Wednesday, September 05, 2007


to a new blog:

Bear with me, it is slow going.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The End*

It is morning. I am sitting on my bed, half-dressed, listening to
This American Life's 'The Center for Lessons Learned', which is about
the Army's attempts to understand post-conflict reconstruction.

I should be getting ready for breakfast but I can't.

I burst into tears when an Army guy said that the U.S. was surprised
when they saw how much work it actually took to reconstruct Kuwait
after the Gulf War.

These attempts, fumbling attempts really, that endanger everyone's
lives (mine, yours, some young soldier based a few hundred miles away
from where I'm sitting) are coming into play here.

The U.S. thought the victories in Afg and Iraq would be the end, but
it's not. It's the beginning. But why are things getting worse?

The end is often so clean and neat in novels but very rarely in real
life. Things seem to go on and on, interminably, one loose end
leading to another loose end.

I am hopeful sometimes but more often, I am struck by the lack of
hope. Of the lack of possibility to actually do something
meaningful. The unnecessary ego-filled roadblocks that thwart every
good impulse anyone has.

I don't want to be here anymore.

But I am, and things go on for me and for everyone else. People are
living their lives, amidst the stories of thieves and kidnappings of
business-owners, the random suicide blasts and the chaos that makes
more and more locals speak longingly of the suffocating order of the

* For more sunday scribblings:

Cult meeting in Kabul

No, I'm not talking about the Korean missionaries (that was a
tasteless joke, I know)...I'm talking about GTD.

I'm a GTD nerd. I want to write, "I'm fast becoming a GTD nerd..."
But I think my transformation is already complete with the
introduction of OmniFocus (still testing beta version) into my life.

I was happy with my 'Amish Hipster PDA' but struggling to cope with
dealing with work, volunteer and personal lists merging into one. It
was hard to figure out what to do first when I saw all of the to-do
items in one 'email list' but also hard to separate into different
sections in my little index card system. So I was intrigued when my
long lost GTD brother mentioned the OmniFocus program to me.

I mentioned GTD in passing to a colleague and had an 'Oh MAH GAWD, I
GTD brother. We both agreed that raving about GTD makes us sound like
lunatic cult members. Efficient but cult members nonetheless.

The OmniFocus program helps organize my 'next action' lists under
project titles. The projects can also be organized under a larger
section. I now have personal, volunteer and work sections. OF has a
'focus' button which allows me to only see the 'work' section. If
you're interested in testing out the test version, google omnifocus,
get on their list serve and they'll send you an invite. It's still a
work in progress but I'm happy with it so far. It's pretty neat to be
able to trust that everything important is already on a list, so I am
free to let my brain relax and think about whatever.

On a larger scale, the GTD system is not only helping me be more
organized, but it's freeing up some mental space for me to decide
what I enjoy and what want to do in the future. Also, it's been
difficult but for a number of reasons, I have cut out some major
commitments. I feel a little guilty about it, since I'm not doing
what others had planned for me... but I think it's the right
decision. Next time, I'll try to be better about saying no.

My next step is to be better about making my 'to-do' (or next action)
lists. Work is overwhelming but interesting. Perhaps I haven't done
a proper weekly review?

Anyway, I'm sure there is about one person out there who is
interested in my GTD process...

Back to Kabul, I'm in my room and it's super windy outside. I often
have trouble distinguishing between actual drama, indian tv shows
blaring and Afghans just being loud. I had a moment where I thought
that it was a riot...but it's just Afghans being loud and something
heavy flapping in the wind. I live close to the Kebob-feroshees
(Kebob-vendors) and there are street children out at all hours. Where
are your mommas?!

I had a lunch with a (kinda) local friend today and it made me feel
normal. We took a taxi, had lunch, laughed and went back to work.
Really nice.

I spent the evening coloring and listening to my podcasts. I love
having electricity. It makes such a difference, even if it's just for
5 hours a night. I can take a warm shower in the morning (totally
jinxed this, no shower this morning), charge up my cell phone, travel
speakers and even my laptop if I need to. I heart electricity.

My blog is pretty ugly right now, I think I might move to another
blog - I researched it and couldn't fix the layout.

I evil-eyed the electricity, it went out. Dangit.

South Korean $20 million for hostages:

Taliban get Chinese weapons

Hmm, wonder where they got the money to pay for those weapons?

Monday, September 03, 2007


Any advice on blogger vs. typepad vs wordpress?

