Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It’s Quiet

I am trying ever so hard to come up with something worth blogging about. But you see, my life has gone from travel to tivo and now I just don’t have that many stories to share with you. I mean I can tell you all the exciting things that are happening in the lives of my tv characters. But I think you probably already know those things, as they happened weeks ago. I could also tell you about the amount of food that I’ve eaten since I’ve been back, but then, I could probably just tell you that the ten pounds I lost is pretty much back. Anorexia is a great weight loss tool. It just doesn’t quite work once you start eating again. Who woulda thunk it.

I went to sushi last night and was pleased to once again have raw fish in my diet. It’s not natural for me to go three weeks without sushi. Maybe that’s why I got sick, cause my body was rejecting all food but raw fish and french fries. It has been carefully trained to live on those two food sources alone.

It’s quiet this week. It’s funny how quiet it is in my house and in my life after my little trips. During the trips I’m surrounded by people 24 hours a day. That is very different from my normal life of independence. I am very good at being in the quiet, it’s always been quiet in my life. I was an only child, so I got used to being alone as a kid and I also got used to quiet, as there is considerably less children screaming/arguing/playing sounds when there is just one kid. It’s always a bit of an adjustment to get used to the noise of traveling with 5 to 17 other people. And then somehow it just becomes that norm. And then it becomes very quiet when I return home. Not bad quiet, but quiet nonetheless.

See, I’m actually blogging about it being quiet. This may be the most boring blog ever. Tomorrow I will try to do something exciting and entertaining and totally blog-worthy. If I don’t I will just make something up.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Story Told Through Video

Look. I went to work today. And didn't do much else. (Besides catch a cold, it seems) So I don't really have anything to blog about. But last week? I was doing things worth blogging about but I was too busy actually doing them to actually blog about them.

Today I'm tired and cold-y so I'm going to half ass the blog by just posting videos. Writing is overrated.

Basically there was this school in Guatemala. It was at the top of a very big mountain. There were six grades of kids there and only one teacher. They were all really poor kids and our leader asked us if we wanted to have a party with the kids. I said that would be okay as long as some other non-Guatemalans were there as well, so there wouldn't be 200 kids staring at only us.

We decided that instead of toys we would buy the kids shoes, as most of the kids we'd come across on our trek up and down the mountain weren't wearing shoes. We decided to call the party "La Fiesta de los Zapatos" (The party of shoes)

This seemed like a grand idea. Until we actually had to go buy 70 pairs of shoes. In the market. My lord, it was like the most boring version of Amazing Race ever. The Not Even That Entertaining Race is what we were participating in.

Booooring. And that was only like a minute of the HOURS we spent wandering this maze of a market looking for shoes. We had gone to one place initially and they had given us a good price on the shoes. Then, in an effort to increase our buying power, we went back and begged for money from some of the other students at the Spanish school where we were studying. Then we returned to the market with the actual belief that we would be able to find that one shoe seller guy again. We were not correct in this belief. The main problem was that we went into the maze of sellers a different way, then we tried to wind our way through in the direction of where we thought the shoe guy had been. Along the way we found other shoe guys and bought about 10 or 20 shoes at a time at each place.

We left one shoe seller and headed off looking for our original low price shoe seller. We wound through the maze for like 10 minutes, we went outside, came back in, wound around some more and then, miracle of miracles, we found the original place. As we were getting the shoes from the original place we looked over to see a nice woman waving at us. At the place literally right next to where we were standing. She was waving at us because we had just bought shoes from her. Right before we went off on a 10 minute quest for our original shoe guy. Instead of walking 10 minutes we probably could have walked just two steps.

We are not smart.

Finally we got the shoes and made it to the fiesta. When we got there the leader guy asked a couple of the groups if they could sing a song in their language for the kids. We put our heads together and came up with some very inappropriate rap songs. Then we decided maybe the hokey pokey might be a better bet. The group from Canada sang some song in French. And the Koreans said, "I'm sorry, we did not know that there would be a song. We did not have time to prepare, we can't possibly perform."

