27 September 2005

Someone please remind me why I signed up for these silly student groups.

ginger drop

Last night I bought a ginger candy at the bodega on the corner. I found it in my bag and put it in my mouth on the train, just before my stop. It was strong. STRONG. I kept it in my mouth for a few minutes and then couldn't anymore because of the burning burning burning in my mouth but there was nowhere to put it. I had to carefully hold it between my teeth with my mouth closed around it as the train stopped and the people got out and we walked up the stairs and through the turnstile and up more stairs and into the rain and then finally I could spit it into the trash can on the corner. Blech! And I love ginger.

new places

It's amazing how much of a difference two bookshelves and a desk can make. Before the bookshelves and desk, my room looked like a big storage locker in which people had been throwing things around and digging through boxes and then walking away and leaving everything. Which is pretty much what it was, because that's what I'd been doing. There were five suitcases, at least eight boxes, and random bags that I had filled with things coming out of the suitcases and boxes while looking for other things.

But now I have two bookshelves (full) and a desk and a chair and a paper lamp that I bought at a garage sale. (I have another paper lamp but I can't find it - must harass anyone who might know where it is.) There are still some unpacked boxes, but nothing like what it was before. I can sit in my room and read or check email.

Now I would be perfectly happy with it, if it weren't so far away from school that I'm never actually in my nice new room.

23 September 2005

things that make me inordinately happy

1. Rosemary mint body wash. I wanted the rosemary mint conditioner from Aveda when I went there on Wednesday, but it turns out that the rosemary mint conditioner is for fine hair, and that's not mine. Then I considered the rosemary mint lotion from Bath and Body Works because it was on sale, but finally I sprung the extra few dollars for the rosemary mint body wash, which was not on sale. It is very worth it. It smells amazing and it actually tingles. For a cheap soap person like me, it's a wonderful luxury.

2. Green pen. The only pen I had with me ran out of ink (sad - I bought it near the roundabout in Arusha) and I had a class and needed a new one. So I bought a green one at the stationery store and it writes really nicely and the green brightens up my notes and my entire day.

3. Clothes. Not new clothes. Not expensive clothes. Just clothes that are not the same clothes I've been wearing every day for the last four months. I only took so many clothes with me to Africa, you see, and I lost some of them and I left some of them there and I gave some away and now I feel like I've been wearing the same few shirts over and over and over but yesterday I got my boxes from DTL's apartment and opened them up and now I'm wearing clothes that are different from the ones I brought with me to Tanzania. Finally.

4. Human rights book. I'm taking all these classes. They require books. But until the school got around to giving me my loan money, I couldn't buy them. Now I have the money and I can buy them and it's a whole new world when I can sit in class and open the book to the page that the professor is talking about. Better still, most of them (although not the human rights book) are used. I think I'm spending less than $300 for books this semester. Terribly a lot, but very very little for law school which requires all these ridiculously huge casebooks.

5. Mr. Freezes. The sickly-sweet artificially-colored juice in the plastic bags that you freeze. I bought a box at the grocery store the other day and they are perfect at the end of a long, thirsty day, although I don't think the makers intended me to eat four of them in a row because I'm so thirsty. Maybe that's what water is for.

6. The beginning of fall. Today I miss my house in Rwanda a lot, but I'm also delighted with the cool breeze and I'm bubbling with excitement about the idea of the leaves changing colors.

7. Figuring things out. I work on this law journal and today I had to figure out how to cite a UN report and it took an hour and it was really complicated and I had to look in a million different places and offer different options to the executive editors and it made me smile. It reminded me of Classical Greek - it's a puzzle that has rules but also freedom. I love things like that.

22 September 2005


I'm sitting calmly in class, "taking notes" (ie. blogging) and for some reason an overwhelming craving for a donut has come over me. I don't eat donuts. I can't remember the last time I had a donut. I don't like donuts. I don't even know where I'd buy a donut. But for some reason I really want one of those glazed, poufy ones.

