Monday, March 31, 2008

Pa Gen Pwoblem

An excerpt from my official Haiti guide:
"As neither written nor driving tests are required to qualify for driver's licenses, road laws are not generally known or applied. Signaling imminent actions is not widely practiced, and not all drivers use turn indicators properly. For instance, many drivers use their left blinker for all actions, including turning right and stopping in the road. Others flap their left arm out the window to indicate that they will be taking an unspecified action."

I've been reading through my little Haiti travel guide that work provided me with, and this is about the most uplifting exerpt from it.

When my boss heard where I'd be spending two nights in Haiti, her response was to laugh out loud and then quickly say, "bring a bedroll." Apparently, one doesn't want to so much as touch the sheets.

I went shopping for all my Haiti needs this weekend: dramamine, pepto, immodium, etc. I told Ricot, my writer in Haiti, how many shots and pills I'm going through to come see him. "You'll be fine, my friend," he said. Or, "pa gen pwoblem," as they'd say it in Haitian Creole.

Immodium aside, several of the hotels we'll be staying at look pleasant (for Haiti, that is):
Make sure you dance to the music. This is where we'll be staying and eating most nights.

And here's the beach house where I'll spend one night:
(I see they even have ping-pong here and a giant chess board!)

And then I'll spend two nights on the island La Gonave in the guest house that prompts uncontrollable laughter from my boss and where men reportedly break out in huge bleeding welts from the nights' stay (bugs). Luckily Ephraim, the other Haitian writer, will have a mosquito net for me, and my late grandmother-in-law had the foresight to give me a silk travel sleeping sack for Christmas one year. An odd gift at the time, but much appreciated now.

Will you please pray for us while there? That our rickety plane to La Gonave won't crash, that I won't get malaria, that I won't get kidnapped, that I won't have to eat goat testicles; you know, the usual.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Not a Blonovel

Mike would like to remind me that this is a blog, not a blonovel.

Big Fat Caboose

The chirping birds and conspiring sun wooed Mike and I out into nature today. We drove up to a quiet spot on the Air Force grounds, crossed over the railroad tracks, and began what was supposed to be a nice little walk.

"The trains that roll through the area have been known to hold hikers hostage in the parking area for up to an hour," the guidebook said. "That's funny," I giggled naively in the car.

The walk was lovely. We discussed life and jobs and aspirations. We looped back and found a charming lake, just before our car and stopped for some grapes. We cuddled on the shore, ate grapes, gazed at the water, and got ready to go.

About four trains had passed us on our nice little walk, and we heard the horn of another about to pass us. It chugged by. And by. And by. And got slower. And slower. And slower.

Finally it stopped. Right in front of our parking lot. So we cuddled more waiting for it to move on, theorizing about why it had stopped. Eventually, we got up and walked back to our car, our bodies suddenly feeling the water we'd drank on the walk.

We heard another train coming and said, "Oh, it was just stopping to let this train go by!" The train passed. But our train didn't move its big caboose. (See picture of the offending train above.)

We started walking in the other direction, into the Air Force grounds, the pressure on our bladders now intense. We walked and walked and walked. And the train didn't budge. I pictured us having to live on the stream's edge, squatting Gollum-like next to the water and grabbing fish with our teeth.
The stream water called to my tea-cup bladder, but there were too many runners here to risk it.

Another horn.
I was saved.

Surely our train was just waiting for this train to pass, and then it would be on its merry way. A curmodgeon of an old train rolled on up and went by. And by. And by. And started going slower. And slower. And slower.

It stopped. Right next to our train. Now we were held hostage by not one but two trains. I started to get unreasonable. Maslow's hierarchy of needs doesn't mention a toilet. But it should be Need Number 1. All else becomes insignifant to this all-encompassing need.

We kept walking and walking. Suddenly, a groan. The curmodgeon train was creaking into motion. It nosed a few feet. False start. It gave up. I wanted to cry. I wanted to kick and scream, "Will you stupid thing move your big fat caboose?!" I didn't. We kept walking and walking. I pictured us backpacking our way back to civilization, arriving dirty, crazed, and hungry at the Walmart up the road, pushing women and children out of our way and knocking carts over to get to the restroom. We kept walking, toilet oases glittering in my mind, just sure there must be one just around the bend.

Then the curmodgeon budged again. And again. And again. He had something left in him after all. Mike and I stopped and watched intently, looking like very odd train spectators to the joggers who passed, clueless to our desparate plight. Then our train decided to get off its big old arse as well and started creaking forward. Finally!
Joy rushed into my heart and spluttered through the cavities. I was happy as a jackrabbit. The two trains cleared out.

Then we realized it. We'd walked miles in the other direction, madly hoping to find a magic toilet in the field. Miles now stood between us and our car and our Walmart toilet.

So we started walking and running and walking and running. Running like whipped dogs out of desparation. Walking like bedraggled cats, suddenly feeling the 5 miles we'd already come that day. Perky blonde joggers in short-shorts hopped past us. I wanted to trip them. I didn't.

The story ends well. We made it. After an hour's delay, a 6-mile trek, and a serious sunburn on Mike's delicate Dutch skin, the train moved and we made it to the car and to the Walmart.

And I only knocked over one old lady in Walmart on the way to the toilet.

Featured Blogger

The web site that Mike and I review movies and books for is the featured blogger on!