These Koreans weren't really spontaneous people, on the whole. I sincerely hope they didn't think we had been given advanced notice and still all we came up with was this:

What is it about the butt? It somehow transcends all language and makes everyone laugh. Except the Koreans. They didn't know that there would be laughter, so they didn't have time to prepare for it.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I Heart America

Well, I am back in the USandA and I am very much happy about this fact. I really missed the Estados Unidos, let me tell you. And I missed my DVR. I’ve spent the past few days trying to alleviate the weight my DVR has been carrying for me these past weeks. Some people would be intimidated by 80 hours of TV to watch. Me, I was literally dreaming about it while in Guatemala.

The other big project for the weekend has included reintroducing my poor stomach to American food. It has been slow-going. I weighed myself when I got back and I lost about 10 pounds from the weight I was when I left. This is not even counting the weight I simply had to have put on while eating my way through New Orleans. Again, I must commend the diet plan in Guatemala. Screw Weight Watchers, book a trip to Guatemala, you’ll be wearing you skinny jeans in no time. Although, I don’t know how long you will continue to wear the skinny jeans after you return to the USandA and start eating again. But a week in the skinny jeans is better than no week at all.

Tomorrow I will return to work and I’m actually looking forward to it. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. I’m lucky because I actually enjoy my job, and doing it well makes me feel good. And doing it well means I get to be creative on a regular basis. It’s weird how off I feel when I’m not being creative. It’s hard to put a finger on, but eventually I realize that I really need to design something, or write something, or I don’t know, paint on a wall or something. I did figure out creative ways to keep myself from dying even though I wasn’t really eating for two weeks, so I guess I wasn’t totally void of any creativity...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

God Bless America

I am on American soil. I love American soil. American soil has ice that I can drink and toilets that flush and Mountain Dew. God Bless Mountain Dew.

There are a lot of things to be thankful for this holiday. Most of all I am thankful for the amount of food I will be able to identify and then eat tomorrow. I am most thankful for the fact that my family agreed to put off Thanksgiving for a day so that I can partake in the mass eating that needs to be done in order to assert my love of my country. And my love of all its food.

We made some videos so far along our trek. My good lord do we look good. We were much cuter in Guatemala, where things take on a slightly less groomed appearance...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Guatemalan Diet Plan

If you are looking to lose weight I say travel internationally. You might want to skip traveling to New Orleans first, because then you might only be losing the weight that you put on during your tour of all the New Orleans restaurants. But as far as diet plans go I don´t think any beat the puking fest/dehydration day that I had last week. My dear lord. Who knew a person could puke so much? I did not. Nor did I really ever feel like making such a discovery. But discover I did. For travel is nothing if not a time of discovery.


I am feeling much better now. And my tongue is no longer black. I think that is a good thing. I´m not entirely sure what a black tongue means but I don´t think it is a sign of good health.

We went on a trip this weekend to some waterfall/pool thing. It was beautiful. We swam in the clearest water I´ve ever seen. I´m sure we all have malaria now as a result, but it was totally worth it.

In four more days I will be home. And I will be very happy to see my bed, and my couch and me TV and my shower and my washer and dryer. And sushi. I think I miss sushi the most.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

On Top of the World

Today we road in a bus up the side of a very big mountain. We got very near the top. I looked around and thought it was foggy, but it turns out we were in the clouds. Our bus couldn´t make it the whole way up so we stopped and walked the rest of the way, finally arriving at a small school on the side of the mountain. We worked there for a few hours, painting the small school for the children that will return in a month or so.

