26 March 2007


I will buy only one more 30-day unlimited Metrocard before I leave this city.

oh, how i love traveling

Okay, that isn't so much true. I don't like the pile everything in the suitcase and lug it from place to place of traveling. I love knowing that I'm going somewhere and that a whole new world awaits me at the end. I love getting on a plane knowing that at the other end of those hours suspended in the air, watching the monitor show us passing over the Mediterranean, over the Sahara, over whatever we are passing over, I will get off the plane in a new place, strange or familiar, breathe new air, warm or cool, and deal with new customs officials, kind or corrupt. My first night in Liberia last summer, I was alone in the house we interns were going to live in. I put pajamas on and lay down in the thick warm air and smiled up at the ceiling. I was alone in a new/old place and it was a lovely feeling to enjoy that moment of Africa and anticipate a summer full of them.

I feel the same way, if less intensely, when I read about the travels that people make. I love the blog world because it gives me a chance to read about Egypt and Croatia and Indonesia and to see that those places, too, could someday be a part of me. I want to go everywhere. Mostly, right now, I just want to go back to that same job in Liberia for a little while before figuring out where to go next. But every few days, I read about Darfur and I want to go there. I almost cancelled law school to go work in Darfur in 2004. Or I read about Kabul and I want to go there. I want to go everywhere. And I love the fact that I could. I can. And maybe I will. Someday.

24 March 2007


I am drinking a Cafe Aloha, which is espresso with steamed coconut and regular milk. It doesn't taste particularly like coconut, but it is extremely creamy and tasty. It is also made with organic coffee that was ground in preparation for this very cup of coffee and tapped down with a little tapper and then turned into my big round cup of Cafe Aloha. Yum.

The following events have just occurred:
  1. I found an outline that I wrote last semester for a paper that I have been avoiding writing this semester purely because I had a mental block about writing the outline (not the paper itself).
  2. I got up for a minute and when I sat back down, I put on my headphones but didn't realize until five minutes later that I hadn't turned the music back on. I was just listening to silent headphones.
I need to apply for more jobs. I have this strange paranoia that if I apply for a job with an organization now and don't get it I will never be able to apply with them again. But this simply isn't true, right? In five years I will have a whole additional set of skills and experiences and an organization that rejects me flat-out in 2007 might be chasing me down in 2012, right? So I must tell myself, or I will never apply for any jobs for fear of ruining my chances forever. I hate applying for jobs. But it will be great to have one. Someday.

23 March 2007

coffee travails

See, what happened is that I FORGOT the sizes of things in middle America. I normally just order an iced coffee in the little hole-in-the-wall place with the best hazelnut coffee ever, or an iced tea at my favorite tea place, and they give me a plastic cup of iced beverage. Sixteen ounces of liquid goodness. But today I was running on five hours of sleep (because I spent more than an hour in the middle of the night trying to upload something to a class website while the school's server decided to be s. l. o. o. o. o. w. So slow that I never got it uploaded). Anyway, I wanted coffee (for the psychological benefit, as a reward to myself, because caffiene doesn't wake me up) and I wanted iced coffee (it's warm out now, so at least I have an excuse, but the truth is that I always get it iced if not an elaborate mocha concoction) and I wanted hazelnut iced coffee. I could either 1. stop at the school subway stop, leave the subway station, get the coffee, get back on the subway, and proceed to Quasi-Internship, or 2. stop at DK'd Donuts between the quasi-internship subway stop and the quasi-internship building. That's not the name of the company. But you know what I'm talking about, right - pink and orange logo? Ubiquituous donut store? Coffee is supposed to be good? DK'd is actually what the donut-stores-that-used-to-be-the-other-name call themselves in Honduras, because their franchise agreement ran out and they no longer have permission to use the other name. I always thought it hilarious. Pronounce DK'd Donuts out loud, in English, just once, and you will know why.

