30 December 2006

been a bad blogger

i suppose it's time for a long overdue update. most recently, yesterday was my last day at my job here in lincoln, and i was pretty sad to leave. working there has been a very challenging and rewarding experience, and i feel like the clinic and i both benefitted from the interaction. i really enjoyed the staff there and will miss them, and really i'll miss the patients as well. i'm glad my first in-depth exposure to medicine here in the united states was from this perspective (which is to say, the low-income community health center), as i believe i learned a lot of valuable things about what life is like for a growing number of people in our country, and i don't want to be in the career i'm trying to get into without knowing about those people and their situation.

next, in about 30 minutes i'm heading to cancun, (fake) mexico for a week with my family. the day after i get back in town i'll drive out to chicago to start training for my new job out there. hopefully now that my life is going back to crazy i'll post more often to keep you all updated on the latest happenings and strangeness. in the meantime, it's off to the yucatan peninsula for me.

happy new year!

16 December 2006

terror on the plains

the other day i was driving by the capitol and i imagined terrorists flying a plane into it. i thought that that would be a strange move for the terrorists to try to pull off, and probably it'd be really challenging, too--it's kind of a small target to hit. but then i started thinking about the reaction around the world. after the twin towers went down, there was sort of a general consensus that the best thing to do was to get on with things, to doggedly return to "life as usual". often it was said that to not do so would be to let the terrorists win, so everyone stoically went about their routines, trying very hard not to let on that they were troubled. so it seemed sort of funny to me to imagine the reaction to nebraska's capitol being attacked. after finding out that nebraska was not the name of a city in some state in the midwest, but was actually one of those midwestern states, people not from the midwest would then be faced with a very small tightrope on which to walk: they'd need to, as with 9/11, stoically return to the usual so the terrorists wouldn't win while also trying to seem troubled about the loss of property, government and (presumably) human life in a part of the country they couldn't find on a map. that'd be a real psychological conundrum. it'd be the same questions about when is it ok to continue with whatever aspect of life, but instead of people asking themselves, they'd be asking other people. it'd be very weirdly externalized.

i guess what i'm saying is, i don't see that the state capitol here is a good target for terrorists, but if they were more interested in social experiments than in whatever they do with their building exploding, we'd probably have a lot of fbi agents around the building all the time.

04 December 2006

a top ten list.

it's my favorite time of year. december is upon us! the snow is falling, everyone smiles at you extra nice so you'll buy more stuff, and best of all, my friends and i make our top 10 albums of the year lists, which is an extremely laborious process that takes, well, basically an entire year to compile, discuss, argue, insult, and fastidiously and obsessively rearrange. so to warm up i am presenting a different top 10 list, of probably equal significance, import, and influence in world politics. i am speaking of course of my top 10 favorite t-shirts.

ah, the t-shirt. is there a more essential, versatile piece of wardrobe? they're like souvenirs as fashion statements, and since i don't really like fashion statements or souvenirs, i love them to their 100% cotton core because they do an excellent job of both things at once. without further ado, then, the ten most cared-for pieces of the one article of clothing i most carelessly wear.

at number 10 we have this number from my favorite lincoln record shop, spindle records. evan schmidt and i went to spindle's going out of business sale (it later came back to business, and arguably with cooler tshirts) intending to purchase a shirt along with all the on sale records, figuring they'd be pretty cheap. we found so much clearance vinyl i totally forgot about the shirts, but evan remembered at the cash register, and we each picked up a nice parting gift for something like $5. the design is half film reel and half 45 spacer, which is far from amazing but is sort of nice looking. plus, it's green and yellow. green and yellow has been screwed up maybe...once since they made the switch to color, and every other time it's been pretty much perfect.

up next we have this concert purchase from the summer. if you're a reader of this online publication (or if you know how to click the archive link) you already know some of what made that night so great, and the flaming lips and the night itself make the memory half of this shirt especially great. that night really truly was a memorably wonderful and happy night that served to lighten the heavy days that surrounded it. but touching sentimentality for summer shows aside, look at the thing! the colors! the design! wayne's hair! those hands! bonus points for the hands later showing up in the fall's gondry film, which can't really ever be a bad thing.

8: another concert relic, this one from explosions in the sky. this was another particularly inspiring show that reminds why you like music and why you pay so much to see it played live. explosions has great artwork for their albums, and their t-shirts are right on par with their best stuff. they had several really cool designs, and i think my friends and i all managed to pick up a different one. this one, though, was my favorite. the idea--a couple is lifted, floating, by their kiss, or by love--is great already, but i think the way their limbs are hanging, and especially the guy's tie, are what make this shirt really great. they're either weightless or they're defying gravity, and either one sounds pretty good to me.

when i was in spain, this t-shirt was a pretty reliable way to identify study abroad kids. as the palest, blondest, least hispanic-looking person in most of the places i went, the last thing i needed was more help outing myself as a tourist. plus i would have just felt like a tool wearing it around. i mean, EVERYBODY was doing it! so i didn't buy one. and then i got home, and i realized a pretty substantial fact: i was no longer in spain, and thus no longer studying abroad, and thus no longer a part of a very visual minority (whose majority i had sought to avoid). so i regretted not purchasing the famous osborne bull shirt, and when aaron went to spain for the second time this year, i made sure not to make the same mistake twice, and i asked him to bring me one home. as far as the article itself, it's a classic. look at that anatomically correct bull, standing so proud and defiant! and the red...it is (quint)essentially and (arche)typically spanish, which is obviously a good thing. obviously!

