Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Surf & Turf

Chelsey's Boat
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Yesterday, Cheyenne, Chelsey, Nate, and I went to the beach in Lignano. It was more crowded than I thought it would be on a Tuesday, but we managed to acquire some prime real estate. We even rented boats from an old Italian guy and floated out in the Adriatic.

Cheyenne & Chelsey
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Afterward, we walked to the bar at the end of the pier for drinks and snacks.

Chey, Chels, & Nate
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I managed to get back some of the colour I'd lost since I left the desert. It was a lovely, relaxing day, and I look forward to going back next week.
However, tonight, I'm flying up to England for a few days to hang out with some friends. I probably won't be posting again until I get back on Monday, but there will be pictures-a-plenty. I hope everyone has a great 4th of July!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Baby's Got The Bends

The past few days have been absolutely wonderful. Going to dinner with friends. Sleeping in my own bed with the windows open letting in the cool Alpine night air. Shopping at Ikea with Cheyenne. Making a citrus daiquiri cheesecake (and it totally tasted like a daiquiri).
I've had a few in-processing appointments, the last of which was today. It was mostly a bunch of briefings from people telling us how we should feel after we get back from a deployment. The Air Force refers to this time as "decompression," which sounds ridiculous to me. I now have two weeks off to forget about all things work-related and enjoy the life I've been missing out on for the past six months.
Also, my internet at home isn't working, so posting will be sporadic until it's back up. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back In Wine Country

Nate picked me up this afternoon and took me back to my house. After dropping my bags in my living room, I immediately took off my shoes and walked around my yard barefoot. It was amazing.
Even after the plane landed, I wasn't as excited as I thought I'd be about getting home. But as we drove through the Italian countryside toward base, my heart kept beating faster and faster. And as the mountains came into view, I couldn't stop smiling. And when I got in my truck to take a drive around Budoia, I let out a squeal of delight. It felt so strange and so comforting at the same time.
After some in-processing over the next couple days, I have two weeks off to relax, reorganise, and reintegrate before going back to work. It's going to be a full two weeks with a trip to England and visit from Jess, and I might go back to work more exhausted than when I got home; but it will totally be worth it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Perspective of Levity

I'm getting ready to get on the plane out of this place, but before I go, I just wanted to thank a few people for making the past six months easier.
First, my crew: Rick, Paco, Halligan, Diaz, Steven, Steve, G, Aaron, Pretzel, and Joel. You guys were the ones that did the real work, and made my job easy. You faced innumerable problems came up with solutions I never would have imagined. I did my best to take care of you guys, and I hope you look back on this deployment fondly. Or at least not negatively.
Next, MSgt Marquis: you are the epitome of leadership. You came into a broken situation and steered the whole team in the right direction without losing any of us. You handle things calmly and logically, and people always know what's expected of them and where they stand with you. You led by example and taught me volumes.
Also, Mom and Pop: I know you enjoyed our Skype chats as much as I did, ("It's like talking to Curt on the TV!"), but you have no idea how much it kept me going. Everything from Dad telling me about motorcycles to Mom reporting the local gossip, it made me feel like I wasn't in the middle of the desert. Can't wait to see you guys in December.
And finally, Cheyenne, Chelsea, Jess, and Danielle: No one has ever been so faithful in writing letters and sending packages, especially ones made with so much effort and creativity. It made my heart smile as though a thousand puppies were licking my face. Plus, I know my house and truck were in good hands in my absence. Italy is never going to be the same after you leave.
An added "thank you" to everyone out there who sent up prayers for my safety and sanity. They were obviously heard as I haven't stuck my head in the oven. At six months, this is my second-longest deployment ever, and it was far from my easiest; but it's definitely been a learning experience, and I hope I can use everything I've learned in the future. Not just at work, but in my daily interactions and relationships. Thanks again, and I guarantee my next post will not be written in Qatar.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Slow Roll

