30 March 2006

I have a lot to say and no time in which to say it. Just remind me.
  1. the MRIs*
  2. the big fight*
  3. i'm sleeping on my corporations book in between studying bits of it (~1 page, then a little nap, then another page)
  4. the arms*
  5. some other stuff i've forgotten**
* deserves more description, later
** deserves more description if i can remember what this stuff is

29 March 2006

I am a sleeper. I like to sleep. I sleep a lot. Ideally, I mean, I sleep a lot. Eight hours is a mere pittance, the lowest acceptable number. I like 9. Or 10. Or more. My perfect world would have 26 or 27 hour days so that I could sleep for 10 hours and then be up for about 16 or 17 and then go back to sleep and sleep for 10 hours again, because that is the schedule that my body likes. So too bad I can't sleep anymore. I can't go to bed - I'm too wired. I can't sleep - I just lay there with my heart beating too fast. I can't stay asleep - I wake up at 5:30 or 6 am, all buzzed and ready to get up. And then I can't get up - when my alarm clock goes off, I want to throw up with tiredness and when I stand up I reel. Really, I do. I almost tip over. It's not a pretty picture. And it isn't the number of hours. I have the time to sleep. Well, to sleep more than I do. Or I could make time. But my body is somehow convinced that the world will end, end I say, if I stop to sleep. Too much law school. Too much to do. Too much on the to do list. And I'm sure I've forgotten some things that should be on there.

It is 2354 hrs. I have to get up at 0630 hrs. I'm not sleepy, even though I only slept for 5 hours last night. But this morning was the morning of the reeling. No more reeling, really. I don't like it.

I might really have to gnaw off my arms at the elbows

It's not the nerves. I'm not really sure if this is good or bad because, well, the arms still hurt. And when I read about the solutions for fixing the ligaments, which is what the doctor thinks it is, they include things like REMOVING BONES from the wrist. And FUSING the wrist. Which don't sound that good to me. Or good at all.

MRI tomorrow. Perhaps that will tell us more. I really don't have time for surgery, by the way.

27 March 2006

I really really REALLY hate writing things that bore even me. I keep hitting Word Count and sighing in disappointment that it is still, and still, and still only 193 words when I need 500. Bored. First Amendment. Bored. Defamation. Bored. 228 words. Bored.

26 March 2006

if only i could win the lottery

I got an email yesterday from a friend and co-worker in Rwanda, a friend whose husband died while I was in Rwanda, and with whom I sat in the bedroom next to his emaciated body at the wake. I remember thinking, as she wept and I put my arms around her, "I am not old enough for this." and at the same time I felt as if I had joined the worldwide community of the women who bear the primary burden for dealing with death in countries where funeral homes do not whisk away the bodies and sanitize them. I am not good with death. Dead bodies scare me. It's not so much dying myself, it's the shells of people who have died. I am very aware that it is rather strange, then, that I ended up working in Rwanda and that I am going to Liberia this summer. These two countries have to be near the top of the list of places where you are likely to come across dead bodies. And yet, as I sat there with her and the other women, I felt, for what seemed like the first time, like an adult woman taking the place that women take in this world.

When I left Rwanda, I closed down my organization's program there, for many reasons, including that we just did not have enough money to keep all of our country programs running and Rwanda had always been a bit of an afterthought. No one was ever really sure whether the program would stay open from year to year. It was the odd country out - French speaking, drove on the right, and started as a short-term commitment to post-conflict projects instead of a long-term commitment to development projects. I think it was the only option we had at that point, even though it was impossibly difficult personally. But it also left my friend and co-worker without a job only a year after she had been widowed. Rwanda is not an easy place to find a job. Unemployment is very high.

Yesterday she emailed me to tell me that she had been hungry for several days, cannot pay her rent, and doesn't have the money for the children's school fees (primary school is cheap, but her daughter is in secondary school and has to live at the school). I sent her money, but I just...

