Monthly Archives: November 2011

Rest Break #1

My first trip out of Iraq is at an end. It was well needed and I indeed do feel more rested. So does Pooh. 🙂 My trip started with a few flights, included a few flights, and will end with a few more. My first flights took me to Ankara, Turkey where Lysa was waiting for me with hot pizza and beer! A couple movies and nights later, and we took off to Northern Cyprus for the Thanksgiving weekend. We arrived at our lovely hotel, The Acapulco, where we took a little walk around before heading to lunch.

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After lunch, what better way to unwind than head to the spa? We stopped in, hoping they had openings, and they did! We each had a massage, as well as manicures and pedicures. I had a tropical massage, which was your basic massage but with tropical aromas. It was awesome. Dinner was great as well, as we realized we were quite popular with the waiters. Lysa commented at one meal on how they reminded her of the waiters in Dirty Dancing. They were very attentive. The cats are very attentive too. There were many roaming around the resort, as well as the country. The cats at the resort tended to congregate around the entrance to the restaurant – they were very friendly and didn’t seem like they were going hungry. We saw some one morning that would turn their nose up at some food while waiting for the good stuff.

The next two days we toured around the northern part of the island. We saw beautiful ruins, old cathedrals and churches converted into mosques, and castles! We even saw the castle that is supposed to be the inspiration for the castle in Disney’s Snow White. We learned a lot about “the Cyprus problem,” and a lot about the history of the island. Our tour guide was very informative and our group was a lot of fun. The last day was free until about 2pm, so we decided to end the trip the way we started it – with another massage! We decided to splurge and go for a whole treatment – I went with the chocolate treatment and Lysa went with honey (mostly to make Pooh jealous, I think.) 😉 Mine started with a coffee scrub, followed by melted chocolate slathered all over my body. I was then wrapped in plastic and a heated thermal blanket and left to relax for a bit. As I lay there all chocolatey, I started pondering what kind of chocolate bar I was…deciding on Almond Joy – a little bit nutty, a little bit tropical. After rinsing that off, I was treated to a hydro massage bath, then a nice relaxing massage. A wonderful end to a wonderful weekend.

A few more relaxing days, some good sushi, a little homemade soup, and some more fun movies, and it all ended too soon. Now, here I am in Amman, one flight away from being back ‘home’ again. My hotel here, while not quite as nice as the last one I stayed in here, is very near the airport and has a free shuttle. I do look forward to being back to my stuff again, unpacking and settling back into routine. Once I get home, I’ll add some more pictures of the beautiful trip! Now, time to start planning the next one!


Thanksgiving

Well, I’ve been here over two months now, and soon I’ll be going on my first regional rest break.  What this means is that they will fly me to Amman – where I go from there is up to me.  So, I’m going to Turkey for Turkey Day!  A few thoughts and impressions on my first two months in Iraq – there is one experience that sticks out in my mind.  When I was in Kirkuk, there was a group of Iraqi women that came in to talk via video to American women in their same profession.  They were amazed at some of the things they learned.  One point that shocked me a bit was that they were surprised to learn that in America, it is illegal for husbands to beat their wives.  Can you imagine?  It was like a dagger to my chest, that people would think this is okay – it made me want to get involved, to spread the word that THIS IS NOT OKAY, not in Iraq, not anywhere.

As I was escorting some of the women to the exit point, they were asking me about myself.  They asked if I went to university, and asked me what I majored in.  I told them I majored in theater.  This again intrigued them, as they told me that all the arts programs at universities were shut down – Iraq’s Education Ministry has banned all theater and music classes.  This saddens me – how does a country expect to pull itself out of this battle when you stifle creativity?  Without creativity, you have no innovation, and no hope of moving forward into the present and the future.  It pains me and makes me want to do what I can do to change this. I want to let people know that they don’t have to stand for it, that they can effect change.  I want them to know they have options, that they can be who they want to be.

Through all of this, and because of all of this, it makes me grateful to be an American.  Being here in Iraq makes me treasure these freedoms we take for granted in the United States.  These rights we have fought for over the years – as women, as artists, as people – they are precious.  Recently I went to the Marine Ball here, where they played the national anthem.  One of my friends took a picture of me from across the room, all dressed up in my finest, solemnly with my hand over my heart, thankful that I’m an American.  It’s a reminder that patriotism isn’t just on the Fourth of July.  I’m proud to be an American.  On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful to be where I am, and to have the freedom to be who I am.


Happy Day

I haven’t been quite this happy in some time. Maybe the moon has aligned with the stars, maybe I’m just in a place in my life where I can appreciate everything more, or maybe it’s just that i don’t have anything to hold me back. Maybe I’ve realized who I am, just me, and I love me. And in turn, I have so much more love to give. The more love you give, the more love you get.

I have a habit of telling people that I’m awesome. People that don’t know me might think that sounds conceited. But what it comes down to, in my mind, is that everyone should think they are awesome. Because if you don’t think you’re awesome, then why should anyone else? I have a lot of wonderful qualities, and I know everyone else does too. I start out with the assumption that everyone likes me, because there’s no reason for them NOT to like me. In the same vein, I start out with the assumption that everyone is friendly and likable unless they show me otherwise. I’ve always been this way, I think.

I tend to make an impression. People remember me. Sometimes I wonder, why? What makes me so memorable? There are many people that have made an impression on me, people that I’ll remember forever, and I can point to why, but it’s always harder to figure out the other way around. It’s great to find out why, so I’m trying to tell people what impressions they have made on me, and why I’ll always keep them in my heart.

As I said up top, I’m currently crazy happy – after four weeks in Kirkuk, I’m back in Baghdad, I’ve been able to spend a few days with my main squeeze (even though he’s off tomorrow for a couple weeks to another part of Iraq) and peanut butter cookies are plentiful. I’ve been singing “Some Kind of Wonderful” today, happiness and love is abounding. Yes, sometimes I think too much and worry about if this happiness can last, but then I remind myself to just be happy now, and stop worrying. Happiness and positivity breeds happiness and positivity. Love breeds love. The more good you exude, the more good is drawn to you. Here’s wishing you love, happiness and a positive outlook!

P.S. I know this probably just sounds like babble – forgive me!


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