Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Just finished OFFICIALLY submitting my grad school applications.
Got the email receipt to prove it and everything.

Celebrate people. It's a holiday. Like my birthday, only not so holy.

That basketball pic is in honor of my father, who watches sports. I think.
It was also the least creepy picture that came up when I googled "celebrate"
which is more than I can say for some of its compatriots:

What the heck, Google?
(P.S. It looks like she's in that one PetoBismal commercial where they have this disturbing choreographed dance imitating gastro-intestinal issues)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Water Festival

Last night was rocked by the tragic deaths and casualties of many, many Cambodians.


No Peace Corps Volunteers or staff were at the event, nor was any member of my immediate or extended Khmer host family, a fact that I thank God for since my host sister, baby niece, aunt, and brother were in the capital, not to mention the many members of extended family there.

From what I hear what happened is this:
There was a concert on Diamond Island which far to many people were allowed to attend. A few people fainted which caused others to panic and stampede towards the small suspension bridge connecting the island to the mainland. During this time and the rest of the incident people began to be trampled. Once the crowd reached the bridge they bottle-necked. At the top of the bridge were the police who tried to stop the crowd by blasting them with a water cannon. Exposed wiring on the bridge caused people in the crowd to be electrocuted, further panicking them. Also at this point people began to scream that the bridge was breaking. Both of these things caused people to jump into the water below, the sad fact being that very few Cambodians know how to swim.

In short, last night was a terrible night for Cambodia and its residents, foreign and Khmer alike. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the tragedy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's not witchcraft Goody Proctor, it's science!!!

So I have this funny little habit where I am convinced some piece of information needs to be kept secret, which leads me to tell a select few of my family/friends, which turns into telling most and/or all of my family/friends, which leads to large swaths of people across the use being convinced they must under all circumstances protect the sanctity of a secret that I have shared with them; a secret that everyone else just happens to know. I’m pretty sure I just get bored with keeping things to myself. Or I’m a complete narcissist and can’t imagine why everyone wouldn’t want to know every little thing that happens to me. It’s one of those beautiful little quirks that I posses and no, you can’t return me to the factory because the warranty has been violated. So stop thinking about it.

One such mythical instance is that I’m currently working through the process of applying to at least one graduate program that I will start the school year immediately following when I get back. I guess that since I’m not planning on broadcasting which schools I’m applying to the whole veil of secrecy thing is legit, so anyone who reads this is still bound by any blood pacts that may or may not have been carried out.

As if grad school isn’t difficult enough, the process of trying to pick one for international degrees is like trying to organize the horses of different colors in Oz. Every program has a different title: International Relations, International Development, International Human Rights, International Security, International Political Economics, International Studies, International House of Pancakes. Every program is just slightly different enough so that it requires a ridiculous amount of time spent dredging through the underbelly of shady school websites, desperately seeking any real, helpful information.

Because it wasn’t confusing enough, every program has different requirements; having taken economics courses, submitting an undergraduate thesis, work experience (some want eight years- that’s almost a quarter of the entire time I’ve been clogging up this planet). I tend to weed out programs that want writing samples for two reasons: 1) I don’t have one and 2) most programs that require that to be admitted are going to be more theory centered than practice/skill centered (a hidden third reason is that I just don’t want to write one). Having to take an economics course would require me to put off going to school which, granted, has its own merits (letting me get settled in to being back in the US, able to save up money for college).

One problem area I’ve ran into is having to look carefully at my motives for being interested in certain programs. I might like the idea of certain programs simply because they come packaged in a hoity toity school, despite the fact that it’s not the specific degree I’m most interested in or the climate of the program isn’t what I’m looking for. Some of the best programs in my field of interest are housed at schools that don’t come with the term “Ivy” attached to any other words, such as “League”. I have to reign my competitive nature in a bit when I realize that I fall in love with programs due mostly to their status, instead of their content.

