Saturday, January 24, 2004

My Dad needs more stuff:
;Please buy me a bottle of Vitamine A(around 100  pills)  and also 25 or 50 Blood Glucose test stripsTest StripMust Be( PRESTIGE) Brand Callbration code coul be any number.Let me know please,Waiting!love Dad

I better call my Mom before I leave. I don't really feel like I need to say goodbye to anyone else. I just want to sleep for a few days and wake up in Baghdad.

yeah right...

We are leaving in a few days. I'm feeling slightly removed from the whole experience as if it was not really happening. As if I had already shot the movie and now I was just going back in rewind.

I'm not really sure what I'm talking about. I honestly have no idea what my experience and mood will be in Iraq.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I watched GW Bush give his State of (comm)Union address. A self-congratulatory pep rally for America and the willing. According to Bush, God seems to spend a lot of time blessing the USA. The highlight was watching Dr. Adnan Pachachi stand up while everyone clapped. Mrs. Bush was next to him. I wonder if they held hands? I was hoping Bush would do something Hollywood-like and wheel out Bin Laden in a cage or something. Well he almost did that with Saddam. Yes the world is a safer place with Saddam behind bars, I agree with you Bushy, but it would also be safer if you joined him.

I was taking a taxi home and chatting like I usually do with the cabbie. Most taxi drivers in Chicago are either Pakistani, Indian or Nigerian. But every now and then you will get some Arabs, usually Moroccan or Algerian. But this guy was Iranian. An older sweet man, with thick glasses and grey hair. When I told him I was from Iraq he kept on looking at me and smiling. He said he feels very bad for what is happening over there. I agreed. He told me he that Saddam Hussein is mentally ill. I agreed Saddam is a bit of wacko. But then he was very critical of the US and their 'war on terror'. What the hell is a war on terror? Are they going to find the boogieman? I was just happy the conversation did not end with blaming Israel. I like Iranians. We both agreed that the Iraq-Iran war was really very wasteful and not appropriate for Muslims to battle one another.

We are getting our stuff together and I am trying to keep my nerves in check when dealing with my Dad. He just sent me an email requesting the following items:
Usama .....I need 50 plain CDs should not exceed $30,6Sony video two hours,4Kodake films speed 200(36 picture),also !00 capletsExtra strengthTYLENOL PM sleep DAD

Really I can make a whole movie about my Dad. I am happy to be corresponding with Raed, from Where is Raed blogger fame. And I have finally picked up SalamPax's book the Baghdad Blog. I highly recommend this book and please watch the promo for the book, very nice.

Baghdad I am coming to you.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Went to my hometown to visit my family. I, of course, had to finally tell them about the trip to Iraq. It's only a week away.

My brother was driving me somewhere and he said something like, "seems like everyone's dead set against you going." He and my dad were the most supportive. They just told me to "be careful," send pictures, and call when I get home so they know I'm okay, etc. They know by now that I do whatever I want and no one can talk me out of it.

My mother joked about holding me hostage so I couldn't go. She made it clear that if she had her way there's no way I'd leave. And then she asked if I had to cover my hair while there. Why among American women, is that such a big deal, I wonder?

"No mom, I don't have to," I told her.

"Well all the women I see on TV there have their heads covered," she said.

"Yes, that's a choice. Not all Iraqi women cover their heads, though. You probably just notice the ones who do, because they stand out to you as different. It's not a law or anything."

I went on to tell her about a photo of an Iraqi girl I saw, who wore tight bluejeans and her long hair flipping behind her in a pony tail, completely uncovered. And about the Iraqi female reporters I've seen that are all but indistinguishable from American or European reporters.

She seemed pleasantly surprised.

"Well, I know I don't know as much about these places as you do. But I know it's dangerous for Americans there. You'll stand out."

And here's where my yesbuts had to come in, since I couldn't entirely disagree.

"Yes, it's dangerous for everyone. But I'll be with my Iraqi family, so I can't imagine I'll be all that threatening, even if I do stand out. And I can deal with American soldiers should I need to. I'm pretty much covered on both sides. And really it isn't much more dangerous than Chicago. I hear gun shots every few nights in my neighborhood."

Oooops! Wrong thing to say...

"So you live in a bad neighborhood?! Why do you want to live in Chicago if it's so dangerous?!"

"No I live in a nice neighborhood. It's just a large city... there are gangs... they shoot at each other... not at me... "

Feeling myself digging a deeper hole. Why do I feel safe in Chicago? I don't know. I just do.

Eventually, she resigned herself to the fact that I'm going. Period. I promised to do whatever I could to stay out of harm's way. I explained that my husband's family were probably familiar with the places to be avoided, and I wanted to stay away from military convoys and the like which are more likely to run upon bombs, or get shot at.

One thing is for certain. No matter what I do I am always the topic of great controversy among my family. Not such a bad thing to be. It just means my life is not dull.

And then there's my son. He lives with his dad and his step-mom in my hometown. When I told him that Iraqi kids play video games, and some have satellite TV, he was almost shocked. He furrowed his brow, and looked at me in disbelief. "Really?"

"Yeah, they're not that different from you," I explained, "'cept maybe they eat more hummus." (A dish he used to love as a very small child).

He told me, "They don't have hummus here anymore."

His grandmother chimed in and said, "Yes they do! It's at the grocery store. You just don't have hummus at your house."

Still, he insisted that they don't have hummus anywhere in his town any more. No matter what anyone said he argued that it just did not exist. It seemed he was trying hard to find some point of difference between himself and the kids in that far away land where his mom was about to go. I tried to empathize, but was not sure what to say. I reassured him as well that I'd stay way from danger. What else could I do?

Then my mom spoke the thing I hoped she wouldn't. "If anything happens to you, I'll never forgive U."

Oh boy... Let me make this clear. I don't HAVE to do this. I am not being pressured to go in any way. This is my choice. We discussed the possibility of me staying behind, and I don't want that. If anything happens to me, it's 100% my own fault for going. I am the only one to be held responsible for my actions. Give me the dignity of being a self-directed individual, and do not point to anyone else as a scapegoat for my destiny, whether good or bad. Got it? Good.

Whew! Slightly stressful weekend. My gut is all messed up. I'm chewing these tablets for irritable bowel syndrome.

But I am excited about going. I can never resist an opportunity to explore a place in the world that I've never seen. And that it is the place where my love was born makes it even more exciting and important to me.

My mother calls me sounding frantic and stern. I knew what was coming next. Are you watching the news?!
I had been watching the news about the bomb in Baghdad, but I did not feel like discussing this issue anymore. I knew what she was going to say. So I told her that I had watched some of the news and now I was sitting at my computer. Which was the truth, err, sort of. I did not want to admit to my mother that I was flipping around watching live coverage of the bomb blast from every major news agency courtesy satellite tv. So I played it down. Which enraged her even more.
Go turn on FOX TV and look what is happening! They are dead! The men are bleeding in the streets! Look at the blood! What are you doing?! I had a dream about Joodu (Grandfather)!
ahh no. Don't bring up dreams about our poor dead Grandfather from Baghdad. I told her I had to go and hastily got off the phone. I looked at my wife and asked her if she still wanted to go to Iraq. She said yeah I'm ready lets go!
There it is. As long as my father says it's okay then I go.
Strong explosion near coalition headquarters in Baghdad; Witnesses say many casualties

it's not stopping...