Thats What She Said

I'm supposed to be doing something else right now.

Q & A (Not quite as good as T & A, but you take what you can get) October 27, 2007

Filed under: *Booze,*Cheese; Or, Stuff That's Good,*i joined the what now? — thats what she said @ 7:13 am

Thanks for all the questions folks. I’ll do my best to answer them thoughtfully. Or sarcastically.

1. Notable GI Issues: (Thank you T-Bone, for getting straight to the point.) So far I’m sort of maintaing a pretty constant level of very slight discomfort. Lets just say I notice when things are…unusually solid. Here in the Corps de la Paix, we talk about poop almost as much as we talk about sustainable development. I haven’t had any major issues yet, which leaves me feeling both profoundly greatful and profoundly scared. Because I’m pretty sure its coming.

2. Spiders: so far I’ve only seen one really big spider, but since he scurried away behind the headboard of my bed, I’m not going to talk about.

3. Frenching: I think I speak French like a person who’s been speaking French for 5 weeks. That is to say, very earnestly, and probably pretty poorly. We had proficiency interviews this morning, so I’ll find out on Monday what people who actually speak French think of my French. I will tell you that I love to say “J’adore le cock”. (Sadly, I did not get more mature upon arrival in West Africa.)

4. Hotness: I think it’s hot. I would judge that it ranges anywhere from the 60s (it gets quite cool–we’re in the mountains) to the high 80s, which feels to me like about 112. Alas, the rainy season will end in November and it will get much, much hotter. I am not prepared for that.

5. Friends: My new friends are pretty awesome. Some of these people are hilarious, so of them are super smart, and many of them annoyingly combine both of those qualities. And of course, they are all approxiamately 23 years old–everyday I’m able to get around without my walker feels like a victory, and they are sure to remind me of that. I asked my best friend here what she wanted me to call her, and without batting an eye she said The Red Snapper. And that is why she is my best friend here. Kit Kat, you’ll be happy to know I’ve befriended another red head. Sadly, there are only 12 men, and two of them are married. Oy.

6. Chickens: I have yet to slaughter a chicken, although I watched as my…host nephew? Yes. My host nephew cleaned one on my front porch. I think I’ll save that adventure for post.

Speaking of post I find mine out next Thursday!!

7. Food: I actually wrote you a letter about the food! So I won’t answer this question now…more later. (Ha!)

8. Cities: Bon question. This one deserves thought.

9. Sunburn: A little. PC gave us sun lotion, which I typically forget to apply. Dumb.

OK, actually, I’m going to write the rest of these down and answer them at home.  Thanks so much for asking! It’s really hard to focus when I feel like I need to write about everything.

For now, I’m going to go home, hope the water is on and if so take a shower (T-Bone–I am so sweaty!!), and then tonight I’m going to some sort of concert at the Catholic church with the Red Snapper and her mom. After that, I’ll probably buy a couple sachets of whiskey at Chez Pierre’s and enjoy speaking English. Peace Corps: It really is the toughest job you’ll ever love.

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S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y NIGHT!!! October 6, 2007

Filed under: *Booze,*i joined the what now? — thats what she said @ 3:23 am

Today I only had four hours of French class and during the last part of class we go to go to the market to try out or bargining skillz. (Sorry about using ‘skillz’ quite so much, but really its the only word that seems appropriate and there really are a lot of ‘skillz’ to aquire here.) I bought some really cool cloth (a pagne–see, that is an example of my language skillz) from which I will have made a mumu. Seriously. I am very excited about any integration process that includes copious quantities of loud fabric.

Going to the market is sort of an intense activity at this point. There are tons of people, eithing milling about shopping or on the sides of the streets selling a VERY random assortment of goods, and lots of motos zipping by. You could start a pretty kick-ass scooter gang in Bangantè, if you were so inclined. (Note: I think the population of Bangantè is about 20 thousand–all I know is that it feels much more comfortable than Yaoundè. Not that I saw much of Yaoundè from the prison hotel.) It’s a really pretty town–there are lots of hills and the surrounding countryside is very green, so there are lovely views everywhere.

Tonight we have all purchased ‘tickets’ for 500 CFAs (pronounced ‘say fa’s’, about 1 dollar) for some sort of dance show. Although really, it would probably make more sense to charge for the entertainment involved in seeing 42 white people dance. But it should be fun.

