Thursday, June 29, 2006

My big head is almost blocking out my good friend Kei, and behind him you can see Steve, who is a new grantee to Bangladesh this year. He'll be studying economic development at BRAC University. I think we were on the yellow line of the DC metro, on our way to have drinks. Steve is a neat guy - and he has really big feet.

Here I am again (no, I'm not stoned or drunk, I just have droopy eyelids!) with Kristin Boekhoff. Kristin will be doing a project involving low income housing for garment workers.

I didn't get any other pictures because I was too busy yammering away. These people are so interesting! I learned a lot about the world of finance and investment banking, and then talked about how to get natural dread-locks with Mike (who is going to Nepal and will fit right in), and then we had a very long and explicit discussion about the benefits and pitfalls of a squatty-potty and how to use a "bodna" (watering can type item used to clean oneself after eliminating). Sadly, the fairy tale must end, and tomorrow I'll be headed back to Wisconsin.

I do miss my little guy, though...and the puppy.

DC Fun

I'm sitting in my hotel room in DC, enjoying a nice rest after spending the day at the National Museum of the American Indian. If you're ever in the area, I'd highly recommend it. All of the Smithsonian museums are great, of course, but this one was very special. I took a guided tour with a "cultural interpreter," a Navajo woman who took seriously her responsiblity to reeducate those of us who have misperceptions about the First People. Honestly it was quite moving and I'm glad I had the afternoon to digest it all.

I'm here for another Fulbright orientation for the next cohort of Fulbrighters going to the Near East, Africa and South Asia. Yesterday, I was honored to sit on a panel called "What it means to be a Fulbrighter." (See my comments from last year's panel presentation here.) The other panelists were Dr. E. Ethelbert Miller, Scholar to Israel, and Dr. Everette Penn, Scholar to Egypt. I'm very lucky to have been included.

After the meeting, I met up with my fellow alum Keisuke. I haven't seen Kei since I left Bangladesh last June! He's living in DC, so we went out after the meeting for some great Chinese food (fresh noodles made on the spot!) and we caught up on all the news. All that was missing was our buddy TKP, who is in Kolkata doing her own research at the moment. I'll be visiting her hopefully next week!

Tonight we have a fancy shmancy reception - time for me to get ready. I'll take my camera along and I'll try to take some pictures for later posting.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The moment you've all been waiting for!

Here are the infamous pictures from the Montello Community Theater production of "You Can't Take It With You" featuring yours truly as "Essie Carmichael".

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I'm in the news!

The Portage Daily Register wrote up the recent poverty simulation that was offered by our area extension office. It was a great experience! Check out my quote at the end.

When I have too much to do, I change my blog template!

It takes skill, my friends, to be a truly good procrastinator. When I think of what I need to accomplish in the next three days, my head spins. I think the reason I'm actually wasting time is because I know that I can't possibly finish everything in time, it's hopeless! I had some big moving plans for today, but after eating my cake at Isaac's friend's birthday party (and then finishing Isaac's half-eaten piece), I fell into a sugar coma for about two hours. There went that plan!

I then broke my Walmart boycott rule and spent $170 at the super walmart in Portage. Driving into the parking lot, I was reminded of why I don't go there - Walmart parking lots are a death trap of crazed shoppers who will fight tooth and nail for a space! I ended up parking at the very end of the lot and risked life and limb to walk all the way to the huge entrance.

While shopping, my left heel was rammed by more than one shopping cart, and I had to keep going back and forth from the "grocery" section to the "housewares" section because I kept forgetting stuff on my list. I met one confused woman in the health and beauty aisle said exasperatedly, "I just want to buy soap. Where is the damn soap in this place?"

I came home, loot in tow, and was so exhausted that the thought of moving today almost made me scream in pain. So I changed my blogger template instead.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Anxiety attack

The ol' Effexor took a vaycay today and I had a minor breakdown. There is just Too Much going on in my life right now for an itty-bitty pill (and my chemically-imbalanced brain) to handle!

1. My husband lives in Ohio and it is emotionally distressing for both Isaac and me.
2. I am trying to get the house ready to put on the market (by Monday).
3. I am trying to finish everything that needs to be done for my job so that while I'm gone nothing falls apart (by Tuesday). My to-do list fills two sides of a legal sheet of paper.
4. We spent the week doing interviews for both my position and another position. Interviewing people can be very stressful, and that meant that I didn't have time to do anything else! I need to get them all situated before I leave on Wednesday.
5. I had an interview myself on Tuesday for a project assistantship at UW-Madison. I just found out that I got it! I'll be helping to coordinate the McNair Scholars program! But now I need to go down there on Tuesday and have a mini-orientation before I leave.
6. I am leaving for Washington DC on Wednesday, where I will be on a panel called "What It Means to be a Fulbrighter". Usually presentations of this kind make me very nervous, but I did it last year so I don't even need to write the speech. But I still have to dress up and stand in front of a room of 200 people.
7. I will return on Friday from DC, and on Saturday morning I am leaving for Bangladesh for three weeks.
8. I have not started packing or planning for my trip to Bangladesh.
9. I need to move most of my stuff from my house to my parents house this weekend and make sure that Isaac has everything that he needs for the three weeks that I'm gone.
10. I should probably figure out my class schedule so that I can register when I become eligible on July 10.
11. The fact that I have to leave Isaac (and to a smaller degree, my puppy) for three weeks is making me very sad.
12. I have not done much remedial economics or sociology reading yet, although I have made my way through six of the seven Epic Novels about Captain Underpants.

