31 May 2006

the wrist saga


Okay, I finally, instead of packing (okay, I almost finished packing, now I'm taking a break) am going to record the saga of the hand problems for posterity.

Step One: a store-bought black wrist brace that I accidently left at my parents' house and of which I have no photo but which elicited many a comment in Tanzania and set off the metal detector every time I went into the big important office buildings.

Step Two: massively long braces for sleeping in. Supposed to help the golf elbow. And they did. But pain (which turned out to be the ligaments) continued. Notice that they go above my elbow. They make it impossible to pull up the covers or scratch your nose. Also keep in mind that I was wearing TWO of them, one on each arm. Then think about the logistics of getting them on without being able to move your elbows. Ha.

Step Three: short braces to support the wrists while typing and carrying things. These are the classic carpal tunnel syndrome braces with which oh-so-many of my law school classmates are intimately familiar.

Step Four: wrist surgery. Wrist surgery is not all that bad. I was really tired for about a week, but the pain was really more of a dull ache. I could have gotten by without any pain killers if I wasn't worried about swelling and if my other hand hadn't had to do all the work and therefore gotten painful. (Other hand being whichever one had not just had surgery that week.) Since it was just an arthroscopy and they just went in with little cameras and tools into three button-hole-like holes rather than slicing my wrist open, I had only a bandage, not a cast. Ignore the glare of the flash, if you will.

Step Five: little bandages. After my first surgery, when they removed the bandage, I just had the sterile tape with purple "where to cut" markings that took over a week to come off, however I scrubbed them. The steri-strips fell off after a few days.

After my second surgery, when the doctor removed the bandage, I had a huge mess of sterile tape so he ripped it all off (with all my arm hair - ow ow ow!) and wrapped it in a little bit of gauze and sticky fake-white-people skin color stuff.

Step Six: I still wear the wrist braces when my wrists get tired or I'm packing or moving or carrying things, but I'm supposed to wear them as little as possible. My wrists get a little bit stronger every day and apparently my body does a good job with scars because they are healing up right nicely.

My left hand is nine days out from surgery (one day after getting the bandage off):

My right hand is five weeks and two days out from surgery (four weeks after getting the bandage off) - it's almost back to normal except I sunburned the scars in the last few days. Oops.

this is that one moment

you know, that one moment when you are about to travel when most stuff is packed and there's a stack of things to finish today on the table and a few last things to throw into suitcases and a manageable list of things to clean and you sit among it all, perfectly still for a moment, slightly sick to your stomach because you didn't get enough sleep the last few nights but calm, aware that all you have to do is move and everything will start happening at once. so you put off the moving.

on my way back from coffee with a friend this morning, I looked down at the street and suddenly felt the world spin around me and when I looked up, New York looked so pleasant and homelike. Women in capris scurried to work, dads walked with their kids to school, and a man with his backpack over his chest stood confusedly on the corner wondering which way was downtown, all blessed with the sun in the cool of morning.

30 May 2006

What I'm doing: reading blogs about Liberia.

What I should be doing: packing/organizing/cleaning to go to Liberia.

The blogs are inspiring me, though. I'm excited to be getting back to Liberia. One of them has many pictures and I wonder if things were always so half-built and in progress in Liberia or if that is an after-the-war thing. East Africa looks so established by comparison.

I think it was always that way.

** Just got up and tried to do some packing. Turns out that the reason I'm sitting here on the internet is because it is actually unbearably hot once you start moving around. I knew there had to be some purpose for it. Liberia here I come. New York is getting me ready. It was 95% humidity here yesterday.
What I'm doing: reading blogs about Liberia.

What I should be doing: packing/organizing/cleaning to go to Liberia.

The blogs are inspiring me, though. I'm excited to be getting back to Liberia. One of them has many pictures and I wonder if things were always so half-built and in progress in Liberia or if that is an after-the-war thing. East Africa looks so established by comparison.

