Monday, January 29, 2007

Drop Down Menus from Hell!

I want to create a drop-down menu for my Excel spreadsheets detailing the wonders of DOE reporting....and I follow all of the frigging instructions only to have the damn thing not work!!!! I have tried like four different instructions and each of them do not work. this shouldn't be that hard!

Forget creating the fucking template....Microsoft can eat my ass.

Hi folks!
Contrary to the absolute frustration of the drop down Monday at work has been really good...why else would I have the time to spend two hours figuring out drop-down menus for a template that only I will ever use?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tired or Scared?

I am exhausted...or at least I think that I am. All I know is at this moment I am tired and avoiding going to bed.

Last week whatever pestulance the boys had was given to me. I missed only one day at work because on the one day that I felt like I could die I realized that I didn't have the time to be sick. In order to sleep and take away the pain and achiness away I have been taking Tylenol PM...which after use of longer than 3 to 4 days of use can lead to strange symptoms such as a sense of dreaming while awake, grogginess, anxiety, cloudy thinking...and depression.

Of course the depression was there to begin with, and the medicine only makes it worse.

Why am I depressed? I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I am supporting five people on one paycheck that manages to cover rent and utilities but not food. My loan check from my student loans went way way too fast...but then again, we really needed to stock up on food from Costco and I needed to pay my parents back for their monetary gift of my bankruptcy lawyer fees. Everything that was bought was justified but we still couldn't get the things that we needed like phones, or the rather desperate need of new tires. They are so bald at the moment that I am just waiting for one of them to burst when I am driving someone to somewhere for something. It is like waiting for an axe to fall. or...what is it called...the sword of damacles?

I have thought about starting my thesis...or rather I panic about not being able to read enough to do it adequately. So far I have kept up with my classes...but I know that I should be doing so much more.

I don't miss working at Williams-Sonoma but I miss the extra paycheck. While something is in the works with Mr.3, I have no idea of when it will all come through. Which makes me want to start looking for a second job again, and then the voice of reason in the back of my head says two things---why should you? and do you really think that you will be able to survive it, the last time nearly killed you?

Mr.3 has been home for three weeks now. And things have been good mostly....the mostly basically accounts for my multiple freakouts because of one thing or another. I thought that I was a stable person, but I'm not. I keep cracking. When I try to explain things to Mr.3 he gets quiet and internalizes it all...and I don't want him to take it personally, I just need someone to listen and understand what is going through my head. I haven't started any fights and I haven't directly accused him of anything....but whenever I try to explain my panic and anxiety over the possibility of him lying to me again or him leaving me...he sees it as a personal attack.

Since he has been back I have had dreams that I can't find him, or that he is leaving me, or that someone has forcibly taken him away from me. These nightmares happen every night. With or without the addition of medication to my system. I feel consumed by these nightmares and my anxieties. Again I find myself in mid-step, hovering between one place and the other...the other being the answer to so many questions and the knowledge that everything will really be ok in one sense or another.

My self-esteem is even shot. Yes, I am big and always have been...but I have always had a strong level of confidence. Two Fridays ago I went in for my annual girlie exam...and even though the doctor talked to me about my latex allergy...I discovered only after the INTERNAL examination that she used latex gloves. The first time I discovered that I had this problem it took me five months of hell to heal. I have been taking antihistamines to help counteract my skin's reaction, and numerous salt baths to try and keep my ph in balance...but things still aren't right, and I don't know when they will be. This does not help my self-image at all.

The only thing that I have felt that I have managed to do right lately is get back on tract with my article writing for Global Voices. I got 34 comments on my Hrant Dink post....34! That is unheard of!

So where does this leave me? On the couch, typing at almost 1 in the morning, because I am afraid of my dreams...of my insecurities overtaking me...or the kitchen full of dirty dishes....or the house that needs cleaning...the articles and books that need reading....of everything and then nothing at all.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

We interupt your regularlly scheduled program....

sorry for the interruption in the India stories, but I need to break in and tell you that Mr.3, my beloved Mr.3, is now home. Oh course it was a long road with 3 bus breakdowns and some lost luggage, but he is home now. We have a lot to work out over the next few days, weeks, and months...however we have always been stronger together and we will be able to get through this.

I am sooooo happy that he is home!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Snake Charmers and other ways to get paid for just being yourself....

