Archive | October, 2011

Burgers & Yinz

26 Oct

I picked this title because A) It sounds like food (and I ate lots of food) B) Yinz is a word used in Pittsburgh by “‘burgers” and C) The first and last thing I ate (in the airport) was a Vegetarian Black Bean Burger.

Also, it turns out I list things in A) B) C) formats during regular conversations.

So, here’s my World Cuisine Tour from the surprisingly ethnic, Pennsylvania:
Japanese (sushi and hibachi), Thai, Chinese, Indian, Italian, The Ocean (shrimp and scallops), Mexican ($1 Taco Tuesday), Late Night Food (coleslaw sandwiches and Terra chips), Beer-on-tap, American (pizza delivered to North Park!), Vegetarian Buffet, Gardens (extravagant salads), Dessert (thanks dad!), and Home Cookin’ (thanks mom!)

Needless to say, I was practically starved during my entire trip.
Maybe next time my family will feed me.


Other highlights:

– An urban bicycle ride with Mom, Dad, and Nick
– Game night(s) — including trivial pursuit, survival, and charades
– Hilarious comedy at Friday Night Improv
– A double date with the gorgeous Angela & Aaron 🙂
– Thrift store shopping
– Chatting with my pops and mumzy
– A fabulous yoga class to work on my “Female Physique”
– Running, stretching, tennis, and tickling with my True Love
– Occuping Pittsburgh

This is how lucky I am:

– I only turned on the stove once — and it was to boil water for tea
– Nick washed and folded my laundry. If he hadn’t my mom offered to (!)
– Upon arrival, my Mom and Dad stayed up until 1am to pick me up from the airport 🙂
– For departure, Nick, Mom, and Dad woke up at 3:45am to drive me to my flight
– Angela found a ring on the floor, gave it to me, & now I have brass knuckles
– Nick loves my dogs so much he’s encouraging me to bring them home!!!!!
– My dad had half a dozen chocolate bars waiting for me in the cupboard
– And Nick brought chocolate back from Germany which he saved for me

So much LOVE

Wait a minute…which country is this??
– On Wednesday, in Pennsylvania, I awoke up to rain and immediately turned over to go back to sleep; in my haze, and because it was raining, I assumed that everything I had to do for the day was canceled
– Whenever I was on the phone I said everything as quickly as possible trying to hang up because I kept thinking, “mi credit soon finish”
– When I entered a vehicle I surreptitiously noticed which side of the car passengers were getting in on because, in Jamaica, the opposite is true

Things that haven’t changed — in America:
– My bed in Pittsburgh is the fluffiest, most inviting place in the world
– The Internet is fast; I watched YouTube and tagged past blog posts
– Even ‘gross’ bar bathrooms have A) running water and B) toilet paper
– Showers are amazing; Hot water is like a deity.

Things I learned while abroad:

– My Dad knows A) What the Dougie is and B) How to do it
– “The Rock Game” is similar to “The Silent Game”
– Howdy Doody has a twin brother named Double Doody
– You are allowed to sample pastries (!) at the Giant Eagle Bakery

The Ugly:
– Nick had scabies and was quarantined for 3 of the 8 nights I was home. WTF?! I know. Isn’t that, like, a third world problem?? I thought so, too. I was shocked. Gross. Did he have scabs all over his body?? — Turns out, it’s not quite that visually extreme. But it is incredibly contagious. Scabies (mites) are invisible and called body lice. So it wasn’t obvious if you looked at him but it was still necessary, due to the high infection probability, that we spend most of those first few days apart: Nick wasn’t able to pick me up from the airport. For my first 79 hours in America, he was barred from being at my house, hugging me, holding my hand, driving with me, or do anything at all that would cause us to touch in any way. Super sad. — Mercifully, on day 4, the fear of contamination mitigated and we were reunited
– I watched Virgin Suicides and it was terrible
– The restaurant Patron douses their vegetables in vinegar; yucky
– At The Middle Road Inn I had an uncomfortable, mini, high school reunion
– Because I was cold I didn’t drink enough water and became slightly dehydrated
– A car accident at my neighbors; thankfully no one was seriously injured

The people I saw:
– I gave two Peace Corps talks at CMU and Pitt and I met Michael, a gem of a man who will be part of Group 83, Jamaica — joining us on island March 2012!
– Joel & Debbie left amazing books in my room that I can not wait to read!
– I spoke with Aunt Betsy (sorry Joan, don’t be mad…she called us)
– Spent enjoyable time at the Wexford Shop with Mom and Dar
– The girls at our gym are some of the most amazing women ever: Erika, Patty, Diane, Angela, and the rest of the crew are so, so special. My interactions with them were exceptionally warm and invigorating! Thank you all so much for being such bright spirits; I loved your hugs and contagious energy!
– My relationship with Nick — my incredible, perfect boyfriend — is stronger than ever. We reconnected (post scabies), laughed, snuggled, and re-solidified our partnership with talks about our future that were full of hope and positivity. I am so grateful for the time we shared. I love you.
– My parents were extremely generous with me; exotic dinners, ample family time, drives around the city, special outings, sensitivity to my wants, and constant TLC. It was humbling and I feel grateful for how much attention and care you both paid to me. Thank you so much!!!!

