17 March 2007

mexico, like it used to be!

i have successfully returned from mexico, without apparently bringing back a single unfriendly microorganism in my bowels. either that or my bowels have become more diplomatic and don't just expel every foreigner it meets. ...wait, that's not what i was going to talk about. here, as promised, are some photos from the last week:

this or something like it was what the clinics we did looked like. in the foreground we have pete, the physician's assistant i worked with all week. in the background we have mexicans. sick mexicans, probably. this was the third of four clinics we did, during which time we saw about 350 patients (including 100 on this and the day previous). i enjoyed working with pete, and i think we made a pretty good team. this picture also hints at the importance of dust in the tiny poverty-stricken towns we visited. it's not just a reason to buy pledge and a medium on which to write "wash me" on windshields--it's also roads, sidewalks, floors, and the thing the hot dry wind blew in your eyes!

here's a shot of another clinic, before we started. this was most of the people who had already lined up before we'd arrived. no kidding, probably 75% of the kids in the picture have a cold, sinus or ear infection, or flu. and of those, about 3% cover their mouths when they cough. i, then, am a testament of the miraculous disease-preventing power of God, because i probably had an index of infectious saliva on my arm at any given moment during a clinic. the whiteys in this photo are, from left to right, johanna, kelly, and david.

this is the scene previous to a third clinic. the pastor's wife had made us a delicious crab salad, which you can see us eating here. while we all appreciated and were probably to some degree humbled by this generous gesture, david's facial expression, and johanna's watching him eat it, more or less sum up the group's feelings about the actual eating of this dish--it's hard to make out in the photo, but what we have here is crab meat pulled right out of the ocean, lettuce, and some kind of mayo base to the whole thing, which had apparently been sitting out long enough for the lettuce to wilt before we tore into it. i don't know how savvy you are on what not to eat in little tiny villages out in the middle of nowhere in mexico, but...i think i just listed all of the major things to avoid. but we soldiered on, and we all didn't get sick. when someone said we'd just have to smile and eat it and trust God with the rest, i said "so...you think we'll get sick." but somehow God sent neither lightning bolts nor amoebas to my belly in response, and we all lived happily ever after, even at great distances from toilets.

here's a shot of me in action. notice my form--i'm leaned way in, like i'm about to interpret the sound of her heartbeat, should it become necessary. for the record, the heartbeat sound in spanish comes out as "tun tun. tun tun." this was at the end of the day, which is sort of unfortunate because you can't really appreciate the crowds and general activity going on for most of the day while we worked. so you'll just have to take my word for it--we were pretty much rock stars. ROCK STARS!

in addition to working, there was a lot of playing. we stayed in a missionary house about a 10 minute walk from the beach, so in the mornings we'd go over there. one morning i went exploring a little and decided to check out an apparently deserted and under construction house. while i was there the watchdog ("pulgoso," i later learned he was called) alerted the security guard (gabriel) to my presence. gabriel is, i'm sure, an excellent security guard, but i found that he also makes a top-notch tour guide after minimal conversation. he showed me the house and told me a bit about the place and his life while we walked. the house was very cool, and i'm currently working on a good plan to usurp the wealthy americans to whom the place belongs in the near future. if it works out you can come down to party with me.

here, then, is one such view from the house. you're probably wondering what hair styling products i use, but try to focus. (but i'll let you in on a secret--i just use a hair compressing device known as a "baseball hat" and it does the rest. the deeper mystery is, why'd i take the hat off for this self-portrait if my hair looked so dumb underneath? and that's one i won't answer for you just now.) don't tell anyone, but the beach where we were supposed to be doing all this thankless work was pretty awesome. you can kind of see it in this picture.

so there's some pictures from mexico. there's a lot more, and maybe i'll show you later. or maybe you should come over and i'll show you. it's up to you later. don't forget, though--tuesday night is menomena's show here in chicago, and it's also wednesday morning over in china.

10 March 2007

trains, planes, and automobiles

today begins a stretch of adventure and excitement. in a few moments i'll head out the door and get on the train which will carry me (via airports and such) to mexico for the next week before it brings me back long enough to clean my clothes (and show you all pictures, of course!) and then head out once again, this time to china (via the other airport). this is, i guess, what wandering folks like myself do when they feel the icy grip of a 4-year (plus) commitment creeping up on them.

i am going to mexico with a group from my lincoln church led by dr. martin (that's him modeling the proper way to say "ah" from the last time i went). for the past several years he has gone to a series of small pueblos in northwestern mexico to do free clinics there. 2 years ago i went as an interpreter, and this year i'll be reprising that role as well as once again meddling with the setup and attempting to find the very best, most efficient way to clear the language barrier and see as many patients as possible. i'm very excited about the trip and the challenges and fun that i'm sure are awaiting all of us there.

my trip to china, on the other hand, will probably not be of any benefit to anyone other than the people around here who are glad when i'm not here. my mom and i are going just purely for the fun and edification of it, and also of course to finally find the magical, mythical part of china where the world's toys are made. this is a trip i've dreamt of ever since i played with my first transformers and while converting a car to an ominous looking robot (with lasers!) i wondered to myself "where on earth did such a fantastic piece of plastic come to be?" and there, on the robot's food (formerly a rear fender) was the answer: made in china. so china, here i come! (in a week.)

come back soon for pictures of mexico and for progress reports on the red's efforts to indoctrinate me. but mostly for the pictures.

06 March 2007

home is where my habits have a habitat

i have now officially, completely, and as permanently as can be expected (given the temporary nature of my chicago stay) moved into the apartment which from this point forward i will refer to as my apartment. this triumphant return to chicago will, i hope, coincide with the end of this awkward blog silence and is now going to be kicked off with a photographic tour of my room, furnished as it is with a smattering of belongings most accurately summarized as "stuff".

we begin our tour with probably my greatest wood-working achievement ever (it wasn't just a weird coincidence that we never had shop class at the same time in high school--i was probably in choir that period or something). while i was home this weekend my dad and i made these 6 open faced cubes for my records. they might look a lot like what you've been calling "crates", but given the amount of energy expelled in making them, and making them actually uniform and actually cube-like (and not trapezoid-like), i feel like open faced cubes is a much more prestige-appropriate title. note also my brilliant use of suitcase as speaker stand and my freakishly tall bed. i'm actually putting in a bid to host the 2018 summer games entirely under my bed. that's how much space there is down there.

moving your head slightly to the right, you begin to suspect that nearly all the space in my car was devoted to musical things. and you are right. (we feel the musical culture surrounding the underbed area will be a huge draw for the IOC.) also, i'd like to thank, from left to right, sarah, betsy, and jordan for these excellent wall-hangings which, in a pinch, have also served as very capable articles of clothing, especially in cold weather. thanks, guys!

snap that head back to the left, and you see the epcot center-like covering of the olympics complex. my grandma made that for me. my grandma is way more hip to geometry than your grandma.

this last picture is pretty much just here for completeness, so you can have seen the fourth wall. there's a closet, a mirror that the former inhabitant left me (probably as a hint about my grooming skills) and a door, which i think is probably one of the most underrated, least appreciated parts of any room. because either you use that or you have to dive in and out of the windows to go anywhere.