The one thing my Dad wanted from India was for me to get a picture of a snake charmer. And I did. Please look at and learn to love this picture, show it to your friends, show it to whoever you would like to....please show it and look at it....just so I can feel like the 5 bucks that this guy charged me to take his picture wasn't in vain.

Of course I didn't know when I was taking the picture that I would be charged for it...silly me...because I come from a society that doesn't normally accept the average joe to be paid for just being themselves. And of course....I am a dorky tourist who like so many other people before me....fall into the scam. The history of snake charming is interesting though.

There are alot of people in India who expect to be paid for being themselves...and so many street performers who start performing for you that you don't want to pay but get sucked into it unwillingly. I guess that in the US the shame of watching someone perform and not paying them isn't that big of a thing....but in India that is many people's only livelihood.

At the airport on my way home I talked with a doctoral student who was working with Indian children and various NGO' is fascinating all of the work being done to help children in poverty. There are thousands of children who leave rural areas in India to come to the big cities every day. Most of these kids are abused both in their homes and when they get to the cities. Teaching them a trade like street-performing is a way for them to learn how to get by alone in the world. I still have to deal with my issues of not wanting to pay people when I didn't give consent for them to perform. I can afford it....I am just selfish and don't want it forced upon me.

While we were at the Red Fort, my friend Oiwan and I were sitting out on the grass relaxing, waiting for some other friends to catch up with us; a woman came up and stood really close behind us and had her husband take a picture of us. I didn't think anything about it until she ran off giggling and pointing at us. She had taken the picture only to have a picture of the fat American and the exotic Asian girl. As she ran away I realized that I had missed out on a great opportunity.....

I could have made 200 rupees for that photo.

What's an American Yogi like you doing in a Pizza Hut like this? Or Tale of the McCurry

Being an American traveling abroad, it is always appropriate to sample the local variations of American cuisine....realistically....this is also when your stomach can't handle another bite of curry that you become desperate for anything that resembles home even if it is horribly warped.

A couple of blocks from our hotel was a McDonald's...and of course, I had to try it....for travel's sake and because a french fry was probably the only thing that my stomach would be able to handle. I should have taken a photo of the menu board but was to "McChicken" too. (hee hee...I'm so funny!) Either way, as the internet is such a wonderful place you can view the McDonald's in India Veg and Non-Veg menu. I learned alot about how Indians view waiting in line from our trip here.

There is no such thing as a line....only a mob scrambling to get to the counter.

For an American who is used to her bubble of space...this was hard. What was harder was once I had gotten my McChicken meal for 99 rupees (about $1.50) I couldn't turn around to get out. So I yelled loudly "Backing Up, Move Out of the Way!". It didn't turn out to be quite the parting of the Red Sea that I was hoping that it would be, but I did manage to get out. The meal was good, but slathered in mayonnaise--ick. The fries were great because beef is forbidden in India, they were not cooked in beef grease as in America, so you didn't get the feeling that you were going to die of cholesterol. Finally a French Fry that Libby would approve of!

Of course in India, you see alot of the older more-well-to-do Americans who are trying to "reconnect with themselves so why not be like the Beatles, do the cliche thing and go to India" see them everywhere...and it hurts. It hurts so bad.

Anyway, we decided to go to the Pizza Hut (oh please check out their website...the song alone is enough to warrant its entertainment value) and there was one of the American Yogi wannabes there....complete with the long white hair and beard...and the leather headband thingy. He looked so out of place, it was really funny. But I believe that even the Beatles had their limit on curry.

The food was great (still oddly skewed) but they used real mozzarella cheese which was wonderful. Indian cheese tastes alot like feta with all of the salt blanched out of it. In fact one of my Asian counterparts has eating a cheese kebab type dish and was shocked when we told him it was cheese.

He thought it was tofu.

That isn't dark circles under your eyes, it's just soot

I don't know where people travel when they go to India, but it sure as hell isn't in New Delhi. I have been to some pretty filthy places in the world, but New Delhi is by far the worse.

In a way, I had expected the extreme poverty and was quite curious about it when I was there...I did not expect the air to be as polluted as it was. All of my pictures look hazy and bluish because the light would reflect off of the smog and dilute the colors of where we were.

