Thursday, December 31, 2009

top albums of the decade.

A few days ago, a few friends and I had an email exchange in which we shared our top 20 albums of the decade. It was one of the most fun exercises I’ve done in awhile: flipping through the ipod to see what it really IS that I’ve been listening to for the past 10 years.

The albums that made the list are ones that I just LOVED, and still love now. 20 is a remarkably small number...there are many more albums that were highly qualified to fall on this list.

20. gnarls barkley – st. elsewhere
19. feist – let it die
18. arcade fire – funeral
17. sufjan stevens – seven swans
16. over the rhine – the trumpet child
15. ryan adams – heartbreaker
14. andrew bird – armchair apocrypha
13. damien rice – o
12. over the rhine – drunkard’s prayer
11. iron and wine – the creek drank the cradle
10. coldplay – a rush of blood to the head
9. glen hansard and marketa irglova – the swell season
8. patty griffin – 1000 kisses
7. bon iver – for emma, forever ago
6. over the rhine – ohio
5. thom yorke – the eraser
4. regina spektor – begin to hope
3. sigur ros – takk...
2. radiohead – kid a
1. radiohead – in rainbows


In other news, I find myself here on the eve of a New Year and I am, unexpectedly, INCREDIBLY EXCITED. Looking forward to what is to come in my life and in community. Excited to keep learning and growing. Hoping that I will continue to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.

(I also turn 28 in a few days, and that IS giving me anxiety. Minor late-twenties crisis. I’m sure I’ll be fine.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009


...written during the trip, but not posted. so I'll post now.

(that means that I'm back! I'll update with more soon.)


Cookies and orange soda…that’s what I had for dinner.

Honestly…I don’t like Indian food that much. >.<>

One thing we have found that we can eat in restaurants, etc is Chinese food. It’s actually pretty common on menus in the cities. So…in the last couple of weeks, I have eaten more chicken fried rice than I probably eat in a year. It’s good, but after this trip I probably won’t be eating it for a long, long time.

On other occasions, people are usually aware of our eating habits ahead of time, so there will be some plain boiled vegetables or “chicken no spice” prepared for us. But, of course, nobody else eats it because they don’t think it tastes like anything.

If all else fails, I eat the trail mix that I brought along. (My travel companion, Ilene, brings enough food with her to last the whole trip. She could probably bring a small suitcase full of food.) I have discovered that my favorite trail mix elements (I mix it myself from the bulk bins at Wild Oats) are ALMONDS (I could probably survive solely on them), craisins, and M&Ms (the Wild Oats version). I could probably live without the soy nuts. Um…you probably don’t care about my favorite trail mix items…

One thing I do love when I’m in India is FRUIT. It is so fresh and sweet! I’ve read that you are only supposed to eat fruits that can be peeled, so I eat a lot of plantains (tiny bananas) and oranges. Last night I ate an orange that had green skin…and greenish flesh…but it wasn’t as good as the regular oranges (which are EXCELLENT).

Okay, so…that was a blog post about food. We had a good day today, but I can’t imagine that anyone wants to hear about our all-day staff meeting…

Coming home soon!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

so sleepy.

I wrote this earlier today when I had a few minutes...

I have been terrible at updating during this trip, which is too bad, because we’ve pretty much had an internet connection the whole time. Why have I been such a bad updater? Well…

…This has been a very different trip for us. Usually, if we are doing an organizational audit or normal project visit, we have a lot of activities: visiting multiple “subprojects” in one day, going out to villages, visiting sponsored families, etc…lots of moving.

For THIS trip, we have just been in cities, working primarily at our “project” (main) offices, training our new staff members and working through issues. Lots of inside time. We had thought that it would make this trip somewhat easier: not having to stay in a new place each night, being “in touch” (our cell phones and internet cards always work in the cities) most of the time, not as much traveling around…

…but it seems like it’s harder. Doing all of this training and office work has been EXHAUSTING. The other night, we got back to our room and slept from 6:30 to 11:30pm…I woke up and worked for a couple of hours because I had things to do, but slept again from 2 to 7:30 am with no problems. Yawn.

