Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Of immunizations and dental work.

I hate having sharp metal objects inserted into my body. Apparently, due to stress (who, me? Stressed? Nah!) I've been GRINDING my TEETH so hard that I managed to break two molars even though I wear a mouth guard at night. Yeah, I'm that good. So I've had two "inlays" in the past 7 days. Also, because I'm an extraordinarily lucky human being, my teeth hurt for about 6 weeks after each procedure like this, while the normal human being will only experience mild discomfort for a few days. I know this because I now have 4 inlay crowns. Yes, I'm 27 and have FOUR FAKE TEETH. I'm on my way to dentures, man! That would certainly be less expensive!

To top it all off, I get to go shoot up with various different bacteria and viruses on Thursday, which will be all the more fun because I have to take Isaac and hold him down while HE gets shot up as well. It always makes me cry when he gets shots because he cries as if somebody is ripping his arm off...

OK now that you feel sufficiently bad for me, please email me and tell me to quit complaining!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Masud the Great

There are three main reasons why I married Masud.
1)He has a beautiful smile.
2)He has a HUGE heart (boro mon).
3)He is so darn level-headed.

It seems like no matter how emotionally charged any situation is, he manages to use his head. He always comes up with such great solutions for problems that I find insurmountable. He tells me that it's because he was a math major, but I think it's a gift from God.

As I continue to freak out about how much I need to get done in the next five weeks, he calmly gives me suggestions. For example, in a stroke of genius, he recommended that I ask my sister to come stay with us for a while, so that she can hang out with Isaac and I don't have to worry about picking him up from daycare right away. It will also be nice to spend some time with her before I go galavanting in the third world.

What am I going to do on the other side of the world without my anchor? I'm not a good problem solver, although I'm sure my skills will improve once I'm on my own.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

AlterNet: The Cult of Nature-Worship

AlterNet: The Cult of Nature-Worship

Ooooohhhhh, I just love AlterNet. I often find myself re-evaluating my opinions on certain topics while reading these articles. This one talks about elective C-sections, and how they should also be considered in the women's right to choose argument. Things that make you go "Hmmmmmm".

I'm a grownup!

It is always shocking to me when a friend has a baby. Even though I have a four year old, I find it weird that I am grown up enough to have a kid and to hang out with people who have kids. Sometimes I forget that I'm no longer a teenager, and I have to consider myself an ADULT. Weird!

Today we went to visit some long-time friends in the Twin Cities. Nipa, whom I met way back before I was married, is planning to leave the US for Bangladesh "forever" at the end of September. I'm so excited that she will be there when I am, because I know we're going to have fun!

Rubeena was also visiting from California, with her new daughter Rayyah (shown above snuggling with Isaac). Wow, she is one cute, round, smiley baby. I kind of got baby fever there for a minute. Then I remembered how much I love to sleep and thought better of it. Isaac is desperate for a little brother or sister. He helped me pick out some outfits, books and a toy for Rayyah, and he's already in love with her. Watch out Nadeem and Rubeena, I think Isaac might be your future son-in-law!

On the way up to the Cities, we stopped at the Food Co-op where I stocked up on as much dried or aseptically sealed soy-derived protein products that I could get my hands on. They had a sale on tofu, so I bought a big pile. I am a little worried about getting enough protein in Bangladesh. I just don't think I'll be able to bring myself to eat that meat that I saw hanging on hooks in the open air markets... Not to mention, I'll be deficient in the "refined sugar" food group. I'm anticipating a major Skittle-withdrawal during the second month after our supply runs out.

Well, time to hit the hay. Tomorrow I have a fun filled day of GRE studying ahead of me. Ahhh the headaches, the humiliation of not remembering simple formulas and how to multiply fractions, all in the hopes of becoming Dr. Katie one day. Is it really worth it? My ego says yes. My malfunctioning brain says NO WAY!

Friday, July 23, 2004

I'm Exhausted!

