30 June 2006

still writing offline - silly internets!

29 June 2006


I’m really not sure I can stay awake for this day. Tooooooo tired. It’s worth it, though. I laughed harder last night than I have laughed in years. There were people here from another international organization that’s working with mine and one of them was telling stories about Peru. That doesn’t sound funny, but trust me, it was. There were hand motions. There were leanings over. We laughed until we couldn’t breathe. And then I pulled out my computer and showed a video I took last week of a contortionist who had his legs twisted up behind his arms and was walking around on his arms and, well, his torso I suppose it was, and then leaned back and started rubbing his own bottom in circular motions. This was in public. Children were present. The crowd went wild. The Peruvian guy watched it over and over and laughed until he cried actual tears.

Life in Monrovia is developing a rhythm. The power goes out at 1 am. It comes back at 5 am. Off at 8 am. On at 6 pm. On Wednesdays there are Lebanese meat pies at Mamba Point. We work on Saturday mornings. (I’m not over that yet, by the way.) Sunday afternoons, if all goes well, we head to the beach. And there is evening and there is morning.

On Tuesday night, I sat on a rock at the edge of the ocean and watched the waves crash against my rock and the ones next to it and around it and thought about how it is possible for life to come back in a circle like this: that in 2006 I would be sitting on a rock at the beach in Liberia after so many years away.

30 June 2006

0829 hrs

I’m amused by the fact that I don’t have to think about which clothes to wear each morning. Of course I have to think about what is going on at the office, but I never have to wonder whether it’s better to save the long-sleeved shirt for tomorrow when it might be colder. Because it won’t be colder. Tomorrow will be just about like today is and yesterday was. The only tiny difference is the rain. If it hasn’t rained in the last few hours, you know it because you are too hot by the time you get up to the gate at 8 o’clock in the morning.

I’m sitting out in front of our compound’s office just wishing that the wireless internet will suddenly come on, even though, since no one is in the office and the wireless router is gone, the chances are approximately zero. We’ve heard varying stories of where the wireless router went. First someone had taken it to his friend’s house for a day or two and it would be back soon. Then it had been taken into town to get fixed. Then they just stopped bothering with excuses and started shrugging. We suspect that it’s somewhere with everything else that has disappeared, lying somewhere in a little cache of “lost” items with C’s cell phone, the plate, the knife, the jar of jam, and the crackers that were left on the back porch and poof! Gone. The sad thing is that we no longer have them, so we can’t put them all into one place and make a diorama of them.

Ah, well. We still have the New Democrat with its Countdown to Power (27 days). That is souvenir enough. There might actually be some power in 27 days. Not out here far away where we live, but we saw workmen cutting down trees and putting up light poles (donated by Ghana even though Liberia is covered in trees) down Tubman Boulevard in Sinkor and over to the hospital.

0847 hrs. Still no one to open the office and give me internet. Still no ride. We were supposed to ready to be picked up at 8 am. More even than East Africa, Liberia seems to be a place where you wait and wait and wait only to be suddenly told to do something RIGHT NOW that you could have been done with already if only you hadn’t had to wait so long. Maybe this is partly because we are interns and everyone else is more important than us, so we wait for a ride for an hour but then can’t keep the ride waiting for even five minutes because someone more important is in the car.

And... gotta go. Car just got here.

26 June 2006

busy busy busy

26 June 2006
0839 hrs

I have so much to say that it’s hard to know where to start. The last week or so has been crazily busy. I believe that I may now have seen Liberia at every hour of the day and night, except perhaps the hour between 5:30 and 6:30 am, unless I saw that one sometime when I was little. This feat was accomplished through a couple of early mornings last week and one really long night on Saturday, the kind of night where you are alone in a taxi at 4 am because one friend is stomach-sick at another friend’s house and a third friend is at the compound alone with no phone getting over a more serious stomach-sick and you have no way of knowing if friend 3 is okay so you have to go check since you are the only not-sick one. Fortunately we seem to have found the one of the only trustworthy taxi drivers in all of Monrovia (if you listen to what everyone tells us, which is “YOU WILL BE ROBBED” which turns out to be somewhat true, because some students from another law school were relieved of their wallets and deposited off on a side road only about a week after they came). So J the taxi driver and I went careening through Monrovia at 4 am, only to be locked out of the compound and spend thirty minutes pounding on the gate, calling to the guards, and honking the horn (strictly forbidden, but what can you do?). I had to lecture the guards when we got in. I don’t care if they sleep (all night guards sleep, whatever their contract says), but sleep by the gate, people, where you are at least wake-up-able.

