Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Fourth Addis Herald

The Addis Herald, January 2008 Edition

In This (Longer) Issue:
I Am Racist (Which Is Why I Live in Africa)
Travels with Chicken Little
Trip-Planning for Dummies
Cookware Humor (?)
The Saga of Microbiology Dude and English Teacher Girl

(And, for those who have asked about such things)
General Stats (What a Difference a Few Months Make)
What I'm Listening To

Happy New Year! My Austrian friends and I ushered in 2008 with a party, a movie, and a lot of conversation over schnitzel. It was great. I'm blessed to know so many fun people—and humbled because God has provided an amazing sense of community in a foreign country. (But I became a schnitzel addict in Vienna about a decade ago and have been in recovery since. These friends encourage my once hard-to-feed habit—and they know it. Lousy enablers.)

Because of the Orthodox Church's influence, Ethiopia runs on the Julian calendar and is more than seven years behind the rest of the world (probably 70 or more metaphorically). Their huge millennium celebration was in mid September. Thankfully, I wasn't here for the chaos. But the cruel joke is that even though you're seven years younger in Ethiopia, living here for only four months might age you about eight years.

Life has been "interesting" for the past couple of months. Of course, you cannot live in such a place and not have something unique to share with those in the "real" world. I have so much to write about that a newsletter doesn't suffice anymore. (Case in point: I live on the same compound as the African Union, the African equivalent of the United Nations. They're having their annual summit meeting this week, so Momar Qadafi [how DOES one spell this?] and other famous leaders are literally twenty feet away from my bedroom. And every time I walk out of my gate I'm greeted by a heavily armed sniper every thirty yards. It's a bit jarring to be surrounded by AK-47s and lunatic dictators.) .

For those who want to know, here are a few snapshots of this place. Such is life in Addis.

(By the way, I am woefully behind on e-mail because I usually have poor access to it. Please don't take my radio silence personally if I haven't responded to your messages!)

I Am Racist (Which Is Why I Live in Africa)
I hesitate to share this. It's unpleasant and painful, and not a typical part of a newsletter that hopefully serves as a little pick-me-up. But it's part of the ride. This is for those who claimed they want the good, the bad, and the ugly of Ethiopia—you're gonna get it.

(Bear in mind that I am certainly tainted by culture shock. There are also many wonderful Ethiopians, and I really have enjoyed my time here overall. But teaching can be overwhelming.)

December was a horrible month at school. Students here are not like my hardworking, driven Chinese kids whom I loved and poured my life into. Not to put too fine a point on it (so unlike me, ha), but many students at xxxx can be arrogant, selfish, and lazy. Their marks were not good enough for acceptance to the better public university, so they must pay for classes at private schools in order to work their way into a degree program. Because they pay high fees (public school is virtually free), many feel entitled to good grades without working to earn them. And because all subject areas are taught exclusively in English, many students don't comprehend much about their majors. Even if you're a math wiz, you're still missing a huge part of your education if you don't speak the language of instruction well. The government refuses to change the system despite public outcry and the obvious problems it causes. Ethiopian teachers often push kids through the system.

One of my classes makes little or no effort to learn despite my efforts to help them. Yet they feel superior. A couple times a month a young man will challenge me in the middle of class. He'll shake his fist and test paper in my face and shout, "You am wrong! I am right! I answers right! (Like I haven't been speaking English for 35 years.) I shake a bit, but stand up to him even if he's 6 feet tall and could toss me like lint. I say calmly but firmly, "I failed you because you did not answer the questions correctly. SIT DOWN NOW before you make a bigger fool of yourself." (This probably does make me a horrible teacher. I agree.) He usually sits down. If not, he storms out and I shut the door behind him, feeling happy he left and will likely transfer to an easier teacher—a teacher who "understands" him and will shove him through the system without asking him to work.

