Monday, October 25, 2010

Bathroom = Cruel Trap

The doorknob in our downstairs bathroom is broken, and as such, when I went to the bathroom this afternoon, I got trapped in it. This was particularly unfortunate because I was just making a quick stop home to grab my music and some food before heading to an audition at 5.  I think it was the moment when my toilet-lid-battering-ram escape tactic failed that I knew I would probably not make it to the audition.  At that point I had tried using tweezers as a wrench to turn the remaining stub of a doorknob, unscrewing the plate from the doorknob using the tweezers as a screwdriver, and I may or may not have tried to burn a hole in the door using the candle on the toilet, matches, and some rolled-up toilet paper.  Of course, I had the wastebasket full of water close by to extinguish the flames once I got out.  I shouldn't have bothered; the door didn't light.  Finally I gave up and just curled up for a nap on some rolled up towels like a little dog until my housemate got home and let me out.  I was in there for about two hours.  I had left my phone in the dining room.  I didn't think I would need it.

I find this scenario to be especially hilarious because, as some of you know, I also got trapped in a room during my trip to Africa this past summer.  I was sick and the rest of the group went to Mass, locking me up inside of our room without realizing that I couldn't unlock it from the inside.  The nausea passed after about 30 minutes, but I was stuck in there for about three hours.  Except I managed to escape from that one after much lock-picking with a bobby pin, checking the windows for ways out, and pacing around the room.  I finally realized that if I undid the bolts securing the second door to the door frame, I could swing the double doors open.  So I did, much to the surprise of an unsuspecting village woman getting water from a nearby rain well.  The language barrier made explaining difficult, so I only pantomimed a bit before high-tailing it to the latrines.

Now this whole situation is making me a bit nervous, because since this has happened twice I feel that it's bound to happen a third time.  You know, the rule of threes and all.  So... I will be keeping my cell phone with me at all times from now on.  Even in the bathroom.  Especially in the bathroom.

Oh, and I did miss the audition.  By the time I got out it was almost 5:30.  I sent the casting director an email saying that I was so sorry, but "something unexpected and unavoidable came up and I didn't have my phone with me."  Well, it's the truth.  There's no need to share with the world that I locked myself in a bathroom.  Oh wait.  I just did.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Africa: I Miss It

"When I think of home, I think of a place where there's love overflowing.
I wish I was home, I wish I was back there with the things I've been knowing..."

I've said it before and I'll say it again; Africa feels like home to me.  I miss it so SO much; it is killing me that I am not there right now.  If someone offered me a one-way ticket to Ghana today, I would take it.
I have been home for about two and a half months now.  That must be how long it takes for me to register homesickness, cuz I'm really feelin' it now.

Here is what I miss most:
- the simple, unshakable faith of the people there
- the smiles
- the children (oh, my heart!!!)
- the drums and the dancing
- my mission team

Here is what I still don't miss:
- rice and red sauce
- latrines
- exhaust fumes

What I wouldn't give for the chance to go back to Dafor and visit the little school they have there, to hear the kids yell "Sistah Jen!" as they pull on my arms and clothes.  How I would love to hoist a headpan of cement onto my headcloth and work to finish that church!  What a joy it would be to to hear another of Fada's homilies, so penetrating and life-giving because of their deep simplicity!  How I miss those old ladies who tried to teach us Ewe and laughed at us every morning after Mass, those Mamas who were quite obviously the backbones of the village community, and those workmen who spoke to us in squeaky voices.  Hahaha and the finger snapping handshakes... I miss those.

I must go back to Africa.  I don't know when or how, but I must.  I have already been away from home for too long.

Recent Adventures

In the past few days I've had some little adventures which I would like to share.

