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I HATE medical

So, I've already been medically cleared, and Dean has already been medically cleared. You would think this would be something to jump for joy at, except that we were cleared with an accomodation that limits us to 17 countries, 10 because Dean doesn't have enough Spanish.

The best part and the reason behind this "accomodation?" A phantom peanut allergy! Dean wrote on the form that he was mildly allergic to pecans and walnuts. The screening assistant must have misread it and put down peanuts. How do you make a mistake like that?? Now, to fix a mistake that they made, Dean has to go to an allergist. The screening nurse will not look at the original form! I am so angry right now I could kick their a**. Better yet? She told Dean that he needs to fax the allergist's form to the office. Now she's saying that we need a letter of interpretation. All because some schmuck mistook pecans for peanuts. I'm so angry I could spit.

The Master Butchers Singing Club

I took a detour from the road more often travelled and veered away from the travelogues on my last visit to Borders. I agonized over which book to pick, wanting the fluidity of modern prose, but a craft seldom seen in books today (I'm talking about you, Candace Bushnell). I'd almost settled on the Kiterunner, but felt like I wanted something more than a fictional travelogue, a discussion of feeling a foreignor in one's native land. On a table and clearly out of place, because I'd managed to find it nowhere else, sat this book with a title that seemed awkward. I had no interest in reading about a book, much less a singing group. Music has never moved me the way that it seems to move others and singing has always in my mind been intertwined with a wholesome religiosity that isn't wholesome at all. But the picture on the cover stopped me. It made me weigh the other books I had in my hand, consider what my expectations really were. On the cover of this book sits the portrait of a woman's profile, very much like the only clear image that I have ever seen of my Grandmother's face. A copy, enlarged and enhanced by a computer, rests under a magnet on my mother's refridgerator. I suppose most people would place something like that elsewhere, in a room seldom used or a corner always cast in shadow, tucked away in a frame and covered in glass--more a curious antique than a snapshot of dear ones. But that's not my mother. She does not need to retreat to a small corner to grieve and remember in a moment of embarassing weakness, loss is not something she tries to hide. The dead are not there to be reburied everyday by memories forced down in repeated encounters of polite conversation.

The woman's profile, although not resembling my grandmother's in a significant way, still struck me as German to the core. Reading the back of the book only increased my excitement, as this book was not about men, singing, or comraderie. Instead, it was a story that built upon one man's decision to immigrate to the United States with nothing more than the tools of his trade and a suitcase full of sausage. This man, although the story begins with him, does not remain there long. instead, it moves between families in the small town he settles after running out of sausages. It focuses on his wife, Eva, who so reminded me of my own mother that I wept bitter tears as I read of her death over pages and pages of agony dimmed only by morphine. It focuses on Eva's closest friend, a vaudeville performer who assumes Eva's life as she slowly slips from it. There are mysteries and dark secrets in this town trapped on the bitter cold plains of North Dakota. Unrequited love and untimely death. There are tragedies too. A town that grows and then grinds to a halt in the misery of the Great Depression. Personal loss and a search for meaning in the midst of so much pain.

I loved the book so much that after laying my hands on it only twenty four hours ago, I've finished it. It's by no means a book that will fill you with happiness at the thought of being placed on this earth to live. It reminds the reader more often than is comfortable and safe for the modern American that death is inevitable and always around the corner. But this exists so that in those moments of death and deprivation, life is never taken for granted. In the back of a butcher shop when men sing to ward off the sounds of death, it is light and life that matter most.

World Cup Excitement

Today marks the first day of the World Cup, and the games today were pretty fantastic. I’m pretty psyched that Ecuador looked so good against Poland, but then maybe Poland underestimated the match. Germany did okay against Costa Rica, but their defense looks pretty damn pathetic. We shall see.
I’ve come up with a solution that I believe might work in terms of the lap-top during Peace Corps. I'm getting theft insurance on it and if it's stolen then it's stolen and I'll buy a new one when I get back to the US. I’ll continue to update this on my computer, but considering that it takes an incredible amount of bandwidth to update the website, I think I’ll really only be able to put it online once or possibly twice a year. We’ll see about the availability of wi-fi or broadband where I end up. If it’s Eastern Europe this website is pretty much guaranteed to get a good workout. If it’s Africa... we’ll just have to wait and see. I have no doubt that I’ll be able to run my computer at least once a week or so, but internet is still very questionable. I do know that they have internet cafes, and most computers have a USB port. So, what I can do is type up my entries, save them in a file type recognizable by almost every computer on a jumpdrive and start sort of a yahoo group email list. Of course, there is always old fashioned snail mail as well. Something tells me that having a letter physically in my hand will be worth so much more than an email that I can really only get to when I’m on my computer. I just hope that most of you have good handwriting!

Ooops, this is in regard to the other blog that I made a little harder to find. If any of you want to know where it is, email me at miriam dot rush at gmail dot com.

Shamelessly copied from Dean's journal

Our placement officer just called, and she said that our medical clearance restricted us from going to any of the countries in Central Asia, but that Eastern Europe was still open to us. The problem there is that couples have to get some sort of pre-approval, so it's a bit difficult, since we're not the most highly-qualified couple out there. However, she did say that if we were willing to try Eastern Africa, it may be easier to place us, and that I would be qualified to teach math there!