A number of foreigners say I should herd students through the system because that's what's cultural. Unfortunately, I cannot do this and live with myself. I still try to hold them accountable for a few things. One day last month I waded through about 60 writing assignments from students who clearly plagiarized and did not follow the very simple instructions I had given. It was the proverbial straw. I lost it. I don't lose it often, but this time I spewed nuclear fallout that probably hovered over Kenya. I am not proud of this.

I stood in front of the class that afternoon and said, "You are immature, arrogant, ignorant and lazy. You would not succeed in a different university because you wouldn't work hard enough. My job is to help you learn how to write. I would love to do that, but you will not allow me to. I have decided to fail all of you on this assignment."

They understood me. Most don't speak well, but they understand more than they can produce. They didn't protest this time, though. I think it's because they couldn't deny they were in the wrong—even their self-delusion has its limits. Several actually apologized.

Still, because of my attempts to hold students accountable and my tell-it-like-it-is personality, I have been labeled "racist" by some students. (Naturally, racists move to foreign countries in order to be surrounded by all the people they hate. Note heavy sarcasm.)

Add to this the fact the school's administrators give me incorrect information and then lie about it to cover their … um … derrieres. For example, the final grades I submitted last week are completely wrong—but I calculated them according to the instructions an administrator gave me. Now students are protesting and calling me names (not only am I racist, I'm also stupid). The man who told me to calculate grades this way is, of course, lying and telling the dean that he did not speak to me at all.

I have washed my hands of these people. I try to be duck-like—letting it all slide off me—though I still have days when I feel sick with anger and frustration. There is no point in trying to work out the problems. Their culture, their lies, and the general stupidity of it all kill any possible understanding or good relationship.

And aside from the classroom mayhem, people in general are often unpleasant. From the very beginning, perfect strangers on the street have laughed and pointed at me, saying things like, "You are so fat!" (even though I'm not …). African colleagues tell me not to accept this, but I can do little about it besides bite my tongue off in order to refrain from telling them exactly what they are. My Dutch colleague Truus is twice my size and she gets teased more frequently. She just doesn't let it get to her. Maybe being 60 years old and European have something to do with this. :-)

I try to teach well regardless of the hassles and impossible situations. And even with the difficulties, students and I do have fun in class at times (not all of them are awful, of course). But my time is not devoted to teaching. It's hard to care about people who don't care about you or what you offer them. My energies are invested in developing deeper relationships with other foreigners. There are many here. These friendships, I am finding, are more important than working in a ludicrous, corrupt school system that ties your hands.

Forgive me if this negative report is a downer and, therefore, not what you'd like to hear. My bevy of foreign teacher friends and I are in exactly the same sinking boat. One friend even got a note on her office door that reads: "You'd better go back to your home soon, foreigner." She taped it to her refrigerator, weird Aussie that she is. We kvetch or brainstorm possible solutions over a meal at least once a week. We call it group therapy. Through this therapy, friendships and discussions about much deeper and important issues arise. That's one reason I'm still here. I love to talk to people who hold various worldviews, and about fifty percent of my friends here have significantly different beliefs than mine. It's fascinating to find out what makes people tick, and why they believe whatever they believe. (And some of them think my beliefs are just as bizarre.)

But we all suffer because of the Ethiopian school system. At least we suffer together.

Travels With Chicken Little
I won't send a February edition of the Herald (hence this issue being longer). I'm hoping to be in South Africa and other countries for a month. Yes. Alice and I decided to go for it. We've been planning for weeks—and I've been mentally prepping to carry a backpack in a world without asphalt. We still don't know what the heck we're doing, though. Lonely Planet tells you only so much, Internet access is difficult, and just a handful of folks we know have backpacked Southern Africa. Today we finally bought roundtrip tickets to Johannesburg. We'll wing it from there with the ubiquitous cloud of Rastafarian-patchouli-wearing-hippie types who flock to Africa. (But if I come back to the States with dreads and a newly pierced body part, it will be because I was ambushed.) This is so unlike me and my white-girl-Republican world that I can't begin to explain what caused the change of heart. But here I am. You know you're approaching psycho-adventurer status when you use abbreviations such as Joburg, CPT, Vic Falls, the Zim side, Baz it, and "Vint" (Windhoek, Namibia's capital—pronounced Vinthook). Sometimes I think my life's purpose is to expose people to weird geography and terminology.

