I wake up about every twohours.

Tonight I went to bed at 2100, tired after a long day of writing and filing a story. It took JR and I five hours to file my 500 word story and JR’s seven photos. Internet gymnastics!

JR had fixed the air leak in the cargo container, CHU, I currently call home. He put my body armor and duffel bag against the opening and severely curtailed the cold rush.

He adjusted the heater to a warmer setting. I had it at 24 degrees, the setting I’d used in my room at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) earlier. JR noted that was nuts since the room in KAF had been insulated.

I’m a soldier’s daughter and a Pac-10 rowing champion and I’ve got a pretty tough will. I can be a whimp when it comes to the cold, especially when I’m trying to sleep.

The Bobcats made a special effort to set me up with accomodations where I could work and sleep. I’m in a cargo container across from the operations center and next to a latrine. I have a desk, chair, two-bed bunk and a  heater near the ceiling at the back of the CHU.

Yesterday evening, cold air flowed relentlessly from the door to the rear of the room. The floor was so cold it sucked the heat from my body when I stepped on it. I felt the warmth drain from my body–the pair of wool socks and slippers I wore awere barely a barrier.

I started in the bottom bunk wrapped in my mummy bag and switched to the top bunk to seek warmer air. I put on my wool socks and Alaska underwear, added a second layer of clothes, donned a wool cap, and still I was rattling in my sleeping bag. Tonight though, I feel positively toasty by comparison, thanks to JR’s ingenuity.

It’s cold and dry here, so it’s crucial to hydrate, which means every time I wake up I slither out of my mummy bag, crawl down the ladder from the top bunk (a sight to see!), slide flip-flops over my wool socks and shuffle through the “moon dust,” (as the soldiers call the talc-fine dirt here) to the latrine.

I can see the stars tonight–a good sign, it means we can roll later today.

We’ve been under “red air” the last few days–no flying due to the lack of visibility in the thick dust-fog hanging over the FOB and the area.

Yesterday I heard a couple soldiers talking.

“Santa can fly in red air cuz he’s got Rudolph,” one said.

“He’s got the Rudolph guidance system,” the other responded.

It’s neraly 0400 and chilly in this MWR. I’m going to catch a few more hours of sleep before we roll out later.

Maj. Renee Reagan of the 113th Medical Detachment Combat Stress Control said their team of social workers and therapists pay close attention to soldiers’ “sleep hygiene.” A good night’s sleep is vital to physical and mental health.

So, night, night.