I'm pretty darn excited about this, because my main preference would be for a program that I can use my math or economics in, rather than a region. Granted, I'd really rather not teach math in Kiribati, but Eastern Africa is pretty good, Tanzania and Kenya are cool places to go. Best of all, she said she'd be able to get back to us in a week and a half to two weeks! Woo!

I'm struggling to contain my glee, because I wanted to go to Eastern Africa from the start.

I should write more

I'm really rather disappointed in mysef. I told myself that without the distraction of school, deadlines, and papers about the long-dead that I would write more and more often. I promised myself that I would read more. But instead, I have been sitting here vegetating in front of the tv for the better part of a month. Don't get me wrong, I'm still out and doing things.

I went to Shakespeare in the park, which was amazing and at times magical. The four mile walk along a busy road to get there and the nausea inducing cramps on the exciting return journey were far from magical. Well, maybe our dirty hobbit feet were magical, but I just thought they were gross. We managed to catch the last metro train to Vienna that night after wandering through increasingly bad neighborhoods with no firm idea for where the metro stop in fact was. I give my thanks to the asian clerk that had the courage to sell me ib profin and water at 11:30 at night as he hid behind his bullet-proof wall. I also give my thanks to the surly station employee that held the train for us. I suppose I should also give thanks to the motorists driving along Rock Creek park, who, despite honking at us as we crossed the street in a "desperate" attempt to get to the other side, slowed down to the point that the only thing we were choking on was their dust. Revelations for the day ran along the lines of, "why does Rock Creek Park have no side walks? It's a damn park!" "Gee, I hope they let me cross," "Are we going the right way?" "I'm never leaving without Ib Profin in my purse again," "I'm taking the damn bus home," and last but not least, "Does the metro really close at midnight? Sonofabitch, it does." A day that will forever reign in infamy despite the day's free attraction.

The very next day we actually wound up going to a Crew-United game where I nursed my poor hobbit feet with 6 dollar beers. The game was entertaining and our bold decision to buy seats far to one side worked out well, as five of the goals in that fiasco for the crew were scored on our side. I've been informed that I was sitting in "el norte" territory, but I assure everyone that neither I or Dean was in any mortal danger. Of course, their team did win by an unusually large margin.

I suppose I can feel a bit better about myself as I've managed to write about a page of fairly amusing commentary and convince myself that my laze is not for naught. I am not rotting in a pool of leaking iq, merely taking a hiatus from most things in print and about long-dead people. Nevertheless, I will make the effort to keep the tv off tomorrow at least until I've sweated myself through at least 10 repeats of Mai Ai Hee and Hips don't lie, read more about Young Ma, and figured out what the next day's german tutoring session with Kilmartin will include.

So Cool. So utterly cool.

A group of atheists at the University of Texas at San Antonio is putting a novel twist on the toys-for-guns programs run by many urban police departments. But instead of toys, they are handing out porn in exchange for bibles.

“We consider the bible to be a very negative force in the history of the world,” student Ryan Walker said. Walker is part of a student group that calls itself the Atheist Agenda.

Club members this week posted fliers promoting what they call the “Smut for Smut” campaign then set up a table in the student union to collect religious materials and pass out adult magazines such as Black Label and Playboy.

I'm glad they're not using "amateur" or "hardcore" porn that could flame the ire of feminist groups on the campus. Totally neat. I wish I'd thought of it.

hi, does this work?

Wow, this is kind of cool. I can post to my livejournal account while surfing the internet at other pages. I don't even need journler really, although journler is incredibly useful because it allows me to access my posts in the same way that I would on livejournal, minus the internet requirement. That means a lot to me, particularly because in the future the internet may be something I get rarely, so I can write all my posts in journler and then blog them all on the same day to livejournal. It's actually really neat, there's a button in the program that will just let me send the post without even opening a browser.

Anyway, what's really neat about this little firefox add-on called "Performancing" is that I can just click and drag text and I believe pictures into my post. Very cool. And it works with a Mac, what more could I want? So, now I'm going to play a little bit and see what this can do, and whether the "experimental support for livejournal" will support the posting of pictures. Oops, it seems I've run into a bit of snag already, this page doesn't spell check for you, leaving me with the possibility of slightly irking typos.

Oh cool! If I like something, but don't have anything to say about it at the moment or if I write something and find that it's not quite up to posting standard (with what I write, that will never happen.... a list is worth posting, so why not a sentence?) I can save it "as a note" and go back to it later.

I'm currently reading Andrew Sullivan's blog. Apparently the Republicans, in the longstanding tradition of waving the bloody shirt, have decided to pick up the issue of a federal marriage amendment once again. It seems like every election cycle, they trot it out for six months and then it dies out on the national level while some states decide to take matters into their own hands and make the lives of people inside their states just that much harder. Christ, in Virginia you're not even guaranteed the right to a joint bank account with someone of the same sex, although former attorney general Jerry Kilgore has promised that that particular portion of the law would never be enforced (can we make his promise law?) Last time I checked, a promise made by a state official no longer in power has no power against written law.

