Right now it’s about midnight and some of the students in the neighborhood are revelling…hollering and singing happy birthday and whatnot in the street. I love our apartment and Hamra, but I’m certainly not going to miss living on dorm row. It’s a good thing Austin isn’t much of a college town.
One thing I forgot to mention in my last post is that our friend Ben emailed us from Baghdad last week. It was good to hear from him and interesting to see his pictures. It’s too bad that we’ll be gone when he returns to Beirut next.
Also, it looks like the fix is in for our good friend Malcolm to visit us for a couple weeks in May. This is an exciting development indeed. Malcolm and I were renting an apartment in Montreal when Morrissey’s last album (You Are The Quarry) came out. There is no significance to this.
Something I’ve been enjoying lately, thanks to Amy’s dad, is reading the NY Times opinion pieces every day. Today Nicholas Kristof was warning about the evils of high-fructose corn syrup. While I agree that obesity is a terrible problem in America and I find the school “beverage contracts” appalling, he was getting a little crazy (5¢/fluid oz. tax on sugary drinks). That kind of thinking will only lead to a crime-free-but-freedomless ultra-utopia in which we’re forced to reanimate Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes.
I found this old post floating around in my drafts. A few funny things about it are (a) how spectacularly I’ve failed on the work front , (b) about a week ago I discovered an electric space heater in one of our cupboards, and (c) they weren’t in fact offering visa on arrival in Iran.
(27 Jan 2006–at least that’s what the timestamp was)
So, we’ve been back in Beirut for a couple of weeks. We had a wonderful 5 or 6 weeks in the U.S.–flitting about the country visiting friends and family, getting married, etc–but it is also nice to be back at our own place. I’ll probably write more about that in a post entitled “There and Back Again: A Hobbit’s Holiday.”
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in to sit down on or eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
Actually, our apartment doesn’t have any heat. It’s mostly fine, because we’ve got the gas-powered monster pictured below. however, we ran out of gas about 4 days ago, haven’t gotten around to ordering a new gas bottle, and don’t have a #25 metric wrench so that we can swap out the one from the grill.
We’ve been able to see our friends and revisit some of our old haunts, as well as get back into the swing of things here. I’ve also been taking on some extra work, which was surprisingly easy to adjust to. Now I’m just trying to force my schedule back into a 10am – 8pm timeframe (as opposed to the 12pm-10pm mess I’ve gotten myself into now).
But all this industry isn’t for naught. While we were down in Baltimore spending Christmas with my brother’s family, we took a trip into DC to visit the Syrian embassy. We were able to get a 2-visit visa with a 3-month expiry the same day for $100 each. The price tag was a little rough going down, since we’ve previously been able to get visas at the border for $16, but we definitely wanted to get in there a couple more times before we leave the Middle East and we most definitely don’t want a repeat of our last fiasco. So, although we had been looking forward to throwing a Super Bowl party, we’re heading to Aleppo for 4-days the first weekend in February.
Also, we’re going to Greece for 4 or 5 days in mid-February. Our friends in Oneida are playing a one-off show in Athens, which is about a 2-hour flight from Beirut. So, we’re going to head over for a few days, see some sights and the show, and then our good friend Katy (who happens to be married to someone in the band) is coming back to Beirut with us to finish out the week. It’s a plan that has good times written all over it. Also, having been on tour in the U.S. with Oneida a few times in various capacities, I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to sell Oneida t-shirts in a foreign land.
We are also trying to plan some more ambitious trips for the twilight weeks of our time here. There were several candidates, but once we heard that Iran was now offering visas upon arrival, that destination quickly percolated to the top of the list.