Wednesday, November 28, 2007

28 November

Amazingness from Australia

My scarf is here! I received a beautiful and warm scarf from Christine, as well as a fabulous box of goodies. The scarf is made from handpainted merino wool that is so incredibly soft, I can hardly believe its wool, plus Christine used the knitty pattern Argosy, impressive to me because I've tried it before but it never really looked good, not as pretty as this at least! I also received some beautiful plum-colored yarn that will complement the scarf nicely, some Australian animal-themed chocolate, an issue of Yarn magazine, an issue of Australian Country Style (woohoo!), a little mini koala and koala pad of paper (so cute) and a very helpful postcard with an arrow pointing to Christine's house, which helped out with geography. Oooh yes and chocolate-covered coffee beans which are nearly gone :) Thank you again, Christine, it was such a pleasure taking part in this swap and having you as a secret pal!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Game caused of unnecessary stress! Off to bed, more tomorrow, happy Monday all!

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

22 November

Post 300
Happy Thanksgiving and How We're Going to Save the World

Well Happy Thanksgiving Americans! Like a true consumer I went out today and sought a store that was open so I could indulge in shopping. OK before you're all completely horrified, LOL, I did go to CVS and that was only because we were having a "cinnamon crisis," as my mother put it. Some of you reading this might be saying "oh come on, you went out on Thanksgiving morning for cinnamon? Get a life." Ha, you try explaining to my extended family why there won't be pecan rolls this year.

So I've been talking about saving the world and all lately, I know. Some of you may think it's total bullshit, but let me assure you I am serious. I mean I know I can't take on the entire planet by myself, obviously, but I think of my friends and family and my Smithies and even those kids at Tufts whose mere existence I sometimes begrudge and think "Oh hell yeah, we can totally save the world. Absolutely no problem."

Why do I think this?

Well. It all started with a guy named Paul Farmer, or more accurately, with a book about a guy named Paul Farmer, which happened to be a book club book. It was one of the single-most inspirational books I've ever read, and I urge anyone reading this post right now to go to your local library and check it out (or if you must, buy it. I am actually going to buy a copy one of these days.) It would take me forever to get into the nitty gritty detail of the book so suffice it to say that Paul Farmer is a man with a huge vision. Just a guy with some friends who happened to be in the right place and the right time with just the right backgrounds to make his world vision work. In reading this book, I came to a few conclusions about myself, which then led to my "world vision."

First of all, I realized that as a human been who has compassion for others, I can make a difference. That's the basic bottom line. Are you a compassionate human? If you are, you already have about 75% of what you need to change the world. Then I applied the theory on a more personal level. What are my special skills? Well, I am a scientist, or more accurately a biologist, soon to be a biologist with a concentration in conservation and the environment. OK, fine. Then I think "so I want to save disappearing species, habitats and ecosystems." Lofty goals, indeed, but this is not unusual for your average conservation biologist. Now I think to myself "If I have compassion for my fellow human beings, how can my personal goals help those in need? How may my personal goals and ideal negatively and positively impact people?" This required more elaborate thinking, but I assure you, you can come up with these answers really easily if you put your mind to it, especially if you take the mind-sucking void that is public transportation to and from work every day.

I realized that a lot of habitats that need intensive work are those in developing countries: the rainforests and savannas of Africa, steppes in China, the Amazon basin, etc. So if I ever took my work to the global scale, these are the areas that need a lot of help. Often when I am reading conservation biology literature, I don't see people mentioned. It's wildlife management this, resource allocation that, but what about the people?? I know from my brief life in Africa that people literally live against the fence of national parks, poach to feed their kids, hunt in parks, graze their cattle on conservation land. Why? Because if they don't, they'll die. LITERALLY THEY WILL DIE. The more I thought about this the more I realized that I don't want to be the biologist who comes in and says "F8ck your kids, I'm here to save lions/elephants/rhinos/pandas, you can't use the resources here anymore." Why? Because I care too much. By some random stroke of luck, I was born in America to a middle class family and live an incredibly comfortable and privileged life. Who the hell am I to come into a place and tell people what they can and can't do to survive? It's wrong, and I'm not going to do it. I realized too that it'd be pointless. Why can't the Kenya Wildlife Service prevent people from doing XYZ? Because people don't care that they're taking the elephant's water because they're thirsty, people don't care that they're killing a zebra for meat because their kids are hungry. Conservation, while never pointless, is somewhat futile when people are in such desperate situations. This being said, I realized that until you have people who are living a healthy lifestyle, we will not have effective conservation strategies. It just won't happen. When I think of the situations I saw in Kenya, I know people would have thought differently about the wildlife if they had had water and food and basic necessities. No one over there is asking for a Mercedes Benz, people just want the basic things we Americans think of as rights, not privileges.

Whew. So that's my grand vision. My ultimate goal, to save the world by promoting conservation through public health. The vision is by no means unique, and it's already happening in countries throughout the world, including this one, in which my Smithie friend is intimately involved, and this great one, too. This is how it's going to start, one organization at a time, one country at a time. I believe that we're living in an era where very few things are impossible, and I swear we can save the world if we just get enough people on board.

"But Allison" you say "I am not a scientist, I am not a person who has/cares about a world vision, what the heck am I supposed to do?"

Oh my friends, I have so many ideas for you.

