Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Internet Issues

As you probably know already, the internet here just bites. It's hit and miss. I have several draft posts from the past few days that need to go up, but I just can't get the pictures to upload. Rest assured that I am still taking a photo a day. Some days I can get online and some days I just can't. I seem to have more and more trouble lately. It doesn't help that the weather is getting worse now that we're entering snow season. You see, our internet service is satellite. Bad weather = Bad connection. They also shut down the internet when something bad happens. They can't have everyone blabbing to the world that a something really bad has happened before they can notify the Soldier's family. It'd be horrible to find out on the news or internet that your loved one passed away. It's just another security measure we take here. Oh, and before I forget... I wanted to say that I do my best to answer all of the comments that are left on my blog or sent to my email. Sometimes I really really want to send a thank-you, but there just isn't any way for me to contact you if you haven't left your information for me to return the conversation. I get paranoid when someone leaves a sweet note, and I can't return the kindness that they'll think I'm ignoring them. I suppose I should be more worried about combat things, huh? I have to talk myself out of being ridiculous. It's not working though. I'm still paranoid! So, "THANK YOU!" to all of you who leave comments, and even to those of you who just read or look at pictures without saying a thing. Thank you for listening to me and supporting me. There have been a few down times that I've gone through openly here on my blog that you blogging buddies have helped me to handle perhaps without even knowing. I hope you know who you are. You're a blessing in my life, and I am forever thankful.

Day 31: New Year Celebration

I didn't take this picture, but I am somewhere in the crowd. It was our unit BBQ in celebration of the new year. We had hot dogs, hamburgers, and even steaks. Yummy!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day 30: Head Lamp

I've had this head lamp for a few years now. It's definitely a necessity for all sorts of things, but especially for night time porta potty trips.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Day 29: Shower Shoes

You'd better wear shower shoes if you don't wanna get foot funk!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Day 28: Falcon's Nest

This is the gazebo across from the aid station where people seem to have a lot of meetings. It's called the Falcon's Nest.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Day 27: Dry Eyes

I had laser eye surgery a month before we deployed. The doctor told me I'd have to use moistening drops for quite some time, but it's been especially bad since I've been out here. I woke up the other morning and I couldn't open my eyes at all. It was pretty painful and quite scary. I don't want that to happen again. I keep them by my bed now, so I'm sure to remember to moisten up before hitting the sack.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Day 26: Christmas Cookie

We didn't really have traditional Christmas cookies here, so I settled for leaving Santa a chocolate chip cookie. Oh, and in case you're wondering... he didn't get to take a bite. I ate it. Sorry, Santa.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Day 25: Head Wound

So, this pilot came in because he hit his head on a panel of the aircraft. He had a pretty good cut, so I washed it out, we put some funny juice in there, and then we put in the staples! Oh, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Day 24: Reflection

Fallen Comrade

We had a ceremony a few hours ago for a fallen comrade. It's the first one since I've been here. We heard the call over the radio to be out on the main thorough way in an hour. It was dark outside already, and it was cold. We all lined up along the road. Thousands of us. Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Seamen, foreign troops, civilians, and local nationals. We stood side by side for as far as I could see in each direction and waited for it to come. Twenty seven minutes passed by, and then I saw the lights from a police escort. In a perfect silent wave the troops snapped to attention and rendered a salute as the metal box covered neatly in an American flag crawled by. I thought of the Soldier's mother, wife, father, and children, and then I thought of my own. What a horrible Christmas eve to mourn the death of someone you just said goodbye to only days ago. As I walked back to the aid station I realized I won't come home quite the same as I left either. I'm different already. I don't know if it's good or bad yet, but I know I'm just not the same anymore.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Where Are You, Christmas?

I'm really relating to this song this year.
(Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of this page to pause the music player before listening to videos.)

Day 23: Non Potable Water

We're not allowed to drink any water here unless it's bottled, and even then we're supposed to sniff it before anything else. This means the water we take showers in, wash our hands in, and use to brush our teeth is NOT for drinking. So... that leaves me wondering what exactly am I showering in?!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Day 22: Cheesy Poofs

