Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Best News

cross-posted in sendmumbuatoschool.blogspot.com

A little bit ago I bought Mboya a used cell phone on eBay....well actually I'm not sure how used it was because it was still in the package, but the important thing was that is was unlocked and a quadraband, all necessary for phone use in Kenya.

When he received it he sent this heart-felt email that said(I love how he has adopted my spastic email style of all caps for emphasis!):
Thank GOD its very nice to receive your email this morning, and guess what? i just got the phone yesterday, its really receiving network very clear which is my exiting to me. i really appreciate so much and its now time to get to calls and find job s without spending so much bus-fare, i cant imagine how chip (cheap) is going to cost me without travel ling around searching for a job!! You cant imagine how things will be easy for me!! thank you, thank you, thank you, so much RAFIKI YANGU.

It hit me: with the little extra money I sent him with his sister's school payments he paid the rent on his parents farm and then budgeted out 3 months worth of bus fare. Oh.My.God. We take so much for granted here. I prayed that this phone would make a difference to him, quite fervently too.

Today I received this:

Hope you are alright rafiki yangu !! how is your life treating you? hope you are OK ?!! well iam very much alright and the rest of the family, the good news is that just got anew job with a international project from one of east African countries that deals with road construction, they just started early this year but i just joint them in the last three weeks , its a project for three years but i really not sure how long i will be working for them, only that i will keep my fingers closed and hope they will reconsider me for sometime,wish me the best........,well my family is very happy for me,also they told me if i write to you to say BIG hollow to you especially my sister;she is really doing well with school work, last term she got grade B incompaination (combination) of all subject.and hope she can even do more better, wish her the best.
Please hope that you are alright,and keep in touch, wish the best write you soon my rafiki.

Mboya has a JOB and Mumbua has a B average (which makes me swell with pride, given her constant state of not knowing, just hoping I'd come through with the money). I am so proud of them both and I am hoping with all my heart that life will be better for the whole family now. I'm not so delusional as to think that all of their problems are gone, BUT I do know that Mboya's savings account remains and will remain, and that a small portion of my salary will still be put in each week just in case emergency money is ever needed. Right now, I'm just savoring the happy news. You CAN help another person, you CAN....and usually when you help one, you inevitably help another and another. Hell, Mumbua might be a future Nobel Peace Prize winner for all I know. I could've just saved the whole damn world ;) Imagine if everyone on this planet vowed to help one person, one single person. We'd be unstoppable.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Sometimes I really hate people.

A while ago, I told my coworker that I had wanted to go to South Africa since coming home from Kenya (makes no sense, but go with it), and was pleased that Jam mentioned SA as a potential honeymoon spot, either that or Australia, equally as cool. She voiced her opinion on both of those, I assure you of that.

Today we had a departmental meeting and at a table full of my coworkers and other people in my department I don't know that well, in the midst of our talk of marriage and honeymoons, my coworker jabs her thumb at me. "This one" she says "wants to go to South Africa for her honeymoon." When no one really reacts to that statement, she adds "Her boyfriend is black, she's white, how do you think THAT's gonna go over. IN SOUTH AFRICA!!!"

No one answered, and I sat up and said "It would be FINE." Awkward silence follows.

Then someone changed the subject.

Normally I let little comments about being in a biracial relationship roll right off my shoulders. Honestly. People have said sh*t to my parents that they've avoided telling me because they thought it would hurt, which is so sweet of them to do, but when they've told me, I'd surprise them by laughing, usually because the comments were laden with hypocrisy and double standard. Today though, I got really sad, like I wanted to cry sad and so so angry all at once. I'm not sure why because my coworker didn't say anything blatantly racist really....And maybe she's even a little bit right, maybe if we went to South Africa we'd raise a few eyebrows. I think more than anything I just wanted her to mind her f*cking business. I wanted to stand on a chair and scream it too. It's my life. And it's my and Jamaal's decision what we do and where we go and therefore, it's us that will face any consequences. No one else has to deal with it. Don't give me unsolicited advice and point out the fact that life may be made difficult for me because I have chosen (get that CHOSEN) to love and share my life with someone outside my race.

I think maybe that's what bothers me more than anything, that we're constantly made aware by outsiders that we're a biracial couple. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate questions from people I know who are open and want to learn more, that doesn't bother me, but it's comments like "you shouldn't go there because you're white and he's black and that might bother people" that just irritate the hell out of me. Even people I barely know saying "oh you'll have beautiful children" is really starting to piss me off. Dude, what if I don't want to have kids? What if they're busted as hell? It could happen! There are all these assumptions made too. It makes you want to bang your head against the wall sometimes. Ugh. See I don't look at Jam and say "ah, yes, there he is, my boyfriend who is black." I'm thinking that when I come through the door he's not like "oh my white girlfriend." He's Jamaal, I'm Allison, he's a guy, I'm a girl and we LIKE EACH OTHER. It's that simple. That's all. Why can't people accept it??? Oh it frustrates me. Ha maybe I should take my revenge next time and look at someone picture of their significant other or spouse who's the same race as they are and say "OH! I see you're dating/married to a white/black/asian/hispanic/other girl/ guy!" They probably wouldn't get it though.