Whew. That IS a lot of stuff. Would it be bad if I just had a beer and watched my "Friends" DVD?

Monday, June 19, 2006


Isaac has little friends that come over randomly - their parents allow them to roam freely and enter strangers' houses at will, and they tend to spend lots of time here. They range in age from 4 to 11. I'm listening to them tell jokes right now, and here is a sample.

"Why did the dog chase the cat across the road?"
"Because he wanted to toot in the cat's face!"
Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

"Why did the chicken put his cactuses on his butt?"
"Because he thought one of them was Velma!!"
Ha ha ha ha ha ha!



We found a little turtle in our back yard today. We live on the famous "Montello Isthmus", a strip of land that stretches between the Fox River and a marsh. Not good for insurance purposes, but it's certainly picturesque (except for the state highway running about six feet from my front door, and the run-down houses on each side of mine...ahem). We often have wildlife making the dangerous trek from river to marsh through our yard. This includes ducks - quacking loudly in the mornings - and frogs, turtles and even snakes.

About two months ago, my mom dropped of a little snapper that she had rescued from the middle of the road. Isaac was devastated when I made him set it free in the back yard. Today I told him that the slightly larger snapper that we found was actually the same one. Ahhh, the white lies we parents tell! Anyway, he named it Saruman, not to be confused with Sauron the Hermit Crab.

Of course, Shadow the Brave protected us from the evil intruder.

Have I mentioned how much I love Shadow? I've decided that if I ever get the urge to procreate again, I can just get another dog. I may end up with 7 dogs in the end. Now, if only I could house train him!!!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Saturday update

Masud got here safe and sound - albeit exhausted. He's been in Connecticut for the past week for training. Our family should sign up for a frequent flyer program - between the three of us, we could rack up the miles really fast. He'll fly back to Connecticut tomorrow, and then he's coming again next weekend.

When I came home from the play last night, and we were all together, Isaac said, "This feels so good. Our family is fixed!"

Time is flying, though! I can't beleive I only have two weeks until I leave for Bangladesh. I've got lots to do before then - work stuff, packing, school stuff, moving, getting the house listed and ready to show, etc., etc., etc... Making lists is usually comforting for me, but not when they are overwhelming!

Tonight is the last performance of our play! I am hoping to get pictures soon - technical difficulties are to blame for my not posting them already. I'm looking forward to having my evenings back, but I am having a great time. The first night, the audience participation was great and I felt so happy up there. Something about making people laugh makes me almost crazy! I can't believe what I am willing to do onstage, but would never do in "real life" - like wear nylons and blush, and curl my hair in to ridiculous ringlets.

Well, I have about an hour before it's time to start the hair curling ritual, so I'm gonna take a snooze.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Death

Last night at 9:30, I came home and checked on the hermit crabs. I noticed that hermit crab number 2, Raki, looked kindof strange. On closer inspection, I realized that her legs were not attached to her body. Ewwww. I'm not sure if she spontaneously dropped all her legs (a la Mr. Krabbs of Spongebob fame) or maybe another crab picked a fight. I'm guessing the latter.

The Suspect: Sauron is the biggest crab, the most active, and probably the one that literally took Raki apart.

We had a funeral for Raki while I held her body pieces in a table spoon over the garbage can. She is now blissfully scampering over the big beach in the sky.

Isaac was pretty sad. But we're going to get another crab and name her Raki II.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Yard Sale Mania.

I'm recovering from a gross infection that gave me a sore throat, psuedo ear ache and a terrible headache. Plus, I spent most of the weekend outside selling the misc. crap that had been stored for years by this house's previous owner. You wouldn't believe what we dragged out of the garage and other buildings (nor would you believe what people actually paid money for!!!)

Among some of the more interesting finds:
-A tricycle that must be over 70 years old
-An old outboard motor (anybody wanna buy an Evinrude Zephyr?)
-A half-barrel and tapper-thingy
-Two WWII folding cots with Medical Unit tags on them
-A WWII dress uniform
-An authentic pith helmet
-About a thousand plastic buckets and containers

It was fun and I made some money, too. Sadly, I went shopping today and blew most of my wad. How quickly it leaves my fingers!

This week is affectionately termed "hell week" by members of the community theater. We have to do the full show every night, including dress and makeup and hair. We open on Thursday, so if you're in the area, stop by. I'll try to post pictures - hopefully someone will take some!

Masud is coming home this weekend. Family reunion, yay!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Traffic in South Asia

This clip is from India, but it gives you a good idea of what traffic is like in that part of the world. In Bangladesh, there would be about double the amount of cars/buses/pedestrians, plus about a thousand rickshaws thrown into the mix. Scary? Yes.