Friday, October 19, 2007

Inspiration for you.

I made this last night :) It is a picture I took at the Chicago Botanical Gardens. I used photoshop to stylize it and add the text. I really like doing this kind of thing and am considering putting together a collection of pieces like this to make a calendar or other items to sell. I would love any feedback and suggestions about this idea...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Everything is in French... et mon cl├ęs

I put all my phone and computer settings to French thinking it would help me learn. And it is. But is sure frustrating sometimes.

Yesterday, Wednesday I went running at the Parc du Bois with Drew again. last night at dinner I also had a nice conversation with another student here. He talked to me in English and I talked to him in French. It was pretty fun. Very confidence building too as far as my French goes. He is Mauritania which is Northwest of Mali. Look it up on a map...

Funny story. I had decided to prepare something to say to the girl who takes my money at the cafeteria. Something along the lines of "What's for dinner tonight?" Easy enough right. So I looked it up in this sweet dictionary the Wolters gave me and memorized what to say. I got up to the window and almost chickened out, but didn't. I said "Qu'y a-t-il au diner ce soir?" and of course my pronounciation is not the greatest and before I know it the girl is sending out one of the workers to buy me a bottle of Lafi (barnd name water). And I am like no no and repeated my little phrase until she got it. aye-ka-rum-ba. Dinner was rice with red sauce again. I didn't even need to ask, but I wanted to be friendly. We'll see how things go in the future :)

Today I helped Konate with and english translation he had done of his french article he was submitting for publication. It was pretty easy, just some small changes to make the prose flow more smoothly. After lunch I went back to my room and decided to do something fun in my 3 hour break, so I drew a picture. Again searching for a subject to draw I picked my keys. Here is the drawing... I am getting better at drawing from life instead of just copying pictures which is really cool.

Rewind. On Tuesday. I rode my bike about 5km to the Neilsen's house for bible study. It was really nice. They are doing a series by Beth Moore. They have a DVD to watch and a workbook. The study is every other week which is perfect for me. BTW. I rode my bike there at 3:00 probably the hottest and sunniest part of the day. I got there and my back was soaking with sweat. Next time I will bring an extra shirt. It was pretty cool because it was first time I had gone anywhere by myself. Not that I plan on making it a habit it was nice to feel independent. And I had paid close enough attention to where I was going when people were driving me around that I knew I wouldn't get lost.

Verse to know: Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it the LORD's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21. This was one they used in the sermon on Sunday. The one where it seemed like they were yelling the whole time, yes, that one.

Pink pants and deep thoughts.

I wore my pink pants on Tuesday. I hadn’t worn them yet. But Tuesday just felt like a pink pants day. That and I have worn everything else I brought many times over already. They make me happy, and they are actually more coral than pink. That and I spilled dinner on them which I am just realizing. Not good.

I really don’t mind being away from people except that their lives keep going without me there. Like if I could just freeze everything back home and have it pick back up when I get that would be awesome, but no. Everyone will be a year older, things will have changed and I won’t have been part of it. It’s kind of sad to think about it. Guess you can’t have everything!

Some people love to shower. I, however, am not one of those people. That is not to say I don’t shower. I do shower. I just don’t enjoy it like most people do. If you know me you will know I take very fast showers. I think it has to do my not liking water falling on me, like I don’t like a fan blowing directly at me. Whatever. I shower, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bunco, Ouaga 2000, and John Mayer... Excellent.

I told you it would happen and alas it has. I have become so busy that I have to try and make time to write in my blog. The last time I wrote was last Thursday. 5 days have passed since so I will start there:

Friday’s Highlight = Bunco at Joann Lockard’s house. Joann works for the embassy and hosts ladies nights at her house. There was potluck dinner followed by a fun game of Bunco, which basically involves NO skill whatsoever. You just roll 3 dice over and over trying to roll three of a kind or the number of the round. At the end of the night I won back 2000 of 2500 CFA it cost me to play. Not bad. The biggest thing was getting there. She lives about a little over a quarter mile from me. Just on the other side of the Charles de Gaulle (main road). So when I met up with her on Thursday she said just to walk over. And I’m thinking, ok kinda scary, but sure. Oh, I also went running with Drew again on Friday afternoon after going to get cash at the ATM and seeing where he is staying in Ouaga. It was super hot so we went the national forest, i.e. old military grounds and ran there in the quasi shade. After the run I got ready to go to Joann’s. The dinner started at 6:30 and by 6:15 it is pretty much dark. problem. So I took my flashlight and a deep breath and headed out of the Institute campus to Joann’s. I got there fine, but I was pretty tense the whole time. Oh, yeah and Friday was declared a holiday on Thursday night at like 6:00pm so when I went to work there was nobody there. I was unaware of this holiday. There is no communication here. I did have my second French lesson. It didn’t go as well as the first because I was tired and stressed about the lack of internet and not talking to my family and couldn’t pronounce the words as well. Anyway, I did get a ride home from Joann’s because walking alone at night at 6:20pm is a lot different than walking at 10:30pm. End of story.