(Look for Jill Wuellner, the senior editor.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We Joined a Farm!

We just once again joined a CSA farm--community supported agriculture. And look--Susan sent me some chive seeds to thank me. That Susan. She's sweet.

So we pay a one time fee for 26 weeks of fresh produce from a Colorado farm. This ensures the farm a steady income and thus small, local farms can stay in business (we don't get refunded if a swarm of killer locusts eats all their brussel sprouts). It also means fresher, tastier veggies and less gas--they'll travel 100 miles to us instead of 1500. Last year, our CSA was just down the road from us, but it's too sandy down here for agriculture, so we joined Grant Family Farms in Wellington who has a pick-up location in the Springs. Still an improvement!

Our favorite grain-grinding hippies, the Swans, also joined, so we can go to hippy barn-raisings and what not on the farm together.

My Denver fam--they have pick-up locations in Centennial, so even you could join. Then we'd definitely all get our daily serving of veggies. It was such fun last year figuring out what to do with new and foreign peppers and greens.

Even Mike has become quite the produce afficienado. Would you believe that this week he has eaten bok choy, chayote, grey squash, cauliflower, and eggplant? Last week he even made asparagus and cabbage ravioli. Proof that CSAs change lives.
Things I Heretofore Swear Not to Say Upon Procreation

Warning: DINK rant approaching. Read at own risk. (DINK: Double Income No Kids--see photo at right for DINK lifestyle).

Non-procreating women over the age of 25 face many hardships in current society. We daily are confronted with the prevailing sentiment (similar to those old geriatrics-consolement bumper stickers "Life Begins at 60") that actually "life begins at mommy." Those who have experienced the divine blessedness of mommydom have seemingly reached a higher nirvana and us barren women can just not fathom the deep joy and love and beauty of it all.

We must therefore be converted to this elevated state of spiritual blessing, for our own good. Our real lives apparently don’t begin until we’re mommies. So we’re constantly asked, “When are you going to have kids? When are you going to have kids? When are you going to have kids?”

I look forward to the day I get to see little blonde Mikeys running around on my floor. But because of the undue duress said proselytization puts on those of us on the more humble planes of being I heretofore swear not to say the followings things upon procreation:

• Absolutely any phrase beginning or ending with “you just won’t understand until you have your own kids…” followed by dreamy rubbing of my ballooned belly.
(The belly rub, that’s killer…You know what I’m talking about. If I had a baby for everytime I've been reminded I "just won't understand until I'm a mom," I would have reached the 178th level of divine maternity by now.)

• Upon first meeting a couple, asking the man, “So what do you do?” And the woman, “And do you have children?”
(I swear this happened to me. As if these are the key and only items to know about a person. For a man, what’s your profession? (You better hope it’s a good one.) And for a woman, do you have kids? How are us sadly kid-less women to respond?)

• “So work is good? Good…When are you going to start having kids?”
(Urgh…My work life is not just a pause button before my real life begins. My life is valid and interesting and meaningful NOW.)

Only God knows what deep aches such comments provoke. Perhaps the woman has just been diagnosed with a rare tropical disease and advised not to have children. Perhaps she’s so incredibly intelligent, NASA confiscated her baby for “research,” and she is in mourning. Perhaps she’s actually from the planet Zorkon and can’t procreate with Earth men and is having the darnedest time about it.
What an uncomfortable situation to put a girl in, reminding her of old pain and painful spaceship landings.

Mike worried that this post was too virulent, but then he proceeded to send me this post:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Emancipation Song of the Foot

My song for spring, written in honor of my friend S.M., who refuses to be confined by society or black shoes and instead manifests her moxie through socks, this poem is the less virulent spawn of Sylvia Plath’s poem, “Daddy.”

You do not do, you do not do
anymore, black shoe
in which I have hid like a worm.

For thirty years my pale flesh
a forgotten lily.

Now I prevail.
I trounce.
I pound.

In stripes and calicoes and soft argyle bliss.

You cannot contain me.
In the orange sun rays
I’ve found my cotton contentment.

Mark this day:
Delicious Hope
with chants and jigs and love hymns all new.

Black shoe, black shoe, it’s my turn.
You’re through.


Chapter 1, in which the heroine reveals her identity


I just took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test. I love personality tests. Mikey says he could have already told me all the findings of the $19.95 test. But I was surprised.

I'm a relator, ideator, activator, maximizer, and intellector--or as I like to call me, Riami.

Activator-Maximzier. Sounds like a hair product. New Riami activates and maximizes your curl for all-day stay.

Anywho...Apparently Relating--having very close friends--is of utmost importance to me. (Oops, maybe that's why moving is so stupidly hard.) And I love Ideas and coming up with more ideas, but "can easily become bored and discontent." Hmphh.

And I'm an Action-Taker, or as they put it, I "can make things happen by putting thoughts into action...Is often impatient." Who me? Hee hee.

Maximizer means I can make your curls curlier--I "seek to transform the strong into superb." I guess that's why I'm an editor. And, of course, I'm characterized by my immense and intense intellectual activity. (I didn't say what that intellectual activity includes.)

I'm supposed to create an Action Plan for work for StrengthsFinder 2.0, and I'm an Activator, so of course I'll do it. My first actions are: to think more, read more, and write more....which brings me to this blog.