Sullivan has this to say about the bloody shirt in question. He actually phrased it in such a way that it made me smile a bit--sort of funny in a sad way.

One small point about the charade next week. We have had equality in civil marriage for a while now in Massachusetts. It's the only state that allows it; and no other state has been forced to recognize such marriages. Long-standing constitutional and legal precedent, as well as the 1996 "Defense of Marriage Act", prevent that. In contrast, seventeen states have passed amendments to their own constitutions, preventing gay couples from having any legal rights at all. Five more have such amendments on the ballots this fall. By definition, no state court can affect those constitutions. Maybe at some distant point in the future the Supreme Court will rule on this. But the idea that SCOTUS, with Roberts and Alito on high alert, is going to pull a Roe vs Wade on marriage for gay couples is paranoia verging on fantasy.


ok. now to see if the random picture works and off I go to lay on of the couch for eight hours as I bleed to death via my confounded genitalia. Courtesy of ye ole blender in the uterus.

Schtuff of infinite importance

Things we want to do:
Houston
when wart is healed, get it burned off (and the one on the foot too)
Renaissance festival (late August 26-27 or later)
Winery tasting nearby (within 1-2 hours drive)
May 20th June 18th Virginia Renaissance Festival
mammoth cave from Columbus (possibly)
Have Jeanie and Ed visit
go to the LUSH store in Georgetown

May 30th Shakespeare Freeforall (get tickets at the The Shakespeare Theatre, 450 7th Street NW
Tuesdays through Sundays beginning at noon.
1 1/2 blocks north of the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro Station and one block south of the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Station...beginning at 8:30 am)
The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW
Tuesdays through Fridays ONLY beginning at 8:30 a.m.
1 1/2 block north of the McPherson Square Metro Station
Eastern Market On a Saturday or Sunday
Belle and Sebastian July 8th


May 31 Soccer Game

Love's Labor's lost (10 dollars per person if we call in advance and say that we are students first week only)

screen on the green
The Day The Earth Stood Still     July 17
The Band Wagon     July 24
Bullitt     July 31
To Have and Have Not     Aug. 7
Rocky     Aug. 14

Theodore Roosevelt Island
National Arboretum
Work out or be outside for minimum of 4 hours 3 days a week

Things we have to do:
Move and invest money (USAA) (by June 1st or Dean sleeps on couch for 3 weeks)

OMFG

I woke up to 11 emails this morning. One was from Peace Corps saying that my status had changed. I checked it and I now have medical clearance! I checked Dean and he has it too! That means the last thing we have to get squared away is transcripts for placement. I'm SO excited!

An end and a beginning

I'm posting this because I worked on the post for about a week and lost interest in it completely. Here ya go.

School has ended. No sooner than it started three years ago, it's over in a whirlwind. The grades are in and I should be able to pick up my diploma any day now. The results aren't too terrible either, particularly this semester. Overall, I pulled a 3.92-3? and this semester I received only one A-. I'm fairly happy about that considering that at the start of the semester I was budgeting for two B-s and a B. Luckily I made it through without ever getting anything below an A-. Ok, enough with the bragging. This is as much for my own knowledge as for yours, because years from now when my mind is foggy from lack of sleep, I want to be able to click back and see how I managed.

Our placement officer finally got in contact with us. She was impressed with my tutoring experience, but wants me to do more over the summer. Excuse me, I live in Fredericksburg where no opportunities are close on hand. what am I going to do, volunteer at the library? I'm not even sure we have a homeless shelter in the area. Bah humbug. I have more than the minimum "service" requirement and I've excelled in other areas, so what more do they want? The PO said something about being involved in the community here will make it easier for us to be involved in the community abroad, but I don't really buy into that a lot. I was REALLY involved in High School, but that's because most things were right there in the school. In college I was a commuting student and just driving back and forth every day was a drain. Once I'd gone to class, it was really hard to get motivated to go back, regardless of what activities were available on campus. I feel like wherever I end up, it will be expected that I become "involved" in the community in some way. That makes it a heck of a lot easier than attending once a week meetings only to go on one excursion a semester to a soup kitchen etc... But in summation: I am completely unwilling to spend hundreds of dollars in gas this summer to volunteer.

I took the practice GRE today and holy God. I did so much worse than I thought I would, particularly with the verbal. I generally find my vocabulary to be anything but lacking, but apparently grad students run across words like "acme" all the time. Thanks but no thanks. I'm not even sure I see the point of taking them. A lot of schools won't accept them if they're more than two years old. I just can't believe how stupid the damn test is. At this point, can't they trust my professors to be fair judges of whether of not I am capable of moving beyond the undergraduate level? Sheesh, I tell you.

It's almost five in the morning and I have to pee and the cat is getting all riled up. Dean is tossing and turning next to me and for some reason it's just uncomfortably hot underneath the comforter. It's like the mattress is wet and sticky with sweat, which really shouldn't be possible because neither Dean or I have really been sweating. The weather here has been great. Generally a little bit too cloudy, but I'll take seventy degrees over 90 any day.