20 October 2010

real life.

The basics of what I've learned about International Development over the past 5 years in the words of Nicholas Kristof:

"it’s complicated."
"a noble experiment"
"entrepreneurs fail sometimes"
"good intentions and hard work aren’t enough"
"Helping people is hard."
"it will be only an incremental improvement. In the real world, that’s usually how progress arrives (with screams of vexation along the way)."

sometimes, that's kind of discouraging.

on the other hand...

Kristof also tells us that these aren't such bad things. I'm inspired by his article, "D.I.Y. Foreign Aid Revolution" and the incredible entrepreneurs he describes. Proof that all of us can play a role in development and have an influence for change in the world.

yes, the difference that one person makes is often small--"a drop in the bucket"--but each drop counts (for proof of this concept, visit the TippingBucket). not all of us will become leaders of international organizations or spend out lives building and living in orphanages or creating innovative ways to tackle the unspoken barriers women face in participating fully in society or regularly raising thousands of dollars for the most vulnerable populations in the world. some of us may not even be able to travel abroad. but we are all capable of doing something. and we are all capable of doing more than we are.

Please read Kristof's article.
Then read his blog.
Then take a cue from this inspiring family.
(and so many other sources. . . new suggestions are always welcome, by the way!)

Then see where this all takes you. What changes can you make in your daily life that will help you consume fewer precious resources? How can you adjust your spending so you avoid purchasing conflict materials or products that support unjust practices? How can you contribute (monetarily or otherwise) to causes that are truly important to you? How do you decide what those causes are? WHERE DO YOU FIT IN?

These are questions that I am trying to ask myself. Everyday. For me they're hard questions. Some of them might take me years to fully answer. Maybe even a lifetime.

But this much I know:
The world needs change--at home and abroad.
And it's up to us to make that happen.

Welcome to reality.
I hope you're ready to get on board...
the world needs you.

and i mean that.

battle royal

last night i found myself kneeling on the kitchen counter, screaming at the top of my lungs, while one of my roommates, who had jumped up on the opposite counter, was holding a blanket as a shield and another stood armed with a cardboard box in front of the refrigerator.

that's when the hilarity of the moment struck.

our house has been living in fear of a tiny, brown, furry, scurrying creature for the past two weeks or so. from the first spotting of the mouse, our house has been in disarray, with the occasional sighting sending the house into an uproar--when I saw the mouse in my room, i tore it apart trying to eliminate any possibility of a hiding place; my roommates and friends spotted the rodent and destroyed two rooms trying unsuccessfully to trap it; and after last night, my roommate made up an extra bed in my room, concerned for her safety alone with this vermin roving the house.

we've been "going to get" mouse traps since day one. it hasn't happened yet.

i don't know what the others are thinking, but for me its s mixture of emotions:
hope that the mouse might just leave of its own accord
fear of finding a bug-eyed mouse corpse squished in a trap (and also disgust at this thought)
sympathy for the poor little thing... i mean, i want it to leave, but i don't necessarily want it to DIE.

i was thinking about this mouse dilemma last night as my roommate put sheets on the extra bed so she could temporarily move into my room (for safety against this miniature monster--which, for the record, i completely understand and appreciate). it seemed so sad that the mouse should have to die, and yet so idealistic the idea that perhaps if we wait it out the little mouse might just decide to move out.

and i remembered my freshman english class, when we had to write the ending to a story that had pitted a prisoner against a lion as a spectacle for some barbaric crowd. we didn't know who would win, but each student had to draw his or her own conclusion. i thought of several. there were various ways to end the scene-the heroic underdog defeating a terrifying beast; the mistreated lion winning his freedom and pride in a brave battle; a young princess popping into the plot and saving the prisoner with her unprecedented valor and strength. but none of these endings were satisfactory as long as either the lion or the man had to die. so i concocted an elaborate scheme in which they both survived and even became friends, of sorts--i've forgotten most of the details...

now i wish i could conclude the tale of mouse vs. the Brown house in a similar fashion. i wish we could spare this worthy creature but also free ourselves of its discomforting presence. i wish mice and people could lived in peace together (and that mice didn't carry diseases and eat your food and leave behind unbecoming surprises).

but i've also become more realistic in the past ten years, and i can accept the reality that it is time to get a trap for our rodent friend.

maybe we can try a live trap first...