I’ve started speaking a bit of Liberian English. I didn’t at first, being self-conscious, but then people at the office started finding out that I lived here before. One day C was trying to explain something about our visa/passport situation to a co-worker and he suddenly turned to me and said, “I’m not getting what she is saying. Explain it to me, Bassa girl.” So I did, in Liberian English. All were highly amused, although a bit of Bassa was an even bigger hit. I’ve been taking requests for the Lord’s Prayer in Bassa ever since, sometimes by people who don’t even work here; how they heard about the white girl who can speak a (tiny) bit of Bassa, I do not know. And I’ve had more chances to use Liberian English – with drivers, with guards while lecturing them, with kids at some orphanages we went to on Saturday (the missionary we went with said, “Do you put Liberian English on your resume? Because you should.”). At work I still stick mostly with US English because mostly everyone understands it.

It is warm and palpably muggy in Liberia these days, the air so thick that sometimes it feels like it wasn’t meant for breathing. You can almost reach out your hand and feel water collecting in it. Things don’t dry, and to get things dry I have started to use something that I generally scorn: air-conditioning. I can sleep comfortably in the temperature here – the air-conditioner makes me too cold. But I’m tired of slightly damp, musty-smelling clothes. So I’ve begun to use the air-conditioning strategically to dry clothes. Only at night, because we only have power at night. I keep getting cold, though, and turning the temperature higher, from 16C to 20C and now to 22C. But I found out (from a “store between these temperatures” label on a medicine bottle) that 25C is 77F, so I need to get it even higher. When the power goes out from 3:00 to 5:00am, though, the air-conditioner starts DRIPPING. On my feet. And when it starts up again, it blows air through and there is a loud whirring noise and bits of ice fly out of the air-conditioner all over me, so I have to duck under the sheets. It’s really a bit of a distraction from the business of sleeping.

25 June 2006

21 June 2006

Random things today:

  1. I finally got anti-malarials, after two pharmacies and the driver finally paying for them for me because in a moment of great mortification I had to buy the entire box and it cost $10 (after a $2 discount) while I only had $3 on me. (I thought I was okay because really I only wanted ONE tablet. But they wouldn’t sell them that way.) I only bought them at all because I started feeling psychosomatically feverish after talking to some coworkers (from Africa, even) who told me that I had a “death wish” if I wasn’t taking them because any lingering immunity goes away after five years. So I got them and I took one.

  1. I shall never be a human resources person, particularly not in Africa. Doing some statistical work on applications people have sent in to the organization I’m working for, I wanted to hire all of them. I felt bad putting them in less-education piles, even when they had less education. I felt bad knowing how many of them desperately needed work, enough that well-educated people had applied for menial jobs. I wanted to be on their side and get them all hired. The other interns from my school think I’m heartless when I want to tip less than 20% (20%! In Africa! Where a dollar or two for a $50 tab is more than any wait staff expects! My friends are destroying the market.), but I’m not really. I would just rather it go to other places. I would rather pay someone with no job to carry my bags, for example, than give that money to someone who already has a job in a restaurant. I can’t stand the idea that people want a job and can’t get one.

