Friday, March 23, 2007

I am not a spy

I live in America and work in Russia. This has created high anxiety among those responsible for intelligence and counter-intelligence in both countries.

I’ve been investigated up the wazoo by the services of both countries. If either the Russians or the Americans wanted anything from me, they've had eleven years to figure out who I am and what I'm doing over there.

Worst was in the mid 90’s when nobody could figure out who the hell I was. Single person repeatedly traveling to Russia, not on the American list—hence suspect, and not on the Russian list—hence suspect. Just a humanitarian, it took several years for them to get their minds wrapped around that strange fact.

Every time there was a new list revealed---Ames, Hansen---I wasn't on it. Probably made my minders ever more insane. What was I doing at this Russian hospital. Surely I wasn't simply a humanitarian? Out of the question.

I accepted that I would be investigated [to this day, most likely] by the Russians. Why am I there. Well, on their national tv I said I was working to save the lives of children in Russia because I am a Christian, like their Orthodox Christians. Could that be a sufficient explanation? Of course not.

So they follow me, listen to my phone conversations, and demand explanations from every taxi driver. The good news is I have brought a large number of Russian taxi drivers to realize that things can be better by a concerted investment in their children's hospital.

On the American side, I have been followed and probed by a minimum of three intelligence organizations. At first I was angry, then I realized it meant we were sufficiently large and effective to draw the attention of such agencies. If I worked with one of them I would be investigating this organization. So that led to peace of mind.

One agency in Maryland sent a very junior person who was quite sweet and who was horrified at being forced to report on my very obviously humanitarian work.

One agency in Virginia sent a senior team with a trap that they thought was very clever, to ascertain if I was for real, but their charade collapsed when I confronted them with the knowledge that I knew they were investigating me, and if they wanted to know what I was doing, they could call my three most recent ministers in the Presbyterian Church. That was pretty much the end of their investigation.

One agency in a place I won't identify to be merciful to the person assigned to my case, sent an agent to an international conference to follow me and question me and my colleagues. It was truly amateur hour. I was embarrassed for my government. He questioned me in detail but in return had no knowledge about the subject of the conference. DUH PEOPLE can't we do better than that? Then I observed him following me, so I abruptly turned around and he panicked and zipped off in a different direction. I was insulted that I didn't deserve a more subtle agent. Oh well, the price of serving the poor in another country. My motives will probably always be suspect.

I hope that the intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic have had sufficient opportunity over the last eleven years to investigate me and find disappointing results: I am just a humanitarian, trying to save the lives of newborns, and trying to work for peace between two countries that have long been enemies. How very unhappy they must be, the people who have been assigned to investigate me over the years. I'm sorry! Hope you find some good stuff on your other cases.

All in all, this has been a great burden on me which just piles on to my usual bipolar manic-depression and ADHD and OCD. What's one more issue? But the strange thing is, as my mental health improves, I am increasingly unwilling to accept these indignities, border problems, customs issues, intelligence investigations. Russia is improving, but my mental health is improving faster. It is a dangerous disconnect. Lives are at stake. Better to be sick and accept all these indignities as only what I deserve.

Got a better solution to save thousands of lives? I'm all ears.



egregious said...

Is it better to be mentally ill and save thousands of lives or be well and realize such an attempt is insane?

NZ Expat said...

Hey are you? Getting enough sunshine now? We are in the chaos of moving my husband to a smaller place (I finished teaching last week) and getting me packed to go to the US. Hope they are kind about accepting excess baggage on the plane. I'm prepared to pay for it, but not prepared for them to refuse to carry it.

Who is well? Is it being well to accept the current travesty of a political system? You know, in your soul, that you are more sane and humane in your response to the majority of remote-flicking tv watching Americans.

Mental health is a continuum, as you know, and you move back and forth on that continuum, sometimes dependent on what the brain chemicals are doing and sometimes dependent on sunshine and shadow.

I think, as society increases its pace, it increases its insistence that all "well" people adjust to the insanity of the pace and priorities. I think my daughter would have been fairly okay about 100 years ago; now she just doesn't fit the pace of her culture.

Anyway, take a good walk and savor the fresh air for me. (I met an Angel on my walk today, a lost dog named Angel. A man described her to me and said if I saw her, tell her to go home to 94, at the top of the hill. Further down the path, I saw her and told her, and she reluctantly left her bone and started mosying up the hill to 94. A bit yellow lab. Quite amusing.)

egregious said...

I had a dog named Angel.

Wonderful story.

NZ Expat said...

Sometimes reincarnation makes a lot of sense to me. Could your angel be wandering around getting a bit of southern sunshine?