June 27, 2008

I'm so screwed

I wake up this morning, and here's what I see in the paper:

Justices Reject D.C. Ban On Handgun Ownership
5-4 Ruling Finds 1976 Law Incompatible With Second Amendment

The Supreme Court struck down the District of Columbia's ban on handgun possession yesterday and decided for the first time in the nation's history that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to own a gun for self-defense.


And accompanying the article, is a picture of an attractice, young woman around my age, holding a placard and looking jubilant. Obviously she doesn't live in my neighborhood.

Guns are not a good thing for me and my street. Case in point:
-Gangs of New York
-Anti-gang efforts

June 24, 2008

Health System Break-Down

I'm looking for a counselor.  Because even with a good job, interesting friends, a nice apartment that I share with easy roommates, and excellent health… well, I still sometimes wake up with a feeling of emptiness in my throat.


It's hard to make the initial decision to see a counselor.  It's not a stigma issue - I'm not embarrassed to ask for help.  This issue instead is: do my measly problems really justify wasting a professional's time?  I don't have post-traumatic stress disorder, I'm not recovering from abuse, and I'm not going through a unbearable divorce.  I'm just a 30 year-old girl who works too hard, tries to have meaningful relationships, and is looking for guidance in making the right choices.


I called a counselor recommended by a friend of a friend.  The receptionist was very calm and soothing, but immediately told me that the initial visit was $400 and subsequent visits would be $220…oh, and the doctor doesn't honor health insurance.


I looked for a few other providers listed on my health insurance's website, but:


1-a lot of them were male, and I would prefer to talk with a female;


2-the few that work in my area are HIV counselors, combined with a specialty in social work.  That comes with the territory I suppose. If you live in a depressed area, counselors cater to the neighborhood's audience.  I'm not really looking for someone who can help me come to terms with the fact that my no-good boyfriend left me homeless with three kids, and stole my stash.  I hope you'll forgive the oversimplification, but I volunteer in a shelter, and that's where social workers can really help.  My life is infinitely more boring and banal than that;


3-some of them don't take new patients.  This fact alone makes me loose confidence in their abilities. I mean, isn't the whole point of therapy to help patients with their issues?  In that case, why is the office so busy with old patients that it can't accept new patients?  Are their patients not getting better at all?


It's all pretty discouraging.  No wonder people don't seek help when they need it most.

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June 18, 2008

That's what I call good marketing

The weirdest thing is happening to me lately.  I've decided to discontinue my match.com account because that's really not my preferred way of meeting people.  Nothing against meeting people via the internet (my housemate met a really, really nice guy on match), but it's just not my thing.  I'd rather meet someone at a party, or doing some sort of fun event with friends.  It's less ackward, more natural, and I'm more relaxed that way.


Well, I cancelled my membership and have a month to go until my profile comes down.  All of a sudden, after weeks and weeks of radio silence, all these 'guys' are winking at me and contacting me via facebook.  How odd.


I can only imagine that facebook sets up dummy accounts for this situation, enticing their members to reactive their account because, all of a sudden, other 'members' are showing interest.


Pretty smart of them!  But I'm smarter!

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June 17, 2008

A series of mismatched thoughts

Because I'm too lazy to update my blog on a regular basis, and because my life is frankly not very exciting, here are snippets of an email I sent to a friend (before you get offended that I never write *you* such long email, it was his birthday, okay?):


I have the March of Penguins at home from Netflix and I can't wait to see it.  For some weird reason, all the movies in my queue are documentaries.  You know it's funny, I always say 'wow I really, really want to see this movie' and then I have a long list of movies to choose from and I don't remember what I really, really wanted to see anymore.  I guess I'm more fickle than I thought.


I also took a 4 hours bike ride this weekend, punctuated by dinner, and a stop at the Artomatic, a event with 100 artists where an organization rents a building that's being built, and stuff it full of local art for a week.  What I liked best were the views of the city from the upper floors, and the concrete lofts on every floor.  Eventually, it will be carpeted and furnished with cheap office furniture, walled in, cubed in and plastered.  Then they will bring in incompetent bosses, underused office supplies, needy employees and passive-aggressive receptionists.  Sigh.  It' s a depressing thought, but it was very relaxing to be in the empty building.


Very strange.


Things are generally well, but I would rather not work.  I would like to be a writer with a ranch (with animals I don't have to take care of, of course), or a painter close to the beach, or a specialty-soap maker who works with locals to get the freshest herbs, ingredients and label-drawing artists.  Anything but having to wake up tired at 6:30 a.m., find matching tops and bottoms, follow the hoards into the metro, tuck in your elbows as you read the paper, enter the office, smile at the bored guards, deflect angry emails, come home tired. Repeat 5 times until the weekend.


Do you ever feel that your life is dreary?  Aren't you itching for an adventure?

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June 11, 2008


I'm also going to Mali!  Again, courtesy of my wonderful friend Wiki, here are some interesting facts about the country.