These are so delicious. I've been begging for them from home for what seems like forever. I don't remember the last time other than today that I even wanted cheesy poofs, but since I've been here I've craved all sorts of foods. I'm really thinking about ordering a crock pot, so I can stir up some Velveeta and Ro-Tel tomatoes to serve on some Tostitos Scoops! My taste buds are watering just thinking about it. Chocolate is another hot commodity here. The little shop sells out before the PMS even hits. It's a nightmare. I'm a Coca-Cola and Twix or Reeses peanut butter cups kinda girl once a month, (thus me calling it "chocolate time"). I don't even like chocolate that much otherwise. I think I'm starting to share too much information... Anyway, I don't know how I ended up talking about monthly visitors when I started on cheesy poofs. Oh, well! It's supposed to be an honest and open blog after all, and now it really is.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 21: Tools

Well, all the furniture here is made out of 2x4s and plywood. We have to build it ourselves too, so often it's pretty shoddy. The bed that my room's previous tenant left was especially crappy. I didn't sleep on it for two weeks before it snapped and started bowing in the middle. I put a supply request through my chain of command so the wood shop would cut some lumber down for me and let me check out some tools, but that was over a week ago. I finally decided to go to the shop myself. All my pieces were cut on the spot. The guy even came to my room to build the bed. Sweet! I asked him to build it at my eye level, so I could put a desk and chair underneath while still being able to have head room on top. It worked out quite well. My room feels bigger already. I do have to climb on top of my tough box and then on top of my desk to get into bed, and I also managed to smack my knuckles pretty hard on the ceiling when I woke up this morning, but other than that I'd say the project is a success!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Day 20: Lilly Belle

This is another token from home that I was able to carry along with me. I packed it in my big tough box that shipped over here before I did. I used to have this picture sitting on my desk at work. Well, I guess since this place is my work now I can still say the same thing. I miss her so much!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 19: Reflective Belt

If you're caught during "hours of darkness" without a reflective belt on then you get arrested!

Day 18: Home Time

I always keep this clock in my room set to "home time". Both Fort Campbell, KY (my U.S. duty station) and Texas (where my family lives) are in the central time zone. I just have to add an hour and a half and switch the a.m. and p.m. really, but I like having this clock to remind me anyhow. There aren't many other reminders of home here, so I make do.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

UpDATE: Chris

I'll get back to Photo-of-the-Day in a bit, but I wanted to catch you up on Chris. Remember him? Recap HERE then HERE. Anyway, he is history. I started noticing that he was sending secret text messages quite early on. At first I didn't think it was my business though the secrets, unanswered phone calls, and disappearing acts ate at me. One day he laughed out loud while reading a message. I asked what the joke was, and he quickly became offensive and totally freaked out on me. That's when I let my denial go. So many times I just believed him thinking I needed more faith. I believed it when he said he loved me, and that I was manifesting problems that didn't really exist. I just couldn't deny that gut feeling though. I didn't have proof, but this time I wasn't above finding out. I mean I didn't want to accuse someone of something so horrible, but at the same time I wasn't about to sit there and be naive to the whole thing. I had to nip it in the bud ASAP! I came home from leave early and went straight into my stake out. They did way more things that "just friends" aren't supposed to do. I told him soon after that I knew what was going on though he still denied it. (He also denied nude pictures of his ex, but that was a lie too! I'm sure she would be so proud of his nostalgic qualities.) He's a horrible liar. He does the usual eye avoidance, starts laughing, turns his body away, changes the topic, pretends he doesn't hear me, turns it around to accuse me... Did I mention he's stupid? So, get this... he just sent me an email a couple hours ago. (I'm laughing as I type this.) It goes something like this: "Laura, I love you with all my heart... My conscious cant take the guilt that I incur by not being able to be the boyfriend you're so deserving of." I'm sure he feels "guilty" now that he's deployed. I hope he has a long happy deployment with 'Palmala Handerson'. Despite all of that they're in my prayers, because God knows they surely need it.

Day 17: My Boots

I really need new boots. I've had these since they were issued to me about three or four years ago. I've been issued a couple pairs of new boots since then, but I wear a size 4-1/2 boot. They never have my size, so I end up with boots that are too big just so they can say they gave me some.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day 16: Mystery Meat

The food isn't really terrible considering I've been eating bachelor food for a few years now, but I really have no idea what animal this meat came from or even if it came from an animal at all! The D-fac (dining facility) serves the same food every week, so I'm already bored with the combat cuisine they serve here. I find myself less and less hungry all the time. I have a difficult time finding my way to the D-fac anyhow with my work schedule. I work from 1500-2300 in the clinic. That means I'm sleeping through breakfast. I have PT (physical training) at 1230, so that means I miss lunch too. We're allowed to leave the clinic to get dinner though, so I don't miss that meal. The D-fac is our neighbor, so it's not that big of a deal anyhow. They also serve midnight chow, but by the time I get off I usually fall asleep before the chow hall opens again. It's just an endless cycle. Ugh!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Day 15: Magic Tree (after)

