Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In Need Of A Remedial English Class?

Headline on Yahoo News:

Exploding Deer Populations Causing Problems Across The Country



I'm sure the mess isn't too fun to clean up, either.

*rimshot*


ETA: Dang it, they've already changed the headline to "Menacing Deer Invasions Push Homeowners To The Limit." Of course now I'm imagining deer wearing leather jackets, cigarettes dangling from their mouths, with knives and broken bottles grasped in their dainty hooves....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Let's Get Back To The Food

I had houseguests this weekend, Carrie who I only get to see a few times a year and Sarah who I hadn't seen in several years. D. and Stella were in Eureka so we turned the house into what Sarah called Alannah's Spa.

There were three English majors at the spa, two with advanced degrees, and yet here was our reading material of choice:
Brunch. Notice that all four food groups were represented: Cherokee purple tomatoes, eggs, vodka, and pesto.

Pesto Eggs Benedict with heirloom tomatoes and roasted fingerling potatoes.

Raw potatoes, freshly picked & sold at the farmers' market. I love those Peruvian purples.

Afternoon dessert: homemade vanilla ice cream with Arkansas peaches.

Sunday evening party at Sunshine's.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hi, I'm a Dumbass

A reporter contacted me last week and asked if I would be willing to comment on my blog for an article he was writing for the Fayetteville Free Weekly on local blogs. These past few weeks I've been in such an insane, constricted bubble that I sort of forgot that there is an existence outside of the hamster wheel of my daily routine. So I said I didn't want to talk about it because I didn't feel like broadcasting this here blog. And yes, even as I was writing that response I was aware of how counterintuitive it sounded. When I write here, I imagine I'm just talking out loud to friends, or having conversations with myself on the page (screen, whatever). I certainly don't think about an unknown audience. It's a backward naïveté. I never miss an opportunity to scoff at people who think they can download porn at work or try to pick up teenage girls online. Those idiots....don't they know that they're not near as anonymous as they think? Except I never think of the anonymity factor. I guess I see my blog as a drop in an ocean of neurotic, overworked, tired-but-trying-to-make-time-for-what-is-important-in-this-life voices and that only my friends care to read it. I understand the other selections for the article. The Iconoclast is smart and informative and makes me think critically about local issues. The Fayetteville Flyer is hilarious and manages to walk the fine line between news and humor without being too irreverent...like The Daily Show & Colbert Report. Their graphics are pretty awesome too. But me? This? With the plain ol' Blogger template and content that is basically a thousand different ways of describing busy and tired?

So now I look like a dumbass. D. and Stella think I should be flattered. I think I'm just cranky and need a nap. That lasts two weeks.

It's nearing an end, though, this madness of summer programs. It seems just yesterday that we were having all our welcome parties and now it's already farewell dinners time. Last night's lasted four hours. You don't want to cut those things off, because they're all emotional and sweet and important for the students...but four hours is one long-ass dinner, you know? And then this morning the group of African students departed for their civil rights-themed road trip. It's the same trip I went on last year. I planned and organized the logistical puzzle of this trip again this year and I think I made it even better and stronger, so I really wanted to go and experience it again. I wish I could be with the students as they go to The King Center, or Central High School (I even hooked them up a daughter of the The Little Rock Nine....damn, I really wish I could be there for that), but I'm also glad (relieved is perhaps a better word) I didn't go along. I need to be here, at home. Where there are important Bravo shows to watch and neighborhood cat fights to break up.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wherein I Drop a Lot of Names and Qualifiers

Friday I celebrated the last of the weekend homestays, as well as Julie's birthday and seeing the longtime-nosee Christina, with two bottles of bubbly and late night people-watching. Saturday involved a drive to Tulsa to pick up my bridesmaid's dress for Stacey's wedding and eat Persian food. That evening I was invited to an international potluck dinner my students organized. I counted 26 nationalities, with just about every country represented by different dishes. Mmmm....Peruvian ceviche, Saudi Arabian spiced rice studded with cloves, pozole, Ugandan stew, Russian dumplings, Guatemalan guacamole, Egyptian rice with shrimp, Afghani beans, Togolese peanut sauce served over Chilean rice and onions. Arkansas watermelon for dessert. There's no way I could pick a favorite. It was all incredible.

Saturday night we packed up Stella, her friend, and the dog and drove to Eureka. Our home away from home has been Jessica's house there. It feels like a cabin in the woods, but is only just up the hill from downtown. Her porch is one of my favorite places.