Yesterday I went shopping. Not very remarkable, because all I needed was a brush, conditioner, some tea... you know, basic stuff. But I was so excited about it. It was so wonderful to shop and be able to buy the stuff I need without thinking to myself, "My bank account is now down to about $15." I've never actually had as little money as I had last week. Well, okay, I still have no money (or negative about $1 billion from all those loans), but at least now I can eat. When I got home I drank comfort tea from Aveda while I read conventions prohibiting the use of explosive projectiles.

I also started babysitting for my lawyering professor from last year. Her kids are adorable. And having kids with you makes people in New York so much nicer. People open doors for you. They coo and compliment the kids. They let you go ahead of them in line. They even (sometimes) smile. It's crazy.

One final life-at-this-moment story: the kids had sandwiches yesterday, but I was dizzy with hunger (my internal hunger-regulating mechanism is a bit faulty - I never feel hungry until I'm so hungry I could fall over). So I stopped at a cart on the street that sold Afghan Halal food and I got a falafel and rice plate from a nice man who called me "honey" and wore a hairnet over his beard, looped up around his ears. Sometimes I love New York.

18 September 2005

these last few days

On Thursday I was around the demonstration area at the UN. I love being near the UN and all the action that goes on there, especially during this week of the summit. There were protests against the Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi, for a free Tibet, in favor of the current administration in Togo, against the Chinese communist party, in favor of Jewish settlements in Palestine, and against poverty. I reveled in the excitement. Everywhere there were big black sedans with papers in the front windows saying, "China," "Kenya," and all the others.

On my way home, I stopped in a Duane Reade (a drugstore, for those of you not from around here) to pick up some stuff for my new place, which I was about to move into, and I discovered the real reason why delegates come to New York. Forget the summit. Forget the UN. Forget diplomacy. UN delegates descend on New York for a much more pragmatic reason, the same reason US citizens descend on New York: to buy stuff. There were African and Latin American women in the makeup aisle filling their carts. European men grabbed bottled water out of the cooler. Two men from Kazakhstan passed me in the deodorant aisle. Everyone was wearing their UN badges - did no one tell them not to wear them just around in case they got stolen or they are targeted because of them? Maybe this isn't a problem in New York. I was quite possibly the only non-UN person in that store, other than the employees. And just so you know, Central Asia is now fully stocked with candy and women in Africa now have enough lipstick to paint every house on the continent.

13 September 2005

just wondering

Why does my evian bottle say, "Do not refill."?

What's going to happen if I refill it? Which, by the way, I've already done, with no apparent negative consequences save that evian did not make any more money from my water drinking. As far as I can tell, this new water is not reacting badly with the evian bottle. What is evian going to do about this refilling? Come and get me, evian.

I obviously have it in for corporations lately. Next semester I'm taking corporations. He he he.

12 September 2005

new york today

I accidently tarmacked the bottom of my shoe today. After an entire year of covering a large hole in the road with a piece of very slippery metal that I slipped on every time it a) rained or b) snowed (ie. for most of a New York winter), the City of New York suddenly chose five minutes before I needed to walk over it to re-tarmac the hole. Five minutes later, sweetly oblivious, I walked over it and tarmacked the bottom of my shoe. Scraping and poking at the sole did no good - I think the holes in the rubber sole are permanently full of tar.

Later I had a breakdown about housing because I got done with a dinner at 9 pm and have to be back at school at 9 am and I realized that all year my commute will be an hour a day and I don't think I can take it. It's stressing me out but good. I would go back to the dorms but if I do that, I will literally have about $100 to spend on food and clothing and subways for the semester. I'm still having a breakdown about it, actually.

I hate money and I hate it that you have to have it to get an education. It's another example of the world's injustice - and I'm not even that moneyless compared to a lot of people. But already I feel trapped.

