Friday, January 25, 2008

Stank

Ha ha that's how my coworker Rochelle described our new office mate. While I want to give this girl a chance and obviously still will, it's hard not to agree when this person will neither speak nor acknowledge you. I mean I know she's new to the office and all but she doesn't even lift her head to say "good morning." She keeps her back turned and doesn't speak. As Rochelle said "that's kinda stank." Um yeah, dude, you don't even have to be nice to us or talk to us, be we are requesting some politeness PLEASE!

Anywho.
So I got up this morning and was thinking about the day ahead and all the crap that needs to be conquered and got kind of depressed. Maybe depressed isn't the exact word for it but sort of overwhelmed and sad about the fact that my life has to be so scheduled to get through it. I am able to do fun things true, but lately, unless they're really simple, they seem like such a chore. I feel kind of bad about it, like I'm being a bad friend, because I'll get invited to parties or out to dinner and I'll find ways to defer even if I really want to go because I'm tired and stressed - which is why I should really try to go! I dunno. It's just that I'm putting 40 hours in at the office, 10 hours a week of class time at Tufts, 5 hours a week getting to/from Tufts and 15 hours a week commuting. So that means that 70 hours of my week are committed to other things, plus the 42 hours a week I sleep. That leaves me with about 56 free hours a week, minus the hour or so phone call to Jam each day, plus I dunno, self maintenance like BATHING - I feel so strapped for time. So when a friend is like "let's go out to dinner after work" all I can think is "Ok, so if we meet at 6, then dinner/talking/hanging out will probably go til 9 and that means I won't get home til 10-10:30 depending on where we are in the city and I won' t be able to do any schoolwork or go to the gym. Do I give up friends for school and fitness? Seems like a shitty exchange.

I used to mock one of my friend's obsession with her planner (ok it was ridiculous considering the amount of free time she actually had at her disposal) but I'm not so sure I'd do it now since I bought a mom's planner at Borders last fall to keep my shit in order. I hate telling people I'll pencil them in, and it's practically impossible to do unless a friend is having a party or something, so I'm left being a solitary creature, because I can't just do shit on a whim anymore, which no one seems to understand. I mean my dad asked me to help out at a Ducks Unlimited event on February 2nd, and I'm already planning my week around it NOW. Sick.

I know I probably sound complain-y especially with the light being at the end of the tunnel (provided I get a B or above in all my classes, please God) but I just feel like I'm not even a person anymore, just a robot who gets up, drives to the train, takes the train to school, goes to class, takes notes quietly and obediently, goes to work, goes to train, goes home, rides decrepit exer-cycle because there is no time for the gym, reads for school, tries not to have major mental malfunction while on phone with Jam, passes out for 6 hours and the cycle repeats. Except when Jam is over, I'm pretty much in 3 places: school, work, home. And while I would love to be going out, going to the MFA (art of Napoleon. I'm going to miss it. sad.), going to concerts and out to dinner, I also know I can't right now. Christ, I've put off getting my hair cut for a month now. I bought a SUIT online the other day because I don't have TIME to go to a store. I bought NAIL POLISH online! Let's not even talk about the fact that I have fabric and yarn piling up, gifts that probably won't get made in time, if ever. Ugh. Who the hell am I turning into???

The reason for my ranting is not to complain, I promise. It's more out of fear. I wonder if I'll ever be the person I was before school, one who liked to visit Jam and go out to a bar til 4am and dance half the night away, one who could grab lunch with a friend on a whim or who could shop with her sister all day long without getting cranky or feeling stressed for time (ok we did pretty well last week at the cross stitch shop :D ) Or will I just want to retreat with a book for a moment of solitude? I also fear snapping at someone I really like - Jam, my friends, my family. I fear snapping. I'm afraid I'll be really mean about it too. Jam told me a friend who is getting married has taken the semester off - totally her decision, and it's not my business, I'm cool with everyone's personal decisions. But I fear my reaction when she finally tells me (she hasn't yet). If she just says "I'm taking the semester off" I know I'll just be like "oh do what you have to do, it's ok" but if she says something like "Oh I won't graduate til 2010" I might just lose it. Her approach to school has been different than mine since day 1 and I've often heard "you'll graduate before me and you started after!" I was always sort of patient about it, not pointing out that she took classes one at a time to begin with, etc (I've looked up her program and it does seem to be longer than mine. Though at this point, I've basically taken a semester and a half of extra classes in 2 years time, so if you suck it the f*ck up these things can be done, and I've kept my 40 hour a week too) but now I'm so strung out, I might snap and I'm afraid I'll say something nasty. Eeek, I hope I can hold onto my sh*t this semester. Seriously. I'm kind of worried.