Here it is:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Day 14: Arabic for Dummies

I received these two MP3 players when I departed from the terminal back at Ft Campbell. They had tons of books like this with little ear buds for us. I think it's pretty neat, and since I'm finally done reading the Twilight series I think it's time to start learning a new language.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Day 13: Magic Tree (before)

Sweet, sweet KC bought this little Magic Tree for me when we were at a book store a few weeks ago. I remember having one as a kid that my dad, sister and I put together, but I didn't know they still made them. It was a special treat then, and it still is. It only takes six hours for it to grow, so I'll post another pic of the full grown tree tomorrow. I wish it could grow some presents too!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Day 12: Combat Purfume

Ah, Febreze, I love you. It all started back in Basic Training... we're not supposed to wear things that are scented in order to help keep away the bugs and other creatures (like boys). Drill Sergeants would have a fit if they even saw cherry chap stick in your possession. People aren't as stringent on the rules like they are in training environments, but I guess I've just grown to think of Febreze more like combat perfume than air and fabric "refresher" or whatever the heck it's supposed to be. I'm not the only one. You'll find tons of this stuff in any military store you walk in to whether it's here or there. It's definitely a staple for military living.

Day 11: Simple Goodness

This doesn't really have anything specific to do with deployment. I just can't believe I scarfed down an entire box of Nilla wafers. In my defense, however, it was only a mini sized box! I'm still craving cheesy puffs though...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 10: B-Huts

There are tons of these "B-huts" all over the place. They're just little shacks with rooms divided by plywood. I'm not even sure what the "B" stands for, but I'm thinking along the lines of Bum-Hut or Bedraggled-Hut, because that's exactly what they are.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 9: Loaded

I signed for some new gear today.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Day 8: Aid Station

Well, this is the aid station where I work. To the far right, on the other side of those green sand bags you can see one end of the building I live in. Those are the same sandbags that I shot for my room with a view picture last week. I was standing up on the gazebo where people can eat lunch to take this pic. As you can tell we were having a little bit of rain, but it felt nice to have all the dust in the air settle for a little while. When I turned around I could even make out a tad bit of the Hindu Kush mountain range that surround us. It's part of the Himalayas. (Did you know that this is the place that Alexander the Great conquered in Fourth Century BC? Neat!) The picture doesn't do it justice. It's beautiful. My day didn't stay that great though. I finally pooped myself out from exhaustion. I haven't slept a full night since I left home over a week ago, and even that sleep was come and go. I've been telling everyone that I'm about to go into a coma at any second if I don't get some real sleep, but I just have to keep stickin' it out. I live in a plywood stall, so I can hear every noise that my seven hut-mates make. These aren't quiet girls by any means either. They slam and yell and stomp up and down the halls over and over. Their music is blaring, and they need to suck on a toilet bowl tablet with the language they use. I feel like I'm in a cheap frat house. People are constantly coming in and out and flipping the lights on and off. The big light is right over my bed too. I've tried all sorts of medication to just knock myself out for a while, but the most it's done was somewhere between three and four hours. I also have the crud. My nose is stuffy, and my throat is killing me. The doc sent me to my room to get some rest after giving me some super sleep pills, but as you can tell... I'm wide awake! I have to go see a sleep specialist tomorrow. I'm not looking forward to it since he's also the combat stress psychiatrist. Psychiatrist! I don't want that on my record. No way! Remember, in the military, my ins and outs are more out than in. Being labeled crazy is not going to do me any favors.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Day 7: International Security Assistance Force