Last month, over fish and wine, Alice and I decided this trip was a brilliant idea. What were we thinking?!! This afternoon I smiled and told her that friends in the States sometimes write to say they wish they could live my "glamorous life." I didn't even finish the sentence before she blurted, "No they don't," and started laughing. So as we sat in the Ethiopian Airlines office for yet another three hours waiting for the 1:20 attendant:customer ratio to improve, we giggled like two punchy teenagers. If most people spent one month here they might flee for their lives. We, however, were apparently unbalanced before we arrived. :-)

Alice was an attorney in New York City and Chicago for twenty years. She uses her negotiating powers when dealing with the U.S. embassy and her superiors in Washington, D.C. Technically, a Fulbrighter is not allowed to leave their host country for more than two weeks. But Alice, with her wheeler-dealer schemes, problems with authority, and generally skewed sense of her own mortality, has wormed her way into a sweet five-week vacation. While my time off is fully legit, hers is … well, dubious. But on the other hand, the official we deal with in Addis (who is incompetence personified) has screwed up her Fulbright project so inalterably that she has nothing to do for the next two months anyway. Why not travel if governmental ineptitude has barred her from anything else? (I should probably shut up about this, but the amount of government funds lost or misused because of miscommunication, corruption, or complete incompetence is phenomenal and disheartening. Lately my cynicism has been poking out.)

But back to Alice. Oh my gosh, Alice. If we don't hurt each other, we'll have a blast. But she's the kind of person who anticipates the worst, overreacts to simple frustrations, and sees the negative in even the most positive situations. Calling her Chicken Little on steroids is an understatement. Thankfully, I'm reasonably mellow (after years of being banged up) and am able to handle her—I've done it well for four months now. But if she gets out of hand on the trip, I might gag her. That, or force four tranquilizers down her throat. Possibly both. She needs to chill. Wow. WOW. Otherwise, I'm gonna ditch her in Maputo. And she might ditch me.

We shall see how this turns out. South Africa, etc., are not the safest places on earth. Prayers for protection would be appreciated. (Really.)

Trip-Planning for Dummies
We're in for some ride through who knows how many countries. Yesterday I got our passports back from Mozambique's embassy. That in itself was a chore. I want to write a pamphlet on "Trip-Planning for Dummies." The passport section would read like this:

How to Get a Visa in 120 Easy Steps:
1. Find the embassy and/or chancery. This could take up to eight hours of your free time. There are no valid phone books, and no one (not even the U.S. embassy) knows where anything is in Addis. You operate on cobwebs of information and your own street smarts, weak though they are.

2. Once you've located the chancery—which in Mozambique's case means a 1.5-mile walk off a main road, where taxis don't run—figure out when it's actually open. Sometimes this could be every ninth Tuesday or the twelfth of Never. And, even if they have posted hours, nothing is written in stone. It's more like Silly Putty.

3. Look at the flag flying over the chancery. Mozambique's flag boasts a semiautomatic weapon and something that resembles a machete. Thought question: Do you really want to visit this place?

4. Once you catch the chancery on a day it's open (you can't call ahead to their disconnected number, so catching them could take numerous attempts and pairs of shoes), get the list of visa requirements. In Mozambique's case it was the following: an official letter from the U.S. embassy; two passport photos; exact travel dates (almost impossible to get in the slippery African world); $60 US deposited into an Ethiopian bank account; official—and expensive—forms from the chancery; and relinquishment our passports (which no one likes to do for very long, especially to a country that has a semiautomatic weapon and machete on its flag).