The whole process makes me feel like I’ve been subjected to emotional whiplash, especially with my top choice program. One minute I’ll feel confident that I’m a good candidate, the next I’ll be pulling out my hair in anxiety because my GPA is a tenth of a point below the incoming average. Another scenario is where I’m going through the website (which I should just make my homepage at this point because I’ve spent a good week camped out there and have bookmarked every possible page) and get excited about all the opportunities in the program and then get depressed and anxious over being able to actually pay for any of it (though this program gives automatic scholarships to students with good undergraduate GPAs). It doesn’t help that nearly every time I talk to someone from the states they feel the need to tell me about how terrible the job market is and bemoan the state of America. NOT exactly something a returning PC volunteer wants or needs to hear. I don’t know if they think I don’t know or they think that I need to be reminded, but the next person who does it is getting permanently cut from my Christmas card list.

To deal with all of the above issues (and because not so deep down I am a total and complete nerd) I created a series of quasi-exhaustive charts that categorize, list, and rank all the different aspects of the schools based on desirability of the programs (International Development, which I want, versus International Diplomacy, which I don’t particularly want), funding, when I could feasibly apply, if they want writing samples, and the amount of damage they would do to my wallet/what financial aid they offer. Which helped me realize that 1) the program that would benefit me most was NOT the hoity toity one (hoity toity school’s program ranked below top choice school’s program on a list done by Foreign Policy magazine) and 2)…well I forgot what number two was, but it helped me work out several tiers of plans should my first one not work out.

So that has basically been my life for the recent past, aside from teaching and having my family padlock me inside the house when they went to the market one morning, which was fun.

And because there is nothing I love more than when science tells us that men’s brains respond to women like they’re rewards/narcotics: SHAZAAM

Economics Professor Loren suspects this may be a case of mass inflation.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Independence Day!!!

Happy Cambodian Independence Day, everyone!

Not much going on in Ang Sdok at the moment, just waiting on the Peace Corps office to tell me whether I'm going to get the time off I requested for my Dad (and possibly his entourage) to visit. I've been a slug lately so today I got out of the right side of the mosquito net, did laundry (which thankfully included my bedding which I kept putting off due to the monsoons and my lack of desire to sleep on no/wet bedding) and cleaned/organized my room. Next step is to get my schedule in order and stick to it so I'm not stuck with so much down time to think. Onwards and upwards!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

'Nuff said.

This is how I feel at the moment.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Introducing Maybell, who may or may not be a transvestite cow.

My family's cow finally gave birth! The calf is so wee and fuzzy. I decided to name her Maybell. I also decided she's a she. So perhaps Maybell is a boy who is pretending to be a girl. I don't judge cow orientations. Especially when she wags her tail while milking. Adorable.

To the left is Sanyi, one of our puppies. He's a bit smaller than his sister, Julie, who tends to assert her dominance by sitting on top of him until he whines for mercy. Kinda reminds me of my brother and me.

This is the food I prepared for my family the other day. The brown stuff that is completely unappetizing would be a batch of unsolidified no bake cookies. Pretty good with bananas, especially since Hersey bars are $3 here.

This is my big sister Vibol enjoying my American culinary ingenuity. As always, everyone's favorite Cambodian. She did lose points the other day by informing me that if I was thinner like another volunteer she had recently met in my province I would be so much better looking. Good looking out, Vibol, thanks for not letting that one pass you by.

And last but not least, some food for thought for all you in the first world:
I may not get to enjoy plumbing, electricity, the application of everyday logic, chocolate, or privacy but I do get to live with this right outside my window:

Enjoy your traffic and toilet bowls, suckers.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Someone call the AP, Hell has frozen over...

...or at least Cambodia seems to have done so. I actually found myself thinking "it's a bit brisk today..." before catching myself and making the sign of the cross. It's NEVER cold here. Ever. On top of that everything has been smelling like America the past few days. I rolled down my window in Phnom Penh and thought that the city smelled like the Cerritos Mall. Just so you get the full picture, Phnom Penh is a third world city with little or open and above ground sewage systems. Obviously I have a brain tumor or something.