Thursday, December 16, 2010

And Then There Were None; Paradise Lost; Gallagher’s Travels; The Return of The Prince; The Last Falafel

Ended the semester with way too many blog post titles up my sleeve so I’m throwing them all in here now.

Also, in Googling “And Then There Were None” to make sure it was actually the title of that book I read in sixth grade, I found the original title was “Ten Little N*****s”, who knew! That would have been SO much harder to incorporate into a blog post, so I thank the East Aurora Middle School for buying the later editions.

It better not be any colder than 50 degrees when I get home tomorrow, because that’s how cold it’s been in Egypt and I’m pretty sure I have acquired frostbite. It even went so far as to snow in Jordan and other parts of the Middle East, setting off another wave of global warming denials from my magazine writing class. Now they’re claiming it is a Western myth to prevent them from industrializing like we did. It was too awkward for me to tell them it’s because we industrialized the way we did that global warming exists, and hence they should really be more careful than we were and I’m really sorry about that.

My international development class has turned out to be no help in such arguments, as the underlying thesis of the class turned out to be international development is nigh impossible and the world would be better off without neo-colonialist USAID. Despite the obvious implications of scratching USAID’s budget (I wouldn’t have anywhere to spend my summers reading resumes), with all that cash we could buy at least one, if not two, fighter jets, which are way more exciting than building schools anyway.

My media ethics course ended without much fanfare. Last night when I was supposed to be studying for today’s final, Celine Dion’s “All by Myself” was finally surpassed as the most played song on my iPod by “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Mariah Carey, who I like to imagine is singing to me. I’m a-coming Mariah! The exam, I thought, was challenging.

Perhaps, shockingly, the class I learned the most from this week was Romantic Literature. It had started like any other lecture, but then suddenly my professor fell into a Professor Trelawny (of Harry Potter fame, who gets a prophecy right about once every 15 years)-like trance, the girl next to me stopped snoring, and I snapped out of a day dream. He was talking about some character I didn’t know from some poem I didn’t read, but he said, “Here Prometheus asks the Gods never to feel pain, regret, guilt, or discomfort. Seems to me he is wishing away the human experience, something I would never wish for.” This is why Dumbledore hired him. And just like that he snapped back to his abstract, boring self, the girl next to me resumed her snoring, and I was left to ponder the wisdom of this eccentric academic.

This logic out of the blue very much applies to my time in Egypt. If you have read any of my previous posts, you’ll notice I focus on the times of hardship (i.e. camels, taxies and sandstorms). But for me the hard times are what made Egypt the great experience it was. I wanted to go somewhere not yet Westernized, and Egypt was just on the brink. And while I have had fun blogging about the difficulties involved in getting anything done here, I am grateful for the opportunity to experience what life is like in places where everything is not always so easy. And that is not a knock on you Madrid kids; I read your statuses about how hard it is to navigate the Madrid metro drunk. But I’m just really glad I got the chance to live in Egypt, but I’m even gladder it was only for four months.

It has always been my intention for this blog to go out on top, but then I couldn’t very well stop blogging my second day in Egypt. So I appreciate everyone taking the time to read my long, grammatically incorrect, drawn-out stories/thoughts. I’ve actually enjoyed blogging so much I considered agreeing to the many requests to continue once stateside (Emily vaguely mentioned it on my wall, and Katherine, Su, and Leslie liked it). But I fear that blog would become too much like Gossip Girl, a very, very boring Gossip Girl:
W challenged D to a FIFA game today, D won, W made a sandwich. Looks like somebody is eating his words, and his feelings!”
xoxo Plucky Peeper

Then The Eagle is holding a contest, “The Eagle’s Next Great Pundit” (who was their last?) to recruit a new columnist, but they’re making it incredibly strict by ruling out personal attacks and unsourced information. As my remarks within parentheses often indicate, two-thirds of my posts are made up of unsourced personal attacks. The other third? Titles.

So in a few hours, I am going to step onto a plane and leave Egypt, the blogosphere, and my beloved falafel behind. Do not ask for whom the departing flight bell tolls; it tolls for me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another Day in Paradise

This morning I woke up sore from playing the beautiful game all of yesterday afternoon, went to the kitchen to eat my ten cent fig bagel, and walked out into gorgeous 80 degree weather. Does it get better than this?