Then on the way back down we got stopped again and had to wait for a half hour or so before we could continue out of the clouds. So I wrote a poem:

Time stands still
In this place in the sky
Our journey on pause
And we don´t ask why

We can see the world
Tumbling around below
As we breathe the clouds
And speed down to slow

Peace is found
Where you never look
Between the race
And the things you took

It´s here and there
Moments in time
When things of scatter
Begin to rhyme

It´s these clouds we touch
The face of youth
It´s in giving of us
Where we find some truth

You can see the world
From thise place in the sky
And we can see ourselves
If we really try.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Traveling is fun

We get up at 3 a.m.

Because some idiot decided it was a good idea to book a 6 a.m. flight.

I am that idiot.

We get to the airport, check in, and start to undress to go through security.

I remember that I usually take my laptop out to go through security.

I do not have my laptop with me now.

It appears that the same idiot left her laptop at the house instead of bringing it to the airport.




We get in a cab.

It is 5 a.m.

We have one hour.

Cab Man drives very very fast.

We nearly give sleeping friends a heart attack when we storm back into the house to get the laptop.

We get back in the cab, continue with the fast fast driving.

We get to the aiport.

It is 5:52.

We go through security.

As we are redressing we hear our names called over the intercom, alerting us to the fact that our plane is planning on leaving whether or not we are on it.

We run.

We run.

We run.

We don´t have our shoes tied.

Things are flying off us.

We run.

We are not really in that great of shape.

Our departure gate is not really that close.

We run.

They announce again that we should probably be on the plane. ç

We run.

People point and laugh.

We get to the plane.

It is still there.

We get on.

People stare.

We give each other high five.

We are now in Guatemala, realizing that learning a new language is not easy.

And also learning that holding babies is the definition of peace.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Miss Paula

We went to Miss Paula's house yesterday. Our group of 18 worked on her house last summer and yesterday we got to see it done. It is beautiful. And completely fitting of Miss Paula. Here are some pics for the other 14 who couldn't make our return trip. Miss Paula says thank you to you all and wants you to know you've always got a place to stay in Louisiana.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I Heart New Orleans

I am officially in love with New Orleans. This place is amazing. The food alone could be the subject of a 300 page novel. My dear lord do they know how to cook food in this town. Every meal I’ve had has been a culinary treat. And it’s not just the taste, but the presentation as well. These people love food, and it is very clear in their cooking of it. I, as it turns out, love food as well. And it is very clear in my eating of it this week.

When I came here in the summer I wasn’t a huge fan of New Orleans, because we were staying on Bourbon Street. And Bourbon Street, as you might have heard, is a bit of a drunken frat boy. Not really my type of street. The funny thing about Bourbon is that everyone on it instantly becomes a drunken frat boy, whether or not they are actually a frat boy, or if they are actually a 85 year old woman with a cane. Everyone is drunk and stupid. Is really is a beautiful representation of our fine country.

But this time we are staying in a cute little neighborhood outside of the French Quarter. It’s where real people live, instead of the people who come here to be drunken frat boys. A few blocks down there is a street called Frenchman’s where you can find the locals hanging out. And you can hear some of the best music you’ve ever heard. Because it is music the way it is supposed to be. Musicians who just love playing and people who just love music. It’s awesome. Here is a video I took last night in a bar called The Spotted Cat. The Spotted Cat still has fake spider webs in the window from Halloween (maybe from Halloween in 1960) as well as Christmas lights. I knew right away that I was going to enjoy this cat.

Look at the people dancing in this place, I felt like I was in a speakeasy. I think the thing that is so awesome is that you will never find any bar in the world where you see the eclectic mix of people that I saw in this place. There were young kids all the way up to a random 50 year old woman in a long sequins-ed dress. And they all just moved to the music and drank their beer.

At one point a tall black woman in a red dress stepped up on stage and just started belting out a song. No microphone, just her voice, rising above the jazz and the dancers and the smoke. It all felt like art in motion.

I really like New Orleans.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fun with Videos

Today I put siding on a house. It was fun and a little scary that I can just put siding on a house with no real supervision. I guess it’s not brain surgery, but still. I shouldn’t be allowed to just put siding on the side of someone’s house. I’m a graphic designer for god’s sakes.