View from the porch.
Jessica, Tolle-ing it up.

Abbey and Gijs (pronounced Hice) arrive.

Rock House Road to 221.

Laid back.

Up the river.

Down the river.

Chance (pronounced and possibly spelled Chaunce), the most photogenic baby in the world.

"I wish that guitar would get out of my mom's lap."

The joy of running before a captive audience.

Coupla redheads, up on the deck.

Big brother Noah.

I could use about six more weekends just like it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Done!

I just finished my last homestay reception of the summer! That means I have found weekend hosts for over 80 students this summer.

I feel like I just completed a marathon.

Champagne? Gatorade? I don't care!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Can't Even Get Into It

Oh my god. This week has left me a shredded pulp.

I'm taking the cat, going to bed, and watching last night's Project Runway.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Simple Math

4 hrs of sleep per night
+ 12 hrs of work a day
+ 4 concurrent programs
+ the news, any of it
+ oppressive humidity
____________________
Nervous breakdown time for Alannah!




But...
I had a superfun time last Saturday night when D. and I had a barbecue in honor of Nick and Stacey's upcoming wedding. It ended four hours, six bottles of wine, four kinds of meat, an appetizer, two dishes, and two homemade ice creams later with two couples nodding off on the couch watching When Harry Met Sally. That's how we roll, y'all.

This week has been a blur of new program arrivals, student neediness (it seems some types of people require a lot more attention when they're out of their element), and just general all around fatigue and short fusedness that naturally results from doing a hundred things at once for far too long. I can either sprint or go long distance - I can't do both. I prefer sprinting.

Last night I asked Stella to help me with a reception for about 50 people that we did for one of our summer programs. Afterwards she cleaned up everything quickly and without a single eye roll or protest. Progress! We were carrying stuff out to my car when I remembered that we have use of a golf cart at work in the summers when we need to run all over campus. I figured it was the perfect time to just have some fun together. So we took a joyride around campus.....and I let her drive. Considering that the last time she drove a golf cart she wrapped it around a tree I'd say she drove quite well. I only gripped the seat in terror once.

By late evening it had started to finally cool off a bit and there were these refreshing gusts (as opposed to the day breezes that feel more like Mother Nature just breathing heavily) rustling through the gorgeous big old trees covering campus. I spend remarkably little time walking around our lovely big green campus. Most of my work hours find me in an ugly retrofitted dorm located in what I refer to as The Suburbs because we're so far away from the academic buildings. As Stella got the hang of maneuvering around the narrower spots, I pointed out the various buildings that I never stopped to appreciate when I was in college. I held on tight as we raced around the sidewalks, giggling and squealing. We decided to look for my name on the Senior Walk - something I had never done before! It was so fun, zooming around, seeing the names of so many friends. It is a memory I'll carry with me. Not to mention it was my first experience with Stella as the chauffeur and me as the passenger. I could get used to it.

In thanks I made her lemon poppyseed muffins with a lemon glaze this morning. Mmmm.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Quick!...

Fictional country or real medication brand?


Aralen

Borovia

Buiron

Camptosar

Climara

Florin

Gliadel

Januvia

Karistan

Kasnia

Latveria

Mepron

Nihilon

Norvir

Ogen

Orencia

Pamelor


Go ahead - Google 'em!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Working For The Weekend

I'm been helping to settle in our new group of 20 African students. Hooo-eeee, they can be tough. But awesome. Tough and awesome....that pretty much sums it up. But doesn't even begin to, really. What a group of people. You want a harsh mirror held up to you, your culture, and your experience? Then spend some time with some Nigerians. One told me today that they have an average life expectancy of 36 years. You've got to be tough when you're struggling to survive.

But they're just some of the people I'm trying to assist every single day.

(This is not a story about an African student)

The worst excuse I've heard yet when we've told a smoker student that there is absolutely no smoking inside their apartments: "But I was constipated. I have to smoke when that happens."

Deep breath, Alannah. Have some patience. They're out of their elements. You have to tell them what their new element is. They don't know.


I took another group of students to the city council meeting last night. I love taking them to the meetings. It's a jolt of appreciative reality. They marvel at the whole process. They can't believe that people can just walk in and sit down and watch it all happen. We are lucky to have (relatively) transparent government. We're lucky that we can openly discuss public policies with our elected representatives.

But goddamn, I can't wait to lay in a raft in the Kings River on Friday, beer in hand. I love you, America.