Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I am now the proud owner of a Toshiba laptop! It has a high Energy Star rating, 3 GBs of memory, a 320 GB hard drive, and a webcam. It can stay charged for four and a half hours, and I can type on it without hitting four keys at once (don't you hate the small keyboards that some laptops have?). I'm thrilled!

I can now take my online class without having to reserve a computer at any one of four random libraries and hope that I can work my schedule around their open hours. This is a huge relief!Especially since my hours are so crazy---very few libraries are open before 8:30, or open much past 6 p.m. Trying to fit my online class in in fits and starts was not an appealing option, so this is a much needed relief!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Missing Socks?

So this is where all of my socks went! I had been wondering!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wear Flipflops, Avoid Electrocution!

This is how you get hot water in Guatemala. Never mind the circuitry just inches from the rushing water. This baby gets you a good eight minutes of scalding hot water, then showers you with icy cold refreshment.

Personal safety tip? Wear flipflops, and avoid electrocution.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Will the Baby Get Out?

Four year olds are cute. They are also incredibly curious, which can sometimes lead to awkward situations. Take, for instance, what happened to a fellow AmeriCorps volunteer at her More at Four program.

A mother came to pick up her son at preschool. She was seven months pregnant, and obviously showing. A four year old came up to her, and asked what she had in her stomach. When she answered, "A baby!", of course the girl felt compelled to ask how it got there.

Another child chimed in cheerfully, "She ate it!" Before anyone could correct him (although, who would want to actually delve into the explanation?), another child asked how the baby was going to come out.

"Oh, the doctor will take the baby out of my stomach," the mother covered gracefully.

"That's not true!" A young boy with a midwife mother announced defiantly. "The baby is going to come out of her vagina!" he declared loudly.

Personally, I am really glad that I was nowhere near this exchange. How in the world do you deal with these awkward conversations? Sex education is important, but four years old is a little young to begin sex education. Anything you say will make at least one parent angry. Distraction is the only way to go.

"Hey, look, a spider!"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nap Time

Oh, how true this is. I am in charge of putting both the two year olds and the three year olds at my center to sleep. Inevitably, there will be one child who is overcome by the sorrow of not having her mother with her at that very instant, and I will spent an hour consoling her and speaking to her soothingly. Eventually she'll drift off to sleep, a mere thirty minutes before her mother shows up to get her and wakes her up again. Nap time, understandably, is not my favorite time of day.

However, once all of the children have listened to a few stories and drifted off to the sweet sounds of gentle music, I can just wander around and gaze at their small, sleeping faces, so sweet and innocent. There is nothing comparable. Forgotten is the biting incident of yore, and the fist fight that I had to break up at risk of life and limb. They are all calm and sweet in sleep.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Strange Places to Sleep

My cat always chose the strangest places to sleep---upside down on the top of the couch, in the bathroom sink, under the couch cover---you never knew quite where you'd find her.

I had a friend in college who had the enviable ability to sleep just about anywhere---on the grass next to the busy commons, in the corner of a dining hall, on the roof of the residence hall---he was able to crash just about anywhere and catch up on a few hours of sleep he missed while studying for exams. It's a useful skill to have. Personally, I could crash in the music rooms (little individual rooms with a piano inside). I would just push a bench up against the door and catch a few hours of sleep between classes. Since I was shuffling between multiple campuses, this was a useful way to pass a few hours.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Finca Paraiso, or Heaven on Earth

This may not look like much, but it is a hot spring waterfall. Imagine the gentle caress of hot water pouring down off the rocks, as you bask in a cool pool of water. After a sweaty week of camping, with only one opportunity for a proper shower, this was truly Paradise.

We indulged in tamales that small children were selling on the lengthy trail to the waterfall. Hot food, and a hot shower all in one day? It was a magical place.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Much Delayed Ikea Post

After two weeks of sleeping on an air mattress (a roomy twin), I am now the proud owner of a real (vacuum-packed) Ikea mattress!

We discovered the joys of Ikea one rainy Sunday afternoon. My two roommates and I browsed the store for a good four hours, debating the merits of various mattresses and tables. Having very little money, and even less space in the car, we could only get the essentials. So now we have a table, but no chairs, two mattresses, a bed frame, and a coffee table. Amazingly, this all fit into my trunk! I love Toyotas.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Great Doctor Search

I need to find a doctor. I've had this horrible earache for a few days now, but no time to hit a clinic. I work from 8:30 to 5:30 Monday through Thursday, and commute 45 minutes each way. Friday, I volunteer at two different sites, with little time in between to actually wait in a clinic and be seen.

I really need to find a walk-in clinic with Friday hours, preferably close to my apartment. As it is, my apartment is kind of in the middle of nowhere, ten minutes from the a major road. It makes a quick jaunt over to a clinic nearly impossible, but it won't be that bad if I couple it with hitting the post office and bank.

In other news, my food stamps should be arriving any day now! It's my roommates' first time receiving them, so they are really excited. They have peppered me with questions about what they can buy (pretty much anything that is edible or drinkable, with the exception of alcohol and tobacco products). They also want to know where they can use them, and were thrilled when I told them that they could buy items at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, the local co-op, the farmer's market, and even Walgreens. This will be incredible!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Guess who lives in my laundry room?

We now have a fourth roommate, who is living in our laundry room. She received word last Friday that she needed to move out of the room she was renting, as her landlady was undergoing a nasty divorce. We moved her out that night, and set up an airbed in our living room as a temporary stopgap measure until she could find an apartment. However, apartment pickings are slim, especially when you only earn $1,000 a month. So, for the time being at least, she'll be crashing in our laundry room.

It's only six feet by four, but it has a door and some degree of privacy. She also has a shelf in our fridge, a closet in the living room, and free access to the common living area. I do feel a little odd having a person in a glorified laundry room, but it beats the alternative.

What's the oddest living situation you've come across?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Today's To Do List

  1. Make a spare key for our new houseguest.

  2. Find a surge protector for my laptop.

  3. Add cash to my laundry card---two loads of laundry in three weeks is a little low.

  4. Wash all of my freshly picked blueberries!

  5. Find (or make) a bookshelf.

  6. Make curried tempeh shish kebobs and avoid setting the wooden skewers on fire (update: failed at the attempt. Must remember to soak the skewers in water first).
  7. Clean my room!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Don't Look at the Mess. Look at the Cute.

This is totally my cat. Such a sweet, innocent face, masking a whole other personality: a little crazy, but so cute.

Check out more cute cats at I Can Has Cheezburger?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

When You're Too Poor for a Map...

Take a picture! This was our guide to Tikal, to be consulted when hopelessly lost.

You'll also be happy to know that the flash on a camera acts as a rudimentary flashlight for when you're stranded in the dark on an overgrown trail, or exploring deep into the tunnels of pyramids. The video function can be used to record the howl of jaguars as you venture in the dark to the pyramids to see the sunrise, and to videotape your terror at drawing closer to the jaguars, rather than further away.

Don't you love technology?