A bit of firefight outside, a pleasant breeze. It’s not bad here. It goes in waves. There are such inconveniences. I’m on the 18th floor of the hotel now. I have my own room. But it was many other people’s room before and I don’t think it’s been cleaned in a while. I haven’t been able to shower for two days. The power has been out all afternoon, so I’m writing in the dark and my battery is dying. I have this one little flashlight. Earlier this evening, I walked downstairs to get something out of my car and realized, when I got down, that I left my keys upstairs. It was too depressing to walk back up, so I went and had some whiskey with friends. The first time I’ve socialized since being here. Then I came back just now, walked up 18 flights, got my keys, and walked down again. I’m so unbelievably tired. I was doing a couple phone interviews today and I could barely speak a sentence, it felt like. For the first time, I just didn’t file a story. I had the tape, but the power’s out and it just seemed like a nightmare, so forget it. I get these powerful waves of just wanting to be away from all this, back home, sleeping in my bed, all the comforts of a modern society. But I don’t want to miss these next few weeks. There’dll be unbelievable changes: the new American occupational government, new infrastructure, etc. I do think I want to leave before the miserable heat of summer. And maybe come back in the fall.
I already feel the shock and amazement wearing off a tiny bit. Things feel a bit normal. I’m definitely less amazed by everything I see. But still it’s pretty amazing. But it becomes a bit routine, shockingly quickly, to see looted, burned buildings everywhere, the total chaos of Baghdad (which gets worse every day, as more and more people are out on the streets). It becomes routine to see tanks everywhere and young soldiers with big guns.
I don’t have it in me to write much more. It was another good day. It started off slow. I stayed in the hotel lobby trying to talk to American troops interviewing engineers and power plant operators and stuff, but troops are hard to get to talk and once they talk they don’t have much to say. It was frustrating. But then I left the hotel compound and went out on the street, and, as usual, the stories just poured out. I went to a power plant and met all these serious, very nice electrical engineers trying desperately to get power back on to the city. They’re not getting paid, they don’t know who they work for anymore. Since there is no state power company. But they’re working their assess off because they want power in the city and they are professionals and they don’t know what else to do.
My translator’da guy I picked up in the hotel lobby’seemed a bit sketchy to me. Sort of dirty and uneducated looking. Turns out he’s an aircraft engineer who said something bad about Saddam to a friend on a bus in 1992 and has spent the last 11 years in jail being tortured or on the lam in Denmark and Thailand. He says he doesn’t quite believe, actually doesn’t believe at all that Saddam is gone. He thinks the Americans will leave and the old, bad guys will be back in charge. It was amazing talking to him. I felt like an asshole for dismissing him as a sort of homeless degenerate looking guy.
I don’t have it in me to write any more. Good night. The power just came on, shockingly, at 1:15 am. That is very good news.