November 19, 2007

Wes's return!

I realize it's been a ridiculously long time since I've updated. Things have been kind of crazy. Partly because of school, but mostly in a good way, in that Wes is back. For real. How amazing is that?

I picked him up from the airport on the Saturday of Thanksgiving was strange because things kind of came full circle. It was raining, just like it was when I dropped him off at the airport over two years ago. And we went to Wadsworth the next night, to meet a bunch of friends at Kaisers, the same pizza place we met his friends at the weekend before he left. It was a strange, awesome sort of picking up where we left off...everything exactly the same but so different at the same time. Our reunion was of course felt so unreal. It feels unreal now that he was still in Tanzania three weeks ago.

It's so amazing to have him back; there's going to be some getting used to things though. Mainly saying goodbye for any length of time. Wes went to Chicago yesterday to see Steve's band play, and it was so strange saying goodbye for just a night, so hard to convince myself that it really WAS just for a night and not 6 or 10 months. Casual conversations on the phone are weird too. Awesome, but weird - it's been over two years since I've had the ability to call him just randomly for a few minutes to ask a few questions, or call casually for a few other minutes, rather than worrying about making every second of every phone call count. It's going to take awhile before I'm convinced that he's really here, for real, he's not just here for a couple of weeks, and that I DON'T have to say goodbye to him for any more half-years.

Anyway, other than that... we had a lot of visitors this past weekend; Wade and Rohit were here from Wednesday to Sunday, and Kevin and Dania were in town over the weekend. It was a lot of fun to see everyone, although left me kind of exhausted at the end of it - it's hard to juggle visitors and schoolwork. Still, I had a blast, we had some great dinners made for us by Rohit, and had a couple of really fun nights out over the weekend, including karaoke! :)

Just finishing up the semester at this point...I have a LOT to do, as I have all semester, but I think I'll be able to pull it together for the end. Next semester I'm student teaching!

November 15, 2007


That title is a squeal of excitement. I just got off the phone - my last transcontinental phone call that I'll have to make to Wes. The next time I talk to him, I'm going to be talking to him face to face. Two days! He leaves tomorrow morning from Tanzania. It seems so strange and unreal, like we've been counting down forever (and really, we have - two years is an extremely long time to live on different continents), it's hard to wrap my brain around. Also making it very difficult to sleep at night...I'm too excited! It's really going to happen...he's really coming home.


November 5, 2007

Happy Birthday, Wes!

The last of three of your birthdays I can't spend with you. :)

12 days!

October 23, 2007

Random rides, the Virgin Mary, and Hyenas

I went to Purdue this weekend to visit Natalie. It worked amazingly. I was planning on going on Saturday. On Friday night, had dinner with Lauren Haynes, who was driving through town from Saint Louis. Towards the end of the dinner, she mentioned that the reason she was driving through town was that she was going to Purdue. Eh? Thirty minutes or so later I was on the way with her. :P

It was a great weekend, really good to see Natalie... A bunch more random weekend events followed. Including, finding a woman's wallet (license, credit cards, -everything-). I called her at a number on a business card that was in the wallet, then left the wallet with someone who actually -lived- there, and he called her with his number...hopefully she got it back okay and didn't panic too much before she got the message.

Also went to an orchestra Halloween concert. All the kids were dressed up in costumes, and paraded across the stage, and one of them...about four years old...was...I'm not joking...the Virgin Mary. She was wearing a light blue cloak and carrying a baby doll. Weirdest Halloween costume ever.

The way home we saw a bunch of dead hyenas on the side of the road...not really. Ask Lauren. :P

I taught my first lesson in my high school class last week. It went really well except for one small slip up. We were teaching about propoganda techniques, and we had them find magazine ads that fit particular techniques. Before we did, though, we showed them examples. I found this ad for Curve perfume that was a perfect example of transfer, which is connecting one idea with another when they're not actually related. It was for Curve perfume, but the entire ad was about being on vacation. I did forget, though, to thoroughly read it before reading it aloud. I was reading the paragraph at the bottom of the page, got through stuff along the lines of "sunsets so beautiful they make you cry like a little girl," and then got to a sentence that said, "Getting frisky on the beach until there's sand in unholy places." I got as far as "Getting frisky on the beach what's this an example of?" Whoops. Luckily the class was mature about it and my teacher was good-natured, although she did say that she wasn't sure if it was better or worse that I stopped myself at "until" instead of finishing the sentence.

