Saturday, December 30, 2006

I Lost Game Cease-Fire Broken

Yesterday Kasofa broke the truce followed by prompt retaliation from Shaggy and further counter retaliations from both sides. Talks are now in progress to re-establish the cease-fire. To find out more click here.

In other news, Saddam got killed.

The clip they showed on the tellie was so freaking dodgy. And the moon landing didn't happen either. I was telling my aunt, who I played the driver for today too, that they're not showing Saddam actually getting hanged and that we can't even see the faces of the executioners or the presence of any officials. I went to the club, got my official receipt for joining, handed in the passport pictures, was supposed to come back after an hour but didn't to pick up the membership cards. By the time I did come back to pick up the IDs the offices were closed.

Last night I finished reading the nine page human resource management handout that I've been trying to read for the past week. But I've still got to dig out all the words I didn't understand from the dictionary and try to really understand what it was that I read. I did move on to do some homework for another subject. Got 20 percent of that done. I'm so far behind schedule. And no I didn't make a study schedule yet.

I spoke to Suzy a couple of nights ago I think. I had that talk with her about how I felt. I learnt that I'm not her 'first love' as I had assumed and that she's not expecting to ever marry me thus falsifying another assumption of mine. It finally seemed to me that the conditions are set for a romantic relationship without the marriage clause. So I ask her what she thought about us getting together. And she got to asking what that would mean. I said that it wouldn't change much and I'd start pinching her bum and say "I love you"s. And here's the hitch, I really don't have any feelings for her and I tell her so. And in all honesty she's not hot or interesting enough. She said that she'll think about it.

Just before I started writing the post Nahida's bro called me up to the roof to show me the heavy smoke from an explosion, I took a picture of it, but it really isn't that impressive in my opinion. Just now he came to the staircase to raise my attention to the mortar rounds blowing up in succession, I followed him up to the roof but by the time we got up there it stopped. He pointed out another cloud of black smoke rising in the opposite direction of previous one. He says that the retaliation for Saddam' execution will take place tonight. I don't imagine hearing much about that tomorrow.

Breaking news: the truce is back on. Which as explained by Kasofa requires that the truce itself be not mentioned. So you the reader and I have just lost right now, but it stops here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Feet Are Cold

My feet are cold. It's chronic. Everywhere else I'm fine. It's just my feet. My socks get moist and my feet get colder. It's not right.

Tea is cold too. If it was room temperature it'd be okay, but it's verging on icy. Tea gets cold so fast during winter. It's not right either.

Today my aunt got me fast-tracked (wassta) into a membership at a social club. Something I've wanted for years. One technicality that I think got in my way before is that my parents are divorced. I must say it's a bit late since all the friends I had that were members have already ditched the country and Nahida says it's full of dodgy people now. In any case it's good to have in case things ever get better.

When I called my dad up yesterday to check if he'd accept paying the joining fee, the price I had to pay was admit that my summer in the UK was shite and that I wouldn't want to repeat it next summer and what sucks is that I've got a return ticket. My dad's so frugal. But I did emphasise that I still expect to get a vacation to some place else.

My dad also lectured me about how much of a user-abuser kind of person my aunt is. I realise that but fortunately for me I've at times been a user-abuser myself. So as long as there's a mutual exchange going on it's all good. Lately I've been my aunt's personal driver. So far it's just been for the sake of going to see or fetch my senile grandma (spending time with grandma is something I ought to do anyway). But today, after she got me the membership I came back home and she called so that I take her to the shops to do some groceries.

The other thing she's done for me is lend me one of her mobile phones since I still haven't replaced the one I lost. I'm having friends volunteer to scour my favourite phone for me since it's no longer in the market. India called me today and told me he found one yesterday in Bab-AlShargi. But Nahida also spoke to my dad yesterday, and she convinced him to give me three-hundred bucks to splash on a new mobile phone. After being tempted to get a Motorola Razr since Nokia's have become crazily over-sized, I'm settling on a Sony-Ericsson. Yet to see if I can afford the model I've got my mind on. And I hope I get used to those damn annoying buttons.

This year's New Year's eve party isn't going to happen for me. There was the thought of going up to Kurdistan and spending it with my cousins but it seemed to much trouble for its worth. To fly there and back would cost 150 bucks I think, and the cab rides to and from the airport in Baghdad would cost 80 bucks. And going by car is just too dangerous with Saddam soon to be executed.

So my plan is to just have a normal night. I'm even telling my mates not to come to mine. I don't want a cockfest at my house on New Year's eve. We'd just stare at each other and bitch about how shitty are lives have become. I'm not even planning any booze either.

I've given up trying to understand the politics that are going on in the country. It's just too much shit to stress about, better leave it for the others to deal with. It reached a climax for me when my aunt was telling me that it's the Sunnis that are attacking the Shiites in Al-Hurria and not the other way around as I mentioned a couple of posts ago. But I have to add that my aunt also denies that the Shiite 'death squads' exist.