Somebody PLEASE tell me how some women manage to work 40+ hours a week and take care of their families at the same time??? Ever since I've been in school, it is an uphill battle for me to stay up until 8:30! I can get by on about 9 hours of sleep a night, but in order to be absolutely happy and rested, I need about 12. Honestly, that was the hardest part about becoming a mother, giving up sleep.
My house is an absolute mess, and Isaac is eating chicken nuggets for the third time this week. There are no clean towels, and the ironing basket is overflowing with about 3 times as many clothes as it was designed for. A strange odor is emanating from the downstairs bathroom. The ants in Isaac's ant farm have perished for lack of food and water.
For a long time I thought maybe my fatigue was because I was out of shape, so I started an exercise program. Since February, I've gone to Curves at least 3 days a week, as well as consulted a nutritionist. While it's easier for me to take a few flights of steps, I have not noticed any other benefits (hardly any weight loss to speak of, although my cholesterol dropped by almost 30 points). I'm feel more tired now than I did BEFORE I started working out.
So I had my thyroid checked. Everything came back fine.
I think I'm doomed to exist on coffee and Mountain Dew. Thank GOD it's FRIDAY! And to all those women who manage to have it all - I stand in awe.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Vintage Spiderman Rocks!

Saturday, we went to Best Buy and Isaac spotted a collection of all 52 episodes of the original Spiderman cartoon from 1967. For some reason, maybe it was a rare moment of double-parental-weakness, or maybe the planets were in alignment - I don't know - both Masud and I agreed to shell out the almost $50 for the entire set. Isaac was so happy that he promptly promised to learn ALL of the letters in the alphabet.
So, as you can imagine, it's been a Spiderman marathon for the past few days. Isaac was sick today, so he laid on the couch all day and watched as Spiderman defeated numerous weird foes. At first, I was indifferent. Cartoons are cool for a while but they get old fast. But then I was sucked in. These cartoons are different from the average Nickelodeon fare.
For one thing, Spiderman, a.k.a. Peter Parker, is pretty hilarious. For example, he will look up and see a piano about to fall on him, and he'll say "My Spidey-Sense is telling me that something is going to fall on me." Also, he's pretty suave with the ladies. In the first few episodes, there's this chick named Betty. She really has a thing for Peter Parker, it's obvious, because she always puts herself in harms way to help him out.
The best character is J. Jonah Jameson. What a guy. The person who played him in the recent live action movies did an excellent job imitating the cartoon. The voice, the mannerisms, everything is right on!
So thanks to my son for exposing me to this new-found interest. I'm sure we'll enjoy memorizing it together.

AlterNet: Election 2004: The Lack of a 'Vision Thing'

AlterNet: Election 2004: The Lack of a 'Vision Thing'

The above article (you can click that link to read it) scares me, because I know how true it is. The power of the evangelical right is underestimated by liberal voters. Their conviction goes beyond who will become president of this country - their votes somehow seem to count towards their list of "good deeds" and will gain them a better place in the castle in the sky. I remember as a kindergartener in a private Christian school, I learned the names of all the presidents. When we recited the names at awards night, which took place right before the elections, we tacked on an extra name - "Ford and Carter and Reagan...and Reagan!" I remember feeling very proud, I was doing my part as a good Christian to encourage the parents in the audience to vote for the "right" person.

Ahh, how things change. I grew up, realized I was not a republican, and spent a few years figuring out exactly what I do believe in. I have voted for an independent candidate (Jesse Ventura!), attended a republican caucus (John McCain!), and came very close to voting for a Green party candidate (Ralph Nader) in the 2000 election. I ended up voting for Al Gore out of fear that Bush might win...a lot of good that did. As a person of deep conviction when it comes to my political views, it's hard for me to understand why people don't vote. It's also hard for me to understand that small portion of "undecided" voters. I don't see how, if a voter has ANY opinions whatsoever, they can't decide who to vote for. All it takes is a few minutes to really think about what your beliefs really are. Don't think about what republicans or democrats or greens stand for, just think about what you stand for, and pick the party or candidate that matches that the best. It sounds simple, doesn't it?

People usually think about politics when they see political ads on tv, or when some controversial issue (gay marriage?, abortion?, wars?) comes to the forefront. This is a hard time to decide what you believe in, because the issues are constantly twisted through those ads or the media. The best time to think about it is when nothing controversial is going on. Go to each candidate's web page and see what they have to say on the issues. Go to all the candidates web pages - not just the two major ones - check out Ralph Nader's site. Even though I won't be voting for him this year, he's an ideal president in my opinion...I agree with him on almost every single issue.