I think it was always that way.

** Just got up and tried to do some packing. Turns out that the reason I'm sitting here on the internet is because it is actually unbearably hot once you start moving around. I knew there had to be some purpose for it. Liberia here I come. New York is getting me ready. It was 95% humidity here yesterday.

27 May 2006

This is what summer should be

Lovely long afternoon reading a new book on the porch, looking up at the perfect blue sky and the green leaves on the trees. You don't get this when you run right off to Africa after exams. Although I used to do the same in Rwanda, but there the green is not quite so startling because it's always around. It's never new like this. But I'm glad, even though I'm slightly envious when the people already in Liberia call me, to have a rest and a break and a little time to heal. (Itchy ITCHY bandage gets really hot when it's hot out.)

Now I shall take an evening walk. I have missed summer these last few years. (I'm not in New York, obviously. I have escaped.)

26 May 2006

my poor doctor

He really didn't know what he was getting into when I became his patient. I have called his office three times related to one or the other surgery. Every time, it's been something so obvious. The first time I called because my arm was throbbing. The PA told me to keep it elevated. The second time, I called because my wrist had a bump on it. The PA told me to wait until my next appointment, at which it turned out to be scar tissue. The third time, I called because I had a fever. After hours. So they had to page the doctor. He told me to move around a bit and wait until tomorrow, at which point to go to the hospital if I still had a fever. But today is tomorrow, and the fever is gone. Although I'm still tempted to go back to outpatient surgery to have my bandage redone. Because itchy, itchy, itchy.

I feel like the neediest patient ever. All those years of my mom being calm about things and waiting until the next day have clearly not sunk in. For surgery at least. Usually I am calm, I think, but I've never had surgery before and I don't feel all that well prepared. I mean, who knew about this scar tissue thing?

Fortunately I said no when the girl next to me at the cafe during the arm-throbbing incident turned out to be a medical student who had the doctor's personal cell phone number. That was noble of me (patting myself on the back). At least now I'm not calling him directly.

25 May 2006

silly banks

This morning, I was awakened by my phone ringing. It was United, calling to tell me that my card wouldn't work for my flights to Liberia. Excellent. I called the bank in my half-awake stupor and was informed that the debit cards have a $2000 limit per day, which is a fraud-prevention technique and the only way I can override it is to file a form at my branch office that will permanently raise the daily limit (leaving it more vulnerable to fraud forever). Excellent. I have finally found an actual reason to have a real credit card. First actual reason I have ever heard: because even if you have money, you can't get to it. I probably could have fought with my bank at the branch office and gotten an exception, like I did to have a no-fee checking account and like I did to access my money before the check cleared when I was heading to Tanzania last summer, but I'm not feeling oh-so-great today, so I used my momma's credit card (with permission, clearly) and will write her a check. Apparently there is no limit for checks. Just withdrawals, which includes the debit card. Madness.

In other news, I have a fever. The post-surgery instructions say to call the doctor's office if you have a fever, but the fever seems in no way to be related to my hand (ie. my hand is not hot at all), so I'm taking ibuprofen and waiting. Is that a bad thing? Suddenly worried. I will call tomorrow if the fever is still around. Or am I going to die of an infection if I do that? Oh boy. Calling someone right now.

Left a message. Someone will call me back.

24 May 2006


I just answered a call from an unavailable number, which turned out to be C in Liberia, asking about housing contacts because she couldn't get on the internet. Slightly surreal sitting here in New York, sirens passing on the street, ice on my wrist, watching Pride & Prejudice (the long one) to think of my friends there and finding us - me!- a place to live.

Last time we went to Liberia, in 2000, I was excited for months. This time, I've hardly had the time. But I'm beginning to realize that I'm going. Apparently that's what happens when you buy a ticket and get on a plane. You end up somewhere. And where I'm going to end up is in a crowded, hot little arrivals hall in rainy season in Liberia.

