Monday, August 25, 2008

words fail

Today is my first day back from vacation and I should be blogging about how rejuvenating a two week vacation is or how frustrating it is to come home to a broken satellite or how irritating it is to be missing 30 pages in the middle of the novel I was reading on the plane . . . but this all shrank significantly in comparison to the news I heard this morning that I am still trying to digest but words completely fail me.

My sister emailed me this article about a plane crash in Guatemala. Two summers ago my sister and I went on a trip with Choice Humanitarian to Guatemala to help build a water system for a small village. While there we met this amazing couple:
Javier and Walfred Rabanales. Both (along with a number of volunteers) were killed in the plane crash. I spent less than a week with Javier and Walfred but I will carry those 5 days I spent living with them under the same small, tin roof of the village health center in Chimaxiat, Guatemala with me for the rest of my life.

Javier was the in-country director for Choice Humanitarian, organizing and running all of the village projects within his native country. His wife was not compensated for her time but she cooked all of our meals and offered a winning smile at all hours under all circumstances. My dear friend Levi was especially close to Javier and Walfred as he met them while serving his mission over a decade ago in Guatemala and introduced them to Choice. I offered a few impotent words of sorrow to him over email feeling unable to properly express my sympathy as I could not yet comprehend that these two people I knew so briefly but who materially effected my life could be gone.

I didn't do a very good job of recording my experience in Guatemala on my blog two years ago but luckily I kept a journal while I was there which, along with a review of my photos, has opened a flood of memories of this couple and the service they generously gave year-round, while I simply gave a week of my life.

Here is Javier (in the white shirt) giving instructions to the villagers and volunteers on how to glue the pipe (for the water system) together. He worked hard and was always in an upbeat spirit - even when he was dealing with silly and/or weary volunteers.
Walfred cooked all our meals. There was one breakfast in particular that still stands out as one of my favorite meals. I remember waking sometime between 5 and 530 am to the sound of chopping and the aroma of fresh onion and cilantro. I drifted in and out of sleep until it was time to eat this delectable huevos rancheros with fresh salsa, refried beans, plantains and of course fresh corn tortillas.On two separate nights Javier saved us all from scary tarantulas - this one was even carrying babies!
Unfortunately Javier and Walfred are all the way down at the end of this picture at the head of the table around which we ate each meal and around which we each unfurled a sleeping bag at the end of the day. I am never sure what to say in these incidents of overwhelming sorrow. While I doubt any of the surviving family or friends are reading this but if by chance they stumble across this meager offering of memories I want them to know how much I loved and admired Javier and Walfred for their willingness to dedicate their lives to the service of others and the betterment of their country. I also want those who were affected by this terrible tragedy to be comforted and find peace and encourage anyone and everyone to help Choice either by donating money or volunteering your time by experiencing a trip with them yourself. I have been trying to go on a second trip with them the last two years and regret that I can only say I have been on one. They are low-frills and you can see how your money directly benefits real people in need. I wish them peace and comfort as they cope with this overwhelming tragedy and grieve those they have lost.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

perhaps an overshare?

The last few days before a vacation can be the most aggravating. There always seems to be a significnatly lengthy list of things that must be done. Since I am leaving for two weeks, and work has only fully comprehended this in the last two days, this list seems compounded. Yet, I'm not exactly in the best mind-set for buckling down and accomplishing much of anything because, you know, I'm ready for my vacation now.

So I've been making lists of "must do" before Friday items. One for work and one for personal. The crazy thing about my personal list is suddenly I feel this urgent need to attend to tasks I have long neglected such as getting rid of the dead plant that has been sitting in my window for a couple of months. I managed to check that one off the list Monday night. Of course I also toss in cleaning the apartment and emptying the fridge in addition to the following: pack (duh!), water plants, laundry make river playlist (any fun suggestions?), make trail mix (this year's will be similar to the Iceland mix, I picked up ingredients last night), pick up new contacts (they have been ready for weeks), refill prescriptions, get pedicure and have a variety of waxing procedures - one must be prepared before going au naturale.

My living room is currently centered around a bright yellow North Face duffle bag into which I toss various items as I come across them or as I think of them or as I purchase them for Saturday's departure. I've actually avoided going into my storage unit too far in advance to pull out my camping gear out of a fear that I will get too excited (I'm nerdy like that).

However, the task that is most irksome to me right now has not required any effort on my part. In fact, it has required me to abstain from a certain daily task and yet it bothers me the most.