andrew lawton and i spent 48 minutes together every day just after lunch experiencing some of the most profound and intense moments of boredom and frustration we will probably ever suffer through while "learning" about our great nation. as a sort of escape from a pretty miserable pedagogical nightmare, we imagined what life would be like for the first US astronauts to live on the mir space station. this led to the invention of two russian cosmonauts, yuri and dmitry, who were a strange combination of the ambiguously gay duo, hanz and franz from saturday night live, and....come to think of it, the borat character, who at that time had not yet been invented. in character, we complained about "ze american peeg dohgs" and their horrible capitalistic system of commerce. andrew went away for college, but made second semester of my freshman year just a little bit better by coming home that winter and bringing with him matching shirts, one with "yuri" on the back and the other with "mitya". it was like team communism had jerseys or something--i was elated. my enthusiasm for actually wearing this shirt diminished when i realized my parents and other people their age probably were not going to stop looking at me like some kind of subversive (slash terrorist) when i wore it, but i still think it's a great t-shirt.

a good deal of my fondness for this shirt (#5, if you're keeping track) stems from a probably embarrassing pride of the performance it commemorates, which was my high school's one-act my senior year. but we really did something that year, man! we, like, really took on a challenging piece, and made an important statement! and so on. as great as it was to have my name so near arthur miller's (on the back, which is how these shirts always go), though, the action on this shirt takes place up front. the fallen tree plays a pretty pivotal role in the story, and my friend mike bartsch had this in mind when he designed the shirt. he drew the broken, sideways tree and wrote "all my sons" in a typewriter kind of font. it was a very minimalistic design and i thought it was very worthy of the whole thing (no small endorsement considering my total lack of perspective on the matter). but a funny thing happened on the way to the silk-screen company. a fellow classmate decided there should be no broken tree without there being a stump from whence it came, so she took the liberty of adding it right into the designer's drawing, without even asking him or anything. and the silk screen company or someone else decided to just lift the drawing and type the words in using one of those fonts your computer has but you never actually thought you'd see used. for a long time the first thing i did when i got the shirt out of the dryer was reapply a generous dose of sharpie to the trunk, trying in vain to darken it out into oblivion. it didn't work, as you can see.

here's another shirt i wished i'd bought in spain when i got home. this one, though, i'd looked all over for and never found just as i wanted it. i could never find a shirt with the seal and the name all written out like a college shirt, like this one. and what university shirts i did find i never found in my beloved heather grey color, which is pretty obviously the best color for a t-shirt. fortunately for me, my friend sarah (whom i'd met over there) and i had by the time she got home from spain established a pretty good tradition of sending each other packages in the mail, and when she found that the shirt she got for her dad was too small, she did what any good friend would do and sent it my way. if when people say "it's the thought that counts" they mean that sarah thinking of me when she bought the shirt would have been the most important part of the gift, those people are totally wrong. this shirt is super great, and it's from spain, and it says "i've been to spain!". when i wear this shirt, i don't even have to try to be a unique person, my shirt advertises my special person traits to the world at large all on its own.

probably the greatest rock and roll road trip i've ever taken was the time adam nun and i went to see sigur ros in minneapolis on their agaetis byrjun tour...without tickets. to make a story i've often enjoyed making very long quite a bit shorter, we showed up early at the venue, spotted jonsi outside, met him, talked with him, got on the guest list, and then ran around minneapolis for no apparent reason in a fit of unbridled joy and stupidity for a few hours until the doors opened. we called aaron chambers in our fit of excitement and delirium, and he asked us to get him a shirt, and then the three of us all ended up with one of these shirts, which does a great job of sticking to the artwork of an album that is one of my all-time favorites. plus, it looks so good with kakhi shorts, and it's dark enough that it doesn't show pit stains too bad. it's an all-around summertime winner.

the other day i wore this shirt and i remarked to aaron that at this point it looks like the t-shirt the world's first sunny day real estate fan EVER would wear. this was one of the first band shirts i ever had, which is funny because of it's iron-transfer origins--it's totally the first rock shirt for a former homeschooled kid. i like this shirt because i made it myself, and i like the album, and i like the album art. i don't reckon i have a lot to say about this one, other than that i've probably worn it about a thousand times and it wore really well, all faded and with modestly sized holes spread randomly throughout. it's a classic.

this shirt is my goldenboy. except i don't have the heart to finish it off, so now it just sits in my dresser, unworn for fear that those last strands will finally fall apart and my favorite shirt will die. there's a certain kind of hipster who would buy this shirt in a thrift store, and if someone would ask him if he actually went on a cruise in 1992 would say "psh, no!", making clear his disdain for anyone with enough money to spend on that kind of thing. he might even mutter "stupid leisure class!" under his breath, just for good measure. so it's kind of funny that if someone asked me if i got this shirt at a thrift store i'd probably answer in some way that i would hope would show how much i dislike some of those ironic t-shirts, and some of those ironic t-shirt wearing hipsters. oh, the irony! anyway, i WAS crusin' in '92, and it was great fun for me. at the time, the shirt was too big for me, even too big for me to wear back in 92 when arsenio hall and mc hammer (and...vanilla ice?) had made wearing baggy things cool. but slowly and surely, my stature and the midwest's fashion sense moved toward each other until they converged and seemed to stand perfectly in place for all of my college years, which is to say, the best t-shirt wearing years.

so there it is, my top 10 t-shirts. or more accurately, a personal history in 10 t-shirts. now excuse me while i decide which are my favorite pairs of underwear for the next list.

