Sunday, March 26, 2006

Belated pictures, asexuality, and comic lookalikes

(Well that's confusing... I haven't checked the blog since posting this on Sunday. Only to discover it didn't actually post even though it said it did. So... let's time travel back to Sunday afternoon!)

So, I must really be back in Quito. I'm already back to my Sunday wireless tradition. Actually, I got in on Monday night and immediately taught 3 classes on Tuesday. This was for the best since it left me no time to wallow or dread going back to work. And after one day, it was hard to remember being gone and I felt really positive about my new classes. I have a serious schedule makeover, with really enjoyable classes that don't cancel(!!!). And aside from my morning class, all are at the institute now. Which means instead of spending all my time between classes commuting, I check my email, do lesson planning, and chat with the other teachers. It's like I have a real job! OK, I have lots of fun stuff to share today. Let's get down to business.

Item of business the first: Pictures from carnaval!!! Flashback to last month, before my trip home. It's a good thing I got my traveling in when I did, because it's hard to get around anywhere these days due to the roadblocks. Sara's entire family (6 of them) have been staying with us (definitely a full house... more on that later), and they couldn't get to Latacunga, Otavalo, or Banos because the Panamerican highway is totally blockaded north and south of quito. They tried their best, riding in trucks and walking, but they said eventually the road just becomes branches and other junk for as far as the eye can see. Of course, my other roommate got to Banos just fine since apparently the protest took the weekend off. Sounds about right for Ecuador.

Item of business the second: TV fate. So I'm hanging out at Becky's on friday night, watching her american cable for the first and only time except the superbowl, and what comes on? A 20/20 interviewing people who have no libido and claim to be "asexual." Wait a minute... as my brain was processing that this sounded suspiciously like a certain college classmate's obsession the show cuts to an interview with... none other than david jay himself!!! I saw david jay on 20/20 in ecuador! How entirely surreal. Of course he IS the asexuality movement, having founded the website www.asexuality.org. I'll say this for Wesleyan... it may attract some eccentric people, but it knows how to pick the eccentric people who will actually be featured on 20/20 someday. If you missed the episode, you can check out the feature on ABC’s website.

Item of business the third: Says my mom, "I got asked for an autograph by a complete stranger in a restaurant yesterday because apparently my hair color is the same as Judy Baar Topinka, the winner of the Republican primary for governor. This tells me my shade is probably too orange." Long lost twins? You decide for yourself.

Ok, I am actually going to become a paying customer at the Plaza de las Americas, instead of just mooching off of their wireless internet. I’m going to see Brokeback Mountain!! Which finally showed up in theaters here!! It seems like the Oscar buzz has pushed a lot of American movies into theaters (Crash, Brokeback) and pirated dvd stores (Capote, Walk the Line). My DVD collection is going to be very happy.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

You will wonder / at the blooming in your yard...

Oh man, Austin is so gorgeously green right now. After a torrentially rainy week, the sun is out, the temperature is hovering in pleasant-high-summer-in-Maine range (as opposed to ha-sucker-you-just-moved-to-a-place-where-it's-90-degrees-in-March range), the leaves have popped out on all the trees, everyone's yard is filled with blooming flowers, and it's just beautiful. March in Austin is prime allergy season, though I don't seem to have been hit too bad yet... thank goodness my preschoolers keep me continually infected with all the latest colds so I always have something besides nature to blame my congestion on.

Our sushi/birthday party last weekend was a hit, if I do say so myself... Richard made four GIANT platters of the most delicious sushi I have ever eaten in my whole life (I may or may not have eaten leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the following day...) and we had a bunch of singing friends plus one non-singing husband over for an evening of sushi, beer, and tiny cakes*. [Note to J&L&M&R et al: They were all *hugely* excited to try out Happy Birthday Easter Anthem, oft mentioned but heretofore untried in these here parts. We managed to muddle respectably through it. You'd have been so proud.] Our inaugural house party went off without a hitch, and now that we've had the taste of blood, we can't wait to have more guests over... all the joys of hanging out, none of the painful driving home afterwards. I managed to take some exceedingly blurry photos of the evening, three of which can be viewed here.

