Deployment time is slowly creeping closer. Today, we had our CSH "Deployment Ceremony". Our hospital formed up in tight ranks, marched around a parade field, and then stood at parade rest for 20 minutes in the freezing cold wind while our commander and our commander's commander gave speeches to us and the families of soldiers who lived in the area or who were able to come down for the ceremony. Making a large group of doctors and nurses march around wasn't without its comic moments. Most of us hadn't done any marching in formation since we were in basic training, so we were all a little rusty. Unfortunately, Cristin wasn't able to make it for the ceremony. While I would have loved to see her and Drew one last time before I went, it seemed like a little much to have her fly half the way across the country with a 2-month-old just to see me march across a field.
After the ceremony, I decided to do a practice run of packing all of my gear. I've had all of my equipment for some time now, and was able to send a tough box full of stuff that I didn't anticipate needing anytime soon (the -30 degree cold weather parka and snowpants that the Army issued me?) in a shipping container a week or so ago. But, I still had gear spread out all over my room that I wasn't sure how it was going to fit. After a little bit of work, I was able to squeeze everything into the rucksack and duffle bag that the Army provided me, although I may get a hernia if I try to pick both up at the same time. Of course, the neatness didn't last long, as I then had to unpack everything to get to the uniforms and clothing that I'll need. At least I know that it'll all fit.
Right now, I'm back at Barnes and Noble again. I didn't realize how dependent I'd become on the internet until I started to live without a constant internet connection. I was so used to being able to walk over to the computer and look up something anytime I had a question, I felt lost without it. Living on post in the barracks, we don't have internet connections in our rooms. (There are network plugs in the walls. I think that they're just shut off since the normal unit who lives in the barracks are gone overseas.) Our only options have been to walk across to a little internet cafe that's set up, where you pay an hourly rate for an internet connection that's shakey at best, or to catch a cab off post to somewhere where there's free internet. Thus, lately I 've been catching a cab to Barnes and Noble alot. When you split the cab amongst a few people, it ends up costing less and it's a much more comfortable set-up. Supposedly, we're going to be able to have internet connections in our housing when we're downrange, although I've been told the quality of the connection varies alot. This was reassuring for me, as I hope to use Skype alot to communicate with Cristin and Drew. Still, it's amazing when you look at it in the larger context. We're living in a war zone and will still be able to see and talk with our families most evenings. When you compare that to what American soldiers in other wars had for amenities, it's pretty incredible.