Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Your Milieu Counts! (Before and After)

How I decorate my surroundings truly affects how I feel or behave. I didn't really believe this until I got my order for my rug and sitting pillow from Urban Outfitters. I know I'm not their demographic, but I'm glad they let me buy anyway. [*Sigh* When did I become uncool?]

I definitely feel a lot happier since having some personalization and color in my milieu.

I had originally planned to decorate my cubicle little by little with trinkets and treasures from the Middle East. That was going to take a while, probably even longer than the six months or so that I'm here because we weren't allowed off post for the first six weeks because of Ramadan. Our MWR crew has set up two off-post excursions in October for eight people each time. Get this: there are 133 people who would like to get off-post. I thought the statement, "If more than 8 people sign up, we will hold a lottery," was silly. Hellooooo! And if the names of the two people organizing the trips is on the list, I'm going to be more than a little irked.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Love Sundays

When you work six days a week, you love the time you get for yourself.

I don't need an alarm clock anymore. I wake before it's scheduled to go off, anyway. That's what happens when you go to work six days a week. The best part is on the seventh day, you still wake up at the same time, but you don't have to get out of least, not right away.

This is the start of my sixth Ground Hog Week at EMFK. EMF stands for "Expeditionary Medical Facility;" the "K" stands for "Kuwait."

This morning I have already done my laundry, eaten breakfast, read the papers, and shopped for wicked shoes on Zappo's (they're not my usual sexy heels---when the ground is unstable sand and hard rock, you have to go with the environment). My wedge sandals are losing the edge of their heels and I don't have any way of getting them repaired quickly or easily. [Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.] Funny, how I chose brown. That's probably because I'm heavily influenced by my environment. And, my two pairs of pants are brown. In Arab countries, women simply don't wear dresses or skirts.

I will listen to some podcasts (Car Talk is my favorite; This American Life is second) while I iron my uniform. I'll set up a blog so my LPN candidates can do self-study and not worry about missing class sessions while on duty or R&R. I'll read my latest book from the base library, "Solar," by Ian McEwan and drink a cup or two of Chocolate Mint Oolong tea from Stash. I intend to write a letter to Anna and Drew, too, and start a pile of stuff I need to send back home because it's inappropriate, I don't need it or I can't use it. I have a 8 x 9 foot cubicle that would be roomy if it contained a workdesk and files, but it features a double bunk bed and two gun-metal gray upright wall lockers.

Lest you think I'm kidding about the office cubicle aspect, my walls are also gun-metal gray and the only reason I have some privacy is a dowel rod duct-taped across the entry with flat drapes suspended by shower curtain rings. I need to find a color printer so I can mark my address outside my cubicle: "Mary at DilbertWorld."

Then, bright and early on Monday, Ground Hog Week starts once more. Only 25 or so weeks left.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kenpo Karate Class Canceled---"Just for Tonight"

Well, I got a to-go box at the DFAC and waited for the Blue Route bus to take me to Zone 6 so I could check out the Kenpo Karate class. On the bus, I heard two soldiers talking about another soldier.

"Yeah, I've tried really hard to orient this guy to his job, but he just doesn't listen. And, when I was talking to him about how I invest in stocks, he told me he looks at Valium. I said, 'Valium, what's that? He says, 'You know, the amount of stocks,' and I say, 'You mean, volume' and he says, 'Right, Valium.' I tell him, 'Volume is the amount, Valium is a sedative.'"

His friend just sits there and nods sagely. Then they start talking about credit cards.

I get off the bus and Chief G is getting off the bus. "Hey, Chief," I said. "Where are you going?" He said, "I'm getting a haircut. The barber is better in Zone 6."

I didn't have time to eat much of my dinner before I hit the gym. Food isn't allowed so I threw it in the trash. It wasn't a big loss anyway. I walked in and asked the guys at the front where the Karate class was held. They pointed to the far corner of the gym. "But it's been canceled," they tell me.

"Canceled?" I repeat, bewildered.

"Just for tonight," they promise.

"Well, what about the Tae Kwon Do class?"

"Oh, that's tomorrow at 1945. That class is on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Not today."

I walk around the gym for a little bit and take a look at SGT Ariel's ABS class that is happening where my karate class should be. They look like they're in pain. I grab a bottle of water and walk back to the bus stop. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Little Like Dying

I've known for a few months now I will be deploying. Pretty much in denial for the first few months, I was able to tolerate this and, because of the chaos and uproar at work, almost welcomed the respite from the Beltway drama.

That changed as I got my anthrax shot (which laid me low) and I avoided a smallpox vaccination because of some form of dermatitis on my collarbone. All of a sudden I have less than 28 days left on this side of the world, no childcare plan in place yet, and overwhelming grief that I have not been able to accomplish all I set out to do in my assignment as the Department Head of Surgical Nursing.

In leaving for the unknown with hopes of returning, I understand my grief is due to changes beyond my control. I won't be returning to this same position. I can't; someone else will have stepped in to take the helm. So what will I do when I come back? Will it be as challenging? Fun?

I've been keeping in touch with one of my JG's in Kandahar who has excelled and is over half-way through her deployment. "What do you want to do when you get back?" I asked, hoping she would want to stay and provide leadership and expertise on the ward. "I'd like to go to the APU or PACU," she writes. "I've been working on the wards and assisting with trauma, which can be rewarding but draining. I'd like a break." So, I ask her if she's considered becoming an OR nurse; would she have time to shadow a nurse there? She'd have the opportunity to provide attention to detail, work as a team, and monitor patient safety. "It provides some distance from the patient," I suggest.

As an Individual Augmentee (IA), I am plucked from my workplace and sent alone (mostly) to meet up with other individuals to form a tribe of providers to do a job far away from our families and support networks.

Are you okay? Yes, I think so.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

LEGO Serious Play

Drew says his dream job is to be a LEGO designer. He plans on working at LegoLand in California when he becomes a teenager and now I found out that LEGO is working in the business world!