My lungs ached the entire time I was there and I would hang out with the smokers because the smoke felt better on my lungs than the regular air that I was breathing. When I blew my nose, it was black. Literally black. In Turkey, kicking up all of the dirt on the dig, you would become accustomed to brown in your tissue, but never black.

After sight-seeing my exposed skin was covered in gritty soot. It was truly nasty.

If I go back to India, I will not stay in New Delhi....and I recommend that you don't as well... Trust me, your lungs will sing my praises.

American Muslim?

Our travels in India stayed within the boundaries of New Delhi. Across from the Red Fort is the Jama Masjid and a subject of our sightseeing my second to last day in India. You could tell that we were getting to the Muslim section of town because the type of dress began to change for the men and women....loosely veiled women transformed into tightly veiled women....sikh turbans morphed into prayer caps. The first photo here is of the Red Fort from the opening of the gates to the Jama Masjid, the next photo is of the gated opening into it and a view of not only the mob of people there, but the vendors that were there as well. The shopping was pretty good, I purchased several prayer rugs for the house at rock bottom prices and got a little something for Mr.3...which I can't detail here because he will probably read this before he comes home and can open the gift for himself.
I find it strange that I am consistently reminded of how comfortable I feel in an Islamic element. I was reminded of it every minute that I was in India (and during Dione's wedding mass I also felt it keenly). I know that I am not the best or even the most conventional of Muslims, but I am sure in my heart that I have made the correct decision for me.

Now my traveling buddies were all based out of China or somewhere in East Asia and it was nice to be able to point out to them the differences between Hindi and Islamic culture as they didn't recognize what they were seeing. John even went so far to having me help him find a hijab to take back to show his mom. I was tempted to buy some of the outfits that I saw for work, but I was running out of money. In any case, I looked at the items closely enough that I can form a pattern from what I saw and make something to put in the Outreach closet. It is funny how everything I do revolves around my work in some way.....

I digress.... I gathered alot of looks to begin with in India, and it also held true for our time at the Jama Masjid....except this time the curiosity was with me being obviously American and shockingly Muslim at the same time. I took a photo of the front of the Masjid but did not take photos of the inside courtyard area...for two reasons. One, I have issues with taking photos of places that feel sacred to me and/or a place that I actively intend to pray in, and two...some guy wanted to charge me for taking photos.

I took off my shoes, covered my head, and walked in. As I got through the main foyer some guy tried to sell me a tour of the place. When I asked were the women go to pray he was shocked, and then tried to tell me some nonsense about the women's area being on some an area that clearly had no balconies. It was a massive courtyard exterior for the prayer area. Everything in India is open air and this was no exception...I walked past dozens of people who were staring at the strange American with her head covered. Finally I found a small alcove, away from prying eyes, and took a brief respite. As I follow the sufic school of Islam, I don't pray in the traditional manner (I hadn't done my absolutions anyway, and wasn't wearing enough to comfortably pray in public). I simply sat and centered myself....focusing on each breath, silently saying "Allah" to myself with each inhale and exhale (this is called the Dhakir).

I met up with my friends about 10 minutes later....John was negotiating with some guy who was trying to charge him for watching his shoes outside of the mosque. I got mad at the guy.....because it was absolutely outrageous what he was don't charge people to take off their shoes in front of a mosque! It sickens me though, because you know that plenty of tourists who don't know better fall pray to that scam everyday.

As I was putting my shoes back on, several Muslim women kept giggling and twittering next to me....each pushing the other to go and talk to me. When I addressed them "Assalam al walakum" (Peace Be Upon You-the traditional greeting to another Muslim) they fell silent and ducked away, too shocked to answer me back. Which was pretty much the case for everyone there.

I felt in my element, but the entire time I was walking around I felt like I needed Lenny Kravitz behind me singing "American Muslim" instead of "American Woman".

Everyone Needs a Good Bum Kneading

In India, it is auspicious to be....well....big like me.

In other words....this was yet another trip filled with stares and pinches for me. Unfortunately this is something that I am getting used to. Well you can never fully get used to it, but I can pretend for a moment, can't I?

Our story begins on the subway, or metro, or monorail...whatever you wish to call it. The picture shows it being rather empty, once you board you are packed in like sardines.
I have experience of being in tightly packed trains, but nothing like this. It was so tight I couldn't move my arms, and at a couple of instances, my own body.