Eh enough of my bitching. Have a good weekend all!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

You Are What You Love, Not What Loves You Back*

Oh-ho ho friends, where do I even begin this one?
Perhaps we should just do a bulleted list. Ah, but certain things have gone down in the last few weeks that SO deserve more than a bullet, but I've cried, raged, and even laughed about all of this sh*t s much in the past week that I don't know if I want to dignify it with more than that. Plus most of it is stupid to anyone but me. Anyways here goes:
-One of my $3,000 grad school classes does not count towards my degree
-My adviser is a dumbass
-The head of the bio dept is likewise a dumbass and actually said "I make up the rules in this department and change them every semester so I have no idea what the rules were when you took that class" and "sorry, we're really failing you this semester as a department by not offering more classes"
-I've added a third class to my already insane schedule. Plant Physiology. Helllllp.
-My other professor insulted me greatly today by telling me that she wasn't sure I could "handle" her class because I wasn't writing a thesis and probably didn't read peer-reviewed science journals. What?! I read f*cking JAMA at work, b*tch, how's that for a peer-reviewed journal that would probably go right over your F*CKING HEAD! (sorry I'm still offended. rrr)
-My Lucy bird is slowly picking herself to death. She's got fatty tumors all over and won't stop ripping them open. At this point she's not physically suffering. I mean yeah it's gross and it's bloody, but she pierces them, they bleed, then they stop, then she picks picks picks. I know it's nasty to even write about, but that's why I'm not putting her down, because as of right now she is still performing all of her usual antics, playing with toys, eating, crapping, preening. I just hope that when she does go over the edge with the picking, it will be fast and she won't suffer.

So yeah. These past 10 days have kind of blown the big one.

There have been some good things though

-Jam visited, which automatically equals infinite amounts of goodness, no matter how short his visits always seem to be :(
-I saved a woodpecker who hit our porch window. He was laying crumpled in the snow. Of course I had a heart attack, mostly because my bird saving record is about 1/6. I picked him up to see if his neck was broken and it did not seem to be. Amy brought me a box and towel and I laid him in there, he eventually righted himself, grabbed onto my hand and when batsh*t crazy and flew a lap around my porch before smacking the window. Again. Before I did more harm than good I scooped him up, put him on one of our bird feeders and watched him like a nervous mother hen til he flew away. That was a highlight.
-The Patriots won!
-Put a shitton of music on my iPod and am working on a massive flickr update
-One of my classes is amazing and I have a friend crush on my professor. He's old enough to be my dad, yes, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to have a beer with him after class and PICK HIS BRAIN for ways to save the world. I told him that was my life's mission and he didn't laugh. He said "Why not?" You know what? Maybe this semester won't suck as hard as I thought.....


Sigh. Anyways, I feel confident about school because I have such a burning and overwhelming desire to graduate, but the professor being so insulting was really the final straw. You can't let people like that get to you (DIGRESSION HERE) but oh I relished the moment she asked where I went undergrad and I could say "S-M-I-T-H you TW@T!" Ok not really, I did the ol "Smith College, it's a smallish school is western Mass *cough cough seven sister aka ivy league for girls cough* I try not to name drop with Smith because honestly while it is a great school there are no shortage of positively wonderful schools out there that will totally open the same doors Smith has for me. But I will say that when you really need to zing someone, Smith is a positively wonderful weapon to have in your arsenal. It shuts people up. Ha, I remember this guy was talking down to me once, saying he was in law school, being polite but condescending as I listened demurely over my mojito, saying "wow" and "impressive" at all the right moments. Then he said "so. where'd you go to school" I figured this slightly chauvinistic specimen had never even heard of the place, so I just threw it out there "I went to Smith" I said. Dead silence. I figured he'd never heard of it, but whatev, that's totally fine. Then he said "So. You're actually really smart." I tried to make a joke out of it and said "Oh was I coming off as dumb?" "No no" he said "you're just really smart. That's a great school." I just said "Thank you, it is, I loved it there" even though I wanted to smack him upside the head and ask "was it the female or the polite and quiet part that was throwing you off the fact that I'm INTELLIGENT!" ARGH!