Anway…today we’re in Bangalore. The weather here is BEAUTIFUL. After many days of hot hot in Delhi and Chennai, we arrived here on the train this morning (early, about 4:30am), and it was kind of chilly! But now that the sun has come up, it is beautiful. We had a great and productive meeting this morning, and now we’re preparing to drive to the airport to head to Palay. We also had a couple of nice days in Chennai…some really productive work with our new staff, and a visit with some old friends. I like Chennai.

This trip has also seemed long. Fortunately, I feel like I have settled in so the length doesn’t feel as emotionally oppressive anymore J, but it feels like we have been traveling for much longer than 10 days. Whew. We’re on the downhill slope now, though. It’s funny…by the end of a trip, I feel both eager to get home AND frustrated that I can’t stay longer. Oh well.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

naps at 6pm what I do when I'm traveling. Or so it seems for this trip.

Jet lag is so weird. My body just pretty much refuses to sleep at night. Once I do finally fall asleep, it's a very light and fitful sleep, and I way up ridiculously early. Then, I work all day, we come back to our hotel, and...take naps. and then get up. and then try to go back to sleep at "night."

So today was officially day 5 of this trip (though the first two days were taken up traveling to get I said before, India is FAR AWAY). We're still in Delhi, and have been working at our office here to train our new staff. We got a lot done over the last couple of days, so I think that we will have the opportunity tomorrow to visit a village where we have sponsored families. It will be so nice to be out in the community instead of cramped in an office (or hotel room)! Tomorrow we will fly to Chennai, where we will spend a few days training our staff there. It will be nice to be back in Chennai...I haven't been since last spring.

For those of you wondering, I have been feeling GREAT (aside from the nausea that I have come to expect from my malaria medication) (knock on wood). I thank you for all of the prayers and good thoughts and positive vibrations. They are very much appreciated. :)

I am finally starting to feel a little more culture-settled. It seems that I always feel a little (or a lot) culture-shocked when I arrive in India, and get homesick, but it always gets better. And I think I'm on that up-side now. But I can't promise that I won't send emo texts at times. :)

Anyway, I am missing you all, and am looking forward to coming home, but am having a nice time. Peace...

Monday, September 28, 2009

delhi delhi delhi delhi

We arrived in Delhi! About 24 hours after we left KC. India is FAR AWAY.

Don't have a lot of time to write right now, because it's 2:18am right now and I have a conference tomorrow morning. Just wanted to let you know that we arrived safely...stricken with plane-head and dry skin and puffy ankles...but otherwise healthy and happy!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


...I'm going to India, again, leaving in 4 days. Will be gone for 16.

There's a lot to do before I leave, and I don't exactly know when it will all get done, but if I have to forgo sleep for a couple of nights...I have a 23-hour journey to catch up on sleep. (and be subsequently jet-lagged).

It will be fun, friends! I do hope that you, my many readers (ha!), keep in touch while I'm gone. Feeling connected to home while I'm so far away from home helps me to feel more at home in my home-away-from-home. We will be in cities most of the time, and will probably have access to internet the whole time, so I will try to be good with updates. :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

"OMFG! Obama wants to rape our children... why else would he encourage them to stay in school? You know who else wanted kids to stay in school? Judas Iscariot. That's right. Obama killed our lord and savior. It's all right there in the secret documentation he sent out to your kids." -Jayson V


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh My Goodness has revealed the universal wishlist. This is going to revolutionize my world. Imagine all of the Etsy things I can keep track of...!

happy earth-day.

"The question that must be addressed, therefore, is not how to care for the planet, but how to care for each of the planet's millions of human and natural neighborhoods, each of its millions of small pieces and parcels of land, each one of which is in some precious way different from all the others. Our understandable wish to preserve the planet must somehow be reduced to the scale of our competence-- that is, to the wish to preserve all of its humble households and neighborhoods."

-Wendell Berry in Word and Flesh

thanks to Andrew for sharing

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy and sick." -John Steinbeck

Monday, April 13, 2009

Still, by A.R. Ammons

I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I'll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:

but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is

magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:

I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowlyin the universe:

I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:

at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

“You cannot be friends upon any other terms than upon the terms of equality.”

Woodrow Wilson

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

sooo...since it's been forever since I've written a proper post...

