my heart for so long
I have been a prisoner of my own demise
I let my heart suffer
Why? I don't know..maybe I felt like I deserved it
Maybe I felt like it was payback for the pain I may have caused
Or kharma for exact pain I suffer now...that I inflicted on someone else,
that only wanted to love me

I dont know why my heart has allowed this to continue..
But I knew the day would come where I would have to admit ..and it's long overdue..
But it's time to move on
I was holdin on to something that would never be
I was holding on to something that never was

I know, in my brain, time heals all wounds
I know now that no matter how hard you try
Only time will mend the broken peices

One day I will be able to look back with fond memories without the pain it now causes to think about it

When you lose someone you love..they say it's like a death in the family
I have experienced both and can say that what I have experienced this year was a prolonged funeral

Friendships are formed, bonded, grown, and possibly flowered into something quite beautiful
But they do not work the same in reverse
I am discovering the truth inside myself
Did I really deserve it
Why would I put myself thru it, if I didn't believe that
How can I of all people believe that
I am an independent strong willed confident woman,
Yet, apparently on the inside, I was an insecure little girl, punishing myself far beyond my dues

After many months and much support I have cut that string, and hit "send"

The moment I did, I thought I was going to be sick
I felt the pain rush back, the loss, the hurt,the ache
But I also felt a sense of relief a sense that now, I can move forward
My heart can finally heal
As it is right now, is in no shape for anyone else to see

I am not proud of the length of time it took me to do what was right fo me, yet even still I tried to make excuses for why I should delay
But, wisdom prevailed...thanks to my friends...and family...

So now what?
now I all myself one last cry..to grieve for the full loss my heart is now experiencing..
One last cry for the sadness that overcomes me, marking the end of this chapter
And preparing me for the next

Monday, August 23, 2010

Parenting from Afar

This is how you parent from afar.... LOL
New Rules...

To the kids...

So, I have done a lot of thinking, and there are some things that need
to change and some things that I want to remind you of, that I will be
asking Grandma and Papa to enforce.

I will just make a list.. we will go from there..

(1) No more Mature Rated games... it just facilitates too many bad
habits from older kids, that I don't want you to be influenced by.
You have plenty of games, and options - those 1 or 2 games aren't going
to kill you..

(2) No more all day on computer/xbox.. even if you don't anymore.. MAX
time is 1 hour - kinda aligned with Tylor's rule for himself..
That was a very good rule to go by..
You guys don't need to spend all day couped up on a computer/xbox..
There are plenty of other things to do..

(3) I want you all to start reading.. or continue reading.. You should
make a trip to the library with Gram and Papa (when they can) and have
atleast 1-2 books (CHAPTER BOOKS) that you are interested in. You need
to read. Get used to it. It will enhance your vocabulary and keep you
ready for school and all the reading you will have to do. This reading
should be for pleasure. When all else fails and you have NOTHING to do,
you should have a book to turn to.

(4) Boys - Although sleeping in one another's room is not a big deal (for the two
of you) - on school nights, you need to learn how to sleep on your own.
This is to ensure you get good nights sleep.. in your own bed.. so you
are ready for school the next day.

(5) COMMUNITY SERVICE - you will ALL start doing something for others.
At least once a month - you will find something to do for someone else..
whether it be habitat for humanity, helping at a homeless shelter,
something. I want you to experience doing something for others..
thinking of someone else and seeing what life is really like out there -
it will help you appreciate what you do have and that you have it much
better than most. Community Service is a great way to give back to the
community - believe me when I tell you, it will make your heart feel
good when you accomplish this and see the appreciation on someone else's
face for what you did for them. Be creative. Grandma and Papa - I
know this is a little more activity, but hopefully you can help them
facilitate ideas, and trips to make this happen. Kids - once a month.
And once you have completed your 'project' your assignment is to write
down in a journal or letter to me, what you did, how it made you feel,
how it made others feel and what you feel you got out of it. This is
for every time you do it. Now, I said at a minimum once a month - if
you guys can do more, that is great. BUT at a minimum once a month -
something. Ask Grandma and Papa for ideas if you can't figure it out.

(6) Bed times, Everyone will have bed times. EVERYONE. Katrina, this
is to include you. Your grades sucked last year. You will have a bed
time until you can prove that you can keep your grades up. School is
going to be harder and get harder for everyone. You all need your rest.
Boys, your bed time will remain the same as it was just before school
got out. WITH A TWIST. 830 at night.. you will be in your beds,
laying down reading or winding down to TV. 9 PM all lights/TVs go out.
That means have your teeth brushed, last water drink all of that by 830
at night. There will be no up and down.
830 pm - quiet time for you... Sleep time at 9. Katrina - 930PM in your
room, for quiet time. 10PM lights out. This means no computer,
texting, only TV or a book. ALL OF YOU- your phones will be placed on
the island at night before you go upstairs to bed. This will alleviate
any temptation to text into the wee hours of the night or beyond bed
time. You may not like my rules, but you will follow them. I trusted
you last year, Katrina, and did not give you a bed time, but your grades
SUCKED. Until you can prove otherwise, this will be your bedtime. I
will keep tabs on your grades and adjust when I feel it warrants it.