Since I’ve landed, Things that haven’t changed — in Jamaica:
– Immigration has 25 times more tourists in line than Host Country Nationals
– When I turned on my phone, Digicel had sent more text messages than anyone else in my entire phonebook combined
– That bus ride from Montego Bay to Santa Cruz is nauseating every. single. time.
– Food cooked on a wood fire tastes smoky and delicious
– It is unarguable that Jamaicans cook chicken really, really well

And now, mi day-ah. I am here, back in Elim, recounting my tales of adventure.
I love you all so much.
Thanks for your support making this vacation personal and memorable!
I feel extremely blessed and full of good food 🙂
It was amazing!!!!!
I’ll write again, soon.

Yours ’til the chocolate chips,

Give it some veracity

9 Oct

Among my friends it’s common knowledge that I am able withstand crazy amounts of cuts, bruises, and injuries without complaint (except for that epic splinter one time – but Nick ended up agreeing that it was really big.)

So you can imagine how dire the situation was when I woke up in the middle of the night in searing agony. My running shoes had inflicted a large blister on the sole of my left foot which I had diligently ignored; trusting my body to take care of itself. When the blister burst I washed the area thoroughly but assumed the hole where it popped was too small for anything to enter.

I’ve been wrong before.

At 10pm I was limping all over the house, tears falling down my face.
I waited as long as I could. Braved it out. Acted tough.
But at 10:05pm I could stand no more — I broke down and called the Peace Corps nurses: Viola sleepily answered, calmly listened to my diagnosis, and verbally outlined the procedure.

Two Tylenol, surgery-with-scissors, a bucket full of soapy water, q-tips, gauze, tape, and several exhausting hours later I had things under control. I know this because I was no longer crying.

Whilst busy congratulating myself on my first ever successful operation — not many doctors would have been able to complete these challenging incisions without amputating my foot — the biggest cockroach I have EVER SEEN ran across my floor. I glowered at it for ruining the imagines of clean, sanitary medical facilities in my mind and, heaving a sigh, did what every good patient does — gimped off to bed to get some rest.

Let’s see, what else?

In bug news:

– The mosquitoes are in attack mode. – it’s a myth that they are only out at certain times of the day.

– I had moths in my rice. They were flying around inside of a sealed bag. I felt very confused and disgusted since they probably laid moth larve that were the exact color of the long, brown rice grains. The dogs can eat ’em. I’ll cook it up later.

– This continual ant problem has those freaks crawling all over my dishes while they dry and I have 2 problems with this: (1) it sort of makes me feel like I need to wash my dishes again and (2) when I grab a pot and start boiling some water, a few ants stowaway somehow. This leads to me finding little ant corpses in my boiling water or tea. (that’s right, sometimes I don’t notice until the tea’s already been made. Yummy).

In activity news:

– I finished Shantaram and Gullivers Travels (I suggest the abridged version.)

– My Annual General Farmers Meeting went really well on Thursday! We opened with a prayer, reviewed the minutes, heard our committee report, listened to a guest speaker, entertained open dialogue and new issues, had elections, and ended with juice and bald cupcakes (Note: a cupcake without icing is a muffin and it was just wishful thinking on my part that they had, in fact, been cupcakes.)

– At a PTA meeting (that started 2.5 hours late) there were 14 mothers and 20 children all running around, crying, talking, playing, and breast feeding. At one point 2 men walked in and the room erupted into spontaneous applause with several of the women calling out “we have two daddy!” (which is not grammatically correct, but I can only be expected to do so much.). Imagine being a father who attends a PTA meeting and your mere presence inspires cheers and commotion. Bizarre.

– Also, I still sometimes pretend like I know what someone says when I don’t understand their patwa. My limit is three times of saying “eh??” before I say “alright.”

In other news:
I leave for AMERICA on TUESDAY.
My official countdown is less than 3 days!!!!
I’m psyched.
Mom, Dad (don’t be sleeping), and Nick are picking me up at the airport!
Until I see everyone, I’m going to be stalking you all on facebook.
Keeping it classy,

Running Dialogue

3 Oct

Lucky is one of Mamas sons and, by relation, my 48 year old black brother.
It’s his birthday today. He told me “today’s mi earthday”.
Cute, eh?

Right, so anyway…
A few days ago I signed up to run in my first race ever; a 10k called Reggae Marathon “which is honestly more marathon than reggae”, says Adam.
It’s two months away and most of the young women in my group (81, represent!) are participating so it’s awesome talking motivation, training schedules, and ultimately to encourage one another on race day. I’m psyched / praying I don’t embarrass myself.

Speaking of psyched, some of you Americans have come much closer to buying a plane ticket to visit this island in the sun. I wrote some added encouragement in the form of a limerick designed to simplify my life and attract you to me.

You’ve always wanted to see, travel, and explore
I said, “Come to Jamaica, where there are adventures galore!”
All day with children we read, farm, learn, and play
Had such a blast you decided to stay…
Welcome to The Peace Corps 🙂

On that note, I’m going to go and get ready for school.
Have a happy day, and BOOK THAT TICKET!
Stay sweet,