Entry 2
A weeklong electronic journal.
Dec. 20 2005 11:49 AM

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Why we're here: our daughter. Click image to expand.
Why we're here: our daughter

We wake to the city's signature smell of burning oil. I go running. Big mistake. I'm sucking up more pollution than oxygen—a vestige of old Soviet industrial practices. Indeed, the Soviet influence here is tough to miss. In fact, the remnants of it are so deeply embedded in the Kazakhs' tortuous bureaucracy that it makes me think they do a better job of being Soviet than the Soviets did.

We prepare ourselves for Monday's hoped-for meeting. It occurs to me that it would help our cause if I could pepper our presentation with references to the great Kazakh poet Abai. After much searching, we find an English translation of his work. There is only one problem. Abai turns out to be a dark, dark person. Here are two samples:

"People pray to God to send them a child. What does a man need a child for? ... Why are you so eager to have a child, to rear another scoundrel and doom him to the selfsame humiliation?"

"Man is a sack, full of shit.
When you die, you'll smell worse than shit."

Kazakhs at a street festival. Click image to expand.
Kazakhs at a street festival
Advertisement

And those are two of his more uplifting passages. Abai did, however, provide some insight into the "difficult situation" we are encountering. "It is impossible," he wrote, "to persuade a Kazakh, convince him of something, unless you frighten or bribe him." I wonder which of these tactics we will need to employ to get our child. Both, I suspect.

My run yields a fever and a chest full of phlegm. The damn pollution here has given me a respiratory infection. I procure some antibiotics, and I spend the day on the mend. Still no word from the Sisters about our alleged appointment. Sharon and I grow increasingly despondent. Our minds—neurotic as they are in the best of times—spin all kinds of doomsday scenarios. The adoption, we seriously fear, is not going to happen, and we are going to return to Miami with chintzy gifts and broken hearts. Ironically, these are exactly the kind of dark thoughts that any self-respecting Kazakh might have. Is there something in the air here—other than the pollution?

Sharon and a Kazakh yurt. Click image to expand.
Sharon and a Kazakh yurt

Late in the evening, we finally receive a phone call from one of the Sisters. We have an appointment at the Education Ministry the next day. We are encouraged that this appointment, unlike our previous one, has a time attached.

Late at night, while my wife sleeps, I sneak a peak at the photos of our daughter. I haven't looked at them for weeks, and one photo in particular gets me. She is sitting up on her own, her tiny hands clenched into tiny fists. A smile on her face, proud of her accomplishment. I am filled with immense joy and love. Either that or the phlegm lodged in my chest has hardened. No, I'm pretty sure it's love.

*Correction, Dec. 22: Because of an editing oversight, an earlier version of this piece did not specify that the events in this Diary took place in September, not in December as the dateline suggests.

Eric Weiner is author of the forthcoming book The Geography of Bliss, to be published in 2008.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.