October 12, 2007

Right Brain v Left Brain

Link courtesy of Lauren:,21985,22556281-661,00.html

This is weeiiirrd... I could only see it turning clockwise for the longest time, until I concentrated really hard, and I figured out how to see her turning the other way, but I have a really hard time switching between the two. My mom, on the other hand, started freaking out that she "kept switching" every two seconds or so. I'm not sure how much truth there is to it, but it can definitely keep you amused for a little while...

October 11, 2007

Countdown continues

This whole two year separation from my fiance has been getting harder lately. I know that probably sounds a little weird, since it's already been more than two years since he left the country, but, I don't know, maybe it's something in the closeness to his return that's starting to make me feel the distance more lately. I'm nearing the end of my ability to deal with this and stay sane, I think. Good thing it's almost over.

It's funny because a lot of people seem to think that it doesn't bother me anymore. Or never bothered me. It makes me laugh a little inside when I talk to people and they say, "Oh I could never do that. It'd be too hard for me." Do they think that it's easy for me? Does the fact that I continue to have a life, and smile, and even am happy once in awhile mean that it's not hard?

Of course it's hard. All two years of it have been hard. It's a constant, never-ending hard. But the way people say "I could never do that" make it sound like I had a choice in the matter. I didn't. Not really. Yes, I could have asked Wes not to go. Yes, I could have chosen not to continue my relationship. But neither of those things were really ever options at all. Wes needed to go, and I can't imagine myself happier with anyone else. And that's that. And it's all been worth it. All...700 and something days of it. Worth it.

I guess what I was thinking about in this post, was that my constant countdown? It's more than just a random fun thing to do; it's more than even excitement over Wes's return. It's a lifeline, sort of. Of course I can live on my own; of course I can function and of course I can do this whole life-thing without him. But I'm tired. It's exhausting. I'm lonely. And it'd be nice, to be able to do normal, girlfriend-boyfriendy things. Like...go on dates. Or cuddle. Or even talk to each other on a daily basis on phones, without having to worry about things like phone cards, bad connections, or meeting on skype on the internet and crossing our fingers that the connection will be good and there won't be a five second lag between everything we say, and it won't kick us off every ten minutes. Or not worrying that when I am able to call, that I'll end up with a lady on the other end saying "Caribu tena badai. [Roughly, 'welcome again later'] The subscriber you have dialed is unavailable at present. Please try again later" over and over again. (At least, enough times so that I've memorized the speech, and can even repeat it with the same accent and inflection).

It really is almost over. I'm sorry a lot of this entry probably sounds like complaining. I'm just trying to articulate...that I feel it a lot more than I talk about, or show. That countdown is so much more than just a number to me.


October 9, 2007

High school and trust games

Today was my first day of observation! I'm observing in a tiny high school in central Illinois. The classes are way small - I think the biggest class I am observing for was a class of 12 students. The small class size is kind of cool, though - we had time for every student to stand up in every class and tell us a little bit about themselves. It seems like it's going to be a fun semester. I'm really excited that I'm finally placed in a high school - the last two placements I've been in have been middle school. I was starting to worry that I would finally get my observing placement and realize that I didn't want to do high school after all, entirely too late. Luckily, though, I don't think that's going to be the case.

I am starting to worry about one thing, entirely unrelated to my observation placement... I am not afraid to speak up if I think I need to talk to someone; I am not afraid to be "mean" if I have to be...but I like to trust people; I like to trust that they will do the right thing; I like to respect people and assume respect back. In other words, I worry that my trust in people will get me into trouble. I've already had moments of trusting people too much in the past. On the other hand, I do think that, 90% of the time, if you trust people and respect them, they will respect you back - and I want my students, in the future, to feel trusted and respected. I want them to follow my classroom rules because they respect me, not because I check to make sure they're following them every five minutes or make them really strict. But I also know, that if I take that too far, then I will not end up respected; I will end up being the teacher who everyone thinks they can slip one by on. So how do I find that line? How can I show my students respect, and trust, without trusting them so much that they think they can get away with stuff? I don't want to become the jaded teacher. I don't want to be the teacher that thinks every student is trying to get away with something, that every glance is cheating, that every homework excuse is a lie. But I also don't want to be the teacher, or person, who gets walked on.

I'd like to think that, if I just treat people with respect, they will respect me, and my classroom, back. When I respect people, I tend to work very hard for them. But I know not everyone' s like me, and I know that's not always the case...or, even if it is, people don't always think through what they're doing as disrespectful or a breach of trust, so even if I earn people's respect they may still try things. So where's the line between trusting people, and trusting them too much?

October 5, 2007

English classes are ruining movies for me.