28 November 2006

it's pulling at your hands like a spiderweb, like a kite that isn't there

in a move very nearly as binding as eventually quitting my job or finding an apartment, i bought a chicago guidebook the other day. this is a pretty significant development in my life and almost certainly means that i have decided to take the newly (re-)offered job as an interpreter and move out there in january. the only complication right now is that i'm not convinced i'll make enough money to live on from just the interpreter job and am currently trying to decide if the thrills of a new city are worth the hassle of moving and finding a second job and all that noise. but i really don't think i have much of a say in the matter--where there is something new and challenging to try, there will i shortly be. it's a law of physics. of jeremy physics! (other jeremy laws include "every action has an unequal and exaggerated reaction" and "[jeremy's] body at rest will not be able to stay at rest".)

so at this point very little is hammered down (i just bought the book yesterday!), but suffice it to say, the beginnings of something happening are...happening, and that's probably reason enough to start up the old blog again. those of you who were never a particularly big fan of the live jeremy experience and liked me better in paragraph form are probably jumping up and down for joy right now. it's your lucky day!

13 November 2006

updates and projections

my friend jordan has been frustrated by my lack of blogging lately, and has decided to ghost write for me. so here's my life according to her:

Dear diary,

Today I went to my interpreting class at Southeast community college. It was pretty fun. We had a break in the middle, because the class is super long. I got this really awesome burrito from a vending machine in the basement. It's super cool because it's a vending machine with frozen things, but dont worry becuz there is a microwave. I guess I'm learning stuff; the teacher has a masters and really knows her stuff! i wish that one day i could know as much as she does and help others to learn it too.

After class I'm gonna watch the the Nebraska game (GO BIG RED!--for those of you that don't live in nebraska, that's what we chant, because they wear red). I'll probably watch it with my mom. I hope she makes little smokies. they are really good. last time she added cheese to the barbecue sauce, and it was pretty good. but randy kept farting! EWWWWW!

well, guys, i hope you liked the update. sorry it took me a month. i've been spending a lot of time chatting and stuff. i'll post some pictures of my new haircut when i can get dad to show me how to use his digital camera.

okay, GO BIG RED! (now you know what that means! hey, maybe i am a teacher!).

04 October 2006

that feeling you get when you do something good vs. that feeling you get when they pay you for doing anything at all.

it occurred to me the other day as i interpreted that probably i wasn't going to get the kind of comic source material i needed for my blog in this kind of work, no matter how much fun the people in those hospital tv shows looked like they were having. so i brought my resume to the clinic the next day and got as a job as a receptionist for the dental part of the health clinic--surely "the office" isn't exaggerating the kind of shenanigans and hijinks that happen. i'm hoping for some kind of complicated, unrequited love triangle scenario to slowly develop, although my not being engaged probably compromises the likelihood of that. but to counteract that i ordered a name sign that says "pam". but i'm not sure that's endeared me to the staff even a little bit. although everyone brightens up and laughs when they see me. that's got to count for something!

so then, to recap--i'll spend about half my time at the clinic working (FOR MONEY!!!) as a receptionist and the other half of the week interpreting as a volunteer. the clinic coordinator tells me she's going to try to get funding for an interpreter position so i don't leave, but i'm just not sure about that. it's so fun to explore! we'll see what happens.

29 September 2006

they're coming to america

pilar (not her real name) has been here in the united states for about a year. she doesn't speak any english, and supports herself as a dishwasher at a restaurant in town. for several months now the pain and numbness that starts in her fingertips and continues almost to her shoulders has been getting progressively worse, and she came in to see the orthopedic specialist who sees patients at the people's health clinic once a week. the doctor recommended she have a fairly expensive test to see if she has carpal tunnel syndrome, so he asked the assistant to set up an appointment at a neurology clinic. the clinics she called didn't mind that she'll need an interpreter, but the conversation ended when they found that she doesn't have a social security number (like many of the patients at people's health, and which can be an indicator of whether or not an immigrant is legal). so we didn't make the appoiintment for pilar and will try either another clinic or applying a bit of pressure to those clinics we've already called.

sometimes i think about what it would be like to be an immigrant here in the united states. i usually just imagine not knowing the language and think "that'd be hard". but at the clinic i see a mother with her crying, sick 3 month old and in her eyes i see fear and weariness and something like desperation. in this new place she has few options and nearly no support system. the baby has had trouble breathing since birth, she says, and i think about my brother and sister-in-law and how alarming the slightest new development of their newborn was at first, and how scary were the endless possibilities of death that that new life had brought them, and i try to imagine that uncertainty combined with this family's reality, their poverty, their isolation, their displacement. this isn't merely a difficult undertaking, it's monumental, with incredibly high stakes.

needless to say, it's been an interesting first week at the clinic.