  1. I walked around a bit by myself in downtown Monrovia today, for the first time. I loved it. Everything in Monrovia feels so familiar but yet all new. And no offense to other white people, but being in a crowd of white people is just not the same. There is more anonymity in being white alone than white in a crowd. Not much more anonymity, but some. I see things better when I’m not trying to stay with people. I notice different things. Monrovia more than most cities is a place where you have watch your feet. Partly this is because it isn’t like so much of Kigali or Arusha, where living is separate from the center of town, other than the people who live above their stores. No, Broad Street, Randall Street, Center Street – there are houses, old containers serving as houses, little alleyways to houses, all clustered between little stores and big stores. And living inevitably involves water, generally just thrown out onto the sidewalk, such as it is, or on the road, plus it is rainy season, so things are a little wet. Not good for sandals. Monrovia also seems to me to have a funny setup, maybe because of its peninsular format. The university and all the government buildings are clustered together between most of the living areas and the downtown. And then there is a police training center IN the downtown. How does that work? Sadly, it blocks access to the beach for much of downtown Monrovia.

  1. I bought some peanut butter, spreadable cheese (a whole ‘nother entry) and chocolate frosting today because I’m getting a tiny bit bored with spreadable cheese and cream cracker sandwiches and I thought, “What better to spice up peanut butter and cream cracker sandwiches than chocolate?” And I don’t really like Nutella. Something about that hazelnut flavor. So, frosting. And then, get this: it turns out to be made in the US and it contains, I still can’t believe it, BEEF FAT. Written just like that. Some company in Illinois makes frosting with BEEF FAT and sends it off to all parts of the world. The peanut butter-cream cracker sandwich turned out to be incredibly bland and stuck to the roof of my mouth, so I had to use the frosting, but I have felt slightly sick to my stomach ever since just knowing that I ate frosting made with BEEF FAT, which is made of cows, in case you didn’t know, and I think tomorrow I’m going to have to spring the extra 40 cents for the Betty Crocker. If the Betty Crocker for export doesn’t have BEEF FAT in it, too.

20 June 2006

a little bit more of Liberia

Everything is pre-written... someday I'll catch up. Maybe I'll just post a ton at once sometime. Or maybe today will be enough.


16 June 2006
1716 hrs

I’ve run out of today’s projects.

Soooo… what else can I say?

Apparently there are duikers in our compound. I have not seen one. Of course, being a bit jet-lagged, I prefer to sleep as much as possible, but still. We got home at about 11 last night. No duikers. (Duikers, just in case you don’t see them on your compound on a regular basis, are little deer-things about the size of a dog. They are nocturnal.)

Compounds. Someone asked me about compounds before I left, as in what are compounds? Another sign of my abnormality, that I am so accustomed to them that I can hardly define them. Compounds are walled areas with buildings in them. One or more houses or living spaces or warehouses or whatever. Ours has a lot of houses and apartment buildings. And duikers.

One slightly surreal thing about Monrovia right now is that all the military vehicles are white instead of camouflage and all the military personnel have blue helmets. Everything military is from the United Nations. Even the tanks are all white with UN written on the sides. On the way into town every day, we pass the barracks of NIBATT 8 – the Nigerian battalion – a neat compound (heh heh) full of two-story white buildings with satellites on every roof. Big guns slung over the shoulder are abnormally rare for Africa. I don’t know that I’ve seen any. Not that I generally even notice guns anymore. The checkpoints are different, too. Instead of a gate or barrels or spike strips or whatever other checkpoints are made of depending on where you are, these are sort of standardized – a set of three or four big grey blocks of something (rubble?) encased in chicken wire on your side of the road just to the middle line, then another a few yards later on the other side just to the middle line, so you have to weave between them. Sometimes another set of them after that on big roads. The people monitoring them hardly look at you.

(Later: I was wrong. There are lots of guns. It’s just that only UNMIL – United Nations Mission in Liberia – people have them. But at the checkpoints, there are big machine guns in the little towers the UNMIL guys stand in. I apparently can no longer even see guns. Someone else had to point them out.)

I never spent much time in Monrovia, so I don’t know it all that well. Being here is a little bit strange. I recognize things, but I never bothered when I was a kid – or even in 2000 – to pay attention where things were. I’m completely lost when people mention street names or tell me where to go, but when I get there, I recognize things: streets, buildings, turns. I can suddenly tell you how to get to Waterside from a certain corner, or tell you where the museum used to be, or that a certain store is a good one.

