Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Baghdad Bound

Yes, you read that right. I've been conditionally offered a job with the State Department to work on reconstruction projects in Baghdad. "Conditionally" means it's pending the normal security, medical, and other checks. They're telling me that these checks might take 6-8 weeks. Then there will be 2-3 weeks of training in the DC area before moving on to Iraq. I'll be there for a year, working and living in the Embassy compound.

I started applying for State jobs in Iraq back in November. You can read my entry for Nov 19 for more information about the whys and wherefors. In March, they suddenly called me and said I was eligible for one particular job and I needed to get lots of information in within 48 hours. So I did. And then heard nothing. For weeks. When I called the "information" number listed, I got a recording that basically said "we're too busy to talk to you". Eventually I decided that I wasn't going to get the job and so I was moving on to other things. I was lined up to teach a workshop, I was on the Board of Directors at the Asheville Area Arts Council, had a couple of grant proposals in the works, was developing some promo materials for courtroom artist gigs, that sort of thing. And then the phone call came that I'd been selected for the job. "You know everything you're working on? Drop it! You're going to Baghdad, buddy!"

I'm really excited about it. I like the idea of working to rebuild the place, of making a contribution, of gathering material for future paintings. It goes back many years: I finagled my way into Desert Shield/Storm and Bosnia for much the same reason. If something big is going on, I want to be a part of it. Only this time, I won't be a military guy doing combat support, I'll be a civilian doing reconstruction. That's cool. And in the background I'll be storing up images (in my head, on camera, or on paper) for future artworks.

So for the past week, I've been filling out State Department forms for security investigations, W4's, and insurance designations. And creating never-ending lists of things to do (and occasionally getting one of them crossed off). The ball is rolling.

And I'm stoked!

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