30 November 2005

Photo! Me in the Baby Jeep

[photo removed]

I am a blogging maniac

I thought today of something that happened in Zanzibar, because I am wearing a scarf that I bought in Zanzibar. And it is an Africa story, so it fits here. IE and I went to Zanzibar the weekend of her birthday. Other interns went to Zanzibar that weekend, too, but IE and I only had the weekend and the others had an entire week (because they were staying longer or didn't have the ten week work requirement that I did or something, lucky people) and so we left them to their leisurely exploration of the island and went off to see beautiful beaches as quickly as possible. This is when we rented the baby jeep and rambled about getting lost by neglecting to turn when we were supposed to and then ended up driving on the beach and randomly through the bush for about 3 extra hours.

It is hot in Zanzibar, unlike Arusha, and so we were wearing tank tops, but Zanzibar is largely Muslim and we didn't want to be culturally inappropriate so we got out scarves and when we came near people, we covered our shoulders with the scarves. (Meanwhile, in Jambiani, we saw some wazungu tourists walking on the road - relative term, it was basically rocks - and the girl was wearing shorts and we gasped in horror and said, as we always did, "That girl did not get the memo." because we had gotten so many lectures at work about dressing in a culturally appropriate way.)

So we stopped at a little store in Jambiani and IE ran in to get some water. Actually, IE ran in to buy an entire crate of water because now that this being lost thing had started there was no telling where it would end. But we did have snacks. It had started to rain and when IE ran in and then out and then opened the trunk and got back in and we started to move again and she took off her scarf, her arms were covered with bright blue polka dots. It turned out that the bright blue scarf she was wearing leaked dye when it got wet, so when the raindrops hit it, it transferred the dye to her skin in exactly and only those places.

There was also this air freshener in the baby jeep, in the glove compartment, which we hated the smell of, so we wrenched it out of the glove compartment (it was stuck to the bottom) and threw it under the passenger seat, but the smell only got stronger, so we tied it into a plastic bag and put it back in the glove compartment, hoping the two barriers would tone it down, which they did not, but we tried. And Ali Keys was not so happy with us when he found out that we had removed the air freshener. But we had not crashed the baby jeep (I am a good driver, even on the beach) and we had filled it up with gas, so he could not say too much.

The End.

notes on today

Some things make me unreasonably happy. Cases in point:

1. My humanitarian law professor replacing my international law professor for today's class. I just like my IHL professor. I think he's great. And interesting.

2. My new black pants (trousers, international people). I like the way they swish around my ankles. I like them a lot. I look down and they make me happy.

3. The thought of going to Liberia on my own as an adult. I like being an adult. I like being independent and capable.

4. Talking on the street corner to two friends for far longer than I should have, considering all that was waiting to be done. But it was so nice.

Before the talking to the friends on the street corner, where the caterers for the law school kept coming through with carts of herbed chicken and other catering sorts of things which we had to move out of the way for, I ate breakfast at the coffee shop that also makes me unreasonably happy because it is so very normal. It's not a prissy coffee shop with $12 cappucino, it's a hole in the wall where a bagel and iced hazelnut coffee cost me $2.75 and the son double-stamps my frequent buyer card and tried to stamp my forehead. I had to go there because I forgot to buy milk yesterday for my cereal, but I was happy to be there. It was like a minibreak in my day, before my day even started.

Oh, but the story is: I leaned down to smell my coffee to make sure that it was hazelnut (sometimes the father forgets to make it hazelnut or doesn't hear me when I ask for it, although the son never does) and it was but in the process a piece of my hair landed in the cup and now smells of hazelnut coffee, strongly hazelnut coffee which has ruined all other hazelnut coffee for me because they don't actually taste like hazelnut. So the coffee is gone but the lovely smell of the hazelnut coffee drifts along with me.