You would hardly know that Liberia has no electricity. There is no electricity in the entire country. But in our office, in the hotels, in our compound, you wouldn’t know. There are generators everywhere. The only time it causes any problem is sometimes when the main one goes out and we have to limit the number of laptops plugged in so that the tiny baby one doesn’t get overloaded. I’ve always loved the little generators. They look like an oversized lunch box that you can pick up by a handle on the top. I want to take them home with me and set them in my closet like nice luggage because they are so cute. They look like a toiletry suitcase that Audrey Hepburn would carry around. But they only run five computers at a time.

3% of Monrovia is scheduled to get electricity in exactly 40 days and the rest of the country within six years.

It’s perfectly safe, by the way. I feel safer in the streets here than in Arusha, and I felt pretty safe in Arusha. Definitely I feel safer in our house than I did in Arusha. I used to barricade myself into that house because of all the horror stories about armed robberies. I feel safe in Monrovia.

Happy days.

19 June 2006
1102 hrs

So, Monrovia. On the way into town this morning, I noticed that store signs abbreviate to save space, so a lot of them say Mon-Lib. instead of Monrovia, Liberia. I’m not really sure why a sign at a store that is in Monrovia needs to specify its city and country, but I like it.

Saturday was full of fun activities, but it was all work-related so I can’t talk about it here on the internet. But it was fun. It involved buying L$5 bags of plantain chips and L$5 bags of water and L$5 bags of popcorn and L$5 boiled eggs and L$5 ears of roasted corn, sharing them around between about 10 people, and eating them under the blazing sun while riding in the back of a pickup truck. (There are about 60 Liberian dollars to a US dollar right now.) I love moments like that. My heart swells up and I’m so happy to be in Africa in general and in Liberia in particular.

We were frighteningly expatriate-like yesterday and went to Silver Beach, which is just past ELWA on the way out of town. There was a parking lot full of UNMIL people there and unfortunate numbers of chubby European men in too-tight Speedos. So beach, yes, nice. Food, sodas, nice book to read. But then I went into the water. And stayed. And stayed. I outlasted a lot of UNMIL guys (some twice) and only finally came out when I was just about the only person left out there and I started getting scared of sharks. There are waves! I’ve spent the last 16 years being disappointed by every beach I’ve gone to, and now I know why. They didn’t have waves. Not like this. These are amazing waves, like at Silver Beach in Buchanan. I can jump over them and dive under them and float up them and flop against them for many hours. Apparently Robertsport, up the coast a ways, is one of the two best surfing locations in… Africa? Maybe just West Africa. I’m not sure. And it’s not like I can just check the internet, because I don’t have it. But anyway, hopefully we’ll get there in the next few weeks. BIG waves.

Last night I finally made it onto the internet after numerous frustrations involving things like my computer not recognizing various networks at hotels and the power never being on at the same time as the office was open at the guest house. Unfortunately, it took ten minutes to upload the blog update, so I’m guessing I won’t be doing much on the internet while I’m here. That’s okay. I will learn to live with lack of internet access. It will be good for me.

20 June 2006

Another legal intern and I walked up the back road behind our compound after work yesterday, past the ocean winking in and out of sight beyond the lagoons, up to a little store to buy some drinks and supplies. This is another thing I love doing in Africa: buying things in tiny stores that are no more than a counter and a few shelves. I stood there buying merrily. I got a box of eight candles, a package of ten boxes of matches, a bottle of Vim scouring powder, two rounds of spreadable cheese (eight wedges each), and a packet of Foster Clark’s strawberry juice mix (makes one liter, no added sugar necessary), for US$5. It was getting slightly dark as we walked home on a road that the guards at the compound continually tell us is not safe. We were trying to hurry to get back before dark, but there were cute puppies. Little girls who walked with us and told us their names. A man who said, “Taking exercise! Good!” We got back and set the booty down on the table just in time for complete darkness to settle in very suddenly.