Ok my rant is over, my eye has stopped twitching, and I no longer feel the need to cry or smack someone, no longer feeling vulnerable. Phew. *Adjusts picture of self and Jam so its more prominently displayed on desk* Ready to face the world again. Bring it on, B*TCHES!

PS Costa Rica posts are forthcoming, I promise!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Home from Costa Rica! Pictures and stories to follow!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why I Work Here

If you've read this blog before, you know I work at a cancer hospital in Boston. It's not too hard to figure out, but I've left the name out for a whole lot of reasons - but that's not why I'm writing this now. In this month's hospital newsletter, there was a link to "In Their Words" which are letters about the care patients have received at the cancer hospital that they've given their permission to share with all of us employees.

There have been times when I've said outright that I've hated my job and had issues with my coworkers or boss. I've even called this hospital elitist. When it comes down to it though, I am damn proud to work at this institution. Why? Because I see the progress that is made in the battle against cancer every day. Hell yeah, I see its failures too, but there is something to be said for the fact that my study's living patients take up 3 full filing cabinet drawers and the deceased patients only take up about 1/2 a drawer. That's a pretty good thing right there. Furthermore, as elitist as they may be, the doctors here care. I just recently read a condolence letter sent out by a guy in my department to a person I know whose wife died. I almost started to cry, it was so heartfelt and sincere. That's why I come to work, because we're doing good and people care.

I am just going to post a letter I read that really sums it up great. I've anonymized it for privacy but you'll get the gist:

June 4, 2007

Mr. X CEO/President

Cancer Hospital, Boston, MA

Dear Mr. X,

I would like to thank you and your fine staff for the wonderful treatment afforded to my wife in her battle of breast cancer that has metastasized to her liver. I don’t quite know where to start and let me apologize to you with regards to my letter writing skills, I don’t normally do this, what being a blue-collar worker and all.

My wife, was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer in October of 2006. Her oncologist referred her to the Cancer Hospital to Dr. W. A meeting was set up to see if my wife could possibly take part in a clinical trial. After meeting with Dr. W, Dr. T and clinical nurse M, it was determined that my wife would be able to partake in the trial. So every three weeks, we would motor down from northeastern MA, and my wife would receive her treatment. I would go with her and I am glad I did. Not only did I receive an education concerning cancer, I was also able to observe the workings of a hospital that is world renowned, and I came away with a profound sense of gratitude. The following is an attempt to describe my observations.

First and foremost, is Dr. W. You could not have anyone better to head up the department and also what a superb spokesperson to represent Cancer Hospital on a national scale. His knowledge, humor, and genuine concern for the best for my wife is so greatly appreciated. And to add to that, his wonderful working relationship he has with his staff. He has the utmost respect from the medical community and to all who came in contact with him. I know I’ll fall short in being able to express his abilities but let me say that he is the real deal. To be able to conduct himself in such a manner, to have so much on his plate and to hug my wife, well I can’t say much more than that. We are lucky to have crossed his path and I owe him a great deal for allowing me and my wife to hope.

Next is Dr. T, a fellow in Hematology/Oncology. A doctor with a smile as bright as the light of hope. Her attentiveness to my wife during her time there goes way beyond what I expected. I mean I thought I was back in the 50’s where the doctors made house calls. She would call many times to see how my wife was doing. She no doubt has a busy schedule and to take the time to call, well that speaks volumes about her. You need to keep her and with the tutelage of Dr. W, she can only serve Cancer Hospital and her patients with nothing less than excellence.

Moving along—Nurse M, RN, BSN, where do you find people like her? Warm comes to mind when I think of her, and again knowledge flows. She certainly was on top of things and made our life less chaotic, what with her scheduling expertise. She gave us her home phone number, just in case. “In case of what?” we asked. “Anything,” she says. Another case of compassion.

