Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Catch up post in brief…

Yeah so my brilliant idea of having oodles of time to write posts, rewrite papers and catch up with life seems to have been somewhat of a pipe dream. I have been non-stop busy since my plane touched down in Boston. Since all that is still fresh in my mind, before I recount the fun visit I had to MIT in Boston, I thought I would take a few minutes this morning (the time change is causing me to get up at 7:00am Stanford time instead of 8:00am, I can’t sleep in that late, and actually it is really four in the afternoon in Burkina Faso, so….) to write the catch up entry that I promised. I will keep it short because I don’t have much time and because the recent events in my life seem to dwarf any importance of these few lost days, but for the sake of continuity and prosperity I can not let these days’ events just slip into the abyss of time unrecorded.

Let me remind you what was going on around March 26th. I had just gotten back from my Bobo Banfora trip and had gone to the nurse about a not so pleasant rash on my face… The medicine worked. Slowly but surely. I did work on Wednesday, but kept everything pretty low key. I somehow managed to complete some Microbiology tests, nice. Science waits for no one ;)

Thursday I woke up and went to work late. I slept in hoping to give my body a chance to fight whatever was wrecking havoc on my body’s largest organ, the skin. My face wasn’t quite as sensitive to the sun anymore which was good. And in general it looked like things would be fine for teaching Susan’s class on Friday and the toastmaster’s marathon on Saturday. During the day on Thursday, I continued with my flow rate measurements and worked on some MES analysis. In the evening, I helped out at WIRED. It was Tyler’s last week there so he talked. He did a very nice job talking about failing forward and using failure to jump start a new beginning. I was going to go out with a group of people to hang out, but instead opted to come home was oddly inspired to work on my paper for the journal submission. It went very well :)

Friday morning I got up and reviewed my notes on my Point of Use water treatment presentation. I took the bus to the Kamboise campus and was in a room ready to teach Susan’s L3 English class at 7:00am. Now that my friend is early. The first part of the class time we went over what had been learning in the class so far. Then we worked through the list of vocabulary words Susan picked out that went along with my presentation. An hour later, we took a quick break and then I gave my presentation: Beyond Conventional Thinking: Point of Use Water Treatments. I don’t know how much they understood, but they were asking questions and I believe they were generally interested which is awesome. The class ended at 9:30ish and I went to the teacher’s resource area and worked on my own stuff until lunch time. For lunch I grabbed something from the cafeteria because I didn’t have anything at home to pack a lunch with anyway. The Sprite was room temperature which was uber annoying, but I can’t really complain…it was still refreshing ;)

The second class I taught in the afternoon was a carbon copy of the first except the A/C stopped working and there were much fewer students. We had to take multiple breaks because of the heat to keep people somewhat interested in what was going on. I took the 6:00pm bus back to Ouagadougou. Oh, I should note I got a call from a Professor at Duke while I was teaching and asked if he could call back about 6:45ish my time. He thought that would be fine. And I got a call from the tailor because he was going to come over and a call from Emile about the tennis tournament… I never get phone calls, and I go to teach a class and get interrupted three times! Go figure ;)

I rode the bus home and the tailor was there waiting. I quickly finished up with him just as the Duke professor called. Just about perfect timing. I did end up paying the tailor 1000CFA more than we agreed on, but I couldn’t at the moment argue, but in hindsight that is a bit upsetting. The conversation with the Professor went great. He talked to me about the NASA grant they had just received to study landsat data for an area of sub-sahara Africa. Anyway, he offered me full funding for a PhD and the project seems really interesting. At this point, I had not received news of my NSF fellowship and a fully funded PhD, that did not require a prior master’s was looking really good. Even after receiving the NSF, things still look pretty good. I liked the professor’s style and manner about things. This is always a good thing…

I got off the phone with him and rushed over the rec center not sure what was going to happen with the tennis tournament. I didn’t end up playing which was just fine with me, but both Pam and Maryellen were there so I stayed around and chatted with them. I got dinner there, phew, I had nothing at home… and also hit the treadmill for 20 minutes before calling it a day!

