Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kenya/Kicking the Habit/Knitting/Liberia/Life and Death/Loyalty/Lester

I'm back, and if you thought I was dropping the whole alphabet kick thing, oh you were soooo wrong, LOL.

I've had a lot of time to think about my letters, so I guess I'll have to be pretty brief on each. Here goes.....

Kenya. It's hard to believe it's been 5 years since I spent my semester in Kenya. My memories are still so vivid. I totally admit that sometimes I think of Kenya and all of my friends there and my heart sighs a little; I wonder if I'll ever return. This is not as bad as when I came home from my semester there though - then I truly believed I'd never go back...never EVER, and of course less than three years later I found myself standing in Jomo Kenyatta International face to face with Mboya Musau and his bright yellow parka, so I'm not exactly despondent when I think of Kenya now, more wistful. I think I'll get back there one of these days. I'm sure I'll be in Africa again at some point. The whole thing is so puzzling to me though, still. Why do I love it so much? I feel so drawn to Kenya and I have really no reason to be....I call it a primordial draw--a desire to return to our evolutionary "mother" since Kenya is the cradle of our evolution. That's the only reasonable explanation I can think of, in addition to the friends I made there of course. Hmm.

Kicking the habit. I decided to go off caffeine, soda in particular. I've been reading these really nasty things about aspartame lately and thought "Allison, you really ought to stop it with the soda." I mean it's bad for your bones, bad for your skin and makes it difficult to lose weight. Not that I am trying to lose weight per se, I am trying to be toned, but even that can be confounded by the consumption of large amounts of soda. I decided to go off it, see how it felt...you know see what it was like to decide one day "I would LIKE a coke zero" or "I would LIKE a latte" Not "Ohmyeffinggod if I don't have caffeine right now I will DDDIIEEEE" It's been going well. I haven't completely gone off soda, I admit, but I try to keep it to no more than 1 a day a few days a week. I feel empowered!! The coffee on the other hand isn't evil like aspartame, but it was really messing with my stomach for a few weeks. Maybe I'll start making my morning cup again, but maybe not.

Knitting. Knitting has kept me calm these past few weeks. It's been rough, there's been some family drama and I've felt pretty helpless. Knitting gives me control!! I am participating in my second ISE and it's been great fun. This weekend I received my ISE package and it's really fantastic. I mean, TOTAL strangers are being all thoughtful and lovely and knitting for one another and sending each other goodies, it really is fantastic. It sort of restores my hope for humanity every time I'm like "ugh people are so frickin rude." Then you get this package in the mail full of great stuff that someone took the time to pick out and package for you and you realize that there are still kind people out in the world. Yay!

Liberia. Speaking of amazing people - I saw a documentary on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf about a month ago. It was on the Independent Lens on PBS and was called Iron Ladies of Liberia. Holy crap, it was amazing. If you're ever looking for inspiration, I highly recommend this film. In the first ten minutes or so I found myself transfixed by Sirleaf's story and got pretty emotional at one point when the narrator discussed women's rights. I was all "This is why I cast my vote in every election, no matter how trivial it may seem, I vote for all the women of the world who do not share the rights I enjoy as an American woman." Yeah, sometimes I get like that, very impassioned etc, and it's in these moments I come up with my most brilliant "save the world" ideas, LOL. Anyways, check the movie out. It's incredible. It pretty much sums up (to me at least) why we haven't had a woman who I've felt would be a good president. Sirleaf is the type of woman you need to be to be a head of state. Hil, bless her for running, doesn't have it. Heck, as much as I love him, I'm not even sure that B-rock has the guts this lady does. Bad-ASS.

Life and Death. So we had a death in the family this month. It really sucks, there's just no other way to say it. Death BLOWS, especially when it's untimely, as it was in this case. The extraordinary thing though, is what we learned about my cousin Catherine's life in the wake of her death. She was a gifted psychologist - this we knew. She had two PhD's and was a brainiac, and I enjoyed talking with her about "issues" more than anything. She really had a way of deconstructing people and putting you in their shoes, making you understand their line of thought a little better. I think she made me a more understanding person in many ways. Anyways, the outpouring of praise for her colleagues and patients at her wake was extraordinary. Because of HIPAA and privacy laws, Catherine talked little of her patients. She would mention a case here and there, but never associate names or ages or professions with any of her stories. We were so pleased to hear the wonderful things people said about her, that she helped them, that they only knew her for ten hours but they were the most important ten hours of their life, how she wasn't afraid to be judgmental and tell a patient they did something dumb (that was my favorite pt story). Her colleagues talked about how brilliant she was, and even though her health prevented her from working full time, they wanted her to be a part of the practice so badly, they accommodated her schedule. It's funny because even now, two weeks after her death, it doesn't seem real. I keep thinking that we'll call her up one of these days and say "you missed this fantastic party with all your friends and family and coworkers and patients." Sigh. May we all be so lucky to live to be 100. Or 101. That would do me just fine.

Loyalty. This is touchy and I don't want to go into detail but let's put it this way: say you've been loyal to a company for over 30 years. Say you've put your life on the line for them more than once, that you've sacrificed time with family and friends to do your job, spent sleepless nights working overtime or worrying about something at work, was put in the position to help out literally hundreds of people and HAD helped hundreds if not more people during the course of your career. Say you elevated your unit to a high level within the organization, and with this came immense recognition and huge amounts of special funding. Say you'd done all this and a shitton more and to thank you, your company punishes you then transfers you 120 miles from your home. You'd be pissed right? You'd probably retire, yes? Yeah, well that's what my father's doing. After recovering from the shock and anger and realizing that dad's health and family trump job crap and that retiring is best, I made a big note to self: never work for the Commonwealth. They will suck your soul dry and then kick you while you're down. B8tches!!

Lester. Let's end with a happy note, shall we? I would like to ANNOUNCE to anyone not from around here or anyone who does not follow the great American pastime, that my FAVORITE Red Sox player pitched the first major-league no-hitter of the season. That's right, good ol' Jon Lester, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor pitched a no-hitter against the Royals last night, and by all accounts it was positively glorious. JL became my favorite when it was announced he had NHL (the disease I cover here at the cancer hospital) I was hoping he would kick it's ass and return to play for the Sox to show the world that cancer is a little b*tch that deserves to be beat into the ground. He did just that and last night he proved he was more badass than ever. AWESOME JON LESTER!!!! WOOT!


Anonymous said...

You tracked me down at my new home. I was happy to hear from you! Just the preview for Exiled was vomit inducing. I'm so glad someone else shares my feelings!

I totally feel you on the JYA thing. Tanzania and Ghana have a special place in my heart. I can't stay away. I'm in the middle of the Peace Corps app right now, and I'm in a pool for Francophone Africa in the health sector. It's probably still going to be at least another six months before I deploy though. Grrr.

I'm so jealous that you saw Iron Ladies! I have been wanting to see it so much! I'm going to make a concerted effort to track it down now that you've recommended it so highly. Have you seen War Dance-about Uganda? If not, Netflix has it, and it is really fantastic.


Al said...

Dude - Iron Ladies. A must see....I got super-emotional. It's fantastic. I will totally Netflix that...I still have to see the Baraka Boys and God Grew Tired of Us.

I hope the Peace Corps works for you! Keep me updated! I think it's too late for me as far as Peace Corps go, but I'm looking for jobs that might require international travel....we'll have to see!