Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Battle fatigue: Me and Oprah in the Green Zone

When I was in Iraq last April I got stuck in the Green Zone for three whole weeks. Other reporters came and went but I just stayed here and stayed here. But on THIS trip, however, I've been guaranteed tours of both Fallugah and Al Asad. "Just fly into the Green Zone long enough to get credentialed, Jane, and then we'll have you out to Anbar province the next day," they told me at the press information center. That was four days ago. History repeats itself. I'm stuck in the Green Zone again. De Ja Voo.

When I was in Iraq in April, I visited EVERYTHING in the Green Zone: The crossed swords monument, the current embassy at Saddam's old palace, the new embassy just being built that is huge, the combat support hospital, the DFac, the parliament, the El Racheed hotel and even the freaking PX. I've DONE the Green Zone. Please!

But even worse is that my brain has convinced itself that it is still on California time and so every night in my little cubby living quarters, I spend the entire night staring at the ceiling. Insomnia. No sleep for me. What to do? Drink lots of coffee to keep me awake during the day? Play lots of solitaire and read lots of books?

Then someone handed me a copy of "O" magazine. Oprah to the rescue! "For those times when your mind is addled, your heart feels turbulent, your center is shaky -- a little black bag full of cures, from experts who are devoted to keeping us all in beautiful balance." That's me! I wanna be in balance. If I can't be out in the Red Zone getting shot at and doing a fabulous job of reporting, a little mental health advice from Oprah is just what I need!

"Distract yourself. Put on music and dance, scrub the bathtub spotless, whatever engrosses you...." What engrosses me is writing up the news!

"Take action. Escaping the downward spiral is just the first step." Good advice. Just hand me my Kevlar and a flight out of LZ Washington and I will!

"Can you imagine...the space between your eyes? The space inside your nose as you inhale and exhale naturally? The space occupied by your jaw? The space inside your throat, expanding until your entire neck is filled with space? The space that your whole body occupies expanding out into the room?" Oprah, I'm doing it! It's 3 am and my space has filled this whole room and...I'm STILL wide awake. There's a WAR going on in Iraq and I'm visualizing the inside of my nose. Go me.

"Getting stuck in certain ways of thinking can hinder our ability to both enjoy and respond effectively to new situations." Maybe that means that I'm too stuck in my old ways of thinking to enjoy the Green Zone again? Or maybe it means that Congress needs to re-think this whole Iraq misadventure, respond effectively to the new situation (that the Iraq occupation is driving America financially and moral bankrupt), throw Bush and Cheney in jail, honor the good job the military is doing here despite fuzzy thinking by their Commander-in-Chief, and be "more or less receptive to new activities and ideas."

Thank you Oprah. Your "7 Ways to Restart a Day" has helped me figure out how to survive yet another day in the Green Zone -- and how to successfully wind up this freaking "war". All we need to do is to "be kind and thankful" and to be aware that "if you can figure out why you are upset, that's halfway to feeling better." I can do that. I'm upset because those idiots in the White House are getting our best troops killed so that they can become the world's first trillionaires. And also because I'm stuck in the Green Zone. Again. Thank you Oprah. I feel much better now.

And, Oprah, I would feel even better still if you would please tell your viewers to call their Congressional representatives and tell them to impeach Bush and Cheney for mis-using our military for their own ends. And also call the Pentagon and ask them to please get me some freaking transportation to Al Asad?

PS: Would you also consider having me on your show when I get back? And making my new book, Bring Your Own Flak Jacket: Helpful Tips for Touring Today's Middle East, an Oprah Book Club selection? And coming to visit me in the Green Zone if I get stuck here forever? And also running for president? The world could really use some of your "5 Ways to Derail Rage".