Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Mountain Man

I'm going to the mountains today, to some friends' cabin, to partake in winter sports.

Expect many entries (read: complaints) about how much pain I am in tomorrow.

And about how much fun I had.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas...

... a day late and more than a dollar short.

Christmas was bomb. I got lots of potentially yummy, but dauntingly thick, books, which I am pumped to start reading - which, judging by my massive loads of motivation, I should get around to doing sometime in late March. Dad was home, and still is, he's basically on house arrest, poor thing. But at least he's home and not sitting in the hospital room listening to his roomie die slowly of interstitial lung disesase (Jim, hope you're doing better, happy holidays). Dad's still rockin' his buzz, his scars - or as B called them, "racing stripes" - are pretty intense, but don't really show up in pictures; he just looks bald.

The food was AWESOME. In the morning we had pumpkin bread, grapefruit and breakfast casserole (mmmm). I literally teared up at the beginning of dinner realizing that I missed this at Thanksgiving - in favor of listening to crazy Christians and Canadians and eating wheat bread with tasteless instant potatoes. We had: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with brown-sugar topping, green beans, green bean and corn caserole, homemade cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, apple pie and cherry pie. Everything was homemade. Believe it or not, I (and this is totally out of character for me) ate too much. We're talking distended stomach, belt-loosening, food coma, many trips to the bathroom to relieve pressure, friends' concern for my well-being, ate too much.

I feel much better this morning. Especialy post-run (!!!).

And how pumped am I for left overs? So. Pumped. It's the holiday that just keeps on giving.

In fact, the only thing I didn't get for Christmas was a girlfriend, or someone to date, or hookup with. (Things that may or may not increase my chances of finding a prospect for one of the above: getting off this bloody blog, leaving my house and talking to someone besides my best friend. Chances of one of the above happening: slim to none.) I did, however, get ample opportunities to play third or fifth or seventh-wheel to my sisters and their boyfriends. And I actually like they're boyfriends. But sitting in your house with three couples? Not so bomb.

And, we didn't have much in the way of snow. By which I mean it was sunny and near 60. I love cold weather, snow and a white christmas as much or more than the next guy, but, I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty nice to go for a run in shorts.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Christmas Eve

Apparently saving Africa gets you on Santa's nice list because I got my Christmas wish: Dad came home today.

Merry Christmas all, spend it with your family and, hopefully, in good health.

Friday, December 23, 2005

All I Want For Christmas...

...is dad home tomorrow - which the neurosurgeon said is a distinct possibility.



It actually looks far better (and much less like an over the hill Elmer Fudd) than the picture implies.

Thanks Country Road Cafe

I brunched today. I had the original smashed mashed and orange juice, she got an eggs benedict and we split a short stack. It was bomb.



The family at the table next to ours not only expressed shock ("holy shit!") when our food was served, but they watched and laughed at us as we slogged our way through all three plates. At the end the father told us he was impressed.

So was I.

Cross Your Fingers For Home On The 28th

The ol' brain surgery went smashingly. The scalp was Bic-ed. Holes were drilled. Fluid was drained. Titanium covers were installed. Stitches were stitched. And gauze was wrapped.

Bigguy is up (with the bed at a 40degree angle) and out of the ICU already. He starts physical therapy tomorrow (wonder if I could get in on that - I could tell the therapist I want a lean, but defined build, can he recommend any exercises?). He also goes back on his anticoagulant tomorrow - which is a big thumbs up because that helps the permanent stints in his heart not have problems. (Like that scientific explanation? I'm basically pre-med now). They're taking the gauze turban off his head tomorrow. And he's losing the catheter.

I'll post a picture.

Of his shaved head.

Jeesy Creesy, how inappropriate do you think I am?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

"You Need A New Battery"

My friend has an old car with a diesel engine. It dies a lot, or, at the very least, it doesn't start as often as one would expect, say, a car, to start. So they sent it (read: had it towed) to a mechanic.