It started innocently enough, the 14 year old (that is what I am classifying him as...either way he was old enough to know what he was doing and that it was wrong, but young enough that he thought that he could get away with it) was packed in next to me. At first it was just him pressed next to everyone else. Then it was noticeably his pelvis pressing/rubbing up against me as hard as he could without attracting attention.

I squirmed my body away as best as I could.

The crowd shifted and my body became trapped, unable to move away. His hand began to rub tiny circles on my right hip, then moving southwards to fondle my right bum cheek.

I tried to move away but I couldn't...and my friend John wasn't translating my panic looks correctly.

His hand begins to press and squeeze and bit more firmly now. I tighten my bum cheeks...but my bum is so big that you really can't tell when I am pressing them tightly together. I know this because I checked afterwards. Either way, his hand has now moved to the recess between two bum cheeks and I am truly starting to freak out.

I kicked backwards, hit the wrong person who said something sharply to me in Hindi. I smiled an apology and tried to grab John to help me, but he was being pushed back further into the crowd. I twisted my body as much as I could, throwing my hips out as much as possible, pushing back several Indians who weren't happy with me either.

The kid just pressed his shoulder into to my shoulder blades, making me arch and definitely immobile...and he continued on with his exploration of the left side of my posterior.

And then, thankfully, our stop comes and I push roughly against him to get out. He had the same stop and after we got out he turned around and just leered at me....knowing what he had done and that he had gotten away with it. I shouted at him "Your Mother would be ashamed!"

It was at this point that the rest of my party realized that there was a problem. Yeah I should have made a scene, but it is alot harder than what it seems...and Americans already have the stigma of being loud and obnoxious. After this, it became the running joke between us all. When we were at the Red Fort, John started to tell me about all of the people he was noticing, noticing me. And to think about all of the guys we saw primping and preening, trying to catch my still is pretty funny.

The next time I travel though, the only person kneading my bum will be my husband.

Welcome back to the land of the living...or so I tell myself

Returning from India was much more difficult than I thought that it would be...seeing that India refused to leave me.

You should always be worried when you read travel notices giving strange stomach ailments that people receive while traveling to a certain place "cute names" like "Delhi Belly". Oh, yes, it sounds cute and fun and just something that everyone gets (insert fake houghty touty laugh here)....but it is hell. Much worse than Genghis or Aziz (my resident Turkish parasites that have been with me for several years now)....having diarrhea is one thing.....having diarrhea where you are not digesting anything is scary. Scary such as drinking a red gatorade and passing red liquid in the bathroom for hours afterward. At first I thought that I might be bleeding intestinally...but the reality was worse.

Of course, as soon as I came back from India I was working at Williams-Sonoma...who are absolutely horrible to their holiday workers. Now I have been in the position of having to deal with temporary workers and granted, some of them aren't really the best. And if some have complained about wanting to go home early because they don't want to work, I admit that I have kept them working. However if someone was truly sick, I sent them home. This is not the policy of Williams-Sonoma. In fact they even had me stay extra time even after it was apparent that I was close to death and had asked to go so that I could go and see the doctor. I called in on Christmas Eve because it was the only time that I had to go to the doctor.

Of course, every time I have gone to the doctor after traveling there is this awkward period where they have to tell you that some "discomfort" will happen when you travel to the strange places that I do. Basically it is the "filler lecture" while they silently freak out for not having the slightest clue what is wrong with me. The doctor was going to just let me go before she started to pay attention to me and realized that I wasn't responding like a normal person would----I was really out of it, my family was really concerned. So she gave me an IV. The nurse told us that it would take about 40 minutes to an hour for my body to take the IV. 20 minutes and one power pak IV bag later they realized that it might be wise to give me a second IV. Apparently I was the first person that they had ever seen who needed two before.

What can I say? When I get sick, I get sick.

I was told to "take it easy" for a couple of days...basically- I was bedridden for 3 days. Thankfully I am better now...and I have so much to write and tell people that I am absolutely bursting with stories. I promised India so that is next, but I will have to tell you about Dione's wedding, the question of whether Mr.3 will ever get home (damn the weather...or should it just be damn Denver?), and of course my Mehndi connection at First Night. I would have written sooner, but the new year has made me decide that I need to be the first person with dibs on my computer not my brother or the rest of my family. Jimmy is going through extreme MySpace withdrawls today...but I don't care....he doesn't share well, why should I?