Tuesday, August 02, 2005

What's it like in Iraq? I'll tell you...


I’d like to talk a little more about life in Iraq. I will “paint you a picture” if you will. I will post in installments, to keep you waiting for more.

To start things off, I’ll talk about our living conditions. I live in a 22’x8’ CHU (containerized housing unit). It looks like a small trailer with walls covered on the outside my stacked green sandbags. There are two windows, but they are covered by sandbags. I have two roommates. Things are a little squished in here. Our beds are lofted about 5 feet in the air, so we can “hang out” underneath. It gives us a bit more room, and makes it more livable here. The linoleum floor is covered in cheap rugs to form “carpet”. Furniture is comprised of folding chairs and anything we can build with wood and screws. My shoddy computer desk is made of cheap wood. I’m sitting on a folding stool as I comprise this masterpiece. Already it sounds bad. It’s not. We have power. Our generator likes to shut off in the afternoons, and we trudge out to coax him into running. Although I wouldn’t want to run in 140 degree weather either, so I’m not angry about it. KBR (Kellogg brown and root) our contractor on base, is working on a power grid to rid of the generators. Now for the good news. We have great AC. That is the number one priority of the KBR staff. You will not go 1 hour without your AC functioning properly. I think we’d die without AC anyways. I have internet on my laptop here in my CHU. My roommates and I collectively have a 29inch TV with a PS2 hooked up to it, a 13 inch TV with cable (AFN) and an Xbox. We have a refrigerator constantly stocked with diet coke, water, and lunch meat. We have a microwave so we can cook our soup, and Dinty Moore meals. We have a hot water heater for our tea, cappuccino, and Easy Mac. I own almost 200 DVD’s, and combined with Knel’s 30, and Foy’s 100, we keep constantly entertained watching movies. As I am writing, my roomies are watching “closer”. I recently watched “Batman Begins” and the "Wedding Crashers". The Iraqi’s don’t have anti-piracy laws yet, or they are not enforced. We can buy DVD’s from them for 5 dollars. When new movies are released in the theatres, pirated copies will show up here for our viewing pleasure.
Our room is wallpapered. Not with common wallpaper, but with pictures of women out of magazines. We have quite a collection. Whenever someone is done reading a magazine, we borrow it for the pictures. We are actually running out of wall space, so we are taking down all the cards and letters people have sent…just kidding. My parents have sent me a few reminders from home. I’ve got a Green Bay Packers pillow, baseball hat, coffee mug, and sign. I’ve got a Detroit Pistons t-shirt hanging up on the wall. We bought one of those fisher price magnetic erasable message boards. We write something clever on it almost every day.
I have lots of paperback books. I’ve read about 30 novels since we’ve been here. It’s not that I’m that bored, it’s just that I like to read.
Our average day isn’t really average. Every day is an adventure. Today for instance I awoke early for my PT test, and then I showered, got dressed, and started writing this. I’m making some lunch right now in my microwave. It’s our day off today, so I’m not sure what to do. I was thinking of going to the pool. Yes, we have a pool here.
I’m sure I’ll just end up watching a movie and playing some poker. One of our favorite pastimes is poker. It’s not so much about the cards as it is the time together. It’s kind of like therapy. We can talk about things that we wouldn’t in different situations. Thick skin is a must to play at our table. No matter anyone’s opinion on a person, we all love each other. We are brothers in arms. We’d die for each other. You will never understand the relationships you build at war unless you are there. I thought I understood from watching movies and being in the service, but I really had no idea. It’s a feeling that you didn’t know you had. That’s why it’s so hard to describe and talk about when you get home. You didn’t know you could feel like that. It’s not ecstasy, nor a revelation of any sort. It’s just a feeling, sometimes good, sometimes bad. But always different from anything you have ever felt before.

Life is good here. Sure there are things that suck. That’s life. You just deal with it. Many men have come before me and endured hardships I couldn’t imagine. This is my way of saying thanks.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I’ll write about our FOB (forward operating base) and our gear next time. I’ll start it soon.

Check in often, thanks for everything, and keep supporting the troops.

Happy belated birthday! (mine is the day after!!) I just found your blog today...took a path from A Soldier's Thoughts all the way to yours...Your attitude and opinions have uplifted my own :) You make the average Joe's and Josette's like me hold our heads high to have Americans like you representing us. Thank you.

Oh, and you actually look to be smiling beside that poo... hehehe. And wasn't Wedding Crashers quite funny????

wishing you safety and many more blog installments...
Thanks for inviting us in and showing us around. You have some comforts of home, but your missing a few major things, as I am sure you are aware. Can't wait for the personal tour of your FOB, have my hair dryer ready for authenticity.

It's great that you guys can have such an amazing bond, treasure it, because you will never encounter anything like it again. But then again, would you really want to.

Stay Safe
Hey, you don't know me from Adam, but I figured I'd tell you how proud my wife and I are to have guys like you keepin' the world safer.

You're in our prayers.

What a clear picture I have now. I also admire your attitude. You are so right. many who have come before, have had to endure much worse conditions.
You have no idea just how much we support y'all. America sures does miss her heroes! Take care, stay safe and hurry home...God Bless.
I stumbled upon your blog through someone who I can't remember at this point. You did a great job of painting that picture you were talking about. We do support you...very much! Stay safe and God Bless!

I don't support you one bit. I've secretly sabotaged your microwave to make your burritos cold in the middle. Also, the vikings rule.

I'm such a terrible lier.

not to mention a terrible speller
nick cuskey.....

your biggest failing is being an Apple apologist; with the Vikings thing a close second. :-)
I'm tinking about joining kbr as a carpenter for a suppossed 80k.Dude,I don't know what to do,I've never done anything,I'm such a friek,and I'm 44.
I've Searched the net for hours and can't find jack,except one guy who got hurt as a lifeguard at your pool and they only gave him $1500.I need comraderie,and something that means something,not just stuff.I can't get a life,I woulda been milatary but i thought God had some kinda mission for me.I'm crazy and could always use the dough but really I think It's like being James Bond.I got no purpose,this sucks,a lifetime of that,it's pathetic.I don't want to just go to thailand and lay on the beach.Your a good man.Do most guys there have your spirit?I heard its $5.15 an hour idiots.I need good food too.How does a carpenter work in that heat?Do they get shot at?conradhoppe@hotmail.com
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