Let me explain.

A couple of years ago when I went to Guatemala I was happy to embrace my natural self and let certain grooming habits take a hiatus - namely, shaving. I generally have no problem with this aspect of camping - it comes with the territory. Although we were lucky enough to have a shower in the village where we were working, it wasn't exactly hot and steamy water. The shower was outside with plastic tarps attached to wooden posts surrounding it for modesty's sake. Privacy was relatively good but one never knew where our curious young observers might wander (the kids followed us constantly and were often staring in the open air windows of the health center where we slept when we went to bed and there when we woke up in the morning). Combined with cold water, showers were relatively brief and shaving was not exactly a priority. Which was fine.

But after we left the village we took one of the best boat rides of my life down the Rio Dulce which terminated in perhaps the nastiest city I've ever visited - Livingston. At one point as our boat sped across the water and I cradled the back of my head in my hands and stretched out across the front of the boat facing my fellow passengers seated in the back, a friend of mine did a mock imitation of my pose and then nodded at his armpit. I then inspected my own neglected armpits that had been left to their own wild devices. It was truly disgusting. I immediately pulled my arms down to my side and hung my head in shame.

It reminded me of when I first realized I needed to start shaving my armpits. I believe it was the spring of 5th grade. At that point I may or may not have shaved my legs a few times whether I needed it or not - just to feel grown up. I may have asked my mom for a bra despite there being no evidence of a need for one. I was at my friend Alex Meadows' house laying out on her deck, I stretched out in my swimming suit on the towel next to hers and when I raised my arms above my head she said something to the effect of "eeewwww! don't you shave your pits? because you need to!" Not having yet experienced any of the tell-tale signs of puberity promised in Judy Blume's books I was shocked to see a few long (!!) black hairs curling out from under each arm. Horrified, I am quite sure that is the day I started shaving my arm pits every day.

Honestly, hairy legs I can live with for a few days. But hairy pits? Ick.

If I could just collect myself enough to commit to the lazer removal process I wouldn't have to face such irksome issues of facing a week in the wilderness with no shower or razer and lots of swimsuit time. But, alas, I hate making appointments and I hate running errands. So my arm pit hair removal process remains antiquated.

A friend of mine had her arm pits waxed for her wedding so she would have a smooth look for her halter wedding dress and not have to bother with shaving on her honeymoon in Greece. So I consulted with her over the details and she advised growing the hair out for a week.

Well.

I am 5 days into the growth period and it is terrible. I am convinced I sweat more and I have to be very selective of the tops I wear because even cap sleeve and short sleeve tops can reveal a glimpse at the pits if one is not careful. Nobody needs to see that.

I think the estiticion will have ample hair to work with by the time I drop by for my waxing on Saturday morning. I'm just hoping I can continue to resist grabbing my razer each morning and shaving it all off before then.

Wish me luck!

Friday, August 01, 2008

because stealing ideas is better than not blogging. . .

I found this list and stole it. Yes, it is another list but interesting and doesn't require much thought so here we go:

Bolded are things I HAVE done, and unbolded are things I HAVE NOT, I have also italicized things I want to do.