The title of this post says it all. I used to be able to enjoy movies. Especially Disney movies. But now, after my women's literature class explores issues of women's voicelessness and lack of agency in the 18th and 19th century, I find myself seeing it in movies that I really wish I didn't see it in. Like The Little Mermaid. She has to lose her voice in order to meet the guy and get him to fall in love with her - so, essentially, he falls for the demure, quiet woman who doesn't speak up (or, if you want to look at it from a more superficial standpoint, he just falls in love with her because she's pretty). Or even Phantom of the Opera. Come on, I love that musical! But when watching the scene where Christine and Raoul run to the roof of the opera house, and Christine voices her worries about the phantom, instead of being thrilled by the scene and the following song (All I Ask of You, which is a great song, by the way), I found myself getting annoyed at the fact that Raoul wouldn't let her talk or listen to her worries, assuming that she was making it all up. What the heck? I love these movies! I want to watch and enjoy, not watch and think about how the characters are being sexist.

I suppose, though, that's what my classes are trying to teach me, in a way... to not take what I see in the world at face value, and delve deeper. But I guess what I'm wondering is, how important is it to see these issues in everything? Is it only necessary to see these issues when they crop up in novels or news articles? Or is it harmful to take seemingly non-gendered or stereotypical movies at face value?

I would suppose, that if I can realize that these issues are there, but discard them for the enjoyment of the movie, I might be able to find a happy medium. Does realizing that movies like The Little Mermaid have sexist elements in them mean that I can't enjoy those movies? Does it mean I should reject them? I think maybe it means that I can still enjoy them but I shouldn't accept the implications it gives without question - but how much am I accepting those values implicitly? I don't feel as if my values have been skewed because I watched and accepted those movies in the past; I didn't grow up thinking that women had to be quiet or that their fears weren't pertinent...

How often is a critical view of the world necessary, and how often does it interfere with your enjoyment of the world without really getting you anywhere? Or is there such a thing?

Sorry, this entry is mostly questions, but I'm sorting these issues out in my mind.

September 28, 2007

Moving blogs

I decided to switch my blog over to here - I like the layout a lot better, and xanga has been annoying me. I moved some of my entries, since I was afraid of losing them...I don't want to lose my thoughts about study abroad, or Tanzania. inspiration to write lately has been declining. Maybe it's because of how much information I'm trying to absorb; I think maybe it's hard to absorb and produce at the same time? Not sure. Regardless, I will try to write more, but I don't really want to write if I have nothing to say, either.

In switching over some of my entries, I was reading them's hard to believe that study abroad was a year and a half ago. Even harder to believe how many things have happened in my life in the past two years, and that I'm graduating at the end of this year...time is so strange.

50 days until Wes returns.

September 26, 2007

The Laramie Project

I know that the issue this post is on happened awhile ago, but I'm reading this now, and I have to write about it or it's going to eat at me.

I'm reading The Laramie Project for one of my classes right now. For those who don't know, The Laramie Project is a play written by the Tectonic Theater Project about the beating and murder of Matthew Shepherd. The members of the theater project went to the town that he was murdered in and interviewed the inhabitants there.

Some of the stuff in this book fills me with such a feeling of depression. The fact that people do things like that to other human beings in general depresses me, but I know it happens. What depresses me even more, though, is some of the reactions to the crime. There's a quote in the play that says:

"There's more gay people around than what you think. It doesn't bother anybody because most of 'em that are gay or lesbian they know damn well who to talk to. If you step out of line you're asking for it. Some people are saying he made a pass at them. You don't pick up regular people. I'm not excusing their actions, but it made me feel better because it was partially Matthew Shepard's fault and partially the guys who did know, maybe it's fifty-fifty" (58).

Excuse me? It's partially this boy's fault that he was brutally murdered if he came on to someone? I don't see how hitting on someone sets you up for murder, or any kind of violence. It reminds me of arguments about rape being the woman's fault if she wore a low-cut blouse, or drank. How exactly is the victim of a crime as much to blame as the perpetrator? It baffles me. It gives me an ugly feeling inside. I don't care WHAT you believe - Choosing one lifestyle over another does not make you 50% responsible if you get killed. It doesn't even make you 1% responsible. I'm pretty sure "he had it coming" is the worst response EVER to a murder or a crime.

Another quote that sickened me was a response to a question about hate crime legislation. "I would like to urge the people of Wyoming against overreacting in a way that gives one group 'special rights over others'" (48). Hate crime legislation qualifies as giving one group "special privileges"???? The right not to be beaten or attacked because of your sexual orientation/race/etc is a -privilege-?

