Sunday, October 24, 2010

From dirt to dust.

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 orientation begins, to be followed by the arduous flight halfway across the globe.

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 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.


cdc guy said...

Good luck, and keep your head down. If my son's experience is any guide, you'll have plenty to share when you get home (national security notwithstanding).

Des said...

What will you be doing there (to the extent you can say)? Anything 'built environment' related?

Best of luck and hope to continue reading your posts.

Nici said...

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." ~Theodore Roosevelt~ is one of my favorite quotes and is what came to mind when I read this post. Of course I will miss reading your posts on a weekly basis but I read this blog for the quality of your work not the quantity. I know the limited posts you will be able to write whether Dirt or Dust will be just as good if not better than your past insightful articles. There is something to be said for taking a step back and slowing down, for whatever the reasons. And in the grand skeem of things a year is a relatively short time, before you know it you will be back home touring the backroads, taking pictures of a TX plate with a LSU logo ( I saw one yesterday) and documenting your 38th state. This is an amazing opportunity that you have been blessed with, run with it, soak it up, experience everything you can. We are not fair weather supports, we will remain loyal through the thick and the thin. In other words: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are!"

AmericanDirt said...

Thanks for the support everyone. Des, to answer your question, I do suspect what I will be doing will pertain somewhat to the built environment. To be perfectly frank, I'm not entirely sure exactly what I'll be doing.

Frequent posts drive blog traffic, and Nici, as you can see from the early months, I haven't been a frequent poster for some time--and it's likely only to get worse. But it would take more than a mere upheaval and relocation into a war-torn country to get me throw down this fistful of Dirt (or Handful of Dust).

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Would love to hear about urban issues in Afghanistan. Would be fascinating!