Thursday, November 30, 2006

Turkey Day Pics

The stinky puppies of Thanksgiving:

Stinky Puppy #1: Sushi

Stinky Puppy #2: George

Stinky Suckling Puppy #3: Ruby

PJ Being attacked by the stinky puppy #1

Stinky Puppy #1 snuggling with Michelle

The Video Gaming of Turkey Day

Cooking Time

The babies of Thanksgiving

Our tour around and around and around.... Portland

Yaaay Turkey Day!

Turkey Day

It is an urban myth that suicide rates spike at the holidays. Turns out, they actually go down. Experts think, it is because people are less inclined to off themselves when surrounded by family. Ironically, that same family togetherness is thought to be the reason that depression rates actually spike during the holidays.

This is the first Thanksgiving I have not spent at home, with my family. Instead, PJ and I drove up to Portland, Oregon through the rain and the snow to be with friends from Texas.

I do not know what it is, but having Thanksgiving away from home that makes me feel like an adult. Maybe it was the fact that I spent 3 days prior to the drive up sweating over a hot stove cooking anything that could be made with pumpkin. Maybe it was because everyone was in this together, we created our own family out of friends. Or, maybe it was because I was not the youngest one there. Whatever it was, I felt like an honest to goodness adult.

Of course once we got there, all we did was play video games...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Not a clue in the world

"But I still haven't found what I'm looking for...."

Literally, the world. I travel the world and, I have no clue. No clue what I want to do, who I want to be, I have no clue.

When I quit my job with Vector, I thought to myself, maybe this trip to Africa will help me realize what I want to do. Three months later, no still no clue.

Well, that is not entirely true. I know what I want to do. I want to be a photographer, I want to make money, I want to go back to the corporate world, I want to do something that will make a difference. I want to do it all. Surprise, surprise.

Ideally, I could make all those things work together and have the perfect job. I could be a photographer for some magazine or newspaper or an NGO. But of course, instead of fitting all these desires in to one job, I seem to be finding too many jobs that fit only some of the desires.

I have my job at a photo gallery. Fun as it is, it is also tiring. I stand on my feet seven hours out of the day and work with other people's photographs. I hang up and sell other people's photographs. I am working with art, but none of it is my own. Not only is that tiring, it is frustrating and draining.

Since I am making little more than minimum wage, I go in search of a second job. Where do I end up, but a local sales office of Vector Marketing.

I was really excited about this for a second. I know I could make good money doing it and it would be my own hours. So, I went in for an informal interview with the local District Manager. Forget that I have no motivation to actually sell knives right now, and do not know anyone in the area who I could sell knives to. But, I got some sort of sad thrill out of talking to the DM about the last conference and the fact that she is up against two DMs from the Eastern Region in one of the national competitions.

Homesick much? Breaking up really is hard to do... After much soul searching, and throwing out my back (again) this morning. I decided not to go through training again. It was a hard decision...

One job possibility down, millions to go.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A ballerina, I am not

"When you were a child your mother thought, as mothers sometimes do, that you were strong enough and sure enough to someday be a dancer. But, when you were five, or was it six, or was it nine, you didn't want to dance. You couldn't bear to dance, unless you were dancing in the grass and dancing in the mud, as children often do. And then, your father kicked you a ball. And the ball was the shape of the whole wide world. And now if you see green you can only think of one thing to do. And the world slips away from your feet. And the sky slips down into your arms. And you are free, absolutely free to be who you want. To go where you can. To be wild to be loud to fly in the mud and run in the rain. Strong Enough. And Sure Enough. Like A Dancer. "

Athletic, I am. A dancer, I am not. Graceful, I am not.

At the age of twelve, encouraged by my teachers, I quit ballet. Though I was one of the smallest girls in any class, I was always put in the back row. This would ensure that no one could see me screw up or fall. My teachers learned that lesson early on when at my first recital I fell while sasheing across the floor and near brought my partner down with me. True, I was only seven years old, but I never improved.

Never daunted, my mother kept enrolling me in dance classes. Ballet, jazz, whatever it took to ensure I would be a beautiful ballarina.

Poor mom, it never happend.

And yet, I felt compelled, twelve years after my brilliant decision to quit, to try and take a ballet class of sorts. And, again, though I was the smallest in the class, I was definately the least graceful, the least ballarina like in the group. Even the 6 ft 200 lbs woman next to me looked more graceful and natural each new move we learned.

Maybe in another 12 years I will try again.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Material World

"Cuz we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl"

I think I had the opposite reaction to Africa than most people do. I actually came back and became more materialistic.

In my defense, I think this was a pretty hard thing to do. I was never one for shopping or buying friviolously. The fact that I could afford to go to Africa and not go in to debt shows that fact. I like to save money, not spend it. And, in college, after going shopping I would forever feel guilty if I bought something I did not feel I absolutely needed.

Of course that changed a little when I started hanging out with Sumi. But, not so much that I would say I have an over abundance of clothing and shoes. There were many times I would go shopping, needing something, and come back empty handed because I decided I did not absolutely need it.

Same thing went with eating out, going to concerts, or anythingelse of the such.

But, I come back from Africa, out of a job and cannot stop buying: Buying, food, eating out, buying clothing, planning vacations. And, while i feel like I should feel guilty, especially after seeing how people live in Africa, I do not. I am missing the guilt.

I think I left my soul in Kenya.

Bumps in the Road

"I need not miss Africa. I can go back anytime I want through my memories"

Or, I can just go back by driving down the road behing my apartment.

The roads in Africa were bumpy, to be sure. If you were not fully secured in, you could go flying in many a different direction. I think the poor conditions of the roads was the only reason the police were so strict about seatbelts. It had nothing to do with potential collisions. It had all to do with people flying out of their car when they hit a pothole.

Well, lucky for me, I can revisit Africa any time I wish (and even if i dont wish). The road running behind my apt, which i have to take to get to my parking spot, is one right out of Africa.

My car bumps and bounds over this road that is so broken up that there are always one or two frightening sounds when something hits the bottom of my car as we head to my parking spot.

So, at the end of the day, I fell like I am back in Africa.

Whether I like it or not.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wedding Portfolio

I finally have part of my photog portfolio up online (thank you PJ for your webspace).

go visit it!!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I am home

S: I've been in Africa a year and I don't know what you know. How long have you been here? JP: Just 24 hours, but I have been preparing for it my entire life.

If you had not already guessed it, or been told by me, I am home. The trip of my dreams is over with. I am back in San Fran living the nice comfortable life of eating whatever food I want whenever I want and gaining back any weight I lost while in Africa.

Give me a call if you want to get together or just want to chat. I am not doing much, just job hunting.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Don't let the bed bugs bite

"It is easy to be brave when the spider is in someone else's bed."

During the "Lion Project" we were on a campsite. We slept in tents and had buckets for showers. And I was the only person on the project (save the guides), who had ever experienced anything like this before.

I was smart enough to grab the first (and biggest) tent offered. I found out space did not matter. Even though there was enough room for 5 people to sleep in the tent, once three girls moved in, there was barely enough room for the three of us.

Clothes were everywhere (not mine surprisingly). I was smart enough to keep my clothing in my bag, which I kept sealed to keep out any creepy crawlies. My tentmates, not used to the life outdoors, took no such precautionary tactics. I would routinley wake up to or just be startled by shrieks that rang through the campsite when one of the girls found a spider, cricket, scorpion, geko, or some other unidentifiable crawling/flying thing.

I, of course, would calmly take charge and capture the critter and let it loose back outside the tent. All the while, I would be rolling my eyes and telling the girls there was no reason to act so silly and that the bugs would not hurt them.

That went on daily until on morning while getting dressed I found a fuzzy little spider crawling down my arm and all the sudden the high pitched scream was coming from me. And I was anything but calm and collected as I flailed about trying to shake myself of my new furry friend.

I never made fun of the girls again.

The Ghost and The Darkness

"It won't work. Nothing works here. Tsavo is the worst place in the world."

Tsavo means "The Land of Slaughter". Now, I can assure that had I known that I probably would have chosen a different project to work on.

The Lion Project (where we saw no lions), was located in Tsavo. Going in, I was aware of the legends of the Man Eaters of Tsavo, a lineage of lions that would hunt and eat humans. They were said to be the rulers of the night in Tsavo. And, I was aware of the Ghost and the Darkness. Those were the two lions that are now on display at the Field Museum in Chicago. While man eaters are definately something to fear, the Ghost and the Darkness ruled both night and day. They feared nothing. Neither fences nor fires could keep these lions at bay.

One of the stranger things about these lions was they were male lions. In most cases, it is the lionesses that do the hunting. So many things were off about these two male lions, that the locals were convinced they were not lions, but devils stalking the land to ensure the white man did not come to rule over Evil's land.

The past of the land did not scare, but intrigued me. But, knowing that Tsavo is known as the Hell of Africa, I would probably not return.

The movie is quite good when it comes to scenery and depicting the story of the building of the bridge. It was not historically acurate when it came to the stars of the story, the lions. The man eaters of Tsavo are, by lineage, maneless lions. Neither males nor felmales (obviously) grew manes, no matter their age. Every lion in this movie has, not just a mane, but a huge mane. I realize this may have been done to make the lion look more fierce. To me though, the fact that the man eaters were maneless just furthered the strangeness of that line of lions.

It is amazing researching the story. Maybe I should have researched it ahead of time. Then, I may have chosen a different program, which would have been for the better.

Maybe on a non Lion Project I might have seen lions.

King of the Lions

"Get away from me you creepy monkey"

I never fully appreciated the beauty and genius of Disney until I watched Lion King two days ago.

While in Africa, I was amazed by the fact that Disney integrated the Swahili language into the movie. Pumba is actually the word for a warthog. Simba means lion. Rafiki means friend. And, people do really use Hakuna Matata (though it usually is cause for worry).

The intro scene to Lion King, when they present Simba and all the animals are circling. With the exception of those animals hanging out around the lions, it was a pretty good depiction of what the savannahs look like.

All the animals graze together. When you spot a zebra, most likely you will see a group of eland or wildabeast or some other animal (again, with the exception of lions).

The movie captured so many of the different animals. I have pictures of almost every animal in that film. The one I am without is a babboon, sadly. And, their likenesses are just amazing. The colors, the movements, everything is very realistic (except them being in 2d).

Having an animator as a boyfriend, I realize more and more the immense research that goes into any cartoon. PJ had to study a frog for days for one of the bits of Ant Bully that he worked on. I cannot imagine the hours of study that must have gone in to making this movie.

I always scoffed at how long it takes to put an animated film out. No more.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Potatoes and Beans

"There are somethings you think you could eat every day for the rest of your life.... until you are forced to eat them every day.... then you will never want them again for the rest of your life"

Potatos used to be my favorite food. I thought I could eat them everyday. Such a versatile food they are. It is like a new thing each meal. No more.... oh no more. After 6 weeks straight of potatoes every day. I never want to touch another potato, for awhile. Baked, mashed, fried, I do not care.

It was the worst these last two weeks. It was potatoes for every meal. EVERY MEAL! That and beans. I constantly had the "Magical Trevor" song going through my head. "Beans lots of beans...." And, while I enjoy that song to an extent.... I never want to hear it again. It was on repeat in my head. Seeing as I had no other form of music, I was stuck.

I ended up eating biscuits for almost every meal.

I wish I had brought an I pod... and something besides potatoes.

The luck of the draw

"Luck, bad if not good, will always be with us. But it has a way of favouring the intelligent and showing its back to the stupid"

Two days before the end of my "Lion" project and I run in to the worst luck I have my entire trip.

I wake up and discover that I have blood under my finger nails. Apparently, in my sleep, I decided I was itchy and scratched my foot raw.... now I have to wrap my foot everyday otherwise, my sock will stick to the wound. Yay fun.

Then, I am doing the dishes (something all together another frustration of mine). Of course, I get bit/stung by something. I look and there is a huge black thing on my hand (huge being the size of one of my teeth). I try to shake it off, but it has attatched itself to me and it continues to bite/sting me. I finally shake it off and, I must have looked like an ant that morning because our guide tells me it is an Ant Lion. It eats ants.

We soon take off on our walk. I realize, half way through, I forgot to take my malaria pills. I make it through 5 1/2 weeks of not forgetting and two days before I get out, I forget.

Of course, while on our walk, I encounter a few.... issues. I am successfully the first person to fall while climbing a mountain. Again, you'd think, we have been here for over a week, that someone would have fallen but, no. I go down and discover a much quicker way to get to the bottom than walking.

Another thing to know about these walks is that there are thorns on every bush/tree that you pass. I have been very good about not getting anything but my clothing caught. This changes at the very end of our walk that day. I am watching one bush to avoid it, and my hand catches on another one behind me. The thorn rips down my pointer finger and feels, oh so nice.

Two days before I leave and I look like I have had the worst luck this trip, but really it was all in one day.

I decided to go to bed early that night.

So many things, So little time

"No lions, tigers or bears... oh my" :(

It has been over two weeks since my last post. I apologize profusely to those who were counting on me as a distraction at work. I know how nothing new to read can make you actually have to do work. Been there.

And now, Man, I do not even know where to start. I guess the first place to start is to explain sadly, that in my two weeks on the "Lion" project, I saw no lions. Soooo I am so happy that I went on that safari to the Mara.

It was acutally more like a gazelle project. We saw bunches of those. By the last few days, one of the girls got so frustrated, she yelled at anyone who spotted the gazelles and told them to stop saying anything.

Now, I am less than twenty four hours away from departing the trip of my long awaited dreams. It is a very strange sad feeling. But, I am also looking foward to eating some real food that has no potatoes in it. I am so sick of starch.

Be warned parents... I am going to want Thai food and Olive Garden when I get home. Maybe all at once, I do not know. I am that hungry.

So hungry was I, that when I got back to Nairobi last night, I went straight to the resteraunt and stuffed myself with veggies and fruit.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Joys of Ughali

"Ughali tastes like this place smells... and that ain't good"

I finally tasted Ughali tonight.... the quote says it all, ewwww. The dogs got the rest of it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

yaaaaay pictures

Yaaaay I successfully added a picture!!!

This is Kim. He was Sarah's favorite kid. I like him alright, but I never pick him up.... he pees on everyone. Poor kid. It is potty train or wet. They take the diaper away at a certain age whether you are ready or not.

Just a wonderful example of my balloon animals. Don't they just look so happy and sweet? Okay, happy atleast

This is Mamma at church. She loves to sing and dance in church. Actually they all like to sing and dance in church. They do say Amen a lot, but not like they portray in movies. The first hour and a half is singing. The second is the preaching part. I usually sneak out and go to Sunday School with the little kids at that point.

Annoying Tests and Ridiculous Tasks

"All work and no play..."

Makes Carolyn one frustrated girl.

So, we had tests today, and tommorow, and Friday. But, we had tests today. I was in charge of various classes to watch and make sure, they dont cheat I guess. I was not really told what I was doing except passing out and collecting tests. I was told the times to start and stop, but I was not given a watch.... So I waited until someone came in and told my class they should have stopped 10 minutes ago. Then I collect their papers.

The frustrating thing was not just the lack of organization, but the lack of silence. These poor kids are handed a test to take for an hour. The problem is, apparently not all of them are taking these tests. Half way through the last test of the day, kids are running around outside being loud. I go outside to hush them and there is two classrooms worth of them, without, of course, a teacher in sight.

Apparently they were doing their daily cleaning of the classrooms. At the same time that half the school was taking their tests. As many times as I hushed, you just cant keep watch over one class taking a test and two classes cleaning.

Not very good planning, if you ask me. Of course, no body did.

Which brings me to the issue of cleaning the school. MAN! if there ever was a useless taks, this is it.

These kids are charged with the job of cleaning the floors and steps of the school with water and rags. As I see it, what happens is the kids get a bucket of water. They dump that rag (which is probably already dirty) in and out of the water to clean off these steps and floor, which kids are walking on directly after walking in mudd or dirt that surrounds the school.

So, you watch these kids doing the most pointless cleaning I have ever seen. They are pretty much just making the floors wetter, none the cleaner. So I must wait to play with the kids until this task is complete, when the floor is left just as dirty.

And, I am left bored out of my mind.

It is like I never left Libertyville

"There are mothers everywhere. Just because you are away from the one who raised you, does not mean you will not end up with another who will try to pick up where yours left off."

Even though I have been here for four weeks, Mamma continues to remind me that I should lock the door to the guest house when it gets dark. Which I have done, every night. But, Mamma likes to be safe, and will even check and make sure I lock the door the second the sun dips below the horizon. She is so careful about it, infact, that one night I got locked out.

I was in Mamma's office talking to my parents. And, the sun had set. Mamma assumed, since my door was not locked, I had already fallen asleep because she had not seen me (she does not go in her office at night, she is usually looking after the kids). So, she sent up Rahema to lock the door for me. Which effectively locked me out.

Unfortunately, Rahema had left for the night by the time I got off the phone. Fortunately, Mamma had an extra key and let me upstairs, and sat their until I locked the door from the inside.

I do not know why my mother was ever afraid of me coming here. She was basically sending me into the care of a Kenyan her.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Americans must be Crazy part2

"How uncultured are we today when our kids do not know International Holidays like Talk Like A Pirate Day?"

September 19 was officially International Talk Like A Pirate Day. This was something I definately had to share with my eighth grade English class. It turned out to be instance number two of "Are Americans really this crazy?"

After our regular lesson plan. I asked everyone if they knew what today was. Everyone answered September 19 (well almost everyone, one person said sept 16... but anyway). I then asked them if anyone knew what international holiday was on September 19. I got nothing but weird looks as an answer.

Assuming that meant no, I wrote up on the board "INTERNATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY."

I turned around expecting the kids to be excited or laughing or something. Again, I got nothing but raised eyebrows. I tried again.

"It is International Talk Like A Pirate Day," I announced in my most enthusiastic voice. Still, nothing. "Has anyone ever heard of a Pirate?"

Well, there was the problem. They did not know a thing about pirates. So I went into a brief description by drawing pictures on the board. They still were not excited. Not to be discouraged, I started with my pirate talking lessons.

We went over the basics "Arrrrr", "Booty", "Scaleywag", "Wench", "Ahoy", "Matey" and other such common terms Pirates use.

I felt that by the end, they were getting in to it more. They were at least laughing (and while it may have been laughing at me, at least they were laughing).

Unfortunately, I did not hear the use of their new language as I saw them throughout the day. Maybe they just did not feel confident enough in the new langauge.

...or maybe I should have tried it with a younger class.