They were driving through the streets of Monrovia when they called, where I will be in three weeks. In three weeks, it will be me calling to tell my parents that I've arrived and I'm fine and I'm IN LIBERIA.

23 May 2006

Ladies & Gentlemen...

(I so like the ampersand. Especially in garamond.)

Once again, surgery went better than expected. My ligament was stretched but not torn. I woke up to a bandage rather than a cast, which was good, but didn't completely trust my fuzzy memory of the doctor saying, "There was no tear." until just now, when he called and said, "Oh, yeah, of course." when I asked if Africa will be okay in three weeks.

"OF COURSE." Haven't heard that in a while (over a year) related to my wrists + something good.


Now I must stop typing with one hand and rest so that I will be all healed in time for Liberia, where I will be arriving in three weeks plus 6 hours.

Pain relievers and movies...

21 May 2006

on the eve of surgery

I'm going to have to look back at my old list for what to bring to surgery, because that worked out perfectly. I actually kind of enjoyed surgery last time. Except for the complete blank that is everything from the start of the iv to the recovery room. That is a big blank actually, and I don't usually have memory blanks, so it's a weird sensation to think about.

Surgery is at a normal hour tomorrow. Not that horrible 6:30 am thing. And I am scheduled this time, for sure, because they called me.

If all goes well, I'll be in Liberia in 23 days.

Today I walked on a trail in the woods. I had forgotten how much I need that.

19 May 2006

return of the end of semester bliss:

This is bliss: going to bed. Full stop. Going to bed without setting an alarm, without thinking, "How much sleep can I afford to get?" without any musts waiting at the end of the sleep. Bliss.

done, gone, uploaded

My exam, that is. As well as the semester and my 2L year of law school.

Good riddance. Maybe I will get to enjoy my 3L year without arm pain for 9 months straight.

Unfortunate next stop: occupational therapy and lots of wrist pain.

And then some surgery.

But then!! 24 days until I leave for Liberia.

A year ago I was already in Rwanda.

It's been a weird experience prowling about the law school after everyone else is done with their exams. I went to make popcorn downstairs a little while ago and when I went back to the elevators, the same one was still waiting for me, not having moved. Yesterday they cleaned out the lockers, which I still had stuff in because I just can't carry things. Is it wrong for me to feel slightly glad that they just took away the books (which I couldn't have sold back because they were older editions) and I didn't have to carry them in my golf-elbowed, ligament-torn arms? I don't know how I'm going to get the ones I have out of here. Right now they live in this study room that I am about to vacate for lunch and painful occupational therapy. But how long can I pretend I'm still working in here? Someone else might need it.

That's a worry for after the rejoicing, though.

Off to rejoice. Alone. Because everyone else is long done and working at law firms. But still. To rejoice.

18 May 2006

counting, again

By the way, I think I need to mention that, assuming all goes well with ligament surgery number two on Monday, I will be leaving for Liberia in 25 days, arriving in 26.


plotting and planning

I've been doing a lot of talking (between exams) to the other people who are going to Liberia this summer and who ask me things like, "Should I start taking birth control because of the risk of assault?" To which I have this to say: WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE DEAD SET ON MAKING AFRICA SOUND SCARY? Because whoever told her this was trying to do exactly that. And they need to stop, because they have no idea what they are talking about.

I've written here before about what Africa is to me (no link, sorry, check February), and it involves a lot of little kids holding my hand as we walk through the mountains and people helping me get where I need to go when I get lost somewhere in Uganda near Congo with no map (stupid Lonely Planet map was awfully sketchy) and had to navigate by the setting sun. I have very rarely felt unsafe in Africa, much more rarely than I feel unsafe walking around in New York at night.

And in the wise (?) words of my friend Lulu: "At least that baby would be beautiful, instead of the ugly one you might have here if that happened."