First of all, forget about all the shit surrounding people and just see them for who they are, a fellow human. Laugh if you want, but you have to do that for this to work. I put specific emphasis on politics here too. I don't give a shit if you're a democrat or republican or in the rainbow party or whatever because that DOES NOT MATTER. I hate to sound disillusioned, but I don't think there are too many politicians out there who really give a shit about anything any more except power, and you all know how much I love Barak Obama, but do I think he'd read this blog and be inspired? Hell NO, so stop thinking bad thoughts about people's political beliefs and affiliations and politics and the president because we're not going to be able to count on them to help us save the world. Maybe Oprah, LOL, but not any politicians, so let's drop that issue right now. Done? Excellent.

So know you've stripped yourself down to just a barebones person right? It's just you in the flesh. Now you're job is to go and find some small thing you can do for another person. You might think it is the most petty insignificant crap that you've ever done, like donating some food to the local food pantry or knitting a scarf for charity, or even donating blood. I don't care what it is, just do it. And don't just do it once and say "Oh yay, I changed the world today." No, make it part of your ideology, part of your persona.

Don't let the smallness of your act make you think that 1. it was insignificant or 2. it can't be bigger and better next time. Look at Paul Farmer - he was just one guy and he decided that he could take on the world. Why the hell did he think that he could do that? Because the people that mattered never told him he couldn't, and when people did tell him it was impossible, he set out to prove them wrong. I need you all to think that way for me. I am telling you right now that whatever your idea is, you CAN do it. Why? because you've already set your mind to it.

Ok do you still need convincing that it's worth getting off of your ass and doing something good? Do you think this entire post is total bullshit and a handful of people can't change the world for the better? We already know it takes only a few to make it a really nasty place, so this is why it's important to really believe you can make a positive change. I don't like to say "look at me look at me I am sooo special!" but this personal example is the best one I can come up with right now. When my Kenyan friend Mboya lost his job, he had no money to send his sister to school. I wanted to pay for her to go to school. Cynics said "you're soft, what difference does it make if one African kid does or doesn't go to school?" (not even thinking how horrified and put out they'd be if someone suggested that their kid not go to school one year because, oh the taxes we collected just weren't enough to support your child.) Well I think it makes a big difference, and this is because so much lies in our unrealized potential. I think it's the responsibility of all of us global citizens to invest in the future - and Mumbua Musau is a part of our future. How am I to know what kind of person this girl may grow up to be? What if she's brilliant? What if she's the next Wangari Maathai? What if she cures AIDS or cancer? Or what if she just grows up to be amongst the next generation of girls who want to save the world? So many people would say "it's not worth the money to send her to school" to me, I think it's not worth the risk of NOT sending her to school.

This is how I need you all to think (just like me, I'm BRAINWASHING YOU!! hahahah no seriously) you need to think that the risk of not helping is far greater than the energy and expense and effort OF helping. We're living in a Global Village, and we're all neighbors, so act like it. If we all put our minds to this, saving the world might really be effortless. So I ask you this Thanksgiving to be grateful for all that life has given you, and to think of how you might use these gifts to make a larger impact on the world. I want my kids to grow up in a better world, where people are more passionate and conscious of each other, where people care about others they've never met, where people believe that it doesn't have to be a place of the "haves" and the "have nots" of "us" and "them." This change starts with us. Let's just do it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

20 November

I would....

Put a big ol' post up here, as it's the 299th blog post and seems somewhat special to me, but I need to get my beauty rest on because come tomorrow morning, I will reach yet another milestone:



night all :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

19 November


Some crazy things are going on right now...they're good, but causing me added stress! eek!
I will post more later. And I promise the save the world post is coming, I PROMISE! I just gotta get through tomorrow....well and Wednesday!

Meanwhile, enjoy this soothing sunrise:And pray to the weather gods that snow will not f*ck up my commute tomorrow morning. Aaaaamen.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

18 November

Caps for Kids and a Piece of Africa

Right now I'm watching a tape of tonights "Amazing Race." The teams traveled to Ougadougou, Burkina Faso and then moved on to a town called "Bingo" (I assume that's the spelling) There are a pair of blondies on the team and they've been complaining since setting foot in Africa. Well they got duped by a cabbie (classic) and now it's how the people smell, how there's trash, how there are bugs, blah blah blah. I found myself really really irritated by this. I thought "those stupid b*tches." Then I realized that a lot of what they were saying was in fact, the cold hard truth. I have such a soft spot in my heart for Africa that I overlook all of that. While I have seen trash, poverty and desperation there, what I see more than anything is incredible potential and beauty. I'm such a softie.

(PS the AR peeps are milking camels and freaking out and it's quite possibly the funniest thing EVER, having their hands around camel nips and shrieking "THERE'S NO MORE MIIIIILK" Awesome)

Speaking of softie, I'm currently knitting my 12th hat for Caps for Kids, which is a charity that my hospital knits for every holiday season. I'm not saying that to brag because I'm shocked to hell that I'm on my 12th hat. It's actually slightly psychotic because I had 10, a perfectly rounded more than respectable number, yet I have to increase production. I thought "what if I made 15???" I have a really great kiddie hat pattern that uses Fancy Fur and the hats make up fast. My plan was to buy 5 more balls of yarn and make 15, but when I went to the craft store, there were only 3 colors. So I decided I would let this be the limiting factor and keep my hat total at 13. But now, I, who am not typically superstitious, am thinking that 13 is unlucky!!! Crap!! I'm trying to think of how I'm going to fit in two more in...though in listing to Jamaal just now all I have to do, I think I'm going to cut myself off and be grateful that I've made 13 kids a little warmer this winter.....that's should make me much happier than knitting two more hats. Just thinking about that....makes me happy :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

17 November

Lots of THINGS!