I guess I should write an update. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure that the few who read this blog for actual travel updates have already been in touch through mobile (luckyyyy), but for the rest of you who are out there and aren't one of the like 3 people I've called, THIS IS FOR YOU. *blows kiss*

so, basically, I'll try to give the brief stream-of-consciousness version of my last several days, because I don't really have the energy for much more. (I was coming up with all sorts of witty blog posts in the hospital this morning, but that was this morning.)

Soooo...I can't even remember the last time I posted. I think it might have been in Bihar? It was. And I just posted about my huge lip in Dumka. Okayyy...

...bullet points might be easier. I love bullet points. (but not bullets)
  • After a few busy yet fruitful days in Dumka, we visited one of our Dumka subprojects, and then took an overnight train to Kolkata (Calcutta). On this evening, I got an EXCRUCIATING headache, one of the nausea-inducing kind. The train ride wasn't great (I can't say that I've ever had a GREAT time on an overnight train in India), but wasn't terrible, thanks to Excedrin Migraine and the ever-trusty ipod with the audio books on it.
  • We arrived in Kolkata, found a taxi, drove to the airport, got on the airplane, SAT on the airplane for what seemed like forever, and then actually FLEW on the airplane to Hyderabad.
  • Arrived in Hyderabad, tried to rest for a bit (which was probably necessary, seeing as how I had only slept on the train from about 12:30am to 4:30am prior to our 5:00am arrival), showered, and then went to a gathering of mothers group leaders.
  • During the gathering (which was very nice, the moms are amazing, the community center that they have now is amazing, it is amazing what these women are doing for their families. just give women a chance!), I started to feel preeetttyyyy sick. I had been feeling a little woozy since the uber-migraine from the night before, but by this point I could tell I was actually sick sick. I was asked to say a few words after Ilene gave one of her inspiring talks, but had to say my words from my chair because I thought I might fall over if I got up.
  • I did have to get up eventually, and almost passed out, and was feeling really bad, and had to be taken to lie down. Our Hyderabad coordinator asked if I wanted to see a doctor, and I knew that I needed to. (Malaria is a particular threat in some of the areas we had been traveling in, so I knew that I should "immediately seek medical attention," but I also just felt really, really crappy.)
  • So, we went to a hospital.

And...that's where I was for the past few days. It sucked. At one point, I thought I was going to die, and was prepared to...mind you, this was at my absolute worst point, in the middle of the night, when I super feverish and delirious and dizzy. The nurses were applying cold compresses all over my body to bring down the fever, and my bedside companion-cum-coworker Rosie looked so worried that I thought, "okay, this might be really bad, I might die, I don't really want to, but I think I'm ready."

Of course, I didn't die (see previous post re: hypochondriasis), but those few days sucked. Once I felt better, I was just so BORED and SO tired of being there, but it was supposedly important that I stay hooked up to that daggum IV (which, in hindsight, WAS important). I

  • completely exhausted the magazines that I had brought for the whole trip (I had spent a lot of time finding the Perfect Three, ones that weren't as shallow as Us Weekly but still light enough to keep me entertained [if not stimulated] during the journey),
  • finished my book club book (Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, delicious and terribly melancholy),
  • finished my audio version of The Sisterhood (not deliciously melancholy, but light and fun enough),
  • started my audio version of David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (I bet this would be more fun to read than to listen to),
  • tried to knit: this went very badly. Please keep in mind that I had an IV stuck in my hand. I ended up dropping a stitch, which caused me to unravel the whole thing (I wasn't that far into the project anyway). I started again, but then realized that my IV hand was starting to swell...>.<>

In the end, I ended up NOT having malaria (which is very good), but instead a stomach infection (which is not BAD but sure wasn't FUN). Today, after three nights, I was finally released. FINALLY. I can't believe I ended up staying for so long.

Right now my coworkers are shopping, (buying me shirts!), and I am just lying here, trying to get back in touch with the electronic world. I hope this post doesn't sound like a sob story. I just had to spit my last few sucky days out onto the internet so I don't have to think about them anymore.

In Much More Exciting News, we fly back to the U.S. TOMORROW! I am beyond ready. I know that I will experience culture shock (I'm already feeling it today just peeking in on facebook...), but I really miss home. I've been missing home. It's been a really GOOD trip, and I have really learned SO MUCH (maybe someday I will blog about THOSE things instead of my self-indulgent me-posts), and am really glad I came. But, tomorrow, we get to start heading toward my homeland, and I am sincerely looking forward to it.

see you on the flip side...literally...of the world...