I was taking it for granted that what was going on here was a one-sided affair. But I'm not so sure any more. It seems that there are others that are seeing things from the other end and they've come up with their own way of looking at things.

I'm spending way too much time looking at porn sites these days. So much so that they've lost their effect. I just want to see women, I don't want to forget what they look like. It's so pathetic.

I'm not getting any studying done. I think I ought to try and meet up with one of my classmates to try to collect some motivation. I still got one week. I don't expect to do to well in my first round of tests, but must put some more effort. Let's see I'm at page 7 of 9 of the first handout that I began reading at the beginning of the week. And that's just the first pass. I'm not understanding any of it. I haven't gone through the process of digging out the odd words (which is one per line) out of the dictionary.

Starting tomorrow, I'm building a schedule. And I'm going to get some studying done. Tomorrow's good since I won't be driving my aunt around.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Last Of My Bottle Of Teacher's

Just got off the phone with Suzy. The phone registry says the call was nearly an hour long. What's different this time was that she was the one to call me. There's was an opening to talk to dirty. When talking about New Year's (which I've decided to ignore this year) I mentioned how back in Lebanon we'd get in a group of guys and girls and have booze and drugs, and that we'd have a good time and thinking to myself I thought I'd of had a better time if I didn't always puke my guts out before midnight. She quickly asked me if I take drugs. I told her I did and she asked me how it felt. I mentioned the giggles and the munchies and the dead-brain effect the following day. She said she wanted to try it once, even after I told her that it wrecked my life. She wanted to know more about me and the 'drug' thing, but I told her that I didn't like opening up to that subject since it's behind me and she tried to refrain from asking more. One thing I did try to make clear was that I appeared to people as a stoner even before I started smoking up.

Dealing with Suzy is troublesome. She's got some puppy love for me now. That first-love kind of love. And I don't love her. The trouble is that it's so damn tempting to take advantage of it. She's not gorgeous, but hell I'm desperate enough and I'm so tempted. A bit of feely-touchy during school would be more than welcome if it didn't have such strong emotions on her side to deal with. On one hand I'm pressured to be close to her since we did become friends throughout last year and especially since her best-friend Sandy left a couple of weeks ago. It makes for a funny juggle between our friendship, her love for me, and my perverted and unaffectionate impulse to feel her up. I ought to try to talk to her frankly about it.

Had an argument with India when he told me that Sadr's alliance with the big Shiite alliance has been broken. I was drunk at the time. But my point was that it wouldn't make any difference on what was going on the ground and India was saying that something will happen but that he didn't know what. It's just weird how I was just angrily protesting at such an alliance in my before-last post. But al-Sadr's militia isn't the only one, it's just that it's the least discreet.

What the Brits did at that police station in Basra today was a good thing, and it ticks me off that some officials have the audacity to criticize them for it. I wish we could some more of the same being done by the Americans elsewhere.

Nahida's been pissed off at me up until today, but I think she's finally thawing.

This holiday's been good to me. I'm well chilled out now unlike how I was just before it started. Now that I'm at home without the need to go to uni and have to go through the ordeal of getting there, there's much less stuff to stress me out.

I do need to get studying. I've spent the past couple of days reading four pages of a handout. Well it's a start. I've memorized the definition of Human Resource Management so far. That's bound to come up on the test that I've got coming up two weeks time. But I really need to pick up the pace.

Porn sites are so unfair. The bleeding reminder of what lays beyond the borders of this god-forsaken country. And now I'm out of booze too bugger! And I would be complaining about the lack of weed if I was Od, but I've had my share of weed at the expense of pussy. I regret not getting some from the UK for the poor guy. I think I could've pulled it off, but India put it in my head that there were sniffer dogs at the airport and I didn't imagine Nahida's sister who works at the airport would whisk me through all the security controls.

There are prostitutes still working here. But I'm too pussy shit to deal with them. And they're freaking expensive. And I'm incapable of saving a penny. I really ought to try to start saving money. Okay how about setting a target? I could easily put aside ten thousand dinars a day on the days I go to college without anyone noticing. So that would come up to approximately a hundred bucks a month. Which isn't bad at all. I think a hundred bucks could get me one fine whore for one night. So if I save for two months I could get two whores for one night that Sida went on and on about what a great experience it was to do. But I'm still pussy shit to get whores on my own.

Suzy called again just to tell me that she's going to sleep now. I don't know why she feels compelled to do so. But in any case I'm out of booze now (drank the last sip) and I'm not quite sleepy yet. I've decided to change my cheap whiskey choice now: Teacher's is way better than the Grant's I used to buy and it's only a couple thousand dinars more.