1. It's my Grandma's 80th Birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA!!!!!! My grandma is amazing and does not look 80 in the slightest. We're taking her to tea, and it'll be such a lovely afternoon, I can't wait :)

2. Jam is in town :) He's staying over tonight, yay!

3. My final strep was negative. Weird. It actually weirds me out because I definitely had some sort of infection because the antibiotics worked so frickin fast and I had all those classic strep symptoms. Dude, what was actually infected? Probably my tonsil. GROSS!!!!!!

4. I was at Foster Parrots this morning. Because I can't let go....well and neither can they, not just yet, hahahah

That's about it. The day ahead is full :P

Friday, November 16, 2007

16 November


I'm the only one in the office today, which is such a pleasant break. I actually deal with most of my coworkers a lot better than I used to, but the two who sit next to me are constantly on the phone (personal calls) and sometimes I can't hear myself think over the din.

Since I'm alone, I felt no shame about picking up some knitting during lunch. Weeell not really lunch, since I worked through it, but I got myself a coke zero and vegan cookie and sat down to take a break, something I hardly ever do because I'll often eat at my desk and work through lunch in order to escape a bit early.

As I sat knitting today I started thinking about the two full bags of yarn I have sitting in my bedroom. Over the past few months I've been trying to purge some of the junk that's been cluttering up my life, and while I've managed to unload the clothes, I'm still working on the yarn. I wanted to donate it locally, but people are weird about it or they want very specific things: no acrylic, acrylic only no wool, no half skeins, no bright colors, no novelty, etc etc. I sent out a few emails to some charities I spotted online but got no response. Then I began thinking about who could really use this yarn, like whose life, L-I-F-E could be impacted by the receipt of this yarn from me as a gift.

If you said "Kenya" then you've guessed right. I saw lots of women knitting in Kenya, even in remote little Kimana, so I know there are women who knew how. As I thought about that my mind started to race a bit. I have two large shopping bags full of yarn. I could send them over to my contact in Kenya and he could distribute them to women willing to knit. They could perhaps then sell their items. If this went well, I could put the call out on the internet for all types of yarn, acrylic, wool, colorful, novelty EVERYTHING. Then I could send them more. I could help start a small women's knitting co-op in Kenya. I'm so in love with the idea.

It's really in its infant stages right now, this idea. Actually I take that back, this idea hasn't even developed into a fetus yet, but it might. I've asked Mboya specifically if his mother or sister knit. He's my friend who's been having a rough go of it these past couple of years, but I think life is better now that he has a job. I was thinking how much families like his could benefit from the little bit of extra income a women's knitting cooperative could generate. I really hope he knows of someone in need, I'd like nothing more than to get this off the ground.

Gosh, sometimes I hate living so far from Africa. I mean if it were the distance that say London is from here, I'd actually be able to pop over every so often. But the whole 16 hour flight deal really cramps my style. It's a shame, I feel as though I could do so much if I could get there easily, and I could do it faster. Of course in the grand tradition of Kenya and from what I've heard most of Africa as a continent, nothing move quickly. For now I'll just hang tight and wait to hear, but if there's anyone reading this that knows of similar organizations or just has some spare yarn lying around, stay tuned, I may have some more news for you.

Also, if you want to hear my plan to save the world, stick around. I'm saving it for my YE OLDE GRANDE 300th POST CELEBRATION but it's coming.....I'm really going to save the world, no joke. And you all can help me ;)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

15 November


I broke NaBloPoMo! Eek.
I seriously forgot last night. And was going to throw up this bullsh*t post last minute, til I noticed it was 12:07. Ah well too late.

Moving on.

I have just a brief post, a COWORKER POST! Yes I still work with mostly the same people, LOL, I just let them get on my nerves less, hahahah.

So my coworker is calling her entire family and anyone else who cares that her niece started crawling last night. Now if I had a niece and she crawled for the first time, obviously I would be elated and most likely brag about it. What makes me laugh is that this coworker is calling people and saying "She crawled last night. She's 3 months, she's NOT supposed to be crawling yet."
I want to ask her if she honestly thinks babies come with a guide/instruction manual with a chart of what they're supposed to do when and they automatically do it. "No crawling til over 3 months." Wha?? Babies do what they want to do whenever the hell they want to do it. If they're 3 months old and the spirit moves them to crawl, they're just gonna crawl. They can't reason - THEY'RE BABIES. Then my other coworker launched into this big long thing about how early crawlers tended to be smarter children and that the ones that didn't crawl on schedule were developmentally delayed. Jesus. Maybe this is what's wrong with America, we're overanalyzing everything and it's mom and it's pet dog. Give it a REST. It's one thing if your kid is seriously behind schedule but if they baby is crawling at 3 months, let it go. Heck, celebrate it, maybe she'll be walking early and you won't have to carry her as much. Goodness, the baby drama is out of control.

Maybe I am being insensitive to the plight of new mothers right now. Hmmm. Must be all the toys I played with as a kid that contained lead. And the dirt my parents allowed me to eat. It's gone to me braaaaainnnnnnnnn. :P

Amy, Mother and Me: A Refined Family Portrait ca 1985

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

13 November


Last year around this time I participated in Cake & Pie and Freshlyblended's Ornament Swap. I had never participated in a swap, stumbled across the First Annual Ornament Swap's page accidentally and signed up last minute. I was kind of apprehensive about the whole swapping dealie, but it went quite well and I received some of the most beautiful and creative ornaments, making all of the hours I spent burning myself with a hot glue gun well worth it.