No, but really. Last summer in Tanzania, the work people said, "NEVER take a dalladalla [minibus]. NEVER walk around on the streets, even in daylight, and ABSOLUTELY NEVER at night. NEVER go to a market. NEVER go anywhere alone." But the best moments of the summer were bargaining in the market and buying corn on the corner at sunset and standing on the side of the road in the dark hoping a dalladalla would come and crowding into one so full of people that babies and packages got passed around to whomever had lap space.

I'm hoping for the same in Liberia: to live in a place with greenery and neighbors, to live happily but not too wealthily. And not to pay $2800 a month to live in a compound in the city (are you kidding me? why not put a sign on your back that says, "I'm too rich to be in this country, please come take my computer, because I don't deserve it anyway if I'm willing to squander money like this in the 12th most failed state on earth where no one makes even a dollar a day."). And not to live somewhere from which we can never venture out into real (by which I mean non-urban) Africa.

This, people, is Africa:

And yes, the sun was starting to go down and it was about to get dark. And yes, I was alone on the peninsula in Kibuye, Rwanda. And no, I was not in danger, or even concerned.

17 May 2006

The upside of having health problems like golf elbow (which has not disappeared, by the way) and torn-ish ligaments is that pain is bad. Not THE pain is bad, although that is true sometimes, too, but pain itself is a bad thing. Occupational therapy is not supposed to hurt, nor is anything you do. If it hurts, you stop, because continuing makes it worse. The opposite is true in, say, running a marathon or my mom's frozen shoulder. Those things have to hurt and you just have to keep going through the hurt. But with the problems I have, pain is conveniently a bad thing. No pressing on through the pain. Instead, when the wrists or arms hurt I get to rest. Nice.

Until yesterday, when we started scar massage.

I tried to think of some way to describe scar massage without swear words, but I was unsuccessful. There is no way. Unfortunately, the lingering pain of it makes me not want to do the range-of-motion exercises either, because the whole thing is so sore. Ow.

The good news, though, is that I can now get money out of the pocket of my jeans without severe pain in my hand. Which makes me happy. Something must be getting better in there.

14 May 2006

ploughing on

The "maybe I should drop the semester" point is now long past. I'm in too deep. Development is gone. I'm reviewing corporations one or two more times, but Damaris and I went over a couple of practice exams and it is possible to just follow the outline and think of things as they come up in the outline and it made quite a bit of sense to me, so I just want to do it and have it done.

I also used Damaris' phone to call and buy my Liberia ticket, since my phone is dripping dry (I have hope that it will be healed in a few days). That's over $2565 on one little ticket. Unbelievable. When they said, "If you need to cancel you can also choose to put it toward a more expensive ticket," I just started laughing. I flew back and forth to Rwanda for half this price, and Rwanda is a hard place to get to. There are very few tickets that can feasibly be more than this and still be purchased in advance in economy class (excluding round-the-world and such).

One week and 12 hours to surgery number 2.

I thought I was NEVER going to be done

but I am. 57% done with the exams. Moving on.

13 May 2006

and, we're over

2344 hrs.

3002 words. We cannot be over. It is forbidden. You think I'm kidding, but this professor is absolutely serious about not reading any more words than he has to. Being over means points off and stuff.

I'm tired. Not done, but tired. 16 minutes. Won't be done then, either. Shall have to cut things frantically and then try to make it make sense without it.


2349 hrs.

I cut some stuff. 2945 words. Honestly. I am going to lose half the interesting stuff I wanted to talk about.

Tried to turn the phone on. Nothing. And yes, I remembered to put the battery back in. I am inept but not technologically, usually.


2355 hrs.

Adding and then subtracting things - hoovering around 2900 words. You know you want the moment-by-moment replay of this. Want to see it again in slow motion?


2359 hrs.

Still chopping. Now it's fun. Chopping the stuff that would have needed more explanation so it makes sense as it is.


0006 hrs.

