Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
July 18, 2007

Listening to Mavis Staples singing classic civil rights-era anthems takes on a WHOLE new meaning in Afghanistan. I wish I could have them all translated and recorded in Dari and Pashto... oh, you women of Afghanistan, keep your eyes on the prize.

On the subject of music: I discovered something while riding the stationary bike in our little guest house workout room recently: the first 15 minutes of the Broadway revival of Chicago fit perfectly with determined biking.

Found this from "Do you love Harry Potter, but think you're too old and too awesome to be seen reading the books? We have the solution, my friend. Print these out and you can safely read your Potter in front of all those ex Navy SEALS at the local strip club. Yes, you can actually print these, if you have the equipment."

These are HILARIOUS. Some of the "reviews" are spit-coke-all-over-your-computer-screen funny. It should be rather obvious which *I* would choose, were I to believe I was too old to read Harry Potter in public, which I *don't*.

Won't you be glad when I'm too busy reading Harry Potter to post any blogs for a while?

After my last leave, I brought a few English-language books back with me from Germany, to leave here in Kabul. English-language books are in HIGH demand, especially books that you don't find in *every* English section of *every* international airport everywhere (Tom Clancy, The DiVinci Code...). Altogether, I think I will have brought and left about 15 books. I wish it could have been more, but just before I got this job, I took a huge amount of books to the Oxfam shop in downtown Bonn. Most of the ones I brought to Kabul I gave to a colleague, who swears he will put them out at his guest house library in Kandahar when he's done with them (I just don't want him to throw them away). The rest, I'll take to either to Chiala, the Cabul Coffee House or Zardozi, all of which have little lending libraries.

Had a big scare regarding my guest house: the guest house manager emailed me and said that there were WFP employees waiting for my room, so when would I be vacating? I was so afraid that I was about to get kicked out of my beloved little home! But it's okay - I can stay until I leave. I will fly out either Aug. 21 or Aug. 23. Inshallah.

What about Kabul Kitty? I think she'll be fine without me, since the French guy was taking care of her long before I ever got here. Did I say that she used to be Anne's cat when she lived here? Anywa, Kabul Kitty likes having this regular schedule with me, where she comes to my room at 6 in the morning and between 6 and 7 p.m. for cat food and affection - I just leave the door unlocked, because she likes to burst in on her own. She's going to be upset when she pushes on the door and finds someone else here - someone who might not be partial to cats. I'll probably have cat food leftover when I leave, so I'll give it to the French guy. The other night when she was here and I had her locked in, and while I was in the bathroom, she got up in the window next to the door and I found her swatting at the door handle. She is *smart*. It's been so great to give all this love and affection to an animal here, as a surrogate for all the animals with broken legs and broken spirits I see all over this city.

I knew moving just a block away from the German clinic would pay off eventually. Yes, I made my third trip there, for the same reasons as the last two times. I'm surprised they don't greet me by name. I took a sick day after a night of *intense* pain and had one of the guards walk me around the corner to the clinic, but I didn't have him stick around, knowing it could be a while. And I was right: I waited two hours. And... I walked back to the guest house. Yes, I walked back to the guest house. One and a half blocks. That is my second time walking out in Kabul by myself (last time, it was for TWO blocks, to my other guest house). I figure that, if I don't do it regularly, and if I never do it down the same street, I'll be okay. You know, Afghan Fried Chicken is just three blocks away... maybe I should chance walking there next time I need a fix. Oh, wow, how pathetic would THAT be? "Tonight on CNN, the story of an American whose obsession with fried chicken lead to her kidnapping in Kabul." No one is going to pay my ransom if I get kidnapped over AFC.

It was a good day to be sick at home at the guest house all day, per this notice I got in my email that morning:


For the widest possible dissemination

Be advised that approximately 30 minutes ago this office was advised via a credible source that whilst riding in a 1988 white and yellow Toyota Corolla taxi in District 10 he observed a fellow male passenger with what appeared to be a BBIED under his shirt. The possible suicide bomber was described as being in his mid 20's with a black beard and wearing traditional Afghan clothing. The suspect was reported to have been sweating profusely and was unable to communicate effectively due to his poor understanding and command of the Dahri and Pashtoon languages.

Further information will be distributed as it becomes available.

All staff are advised to be vigilant and monitor their radios for updates


By the way - the language is "Pashto." The people are "Pashtoon."

As for work: I feel like that, since I got back from that first leave in early June, I finally got it together enough professionally to actually do some substantial things at work. The web site ain't pretty, but at least now the information is much more readable, with understandable descriptions of what this initiative does, and lots of photos to boot. I'm still stoked about getting six photos from our program in the UNDP 2006 annual report, and before I leave, I'm dropping off a CD of all the best photos from 2007, hoping it leads to something similar for next year. I taught the ministry webmaster about RSS, to make his media monitoring easier. I've helped with two policies, one for interns and another for employee learning (criteria for classes we should pay for). I've edited and finalized reports the donors wanted, and learned even more about donor communications (you can never know too much). It's been really nice to be back in communications work - I think I've mentioned that before. I have really missed it. And I've had a degree of attachment that's been much healthier for me. Although that detachment has also meant I'm not as hyper-productive as I've been in other jobs, and I'm sorry about that. I've done a solid, but hardly stellar, job. Oh well.

I'm also leaving this place at a good time: Several people I really like are getting ready to leave the program and the country, some of the international people that have just come in aren't very friendly (see previous post regarding aid worker snobs), and some of the international people I work with need to go - they have been here too long, and it's affecting the quality of their work, their relationships with fellow staff and some of the management and program choices they are making. Also, there's an office romance among two international staff that's causing the woman in question to act like she's gotten a promotion... which, in a way, she has... and alienate most of the international staff through her outrageous behavior, and the man in the party to make some idiotic management and program decisions that's made everyone lose faith in him. It's just going to get worse, so... hurrah! I'm leaving!

And I'll end with this: the latest blog from Dilbert creator Scott Adams, that I could have written myself.

Three more days 'til Harry Potter, 34 more days until I get to go home to Stefan and Albi..


If you have read this blawg, PLEASE let me know.
Comments are welcomed, and motivate me o keep writing --
without comments, I start o think I'm talking o cyberair.

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