Sunday, May 28, 2006


Put my HMF on the plane yesterday......have been sitting at home since, packing and generally just.......waiting, starved for human attention and......waiting.

I've been comparing it to being pregnant. You know it's going to happen. You know WHAT is going to happen, pretty much. You have a date on which it will probaby, most likely, happen.

And yet, near the end, after all the preparations, all you can do is wait.

Hopefully, some of my family members will call first.

M is for Malawi.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Email from My Summer Roommate

Hi, Meredith,
I just moved into our enormous house last night - we have the nicest kitchen I have ever had in my life (we each have our own refridgerator, with a spare in the garage...). We also have at least 2 patios overlooking our semi-famous gardens, which we will rarely see because it gets dark here at roughly the same time that we get off work :(

This is all I know about my living situation so far, and so far, this is about ALL I need to know. SCORE!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Because I Told Sarah I Would

That's a muskrat.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Malawi 101

I understand the great patience that is must take for people to try to figure me out. I mean, Japan, Geneva, Washington DC, a brief trip to Kenya/Ghana, no job, then contract job, then no job again, and don't forget the Handsome Man Friend.

As one of my professor's likes to say "If you're not confused, then you're not paying attention."


So, I've decided to post a bit here (check the link!) to help those who have so lovingly put up with me and are trying to understand this latest drama. Thank you!

Malawi is a small country in southern Africa. It's extremely poor; 65% of the population lives on less than $2 a day. I am moving there for three months to work with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and do research on smallholder agriculture. Most of the country (85%) lives in rural areas and are subsistence farmers, raising either corn or tobacco.

It is not a vacation destination, but it suits my crazy life just fine. :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Syttende Mai

Happy Syttende Mai! (Seventeenth of May). If you're Norwegian, it's Constitution Day. Hooray!

Although I'm not a Norske meself, growing up in the upper midwest, it'd be almost impossible to ignore the great many ties to the nordic homelands of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland that still exist here.

Throughout the years I've come to appreciate these weird cultural idiosyncracies, such as lutefisk, St. Lucia Day, lefse, and Garrison Keillor. But it took me a while to get there.

Yessir, rotten fish, flaming candles, orange wooden horses and burnt potato pancakes is what we get. To all those white people out there who claim they have no culture, I'd point to this and say: Now you see why we don't talk about it!


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


(I wrote this last week - and while it doesn't reflect my mood today, it's truthful and an honest interpretation of the human condition, so I'm posting it. Enjoy.)

This is why we dont' have nice things - we students - so we can up and leave them without a thought, without a drip of guilt or pang of anxiety that they will go uncared for.

I am full of anxiety recently. I wake up in the deep night - between one and four am - as if a light switch has been turned on inside of me. I am awake with the knowledge that I am not sleeping, yet I don't really stir. I toss, maybe plod to the bathroom. To the untrained eye, I am just sleepwalking.

But my mind is on speed.

It's not that they descend, really, these anxieties. I was going to write that it's at this time the worries descend upon me. But they don't really invade. They've already invaded - years ago- nested, roosted, bred and otherwise infested. I never used to be like this, but now I am. I am occupied, like a land at war, with worry.

It's only at this time of night when I can't suppress them anymore, and so they venture out, to conquer more space.

I rock with agony anywhere from five minutes to an hour. My mind focuses on foolish-by-daylight terrors. Each house creak is a murderer, my open window a rapist invitation, there are bugs crawling on me, I have breast cancer, I should've stayed another year in Japan, David Hasselhof is remotely attractive to me. My daytime, grown-up worry - MONEY- has little relavence in this fantasia.

It seems only to be soothed when my Handsome Man Friend is next to me. His warmth placates me, brings me back to earth. Even though I do not wake him to share my ridiculous insomnia (indeed I often sleep soundly when he is around), it's enough to know that he is there (to fight the rapists, murderers, home invaders and creepy crawly's).

I know this is a phase. I know that I'm going through great transition and my mind - though preoccupied during the day - is processing all that is happening at night. My insomnia is nothing more than a harmless byproduct - methane gas.

I'm axious about my stuff, my house not being neat and cozy when I return from Africa, not having enough money to get through the summer, not finding a job when I return. Mostly, right now though, it's the house - which is dumb. It's just a house and if it's dirty when I come home, well, I can always clean it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sasha Blackford

Me and the ACS Ladies take Sash out for a free Christmas Spa Day 2004
(Sasha is second from the right; I'm in the red scarf)

This morning I received the news that one of my friends and ex-coworkers, Sasha Blackford, age 30, passed away. She has been fighting Hodgkin's Lymphoma for several years.