Later I went out and sat again on the office steps in the dark because there was INTERNET! And I had to have it! Because it was there! You have to take what you can get. And get excited about what you can get when you can get it. I kept dropping first my phone and then my flashlight and they would go rolling down the slight incline of cement below the bottom step and I had to fish around for them in the dark. The bugs seem to hover near the office and ate me alive, nearly. I really do have to make work of getting some Larium. I’m antimalarial-less right now and that’s probably not smart.

Even later, J was trying to kick a soccer ball down a hallway (okay, confession, I kicked it down to him, and R did it first) to wake up C, who fell asleep at 9:30 before we had time to play cards and we absolutely had to play some cards and he slipped and fell on his elbow and the glass bottle in his hand just as she opened her door. He had shards of glass in his hand and a huge bump on his elbow and once his nausea from the adrenaline subsided and I patched up his hand with four bandaids (I should have been a doctor – it would be so great), we laughed about how it’s the stupid stuff that will get you. It isn’t the malaria or the typhoid or the driving (well, it could be, but so far it hasn’t been). It’s the kicking a soccer ball down the hallway. And then when he turned out to be fine and I asked if he was going to blog about it, he told me I should have taken a photo before helping him up, so he could have put it on his blog.


The most romantic sounding name in all of Monrovia is Oldest Congo Town. I’ve never been there, but I’d like to go. It sounds so much like jungle and dangling vines and old houses sliding into swamps next to the ocean that I feel like I must go. But I don’t dare, for fear that I would be disappointed.

19 June 2006

racing the internet failure

I finally FINALLY got internet at work to work on my computer, only for the power to go all wonky and the network to keep going out (this one is NOT wireless, by the way). Then an outlet just blew up - huge billows of smoke over in the corner. A computer might be ruined. Anyway, here we go with more pre-written updates:

15 June 2006
1328 hrs
Downtown Monrovia

Someone kept driving an exhaust smelling truck past the office this morning. There is almost nothing that makes me feel sicker than exhaust smell. I prefer garbage smell, even. This morning, we drove past an overflowing dumpster and got to wondering how the streets manage not to be full of garbage when there don’t appear to be any mechanisms for taking it away. Maybe there are wheelbarrows, though.

Last night there was a thunderstorm parked immediately above our house at about 1:30 am and I got up in the dark and stumbled around unplugging things obsessively. Then I had to get up again three hours later when I suddenly remembered that the fridge was unplugged. I don’t actually know if unplugging is as important during a thunderstorm when you are using generator power, but I worry, because once I fried someone’s tv during a thunderstorm in Rwanda. Oops.

But exhaust is a mere irritation and I’m amused by the stumbling about in the night. I have work to do and every time I look out the window I see a Liberian flag and smile.

15 June 2006

At lunch, we went to a grocery store (we were at one yesterday too, but a different one) and all my illusions about Liberia being the one place where you can’t get things were crushed underfoot. There are bigger supermarkets in Monrovia than in Kigali. Bizarre. Kigali, in fact, has no real supermarkets. Liberia does. I mean, supermarkets. With aisles of wine. Aisles of cookies. There are Spaghetti-Os. There are granola bars. I’m flabbergasted. I don’t even know what to say. You could buy everything you needed in one store, if you had a functional fridge, which we don’t (no power during the day) so we have to go to the second store to get the cheese that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. But other than that.

16 June 2006
1644 hrs

I still have not gotten to a decent internet. For all the wireless networks my computer can find, even here in the office (I see three), I can’t connect well to any of them. Ah, well. My computer is out to get me. I realized today that this is the first time I’ve taken it out of the US. So it is just undergoing a bit of culture shock. It will recover, I’m sure.

It’s raining right now like it can only rain in the tropics. Deafeningly, blindingly. Our work building was apparently on the front lines quite a bit during some rounds of fighting (1991 and 1996?) and half of it still doesn’t have a roof. Not the part we work in, of course. But the deluge is pouring into the un-roofed half, from which it drips constantly, even twelve or 24 hours after the rain has ended. I’m sure all that water contributes to the plants we see growing out of those rooms. We were joking today about how all offices have plants. Ours don’t grow in pots, but straight out of the floor.