Oh and Merry Christmas :) Had I not showered today, I could've made snow by rubbing my hair.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hoping Not To Need Any Chill Pills

Yesterday was another piss taking up day. Nahida woke me up early in the morning. She was acting crazy telling me that the cops are coming to the house. I figured they were coming to talk about Ati who got nicked yesterday. Nahida is extremely paranoid but I wouldn't want be in the house when they come either, I could flagged as a suspicious foreigner because of my fucked up Arabic or some militia guy among the cops could think I'd make a good catch after work. So she throws me some clothes to put on, she complains about my hair in which I was in no mood to deal with and she rushes me out of the house. I take a step out of the garage and take a peek to the left and see an Iraqi Army truck parked at the end of the street and wondered if it was a coincidence or if Nahida was getting senile on me again.

So I walked in the opposite direction with my grotesque out-of-bed hair (I get people telling me to tidy my hair when it is made tidy) and didn't turn back to look around. Nahida yelled out from the balcony to tell me to get some bread from the bakery. So I walked to Nahida's brother's spare car part shop. I felt like a Jew in Nazi Germany running from the Gestapo. On the way I thought how suspicious my wireless router with it's blinking lights and antennas might be thought of as insurgent/terrorist communication equipment by the idiot Iraqis that had spent their lives living in a rural farm. Or what if they take my computer? In my last blog post I bitched at the government.

During Saddam's days I once sent a passworded letter to my friends on a floppy disk with my dad. The file got confiscated by the Iraqis on the border. Rumours had reached me in Lebanon that my dad got detained because of the letter but the next day I found out that it wasn't true. When I came back to Iraq during summer break my friend told me the story of what happened afterwards.

Months later they broke the password on the Word file and the intelligence service called up my dad and my friend to come to their offices. My friend was shitting in his pants. The intelligence service translated the letter word by word into Arabic and what was a letter about listening to the Chemical Brothers (the music band) and asking about how friends were doing, turned into a letter about talks with 'the chemical brothers' (chemical weapon dealers) and inquiries about Oday (Saddam's son) and his personal body guard. After my friend explained everything, the polite agent was satisfied and considered the matter settled. The agent even told my friend that he would be very useful in the intelligence service. My friend lied and said that he would love to work as soon as he finished his studies.

So I hanged out at the spare parts shop for a while. Nahida's brother was surprised to see me. I explained to him what had happened and making reference to Nahida's paranoia and madness he rhetorically asked what would she do if they had come in the middle of the night.

Nahida's brother at the shop told me how recently Iraqi Army and US forces were going through the houses across the street from the shop. They stumbled upon one guy that spoke English. They got that guy to interpret for the Americans. After they were done, the Iraqi Army said that the guy who had been interpreting is the guy they were looking for and they took the poor guy with them. Nahida's brother mentioned that a ex-pilot of the brother of the local guy that provides the rations in the neighbourhood got killed, he explained that the government's offers to give pay to the old army's officers and to establish a dialogue with Baathists is a ruse to bring them out into the open so that they be taken out. The mentioning of the murder a pilot reminded me of India telling me that there was a murder campaign on Iraqi pilots by the Iranian backed militias for revenge for the bombings that they did in Iran during the Iraq-Iran war.

After Nahida's brother dropped me back home. Nahida clarified that it was because of the Iraqi Army and not the police that she shooed me out. She said if they were just Americans she would've kept me home so I could chat to them. She gave me a run through of all the things they looked at. She placed my laptop underneath a pile of books and was therefore unseen. She told them that my wireless router was a device for charging electricity. There were suitcases above my wardrobe, they asked what was inside of them, she told them that they were free to go through them and that there were more upstairs. She told me that the thing that got their most attention was my collected CD album to which they exclaimed at how many 'movies' I've got.

Then we went off to the police station to check up on Ati. And then we came back home because she needed to pick some cash up to give to the lawyer before she goes to the court house. She went on her own to the court house and left me at home since I was in such a nasty mood.

India showed up later with his new laptop. I was curious to see if his laptop would work on my wireless router which it did but not on one of the alternate WEP keys. So then I tried to access my wireless router through my browser but I couldn't. And then I fucked with it, I reset the device, and it stopped working. And I spent the rest of the day trying to get it to work. It finally did work after my ISP told me to change my static IP address. India is just bad luck to anybody's internet connection, it was his idea to reset the wireless router, the bastard!

Oh and I nearly forgot to mention that Nahida got Ati back that day and what a relief. He came back looking fine. They hadn't roughed him up or anything. I guess he won't be wearing those American boots any more and that he might follow Nahida's advice about where to go and not to go a bit more.

Today on the other hand, was cool. Nothing went wrong. Nahida's pissed off at me which is fine, don't have to hear her yapping so much for a while. She's been pissing me off because she's been going on and on about ideas about sending me off on a vacation all of which seem unlikely to happen, so I told her that the ideal vacation would be if she went on vacation instead and now she's not talking to me. So other than a quick trip to my uncle's to drop off some food so that he may give it to Fozzy (her husband who's managing my farm), I've spent the day lazing about at home. But I really ought to start studying, because I've got a lot of material to cover and memorize during this two week vacation and then the dreaded tests start.

