Well y'all, it’s been over a month since I've updated, and there has been a world of change since my last post. I've been home on leave, the elections are over in Kirkuk and the results have been announced. We've begun the process of changing over to the MiTT team as well. We've all been busy, and it’s been a lot of work but I know its been worthwhile.
It felt great to get home for a while! I flew out of Kirkuk in early march, to Balad, then Kuwait, then Ireland, and onward to Atlanta and Greensboro. The whole process took about 4 or 5 days. That whole thing kinda runs together. The flight was long and tiring. Anyone who has tried to sleep in an aircraft seat will agree with me... they aren't the most comfortable seats in the world. Much better than an MRAP seat though. Had a great burger in Ireland... cost me a fortune but it was great. Irish cheddar and bacon, hand cut fries... it was good to have real food not made in a DFAC for the first time in 5 months. You can't imagine how good it felt to land in Greensboro. It was so good seeing my mom and dad at the airport. The relief of finally making it home, the things that go through your head, the first things you think of when you get there. Soldiers talk about what they're going to do on leave for months, planning out each detail that gets forgotten within moments of stepping off the plane. Thinking about leave is something that keeps you going from day to day out here. You spend half your deployment thinking about leave and the other half thinking about redeployment. I tried for weeks to plan out my leave, but I eventually settled on planning to do nothing and see how it goes from there. It worked out for the best. On the flight from Atlanta I thought about all the things I had missed the most while I was in Kirkuk; my family, my friends, Cubby (the sweet, spoiled-rotten miniature pinscher/yorkshire terrier that has commandeered my pillow since leaving), good BBQ, good food in general, driving my truck, grass, a real bed, cheerwine, true sleep, silence, I could go on all day! I was able to spend some much needed time with my family, which meant more to me than anything else, but I got to have a lot of fun too. I bought a truck the morning after I arrived in North Carolina. I had found it online while at Taji a few weeks back, and after speaking with the dealer I was able to get them to hold it for me until I was able to get home. After a test drive, I knew it was just what I needed; a silver and black 2008 Dodge Ram 1500 with a Flex Fuel V8. It’s not the top of the line but it’s everything I need, and the flex fuel option is great! E85 is hard to come by, but I was able to test out a tank of it and I was very impressed. It’s much cheaper too; almost by a dollar. When I got the truck it had a little over 700 miles, I'm pretty sure I tripled that while I was home. I was able to make it home for my little cousin's birthday; he's growing like a weed! I gave him a teddy bear that plays the army song, and gave my other little cousin a big stuffed camel. I think my aunt has her hands full with those two. The smallest one has just discovered that the most fun places to get in trouble are just beyond the baby-gate. The other little one is already too smart for her age. It was good seeing Nana and Papa, even in the hustle and bustle of a little one’s birthday party. I spent the next day with Poppy, my other grandfather. I wish you could see the look on his face when I walked in and surprised him… it was priceless. I really missed my family a lot, even though I’m not very good at taking the time to tell them so through cards and letters. I stay pretty busy out here, and it’s hard enough for me to take the time to write in this thing, much less anything else. I should do better to keep in touch with them while I’m away. Had dinner with my sister at the Dairi-O while I was home, and she told me all about her plans for Valdosta in the fall. I think she’s really looking forward to it, and I hope she does well though. I think she’ll enjoy Valdosta, if she can stand the summer below the gnat line. Lord knows it gets a bit warm down there, and pretty humid too. I took a few days and went down to Georgia. I had to drop my mom off in Atlanta for a conference for work, but it was fun having a five-hour road trip to hang out with her. Had a great time catching up with old friends from college and walking around in the small town square of Dahlonega where I spent the better part of five and a half years. Not much has changed in Dahlonega, but there’s a good bit of construction going on at the college... lots of new dorms, new buildings. They’re tearing down the building I lived in for most of my college years and putting up a new two story dining facility. Spent a little while talking with Chief, seems like the military program is still running strong. He has been and always will be a huge influence in my life and leadership style. I owe a lot to Chief, he put in a lot of time and effort into molding me into the officer I am today and words cannot express how much he is appreciated. Went out to Cullowhee while I was in the area to see a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a while. He’s like a brother to me, and while I was up there found out he’s getting married! Got to see the ring and everything. He told me he was gonna wait to pop the question on his upcoming trip overseas, but I was willing to bet he wouldn’t make it that long. Turns out I was right, its all over facebook now and he’s not headed out there ‘til May. Did a lot of driving up in the mountains while I was home. I missed the curves, the trees, the sound of water over the rocks, the feel of torque and acceleration in a pickup truck. Felt good to be sitting in the drivers seat with the windows down again. Went up to hanging rock with mom and dad while I was home. The drive, the lake, the trees, everything about that day was beautiful. I'm starting to see how much I take for granted. You don’t realize how much you take for granted until you don't have it or can’t go there anymore. Well, I could go on for days about the fun I had on leave, probably more days than I actually spent on leave… as a matter of fact I probably should have posted more than once this month. Wish I had, now that I think about it. Gotta run, lots of work to do. More later.