Still chopping, still merging. It's starting to take shape, actually. This trimming is making it leaner and probably better. Not so much blabbering. Although I dearly love blabbering. As you know.


0009 hrs.

If I could get a little screwdriver, I could take the dead phone apart and dry out the inside. Who has one? I need it tomorrow morning. True Value, here I come. Again. I had keys made there yesterday. They are going to know me there well pretty soon. Which is okay because two of the employees are very cute.


0025 hrs.

I'm just about at the "print this out because it's not making sense on the screen anymore" stage. Which means that sending it in will be tomorrow. Ah, well. Getting to that. 2888 words, with a bit needed yet. I'm sure I can delete more.

G'night, all. I'm going home.

too long, slanky, too long

I'm not even done with it and this essay is about to be too LONG. Blast it all. I have 136 words left to use and, let me count, 22 more suggestions to myself of things I want to add. Guess that's not happening. I really would love to be done with this by midnight (52 minutes from now) so I can go to bed. Oh, sweet sleeping that I wish I were doing right now.

i get this way sometimes

I am within reach of finishing my development take home exam, I'm well into the studying of the corporations (although the big picture is oddly absent - I think we didn't ever get one), and the diversity class shouldn't be that hard. Oh, and constitutional law is finished. I've finished 5 of 14 credit hours (more than 1/3). If I can get this essay done, I could be 8 of 14 down by bedtime tonight. That's 57%. By 48 hours from now, I will be 79% done.

I still catch myself thinking, "Maybe I should drop this semester." Clearly I am mad.

My mind is all blocked up. It's the last little bit of this essay that just will not happen. It refuses.

I feel a bit like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings, when he wrings his hands thinking of Mordor. Except that mine hurt right now. It's a tiny tad distracting.

Perhaps shall do the stretches with them and then refocus on the development essay.



So I did that, lovely wrist stretching, and then got up to go to the bathroom, taking my computer, cell phone, and ipod so they wouldn't be at risk of being stolen.

I dropped the phone in the toilet.

I stared in horror at it gurgling bubbles in the bottom of the toilet for a minute and then grabbed it out and began to perform artificial resuscitation on it. No word yet on whether or not it will make it. Most of it seems to be okay, although the battery area was a bit wet and the screen has some drops of water inside it. It stayed on throughout the toilet episode, but I turned it off and turned it upside down to shake the water out of the holes I saw it gurgling into. Now I'm scared to try turning it back on. I just started using this phone LAST WEEK. Its run has been less than two weeks.

I wish I still had my Rwanda phone. I did things like this to that one all the time and it survived. I could take it apart and wash the inside and put it back together. Stupid high-tech US phones that you can't disassemble.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this semester a minus 3. I never did find my keys, either. How is one supposed to concentrate?

11 May 2006

no, it's not over yet

It's 12:13 am. I just realized that I don't have my keys. Where they are is a whole 'nother question. I'm about to walk home not knowing if my roommate is there or not. And having to wake her up if she is. And if she's not, I will be attempting to sleep on a couch somewhere in the law school.

I need to get to sleep. It's obvious that this waking period is not going to get better.
this is the



that has happened

(all day)

(except when the little babysittee started crying because i was leaving. that was good, too.)

now if only i could focus on this exam.
Percentage of things that I must do in the next four months that have experienced a setback today: 100.

(Insert photo of me tearing my hair out.)

10 May 2006

really, how boring is a blog about how many words of an exam someone has finished? Very boring. (1505, by the way.)

But more importantly, I am on my second day of taking no pain relievers whatsoever for the wrist, and it is delightful. I am delighted. It's limiting to be tied to them, even ibuprofen. And my wrists don't hurt, so I'm feeling a little bit overconfident about the second surgery. All will be FINE! I hope. Since my left wrist doesn't hurt, it's easy to hope that things are mostly okay in there and a little tiny surgery will be enough. I hope.


1902 hrs.

