30 October 2006

not poor

I had one of those terrible moments today in which I went to the atm and got money out and got a receipt (usually I don't, because I don't want to know) and the number on it was so shockingly low that I went into a little panic because I live in New York where a bedroom the size of a king-sized bed is $925 a month. I wondered once again why I am in law school. I can't afford this law school thing. Only corporate lawyers can afford it. I wanted to say, "I'm too poor for law school!"

Then I remembered that a few weeks ago I was talking to a friend online and I said, "I'm so poor right now." and this friend, in Africa, said, "Please don't say you are poor. Say you are broke."

I'm not poor; I'm broke.

This summer, I saw a little girl in a white t-shirt and a red skirt skipping down the street near my office in Liberia, positively blazing with joy over the 10 Liberian dollars clutched in her fist. 17 cents is one ice cream cone or two bags of plantain chips or four peanut cookies or six fried dough balls. She was so obviously feeling very rich.

If she isn't poor, I suppose I don't get to be, either. But I am still pretty broke.

29 October 2006

the task toward which I am exhibiting procrastination


Somehow I got left with everything to do. And nothing to have, because a lot of my stuff has disappeared.

Dreading the being back in the apartment and cleaning and... just everything.

25 October 2006

on eating in new york

I did something yesterday that I knew was a mistake from the beginning, but I did it anyway. You know how sometimes you just know? I knew. I was hungry, you see, and so I went to find food. I didn't have very much money, only the quarters in my pocket. I needed something cheap. I needed something filling. When I got to the counter, I saw a bagel covered with tomato sauce and cheese. The thing about a bagel pizza in a bad deli is that you'd know that it will not taste good. You know that the bagel will end up soggy, the tomato sauce will have no flavor, and the cheese is probably bland as well. And yet. And yet, there it is, and cheese and carbohydrates sound so good when you are so hungry. So you get the bagel pizza, and it only costs $1.50, and the woman behind the counter heats it up under a little broiler, and which she finally gives it to you, after far too long a time, the cheese is not yet melted and the whole thing is barely warm. By this time, you know that it is a mistake, but it's too late because you've already paid your $1.50, and so you microwave the thing and it comes out soggy but the cheese is melted, and you eat part of it, cringing the entire time. And you realize that you would've been better off just staying hungry. Waste of $1.50.

In another food-related anecdote, I have been walking past a new café every day. Not many new cafés, the same new café. Bizarrely, I hate going into new restaurants. I get paranoid that this restaurant is not intended for the likes of me. This paranoia is exacerbated in New York, where many of the restaurants actually ARE not for the likes of me. They are for people who know how to wear strappy sandals and carry designer bags. Okay, there are actually very few places that would flat-out reject me, especially near where I live. But there are a few, and I worry each time I go into a new restaurant that this one is one of those. (I worry the same thing when I go to buy my shampoo, which I buy at one of those places that probably wouldn't welcome me if it weren’t for the fact that I am spending money there.) Anyway, I figured that a coffee shop probably couldn't reject me, so I faced my fear and I went in and faced it even more bluntly. I asked the baristas if they had wireless Internet, and then I asked them if they were the sort of café that would get upset if I sat and studied for a long time. And then my paranoia of rejection in restaurants was completely overturned, because what they said was, “All we want are customers! We don't care what you do!” Apparently a new café is just as insecure as I am.

24 October 2006

There might be an upcoming break in the clouds. Maybe. I hope so, because I am so tired of dealing with it.

I wish I had a nice story to tell or something, because really I believe in telling things in stories. But I don't. No stories. I am just tired of fighting everything.

23 October 2006

my terrible horrible no-good very bad day

And I cannot even tell you about it because, you know, this is a blog and anyone can read it. But I want to crawl back into my bed - nay, under my bed - and forget this day ever happened. I just wish I could stop thinking. No more thinking. Then I would feel better, maybe.

Yes, this is an informative post. Everyone will get a lot out of it, I'm sure. Maybe later.

22 October 2006

I feel veeeeery sick to my stomach. I want to go hoooooome. Except not to my apartment. I want to go to some other home.

Somewhere friendlier.

Somewhere that costs less.

Somewhere with different people.

Somewhere without people.

Somewhere warmer.

Somewhere smaller.

Somewhere bigger.

Somewhere else.

19 October 2006

I am at THAT point again. I know THAT point all too well. THAT is the point wherein I look at my list of things to do (or, like now, there is so much to do that I can't even make a list), and then I do nothing but stare in terror at nothing, because why even try? I can't get it all done.

At the core of the frustration is something I did not cause but I have to mitigate as best I can, but this mitigation is going to cost me so much time and effort that it almost feels not worth it.

