24 November 2011

What I’ve learned

Today is Thanksgiving – a great American holiday. It’s one of my favorites, but it’s not because of history. I love Thanksgiving because there’s no presents to shop for, no pressure (except for the chefs), just good friendly family gatherings. Today, even though I was deployed and living alone, my friend from work invited me to enjoy Turkey day with his family. It was awesome. What a spread. What a meal. It’s been 5 hours and I’m still full. It was a great way to spend Thanksgiving in a foreign country. Thanks Fitts family!

My Inlaws have a farm – and all the family tries to get there at least once a year – all at once, I mean, as a big family.  It’s a great feeling being in a huge family where the grandparents can kick back and enjoy the company of both the children and the grandchildren. Where the parents can relax, kids can play, and the day just drags along – and that’s okay. It’s okay because there’s nothing planned, there’s no schedule to meet, no video teleconferences to dial into, no deadlines for input, nothing. Just wake up and be. Sit on the porch and look at the pond while sipping coffee. Go hunt for a while. Read a book. Run around with the kids, play with the dogs, feed the cows, anything you want. I like it and I can’t wait until the day I can get back there and just unwind.  

November has been a really good month for me. I got four care packages! (thanks friends and family). It was my birthday. I was invited to share Thanksgiving with some good friends. I’m about to celebrate my 4th Anniversary with my beautiful wife. But wait! There’s more - I leave Cairo en route to the good ol’ US of A. And I am READY.

One of the things I like about my Esquire magazine subscription is a series they run called: What I’ve Learned. I like to read what ‘seasoned’ men and women have seen, experienced. Some things, I can imagine, have changed their perspective – maybe even their lives. Having spent so much time in Egypt, I’ve seen their struggle, I’ve sat and listened to their gripes, the helplessness in the voices, and  to institute change. I have met wealthy and found a new low when describing poor. I have learned a lot – at home and at work. I’m sure when writing this article there is a writer asking questions that the subject answers. But there’s no one here except me and the voices in my head, so I’m going to stop taking my medicines for a minute and conduct an interview of myself.

What I’ve learned:
Tear Gas is heavy and it doesn’t dissipate quickly. You can feel it in your eyes, on your skin, up your nose – even when it’s 4 blocks away.
Television is an incredible time waster. And very well received when you are lonely.
Save Draft is your best friend when you are sending an important email. Write it, save it, walk away, then come back an hour later and edit before you hit ‘SEND’.
When you are annoyed or irritated with someone else’s email correspondence-- NEVER “Reply All” until you’ve calmed down. (also, see above)
I used to think it was cool that my dog only obeyed me. And I thought it was funny that she only came when I called her.  I don’t think that anymore.
In today’s America, we like to say things like “Freedom isn’t free”. You know who just learned the meaning of that phrase? Syria, Egypt, Morocco, and Libya.
A country’s military force should only be used to protect. It should NEVER aim its own weapons at its own citizens. (also, see above)
Just when I think I know enough, I realize I only know enough to be dangerous.
You don’t actually have to be at a funeral to mourn. But not being there doesn’t make it hurt any less- or more for that matter.
Softball is actually a fun game. A little competition, a little camaraderie – it’s good for the spirit.
People who say that Skype is makes deployments easier – never tried talking to a 2 year old online or tried to hold one still in their lap and coax her to talk.
A good attitude helps the day fly by. A strong supporting wife makes a deployment fly by.  

I leave this joint in 4 days. I get to see my family in 17 days…I’m jumping out of my skin.