Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Lessons from my Family

I'm sitting at the dining room table and to my left are three giant boxes and one trashbag filled with clothes. My dad emailed me about a week ago from Afghanistan saying that it is cold and he's tired of seeing people walking around in tshirts and can we send some warm clothes? Well, today my little sister, Allie, and her boyfriend, Dan, went shopping at one of the second hand stores in town and bought an incredible amount of "warm clothes" to send. They didn't try to buy anything too fashionable since "the fashions over there are probably different from here." Now we're in the process of boxing everything up and shipping over to Afghanistan.

This type of thing is pretty normal for my family. They tend to do stuff like this and think nothing of it at all. It's completely normal for them to see a need and try to do something about it. I never realized how fortunate I was to grow up in a family like this until the past couple of years. This shaped me greatly and is probably one of the reasons why I'm going into social work now.

I told Allie today that she should probably also go into social work. She recently changed her major from mechanical engineering to "undecided business." She responded that she doesn't want to go into social work, but that she could run a non-profit with her business degree. And then hire me. While I'm pretty sure that I will not be working for my sister anytime soon, I think that it would be great if she did go into the non-profit sector. We had a good discussion about that.

Once my little brother, Kyler, got a new bike for Christmas. He was about seven I want to say. Well, shortly after he received the new bike, he gave away his old one. When my parents inquired about what happened to the old bike, he responded by saying that his friend down the street didn't have one so he gave it to him because he didn't need two bikes. Why is it that often times the youngest "get it" while we don't? He had no need for two bikes, so he gave one away. Sure, he could have sold that old one for a few dollars and then bought something for himself, which he, at seven, was full aware of, but he chose not to do that.

My family inspires me (not to sound too cheesy, but they do.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

It's a Bird, It's a Plane

It's Super Golda!

Today I went running outside, in 28 degree weather. To combat the cold, I wore "winter running clothes" as seen below. My stepmom wouldn't let me out the door without taking a picture of me first as "Super Golda!"

Now, I know what you are thinking - "what are Super Golda's powers?" Good question. They are as follows:
1) The ability to wear an ungodly amount of spandex while looking super sexy.
2) The ability to run down an icy dirt road without falling - not even once!
3) The ability to ward off the neighbors dogs with her invisible force field.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Saying goodbye to an old friend

Yesterday morning my family celebrated Christmas since no one will be around on actual Christmas Day.

One of the best presents I got was new pajama pants. I was in desperate need of a new pair. My old pair I bought freshman year of college for $5 at Old Navy. They are green plaid and I love them. So comfortable. They have been faithful to me for the past three years. I've worn them on camping trips, they went with me to Kenya, I even wore them to one or two 8am finals when I was too tired to actually get dressed. I think I even wore them to a 3:30pm final once or twice also.

Sadly, however, a couple of months ago they got a hole in the butt. Not as in a rip-type-hole, but a worn out-type hole. I tried to patch it with a piece of an old pair of jeans, but that only worked for a couple of weeks. The hole got bigger and the patch did not really stay in so I had to wear a pair of boxers under my pajama pants so that I would not be inappropriate.

Yesterday when I opened up my new pajama pants I got really excited. They're green and teal plaid and really warm. My little sister told me this meant it was time to retire the old pants. I dont know if i can do this. I'm not ready. But she's right, it's time to say goodbye to the old pants and embrace the new.

I hope that they treat me as well as my old pants did and that we have many happy years together.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My Year in Review

So this is my year in review. I took the first sentence from the first entry of each month. This is how it played out:

So this is my life - I wake up at around 1-2pm and then sit around for the rest of the day waiting until rarty time.

You know what's NOT cool? The fact that today is SOME people's second day of classes but for others, it's the beginning of their fourth week and they have a greek test today.

I'm a horrible person, but it was only semi my fault.

I registered for classes this week.

It just struck me as I'm sitting here writing a paper how non-collegelike Bay College actually is.

I played tennis with a friend from the Africa trip and his roommate today.

When I'm bored, I bathe. I'm going to be so freakin' clean this summer it's unreal.

Apparently my "August allergies" are in fact universal.