20 September 2006

the one where he laments forsaking his blog

you know that scene in wayne's world where everything's going wrong for wayne, and he starts complaining about what's got him down, and then the camera starts to walk off, and he apologizes and says "whoa! come back! i'm sorry for dumping on you!" and convinces the camera to come back? probably there's a mountain of life lessons to learn from wayne's world, but that moment seems particularly pertinent for my career as the world's best-loved and most successful blogger. accordingly, i thought of spicing up things in my life with a sitcom-style love triangle just for the sake of content and drama for the blog, but those affairs can be kind of expensive, and i remain unemployed. so instead, i have decided to turn to what has always been my employment strong suit: working for free. today i signed my confidentiality agreement papers at the people's health clinic (so i can't tell you who was in with a rare skin rash, but you probably don't know her anyway. and if you do, you'd probably rather not know. and for the record, i didn't actually see anyone with a rare skin rash...i am making up a story (my mom says they're "lies"...whatever.).) to be an interpreter over there. which is part of a bigger decision to actually be here while i'm here instead of constantly wondering when my job over yonder will start and so on. so be sure to check back soon for more made-up stories of rare skin rashes!

12 September 2006

in between

what is between? how can one be "in" it? how do you get "in"? more importantly (or saliently, for me), how do you get out? i am definitely ready to be "out between" instead of "in between", which is where i currently reside, closer to chicago than south america, smack in lincoln, but also somehow nowhere at all. when are you leaving, why are you still here, what's the latest on chicago? these are all very good questions. i don't know, but what's even stranger is really i could leave at any second. like right now. or...now.

training for my job in chicago has been delayed due to some strange "extreme circumstances" involving the people who do the training, which i figured meant death by extreme sport injury until my hiring guy told me they got very sick, so i guess it's safe to assume they've been bitten by zombies out there--this could be awhile. instead of waiting for the rogue hero to save everyone by shooting off the zombies' heads with the last few shotgun shells (or beating them to death with a cricket bat, if you're a fan of the BEST zombie movie), i think i'm just going to go out there and find a second job. much like my quest for buying a new pair of sunglasses, though, the overwhelming number of options and possibilities has me a bit paralyzed. any second now i'll probably just close my eyes and point at the calendar. and then i'll leave. which is to say, this update is to say i don't know. but when i do, and i have things to say, this will probably be one place where i do say them. so stay tuned!

01 September 2006

the next chapter

i may have intimated in my last post that being unemployed was great fun, especially when airlines send you checks for things they broke. but i was mostly trying to be funny--in reality, being unemployed and not knowing when or if you'll get a job is stressful, depressing, annoying, and just downright unsettling. which is why i am happy (elated, ecstatic, overjoyed) to report that today i got a call from cross-cultural interpreting services in chicago, wherein i was informed that my test scores (from the test i was pretty sure i failed) came in and i not only passed, but performed really quite well. so i have a job in chicago! (!!!) i start training on wednesday and will hopefully also find an apartment while i'm out there (i'll come back next weekend to play worship music for church) and then i'll begin the next adventure.

i took this picture after i took the test at the beginning of august. when i took it i was really discouraged because i didn't think i'd get in, and that added to other things to make me feel pretty uncertain about where my life would take me next. (i should point out my mom never really bought that i didn't do well on the test, and even managed not to say i told you so when i got the good news today.) but now, it's sort of a hooray picture--i get to visit another new city, i get to live in a new city (even if it's still in the united states, it's definitely something new and exciting and maybe just a little daunting), i got the job i most wanted to do (which pays well and will allow me to get hands-on medical experience AND is a job that will benefit people and help them be healthy)...it's a new set of challenges, a new opportunity to serve, a new opportunity to learn. it's another way to be alive!

28 August 2006

a wonderful awesome epic adventure

this weekend i went to council bluffs to see sonic youth and the flaming lips in concert, and i am happy to report that good things can happen even in iowa. if you ever go to a show with me and see me holding my face with my hands and beaming a 1.21 gigowatt smile stageward and trying to stare at all members of the band at once, you're probably seeing one of my favorite bands with me, and you're probably seeing me nearly as happy as i ever am. and if you had gone with me and aaron on friday, that's more or less what you would have seen, since sonic youth is probably my favorite band that's still making music today, and the flaming lips are both near the top of that list AND probably the most carnival-like live show i've ever seen, and a 5 year old at a carnaval is exactly what i felt like. so it was a very, very, very good night for me.

a few highlights beyond the ecstatic joy of being there:

thurston moore, who is about as old as my dad, looking like he could be my not much older brother, and rocking with the enthusiasm of a teenager.
sonic youth's legendary stack of guitars (mhat, you know what i'm talking about--but we were closer this time!).
candle, reena, pink steam
the drunk woman next to me who kept telling me "baby, you're hot--and i'm a lesbian!!!" (also popular: "you're BROOOOAD!")
aaron telling above enebriated and purported lesbian "hey, keep your hands off my boyfriend!" (thanks, aaron).
lesbian girl to aaron: "hey, it's ok, we're on the same team!" aaron: "no we're not."
wayne coyne "crowd surfing" in a big plastic ball like a giant hamster rockstar pre-show.
wayne coyne explaining why flaming lips fans are superior to other fans.
wayne coyne.
aaron's version of the 1.21 gigowatt smile.

in other great news, southwest airlines told me today they're sending me a check for the equivalent of the cost of replacing all the things i lost in the baggage debacle. it's like i used the stuff for 5 months, destroyed it, and found someone who would pay full price to buy it from me. this is so much better than having a job. i think i'm going to fly southwest again soon with some more expensive things when this money runs out.