Saturday was a big day… It was the Toastmaster’s marathon meeting and I was the toastmaster! That is a lot of responsibility. I had, however, already prepared everything in advance, mostly on Wednesday night I think… details lost to the abyss of time, what to do? The meeting went off very nicely. I was able to wear the new skirt the tailor dropped off the night before and had a fun time being basically the MC. The meeting went about an hour late and the woman from Accra didn’t get there until 12:30pm. We were still able to fit her in and it was nice to hear her speak, she is quite talented! After the meeting we all went out and celebrated at Club Belko. It was a lovely time, but I ate fried foods, which is a no-no and was not feeling so great later on… I left about 3:00pm to go talk to Ryan online. That was a fine idea, but we were both pretty distracted so we ended up cutting things short and deciding to talk later. Saturday night I went over to Leanna’s and we watched National Treasure. It was entertaining, but the logical fallacies were almost too much. Leanna drove me home afterwards because it was too late for me ride back when we were done. This meant my bike was left over there. No big deal, I figured I could walk over on Sunday and pike it up.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention something very important. Last Tuesday my roommates informed me that they were moving out. Like for good. They moved out on Wednesday. It was so refreshing that week to not have to deal with other people in the house. They left a few things because they were headed to Bobo for some field work and would pick it up later. This was NO problem what so ever…

Sunday is kind of a blur. I know I slept in a long time and then probably listened to a sermon and worked out. I do remember the evening which consisted of going over to Leanna’s house for pizza and a fun game of Uno with the guys… Since my bike was left over there I walked to get there. Problem was I didn’t leave until like 6:30 and it was getting dark and it is a much farther walk than I remembered, all in all I was fine, but needless to say I will be leaving earlier next time.

Monday March 31st I got up and felt compelled to work on my paper again. So I did :) I worked in my room so I didn’t show up to the office until about lunch time, but that is okay because I was working in the morning. I did go to the gym in the afternoon which was nice. I should also mention at this point I still have no food around, and I was out of toilet paper and using tissues instead, maybe too much detail for you… forgive me. Anyway, work in the afternoon was jam packed. I met with Oulon the journalist to discuss the possibility of putting together a movie for the upcoming Niger movie festrial. It was a great meeting, but at 6:00 I leave and head over to Pete’s house for a Baptism service planning meeting. This went well and I was done by 7:15 and went over to Leanna’s just to keep her company and hang out. We made baguette pizzas for dinner and played the card game speed. It was SO MUCH FUN! I rode my bike back just pleased as punch with life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

Tuesday was really the turning point in the week and the reason why I am writing this post from the United States. The work day went well. I had my French lesson as usual and then debated working out or going food shopping. Considering I had run out of tissues I opted to go grocery shopping. Good choice. Anyway, I went back to my office and found an email waiting for me congratulating me on my NSF fellowship. I about jumped through the ceiling! Thankfully my family was online so I could share the news with them. Leanna wasn’t around and neither was Susan, so after ample time of celebration on the phone with my parents I went home and had a Sara Dance Party which started off with some amazing Hannah Montana tunes then progressed to more house music and finally on to the classics like Bon Jovi. I indulged in some chocolates from my friend Maggie, which were from my birthday and I was saving them for this exact occasion. I was either going to use them for celebration or to drown my disappointment in chocolates as any normal 20-something woman is apt to do… I also made a strawberry smoothie, popcorn and watched Casino Royale. I love that movie, if only for the line after he resuscitates himself from being poisoned and says, “Sorry, that last hand nearly killed me…” I love that line.

Anyway, I couldn’t really sleep because I was so hyped up on sugar and soaring high from my good news… I did finally catch some Zzzzz’S and the rest is history documented in the post on April 4th :)

Tell you about Boston and Stanford ASAP. Ahh, so much to do!