The World That We Live In

I’m pretty good at writing about silly things like omelets and trips to the market, but when it come to things that matter I feel a wee bit paralyzed.  Bare with me.   

It’s been a little over a week since the tragedy in Libya took place and violent protests at US Embassy started spreading around the Middle East and North Africa. 

I was swimming alone in the Consul General’s pool when I read that the consulate in Benghazi had been attacked and one person was suspected dead.  Between every three or four laps I pulled myself from the pool to check my blackberry.  It seemed the news was worse each time I checked.   About half way through my swim I got a text message from Max, no details, that simply said “I’ll be home around 2:30”.

When we were in Jerusalem trouble was much easier to spot than it was last week.  We experienced several “Days of Rage”, tenuous check-point crossings and bus rides through Mea Sherim lined with burning garbage cans.  We received frequent warning texts from the University and the city was tense on a regular basis.  Everybody felt it on busses and in the streets – no one was exempt.  In Casablanca last week, the sun was shining, the streets were calm and the pool was the perfect temperature.  It’s unnerving to be singled out.

The protests in Casablanca were not very large in scale or violence compared to other countries in the region.  We were incredibly supported by our local police and since Friday things have remained fairly calm around here.  All the same I spent the better part of last week reviewing emergency procedures and updating our go bags.   And thinking about and checking in with friends.  We NEA-ers are a small bunch and my heart is with everyone who has been a victim in these attacks.  Not just those who have lost loved ones, for which I can’t express enough sympathy and support, but for all those who have lost their sense of peace and safety as well.  Hang in there.    

The first afternoon Max spent at home, the day after the attacks when people started to realize how big this thing was getting, I began a distance Arabic course I had signed up for in June.  You know, so we can go to more Arabic speaking countries.  I have all sorts of statements of noble commitment to the Middle East running around my head, mixed with a little bit of fear, confusion, sadness and anger at the lives that were lost.  I’m not sure what to do with it all, but I imagine a good chunk of  the Foreign Service career is spent trying to work through stuff like this – on a global scale as well as on a personal.


  1. I've been thinking about you guys. It is a whole lot of stuff to take in and sort through. Sure love you!

  2. I just started Arabic myself, and wasn't surprised this week when my husband half-seriously suggested I change to Chinese or Spanish.

  3. I, too, have been thinking lots about you. Glad to know that you and Max are safe, if unsettled.

    Praying for peace never seems more urgent than when friends are in the path of violence.

    Jill Jensen

  4. Many prayers have been said (and will continue to be said) for you and your circle of friends. Love you.

  5. I really wasn't sure how to blog about my feelings on this myself... and so I haven't. It's hard to put into words. Mostly it makes me sad, the ME has been our home since 2004 and while I am glad to see positive changes taking place, the chaos has been so painful. Sometimes we simply have to keep talking about omelets and silly things...