After that swap I learned that there are swaps going on all the time all over the internet. HOLY CRAP! It's like this totally cool and fun world that I've been missing! Of course I waited a long time before joining my second swap, the ISE 5 swap, which has honestly been a great experience....even though my SECRET PAL is keeping me is SUSPENSE (heellooooooo!) Though I can't say that I've exactly revealed myself to my pal either, LOL.

Anyways, there's not much secretive about the ornament swap, I've already received my swap list. I'm excited because this year it's a bit more "international" and my group in 40% non-US, with 2 Canadians (one of whom shares the same last name as my grandparents....actually her name is strangely close to my great-grandmother's...strange eh? Maybe we're related! LOL) and 2 ladies from the UK. Hurrah! Of course this puts on the pressure a wee bit because ornaments shipping internationally need to go out by December 10th, so I need to get cracking. I've had a couple of ideas thus far. One was to make felt lighthouses with beaded wreaths on the front door....but that wasn't so exciting. Then I thought about knitting something. I actually have a few leads there. You'd think someone who knows how to knit and sew and quilt and bead and scrapbook wouldn't FREAK OUT about a few ornaments but of course I am. I just can't make myself sick over it, LOL, and yes, I've already been yelled at once today about pushing too hard. Eh, I'm a slow learner I guess.

Well I think I'm going to bring this rambling post to a close. I've got a bit of paper to keep writing and then I'm going to bed. You know, rest and all ;) Meanwhile, here's a glimpse of Lily enjoying some of last year's fab ornaments on my mini-tree:

Monday, November 12, 2007

12 November

*Taking a moment to remember our veterans and all the troops serving everywhere today, because honestly sometimes I do use Veteran's Day as an excuse to sleep in and shop instead of remember why we have a Veteran's Day, so there it is my props and thanks to those who are serving and have served the good ol' US of A*



Remember how I said I was going to take better care of myself and slow down blah blah blah? hahahah yeah right.

My sister and I got home early today, around 1pm, and I went upstairs to my bedroom and thought "this place is DISGUSTING." I started to organize my yarn basket, which looked as if it had thrown up. Then I noticed the dust. Before I knew it I had reorganized my fabric, yarn, closet, and under my bed, moved all the furniture and vacuumed underneath it and dusted like a fiend. I'm actually not quite finished but it's 8:30 and dancing with the stars is on and I might just settle into bed with my laptop, Ravelry and dancing with the stars :D

Sunday, November 11, 2007

11 November

Expedition Re-do

I found an internet connection at the condo!! WOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!

So as I mentioned I broke down and went to the doctor's about my crap-ass illness. What I didn't mention was that we had to put our whole crafting expedition on hold because I wasn't feeling up to it. We planned to go to two cross stitch stores, a fabulous yarn store and a quilt shop. We made it only as far as the yarn store (the first stop) and all the excitement did me in, LOL. I told my sister that we should go to lunch then get up to the condo because I wasn't gonna make it to the other places. I did manage to buy four skeins of koigu though, two for a feather and fan scarf and two for a baby surprise jacket, which will probably not be given away to any baby in the near future but rather saved for one of the tan babies ;)

I am excited about our plans because there's not much I enjoy more than a scenic drive interrupted by occasional crafting stops. My sister and I really think of New Hampshire as our second home...well, the White Mountain and Lakes Region at least. Probably a lot of NH-ers would be irritated to hear "Massholes" say this, but honestly, our little cottage in New Hampshire is the only house we've consistently "lived in" our entire lives, having moved as kids. I've been coming up here since I've been about a month old...or less than I think, so I have a lot of NH love. Actually I think NH really appeals to my country sensibilities. Amy and I both agree that we would love to live up in NH. Not really in the backwoods per se, but the sort of rural-y parts of the Lakes Region or up near the White Mountains. I could not do this to poor Jamaal though, as the lack of any buildings about 3 stories would cause him to implode, LOL, in addition to the fact that strange people would feel friendly enough to talk to him about his grocery order, hahahahhha. Couldn't do that to him, poor man, he's heard enough about how I'm going to keep ducks and chickens at the house, I don't need to scare him by telling him I plan to move north!


Well I'm back from my crafting expedition, and honestly now that that's done, I am sooo ready to go back home. Not that I don't love being up here or my familias, because they're fabulous, it's just that there aren't enough seats here for everyone to sit comfortably! I bought a crazy creek chair yesterday at LL Bean so I could have a chair to sit in for crafting, but what I'm doing now wouldn't work in a crazy creek chair.

Anyways, the crafting expedition was a success I'd say. I was too overwhelmed at the beautiful quilting shop to buy anything, especially since I didn't have a project in mind - I've done my fabric shopping for the next two quilts on my plate and I wasn't ready to buy for the third because the pattern book I've ordered hasn't been delivered yet. It was lovely just to look around though, I've never been to a store with such an amazing selection. I wish I lived closer so I could take classes there! Maybe someday I'll spend a whole summer up at our cottage and be able to take our little outboard over to Center Harbor for a quilting class. How lovely would that be?

There was a little scrapbook store attached to the quilt shop and I did pick out some great papers. Of course I have no idea when I'll get to scrapbooking again - the last thing I remember scrapping was some event in 2005. This little bout with strep and illness has taught me to take better care of myself though, and I think I might need to take a little break after this semester is over and may look into taking Christmas week off. That would be primo scrapping time. Hopefully I'll get caught up to this summer - some of the paper I bought would be and ideal background for the loon pictures I took this summer.