I'm so freakin' tired.

We ate waffles at work tonight!!

I'm taking History of Traditional China this semester, completely against my will might I add (that's a long story though).

Today I spent the hours between 8am-11:30am handing shirts to people and trying to convince them to wear them.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Trade, Bono, and Coffee

I turned on my computer today to find many things happening in the world. First, I was pleased to see that Time magazine announced it's "Persons of the Year" and they are no other than Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono! I have to say, that I am happy that Time decided to recognize the good work that these three have done this year in terms of humanitarian work. The Gateses have donated so much money to global health and Bono is the voice of so much concerning AIDS, debt relief, and poverty.

Also, the WTO voted to end farm subsidies by the year 2013 . While this was not the 2010 deadline that many people and countries were hoping for, it's something I suppose. I have to admit, I didn't know a whole lot about free v. fair trade until these past couple of months. I knew that fair trade is what people talk about and push for, but I wasn't exactly sure what all went into it. Luckily, I had the chance many times this past semester to learn about fair trade and what it means. I just ran across this article, written by an Aussie, that puts it into words better than I can.

This past Wednesday at our Amnesty International meeting we talked about corporate responsibility and what it means. We met at a local Starbucks and met with the manager about what his store, and Starbucks as a whole, is doing regarding these issues. He brought up several good points about the whole fair trade stuff. For instance, the term "fair trade" is becoming somewhat of a marketing ploy for companies. They know that people will buy their product if they stamp it with "fair trade." Are they now providing fair trade products because they believe its the correct thing to do, or because they know that they can make money from it? Also, many products are fair trade, or partly fair trade, but because of the rules behind calling something "fair trade" it might not always say it on it. It was really interesting to hear Matt talk about it all from a business standpoint.

He also talked a lot about the importance of relationships that business people need to have with the people they are buying from, such as the farmers. They need to know where their coffee beans are coming from and have a relationship with the people who are growing the products they are buying.

We got to taste some of the fair trade coffee and even though I'm not the biggest coffee fan, it was pretty good. I had two mini cups and I was jittery. I have such a low tolerance for caffiene it's sad.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Game of Life

Last night, because of a lack of anything better to do since we live in the middle of nowhere, Eric and I played Life (and Sorry! Lots and lots of Sorry!). I don't think I've really played Life since middle school, when Jeanie and I would play it all the time. That was also before she started going by "Jean." In the game, I was a female and chose to wear pink. My car was British so I drove it from the right side. Eric was male and chose to wear blue. His car was not British. My husband sat in the backseat of the car so that people wouldn't think that he was driving from the left side, because I was driving my British car. Eric had two sons, one who wore pink and one who wore blue. They sat safely in the back of the car. I had no kids.

Life, the game, is very unrealistic in many ways. First of all, I was a teacher, but making $80,000 whereas Eric was an accountant, but earning $40,000. Halfway through the game I had a midlife crisis and became a police officer and made $100,000. Now I'm pretty sure most teachers and police do not make that much money, but I could be wrong.

Other parts of the game were realistic, however. Like the rules. We didn't have the rules sheet so we made it up as we went. That's what I do in real life. In fact, my motto this past semester was "fake it till you make it" because that's what you have to do sometimes. Life doesn't necessarily give you the rules all the time so you have to figure it out as you go along. But, this can lead to problems. Luckily Eric and I didn't argue about the rules, or lack of rules. But if I was playing with other people, big problems could have come about. Just like in real life.

Luck also played a role in the game, just as it does in real life. Your fate depended on the spin of the wheel and where you landed on the board. You didn't have control of everything that happened to you. You never knew when your house would burn down or someone would get sick or when you'd go on an African Safari or win some sort of prize. Maybe you have luck, maybe you don't. Maybe life will be easy, maybe it won't. Who knows?

I won the game, and along the way won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer, and built a better mousetrap. None of which will happen in real life.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Home Sweet Home

I've been home all of about an hour now. It's cold and snowy - I'm not a fan. Plus, my cell phone doesn't work here. Ahh, da U.P.