Ron, Steven, Stan, & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Last night, I invited a few guys from the team out for pizza. It was my way of saying, "Thanks for making this deployment not nearly as bad as it could have been." Our team is made up of guys from all over, and it's always nice to meet people I connect with an levels deeper than work. Case in point: Ron shares my tastes in music and film, and I really enjoy our conversations regarding such things as Elliott Smith and Reality Bites. And even though we'll be parting ways on Tuesday, I have every confidence we'll continue these discussions thanks to the glory of the internets.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I just returned from my morning run, after which, I stepped on the scale and nearly freaked out when it read 149.6. A mere three days before my deployment ends, and I finally reached my goal. I'm sure when I get back home, I'll add a few extra pounds, but I really don't want to get back up to what I was before. A happy medium around 160 suits me fine.
Oh, and one more thing...Today is my last day of work.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Anticipation, Shmanticipation

You'd think that since we only have six days left, I'd be all joyful and excited; but for some reason, I've been really on edge and short-tempered. I had hoped things would slow down a bit as we prepared to leave, but it's actually the opposite. I have even more to take care of, and when other people can't keep up, I get frustrated. Some of my guys weren't prepared for the day, which set me off on a mini-rampage of cold dialogue and curt responses. Later in the morning, I realised it was just ridiculous and made apologies for my rudeness.
On a related note, it's strange how I'm not that excited to get home. I mean, a month ago, it was all I could think about. But now that the time is at hand, I'm pretty numb to the whole idea. Maybe my mind is fatigued from thinking about home. Maybe I'm so deep into my routine that the whole thought of out-processing and flying just seems like a huge inconvenience. Maybe the friends I've made here are making me want to stay. Maybe it's because JoAnn, Cheyenne, Chelsea, Dan, and several others won't be there when I get back. I'm sure once I get on the plane, though, I won't be able to stop smiling.
There have been tons of changes back at Aviano, and there will be even more after we get back. I'm very susceptible to post-deployment depression, which is often induced by job stress. It should kick in by the end of July, and I've found the best way to get through it is to stick with a routine, work hard, exercise a lot, and be around as many friends as possible. I hope I remember that advice to myself when I can't get out of bed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Switch Face

Lee, Eddy, Brandon, & Me
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Yesterday afternoon, I went into Doha with Lee, Eddy, and Brandon. Lee got switched to night shift last week, so we didn't leave until 4 PM, but we didn't have any less fun. After some light shopping at the mall, we headed downtown to eat at the W Hotel.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
We liked the food and the ambiance so much, we ended up staying there the rest of the evening. Brandon's sheltered, southern upbringing made him the king of unintentional one-liners. When the server brought my after-dinner espresso, he asked, "Whut the hell izzat?"

A Very Worried Lee
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
After dinner, we moved from our table to the lounge for drinks. I had the best Mojito on the planet, but stopped after that because I was driving. The rest of the guys wanted to indulge a little more, which included shots, something Lee wasn't sure he could handle.

Earth Lighting the Shots
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Our very attentive bartender was named "Earth," (He said his sister was "Venus.") and he made the guys very happy, perfectly mixing the drinks and even lighting the B-52 shots. It was another great night in Doha, and it's kinda sad to think this was my last trip here for a while.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Common Thread

Today is my parents' 41st wedding anniversary. It makes me so happy to tell people that my parents are still married. I can't even imagine the two of them not together. They're so comfortable around each other, and they compliment each other perfectly.
So this year, I'm trying a little experiment. I wasn't sure what to get them, so I decided to do make them mix CDs. It may sound a little high-schoolish, but it's kinda my way of trying to bridge the generation gap. I enjoy making mix CDs for people, and I put a lot of thought into each one. But this time, it was even harder. I have an extensive music collection, and I wanted to find particular songs that are not only special to me, but that they might appreciate, as well.
I ended up making three albums--one for Dad, one for Mom, and one for both. Here's the track listing:

Dad's Mix:
1. Grandaddy - Now It's On
2. Blur - Coffee & TV
3. Eagles Of Death Metal - Heart On
4. Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
5. The White Stripes - I Want To Be The Boy
6. My Morning Jacket - Off The Record
7. Telekinesis - Coast of Carolina
8. Blitzen Trapper - Furr
9. Interpol - Evil
10. The Hold Steady - The Weekenders
11. The LIbertines - What Katie Did
12. Modest Mouse - Missed the Boat
13. Arcade Fire - Wake Up
14. Elliott Smith - Junk Bond Trader
15. The Shins - Saint Simon
16. Pixies - Here Comes Your Man
17. David Gray - Babylon
18. The Strokes - Someday
19. We Were Promised Jetpacks - Moving Clocks Run Slow

Mom's Mix:
1. The Ditty Bops - Walk Or Ride
2. Scissor Sisters - Take Your Mama
3. Dirty Projectors - Two Doves
4. Tegan and Sara - Take Me Anywhere
5. Feist - I Feel It All
6. Beth Orton - Love Like Laughter
7. Tilly and the Wall - Falling Without Knowing
8. A Camp - The Bluest Eyes In Texas
9. Florence + The Machine - My Boy Builds Coffins
10. Mates of State - Like U Crazy
11. Lucinda Williams - Right In Time
12. Morcheeba - Let Me See
13. Neko Case - This Tornado Loves You
14. PJ Harvey - Good Fortune
15. Saint Etienne - Lose That Girl
16. Santogold - Lights Out
17. She & Him - This Is Not a Test
18. Elliott Smith - Waltz #2 (Xo)
19. Jenny Lewis - Rise Up With Fists!!
20. Sleater-Kinney - Lions And Tigers

Parental Mix:
1. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - Falling Slowly
2. Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks
3. St. Vincent - Laughing With a Mouth of Blood
4. Josh Rouse - Winter In the Hamptons
5. Stars - Ageless Beauty
6. Visqueen - Hand Me Down
7. Belle & Sebastian - She's Losing It
8. Radiohead - High And Dry
9. Broken Social Scene - Stars and Sons
10. Ida Maria - Morning Light
11. Vampire Weekend - M79
12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Way Out
13. Beck - Lost Cause
14. Bjork - It's Oh So Quiet
15. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)
16. Coldplay - God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
17. Amy Winehouse - Tears Dry On Their Own
18. The Dandy Warhols - You Were The Last High
19. Fountains of Wayne - Valley Winter Song
20. The xx - Islands

I don't expect them to like every song on their respective albums. Maybe they'll switch up and prefer each other's more than their own. I just hope it will be something we can bond over when I go home for Christmas.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Light At The End

Stan is a utilities guy by trade, but when we arrived here from Italy, he was told he'd be the unit deployment manager (UDM). It's a total office job, and Stan wasn't too happy sitting behind a desk all day. The advantage is that he's the guy who makes plane reservations for us when we leave. As this rotation comes to a close, he's had a drastic increase of people jumping their chain of command and barging into his office asking when they're going to leave. It's gotten to the point where he just blurts out a date just to get them to leave. However, since we're all in the same shop back home, he's been keeping our bests interests in mind.
Yesterday, this e-mail exchange took place:

Stan: 22 June at noon
Me: Going through Germany?
Stan: Yep.
Me: Thanks. I see a cheesecake in your future.

So, it looks like we'll be leaving here a week from Tuesday. And just like the trip here, we'll have to go through Germany to get home. I'm not sure how I feel about that part. I mean, a night or two in Germany could be fun; but I really just want to get home and sleep in my own bed.
Still, we're all relieved to finally have a reserved date. Now I can start packing stuff up and sending boxes home. I'm going to do my best to keep my head in the game, but it's not going to be easy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Separate Ways