I think that this run of bullshit that I've been going through these past few days is turning around and I can begin to chill out now.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Piss Take

I'm getting easily stressed out these days. Yesterday I spent a whole hour stuck in traffic trying to get through from one end to the other of my main street. In the traffic mesh some punk Kia minivan driver tried to drive into me. I rolled down my window to have and had a go at him. The thing is that I was ahead of him and he was coming at me at an angle and if I didn't have a go at him I wouldn't have had enough clearance to move forward without breaking my side view mirror.

I fuelled up the car on the way too, that took 20 minutes of my time at the most. As I was fuelling the car, the gas pump attendant asked me if I wanted more than the 'legal' ration of 50 litres at a time, I asked him if it would cost me extra. He said no, and that he was asking just because. So when the counter reached 50 litres he zeroed it and I continued to pump another 20 litres into my car. So I do the maths (70 litres X 350 dinars a litre = 24,500 dinars) of how much I owe him and him 25,000 dinars and then he bitches about only giving him a 500 dinars tip. I don't even know why the guy even deserves one, he didn't even hold the pump for me.

It took me two whole hours to get to uni, by which time I made it only to my last class. And then it took me another whole hour to get home.

Then at college, the teacher was giving a lecture and Suzy sitting next to me pointed out that the teacher was only speaking to me since everybody else was chit chatting. And their chit chatting got so loud that I couldn't hear the teacher any more. It takes the piss that it takes me two hours to get to bleeding college and not be able to listen to what the teacher has to say. Nobody in my class seems to have any interest at all to learn what's being taught for the purpose to apply it in the future.

On my way home I bought a bottle of whiskey, got home, drank fell asleep. Woke up at around one in the morning took a long shower. Felt much better.

Today was no better, I got to college late again. I must admit that I'm leaving home a bit late. I walk into class to see just the teacher there standing on his own. I asked him some questions and he gave me his photocopies so I could study some of the material I missed the previous morning. I go down to the garden, find my smiling classmates sitting in plastic chairs bathing in the sun. Bathing in their glory that they didn't attend class. Thank god these guys weren't studying medicine.

We only had one other class today and the teacher's on vacation for an operation in Jordan I think. We played a game called 'Bat'. Two teams, one team has a ring that's hidden in one of their stretched out closed palms and then the leader of the other team has to figure out which hand it's in. It's a bit like poker since to figure out who has the ring and in which hand the leader of the other team has to read the members that are hiding the ring while those that are hiding the ring are trying to suppress any tell tale signs and try to throw off the leader of the other team with even the simplest twitch of the wrist.

Way back from college was a pain, I ended up paying nearly twice the usual fare to the cab driver since he gave me the a grand tour of Baghdad to get me home. He even took me through one neighbourhood that at the end that had long been deemed 'unsafe', that me and the driver were left trying to reconcile our memories of the neighbourhood to that it was now. It was just a street and it was so peaceful, so peaceful one could hear the birds chirping. And then there were the shops that had been blown to bits too and the knowledge that nobody comes here since it was labelled dangerous.

When I got home Nahida wasn't here, instead Mo, a Sudanese guy that helps her with odd stuff such as the gardening, sat there in the garage waiting for me so could leave. Because I don't have the key to the house. He tells me that the Ati, Sudanese guy that lives with us got nabbed by the cops and Nahida had gone to go get him out. Nahida came back an hour or so later. Ati apparently was acting suspicious and was extra suspicious since he was wearing boots just like those that the Americans wear. So some dumb cops asked him for his papers, the papers didn't seem to be in order to them and him being Darfourian unable to speak in Arabic fluently couldn't explain the special circumstance that he's in, they chucked him at the local police station. Nahida tried to get him released but the cops there said that since those cops that brought him in are of a different kind they can't release him themselves.

When Nahida came back she made several calls. It seems Ati is going to be stuck there till Sunday at least since the judge in charge of this type of problem has a death in the family. Nahida saw him, and she said that he looks okay. I hope he doesn't get some over place where they might rough him up. Having been in an Iraqi jail myself, I feel for him. Knowing that you've done nothing wrong and just waiting for a fucked up bureaucracy to release you is so agonizing.

And then I read that comment by tmpName, and I realise that Nahida still hasn't given me any word on preparing my transfer papers. So I throw a long fit at her after which she gets me to hear from the secretary at the registrar's office that my transfer papers are at the ministry waiting to be processed with another 340 students from our college, all of which aren't being processed because the ministry isn't doing their job.

I've been stressed out ever since I read that first comment on my last post. And I've got to thank tmpName for responding to that, so... Thank you tmpName. But seriously what's in the past is in the past. I'm sick of the government bringing up the past to try to show themselves as the good guys. This government is in alliance with militias. Sectarian militias that are going about knocking people off and kicking them out of their homes. A couple days ago India was describing to me, how the Shiites have been leading the offensive on clearing Sunnis from their homes neighbourhood after neighbourhood.