1. Touched an iceberg - see proof here. I realize it is just a piece of ice but it came from an iceberg so I say it counts.
2. Slept under the stars - I miss stars living in a too bright city.
3. Been a part of a hockey fight
4. Changed a baby’s diaper
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity - not sure how to measure this so I'm going to both bold and italicize.
7. Swam with wild dolphins - would love this!
8. Climbed a mountain - looking forward to climbing some mountains in Idaho very, very soon.
9. Held a tarantula
10. Said “I love you” and meant it - but not in a very long time. Oh, except to my family and friends but somehow that isn't quite the same.
11. Bungee jumped - although this seems like a very 90s thing to do, is that weird of me to think that?
12. Visited Paris - but really want to go back, if for nothing other than the crepes.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea - from my cousin's beach house in Rhode Island.
14. Stayed up all night long and watched the sun rise - actually been considering a post somewhat related to this.
15. Seen the Northern Lights - barely missed this by a month in Iceland last summer.
16. Gone to a huge sports game - Yeah NBA Finals 1997 and 1998 and Fiesta Bowl 2005!!
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope - thanks to college astronomy, probably the hardest I worked in a college class without getting an A.
20. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment - and was kicked out of AP American History class for it and told I had a "banchee from hell laugh". Awesome.
21. Had a pillow fight - who hasn't?
22. Bet on a winning horse
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - from another state no less.
24. Built a snow fort - but not in a very long time.
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping - sorry mom, I won't elaborate.
27. Taken an ice cold bath (with actual ice, in fact) - I'm assuming the ice baths in the spa in Iceland count even though it was more of a plunge in and jump out to get in the hot tub again. I'm counting it.
28. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
29. Seen a total eclipse - although all I remember is making the viewer thing out of a cereal box in elementary school.
30. Ridden a roller coaster
31. Hit a home run - wait is this a metaphorical homerun?
32. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking - CONSTANTLY!
33. Adopted an accent for fun - I cannot do accents. At all.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors - if Germany counts even though there is a lot more British and some Finnish in there and I didn't visit any actual ancestral lands or anything.
35. Felt very happy about your life, even for just a moment - it comes and goes.
36. Loved your job 90% of the time - again, it comes and goes although definitely not right now.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied - my theory is you get love or money. I'll trade money for love any day.
38. Watched wild whales - I LOVE whale watching!
39. Gone rock climbing - went to the climbing gym last night in fact.
40. Gone on a midnight walk on the beach - Michele, remember Mazatlan?
41. Gone sky diving
42. Visited Ireland
43. Ever bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited India
45. Bench-pressed your own weight
46. Milked a cow
47. Alphabetized your personal files - I'm organized.
48. Ever worn a superhero costume - only if Cat Woman counts.
49. Sung karaoke
50. Lounged around in bed all day - far too often.
51. Gone scuba diving - at the Great Barrier Reef!
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud - Liz, you must remember Kolob Canyon and the red mud!
54. Gone to a drive-in theater - are these around anymore?
55. Done something you should regret, but don’t - I won't elaborate.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China - someday.
57. Started a business - I am not entrepreneurial minded, especially since I don't believe I can actually spell that word correctly and I'm too lazy to look it up.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Been in a movie
60. Gone without food for 3 days - No. Thank. You!
61. Made cookies from scratch - but it has been too long since the last batch.
62. Won first prize in a costume contest - sort of, I got the votes for it but since I was counting the votes I thought it would sound rigged if I announced I had won "sexiest costume".
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Been in a combat zone
65. Spoken more than one language fluently - I kept waiting for fluency to hit me on my study abroad and it sort of did when I yelled at a bus driver in Paris for trying to rip us off but it immediately vanished after that.
66. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone - I was a freshman and it was my roommate, the only physical fight I have ever been in.
67. Bounced a check - who makes it through college without bouncing a check? Oh, right, no one uses checks anymore.
68. Read - and understood - your credit report
69. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
70. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
71. Called or written your Congress person
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
73. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
74. Helped an animal give birth
75. Been fired or laid off from a job
76. Won money
77. Broken a bone - I was pushed out of a box when I was 3 so I don't actually remember it.
78. Ridden a motorcycle
79. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph - a Corvette in Pine Valley a couple of years ago with my dad encouraging and directing me from the passenger seat - loved it more than I ever would have expected. Okay, so it was only 95 but that is close enough, right?
80. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
81. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing - if I could only be so lucky.
82. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days - no but in 10 days I will take a rafting trip for 6 days!
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read The Bible cover to cover
86. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