The jobs are still going well, though I seem to spend far too many evenings NOT in my pajamas reading a book. While school-related workshops and Cocktails for Choice and Wednesday night sings and World Can't Wait meetings and so on and so forth are all well and good in their own ways, all this readjusting to running around and Having A Life is taking some adjusting to. Juneau made me soft, what with the not having friends and the 4:00 sunsets just begging you to come home and lock the door and grab your novel.

Okay, I'm off to make the sweet potato soup that I fully intended to make two weeks ago and literally have not had a single free evening in which to do so since then. Hope everyone's well!

Love,

K

*I have a long and noble family tradition of tiny cakes to live up to. For this, my first attempt, I seemed to have all the components in place - cake-mix yellow cake, sugar/butter/milk glaze, even raspberry sauce to drizzle on top - without actually getting any of the aesthetics right. You might even say they were pretty damn ugly little suckers. However, I've now been initiated into the world of tiny cakes, and I have every confidence that my future ventures can only grow prettier.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Need a date?

Or, perhaps, a laugh? I taught another teacher's class on Tuesday, and the student was telling me all about his latest website: http://www.solterosecuador.com/ (soltero meaning "single") Apparently they also have singles parties, to which I was invited and respectfully declined.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Priorities

State of emergency declared in 5 provinces because of massive protests over an international free trade agreement, and the newspapers are most concerned about the effect on... local fruit prices???

Sunday, March 19, 2006

thank god the US government doesn't seem to notice anything below mexico


Or they might realize that a large number of south american counties nicely fit the current critera for "evil", or whatever it is we're fighting these days. Namely 1) oil-producing and 2) US-hating.

Picture on the right taken from an El Comercio slide show of the omnipresent and escalating protests in Ecuador against the TLC (the free trade agreement being negotiated with the US) and Oxy (the American oil company the government has some type of horribly corrupt contact with.) Although I'm not too worried about Ecuador drawing any ire... Chavez is the one drawing what attention there is, and that blank look you're giving me just goes to show how little that is...
(see this article for a short commentary on the irony of the venezuela/us situation. "Connecticut became the eighth American state to participate in the program by which Citgo Petroleum Corp. provides discounted heating oil for poor people. Citgo is owned by the Venezuelan government... In the contest for the hearts and minds of the hemisphere, Venezuela clearly is winning.")

At least the domestic anti-war protests are getting a respectable amount of media coverage here. Katie, I feel like we ought to change the blog title to "Young women with birthdays unfortunately timed to coincide with depressingly bloody anniversaries."

On that note, shouldn't I be packing?? My political consciousness is not a form of procrastination, I swear. Anyway, I already packed my extra bag of food, chock full of American granola bars and organic mac and cheese. Who needs clothes? OK, I have to depart for the airport in about 9 hours, and I wouldn't mind fitting some sleep in there. Once I hit Quito, I promise not to be completely swamped by new classes and to fill in all those gaps from my whirlwind visit home. I haven't even mentioned LAUREN AND RUTH who drove all the way from Louisville to see me this weekend!! Pictures coming soon.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The view from 24

Nothing like guests to inspire you to clean and furnish your living quarters. We're hosting a sushi party tomorrow night for 6-8 friends and (most of) the house has never looked better. Click here for 4 new photos of our little home. I know, you'd hardly recognize the place, right? It's starting to feel less and less like a storage unit that we snuck a stove and two couches into, and more and more like an actual place where people live. Once our kitchen table isn't covered in clothing/newspapers/books, and our beautiful secondhand bedframe is assembled (apparently it doubles as a canopy bedframe; I doubt we'll ever have occasion to actually use it as such, but damn, we'd feel like princesses if we did), I'll take some more pictures in a desperate attempt to impress you with our resourcefulness and interior decorating savoir-faire. I know it's no stunningly beautiful 3-bedroom Colonial home deep in the woods of Belchertown that we just purchased for our very own, but do keep in mind that we moved here in a Saturn and six weeks, twelve thrift stores, one dumpster, and approximately $200 later, we have a respectably furnished house. For two broke fledglings, we feel we ain't done half bad.