I took some more videos. I’m sorry that they aren’t very good, but I’m taking them with my photo camera and they are about as good as they are going to get with that little thing.

Here is a video of our condo where we are staying. I am enjoying the spa, to say the least.

The work this time does not seem as bad, because it is not 12453 degrees outside like it was in June and I’m mixing cement by hand like I was in Honduras. Comparatively speaking siding a house is pretty easy.

Not much more to write, I have to go eat some more food. I do enjoy the food in New Orleans, my waistline is not enjoying it very much however. Oh well. Totally worth it.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Traveling is Fun

I really wish someone would get on that whole transporter thing. In which we just get into a tube of some sort and think or something and then end up where we want to be. No planes, no TSA, no layovers, no crying babies. And you can take your luggage in the tube with you, so it doesn’t get left in Texas. I would enjoy a transporter/teleporter thing, for sure.

We have made it safely to Louisiana and can I just say that it is a lot cooler in November in Louisiana than in June. Who woulda thunk it? Shocking really. It’s as if there are seasons that can be predicted or something.

Our volunteer housing this time is actually a condo that we are renting and it has a pool and spa. We are enjoying this volunteering housing slightly more than the cots we are usually sleeping on while volunteering. We are staying in about the cutest neighborhood ever, right outside of the French Quarter. There are actual cafes on the corners of our block, little places that you can’t even see in, they just have tiny signs that say café or restaurant. Then you go in and there dining areas and patio areas and bar areas. And everyone knows each other. Adorable. And delicious. New Orleans knows how to make food y’all. My good lord their food is good. I’m a little worried about the consequences of eating all the good food this time and not sweating out 4 gallons every three minutes. I think the sweat was the only thing that kept me under 200 pounds last time. Ruh ro.

When we got off the plane in New Orleans (and while we were waiting to fill out our lost luggage report) I was surprised to see so many people coming off the planes in groups. They were groups of volunteers, still coming to the city. Most of them are church organizations, most older adults, maybe retired. It’s nice to see that people still care and are still coming here. And it’s nice to see how much life there still is here. And more importantly - how much good food.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I Should Be Packing

I don’t really know how to pack for three weeks. Last time I went to Central America for like 7 days and I packed so much stuff they nearly kicked me off the plane. How do you pack for 20 days exactly? I don’t even know where to start. Underwear. I guess I should start there. That’s a good place to start.

You know, I think I’ll just pack for a week and then hope to find laundry facilities somewhere along the way. I’ll bring extra underwear, just in case.

I found out that I’m going to have to do some work while I’m gone. I tried to get it all done, but two of my clients just can’t get the info to me by tomorrow. So I’ll be designing after saving the world in New Orleans. These are the things you have to do when you have freelance clients and a mortgage. “You know, Dawn, it’s not a big deal, we can just find someone else to finish up this project, so you don’t have to worry about it.” “No, no, working on vacation is totally fine. As is not being foreclosed on.”

I still haven’t figured out my heater, but I have figured out that I hate, hate, hate help lines. Look, I’m all about everyone coming to this country and living the American dream and all that. I think that anyone who wants to come here and be an American should be entitled, as we are all immigrants technically, if you go back to our roots. But. If you come to this country, and you do not speak the language coherently you DO NOT get to work at HELP LINES. For the love of all things holy and pure. You can do WHATEVER the hell else you want. Own a store, become a doctor, sell real estate, I don’t give a crap. But if you CANNOT SPEAK MY LANGUAGE you don’t get to be the person I have to TALK to when I need help. This is all I ask for in this life. Please, it is not much.

And speaking of me not being able to hear, I went to go get new hearing aides the other day. One of my friends married a guy who sells hearing aides. Which I think is sweet of her. Another friend of mine is going to marry a guy who does printing stuff and needs graphic designers, which is nice of her too. Between the two of them lately I’m able to hear and make money, not bad husbands if you ask me.

