The Arab work week is Sunday through Thursday. That leaves Friday and Saturday for the weekend. To confuse things further, we celebrate Monday holidays on Sunday. So last weekend was Labor Day and, theoretically, the embassy was closed for business on Sunday. But I still had to go in to the office (holiday pay!). The point of all this is that people here never know what day of the week it is.
The job of staff assistant is interesting in a lot of ways, but it can also be frustrating. Everything that happens in the embassy at some point goes through the front office. And just about everything that goes through the front office goes through the staff assistants. It's a great education about what's going on. The downside is that it's hard to predict how each day will go. Most of what we do is unscheduled. So we never know when the end of the work day will be until the work is done.
Working long hours isn't so bad because there really isn't that much else to do. There's the gym. There's reading. And, finally, there's AFN - the television programming the military provides. I've been here just over a month now and I'm starting to meet people and get out a bit more.
I finally had some good news this week when the complications surrounding the assignment of my next post were settled. I accepted a handshake offer to be the Information Officer in Kathmandu, Nepal. When I leave Baghdad next summer, I'll have a year of training in D.C. (including 10 months of Nepali language training) and will arrive in Nepal the summer of 2010. Apart from my dad's frustration at my inability to work in a country that has a decent golf course, I'm very pleased with this assignment. The Information Officer handles press relations, the ambassador's media events, writing remarks/press releases, etc.
In the meantime, the blurry days of Baghdad continue to fly by and sometimes it's hard to tell one day from the other. I'm sure I'll be very excited to take my first R&R break in November.