11 September 2005

living space

I put down a deposit on a place to live. It's with a 43-year-old Swiss woman whose job is arranging cultural exchanges - as J says, "So... no house parties?" Well, no, but the room is cozy and homey and allows me to have something I have always secretly wanted (not so secretly anymore since I'm blogging about it): a loft! It's a queen-sized bed and the ceiling is high enough that you can easily walk under the loft (maybe 7 feet high) with space enough above it to sit up on the bed. There is a nice window and a door with a window to the backyard, which is shaded by a big magnolia tree. It's on a quiet street in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and I love the neighborhood. It's full of beautiful, well-kept old brownstones, giant trees, and people of all ages and races.

Best of all, there is a washing machine in my new kitchen.

I am moving in on Thursday, assuming that the Financial Aid office has bothered to give me my loan money. They have it. Oh, they have it, because Cit.ibank (which owns my life and my future and that of any offspring, dependants, heirs or assigns that I have or may one day have) has sent it to them, but they have not bothered to send it to me. My regular bank account is down to $13. The other one has a tiny bit more, but I can't access it because I don't have the debit card because of a whole situation involving a fraudulent charge on that card and the bank being a meanie-head. And you thought it was only in Africa that banks could cut off all your access to your money without even trying.

S's kitten, which I like to refer to as "small kitten" even though its name is Birka, is currently trying to hop into my very large blue plastic suitcase. She managed it a minute ago and clung with her little claws to some random souvenirs made of wire and I had to pick her up (souvenirs dangling beneath her feet) and pry her off them one claw at a time.

07 September 2005

bah humbug

New York, I tell you, is not a fun place. Okay, school is fine, and the weather is no longer so absolutely unbearably hot, but I still have no place to live. Did you hear that, people? No place to live. I am homeless. I live on Stephanie's couch. My suitcases live along the wall in her living room. My boxes of stuff from last year live in DTL's living room. (He doesn't want them there anymore, but where can I put them?)

I spend my free time (and a lot of class time) looking on craigslist for a place to live. I finally figured out how to answer craigslist roommate postings and I have now gotten a grand total of two responses - but neither of them are in a hurry because they don't need someone until October 1. So they say, "How about you come by and meet me next week?" and I say, "I'M LIVING ON SOMEONE'S COUCH!" But you can't sound desperate, so I can't say that. I am calm, of course, and say things like, "I have some appointments with brokers and it would be great not to have to meet with them if I don't need to."

Yay! One of the people just emailed back and asked if I can come by tonight. I hope, I hope... it's a beautiful place just around the corner from where I'm staying, with exposed brick walls and a fireplace. It would be so nice to have a home.

Jessica, Stephanie's roommate, just came home and I asked her if it was okay to resend emails to two people who I contacted before to ask about apartments (they never answered - this was before I had figured out how to answer the postings) or if they would think i was a stalker. She pointed out that these people don't know me, so it doesn't really matter if they think that I'm a stalker, because all that will mean is that they don't contact me, if they even remember me. And if they don't remember me, maybe I will get to live with them.

I love people who manage to have perspective. I manage it so rarely, about my own life.

02 September 2005

no more africa

I'm back in new york, sitting in class. It's not the adventure that was sitting for days in Nairobi without a plane to get on. It's not the adventure of trying Rwanda's mini-buses for the first time. It's not the adventure of arriving in Tanzania with no idea of where I would stay that night. Although, I guess, it did start with something like the same adventure: I arrived at Newark Airport with no idea of where I would stay that night.

I have nowhere to live. This means I have a lot of work to do (other than school) before I feel like I'm really back.

Right now, I'm staying on my old roommate Stephanie's pullout couch. I didn't sleep very well the first night - classes the next day, it was really hot, and there are all these trucks roaring up and down their road at night. So I have been jet-lagged like never before. By 5 pm, I'm drooping. By 7 pm, it's all over. I can't study. I can't think. I need to sleep, but if you sleep at 7 pm, you wake up at some ridiculous early hour.

So I've been staying up until 11, then getting up at 7... not enough sleep when I am mad jetlagged. Finally last night, wearing ear plugs (I've never before slept wearing earplugs - it's weird) I managed to sleep - and oversleep. I almost missed my first human rights class. But I feel better. Of course, it's morning and I always feel fine in the morning - it's daytime in Nairobi right now, too.