We went out last night to the Royal Hotel, which is air-conditioned and downright cold (I was damp from rain when I went in and it felt freezing all night). We were supposed to watch Sweden play, erm, someone in the World Cup qualifiers, but the satellite doesn’t work so well in the deluge. So we watched a message saying, “No signal” instead. It was someone’s birthday, someone from Sweden, but he didn’t get to watch the game. We ate hummus with warm Lebanese bread and pretty decent pizza and after the game was over the signal came back and we saw the highlights. With no sound. But the only goal we saw go in during the highlights was Sweden, so all was well.

On the way home in the dark, I watched the lights flashing by. It could have been anywhere in Africa, but I knew it was Liberia and I was perfectly happy. Ever since I got here, I’ve been loving the chance to say, “Here” when people ask me things like, “Where have you been in Africa?” or “Where did you grow up?"

I grew up here.


18 June 2006

liberia, baby!

So here I am, sitting on the steps of the office of our guest house, finally getting internet. Good times in Liberia. Spent the day at the beach, frolicking in the waves. I love frolicking in the waves. I can do it long after everyone else gives up. And the waves here are amazing.

Can't stay long. Here is an update I wrote on the way here but couldn't post...

Monday, 12 June 2006
1631 hrs

It would be boring if things went according to plan. That would mean getting to the airport on time and getting on the right plane and ending up in the place you expected to go at the scheduled time. Too easy.

Better to go to LaGuardia (in plenty of time, even with road construction, I’m proud to say), with virtually everything done (who needs a nail clipper?) and check in on time for your flight and sit at the gate waiting for it well ahead of time and then get a phone call from the automated service telling you that your flight to D.C. was cancelled, setting off a chain of events that involves lines x 5, the nice people in the baggage reclamation area (“Your bags were easy to find – the only ones going to Monrovia”), another airline, a car service, another airport and a now only 1h10m connection in Brussels tomorrow.

Estimated chance that I will make that connection: 75%

Estimated chance that my luggage will make that connection: 20%

So in the check-in line at JFK (airport no. 2), I opened up my bags and got an extra shirt and my sandals to stuff into my backpack so that I can make it until Thursday if my luggage doesn’t get to Liberia when I do.

In other travel news:

I have resigned myself to the pee on the floors in New York bathrooms. I’ve made peace with it. I feel a calm acceptance of the fact that my trouser legs are going to brush through pee on my way to the toilet. I just try never to touch the bottoms of my trousers. I’ve even accepted the failure to clean the bathrooms in anything like a reasonable length of time. I can handle the lack of water and soap and the paper towels scattered everywhere. Even pee on the seat I can handle. But please please do not make me attempt to accept the idea of used menstrual pads lying face-up on the floor of the stall. Because I can’t.

NB: in the second bathroom in JFK, there was another menstrual pad on the floor. How? How is this possible?

Ooh. Aeroflot plane passing by the window. Air Lingus. Air Tahiti something.

The green 3 terminal at JFK is nice. It has duty free and stuff. Like a food court. Unlike LaGuardia. This is good because it means you can eat for a reasonable price. Well, not reasonable really. But better than the non-food court places. On the way to Jamaica in March I wanted to buy a drink from a kiosk in the American terminal at JFK and it turned out to cost $4 instead of the normal $2. And when I said I didn’t want it, the lady said I had to buy it because she couldn’t cancel the sale. And I refused. And she insisted. And I refused. And then it turned out that she didn’t actually work there but was filling in for her friend who went on break and therefore she didn’t know how to run the machine and so when her friend came back he voided it. Not that I was going to pay, anyway.

Still three hours until my flight. I hope it doesn’t get cancelled, too. And I hope there actually is someone to pick me up at Robertsfield tomorrow when I arrive in Liberia.

14 June 2006
2049 hrs
Congotown, Monrovia

Raining. It’s June in Liberia.