13 October 2010

you'd better believe it.

last night i watched a film called 'amreeka.'

it made me laugh
it made me cry
it made me think

one of my favorite lines from the film:
"It sucks here." (Fadi, son)
"Everywhere sucks." (Muna, mother)

this struck me as true...

maybe it's because i was thinking from the point of view of a palestinian mother and her teenage son coming to the united states from the west bank during the invasion of iraq. because from their point of view there was nothing to go home to and because in america they were treated as outsiders at best and terrorists at worst. because i can't imagine what it would be like to flee your country where you feel like a "prisoner" and come to another country with nothing but hope only to be treated like an outcast. because i know that there are people here who feel that way. because there are people everywhere who feel like they have nowhere to go. nowhere to call home. no solutions to the problems that tumble down upon them day by day.

but what i loved most is that they made it. in some ways. this mother and her son. their family. they found a way to survive. to be happy. they supported each other and they made the best of things.

sometimes i feel like "everywhere sucks." maybe not for me--and i know i am so blessed for that, even though sometimes things suck for me too. sometimes things suck for everyone. but for some people this is a reality of life. every day. all the time. and it's overwhelming even to imagine what that must feel like.

the thing is, everywhere can be beautiful too. everywhere has something to offer. everywhere can foster love. everywhere can be seen for the good. and people can persevere through so much more than i can even comprehend.

sometimes the world seems so dauntingly messed up. there are problems in every part of the world and there is no way to escape that reality. but humans are pretty strong. and when we support and love each other, we can make it through all kinds of suckiness.

i love that.

08 October 2010

rise and shine

Dear brain,

For the past week or so i haven't been able to pull myself out of bed on time. Over and over again i press the snooze or turn off my alarm and then proceed to slip back into my dreams.

Speaking of dreams, does anyone else consistently have strange, even creepy dreams. Mine are full of the normal characters from my life--friends, roommates, co-workers--but we are always in some obsurd situation in which nonsensical things are constantly happening. For instance, last night several people from my office were in my dream. I can't remember most of the dream, but at the end we were all trying to escape from something (or someone--which may have been revealed earlier in the dream... or not). We were in this open courtyard and tons of people were there--mostly i didn't know them, but they were families and individuals all trying to escape--and this older lady was drawing pictures in chalk all over the courtyard. I thought she was on our side. I thought her pictures were going to save us (it made sense in the dream). But then I realized she was drawing voodoo symbols and trapping us all. I was terrified and started alerting other and....

just then I realized it was 10 minutes after i should have already been at work
and i had to jump out of bed and abandon my dreams to oblivion.

c'est la vie.

06 October 2010

lets fly away

I'm ready to go back.

Cusco, Peru
August 2008

04 October 2010


today the wind blew up with the sound of a tempest raging over the city, threatening to tear roofs from buildings and uproot trees and as i watched the trees bending and bowing under the ghastly strength of the wind and listened to the storm blast around outside, blowing open the door and seeming strong enough to sweep any unfortunate pedestrian off her destabilized feet, suddenly sirens and horns began to call as ambulances went whirring by and i was filled with a sudden anxiety creeping up to make me imagine scenes of destruction and woe--tornadoes raged across Provo and torrential rains left our city soggy beneath the deep flood waters that would grow higher and higher and i wasn't scared at all, but excited. and of course i never thought we'd have such adventures, but i wished they would come, masochistically or "savagely," perhaps. and i thought maybe my childhood enjoyment of Mary Poppins blowing in on a storm clinging to her ever handy umbrella or Dorothy being whisked away to Oz in a funnel of dust and debris has fostered in me romantic ideas of such natural phenomena. But then, perhaps storms are always romantic. and mysterious. and opptunities for adventure and an almost magical separation from reality. . .

so now, sitting at my desk watching the dark sky cloud with dust and seeing leaves shaking and scattering from the trees, i felt akin to G.K. Chesterton and his optimistic views of such things. if i'm crazy, at least i'm not alone!

"I feel an almost savage envy on hearing that London has been flooded in my absence, while I am in the mere country. My own Battersea has been, I understand, particularly favoured as a meeting of the waters. Battersea was already, as I need hardly say, the most beautiful of human localities. Now that it has the additional splendour of great sheets of water, there must be something quite incomparable in the landscape (or waterscape) of my own romantic town. Battersea must be a vision of Venice. The boat that brought the meat from the butcher’s must have shot along those lanes of rippling silver with the strange smoothness of the gondola. The greengrocer who brought cabbages to the corner of the Latchmere Road must have leant upon the oar with the unearthly grace of the gondolier. There is nothing so perfectly poetical as an island; and when a district is flooded it becomes an archipelago.

"Some consider such romantic views of flood or fire slightly lacking in reality. But really this romantic view of such inconveniences is quite as practical as the other. The true optimist who sees in such things an opportunity for enjoyment is quite as logical and much more sensible than the ordinary “Indignant Ratepayer” who sees in them an opportunity for grumbling."

from On Running After One's Hat by G.K. Chesterton
read this essay on Quotidiana.org