IZ Shots

Oh, today I thought I’d just take a drive around the IZ. What do you think of my new ride? It’s hot—no freakin AC, but I can drive where I please.

And my body guards.

My new friend Em is out of the IZ tomorrow. It’s that time of year when you meet a kindred spirit and their tour is finished way before yours. Oh yeah, I accepted a promotion.

I start on Sunday and will be here…’til February-ish. My new position is assisting in creating a historical record of the war. The office is Knowledge Management Transistion, and I am the Deputy Knowledge Management Coordinator. I manage knowledge isn't this awesome? Who else would the Ambassador have wanted, right?


I did remember.
I just didn’t blog about it yet. Twas waiting for the pictures….so now I will tell you that at 12:01 on 9.11.11 two friends and I flew y’all some flags over the Embassy. It was dark, quiet, cool and breezy and that cool breeze stood the hairs up on my arms each time the flag hit the top of the pole and service members surrounding us saluted.

10 years ago I was sitting in Dr. MacManus’s state and local politics class at USF. It was a 9AM class, so by 8:50 when I was trekking across campus, I had no idea what had happened. As class wrapped, I checked my cell phone to 4 or 5 missed calls from friends who were panicking for their family who worked in the Twin towers.

We grouped at my Holly Apt and glued to the TV waiting and watching the glaring imagines of the plane strikes in NYC, and the 2nd town crumbling to the ground. And I remembered my mom had scheduled a Washington DC field trip that day! As the news of plane crash in PA rolled across the tv screen, I thought of my sister in Lancaster, and we sat in shock. We listened to DMB, just waiting until the phone lines cleared enough to reach our parents and relatives and get the confirmation that everything was ok.

My friend Alison was in panic mode longer than anyone, when her cousin was called in to the ER hours later. Two men had been found face down, one wallet between them. One was dead, one was in critical condition and her cousin was called into identify her husband. Thankfully, her husband turned out to be the man in critical condition and he survived, the man lying next to him, a stranger, dead.

Later that afternoon we met other sorority sisters in front of Cooper Hall where news reporters where now camped interviewing students because of Professor Al-Arian, a USF religious studies staff member who was charged with training the terrorists how to fly--in Tampa.

The rest of the afternoon we took cover in a friend’s off-campus apartment, wondering if MacDill AFB would be another target.

As we flew the flags, my friends and I exchanged stories of where we were, and who we were with. Mike, the muscles in the flag flying operation is a New Yorker, he was the solemnest of our group, but it was touching to share the anniversary with a friend so closely affected.

And then the day went on, without any IDF, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I stayed with T, just to be with a friend, and while there was no IDF, I returned to my room to find that the sewage system had exploded overnight. Thank the good Lord I was not in my room for that!!!

I can happily report that I lived another 9.11 unscathed. I love you all for your thoughts, encouragement and prayers.

On Saturday, the last of my boxes arrived, Ahamdillallah (God’s good!), and inside was my Sonicare sonicare toothbrush charger! Dynamic cleaning action is back!

The 1st week I was here I had only about 15 seconds of juice in my brush, and for the past 2 weeks I’ve been manually brushing—as if I’d gone back to the stone age. Last night I got a powerful 3-minute teeth cleaning and it really made me smile!

This weekend went too fast. And now I’ve been back in the ‘ol Iraqi one month. One month down, one to go. There has been talk of promotion this past week, which would mean a slight extension, but I haven’t signed on any dotted lines yet. Insha’Allah.

Friday night I went to a pig roast, which at the 11th hour was demoted to a chicken BBQ in order to adhere to cultural sensitivities at an NGO inside the IZ. I knew a few people and met a few more, but it was boring. Everything is the same here, but the people are much less interesting.

On Saturday I skipped off campus across the street to see Tom, we commiserated about how much we miss Tampa and normal life and then proceeded to take out our stress chipping golf balls off the roof of the former Baath party headquarters. And I continued to self-medicate by shopping in the haji shops.

(this is the building we were on traipsing on the roof of)

But the real highlight was brunch. Baked eggs in a vodka tomato sauce.
Oh.my.gooood-ness. So Savory. And this meal moves into the top 3 that I’ve ever had in Baghdad.

The recipe came from Smitten Kitchen http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/09/eggs-in-tomato-sauce-contest-winners/ And while we added zatar-a Lebanese spice with our bread, salad and olives, and vodka in the sauce (hey, it’s the weekend) the outcome was similarly scrumptious. I suggest you try yourself when you need a weekend pick-me-up meal better than you will buy in a restaurant.

Labor Day

Best news of the past three weeks! A Zuddha cleanse arrived! T & I start Sunday, and I’m so looking forward to getting rid of the toxins that have accumulated over summer.

What toxins? Besides the DFAT, (T's clever nickname for the DFAC, short for the Dining FACility) which try as I might to stick to the salad bar and healthy choice line, I could not avoid the tortellini…3 meals in a row; the UK Embassy has been notoriously entertaining. We made it over for a Skool Disco party, where the attire was school uniforms.

I returned later that weekend for a jazz performance by the LIGHTNING JAZZ PROJECT, where Moet bottles were popping!

It was a great performance.

Then, as a former “Whisky Chick” I was invited to a whisky tasting here at our Embassy. Neil taught a group of about 18 the difference between the Islay, Highland and Speyside whiskeys through a series of tasting.

I had two favorites by the end.

I’ve been laying low the past week, enjoying two days totally off over Labor Day weekend. I made it to the “beach” which is code for the pool here.

Here are some pictures of my trip out, hotel in Amman;
morning after Iftaar feast, poolside; Starbucks at Queen Alia Airport (AMM); and me in my PPE gear (and shirt from Martina, thanks girl :o) traveling from BIAP-Baghdad International Airport-into the IZ.