Saturday, June 19, 2010

They say it's your birthday

Last year Nick celebrated his birthday -- his 30th birthday! -- all by himself in Kabul.

OK, so he wasn't quite all alone. Thanks to a little birdie, his colleagues knew it was his birthday, but he'd only been in Kabul for a few weeks. So he hadn't grown close to anyone yet, and in spite of his friends' efforts he spent most of the day feeling lonely and throwing himself a pity party.

I wanted to make up for that this year, and although a big blowout bash wasn't in the cards, a pizza party certainly was!

So last Thursday night we ordered in a ton of pizzas from a local restaurant, and served them up al fresco at the fire pit, with plenty of beer and wine. The pizza was....a little weird, with some pinkish mystery meat on the pepperoni. It was better than most of the DFAC's food, but a far cry from the delicious Chicago deep dish we were enjoying just a few short weeks ago.

The birthday boy indulging in 3 of his favorite vices: food, beer and smokes.
And doing it all at once, with one hand.
An impressive display of skill.

Another indulgence: one of the Kabul kitties.

Yes, we had jello shots. Apparently not everyone was a fan.

We also had chocolate-dipped peanut butter cookies.

A quick note on the cookies. I had wanted to make Nick's favorite brownie -- Toad's chocolate-stuffed peanut butter brownies -- but completely forgot to carry the necessary ingredients back with me from the states. The cookies were the best chocolate-PB combo I could make with limited supplies.

We also had smores.

And cake. Stacy is our neighbor, whose birthday was also last week.

And lots and lots to drink.

It was a long, fun, rather intoxicated night. The next morning I woke up to make a special birthday breakfast: pancakes and bacon.

Just what the birthday boy wanted!

The rest of the day was spent browsing the bazaar, napping, and playing video games. A perfect day in Nick's world.

Happy Birthday Nicky!

Monday, June 14, 2010


If you're wondering if we made it back to Kabul safely, we did.

If you're wondering why I haven't posted anything since our return, it's because coming back has been hard. And when things get hard I find it difficult to motivate myself to post. And when I do post when things are hard, I tend to whine a lot.

My post about our return to Afghanistan was going to be a whine fest. I was going to whine about how discouraged I get trying to maneuver my way through US government bureaucracy. About how our trip back to US made me realize how much life I'm missing by being here. About how I've reached the limit on my ability to eat DFAC food. About how defeated I feel.

But then I read this article and looked at these pictures from the New York Times about U.S. military medical evacuation teams......and I realized that I have no right to complain about my experience in Afghanistan.

Perspective. It's a sobering thing.

Friday, June 4, 2010

We're still alive

I did warn everyone that posting would be light while we soak up as much family time/friend time/DC time/freedom time while we're back in the U.S. For once I'm following through on something I promised on the blog. Heh.

We're coming to the end of our home leave -- just 3 short days left. In bullet form, highlights of the trip thus far are:
  • riding in a convertible with Nick driving
  • getting my hairs cut
  • visiting with the whole Marvin clan at my grandmother's 90th birthday party
  • finding vacuum packed fresh gnocchi and vacuum packed sausages, neither of which need to be refrigerated. Score!
  • clothes shopping in an actual store! I shelled out $200+ dollars at H&M in one go
  • watching Nick and my dad grilling together
  • eating my mom's home cooked food
  • watching Nick devour $42 worth of sushi by himself
  • visiting with the whole Vivio family
  • Mom X's fridge full of Greek goodies
  • seeing Iron Man 2 in a real movie theater. The movie wasn't that great, but my new philosophy about most things is "it's better than Kabul." So from that perspective, the movie was fantastic!
  • gorging ourselves on Chicago deep-dish pizza
  • watching a major sporting event (Blackhawks vs Flyers) at the appropriate hour while drinking beer in a noisy bar filled with other sports fans (instead of in a dusty tent with four guys sipping coffee at the butt crack of dawn)
  • watching the current episode of Glee as it airs
  • indulging in a fancy lunch at Central. I would crawl belly deep through hell for the gougeres alone
  • running from Foggy Bottom to far Capitol Hill and realizing just how much my running has improved. And Nick made the run too. I am so proud.
  • flying trapeze
  • seeing a show! The fact that is was the world premiere of a new musical -- Sycamore Trees -- at Signature Theater only sweetened the deal
  • having a little alone time with my Toad so that I could vent without worrying about hurting anyone's feelings
  • Nick finally getting his hands on his new bike
  • blasting Glee in the car with my sister (how could I forget this when I first wrote this post?)

We're planning to make the most of our remaining time, busying ourselves with a big happy hour party with our friends, more trapeze classes, more theater, more runs through the city, more visits with friends and family, and more shopping. It's busy busy busy, so I'm going to leave the post here and go get started on all of those things we stall have left to do.

But before I go, here's what our Year 2 consumables shipment looked like: