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Ma vie en pilules' Journal

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

5:20AM - I love this song, for some reason

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

8:54PM

Aww, how sweet! My host-mother from when I visited Nigeria just called me on my cell phone. She's in the US, attending a conference, and wanted to say hello! Damn, I'm missing them.

Ahh well, here's some random pictures. They got all jumbled up in my albums, so I'm just gonna put them up when I feel like it.

This one was taken at a shrine to the orisa Oluorogbo, the spirit-deity of mediation, peace-making, and writing. This dancer is portraying Agemon, the spirit-deity of masculinity, change, and some scholars believe transvestism. He's a kick-ass dancer, too.

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I wish I could find more information on this spirit-deity that isn't "Cubanized". I don't say that insultingly, just that the oral traditions have diverged in 200 years.

Here are some random lizards. Female agamas, I think.
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Oh yeah, one thing's for sure, children in Nigeria will come running if they see someone with a camera, be they native or tourist. They will jump in front and start posing. They just love to have their picture taken. Or maybe it's a front while someone sneaks up to steal your wallet. I never had that problem though, mostly because I'm a redneck, and my wallet's on a chain.

At the palace in Iragbeji:
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When we left the palace, the kids came running after our van:
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Oh yeah, and back at Oluorogbo Shrine:
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

10:02AM

Wow. They pull no punches in primary school in Nigeria. Typically all the walls of a primary school will have the English alphabet, with pictures and a little ditty such as "A is for Apple".

This one school in Ibadan had this:

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Greatest primary school ever.

9:41AM - I'm back, from outer space!

Well, two weeks ago I've returned from Nigeria. I had lost the password to the journal I created specifically for the purpose of documenting my trip. Alas.

I started classes again, and took the comprehensive finals. If everything goes well, I should be awarded my M.A. in Linguistics in May, and I believe (though I've said this several times before), that I finally have a subject to write on.

Nigeria was a paradox. I fun paradox, but a paradox nonetheless. On the one hand, you have the sweetest, most open, loving people in the world, but on the other hand, they'll also scam you for little bits of money here and there. They seem to forget they owe you "change" when you give more than the total amount of goods you purchase. A little pestering and you get your change, but still, it's quite amusing that you have to go through that each time.

The whole country smells like a campfire. People are burning trash everywhere, or cooking food to sell on wood fires just about any place they can. My clothes still smell like I've been roughing it in the woods for a decade. Ahh, sweet memories.

Malaria sucks! I got it, it was awful. Three days of nothing but... discomfort. It wasn't like a flu where you don't want to move or anything like that, or your lungs fill with nasty fluids. No, this was nothing was comfortable. You can't eat, sleep, or whatnot. You try to find a nice spot in your normally cozy bed... it's not there anymore. So, I was a wreck from it for three days, all the while getting teased by my host family. "We get it at least two times a year! Get out of bed, chicken! You're not gonna die!"

I could have done without Ibadan. The place is utterly polluted, and the infrastructure is horrid. We were stuck in traffic in that city for nigh on four to five hours, trapped between two oil trailers who were venting the most foul exhaust I've ever encountered. I blacked out a few times from it, but I survived. I'm probably going to get cancer when I'm 36, now.

The food was samey. After two weeks of similar dishes, you get tired of it quick. In the last week, I was so desperate for a hamburger, I was ready to go to the market and buy a bull, just to devour it on a bun!

There's so much I want to say about Nigeria, but I just don't think I can put it all here. Needless to say, despite the rolling blackouts, malaria, lack of reliable internet, snakes in the toilet (true story), cholera symptoms, complete and utter lack of Dr. Pepper (the Barbarians!), and something the Peace Corps calls "Africa Time", I plan on going back. I'm hoping to return in January to finish my data gathering for my masters' thesis, as well as visit again with my wonderful, wonderful host family.

Current mood: bouncy

Friday, June 20, 2008

2:13PM

Okay. I've started a journal solely for my trip to Nigeria. For those of you interested in seeing my bizarre travels to Africa, you can see my entries at:

http://ajemockinbird.livejournal.com

They'll be public, so you won't have to friend me, but go ahead and do so anyway, so I can feel good about the number of people wanting to know about a white boy's journey into the Dark Continent. ;)

Friday, June 6, 2008

11:36PM - Well, it's official.

Two weeks from today, I will be on a plane, going overseas for the first time ever.

I will be flying across the Atlantic ocean to a place no one in my family has ever gone (nor, they confess, would ever want to go). I have everything. I have my visa. I've got my round-trip ticket. I have all the prescribed vaccines. I've got room and board, as well as meals paid for.

Now... this IS the first time I will be leaving overseas. Come hell or high water, I will go. I've never had a chance like this. It would seem that every time I plan to go somewhere that's not the continental US, some kind of freak, unfortunate situation hops in my way, preventing me from leaving the country.

Not this time.

Finally, I will be leaving. I will be over there. I will be someplace else, far away from people I know.

I will be in Nigeria.

Maybe now I can get that former dictator's widow to quit sending me e-mails and help her get that money out of her account!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

8:29PM - Something weird...

It's been over a year since my grandfather died, someone I cared about very, very much. Anyway, I'm looking on my Yahoo Messenger contact list, and there is his old user ID... And I can't bring myself to delete it.

Current mood: drained

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

8:23PM - The big three-one.

So, on Monday, I turned 31. I'm now older than 30. It was pretty cool, because for once, on my birthday, I did jack squat. I did nothing but hang around in bed all day. It was pretty nice.

Had a pretty good weekend before that, too, hanging out with Ruthie, who I haven't seen in forever. She asked me to run a new World of Darkness game...

So, I might as well. I'm tired of some of the drama my gaming groups usually have. If I'm going to run, it'll be tabletop only. With dice. Gasp!

So, shout out to all the Jacksonville White Wolf gamers: If you want me to run a game for you, tabletop, let me know, and all chip in for the main WoD corebook, and whatever game we want ran (I'm partial to the new Werewolf... hint! hint! But I'm willing to run anything). I'm desperately poor and prefer other games, so I won't invest my own money in the books. Hah!

Take care, everyone.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

4:23PM - What the hell is going on?

Seriously, what is going on? The brushfires around here are awful. Today, the smoke's flowing through the city, and I can't go outside because of it... and the rain of ashes. I've not been given an evacuation order, because the actual fire is 50 miles away, but it's doing a number on my health.

I've been TRYING to recover from bronchitis, but Mother Nature deems it fit that I remain in bed for my WEEK OFF!

But hey, I finished the semester last week and managed to eke out good grades, despite a horribly stressful, and horribly rocky start to my graduate career.

It seems Amharic may not be what I'm able to take. The grad student that "teaches" it... and I use teaches in quotation marks because I don't think that's what the student does. He mostly came in, talked a couple sentence, the most of the class (which was only ONE day a week) was just chatting about current events in English.

So, I'm moving on to Yoruba. Sure, it's not what I intended to do, what with my original plans of studying Hamer-Banna in Southern Ethiopia, but it's something. It's a language that has two full-time professors dedicated solely to teaching the language, so I won't have to worry about being taught the language. Plus, hey, there's always Lucumi, the creolized language of Spanish and Yoruba that's spoken in Cuba. I could possibly go to Cuba! That would be awesome, wouldn't it?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

7:40AM - Attention Jacksonvillian LJers

I just received a message this morning from an old friend of ours, the "Whitest Black Guy" ever needs help!

Yes, Dorian is coming back to Florida. And admit it. We all miss him, admit it! Well, his wife cheated on him and he's gone and left her, and is in need of a place to crash. I'm poor and I don't live in Jacksonville anymore, so I can't help out. But, do any of you kind souls have a place? He has means to support himself and is on the verge of landing a job, so you won't have to put up with him freeloading! He's all good for it!

I can pass along the info to his cell phone, if anyone is good for a place he can stay temporarily.

Thanks!

Friday, December 15, 2006

10:51AM - The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players... On Ice!!!

I'd like to begin this entry with thanks to my good friend Swapna who purchased the tickets to see the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players last night. That was probably the nicest gift I've ever gotten. Funny enough, I was the only one on the club's list, so I felt like a total Trachtenburg geek. No matter, the family proved to be very, very nice and fun to chat with.

So, yesterday I woke up at 4:00 am and got ready for exams. After a quick breakfast, I drove to school to take my finals. I aced them. Easy enough. I start grad school next semester! Yay!

Anyway, after my exams, I hung around the Reitz Union until about 7:45 pm and went to Common Grounds to see the band. I napped in the parking lot until ten before the show. In line (I was the only one), I was approached by one of the many homeless people in Gainesville. She showed me her papers where she was diagnosed with HIV, was living at St. Francis House, and needed money for her medicine. I didn't have any money, save some very minimal pocket change. I gave it all to her and offered to give her a hug, which she accepted. I'm praying for her. I'm not one who cares very much whether someone'll use my donation for drugs or whatnot. It's not my job. I give what I can and pray they are truly helped by my change, or that Providence will provide a means to give them the desire and means to seek help.

But anyway, I got in the club, wishing I could get a cup of coffee, but having no money left to my name, I had to sacrifice. Ahh well, I still had a blast. The opening band was this strange duet called "Ching Chong Song". I dunno what to make of them. The guy played the keyboard, the girl played the singing saw. It was rather dissonant, but the cute guy next to me commented on how he liked them. I admit, they were original, but I'm not terribly sure I could groove to a song that repeated, "I wanna fuck the landlord!" over and over. Maybe I'm just not seeing something.

Well, after Ching Chong Song, the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players made their appearance. I can only describe them in one word: Fun. They were very fun. They had the stage decorated in tacky Christmas junk and slideshow boxes all over. In between songs, they had little skits which were very, and on purpose, badly acted. It had a quirky, kitschy charm that I adored.

They opened with my favorite song, "Look at me!". I think that's their most inspired song. In truth, I didn't get any sleep last night, so I couldn't remember other of their songs off-hand, but I enjoyed the entire show very much, and I will plan to see them whenever they're in town.

After the show, I got to chat with them a bit. They're vegans, and I informed them of the Hare Krishna temple in town, in which they all bubbled up in glee. They gave me a bunch of free paraphernalia, and signed their show flier, a delightfully tacky photocopied collage. And it inspired me as to what I can make for Swapna's Ethiopian Christmas gift...

Current mood: cheerful

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

11:24AM - What I want for Christmas/Yule/Whatever.

I just saw that the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players are going to be in Orlando this Friday, the 15th. I have no money, and my car's practically shot to hell and back. It barely gets me to Gainesville the three days a week I have to go there.

So, if anyone's feeling generous, I could use a ride, food, and 15 bucks to get in the door to see a group I admire for their artistry.

http://www.thesocial.org/index.cfm?date=12/15/06&display=single

Please?

I'll remember you for Ethiopian Christmas (January 6th).

EDITED TO ADD: Scratch that! They'll be in Gainesville on Thursday 12/14 at Common Grounds. I have finals that day, but that would be a great way to spend the time AFTER the exams. Still need the money, though...

Current mood: hopeful

Thursday, August 24, 2006

5:30AM - Fall term begins

Ack, I haven't updated in a while. I plan to remedy that, if I'm not too busy.

So my new semester started yesterday, and things went okay. Three classes back-to-back, two of which are in the same classroom consecutively. That makes things a little easier, though I dread Fridays now as that's when those three classes wish to administer exams.

But all in all, I'm not too worried. It's all part of my plan to give me Tuesdays and Thursdays free, so the drive won't kill my pocketbook with gas costs.

This semester, I'm taking Sounds of Human Language (Phoenetics), Structure of Human Language (Syntax), Beginning Swahili 1, and Intermediate Amharic 1. A pretty heavy load, but I'm looking forward to it.

I've found I don't get angry and depressed anymore. I just get very exhausted. Therapy, combined with a medicine that works, has been helping tremendously. In fact, I don't even get angry at my father.

It all happened when he apologized to me.

