My colleagues Wendy and Mireille both went on leave and were gone for three days at the same time. I normally have a full plate of work by myself so when you add two more full plates, well, you are overwhelmed to say the least. There were two trips, eight press events, multiple countdown meetings (for future trips), regular inquiries from Afghan and international journalists, and all the other random stuff that pops up. I am really beginning to enjoy my job because I finally feel like I can answer questions and help people - and when I can't, I usually can figure out who to ask. But it is by far the largest volume of work. That said, you have to find time to enjoy life here.
So the two came back, my life was a lot easier. It also gave me time to prepare for Halloween. I had two parties to attend. Two days before Halloween, we hosted a pumpkin carving event for Afghan journalists at the Ambassador's residence. I had to explain the holiday in Dari to the guests, who had no idea why adults were dressed up in costumes. They didn't really get why we would cut up pumpkins and then not eat them. But they got a kick out of it. We gave the winners an embassy mug and of course, they got to take home their pumpkin. For pumpkinpalooza (as we were calling it) myself, Mireille, our boss Matt and the Ambassador's very competent and serious translator Waheed all wore stuffed pumpkins on our head. I will let you make your own judgements but it was work and the Afghan guests and the Ambassador and Mrs. Eikenberry really enjoyed the party (and so did I)
This week we also had the championships for the volleyball league. I am really lucky I played volleyball because it is a great group of people and a nice way to relieve stress on our one day weekend (Friday). My team, Marshall, Matt, Travis and I beat five other teams. At the same time we were playing volleyball, there was a Cornhole tournament (beanbags, hole in a box, you get the picture) going at the same time. We have ping pong and yoga and basketball and cards and other things that individuals organize to pass the time and have social activities. I usually play softball, tennis and volleyball on Fridays. It sometimes, unfortunately, has to be all the exercise I get for the week so I try to do everything! I may even try soccer or flag football before winter comes. That night after the tournament we had an embassy wide Halloween party. Shockingly, I went as a doctor (my childhood dream, so one day a year I pretend I am a medical professional) to the party on our tennis court. They showed Rocky Horror Picture Show and everyone had a good time.
Finally my wonderful friends Nancy and Danielle sent me a package with cupcake mix for Halloween in it, so I made the cupcakes and served them at a small birthday party I had with some friends from language training and new friends I have made here. I have attached a short video so you can see the wonderful people working here in Kabul. The hours can be crazy but we do take time to celebrate with each other. My roommate Katelyn made a wonderful dinner and we had two cakes and cupcakes and it was a nice break. Check out my Kabul friends.