24 August 2006

like it's going to be your last day

if there was a musical spectrum of a birthday's overall feel, on one end would be the beatles' "birthday", and on the other would be andrew bird's "happy birthday song". my 25th birthday, which happened tuesday, was definitely toward the andrew bird end of the spectrum. in other words, more sad than glad. on my way to lunch i got a speeding ticket, which pretty much summarized how i felt the majority of the day. when i used the fact that it was my birthday as a plea for leniency, the cop not only continued to give me the ticket, he didn't even wish me happy birthday. "thanks for buckling up" he said as he walked away, and i said "happy birthday" under my breath in exactly the tone and timing i would have used to either swear or say something really clever and insulting about his stupid hat or sunglasses or...baldness if i wasn't feeling so defeated and wrongfully accused (which, to be honest, i wasn't).

but in addition to up to date proof of insurance and registration information (MIRACLE!), my glove compartment gave me one extra special birthday surprise. i bought probably the coolest sunglasses i've ever owned in spain back in the day. they were just like kurt cobain's glasses in my favorite nirvana picture ever (of which i have a very large poster, and i have really big plans to hang it...somewhere when i live in a place i have any expectation i'll be in for more than "one more week..."), and i felt about 37% more like a rock star wearing them. which until tuesday i hadn't done for a very long time because they were lost. but they're not any more--they were just behind the registration and that big jiffy lube envelope that they use to prove that no matter how far technology enters into our lives, the guy who changes your oil will still probably not be able to use a computer to remember if you've ever been there before. the fact that some poeple still pretend they don't know about computers and internets is probably really comforting to someone a lot older than me. which, come to think of it, is the first time i've felt young since feeling like 25 is a long way from 18 or 22. so hooray for birthdays after all!

19 August 2006

...in its tell-tale time

time is a tricky, mercurial, and alternately treacherous and benevolent thing. you never know what it'll do when you're not looking, and you're never as unwatchful as when you leave. while your thoughts are elsewhere, some things you long for are changed, and when you look again they're lacking: the buffalo wings i'd been pining for in south america had me up all night with a kind of stomach pain you'd probably get if you fried a piece of the devil's tail in volcanic lava and ate it. after weathering 5 difficult months on opposite sides of the world when all either of us really wanted was the company of the other, janae and i decided we'd be better off as friends upon my return. or suddenly i don't seem to belong in the city i call home and it feels like a place i've been hanging around for too long.

but it's never all deception or all generosity, and no matter what alchemy or transformation it brought me this time, i've found that the acts of organizing, arranging, and listening to my records is every bit as wonderful, soothing, and delightful as i remembered it and had been hoping it would be. so thanks to everything on my shelf, from air to young mc (it was a used-bin nostalgia buy!), and to time, for never taking without also giving.

10 August 2006

faq, home edition

q: hey, you're back! how was your trip?
a: good.

q: really?
a: well, really it was good and bad, fantastic and terrible, fascinating and boring, overwhelming and underwhelming, relaxing and stressful, and so on. but "how was your trip?" is like the average of all the questions one could ask about a trip, and "good" is more or less the average of the responses.

q: oh. so...you're back now, right? like, in lincoln? why were you in new york?
a: yeah, i just got in last night. i flew into new york to visit janae and betsy and to sort of look around the city a little. i saw the moma, i got my indian food and sushi and chipotle, i watched television, i took showers, i loitered in bookstores...it was great.

q: how was your flight?
a: it was ok for me, but my bag didn't do so well. it seems it was dragged for some distance on either cement or very coarse sand paper, completely incinerating my bag and my raincoat and my sunglasses, which incidentally are the three most expensive non-electric items i took with me while traveling. jeremy vs. southwest airlines will probably begin today or tomorrow, so stay tuned for updates. in the meantime, here's a shot of the jacket after i leant it to the terminator to wear while he tried to kill sarah connor.

q: where are you staying? can we hang out?
a: i'm living at my parents' house for now, out of boxes once again. actually, can we hang out is not a question i've been frequently asked. but the answer is yes--give me a call! my number is the same as it was.

q: is it good to be back?
a: hm. it has been my experience that the sadness of leaving is not equal in measure to the happiness of returning, and that the inequality tends to lean toward the harder truth. there's a hint of that this time, but overall i would also say that yes, it's been really great to be back. i really like my country.

q: are you being ironic or something?
a: no, not at all! i'm sort of in love with the usa right now.

q: oh, like since you just got back, sort of a honeymoon thing?
a: no, not like that. more like how a couple loves on their 50th anniversary. these are the quirks, these are the faults, these are the terrible wrongs in the past, these are the completely illogical tendencies that have driven us all crazy at one time or another. i know these things, and i love this country. it's not an idealized thing, i just like the way the country is and even in some ways the ways we're wrong because our greatness, our occasional stupidity, and even our atrocities are distinctly american.