I don't usually get discouraged. I have fended off many a request for school fees, food, a few francs or shillings or dollars, usually with a smile and an acknowledgement of the person as a person. I try to help when I can and not let myself be overwhelmed by what I can't do. But today, I am discouraged. I wish that instead of sending what I can and worrying if it will affect my ability to pay rent later in the semester, I could send enough and really help. If only I could win the lottery. If only I played the lottery.

24 March 2006

so homesick

Usually I am fine with being in New York. Okay, the noise makes me crazy and I am completely confused by the fact that no one seems to be able to turn their vehicles off even if they will be idling for an hour, but there are enough parts I love to offset the irritation. But today I made the mistake of watching my screensaver pictures for a while. Really watching them. I watched Eugene's little daughter laughing in her mother's arms. I watched Gemma and the guide and I smiling at the top of Bisoke. I watched Beatrice and her women's association working on a steep hill in front of the stunning green patchwork mountains. I watched a boy on the dock in front of the Golf Eden Roc with my house and the ARC house and Bethanie in the background. And I am so so homesick. What is it that they say about the first place you work?

In college, I was obsessed with Liberia. And I'm glad to be going back there this summer, but Rwanda was MY home, my house, my independence. Being a student, having no money, and living in the land of concrete, although I want to learn this stuff and I value this education, really sucks in comparison. Frankly, part of it is just that I miss being treated like an adult. All of this herding into classrooms and getting emails about when you can register for classes and being told that you must update your computer with exam software by a certain date under pain of lots of horrible things and being summoned to mandatory meetings for summer grants where they tell you nothing for an hour is just getting intolerable. Okay, one can argue that life in the real world is similar but it isn't. The summons to meet with the prefet were just not the same. I just can't bring myself to CARE that much about the exam software. I cannot express how glad I am to have committed, even before arriving, to going away each summer. New York in August... eeeee. Law firms in New York... eeeee. Even worse.

End of whining post.

22 March 2006

I really have come a long way

In college, when someone mentioned the words "blood drive," I got very very bitter, because I tried to give blood once in college and they told me that having lived in West Africa "at any point since 1977" meant that I was "at high risk for HIV." Since that was 1997, I had lived HALF of the years since 1977 in Liberia. Every blood drive after that was met with my scorn and bitterness because I wanted to be helpful and couldn't. But now, I'm less bitter. I'll take the living in Africa over the being able to give blood. I've also developed my own little paranoia about HIV, which involves things like "WHAT IF THAT BABY THAT JUST THREW UP ON ME HAS HIV AND THERE IS BLOOD IN HER VOMIT? AND WHAT IF I HAVE AN OPEN WOUND ON THAT HAND SHE THREW UP ON?" Not that it affects how I interact with said baby, but sometimes I think it. Rather unconcernedly. I just mean, I can see why they don't let me give blood. You just never know. Car accidents. Kids who might have blood on their hands and hold yours. (Of course, there is actually very little HIV in any given bit of HIV-infected blood, but it's the prospect that is alarming.) I don't know that you would want to control all of these things, because it would just make life unbearably nerve-wracking, but the truth is that you can't control them. You can live. Or you can live in fear.

afterword on the bubbles

They fill you up but good. But, well, even in my stomach I'm not sure I like them.

and i have this to say about bubble tea:

I just don't know. Do I like it? I'm not sure. Do I dislike it? Again, not sure. Whichever it is, I keep drinking it and I'm sort of oddly addicted to the bubbles, which, if you drink all the tea and they are left alone in the bottom of the cup, kind of smell funny and I'm not sure I like them, either, but I keep eating them.

16 March 2006

here we go again

The good news is that I'm going to have a nice tan from Jamaica.
The bad news is that the tan's not coming until this burn fades (yes, I was wearing sunscreen. It happened in the last hour we were there).

The good news is that we're back in the US.
The bad news is that we had to sprint through MIA to make it back to this state.

