Friday, 24 September 2010


It's been a hectic last week of finishing up work in South Africa, which is why I'm kind of glad that I agreed in advance to go camping along the Garden Route this weekend. There is something kind of liberating about throwing two pairs of underwear, a toothbrush, and three bottles of red wine in a backpack and being like, peace, and see you on Monday. (And then it will be like, BAM, last day of work, BAM, flee the country, BAM, arrive in England, all before Wednesday. I am not prepared for this whatsoever.)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Parting Shots

Today, Ma looked at me and said, "I'm actually going to miss you. You're a very easy person to be around. And you're not full of shit at all."

I need to record this for posterity because want somebody to read it at my funeral someday.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Current

I can really only vouch for their programming from about 2am to 10am CST - boo for the many time zones between the Twin Cities and Cape Town, but yay for Lindsay Kimball - but I've been rediscovering how much I love MPR's The Current. It's my go-to radio station whenever I'm working on a big writing project, and everyone should go stream it for free on iTunes and donate to MPR, because it is fantastic. (Probably even if you're not an expat who only has half a Liz Phair album and a handful of Gregory Douglass songs on his work computer.)

Monday, 20 September 2010

An Inexplicably Penitential Thing I Will Probably Never Do Again

Watching the Constant Gardener and Hotel Rwanda in the same weekend is probably among the worst ideas I've ever had. If you ever want to feel intense despair, I highly recommend it.

(Diamonds Are Forever was on afterwards, and that didn't even help - I just sadly thought that I should probably rent Blood Diamond one of these weekends.)

Friday, 17 September 2010

In Which I Earn Back Pretty Much Exactly What I've Paid in Insurance Premiums This Year

I finally went to the doctor, and it looks like the bone dislodged at some point between the x-ray and the appointment, leaving nothing but very bad scratching in my throat and a bunch of muscles that are perpetually contracted, strangling me but giving me a sort of impressive looking neck. We found this out by attacking me with a tongue depressor and, after that failed, feeding a camera through my nose and down to my voice box, which is weird and unpleasant but now checked off of my bucket list. The doctor shrugged and asked how late I usually eat, and I told him I usually drink coffee and have toast right before bed, and he explained that my throat wasn't healing because acid crawls into the base of my throat when I lie down. Lovely.

So now I'm on a low-acidity diet, eating and drinking nothing for three hours before bed, and doing shots of Gaviscon after every meal. The really notable part about the whole experience is that I've been so worried about getting a throat infection that I failed to notice that September has flown past, and that I have just under two weeks left until I leave South Africa. I thought about that yesterday and panicked thinking about all the stuff I have left to do, and then Anna asked if I wanted to roadtrip through the Garden Route over the long weekend just before I leave, and I was like, yes, definitely. I'm going to tell people my flirtation with death has made me appreciate things like roadtrips.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


I got an awful night's sleep last night, and woke up about a dozen times to a mosquito that repeatedly tried to fly in my ear and my mouth and kept trying to suck blood from my face. I woke up this morning and saw it on my ceiling, and I savagely killed it - like, half-naked, with a noise, and with actual blood on my hands. I felt so invigorated that I got up early and jogged to work, and have been flying through my projects all morning. This is not a healthy way to finish my PhD.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Dear Everybody I Know Who Thinks the Free Market Efficiently Delivers Health Care:

I went to the hospital as instructed this morning, and was told that the doctor could see me for a consultation about removing the bone fragment from my throat on Thursday. I asked if they had anything earlier, and the receptionist was like, oh, are you busy on Thursday? And I was like, oh, no, I'm free on Thursday, it's just that there's a bone lodged in the lining of my throat, which I prefer to keep clear for such functions as "eating" and "breathing." The doctor is solidly booked, and the ER can't look at it unless it's actually an emergency, so I set up an appointment for the end of the week. (Remind me to bring this up the next time my grandma rhapsodizes about privatized medicine and how good it is at not rationing care.) In the meantime, I'm waiting by my phone for any cancellations and self-medicating with a small stockpile of Coke Light that I picked up outside the hospital. The bubbles are my last hope.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Life Imitates Art

Tonight's James Bond movie on eTV is On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which is triply famous for being the one where James Bond gets married, for starring George "Who!?" Lazenby, and for being based on the book by the same name, which I incidentally finished reading this morning. I'm not even ashamed that I plan my Sundays around these anymore.


I remember approximately nothing from high school algebra, but a Saturday in the office - being in pajamas the entire time = 0.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Adventures in Respiratory and Skeletal Health

Ugh, it turns out I have a bone fragment lodged in the back of my throat. Of all the ways I could potentially spend my last two weeks in South Africa, the prospect of throat surgery is somewhere at the bottom of the list, around, say, getting carjacked or losing my passport. I can allocate approximately twenty minutes to throat surgery, and anything greater than that will cramp my style.

(On the upside, I looked at the x-ray at the hospital, and I think doing yoga over the past two months has really helped my posture.)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Medical Slapstick

I have this persistent lump in my throat, and I'm kind of concerned that it's a fish bone from a sandwich I had about a week ago. It doesn't hurt, and I don't think about it most of the time, but there's a lump very low in my throat that I don't remember having there prior to spitting out another bone from this sandwich.

Apparently, it could be a phantom bone, which allegedly happens when you swallow a fish bone and fuck up the lining of your throat a little. (I learned this from Yahoo!, where the barely-insured like myself get all of our foolproof medical advice.) After a week, though, that's starting to seem implausible and I suspect that there's just a tiny bone painlessly but sort of worryingly hiding in my throat.

I plan to do shots of lemon juice tonight to see if I can soften the bone, and if that fails, I think I'll finally go to the emergency room tomorrow to see what they suggest I do about it. The saddest part is that, as embarrassing as that would be, it would probably rank third on my list of mortifying ailments that I've had to go get fixed in a foreign emergency room. I'm at the point where I count my blessings when I don't have to ask a volunteer to translate my problems into Dutch.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Giving Tree

I'm sorry, I know this is old, but this is my favorite by far - any reference to Boo Radley is instant gold.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Back on the (Eskom) Grid

I thought I'd be posting all kinds of whimsical updates from my roadtrip, but then that didn't happen - partially because of spotty internet access, and partially because I preferred to sit outside and read novels. (I finally had time to read the Mail and Guardian from cover to cover, a bunch of Namibian dailies, and One Hundred Years of Solitude, American Pastoral, the Yiddish Policemen's Union, Eva Luna, and Rubyfruit Jungle, which I am a terrible lesbian for not reading years ago.)

It was a fun trip, though - I went to Victoria Falls and took a boat trip out to Livingstone Island, went into Botswana for the day to take photos in Chobe, spent a day in Zambia, and then caught a very long, hot, and crowded bus trip to Swakopmund in Namibia, where I went sandboarding and quadbiking and splurged on kudu steak and kabeljou to supplement my backpacking diet of oatmeal and pasta with veg. I also ate a kind of gross amount of German pastry while I was there - the town is super-German, so I figured I might as well binge-eat apple strudel while I'm there.

It was really sweet getting back - I hadn't seen Anna for a month because her trip to Canada overlapped with my roadtrip, so we caught each other up on the happenings on our respective continents, made dinner, and watched the South Africa-Australia rugby match with Ma. It gave me the warm fuzzies, and makes me a little sad to think that I'm leaving for London in just over three weeks.

(That said, David and I just closed on this adorable flat on the top floor of a house down the block from the anthropology department, making our move back to Oxford suddenly seem very immediate and real. The fact that I'm getting all sentimental over conversations about whether or not David should bring a printer for the apartment probably means I'm ready for the move.)