About that pot of petunias…

Quick update – remember how we were talking about how “probable” and “improbable” seem to have slightly different semantics in the Pabloverse? Well, it’s happening again: a couple of rather unlikely (in the normal world) events have  have just come up heads at the same time. I need some sleep, so I’m not going to attempt to spin any tales here, and will just dump the news.

1) Got email from the USAP in Christchurch. They say that the salvage crews managed to retrieve our bags from the wreckage of the hotel. Don’t know the condition of anything or how complete the “retrieval” was, but we’re clearly getting something back. They want to know where to send it. It’ll be nice to get pictures and my old passport back, but I’d kind of said “goodbye” to all that stuff as a bit of a Buddhist lesson in earthquake survival, so in a strange way, I’m not feeling it as the WoW-this-is-FABULOUS kind of news I would have expected. No doubt I will get to write more about that later. But it does draw a curtain closed on one adventure…

2) …just as another comes off the block. Okay, this isn’t the kind of “OMG OMG OMFG” unexpected good news I had a year ago, but there’s an entirely new adventure in the works. You all know about the Carter Center, right? Whenever there’s a potentially controversial election in somewhere, the Carter Center has observers in the field, monitoring polling stations and reporting irregularities. Well, Liberia’s got a hugely important election coming up next month. Devon and I have been involved a little bit with Liberian reconstruction and democracy projects there and… well, the Carter Center has asked if I’m available to go to Liberia next month to serve as one of their election monitors. I’m soooooooo psyched!

First thing everyone asks: no, it’s not going to be dangerous. It’s going to be difficult, uncomfortable, sweaty and exhausting work – we’ll be going up country into impossibly rural sections of a heartbreakingly-impoverished tropical country in the middle of the rainy season. It’s going to be pretty awful, but it’s not going to be dangerous. Everyone in Liberia is looking at reconstruction, and the contest here is about who will lead that (In contrast, the Carter Center is also sending monitors to the Congo for DRC elections. DRC elections will be dangerous, and there’s no way on earth I’d sign up for that.)

Anyhow. Getting selected as a monitor by the CC is an enormous honor, and a big responsibility. I’m nervous as all hell about letting the team down. You know me – I’m always nervous about letting the team down, regardless of what team it is, and what we’re supposed to be doing. Part of it, I guess, is that being part of a team is so important to me. I like achieving stuff – difficult stuff – but I’m uncomfortable with individual recognition. I’m so much happier being able to say “Yeah, I helped with that” than standing out. So I want to be part of a team. But the implications of screwing up are magnified – what if your screwup causes the team to fail? That’s the sort of thing that keeps me up at night. At Pole, I was part of a team – a bunch of different teams, depending on how you look at it. And I think I did okay, pulling my weight. Here, it’s a whole new team. It’s a much shorter project – just about a week and a half – but it’s going to be every bit as intense. And the ramifications of screwing up? Yeah, I don’t want to think about it. But we’ve all gotta just trust that we’ll each do our best, right? And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Oh boy, the adventure continues!

4 responses to “About that pot of petunias…

  1. So what ever happened with the Grand Chancellor? Did it fall down or was it carefully disassembled? I'm interested in the future post about the shape the stuff is in! Have fun in Liberia, that sounds really neat.


  2. @kiell – Sounds like it was/is being carefully disassembled. The term the HGC folks used was that our stuff was recovered "during deconstruction". I guess they performed a literary analysis on cultural context of the building and… no wait, that's something different. Haven't been able to find any pictures online of what's going on there, though.(By the way – I'm *loving* reading your blog!)


  3. That's awesome that you're getting your stuff back, though… hopefully your pictures will have survived, and mementos from your time here! I haven't heard any news about the GC on our end, but I do know they were talking about pouring cement into the foundation to stabalize it while they took it apart floor by floor. And WOW! Liberia! That's really amazing, what an opportunity! The best things in life often come with hard work, and I think you'll have an amazing time. Can't wait to hear all about it!


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