Saturday, February 27, 2010

High On Fumes

We've been putting on the finishing touches of our first two buildings, and I have to say, they look pretty good. We've all worked so hard, staying late and giving up days off. It's a far cry from where we started. The whole team seems so relieved we've reached this milestone, and the tension that ran so rampant a few days ago is all but gone. We're having a celebratory cook-out on Monday and the official ribbon-cutting is Tuesday. We'll have a week or so to take it easy before diving in to the next two buildings, which, God willing, should go much smoother.
In other news, I've had a bit of trouble sleeping since I got here. I fall asleep when I go to bed, but all through the night, I wake up every couple hours. I've been told the doctors here hand out Ambien very liberally, but I'd rather not resort to that. To help, I bought a feather mattress pad to make my bed seem a little more like the one at home; and last night, I only woke up twice. We'll see how it goes.
I'm off tomorrow, so Rick, Paco, Aaron, and I will be heading downtown. We'll be hitting basically the same destinations as last time, so it should be a similar trip, except for the guys going with me. And I expect it to be just as much fun.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dust In My Eyes

I got to use a jackhammer today for the first time since 1999, and it was every bit as much fun as I remember. Not easy, but fun.
In the lead up to our March 1st deadline, things have gotten pretty hectic at work. I didn't get my normal day off today, as we still have quite a bit to finish. I've been doing a lot of manual labour in the sun, and have the farmer's tan to show for it. And the dust is insane, especially when we spend a good amount of time shoveling sand each day.
But even though I'm fatigued, dirty, and still getting over a cold I had earlier this week, I'm in suprisingly good spirits. The finished product is starting to come together, and I'm getting that wonderful feeling of accomplishment that comes with my job when I know I've done it right.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Big Tree

I had my first real morale trip to downtown Doha on Sunday. With me were Austin, Steve, Steven, and Joel. And with all the long hours and pressure at work, we were all long overdue.
Our first stop was the Villagio Mall, which is basically like any given mall in the States. Joel is the only one whose home station is stateside, so the rest of us seemed to appreciate it a little more. And even though we could have eaten at Macaroni Grill, TGI Friday's, or McDonald's, we each opted to pick up cuisine of a more local flavour. (My falafel wrap was particularly scrumptious.)
After lunch, shopping, and ice skating (I know, right?), we headed across town to the souqs. The souqs are the old-style middle Eastern markets like you'd see in the movies, and they're divided into two areas. The first spot we hit concentrated more on gold and jewelry, with a few random trinkets here and there. The second area of souqs had everything from spices and nuts to clothing to musical instruments. And it seemed to go on forever. We mostly just walked around, stopping in random shops, and for a little while at an outdoor cafe to smoke a hooka. For dinner, we grabbed some pita bread made right in front of us in a round stone oven.
Sorry I don't have any pictures, but I'm here for another four months, so some should show up eventually. It wasn't my normal day off of napping and watching clips on Hulu, but it was definitely fun and lifted our least until we had to go back to work on Monday morning.

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's bound to melt your heart

As I'm perpetually single, I rarely do anything to celebrate Valentine's Day. This year, even less so, since I'm deployed, which means I do as little as possible to remind myself of any holidays at all.
But this afternoon, a couple Valentine cards came across my desk, tagged with my Mother's handwriting. And when I opened them, I was hit with the smell of home, and for that brief moment, the love my parents have for me was almost tangible.
It's not my style to get sentimental, especially around such Hallmark holidays as this, but sometimes, I just can't help it.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Ups and Downs

Obviously, it's been a rough week. I had a few minor freak-out moments, and I can't even imagine what Chris's family is going through. I guess it's normal to wonder what he was thinking, but I've decided it's just a waste of time. So, I'll devote my energy to remembering our fun times together, and promise myself that I'll never let anyone have any doubts regarding how much I love them.
As for work, it was a pretty good week. Busy as all hell, but good. And as our March 1st deadline looms closer, it's only going to get worse. Luckily, the boss is allowing us late reporting tomorrow morning, since the Super Bowl will be starting at around 4 AM here. I'm kind of torn on who I'll be supporting. Being born in Indiana, I should cheer for the Colts; but my personality moves me to root for the underdog. Either way, I'm just going to enjoy the extra time off work.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Ocean of Noise

My friend Chris took his own life Wednesday.

The last time we spoke was about two months ago, when we made some early plans for him to come to Italy this autumn. It's presumptuous and arrogant to assume that maybe if I had said or done something different, then he'd still be around. But I can't help but think that if I boarded a plane to Utah right now, he'd greet me at the airport with a big smile and a bear hug.
I'll never forget the spontaneous weekend in San Francisco, where I first got to know him as we celebrated his 27th birthday. Or the trips to hockey and basketball games. Or the time we painted Doug's house. Or the Gwen concert where we danced like crazy people.
His 30th birthday would have been next Wednesday.
There's really no way to express the grief I'm feeling right now, as it's not something I ever thought I'd experience. I doubt anyone could believe someone so cool and amazing would take such drastic measures, no matter how bad things seem. Perhaps he thought nobody was on his side, or that he had run out of choices in life. Maybe he never found the love and acceptance he wanted or deserved. We'll never understand or make sense of it, but we'll pray he's at peace.

I'll miss you, Chris, my dear friend.