So I went into DK'd Donuts and ordered a hazelnut iced coffee, not too much ice, lots of milk and the lady said, "Large?" and I, having forgotten the insanity of portion sizes in this country in places where things have sizes, said, "Sure." Now I have a cup of iced coffee bigger than my head and neck put together. And maybe the rest of my body as well. Thirty-two huge ounces. I was embarrassed carrying it into Quasi-Internship, it's so big. And do you know how many packets of sugar are required to sweeten a 32 ounce coffee to my sweet-tooth standards? It's shameful. I might as well be drinking soda, I mean pop, which my former colleague who worked in Kenya for the same organization that I worked for in Rwanda told us at a regional team event has 12 teaspoons of sugar in a 333ml bottle. (Twelve. Think about that for a while and it's enough to make anyone switch to diet. Or water.) And my former colleague in Kenya knows, because his dad used to run the brewery/soft drink factory in Honduras and he worked there for a while.

Honduras seems to feature prominently, if tangentially, in this post.

I've made it through half the gargantuan cup of iced coffee in the two hours I've been at Quasi-Internship. Which is why iced coffee should come in 16 ounce cups, because that's the right amount to drink.

Also, unrelated to the coffee, I click when I walk down the hallway. Not me, myself, because that would be slightly strange, but the cuff of my left pant leg as it knocks against my shoe. This is because these nice black pants, which I bought at the Loft version of Ann T--lor and dearly love, have unraveled at the cuff seams. I tried sewing them back up. They came loose again. My mom, who actually knows how to sew, tried sewing them back up. They came loose again. Finally while I was in Detroit, I stole a whole bunch of T's big safety pins for chair covering (er, sorry, by the way) and used them to pin the cuffs. So far this works, but now they click every time I take a step with my left foot.

Argh. I have to go to the bathroom again. Too much coffee.

20 March 2007


  1. I just came back from a meeting with the people who decide if you can graduate. Apparently they are going to let me. They let just about anyone graduate from law school these days, it seems. Even me! I changed the sign on the lady's door (one of those feelings face signs) to "hopeful." Then I left and fell up some stairs and landed on my wrist in exactly the position to cause it great pain in the same ligament as was surgeried last year. That will teach me to be hopeful. (Although secretly I still am.)
  2. On the train on the way to school this morning, a man was ranting about how "You need a real man! You think you can just look at me funny when I look at you? You see men on TV and you think we are all like that! You stereotype us! You need to stop listening to your friends and the media and be a real woman with a real man! You think we are all abusers because one man was? You need a real man like me!" I didn't even know who he was ranting at (it started before I got on), but I was so so so so tempted to say, "Actually, she, and all of us, have plenty of RAVING LUNATICS on the subway. We don't need any more." But raving lunatics on the subway can be dangerous, so I stayed quiet and ignored him, as we all did.
  3. A job! So ready to get a real job. Being in law school is somewhat infantilizing - they usher you from place to place and send you mean emails about meetings you MUST MANDATORILY attend. Then again, it's a scary sign of being grown up when you find yourself musing, about potential jobs, "Oh, and health insurance. That would be so great." This is what I've become: a boring adult whose goal is a job with health insurance. Albeit a job with health insurance in Africa. That's not boring.
  4. Too many Allcaps. Sorry.


I just finished reading the Kigali Gorilla Gazette, a publication of the US Embassy in Rwanda. I read about familiar places and I felt sick in my stomach with the desire to be back in Rwanda. I called it home once, you know. And I've started looking for jobs in Liberia, which I also once called home, and in other places that I've only visited or heard of, like Dar es Salaam and South Sudan. With the first job application, I suddenly felt completely mentally over school. I'm done. Oh, I'll stumble through the last seven weeks of school, but I'm done with this place. I'm ready to move on. And I read about these places that I have loved and new places that I may love someday and I wonder what it would be like to have only one place. What would it be like to grow up in and settle into one place, not to feel this constant pull from more places than I can occupy at once?

I don't know, but you know what? I wouldn't trade this for anything. I wouldn't trade the time I spent in Rwanda for any level of comfort in a single place. I wouldn't trade growing up in Liberia for any security of knowing where in the world I belong. I love the ever-growing size of my world. I love having many homes. And I can't wait to find out where my next one will be.

16 March 2007


I have a deep and abiding antipathy to New York as a physical location. I hate the concrete and the treelessness. I miss yards (yards!). I miss space (space!). I miss people who are not either, as my mom and I discussed earlier this week, "buying the Prada shoes or polishing them." The inequalities kill me. The prices kill me. The snobberies kill me. The unending buildings when you take off from a New York area airport kill me.

