I received this e-mail from Matt early Monday morning, about twelve hours after his arrival into Iraq.
"Exiting the ramp of the C-130, my boots hit the dusty tarmac at BIAP (Baghdad International Airport) at approx 09:00 this morning. The weather is hot - like standing in front of a smelting furnace hot. Donned body armor and helmet for my individual motorcade down "Route Irish" to the Embassy compound. The compound resembles a prison with a series of nondescript beige buildings separated by dirt fields where grass may someday be planted. Nevertheless, it offers all of the creature comforts with a huge dining facility (DFAC) and several little snack (Grab & Go) shops - all free. There is a Pizza Hut and Subway as well. The compound has a rec center, complete with gym and swimming pool. We are completely self-sufficient with our own water treatment plant, fire station, and emergency ambulances. My newly furnished apartment looks directly over the Tigris river."
So far he's doing well. He says his apartment and roommate are both quite nice ... with newly upgraded furniture, hard wired internet, a US phone number, an iPod docking station / alarm clock, and flat screen TV.
The compound also has two gyms, a swimming pool, and more food than you could possibly imagine available 24/7. So aside from working, people spend the rest of their time doing one of two things ... working out or eating. And leaves Matt coming home one of two ways ... hunky or chunky. You know which one I'm rooting for.
Many people have asked how I'm doing. The truth is ... it doesn't feel any different right now. For the most part. Remember, for the past 7 years I've spent the summers in California at either his parent's house or mine without him. Since we're not in our own house yet, and we don't have our own stuff yet, it just feels like an extended summer break. However, I'm quite certain that once we move into our rental house, and a few days here and there, it will hit me that he's in Baghdad. For the year. Don't get me wrong, I miss him. Terribly. The kids miss him. The dog misses him... But we're holding our own.
Three days down ... and the countdown has begun.