Amy and I also went to Meredith, which is our home base in the summer. The marina at which we store our boat is located in Meredith, so it's the town with which we are most familiar - it just so happens that that's our mother's name as well, though she was Meredith long before our family came to know the town. We have a favorite needlework shop there called Hunter's. It's amazing to get such personalized service in a world that's becoming filled with impersonal, cold super-craft stores. I know a lot of people live in areas where stores like that are their only option for crafting supplies; AC Moore, Michael's and Jo-Ann's are the only craft places in our town, so when we get the opportunity to visit Hunter's we go and try to buy something to hold us over til our next visit (though I will say we have recently discovered a great online resource for cross stitching which is a small shop that happens to have a great online retail site, which Hunter's doesn't have yet). My sister bought a beautiful Christmas angel pattern that she's going to stitch on some amazing hand-dyed purple linen, while I bought a snowflake pattern by M Designs, which I'm going to stitch on some hand-dyed linen as well.

All in all it was a low key and relaxing day, just the type I enjoy. On the way home we enjoyed the mountains, already covered with snow. I'll have pictures to put up soon!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

10 November

Antibiotics are next to godliness

So i`ve been dragging my ass these past few days feeling quite wretched and broken down. I knew I had to go and see my doctor but was hoping to hold out til after our family trip to NH (where I am now and phone blogging!)

When Friday rolled around I knew I couldn't afford to wait as I could neither talk nor swallow properly. My sister was a dear and delayed our departure to take me to the doctor. Though one throat culture was negative the np took one to send out and decided to treat me as if I had strep given my fever and symptoms. As she wrote out the scrip for a z-pak she warned me that it wouldn't work over night. Well I must've been damn sick because the overnight improvement I've experienced has been so overwhelming I might sleep with my z-pak tonight for good

Allison Crosby

Friday, November 09, 2007

9 November

Happy birthday Rachel!

Allison Crosby

Thursday, November 08, 2007

8 November

I *must* be feeling sick

I know I must be feeling really ill. How do I know this besides the general feeling of foulness coursing through my veins? Easy - a lowering of standards.

Tonight I'm celebrating the birthday of a friend - my old roomie from school! I made her something special for her birthday. Normally when I make something nice for someone, it also requires a nice package. I love bags and boxes from the Paper Source, they're perfect for homemade goodies.

Last night at 2am upon finishing special birthday gift, I scoured my house for something nice to put it in, box or bag. I came up with absolutely nothing. Damn. I figured that I could hit up CVS at some point today and get a gift bag. Of course when I woke up this morning I realized I'd have to be hitting up CVS for more than a gift bag (dayquil, nyquil, tissue, halls, oj, soup, etc). I walked up and down the aisles looking for something suitable. No, I did not want a bright pink bag with "diva" emblazoned on it, no I did not want a musical bag (what?), no I do not want a bag with cute cartoonish animals. At this point, a plain bag would have done. Finally I settled on a slightly ugly but not terrible floral creation (and Rach, if you're reading this, you are so much more badass than the floral bag!!). Well, I think, this will have to do. I go on a tissue paper hunt, for tissue paper is what makes a gift in a bag complete. There is none in the store. I look down every aisle for any color of tissue paper, contemplate stealing some from a display, then resign myself to a gift bag sans tissue and pay for all my stuff.

The gift looks a bit lonely in the bag without any garnish. Boy, am I letting myself go :P

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

7 November

It's Never Enough

Well today I met with my adviser to see if I would really be done with my master's in May. The answer was "um. Yeah I think. But send me your completed degree form so we can be sure." Basically this means "yes" but we're gonna double check on that in a couple of weeks. I don't think the news has really settled in yet.

With graduation comes the need to seek new employment. Ugh. I hate that whole process. I mean it's exciting and all (ok just typed sexciting, where is my mind today!??!?!) but the whole cover letter resume interview thing is a bit of a drag. Plus I've never done the "look for new job while currently employed full time" deal. In the past I've always looked for jobs while employed temporarily on a project with a finite end. There's something a bit awkward about this. It's sort of like the part in the movie "Knocked Up" where Katherine Heigl's character is seven months pregnant and she hasn't told her boss yet, and he calls her in his office and is like "I know you're PREGNANT!" Sort of like that only instead of growing another person, I've been growing a degree and it's about to pop and we all know it's inevitable, yet I haven't told my boss and she hasn't brought it up with me.

Ok that whole metaphor was kind of gross. EW.

So in talking to my adviser about jobs and such he directed me to a number of great conservation groups. He also mentioned that I should be job hunting RIGHT NOW. I thought I'd take a look today and maybe find some leads. When I graduated with my BA I looked at conservation groups, most jobs required a master's degree, so I thought when I sat down today I'd have some hits.


All the jobs I've seen today are entry level or require a PhD. WTF? And you know what? If I went and got a PhD, they'd probably invent a higher degree, just so I would either have to spend more money for more school or be trapped forever in a thankless job sitting in front of a brain sucking computer!!!!!

The silver lining at the moment is that I am gainfully employed at a wonderful organization, which means I don't have to stress about where exactly underneath Storrow Drive I should be building my cardboard box house. Sweet.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

6 November

An Observation

So I go to Tufts University in Medford, where I am working on a master's in bio. Fun times. Actually not really at all, but hey, the past year and a half has flown by and now I'm approaching the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tufts is a great school, I think at least. The professors I've encountered for the most part are engaging, intelligent and kind, with only a few exceptions, though I will say that that isn't a Tufts, thing, it's definitely a thing you find in colleges everywhere, goodness knows there were some b*tches at Smith. The students seem to like Tufts too; the few undergrads I've spoken to have been enthusiastic about Tufts and judging from the general atmosphere on campus it seems like a good place. I mean, it's pretty, near Boston and college - what's not to like?