I had a lovely birthday that consisted of pajamas, housecleaning, and eating while reading my giant novel. Much like most all of my past birthdays (with the possible exception of housecleaning, says my mother). As many of my faithful readers know, my favorite day is one where I don't actually ever get dressed, so I'd say it was just about perfect in that respect. I did skip the big anti-war march and rally, about which I'm feeling mildly guilty, but I placed a new order for recycled checks printed with soy-based inks, which helped to alleviate the guilt somewhat.

Things are going pretty well here. I started my new morning office job on Tuesday, which has been fantastic so far. I'm still working at the preschool in the afternoons... both jobs are great, but I have to leave the house between 7:30 and 8:00 in the morning, and don't return until 6:00 or 6:30 in the evening, with basically no time in between jobs to do anything but ride the bus from one to the other with maybe 20 minutes for lunch. It's a little grueling, but I can't say enough good about getting a weekly paycheck of more than $150. Really, you should all try it.

My voice is still sub-par after WMSHC last weekend, which as Rebecca said was thoroughly amazing in every way. Can't wait for McMahan in April, when I get to experience all the glories of convention WITHOUT getting up at 3:30 in the morning to drive to the airport!

Hope you're all well... we're off to the sushi restaurant to buy some foodstuffs as an excuse to pilfer 4 more pairs of chopsticks that we'll need for the party tomorrow. (Although, judging from the snores that have begun to eminate from the bedroom, this may be a solo venture...)

Love,

K

Friday, March 17, 2006

Visa accomplished


Check it out!

One roundtrip airfare from quito: $583
4 passport photos: $25
Letter from Oak Park police: $5
Vast reams of paperwork, one notarization, a trip to the doctor: Plenty of hassle and presumably an outstanding bill for non-insurance covered stuff from the doctor.
One way ticket from Quito to Chicago (for November 19th) proving I don't have an elaborate scheme to strand myself in Ecuador and mooch off of their ever so generous welfare benefits (please note the heavy sarcasm): $395
One 12-VIII visa: Priceless. ($80 fee not included.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

something to cheer me on...

Sorry to the minority (?) of the blogreaders who haven't had the upgraded live version of me to compensate for the lack of posting. I've been much too busy packing in enough singing to last for the whole year. Maybe it's just the deprivation, but I do believe that this year's WMSHC was pretty much the BEST. THING. EVER. (Possibly tied with the marathon singing session Katie and Richard and I put in on Sunday night. Scenario: You have to leave at 3:30 am to drive to the airport in Boston. You could a) pack and sleep. or b) sing through the entire sacred harp. OK, maybe just pages 181-224. and assorted others.) I can't even express how amazingly lucky I feel to have come back home for this weekend.

Of course, driving back to the Mahoney's tonight I was a bit bummed... no more singing, only a few more days left before I go back to work. I almost went straight to bed, but that just wouldn't be my style. Thank goodness because I got a couple of fabulous surprises that quite cheered me up. #1 - an email from my dad saying he's pretty sure I'm going to net about $1000 in tax REFUNDS!!!! and #2 - Sheldon posted some WMSHC pictures already!!! He's my hero!! Check them out here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