So I go into the hearing aide place to pick out which ones I want. Basically I need a back up pair because I live with this fear that something is going to happen to my pair of hearing aides and then I’ll be deaf for two weeks until the new pair comes in. This will not be a good thing in February when I’m supposed to be going out and selling my book to the masses. Hearing seems like it would be a very important part of a PR campaign. Dontcha think? Yes.

So I went in to get some new ears and some peace of mind. Hearing aides, like all technology have dropped in price since I bought mine 7 years ago. My old hearing aides cost me a total of 5 grand and these new ones will only cost a total of $2500. Half off baby. It still seems a bit ridiculous that I have to pay for hearing aides and that they are not covered by insurance. How are poor people supposed to go on PR campaigns?

When I was at the hearing aide place I saw this poster:

First of all, I told the Hearing Aide Husband that he might want to consider updating his posters on a slightly more frequent basis than every 30 years, because half of the people on the poster are dead. But he said that most of the people who come in for hearing aides are so old that they really like the old poster. Ouch. Not a lot of 28 year olds coming in for hearing aides, as it turns out. Whatever.

But look! Look at the poster! Look at all the people who are hearing impaired! Now I don’t think that hearing impairment was the cause of death for the half that are no longer with us, lets just mention that. But who knew Sally Field wore hearing aides? I did not. This gives us something to talk about next time I see her. And Mama Brady? And that guy that played the Hulk? And John Boy? Oh my goodness I too can have a career in the 70's! It’s very exciting indeed.

I’m off to pretend to pack, and instead eat leftover Halloween candy and try my best to empty my DVR before I leave it to take on November sweeps.

My blogs will be sporatic the next few weeks, please try to be strong as I abandon you to focus on the world-saving (and some design work too) I’ll update as I come into contact with internet, and hopefully I’ll be able to check in on the rest of the blog world now and then throughout my time away. Stay strong in my absence, I will return to the internets full-time in a mere three weeks. Cry if you have to, it’s okay, we’re all friends here...

Until we speak again...peace, love and English-speaking helpline people.


Thursday, November 02, 2006


I do not have good luck with heaters. More specifically, heaters that are meant to heat houses. Big heaters. Of the house variety. My last house had an overall aversion to being warm. It didn’t enjoy being warm. Well, it didn’t enjoy being warm in anywhere other than one single room in the house. This made for an interesting living situation in which one roommate was sweating while the other roommate nearly froze to death. It was quite pleasant.

Now it seems my heating issues have followed me. My heater in my house has very little interest in pumping out warm air. Cool air? It’s all over that. But the warm air it’s not quite feeling ready for just yet. Good lord.

Here is a video I made to illustrate my struggle. I want no comments from you people who choose to live places where ice falls from the sky, I am a Californian and I do not do well in coldness, it is not in my nature.

That was yesterday. I still haven’t figured it out. It is becoming a bit of an issue, as I really feel like I’m a relatively intelligent human being and I should be able to turn on the damn thermostat without assistance. I’ve never had trouble turning on a thermostat before in my life, but this thermostat has chosen to be difficult, and I’m not enjoying our time together thus far. Good lord.

Thank god my dad bought be a Presto HeatDish last year during my Winter of Discontent at my old house. I have pulled it out of the garage where I put it and we all proclaimed, "It will be so nice to not have to use this anymore!" We hugged and cheered and sang songs about warmness coming from the ceiling instead of a disc.

And now. The disc is back. Last night I curled up in my bed to watch tv. I had four layers of clothes on, under my covers, with the disc next to me to provide warmth. And boy does that thing provide some warmth. I woke up this morning nearly naked and the disc was turned off. Who the hell knows what happened to me or the disc during the night, but neither one of us seems to have fared well.

I have to leave for my trip in two days.

I think tomorrow might be time for the trip to Walmart to see what wonder (and cheesy $5 shirts) await me on this adventure. It is really an exciting time. Add in the frostbite and it’s nonstop fun here.