T-28 days

I woke up early this morning to chat on the phone with PA...a late dinner date last night caused me to end our conversation early and I wanted to catch up with her.  Dinner last night, let me tell you what I made.  Grilled steaks with garlic, mushrooms and tri-colored peppers, fresh spinach doused with lemon juice and garlic, a simple side salad all accompanied by some yellow rice T had left on the stove for me.  And whiskey.  I've come to really enjoy a slow glass of cold whiskey.     

So after eagerly opening my eyes this morning, I fought the urge to crawl back into bed and decided to grab my laptop and a cup of coffee from the Green Bean.  I walked outside to a dull day.  The air is covered in dust.  And as I sit on the Promenade feeling the cool morning breeze, the horizon in front of me, which usually showcases large hotels across the river, is white.  

I have less than one month left in my tour.  I spoke at length with my boss yesterday over coffee and he offered me the opportunity to stay OR return following my extended trip around the world.  Some minutes here have felt like real life, others a break from reality.  Still other experiences have been surreal and larger than life.  As I sit still reflecting on what I'll be leaving here the sun rises a few more inches in the sky and I'm sure the temperature rises a good 3 degrees...

It was 122 yesterday.  And about 1530ish a dust storm blew in.  We're expecting crappy weather through the weekend, which makes me appreciate the sunny skies that accompanied the weekend--and the opportunity I had to sun bathe at the pool.  I am getting golden, and though I have just a little sun poisoning on my thighs, it was worth every bead of sweat, baking poolside, waiting for the Vitamin D to bring a healthy glow to my face. 

My last few weeks will be busy, most senior staff in our office are taking their R&R vacations, and I will be the Acting Chief of Staff, managing the office functions and interpreters.  

The sun is rising now and every minute gets a little hotter, though there is still a cool breeze which will last until about 0800 and then the breeze feels like a hair dryer in your face.  Ugh, and since it's so dusty, it's hard to walk anywhere without your eyes stinging.  The dust makes it overcast, so you don't need sunglasses, but I wear them anyways to keep a little dust out of my eyes.

This weekend, I went to the British General, Broun's house for his farewell dinner, which included reeling.  I'm getting better at reeling and enjoy it more now that I can spin around the room a little faster.  Christopher, the British Ambassador was the best dance partner of the evening, and as we tentatively planned the next game night, we discussed our schedules and we realized that we would not see each other again.  When he said, "goodbye Bumblebee" alluding to the Brits fabulous, Halloween, fancy dress party I had my first pang of separation from this place.  

I will miss Baghdad.  I'm sure I will return to this country again and will look forward to seeing what circumstances bring me back.  Leaving the people will be semi-easy.  Most of the good ones have left which make departing easier, but the ones I will leave behind I will lavish with postcards from the places I go to next.  As I'm typing this my coffee sits next to my new computer, and I wonder if it is a bad idea having liquid so close...I've made a mountain of napkins, justincase but think I will pack up my writing for now and get ready for work.

My camera broke last week, but I'll try to get some pictures from friends to post so you don't forget what I look like.