7/30/2008

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 comments:

Tammy said...

Well, you could hang out with me and give me words when I forget them. Which, seems to be happening more and more lately; as you witnessed with "Amelia something Earhart". I do not jest...simple words are slipping from me, so we'll hang out together and you can be my word man!! I am not going to offer words of comfort...cause that just seems to make you mad!

Mobea said...

All I can say is enjoy the non-drama while it last. It won't be long before you're in CA again and having to deal with earthquakes and fires and you'll be so busy working. You'll be missing time with watching Nila grow by the minute, having time to spend with your family and friends, etc. etc. Just relax, you're right, it takes a real re-adjustment period to relax all the time. Last time one of my children did that he miracously got his wife pregnant!
Write something on my happy blog. That will keep you busy for awhile.

Brandi said...

At least your new place has a TV...and furniture...lol!

Mobea said...

And if you really want to go through cultural shock, come to Texas. YeeHaw!!!

jen said...

sometimes i think about how i never dreamed i'd ever NOT want to be in America...but you are so very right-- boring and predictable don't work well after living in Kurdistan.
no one can possibly understand what that is like if they've not lived through it. you're right...it stinks...and there's not much to do to change it. however, it seems like Chuck Smith hit the nail on the head.