If you asked me last year what I thought of Iraq I would have given you an answer based on the war, the images I saw on BBC News, or even the stereotypes of Muslims made out by the television or movies. I wouldn’t have told you about the generosity of the people, the ways close guy friends hold hands walking down the street, or the ridiculous (in the best way possible) amount of tea they drink.
Iraq doesn’t have coffee. They have NesCafe, but I miss my Satellites and Starbucks and coffee dates. But I can live without coffee. These are the things I wish I had here in Iraq:
1. Dolce. I feel so bad that dogs don’t understand why people leave them- all they know is they left. I just want to hug her and sleep in the same bed as her and have her sit in my lap when I’m being all emotional. I know my parents are taking GREAT care of her (right mom and dad?), but I still miss her a lot.
2. A camera. Can you believe I forgot mine?! I still can’t. My Blackberry is doing an alright job of capturing key things, but it is no replacement for a camera. Especially because I almost never upload pics from my phone to my computer.
3. Gayle. I so very wish my little sister was here right now. I know she’s having an amazing time in East Asia and making the world more salty! I just miss her and could really use her wisdom, humor, and empathy right now. You better Skype with me when you get back! I MISS YOU and the big owl misses the little owl very much! (shout out to the tea team)!
4. My family. Korean soap operas are so popular here and every time I see Dong Yi I think of my mom and how much I just want to hug her right now. I’m so thankful that Facebook, email, and phones exist, but they are no replacement for actually sitting around the dinner table talking about each other’s day. I pray for my family and thank God that He blessed me with such a wonderful one. (thanks for all the prayers and support mom and dad)!
5. A car. I don’t mind walking to work and home, but I miss being able to sit, drive fast, and listen to loud music. It’s a lovely feeling and I miss it. I do however think that I will get pulled over here and my car taken away, so I am glad I don’t have a car in Kurdistan.
6. Green Chile. Is it weird coffee doesn’t make the list, but green chile does? I miss it on pizza, burgers, burritos, and everything else. When I get home I would LOVE it if someone would greet me with green chile pizza from Dions/ Village Pizza, red stuff from Flying Star (or the friotella), and Dolce. (*hint*hint*)
7. Shorts. I have put on pants so many days this week. I think it’s safe to say that pants will not be making an appearance from August- October. I welcome skirts, dresses, and shorts. On this note, wearing pants and long skirts aren’t bothering me so much. I respect that women here take caution in how they dress. They want to look nice, but not so nice that it’s a distraction. Or that other women think they are trying to attract men. I want to respect their way of dressing, just like they are being so helpful in my lack of knowing the language or where things are. I do, however, want to wear shorts when it’s over 100 degrees.
Obviously I couldn’t put every friend’s name on this list, but I do miss miss miss my friends. SO MUCH. I miss river time, flying star dates, photo shoots, movie nights, popcorn and cheese, DAM club, baking, tanning, Baileys, riding, music-ing, and all the other friend stuff!
So my roommate happens to be an amazing photographer and super cool friend, and she invited me (Wednesday and Thursday) to go to a Metrography conference. (Metrography is Iraq’s first photography agency). For the conference they brought in internationally known photographers and editors (like TIME and National Geographic).
Where was the conference?
Oh, you know, just at Amna Suraka.
The area where the conference was held was a complete 180 from the torture cells I had just seen. Yes the buildings were still covered in bullet holes, but inside was, what looked like, a mini movie theater.
Walking into the conference was like walking into the coolest place ever, where the coolest people ever were. I know it sounds ridiculous, but just walking in you could feel the creativity and amazingness these people possess.
I had a great time being able to talk to some of the talented, inspiring photographers and observing how much time and discipline goes into their work. and maybe even for a few days being invited to sit in on their super secret cool club.
There are three types of electricity in our city: national (where everything (internet, outlets, lights) works), community (where only necessities (lights, fridge, outlets (ish) work), and none (where nothing works). Most of the time we’re on national, but lately it feels like we’re spending more and more time on community. Anyways that was just a preface to this post.
You would think that I would be a more efficient blogger since my job here is centered around PLC’s blog. I’m sorry I haven’t posted about what I’ve been up to these past weeks. So I’ll just write a lot today!