That being said, I will admit that life as an "old" student is a bit lonely. I have mostly undergrads in my classes, so a 25-year old to them is practically one step away from a senior citizen bus pass. It's so funny to see student reactions when I say I have a job. One girl, after telling her we'd have to arrange a meeting at a special time because I had a few big commitments at work said "Wait. Wait......You have....a job?" Yes, dear, people tend to work. I wonder if I was as clueless in college? hmm. Because I have classes with undergrads, most of the students have friends in the class and separate off into their little groups. I mean, I'm not looking for friends here, LOL, the ones I have are all I can handle, but sometimes it's slightly awkward when the professor gives us a 5 minute break and you sit there, alone, like the new kid in the lunchroom in 5th grade and no one talks to you. Ehhhh.

Yesterday I walked into my law class and sat down next to a guy who has been consistently pleasant. He always makes small talk, about the weather or what we had to read the week before, but he makes an effort, which is so nice. He also happens to be from Ghana.

As I sat in class I thought back through the students at Tufts that have actually made an effort to be friendly and that I've talked in depth. With the exception of 1, they're all AFRICAN. Then I started thinking of the type of people who approach me on the street for directions. Again, all African or Caribbean. Almost 99%. What is up with that?

Usually I try to wear the unapproachable face. Does something in my face change when I see someone from Africa or who I perceive to be from Africa or of African descent (ha ha no jokes about me and Jamaal now). I was with my coworkers one day when a man approached me on the street. He had a thick accent which I now think was probably west African of some sort and he asked me how to get to the green line and where he needed to transfer. I gave him directions and then made sure he had memorized them so he wouldn't get lost. "Thank you thank you thank you" he said over and over before he went along his way. My lovely coworker goes "How the HELL did you know what he was saying" I said "I specialize in English to English translation" trying to joke about it (my coworkers are a bit narrow-minded and they claim not to be able to understand anyone with an accent. sooo annoying.) Then another coworker said "That guy looked like a deer in headlights and when he saw you, he went to you like you had a magnet in your pocket." Again I tried to joke "Well I do look REALLY hot today" Finally a third coworker said "It's because you've been to Africa. There's something about you, about your aura that lets people know this and they feel comfortable approaching you."

Well that sounded like a load of crap to me, but who knows, maybe it's true. I wonder what my Kenyan friends would say about that, LOL. Actually, they would probably say it was true. Although my friend David Livingston Otieno (below) would undoubtedly give me a very hard time about this, as he did with a lot of other things :D

Monday, November 05, 2007

5 November

And that, I believe, is what we call KARMA!

I take the commuter rail from the 'burbs into Boston every day. After taking the Red Line for over 2 years, I got fed up with the price of parking ($5 a day) the fact that the Braintree lot was full by 7AM, the traffic on the highway, the amount of gas I was burning through each week, and sucked it up and signed up for a $186 month commuter pass. Then like an asshat sat down and did the math and realized that when I calculated cost of parking and gas the commuter rail would've saved me $3 a month. Ah well, better late than never, right?!

Not that I have anything against the Red Line or the people who ride on it, the commuter rail is a much more pleasant experience. There isn't trash everywhere and the people are a bit more civil, probably because the pass is so expensive. The conductors are nice and make jokes with people and the whole commute is a bit more pleasant. No the riders don't have the hardened edge of the subway-ers, but I let it go. I knew they had no idea how crap the subway commute is in comparison and that their complaints about the commuter rail were absolutely ridiculous, so I could brush it off. THEN the new line started to go into the test phase before opening.

This new line the MBTA is running is on old rail tracks that were operational years ago. The townspeople were very upset about the trains running on them again, but to that I say "suck it UP." This train was going to cut a long drive into Boston to a 30 minute train ride, get cars off the road and hopefully move people efficiently back and forth. The downside for us was that every day it seemed we lost more cars off our train to feed the new line. People were upset because when you pay that much to take the train, you would like to be able to get a seat and not have to ride in the vestibule between cars which besides being freezing cold, is also dangerous. I think enough people complained that we got some cars put back on the train, but they were single-decker cars, and there still weren't enough seats. I've found if you're fast enough (heh) you get a seat. No problem.

Today was a crowded day on the train. I got a seat no problem, sat down and noticed everyone who was behind me got on fine and got a seat no problem, and there were even seats left over for all the people who would be getting on at the last stop before Boston. One guy though, had to raise a fuss. I've noticed him before because his head looks too small for his body. I know that's rude, but there it is. He's aggressive too, and tends to just shove people out of his way when he gets on the train. I'd never heard him speak though. Today he let this gem fly out of his mouth ( will use "effing," but know he used THE WORD. "effing Greenbush line effthem they don't think Old Colony is important anymore I am so sick of this bullsh*t and taking all our cars I mean what the eff we barely have a place to sit Jesus.I am so effing pissed" He kept up this monologue until the conductor came on then he shut his mouth. I cranked my iPod and fell asleep.