"You need a new battery."

"Are you sure?"

"Um, yeah."

Cut to the next day: "It's like a whole new car now that it has a car battery." As opposed to a boat battery. And I am not being a smart ass. That's for real. Who knew boat batteries didn't work so well in station wagons?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Deja Vu?

I landed in Denver on Sunday afternoon. Customs was a pain in the ass because the two officers could not understand why in the world I had chosen to go to Ghana (Ghana!?) to study anything, let alone to study politics (politics!?). After half an hour of "What is there to study in Ghana?" and "Don't they have a lot of violence there?" I was let through.

Scene: Me with 3 large, very heavy bags and a small backpack, having just declined a woman's offer of a cart thinking that my parents were going to be just on the other side of the double doors waiting to help me carry all my shit (and some other people's shit, also) into the USofA. However, they weren't there. And my American cell (p.o.s. cingular) wasn't charged. And then when it was charged, mom and dad weren't answering their phones. Color me livid and chock-full of self-righteous indignation.

Cut to: My sister returning my phone call with the info that mom is trying to find me and she is upset because she had to drop dad off at the ER on her way to the airport to get me. (Read: I am a complete, selfish and raging asshole).

Dad has been having some equilibrium problems and had some pretty severe headaches recently, and he wasn't feeling well, so he had mom drop him at the hospital on the way to pick me up at the airport. So, for the second time in two months, I went straight from the airport to the hospital. Except this time, dad was awake, not hooked up to 12 different machines, looked good and, perhaps most importantly, was in good spirits.

Today was spent mostly at the hospital waiting for doctors and for tests to be run and then read. Around 7 they finally came back with a decision: brain surgery tomorrow, around noon.

W.T.F.

He has two subdermal hematomas (sp? - don't care), they are small blood clots that have stopped bleeding, but have started collecting fluid - throwing off his equilibrium and giving him progressively worse headaches as more fluid accumulated. So the plan is to drill two small holes in each side of his skull and drain the fluid, then keep him in the hospital for several days to monitor his heart and brain in reaction to the traumatic event of the surgery and the messing with his medications in preparation for the surgery.

The doctors have assured us that, as far as brain surgeries go, this is minor. Almost standard. Nothing to be too worried about (but how the fuck does one not worry about brain surgery!?). Despite facing brain surgery, everyone is going in confident and with high spirits, and hopes that this is the last hurdle to overcome as a residual from his crash on Oct. 30.

He won't be home for Christmas. So we'll be bringing Christmas (and good food) to Saint Joe's.

So, if you grab a spare minute tomorrow - say noonish - think of him.

Love you Bigguy.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

D Day

Ok folks, after conquering (read: saving) Africa for four months, I am heading home today. I have a couple more important things to take care of before I wrap up - namely, getting more tan and buying a soccer jersey - but, I may as well be driving westward from DIA towards the snow-covered mountains of colorful Colorado.

So, I'll see you on British Airways, and then in Heathrow Terminal 4 (for seven bloody hours!) and then in Dtown, where it is supposed to be snowing as we speak.

Friday, December 16, 2005

T Minus 1 Day

!!!!!!!! !!! !!!!! !!!!!!!!! !!!!!! !!. !!! !!!!! !! - !!!!!! !!! !!!!!!!!! !!!! !!!!! !!!!!!!!! - !!!! !!!!!. !!!!. !!!!! !! ! !!!!!!!! !!!!!!!, !!!!!! !!!!! !!!!! !!! ! !!! !!!!!!!. !!!!! ! !!!!!! !!!, !!!!!!!, !!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!! !!!!! !!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!! !!!!!!. !!!!! !!!! (!!!!: !!!!!!!) !!!!!!!.

I seriously considered just doing an entire post in exclamation points. But I decided against it. Barely.