I know that this book has been out for awhile, and I know that this stuff has probably been discussed before, but to actually read certain people's thoughts in print...I don't understand people.

June 5, 2007


The next morning we got up relatively early to catch a ferry to Zanzibar! Everything went relatively smoothly. We bought our tickets, wandered around Dar for a little while until we found some peanut butter, then got on the ferry. We splurged a bit - we paid all of maybe three dollars more to ride the ferry first class! It was really nice, and a lot less crowded than the lower floor, and way easier to get off the boat from.

This time, getting to Zanzibar was actually a little less crazy than the last time. Still crazy, for sure, just…less. Almost as soon as you get off the ferry onto Zanzibar, you’re bombarded by people who want to carry your bag (for a tip, of course), get you a taxi, show you were to go, drive you in a taxi…aaaah. We got through customs fairly quickly, and then had this mass of taxi drivers actually following us to a certain point down the road, when Wes stopped to call another peace corps volunteer who works on Zanzibar, and when they kept talking to us and ignoring my repeated “Hapana”’s (No), Wes finally told them all off and said they were being rude. This resulted, finally, in most of them leaving, and we were left in relative peace to organize what we actually wanted to do, which was get a shared taxi to the beach in about an hour.

So we had an hour to spare, and a hotel that was watching our suitcases, to walk around Stone Town. We managed to get absolutely everywhere we wanted to go and back in an hour, even stopping for me to get some kangas and scarves. That’s got to be some sort of record, since Stone Town is pretty much a maze.

We made it to Kendwa (the beach we were going to) with no problems, checked into our hotel, and we were there! We spent the next few days on Kendwa, mainly just enjoying the beach. It was a real vacation. Wes left his cell phone turned off, I couldn’t really do anything with mine if I wanted to, we just enjoyed and relaxed. We swam, laid in hammocks, went snorkeling one day, ate good food…it was a great, relaxing few days.

The last night on Zanzibar, two days before I had to leave, we went down to the beach to watch the sunset. It was gorgeous – pinks and oranges covering the sky. We walked up and down the beach for awhile with our shoes off, then as the sun was almost down, Wes pulled me aside to sit in the sand and watch the end of it.

As you might have guessed if you've looked on facebook at all recently, or talked to me, that night, on the beach, before the sun had completely set, Wes proposed.

Of course I said yes… :)

June 4, 2007

Ngorongoro Cont'd

Ngorongoro was…amazing. We went down this really steep path into the crater, and were immediately greeted by herds of zebras…so incredibly cool. We spent the rest of the day in the crater, driving around, seeing monkeys, zebras, a rhino, ostriches, flamingos, hippos… at a few points in time we were actually driving through herds of animals – as in, the herds of animals were across the road, so we would inch towards them until they glanced over at us and wandered off of the road, then inch forward a little bit more until the next animals did the same thing.

Towards the end, the only thing that we hadn’t seen that we’d really wanted to was a lion…it was my second safari in Tanzania and still no lion. We drove around for awhile but couldn’t find any, so finally we decided to give up and go home…as we were driving towards the exit, we saw another car stopped with a person staring towards something. We drove closer and slowed down to see what they were staring at, and…yup, lion! Lions, actually. There were two female lions maybe two feet off the road, just laying down and relaxing…One of them got up to walk further away once it noticed us, and that’s when we noticed the male lion…so cool.

Finally we left, later noticing that some of us, including me, had markedly darker tans on one arm than the other…whoops. No big deal though. Suyenne excercised some brilliant driving skills to navigate the very steep, rocky path out of the crater, and then we went out to eat with Peter. The next day we were on our way home.

Our drive home was more eventful than the drive there…at one point in time, we saw a giraffe! Just on the side of the road, drinking water from a stream. Giraffes look funny when they drink – they have to sort of splay their legs out to the side and dip their neck all the way down to reach the water. We startled it by stopping the car to take pictures, though, so it looked up at us, then around, then decided that it wanted to cross the street – right in front of our car. How cool is that?

A little bit after the giraffe, we saw this line of some sort of fowl crossing the road… about four or five of them went to run across the road, and you could see the last one kind of hesitating towards the back, and you just know he was going “Wait up guys! Wait up!” You saw him hesitate, uncertain as whether or not to go, and then –finally- he decides to cross – right in front of our car. Thump. Oh man.

We stopped in Arusha to see if we could get the radio fixed, again… this time we ended up following a preacher on a motorcycle from one shop to another. It was a hilarious amount of incongruity – he was wearing like, baggy sweats, riding a red motorcycle, with gold “I Love Jesus” stickers on his motorcycle and helmet. Awesome.