We pull up to South Station and everyone gets off the train and trudges into the actual station, where the down escalator is being serviced. Inconvenient? yes. End of the world? Noooo. As I approach the stairs I notice a back up on the right side, so I start to move to the left staircase and here "THEY'RE EFFING STAIRS YOU WALK DOWN THEM EFFING MOOOOVE" Ah, must be my small-headed friend. It is. He's screaming and swearing. There's a woman trying to get down the stairs with a cane. As far as I know, her only option to access the subway end of South Station from the concourse is the escalator or the stairs. So she had to make her way down the stairs with a cane. Not easy. Everyone was respecting the fact that she needed her time and I noticed business men and women waiting patiently as this woman made her way down the stairs. Rude man made such a fuss that one of the businessmen said "do you REALLY need to pass us?" and he goes "yeah I need to effing pass you" "Then go ahead, just go, get out of here" "yeah you effing telling me to go down the effing stairs? Eff you, a*hole, telling me what to effing do" He pounds down the stairs. The businessmen look at each other horrified. One says "what a son of a bitch" the other says "don't worry, he'll get what's coming to him."

'Yeah right,' I thought. 'Stuff never happens to people like that, they just float through life being rude and offensive and ruining everyone's......wai....what have we here?' Small head can't get the turnstile to read his commuter pass. 'Heh heh heh jerkstore,' I say to myself. I look back to see if the businessmen are near and they are, and they smile as the turnstiles read all of our passes and the jerk stands at the turnstile feeding his card over and over. I look back and he jumps the turnstile as someone else exits. A MBTA lady tells him to stop. "OH YOU WANT TO EFFING SEE MY CARD!!" He screams. Oh no he didn't. If I have learned one thing from taking many forms of public transportation every day for the last 3 or so years, it is that you do not "eff" with a T employee. Just don't even do it. Just don't! This is Boston and the MBTA workers simply do not take any sh*t and if you try and give it to them buckle your seatbelt cause you are gonna get it right back.

I pause to watch the scene unfold. "SIR, I don't care WHO you are, YOU do NOT speak to ME like that EVER!" the lady says. She is a large black woman who looks as though she could crush this skinny bastard with her thigh. Ex-cell-ent. The guy, instead of moving on and letting it go, turns back to confront her. Oh WOW. This already has disaster written all over it. "WHO THE EFF do you think YOU are" he screams. This starts a shouting match between them. I decided to leave because the next step for this guy was handcuffs and I didn't want to be there. I heard them screaming all the way down TWO escalators and the guy never caught the subway, so I'm thinking his rage got him into a lot of trouble.

As I stood on the quiet and not so unpleasant platform waiting for the subway I pondered what could be so wrong in someone's life that they feel the need to act that way. My mind start flipping through a Rolodex of possible things that could make a person so angry, so easy to fly off the handle. I was serious for a minute, thinking of the tragic possibilities, til I settled on what the cause HAD to be: Rabies. Clearly rabies.

This made me giggle all the way to Tufts.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

4 November

The Bittersweet End

I volunteer at a parrot shelter. Oh believe it. I think I've talked about it on this blog before but I honestly don't remember if I have or not so here's the deal in brief.

Foster Parrots is a sanctuary for unwanted or mistreated birdies. They've got one of everything there in terms of pet birds from your macaws all the way down to the littlest budgie and for a time, even had button quail. Hundreds of birds have passed through there coming from incredibly bad situations and eventually getting placed in loving homes. Charlie Brown and Lucy, my parakeets, are from Foster Parrots.

I started volunteering there almost three years ago today. My mosquito-collecting job with the state had just ended and the infectious disease lab where I had interviewed decided to go with someone more experienced (who was demanding twice the pay. Wonder how that worked for them, heh heh heh) and after a month or so of dawdling I got a complex about how I wasn't contributing a damn thing to society. Actually it wasn't a complex it was a full blown freak-out. With crying. My mother thought I had lost it completely, saying that my over-achiever's syndrome had taken on a life of it's own and things were out of control and for the love of baby Jesus, GET A JOB ALREADY if you're not going to enjoy your brief interlude of unemployment. While I sent out I think 78 or so resumes, I was not called back to a single job. Depression and hopelessness followed. Woe is me! I could not work! Luckily there was an article about Foster Parrots in the local paper. I emailed them and Mark, one of the directors emailed me back at the end of the day. "Can you be here tomorrow??" he asked. That was what started it all.

Foster Parrots was my full-time no-pay job for three solid months. I went there every weekday morning and did the rounds, helping feed over 250 birds. Even when I got a job at Ann Taylor Loft, I arranged my hours so I worked 2PM to 10PM so I could volunteer each morning. Then after getting my job at the hospital I still came every Saturday I could, even though I slightly hated getting up early on the weekend. I just loved going to FP and visiting with the birds. Some of them did hate me, but some of them, a lot of them, did love me and would perch on my shoulder while I went about my duties, cuddling up to that little warm spot at the edge of my jaw, right where my neck and shoulder met. When I was at FP I felt like I had a purpose, like someone actually needed me (ok those "people" were actually animals, but they DID need me) and that someone appreciated my work. It never stopped being a fulfilling experience for me.