5. Once you know the country's requirements, get busy fulfilling them. This in itself requires at least 100 steps. Don't get me started on the bureaucracy involved in getting embassy letters. And even getting enough U.S. dollars requires the black market. (Our embassy bank accounts haven't been available this month, which is often the case when we most need them.) Thankfully (?) I have a student who's a hustler. He likes me (even though I'm the teacher from hell who won't change his grade) and he was willing to do the heavy stuff for us. I have no desire to go to dark pool halls or bars and deal with Ethiopian men who probably wear fedoras and dangle cigarettes from their lips.

6. Once you have dollars in hand (my student got them in one afternoon), you try to find the obscure branch of the obscure bank with which Mozambique has an account. You ask everyone you know—and even some people you don't, Ethiopian and foreign—if they know where it is. Again, it might take you a week or more to narrow down possible locations. You take taxis to hunt for the mythical spot. You endure self-righteous drivers who illegally raise your fare and say things like, "Sister, if you don't know where you're going, why didn't you ask someone?" You practically chew your lower lip off to keep from snapping back, "Buddy, don't you think I #@%* did this???" (I don't like or want to swear, but there are moments of extreme culture shock and pure sinfulness when I do. This might come as a shock to some of you—thankfully, these moments are few. Life overseas will test you in ways you didn't know you could be tested, and ALL of your junk comes out in its entirety eventually. God deals with you. Believe me ...) Instead of snapping this time, you just start pulling out your hair.

7. When you FINALLY find the bank (yippee!!), you feel like primordial ooze as you pass beggars on the street. You are carrying more cash than they make in a decade, and, if you happen to have your iPod and MacBook on you that day, you're carrying more money than they will make in their lifetimes. They have one leg, no financial power, and HIV-related tuberculosis. You had the mere inconvenience of finding the bank. You are scum. (Truly, I struggle every day with the unfairness of life.)

8. Once at the bank (again, yippee!!), you're frisked so thoroughly you feel violated. You must also empty every crevice of your bag. (You didn't see this coming, so you hope no one mugs you on your way out if they see what you're carrying.) Once in the bank, you are shuffled around to no fewer than five tellers, each of whom tells you with great authority exactly the wrong things to do. Finally, you find someone who knows his stuff. But this person scowls and orders you to sit down. You sit. You proceed to watch him stare at the counter for ten minutes. (He might be on a power trip because you're foreign. He might be thinking, "This stupid American woman with a fresh bald spot on her head won't hurry me.") Then, miraculously, the teller motions to you. You go to the window, hold your breath and smile a lot. You show him Mozambique's account number, explain the procedure, and continue to smile. He looks at you, blinks, and says, "Impossible. It cannot be done."

Internally you are Vesuvius and Krakatoa, and you coin new compound nouns such as "snake-eating-scum-banker" and "evil-idiot-teller-feller." But externally you are the South Pacific on a beautiful day. You smile, slip him $2 US and say, "I'm sure it can be worked out." He is a changed man: "Oh. That account. Yes, I can do that." Again, you sit. He glows. You watch him process the money. Then he gives you the magical receipt. You dance out of the building hoping never to return.

9. You go back to Mozambique's chancery (on your third pair of shoes) with all of the visa requirements in your bag. It's Monday and the guard at the gate tells you the secretary is out for the entire week. Nothing can be done for you. But you smile sweetly (it really helps to look years younger than your age), pull out the magical bank receipt, say "urgent" a hundred times, flash your American passport, and eventually schmooze your way past the gate and into the secretary's office. It turns out he IS there and they can cut you a deal after all. (It just takes persistence and great frustration on your part.) T.S. Eliot once said, "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." This is especially true when dealing with embassies—even with those that employ lethal weapons as part of their PR campaign. You get the passports back the next day as opposed to the next seven to ten.