The list goes on and on. From H, her assigned nurse to administer the chemo. She sure was able to relax my wife and was there for her all the time. Miss A, the dietitian, who spent time going over a proper diet in one more item to fight this insidious disease. The social worker, a Miss G, who made us aware of financial matters that might be of some help to us, and she followed up. I do not know all the names of the people who made our visits there as enjoyable as they could have been, given the very reason why we were there to begin with. But from the parking lot attendants, the people on every desk we had to check in, the blood work, the x-rays, the cafeteria personnel, volunteers, library, and no doubt someone I’ve missed, represent Cancer Hospital in a caring and professional manner. I thank them all.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special thanks to Dr D, for it is she who started the ball rolling, and you can take all of the accolades mentioned above and apply them to her. Having her here in northeastern MA at the Local Hospital is a blessing—my wife so respects and loves her.

On behalf of my whole family, we thank you. You are to be commended for running a fine hospital. To have all those wonderful people working there filled with compassion is pretty special in a world filled with turmoil. I see a puzzle before you, you have most of the pieces in place, and I can almost see the completion. I know you will solve it, how can you not given what you have? I wish you continued success and again I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


P.S. The treatments, so far, are working!!!

Booyah. It's funny because I used to fantasize about giving my 2 weeks notice. Although I'll know it'll be time to move on when I get my Master's in ConBio, it'll be with a wee bit of a heavy heart that I give my notice - I've learned so much here, I've met so many smart and kind people, and I've seen so many of my patients come here so very sick and make it through treatment to be kicking ass and taking names less than a year later. I think of them often, sometimes even when I'm jogging, and I know they and the greater parts of this institute will follow me wherever I go.....

Monday, July 09, 2007

Niblet II

Prologue: Last weekend in New York I teased Jamaal that he would be bringing a travel iron on the trip because he has an ironing neurosis. He can't NOT iron. He sat up very straight and said "No I think I can survive without ironing for a week or so." I doubted this, but was silent.

Cut to present day:

Al: Oh gosh we're soo down to the wire on this trip aren't we?? phew. I am making progress though. Vacation reminder, gotta do that.

Jam: We sure are down to the wire. Every day will mean something new. I will buy a travel iron. I'm not even going to lie now.

Al: LOL I KNEW you would buy a travel iron LOL. Well now I will worry less about bringing a linen dress if you've got the travel iron.
heh heh heh

Jam: I tried to be carefree, but you knew I would crack eventually.


This morning as I was showering at the bright and sunny hour of 5:30, I hear a knock on the door. I say "YEAH??" Cause I am sooo not a morning person, and my mother's weepy face appears. "Be as fast as possible" she says dramatically "I overSLEPT" "Ok Calm down" I said "Go to it" and exited the bathroom. My mother literally leaped into the shower. I sat on my bed for a moment in a towel and wondered why she was so upset. Then I realized that that was how people who were on time felt when they were late. See me and my father, for example, being chronically late for everything, heck we'd never cry about oversleeping. We'd wake up and say "sh*tf*ckd*amnhellpiss" think for a minute, look at the clock and say "well at least I gained that extra half hour." Poor Mom, what a rugged world it is for those always on time....!

Friday, July 06, 2007

In a week....

Jam the man and I are headed to Costa Rica. I could not be more excited about this - I've wanted to go there for a while now. When we booked this trip it seemed like we had years to plan. Ha, now we're looking at about 7 days.

This is my to do list. Finished things are in italics. They are. If you can't see that, it's because only a few things are done. Maybe I ought to shop a bit after work today....


2 lens caps
58 mm lens filter


case for first aid supplies

reservations for the limo liner
biodegradable soap in case we want to wash something
bug spray off smooth n' dry
paperbacks 2-3
travel alarm clock or timex cheap-esque watch

do I need to take?
voltage adapter? (no!!, unnecessary)

have and pack
-raincoat to lend to Jam
field guide
first aid of some sort
2 prs atl cargos
1 pr shorts
1 pr jeans
1 pr clamdiggers from Jcrew?
hiking boots
chaco sandals
flip flops
2 bathing suits
linen black dress
red bag (purse)
red beach towel
mag lite
GAP vouchers and dossier
small journal
birds of costa rica
smith fleece
sunglasses w/case
nalgene x 2
AAA card

To do @ home before leaving

get international calling on cell for month of july
leave detailed itinerary for parentals
leave detailed petcare instructions
vacuum/dust room
make sure Lily & Lucy & CB have food
unplug chargers, turn off surge protector
laundry put away
finish Amy's quilt
finish paper
make photo copies of: passport, travel insurance(did we get documentation of that from GAP??) Airline confirmations (as they are E-tickets)
get emergency money in traveler's check form
get cash
print GAP vouchers and dossier
refill birth control
send NH boat license documents
get hotel in EWR
register with State Department
evite for Ame and Jam
beach coverup - sew??
EE-care package

To do @work before leaving

get vacation feeder for ET
Water all plants
draw shades
move plants in front of computer to minimize sun exposure
clean desk area, take dishes home, wash silverware
finish followup
return any requested charts
finish screening to 7/01/2007
finish abstraction to 09/01/2006 (yeah right)
organize files
conference call??