993 words.

(don't forget the break for talking, and dinner, and sending a couple of emails...)
1435 hrs.

I have 314 words of no more than 3000.

Let the countdown begin.

09 May 2006

to a new city

I always found Kigali to be a comfortable little capital, unlike, say, Nairobi, which is big and sprawling and dangerous and crowded. In Kigali, you can count on running into the same people all the time and knowing almost every reasonably sized street and never needing more than twenty minutes to get anywhere, even at rush hour. Initially I got "driving in Kigali" headaches from the glare and the honking and the people everywhere on the road, but I got over it pretty quickly and came to know Kigali's streets pretty well. I am far from being able to claim that I know all or even most of the city, but I make a mean map of downtown (plus vital things like MINALOC and the airport). I made one for Kristina when she came, complete with directional arrows for the one way streets, and she photocopied it when more people came because, what can I say, it was accurate. And few maps of Kigali are, because Kigali is built on hills and so no road is ever straight.

My point, however, is that Kigali is pretty small. This is not a bad thing. I love the size, although I can imagine that if I lived in Kigali it would start to feel kind of claustrophobic (not that Kibuye was better - it was maybe 15,000 people and about 14,800 of those spoke neither English nor French, but I had Kigali to escape to).

At one point, one of my guards asked for the money to buy a cow. There were delays and complications and in the end, I refused to allow the delays to continue - the price had already gone up once. The bank in Kibuye needed several days to process checks from Kigali, I didn't have the money lying around right then, and I was on my way out of town for a while, but I wanted him to have his money. So I offered to give him a ride to Kigali so that he could get the money straight from the bank we used and then he could come back to Kibuye on the minibus, which I would pay for.

He had never been to Kigali before. It is 2 hours by minibus, 125 km, 1200 francs (about $2). And he'd never been.

I saw Kigali in a whole different way that day. Not the way I saw it on a break from Kibuye. Not as I saw it the first time when I was coming from chaotic airports in the US and the Netherlands. I saw it as it might be if you'd never been more than 60 km from home before: the crowded bus terminal, the tall buildings, the sidewalks.

It's a perspective I will never really have. I am deeply grateful for the traveling I've done in my life and I'm sure I would hardly consider so much traveling if I had not started by traveling, but I do sometimes wonder what it would be like never to have stepped off a plane in Africa. What would it feel like the first time? What would it be like if it were not familiar? New places don't feel all that different from the old places once you've done a certain amount of travel. The earth is the earth, the world over, and people are people. I keep looking for something new, even as I retreat back to the familiar, but I'm not sure I'll ever find it.

I wonder what Asia is like...

to my spammers:

It isn't that I mind that you send me more email per day than I get even from the law school exchange listserve, because your messages are conveniently shuttled off into a junk mail folder that I can conveniently delete, but I do wish that you would at least target your email a tiny little bit better. Let's just be clear on some things that I don't need:
  1. Anything that enlarges, well, boy parts. Because I don't have them, you see. I'm not a boy. Your messages might be better placed elsewhere. And why is this the most common message I get?
  2. Anything that offers me a job in something unspecified but apparently "easy" and involving "good pay." That's what loans are for, after all. If you can't work, borrow. At least while you are getting an overpriced education.
  3. Anything consisting entirely or in part of impotence drugs. See number 1, above.
  4. Anything suggesting a career change that would require me to attend an online, unaccredited for-profit "educational institution" that I've never heard of. As I just mentioned in number 2, above, I am unfathomably mired in debt to our friends at Citibank. There is no turning back from this law school thing and if there were, did you not notice that I already have a degree?
This is the wrong tree up which to be barking. Even if I were stupid enough to click on links in a message oh-so-cleverly disguised by a subject line reading, "Hey, bro, check this out" (bro? BRO? The spammers clearly think I'm a man.) , you can't spell. I know that you are trying to get around the clever little email people inside yahoo and gmail and the law school server, but some basic words need to be spelled correctly in order for me to believe that you are trustworthy. To give you my credit card number, say. And even if you spelled things right, anything right for that matter, I DON'T NEED YOUR STUFF!

