As I sit here...in my chair covered with a towel, in my socks because it would just be murder if my bare feet actually touched the floor, and so that is why I wear flipflops in the shower, and I am staring at the new sheets, comforter, and pillows that I have purchased and washed to put on my hotel bed...and I remember that someone once told me that i was a germ-a-phob.
I'm here. In the heart of Biloxi, Mississippi. Which still looks like a hurricane hit weeks ago, rather than almost a year ago. I was not prepared for the devastation that is still here. If you've ever been here, there is still NOTHING on Beach Blvd. Well, there are dots of FEMA trailers and debri, and homeless people. But other than that, not much else. It's really sad. And it's sadder that the only sign of "good life" is the 3 casinos that are currently open, and the one (big one) that is opening at the end of this month. I like casinos. Believe me, I really do. But everything around them is just devestated. And I just don't know how much I could enjoy myself knowing what the outside world looks like. I know though that the city needs the revenue, so at some point during my 3 months here, I will be a good community steward and gamble. I am all about supporting the community that way. Oh, and I like free drinks too :) But, really I am hoping to post some pics in the next few weeks of exactly how bad it is.
And today, we got put on HURCON conditions, which means that we can't go outside of the local area this weekend and that we have to have 3 days of food and water ready to take to the shelter on base in case Tropical Storm Chris decides to get crazy (which I really doubt he will). But there is something sobering about my instructor saying that all of the doors in our shelter (a 2 story concrete building on base) will be boarded up except for one, and that after the last person enters the shelter the last door will be boarded up from the inside. Kinda scary. And that during Katrina they were boarded up in that building for 6 DAYS! Keep your fingers crossed that there are NO HURRICANES!
On to the class. I am really really enjoying it. It might be because next to the instructor, I am the highest ranking civilian in there. I can promise that won't happen again for a long time. But, with being that rank, comes responsibility and extra duties. Lucky me. At any rate, it's a government financial course and is really interesting to me. Makes me wonder where my career will go and if I want to climb that ladder. Only time will tell. On the one hand, I think I would be happy being a GS-12 (or equivalent under the new system) for the rest of my life. But then the part of me that loves to learn, and loves to excel sees so much potential and so many possibilities. That is the part of me that i like. The one that wants to be successful. So, I'll absorb as much as my brain will allow me and let time tell where I am supposed to be when I grow up.
Running: Sunday is my first day. And it's really more walking than running, but I'm gonna call it running for the sake of my sanity. I've been doing the PT exercises that they gave me to do at home. And guess what??? I have recruited at least 3 of the 14 peeps in my class to start running with me on Sunday. They are all excited about the run/walking part and it will only be 3 miles every other day for a few weeks. It feels good to be around people who are excited about running as I am!
Other items of interest: I miss Troy terribly. He came down here with me on Sunday and flew back to GA on Monday. I'm going to be able to go home every other weekend (pending NO HURRICANES!) but the first weekend I will be able to go home, he will be camping with grizzley bears in Wyoming. He's going to fly out here the next weekend. But what this means is that it will be 3 weeks before I get to see him!!!!! My days just aren't the same if I don't get to see his smiling face!
Oh, and we have two international students in our class. One is the equivalent of a full bird Colonel here and is from the Bangledesh Army. The other is a Capt in the Tunsinia Army (north Africa). I'm not sure why they are there, but as I will be assisting them in tutoring (remember those extra duties? one is the chair of the "education committee", ie. form study groups. lucky me again) I figure I will be able to pick their brains about their countries. Pretty cool actually.
Kashi makes TV dinners. Did you know that? And they are actually GOOD. Peanut butter and jelly is going to get old. As is washing the dishes in the sink (without touching anything else...bad germs).
So, in conclusion: Biloxi is a disaster area. Lodging on base sucks. I'm spending all my per diem at Wal-Mart, which happens to be the only store open within 30 miles. Really. I miss Troy. My class is great. I only have 75 more days to go.....oh, and I am a germ-a-phob (the first part of recovery is admitting your addiction).