Friday, July 02, 2004

The best thing about living in someone else's house, is that when people come to the door trying to peddle subscriptions, all you have to say is "I don't live here and the people who do aren't home."

Of course it just occurred to me that they might decide to call the cops....

At least I got a free newspaper out of the interruption. Soon as I read this article on Hussein, I'll be sure to comment on it.

My melancholy mood has persisted, tempered only Abu's charm and the knowledge that tomorrow I will hang out with my friend from Regina, who I will be living with in the fall.... assuming all things fall into place. Hanging out with her on thursday night was a relief, an assurance that my plans for the fall are a reality and that things will work out.

Took Abu to the fireworks, she got scared out of her mind. I've noticed that all my hard work at socializing her has paid off. She can now walk past humans without any fuss. She can walk down crowded sidewalks without misbehaving.

I leave this place in one week. I will get in a plane and fly across the ocean and when I get off the plane I will smell that smell that cannot be described but only smelled for oneself... that mixture of humidity and hot wind and sweet fruit and dry grass..... the first thing I plan on doing when arriving in Africa is to take a big.... long..... deep breath.

It's starting to sink in. I'm starting to look forward to it. I only know one human on our team, and I'm starting to look forward to meeting everyone else, making new friends. Warm dirt all over my feet, sleeping warm with only a sheet, with one bare leg pressed against the cold stone walls....

Looking forward to getting on that plane and forgetting about all my worries here at home.... because thinking about them won't do me a lick of good anyways. Lean my head back and hug my teddy bear and enjoy the ride, and the sights, and the peanuts.

One week.....

Will I make it???

I will miss Abu so much....

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

It's as though I'm always suspended between these two extremes.... I always contradict myself, my emotions are always butting heads. I'm never sure which it is, or both, that I'm feeling, and I wonder sometimes if this tension is normal or if I'm somehow unusual.

For example, I'm housesitting this weekend, while Garrett and Colleen, who I now live with, have a little hiatus. This means that once again, I am alone in the house.

Now the first thing I think is it will be nice to have some time to myself, to make noise at midnight, watch cartoons. The second thing I think is..... oh no I can't spend all that time alone!! The fear of being alone is stronger than the desire for space, because it's easier to accomodate another's presence than it is to find someone to accomodate. I'd rather not be alone this weekend.... but I'd rather be alone.

Lately I think I've been painfully aware of my one-ness.... that is, I am only one person. There is no person beside me to talk to, there is no person in the passenger seat, there is no person waiting for me and there is no person sharing their ideas. There are people..... people who have their own people, people with other places to go, and other passengers, and other people to talk to.... but I am only me, and my car is always empty, and whenever I talk about my ideas, I sound crazy, because I am talking into empty space.

I think I don't enjoy my solitude as much as I used to. I dare say I'm discontent with it.

This perhaps why, on the eve of my trip to Africa, I'm wishing I could get to Regina to bid farewell to Chimwemwe. I seem to recall a similar situation last time I went to Africa.... I nearly bailed in favor of a bus ticket to Winnipeg.... oh how the wind blows!

And then also is my excitement about meeting the people who will be on the team in Africa colliding with my anxiety about leaving Abu for three weeks. My urgency about getting ready with my disbelief that any of this is actually happening. My joy at the thought of returning to the dark continent with my uncertainty about the fall.....

darn it all I wish I could just feel one thing at a time. And that I didn't need to sleep. I'd just love to get a Lord of the Rings-athon in this weekend... and share my insightful comments with the dogs.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Sushi is not raw fish. It is a method of food preparation which may or may not include raw fish. It is good. I like it very much, but the only sushi I've ever had is the stuff I make at home, which Clark introduced to me. It wasn't until saturday night that I ventured into an actual sushi bar.

My friends Jocelyn and Kitbe took me out. They're from Malaysia, and so they're somewhat more familiar than I am with a variety of asian foods. They asked me what I'd like, and I told them to order what they thought was good, and I'd give it all a try. They raised the eyebrows at that, but really..... why go to a sush bar and just get the same stuff you make in your kitchen? If you're gonna go to a sushi bar, you ought to try something you've never tried. Right?

For the record, however, I've never been keen on the idea of raw fish. I never tried it, and I knew one day I would..... but I wasn't in a hurry. It's lucky that I'm not as picky a eater as I used to be. Two years ago in Zambia I was chowing down on caterpillars. As a child I wouldn't eat most of what was put in front of me. On saturday I popped a roll of Salmon Roe in my mouth..... those are eggs. They looked like frog eggs, except they were orange.

"Hi Nemo!!!" and in they go. Then the slab of raw salmon laying across a blob of rice and a dab of wasabi. then the deep fried soft shell crab.... it's legs poking out of the roll like a giant spider.... that one was REALLY good.

All apprehension aside, I have to ask.... what's the big deal? Why's everyone so terrified of raw fish? It tastes fine, the texture's not so unusual. Why are people so afraid of trying new things? People in Japan have been eating raw fish for years.... they don't seem to be suffering for it.

I know, I know. It's a mental thing. Here in civilized society we understand that if it used to be alive, it ought to be cooked. Here in civilized society we roast our pork and barbecue our steak and boil our potatoes.... and it's all so damn boring I might as well be eating cardboard.

I guess civilization is highly overrated, if in fact civilization is equated with cooked meat, which it clearly is not. After all, wasn't it the Chinese who were so appalled by the stench of those dirty Europeans? Seems like it's always the people trying to fix everyone else who need to think about making some changes.... like bathing....

Where was I? Oh yeah, sushi. It's quite good. I shall look forward to my next asian eating adventure.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Friday was an odd day. I don't think I ever actually woke up. At about 10 am I had to escort a drunken senior citizen to the property office because he had lost his keys and was too hammered to walk without a wall to hold on to. It was an odd experience because I watched my initial repulsion turn to pity. I mean, I know this man well enough to know that I should stay away from him. The term "dirty old man" comes to mind, along with "permadrunk"

Still, I offered my arm and supported him as he stumbled across the parking lot. I steeled myself against his odour. I strained to hear the words that he croaked out of a throat that had been ravaged my throat cancer. On the way back to his apartment, he asked me what my name was. When I told him, he said "Leila..... that's a nice name" and he continued to mutter this phrase to himself all the way back.

What does life hold for him? How many years, filled with what? Beer and the playboy channel? Loneliness and self medication? It made me sad. Is there yet redemption for such an individual?

I spent a good portion of the weekend at my mom's place.... again... this weekend I don't have to go anywhere, but I have at least one friend who's probably coming to town. This means that this coming weekend will be somewhat more relaxed than they have been in quite some time. I will spend the time sleeping, playing video games, and hanging out. Good times. I need the rest, because as it stands I'm exhausted, and I can't very well leave for Africa ALREADY exhausted!!

Maybe if I'm lucky I'll be kidnapped by a rich and beautiful Liberian, miss my plane, and spend the rest of my days basking in the African sun. If he's rich enough, I can get started on reclaiming that Sahara..... I need a project I can really sink my teeth into.
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