·        Mali is the seventh largest country in Africa, bordering Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west.


·        Mali historically has enjoyed reasonably good inter-ethnic relations; however, some hereditary servitude relationships exist, as do ethnic tensions between the Songhai and the Tuareg.


·        Malian musical traditions are derived from the griots, who are known as 'Keeper of Memories'.  Some famous Malian influences in music are kora virtuoso musician Toumani Diabaté, the late roots and blues guitarist Ali Farka Touré, the Tuareg band Tinariwen, and several Afro-pop artists such as Salif Keita, the duo Amadou et Mariam, and Oumou Sangare.


·        Most Malians wear flowing, colorful robes called boubous that are typical of West Africa.


·         Rice and millet are the staples of Malian cuisine, which is heavily based on cereal grains.  Grains are generally prepared with sauces made from leaves such spinach or baobab leaves, with tomato, or with peanut sauce, and may be accompanied by pieces of grilled meat (typically chicken, mutton, beef, or goat).


·        The Dogon are a group of people living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region.  The Dogon are best known for their mythology, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and their architecture. The past century has seen significant changes in the social organization, material culture and beliefs of the Dogon, partly because Dogon country is one of Mali's major tourist attractions.


But what I really want to do in Mali is :

1-Purchase Tuareg leatherworks

2- Visit Dogon Country

3- Buy Malian music (especially Tinariwen which you can't find easily in the US)


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Toumani Diabaté

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Dogon Country

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I'm also going to Ethiopia.  Fun facts from Wiki:

·        Ethiopia is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Sudan to the west, Kenya to the south, Somalia to the south-east and Djibouti to the north-east.


·        Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries in the world.  Ethiopia has yielded some of humanity's oldest traces, making the area important in the history of human evolution.


·        It is not certain how old the name Ethiopia is; its earliest attested use is in the Iliad , where it appears twice, and in the Odyssey, where it appears three times.   Its english name is thought to be derived from Greek words meaning 'of burned face'.


·        Sometimes Christianity in Africa is thought of as a European import that arrived with colonialism, but this is not the case with Ethiopia. The Kingdom of Aksum was one of the first nations to officially adopt Christianity.


·        Islam in Ethiopia dates back to the founding of the religion; in 615, when a group of Muslims were counseled by Muhammad to escape persecution in Mecca and travel to Ethiopia.


·        The best known Ethiopian cuisine consists of various vegetable or meat side dishes and entrees, usually a wat, or thick stew, served atop injera, a large sourdough flatbread.  One does not eat with utensils, but instead uses injera to scoop up the entrees and side dishes.


But what I really want to do in Ethiopia is:

-Purchase the soft white cotton scarves with colorful embroideries

-Eat authentic Ethiopian food



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Côte d'Ivoire

I will be going to Côte d'Ivoire for work in about a month.  Here is my selection bias of fun facts from Wikipedia:

·        The government officially discourages the use of the name Ivory Coast in English, preferring the French name Côte d'Ivoire to be used in all languages.


·        Laurent Gbagbo won elections in October 2000.  On September 19, 2002, while the President was in Italy, there was an armed uprising. Troops who were to be demobilised mutinied, launching attacks in several cities.  Gendarmes and vigilantes bulldozed and burned homes by the thousands, attacking the residents, where rebels were thought to be hiding.  In January 2003, President Gbagbo and rebel leaders signed accords creating a 'government of national unity'. Curfews were lifted and French troops patrolled the western border of the country.  Since then, the unity government has proven extremely unstable.  During one of these airstrikes in Bouaké, French soldiers were hit and nine of them were killed; the Ivorian government has said it was a mistake, but the French have claimed it was deliberate. They responded by destroying most Ivoirian military aircraft, and violent retaliatory riots against the French broke out in Abidjan.


·        Gbagbo's original mandate as president expired on October 30, 2005, but due to the lack of disarmament it was deemed impossible to hold an election, and therefore his term in office was extended until today.


·        Since 1983, Côte d'Ivoire's official capital has been Yamoussoukro; Abidjan, however, remains the administrative center. Most countries maintain their embassies in Abidjan, although some have closed their missions because of the continuing violence and attacks on Europeans.


·        The Baoulé, the Senoufo and the Dan peoples are skilled at carving wood and each culture produces wooden masks in wide variety.  The Côte d'Ivorian peoples use masks to represent animals in caricature to depict deities, or to represent the souls of the departed.  As the masks are held to be of great spiritual power, it is considered a taboo for anyone other than specially trained persons or chosen ones to wear or possess certain masks.  These ceremonial masks each are thought to have a soul, or life force, and wearing these masks is thought to transform the wearer into the entity the mask represents.


But what I really want to do in Côte d'Ivoire is:

-Pretend I'm Canadian (the French are not particularly popular in the country)

-Get a mask that is not taboo for me to own

-Meet one of the many writers from Côte d'Ivoire whose book I have been forced to read in high school, but now appreciate for its contribution to Africa literature



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