Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Here’s a list of my favorite things and/or moments from living in Baghdad. Some of these you’ll understand what I’m talking about, some of them you won’t. They’re in no particular order, just the order that I remember them in, so there will probably be some amount of automatic grouping. There are just so many things that I want to make sure I remember forever…so many things that I thought I’d have plenty of time to tell you about…

1) City Center hamburgers, with the French fries on the burger and their “secret sauce.”
2) During any phone conversation of more than a few minutes, _always_ having to stop the other person for a few seconds to wait for the helicopters to pass.
3) The day at Khulood’s house.
4) Being “forced” to eat three times more than I wanted anywhere I visited during a meal because I had “eaten nothing!”
5) Learning the custom of eating “Iraqi-style.”
6) Drinking gallons of Iraqi tea and Turkish coffee for politeness’ sake.
7) Sitting with my feet up on my roof that first summer, web-surfing, eating watermelon, and listening to the Chronicles of Narnia on CD or to Norah Jones.
8) Finding my piano.
9) Making Thanksgiving dinner for the WarEagle guys. Then eating again right afterwards at the DFac – they had ham!
10) Fridays with the WarEagle guys, just watching a movie or shooting the breeze while eating whatever concoction I’d put together for them. It always got eaten, no matter what “substitutions” had been made – even the “gingerbread” made with pomegranate molasses and the “pumpkin pie” made with zucchini.
11) Hearing baby Sien laugh for the first time.
12) Learning to count with Ahmed.
13) Sa’ad’s wedding.
14) Learning the difference between the red tracers and the green ones.
15) Learning the difference between a Bradley and a Tank.
16) Eating pomegranate for the first time in my life and thanking God continually each day thereafter for one of the best things I’d ever tasted.
17) Just walking down the streets in our neighborhood.
18) Watching Alias at the Winships with the whole group.
19) Watching movies at the Winships.
20) Playing volleyball in the Winships front yard in the dark.
21) Becoming the “Dish Fairy” in my house.
22) Helping to write the “Dish Fairy” children’s book one bored Friday with Jen and Jaime.
23) The night that Oday and Qusay were killed.
24) The day that they captured Saddam.
25) The night that Iraq beat Portugal in their first Olympic match.
26) Memorizing the 26-character hexadecimal number that was the wireless network’s password.
27) Getting boxes and boxes of pork products from Emmanuel.
28) Having “date night” with Zach and Noah.
29) The process of getting dressed for Sa’ad’s wedding – involving multiple changes of clothes for everyone.
30) Getting my hair and makeup “done” by Fatima, Saubrie, and Sana’a – including my first (and only) eye brow “threading.”
31) My favorite TV commercial – random Arab guy dressed in jeans and a t-shirt among a bunch of people in more traditional garb. He runs through the streets, through his house, through his school, completely stressed out…until the call to prayer begins. Then he stops running and prays. When he’s done, he’s smiling and isn’t stressed anymore.
32) Channel 2.
33) Picking out Christmas trees with Jaime, Andrew, Renata, and Nashwan.
34) Driving out in Tesa’a Nissan.
35) Dropping in at each school, greeting the teachers, students, guards, and guard families that I knew.
36) Watching Jason W. tell “Mr. Al-Quaeda” the four spiritual laws.
37) Lacie and I on our random jaunts with the SP guys.
38) “Hot Paul” (heehee…Hi Paul!).
39) Sunday mornings with the guys in the Green Zone.
40) Eating in Saddam’s main palace.
41) Eating “Chinese food” in the Green Zone.
42) Discovering the joy that is a PX/BX when living far from the US.
43) Al-Alaweia restaurant.
44) The White Palace restaurant.
45) That Italian restaurant.
46) Hanging out with Daryl, Tariq, and Chuck.
47) Getting proposed to by Dhia due to his first bite of cobbler.