I made it on my Monrovia flight. My luggage made it. My flight from the US got in early to Brussels, so I even had time to buy a new charger and adapter for my phone, whose charger I lost in Nairobi last summer. I was bitter for a while because the plane was less than half full and it seemed like everyone, even the people who had just gotten on in Brussels, people I knew were from Brussels because I talked to them in the line, had two or three seats to themselves and were stretched out sleeping while I, running on four hours of sleep in 58 hours, was scrunched up against the window next to a man who I couldn’t get past because he was diligently reading work papers and I felt bad asking him to move. So I finally got out and hid in the bathroom for a while and then I came out and got engrossed in the Chronicles of Narnia and then someone smoked in the bathroom and the staff started running up and down the aisle and I went back to my seat. And the guy next to me turned out to have worked in Rwanda at the same time as I was there (I thought he looked familiar). We had a nice chat.

Flying over, Liberia was green and verdant between the tall cloud formations. Far below us as we circled, I saw a little white helicopter scuttling around. We banked sharply over the sea, which is my favorite part of landing here, and landed in the rain. And brand new vans took us to the terminal. They even smelled new. I barely fit into the van with my backpack and managed to scratch my toe open, but at least I wasn’t soaked. And someone came to pick me up, with a little sign with my name and organization on it. Hurrah!

Liberia looks good. Houses are going up. Children in school uniforms run about underfoot. Teenage girls in tight jeans flirt with boys at the side of the road.

There is a 60% chance of rain every day, according to my fellow interns, who have apparently checked the weather. This means, apparently, that there is a 60% chance of it raining at any given moment (my theory). Or they just haven’t bothered to change the forecast in months (the other interns’ theory).

It’s rainy season, people. You can almost drink the air.

I like this place.

09 June 2006

on hold

for the fourth time. at the same health center. i'm just trying to reach the pharmacy, people.

okay, they are here. a real person.

gotta go.

it takes great effort to stay calm

I'm managing, somehow, although my stomach is a bit fluttery. So much to do.
So much to do.
And I'm sitting here stalking my email waiting for the one email that will let me put everything else into motion.
It hasn't come yet.
Bizarrely, 9 days in Michigan are almost over. Tomorrow I go back to New York.
Where craziness will ensue for two days.
And then I'll get on a plane.
To Liberia.
In 3 days exactly, I'll be on my way to Laguardia.
Fluttery stomach.

05 June 2006

the madness, the madness!

In a good way, let me assure you. All is well-er than I imagined possible three weeks ago on the eve of surgery number two.

I managed to move out of my tiny apartamento and made it (barely, $70 cab ride later) to the airport on the way to Michigan. I sat on the plane next to the officially most adorable family in the world, specifically next to a little girl who told me about the "fweckles" on my arm and the "fweckles" on her nose. So cute, with a smile that inspired her older sister to hit her with only the excuse "She SMILED at me!" when parental figures intervened.

We pulled together an open house for my sister, which I helped with more than I ought to have - I almost had to go back to the wrist braces, which I have abandoned almost completely. Yay! My wrists feel better than they have in months. I also got to eat lots of angel food cake and very good ice box cookies. Yum. Oh, and those pastel colored mints with the sprinkles on the bottom. Oh, and Sun Chips. Far more than were good for me.

I am actually getting things done today. I have been in this wireless-available coffee shop for about four hours and I have accomplished so very much, including talking to insurance, talking to IBM customer support (laptop batter is awful), and making various appointments for things like travel shots and cavity fillings. I'm so very proud of my productivity. The only thing I haven't even started is the pile of legal comments that the law journal sent me to read and grade for the journal competition. Bah humbug. I knew I shouldn't have done this journal nonsense. I glance at them, though, and I find myself interested despite myself. I really am interested in law. Bizarrely. Even after this year.

My visa to Liberia arrived via express mail this morning (I paid for the overnighting) and my tickets on Friday (my mom opened them Saturday because they were addressed to her because I used her credit card and she almost threw them away thinking they were a credit card offer, before I snatched them from her hand and started looking gleefully through them). So I'm set. After the International Driving Permit I'm on my way to get.

Liberia has greatly improved their visa, by the way. The one I got in 2000 was a stamp sort of half-legibly stamped onto a page of my passport. Now it's a nice full-color sticker with a Liberian flag and stars around the edge and a seal on it. Go Liberia.

T-minus seven days.