I have to write three twenty-five page papers this semester. I have thought about one of them. Thought, merely.

I'm tired of being broke.

November is crazy.

I have to decide pretty soon whether to take the bar exam here, there or anywhere come next July. How do I know? HOW do I KNOW? It's too much.

My hands hurt. Lately they've been hurting a lot. Stupid water aerobics. I told the guy that I needed to do something other than weights, but how else are you to strengthen your shoulders? And break your hands.

I just ate an apple. Everything looks a tiny bit better.

I have today thought the following things:
  • I hate law school.
  • I love law school.
  • This is the best coffee in the world.
  • Why did I just drink all that coffee?
  • Good thing I'm caught up on everything!
  • I will never get everything done.
  • I'm so proud of myself for bringing lunch today.
  • This lunch is not satisfying.
  • I love law school.
  • I hate law school.

17 October 2006

i don't learn

i didn't bring an umbrella today. again. i never bring an umbrella, because it never looks like rain to me. then, of course, i get outside and it IS raining. how can it not look like rain when it is raining? i thought about this for a while (too long, really, given that i was in class) and then i decided, once again, to blame it on the tropics. and, as always, in my blaming, i have a logical reason. here it is: we all learned in, what, fifth grade that warm air holds more moisture than cold. that's why there is dew in the morning, because the cold air at night has to let go of the moisture that the day's warm air could hold.

i have a point. it is cold here in new york, which means that it is raining with only a little bit of moisture in the air while in the tropics much more moisture would be required to build up to the point of rain. the warm air can hold more water before it starts dropping it. and there you have it: a good excuse for the fantastic cloud formations over liberia and for my failure to bring an umbrella this morning when the sky just didn't look dark enough for rain.

15 October 2006

screaming and dancing about at 3 a.m.

I went to bed late last night, after watching a movie at a friend's place, and then I woke up at 3 a.m. because I heard scritching and scratching and squeaking from under my bed. I turned on the light and saw the gray blob race further under. So I did the natural thing: I stood in the middle of my bed and I called my sister in a panic (happily she is in college and was therefore still awake) and made her google whether mice can climb. Which they can. They can climb WALLS. What kind of horrible beast can climb up walls? I don't need superhero mice. I want to be able to kill them.

My sister was not nice and made fun of me for being afraid of the mouse and finally I slept with my lights on so that the mouse would not be tempted to come out. But I could still hear it every now and then. Yick. Yick.

When I got up this morning, I moved all of the stuff that was under the bed out into the living room, which was possible only because my roommate moved out yesterday, unfortunately apparently leaving the key with her friend, who came in at about 2:30 a.m., just before the mouse incident, with a guy, causing me to nearly call the police because no one was supposed to be there, and who was taking an abnormally long shower, with the guy, while I was screaming about mice. And then when she got out of the shower she accidently opened my door instead of the other one, where I was lying with the light on because of the mouse, so that was a pain. But I don't think she gets to complain if I fill the living room with my stuff, because it isn't her apartment.

I went to Ace Hardware today and bought traps. The kind that keep the mouse inside so you don't have to get near it. Yick. Yick.

11 October 2006

I was online and I read that a small plane crashed into an apartment building on the Upper East Side "this afternoon" and "this afternoon" turned out to be 2:43 p.m. and I got confused because what time is it if things happening at 2:43 p.m. are already on the news? And it is 4:35 p.m.

I guess that is okay. I didn't want to accomplish anything today anyway. So ha.

I also forgot to bring an umbrella with me again, even though it looked like rain (but I thought the rain was this morning and was done). Guess I'll be at this coffeeshop for a while. It's too cold to be wet.

I've almost run out of things to do online to distract myself from studying. Ugh. My liking of my classes does not extend to wanting to do the reading for them. Not at all.

09 October 2006

things not to do

Don't start paying attention to the fact that you can see your eyelashes if you look in the right place. It will drive you crazy. You can't make them go away.

it's a special talent

I just walked down the steepest, tiniest set of stairs I know of, perfectly capably. My feet landed on each step. I did not fall. I did not stumble. I am not a clutz!

Then I took three steps on the solid surface at the bottom, stepped on the side of my foot, twisted my ankle, and fell against the wall. This takes skill, I tell you.

Yesterday the Liberian intern from my summer job called me at 5:23 a.m. just to say hello. And to chastise me for not emailing him. Of which I am, in fact, guilty. I haven't emailed anyone. I INTEND to, almost daily, but it doesn't seem to happen. But I was honored and touched (I am far too young to be using those words in combination) by his spending money he doesn't have to call me.