87. Gotten someone fired for their actions
88. Gone back to school
89. Changed your name - it's a pain, hence, I am reluctant to ever do it again.
90. Caught a fly in the air with your bare hands
91. Eaten fried green tomatoes
92. Read The Iliad
93. Taught yourself an art from scratch - do beaded necklaces count? I was really good at making those in high school.
94. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
95. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
96. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language - thank you random girl in Costa Rica for helping me navigate the bus system after our plane decided to bump us to the next day so I could meet my friends!
97. Been elected to public office
98. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
99. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
100. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
101. Had a booth at a street fair
102. Dyed your hair
103. Been a DJ
104. Rocked a baby to sleep
105. Ever dropped a cat from a high place to see if it really lands on all four
106. Raked your carpet
107. Brought out the best in people - I hope?
108. Brought out the worst in people - I'm sure of it.
109. Worn a mood ring
110. Ridden a horse - wait, does a mule count? I guess I also rode an annoyed pregnant horse once. I felt terrible about riding her, she just wanted to get back to her stable the whole time.
111. Carved an animal from a piece of wood or bar of soap
112. Cooked a dish where four people asked for the recipe
113. Buried a child
114. Gone to a Broadway play
115. Been inside the pyramids
116. Shot a basketball into a basket
117. Danced at a disco - do these exist anymore or do they just mean a club?
118. Played in a band - I am totally counting high school and college jazz band and concert band even though they are nerdy.
119. Shot a bird
120. Gone to an arboretum
121. Tutored someone
122. Ridden a train - best train ride is a toss up between Switzerland followed closely by one in Kuranda, Australia through the rain forest.
123. Brought an old fad back into style - I'm guessing the sailor hat I wore in 7th grade doesn't count as "an old fad" and one friend adopting the look doesn't count as bringing it "back into style"
124. Eaten caviar
125. Let a salesman talk you into something you didn’t need
126. Ridden a giraffe or elephant
127. Published a book
128. Pieced a quilt
129. Lived in an historic place - I don't know what this one means. As in an historic building or city or what?
130. Acted in a play or performed on a stage - best actress in the stake in the 1989 Road Show that had something to do with food storage.
131. Asked for a raise
132. Made a hole-in-one
133. Gone deep sea fishing
134. Gone roller skating
135. Run a marathon - and I never will.
136. Learned to surf - I tried once but I don't think it qualifies as "learned".
137. Invented something
138. Flown first class - hoping for this one again next week!
139. Spent the night in a 5-star luxury suite - alone, for work.
140. Flown in a helicopter
141. Visited Africa
142. Sang a solo - nobody wants this.
143. Gone spelunking - could be fun, although I'd be worried about claustrophobia.
144. Learned how to take a compliment - sometimes, but I mostly find it awkward.
145. Written a love-story
146. Seen Michelangelo’s David
147. Had your portrait painted - courtesy of my talented sister
148. Written a fan letter
149. Spent the night in something haunted
150. Owned a St. Bernard or Great Dane - my dog is part Great Dane, we think.
151. Ran away
152. Learned to juggle
153. Been a boss
154. Sat on a jury
155. Lied about your weight
156. Gone on a diet - I hate them.
157. Found an arrowhead or a gold nugget
158. Written a poem
159. Carried your lunch in a lunchbox
160. Gotten food poisoning
161. Gone on a service, humanitarian or religious mission
162. Hiked the Grand Canyon
163. Sat on a park bench and fed the ducks
164. Gone to the opera
165. Gotten a letter from someone famous
166. Worn knickers - I had these great turquoise ones I wore with a red sweater vest with turquoise fish on it - I LOVED that outfit when I was 10!
167. Ridden in a limousine - hello high school prom with the awkward couple making out all night.
168. Attended the Olympics
169. Can hula or waltz - although I'm getting better at the Wii Fit hula thing.
170. Read a half dozen Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books - I LOVED Nancy Drew in elementary school!
171. Been stuck in an elevator - ugh, FHA convention in Park City my senior year of high school. Oh, and a couple of years ago here in my office building.
172. Had a revelatory dream - it was about visiting Iceland!
173. Thought you might crash in an airplane
174. Had a song dedicated to you on the radio or at a concert
175. Saved someone’s life
176. Eaten raw whale - nor will I ever!
177. Know how to tat, smock or do needlepoint - I don't even know what all of these words mean
178. Laughed till your side hurt
179. Straddled the equator
180. Taken a photograph of something other than people that is worth framing
181. Gone to a Shakespeare Festival
182. Sent a message in a bottle
183. Spent the night in a hostel
184. Been a cashier
185. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
186. Joined a union
187. Donated blood or plasma - should have done this yesterday but didn't get around to signing up. Lazy.
188. Built a camp fire - I'm a pro :)
189. Kept a blog
190. Had hives
191. Worn custom made shoes or boots
192. Made a PowerPoint presentation
193. Taken a Hunter’s Safety Course - and I won't ever
194. Served at a soup kitchen
195. Conquered the Rubik’s cube
196. Know CPR - knew it at one point should really re-learn it.
197. Ridden in or owned a convertible
198. Found a long lost friend - thank you Facebook.
199. Helped solve a crime
200. Responded to a NJP newsletter - should I know what this means? and I'm resisting the urge to change "a NJP" to "an NJP", does that bother anyone else?

If you are out of blogging ideas, or just don't have time to be creative (like me), let me know what you have done.
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