from the land of garnet rogers and jarfood

Wow, judging from the comments on my last post people actually miss me and I have a new blogposter (a warm welcome for jennie, the coolest ex-quitenan currently unemployed brit around)!! I feel so loved. And sufficiently discouraged from further blogslacking. I'm currently posting from my honorary home in MA, surrounded by such gems as the Dad action figure and The Case of the Tree on the Grandmother, a One Eyed Kelly Mystery by Katherine A. Mahoney. I flew in yesteday just in time to eat Chinese food and make it to the Tuesday night sing!! After 5 months with nothing but my Ecuadorian choir and WMSHC recordings to tide me over, I would have been more than happy with, say, a Middletown sing. But instead I was treated to a particularly fabulous Tuesday night sing. I was a little rusty on the shapes, but shockingly, I didn't completely blow my voice out after a whole night of singing alto between Allison and Jenna. I'm sure I won't be able to say the same after WMSHC! Have I mentioned that I'm excited for WMSHC?? I'm pretty damn excited for WMSHC. Although I may be even more excited to make just KT and Richard sing with me like old times, after we pick them up from the airport tomorry!! That is, if poor sick Katie is up to it. Aww. At least it will be a good excuse to be lazy and watch movies, which, as Katie pointed out, we're awfully good at doing anyway...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Blogslacking

Thanks for the paternal paranoia folks... sorry I haven't been big on the blogging since coming to chicago... it's probably for the best because I just would have subjected everyone to detailed descriptions of the all yummy food I've been treated to over the past 5 days. The most cooking I've done for myself has involved pouring milk (sweet sweet fresh milk) on cereal or melting cheese (sharp sharp CHEDDAR!) on bread. I've been cooked for by friends and family, given free reign at whole foods, and dined at a variety of restaurants my mom has wanted to try out from the VegOut Chicago guide. Needless to say, I've been having a delightful time and am not missing almuerzos or bland queso fresco. Other highlights have involved indulging in free public library and village discount, and hanging with Natalia at an overly typical chicago neighborhood bar drinking American beer (not Pilsener!!!) and playing pool with overly typical chicago guys (who may have their own faults, like high cholesterol levels, but do not generally make hissing noises at you or proclaim they love you after 10 seconds in your presence). While I've been wined and dined and chauffered around here in Chicago (though I did successfully obtain a new drivers license after having mine stolen with my wallet in Ecuador) I'm pretty damn excited to get on a plane in a few short hours to Bradley. Next stop, Mahoney cooking, Watson, and SINGING!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Paranoia and other updates

After spending 48 hours sick with worry that Rebecca had been kidnapped, gotten killed in a plane crash, or been hospitalized after a car wreck en route to her house from the airport (Ellen & Stu, you would have been so proud of our parentlike concern), we were thrilled to hear from the world traveler this morning... she hastened to assure us that she's on American soil, as alive as ever, and has just been too busy since getting to Chicago to catch her breath and say hello. PHEW! We were too relieved to even make her feel bad about her lack of communication. However, if we talk to her on the phone tonight, I can't guarantee that plenty of guilt trips won't ensue...

Our visions of flaming wreckage and mangled bodies now dissipated, we're doing as well as can be expected. After his grand first week as an apprentice sushi chef, Richard has, well, quit. On the downside, he managed to cut his thumbs with sharp knives every single day that he worked. On the upside, he walked away with $275 and enough know-how to host a sushi party for our friends in the next few weeks, so we feel he came out the winner. By which I mean, I'M gainfully employed, so as long as he can figure out how to pay his half of the bills (I wish I could say he hasn't considered online gambling... yes, Rebecca, AGAIN), it's none of my business. And in the meantime, he isn't going to work at 10am and coming home at 11pm, which makes him a very happy camper.

I'm one day away from hopefully getting a job as an Administrative Assistant. By the end of last week, it sounded tentatively like I was the lead candidate for the position, but I guess she has a few more interviews tomorrow morning, so we'll see. But that would make me very happy... it would also earn me enough to make me ineligible for food stamps, which I'm secretly sort of disappointed about, but probably should not be viewed as a bad thing. Heh. Also on the progressive newswire, I've gotten myself sort of inadvertantly involved with a fledgling local chapter of a national anti-Bush organization here in town, and after Friday's meeting, I somehow ended up being the head of a committee to plan a visit by one of the organization's founders to speak at the University of Texas, when she comes to Texas from D.C. in April. How did that happen? I didn't even know how to plan an event at my OWN college, let alone a giant one that I don't go to in a city I just moved to!!!!

Okay, Richard and I are off to do our weekly grocery shopping... hope you're all having a lovely weekend! Four days till we fly to MA!

Love,

K