100 Reasons I Want to go to Afghanistan

1.  I like pomegranates.

2.  September 11.

3.  I want to travel.

4.  It's a desert there, like the Mojave Desert where I grew up.

5.  The Afghan desert in photos seems familiar to me, the far, broad expanse of brown
dust and blue sky.

6.  I'd like to see clove twigs, with their little berries.

7.  I read
The Bookseller in Kabul.

8.  I loaned $25 to a grocer in Kabul through Kiva.org.

9.  I've grown obsessed with Kiva.org, checking it regularly.

10.  I'm reading
The Punishment of Virtue, by Sarah Chayes, and I want to meet her and
help her run her Arghand cooperative, which makes specialty soaps.

11. It's cold in New Concord, with frozen rain covering the ground, and the kids had the
day off from school, and I'm tired.

12. I want to do something meaningful.

13. I feel bad about what the American government is doing in the Middle East.

14.  I'm having a mid-life crisis.

15.  I want to write about the dust and the wind and the cloves and the pomegranates.

16.  I'd like to talk with Afghan women.

17.  I read
The Kite Runner, and though I disliked the over-the-top climatic last 50 pages,
I still enjoyed the book.

18.  New Concord is so remote.

19.  I live far away from California.

20.  My mom died.

21.  The women in Sarah Chayes' book, the ones who throw back their burqas for her to
take a picture: I really like them.

22.  The grocer I loaned to: I'm curious about him. I'd like to buy tea at his store.

23.  Flights are available to Kabul. I could buy a ticket online, as if I were flying to New York
-- that easily.

24.  Afghanistan is near Iraq, and we're at war with Iraq, though no one calls it a war
anymore.

25.  Some companies even sell tickets to Iraq, but you need to get clearance. As a
journalist, I could probably get a visa.

26.  War journalism seems so glamorous.

27.  A student of mine, Masashi, wants to be a war journalist.

28.  Mostly I write feature stories about midwest destinations for magazines.

29.  I turned 40 a few months ago.

30.  I'm putting off working on the book about fiddle music that I started and must finish.

31.  I ate two chocolate drumsticks tonight, and then two pieces of pizza, and a banana.

32.  I'm afraid I'm going to gain weight.

33.  It's winter, and I imagine it might be hot in Afghanistan, though of course it's winter
there, too.

34.  It's dangerous in Afghanistan.

35.  My husband thinks I'm joking when I say I want to go to Afghanistan.

36.  It seems impossible to go to Afghanistan.

37.  I don't have any more money to loan on Kiva.org, and I really didn't have any to begin
with, and travel there is a good substitute fantasy.

38.  Masashi gave me a book about a war journalist in Iraq.

39.  Something must be done.

40.  I hate Bush.

41.  The Democratic candidates aren't talking about the war.

42.  We're getting government rebates this year, courtesy of Bush, even though our
government doesn't have the money and is going into further debt to send us these
rebates.

43.  There's a hollow sound in the wind at night in this arctic front moving through Ohio.

44.  I didn't go to the AWP conference in New York, and all of my writerly friends went.

45.  None of my friends have responded to the invitations I sent them to join Kiva.org.

46.  I haven't told any of my friends that I want to go to Afghanistan.

47.  I'm not sure I really want to go to Afghanistan.

48.  I'm impulsive.

49.  My children are almost teenagers.

50.  I'm scared of their teenage years.

51.  I remember my own teenage years with loathing.

52.  My father no longer talks to me.

53.  The last big trip I took was to Hungary.

54.  Something I can't quite put my finger on: longing.

55.  Fear.

56.  Love.

57.  Beauty.

58.  Soaps: I'm so fascinated by the soap business that Sarah Chayes started in
Afghanistan.

59.  I love how the soaps look like river rocks, smooth and round and grained.

60.  I love the idea of essential oils, of almond and apricot, clove and bergamot, cinnamon
and walnut.

61.  I drink pomegranate juice at parties instead of wine.

62.  My son's turning 11 in April.

63.  My daughter asked me where we would move if we ever left the United States.

64.  My daughter asked whether I like Obama or Clinton, and I couldn't say -- just that
neither of them are talking about what we're doing overseas.

65.  My daughter asked me what I meant.

66.  I said, I don't know, just finish reading Harry Potter because it's almost bedtime.

67.  The Kern River in California, near where I grew up, had round stones in its bottom
that looked like those Afghan soaps.

68.  I'd like to try wearing a burqa.

69.  Winter in Ohio goes on for many months, despite global warming.

70.  February is the worst, with its wide swath of gray clouds hanging between me and the
sky.

71.  I like to think I have more money than I do.

72.  I like the fact that I have learned how to spell Afghanistan.

73.  I'm planning on Monday to talk to my journalism ethics class about Afghanistan and
media coverage, and I'd like to be able to tell them that I want to go there.

74.  I'm interested to see their response.

75.  I wish there was something I could do.

76.  I wish there was anything I could do.

77.  I wish I knew what to do.

78.  I'm out of ideas.

79.  Afghanistan is the first real idea I've had in a while.

80.  In high school, I dreamed of running away to San Francisco.

81.  I'm having writer's block.

82.  I'm looking for something to write about.

83.  I have an active imagination.

84.  I've started wearing my reading glasses; they make me feel smarter.

85.  I can imagine myself wandering through the villages, the desert, finding sources,
blending in, telling stories.

86.  It's hard to tell the stories I need to tell.

87.  Most of my friends like parties.

88.  My husband likes parties.

89.  Sometimes I even like parties.

90.  Mostly, though, I'd rather read.

91.  I've started a life list of books I'm reading, inspired by Art Garfunkel's list of books
he's read, which I read about in
The New Yorker, and I like the idea of a theme like
Afghanistan books.

92.  I'm tired.

93.  It's 11 p.m.

94.  I'm interviewing prospective students at Scholarship Day tomorrow.

95.  I can't remember, exactly, how it started.

96.  It seems like something I need to do.

97.  As one of my teachers told me, everything's been written about, but everything needs
updated.

98.  On September 11, I was driving to northern Ohio where I was going to do a story
about an Amish bookmobile, listening to NPR. When the plane crashed in Pennsylvania, I
turned around in the freeway's median and raced back; western Pennsylvania was too close
to eastern Ohio.

99.  A woman in a car I passed looked at me, her eyes open wide, and I knew we were
both feeling the same strange, crawling panic.

100. I’d like to see a pomegranate tree.
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Vivian Wagner
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Vivian Wagner teaches journalism at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio.  She's never
been to Afghanistan, but she does know how to spell it.  Her photo blog, the New Concord
Journal, is at
newconcordjournal.blogspot.com.
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