We couldn’t find anyone who could fix the radio, but after all of that running around, Wes hit it, and magically, it worked! Amazing. So we had music for the rest of the drive home.

Towards the end of the drive, Suyenne asked me if I would be willing to drive a little, as she’d basically been driving for three days straight. I said okay. Never mind the fact that it was a bigger car than I was used to on the other side of the road. Sure, why not?

About thirty seconds into my driving, we’re stopped by a police blockade. I was sooo nervous. The police asked for basically every little tiny thing they could think of, and still didn’t seem satisfied. Finally, finally they let us go. You could tell they didn’t want to though.

So I’m still shaking a little bit from that, and then I drive through this town, with people and children walking and biking on both sides of the road, trucks coming from both directions, a guy on a bike who decides to bike in front of me, and a curvy, downhill mountain type road where you can’t really see around the corner. Fuunnnnn. It was, um…an interesting experience.

Not too long into it, we saw a gas station, so I pulled in to get some gas, and Suyenne said she’d drive again…it was all I could do not to breathe a sigh of relief and say “Thank God” instead of the “Are you sure?” I actually said. As we started driving again, she mentioned that she thought it was brave of me to drive and that if someone had asked her in my position, she would have said ‘hell no.’ I’m sitting here thinking, “NOW you tell me!”

So Suyenne and Alice were going back to Morogoro, but Wes and I were trying to get to Dar that night to catch a ferry to Zanzibar the next morning. We stopped at a town towards the crossroads towards Dar and Morogoro, and managed to make it just as there was a bus loading up to go to Dar. Wes ran over to ask if there was room for us on the bus, we said goodbye to Suyenne and Alice, and we were on our way! We made it to Dar in one piece and checked into the YMCA. (Hehe, yes, I’ve actually stayed in a YMCA, I swear. It’s a hostel in Dar).

June 2, 2007

Ngorongoro Crater

The trip to Ngorongoro went much smoother than the quest to leave for that trip. We left early Sunday morning, after I got the chance to watch the sun rise over the Uruguru Mountains just in front of Wes’s house. The light in a sunrise is somehow different then the light in a sunset, just as pretty, but softer somehow. It’s a day beginning instead of ending.

The radio in Suyenne’s car didn’t work, so we spent some time running around Morogoro trying to find a store that was open that might be able to fix it or sell us portable speakers that we’d actually be able to hear…since it was still early though, and on a Sunday, no luck. We did manage to borrow a portable radio from Albert (one of the other peace corps volunteers), so finally we gave up our quest for something we could play an ipod on and left.

We drove basically all day…we were stopped by the police at one point in time for speeding, at which point the policeman said “You were speeding, you must pay a fine of 10,000 shillings (a bit under $10), and the other policeman kind of coughed, “20,000,” and the first said, “Yes, yes, you must pay a fine of 20,000 shillings.” We tried to argue the fact that the fine changed mid-sentence, but, not wanting to give them reason to hold us or cause trouble, didn’t argue too much. We paid and were on our way again.

Towards the end of the ride we stopped in Arusha, a large town a few hours away from Ngorongoro…Arusha was crazy. It had everything. Including a giant Shoprite, and a place called Steers that’s sort of like a McDonald’s…it was weird entering those places and realizing that we were still in Tanzania. Meanwhile, though, it still had the regular more Tanzanian type stores…Arusha was a funny blending of Africa and the western world.

We made it to Peter (another peace corps volunteer)’s site without much trouble. Drove up a fairly rocky road to the school that he works at and parked where we were told the car wouldn’t be disturbed and that someone would keep an eye on it, then went to Peter’s house to sleep. He was a nice guy – he had dinner made for us already, and the next morning he made coffee. We didn’t stay up late, since we were all pretty exhausted, so went to bed early. (Sleeping on couch cushions on the floor is somewhat awkward, especially when some of the cushions are different sizes. I was tired, though, so slept well anyway).

The next morning we woke up early to go to Ngorongoro…drank some coffee, and were on our way. As we walked towards the car, though, we realized something – the area where we had parked was the area that the students all assembled in the morning, and it was a school day. So we walked to the car amidst the stares of basically the entire secondary school, and then had to wait for students to move out of the way (while still staring) as we backed out of the place.

