Fallen on Hard Times

It would appear that my blog is suffering. My postings are sporadic and - let's face it - lame as of late.

I could blame Nila's accident, but that'd be a lie. That lasted less than two hours from incident to hospital and home again. Plus, Nila barely notices the stitches and seemed happy as a clam by the time she was in the car for the ride home from the hospital.

Blaming that would be scapegoating. Anyway, we all know that the blog malaise started well before that.

When I first came home from Iraq, i made a good effort to keep it exciting, but I've been trying less and less as the days pass. I can really only chalk it up to boredom. I am bored for the large part of my days and it makes it hard to find something to write.

The job search has been fruitless up to this point, although I have reason to believe that things are looking up.

Each time I've come back from Iraq, I've struggled with boredom. Life in Iraq is not easy and most days aren't super exciting, but they're usually filled with a sense that my work is important. And, if I'm honest, I guess that often extends to me feeling important, too.

At home, then, I'm unemployed. That certainly feels less important. It's a rough transition.

In Iraq, nothing really works. If you fix the electricity, the water pipe bursts. When you fix the pipe, the stove runs out of gas. When you replace the gas, the tire gets flat. When you change the tire, the car falls on you. Ok, that last one might have only happened to me, but the point is the same: there's always something going on and even though those things are frustrating, they keep boredom at bay.

In Ohio, the electricity is always on, the pipes don't burst, the stove never runs out of gas and, while tires do go flat, a car has never fallen on me.

In Iraq, there are people everywhere and those people often need my help. As simple as explaining an English word or praying with someone or even being their token American friend to impress their non-American friends and family. Whatever it might be, I often found myself in demand.

In Ohio, not so much. Most people here know English words and if they don't, they don't want me to tell them about it and there are no token American friends in Ohio.

It's called reverse culture shock. When someone goes abroad and stay longer than a few days, they suffer from culture shock. It's not an "if," everyone does. It's mostly a question of when, to what degree and for how long.

I remember when I was in London I was fascinated for about three weeks. Then I started to hate it. I hated the subway, I hated the smell, I hated the city, all of it. That lasted a few weeks, too. Then I settled into a sort of normalcy. I made my peace with London and I learned to appreciate it for what it is.

When I first went to Iraq, I spent almost a month thinking "Wow, I'm really in Iraq." Then February hit with it's cold, torrential rains and I fell apart. I couldn't find one good thing in the whole country. The language was stupid, the people were stupid, the weather was stupid. You name it and I thought it was stupid. It lasted longer in Iraq than it did in London, but it passed. I learned to appreciate Iraq and the Kurds, too.

Reverse culture shock is the process of returning to one's home culture and trying to re-assimilate. It's the result of the necessity of learning to take on new roles in the new culture and then trying to put on the old roles again. It's often a poor fit on the return.

Reverse culture shock, though, fells more complex. I'm not coming back to something new; I've spent my whole life in Ohio. I don't have to relearn how to speak, or how to act, or how to turn on the lights.

I have to relearn how to be regular.

I have to relearn how to be less exciting. In Iraq, I was intersting just by virtue of my nationality and my skin tone. I could meet with important officials and go places other people couldn't go. I could go to opening night of a film and meet the first lady. I could tour a burned out memorial which was off limits. I could cut the ribbon to open an art show (well, Angie actually did that one...).

Now, I sit on the couch watching As the World Turns and looking for jobs while I wonder how to pay the bills.

This is not fun. It's not exciting and it's not the type of thing I want to see splayed out on my blog.

So, while no one has called me out on my lack of posts, I felt like I owed a sort of explanation.

I know that this will change. I know it doesn't last forever and I know it's a learning experience, but that doesn't make it any more exciting.

And it doesn't make me any more interesting which is the real shame, I think.


5 Stitches

This afternoon Nila had an accident.

She's taken to pulling herself up on our end tables. The problem is that they're not very sturdy so, today, as she pulled up, it tipped over.

She came down and it came down on top her. The table top caught her square between the eyes, and, when I pulled the table off of her, blood was flowing down the sides of her face.

It was awful!

We rushed her to the emergency room where she got 5 stitches. We were lucky. It wasn't really very bad once the bleeding stopped and it only took about an hour and a half from fall to the drive home.

Nila's fine now. Angie and I are a little worse for the wear, but we're ok.


Iraq War Over?

Two long-term and respected journalists covering Iraq seem to think it is.

Read Michael Totten's article here. It references another article by Michael Yon which you can read here.

Read and discuss.