Saturday I went into the office and worked on some stuff. I wanted to sleep in after the late night at Joann’s, but I woke up to what sounded like there someone was demolishing the building next door. A little discomforting to say the least. Also, later I found out they were in fact tearing up the concrete patio on the house next door. Lovely. So I couldn’t sleep in. Oh, and the internet hadn’t been working reliably since Wednesday and so I hadn’t been able to talk to my family which was frustrating. And Monday was the 20th anniversary of the president’s coming to power and also the 20th anniversary of the old president’s death (which is connected to the current’s coming to power). Anyway, there was murmur of a potential coup of sorts which was also a bit worrisome. Karen called though and said the Burgs had offered for me to come stay with them for Sunday and Monday night in case anything happened. Just a guess but the university is probably not the best place to be since it is the young ones who can get riled up. Ok, but it is Tuesday and things are still peaceful here. Good.

Ok, Saturday the Wolters picked me up at 6:00 and I went back to their house to try and call my family, but they were out at the CC meet, which I had expected. At 7:00 we went to The Edge which is a worship service with English songs and a video series. It was nice. I also got to meet Leanne and Tyler two other young single Americans in Ouaga. Hopefully we can all go out sometime this week. Oh, I failed to mention that at Bunco Night I met a nice woman named Mary Ellen who is a Fulbright Scholar to the University. We exchanged contacts and I hope to get together with her since we are so close here. After the service Karen, Larry, Pete, Alice and I all went out for ice cream at this cool place on the other side of Ouagadougou. I got the caramel sundae. To die for :)

Sunday I got up at 6:40 and got ready for church. I went with Pascal and 4 other guys here at the University to this very large evangelical church. It was pretty amazing to say the least. To get there we got in one of the sketchy green taxis. All of us in one. I’m not so keen on the taxis but I figured riding one with 5 other Africans who know me and are looking out for me was pretty safe. We got there at 7:30, the service started at 7:45 and we didn’t leave until 11:25. Yes my friend, close to 4 hours. Talk about long services… The nice thing was it is an international church and so there was an English interpretation. Unfortunately, there were also 3 other translations going on and the preacher was like yelling the whole time, so the translators were also yelling. It was so loud, my ears hurt by the end. The worship was cool though. People were dancing and had little streamer things they would wave around. Very evangelical. We won’t go there again next week, but it was nice to see once. After I got back to 2iE the Wolters picked me up and we went to the American Rec Center for lunch, as is the Sunday tradition. After lunch we went to Ouaga 2000, which is like the rich and new part of town. It was crazy. Very nice. Big houses, paved roads and what appears to be planned development. From there they dropped me off at the Burgs house. Diana and I, one of the burg girls, went to play ultimate Frisbee at the ISO school. They just got a new moto, and Nancy Berg the Mom thought it was a better idea for me to drive than Diana who is a sophomore in high school. A logical assessment, however, I have never ridden a moto. Let alone a brand new one with someone on the back. So what did I do? What ever other self-repsecting 22 year old in a foreign country would do... I test rode the moto like 20 ft down the road turned around picked up Diana and went for it :) It was really fun. I am leaning towards getting one of my own. The only glitch was turning into the school on the gravel drive and avoiding the gate which was only marginally accomplished.

That night we had pizza for dinner and thankfully the internet was working again so I got to talk to my family on Skype. They were having dinner so they set up the computer and microphones and it was like I was at dinner with them. The PSL met went great. I am excited to hear how the rest of the season turns out. That night we watched South Africa beat Argentina in the Rugby world cup. I was a little sad because I kind of wanted to Argentina to win, but SA played so well, well, they deserved it. I really don’t know much about rugby but it is pretty cool to watch nonetheless. It makes football look like its for pansies.

Monday, I slept in and spent the morning at the Bergs making sure everything was peaceful in town before heading to 2iE. I had my French lesson at 1:00 which went well and then worked for the afternoon. Nancy came and picked me back up at 6:15 to spend the night with them again. Boy it sure was nice to be around people again. I also realized that things in Ouaga are feeling more comfortable. Like I don’t feel totally shocked every time I see 200 motos lined up at a stoplight, or shack after shack selling colorful buckets, furniture, electronics and tissues… We had tuna melts for dinner which I helped to make and then spent the evening in the TV room everybody working on their own laptop. They have wireless and it was working last night which was so nice.

That was that and this morning Nancy showed me where the Nielsen’s live, stopped by the CMA office and then drove me back to 2iE. Later today Ahmed their worker brought over a bike for me to use. Just a pedal one, but nice and helpful because I wanted to go to bible study at Nielsen’s and previously had no way of getting there. Now I do :) Which is where I am off to right now…

Oh before I go, this isn't super important, but... I am taking this medication called Mefloquine to guard against Malaria. It is super effective, but has the side effect of giving you very "vivid" dreams. Well, after two weeks I was like no problem, nothing different. Until this third week... I have had the wierdest dreams. My friend Miss Caroline Chopko was in one where she and I were at some beach side resort and this guy was trapping turtles in a net and collecting seashells and Caroline went nuts on him telling him he couldn't just take the stuff... It was pretty amazing. And my most recent dream of last night consisted of my going to the VMA awards with John Mayer. Wierd. But SO Cool. Apparently, I was not impressed with the "smoky eyes" makeup trend and made that clear to him... The dreams really feel like reality which is kind of trippy. Anyway, I am going to switch to a different medication if the dreams turn scary, but right now I have to say I am kind of enjoying these surreal adventures :)

p.s. in honor of my dream I am now listening to John Mayer :)