In August, I embarked on my first trip outside the United States, trading the calm of Portland for the chaos of Afghanistan, as election violence and deployed NATO troops reached their zenith. Along with Ted Rall and Steven Cloud, two fellow cartoonists, we traveled unembedded and without the support of any media organization (or security) to get an up-close look at Afghan life nine years after the U.S. invasion. I brought a lot of sketchbooks. I'd been wanting to escape my drawing table -- escape my comfort -- and reduce the number of filters to zero between me and the country I'd been reading so much about. So I went. The trip was uncomfortable, disturbing, dirty, wonderful. The people were eager to talk and laugh and host. On the surface, smiles; underneath, life on a knife's edge. They gracefully endure living conditions that would break most of us. I managed to learn a lot about Afghanistan and a few things about myself, but after a month you only realize how much more there is to see.Read the rest at Oregonlive.com.