Anyways, so yeah, we can't let the "naysayers" get to us, but seriously when they're throwing this much sh*t at you it's hard to dodge a flying crap or two. Perhaps the sh*t fight is over now though. We'll see. I am really going to have to kick some ass this semester though. I've got about 105 days to do it. Phew. I really hope I can make it. Jesus and Starbucks and I are all going to be a whole lot closer from now on.






*And I'm in love with illusions so saw me in half
I'm in love with tricks so pull another rabbit out your hat
You Are What You Love
Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
A fairly accurate portrayal of my life/school/career at the moment. bitches.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Impossibility of Fitness

Ah another year, another resolution, another thing to break - right?

Well this year I decided not to make any resolutions at all, except to be nicer to people. Ha, I broke that one on January 2nd the moment I stepped on the T and was sandwiched between a baby stroller and a 400-lb man. Awesome.

I did make a few sort of silent unspoken unwritten resolutions too though, I'll admit it, and one of them is, along with my continued vow to save the entire planet, is to eat better and get in shape because on June 21 I will be sliding myself into a tube of shiny unforgiving eggplant-colored fabric and walking down the aisle with Jamaal. As a bridesmaid (ha ha did I have you wondering?!). And you know, I want to look good for my friend's wedding and I do honestly want to try to eat better and get used to exercising because I'm not getting any younger and while I feel in control of my weight with every passing year it has crept up a tad bit more and now I'm at the point where another 5 lbs or so will send me over the divider on the BMI charts from "Normal" to "Overweight." I do want to be healthy first and foremost and that's my motivation for getting into shape. That and the mockery of the eggplant dress.

I started tracking everything at Prevention.com - a site I love, even though I'm probably one of the only people under 50 who religiously reads their site and magazine. I didn't get this right away, but when I received a whole issue about menopause I was like "oh. wow. I guess I'm not exactly in Prevention's demographic." I don't care though because the mag has great tips and the website is even better. On it there is a health tracker that's powered by fitday.com, another site I used to love. I've been tracking my food intake for a while now and while I am pleased by my generally healthy eating habits, I've started to notice a puzzling trend. I am totally off balance.

Yesterday I had like 2700 calories. Today I've had 700, and I realize I've yet to consume dinner, but I don't exactly see me eating a 2000 calorie dinner. My target is to eat around 1600 calories a day and some days that's no problem, but on others I'll make the worst decisions and totally binge (can you say POPCORN!!!! Amy and I have been to the movies twice this week). I mean I realize I have waaaaaay more important things to worry about, but seriously I'm wondering what is leading to such inconsistency? I suppose in the end that is the beauty of the health trackers on prevention.com. They can pinpoint my weaknesses. Sweet. For now, I'm gonna have some Special K. The cereal, not the drug, I'm not on that kind of diet, LOL.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The 5,632 Post About My Bruise

The horror continues......
video

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

*LEVITY PLEASE!*

(stolen from "SERENITY NOW!" Amy does a great impression)

So my sister had a little 07 wrapup post on her LJ and I loved it and wanted to steal it (stel it, LOL) so HERE IT IS. No Kenya drama I promise!

Best Day of 2007: There were so many amazing days in '07 and I am torn between a couple. I'll narrow it down to three. 1. Standing on the deck of a boat during the CARE Conference with my family enjoying the culmination of all of my father's hard work as we sailed through Boston Harbor at sunset. 2. Watching the sunset with Jamaal at Costa Verde even though we'd had a fight earlier that day!! 3. Again in Boston Harbor on a boat with my extended family taking pictures of my grandparents on their 55th wedding anniversary.

