I've had a chance to spend some extra time with my green suit friends off the Korean PRT, and while I miss Tae Kwon Doo class, and the sticky rice at every meal (that is actually not tongue-in-cheek-BTW) it has been tremendously satisfying to bond with my fellow americans - particularly since I'm a diplomatic island among a sea of gun-toting green suits.
Dinner with New Korean Colleagues
I am convinced that by embracing and decoding two central tenets of military life I have somehow become more acceptable to my colleagues. As my faithful readers know, and any new readers can see in the side column, I have dedicated myself to mastering the art of acronymology. Additionally, while I am still in need of the 3 day training course (again not kidding) that my military colleagues got on PowerPoint, I have practiced working on my "slide decks" - mostly by stealing from the immense numbers of crazy-good presentations that are in circulation. My epiphany came last night as I was struggling through what I must confess was a pretty lame slide trying to cram my verbiage into the proper box using the regulation sized font. Without even noticing it I dropped some juicy acronyms IOT make the text fit. Then I realized that the acronym addiction is actually a defense mechanism that has evolved ISO PowerPoint... IOW the poor guys are just trying to get the dumb slide done and can't do that Hemingway-style.
Anyhow, it's a lot of fun to hang out here as an only slightly-persecuted minority. The military has a good sense of humor, and (witness the photo) keeps a surprisingly Feng Shui environment. It is tiring to share the same few hundred square feet, seeing the same people in the cube next to you, at the dining hall, in the gym, by the shower, and next to you at the "internet cafe" which is the skype (and blog) bridge to the outside world. Of necessity, they are very good at being friendly and engaged 95% of the time, and studiously oblivious/disengaged when their neighbor is having an emotional chat with family, arguing with a credit card company, doing some ahhh personal shopping online, or otherwise in need of personal space. In the absence of actual privacy, it is instead created by the unspoken agreement and comraderie of the troops. It's pretty effective actually - though I see it is vulnerable to ruination by a bad apple or two.
Feng Shui Meets Afghanistan
At any rate - I'm happy to have the variety of companionship, and as a joint US-Afghan facility I have the bonus opportunity to spend more time with "real afghans" - which is rewarding in both personally and professionally. More on that later.