What of actual work, you may ask? Well I’ve been doing some ‘preliminary needs assesment’, and at this point I have determined that  I would like to help West Africa meet its needs for the following:

1) Better tools and education for the treatment of drinking water

2) A better understanding of the transmission process of AIDS and other STDs

3) Sarcasm

In closing, the mystery of the week: Cameroon–plenty of goats, but no goat cheese…it’s a crazy mixed up world I’m living in.

 

Either I’m in denial, or I’m handling this incredibly well. September 18, 2007

Filed under: *Booze,*brain cloud,*Cheese; Or, Stuff That's Good,*i joined the what now? — thats what she said @ 12:25 pm

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Tomorrow is the big day. Although truth be told, yesterday, and the day before that, and the two days before that all felt pretty big too. And I can’t imagine the trend changing anytime soon.

Today though, is about relaxing and preparing, both of which I’m being aided in by The Lovely Miss Q. People, if you ever decide to leave the country for two years to go live in a place where you don’t know anyone or speak the language or really even know that much about the culture, I recommend that you come stay with TLMQ and Beezzz before you go. Or my mom. Or my dad. Or my brother and sister. Or T-Bone or Grandmaster Flash or have a party at Mike’s and hang out with Kit Kat and Dr. Jones and Cy and Josie. Also give Winston Churchill a giant giant hug and never mind the wiggling. That just means he likes it.

Because the crazy thing is (besides the fact that next week at this time I will be in West Africa), I do feel pretty relaxed and prepared. Maybe it will feel different tonight, when I’m lying in bed and I’m forced to think about tomorrow and next week and next month and all of the wide gulf of the unknown ahead of me, but right now, at this moment I feel ready for this adventure. And I’m so incredibly grateful for that, because I know it is only partially due to me. Mostly it is due to the incredible support I have in my life. I know I already wrote about this, but maybe you can forgive me for getting a little nostalgic in these last hours of familiarity.

But I meant to write about other things today. I meant to write about Manhattan and Brooklyn and our fabulous dinner plans tonight and the massage TLMQ just got for me. But…how do people do that? How do they know exactly what to provide for you in your moment of chaos? And then how do they deliver it to you, so seamlessly, so seemingly effortlessly and with so little fanfare that before you even know you are lying wrapped in their warmth and suddenly you just know that you must be ready for whatever it is that is in front of you, because with someone like that behind you, you can’t possibly fail.

It seems that at this moment I’m incapable of feeling anything other than gratitude.  And you know what?  I feel pretty grateful for that.

So I’ll leave you with the immortal words of Whitesnake, only partially altered to suit my purposes:

Here I go again on my own, going down one of many roads I’ve never known…

 

I’M IN, BITCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! June 7, 2007

Filed under: *Booze,*Cheese; Or, Stuff That's Good,*i joined the what now? — thats what she said @ 11:08 am

I have achieved Medical Clearance (Clarence)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AND today is T-Bone’s Birthday.

AND my very last French class. (Until the new term starts, anyway.)

I AM IN A VERY GOOD MOOD.

There will be some drinking tonight, folks. If you happen to be near Fremont around 8:30 tonight, I’ll be the girl doing a lot of very charming shouting.

And if you happen to be near Fremont around 10 tonight, I’ll be the girl attempting to do a keg stand with no keg.

 

The Only Thing That Could Have Made This Weekend Better Would Be If One of Us Had Gotten Laid June 4, 2007

Filed under: *Booze,*Cheese; Or, Stuff That's Good,*i joined the what now? — thats what she said @ 2:52 pm

You know what is sad? What’s sad is that last weekend marked my first trip ever to Deception Pass, quite possibly the coolest place ever. Allow me to list for you just a FEW of the cool things about Deception Pass:

  • Awesome name. It conjures up images of cranky old men on rickety ships, shouting land ho! and cursing the lack of women they must endure in their sea-faring existence. Arr…Where’s me pipe? (In my head, all sea captains are pirates. They are also all called Captain Crusty Pants McSailor Man…OK…actually I just made that up. But henceforth, all people having to do with anything nautical will be referred to as Captain Crusty Pants McSailor Man (or Woman, as the situation requires).)
  • There is this one part of the park…I think The Lovely Miss Q called it a ‘spit’…where you can stand, and on your right is a lake (Cranberry Lake! Another awesome name!) and on your left IS THE OCEAN!! (Unless you are facing the other direction…in which case, flip it.) People, this blew my mind. Lake, ocean. Ocean, lake. Whoa.
  • Ice Cream truck! Right by the lake! I never knew what was missing from all my childhood camping trips—BUT NOW I DO. The ability to beg for a Chaco Taco at any given moment—THAT is what was missing.
  • Boats for rent! For taking out on Lake Cranberry, which doesn’t allow motors! Can’t you just FEEL the relief of all those fish?
  • Site number 67, which TLMQ reserved, but only after searching and searching for a site designated ‘excellent’. ‘Excellent’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. As T-Bone said, she won’t come back unless she gets to stay in site number 67.

It was a short trip—too short really—but oh the fun we packed into that 36 hours. Aside from the fact that we were in bed by 10, we were like total Rock Stars. We brought really good, really SIMPLE food, and more importantly we brought enough BEER. Mostly we sat around and drank said beers, while smoking perhaps a few too many cigarettes. But we were on vacation. We made sure to remind each of this every time we reached for the pack. Or the cooler. Or the Natural Cheetos WHICH ARE OBVIOUSLY THE CRACK OF THE SNACK FOODS WORLD. We sat around and talked about nothing and everything and laughed and laughed about nothing and everything and I don’t think its possible to properly convey perfectly NORMAL and perfectly WONDERFUL it all was.

It was truly a girls weekend away, with two of my best (BEST!) friends in the whole world, and I really think that months from now, when I’ve having a meltdown (both mentally AND literally) in some far-off location, it will be remembering weekends like this one that will simultaneously make me want to come running home and give me the strength to hold on. It’s a strange thing when the very people in your life who give you the courage to do something terrifying are also the people you will find it hardest to do that thing without.

And I didn’t even get to the part where I got to be paddled around in a canoe without doing any work whatsoever. Camping is awesome.

 

Go Take A Hike May 29, 2007

Filed under: *Booze,*Cheese; Or, Stuff That's Good — thats what she said @ 3:13 pm

I don’t know about you, but generally I feel about three day weekends the same way I felt about prom. There is so much build-up! So much pre-event excitement and fevered planning—what you’ll do, who you’ll be with, and oh my god did you hear what THEY’RE doing isn’t that just like them?…and then suddenly it’s over and you wonder what all the fuss was about and why in the name of Pete was it so expensive? Three day weekends (and proms) tend to come with more hidden fees than college student’s first VISA.

But not this one! Oh no, my friends. I went backpacking this weekend, for the very first time. And since it was my very first time, I had much to learn. And since I am very kind, and also since you have no way of stopping me, I present to you my list:

The Backpacker’s Guide To…Well, Backpacking In Umtanum Canyon…So It’s Not The Most Comprehensive List You’ve Ever Read…There Are Still Some Nuggets of Wisdom To Be Found…Especially The Part About The Whiskey…Anyway, The Do’s And Don’ts of Backpacking In A Very Specific Location In Washington, According To Me Who’s Only Done This Once:

DO’S:

  • DO go with people who know what they’re doing. The Lovely Miss Q and Beez, for instance, if they are available. This will cut down the work required by you by like, 87%. Really.
  • DO take a boy. They are handy for things like walking in front of you to scare away the rattle snakes, and for knowing how to tie square knots. Although probably TLMQ could tie a square knot too. It’s hard to say, as she was busy cooking me dinner.
  • DO put all of your food in a ‘bear bag’ and hang it from a tree limb at night.
  • DO go with people who actually think about things like ‘bear bags’, therefore saving you from a horrifying death involving teeth and claws and generally being mauled because you slept in a tent with your last Luna Bar.
  • In case of strong winds, DO stake your tent down, OR;
  • DO lay in your tent reading while TLMQ stakes it for you and then ties it to HER tent in her underwear because moments before everyone had simply been lying around in the sunshine but then this really really strong wind came out of nowhere, forcing us to lay around inside our canvas shelters bemoaning the fact that we hadn’t brought enough whiskey.
  • DO bring enough whiskey.
  • DO admit to yourself when you are standing in front of the shelves of booze at the liquor store the night before you leave that what you would like to think is enough whiskey is probably not nearly enough whiskey.
  • DO bring MadLibs—the greatest invention ever—allowing you to tell amazing stories about the first two space farts to orbit the Air Force Pizza Hut, or about a bride who walks down the aisle wearing an invisible testicle with a hairy trim and a curly neckline.
  • DO bring a book, because you know what? “Backpacking” really just means walking somewhere and then sort of sitting around for a while and commenting on how pretty stuff is.
  • DO go somewhere that has mountain goats. Goats! Fun to say and to see.
  • DO start referring to the areas where people actually live as the ‘front country’. It will make you feel like a bad-ass.