My blog is acting funny and my IT expert (My cousin) couldn't fix it...which means that this a 'real' issue.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not much, just a chance

*I have been writing these entries at night but posting them the next morning, if anyone notices the time difference...
I spent the night before holed up in my room, journaling and listening to Pema Chodron. I feel better now, not because I worked all the problems out, but because I let myself sit with the fear. It eased it a bit.

I am going to dinner with friends this evening and I think it'll be a nice change of pace.
There is so much suffering here. So it's frustrating when petty politics, arrogance and power struggles get in the way of actually doing something positive. 
It's not hopeless yet but it's not hopeful either. We're close to falling off of the tightrope. It'll either be a positive fall into a safety net that allows us to bounce back. Or it'll be a free fall onto the hard, unpaved, cratered road.
I wish I could convey how important it is to help Afghanistan. Afghans are not asking for anything special. Just for some chances. A chance to brag about how smart his daughter is because she's first in her class. A chance to take the family out to eat, or maybe to a picnic. A chance to take a long walk, stop and chat with a neighbor, before hurrying home because Tulsi is coming on. Not much, just some chances.


Monday, August 27, 2007

I get that sinking feeling

So, here I am, sitting on my bed, in my PJs at 7:45 pm. I'm listening
to the outside noise, that mix of traffic, helicopters, shouts and
the loud Indian music.

I remember watching a group of Afghan men dance on a street corner,
consumed with the sheer joy of being outside, safe and able to listen
to music. I haven't seen that in a while.

I need this quiet time (well, quiet-ish), but I still feel out of
balance. I don't have the energy to get up and just get my act
together (clean my room & etc). The electricity came on early today
(6 pm-ish), went out about 45 minutes later, came back on for about
15 minutes and then went out again. Good thing I stockpiled on candles.

I wish I could give you all details about my job (it's actually
pretty interesting) but anonymity is freedom, as AKA:OMG says.

But let's just say that I got a sinking feeling (wait, electricity
came back on again, whatever, I'm fine with sitting here in the
dark). Anyway, I got that sinking feeling at the end of the day. It
made me worried for my co-workers, for me and just generally for the
country. There are way too many scam artists in this country and
waaaay too many that are in power. I have to stop my fear from
paralyzing me and my work. I kind of just want to turn around and run
away. But I don't know where else I'd rather be? I've moved around
enough to know that neither a change of location nor keeping myself
so busy that I just come home to sleep will solve my problems. But
what will? What's the answer? Am I depressed? Well, yeah, maybe. If
you saw how bad this place has gotten – well, who wouldn't be depressed?

How will I know when to fight and when to leave?

Oh, and then I came home, spoke to a local relative who very kindly
asked me to not go out by myself (I used to go on long, rambling
walks 4 years ago), at least until I get used to being back. I wasn't
planning on it. But still. It's sad.

As Safrang and Frida said in the comments in the previous post, hope
becomes an act of courage here. But damn, it's hard.

*For more Sunday Scribbling, check out: http://

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Thinking, Good Buddy

Well, it's 3 hours later. After painting in my journal (my craft
bag was the best thing I brought over) and listening to my Pema
Chodron recording - in between mindless fantasies about Afghanistan
being a dust-less country and sillier fantasies about scoring the
winning goal in the Women's World Cup (don't make fun, you know it'd
be cool) - I feel a bit better. Well, I feel more wiling to sit with
the fear.

Pema Chodron, when explaining the need to practice kindness to
oneself, told the story of a person who says, 'Thinking, Good Buddy.'
when a thought pops up during meditation. Ever since I discovered
blogging by email, I've been mentally composing posts more often.
While it's good to think through topics and get feedback from
friends, it's also an easy way to avoid what is happening. So,
'Blogging, Good Buddy.'

The courage to hope.

The courage to face reality.

The courage to be kind.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Rocket Attack

Rocket attack. I slept through it.

I've figured out how to email my posts but that means no hyperlinking
and no tags.

I visited family and friends this Friday, my one day off. It was
probably the first day that I felt okay about being in Kabul. I don't
know why this transition is harder than the others.

Safrang wondered if being 'back in the belly of the beast' will
dampen my enthusiasm for blogging. I don't know. It's hard to
synthesize this country into edible blog posts that convey the
overwhelming sadness that the security situation is worse than before
or the fact that people are less hopeful than before. That said, if
the situation gets better and there is tangible progress - I think
the hope will be re-ignited. Here's for hope, right?