I have to apologize. It has been a while since I last wrote and provided you with an update. I was getting quite good at that.
Perhaps you are wondering why there is such a huge gap between my 75% complete update and my 83% percent update. How did 8% take so long?
Well, around January I put in for a 90-day extension. With the economy in the states the way it is, I figured what amounts to 45 more days in Afghanistan would not break me. I pass the all-important “tax-exempt day”, when a huge chunk of my pay out here becomes tax-free, and get a few more paychecks. So even though it meant not seeing friends and family, and not being home for baseball’s Opening Day, I came to the conclusion I’d stay for a bit longer.
On that note, however, my replacement is here already. They shipped him out before my extension was approved. So he is here and now I am staying for a bit. This works to our advantage, as he will be quite learned on how to do things by the time he assumes my job on his own.
Also, the long turnover means I should have no problem walking away. “Should” being the operative word. When you work on a job for 12 or more hours every day, you tend to get attached. After all, the job was my baby for the year. I have to understand that the job is soon not to be mine to care about. Although I am sure when I get back to the states, I will be fine, but in the time until, I have to work on the art of letting go.
I’ve learned a lot out here in the last few months. The officer I work for is a business major-type of thinker, so I’ve learned a lot about concepts of leadership, management, and supervision. We’ve also talked a lot about processes and process management, which I have had experience in before, but am able to really make it work out here. According to my boss, we run our shop more like a business than a military office, and I like that. We have the ability to think, create, and show out-of-the-box initiative. Something I haven’t been able to do in previous jobs in the states. Hopefully someday.
Outside of work, in the hour or two I have every night, I have been writing a lot. I am now on page 110 of my first novel. When I am not penning updates from the great beyond, I work on the novel a little bit every night. It is almost there. I hope to have the rough draft done before I leave, then pick it up a few months later to get a fresh perspective and editorial eye.
I am also trying to read more. I finished a book about warfare in the Star Wars universe (the closest I will get to reading about war while in a warzone). Now I am reading a true story about a baseball player who became a CIA spy after his career was over. Very interesting.
Now more than ever I am looking at what I am going to do when I get back to the states. With deep government budget cuts on the horizon, I have to seriously consider whether or not I have a future working for the government. I’ve saved quite a bit out here, and I would love to go back to school to train and network (the most important part) for a new career, but not sure if the money I saved is enough for both living and paying for school. Lately, I have been thinking about researching and going to a really good business school, not just one in Florida. Regardless, I have to apply and that takes more time. Hence the importance of finding a job to live on before I go back to school.
In a perfect world, I would like to work in my current field while working on an MBA. Then after that, go for the PhD in history and complete my work on the Kurdish military. I hate to say it, but I have delayed too much working on that plan out here. And bad internet connections don’t help. It is incredibly frustrating looking for a job when the internet connection out here is half of what the average connection is in the states. Another reason to get what I can as soon as I can and then plan more extensively when I get back to the states.
As far as a place to lay my head, unless I have a guaranteed job before I land stateside, I am thinking about looking on craigslist (if the internet gods agree) and contacting anyone in Tampa who needs a roommate. Because I have no idea where I will end up at this point, I can’t get tied down with a lease. As bad as living like a vagabond sounds, it’s a small step in the right direction. Unless of course a job comes through, then I will be headed to wherever that is.
I feel like I have written much of the above in previous updates. But that’s life in Afghanistan. Not much changes out here. Especially when work dominates the day as much as it does out here. But as I mentioned, that work is almost done.
And so wraps up the 83% update (or 5/6 for the factional folks). The next step is the 90% update. Then 99%.
Then home, wherever that may be.