What I hate about political ads is that they don't tell the whole story. For example, one recent ad talked about how John Kerry opposes the Lacy Peterson Act, which, in the words of the ad, protects pregnant women. What the ad doesn't say is that it also threatens the rights of women to choose whether or not to have an abortion. It's sneaky - maybe those undecided voters don't know the whole story, and it makes it easy for them to get the wrong impression about John Kerry. The same is true for the media. When we hear something from the mouth of Dan Rather or Peter Jennings, it's easy to believe. Why would THEY lie to us? And yet, the truth is, they are not telling the whole story. And when somebody like Michael Moore comes out and puts a different spin on the same story, why do all the conservatives get upset? Because they don't want to believe they've been lied to, that what they thought was true is actually not the whole story.

My dad says that no matter who we elect, republican or democrat, it's going to be the same story. He believes that Bush did exactly what Clinton would have done. He says that all politicians are crooked, so arguing that one candidate will be better than another is pointless. I guess I haven't given up on the idea of democracy and choosing someone who will have integrity and fulfill their promises. I understand that politics are dirty and that we are often told what we want to hear, but I also believe that we have a responsibility as citizens of this country to choose to the best of our ability the candidate that we think will represent us.

Let's encourage our nonchalant liberal friends and our undecided acquaintances to get the vision for the future. What happens in November will have long range consequences, no matter what my dad says. We need to become passionate, just like those evangelical conservatives, and envision the future of our country without a Bush in the white house! VOTE KERRY!!! Yeee Haaaaaa!!!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Insomnia and acid reflux.

My thesis is done, turned in, accompanied by forms and fees.  That means I've fulfilled the requirements for a Master of Science in Health Science, Community Health.  Why, then, am I still filled with anxiety?  Maybe it's a force of habit.

Isaac took a cute picture of me the other day.  He's a pretty darn good photographer! 

Aren't we cute?  I figured out how to use the self timer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I'm (almost) done!

My thesis has been defended, and I have made the final corrections. All that is left is to print out a copy, proof it one last agonizing time, and send it off to the printers. The funny thing is, I don't feel the sense of accomplishment that I thought I would. Rather I feel like I should have worked harder, maybe done a more intense investigation...I guess it's my inner critic. The study that I plan to do in Bangladesh will be extremely benefitted by the work that I did for my thesis. I have saved at least 2 months by working out the kinks ahead of time. Now I know exactly what I need to do. So shut up, inner critic!

I've been interviewed for the Free Press, and yesterday the photographer came to take my picture. I swear he must have shot a whole roll - I felt like a model! Except for the fact that I didn't wear any makeup yesterday - at least natural is in, right? Is it still in?

Well, in order to celebrate the completion of my thesis, I'm off to have lunch at Coldstone Creamery. No health food today! It's carbs and fat, all the way, baby!

Stay tuned.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Back in Dairy Land

I'm back in rural America after spending a wonderful week in DC at the Fulbright Orientation. It hit me about midway through the orientation how big of a deal this award is. Somehow I felt like I had been selected because not too many people applied to Bangladesh, or maybe all the original grantees had turned down the opportunity - but I now feel extremely honored and excited to be in the company of such great people.

I took my mom and my sister along with me. I think my mom is feeling a little better about letting her firstborn travel to the other side of the world. She is certainly feeling proud, that's for sure. She's kindof like that guy on the commercial who lowered his cholesterol - she keeps telling random strangers about her daughter, the Fulbright Fellow. The truth is, it's great to have somebody brag about me...good for the ole ego.

The main point that I took away from listening to the speakers (Fulbright alumni and Dept. of State officials, among others) was that while research is an important aspect of the Fulbright program, it is primarily designed to foster mutual understanding between cultures. I had assumed that we would be briefed on how to promote the greatness of the US of A but instead we were told that we are NOT obligated to paint a rosey picture. In fact, we are encouraged to express our honest opinions of the United States "warts and all".

During a panel session about community involvement, I became so inspired with ideas that I ran out of paper. I absolutely can't wait to get to Bangladesh in order to start becoming involved!! Among other things, I plan to start a play group for 4 year olds, join a local Muslim Women's Association, volunteer at the local clinics and schools, and maybe even set up a discussion group with my fellow Bangladesh Fulbrighters regarding American foreign policy.

