I have completely neglected my blog posts this month, and though some might see my justification for it as a cheap excuse, I’m willing to throw to my readers to gauge their long-term support over these snags. “Snags” is probably an understatement, but for the past few weeks I have been preoccupied with preparations for a new job in Afghanistan, most likely at a US Air Force base there. I left my temporary home in Biloxi earlier last week, and I have been typing this document on a plane to Florida as my week of Afghan orientation begins, to be followed by the arduous flight halfway across the globe. Considerable time these last few weeks has involved interviews and preparations, which means the subject matter has been…well…a bit slight (unless casino ashtrays makes for deep reading).
Though I am thrilled about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in this new job, it does place my blog in limbo. I remain committed to discovering new landscapes and exploring the built environment, but my focus has remained doggedly within US boundaries. I put “American” in the blog with a clear purpose in mind; I had to narrow the scope to some degree. But I will not likely spend much time on American soil for the next year, and this distance from home leads me to question how much time I’ll be able to spend on American Dirt. Yet I still have dozens of potential topics for posting, enough to sustain the blog during this sojourn. Unfortunately, the demands of the new Afghan job will give me even less time than I have had throughout October, and my Internet connectivity might be meager by Western standards. I will continue American Dirt, but the rate of posting for the months ahead may be more akin to this October (2 or 3 posts a month) rather than the prolific months of 2009.
Friends and supporters have helped my ambivalence about how to continue: many encourage me to blog about Afghanistan, regardless of my initial goals with American Dirt. And since most of my time will be spent on US bases there (probably Bagram AFB), it wouldn’t entirely deviate from my thematic focus to feature articles and analyses—the built environment will remain fundamentally American. However, I fear the blog could tread dangerously close to a series of real-time journal entries, which has never been my intention or desire. I’m also a bit constrained by conflicts of interest and national security, regarding how much I can elaborate upon what I see there.
Thus, I intend to find balance in this transition from Dirt to Dust. The thematic core of American Dirt will occupy much of my blogging activity at this URL over the next year, with articles and observations very much akin to what I have featured in the past. But I will occasionally deviate with Dust—a term I use to describe any Afghan observations, most of which will likely dominate with photos until I determine the propriety of writing full analytical pieces. I choose the word “Dust” not just because of its good alliterative qualities when paired with dirt, but because dust ostensibly is a prevailing part of the Afghan way of life: a gossamer powder, not unlike talcum, which settles onto everything (hopefully not the innards of my computer).
Stay tuned in the months ahead, for although the posting frequency may be a bit sparse, I should more than compensate through an unconventional approach at reconciling landscapes both domestic and foreign.
And thanks, as always, for your readership and support.