As we drove there, Wes mentioned that he had figured out that he could take out the back window of Suyenne’s car to enjoy the safari better, since it didn’t roll down…Suyenne expressed her uncomfortableness with the idea that baboons could jump into the car, was reassured that there are no baboons in Ngorongoro Crater and, even if there were, they wouldn’t be very likely to jump into the car, and just as we drove down the road into the park, what’s the first thing we’re greeted with? About ten baboons! Just chilling in the road, doing their own thing…they didn’t seem concerned by us in the slightest. Very cool. To be fair, Wes was right, there are no baboons actually in the crater, but it was pretty funny to see them just before we entered the conservation area.

We got a permit to enter the park and drove a little further into a winding mountain road…were greeted by an absolutely gorgeous view of the crater from above. Took a few pictures and continued until finally we were at the gate…you’re technically supposed to take a guide with you, but we really didn’t want to, since we had a map of the crater and we’d have to pay a guide to make the car more crowded…Wes went to talk to some of the guards, and, twenty minutes later, we were in the park, no guide. It’s amazing what some charm and Swahili will do, apparently. We were the only private car in the entire crater.

May 31, 2007

Tanzania...the second time around

Okay, so, my trip...I’ll write in chunks. I left on May 13 to go to London, landed in London on May 14… waited an extra hour on the plane because first the walkway didn’t work, so then they needed stairs, but they couldn’t find the stairs, then gave us a play by play of the progression of the stairs towards us once they did find them. Waited another nine hours in the airport, in which I made a tour of practically every duty free shop in the airport and sampled about five different types of perfume and four or five different cosmetic products out of sheer boredom. I can entertain myself for quite awhile but nine hours in an airport is a bit much.
When it was at last check in time, I waited in a room until we got waved in, to walk down a hallway and wait in another room. We waited in that room until we were able to hop on a bus to the airplane. There were two Tanzanians on the bus who were joking in Swahili about how we were going to take a bus all the way to Tanzania, and I laughed a little, then they started talking about the fact that I was wearing a kanga, so I finally said something to them in Swahili and actually managed to have a somewhat intelligible conversation in it. Nothing groundbreaking, understand, or all that in depth, but still fun, and it was fun to see their surprise once I spoke.
So I finally, finally hopped on another plane to Tanzania! The last three or four hours of that flight were ridiculously long. I was so close and so far at the same time; I wanted to see Wes! It’d been over ten months by this point in time. That is a very long time. So I was, understandably, a little impatient. With four hours to go, I stopped being able to concentrate on any movies, books, or music. I grew obsessed with the little map channel on the TV screen on the seat in front of me that tells you where you are and how much time of the flight you have left to go. Four hours. Three hours and 58 minutes. Three hours and 56 minutes. I would occasionally bring myself to turn off the screen to preserve my sanity, but inexplicably, about five minutes later, I’d find my finger drifting towards the “on” switch. I was possessed. I literally couldn’t focus on anything else. I came to the conclusion on that flight that those little map screens, as nice as they are to have, are not healthy.
We finally landed, and I walked as fast as I could towards customs. I was like a little kid. I couldn’t sit still.
I got through customs as quickly as possible, grabbed my luggage, and walked outside, and fell into Wes’s arms. It’s amazing that over ten months can pass and their existence can evaporate the moment I see Wes again. It was like I’d never left from the time before. Hate to sound sappy, but it was where I was supposed to be.