The good news is that I was completely relaxed on the beach.
The bad news is that the flight home resulted in higher blood pressure than ever.

The good news is that I didn't get sick in Jamaica.
The bad news is that I almost threw up at the sight of the bathroom on the American Airlines plane (this one needs a parenthetical: I have NEVER, on any continent, on any airline, been in an airplane bathroom as disgusting as Americans'. I have vowed to pay whatever is necessary to avoid them as an airline in the future and to rejoice with great glee when they go bankrupt. Which they will, because the airline is complete misery. I pity anyone who has to work for them. Or fly on them. $4 for a snack box? And there's PEE ALL OVER THE BATHROOM on BOTH flights? That's no longer a coincidence, that's a way of life. Pee people.)

The good news is that I forgot about the world for a few days.
The bad news is that it was here waiting for me.

Next project: find a way to pay for the flight to Liberia.

12 March 2006

packing again

Packing feels very familiar, as if I've filled the little bottles and chosen the clothes and cleaned the apartment so many times that my body could do it without me. It almost could.

One time, when this accountant came to Rwanda from the Canadian office to audit our books, we were driving down the hill on the curving road from the Bethanie corner to the Gulf Eden Roc and I mentioned that I could probably drive it with my eyes closed because I drove it many times a day/week/month and Terry said, "Have you tried it? I would try it." and I looked at the 30 meter drop down to the lake on one side of the road and the 15 meter high rock wall on the other and said, "NO. No, I haven't tried it."

I'm starting to feel like I could almost pack and not forget anything. But that's probably too much to hope. This is me we are talking about, after all.

Jamaica, baby.

11 March 2006

an observation on warm weather in new york

Four-year-olds should not be given motorized vehicles. The little girl in the fireperson outfit (cute, love the refusal to bend to gender roles) should not be driving a small jeep through the park, causing people to leap out of the way in fear for their leg bones, even if the result is rather amusingly like the bus in Speed crashing through intersections.

09 March 2006

who needs money?

Oh, that's me. I need money. The beauty of money, you see, is that you can call a travel agent and tell them, "I need a flight that gets me into Monrovia, Liberia on this day." and they buy it for you and you get on a plane and you get there on that day. When you don't have money, you are left investigating charter flights into Accra and Freetown or gasping aloud in shock in the middle of class when you learn that a return flight from Brussels to Monrovia is 1700 euros. EUROS! My little summer grant cannot cover such ridiculousity.

Meanwhile, I could almost forgive New York for not being Africa if the weather were always like today. If I had been thinking when I moved back from Rwanda, which clearly I was not because I came straight to New York, I would have spent a winter in Michigan first and then, oh, then I would have appreciated New York. I mean, first of all, it's colder and cloudier in Michigan, so I would even have appreciated the weather here. But I also would have appreciated the crowds and the languages and the learning so much more.

At the time, you see, when I was planning my departure from Rwanda, I thought it would be better to come straight to New York.

You know, in New York you have to shop at several grocery stores to get what you need, just like Africa. Or not just exactly like Africa, because you can get what you need in one store unless you want particular brands.

You walk everywhere in New York, like most people in Africa. Well, okay, I had the baby Land Cruiser in Rwanda. About which I often felt guilty, because who am I to be driving a Prado when that 80 year old man is hobbling along with a cane? As Uzzie said when I lamented about it to him, "Everyone can't have a car." Erm, strictly environmentally speaking, that's probably right, but it's the principle of the thing. Of my feelings of guilt.

But I still thought New York would be better than Michigan, like something of a middle ground between Africa and the Midwest. And it probably is a bit better than Michigan.

