(Alternate title: “What To Do While You’re Waiting to Move to Pakistan”) There’s a new list making the rounds of Facebook this week. I know we’re all sick to death of these lists: the “25 semi-interesting things about me” list and the “20 questions about high school” list and the “5 movies I’d take to a desert island” list. And yet I keep reading them, and I keep making them. I am a sucker for these things. This new list is even more potentially unpleasant than the others because it is designed to make you feel inferior. It’s the “BBC Book List,” a list of 100 worthwhile books as determined by the BBC, which comes accompanied by the claim that the average person has only read six of them. At least, this is how the list has been introduced. I can’t find any evidence that the BBC actually had anything to do with this list and that some nerdy grad student didn’t just throw a list together and tack “BBC” on it to make it more credible. In fact, I think this is exactly what happened. This is not stemming the tide of enthusiasm for this exercise in the least, however. The purported BBC Book List is all the rage this week on literary websites and blogs dedicated to things like proper punctuation. Put aside for a second the fact that I am a visitor to punctuation blogs and let’s talk about the books. So, the average person has supposedly read six of out these 100 books. A snooty little prediction like that makes me want to prove the “BBC”/nerdy grad student wrong, so I […] Read More

It’s a Bullet and it’s Magic

I am staring at a long, nasty list of things I need to do before moving to Pakistan (which could happen in as little as two weeks, I found out today). Clean out my closet. Buy hand sanitizer. Give back that book of yours that I read or that skirt I borrowed. Set up my Power of Attorney. Get shots for tetanus, polio, typhoid fever, and hepatitis B. [Side note about tetanus. Does everyone know you are supposed to have a tetanus booster every ten years, even if you’re not moving to the Indian sub-continent? Am I the only one clueless about this? You should have seen my doctor’s face when she found out I hadn’t had a tetanus shot since the late ’80s. I guess it’s a good thing I’m going to Pakistan, so I don’t die stepping on a rusty nail right here in the good old U. S. of A. Back to the list.] Use up all the root vegetables from our farm’s winter share. Catch up on Battlestar Galactica. Go to the dentist. Get a haircut. Eat lots of raw vegetables and salads while I still can. Buy everything I can’t get in Pakistan so that I can ship it to Pakistan with me. [Sidenote about buying everything I can’t get in Pakistan and shipping it to Pakistan with me. I know this screams bad idea. And yet, I really want to do it. Moving someplace for a year, especially a foreign place where you’re pretty sure they’re not going to have that sunscreen you like or whole wheat pasta or Dagoba dark chocolate in roseberry flavor, has given me a sort […] Read More

Yes, I’m a Mess.

I’ve always been pretty clean. (College roommates and ex-boyfriends: feel free to disagree.) I don’t know what happened: maybe I got used to the chaos of a campaign office, or was altered by the experience of living out of my trunk for most of December and January, or somewhere along the way things just got out of hand. Whatever the case, here I am now, underneath a mountain of crap, opening up the door to the back room of my apartment to show you all that I’ve been living like a pig. What does this have to do with Pakistan, or with cheeseburgers? Nothing, except that I can’t pack for a year-long trip if I can’t find my passport or my wallet or my favorite lounging sweatpants. (You think I am joking about the wallet, but I’m not. I have just been keeping my drivers’ license and a credit card in the back pocket of my jeans.) And I can’t start writing about more interesting things like Pakistani food, the language barrier, different customs, adventures with camels, my collection of shalwar kameezes, and etc., until then either. This room used to be my study. It’s where I wrote a lot of my dissertation (the rest at the coffee shop down the street), drafted up many marketing documents and articles, and brainstormed ways to get a nonprofit foundation off the ground. It has a great view of the backyard, the little vegetable garden that my landlord plants every spring and tends all summer, and a gorgeous weeping willow tree that he lops off every few years in an act that seems totally vicious, until it always […] Read More

Holding Pattern

I have nothing new to report on Pakistan (the group is still waiting for the contract to be signed, it’s 99% done, we should hear any day, etc. etc.) so instead I’m taking a second to talk about how much I hate waiting. When anyone asks me for the latest update on the job/contract process, I have been using the phrase “holding pattern.” (As in, “thanks for this morning’s article about Pakistan being volatile and dangerous for Americans, Dad; the group is still in a holding pattern until we get final word on the contract.”) It’s a quick way to describe waiting, that experience of being neither here-nor-there. I’m not afraid of flying, but two out of three of my most anxious moments in the air have been when my plane was circling low and nervously over a dark city, unable to land and at the slow mercy of waiting–on the weather, on the wind. I don’t mind waiting for things if I have something good to do in the meantime. Just the other night I had to wait for a slice of pepperoni pizza at two o’clock in the morning. I didn’t mind this at all, because I had Ellen and Jenae there to provide entertaining conversation and the unruly crowd at Rednecks in Allston to provide great people-watching. (Rednecks has the best corndogs in the city and also had that stabbing a little while back. Take note, ye who are concerned about my safety: there are no stabbings in Islamabad). Last Wednesday, I had to wait all day for the new Lost to come on. Luckily I was able to fill the time by bringing […] Read More

The Latest

The short version: I have accepted an amazing job opportunity in Pakistan and should be leaving in early March for Islamabad. Other than my irrational fear of shots (and the wide array I am supposed to get before departure to guard against things like yellow fever and malaria), there is now nothing standing in the way except for the final signing of the contract between USAID and the contractor who has hired me. The contract is 99% a done deal, but that means there’s still a 1% chance that after all this careful decision-making, I’ll end up in the U.S. after all, jobless and eating tons of cheeseburgers. But I’m getting mentally prepared for that more likely 99%. I want to say thanks so much for all the wise words, advice and encouragement you have all given me via blog notes, emails, and (only slightly freaked out-sounding) phone calls since I first opened up the floor for comments. I would highly recommend all of you to anyone I know who is currently deciding whether or not to move halfway across the world. And, as those of you on Facebook who read my “25 Things” note already know (is that thing on fire this week or WHAT), I can’t catch malaria anyway because of a rare red blood cell disorder that I have. So that’s one less shot I have to take. It’s almost like I was destined to move to South Asia to do strategic communications for a USAID consultant as part of the effort to shore up Pakistani infrastructure and thus undermine the instability that nurtures terrorism. No? Well, maybe just the malaria thing […] Read More