All of the above is a mere sampling of the games one must play in order to function in developing countries. And people wonder why I'm quirky. Duh.

10. You need a break now. Take a day or two off from planning. Read chick lit. Eat pizza. Relax. The actual travel comes next, and you're going to need your strength.

Cookware Humor (?)
So my intense vegetarian friend Jamie called me two weeks ago and said breathlessly, with no greeting, "I have a joke for you. It's from Readers Digest." She could see my eyes glaze over even on the phone. "No. Really. This one is good," she added, though I'd said nothing.

The joke went like this:

Women are at a bridal shower and the bride-to-be is opening gifts. The whole time a single woman is complaining that she'll always be alone—there just isn't anyone out there for her. A grandmother type says cheerfully, "Honey, there's a lid for every pot!" Another women, clearly irritated by the complaining, says, "Yes, but you might be the skillet."

"You and I are skillets, baby," Jamie said triumphantly, as if being a skillet were the greatest thing in the world. I didn't know whether to laugh or reach through the phone and shake her. (I'm beginning to believe a Ph.D. isn't all it's cracked up to be; I've seen her transcripts, and she got flawless marks. There must have been a mistake.)

But last weekend at an American friend's wedding, Jamie leaned over and whispered "skillet" in my ear. It during an especially emotional part of the ceremony, and she must have known it was getting to me. Her little joke actually made me stifle laughter. And when she shared the anecdote with another friend, the woman said, "Pampered Chef has at least one covered skillet. You could still find your lid."

Well, I don't know about that. I think I am a permanently lidless pot. But I'm gradually becoming more OK with that. People like Jamie make this process more fun.

The Saga of Microbiologist Dude and English Teacher Girl
(I swear there should be music for this. Maybe something like a spaghetti western soundtrack.)

Enough people have asked me what happened. I will share. But a friend in the States summed it all up nicely last month in one sentence: "Prolonged singleness makes idiots of us all."

The first week of January I was in my office trying to catch up on e-mail while I had access. Out of the blue, Microbiologist Dude popped up on the screen. I hadn't known instant messaging was running, and I was in a broken office chair when he startled me. (This means I banged my knee on the desk as I nearly tipped over).

"Hey," he typed. "Are you there?"
The cursor was blinking way too fast. I couldn't think—especially with a broken knee. The frantic line wouldn't go away even when I tried to delete his message. "Depends on what this involves," I finally wrote.
"Let's talk about the elephant," he typed. (He meant, of course, the "elephant" we'd been dancing around for three weeks in our e-mail exchanges.)
"Do we have to?" I said. "It's hiding behind a bookcase. Just its butt is showing now."
(He didn't think this was funny. What is wrong with him?)

To spare you the whole conversation—which should not have been over a computer, but that's what we could do from two continents—this is the gist of our chat:

He said our friendship is a huge blessing to him. He can overlook my irrational love of olives, and he will always pick them out of his food for me. He appreciates my passion for God and concurrent knowledge of Chinese swear words. He thinks I'm intelligent, attractive, witty, cool, and fun. He wants my companionship. He's just not "at that point" in life. God hasn't laid it on his heart to be in a relationship. With anyone. He hopes I can try to understand. He's not hiding anything or protecting my feelings because we're way beyond that point now. He doesn't want to lose our friendship.

Here's a side note on this guy: He's too busy with work to notice a Christian version of Heidi Klum. He's doing TB research among other things; he's usually surrounded by HIV/AIDS-infected blood, stool, sputum, pus, and urine. (The only thing I ever want in his lab is out as soon as possible.) Besides this, he's 29 years old and has never, ever pursued a woman. Not in high school, college, grad school, or as an adult.

(Jamie and I have discussed this epidemic at length and are 200% convinced there's saltpeter in U.S. and Ethiopian drinking water. Consequently, we also whisper "saltpeter" to each other when it's fitting. People wonder why we're laughing.)