When I met Sasha, she had just been rediagnosed after a two-year hiatus/remission from the disease. I didn't meet her immediately, but her reputation preceded her in a big way.

"Just wait til you meet Sasha," people said. "She's great."

This went on for about three days - it was Daffodil's week and everyone in the office was running willy-nilly around town - until one afternoon, a spunky, mischevious woman stood in my doorway, wearing a bright pink baseball cap. I think (it's been a long time now) that she had just come from chemo, so all her hair was missing (hence the baseball cap). Sash was known around the office for her hats and various wig styles (as well as dying her hair pink when it was long enough!).

The hype was well placed. Meeting Sasha was everything people told me it would be - she was witty, funny, sarcastic. She was also very open about her disease. She told us once - through her well-kept up website - about her various run ins with the public as a bald woman.

In one story, she was out shopping. A little boy stared at her, then poked his mom.
"Mom! I know how that one is a girl! She's got a handbag!"

Another story (I may be wrong, but I thought it also involved a little boy - mischevious buggers), who asked his mom quite loudly in a department store line "Mom! What happened to her hair?" To which Sasha leaned over, putting her face right next to the little boys and said, "I asked too many questions."

Thinking about it now makes me laugh, and sniffle just a little bit.

I have told everyone I know and now I'm going to tell everyone I don't:

Sasha brought so much joy and sparkle to life, she was amazing to behold. No, that makes her sound...ethereal. She was HYSTERICAL. She made me laugh until I almost needed those little "urinary helper" pads they sell nowadays. Her motto was "Life gives me lemons, I add ice, vodka and a sippy straw."

She was the first young person I know to die.

Today I am saddened, terrified, humbled and honored to have known this woman. Please visit her website and give generous to organizations that aid cancer patients and their families, such as the Luekemia/Lymphoma society.

Bless you all.

Go hug someone you love.


Monday, May 08, 2006

My Feet Are Orange

Q:What kind of vain person dyes their skin to be beautiful?

A: Crazy people who are afraid of skin cancer.

Today I am trapped - working as a proctor for extra cash - all day. Watching students type, sneeze, agonize, cry, think and chew (pencils).

I'm booooooooooored. And slightly grossed out (does NO ONE use a kleenex? I'm never touching another public mouse again).

It's raining and I stupidly chose to wear sandals.

I've got nothing to do except stare at my orange feet.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Post Script

They came back! :)

Garage Sale Let-Down

I'm sitting on my front porch right now staring a piles of junk that I no longer want but want other people to buy.

Is that wrong?

Apparently, they're on to me, because in the four hours I've been running this shingdig, I've only sold $37.75 worth of stuff. From the dollar table.

Which is funny to me because I thought that most of the mid-size electronics (the microwave, the humidifier, the iron, the vacuum cleaner) would have atleast generated interest. There are two brand new Jansport backpacks priced to move at $10 apiece!

The best I got was some Asian guy offering me a dollar for the iron.

And yet, strangely, the lamp without a lampshade, the hannukah candles and a bottle of crusty old "Cactus Juice" sold.


To be fair, I am waiting on a couple who said they'd be back with a substantial amount of money for my old laptop. If that's the case, this whole morning would be worth it. That is, if they come back.

They're coming back, right?


Monday, May 01, 2006

Vive Los Estados Unidos!

Happy May Day/International Worker's Day/A Day Without Immigrants/Great American Boycott/El Gran Paro Americano! In celebration, I hope you are protesting the Bush's immigration reform (or just Bush in general).

Specifically, I hope you are taking the streets to protest H.R. 4437, a House Bill that is currently under discussion in the U.S. Senate. This bill would classify illegal aliens as felons, as well as those who help them by giving them basic food, water and shelter. This distinction, my legal counsel tells me, would group illegal immigrants and their Harriet Tubman helpers with murderers and rapists. Does that make sense to you? Was Harriet Tubman a rapist?

More to the point - I hope you also listen to "Nuestro Himno" - Our (new national) Anthem. Learn it. It might do you good to think outside your SUV.

It's the latest take on the Star Spangeled Banner causing quite a stir amongst our non-spanish speaking population (did conservative housewives get their panties in this big of a bunch over Jimi Hendrix's version?). Apparently, they feel threatened because they haven't yet learned the song in English and now they're saddled with another version that their maids can now understand.

Damn! Rosa might now crack the Da Vinci code we've gotten hidden in the words!

People. Get a grip. It's a song. Shouldn't it inspire awe, love, gratitude and patriotism in any language?

Let freedom ring - in English, Spanish or Kiswahili for all I care.