I might have overreacted about Christmas. While I AM going to be alone on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, we DO have a (fake) Christmas tree! I'm not a fan of the fake tree, but I'm glad we have something at least. Even if it doesn't smell like Christmas. It's not decorated yet. I suppose that's something my sister and I will have to do once she gets back from school. Maybe Christmas won't be so bad afterall. Maybe. Now if only we had some Christmas cookies....

In other news, I am training for a half marathon. Yes, you read correctly. Me. Running. Far. My friend Claire talked me into it. She ran one on her birthday last weekend and is running in a full marathon on my birthday and she convinced me to run in the shorter race. So I'm supposed to start training on Monday. Physically training that is. I'm already "mentally" preparing. Ha. I even have a running schedule. I hope the high school is open so I can run there, otherwise I'll need a back up because I don't think I can run outside here. It's so freaking cold. And snowy.

On the way back from the airport my stepmom tried to take me to wal-mart to get groceries. I insisted we go elsewhere and got the chance to "educate" (okay, I ranted) my stepmom and "little" brother about the evils of the store. They were polite and listened to me. They even seemed somewhat interested.

My little brother saw Walk the Line and is now obsessed with Johnny Cash. He has the complete cd set and is listening to it full blast. I'm so putting it all on my ipod.

Being home is going to be interesting, needless to say.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tea drinkers unite!!

Good news! Researchers have conducted a study and it looks like drinking tea may reduce your (if you're female...) risk of getting ovarian cancer!

I was never a tea drinker until this past year. I didn't know what I was missing all my life. Up north, we aren't big on ice tea. I don't think I ever even had it until I came to Baylor. I KNOW that I had never had sweet tea. I had some freshman year, liked it, but I didn't go out of my way to drink it.

This summer I was introduced to hot tea. We drank it 3-4 times a day in Kenya. Good stuff. The first time I attempted drinking hot tea, I had to get help. We were at our campsite while on safari and I was waiting for the rest of my team to come down for breakfast. I approached the tea setup with apprehension and the lady behind me had to help me. I was completely clueless. She showed me how to seep my teabag and add milk and sugar. I quickly fell in love with the Kenyan tea and our outings that we took almost daily to drink and talk.

I bought a box of 100 teabags to bring back with me to the States. I forgot about them for a while and they sat in my room until one day I had some friends over and we decided to have a "tea party." I broke out the Kenyan tea and refound a lost love. This was during my "week of poppy seeds" so my friends decided that I should drink my tea with poppy seeds.

This is not something I recommend. Poppy seeds + Tea = bad. Who would have thought??

This summer, once I was back in Waco, I found out about the teas they have at Commongrounds. Since I was still new to this whole tea thing, I didn't know which ones I liked, so I got a different flavor each time I went pretty much all summer. And I found out about how to ice the tea to make it cold. Because seriously, you can't drink hot tea in the middle of a Waco summer day. However, when I went home for a couple of weeks in August I tried to order tea at our local coffeeshop, but I wanted it iced. Twice when I did this the baristas had NO IDEA how to ice the tea! I had to tell them. Ahh, yankees. Nevertheless I taught them how and I was able to drink my tea.

All that to say that I'm so glad that my drink of choice is possibly helping me to fight ovarian cancer. This is very good news.

Friday, December 09, 2005

More on Walmart

Ever since I watched that Wal-Mart movie, I think I've annoyed pretty much everyone with my rants on the corporation. The first couple of hours of our car trip up to Kansas for Thanksgiving consisted of me telling my grandparents, mom, and stepfather all about how evil it is. At about the second hour mark we passed a Wal-Mart and my grandma says "oh look! There's a Wal-Mart! We should stop!" Luckily, we didn't. I then decided that maybe I should stop talking so I took out my ipod and cranked up some Springsteen.

Today, my friend Seth forwarded this article to me - Wal-Mart Critics: Where Would Jesus Shop? Which then reminded me of an op-ed in our local paper earlier this week. Unfortunately, it is not on the Waco Trib's website, but it basically said, "yes, Wal-Mart does a lot of bad things, but so does everywhere else! It's okay that they suck because everyone else does too!" Now, how is that logical in any sense? It reminds me of what my parents would say -"if everyone else jumped off the Mackinaw Bridge, would you?" Just because other companies do not offer adequate benefits or pay decent salaries does not make it okay that Wal-Mart doesn't either! They have the resources to do so, but they are choosing not too.