Factsheet: NATO took command and co-ordination of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in August 2003. ISAF is NATO's first mission outside the Euro-Atlantic area. ISAF operates in Afghanistan under a UN mandate and will continue to operate according to current and future UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. ISAF’s mission was initially limited to Kabul. Resolution 1510 passed by the UNSC on 13 October 2003 opened the way to a wider role for ISAF to support the Government of Afghanistan beyond Kabul.
What is the aim of the operation?
ISAF's role is to assist the Government of Afghanistan and the International Community in maintaining security within its area of operation. ISAF supports the Government of Afghanistan in expanding its authority to the rest of the country, and in providing a safe and secure environment conducive to free and fair elections, the spread of the rule of law, and the reconstruction of the country.
What does this mean in practice?
  • ISAF conducts patrols throughout the 18 police districts in Kabul and its surrounding areas. Over a third of these patrols are carried out jointly with the Kabul City Police. There are also presence and patrol activities conducted within the Provincial Reconstruction Team areas of operation.
  • ISAF coordinates Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) projects throughout its area of operations. The CIMIC objectives are to assist the Commander of ISAF in his effort to support the Government of Afghanistan in maintaining and expanding security throughout the country, to support stabilisation, reconstruction and nation-building activities, and to co-operate with the International Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). The CIMIC teams work in close co-operation with the local population and authorities and assess the situation concerning education, health, water, sanitation and internally displaced persons and returnees. They also initiate and monitor projects funded by either national or international donors.
  • On a political level, ISAF works closely with the Afghan authorities, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), UN agencies, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and the US-led coalition (Operations Enduring Freedom - OEF). ISAF has Liaison Teams that coordinate issues directly with the Government of Afghanistan, with UNAMA and other international players.
  • ISAF also supports the Government of Afghanistan in its security sector reform efforts.

How does NATO manage the ISAF mission?

The North Atlantic Council (NAC), NATO's highest decision-making body, provides the political direction and co-ordination for the mission. The NAC works in close consultation with non-NATO nations taking part in ISAF and special meetings with these nations are held on a regular basis. Based on the political guidance provided by the NAC, strategic command and control is exercised by NATO's main military headquarters, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, led by the to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). The Joint Force Commander (JFC) based at the Joint Force Command in Brunssum (The Netherlands), is responsible at the operational level for manning, training, deploying and sustaining ISAF.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Day 6: Combat Parking

Day 5: Camel in a Dress

So, on Fridays we can go to the bazaar where the locals sell bits and trinkets. I saw this guy there with his camel that was wearing a dress. He charges $3 for a picture, $4 to pose with the camel, and $5 to "stand" on the camel! Look closely around the camel's neck and you'll see it even has an ID badge to get on base! I can't stop laughing!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day 4: Coca-Cola

Yep, it's the real thing!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Day 3: A Room with a View

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Day 2: "Al salaam a'alaykum"

In other words... "Good day!" from Afghanistan! My room is tiny, it's super dusty, I can't tell when I'm supposed to be sleepy or hungry, the water smells weird, my back hurts... and I love it! The mountains are beautiful, I'm surrounded by my brothers and sisters, I can eat hot dogs for every meal, I don't have to pay rent or taxes, I don't waste time on deciding what to wear, and I'm doing what I really love. I'm a SOLDIER! Hooah!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Day 1: "Hallo!"

Greetings from Germany! It´s a relief to know that those years of German lessons are finally paying off. So far, the trip really hasn´t been horrible at all. I haven´t seen the sunlight since I left though, and the rain seems to be following us around the globe. The food is crappy, and this keyboard is driving me nuts. The letters are in all sorts of weird places, so I can´t type as fast as I normally would. I think that bothers me more than anything. Hee!Hee! The clock on this computer says it´s 7:15 pm, though I know it´s around 12 am back home. We still have another leg of the trip, but then at least I should finally be able to sleep on a horizontal surface! Well, gotta get going again. I´ll keep you posted...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 0: I'm leaving on a jet plane...

Here's my last view of my parents as I stood in formation before boarding the buses...
Goodbye, everyone! I'll see you later...

Friday, November 21, 2008


Okay, so the movers left all my food. I mean, I can't store that sorta stuff for 15 months anyway, but couldn't they have left me ONE FORK! I just microwaved some yummy stuff and only to reach into the silverware drawer to find it empty. Doh!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Packers & Movers

Wow, the packers and movers just left. They arrived around 0745 this morning, and immediately engulfed my apartment with cardboard boxes in every space available. These aren't your ordinary movers. I didn't have to pack a thing. They do all the work for you. I had five people in my two bedroom apartment popping boxes into form, whipping tape guns over anything in reach, and slinging sheets of newspaper around every little trinket I've accumulated in my four years away from home. I woke up surrounded by all of my things in their normal places this morning only to go to bed hearing even my breath echo off the walls. It's so strange...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Guest Blogger: Camryn (My Cousin)