48) Ice cream with Bon and her daughters.
49) Getting signatures for Creative Associates.
50) Giving New Testaments and blankets to the families of each of the guards at the schools for Christmas.
51) Scrubbing “Happy Birthday Saddam” off of Al-Abrar’s walls.
52) Touring the medical clinics with the WarEagle guys.
53) Riding in a Humvee!!
54) Caroling with the C&MA Church “youth” group in the Green Zone.
55) Our MCI phones.
56) Stopping by the “Baghdad Space Research Center.”
57) Hearing the Iraqi National Symphony play for the first time post-Saddam.
58) My “stalkers” at WarEagle.
59) Christmas Eve at WarEagle and the reaffirmation of my place.
60) Having the Christmas box from my mom arrive on Christmas Eve.
61) Hanging out with Jason B. and the guys from Dawg Troop.
62) Finding Evan.
63) The Christmas Eve bonfire at WarEagle.
64) Getting the phone call from my dad about Mara.
65) The unreality of the days following the deaths of our friends.
66) The memorial service at St. George’s.
67) The memorial service at the main palace that Paul Bremmer came to.
68) Hearing the hope in the people’s voices after Saddam had been captured.
69) Seeing the Baghdad “zoo.”
70) Learning to love BBC Prime.
71) Getting the Company Directory ready for the DBX.
72) Iftar with Eric and Haitham.
73) The day Oday’s car was stolen from in front of my house.
74) Driving in Baghdad.
75) Seeing the room where the handwriting was on the wall.
76) Seeing Ur.
77) The surrealness of life in Baghdad.
78) Being well-known at all the checkpoints because I was the American girl there because I _wanted_ to be (and not even for the money), and who was nice to and friendly with the soldiers and Iraqi ladies at each place.
79) Having people think that I am Arab.
80) Seeing the mosque in Baghdad where Jesus was born.
81) Learning the language on my own, then with Falah and Bon, then with Mahasin.
82) Mighty Mouse.
83) Buying a bike with Andrew.
84) Going to the C&MA church the day that Saddam was captured and singing “How Great Thou Art” with them.
85) The Hammurabi Palace Hotel and staff.
86) Tea time with Sandy.
87) The water tanks.
88) Getting “stoned” at Al-Haq.
89) Random thoughts with Jaime and Jen.
90) Being missed at “my” store.
91) Mexican Train.
92) Sharing my birthday with Iraq
93) Sitting with Um Dhuha after her husband's death.
94) The party with teh neighbor women at Um Dhuha's house.
95) Teaching and being taught by Mahasin.
96) The SWBTS teams, and all the other volunteer teams that came through.
97) "The fish that stands up."
98) "Translating" at the education meeting.
99) The Christmas party at the office.
100) Seeing "Abram's House."
101) The "Prayer Room."
102) Going swimming at the Babylon Hotel.
103) The take-off and landing at BIAP.
104) Bruce, Snowball, and One-Eye.
105) Neighborhood Area Council meetings.
106) The early days of finding everything by GPS.
107) Babysitting Jayden and James.
108) Dotty's deviled eggs.
109) The jacket from Haitham.
110) Seeing Geraldo Rivera at BIAP.
111) All of the people. There are too many to mention them all by name.

I could keep going, probably forever. Maybe I'll keep adding as more things come to me.

I'm...resigned, I guess is the best word for it. Of course, I'm looking forward to seeing friends and family at home again, but...I love Iraq and the Iraqi people. I love the people on my team here. I love the family that we've become. Part of me is glad to be going, but all of me hates to leave.


Mom said...

10/27/04 6 P.M.

Hi Sweetie,

It's hard to believe that I will be hugging you soon. I'd learned to live for March.

I seem to be about the only one to add comments to your blogs. I laughed, wondered, remembered and cried reading your list. You could have a whole 'nuther list of your travels and those events.

I love you,

Anonymous said...

Hey, Leia. I know this was a difficult decision. I'm sorry that you won't be around; I was counting on having a girl friend. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I'm praying for you. Gmac