Apparently, "it's so cathartic" is the new "this blows," because I say it all the time. Everything I have done in the last couple of days - filling out course evaluations, filling out program evaluations, going to the Art Center for the last time, packing, throwing/giving shit away, writing nasty messages to people who are already home - has been described soon after as "cathartic." Whereas everything I used to do - go to classes, take part in the program, get accosted at the Art Center, laundry, bargain (read: haggle) for everything - well, "blew."

Except dinner last night. Dinner last night blew. Boiled yams. Boiled plantains. Fish & eggplant sauce. Fried fish. Waiche.

Buying and eating chocolate chip cookies afterwards? So cathartic.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

T Minus 2 Days

I know that some of my audience (my doesn't that sound extensive!) doesn't really go for the potty-talk, but that part of the audience can just sack up and keep reading 'cause I ain't got shit to talk about except going home in two days. (!!!!!)

So, I seem to have developed manic-depressive bowels. I think perhaps my body is physically rejecting the fact that it is still here. I have severe 'rhea for several days (we're talking double digit trips to the john per day) and then nothing. Absolutely. Fucking. Nothing. For days or weeks at a time. My stomach was actually distended this morning when I woke up. But, have no fear: two serious (and solid)trips later and I think things may be on the fast track to regular.

I think my tummy is as pumped about going home as I am.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

T Minus 3 Days

J left last night (thank god!), I took my last final yesterday (high five!), I finally got paid back the 160,000cedis my housemate owed me ('bout time!) and I have my last class at the refugee camp today (kinda bittersweet, not gonna lie), my positive attitude has gone out the window except for one thing... I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED TO GO HOME!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

T Minus 4 Days And www.horse-lover-gift-ideas-central.com SUCKS!

The website, http://www.horse-lover-gift-ideas-central.com, SUCKS. Never go to it. Never support anything or anyone who supports it.

They have hired some shit PR company to drum up some business for them and all the lazy sonofabitch does is leave the same fucking comment on blogs that have absolutely nothing to do with horses, gift ideas, creativity or anything else that reeks of schmaltz and conservativism. He doesn't even manage to substitute the correct word for KEYWORD in his standard comment rubric.

Fuck off horse lover gift ideas central and the shitty PR company you hired to be your lazy henchman. At the very least, fire the sonofabitch.

And everyone else, feel free to write nasty things to the website and anyone you find associated with it (i.e. on their website if possible, or on any other blogs they maintain).

It turns out god only wants me to be optimistic for a couple days at a time 'cause as of yesterday afternoon, he has been shitting on me pretty consistently (even if in small, insignificant doses) and he turned my mood sour.

Or I'm just a fucking crankpot who is ready to go home. Either one.

Monday, December 12, 2005

T Minus 5 Days

I took a class this semester called Community Psychology - actually, considering the final is in two hours, technically I am taking this class. I had high hopes for this class and how people's interactions can change the situations in their communities. We touched on this but mostly just talked about very basic ideas.

And teen pregnancy. Apparently that's a big deal in the community psychology world.

In studying (high five!) for the final, I came across a gem of a section from a handout my professor authored and provided. The two sentences sum up, quite succinctly (I must give her credit), why I am glad I am studying politics and not community psychology:

"Most of the real issues underlying social problems are economic and political in nature and not all that psychological. Hence, policy solution might well be the most appropriate way for achieving change."

Translation: "This class is a waste of time because, if you really want to change something or make a difference in a community's quality of life (as is the professed purpose of studying community psychology), you should be studying politics or economics."

If I had discovered this last week (or two weeks ago when it was an assigned reading) I would have been very upset. I would have been angry and ranting and raving about how ineffectual this semester and this country has been, what a waste of time the class is, how redundant and basic our lectures are, how I hate the food, about the heat and humidity, about the disorganized public transportation system, fuckin' Ghanaians, the ludicrously slow pace at which everyone and everything moves, the traffic etc.

