Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In lieu of a real post...

....here's a picture of us shopping at last month's Embassy bazaar.

I swear I'll get a substantive post up soon. Maybe.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Acronymese

I am working on becoming fluent in the government's primary language: acronymese. I'm really flexing my vocab muscles today -- here are the acronyms I've used thus far in putting together my office's bi-weekly newsletter.

ACBRIT
ACCILARA
ACDLLC
ADTMAIL
AISAMCIT
ANAMOCI
ANPMOE
ANSAMOF
ASMEDMTO
ASYCUDAN-ACEG
ATNATO
AWBFNCDO
CBSOPIC
DABPOS
EGGIPRT
EPAARC
GDARUFCOD
GIRoASME
ICNTAFA
IIFCUNOPS
IMFWTO

Ugh.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shaken, not stirred

Coming to Afghanistan, there were two things about which I was especially nervous: bombs, and earthquakes. I experienced a bomb less than three weeks after I arrived, so that left only the earthquake to worry about.

Last night I was reading in bed by flashlight, as Nick had already gone to sleep. I'm used to him being a little twitchy when he first starts to go under, so when the mattress started bouncing in a strange way, I assumed it was just Nick being really, really twitchy.

This morning I received an email confirming the occurrence of a 5.3 earthquake on April 19 at 12:58 AM Kabul time. The epicenter was in Samangan, 120 miles north.

Huh.

Now, don't get me wrong. After all of the recent catastrophic earthquakes, I'm quite glad that this was a small one. Given that many of the structures in Kabul -- and throughout Afghanistan -- look like this....


...even a small earthquake could be devastating.

But there's also a small part of me that's a little disappointed. After all of my worrying...that was kind of anti-climactic.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Out

Let's see, what I have I been up to over the past week or so?

Oh, just the usual really. I ran 7.5 miles last Friday, although it took me forever because I had to stop to go to the bathroom 5 times (I caught the Noro virus that's going around the compound).

What else? Um, Nick came back from Greece loaded down with goodies: olives, bread, tins of eggplant and green beans, cheese, halva, salmon, dried meats, tea. So that was nice.

I think that's about all....

Oh yeah, I also wrote some remarks for some Embassy official. And for the Administrator Shah guy that he mentioned.

And on Tuesday I went here....

Which looks like this.....


...and this....
(photo courtesy of skyscapercity.com)

...and this.

I went to a conference where lots of important people talked about marble, about how important it is to Afghanistan's economic development (there's an estimated $1 trillion+ dollars worth in the ground), and how bad it is that the current practice of extracting the marble from the quarries -- otherwise known as blasting it out with dynamite -- results in a loss of 50-80% of the product, and the stone that isn't destroyed is pretty damaged. But there was still some cool stuff on display made from stone that survived.



And then these two high-ranking U.S. officials....
(that's Dep. of State Jack Lew in the middle, and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry on the right)

...stood up in front of the huge conference hall full of important people and said some more words that I had written.

And then I ate some yummy Afghan food, and then we flew home.

I can smell the pollution from here


Another day, another dollar. You know?

The end.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gripety gripe

My work week in a nutshell:
Words! Words! I'm so sick of words!
I get words all day through;
First from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do?


Bonus points if you can name that musical. Mom M -- you're excluded because I know you know it!

It's been an interesting week here at post. Lots of VIP visits. Lots more coming. Lots of speech writing. Lots of stress. Lots of very late nights. Lots of time hanging out by myself because Nick is off in Greece visiting with his folks. Not a lot of working out or sleep. Not a lot of fun.

I am out of words. I am sick of words.

And I have to work on my day off.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Vanity

So I noticed this week that some of my pants are getting a little tight around the waist. Which is weird, because it used to be that all of my work pants were a little big on me and required belts. And oh, my belt. It feels a little tighter than it used to.

Today I put on my favorite jeans. They're tight too.

Crap.

So I'm either in a perpetual state of bloat (which is possible; something in the food or water here bothers my stomach) or I'm gaining weight. I hope hope hope hope that the first possible cause is the culprit, but I have a sinking feeling that it's the latter.

Life in Kabul is starting to get the best of me. I'm working incredibly long hours, which means I've been coming home too late and too tired and too fed up with everything to work out. I've been trying to eat as healthful meals as possible. But when I crash in the afternoon I've been reaching for chocolates, candies, too large servings of nuts, and cookies. I've been stress eating in the afternoons and evenings. Thirty minutes after I finish dinner I'm hungry again, and spend the rest of the night grazing. I've even fallen off the soda wagon, although luckily I've kept some semblance of common sense, limiting myself to diet coke.

Last but not least, I've been overindulging every time I have the opportunity to eat non D-FAC food. Last night it was Lebanese and Indian. This morning it was brunch, where in spite of my intentions to not eat chametz during Passover, I not only ate some leavened bread but a whole mini baguette, a chocolate croissant, and half of a fig pastry. Plus butter. And juice. And two lattes. And a whole damn omelet. 4.5 hours later and I'm STILL full. Yep, overindulgence at its finest.

I see a very bad pattern starting to form, and I say it stops here. I have to do something to commit myself to getting back on track.

So I'm putting these promises out there so that all of you can hold me accountable. From now on I will:
  • Work out Mon-Weds & Fri-Sat
  • Bring one serving of a healthy snack from home each day to get me through the afternoon (no more big bags of almonds in the desk drawer)
  • Pretend as if my office's candy drawer does not exist (which is near impossible to do considering it's right next to the printer)
  • No more snacking on goodies at night. If I absolutely must eat, I will limit myself to either fruit or plain popcorn
  • I will try to stop overindulging on non D-FAC foods. Best I can offer at the moment.

This place is doing everything it can to take me down. Time is sneaking up on me too , as my 20s come to a close in just over one month. I refuse refuse refuse to let either of them win.

PS update: I'm off to a good start. I just finished a strong 6 mile run (3 outside, 3 on the treadmill. Who decided it was ok for it to rain on a Friday, our one day off?!)