There are, however, days when I hear the workmen tearing up the street and the taxis honking and the music of the man standing next to me at the stoplight and the crash of the garbage truck and I remember that when it rained hard at night in Kibuye, when the rain on the metal roof was all I could hear, I would wake up sometimes and wonder idly, "What if it rains so hard that the hill falls down on me?" and then I would drift off to sleep, not really caring if it did come down. And sometimes in the evening, out at the end of the peninsula, I would watch the sun tumble into the clouds over Igwi and realize that no other human being could hear or see me.

I used to stand looking over the lake and think to myself: remember, when you go back to the US, that this is more beautiful than anywhere else you've ever been.

08 March 2006

fits and starts

Trying to figure out how one gets to Liberia turns out to be... challenging.

05 March 2006

lovely weekend things

I could almost forget that school exists except for the horrible little feeling in the back of my mind reminding me that at every minute I really should be doing something else.

But I did do some lovely weekend things. Among them:
  • watched persian dance. for some reason, persian dance makes me want to cry. african dance and latin dance and indian dance i can just enjoy, but persian dance is so beautiful and haunting that something in me feels lonely and surrounded by friends at the same time.
  • ate soul food.
  • walked in central park.
  • held kid #2 while he fell asleep. his mom and brother went to a big kids party, so kid #2 and i were alone and as his dad, the last to leave, left, he cried for just a moment and said, "Daaaaddyyy" and then he held his arms up to me and I picked him up and sat on the couch and he curled up in my arms and refused to move and I sat there with him until he fell asleep.
  • played sudoku. love sudoku. I've started playing it in pen. That, my friends, is brave. Or it just means I'm addicted and my pencil tip broke off and no one has pencil sharpeners for classic number 2 pencils anymore.
I really wish con law were over. But it isn't. So I have to go work on it.

jamaica, baby

(yes, I know, I've never been. I got this photo at tripadvisor. And I always wanted to go and really see it - inland as well as the beach. But I'm tired. So I'm just going to the beach.)

04 March 2006

the mental block continues

I can't seem to recover from it. I just can't get anything done. It's like senioritis without the senior part (that's next year - imagine how little i will then get done, heh heh). I also just spelled done "dun."

Must have a break. I thought I would have a break when my brief and oral argument were dune, no, DONE (no, I did NOT do that on purpose), but no such thing has happened. I have to write this mid-term self-evaluation for the same class... let's just say, since it was due Tuesday and it's not done, probably I need to be pretty harsh on myself in it.

I need to get out of here. Run away.

On Tuesday night we went to dinner with a professor and I could not remember the word transcript and I had to describe it to everyone at the table, "You know, that thing that lists all your classes and the grades you got and you send it to people so they know how you did? Like to jobs?" and then, slightly embarrassed, I said, "It's been a long 27 years." (Really I'm 26, but that means I'm working on year 27.) The professor, who is I think, 76 or 78, found it quite amusing.

At least I can buy a plane ticket for Liberia. Which doesn't give me that much consolation because I can't afford it. Yet another thing to worry about.

02 March 2006

no pants

A concept which is even funnier when, like me, you have spent so much time with people who are either British or from former British colonies that you carefully avoid use of the word pants in certain company.

This morning when I walked to babysitting it was snowing just a bit, a lovely romantic snow in the relatively warm air. Beautiful. When I brought the kiddos to school, it was rain-snowing and I ended up soaked through and cold for hours. I had to go back to school this evening for some stuff and I was all bundled up and not so cold, but on the way home I vowed to wear only jeans from now on, because with black pants/trousers on I might as well have had no pants on. No pants! Fortunately, no one but me could tell that I felt like I had no pants on.

the best moment

is the one in which you are sitting in class, ignoring the lecture, realizing that the professor might have just suggested an interesting framework for dealing with women's rights but you don't know that the framework is because you weren't listening and then you absent-mindedly click on send/receive in outlook and what arrives is an email from the people you want to work for in Liberia this summer, telling you to come on over and work with them.

And then you can't sit still for the last four minutes of class because you are SO VERY EXCITED. And you need to buy a plane ticket. Soon.