On Thursday, I was working in the costume shop, which is in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning.  Not the nice ground floor that most people think is the basement, with the coffee shop and the computer labs, but the real basement, where there are no windows or doors to the outside except the loading dock.  The costume shop, as I have mentioned before, is in the very center of this floor.  Just some background info.
Anyway, I was working in the shop when I noticed a rather large cockroach on its back a few feet away from me.  It was struggling to right itself unsuccessfully, its flailing legs grabbing nothing but air and dust bunnies.  The rest of the shop was busy with a fitting, so I said nothing.  I figured it couldn't go anywhere while it was stuck on its back like that, anyway.
Later in the day, I noticed a stink bug crawling on my boss's notebook.  She had said that there were a lot of these little brown bugs on the stuff she had bought at a thrift store just this morning, so I wasn't surprised to see it but I thought I should at least let her know, since the fitting was now over.  She freaked out a little bit, decreed that it needed to be killed, and went to get the bug spray.  Since she couldn't find the spray and she didn't want the stink bug to get away, she grabbed what appeared to be the next  best thing: tacky spray, a kind of spray glue in an aerosol can.  She went to town on that little bug, spraying it from all angles with this sticky spray.  While she was at it, I thought I'd inform her of the cockroach that was still on its back under a clothing rack.  She freaked out a little more and then sprayed it, too.  Sometime during the spraying, it managed to flip over, but it couldn't exactly move, because it was now glued to the floor.  Actually, both bugs were now glued to place where she sprayed them, and neither was dead.  I guess tacky spray isn't toxic after all.
We were now faced with the dilemma of finishing the job in the least messy way possible.  My boss got rid of the stinkbug by throwing away the page of her notebook it was glued to, and a fellow workstudy and I were left to dispose of the cockroach.  Ah, how to proceed?
After considering several methods (and poking the cockroach with a piece of paper for a while), here is what we did:
a) He folded up a paper towel, laid it on top of the glued-down cockroach, and stepped on it repeatedly.   It crunched.
b) He lifted the paper towel, much to everyone's disgust.
c) He wiped away what wasn't stuck to the floor with another paper towel.
d) I doused the stuck-to-the-floor remains with adhesive remover.
e) We waited one minute.
f) He wiped up what he could with more paper towels.
g) I doused it again.  (There were still antennae and legs stuck to the floor.)
h) We waited another minute.
i) He wiped up the remainder of that poor unfortunate cockroach.  What a way to go.
This sequence, of course, does not include the abundance of screaming and general causing-of-a-scene that went on in addition to these steps.  What did you expect?  We're all theatre people.

Blues Dancing
Later that night, I went to CMU's Chicken Swing, which as I have mentioned in the past is an excellent way to get my dancing fix, especially because by Thursday night, I need to dance.  We learned blues dancing, which is kind of a looser form of tango with a bit of swing mixed in.  Maybe.  I don't really know the proper definition or the roots of the dance, but I know that it's pretty darn fun.  No, "fun" isn't really the right word for it, because it's not as fast-paced and exhilarating as some other forms of dance.  It seems like it would be good for late at night, when you're getting a little tired but want to keep dancing.
Here are the things I really like about blues dancing:
- It's pretty simple to learn.  There's no basic step, really, just the pulse of the music and keeping with that.  And keeping with your lead, obviously, if you're a follow.
- The follow has a bit more freedom in this dance.  In most partner dances, it's completely about listening to the lead and following what he wants you to do, but in this there is a bit more leeway.  Of course, you maintain a connection and stay with him in general, but if you want to get the hips going or stylize a little bit, it's all fair game.
- The hold is so close!  I prefer this; I think it's easier to maintain the connection and to feel the lead.  Nope, I have no qualms about getting very close to a perfect stranger.  Is that weird?  Well either way, I very much enjoyed getting close to my dance partners last night.

     I know that I should take vitamins.  I learned that while I was in Africa.  But even here in the States, where my diet consists of much more than rice and red sauce, I really should be supplementing it in some way.  But I hate those huge pills... so I usually don't.  Thus, gummy vitamins.  I decided that that was the solution to this dilemma.  But I haven't done anything about it yet.  I decided this about 3 months ago...
     So, last night I returned from dancing, and my housemate had been shopping.  And she bought... drum roll please...  DISNEY PRINCESSES GUMMY VITAMINS!!!!!!!!  I am so happy about this.  One of my career goals is to be a Disney Princess, so I think it's a good idea to take princess vitamins.  You know.  ;)

     On Friday a friend of mine and I went to a house in the neighborhood around Mercy Hospital to look at some 2-month-old pit bull puppies.  I was answering an ad in the Pitt News, so I had no idea who these people were or where their house was.  Everyone I told about this said it sounded sketch, but I was determined.  I called my wonderful daddy and told him the exact address where we'd be and that I would call him when we were done.  
     Everything turned out fine, of course.  The breeders were really nice people who answered all my silly questions about their puppies and their other pets and training and on and on.  And the puppies were absolutely adorable.  I got right on the floor and played with them for most of our visit, so by the time we left my hands and arms looked like I had been mauled by a very small tiger.  Totally worth it.