Worst Day of 2007: Tie between the day Aunt Elinore died and the day after her funeral. Why the day after her funeral? My whole family including my grandparents and my dad's best friend, his wife, daughter and many other people got norovirus, which was, unbeknownst to us, the catalyst that caused her death. It probably seems selfish to say that the norovirus was worse than her funeral, but in a way her funeral was rather badass and given that the woman was 95 I felt it was a celebration of her life. A family of four all puking and sh*tting with only two bathrooms? That celebrates nothing except the blessing of indoor plumbing. Not fun.

Best Song of 2007 that wasn’t officially released in 2007: Umm. Well Amy has "Fergalicious" which must count. I don't really get the whole released vs played dealie, so I'll go with Fergalicious because it was played FREQUENTLY especially in the Camry. Sad but true.

Best Song of 2007 that actually was released in 2007: Something off either of the two albums I purchased this year Rilo Kiley's "Under the Blacklight" or A Fine Frenzy's "One Cell in the Sea." I never purchase whole albums (except for Grey's Anatomy compilations, dorky I know) but these two were a must. I love "Rangers" from AFF (yeah yeah it was on VH1 blah blah didn't see it there) and "You Picked Me" and from Rilo Kiley I love "Close Call" "Silver Lining" "Under the Blacklight" and "Breaking Up." Oh and I dig "Smoke Detector" too heh heh


Purchase of 2007 after which life cannot ever possibly be the same: My digital rebel XTi. I had no idea that it would enable me to do so much, not just take better pics but get published in a book and raise money for charity too. WOOT!

Most Awkward Moment of 2007: Sitting in my boss's office, having her look me in the eye and say "It's one thing to be a slacker, it's quite another to get caught." What do you say to that?

Best Food of 2007: I had so many tasty things at Asian C in Hingham, but I do recall Jam and I having a lovely dinner at Ivy.

Best Drink of 2007: The Margarita. Tequila and I became reacquainted and it was beautiful.


Best Movie of 2007: I think I saw 2007's most superficial movies - not that I'm complaining or anything but I meant to see these deep ones like "Atonement" "Lust, Caution" "The Savages" and "Margot at the Wedding" Instead I saw stuff like "Enchanted" which was great but not exactly deep. I did love "Knocked Up" though, that was awesome, and "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." I think an underrated movie of '07 was most certainly "Breach." Slow in the beginning but suspenseful.

Most Anticipated Moment of 2007: I won't even lie: When the Red Sox won the Series. Again. OH GLORIOUSNESS.

My coworker's most memorable quote of 2007:
Anorexia, in an email: What, no way, really? when was this? and what could they possibly have to say about you? you're the nicest one in here!

This doesn't seem earthshattering BUT IT IS. This girl hated my guts 6 months ago. Guess someone told her I was the only one that went to bat for her when my boss threatened to fire her.

My friends' most memorable quotes of 2007: eeek I should write these down. One that sticks out is from a conversation I had in Arenal with Jam and Christina. We were the only folks not white water rafting and decided to go early to the booking office to choose our next adventure.

Christina: So you're saying we'd rappel down the waterfall. Wow!
Adventure guide: well not really. You more like, get pulled up there by a rope. We pull you up. To make it scary we swing you into the water. It's not really scary though. It's kinda fun. I dunno. So you want to do it?
Christina: Let us think a minute.
We get together at the other end of the room.
Christina: So what do you guys think about the rappelling trip?
Allison: (silence, so as not to offend anyone)
Jamaal: It sounds like a piece of sh*t tour.
Christina and Jamaal: *cackling*
Allison: *shocked but relieved laughter*

You kind of had to be there I guess LOL.

My sister's most memorable quotes of 2007:

I wish I had written so many down.

My favorite quote was in response to a Buffalo Bill's fan sign that referenced "spygate" and Bill Belichik It said "Beli-cheat"

Amy: BELI-CHEAT? Ummmm BUFFA-LAME!

Moving some raked leaves to the back/side yard.

Amy: The house looks good from back here
I raise my eyebrows
Amy: what? I haven't been to this part of the yard since I was like, 8.

Shoveling snow

Amy: I'm really branching out this year. I raked leaves, I shoveled snow...

and with regards to a coworker freaking out about taking expired Aleve:
It's two years. It says 05/05 and she already took it and she's freaking out because she says she's growing a brain tumor. How many cancer patients have you seen that have grown brain tumors because of taking expired Aleve?
NONE. THAT'S WHAT I THOUGHT.


My parents' most memorable quote of 2007:
After Amy threw up in my car:
Dad: How did you get the smell out
Me: Well I washed the carpet and left all the windows open. I hoped maybe that if there was residue an animal would climb in there
Dad: *through cackling laughter* yeah, in case a raccoon wanted some chum?!

Best Work Moment of 2007: Inciting panic in my superiors after sending them an email listing out the shortcomings of my study and what they need to do about it. Awesome.

Most Traumatic Television Moment of 2007: Call me lame but the whole episode of "Didn't We Almost Have it All" (Grey's Anatomy Season 3 Finale) was TRAUMATIC. I was kind of stuck between the Meredith drowning story arc (JESUS Shonda Rhimes wtf are you trying to do to us) and the finale, but I felt the finale was more devastating for a greater number of characters, so there it is.

Most Surprising Food Craving of 2007: Sushi. I became obsessed. For the end of 2007, it was ice cream. Weird.

Best Allison Really Needs Her Own Reality TV Show Moment of 2007:
"The Time Allison Cleaned her Sister's Vomit from the Inside of her Car"


Best Line from a piece of email in 2007:

So I think we need liquor for tonight

Ha ha truer words were never spoken...

Well Happy New Year to you all, I hope you've enjoyed this break from intense and angsty posts!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kenya Still

I hear things are calming down in Kenya in general which is good, but I was so sad to receive this email today from V-Day (the people who bring you the Vagina Monologues!) I guess this is something that is going to take a lot of time and patience, but this so isn't my Kenya - not in the sense that I 'have' a Kenya or the only Kenya that exists is the rosy golden one from the confines of my optimistic memory...it's just that I know people there do not live like this and are as horrified by it as we would be were it happening in the United States. Here's the email:
V-Day V-Mail


V-DAY UPDATE-THIS JUST IN FROM KENYA

The Situation in Narok

-This conflict started on the night the election results announced the victory of President Kibaki. Conflict between the Kikuyu, Massai (ugh it's Maasai) and Luo's broke out throughout Kenya. In the last few days the situation has been reported as improving in Nairobi, however it is important to know that in Narok, it is getting far worse.

-Stores are closed, there is no petrol for cars and the cost of food continues to inflate at exorbitant rates. Last week a head of lettuce was 20 shillings. It is now 150 shillings (.30us to $2us)

-On the night of Sunday, December 30th, Massai men burned the Narok food market, a primary source of income for the mostly female member of the Kikuyu tribe. Thus, in the last few days there has been no produce available in Kenya.

-Violence, as well, has become rampant. There have been nightly reports of Kikuyu in Narok burning Massai homes and a confirmed report of Kikuyus castrating a Luo man who later died of his injuries in Narok. Reports of sexual violence too have increased, leading to elevated concern amongst the women and girls of this region.

The Situation at the V-Day Safe House

-As an elected official and director of the V-Day Safe House, Agnes Pareyio is at increased risk.

-Although the center is secured by a locked gate and 24-hour guard, a person on a mission could easily penetrate the security currently in place.

-The girls have been watching the one television station and are aware of the current situation in Kenya, the issues that they are facing and the precautions that need to be taken. Life, on a day-to-day basis is ok. As of January 2, it has been announced that school is scheduled to resume on January 15th.

Concerns

-One of the biggest concerns is because of the size of the center and the number of people currently residing there, people will assume there is a larger quantity of food stored there, thus heightening the risk of the center and the girls.

We urge you to educate yourself about this situation, to tell your family, your friends, your coworkers. It is imperative that the worldwide community not turn a blind eye, and that the situation in Kenya not escalate. Kenya's stability is intrinsic to the stability of the region. We all must show international support for a peaceful conclusion to this conflict, we must pay attention now and not wait until it is too late.

I am especially saddened to hear of the situation in Narok. Narok is one of my favorite towns. It arises on the African landscape out of absolutely nowhere, and I think we stopped there on our way to the Mara. I love small African towns - Narok is well-developed but not as slummy as some of the places we visited, probably because the tourists go through there, or at least they must on occasion because there were no shortage of men trying to sell us various things. I think sometimes my fellow students would get quite frustrated with the whole situation. They would chastise me "don't buy from them, they're pushy, you're just perpetuating the problem of pushiness and dependence on tourism." Maybe they were right, but most times I couldn't even help myself - I loved talking to people and bargaining too - another thing some students found awkward. I remember walking through the streets of Narok to cash a check (which was not cashed at the bank. Banker: Where is your real passport (I had a copy) Me: In Athi River. Banker: Well it is doing you no good there. No sh*t.) and a young man caught my eye. "You, mzungu! (swahili for white person, usually not derogatory) You buy this!" He thrust a Maasai
wedding necklace in my face. "ummm when I get back" I said. Worst comeback ever because you think that you will just be able to sneak right by sight unseen. UM NO. This never happened I was NEVER ABLE TO SNEAK AWAY! So I get out of the bank and he calls me to his display of wedding necklaces.

They were dominated by the blue beads characteristic of Maasai dress in the Narok region, so different than the colors worn by the Maasai we had known while living in the foothills of Kilimanjaro. I fell in love. "3000 shillingi!" was the price demand. That's $40. "No way!" I said "I could even get money at the bank!" I walked away to pretend as though I didn't want it, but I desperately did. I hoped that the vendor would be in the mood for bargaining. "2700!!" I heard ringing after me. "2000!" I said. "hahahhahah oh no no no" said the
vendor "no I can't my mother makes these." "Oh I understand" I said and began to walk away. "2500! Final PRICE!" cried the vendor. "SOLD!" I said "But only because your poor mama had to make all of these." "You were swindled!" cried the students when I got back in my car. "I don't even care" I said. I didn't. I didn't even care when I packed it in my suitcase and every single string of beads attached to it was ripped off (there are 23!). I fished all the beads out of my oversized duffel and restrung them so my wedding necklace could take its rightful place on my wall.


I look at it now and think of Narok and I am overwhelmingly sad to think that the man who sold it to me or his mother or his family might be living in fear or even worse. I remember Narok as a happy place. I don't even remember there being street boys there. Maybe I'm just remember things through a rose-colored lens, but even so, it sounds like Narok is out of control and that makes me sad.

I haven't heard from Mboya for a few days but the email mentions school has been suspended til the 15th, so he's probably in no rush to go to a bank and cash a money order for tens of thousands of shillings and risk walking around with that kind of money. My friend Rachel has heard from him though, and he wrote to her:
Rachel all we need is prayers in my country otherwise we will be refugees. but pray for peace.

I guess it's all we can do.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Book Roundup 2007

Well let's bring a bit of levity back to this blog....ok in 30 seconds...first let me wrap this up:

The news from Kenya still distresses me greatly, but I am very pleased to see the coverage of the situation changing. Last night on ABC News Kenyans were personally interviewed in Nairobi and they had a chance to explain that their displeasure stems from the fact that they feel their democracy was threatened by the rigging of the elections. Thank goodness someone is finally sorting out the facts. I love it that my friends and family have asked me what I thought of the situation because once you tell someone the briefest history of post colonial Kenya, everything clicks and they say "Oh. Well that makes sense." Ironically enough a lot of Americans can absolutely understand the discontented feeling that follows a questionable election, but it's hard to wrap our minds around such violence. I think people are starting to understand - I just hope that the political leaders in Kenya well come to some sort of agreement because this violence needs to stop as soon as possible.

OK. Well that being said I've decided to put together a little book roundup. I a LiveJournal with a book challenge on it and was eager to copy it. Ha ha too bad I got it totally wrong. The person on LJ wanted to read 50 books in 2007, but I got all excited and mistakenly put 100 Books in 2007 on my blog. After I realized my mistake I figured "Uh, I might be able to get to 100." Not quite - but I did make it to 70 which is pretty cool. I think I'm forgetting some but I added the two I know I completed before the end of the year and I'm leaving it at that.

I tried to pick my top 5 books of the year, but I couldn't! It was much too difficult! I decided that I'd go with my top 7 instead. These books were chosen because they either made an impact on my life and made me want to change the world or because they touched me deeply, to the point where I will often think of them or reference them as I'm going about my daily life. Here they are:

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
If my friend Rachel is reading this, she will probably laugh because she found this book rather depressing. It is that, but I also found it inspiring. Perhaps it's because I'm naive and think that one person does have the power to make an impact on the world. While Paul Farmer is certainly difficult to like sometimes, I can't help but love his vision and his drive - if we all tried to embrace a cause with even 10% of the passion Farmer embraces his, who knows what we'd be able to do.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Ha ha this is the book I heard someone talking about on the train - "Worst book I've ever read!" the guy said "don't touch it, don't open it, it sucked, you'll hate it!" My internal reaction was "AHHHHHHHH!!!" It's a great little volume about a boy's life quest for greatness. You have to read it looking for the deeper meaning, and not to be a jerk, but that's clearly what the guy on the subway was missing.

Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway
This book is yet another work of non fiction that takes place in a developing nation and can at times, be quite depressing. To me though, this book was a story of the human condition, and how birth, death, and illness are things that we all have in common. It also was a wonderful example of how powerful and influential friendships between women can be, even if they're from completely different parts of the world.

Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
I'm not even sure what to write about this one - a coming of age tale that takes place in the Bronx. The way my life has gone and is going now I will never know the poverty that the women in this book faced, and by reading this book I still will probably never understand it, but now at least I can imagine. Reading about the lifestyles of the people in this book changed my opinion about a lot of things. Oft times I think of Random Family whether on the bus or subway or while watching a tv documentary. It really sticks with you.

Evening by Susan Minot
This book was positively haunting. It's one of the few works of fiction in my top 7 and ironically enough I can't put my finger on why I loved it so much. Perhaps because it's a somewhat morbid book filled with regret, or maybe because it was a love story, or a story of hope towards the end. I loved Susan Minot's stream of thought and abstract writing. Wish the movie could have been as good as the book.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
I can't even begin to express the extent f my admiration for this woman. By some act of I don't know what Ayaan brought herself from a life in front of an open fire in the deserts of Somalia to a member of the Dutch parliament and tells us every horror story along the way. While I have always been a person that said that true Islam does not preach violence and extremism, Ayaan explains how interpretations of it's teachings are used to make women submit to men. Her tale is also one of incredibly boldness and bravery as she leaves her family behind to pursue a lifestyle she believes (and is) her right.

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
Some folks in I0wa must've picked up this book. Before I read this book, I was a disillusioned American. I was frustrated with politics because all I ever heard were people bashing our leaders (who deserve the criticism BUT) but never suggesting any sort of solution to our problems. I didn't feel like I could trust my president and my Congress was an absolute f*cking failure, I think they pissed me off even MORE! Our country, which I know is full of good and bright people with brilliant ideas, was stagnant. No politician seemed to care enough about Iraq and our troops, developing countries, humanitarian aid, global warming, oil dependency, poor people in our own home towns, pollution, health care or our reputation. And they expect me to be able to choose a president from the arena of politicians that stands before me? WTF? Then I read this book and thought "oh.my.God. Someone who gives a damn." I'm not saying that Obama has presented himself as the strongest candidate, but let me summarize by saying this: having read his book, I would walk barefoot to the polls in the snow to vote for this man because I think he can save our nation. I don't get passionate about politics because I am a suspicious, puritanical, individual New Englander, but good lord, do I love this guy. Not as much as Jamaal ;) but enough that I am putting my faith in him, I hope he does not let me down....

Well there it is peeps, my top 7 of '07. I'm going to save the list and take it down, cause I've already read 2 books in '08.

Finally I'll leave you with a video. A non-serial-killer-esque video (Jamaal said I looked like a mass murderer in the last one. Thanks a lot dude, you try filming in hideous light, ya jerk) that includes one cute little parakeet that we were pet sitting, Thunderbird. You can here my fabulous Boston accent when I say "Thun-dah-bird" as well as Lily screeching in the background from "lack of attention"


video

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Kenya

Naturally I am very upset by the violence that is occurring in Kenya even as I am writing this post. I am disgusted, however, by the sweeping judgments "my fellow Americans" are making about the situation. In response to an article on ABC news were written comments such as "Africans are savages" and "African countries should be ruled by America and Britain" and "Are you surprised this happened?"