Yeah. It's gonna be a crazy week.

Book Promotion

There aren't many books on my book list over there -----------------------------------------> that I wouldn't recommend. Sure some are light and fluffy, some fiction, some non-fiction, some intense and serious, some autobiographical, some are biological - there's really something for everyone. For inspiration, however, I highly recommend Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Ayaan was born in Somalia and lived in Kenya, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia before seeking asylum in the Netherlands, where she became a member of Parliament. Her story is nothing short of unbelievable and at times nearly inconceivable. Not only is her story an inspiration, but I believe it provides invaluable first-hand insight into the world of Islam from the perspective of a woman. It makes the fundamentalism that we're witnessing a tad bit easier to understand. I don't think I truly understand any sort of fundamentalism, and while I will never be able to claim that I understand it, Infidel made me understand maybe the framework in which Muslim children in Africa and the Middle East are raised which allows for the rise of potential fundamentalism, and why we are seeing this attitude in the very different "Western" world. Reading this book was quite the education. I highly highly recommend it.

And let's get that woman an honary Smith degree!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A letter

Dear pheresis tech X

As YOU well know, I have been donating platelets at your center for over 2 years now. I know the screening process: fill out questionnaire, have questionnaire red, give height and weight, have temp, blood pressure, pulse and hgb read. So when I show up to do this, you don't have to use the voice you use with preschoolers, and sing-song your way through the entire process. It's annoying. Furthermore, when my iron is too low to donate, I know why. You don't have to explain that I'm not gonna die or anything. I get it. Also, when you suggest reasons why it may be low, above all things, do not look me in the eye and say "it might be women's troubles." Because I will embarrass you by looking YOU in the eye and saying "Oh like my period, because I have that RIGHT NOW, though really, it's no trouble at all." Maybe by the end of the day your face won't be so red.

See you next week when my PERIOD is over and my IRON is back to normal.
Mad love forever

Monday, July 02, 2007

Right Quick

ok. so I'm writing a paper on wetlands and I need to just write a few non-wetlands sentences so I can get back in the groove.

1. I am taking a crafting hiatus. hahah before you all gasp with horror, save your breath - I will still be crafting, but only for birthdays. I hate to say it, but I've got to stop the sudden and random crafting. If you're getting married, maybe if I get more than 8 weeks notice, obviously birthdays because they don't change, and babies, if you give me months notice, because there is no excuse not to give more than a few months notice. I am sorry to say that I won't be knitting, cross stitching and sewing little "I thought of you" gifts :( But I've done a bit of reflecting in the past couple of days and realize the stress I go through to get these things done and its not cool. I'm going to be wrapping up a few things I've got to do (quilt for Amy, bday present for Alex to compensate for the fact that I can't (at least I don't think I can) make it to her birthday :( ) and then I'm gonna use up spare yarn for some leisurely projects I wanted to complete, a few scarves and things for myself and some baby socks. Then its crafting on birhdays and Christmas only, at least til grad school is done. Rach, Jam and EE I know you haven't gotten quilts from me yet......don't think this means you won't, LOL.

2. Speaking of my friend Alex (who may be reading this, "howdy!") We grew up in the same town. I moved away after the 4th grade, the year we became really tight. We tried to keep up through middle school and things but it's really tough to do that usually, and it was, cause we were damn busy (too busy probably, but you know) So recently thanks to the beauty that is the internet with MySpace and blogger and all that, we've been in contact more. Here's the thing: even though we haven't talked in a while, I for some reason feel like I could tell her anything about me and it'd be cool. Like secrets and sh*t. Not that I have any interesting secrets whatsoever...but you know. I wonder if it's because we were friends when we were young? And it's some sort of psychological development thing or emotional brain preadolescent weirdness. hahahahah now Alex is like "sh*t gotta go, Allison is freaking me the hell out" hahahhahha. Seriously though, I feel like if Alex and I EVER GET OUR SH*T TOGETHER ENOUGH TO MEET UP it would be crazy because we'd just pick up where we left off almost. Weird, but very very cool to me :)

Anyways, you can soooo tell it's 11:54 and I'm slightly delusional because I've declared a crafting hiatus and probably scared one of my oldest friends into thinking I'm gonna come up to Portland, knock on her door with my Cabbage Patch Kids slumber bag and say "let's have GIRL TIME!!!" hhhahahahahahaha Promise I won't do that to you Alex, lol, however tempting it may be!

OK, world, off to write a paper on my adventures in my back woods, also know as "Hell Swamp"
No lie.