29 November 2005

a little story of incoherence

I woke up with a start in the middle of the night - it was dark - to a very loud crash, very loud because my window was open, and because I was so very much still asleep, I irrationally thought that my building was tipping over. Tipping over like a tree falling, that is, all in one piece but just falling sideways. Anyone who has seen my building would know that this is impossible. It's only six stories tall and, while it isn't that wide, it is certainly more squat than, say, the Empire State Building. It's just not tall enough to tip over sideways. It's like a fat bush deciding to tip over. It just doesn't work. So I incoherently stood on my bed to reach the top of the window, since it was open top-down (it was open because it was too warm in the apartment with it closed since my roommate insists on having the heat on all the time, even when it is 60 degrees outside), and then tumbled back down onto the pillows. The force of the fall woke me up enough to think, "I just thought the building was falling over, but it can't."

sore feet and cookies

I made the mistake yesterday of wearing my new black boots all day long, even though I knew I was going to be tromping all over the streets of New York because I was babysitting and had to bring the boys to school. But I was so excited to have something new, since I am on a strict budget this semester (I only spend on frivolity and groceries what I make babysitting, if that), so I wore them. By the time both the boys were safely enconsed at school, my feet hurt. By the time I got insoles (interestingly, they are taxed less than other Walgreens products - because they are medicinal?), my feet were throbbing. By the time I got the boys back home and walked the dog and went to school and sent some emails and walked home, I was hobbling. It was the combination of cheap shoes with bad soles and with heels, which I'm not used to. Even today, my legs hurt and my soles hurt and, filled with fear of the boots, I have returned to the brightly-colored sneakers which I love so very much and wish I could afford to buy more of. There are these great green adidas with yellow stripes at the place where I bought my running shoes. And Foot Locker has these bright pink pumas.

The nice thing about not having money is that I'm very definitely learning to prioritize my materialism. And to delay gratification. I keep telling myself that I'll buy these things next semester. But by then I will have forgotten what they all are.

Now I'm sitting before a cup of almond cookie tea which smells exactly like a baking cookie involving almonds and makes me think of Christmas cookies which I will not have a chance to bake this year unless I completely slack off about my exams which are causing me to freak out because they start in two weeks and anyway, my Christmas cookie recipe passed down through the generations does not involve almonds, but it should. Sitting here with this tea, I definitely think it should.

I have to outline a class worth of professional responsibility. I wish I could continue to put it off as I have been doing for days. I can't.

26 November 2005

nothing to say

I seem to have run out of things to say. Nothing occurs to me as blog-worthy. Writer's block or something.

I still have the unending cold. Boring.

It looks like Liberia might be okay. Maybe. Not to hope too soon - Liberia has turned around from peace before. Anyway, the new president-elect is the first elected woman president in Africa. I'm excited to go there next summer.

Literally, nothing else is happening. Good-bye.

21 November 2005

details, details

Oddly, the best thing for my sore throat turned physical addiction to ibuprofen for the headache reducing and throat soothing properties is actually these mint candies that I picked up at the front desk at Arthemon's hotel when I was helping him lug his numerous shopping bags of speakers, iPods, clothes, shoes, books, cds, and skype headsets from my place where they had been stored as the most convenient location to the shopping areas I am familiar with to his place where he can pack them all for his flight out. The front desk guy described them thus: "There are some really funky cherry mint ones and those pink ones are weird mint-tasting. I've never even tried the orange ones. Too strange. The mostly white ones with red stripes are good." But I like the pink ones. They work better than cough drops on my throat. I have no idea why. I'm running out of them, though. I could only steal so many.

Also, I can't sleep lying down because my head fills instantaneously with... stuff and I can't breathe. When I sit up it feels oddly empty and dry. In a dizzy sort of way.

Yes, I know that the details of my cold are boring. It's just that it's been a long time since I've posted anything here and this cold fills my head. Literally and figuratively.

18 November 2005

the amazing, the good, the bad and the awful

I don't get why that's usually just the good, the bad and the awful. It's unbalanced on the negative side.

The Amazing:
Hope, blue sky, a little boy falling asleep in my arms, and coconut tea (again, I love this stuff).

The Good:
A three-drawer roll-y thing, a tiny waste basket, and a silverware basket for the dish drainer (it doesn't take much to make me happy).

The Bad:
Living on cough drops for the throat (again).

The Awful:
Five exams coming up about a month from now.

16 November 2005

still not

For once, ONCE, I thought I was ready for my international law class. I read all 64 pages last night (the professor has odd ideas of what a reasonable amount of reading is). I was ready, maybe even to, you know, talk in this class.

But I read the wrong thing. I read the reading for next class, the contents of which I will have forgotten by the time Friday comes around. Foiled again.

15 November 2005

lip balm

I have literally chapsticked my lips out of having a scab and into softness. Ymm. Blistex Herbal Answer.

announcements you don't want to hear while dragging two suitcases through Penn Station:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, due to an earlier incident, there may be a lingering smell of smoke in the terminal. Please ignore this smell."

