Thursday, September 17, 2009

Here Goes

So a few people have asked me to stay in touch while I am in Afghanistan.  Not to mention the few that have asked me not to go - or those who have asked why I am not going to Hawaii instead.  In deference to the former and with nothing against the latter - I have decided to blog about my trip.

I leave on Sunday - but knew I needed to get things going before I left.   This blog is the first step I have taken other than booking my trip, applying for a visa and oh yeah, making the commitment to go. 

Many have asked why I am going. 

The simple answer is that the opportunity presented itself and I decided to take advantage of it. 

The Clarks have always given me the opportunity to push my limits and get out of my comfort zone.  It seems, at the ripe old age of 37 - they are doing so again.

For those who don't know - the Clarks are life long friends of my family.  My parents used to stay up all night with them on Christmas Eve building toys (and an infamous Mickey Mouse House) for my brothers and I.  When we moved from Upstate New York to Nashville - we lived with them for 3 months while we were in transition.  

As a tween and teenager I would visit for weeks in the summer and regale them with tales of my teenage angst.  They were good listeners who challenged my teenage thinking while also being supportive of me as I developed ideas about the world.

Their daughter, Shoshana, is the Managing Director of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation in Kabul.  Turquoise Mountain is an organization founded on the idea that Afghan culture needs to be preserved and is dying in the face of the years of wars that have torn their country apart.  

Judy, Shoshana's mother, said she was going and I jumped at the chance to join her.

I do not know a great deal about the culture - I have read Rory's book, "The Places in Between" and am partway through "Kabul Beauty School" - another book about an Afghani interloper.

I am hoping to do some work while I am there.  Not sure what that will be or what it will look like.

I am hoping to learn about a culture that - by reputation - has no use for a gay American who produces parties for an evil media empire.

I must also admit that I am hoping to to gain a bit of perspective on who that gay party planner is.

Am I scared? - a bit.  My brother David said my plan lacked common sense.  As usual - I think he is right.  

But instead I have taken the philosophy that Judy, Shoshana's mother, gave me.  When I sent an email asking about a recent bombing at the Kabul airport - she wrote one back entitled "boom boom".

"This is all happening very far away.  If there was a mugging in New Haven, does that mean that you shouldn't go to New Haven?"  And while I admit that you could drive a truck through the holes in her theory - she has a point.  

We are not at war with this country.  We are at war with a certain group that has terrorized our country as well as theirs.  A very important distinction.

My mother thinks that I have lost my mind.  I have convinced her that this is my mid life crisis and that my trip is equivalent to a cherry red convertible.  She offered to buy me the car instead of taking the trip.  (Don't tell Jim).

And while on the topic of Jim.  Thank you for all of the support on this.  

Thank you also to Lisa for cheering on this idea and encouraging me to do it.  Thank you Aliya for doing the same and for the beautiful gift.  Thank you Adam for hooking me up with your friends and also for inspiring the blog title that I have co-opted. Thanks also to everyone at work who have supported me in taking this trip and thank you Babis for including me in your prayers and to the many others who have expressed concern, support, encouragement and even doubt.  

I can think of a million reasons not to go.  But the beard is coming in nicely (if slowly) and god knows I can't get away with a beard in Chelsea.  Here's hoping it passes in Kabul.


  1. I'm glad you're doing the blog-- I like to feel connected and that helps. Just ordered the book you're still reading, "Kabul Beauty School" because it might help me understand where you are.

    We make a sort of circle at church for Wed. night suppers and prayer concerns/joys were called for. I mentioned you, Babis, since your trip holds both joy and concern.

    Somehow with the bad acoustics and the hard-of-hearing folks in the fellowship hall, a few thought my HUSBAND, Stephen, was going to Afghanistan. I hadn't even had a chance to talk to him about your trip, so imagine his surprise when some asked all about his trip and offered their support.

    Oh, and for the record (and I know I speak for many), you're already so much more than a Gay Party Planner to me, Babis!

    I hope you help those in your path and learn along the journey.

    Here in North Carolina, your "oldest friend", loving you to pieces,

  2. Will you be setting up a blog for our trip to Rhinebeck as well? It can get pretty intense up there. You may want to keep a record of your experiences.

    Be safe! If you find that girl from the cover of the NatGeo, ask her if she's interested in a reality show.