Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Holidays from Hell, or Paradise?

Dear Reader,

A lot has happened since last time we talked and I'm afraid this little blog project has fallen by the wayside. I also noticed how the quantity progressively decreases per month. Maybe I'm reaching my tipping point of marginal blog utility. Maybe it's because I got promoted (ka ching!), since it's also brought on a few extra responsibilities.

Ok, so remember Halloween here? Now let's talk about Thanksgiving! There was a giant Turkey sculpture made of butter bigger than me!!! There was a life-size crocodile made of pineapple, (obviously crocodiles are another Thanksgiving mascott (picture coming soon)), there were some plaster pilgrims, a butter steamboat, letters spelling "Happy Thanksgiving" made of ice, and so much other ridiculousness I almost lost my appetite. Who seriously thinks, "hey maybe we should build a giant butter turkey and butter steamboat for the troops in Iraq!" Ridiculous.

Somebody made some kind of "See you in Hell" statement about something and somebody else quipped, "Wait, aren't we already here?" Another incident occured when somebody said, "Did you hear the news that so-and-so died?" somebody else answered, "No way! when are they expected to arrive?" Many people consider this place to be hell. You're in the desert, you work long hours, you're far away from family, friends, and what's most familiar. I often imagine hell as something right out of one of Salvador Dali's paintings. Everything is bizarre and surreal; ridiculousness is paramount. The Thanksgiving butter ridiculousness drove it home. So just when I was thinking I was in the worst place conceivable, something happened that transformed my life...

Ok sidebar! So if you ask me what my three favorite dishes are, my answer might vary depending on the day, season, where I'm living, or even just my mood. However there are three things which I consistently love more than anything else. I can get tired of them like anything else, but these three things are independent definitions of excellence in edible form:
3. Vegemite toast--world's richest source of vitamin B!
2. Deep-dish Chicago Pizza-- I'll let you know where it's legit.
1. Smores.
Now let me talk about smores for a little bit. First of all, I have never lost a smore eating competition in my life. I have gotten opponents sick and after the match is clearly over, I will still continue to devour them because they are so good. Eating the perfectly toasted smore is the closest to heaven I have ever felt. It's such a simple concept yet it takes years to perfect-- it's truly the fruit of paradise. I bet the fruit in the Garden of Eden tasted like a smore. You know how people are like, "man, if only Eve didn't eat the fruit bad stuff would never happen!" But imagine if you were Eve and the perfectly roasted smore was the fruit the serpent offered. By now you should have the idea.
The only problem with smores is that a crucial ingredient is the bonfire. Trust me, I've tried the microwave, the oven, even a candle and you absolutely have to have a bonfire. Sadly, not everyone can just produce a bonfire whenever they want which makes smores difficult to come by-- especially here in Iraq. Fortunately a little bakery down in Chattanooga Tennessee (I've been there!), The Chattanooga Bakery, invented the next best thing to smores (drumroll): The Chocolate Moonpie. Now please don't get confused! The Moonpie isn't a substitute for smores, it's just the next best thing. Moonpies don't require bonfires! Moonpies come in many flavors and can be microwaved for 5 seconds! Sometimes I even like a Moonpie MORE than a smore! Moonpies are so delicious sometimes I think they should be called Heavenpies, or Paradisepies. I have a tradition of always asking for them for Christmas because I can never get enough... or can I?

Back to Hell. Ok so we're all sitting at our desks working away at our work feeling sorry for ourselves when all of sudden one of the Captains comes through the door carrying two huge brown boxes. He puts them down and asks for some help because there are more in the truck outside. A bunch of people get up and we bring in like a dozen or so of these enormous brown boxes. Ok so he opens one box and guess what's inside! Yep, stacks of boxes of MOONPIES! Each brown box had dozens of boxes FULL of moonpies!!! I am a moonpie fanatic and I've even been to the Chattanooga Bakery but I have never seen so many moonpies in my entire life. We could have emptied them into an empty pool and SWAM in them!!! (of course that would be a ridiculous waste).

This is all to say I don't really know where I am. On the one hand I'm in hell with ridiculous things like butter Turkeys and rampant boredom, but on the other hand I have more moonpies on hand that I can eat in possibly my lifetime. Hell or Paradise, in any case there's no way this place can be earth. Is life this ridiculous back home? Maybe I just can't remember what home is like and I'm going crazy... very possible.

Peace out.


  1. Yeah, Juan, life here is not very ridiculous. It's pretty much very predictable. Lou is getting really really big, like kittens do as they age, and Dr. Richard continues to extract teeth like a pro (because he is a pro.) It just snowed last night and I got a notice on my car saying I'm not allowed to park on the street after December 1st, which I knew but forgot I guess. So pretty much everything that happens is predictable and ordinary. So yeah, was that your question? No butter turkeys here, however when I went with Jovani to the Topsfield Fair a month ago we did see a man carving a cow out of butter. That was cool but also very predictable.

  2. well juan, you are very wrong sir. life in america is very ridiculous. in fact, it's so truly and utterly ridiculous that last night, i went out for a winter eve's stroll and 45-minutes later, found myself sipping a hot chocolate in front of an 11-foot multi-bumped camel who very much wanted to touch his lips to my greasy italian face.

    i regret to inform you that i did not permit his request.

    i wonder aloud if you have encountered the same sort of problem, i.e. camel, out there in the desert of melting clocks.

    these are strange times.


  3. Thank you for this blog post. I hate hearing that things are so terrible over there, but excited that you still find joy in the little things (like moonpies).

  4. juan it's marri. i have never heard of moonpies but i am a s'more fanatic too. this means i will be investigating moonpies as soon as i finish this comment. i'm happy to hear you're back! welcome back!