q: mmm...patriotic civics lesson blog entries. always a hit. let's change the subject. what are your plans now that you're back?
a: what i would most like to do is get a job interpreting in a medical setting. on my way home from new york i stopped in chicago to test for a certification program that would allow me to work for a firm as a free-lance interpreter in chicago. i would use the independent work to live while looking for a full-time position at any of the hospitals and clinics in the area. this would be nearly ideal because i love the city and they have a large latino community--it'd be a great way to spend the next year, both gaining the experience and exploring a new city, two things i couldn't do staying in lincoln. but in my opinion i really bombed that test, so i'll probably be looking for a different firm in chicago. which means i don't know how the timeline will go. after that, hopefully next year at this time i'll be making sure i have a good enough bookbag for med school.

q: so does the fact that you're moving out where janae is mean anything particularly gossip-worthy about your relationship?
a: haha--no, not really. i really think i'd get sort of antsy staying in lincoln this year, and i am very mobile right now and chicago is a great option for reasons listed above. janae being out there is definitely a bonus, and i guess if you want to know "what it means" it means we like each other enough to try living in the same city for a little while--a strange idea for people who are dating, i know. i don't think it means anything in particular beyond this year, though.

q: darn, i like gossip better than simple logistics.
a: yeah, sorry about that.

q: well, as long as you're back safe. tell you what, why don't we get together and i can ask you some other questions i want to know about your trip.
a: i'd love to! give me a call!

07 August 2006


trips like this don't just happen, and opportunities like this don't just materialize in the air and fall from the sky into laps. unfortunately. instead, they require a lot of work, sacrifice, and support from a group of people who in many cases haven't had the opportunity or anything like it. i am indebted to those people, and i wanted to say thank you:

to my parents, for support in more ways than can probably be imagined, enumerated, or named. for ignoring hugo chavez's latest psycotic ramblings about the undoing of america (or just not knowing about them), for sending money i never asked for, for emotional support before i left and while i was there, for never complaining about the infrequency of my calls and emails, for understanding or trying to always, for swallowing probably more than a few reservations and protests when i was telling them what i wanted to do and where i wanted to go and for how long...for all of this and undoubtedly lots more.

to mike hertzler and the elder board at faith bible church and the attenders of faith. when i asked mike to look into any possible opportunities for medical volunteer positions in south america, it was (in my mind) one of several different paths i might find to south america. it may have originally been that, but to be honest at this point i can't imagine having done it without him. almost immediately after asking him (especially in south american terms) we had a possible position with a hospital in ecuador, and thereafter mike made sure the preparations were on track, and always asked me how things were going and if he could help. mike was also the one who brought my "mission" to the elder board for possible financial support, which they agreed to give me, so thanks to those men as well for believing in what i wanted to do and supporting it, and for then bringing it to the congregation and giving all of them a chance to know about the happenings and help out in prayer or even just interest (when you ask my mom how i'm doing, she tells me you did, and it was good to know you cared). thank you.

to about a million people at hospital vozandes quito, including but not limited to karen, ximena, maira, evelyn, cecibel, piedad, soraya, drs. balesteros, vallejo, barros, kon, calerón, cueva, corral...hey look mom, it's an unending list of names! and tons more. for their friendship and help and patience and education and for making the whole experience much more than about medicine or even service.

to janae for coming down to see me (twice!) and putting up with all my wanderlust and still even wanting to be my girlfriend when i got back (hey hey!) and for phone calls and emails and packages and other things to remind me i was missed and hinting that if i were to come home immediately at least one person would be thrilled.

to all aim buddies everywhere (anyone i talked to on the internet in the last 5 months) for keeping up and keeping me up. especially so aaron and sarah (my traveling buddies forever) for sharing commiseration, understanding, and learning in a special way, and mhat for sending me little mpeg-layer 3 sound files of home.

to marmot mountainwear for making probably the single most indespensible piece of clothing i had on my trip, the superjacket.

to the people who came under my charge at vozandes, for teaching and giving and helping me much more than i was able to do for you.

to everyone who read my blog, and especially those who commented. knowing anyone was interested both made me feel good about the friends at home and helped motivate me to experience as much as possible while i could. thanks for listening--this has been fun, and it wouldn't have been the same without you all.


04 August 2006

confirmed landing!

this is now the longest extended pictorial metaphor i have ever endeavored to...endeavor. (remember the endeavor space shuttle?) well, this picture isn't that shuttle. and i landed and john f. kennedy airport, not space center. but you get the idea. i have arrived safely in new york. but let me give you one more piece of advice. if you've been traveling in south ameria for a long time, you've probably gotten sick of watching your bags so closely all the time. you might think "hey, i'm in an airport now--i can relax about that!" you'd be wrong. if you are me, your being wrong means that several people's gifts went to some other opportunistic passenger on my flight to the united states of all that is good and great and wonderful and truly awesome in the world. that person would like to thank you all for your generosity.

i'll probably still update this for awhile because i like it when people are listening to me.