10 November 2005


I can't even tell you. Happy.

08 November 2005

run-off in Liberia, people

It gives me chills to check the poll results (nothing in yet) because I so want it to go well and not end in war again.

What else to say?

It's Tuesday. End of story.

I left my phone charger in Princeton and was without phone power yesterday - disaster. But a friend has the same charger and I'm borrowing it and charging the phone and sitting drinking tea (self-reward for lots of buzy-ness) and not studying and waiting for 9 pm so that I can call people who don't have Verizon. I don't think. I'm not sure. Why don't phones tell you when you call them? "You are calling a Verizon number." "You are calling a Sprint number." It would be so nice. So helpful.

Can't sit still.

Why do people not answer their phones?!?


07 November 2005


There is money to be made in New York RENTING OUT YOUR ROOM OVER CHRISTMAS! I might be able to make it home for Christmas after all. That and NWA apparently has a sale on tickets that get me into GR at 11:30 on the 24th. Law school has completely ruined the joy of getting ready for Christmas. I thought once I was back from Rwanda I would get to, you know, make Christmas cookies and trim the tree. But no. I won't even get home until early in the Christmas am. But I will get home, and that's a bonus. I wasn't sure I would.
Sometimes I can't help but think, "I should BE THERE." I almost didn't come to law school because of it.

03 November 2005

i'm the only person i know who is klutzy enough to sit on my iPod while it is in my bag, leaving the iPod intact but the headphones cracked. and i'm one of the few people I know who just pick them up, shrug, and put them back in my ears.

02 November 2005

baby boy

So I said that I'm babysitting like mad for the money. And I do need the money. But I also love the kids. B I don't see quite as much on Wednesday because I take him straight to school. But after I drop him off, I have an hour with J and we go to the park so he can play on the slide if it's nice like today or to Starbucks so he can color with my pens on a piece of lined paper if it's cold. At school, while we wait for his class, he practices the stairs and every week he's better at them. Last week he needed two hands holding on to the railing or my hand or the next step and this week he did it with only one.

J wants his mommy or his daddy a lot. The first time I babysat for them, last year, he cried nearly the entire time, pulling at the door. Now he tears up for a minute and then is okay. He likes me enough, I think. But today he beamed when he saw me at the door to pick him up from school and upstairs, while B was checking his pocket for his Jimmy Neutron so that we could leave, J came over to where I was sitting on a little kid chair and held out his arms. I thought he wanted a hug, so I gave him one, but he held them out still, higher. I picked him up and put him in my lap, facing me, and he pulled my hair around and tried to stuff it into my mouth, laughing. I laughed, too, and then set him down to run off to B.

I could use a few of my own little people, if I ever find a man who takes my breath away.

poor as I've ever been

I mean, I can eat. But I look longingly at sandwich shops and think, "I once just bought those things. $6! And I just spent it, without thinking!" Now, in order to be able to pay rent, I'm saving every possible penny. No more impulse buying. Yesterday, upon receipt of the $1000 that the school owed me for my summer, I celebrated by buying a bottle of almond syrup from a coffee shop so I can make my own almond steamers at home. (But not with a milk frother. Oh, no. I'm too cheap for that. I use a whisk on the milk just before it gets hot enough to boil. It works.) And I bought some bread and have been eating it with the cheese that Tante Dieneke gave me when I was in the Netherlands. I brought it for lunch today, in the coffee bag that the coffee shop gave me to protect the glass bottle of almond syrup.

I'm poor as I've ever been, but not really, because never before have I had to pay $900 a month in rent. So I have a lot more money than, say, college, but a lot more of it is tied up. (Oh, and nearly all of it is borrowed from Citibank, my owner.) I'm trying to recover from the expense of getting this apartment by babysitting like mad and living on the babysitting money and even putting some of said babysitting money in the bank. It's a tightwad's dream. And I might (maybe, possibly) be able to pay rent through January, until I get my next loan check.

How can you not love this place?

I still get the US Embassy newsletter from Kigali and I love their descriptions of how to get places. I may have put Rwanda directions on here before because they amuse me so much (I know from personal experience that it takes at least four tries to find something by the descriptions in this newsletter), but here is another round:


From Kigali Business Centre going on the road to the airport, take the 3rd right (dirt road going downhill) immediately opposite the parliament building. Continue for approximately 600 metres and when the road bends round to the right it is the second house on the left (dark green gate).