One day, he was on the phone with a business client. He was preparing dinner and using lots of milk products. Well, I recently was told to cut dairy out of my diet by my doctor. I asked him before he put the yogurt sauce on the food to hold off on the ones destined for me. He then grumbled on the phone to his client, "30 years he's been drinking milk, how all of a sudden does my son get lactose intolerance?" That pissed me off. Telling a stranger... complaining about me to him. So when he got off the phone, I told him, "I really don't appreciate the fact that you're complaining about your family to people we don't know. Especially in front of us." Well, he was going to get angry. He was taking deep breaths, glaring, and doing the bull-snort thing, when suddenly, he stopped and softened, then said, "Wait... you're absolutely right. That was wrong of me, and I apologize. Forgive me."

It's like that one line unlocked something in my brain, and even his. From then on, we've had a much better relationship. He doesn't yell, he doesn't complain, and he's getting over his constant phrasing things with "Do me a favor..." I in turn have started cleaning the entire house, and finding I enjoy it. I won't clean my room, but the rest of the house I make sure looks nice. He's even let me borrow his motorcycle, where once he refused, thinking that I would just destroy it. Well, I took it one day, ended up falling over. No damage, but I told him honestly, and he just shrugged and said, "I've done that. You learn."

Wow.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

8:03AM

Well, the past two weeks have been utterly crappy. But it's okay. I'm pretty sure they'll get better.

What to talk about, though? Let's see. I threw my back out a couple weeks ago, Sunday. I was in pain for quite some time, but luckily I'm just at a dull throb. They gave me muscle relaxers and painkillers. That's made things comfortable, but now I think I'm withdrawing, and hardcore. I'm listless, groggy, and don't want to go anywhere. I can hear my heartbeat throbbing in my eardrums. Although I've not taken any pills in a day now, I feel like I want to ooze out of this chair I'm sitting in and just lay on the floor.

The following Monday, the only member of my family that I ever got along with died. The day I got the news was the day I got my pills, so perhaps they completely dulled everything. I was emotionally gone. I did not cry, I just stared blankly ahead. It's like I didn't care, but deep down, I did. I didn't lose it until a week later, when I went to the small church he attended at his retirement community. Sitting by one of his best friends, we talked, and then we cried. Man, I couldn't hold it in.

It's been quite hard to concentrate.

But hey, I got an accordion on eBay. Wait... how's that a good thing?

Thursday, June 8, 2006

8:04AM

እኔ፡ለማኝ፡ነኝ።

A cookie for those who can figure out what I said.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

8:06PM - Back to school.

On Monday, I started back at the University of Florida. My health has been awful, so heck, might as well better myself in other ways.

I'm doing post-baccalaureate work in Linguistics now. That's "indoors" enough, I imagine, as indoors is where my doctors say I need to be.

I haven't decided what branch of linguistics I wish to pursue. I was thinking about sociolinguistics, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

I'm also brushing up and pursuing my Amharic language ability. I love that language. I'm having a blast being back in language classes.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

4:13AM

Yep. The year I don't get my flu shot, I get the flu. And it hurts. Bad. Let this be a lesson to me, and everyone out there.

Current mood: sick

Sunday, January 22, 2006

5:41AM - Crikey!

I can't believe I didn't post this. I was so proud. But this past Wednesday, I wrestled an alligator at work! It was fun!








To be fair... I was helping 10 other people hold him down...





....and it was cold outside. 40 Degrees or so...


...and other 10 people were holding ropes that were already securing him, ready to pull if we couldn't get him bound up for the veterinary procedure...



But dammit! I was on top of him, holding his midsection, pinning him to the ground!

...with the other 10 people in my department...

Current mood: accomplished

Monday, January 16, 2006

4:37PM - I need music.

Today, I had an inspiration. Before I go with the Peace Corps, I need to amass a library of music. I need music of the "Chill Out" genre, the truly relaxing kind of electronica. My collection now begins with Magna Canta - Sanctuary.

Please help, I need some names and titles!

Monday, January 9, 2006

5:52PM - Well.

I was digging through some stuff in my room and I found a stack of cards. They were all thank you cards written by students of mine that I taught last year. They expressed their deepest appreciation of me being their teacher, and that they learned so much from me. I want to cry.

I wish there was a way for me to be a teacher again. I don't think UF would allow me to pursue another Bachelors degree, this time for science education.

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