I’m writing this post for the benefit of my poor snowbound city, which is having its yearly Snowpocalypse, and is surely in need of something pleasant to read. What is exciting and fun in DC has become what Joe Wenner would create a blog to say is “trite” in Buffalo. But I guess this storm is worse than usual? Good thing the Egyptians in my magazine writing class assured me global warming is a western myth. Whatevs, they’re the ones who built their nation in a flood basin. Let’s see how their precious ancient irrigation techniques work when the polar ice cap melts. But anyway, with all the Western New York suburban police and state troopers working hard to free stranded motorists, who is harassing the underage youth and creating fake Facebook accounts to find out where all the hot parties are? The whole situation seems dangerous to me.

The holidays are here and I have a holiday story! So, Thanksgiving came about and Emily, Maddie, and Zoya all traveled away from Cario. Cue us moving into their apartment for the weekend, in order to prepare a feast. Traveling down on Wednesday night, Ryan, Richie, and I woke up early around noon to get things rolling. Pat met up with us and we knocked the shopping out of the way. We had to settle for a chicken because we were too cheap to buy a turkey. And this chicken was FROZEN. Like, one of the most frozen chickens I’ve encountered in my young life. Fortunately, the internet said we could cook a frozen chicken. Unfortunately, Momma Gallagher said we had to remove the bag of innards from the chicken before we could cook it. Turns out chickens don’t defrost as quickly as you’d hope they would, and in retrospect maybe we should have gotten up even earlier than 12. But there was no time to dwell on past mistakes, so we promptly ladled boiling water into the chicken for the next hour. Finally, things felt like they loosened up in there. By this time Andrew Daly and his roommate John had shown up. Richie reached into the semi-thawed chicken, and excitedly proclaimed, “Got it.” What he withdrew though was no innard, or what is normally an innard, but instead the head and neck of the chicken, and we all freaked out. I’m not sure if this is standard fare in cooking chickens, but it shook us up pretty bad. I mean Richie had just pulled a chicken’s head out of a chicken’s anus; there was a certain shock factor that maybe I’m not conveying. Anyway, we continued to pour boiling water and finally the bag of innards came out and we cooked the bird. All other parts of the meal came together very nicely, aided by the arrival of the token girl, Kiki, who made things run a bit smoother and made an excellent Arabian desert. And when we took the chicken out of the oven and John prepared to slice and dice it, Kiki told us we were morons and that we had actually cooked a turkey! A Thanksgiving miracle! We did have to admit that it would have been a pretty large chicken, and closer inspection of the anus-head did reveal some turkey-like features. But the meal turned out to be wunderbar, very filling, and only Pat and I got seriously sick. All in all, a very happy Thanksgiving.

But it isn’t a complete paradise here. Sure, I’ll always have the weather, prices, and abundant soccer, but there is more to life than that. For instance, the janitor who comes in everyday to mop our floor has developed the habit of taking his break after opening the door, but before doing any cleaning. Coincidentally, we are seeing a lot more bugs in the apartment, and every day I wake up with at least three new bites.

And then my lap top contracted a virus, probably from watching soccer games on illegal sites (at least that’s what I told my dad). This coincided poorly with me actually having work to do, and has since forced me into the dorm computer lab. But it’s not so bad in there, as I get to hang with the Egyptian students here on scholarship who don’t have lap tops to ruin. There is Shady Samy (his real name), Mighty Magded (not his real name), and about seven Achmed’s. We have a good time, the only real difference of opinion coming from my desire to listen to Christmas music and their desire to youtube explanations of mathematical equations. Guys, I got a 2 on my AP Calculus exam (thank you multiple choice), if you have a question just ask!

And o! the work. It is like I’m at a real college doing a real major (something I haven’t experienced since freshman year, if you count international relations as a real major). 8 page paper here, 10 page paper there, power point presentations galore, a long feature story, and then finals. All in the next two weeks! Which means I should probably stop procrastinating, and start applying some original analysis to this romantic literature that has been lying in front of me for the last week. Hey guys, can you turn down the Pythagorean Theorem?