Not that I want to live in the suburbs. But Detroit seemed interesting. We drove down 8 Mile, which was the highlight of my Detroit weekend. That and the U-Haul. Or the dog with half his body out the window on I-94 near Kalamazoo, which we had to just keep driving past because the Oakland Drive exit where we otherwise would have gotten the world's best hot chocolate is currently in a state of disrepair bordering on total destruction. I like cities, just not cities with nothing but buildings all pressed together with no space between them, going on for ever. When my plane took off from JFK last Friday and banked over the ocean, the city to the west and a gray expanse of sea filling the east, I was silently saying, "Keep going east. Fly over this ocean and take me away."

But every now and then, New York knocks me to the ground with beauty and humanity. It happens in a subway station, when two men are playing South American pipes and the clear sound wraps around the rushing commuters. It happens on the street, when the man standing outside my grocery store begging for change nods to me solemnly, because we see each other every day. It happens on the waterfront, where a deep red sun-disc melts into the clouds above the boats in the harbor as I make sure the sleeping baby is securely covered in blankets. It happens in a coffee shop in South Harlem on a sunny Saturday morning, when the almost-old man behind the counter says, "Now, that's a real smile."

Sometimes it happens in the tiniest of little things, like the fact that you can pay $2 for someone to charge your phone in 20 minutes in a news kiosk on Broadway at 31st Street. That's not an independent, self-sufficient North American thing to be able to do. It's a world in which we need each other, and I like it.

15 March 2007

apparently one does not grow out of clumsiness

What I meant to do was pick up the chair and put one last staple into the fabric I had just covered it with. What I did was pick the chair halfway up and then drop it directly onto my big and second toes on my right foot. And then jump around shouting at the top of my lungs, likely waking the entire building.

One day later, I got to do something I never imagined was possible. I held a needle in the flame on my parents' stove and then burned a hole in my toenail, because the throbbing, the throbbing. That tiny little pinprick hole bled for 32 hours, 32 constant hours. My nailbed is no longer black with blood but is returning to its normal pink. I almost dare hope that I won't lose my second toenail ever.

I limp, though. Slowly. It's a sight.

In other news, there is no damage to the nerve in my right arm. Probably just an inflamation. Prescription: the ever-lovely ibuprofen and ice. Oh, and rest (hahahahaha - law school).

Current song obsession:

It's a long way home
When all you're left to carry is a heart of stone
And the weight of most the world

I have learned a little bit about a heavy load
All that gleams and glitters is not worth its weight in gold

And I want to
Lay it down a little
Lay it down a lot
I don't want to hold it anymore
Lay it down in pieces
Lay it down in whole
Everything I've carried on my own
Lay it down
Lay it down

(nn, of course, as always. What can I say? She gets it.)

Believe it or not, the doctor who checked out my nerve conduction this morning said I seem much happier than most lawyers he knows. And he treats a lot of them. So happy not to have succumbed to corporate.

02 March 2007


(nothing to do with what follows)

I was at my quasi-internship today and there was a big meeting involving lots of people from places other than Cement-ville USA and as they walked past me I noticed something funny. I was sitting at a corner that they all had to turn and, being somewhat like that, I looked each of them in the eye as they walked by. The white North Americans all ignored me or looked away from me. The Africans and Middle Easterners met my eyes, smiled, and said hello.


01 March 2007


when i was in college, after i had discovered things like justice and development and Wendell Berry ("Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.") and that it really was okay to genuinely love living in places other than the US, i used to like to think and say that I wanted to be forever content with where life brought me and forever discontent with the injustice in the world.

at the moment, i fear that, like most everyone, i am discontent with where life has brought me and content with the injustice in the world.

she does get it (thanks, t)

i believe in the rest of the story
i believe there's still ink in the pen
i have wasted my very last day trying to change
what happened way back when

we are born with a lingering hunger
we are born to be unsatisfied
we are strangers who can't help but
wonder and dream
about the other side

someday all that's crazy, all that's unexplained
will be beautiful
someday all that's hazy through a clouded glass
will be clear at last

and sometimes we're just waiting...
and waiting...
for someday