31 July 2006

say yes! to the lake district

this entry comes to you from mendoza, argentina. next time i work in south america for several months, i'm going to work in argentina. because it's pretty great here. but let's get right to the pictures! (soon i won't have anything interesting to show everyone, so i'm trying to really live up my last fews days in the limelight. so there's a lot of pictures.)

this is puerto montt. it's...just like this. it's on one of the lakes, so that's nice, and there's a sort of charming city center, but other than that...well, here it is. it was also cold here. when i went to the bathroom at my little crappy sleeping place i realized my pee had steam just like my breath. i thought about including a a picture like when i was throwing up, but my mom tells me she's given the blog address to quite a few of her friends, so i decided i'd only embarrass her as far as mentioning the pee. hi, mom!

after puerto montt i went to entre lagos. this is the lake at entre lagos. or one of them...since entre lagos means "between lakes" it stands to reason there's another lake nearby. which i never saw. but they probably would have changed the name by now if it was an error. and really, the area has about a thousand lakes, so maybe they didn't mean directly between two lakes, just sort of among the lakes. entre lagos can mean among lakes, too. what i'm trying to say is, the lake district is really awesome because it's up in the patagonian mountains, and there's a lot of lakes and mountains. there. i just came right out and said it. i'm way too subtle on this blog.

i went on a hike in a national park near entre lagos, from which you could see this view. this is the kind of thing i was talking about when i said it's awesome. it pretty much goes on like this forever. or seemingly forever. which is good enough to give you the effect.

here's entre lagos in the morning. if you're me, you're thinking smoke on the water. dun dun duuuuuun, dun dun dun dun! and so on.

i wanted to go from entre lagos (a tiny little town in chile) to bariloche. EVERYONE i asked said i could wait on this road and a bus would come along and pick me up. and, after about two hours of waiting a bus did come. i grabbed my bag, walked to the shoulder, waved my arms...and choked on a lot of dust as the bus went right on by me. several conflicting pieces of advice later, i finally succeeded by jumping right in front of a bus so it would stop. that didn't really happen. anyway, this was the view while i waited. not too shabby.

this is what the road to bariloche looked like. patagonia, hooray! seriously, you should go to argentina. or check out these other pictures.

my head said "try to get a better shot", but my hand said "put the glove back on or i'm going home". for the record, the patagonian mountains do NOT slant weirdly. nor does my mouth, at least to my knowledge. or does it...? this is me on top of cerro catedral, where i went skiing. if there is another place like this on the planet, i want to go there, too, because this was really, truly, totally amazing.

i guess i probably should have said the "amazing" stuff in a picture where you can actually see the scenery. standing at the top, you can see probably...oh, about 200 degrees or more around. this is about a fourth of the view. it was (say it with me, now) much better in person. i have about a million more pictures, but eunice and theodore need to get to bed sometime before 7:30, so i'm going to quit with the mountain pictures.

awhile back i showed you all the naríz del diablo (devil's nose, remember?). in colca canyon, our guide showed us a weed called el cojón del diablo (um...ask your mother) whose seeds made a hallucinogenic tea. well, this is el dedo de dios, or finger of God. but dedo de dios is fun to say. try it!

anyway. i've got a couple days in mendoza, unless the pass closes again, in which case i won't be able to get to my flight, and maybe i'll have lots more days in mendoza. we'll just have to see! if all goes as planned, i'll see you all in august!

26 July 2006

temuco, valdivia

i've totally lost even remote contention for the "most original titles" award to be given at the end of the year at the annual bloggies. but i think this blog has been all about utility since day one, and i stand by that reputation. those cities, these pictures:

when i enter this photograph in the state fair competition, i'm going to call it "sunrise in temuco". just so everyone knows what they're looking at. see? utility, people! i took this picture from where i stayed that night, in a "hospedaje", which is what you call it when someone has extra rooms in their house and they let travelers stay in them. i do this because it's cheap and not because i expect comfort, but i think anyone would be disappointed when, after first entering the house and seeing space heaters (ooooh, space heaters. if there were space heaters in the time of the incas, machu picchu would be filled with rooms to worship THOSE as their god and not the sun or whatever) and actually feeling warm for once, you arrived at your room and realized they don't heat that part of the house. as a bonus, all night long if i ever wondered if i'd died i just opened my eyes to see if i could still see my breath. as a further bonus, there was a dog chained directly beneath my window (apprently to patrol this parking area) who was good enough to let me know if a person, car, or bug passed through the lot. or if he'd had a bad dream, or was bored, or couldn't sleep, or...just felt like barking. he felt like barking a lot.

i didn't read the sign, so i'm not sure what indegenous god or tradition i'm disrespecting in this picture. but i thought it was funny, which you can tell if you look at my face very hard because i'm smiling. actually, i'm smiling because just as the timer on my camera was going off i realized i wasn't alone, and these chilean people were looking at me all funny. so i laughed at my joke, grabbed my camera, and ran away.

here's temuco from above. from a hill. i guess that's pretty much all that's going on here. let's go to valdivia now.

this one, i call "me and the sea lion". look how perplexed i am by the presence of sea lions. or maybe i'm skeptical. "psh! sea lions? here? i don't think so!" look how close i am to the sea lion! if i'd realized the photo was focused on me and not the sea lion, i would have tried again. because you all know what i look like by now. but the sea lion, you haven't seen, and he had character. you could tell he didn't like being foregrounded by me, but he didn't have a camera, so he had to just deal with it.