     Friday morning, I ran into a friend of mine on my way to my 11am class, and as usual, I smiled at her.  But this time, it was real.  I've gotten pretty good at faking it, and lately I've had plenty of opportunities to do so.  I don't think I've genuinely smiled, as an expression of joy that I felt in my heart, for almost a month. But I am smiling for real again.  I'm glad.  I was getting so tired of pretending to be happy.

New Phone
     Good ol' Dad renewed our contract with Sprint, so I got a sweet awesome Samsung Seek absolutely free!!!  I was hesitant to graduate to a qwerty keyboard and touchscreen after two years with my standard flip phone, but I am adjusting very quickly and I like it a whole lot. It has a blue ribbon of color running around the outside, and the inside when you slide it open is also blue.  I like to think that Mary has her mantle wrapped around my little phone.  Maybe that's silly.  I don't care. :)

There are more, but those are the best ones.  More to come, perhaps.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


That girl...
with lots of eyeliner
in the sexy heels
with the tears in her eyes...
that isn't me.

When did I stop smiling?  When did I stop caring?  When did these walls go up?
Maybe I could name a specific date and time...
but maybe it's also been a process...
a process that now needs to come undone.

But do I want to undo it?

Oh, God, listen to me. I am so angsty.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I know I haven't posted in a long time.  It's actually because I haven't had anything positive to say.  My life has been... difficult lately, and a lot of mornings it's all I can do to pull myself out of bed to face another day.  I wish I could go into details and pour my heart out to you, readers, but it would just be so inappropriate.  Just please, keep me in your prayers.
Here are some things that are keeping me going:
- my family.  They are the best.  Really.  I don't know what I would do without them.  My mom and older sisters have been calling me with great frequency just to ask how I'm doing.  I have two wonderful brothers who are just amazing young men.  And that little sister of mine. She's such a sass, and I taught her everything she knows.  And she's getting so grown up and so beautiful!  But most especially, I am grateful for the gift of my father right now.  What a good man he is.  He has been so faithful to our family, so loving, so hardworking, so generous.  And when a girl's heart is lying in pieces around her, sometimes a hug from her daddy is just the thing to make it a little better...
- my faith.  Ya, it had to be said.  God and I are... maybe not as tight as we used to be.  But we still talk.  Honestly, it's Mamma Mary who's pulling me through this time.  And I know that she's very close to her Son/Husband/Father.  It's great how God is all three to her, isn't it?  So as long as I stay wrapped in her mantle... I think I'll be ok.
- music.  Yes, this also makes me cry a lot.  But more often it brings a sweet release of all the tensions and stresses of my life.  My favorite is to go into St. Paul's when no one else is there and just revel in the sound of my voice reverberating through the glorious space above my head.  It's like... releasing pieces of my soul.  My favorite right now is Bach's Ave Maria in the key of G major.  (I know that because after I finished singing I whipped out my tuning fork, which I always have with me now, and found what key I was in just by listening to A 440 and doing the math.  Hells yes, I am a music major now!!!  Also I just found out that that's the key it was originally published in.  It's a sign.) Today when I was singing there two people walked in and knelt down to pray in the middle of a song.  I wasn't sure what to do so... I finished the song.  Then I left feeling kind of embarrassed.  Usually I only let God hear me when I'm singing like that.
- my bird.  Sure, she bites me when I try to touch her, but every morning, she sings along to my alarm clock, and sometimes it's quite nice to wake up to birdsong.
- dancing!  I went to Chicken Swing at CMU last Thursday night and did some lindy hoppin'.  It was so lovely to forget about everything for a few hours and just dance.  I am also a regular attendee of the Panther Tango Club, which I love.  I think tango is my favorite kind of dance.  It's so passionate and tender.  Also the endorphines from these two excursions kept me in an "up" mood for several days.  The only drug I can afford...

Now I'd like to talk a little bit about school.  I have apparently stopped caring about it.  I haven't done homework in over a week.  Except for a little composition project.  Hells yes.  I am a music major now. ;) Anywho, this lack of caring about classes is especially unfortunate because my good side pleaded with my professors on Friday for extensions on all the papers and homeworks I haven't turned in, while the bad me doesn't give a damn and is blogging right now instead of working on her long-overdue homework.  And I'm honestly feeling pretty sleepy (not from wine this time) so I think I'm going to go to bed and try to wake up early to finish it.  If I care tomorrow.  Which is a tossup at this point.
Ooo it's thundering.  How wonderful.  I do love a good storm.