Friday, September 14, 2012

Moving...again and other things

Family and Friends:

Instead of trying to beat jet lag, I'm going to write this tonight so I don't have miles and piles of emails from concerned folks when I get up in the morning.

I've just watched the moving ceremony of the State Department's return of the remains of the 3 embassy employees and ambassador to the US.  I can understand how seeing the images of the past week might be alarming to many of you.

I've written earlier about troubled Tripoli and the desperation of a poor, uneducated populace there only increases.  They have nothing to lose either so using a film produced and directed by an American-style extremist as an excuse to riot and burn places down, in this case the KFC and Hardees, is as good an excuse as any I guess. The problem with all these protests is that I am sure that 99% of the people have not seen the movie.  Extremism on either side is irrational.  In the States, the West, it produces horrible things like the film everyone's upset about or the Koran burning and over here in the Middle East it produces other kinds of irrational behaviors.

I'd heard from a colleague today that as long as the Pope was here on his "peace" mission, Lebanon would be quiet.  He thought the Pope should live here always but, the truth is, that hasn't helped keep things quiet in Tripoli.  What happens in Beirut often has little to do with Tripoli, just 65 km. away. So, we went up to a mountain village to do a bit of shopping.  It has always been quiet there, a mostly Christian area.  Below I have written down the practical issues of remaining or leaving here.  I am not being foolhardy. 

How many times have I moved? I just counted them up, 23 times, so far.  But in all the moves I've made, this one was by far, the most physically demanding.  First, I couldn't find boxes and, even if I had, I woudn't have been able to move them all by myself.  Second, I was living on the 3.5 floor.  Third, I needed to walk up an incline.  Fourth, I moved to the 3.5 floor!  Let's add that the "new" apartment was not cleaned, per my instructions.  I have seen the cleaning job of the crew here and could not imagine them doing any good at all--with their dirty rags and mops they could actually make things worse.  I began on Sunday and finished on Thursday evening.  It felt like a pre-sports conditioning week, hauling a backpack full of books and two hand-carry bags full of other things each time.  On Tuesday evening I found some boxes on my doorstep from housing so I filled them.  On Wednesday morning housing took them all, the TV, the mircowave, and the hanging clothes (flung in the back of the old pickup truck on top of the boxes) and hauled them up the stairs.  I emptied many of the boxes and brought them back to fill.  That evening, I looked at what was left and thought, "There is no way I can make this many trips up and down the stairs to finish this job!"  On Thursday morning I called a colleague and her husband and they cheerfully agreed, bringing the family van with them.  In short order, we loaded the van, followed it up the hill, and unloaded it.  The second load was much smaller, leaving me the recycling to deal with.

Though I am sitting amidst a few remaining boxes and bags to unload, I am very pleased with the new apartment.  I have my fingers crossed that this 3rd apartment is the answer to my allergies.  Besides that, the view here is stunning, there's no burn pile or caretaker's cottage immediately behind me and my desk looks out over a beautiful valley, harbor, and mountains.  Because this is a newer apartment things work here much better than they did in the older apartment.  There is real hot water that arrives in a timely fashion in the kitchen. The refrigerator is not moldy. They scraped away the mold in the back bedroom and repainted it so that should help...until it gets moldy again.  Of course there is a list of things I've found that were simply neglected.  The hassle of getting help for these things is pretty exhausting at times.  I don't have enough wasta (power/influence) to make people care!

Next Semester
I am somewhat prepared but must work fairly intensively next week to create the coursebooks for two courses in lieu of textbooks that students wouldn't purchase anyway.  Then there is the schedule, filled with holidays (holy days) for two separate religions that makes Swiss cheese out of any schedule.  Finally, there is the uncertainty about whether or not students can get to classes from Tripoli and elsewhere if the disturbances spread.  We shall see.

In the Meantime
  • I keep my computer backed up on a hard drive.
  • I have a small bag with a list of essentials
  • I took my violin back to the States this summer
  • I pay attention to the news.
I must work and this is where my job is.


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