Current mood: crushed
Category: Blogging
OMG, Laura you have no idea how hard the last week was for me. I will miss you so much you can't even believe. Don't forget that i love you and even though i don't show it i am so freakin' proud of you. I can't help but think of all the fun times we had together and do you remember how i always wanted to be just like you. I still do believe it or not. You are amazing and i love you for everything you are because even though you have been through tough times you still hold true to your values. I only wish that we could have spent more time together. i have to stop crying and typing cause i know you are starting to tear up too now. Well i will watch lullie belle (i so butchered that name) for you and give you updates and i promise she will get played with on Fridays at least. I can't wait til your 15 months are up. You better make it back to my graduation. Let me know if you need me to mail anything to you and if you need any hand warmers LOL. I can't even see what I am typing because i am crying so much. What a baby. Well i won't say goodbye because i know you don't like that so i guess it will be a see you later.
I love you and thanking for fighting for my freedom. Most of all thank you for being such a good role model for me. You proved to me that I can do anything. LOVE YOU LAURA!!!!
Currently listening : Greatest Hits By Jo Dee Messina

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm a YouTube Addict

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Don't forget...

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Melting Pot

The Melting Pot has to be one of my favorite restaurants if not THE favorite. I'm lucky that I have one in both Nashville and Austin, so no matter which 'home' I happen to be at I can still indulge. There's nothing not to love about this place.
Here's my cousin (Camryn), my mother, and BIL (Robbie).
If there's a bar, Grandma's gonna find it.
Sheila and I with our Love Martinis.
Me, Sheila, Aunt Sandra, Ella (sister), and Camryn up on top.
I love fondue!
Mom, Robbie, and Ella.
Grandma and I fighting over a martini.
Grandma, Me, Sheila, Aunt Sandra, Uncle Duane, Camryn, Mom, Robbie, and Ella.
Camryn and I outside across the street from The Real World Austin house.I don't know what I'm doing with my leg or what the heck I'm looking at. Anyway, I had a great time. I can guarantee that I'll be making reservations again at both the Austin and Nashville locations upon my return in 2010, so if you're around feel free to join in on the party. Love Martinis on me!

Friday, November 7, 2008


I'm on leave in Texas! Woo-Hoo! I'll be back at Campbell on Sunday night though. I need to pack!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Sunday, November 2, 2008

It called to me...

Music is my one of my vices, so of course I can't go through this upcoming deployment without it, so I snatched up a new iPod Touch today. I stocked up on a couple iTunes cards too to get me started. This thing is pretty awesome. It doesn't just play songs. I can play games, read books, keep track of my calories and weight loss, check the weather, surf the net, browse photos, watch movies, and all sorts of stuff. I'm definitely taking it on the long plane ride over there with me. I have to carry everything on my back, so it just makes this little guy even sweeter. It's perfectly pocket sized. I can't wait to start downloading applications and tunes. I still need to get a good web cam if anyone has recommendations. I want to keep up with my blog as much as possible this next year. The good and the bad. It's my goal to really document this journey as best as I can. I think it's going to be a good thing as Martha says. I just have one stop back home in Texas to make before I'm really ready to leave. It's going to be difficult saying goodbye to everyone. I think that's the hardest part really.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

It didn't dawn on me that today was Halloween until I went to the doctor's office this morning. I had to go for a follow up appointment, so there's nothing to worry about there. It certainly doesn't feel like Halloween usually does. I'm not sure what it's supposed to feel like, but however it's supposed to feel it just doesn't. No decorations. No costumes. No pumpkins. No candy. Lilly Belle and I do have matching skeleton tshirts that glow in the dark though. I bought them a few weeks ago when I was more in the mood. Time seems to really be zooming by lately. I find myself thinking about a lot of things I wouldn't normally, but I'm blaming it on the fact that I deploy in a month. I'm savoring so much of life right now. You know, little stuff. Stuff I won't have for a while. Mexican food. Manicures. A curling iron. High heels. Hugs. My first name. Lilly Belle. Christmas. Babies. Blue jeans. Warm from the oven cookies. Icy milk. My car. Baths. Make up. My birthday. My family. There's so much around me that I've never stopped to be thankful for. Stuff I didn't even think twice about. I have so many gifts to be thankful for, and so many things I am undeserving of. Too often I feel like I'm alone in my walk through life, and that God has turned his back on me. It's so easy to get lost in this world. I fight daily with that, but with one step back I can see clearly that I am never left to be alone. God is in every breath I take and in every beat of my heart. He's wrapped around me screaming he loves me, and all I have to do is listen. Sometimes that's the hardest part. I need to push away all the noise in my life and make a quiet place for Him. I need to let him guide me in the right direction instead of fighting it. I need to do the right thing no matter how difficult it is. I need to face my faults and weaknesses. I need to have faith that everything will turn out just right. And I need to keep pushing through the darkness and doubt. I will make it, and I will be okay.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Inspiration