Yesterday was probably my very last day at Foster Parrots. The organization got a large land grant in Rhode Island, near the Connecticut border, which is at minimum 2 hours from my house. I am so happy for the directors, the recently married Mark and Karen and all of the animals that will now be safe at NEEWS (New England Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary). When this sanctuary land was first purchased but before the property and buildings were properly set up for animals. Mark and Karen purchased animals being auctioned at the Catskill Game Farm and rescued 2 porcupines and 4 monkeys, a lorikeet, a patagonian cavy and I think a tortoise from the hands of canned hunt operators and taxidermists. In order to keep these animals, they needed a proper place to live. Like Plato said back in the day "Necessity is the mother of invention" and with the auction purchases, NEEWS was born. Not only does it now house the more exotic residents of FP, but also dozens of birds for which I cared. While I know they are so much better off there, it still made me sad today to walk into FP and be surrounded by so many empty cages. I kept having to tell myself how happy my bird loves are now and how selfish I was being for still wanting the animals there. I couldn't help but to feel a twinge though as I walked out of the dilapidated old FP for one last time. While almost every bird in there has bitten me, I met a lot of "kindred spirits" while there. I always believed that animals had souls and understood humans much more than we could even imagine, but working at Foster Parrots confirmed and enhanced that belief.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Saturday, November 03, 2007

3 November

Amy Winehouse

Soooo I know Amy is a hot mess and all, but I love her album. I don't always understand what she's saying but I love the songs. I even choreographed a pole dance in my head to one (note: I am a bad dancer and have never done a pole dance, nor had the opportunity to pole dance, nor probably ever WILL pole dance, but I have a lot of ideas swimming around upstairs sooo on the green line one night, I choreographed a pole dance to "Wake Up Alone").

Anyways. Have you ever just made up words to a song when you didn't know what the artist was actually singing?? Of course you have, haven't we all? So while I love "Wake Up Alone" and "Back to Black" in particular, I just made up words where I couldn't understand Amy, and actually I thought some made some sense like instead of "my odds are stacked" I used to warble "my arms are stacked" I mean, there's nothing insensible about having well-toned arms, right?

Today at work I decided to look up some lyrics because there was one line in "Back to Black" that was driving me crazy because I really couldn't understand the lyrics and my substitute words weren't working. I used to say "I love Duff and you love Poe" I figured that Duff was some literary figure, much like Poe and part of the reason she and her lover had gone their separate ways were irreconcilable difference over fine literature. Seeking clarification, I go to some crazy lyrics site and after 6 billion popups read the real lyrics "I love puff and you love blow" Oh wow. "Ok" I thought, "we all know about the Winehouse rehab stints" Then I read the whole song. Harummmmmmmmm. Now I am no prude, let me promise you (I CHOREOGRAPHED A MENTAL POLE DANCE) but let's just leave at this: I was better off not knowing the truth in my happy little world LOL. Let's face it "He left no time for regret, In his big way, In his same old safe bet" was a weee bit more charming than "He left no time for regret, Kept his d*ck wet, In his same old safe bet"
I guess she's not really going for charm, ha ha. I still dig her though. I know she was totally worried about that too LOL.

Friday, November 02, 2007

2 November

Peek into my Life

So today's a pretty light day at work and I decided to get caught up on some stuff that I've been putting off in hopes of knocking it off my ever-expanding google docs to do list. (P to the S does anyone use google docs?? It's AWESOME)

So I called a fru-fru hotel in Boston to make a reservation for tea for the girls in my family in honor of grandma's 80th birthday. Then I decided to give my doctor's office a call. Sometimes the receptionists can be a bit cranky, so I braced myself for an somewhat unpleasant experience.

I dial. A woman whose voice could grind lava rocks in hell picks up. "HELLO?"

I go through the whole thing about how I would like a physical. "With pap?" she croaks. "Yes," I say meekly, flashing back to all the joyous times my doctor, Dr. Wood, has spent down in my crotch-al area making sure the goods are functioning. "January," the Voice says.

"Actually," I say, flipping through my planner, "I'm looking for something on a Monday or Wednesday after February 28th." This is so my insurance will cover the physical and gyno bits.

"Ohhhhh" says the voice, softening and brightening. "Well aren't you just so organized! Most people call here and want an appointment next week and look at you, you don't even want one til March!!!"

"I'm trying to be organized and plan ahead!" I say. Voice likes me now. I am like, the Voice's best new friend.

"You're our favorite caller today!" she exclaims. I get penciled in for March 3rd. We have a little chat about how I work at the cancer hospital, then we wish each other a good day and sign off.

I go to my google calendar, and flip to March 3rd where I write "Pop the Hood for Dr. Wood 9:30 AM." Ohh that's catchy. Maybe I'll get that put on a t-shirt.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

1 November

So in honor of the first day of NaBloPoMo, I picked up Maggie Mason's book to garner some inspiration for topics. I opened it right up to #40 Cower Before Us. It said to post about your irrational fears. This morning I thought about my fears. "They're all perfectly rational," I thought, as I pondered my giant-sea/pond/lake creature generated fear of swimming in natural bodies of water, my hesitance of touching dead animals for fear they might spring back to life, and my fear of touching the "things" that collect in the drain catcher at the bottom of the sink. hmmpphh. I have no irrational fears!!!

Then I remembered what I have to do Ohhhh

Now there is a valid irrational fear.

I actually truly believe that most people's fear of the dentist is absolutely valid and reasonable - they've experienced pain, inept dentistry, procedures sans novacaine, root canals, extractions, DIRTY INSTRUMENTS! The works. I have had no such experiences. Sure I've had the odd tooth filled. I had my wisdom teeth out but was so drugged up I just barely remember the experience and I don't remember any pain though I know I was in a bit of it. Other than that not much dentistry-wise has ever happened to me....then why, right at this moment, am I totally freaking out about the fact that in 3 hours I will find myself prone in a dentist's chair with a bright light in my face???

I have no idea. But let me tell you, if it weren't so dangerous and um, illegal, I would be finding my local street pharmacist right now and scoring some valium. Cause this irrational fear is really no joke. I'll check in later to let you know I survived the ordeal....

cartoon from