We Need to Talk

The following words are NOT the same and they are NOT interchangeable with one another:


Yea means yes. It's the opposite of nay as in: "Do you want to win the lottery? Yea or nay?"

Yay is an interjection of joy as in: "I just won the lottery. Yay for me!"

Yeah also means yes as in: "Did you just win the lottery?" "Yeah, I did."

I say yay for those of you that regularly choose the right one.

Yeah, I did.



Let me first to show you THIS!


So Much World

It seems there's so much going on in the world that I wish I were a part of.
"Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time."
Paulo Coelho calls that an old Arab proverb in his book The Alchemist. I don't whether it is or not, but I like it.

I just finished reading The Alchemist. I really liked it, but it was hard for me to read it. The unsubtle message was hard to get around. By that I mean it was hard to see the story past the philosophy.

But I don't know if that's a true assessment of the book or if that's just true for me. The book is about a boy searching for his Personal Legend. I couldn't help but read it in juxtaposition with my own situation.


So, I Think I Can Dance

I feel like I owe you all an update here. It's been awhile, yes?

Here are three things I want to share. The links are in the titles. I don't know if that's clear in the formatting, so, if you like what you read, click the heading for more information.

So, You Think You Can Dance:

This is a tv show on Fox. It's like American Idol for dancing. In fact, that's probably what they said when they pitched the show.

It's in it's third or fourth season, but I never watched it before. While we were in Iraq, they showed repeats of the last season on a channel from Dubai. I watched it for the first time then because it was in English.

I really enjoyed it, so I've been watching the new season now that I'm home. It's really great.

It's hard not to be impressed by the skill these kids have. Each week they dance in a different style. This week Katie and Josh danced a Bollywood routine. It was pretty great.

Meijer Mealbox:

Angie mentioned on her blog that I have been making dinner lately. It's all thanks to the Meijer Mealbox. I was looking for a website that would let me choose recipes and then provide me with a shopping list and the mealbox does just that.

We've eaten:

Pork Satay
Minted Snow Peas
Pork Fried Rice
Easy Chicken Egg Rolls
Baja Chicken Tacos
Festive Spinach Salad
Croque Monsieur
Cabbage and Apple Slaw
Coconut-Grilled Pineapple
Chili-Lime Beef Wraps
Green Rice
beef Chimichurri
Peruvian Potatoes
Turkey Croissant Melt
Corn Salad

Most of the recipes have been very good. We've repeated the pork fried rice we like it so much. However, the beef chimichurri is made with balsamic vinegar which we all agreed made the beef taste rotten and the cabbage apple slaw tasted like boring cabbage.

You can find all of the recipes on the mealbox.

Snap. I have totally forgotten what the third thing is. I am watching Ali Lohan's interview on a David Letterman rerun. She's creepy. She looks like she's 46, but she's only 14.

Ok. That's over. I remember now.

The Restaurant List:

It's back!

You're thinking, "What's back? What is it? Where was it?"

If you have a good memory, you might remember that I started another blog to discuss new restaurants. It turns out though, that I didn't really care to discuss a restaurant before I went there.

I dragged Sis into it and, as it turns out, she didn't care either.

Well, I've made a few changes and added Angie as an author. Now, we'll be reviewing movies, books, restaurants and anything else we want. Like Oprah, we want you to live your best life ever.

Or whatever her new slogan is.

It's just in the beginning stages. Also, keep in mind that we've all been sick, so we don't have much to review.

Speaking of sick, it should be noted that Sis officially succumbed to the Nila virus, bringing Nila's infection count up to 6.

That we know of.



Things in the Meeker household have pretty much stalled for the past seven days. The sickness has taken all of our time.

That's not true, of course, but we're spending much more time taking pills, napping, blowing noses, talking about how miserable we are, going to the little clinic and sneezing than we might otherwise. It cuts into our ability to do other things.

Today was Angie's turn at the Little Clinic. She has an ear infection and a sinus infection, so she's on amoxicillin too now.

Also hampering our efforts with things like blogs is that we've had power cord issues. My power cord (a three-month-old replacement) basically melted and stopped transmitting electricity. Angie's started smoking.

We ordered new ones at different times and from different online retailers. They both arrived today.

For anyone curious, mine was a better deal and arrived in only three days. Ask me how I'm so fly.

This evening, then, we had unfettered computer access, but nothing of note to write. Except, of course, that we're sick.

The good news is that I am on the upswing. I mean, I must be, right? I've been on antibiotics for five days already.

Oh. I did get my hair cut today. When I walked in, my barber looked at me and said, "Looks like someone's been enjoying being back in America a little too much."