Sunday, August 31, 2003

My Surreal Life

As I sit here in a collapsible metal office, on the edge of a port in the middle of Kuwait, eating green eggs and ham (Sam I am) that is served in the chow tent every morning... it occurs to me that you might find my surreal life interesting... I know I do.

Firstly, my apartment is full of surreal qualities. Nearly all the apartment buildings I've seen have businesses in the ground floors. My building has a fish store , (fish are friends, not food), a hair "saloon" for kids (yes, that's the way the spell it, and they mean salon, I assume. I suspect that a "salon" is something in Arabic they want to avoid confusing with...), and a few other unidentified stores that either haven't been open when I'm there, or I haven't gotten up the courage to explore.

Next, the elevators are alive. Seriously. They seem to experience actual human emotions: boredom, hunger, resentment... I mean of COURSE an elevator would be bored, but let me explain the other emotions. The reason I say they're hungry is because they will try to take a bite out of you if you don't get in fast enough. And these aren't wimpy Made in the USA elevators, these things close fast and hard. They do have that big strip of plastic that will prevent them from biting down hard, of course, but unlike their American brothers (and sisters?), they are a bit slower in releasing (picture smacking an animal on the nose to get it to release it's hold on something... like your leg...). When they do open, it's slow, and grudgingly... you can almost feel it's reluctance...

As for the elevators being resentful, case in point: I was leaving for work the other morning, and the damn thing tried to bite me. In typical testosterone fashion, I kicked the door (trying to teach it respect, I guess... *grunt*). When I got to the ground floor, the door only opened 6 inches... and just stuck. So I could SEE outside, just couldn't GET outside... I had to force the door open... and left it there, stuck open, glaring at me...

For the record, that's TWO dangers I hadn't considered when deploying: bad drivers and elevators.

Second in my surreal life is whoever cleans my apartment. I have a vague recollection of SOMEONE in my apartment at some point during my first day on the ground, and they were doing "housekeeping" type things, but I assumed they were just cleaning up for the previous tenant... or making sure I had everything I needed. I haven't seen her since, but then I noticed my dirty clothes were gone a couple days later. My bed is made every night when I get home, there are clean clothes (first they were on my bed, but now they're ironed and hanging in my closet ...) My dishes are washed and put away, and my furniture is sometimes re-arranged back to the way it was originally (I like to move it around to better suit me...).

This wouldn't seem so surreal if I actually had a better IDEA of the person doing it... I don't even really need a name, just a face. I was getting fairly spoiled while I was in NJ when I dropped off my laundry to have it done... but at least there I knew what the person looked like. Here I don't have a clue what the person looks like that is seeing my dirty underwear... how's THAT for surreality?

Another surreal moment was when I got home last night. I walked in the door, and caught a quick movement on the wall behind the door. Fearing some monstrous Arabian Spider or something, I stepped back and looked just in time to see a small lizard scamper up the wall. So I guess I've got a pet now. At least I know what IT looks like... I'll even give it a name... "Lizzy"

My drive from work at night has a VERY surreal quality... We're in a very industrialized area, and surrounded by refineries. If you've never seen a refinery, they're amazing. At night, it's lit up like a city, miles wide, with "smoke" stacks shooting great gouts of flame into the air, lighting up the sky.

I work in a collection of tents and POCs (Portable Operation Centers). Network cabling, telephone, and power cables run in all directions. Our meals our served "buffet style" in the chow tent, and it's surprisingly good. Especially Mexican Night. Every other night is some variation of beef and chicken, and lunches are usually MREs.

Well, this has been a lot longer than I inteneded, and I've got a bunch of things I need to get done. Still working on the 'net problem in my apartment, so I'll be able to get those pictures up pretty soon. I looked out my window into the bay, and saw some HUGE freighters and tankers (yet another surreal quality...), and took a few pictures and a video.

Love to everyone!

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