From al-Kadhamiya they cleared they displaced the Sunnis from al-Hurria, now al-Hurria is a Shiite stronghold. Ghazaliya which was once a mixed neighbourhood, is now Sunni on one side and Shiite on the other. Al-Hurria and the Shiite half of al-Ghazaliya is now executing a campaign on hai-alAdel which has borders on both. Hai-alAdel which is now mostly Sunni, and more so since some of the Shiite homes in hai-alAdel got kicked out by Sunnis that were displaced from al-Hurria.

I ran what I just said through with the cab drivers I took today and they both told me that it was true. And the second one went so far as to point out that it was the Shiite militias that were taking the offensive while the Sunnis were trying to hold their ground.

And this government isn't trying to stop this, because they're in alliance with the punks that are taking the offensive. And then there's the governments of America and Britain showing their support for the new monster in town. It's a royal piss take.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Why I Listen To My iPod When I Take A Cab

Last night I saw a show on Arte (French-German channel), about TV in Kurdistan. According to the journalists interviewed journalists still don't have full freedom of the press. That for example they can not attack politicians directly. One explained that most of the laws that protect journalists are those put in place by Saddam, one can't imagine those gave much protection. But there was a lot of good to be said about the media in Kurdistan too. If you understand German or French here's the times of the re-runs of the show.

And if there's one thing that's odd about television if one were to assume that Iraq is now a free country, is that I've never heard anybody direct criticism at any of the politicians in power. All they do is make vague allusions to political 'drifts'. How does one categorise a democratic country with no freedom of speech?

My routine cab conversations are getting very routine. But there was an exception last week when a cab driver tried to convince my friend and me that the country is safe because people aren't killing each other for money.

There are three topics that ultimately have to be touched upon when in a cab. The first is about the checkpoints and how they just bottleneck traffic and provide no security assurances at all. And this is the one that's the most repetitive because there are many checkpoints on the way to wherever one is going and there's a long wait at each one.

Second come the convoys. I get the impression that cabs get more pissed off at Iraqi convoys than American ones. Americans make slow moving convoys that try to maintain a safety distance between the cars in front and behind them, where as Iraqis are too much in a rush are therefore chaotic and threatening. Masked men waving rifles hanging out of their vehicles, shouting and yelling to get others out of the way, sometimes shooting off rounds. It paints a picture that begs the question of how do a bunch of people waving their guns at you meant to protect you?

A lot of convoys are made of unmarked cars. And some of them travel at erratically high speeds too. The usual assumption is that these convoys are those of politicians. Many cab drivers exclaim that we don't know who they are. They could be terrorists for all we know. And then comes the conclusion that they're gangs be they officials or not, they're all gangs.

And then the third topic is safety, and like one cab driver was saying today. As much as I hate Saddam and glad that he's gone, at least he gave us safety. The politicians bicker among themselves about subjects such as federation and the allocation of ministerial posts when all the people want is safety and basic services. The politicians live their roles in the green zone disconnected from society.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Resurrect The Old PC

This weekend I finished setting up my old PC downstairs. I had forgotten that my Creative sound card doesn't work but that's alright since the motherboard has a built-in one. Upon closer inspection the wireless card can't be fixed with a bit of blu-tack. And the cheap motherboard I got doesn't have a built-in LAN socket. But I got that USB Wifi-Max thing that I got for my DS and it's connecting the PC to my router. And so, after trying to use it to hack my satellite to view encrypted channels and failed, I'm not sure what to do with it now.

I got a new SIM card, with the same number that I had. I still need to get a new mobile phone, but it seems that the phone I used to have, the trusty Nokia 1101, is no longer in supply. That phone, with it's monochrome screen and lack of features, has one saving grace: the flashlight. Oh yes, a mobile phone is always within reach, and when the power cuts off nothing could be more useful. So bullocks to phones with a 5 megapixel camera, expandable memory, Bluetooth connectivity or a great sound to listen to music with. I just want a phone with a flashlight.

Nahida wants me to turn off the generator and I need to take a dump first. I hope I don't stay up too late tonight. I was late to uni everyday last week, and many mornings passed without me taking a shower and ended up looking really messy. I think I even wore the same sweater every day for a whole week straight.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sub Woofer Come

Ought to be doing guitar exercises right now but I'm enjoying listening to my iPod through my old Creative PC speakers that's just been brought back to life.

A week ago when I picked up my old desktop from the PC repair shop I dropped off the speakers that had stopped working a long time ago and that I paid over a hundred dollars for, so it was worth trying to get them fixed. Anyway, I used to keep the sub woofer underneath my desk. One time I was wanking and a shot of come flew onto the fabric front of the sub woofer. And I never ever cleaned it. So when I took to the repair guy he took out the speakers out of the box to make an inventory list of all the items. And as he held the sub woofer he began feeling and rubbing the come stain and he continued doing so for at least a whole minute. I had thought about cleaning the thing before taking but never made the time but I'd have never imagined someone being so drawn to the stain. It was so hard not to tell him what it was, and I didn't, I just did my best to keep a straight face.

