Almost illegal (but not really), mail call and Microsoft Excel
And so here it is*. Wednesday. I’ve been here… um. When did I arrive? I’ve been here since the 31st but the days have kind of meshed together. Today is Jan 5th. In fact, it’s the evening of January 5th. What can I tell you?
Oh! The two boxes (read: large black shipping containers, thank you Heidi!) I shipped myself on Christmas Eve (while Gram satin the car wondering why I’d waited ’till the last minute) arrived already. One made it here today and the other showed up on Monday. (Gorilla cases make a nice coffee table when draped with one of the sheets you brought for a taste of home. Caution, though. If you get up in the middle of the night in an already unfamiliar surrounding and forget you ‘moved the furniture’ you’re likely to trip over it.)
I had to have help carrying them back to my room from the mailroom and I caught a ration of… flak for it. Whatever. The Charmin and shampoo were well worth the ribbing. Haven’t opened the second box yet but I’m excited about the cases of Luna Bars.
I’m slowly adjusting to the time change. Not sure if it’s the lack of caffeine (finally broke down and had a cup of coffee today, tell you about that in a minute**), the learning curve or the jet lag but after a 12 hour day I’m content to pass out about 30 minutes after I get back to my room.
The day officially starts at 0730 with a teleconference brief for… um, the general in charge of Afghanistan. Yeah. We aren’t using names, remember? Don’t get excited, I sit in the cheap seats and listen and I’m not even in the same vicinity but it’s fascinating to hear what’s going on in all of the different areas of the country. Funny, I sit a bit taller when they brief something MajGen Mills (USMC) says or does. I’m subtle about it (subtle like a brick) but the (former) Marines on the team have already spread the word about my heritage. ~someone asked today if I’m a former Marine and one of my co workers said, “She’s wearing a SemperFiFund T-shirt and has a gold Eagle Globe and Anchor hanging around her neck. Really, you had to ask? You make the rest of us look bad.”~
So, the first brief is at 0730 and I’ve managed to be in the office about 15 minutes prior to that. Here’s a quick rundown of the morning:
0400 wake up and grumble because my alarm is set for 0445.
0405 grab my laptop and check for e-mail with my eyes half closed.
0415 pretend I’m going to go back to sleep while I send out more e-mails and peruse facebook.
0445 groan because the alarm sounds and I realize I only have 45 minutes to sleep before I have to actually get up.
0500 snooze for a few minutes until I get an e-mail that says ‘someone’ is on his way home from work. (my iPod is also my alarm clock which is also perfect for checking e-mail after I shut the Mac and pretend to go back to sleep)
Fire up Skype…
somewhere between Skype and 0700 I shower, make it to the dining facility (DFAC) for a bowl of oatmeal and a banana and then head to the office. If you’ve rec’vd one of my fat fingered misspelled e-mails via iPod touch it’s usually while I”m at breakfast. I only mention the food because I’ve made a decision to skip meat and dairy while I’m here. No, I’m not a plant eater all of a sudden… I just prefer to recognize the food and the sauces don’t help. <wouldn’t be polite to delve deeper but lets just say I ate a traditional Afghan meal on Sunday night and almost had to install internet in the bathroom at work in order to get anything done for the next two days.>
I gave myself a week to acclimate (the air quality really is horrible and mixed with the altitude I sound a bit like Fatty McGee if I move too fast) but I’m excited about getting a work out in every day. If I continue to wake up at 0400 I guess I’ll PT early in the day…
The days won’t vary much and include a break for lunch (usually 30 minutes; I missed it today and enjoyed the banana I pilfered at breakfast) lots of Excel spreadsheets, maps of provinces and districts and regional commands and more details and facts and knowledge that I can or will share here. I’m learning about the influence of the radio stations in the country and the changes coming about as a result of different people being exposed to television and other media mediums.
Funny, when I reflect on how much influence Z107.7 has on Twentynine Palms and the High Desert it makes me think of a remote district near a certain border… but surely MOST folks in the High Desert can read.
It’s amazing, really, how much influence radio and television have on people. I think we’re just used to it in the States but really, we’re heavily influenced by it at home, too.
That said, most of Afghanistan is illiterate so the most effective way to reach people is on the radio or the TV regardless of the message.
The contract I’m here on is in a state of flux (to say the least) and today there was a discussion about when people’s LOA (Letter of Authority from the Gub’mt to work here) and XYZ card expired and what to do to bridge the situation. Now I’m new, but as I sat at the table listening I started mentally making a list. I have a Passport. And a Visa. And a Work Visa. And a badge for the building. And one for the ‘Ville. And one for the DFAC… but I don’t have an LOA or an XYZ. Um… right. You’re telling me for all intents and purposes I’m, well, I’m not legal to work here? That sounds like a bad Cheech and Chong skit.
Suffice to say we addressed that issue before I went back to my Excel infused sort of happy place. (Excel isn’t my strong suit… yet… but I have a patient coworker and I checked my pride at the door.)
Basically, I can’t leave the ‘Ville until that’s all squared away. And it will be squared away when the contract is figured out. And that will somewhat coincide with the Defense budget being signed so… yeah. The good news is I have neither the time, the need nor the inclination to LEAVE the ‘Ville anytime soon.
Speaking of leaving. The guards who let me in and out of work are Gurkahs. From Nepal. So the newest addition to my language collection is actually a word I’ve known for a while. “Namaste” apparently isn’t just for yoga; it’s a traditional, quasi informal way of saying hello in Nepalese(Nepali.) Speaking of yoga, I’m going to… unpack the box that came in the mail, fire up Skype and hit the rack. (tricked you!)
No pictures, no theme and no structure but there you have it. Wednesday.
Good night. Or, as the Gurkah said as he closed the gate behind me, Subha ratri.
*I actually made a short list today of stuff to ‘share’ and I’m pretty sure I shredded it before I left the office. Eh… you’re stuck with free writing, I guess.
**I Skyped with Mike while I proofread this and he actually drove thru Starbucks and ordered a Caramel Macchiato. Niiiice.
One thought on “Almost illegal (but not really), mail call and Microsoft Excel”
Loved this one. Felt like I was listening to you over the phone. Did you hear me groan about the 0400 wake up, though?