Then I started thinking (once I actually woke up, hours later) about Liberian English, having just heard it, and how it really isn't just dropping off the ends of the words, even though that is how it is generally described. Educated Liberians do not drop off the ends of the words and yet their accent is still distinctly Liberian. Which made me think about what it really is and I realized that even though I don't know much about Southern US English, from what I know of it, I know that it appears in Liberian English. For example, my name turns from Muh-REE, which is what everyone here says, including me, to MAH-ree, which I actually like better and which sounds distinctly Southern. Really the whole point of this story was that I like the way my name gets skewed in Liberian English. That's all.

05 October 2006

fun with satellites

Clink on this link for a satellite image:

Our house in Buchanan.

The bigger blob at the center is our house, the smaller one next door is the guest house. If you scroll north a tiny bit (by the compass in the upper right corner), the L-shaped building is my dad's old office.

Want more?

I tried to find the place I stayed this summer, but it is barely outside the clear area of Monrovia.

How about this: Hotel Africa.

Or this: Sinkor.

Or this: the back road through Congotown.

I love flash earth.

And just for fun, although it's not as clear:

My peninsula in Kibuye, Rwanda

04 October 2006


  1. it is raining and i am not at home. raining too hard to run home through it. stuck at law school.
  2. i am damp from said rain because i had to run to another building to put my computer in my (too-small) locker so that my friend can use it in the morning because (oh, the shock) her motherboard died. funny how that seems to happen to everyone.
  3. i was chatting with someone online and they are still there (sometimes idle sometimes not) but not answering me for an hour now. how annoying is that?
  4. i've never been able to get into all the immigrants' rights stuff that goes on in new york except on a philosophical level - there are just too many issues to be active on all of them - (ditto a lot of the war on terror stuff and the katrina stuff), but reading about what the courts have said about it makes me interested.
  5. my roommate hates me (the feeling is mutual) and so threw away all the new yorkers that she knows i like to read. fortunately i take out the recycling and rescued them.
  6. in liberia i had the most amazing umbrella. i forget if i wrote about this, but i bought a mickey-dees umbrella on the street, complete with the arches and the slogan. one of the most excellent moments of my entire trip was the moment i stood in duala (bushrod island), in the pouring rain, up to my knees in mud on my khaki skirt, surrounded by honking and selling and general chaos, next to a broken-down truck (our transportation), under an umbrella that read, "I'm lovin' it." life seldom gets better than that. i wish for that umbrella right now.

03 October 2006


If you stand in the right place on an upper story in Sinkor, you can forget that Liberia just finished a long conflict. You can forget that everyone thinks of it as "poor." If you stand in the right place, you can see palm trees and crashing waves in daylight and sprinkles of yellow lights at night. You can hear the waves louder than the generator, if you are on the right side of the right building.

If you walk out on the street below, sometimes you can still see more. You can see the two little girls laughing together and the old woman selling kallah who calls greetings to you every morning and the little boy learning to walk and the teenagers trying to fix the broken-down car and it is impossible to feel unsafe or discontent.

i have forgotten how to blog

I went to (West) Michigan this weekend and when I got off the plane I thought, as I always do, "Where do all these white people come from?" I am in law school, which has to be the most elitist white-dominated field in the country (except some denominations of the church) and I never see a crowd that uniformly white. Go law school. Sort of.

My sister and I went for a bike ride on Sunday and I can still feel it in many previously-unknown muscles of my legs. Maybe you are supposed to start smaller, or I mean shorter, in terms of rides, when you ride a bike. I still can't sit comfortably.

I came back with lots of cinnamon-flavored birthday cake, which I eat after my multi-grain flakes in the morning. It is in a cherry sherbet container and all mushed together, but it is still pretty amazingly good.

I am on the verge of getting a doctor's note to present to the law school to procure myself a large-size locker. I currently have one in the farthest reaches of nothingness and it is too small to fit all my books and computer, so I have to lug things around on my back or in my hands and none of it is good for the wristees. All it takes is one little doctor's note and I am officially disabled and get a big locker! Normally I would revolt against such nonsense as not being able to carry everything I own at once, but I have given up with these wrists. They have failed me. We are barely on speaking terms.

I read a blog that links to mine and I discovered yesterday that I have been moved from "Africa" to "Back Home." Hmph. I am sulking in the corner. Just because I'm stuck here in New York for seven and a half more months, I am banished from the Africa list. Notwithstanding the fact that I spend almost as much time working for this summer's organization (in Liberia; Liberian) as I do studying. I do appear not to be in Africa at the moment, though. And can I just say that this Friday I am going to go talk to some students at another school about Liberia because they are going there in a few weeks? How to contain the jealousy...