Captain Joo is our Aviano troop commander, meaning he's the highest ranking guy that came here with us from Aviano. Other than a few exchanged pleasantries, I hadn't had much interaction with him until last August, when we travelled to Germany together for an exercise. He ended up being one of the coolest people I know in Aviano.
Here, he works in engineering, so I don't see him very often; however, when our paths cross, we always have good conversation. He told me a few weeks ago that he'd volunteered to extend his deployment for three months up in Afghanistan. Obviously, he's pretty dedicated. He'll be at a tiny FOB (forward operating base) in extreme field conditions, but this is the kind of stuff he lives for. He left today, so last night, some of us Aviano guys got together for a few beers to send him off.
Take care, Captain, and be safe up there. We'll see you back in Italy.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Inducing Hyperactivity

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Things never really get boring at work, and various people on our crew try to make sure of it. For instance, this afternoon, Ron, Nick, and Steven were talking about their Rip-It addictions. (Rip-Its are the energy drinks available for free at the chow hall.) I'm not a fan of any kind of energy drink (unless you count coffee), so I steer clear of them. These guys, however, would most likely go into delirium tremors without that saccharine carbonation ingested every hour. And being guys, they tend to get competitive, and somehow the idea came up to see if Ron could drink ten Rip-Its in three minutes. The cans are eight ounces each, which, altogether, is like drinking 2.36 litres.
Nick kept time and Steven filmed. Ron started off strong enough, finishing four in the first minute alone (and belching after each one), but by number six, he was struggling. He managed to choke down seven and a half cans, which is still nearly two litres, and a very impressive feat. And he probably won't sleep for at least four days.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Speaking and Geeking

I should seriously work for the UN or something. My negotiating skills are unmatched. Case in point: there have been a few minor altercations between people at work the past couple of days. It's obvious the five plus months we've spent here are getting to the guys, and all anyone can think about is going home. People are making irrational decisions and lashing out. I have to be the voice of reason and work out compromises. It's working so far, but I wonder who's gonna be the peace-keeper when I go batshit crazy.
Speaking of batshit crazy, I stayed up way too late last night. Why? Because Steve Jobs gave the keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday, and it didn't start until 8 PM here. Normally, I'm asleep by then, but nothing was gonna tear me away from finding out about the new iPhone. And it was totally worth it. Now I just hope it's available in Italy sometime soon.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Toes In The Sand

Persian Gulf
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Yesterday, I went downtown with Stan, Steven, Rick, and Diaz. It was all the utilities guys from Aviano, and it was kinda my way of saying "Thanks for a great deployment." We spent most of the day at the InterContinental Hotel, right by the bay.

Originally uploaded by currtdawg
The water was pure blue, but we spent most of our time by the pool where we could get a little relief from the heat in the shade.

It was nice and relaxing, and I somehow managed to avoid a sunburn. Steven, however, wasn't as lucky. We left around 4 PM and headed to the souqs for shopping, hookah, and dinner. All in all, a grand day out.

Saturday, June 05, 2010


Originally uploaded by currtdawg
I got a crash course in masonry today. We had to tear down parts of the shower walls to install our valves, so we had to build it back. Normally, this would be a carpenter's job, but we're at a job stoppage until the carpenters catch up, so I decided to help them out a bit. The end result wasn't pretty, but it serves its purpose.

Paco, Knight, & Chad
Originally uploaded by currtdawg
Also this week, one of our new guys, Knight, sewed on his Staff stripe. It's traditional to tag on stripes, which basically means to punch the living shit out of the recipient. You know, so the stripes stay on. I think it's kinda ridiculous, but everyone else sure seems to enjoy it. Except for the guy with bruised arms, of course.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Flying By

I put new contacts in today, as I do at the beginning of every month. And as I did, I thought, "These are the last contacts I will wear in Qatar." And then I giggled a little.
In the past few weeks, we've gone from "We're leaving next month!" to "We're leaving in a month!" to "We're leaving this month!" I was worried productivity would slow down, but it's been almost the opposite. Everyone is cheerful, energetic, and getting along great, which is surprising considering how hard we've worked in such close quarters for so long. I'm thrilled with my team, and they continue to exceed expectations.
These last three weeks are gonna be a breeze.