There have been a couple of breaks to the routine in the past couple of weeks. The first is yoga, which my colleague Jill, who is only here for one more week has been teaching. We had one person dropout of the class and two join. Two of the guys Will and Ron are pretty funny and sometimes it’s hard not to laugh when they are making fun of themselves and each other at their lack of flexibility. They pick on Russ a lot who has the most natural yoga ability. Russ used to be the favorite student, but now it’s Dan because he doesn’t talk during class. Russ was actually trying to convince us to make him a sash that said “Best in Show.” He is longer and leaner and more flexible than the other guys so has an easier time getting into the poses. So, I usually make breakfast right before it closes at 8:00 a.m., then work, lunch from noon to 1:15 p.m. and maybe a nap, work until 5:00 p.m. then work out, then work on my book and maybe a little T.V. before bed.
I did have a trip into Basra last week to see the training that was happening unfortuantely it was all in Arabic so it was difficult to follow. We had to go out the Delta Gate, so we had to walk about a 1/4 of a mile to get to our cars that take us into Basra. The path out is narrow and uneven and has razor wire on both sides, one missed step and I would have been razored. What made it worse was on the way back in you have to fight with all the Iraqi’s coming out and the Arab Culture is very pushy. I actually have been to Basra twice recently, once to visit a PWD project that is not being used and the second for the training. Everytime I go in I have to cover my hair, it is very hot here at the moment. Anyway, we made it out the Delta Gate on the first day of training, I dropped them off at the Alpha Gate, which is primarly a military and PSD gate the second day of the training and then we tried to get our trainers out the Delta Gate on the third day and the military wouldn’t let them out without body armour on, which just makes them more of a target walking past all the workers and truckers, anyone who could make a phone call to a militia member.
So I also spent the last week talking with the Battlion Commander about permission to go out the Alpha Gate which is easier to get out than the Delta Gate. The parking lot where our drivers pick us up is a lot closer. After about three trips to see the Lt. Col. I finally got that resolved. The military has for the most part been very accomodating and willing to work with us. But one of the issues is we never get the memos that change the rules and the rules change often so we are always dealing with the changes after the fact.
All the PSDs are reporting that Basra is becoming more dangerous, but so far we have not had more IDF, incoming direct fire, but we keep hearing predictions about how the violence is going to increase with the American prescence. As they prepare for the scale down, the PSD teams are worried about their jobs, their companies have let them know in no uncertain terms that they can be fired at anytime for any reason. I’m not impressed with the way the PSDs run they need non- ex-military managers. The smaller PSDs seem to run better.
What is disappointing about the American take-over is there is still no coffee shop and no Burger King or Pizza Hut. In addition the PX is always out of stock, but I think that is because the Americans are such consumers, we never had that problem under the Brits. It was funny, I’m also in charge of the badging and I was speaking to the Lt. Col. about getting a badge for one of the expatriates, the badges are required for base living and allow you to pass through checkpoints and give you access to gyms, the PX and DFACs. The Lt. Col. was contacted by a Congressman because a woman had written a letter taking him to task because some solider she knew couldn’t buy shampoo. I wanted to ask him for her and the Congressman’s contact information, to tell them that these men are adults and maybe they need to start acting like adults and plan a little better. I after all brought my shampoo and all my prescriptions with me. Duh! The issue is that the soliders buy two or three of everything. But it’s actually not an issue for me because I brought a year’s supply of shampoo, and the other things I felt I couldn’t live without, like my favorite toothpaste.
So life goes on. The book is getting editing, I have one book proposal currently being reviewed by an agent and 18 query letters that I’m still waiting for responses too. I’ve been reading a book called “If Life is a Game, These are the Rules, Ten Rules for Being Human” I’m trying to master Rule 6, “There is no better than here.” which talks about living in the present and is about learning gratitude, unattachment, abundance and peace. Unattachment, not being attached to a certain outcome is the most difficult for me. Which takes me back Rule 4, a lesson is repeated until learned.