DON’TS:

  • DON’T bring your yarn. For God’s sake it is OK to go one weekend without making knots with sticks, you giant giant dork.
  • DON’T attempt to drive home on the last day of a huge music festival located roughly nearby. If you are silly enough to try, DO expect to be surrounded on all sides by sunburned weirdos, each clad in an ‘independent’ band T-Shirt and Volcom hat. Dude. It was, like, AWESOME. (I was once a sunburned weirdo in a Bright Eyes T-Shirt, so I feel OK about judging all the folks who made the pilgrimage this year. Also, Dudes—hope those toilets were in better shape this year.)
  • DON’T forget to bring enough whiskey.
  • DON’T trust that TLMQ has fashioned (T-Bone’s borrowed) tent stakes securely to her pack before walking over the rickety suspension bridge with the wide gaps between the planks. DO have Beez reattach them once disaster has been averted.

So there you go..follow the simple rules outlined above and I assure you a glorious weekend will be had!

Next weekend—car camping with TLMQ and T-Bone. You know what’s great about going camping in a car? THERE IS NO LIMIT TO THE AMOUNT OF WHISKEY YOU CAN BRING.

 

Now Back to our regularly scheduled programming. April 26, 2007

Filed under: *Booze,*Cheese; Or, Stuff That's Good — thats what she said @ 12:33 pm

Ok.  I am officially over myself.  Sorry for being so…under myself.  I assure you, it was just as uncomfortable for me as it was for you.  I have decided that my job is just that—a job—and while it’s never going to be fun, exactly, it could be much worse and besides—IT ENDS IN ROUGHLY FOUR MONTHS!  And also, The Decemberists are The Decemberists.  That is to say, they are wonderful and I am very lucky to have been gifted with tickets.  (Stay tuned for more evidence of my mind blowing deductive powers!  Up next:  Matter!  Is Matter!  Are you reading this Scientific American?  I am about to rock your world.) 

So.  Moving on.  Tomorrow night I will be attending the second in a series of Ladies Nights.  Do you know what I love about Ladies Night?  This is going to sound sarcastic, but I mean it in the purest, most sincere way you can mean something.  I love that when you get seven women together in a room, they will inevietably end up talking, at length, about two things:

  1. Weddings
  2. Their hair.

Always!  It doesn’t matter that we all have college degrees.  It doesn’t matter that some of us have Master’s degrees.  It doesn’t matter that collectively the seven of us probably spend $200 on hair care in a YEAR.  It doesn’t matter that one of us is already married, and the rest of us are not planning on getting married anytime soon.  None of these things matter.  And I love this.

It’s like we are so careful the rest of the time to make sure we are NOT THOSE GIRLS, that the moment we realize there are no boys around, we BECOME THOSE GIRLS.  And it’s strangely freeing.  It’s an interesting phenomenon, because really, the men in our lives, the males we’ve surrounded ourselves with and chosen to spend our time with—they are hardly chest thumping, uber-MEN with quaint little chuavenistic ideologies.  They respect us.  They know we are smart and equal and all of those things that (some) men used to not know.  It’s not a question of them, really.  

Which is why its so fascinating to me.  And the fact that it’s so fun.  I don’t generally want to talk about color schemes or flattering cuts or ‘motifs’.  But for a couple of hours, sitting surrounded by other women, with the wine flowing and the cheese and the chocolate begging to be consumed, weddings can become fascinating.  Spas become scintillating, and suddenly I find myself giving tips on good pedicures, even though I’ve only had one in my life and it was free.  You can practically smell the estrogen in the air, and right after you get over the grossness of that little olfactory gem, you just want to settle in for a great night.

Unless of course we end up at Kit Kat’s again.  There’s a wii in her living room.  And Ladies Night be dammed—nobody can be content talking about weddings when they have the option of pretending to punch tiny legless people in the face.