random things happen here. so many odd things smashed up against one another sometimes it’s hard to figure out a narrative.
i’ll break it down to you this way.
riding in the car. my head bobs and dips as per usual as the car swerves in the dizzying ride they call traffic. rihanna’s on “freedom radio” singing about calling her, rude boy. nah nah nah nah nah while my friend S tells me about his mother being beaten by the Talibs one day. Now some lady on the “freedom radio” is talking something about a song called “These 5 Rednecks,” but I’m not really listening because S is explaining about how a few years ago, he’d be in the audience of soccer games and would have to make it through the halftime show beheadings. Now some dude is singing about bales of hay and chicken bones and making love in the back of a pick up – and I’m hearing another story about how even tho I’m complaining about the constant rolling blackouts that occur every hour… I should be thankful to have power at all. The city only recently lit up the grid. … and now I’m home. Opening the gate to the compound in the freezing dusty wind.
or. how about nudging my class of girls to write a comic book. they have the problem: Girls Education. They have the hero. But, one girl stands up to explain, there is no solution for this problem. The men will never want us to learn, why are we trying to pretend like things will ever change? This is a stupid assignment because it’s making me think there is going to be something different to happen and I know realistically its not. niki fights back tears. no time to tell the story of the american slaves and their plight. hmmm. what’s practical? what do you say? i’ve got a translator staring at me with big brown eyes imploring me – yes niki – you westerners come over here with big bad bright ideas, but a the end of the day these girls all go home to fathersbrothersuncles… and mothers…. who would rather keep things the way they are. sigh. i had so many speeches prepared on the flight here to kabul. in the moment, on the spot. after even having read 3 cups of tea. i gots nothing. i drum up a short, hopefully truly memorable, inspirational answer. and tell her – to just dream. it starts with a dream. eventually, you, or your children will be so angry at having dreamt for so long, you will do whatever it takes to have the dream be a reality. sigh. what the heck am i doing here?
or. …. maybe i won’t get into the privilege topic. i’m caught between two worlds and its dizzying. i’m western. i’m black. i’m the daughter of the results of somebody’s assumed superiority over my ancestry. i’m so many things. i see what’s also happening here, but it’s weird to say anything because i’m them too. I’m sure this paragraph makes no sense to anybody but me. it’s okay. i can live with that. i’ll leave it for when i speak to you personally. it’s…. whoa.
or. i’m mad because i want to do something simple like go to the bazaar. but the hurdles to get there because i came equipped with a vagina get bigger every time we try to hash out the complicated details on how to get there. the local who can show us around isn’t allowed to travel alone without a male relative. they dont’ want to go. WE can’t go pick her up because we can’t take the car because we can’t drive here and none of the boys who live here want to take us. Nevermind this means that we pay a girl “tax” so to speak because we always have to take taxis on our day off if we want to go somewhere. sigh. so the 23 year old girl who could show us around has to ask permission if its okay for her to travel with two other women alone. this is only the half of the story, but incredibly frustrating. i suppose me and the other “westerner” will venture out alone guideless and make it do what it do. meanwhile, apparently the boys all had a MARVELOUS time dining at a restaurant we couldn’t attend. yes, and their ride was free because of course they can drive. sigh.
or. thinking about the people closest to me who have made little or no attempt to call or write vs people i met right before i left who keep constant contact. life’s strange that way. there are so many people i miss dearly. sometimes when i’m asleep i think i’m back in los angeles. i think that i can just drive home or something. a weird in-between state. you don’t know how my heart sinks when i realize, nope. still here. still can’t see those people i love. but i press on because above all of that, i know i’m needed where i am.
or. listening to one person who has about a 75% mastery of english try to explain a concept to someone who has about a 65% mastery of english. this person either grows frustrated, or disagrees with their conversation partner. i giggle because the conversation starts getting heated i think it’s really because there’s no way for them to remotely understand one another. they don’t dare ask me for help. i just look down and keep poking around on the computer.
or. realizing that every local person who i work with has had to leave their own country for a period of time because of the talibs. they have such a unique relationship with their nationality. or hearing more stories about how they used to get their homes raided randomly. or just. being. sad. at. humans.
or. taking a shower in a bathroom used mainly by …. not so clean men…. when the lights go out and i’m having to do most of my washing and dressing in the pitch pitch, there is not even a candle or lantern darkness. soooo happy i’m the stereotypical black girl who wears shower shoes. because otherwise i’d have had no idea where or what i was stepping on.
or. realizing that as much as i like wine, it’s not so deep i’ll pay $60 for the experience. booze is super expensive here, so miraculously, i just don’t have a desire for it in the least. i’ll stick to water and tea because apparently, that’s pretty much the only things to drink here.
or. explaining that not ALL of america is comprised of fat asses. in fact, when you work in hollywood, they have the opposite problem. how about that at any company meal, i would typically be the only person who wasn’t eating just a salad. or if i got one, the only one having the dressing that it comes with rather than just lemon juice or balsamic vinaigrette (sorry, but uh, a free company meal means you actually eat in my book. guess i rep the fat asses after all). then laughing to myself here for typically being too tired to eat or cook my “free” meal here in the guesthouse. we’re supposed to work together on thursdays and fridays…. but miraculously, i’m just not hungry those nights. go figure.
or. how nothing i brought here will be worthy of any thing when i return. all my clothes are officially covered in dirt. the washing machine doesn’t fully work because we don’t have full power. things that are “clean” are still dingy. too bad. i got over that a long time ago. now i’m happy just not to stink. it is what it is. it takes to much energy to fret over dingy things. or dust. in a way it frees my mind up to think of a better answer for the girls in my class. how to not be overly revolutionary, be respectful and follow the “rules,” but still put fire in their hearts? the answer isn’t telling them to move west. i refuse to believe that that’s the answer for them. sigh. again.
ok i’m done. so much swirling and colliding around me. i think i need to sleep now. or listen to the germans speak german. or try to watch some afghan television soap operas. or read a book. or find a snack. or. or. or. just think some more about a good answer.