But, I read it this week, a week in which Ghana has re-endeared itself to me and I am chuckling to myself about how quaint this country is. And, I'm pumped that, believe it or not, I'll leave with a positive taste in my mouth instead of a bad, fishy taste. I might even miss it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

New Trick... Old Dog?

I seem to have learned a new trick, the question is, do I consider myself an old dog? I think not.

My new trick? Not gonna lie, it's pretty bomb. I totally mastered positivity today. Which means that, instead of showcasing my sarcasm and nasty humor, I'll be showcasing optimism. We're not sure if it's my color yet, but, like I always say, it's good to try new things... More importantly, we're not sure my hordes of adoring fans are going to like this positive vibe, and I don't want to disappoint my loyal readers.

I woke up early, like I normally do here (insert nasty comment about me only doing that here because it's hot - and then delete the nasty comment because we're about being positive today!), and set out to the market with J. At the market, we were not harassed and the ladies who helped us were actually helpful and not pushy. I bought Christmas gifts for loved ones at home - lifting a huge weight off of the next several days - and even a li'l som' for myself. Then we had a really nice cab driver who didn't try to rip us off and when he spoke I could actually understand him and he said nice things about J and I. Then we stopped at another little shopping booth and had another nice lady help us. A good falafel and a rockin' chocolate croissant later, and I am golden (and I don't just mean my tan...).

J and I can be what some (really old people) might call "negative ninnies", however, the two of us today, without prompting from one of the positive people on the program, decided to turn our frowns upside-down. Instead of saying "hot" when someone asked us how we're doing, J decided that we should develop pseudonym for "hot" that had a more positive connotation. In this instance, J did a bit better than me, her positive word for "hot" is: "fabulous". Mine is: "fuck you."

So, everything is on the upswing (good van morrison song, p.s.) and I am actually looking forward to the next week (except my finals, let's not abandon realism in favor of positivity), and even entertaining the possibility of being sad to leave. - Thanks Ghana!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Another Busy, Busy Day

I took a final yesterday, it was mindnumbingly easy. It was an essay exam and the only thing I had to think about was in what order to place my regurgitation of class notes. I'm not tooting my own horn, I'm pointing out how easy the exam was.

And now I have two more wastes of time next week to look forward to.

After the final I went and had a decent burger. This morning all I have done is peruse the Sarabeth's website like it were free porn (not the kiddie type, though, that can get you in serious trouble). Except, it's like watching porn with your hands tied behind your back, because, believe it or not, Ghana doesn't have Sarabeth's.

If anyone has been feeling a bit heathen and wanted to desecrate something, I can recommend some bomb spirituals, particularly, "Rocka My Soul In The Bosom Of Abraham" by Alvin Ailey American Dance and "Oh Happy Day" by Mahalia Jackson.

I am wasting time until we head out to the Liberian refugee camp to teach for an hour and a half. The whole excursion takes 7 hours, at least. The class itself takes an hour and a half. But, the last time we taught, the students actually talked amongst each other and asked us questions and answered our questions with their own ideas, not just reading back to us from what we said the class before or the reading we gave them. I don't think I'm going to be nominated for World's Best Teacher, but I think it is turning out to be reasonably interesting. Even if our time together (only 5 classes total) is too short to be really meaningful and in depth. But, now that it is set up a bit, hopefully someone from my program can continue it next semester when I will be freezing (and NOT complaining about it) in New York Fucking City after spending the holidays in Beautiful Colorado.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

In Other News

Ghana is hot.

I took another final - 2 down, 3 to go. It sucked. It wasn't even hard so much as frustrating - for a change of pace in this country, where nothing ever frustrates me. Ever.

The class was called "Theories of Underdevelopment" and one of the questions on our final was "Assess the influence of Underdevelopment Theory on Claude Ake."