I didn't get my phone back yet, but it should get retrieved tomorrow. It's a bit odd going out without a mobile phone. Being unable to get in touch with home if something out of the ordinary happens. When I was at evening class the teacher said that a ministry near my house got hit by a bucket load of rockets, which got me worried, but on my way home I didn't notice anything indicating that. I gave one of the guy's a ride home with me thinking if I don't have a phone, I might as well drag someone with a phone with me.

I chatted to K yesterday. He told me he was engaged. I've got the feeling that he's told me that before several times and I keep forgetting that. So I'm making a note of it here.

It's so nice having a big sound in the house again, for the longest time I've been relying on my laptop for music. I need to get a docking station for the iPod with a remote control. I wonder if they have those at Bab-AlShargi. I still haven't heard all the songs I've got on my iPod. And for some reason, I've got a ton of corrupted mp3s ever since I switched to the new iTunes. There were a few corrupted ones before, but I get the impression that there are a whole lot more ever since I switched.

Talking to a girl in my class today, she's travelled a good deal to my surprise. And she says it's not as impossible to transfer from our uni to a uni abroad as I thought it to be. She's planning to go to America as soon as she gets her visa. One thing I appreciated about her was that she took into consideration the costs of studying abroad, the one thing that nobody ever seems to do when they suggest that I ought to leave.

The more I think about leaving, the more I'm happier to be here. But the thought that life could be better abroad, that maybe I could be a better person from the inside also makes leaving more tempting. But I've faced the exact same situation before, and I chose to leave. And in retrospective I regret that choice. Travelling, re-adjusting and culture shocks are just too taxing and I'm still burnt out. Five years in Iraq and I'm still healing.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum Dum

Still trying to play one note eight times fast. As in too fast for me to count as I go along and thus requiring to somehow learn the 'sound' of a note being played eight times. I think I've given up trying to understand the politics of Iraq for now.

My mobile phone dropped out of my pocket in a cab again. And I only realised when I got home. I don't know if I dropped it in the one I took on my way to uni or the one on the way back. After I dropped my phone last time in a cab I made it a habit to turn on the PIN request when powering on option because that time the cab driver turned off my phone and must've kept it for himself. But I stopped doing so during the summer. Fortunately this time I think I was lucky enough to get a cab driver that did answer when Nahida's sister called it. She's supposed to get the phone back off of him as a precaution. Nahida doesn't want a stranger to get to know too much about me. And I don't mind bearing through Nahida's paranoia this time since it involves me doing less.

My guitar teacher told me that I must stop biting my right hand nails. I think I've avoided doing so today. I'm just unsure whether I might have done so absent mindedly. I wonder how long I can last without biting my nails. So far I'm impressed with myself.

After today's first period my 4 other classmates said that they didn't want to attend the next class and they wanted me to ditch with them. But I'm against that because I haven't come to piss around. I told them that I would if only the girls would 'give a chance' (i.e. give a guy a chance to do them), but they either ignored me or didn't get it, had to give one guy the pelvis thrusting motion till he got it after which his eyes lost hope in convincing me to ditch with them. And it was just after that the teacher came in and they got stuck and had to go through the second period. They did escape after that second period and I being the dick showed up, the only student in the class. My teacher gave me two marks that will go to my accumulative average and an idea of what the questions will be in the upcoming test.

I can't blame people for not wanting to read my blog it is definitely very boring.

Oh yeah I can hear my generator running, it seems the Sudanese man that lives with me has figured out how to run the generator by himself and thus saving me the trouble in the future.

There's an American reading Arabic off that gadget next to the camera on AlHurra-Iraq news station. Wow does that make me feel better about myself. His accent is worse than mine and the man's on TV. And he's correcting himself as he's reading. Oh but now he's interviewing Newt Gingrinch. Newt's got some wise stuff to say. Such as suggesting doing a Roosevelt style New Deal for the Iraqis. I've believed for a long time that the government should get people to plant all new trees where they once stood before Saddam destroyed during the Iran-Iraq war.

Suzy gave me grief yesterday when I called her to check if I had done some homework right. She told me that I'm her only friend left since Sandy's left to Amman today. It was a couple of weeks ago we had our little talk in which we agreed that we're not going to have any romance between each other. Sandy's departure has made Suzy's attitude towards me really awkward for me. If only Suzy was a bit cuter, had bigger tits for example, I wouldn't feel so bad if I did mess around with her and eventually break up with her. Now am I making excuses for myself? But I know I'm not interested in her.

Bored, very bored, very very bored. Want to bash my head open, turn my brains to mush and throw it back in.