This afternoon, I emailed the local newspaper because they had printed a story in last Friday's Free Press about the other two Fulbrighters from MSU. The reporter was very interested in my photovoice project (more info at http://www.photovoice.com), and he wrote down every word I said. Now I'm hoping I didn't misspeak!!

To round off my post...here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

Here we are - the three Fulbright Fellows to Bangladesh...
Your's truly on the left, Tanya (who was feeling particularly cool in her Fulbright t-shirt), and Keisuke on the right. We're standing in front of the NPR building (Rock on!).

Here we are in a more whimsical pose...Keisuke's idea - he's so cool! Thanks to the lady in the red car who gave us some technical assitance on our letter formation!

While I was in DC, I visited some great tourist attractions...
The Lincoln Memorial

The National Cathedral (and a scary eagle statue)

Poor Page...in the National Cathedral...

At the WWII memorial - my grandpa was in this war, so I took a picture for him.

Speaking of my grandpa - here's a nice picture my grandpa and grandma Metcalf. Isn't my grandpa cute? He was shy to have his picture taken.

After a long day of touring, we were sweaty and gross. OK so my pit is grosser than Page's...

More to come...stay tuned!

Friday, July 02, 2004

My letter to the editor

Dear Editor...
This Friday, my husband and I went to Movies 8 to see the matinee of Fahrenheit 9/11. One of the main points that Michael Moore makes in the film is that the government and the media have encouraged an environment of fear in American society. They have capitalized on the horror that we all felt on 9-11 and have used orange alerts and suspected plots to keep us constantly on the edge. In this fearful atmosphere, it was easy for Mr. Bush to convince us to send our family and friends into Iraq.

After the movie, as my husband and I were leaving the theater, a woman appeared to motion towards my husband and warn her companions that they should be careful. It seemed that she thought my dark skinned, Arab featured husband, who is a hard working, dedicated father and an American citizen, posed a threat. He is used to this type of behavior, but I felt offended and filled with despair.

Before 9-11, many of us assumed that the rest of the world saw our country as the greatest place on earth. We thought that people only dreamed of coming here, because of the opportunities and freedoms that we enjoy. So many of us were shocked and horrified to learn that, for some reason, there are people in the world who hate us. We were told that they were jealous of our affluence, that because they couldn’t have what we have, they wanted us to suffer. The truth is that our prosperous lifestyle came about at the expense of others. 9-11 was our wake up call, and we didn’t listen. Instead, inspired by fear and the desire for revenge, we attacked and destroyed what good will remained.
The movie presented a clear and realistic look at how we were made to feel afraid, and I hope that those who watch the movie will look inside themselves, and realize that the only way to make things better is to learn tolerance and respect for those of other nations. We should try to understand what it is we have done to inspire such hatred towards us, and work to rectify it.

I hope that we can learn to see others as human beings – even a dark-skinned man with a sharp nose, or a woman wearing a headscarf. I beg of everyone, no matter what your politics or background may be, please try to see the humanity in all people. The vast majority of Muslim people oppose terrorism and pray for the day when the world can be at peace. Only when we learn tolerance and acceptance can we stop the cycle of violence and hate in the world.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

More procrastinating.

I'm chugging along here on chapter four, but I think I'm getting termination anxiety. It's hard to finish such a huge project. The weird thing about it is that it shouldn't be too hard, I just need to concentrate for a few hours and write it out, but I can't get my brain to work with me!

Isaac called me last night and he was really sad. He said he still has my kiss in his heart, but he wanted me to come and get him right away. I don't know if I can make it! Next Tuesday, we are meeting mom in Rochester and I have to go with her but Isaac is going home with Masud. I have to go to DC for the Fulbright orientation and I'll be away from him for another five days. This is rough!

It's a gorgeous day outside and I wore my pants that have a drawstring at the ankle so I can wear them up around my knees. It's as close to shorts as I will ever get. Nobody is seeing the great white expanse that I call my thighs. My calves are a pretty scary sight. They have not seen the light of day for months and now they are dotted with little black stubble bumps that never disappear, even right after I shave. It's the curse of being dark haired and light skinned I guess. Some people would call it a striking contrast, I call it "the gorilla syndrome".

Well, I can't even keep my mind on my blog, so I'm going to look for another way to procrastinate for a while.