Week 32: Returning to work in Baghdad after a three week hiatus in southern Florida sounds hard. Passing through Kuwait is such an annoyance, I wanted the first flight back to B-dad.
“When you are new, be new.”
– The Division Inspector General
Like an addict trying to cure his ills, I avoided Iraq for nearly three weeks. I didn’t watch or read anything about Iraq. Aside from a few incidents where family members and airport strangers asked me, I wouldn’t discuss it. I gave up on paying attention to Iraq. Almost.
I did take the initiative to discuss things with my wife and I saw some news snippets here and there. While pool side at Disney Vero Beach, I read the USA Today headline about Coalition Forces engaging tribes in Diyala province while looking over the reader’s shoulder.
One evening, while my children readied for bed, I was flipping channels and momentarily stopped on a Senate hearing about Iraq. I felt my feet start to slip off the wagon, so I quickly changed channels and caught a Paris Hilton update. Poor thing. The sheriff let her out, but the judge sent her right back to the pokey. I doubt she even had enough time to make another video. Ultimately, I found refuge in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Later in the vacation, I saw the news ticker about Al Qaeda bombing the Samarra Mosque spires. No surprise. Again, I found relief in televised sports. The US Open was ongoing and for the four days, I had nothing but golf shots.
The rest of my vacation was spent at Disney Resorts, beaches and pools capped each evening by sampling every type of food I could.
On day one, I had manicotti with meatballs. On the last day, I had pasta with fresh ricotta sausage and a tender brasioli. In between, I ate Italian pastries: sfagliotelles, cannolis, lobster claws, cream puffs.
I maintained a Friday Iraq tradition. In honor of the Camp Liberty Dining Facility menu, I ordered fresh shrimp and scallops. While I dined, though, I also had the bonus of watching dolphin swim at the end of the pier immediately followed by the Atlantis shuttle launching just to the north. I think the live shuttle launch is the most impressive man made event I have seen in person since Ben Johnson defeated Carl Lewis and Flo-Jo whacked her sprint heat in the 1988 summer Olympics. The kids loved seeing the dolphins. We all got a rise out of the shuttle launch. Did I mention the shrimp and scallops were fresh?
Despite my claim to the Public Affairs Officer that I would gain fifteen pounds in fifteen days, I failed to come close. Considering I didn’t do any physical training, I should have gained twenty pounds. However, I was quite active in the water and playing baseball with my son.
In our last game, my son struck early with a grand slam. I countered with a late rally to send the game another inning. He scored four in his top half. I mounted a rally with two solo homers in the bottom half of the inning, but it was not enough. The boy won.
I talked smack anyway about my mondo-rific back-to-back jacks. For all my trash talk about my most prodigious dingers, my son didn’t get riled. He said it didn’t matter. He hit a grand slam and won the game. For punctuation, he reminded me he struck me out for the final out of the game. For an eight year old, he understands the importance of message to action pretty well.