I was contemplating the thought of taking a mental holiday last night. Just lose my mind for a month or so. Trouble with madness, is that it's really hard to come back from. It might not take much to get there, 100 quid's worth of skunk and a packet of paroxetine that was how I achieved a glorious state of madness 5 years ago. Had I known what I was going to get myself into in the aftermath I might have been able to prevent the crash that followed. I could get my hands on the paroxetine and it takes three weeks to kick in. But I'm not sure if I'd get the same effect without the skunk.

Oh I just came close to taking a bite off of my nails.

I'm waiting for my internet connection to work so I can post. Everyday around about this time (seven in the evening) it turns to shit. I'm going to go practise some guitar exercises.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Strumming Right

I finally started taking guitar lessons today. The tutor's a good guy. The guy pointed out to me that my posture and grip were wrong. He's given me some print outs with exercises and a couple of CDs with video clips and software to help me out. I've yet to check out the CDs. But I've already started doing the exercises. I suck. But hey I can't get any worse than I already am. I've got a long way ahead of me, but I've got plenty of time. And what's great is that it guitar playing doesn't require electricity unlike everything else.

Friday, December 08, 2006

What's Going On?

I wish I could understand what's going on here. For the past couple of weeks I've tried watching the news looking for some concrete sign that things can turn around. I'll keep saying that I'm not good at understanding politics. But I think I can try to see the picture from more than one point of view and I hate conspiracy theories. But I have to admit that conspiracy theories are very seductive. In regards to conspiracy theories, what I try to do is just accommodate them into the big picture so that they can easily be slotted in and out without breaking the cohesion of all the other more upfront factual elements. It makes it harder but most people here are convinced that the Americans are they themselves directly responsible for many terrorist attacks for example that it's impossible to speak to them without being able to concede the possibility. So I'm slowly building up a picture. But I'm getting stuck when it comes to America's stance to the Shiite militias especially the ones that have a strong Iranian influence.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bye Byes And Alcoholism

I thought Kala was going to leave on Sunday but he left today. The poor guy, he had three deaths in his family during the past month. He's now moved to Egypt. I'm sure he's glad that his Cinderella life is all over now. He kept calling himself Cinderella because he wasn't allowed to leave the house.

Dina left to Dubai a couple of days ago out of the blue to Dubai. She was the last chick I could call when I got bored. She says she'll come back in three months but I'm not counting on it.

Even India is going to go piss off to Germany to get some technical training in January.

Well at least I got myself a bottle of cheap whiskey. I should go pour myself another drink.

Oh jeez, I've got this Sudanese man that lives in my house, he helps Nahida with the cleaning and the odd jobs around the house. Nahida helps him get work from the neighbours. This guy keeps startling me when I go in the kitchen when he's praying the dark. I'd walk into the kitchen thinking I'm by myself and then he'd rise or I'll hear him murmuring his prayer. Anyway I got my drink now.

Chatting to Remy, we've come to the conclusion that we're too weak when confronted by temptation. We're coming to terms that we suffer from whiskey withdrawal. Alcoholism is for real.

Yesterday I sent in a comment to the 'Have Your Say' thing on the BBC website. So today they called me and asked me to participate on the show, but I declined on the premise that I'm not knowledgeable enough and don't represent the common Iraqi. But then I went back to the site to look for my comment. And it wasn't there! The punks! Why would they bother to ask me to participate on the show and not post my comment? I sent in another that although seems to me like a very fair remark it would definitely rub the wrong way if it were brought to light even though I don't know why. I wonder if it'll show up tomorrow nevertheless. I doubt it.

One thing that's driving me nuts in the media is that journalists still spend so much effort time dwelling on the subject of whether the war was just or not. Everybody knows it was a big blunder in it's execution, so just get over it.

Earlier this week a warning to students got passed around by e-mail I finally got a copy of it. I don't really understand it. I'm not going to take it seriously but I don't appreciate the prime minister's attitude when he threatened that all students and teachers will be penalised if they don't show up.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Need Blu-Tack

I forgot to mention that Kala's got another death in the family. I'm not sure how, but his mum's cousin was on his way to the morgue and got shot a couple days ago. That makes the third death in his family in less that two or three week's time. I went over to his house today. India was there and Miz showed up a little later traumatized by his experience at the morgue to help pick up Kala's relative's body from there.

Miz described the floor of the morgue being covered from wall to wall with blood. And there were bodies that were burnt and bits missing. Him and another friend of Kala also helped some of the others that were there get their deceased out.

A suicide bomber also tried to get into the morgue and was stopped as he tried to enter. A man grabbed him with a bear hug from behind and the suicide bomber had his hands tied with a hose and thrown in the back of a police car. Miz was standing just a couple of feet when this happened.