I wrote this pretty much forever ago...

Here is the funny story for the day*: So I woke up unreasonably early this morning, as usual (about 5am). I plugged myself into my ipod to listen to a little more audiobook and try to lull myself back to sleep. Once it was about time to actually get up, I felt this little pain on my lower lip. A couple of minutes later, I touched my lip, and realized that it was swelling up. Huh. A couple MORE minutes later, I felt it again, and realized that it was getting even bigger. I freaked out a little bit, went into the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror, and freaked out some more, because I was starting to LOOK freaky.

I had been lying under my mosquito net when it happened, so I was convinced that something terrible and poisonous had attacked me, and that either my lip was going to continue to get bigger, like as big as my face, or that I was going to go into convulsions and die soon.

I made the frantic and tearful phone calls to my dear ones in the States, and then went next door to my coworker’s room to show her what was happening to my face. They all soothed me and told me that it was very unlikely that I was going to die, that the swelling would go down with a little Benadryl, and that if I started to have any adverse reaction I could go see a doctor. No biggie. (Ilene even told me that I looked cute, kind of like a botoxed movie star.)

Obviously, there was no adverse reaction. The bump on my lip, however, DID end up taking over most of the lip. I had to go meet with a bunch of people that I don’t know very well (one or two for even the first time), pretending like it was no big deal that I suddenly had this HUGE LIP, and tried not to spill coffee all over myself when I found that the bump got in the way of the coffee actually going into my mouth.

Now, this evening, my lip is practically back to normal. And I’m feeling a lot less freaked out. (Thanks, dear ones!)

It is kind of funny how sensitive I am to things like that when I travel. In the US my hypochondriasis is much less acute, but when I’m here, the smallest little symptom makes me so nervous. With my one experience with medical care in India, plus the fact that lack of proper medical care is a huge concern in these rural areas that we are visiting, I get these visions of being sick and stranded and helpless. But I’m not sick, nor am I stranded, nor am I helpless. I think I might be kind of a weenie.

In other bite-related news, I am learning to exercise self-control and to NOT scratch my zillion mosquito bites, even though they are very very itchy…right now…self control…

* funny to me now, at least

Sunday, March 15, 2009

thoughts from underneath the mosquito net

the thing...that makes it so blog...while I'm in that I'm so...tired.

I realize that it's only 7:30pm, but whew. I could fall asleep right now. In fact, I WOULD fall asleep right now, but we haven't had dinner yet, and even though I'm never quite hungry when I'm here, it's a part of the traveling-together-and-being-congenial-with-our-hosts deal. (which certainly is not bad. I have fantastic traveling companions and hosts, the best in fact.)

While I am roughly sleeping while it's dark and staying awake when it's light, my sleeping schedule is pretty wack, what with the jet lag and doses of benadryl that I've been taking to make my legs not turn into huge mosquito-bite-lumps. Last night I fell into a drug-induced sleep at about 9pm, but woke up at about 2:30am and had to listen to my sisterhood of the traveling pants in little bursts until I got up at about 5:45am.

Anyway, none of this is interesting. I'm in India. Things that ARE interesting:

  • I went to mass this morning. It was all in Hindi, but it was a seriously soul-refreshing time for me (particularly after the fitful pseudo-sleep that had preceded it). According to my rough calculations the congregation was 77.777777% women. Interesting. They WERE celebrating International Women's Day (hurrah!), but still...?
  • We got to meet with sponsored families today. This is always nice, particularly when we get to visit people's homes. It is just good to BE in the community...this is why we do what we do. Certainly, we have to spend some time in offices and in meetings and coordinating things to make sure our programs work the right way. But being in the community is always the best.
  • I've been pretty discouraged over the past few days because there has been so much talk (and can see it) about corruption in India. It's so ingrained in the culture, and it's so toxic. But today, I saw mothers getting excited about meeting together, taking loans to start livelihood projects, and making changes in their community...and it got me excited. It was really inspiring.
  • (I also have the privilege of working with some inspiring people.)
Okay, I think that's all. I'm sorry that my India blogs are so stream-of-consciousness...someday I really will get better about thinking things over and planning and crafting blog posts, but today is not that day.