The first few days in Tanzania were nice, and relaxing. It was mainly just nice to be with Wes again.
Wes worked a little, and I slept off my two days worth of traveling, although was temporarily invited to a teachers meeting on the first day to eat after about a three hour deep sleep, at which I attended, but I was swaying a little bit for most of it. Managed to excuse myself politely, and they let Wes leave as well, which is funny – they’ve held two ridiculously long teacher’s meetings while Wes has been there, that started early and went until like 11 or 12 at night, and the first one was last time I visited and this one was this time, and both times they let Wes leave with me. Hehe. The teacher’s meetings are interesting culturally – they call in students who have gotten substandard grades on the recent exam and basically the entire teaching staff grills the students individually on why they didn’t do well. All I can say is, I would NOT want to be those students. But it was nice of the teachers to invite me and offer to feed me, although it was more of an effort for me to stay upright during it than I think they may have realized.
Also had dinner at two different houses in the same day. At the first house, the house of one of the newer teachers, we were given sodas and some food, and Mukama (one of the other teachers) and his fiancĂ© visited as well… after eating there, we went to the Igosha’s, another family’s house that we had visited last time I was there. We ate (again), which was interesting because I don’t tend to be very hungry for a few days after traveling. Wes jokingly offered me a chicken head to eat, since I accidentally took intestine to eat the last time I was there. (I wouldn’t recommend it). I gave him an ever so polite glare.
After dinner the Igoshas and we watched this hilarious television show called The Gardener’s Daughter. It’s a Spanish soap opera dubbed in English (very BADLY dubbed in English), and apparently a bunch of people in Tanzania are obsessed with it, and it’s ridiculous in a hilarious way. The episode we watched involved a nursery burning down and a guy in a wheelchair going in and magically walking out to save two children while the women cry and wave their hands around outside of the fire. Riiiiighhht. Because if there were kids in a fire that would be MY first reaction, frantic hand waving. Woohoo, they’re saved! Meanwhile the villain (who was obviously a villain because he turned and glared at the camera menacingly at one point amidst scary sounding music) was trying to steal someone’s money. Oh man.
Crazy Spanish soap operas aside, we also had a games night at Wes’s house with Albert (a peace corps volunteer), Suyenne (a girl from Holland who is originally from Aruba), and Alice (a British girl). Fun times, and a relatively diverse group, both background wise and age wise (Alice is 19, Albert is…36? Something like that). It was a fun night. That was also the night that the drama with our Ngorongoro trip began, however, but I’ll get to that in a second.
The next day we went swimming at the international school and to Dragonaires (a restaurant) for pizza with a ton of other peace corps volunteers. Good night, including a few random amusing parts. The most memorable part to me – Wes (out of nowhere): “Oh, Nora, good news – Christina and I decided you can come to our wedding.” Me: “Whaaa??”
Ok, as for the drama…we had been planning on going to Ngorongoro Crater with Suyenne and Nienke, the other girl who owned the car, on Friday or Saturday. It was Thursday, and Nienke called us and said she wasn’t coming. To make a long story short, first we were going with Suyenne and Nienke, then Suyenne and Alice, then we were just going to go by ourselves on Saturday, but there was an issue with an ATM, so we ended up going with Suyenne and Alice on Sunday after all. Craziness! But it all worked out, really well I think, despite some crazy running around on Saturday.

January 25, 2007

Randomness and a story

I need to start writing in this thing more regularly again. I've been starting to internalize more and more again, and that just doesn't work too well for me. I just feel a lot better when I'm writing things regularly, even if they're random. I'm writing letters pretty consistently, but I need this too I think.

This semester's going okay so far. On the down side, I'm taking eighteen hours, and my classes all seem kind of intense, and I'm also going to be working. That's the sucky part. The up side is, I actually like about 75% of my classes - they seem really interesting. I'm rediscovering my passion for English, I think, in one or two of my English classes, and I'm even liking the math class I'm taking, despite being the only English major in there. ("What's everybody's majors?" "Mechanical Engineering." "Chemistry." "Mechanical engineering." "Physics." Me: "English and secondary education." Confused looks ensue). And I'm actually starting to feel kind of, well...educated. What? You say that was the purpose of this whole crazy college thing?

Also, now I have a laptop! Which is pretty exciting. I'm really enjoying the sudden freedom I have to move around with this computer. Plus it's just generally awesome.

Anyway...that's all I really feel like writing at the moment, but I'm going to try and start writing more regularly. Not that you care - I don't even know if anyone really reads this anymore - but it helps me, so...your mom. Yeah that didn't make any sense. Well your mom doesn't make any sense either. See, that one made sense! So I get one out of two, so that means I'm half...erm...crazy. Whoops.

Maybe this is why I haven't written much lately....

I end with a story I found in my old diarlyand site that Nicole and I wrote in AP Economics senior year of high school. It made me laugh.

There was a full moon on that cold All Hallow's Eve. A chill mist enveloped the graveyard, creating shadows evocative of creatures of the night. All was still, except for at a single tombstone. At the tombstone of Mr. Dumpty, deceased two months ago from a tragic fall, the ground began to shift.

The shattered remains of an egg, having painstakingly reconstructed themselves, clawed their way out of Humpty's forgotten grave.

Humpty emerged from his grave with but one thought in his mind: revenge. The maker of that wall was going to pay.

Humpty made his slow, stumbling course (as his legs were missing shards of eggshell) towards the wall.

Unfortunately, since he was now hollow, a gust of wind easily blew him backwards. Soon, he found himself in Canada.

He groaned out and hobbled into the street where he was prompty hit by a car and shattered. Again. The end.