From the Wal-Mart article I was led to this page - Wake-up Walmart. A whole website about how bad Wal-Mart is! So much reading to do! I suspect that the rest of my day will not be spent studying for my history of traditional china final, like I should be doing, but reading about the evils of Wal-Mart. Why oh why did I find this site today when I have a 9am final tomorrow?? Or I guess, why do I find ways to procrastinate so easily??

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bah Humbag

I'm not in the Christmas spirit this year. Usually, I love Christams. I love decorating, I love buying presents, I love the smell of Chrismtas trees, I love Christmas cookies. Not this year. Maybe it's because I know what awaits this Christmas season at home, or actually doesn't await. It looks like my dad isn't going to be able to come home from Afghanistan for Christmas, like he was planning, and both of my older sisters and their families aren't coming to Michigan either. And on top of that my little brother is going to Kansas to see his grandparents and my little sister has to work on Christmas Eve. Bah humbag. So since there is going to be limited family around for Christmas, we're not doing a full-out celebration of any sort. I doubt if we'll even have a tree. So this puts me in a bad mood concerning Christmas all around. I'm not looking forward to buying presents because I won't see everyone when they open them, I'm not looking forward to cookies because my dad isn't home to bake them, and I'm not looking forward to Christmas trees because we most likely won't have one.

I suppose I need to get over this. There are so many people who have it much worse than I do. At least I do have family, even if they are scattered all over the world. I should really stop pitying myself. I'm so freaking self-absorbed it's ridiculous. Maybe I should focus on the real meaning of Christmas - Jesus' birth. That's what it's about, not the trees, not the cookies, none of that. But the birth of our savior who came for all of us. That's what it is all about.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I may have found my calling

Today I spent the hours between 8am-11:30am handing shirts to people and trying to convince them to wear them. I hate to brag, but I'm ridiculously good at getting Baylor students to wear bright orange t-shirts that say "HIV +" on them in big black letters. Seriously. We were trying to get about 20% of the student body, or 2000 students to wear these, representing Zimbabwe which was a 20% HIV/AIDS infection rate. Well, we didn't get 2000 people to sign up/pick up their shirts so today we had an incredible amount left so some of us walked around throwing them at people and trying to get them to wear them. It actually was fun. We were supposed to get money from the people if we could, to cover the cost of 2000 shirts, but I was not good at that. That is not part of my calling. I was just really good at getting the people to take a free bright orange AIDS shirt and then wear it for the rest of the day.

For the first hour and a half, Jon and I walked around and approached just about every person we saw. I felt kinda creepy at first, but I quickly got over that. Before I knew it, I was a shirt-giving-away machine. You should have seen me in the computer lab in the garden level. I went in with an armload of shirts and came out with none. Even Jon was impressed.

The next hour and a half was spent sitting with all the shirts right outside the School of Social Work and going outside between classes and trying to get everyone walking past to take a shirt. I was amazed at how people responded. Most were more than willing to take one and put it on and listen to my speel, but others would walk away. It reminded me of the people at the U2 concert when we were volunteering for the ONE Campaign. It was all I could do to refrain from muttering "bastards" under my breath at the rude people. But overall, most people were enthused about the shirts and put one on.

The last half hour we went to the SUB and hit people up in the cafeteria. We got a very positive response from that, mostly, I think, because everyone had seen tons of people walking around in them already and wanted to get in on the action. Seriously, there were so many people with the shirts on! It rocked. And now I'm at the library and have already seen about 15 people wearing them.

While the shirt project went well and we actually got so many people to wear them and raise awareness for HIV/AIDS on the global level, I'm just waiting now for everyone to donate their shirts to Goodwill/the Salvation Army/wherever else. That should be interesting when all of a sudden there are hundreds and hundreds of these bright orange HIV + shirts. Interesting indeed.