As for me I had a very normal day. Went to college attended my classes and came back home. On my way back I passed by a few stationary shops looking for Blu-Tack thinking that's the easiest way to fix my wireless network card because the screw to attach the antenna is missing. So far I've been to 5 stationary shops asking about the stuff. Some of them didn't even know what it was. Blu-Tack, it's so damn useful! Obviously this country isn't going to get anywhere without Blu-Tack. My last hope is to go to the stationary/book market.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Demoralising Education

On Sunday, Sandy and another girl announced that they were moving to Amman. That other girl's evil because she has the uncanny ability to memorize text by heart that I had not known about till a couple of weeks ago when she over eagerly began to recite from her head the word for word text from the textbook when the teacher asked the question. She was reciting so fast I couldn't catch what she was saying. It really pissed me off. And so I was really glad to hear that she was leaving, but today somebody told me she had changed her mind.

Suzy is very sad about her best and more or less only good friend leaving. And I'm pretty bummed out too, I'm going to miss watching Sandy's cute body. And it's just my luck that just as I was thinking that this other girl in my class isn't too bad looking and could take her place. This other girl then decides to also announce that she's leaving too. She's smart so I asked her about the transfer process, which seems not to be much of a problem from what I understood from her. I'm trying to make Nahida understand that my dad and her should be working on a contingency plan for me.

Last week, Taweela the classmate that I had been waiting for to take guitar lessons with me died in a car accident. He was returning from Syria when the car he was travelling in flipped over. What makes his death extra sad was that last year two of his brothers also died. One was murdered and the other died from electrocution. Last weekend another classmate of mine told me that he's probably going to ditch this year to go work in Syria. He hasn't shown up this week so even though he's often spoke about quitting, I think this time he really has.

Our first period lecturer began the class by chatting about the state of the country. Blaming the Americans for all the violence in the country. She told us the story of a school that was visited by Americans in the middle of the night. The following day the headmaster went round the school to check if everything was in order and found a bomb on the roof. It's the kind of story that resembles the bombing of the Shiite mosque in Samara when supposidly just after the Americans visited the site the place blew up and incited some Shiites to go kill some Sunnis.

But anyway, the interesting thing I heard was that the government was suggesting reducing the hours of attendance at primary schools. Everybody's finding the idea outrageous considering that the kids aren't learning much anyway. Some girl mentioned that her little brother or sister was just attending two or three hours every other day. And I can't remember who told me that the teachers have been threatened to not teach and so the kids just go to school and waste their time. I don't know how true it all is, take it with a pinch of salt, and you're still left with kids not getting the education they need and a government that's not pushing for a solution.

Apparently the situation in my college is a lot better than in others where students and teachers are not showing up. I'm not quite understanding what the story is. The general picture I'm getting is that the universities have become another piece of turf that's being fought over. If I understood correctly there's a rumour going round that the insurgents don't want people to attend universities so that they can attack the Sadr people that have taken control of some of the state run universities. The whole picture is very confusing and complicated to me.

The one big question that's running through my mind and I can only assume all the other students is will the universities remain continue to operate this year or will they all close down?

There's one teacher that's pissing me off. He's supposed to give us a class at half past one on Mondays. So I was there at the classroom at half past one. One of the building's doors got locked by the cleaning lady, some other guy turned off all the lights on the floor and the teacher didn't show up. I went to my department's office and the secretary told me that he showed up last week. Nobody was going to come last week so why did he bother then and not now. It's just taking the piss that he's not showing the same commitment the other teachers are.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

One Month On

I didn't realise till just now that December has started. Looking back, the days seem to have passed so quickly. What am I going to do this New Year's eve? Last year my Forcer friend dragged me along to some neighbour of mine that works for a western news agency. I got well drunk and had to crawl back home and fell asleep before midnight. But the Forcer went off to Dubai while I was away and the dog's probably going to go spend New Year's in Kenya. Perhaps I should take Nahida's suggestion that I go off to Istanbul during the Christmas time break more seriously.

When I got here a month ago I was told that the country would take a step in the right direction within two months. One month has passed and things have got a lot worse. Maybe that's a good thing if it sparks the change needed, otherwise it seems like things are just going to continue to deteriorate for a long while longer. And I too might have to choose to leave provided that nothing happens to me first. The thought of leaving Baghdad makes me sad. I don't want to leave, I'm happier here than anywhere else even despite all that's going on. I don't speak the local language fluently and I don't quite fit in with the general public, but nevertheless this is the closest thing to home that I have and I do have the right to claim it as such. Because even though I don't exactly talk like an Iraqi should and don't understand all the Iraqi jokes all the time the people never make me feel like an outsider.

I really don't need this bullshit. I just want to finish college and start leading a normal life after that. I don't want to move to another country again. If I do, it'd make all the past 5 years here go down the drain. If things get bad maybe I should move to the farm where it's much safer. The thought of which is very unappealing. Living in Baghdad you ask yourself why did 'progress' forsake this place every day, whereas at the farm you'd ask yourself that same question every cursed second.

And 2 hours of electricity a day is seriously taking the piss!