Like an idiot, I had studied the theorist's influence on the theory. Obviously, I should have studied how the theory affected the man because the class was called "Biographical Histories of Underdevelopment Theorists And How Their Thinking Was Changed By The Theories They Proposed And That You Are Supposed To Be Studying, But Don't Worry We Won't Discuss Any Applications Of The Theories Because, Obviously, That Is Not The Point of A Politics Course." Not.

p.s. Does anyone know how to get strikethrough to work on blogger? Let me know. Thanks.

An "Apple" Muffin

This morning I ate an "Apple" Muffin from a bakery in Accra.

It was a whole-wheat muffin with raisins.

What. The. Fuck.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

In Which I Consider Asking For A Substitution

In the battle of attrition that is this last few weeks in Ghana, we're about tied.

My team is a bit short-sided (Ghana: 21,029,853 - Visitors:30, and some of those 30 are just bench warmers). We have lost a few players (best of luck to you two ladies at home, hope all is well) and others are starting to drop like flies. One tonight. Two on Thursday. Two on Sunday. And several scattered throughout next week. However, my team is losing its MVP sooner than expected, J's parents agreed to pay for her ticket change and she peaces next Tuesday - abandoning me 4 days early. I may never forgive her and her parents. They definitely shouldn't bother coming to tryouts next year: we don't take quitters.

But, despite being serious men-down, my mood has been toxic enough to waft bad vibes all over the country in the last few weeks. Not to mention the nasty reviews I have posted about this god-forsaken city, here and elsewhere. (Though, in the spirit of honesty, It is the city of Accra that I dislike more than anything, I enjoy the country once I leave the capital).

I'm a stubborn somonabitch and they couldn't kick me out before December 17. Though, I probably wouldn't make it into overtime.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Gah!

Damn You internet connection! Damn You! Here I am trying to write my paper and instead you're downloading Eddie Izzard to my computer and laughing at his jokes while I stare at my blinking cursor.

Not Quite As Exciting As It Sounds

The exam on thursday went fine. It was early, I was cranky. I wrote three essays in 2 1/2 hours. The 'bruns took our final on the balcony of the Great Hall and all of the Ghanaians took theirs down below. Needless to say, it was a very, very wierd dynamic.

The human rights workshop at the Liberian refugee camp was cancelled because of a Ghanaian holiday. So I went shopping for Christmas gifts. It was nice because we found a little spot in the market where the women were actively nice to us and gave us good prices. I got some little things and, more importantly, managed to decide what I was going to buy for most people - even if I didn't make the purchase, at least I know what I am going to buy instead of wandering around the market in the hot sun looking for inspiration.

I went on the group trip to Wli Falls - tallest falls in Ghana, 60meters (do your own conversion), lots of fruit bats, good swimming and good fun, beautiful. Starting from me waking up at ten minutes to 6am pretty much everything about the trip except the falls irritated me - not least of which was the fact that we didn't leave until after 7:30am, so, um, why did you tell me we were leaving at 6? It was a lot of fun and worth the irritation, but they couldn't pay me to go on another group trip.

I ate a burger on Sunday - it's amazing how much a decent burger in a foreign country can cheer one up and make the outlook for the week that much brighter. Though, burgers do that for me in the states, so I guess it's not really all that surprising.

Finals are actually in full swing and that kinda puts a damper on any potential enjoyment.

The first girl is leaving tomorrow. She deserves it more than anyone, she has been mugged and dragged down the street by a car and it appears someone in our program has stolen her computer - regardless, her computer was stolen. I'm jealous but actually really, really happy for her, which is easy because this is the happiest she has been in weeks.

And so it begins, the numbers start dwindling, people starat packing and collecting the items people have borrowed or stolen from them, debts are collected, and, as we finish our respective exams, we start making the final turns toward the home stretch. And, hopefully, the home stretch to three days of me on a beach before flying home to lovely, cold weather, snow, mountains, family, food with flavor, sweatshirts and the Country Cafe in Kittredge.

(picture of the falls to come, but my camera battery died in the middle of uploading. awesome!)