(7) Phone time - when I call, that is MY Time. You will make time for
me. If we have nothing to say to one another - then we will keep it
short. But I feel like I get the short end of the stick when I call you
and you are too wrapped up in other stuff to talk to me. Again, if
there is nothing to say, we will say hi, I love you and cut it short -
but give me the common courtesy of making 5 minutes of time for me. I
deserve that. When I call, when we talk, we will rotate on who gets to
talk to me first/last. This will be a rotation. No one gets "last
dibs" "first dibs" - Each of you are just as important to me as the
other - therefore, to make it fair, we will rotate on who talks

(8) CLEAN up your own messes. You are all big enough to clean up after
yourself. This includes your bathroom. Keep it tidy. Germs spread
easy, the more you clean up after yourself, the less likely to spread
germs and its just common courtesy to everyone.

(9) HELP Grandma & Papa - not just when they ask - but if you see
something needs to be done, do it. They shouldn't have to do everything
around there, NOT SAYING that you don't help.. this is just a friendly

(10) GAME NIGHT - with Granma & Papas help.. see if you can set up a
weekly family night. I think you might already but if not, do so. You
guys figure it out. Take turns deciding what you will do. But once a
week should be a family fun night.. (I'm not just talking movie night..)
That again, will be at Grandma & Papas discretion too, but you all need
to talk about it and figure out a good night, and a good rotation for
who gets to decide what game that night.. each of you will participate.
Just because you don't get to choose the game that night, doesn't mean
you don't have to participate.

(11) NO sass. DO not complain to me about Grandma and Papa.. I am
telling you now, they are enforcing MY RULES. THINGS have changed guys
and you will do as I say. They have not been unreasonable with you -
they want to have fun with you. It sucks that they have had to be seen
as the "bad guy" in this - but NO MORE. I am telling you now - that is
why I am sending this out. I have created rules. Most of these I
haven't talked to them about yet, but I want you to hear this from ME.
When you don't like something - blame it on me. I WILL NOT allow you to
play me vs them. I MADE the rules. You don't like them, you can
complain to me.. but it won't do you any good.. These are the rules.

You are each tasked with coming up with rules for the house to add to these.
Have Grandma email them to me, and I will incorporate them on this list
of house rules.

(12) IT never hurts to ASK. The worst anyone can say is NO. But at
least you will have tried. If you want to do something or you need
something , or you have an exception to the rule question - DON'T JUST
ASSUME that I or Grandma & Papa will say NO. Ask. You can't complain
about something - if you haven't even asked. BTW - you will NOT ALWAYS
Get what you want, when you want it. PERIOD. That's life, get used to
it. Sometimes you will be able to do or get something you want..
sometimes you won't.

(13) IF YOU leave the house - Grandma or PAPA MUST know where you are
at. You will check in every hour (I had to as a kid too..) this is to
ensure your safety.

(13) NO LYING about ANYTHING. You word is on your HONOR. If you have NO
HONOR - you will not be trusted and have NO freedoms. This goes for all
of you. I have lived with blinders on... That has been proven. NO MORE. NO
LYING. PERIOD. It is much easier to come clean. Then to drag it out with
a lie. Seriously, copping to something will get you less trouble.. then lying

THOSE ARE MY RULES. I will find out if Grandma and Papa have anything to
add.. but that is it. Follow those rules and life will be simple and
You want to complain about my rules - complain to me. BUT I'm telling
you now - they are not changing. These are basics.. very basics.. You
have it good. Be grateful. It could be worse.. much worse.. and I
promise you this.. I CAN GET MUCH worse. Don't make me. It would be
taking away from the good times Grandma and Papa want to have with you.

I love you all with all my heart.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th of August

I guess its been almost a week since I have written... its been a little busy - more in my personal life, than in work (fortunately).

This week started the month long holiday of Rammadan, so I am hoping this means that my work will be slow. We'll see.

The kids made it home Tuesday and are doing fine. Its an adjustment for everyone, including my parents, and I think they are starting off just fine. As always, they do adjust and life becomes simple again, as simple as it can be..more routinish.. if that makes sense.

The load on me has slowed down a bit. I am about 95% done with populating the database...
BUT everytime I get done... the Deputy thinks of a new field to add (to track) and then that starts the whole process all over again...

I havent had much time for me lately.. but today I took a me day..
I was supposed to be off.. I did sleep in.. went in for a couple hours this afternoon.. left
and went back for a couple hours this evening.. then left..
so mostly, I have been able to just do what I needed..
I did get some much needed ironing done...(Can't stand wearing wrinkled uniforms..)
and tried to wash the grey out of my hair.. hmm... it was about 95% successful as well.. LOL
stubborn grays..

Anyhow, not much else going on.. trying to wind down..
I am almost 1/4 the way done with my tour.. lol which, in the present, doesn't seem like much,
but in the big picture... it is.. .:)

Trying to get my routine back.. now that I am not swamped.. and can breathe alittle.. need to get back to me time.. gym time and relax time.. hopefully I can push it in my schedule again starting Monday :)

We'll see.. as always.. will keep you posted...
(Sorry.. nothing exciting to report tonight...)