January 24, 2007

ASB Trip - New York City 2007

My ASB trip was pretty awesome. We went to New York City and stayed in a hostel right near Central Park. If I didn't mention, we were working with an organization called Gods Love We Deliver, that prepares and delivers meals to people too sick to shop and cook for themselves, mostly HIV/AIDs patients. We worked in the kitchen during the day, did a LOT of chopping, but also rolled burritos, and had packaging races. In the afternoon a few times we went out and delivered some meals throughout Manhattan. Some of us even got the opportunity to go with the delivery vans to different boroughs - I got to go to Queens and Brooklyn. It was definitely a good experience, and I saw some parts of the city I never would have seen otherwise, and the actions and words of the people we delivered to - and even the people within the organization itself - made me really glad we were doing what we were doing. It really felt like we were making a difference. The deliveries, though, really hit home to me WHY we were dong what we were doing. The people were from upper class neighborhoods to middle class all the way down to the projects...they were young, old, male, female, of multiple different races...AID's, cancer...they really do effect everyone and anyone. And that's really sad. On the other hand, it gives me a lot of hope to know that organizations like that, that help people who need it, do exist and that there are a lot of people out there trying to do something about it. You could tell the people in the kitchen, and the other people on this trip, really felt like they were doing something worthwhile. And that's awesome. So I guess it was sort of two sided as far as emotions throughout the week went. Certain parts of life...well they suck. But there will always be people out there trying to make them better. So there's always hope. At least that's what I got from it.

As far as our free time went though, and our group, there was nothing two sided about it; they were awesome. Everyone in the group was amazingly nice, and we all clicked so well, and we bonded over our discovered mutual nerdiness. *grin* I think we would have had fun together anywhere, although being in a big city with tons of things to do and see definitely gave us lots of options.

January 2, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

A summary of the year:

At the beginning of this year, I walked away from my parents in O'hare to take my first intercontinental flight to live in England for five months...met a lot of new, amazing friends that I hope I'll continue to stay friends with despite the existence of, well, the Atlantic Ocean...I got lost in Norwich on my first day there but somehow managed by sheer chance and luck to find the group I had come with again about an hour and a half later. I grocery shopped and cooked for myself on a regular basis for the first time; I know that may not seem like a big deal but one more step on my way to growing older, I guess... I turned 20. Went to PoNaNa's on a lot of Tuesdays, and a few random LCR nights...saw the North Sea a few times, once in the winter and a few more times in the summer, had a few barbeques, watched a LOT of Scrubs over a lot of relatively sleepless nights, helped throw Waveney's very last party ever (it was knocked down a few weeks later, after everyone moved out)...and a lot more amazing memories of England that mean I'll never, ever regret my choice to study abroad.

I backpacked around Europe with Mary and Andrew for three weeks (well Andrew for only the first week or so), going to three new countries I'd never been before - had a lot of picnics, saw a lot of places I never thought I'd ever see in my lifetime, got lost in Venice, ran into FOUR people from U of I that we knew in Italy completely randomly, took a train when we were told we couldn't to Paris, saw a few very very cool parks in Spain, and learned what it felt like to be somewhere when I didn't speak the language.

I went to Tanzania...I got eight vaccinations and took malaria medicine in order to go, I saw Wes for the first time in nine months (and picked up right where we left off). I experienced what it was like to be very, very obviously a foreigner. Had a lot of conversations with Tanzanians, met some very cool Tanzanian teachers, I practiced Swahili and saw elephants and giraffes, and travelled around Tanzania and to Zanzibar with Wes. Celebrated Wes and my two year anniversary on Zanzibar. :)

Returned home via forty or so hours of travelling...moved into an apartment with my roommates and adjusted to life at home again. Worked a LOT. Observed in a middle school and taught a lesson to seventh graders.

I started the new year with two of my best friends (Melissa and Rachel), a phone call from another one (Brittany) with some really good news, and a phone call (albeit a short one) from my best friend and boyfriend. Looking back on this past year, I am reminded how amazingly lucky I am in my life and how amazing this past year was. There is just so much that's been packed into one year and all of it has contributed to me as a person and to my life and enriched it.

This coming year...I'm going to do a service trip to New York, enter my second semester of junior year, observe in a high school...I'm going to visit Tanzania one more time, in May, with a layover, amazingly enough, in London. I'm going to (hopefully) work at camp again, then enter my last year of college. In November Wes is coming back. There are really good possibilities for this year, and hopefully I can ensure that I make the most of them.

Resolutions? Think more before I speak, I think. Don't speak just to fill the silence. Also, when I start getting stressed, or upset about things, remember what I've just written and remember how truly lucky I am.

Happy New Year.

Oh, and one more thing that I think warrants mentioning in here - congratulations, Brittany and Brian!