So thanks for all the attention. Thanks for your concern about my job and my education and my non-existent boy parts (and their functioning), but, well, you know, I'm breaking up with you.

Now if only you would go away.

08 May 2006

where my interests lie

My notes in this class are quite amusing. We had three case studies: East Asia, Russia, and Africa. I have frantically interested notes about development in Africa. I have fairly straightforward notes about the East Asian developmental states. And then I have the word "Russia" at the top of an empty page.

Just for that, I'll probably end up working in Russia next year when I graduate.

06 May 2006

an ode to pringles

I love Pringles. You have to know my biases right up front. I love them. So this attempt not to study, I mean, this ode to Pringles, is not objective.

Even though Pringles are ever so widely available in the US of A, I associate them with Africa. I think this is because there are so many snacks available in the US that I usually get something healthier or sweeter than Pringles, depending on my mood. In Liberia, when I was growing up, Pringles were the very top of a pyramid of luxury that also included such things as Honeycomb cereal and M&Ms. When we saw the Lotze boys at the very end of 1999, Nathaniel and I agreed that our own personal measure of a developed country is one in which Pringles can be found in any grocery store. Any store. Can you imagine? Not having to go on a quest to find them?

Pringles were also a big part of my time in Rwanda. When I was racing around Kigali trying to get everything done so I could get back to Kibuye before dark and without being clobbered on the road by the huge horrible buses, they often ended up being my entire lunch (healthy, oh yes). Oh, or sometimes my dinner, maybe with some tea from the hotel's kitchen if I had to stay the night and was too tired to go out to dinner. Or sometimes my breakfast if I didn't get up in time to eat at the buffet before heading to work. Kigali = Pringles, almost, because they were immediately edible and you could always count on at least one of the strip of stores in Remera just down from the auberge to have them in stock. Even back in Kibuye, I generally had at least one tube of them in my cupboard and ate profuse amounts of them all the time.

When I packed up all my stuff into the (locked) closet at the Auberge Beausejour so that nothing small disappeared while I was off racing around, nor anything big, come to think of it, the Pringles made it into the closet almost every time, unless they were rolling around on the passenger seat of the Prado, within easy reach as I went from bank to mechanic to meeting. Because these salty curved crisps are gold, I tell you. Gold. They can keep you alive through long meetings with partner and/or donor organizations. They are better than coffee with your morning repetition of the same four news stories on CNN Europe over and OVER and over.

But I'm a bit of a Pringle purist now. I like the plain Pringles best, and I like them alone. None of this snacking on them as part of a mixture of things. They stand alone, unless you happen to have that Haribo mix of gummies that includes the fish with one side colored and one side white. That is a perfect combination. But otherwise, they can't be mixed with things like, for example, meals. Oh, no. Pringles are a world unto themselves.

Another reason not to eat them here, where Smart Puffs and Pirate's Booty are readily available, is to maintain the precious place of Pringles. They cannot be overused here, where I don't need them, lest they should become tarnished.

But it's exam week and my hand hurts, so I bought a tube of them. I am trying to practice moderation (gold should be used sparingly), but I really love Pringles. Elegantly cut potato-ey saltiness. Yum. Yum. Yum.

i study law

You know you are in law school when you find yourself thinking it's perfectly normal (except not) to use phrases like "adjudicatory processes" in a sentence. I worry about what this is doing to my brain.

05 May 2006

I quite the constant stream of ibuprofen just a little too soon. Miserable ache in right wrist. Fortunately, one can start it again.

There's always a solution, it's just sometimes hard to find, I suppose. I sometimes have a hard time remembering that there are always possibilities.