they do a market in valdivia where they sell fruits and vegetables and seafood. at first glance, it probably looks like this is just a picture of a guy who filets salmon (mmmm...sake sashimi), but this picture made the blog cut because of the sea lion in the background. filet guy had this huge piece of rebar he'd occasionally get out to hit the sea lion so he'd go away, but the sea lion knew who was really in charge, so he just pretended to leave, and then came right back. look at how sneaky he is!

here's another market photo. believe you me, i WANTED to buy me some fresh salmon and clams, but i really didn't have the means to prepare them. it definitely made me think of and pine for sushi, though. oh, sushi. betsy and i are going to eat sushi right away when i get back. and indian food. she was always my indian food and sushi buddy back in lincoln. we'll probably also split a chipotle burrito, which became a tradition after betsy had been unemployed for awhile and went broke. i can tell you that because betsy never comes to this blog. tee-hee!

i took these two pictures about 20 minutes apart. it turned out that what looked like a sunny day (which my hospedaje owner cheerfully and confidently told me we were going to have, for which reason i left my rain coat at home, bringing sunglasses instead) was just the rain catching its breath.

it rains pretty much non-stop around here (it's raining in this picture, if you can't tell). it's kind of a drag, because it's also very cold here. after valdivia i went to puerto montt in the lake district, which is where i'm writing this, and it's pretty much the same story here. in fact, i had the reassuring sight of my own breath last night, too. from here, though, i'm crossing from the lakes (it's the part of southern chile that looks like it's dissolving into the ocean on the map) to the east, which means crossing the patagonian mountains and going to argentina, where i hope to ski a little. in other words, i guess i won't have as much rain there. because it will be snowing. i said that last part to tease my dad. haha! how's the heat in kansas city, dad?

23 July 2006

santiago, valparaiso

the last few days i've been in those two cities. i really liked walking through santiago and could see living there. valparaiso was ok...i bet i'd like it better in the summer.

in the plaza in santiago i inadvertantly got a picture of a street performer and his crowd while taking a picture of the cathedral. as you can see, "freddy loco" stopped the show, or made me part of the show. he told me i had to pay to take pictures of his show, but i informed him it was the cathedral i was photographing, and argued it was much prettier than he was. he didn't argue, but i paid him anyway. the blonde in the middle of the circle was from germany. she didn't speak much spanish, but had been roped into the show, which was a role she enjoyed so little that at one point when old freddy was talking to some other audience member she just ran away. it was funny.

a cool thing about santiago is it's this big city with a great metro system and stuff, , but if you look off in the distance, you see the andes towering over the city. on the downside, though, there is that smog, too. but overall it's pretty cool.

these pictures were taken from a hill that has a fortress on it. it used to be used for protecting the city. you can imagine the spanish fighting many vicious battles against the rebelling indigenous people. now they sell ice cream here. true story!

sorry millhouse, but it was time. here's me getting the first haircut i've paid for in probably 5 years. i got exactly the same haircut i've been giving myself for quite some time, which is either a commentary on my need for a change or my hair's total inflexibility. they thought it was strange i wanted a picture of the process, but for my part i thought it was strange it took them so long to do a job that always takes me about 5 minutes to do--on myself! as a plus, i became pretty good friends with the three ladies working at the old peluquería, and i swear one of them had a pretty big crush on me. AND i talked them down to 3500 pesos for the job. so i saved money, too.

this is a picture from valparaíso, which as you might guess, is a port city. i included the trash on the shore to help you imagine that disgusting ocean smell that port cities have. everything rotting smells better when it's rotting in the water. they had a restaurant along the shore, which i thought was weird, but i guess it's more authentic that way. whatever.

here's a view from on top of valpo. i got up here on those famous elevator cars. at least my guide book says they're famous, but i hadn't heard of it. so it's one of those secretly famous things. like adam smith is a famous economist. (i read about econ on wikipedia once so i could impress janae with my knowledge of a field i don't know anything about. wikipedia: it will help you find a girlfriend.)

now three more people (i think four read the blog, but probably one of them already knew about these things) have seen the valparaíso lifts. they're all about 100 years old (some a bit more, some a bit less), and my guide book also says they are a marvel of engineering. i guess can't say they're especially NOT a marvel of engineering, so i'm taking their word for it.

i took this picture because that statue looked suicidal to me, like he's been immortalized in the moment just before he jumped off the roof of this building. see, the beauty shop ladies were the longest conversation i've had in probably 2 weeks, so i've probably gone crazy. er.

in other news, i have recently decided to cut my trip back down to its original size, so i'm leaving south america august 3 instead of 18. i'm sure you'll wonder why, so let's see if i can explain it very well at all. for some reason, i've recently just sort of burned out on traveling (for now). i mean, i keep seeing more things, and not really being that excited about it. for one thing, it seems like a waste of money to keep on seeing things when i'm not even enjoying seeing them, and for another, it makes me restless, and i sort of want to get started on what i'll do next--i'm ready to start real life again (but only for awhile, mind you). so i decided to come back a bit early, and save buenos aires and iguazú falls with my mom for another day. when i AM excited to see what's there. so i'll see you all when you thought you'd see me when i left in the first place. yay!