His olives comment made me smile. He caught me off guard with his thought on God's involvement, though. Israelite that I am, I forget that God has the ultimate say in these things. It's not about what I think I want. And ultimately, it's not even Microbiologist Dude saying no. It's God saying no.

But I was still angry. This guy is a perfect illustration of an intelligent but clueless man who has never felt the sting of singleness. I, on the other hand, have been grappling with it for the last few years. I typed back quickly, smacking the space bar. He "listened" and asked a few questions. Then he wrote in response (I could practically see him stroking his Vandyke and smirking slightly):

"So, basically, you're telling God He's wrong. Your heart's desire is not to be content. You're mad because you can't control Him. You are showing Him your own logic and holding it up against His perfect plan in keeping you single. That's really smart."

I didn't reply for two minutes. I just stared at the screen and breathed. Eventually he wrote, "You're frustrated now, aren't you."

(I hate it when he's right.)

Finally, he typed:

"You don't know how God is using your life or what He will do through you in the future. He's always working even when we can't feel it. Just keep toughing it out. I can tell it's hard on you to be single, but don't be discouraged. He is sovereign. He will use you. He has a plan—even in this situation."

Twenty minutes after our chat, I was back home and smoking a cigar on my patio, watching the Ethiopian Airlines sign down the road light up the sky in red, green, and yellow. (My doctor friend gave me the cigar. Since college, every five years or so I smoke one for just such guy-related occasions. It's a long story.) I flicked ashes into an old evaporated milk can and talked on the phone to an older single friend about how utterly miraculous it is when men and woman actually do get married. She said she doesn't have a clue how it happens either; that's probably why we're still single

I felt gutted that evening. But I couldn't deny that Micro Dude is right. And God began to reveal the edges of deeper issues in my heart. I vented to Him. I thrashed around spiritually like an angry two-year-old. I was still sulking when He "spoke." Softly. Out of nowhere, so it startled me. He "said": "Trust in Me. Hope in Me. Not him."

I know it was God because a) the thought was a one-eighty from my murky self-centeredness and anger; b) I wasn't looking for it; and c) it stopped me dead in my tracks.

Identify what makes you feel like jumping off a bridge when you lose it, and you've probably discovered something you find your identity in instead of God. Identify what you find the most hope in, and, if it's not God, you've just named one of your spiritual masters. When something good becomes something ultimate, it's no longer good. In my case lately, this has been marriage, or the lack thereof. But marriage is not anyone's life. It is not a solution for anything, and it causes problems of its own. I need to remember this as I enjoy gallivanting around the world as a single.

Still, I wouldn't change anything with Micro Dude. HE did the calling and inviting and initiating. What was I supposed to do? Stay home and wonder what could be? No. As usual, my buddy C.S. Lewis explains relationships well:

"Love [or care deeply about] anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. … We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him, throwing away all defensive armor. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."

(I do read other authors besides Lewis. But he's more quotable than Dr. Seuss and The Economist—though a compelling case could be made for quoting Sam I Am in many situations.)

I'm not in love with Microbiology Dude. I just really, really wish I could have the opportunity to be. But to show you how quickly we got over it, we're already planning a potential trip somewhere during the summer. Jamie, Attorney Guy and I vote for Turkey or Morocco, but Micro Dude is holding out for Kenya. (We're calling him insane and will probably vote him down when he returns to Ethiopia.)

By the way, his Christmas gifts (via Jamie) were thoughtful, well selected, and a lot of fun. And no, I'm not telling what they are. A girl's gotta keep some secrets …

General Stats (What a difference a few months make)
I've been here about four and a half months. Here's a collection of important (or almost important) stats on life so far:

*Cups of coffee enjoyed: roughly 2,000 (Hey. It's cultural.)

*Number of Amharic phrases I can say comfortably: 4 (My language is ghetto—I don't plan to study Amharic because I can get by with English. And I'm still trying to stop speaking Chinese to locals who look at me like I'm from Mars.)

