Returning to Iraq

BEIRUT — I have been on a long break, the longest since I moved to Baghdad in May 2004, but it is soon to end. I will be returning to Iraq at the end of this week, looks like, assuming my passport issues get resolved here at the embassy. (It’s nothing serious, just waiting on extra pages and a secondary passport.)
With the kidnapping of my friend, Jill Carroll, and the looming year, I can’t say that returning fills me with anything approaching joy. It’s not that I’m more afraid because of Jill — I’m used to the kidnapping threat now — but I’m faced with the prospect of locking myself up in a compound or embedding, neither of which is a particularly pleasant working environment. It’s grim in the Hamra compound these days, from what I hear from my remaining friends.
And also, I wonder just how many more times I can go through seeing a friend on TV surrounded by gunmen. Of course, that doesn’t even begin to compare to what Jill’s family is going through. It’s just that I’ve seen it so often: “James Brandon”:, Michah Garen, “John Martinkus”:, “Marla Ruzicka”: and “Rory Carroll”: (no relation), just to name a few of the 36 journalists kidnapped I know personally. More than 60 journalists have been killed, including Enzo Baldoni and “Steven Vincent”: Iraq is a damn dangerous place.
Anyway, I’ll be back later this week and more regular blog updates should commence shortly after. I also have figured out how to do a radio show using iChat and Garage Band, so A., my office manager and I will be taking questions, once I get the final logistics settled. These “mortar side-chats” will then become regular podcasts, _inshallah_.