Sunday, October 25, 2009

My New Office

Shortly before I arrived at Balad, my office was finished being built and my predecessor moved into it. The building I am in has been there since this was an Iraqi base. It had a courtyard that was closed in to create additional offices including mine. Being a new office, it had nice clean white walls and a new tile floor. My furniture included a new modular desk with a matching vertical bookshelf, a comfortable mesh desk chair, and a large leather chair that was very comfortable. Once my 40+ inch flat panel TV was hung on the wall (it took 4 months to get someone to do it!), it was a great office to work in and watch football on Saturday and Sunday nights (after work hours, I promise I'm not wasting your tax dollars). Easily one of the best offices in the building.

I'm talking about it in the past tense because I recently was moved to another office. A few weeks ago the general told me he wanted my office for a waiting room for his visitors. He said he chose my office because it is the closest to his (which is true) and I shouldn't take it personally. However, this news came at the same time as a couple of other less than stellar comments about me, so it was hard not to take it personal. It took a couple of days to get over it. I was happier though when I found out there was another room in the headquarters building so I wouldn't have to find some place in another building. When it came time to make the move, it wasn't that big of deal to me.

My new office isn't as nice as my old one, to put it nicely. Considering Iraq's history, I could imagine it being used as a place to beat up people Saddam didn't like. It has a prison shower motif to it due to the dingy yellow tile on the floor and walls. The only thing missing is a drain in the middle of the floor. I still don't mind the move because I was given a large wooden desk that I really like and I don't look around the room anyways. When I'm in there, I'm focused on my computer screens. What did bother me was the constant stream of people coming by my first day in the office to offer their condolences for me getting shafted. I appreciated the concern, but I had heard it enough by the seventh person. I did laugh when someone asked me if I knew where my stapler is (Office Space reference). The pity party died off after a couple of days and it's no longer a big deal.

I only bring this up because of the latest development. We had a heavy thunderstorm Friday night. When I got to my office, I could tell the ceiling in my office leaked. Where did it leak? Right above my desk where I have all of my electronics--two computers, two phones, and two monitors. Thankfully nothing was damaged. There is a duct right above my desk that obviously wasn't sealed very well. I could put my desk on the other side of the room, but then I would be looking right into the ladies' bathroom. Um, no. Instead I put in a request to get the duct sealed. Hopefully they take care of it soon (at least faster than they installed the TV in my old office; speaking of the old office, I don't think it has been used once in the 2 weeks it has been a waiting room). The forecast called for another thunderstorm last night, but thankfully it missed us. In the meantime, I'll break out the umbrella and trash bags to cover everything. Still beats the heck out of being in a tent in the middle of the desert.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

If You Can't Laugh at Yourself...

I don't usually do CrossFit on Saturday but decided to last weekend since I missed a couple of days during the week. The class starts at 0545. I wanted to be sure I didn't oversleep (it's been a problem for me). I woke up at 31 past the hour. I got up and got dressed. After I left my room, I checked my watch. The time was 0046. I thought crap, I'm late. It took a few steps for my brain to start working and realize not only wasn't I late, I was 5 hours early. I chuckled at myself (it was definitely a moment worth a chuckle) and went back to bed. I did manage to wake up at the right time and made it to class on time.

Last Sunday I joined other people from my office for a softball tournament to kick off the government's annual charity drive. I love playing softball, but I'm beginning to think it doesn't like me. In the first game we played, I hit a fly ball into the outfield. It should have been an easy out, but it bounced off the outfielder's glove. I was between first and second when I saw that happen, so I turned on the old-man jets. They burned out pretty fast. I felt a twinge in my left hamstring as I got to second base. We were behind at the time, so I had to decide if I should push it or pull up. I pushed it. Somehow I scored on the play, putting us ahead. We ended up losing by two runs but it was exciting for a little while. In the second game, I was playing shortstop. There was a guy on first when a grounder was hit to me. I bobbled it a little bit but then grabbed it with the intent to step on second and make a throw to first to try for the double play. When I looked up after bobbling it, the guy coming from first was on top of me and I couldn't avoid him. He ran into me full speed. I went flying. I was rolling around on the ground, saying words I won't repeat here, and desperately trying to breathe. It was a few minutes before I could catch my breath. Someone asked me how I was doing. I said I've had better days. I then asked the guy who ran into me if he played linebacker. He said no, strong safety. I was told later the guy was at least 6'2" and 220lbs. All that matters though is I got the out. We later lost that game in extra innings by 1 run. We were eliminated from the tournament and I hurt like heck, but we had a lot of fun.

This morning I ran in the Army 6.8 Miler. The race is actually 10 miles long. I was supposed to meet my racing partner, Andria, at 0345 and the race started at 0445. I woke up at 0500 (told you I've had a problem with that). As soon as I woke up, I knew I was late. I rolled out of bed, got dressed, and put my contacts in. I didn't know the race course, but I knew it went by my housing area. I found the course and followed it back toward the start. After walking for about a mile, I saw Andria. She was pissed! She asked where I had been and what my excuse was. As I said, she was pissed. I ran with her. She was moving really fast (probably because she was pissed) and I wondered if I could keep up with her. As we ran and talked, she eventually forgave me. We did really well, better than either of us expected. We hoped to run under 9-minute miles (I should say I hoped and Andria agreed to run slower so I could keep up with her). She finished in under 1:17, which is about 7:40-minute miles. I was happy to keep up that pace and still felt strong at the end. She got an Army Ten Miler shirt when we finished. I looked around but didn't see any Army 6.8 Miler shirts.

So wherever I end up in life, at least I'll have myself to laugh at.