*(Mom, don't read this) Number of times I've almost been hit by a car: 7 or 8—depends on how you define car

*Number of times I've been attacked on the street (Mom …): 2 (no real harm done)

*Number of papers graded: far too many (I have to stop giving so much homework.)

*Favorite place to grade papers: Kaldi's—a Starbucks knockoff with better coffee than Starbucks

*Text messages sent/received per week to/from friends, colleagues: 25 to 35 (one colleague doesn't text well and accidentally wrote "Hell! I'm @ the meeting now." I snorted for an hour.)

*Number of books read since arriving: 12 (but this includes and Pat the Bunny and Green Eggs and Ham—kids, you know)

*Number of books on Africa: 1

*Number of zebra, lions, giraffes, and other African animals I've seen in Africa: 0

*Number of sheep in the street at any moment anywhere I am in Addis: about 35 (They rain poop and pee. It even sounds like a rain shower as they pass by and deposit their … stuff. It's alarming that God compares us to them.)

*Goats: 20

*Donkeys: 8

*Oxen: 5

*Random cow meandering down street: 1 or 2

*Drunk and/or high taxi drivers on the road : only God can count them

*Hours I spend waiting for public transportation every day: between 10 minutes and an hour and a half

*Rough number of foreigners I know: 70

*Rough number of foreigners I hang out with regularly: 20

*Number of cafes with free Wi-Fi: 2 (when it works, which apparently is every fifth Tuesday at 2 a.m.)

*Cost of one hour of Wi-Fi at the Sheraton (the swankiest place on earth): $13 US (worth every penny every couple of months)

*Times Jamie has clandestinely said "skillet" or "saltpeter" and made me laugh so loudly that people wonder what's funny: 5

*People we've told about our jokes: 1 (not counting you, and she is MORTIFIED that you know—though she's relieved I've changed her name)

*Number of times I've been propositioned on the street: 7 (What are these guys thinking? That if they gesture crudely and say, "Hey, baby" I'll magically want them? Right.)

*Number of dogs howling in my neighborhood at this moment: 7 million (ugh)

*Times I've wished I were back home: 8 (but this was mostly during my first few weeks here)

*Days until I leave for the United States: I don't know anymore, but not enough. (Yes, despite the nightmares at school, I'll be sad to leave this place.)

What I'm Listening To
Quite frequently (and surprisingly to me), people ask what I'm listening to. I guess I'll finally answer. For the aurally motivated who wonder what the Addis soundtrack is, this is what my iPod plays most lately. Picture me scurrying about to music:

Patty Griffin
Aretha Franklin
Sufjan Stevens
Caedmon's Call
Indelible Grace
John Lennon
Sandra McCracken
Tim Keller (pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC—his sermons are incredible)
Nickel Creek (voted by Attorney Guy as one of the top ten "Way Too White" bands. He's half Indian—dot, not feather. For a man who weighs a buck 40 soaking wet, he'd be smarter not to criticize ...)
Badly Drawn Boy
Led Zeppelin (don't tell me you've never gotten the Led out)
Amy Winehouse
Billy Joel
Erik Satie (Any guy who titles songs Bureaucratic Sonatina, Dreamy Fish, and Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear is pretty cool in my book.)
Aaron Copland
Emmylou Harris
Monty Python (I grew up on Python, which is much of what's wrong with me today.)
Alison Krauss and Union Station
Various African stuff—Drums, baby. Drums.
Indigo Girls
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Tori Amos
Sara Groves
Ray Charles
Bob Dylan
Collective Soul
Allen Ginsberg (Yeah. This was a gift from my Green Party friend. I hang with a lot of people who tell me I should repent from everything I've ever believed politically ... so far it's not going well for them, though they are strident.)

And here ends the January issue (if you've hung in there and read it all). Till next time.


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