We Nailed It!

The Deputy Chief of Mission, Ambassador Butenis, left post yesterday. At her farewell party, I aided my boss in presenting her with a commissioned portrait of her dogs.

We totally nailed it!!

She was holding back the tears of joy! It was so amazing!!

How did I get this idea? God!

My boss mentioned, we should get the DCM something for her farewell, and I had this brilliant idea to give her a portrait of her dogs in front of the crossed swords. I went to take a picture of Arturo, Stanley and Tilly, and Muslim, a very accomplished artist produced this work!

At the reception, during the Ambassador's farewell remarks there were 3 or 4 jokes about 'her dogs' so the stage was prime for presentation!

Best part was, when she was hysterically excited, my boss said, it was Beth's idea. (which was so nice, because I totally went out on a high note with her)
I was ready to come home last night, big time. Chilling after work, I flipped on the tv. (We have a lot of channels here, and I rarely watch tv, so I find it very frustrating because I don’t know the channels) But, after an episode of Sunset Tan, I wondered what domestic drama I was really missing out on?

I went out to dinner with two girl friends at a new restaurant in the IZ; I had the special. Then met up with a small crew and watched Adam Sandler's Zohan movie (Hysterical movie which solves the crisis of conflict in the Middle East. If only it were so simple as “makin’ silky smooth…”) Suffered through heartburn from the special...though I'll probably go back to the restaurant because there's a new special every night.

I attended the monthly FWP (Federal Women’s Program) Meeting at lunch today. After our business meeting, the FWP coordinator moved about the lunch room asking, “Can I return anyone’s tray? Anyone? Anyone? I live to serve! [and with a smile] Really, I was a waitress in college”

A documentary of Women in the Military was shown, the motto, Ready*Willing*Essential. A female Colonel spoke and reflecting on the advancements women have made she said,

“Women want to serve & they will find a way to serve.”

I shoved back deep tears during this documentary, thinking of the myriad unsung heros and for the 1st time in almost a year I felt proud to serve.

Freedom is not free. It never has been.

This week OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) hit especially close to home and my heart has been hurting http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/26/AR2009052600827_pf.html

Sadaam's last standing monument (back & front)
Which is adjacent to the triple C-I (below) The Central Criminal Court of Iraq, where the big terrorism crimes are tried

My, my it's May

So what is new?

For starters, if you are worried about my safety after recent news releases, you will be happy to hear that “As of May 12, 2009 there are no reported cases of H1N1 in the country of Iraq.” So apparently, I’m in the safest place I can be to escape the “pork flu” which my Muslim friends, who abstain from pork, jokingly refer to it.

Security is tightening up and though tensions are on high alert, there is no cause for alarm. I’m safe and sound, happy and healthy and making the most of my last 90 days here.

I extended for the summer, but am planning to come home in August. A lot of my friends have departed, and so I’m making new friends, but all the new names are getting hard to remember!

(me thinking about extending)

This weekend was an especially fun filled weekend of birthday parties, tennis tournaments and farewell BBQs.
Happy Birthday Monica & Ash!

I met the new Ambassador, Hill, last week at a security briefing. (Nothing serious, just reminding us to always travel with a buddy : ) As I was exiting, I passed by right in front of him and the crowd ahead of me stopped. It was one of those awkward moments were you are closer than normal to a person, and you make eye contact and there is nowhere to go.

So I said, “Hello.”
and he replied, “Hello”
and the crowd in front of me hadn’t moved, so I said, “I’m Beth Zentmeyer”
The Ambassador said, “what?!”
And I repeated, “I’m Beth Zentmeyer.”
He extended his hand and said, “Oh, oh, nice to meet you.”
I said, "Nice to meet you too."
And then the crowd started moving so I walked along.
He didn’t really know what to do with himself. Interesting first meeting, haven’t run into him in since.

Happy Memorial Day!

In honor of Memorial Day, we had a ceremony around the flag pole, which is flying at half mass.

The Ambassador was reading a speech, and the new Chief of Staff, realizing he would have to turn the page, walked up onto the flag platform and stood next to him, awkwardly reaching out as if to take the paper from him. The Ambassador was ignoring him, trying to get through the speech, and when it came time to flip the page, the guy reached out to take the top page from the Ambo.

However, the speech was stapled together and so he almost pulled the whole packet of papers out of the Ambassador’s hand, while the Ambassador tried to hold onto the cordless mic in his other hand.

After about 4 pulls between the two of them, the top page ripped off at the same time the microphone ricocheted back onto the Ambassador’s chest, which created a high pitched kick-back squeal of the mic.

The Ambassador continued reading, and the Aid stood there awkwardly throughout the remainder of the speech. When the Ambassador flipped to page three, he tilted his body slightly away from the guy to keep from another pull apart.

I exchanged glances with the friend next to me, but no one else seemed about to burst with laughter like I wanted to at the hysterical scene. This was followed by an intense and respectful moment of silence.

As I said the Lord’s prayer, and prayed protection for all our soldiers fighting, I was filled with more sober emotion standing at the base of the flag pole. Recapping the friends I know who have bravely fought in battle and looking up at the colors flapping in the wind remembered all it took to raise the flag on January 5, 2009.

It is such feeling of accomplishment to see those colors waving in the clear blue sky.

And man! The weather has been mild. Hot. And occasionally dusty, but there has been a pleasant breeze that continues to blow through that we are all holding onto into the evenings, enjoying the last of spring before the sweltering heat arrives.

I have 70 days left in Baghdad, I’m enjoying each moment.

Baghdad from a helicopter

Some pix of Jerash while sightseeing in Jordan. I was most impressed with the size and preservation of the ancient Roman city.Me climbing on the Arch of Hadrian

Did you know this city was built without any cement?! You can put a coin (or a key) under a column and the column will sway in the wind!

Roman Solider Re-enactment