A very long post about nothing at all

You know what sucks? Two migraines in a week. The first one was pretty bad but this one is worse by far. I was sitting here at my desk being all workish and whatnot when suddenly this feeling washed over me. Migraine sufferers, you know the one. That weighty, slightly disoriented, woozy feeling. So I just sat here, waiting for the aura (worse than the headache that follows, IMO, because I hate not being able to see). It didn’t come. Things got a little fuzzy and bright but no aura. I had some stuff to deliver around the building, so I set off on that task. Got halfway to my first destination and realized that hey! I shouldn’t be walking around. Came back downstairs and POOF! I can barely see right now. If you’ve never had the aura, just think back to the last time you glanced at the sun reflecting off the windshield of a car. Now multiply that by fifty and make it last about half an hour. Welcome to hell.

I’m coming toward the end of Emma’s War and with all the background Deborah Scoggins gives on Sudan, relief work, outside influence, and tribal warring, I have a whole new view on things like humanitarian aid, NGOs, and our place in countries like Sudan as a member of the global community. She mentions bin Laden a lot, as he spent quite a bit of time in Sudan training people to blow things up. The end of her story takes place during Somalia and just before Rwanda, so some of my “awakenings” occurred because of her comparisons between Somalia and Sudan.

I’m so getting arrested by Homeland Security because I said the BL word!

Scoggins relates a story that while in Mogadishu, one of their guardsmen, who was Burmese (perhaps Somali? I don’t remember. He wasn’t white.), was shot at the compound, so they rushed him to the hospital run by this aid agency. The guard at the gate told Scoggins and others that this man would have to go elsewhere even though he was bleeding to death right there in the car. Scoggins lied and told him she and the wounded man both worked for the aid agency and it was a whole new ballgame. Come in, come in. Enjoy the E.R.!

It has, of course, made me second-guess my life plans. I don’t see myself ever working for the UN unless some major changes take place but the problem with relief organizations encompasses so many different groups. Which of them are less likely to fall under the weight of a lofty policy put in place to protect their own? Which of them are seen as threats to the locals? Which of them aren’t? Do such organizations exist? I know that these questions will never be answered. Things are constantly changing; people’s opinions are constantly changing. I know that the most I can do is work with as much conviction, honesty, and compassion that I can muster. I’m just afraid of being associated with the wrong people.

It makes me question my motives. Do I want to work to build awareness and help people or am I doing it to further some agenda of my own? When I think about it, it doesn’t feel self-serving. It feels like the right thing to do. It feels like the only thing to do.

This paragraph in the epilogue really hit home:

“There it was again: the noble cause, the great saving illusion. I didn’t say anything. I thought of Somalia and Sudan, of all that vainglorious rhetoric about pasting nations back together with a few bags of food. No aid worker who stayed long in that part of the world imagined the kind of aid we gave could do more than keep a few people going for another day and perhaps, as one of Emma’s Operation Lifeline colleagues wrote to me, open some ‘space for the oddities of relief, tragedy, misery, sex, and personal extravagance’ – which is to say, some space for life itself. But it seemed impossible to transmit this small, personal knowledge back to the West; in every case it became garbled, mutated into visions of grandiosity or metastasized into furies of disappointment. It was never enough to have helped one person, to have opened some tiny window of compassion. There was no allowance for the years of warfare, no time to study the messy politics. If Africa couldn’t be saved in a very short time and at very little cost, then to hell with it – anyone who went there must be a saint. Emma was a party to the delusion that she could shape Sudan’s future, I thought, but at least she never pretended she was making a sacrifice to do it.” (Deborah Scoggins, Emma’s War).

I don’t know. Today has been a strange day for me. I woke up at 4:00 in the morning to the sound of some incredibly drunk people shrieking in the pool. Apparently 4:00am is the perfect time for a good swim, especially if you’re inebriated. Before I left for work this morning, I checked for dead bodies. Morbid, right? Today is my early day, which means waking up three hours earlier than normal, which is rough when you don’t get home until 10:00pm and can’t wind down until midnight or later.

This morning as I stood in the kitchen eating toast and watching Paul Anka make faces at me, CNN ran a story about the Army captain who was killed in the blast that injured the reporter and also killed the camera guy, the sound guy, and the Iraqi translator. They interviewed his wife, a breathtakingly beautiful and eloquent woman who showed off the shirt she bought him for Father’s Day and the roses she can’t bear throw away that he sent her a week and a half ago for their sixth wedding anniversary. It started as a tight, painful lump in my throat that made it hard to swallow my food and soon graduated into real crying, with tears and a runny nose and everything. She spoke of how she would carry on because she married a soldier in life and in death, and that this recognition is bittersweet because there are thousands of people whose loved ones have died in this war and they are usually just ‘a solider was killed in Iraq today’ without a name, a picture, or a story for us to know him or her. She said they are people, not just soldiers, with families and stories and they deserve this type of recognition as well.

I couldn’t agree more.


Posted on June 2, 2006, in Adventures with Sparkle Pants, All about Sparkle Pants, Sparkle Pants does Literature, Sparkle Pants does Politics. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A very long post about nothing at all.

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