"This day's been crazy, but everything's happened on schedule
from the rain and the cold to the drink that I spilled on my shirt...
and you know the plans you have for me
and you can't plan the ends and not plan the means
and so i suppose i just need some peace, just to get me to sleep."

Little bit less - more? - uncertain. I can live with it.

04 May 2006

decision made

I've been struggling for the last few days over whether or not to follow through with my summer plans, for a lot of reasons, the main two of which (not including burnout) are:
  1. my wrists
  2. money
I hate admitting the second one, because money seems like such a base thing to worry about and I hate worrying about it. But honestly, it's worrying. A flight to Liberia is $2500 and I don't have a convenient organization to pay for it like I did while working in Rwanda, because I'm not really working for an organization, even though there are some rumblings of working with a great organization and fundraising that can be done with them. But fundraising, while not in itself that difficult, is another thing to add to the exams I haven't yet been able to take and the second wrist surgery I haven't yet been able to have and the packing and planning that I haven't yet been able to do. So it's a big concern. I just can't survive three months in Liberia on what I have available right now.

The other factor, my wrists, is only a concern (other than the fact that I can't carry luggage, which is going to be true regardless) if my surgery turns out drastically badly. Worst-case scenario badly. Okay, second worst-case scenario, because the worst worst-case scenario would involve permanent nerve damage from the local anesthesia and what I'm talking about is things just being much worse than the MRIs show, which shouldn't be the case but, of course, might. Many people have asked me, "Aren't you afraid to go to Africa with your wrists damaged?" The answer is no, actually. I know it sounds strange, but I'm actually less concerned about having this wrist problem in Africa than here.

For a while, the combination of these two overwhelming worries overwhelmed me and I was considering just giving up and going to Michigan and working at some legal aid clinic there. But then I read a couple of Liberia blogs and I just couldn't. I haven't been in Liberia for six years and I'm anxious to get back, on my own. And it's an exciting time in the transitional and restorative justice world in Liberia. So I'm doing what I have to do to make it work. I don't think I could forgive myself otherwise for precluding my Liberia chances for this summer. I'm doing what I can.

(Sigh.) And, of course, studying for exams and trying to rest my just-surgeried right wrist. Why am I in law school again? (See, this is why I must go to Liberia. To remember why I do this nonsense.)

And in one shameless plea - you know, if you want to send money for the Liberia trip - very good cause, I can tell you about it over email if you leave your email address in the comments - and tax-deductable because I'm going with a lovely Christian organization that does amazing work - yeah, let me know.

03 May 2006

little conflict

My mind is running ahead of my body again. My mind is going, "Let's get these exams done! No problem!" and my hands are going, "Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow STOP." Oops. I'm going to have slow right back down. Which is really unfortunate in the one single moment in which I've ever in my life felt like getting school work done.

02 May 2006


that's (almost) all i have to say.

"You just had surgery on that wrist. And you need surgery on that one. They are going to hurt."

85%:15% are the chances. What do you think of those odds?

There is no easy way out, although believe me, I would take it if there was. This time, I would take it.

01 May 2006

so there's this moment, this horrible moment, in which all of the "it's too terrible to think about, but what if?" thoughts become something more like, "it's too terrible to think about, but probably..." and it's really depressing, and then to solace yourself you start thinking about small trips that one might take and you talk to your friend who travels and she says, "I was thinking about going to Iceland in August and renting an SUV and going about frolicking in hot springs and I already have about 10 people on the backpackers' web site who are interested, want to come?" and so maybe it will all be okay. not as good as before, but okay. and then someone else orders fresh direct for you because you don't have a secure wireless connection, and the exam people are incredibly nice about the fact that you have very little use of your hands, and so, well, life goes on.


edit: and then you get an e-mail saying that you can come and pick up your check for your summer work and then the whole thing starts all over again, because what summer work? no, really, what summer work? and where? unfortunately, the hope tends to start all over again, and that makes it even harder.