Best Regards from Baghdad

My One Year in Iraq

Mid-Term Self-Examination

February 18, 2007 - Ever since I've returned from my second R&R, I've found myself becoming very philosophical.  Why are we here? What are we doing? Why am I here? Is any of this worth it? for me? for my family? for our country?  Should I stay or should I go?  Do people appreciate me?  Are my efforts being recognized?  Are they worthwhile?  What is the point of my being here?  Is it worth giving up a year of my family's life to be in Baghdad?  It's been a long time since I've had the luxury of such an incredible amount of time for self-examination.  And in some ways being in Baghdad is like being in college.  But with mortars and "duck and cover" drills.  And a very nice paycheck.  No homework, but very, very long hours.

The other day I spent an entire afternoon talking with a colleague about the meaning of life-type topics.  I don't think I've done that since college.  Not while I was completely sober, anyhow.  For me, having a husband and children means that my conversations are based on entirely different subjects - mainly home and the kids; paying the bills and saving for college.  I find myself being much more emotional, more passionate about what I am doing here than any other job I've ever done.  I feel like I'm working harder than ever before - both in terms of how long I'm at the office and in terms of what I'm doing. 

Some evenings I like to have dinner with my friends/colleagues, where we sit for a long time and talk about everything and anything.  Around us, the KBR employees are eating their meal, cleaning up the DFAC and looking sideways at us in an effort to get us to go home so they can go home.  The whole scene is so deja vu of life in the university - my peers slung over their cafeteria chairs, their empty plates and cafeteria trays shoved to one side, passionately arguing about some minor issue.

Other evenings, I prefer to pick up my meal "to go," sit in front of the TV and/or the computer and just become a vegetable, refusing to think another thought.  Some nights I lay awake for hours and hours, with my brain going beserk, like a radio that's switched on.  Songs float through my head, I think about home, about work, about the meaning of life.  I'm in my "dorm room" with a twin bed, shared bathroom, a dorm-sized refrigerator, a TV, a laptop.  I've regressed back to my college days.

I continue to struggle with thoughts of self-doubt and try to plan my days so I'm busy, I get plenty of exercise and rest.  I miss my family and my home, but I've found an opportunity to be totally self-absorbed.  There is something to be said for that, right?  I mean, when was the last time that the only person I had to worry about was me?