Disgraceful.

I am so tired of hearing this type of bullshit from ignorant people who have never been to Africa yet still feel qualified to make broad sweeping judgments about the political situation there. Even more frustrating are the people who think of Kenya as a white man's playground and commented that they hope the violence did spill over and affect the animals. WHAT THE F*CK?!

Here's my take on it, from someone who was IN KENYA a few weeks after the '02 elections. The current government is corrupt. People wanted a change, and the incumbent was declared the winner amongst speculation that election was rigged. The people who wanted a change got pissed. Those who were most pissed were those backing the opposition, a member of the Luo tribe, and in response, they are attacking those who are members of the current ruling tribe, the Kikuyu. It is not a deeply ingrained ethnic cleansing akin to the '94 Rwandan genocide, it is a violent uprising in response to deeply rooted political and economic distress. Kenyans are not savages, they are simply unhappy. We as Americans have a hard time understanding their reasoning because we've had election set-up speculation in our own country and didn't react violently. The thing is, Kenyans endured the ruling of a single man, Daniel Arap Moi for 30 years and their country did not progress forward and became incredibly corrupt. Though elections were held, Moi seemed unmovable. The election of Kibaki in '02 marked a huge change for democratic rule in Kenya, and I believe that people expect to have more power. If they're dissatisfied with Kibaki, and the majority is dissatisfied with Kibaki, they feel as though it's their right as a democratic nation to elect a new man fairly, and honestly, and it is clear that some Kenyans believe that this process occurred neither fairly nor honestly, and in fear of another semi-dictatorship, people are reacting.

In terms of the violence, a lot of it is occurring in Kibera and Mathare, two massive slums. Who knows what the candidates promised the poor. Could this be a reaction to a deep-rooted long-running feeling of dissent that has always run through that slum? Let me tell you, if I lived there, I'd be pissed off too, and if the opposition party offered me a chance for change and then the election was set up, who knows how I'd react? I'm not condoning violence or killing, that is wrong, totally wrong, but when the only life you've ever known is that of cardboard walls and a corrugated tin roof, who the f*ck knows how you'd react? You've never had the privilege of running water, never mind an education, maybe violence is the only way you've ever known.
I hope Americans get their heads out of their asses and see what's happening hear and put their minds to doing something effective, or just giving a sh*t about Africa. It's a continent full of great potential the western Europe and America completely ruined and then abandoned it, leaving it to its own devices. If people in powerful countries started caring, who knows what type of world in which we may have the privilege of living.

Phew. That being said, I did send off a quick email to my friend Mboya, whose sister I've been sending to school (ahem, education=positive thing for Africa=educated citizens=democratic lifestyle=rise from poverty=freedom from corruption= well, you get it) because I am obviously concerned about him and his sister, though the violence seems localized to slums and kisumu.
He wrote this in response:

Hi, my friend.
Its very true that things have been very bad for the last five days AFTER THE ELECTION, But it seems that they are calm, although lots of people lost their lives in this violence and very innocent ones. BUT ALSO I THINK the new government is planning to meet with the opposition leader to do something just because of the Kenyan people so that they conciliate and recount the totals again, so am not sure what will happen after that, but people are patient
waiting .people who have been killed so far is 147 in the country.
The other thing please don't worry we are all fine ,the whole family hoping this violence is going to to go down,Right now am not on my job at till Thursday this week,whereby i hope we will be able to resume it cause of what happening. well i wish you a happy new year with better thinks and Gods blessing,
HOPE YOU HAD A MARRY CHRIST MAS.
TALK TO YOU SOON AND I THANK YOU AGAIN FOR REMEMBERING MY FAMILY , ESPECIALLY DURING THIS TIME OF MISCOMFORT AND VIOLENCE IN KENYA, GOD BLESS YOU.
RAFIKI.

So there it is from the mouth (hands) of a Kenyan man. I ask anyone reading this post and interested in the issue going on in Kenya to STOP reading our news (yep, even the holier than thou NY Times) and get your news from AllAfrica.com. I realize that not everyone will agree with my view of this issue, but make up your own by getting something that I feel is a little more accurate than the bullsh*t they're feeding you here. Thanks and Happy New Year.