Friday, March 13, 2009

in the airport!

I feel like my friends who frequently travel and blog from the airport. fun.

sooo...I'm still in Delhi, but we're getting ready to fly to the state of Bihar to spend some time at one of our projects there. I'm feeling pretty nauseated from the drive to the airport...stop/go crazy traffic and exhaust fumes. ugh. I'm looking forward to going to Bihar, though...a beautiful part of the country!

We spent most of yesterday doing interviews...unfortunately, I got super jet-lag-tired about 3 pm. Once we got back to the hotel at about 7:30pm, my coworker and I collapsed on the bed and fell asleep immediately. I woke up at about 10 or 10:30 to change and send a couple of texts, and then slept again until 6:30 this morning! magical!

anyway. Things are going fine, India is fine. I'm looking forward to this day of travel (we'll be on a train for a few hours this afternoon/evening) to hopefully read a little, listen to my audiobooks, maybe even knit! and of course nap. :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

in india!

We arrived safely!

Got into Delhi last night...I had slept for most of the 15-hour flight. (seriously.) And then...fell asleep promptly at 11-ish pm. And then...woke up at 5 a.m. And I've been awake since then.

I took the necessary preparations prior to this trip to be more easily "in touch," so I have a cell phone that works AND an internet connection that I will be able to use for most of my trip...this makes a HUGE difference in my homesickness levels.

It's kind of nice to be back. We have a very busy and full trip! I am looking forward to going back to Jharkand and Bihar, and to knitting on the train, and visiting sponsored families...should be good.

I miss y'all...keep in touch...

Friday, March 6, 2009


I feel GOOD.

* this weather is absolutely unbelievable...I have never enjoyed being outside more in my ENTIRE LIFE.

* I'm leaving for India in 4 days, and I feel remarkably less stressed than I ever have before a trip. As far as work goes, I feel like I'm...ready?

* I have incorporated a Lenten practice into my...practice of Lent, and it has been really good. As Nate said last night, we just need a "restart" sometimes.

* I have also taken up the practice of looking at really beautiful blogs each day. beautiful images, inspiring design. it just puts me in a good frame of mind.


...I'll try to blog more while I'm in India.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

love it

"People who don't read piss me off." -david wayne reed

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I would just like to announce...

...that this evening I bought:

1 candle
1 piece of cool fabric
1 lace tablecloth
3 glasses
5 spoons
1 gilded serving bowl
3 (nice) scarves (one brand new), and
1 pair of shoes

...for just over $12.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

january 20

:) today is a good day!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

domestic disturbances

Over the last couple of years, maybe just year, I have cultivated a love of -silence-. I don't know if it's because I've gained an appreciation for solitude, or because my inner-peace-level is higher, or I'm becoming more of an introvert, or I'm just more COMFORTABLE with silence (I haven't always been)...but these days, one of my greatest pleasures is to be alone in my apartment, piddling around and doing stuff or just lying around...with no noise. Maybe a bird chirping or something, but no music, tv, babies crying...nothing. ahhhhh.

The funny thing is, my upstairs neighbors (who happen to be my landlords, and super-cool ones at that) don't seem to share my love for -silence-. In fact, they tend to play music quite frequently, which is fine (I love music too!), except that...
a) it is LOUD.
b) it tends to have extremely heavy and prominent bass lines. and
c) it appears to come from a location that is directly above my bedroom.

I'm on my bed right now, and I have earplugs in (at 5:45pm), and I can STILL hear the bass of whatever it is they're playing right now. (sometimes I am not so fortunate to have it happen at such a reasonable hour...the reason for the earplugs-purchase was because this was happening between 11pm-1am on weeknights. this girl has to work in the mornings.)

It's funny, too, because the music that they DO play (and, when I am earplug-less, I can hear it quite clearly) is...funny. They are probably just a little younger than my parents, but they listen to things like Beyonce, random R&B, 90's adult alternative...stuff that I wouldn't expect from...them. But what do I know.

Anyway. The reason that I decided to blog about this was because just a bit ago I was listening to them listen to "Lady Marmalade," which was definitely clashing with my quiet Bon Iver. It seems to have stopped...maybe I can resume my quiet piddling now...:)