Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It Has Come to My Attention...

So you may have noticed (or maybe you didn't) that I have not been posting lately.  Turns out, that eventually, work will notice that you are supposed to actually work, and not just pretend to work.  Frankly, I think they should been more clear up front with me in this regard.  How the hell am I supposed to make appropriate work decisions such as to, "GO to work," unless I know if they are going to require that I actually work when I get there???

It's an unspeakable outrage (credit Beth)

Anyway, that is not actually what came to my attention - what caught my attention was a post-it note that was left on my computer after I returned from yet another stupid meeting with yet another stupid group of people who want to discuss yet another issue that is really, really boring!  ANYWAY, the post it note said, "driver pick up is at 0130."

So I'm like...WTF!?  Driver is coming for me at 0130?  WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?

Then I start throwing a hissy fit and storming around in a huff.....because it's almost 10 pm and I wasn't TOLD that I was supposed to GO somewhere.  WTF!?

So, I go home fuming.  Josh is there and says, "did you bring your passport?"  and I'm like WHAT!? 

Turns out we are leaving for R&R tonight.  I shit you not.  We leave for VACATION tonight - we're headed to Italy for 10 glorious non-Sudan filled days.... and I TOTALLY FORGOT.

So now I've thrown a bunch of crap into a suitcase and I frankly do not care.  I will simply buy new crap.

Only problem I can see is that since I wasn't actually aware that I was leaving, I have made a BUNCH of promises for crap I would take care of tomorrow.

oh well, guess they'll eventually figure out that I am not going to show up and do as promised.  They should know already though.  Let's face it.  I introduce myself the same way every time I meet someone for a let you know what you're in for....

I'm from the Government.  I'm here to help.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Scratchy = Healthy

So I'm not sure if I've already told you my theory on how to determine whether something is good for you and you could eat as much of it that you want - or, alternatively, if it is bad for you and will make you fatter if you sit in the same room with the stuff.  My theory is foolproof and this weekend I proved it yet again...and also another little known fact about healthy shit.

Begin theory:

Soft food = tastes yummy, wish you had it right now, fat ass (see donuts, cake, ice cream)
Scratchy food = healthy food, makes you gag, don't actually want to eat it (see, celery, brussel sprouts)

End theory

So anyway, this weekend I decided that I would make some bread.  I know! RIGHT!?  How totally wifey is that?  It's very Betty Draper - although, I didn't have any cigarettes, but I did have a glass of wine (to make the kneading less annoying).  However, you may recall that Josh is here.  So I had to totally pretend like I cared about being healthy and nutrition and all that other I decided to make whole wheat bread, instead of fluffy white bread (that I make REALLY WELL, FYI). 

Now here is where the valuable lesson comes in - not only is whole wheat bread scratchy to eat, it is scratchy to knead.  So you totally  know right there that it is going to be a nightmare...(spoiler alert) So i knead, look for some bandaids to cut down on the chafing - and then i set it aside to rise. 

It doesn't rise.  It just kinda gave a half-assed effort to puff up a bit, then it just kinda sat there.

So I still persevere.  I bake that shit.

I made a loaf that weighed about as much as a big ole rock.  It wasn't hard, but it was totally scratchy.

THEREFORE, my point is (and I do have one) once again scratchy shit ruined my weekend.

So there you have it: conclusive proof that scratchy, healthy food sucks.  Every time.   I rest my case.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another Public Service Message: Driving in Sudan

This last week Josh has kept me very busy with his bitches pointing out that there doesn't seem to be any set rules for driving in this country.  My response to him?  "Dooy ! I told you that you idiot! You NEVER listen to me!!  I'm sorry. It will get better."  (I'm such a good wife.)

Anyway, on the off chance that you might actually end up in Khartoum (because of something bad you did) and have to drive, I figured I should document some of the rules of the road here,:

  • Navigating the Mean Streets of Khartoum:  as I mentioned in my last post, do not assume that any road here has an official "name" that is recognized by all.  I find that it is particularly useful to just go ahead and name them whatever you feel like and then tell people that is its name....but do so with AUTHORITAY.... as if the person you are giving the directions to is the idiot.  Works every time.  "Turn Left on Burned out Donkey Carcass Road, and then Right onto "S" road.  Airport is on your right"  Soon, they'll just name that shit after what you said.  Trust me, it works. *unless your name is Josh, and  he questions your premise...  In this case, yell "LIAR!" and run away.
  •  Stick in the Road = Certain Death.  At some point in your day while driving along, minding your own business (probably singing at the top of your lungs to the new Miley Cyrus Song) you will likely see what appears to be a branch sticking out of the road.  Please be advised that this tiny branch has been placed there to signal that you are going to die if you continue in this path.  The Sudanese Department of Transportation has apparently done the research and has determined that a small twig (sometimes with small leaves on it, but not always - I have not determined whether the leaves indicate a level of pain that will be involved in your imminent death yet - serves as an obvious indicator that the earth has opened up in that location and a large crater is there that will swallow your entire vehicle.    Another indicator is when you see a car upended into said crater (usually with a branch hanging precariously on the hood) -- that also serves as an indicator that you shouldn't drive there. 
  • Yielding the Right of Way.  There is no right of way.  Just keep going and hope for the best.
  • Turning Left.  Frankly, it's best to try to avoid having to do this - I try to just keeping making right hand turns until you end up going the way you wanted to go in the first place.  HOWEVER, I understand that sometimes a left hand turn cannot be avoided.  If this happens, you need to just turn directly into the traffic.  If you wait, cars that are turning left from the street you intend to turn onto will all go in front of you and/or fill up the entire street you are trying to turn onto because they all want to turn first.  So, I usually just close my eyes and hope for the best.  
  • Pedestrians.  Pedestrians have the right of way and feel like they should be able to walk down the middle of road and/or cross when it is convenient for them.  Pedestrians are apparently not required to look before they step out into traffic and it is up to you, the driver, to avoid them.  It's like playing Mariocart....but with people.....and maybe a monkey or two....
  • Trash in the Road.  Do NOT, under any circumstances, assume that the trash you see in the road is just a piece of paper or a plastic bag.  Trash can also be used to mark large jagged pieces of metal the Sudanese sometimes like to keep in the road and/or indicate a disabled car, camel or donkey up ahead.  ALSO, it might be someone's stuff they're keeping for later.  They get really pissed if you run over their shit.
Well, I hope this lesson has been helpful to you.  Bottom line is that you probably shouldn't try to drive in Khartoum and are better off hiring a driver.  I would recommend that you hire a really old, sluggish - maybe even fat driver.  The driver should have a lot of experience driving in Khartoum. That way he can serve as a decoy you can out-run when you get into an accident. 

Also, I like to carry US Dollars and throw them out behind me while I run away.  I like to think that it will potentially slow down the crowd.  This is important.  Remember what continent the winners are from in the Boston Marathon!

It's almost never a diplomat from Montana.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

So Josh is Here...

I assume he hasn't noticed that I was actually unable to lose 27 pounds in 2 weeks, or 8 months, whatever, anyway, he hasn't SAID anything - so I guess his parents raised him correctly.  Although, truth be told, I've been waiting for it! So there has been a lot of "A-HAH!"  Oh, you said 'where are you at'?!  Okay, never mind.  I just's that?? A-HAH!  What? oh, never mind."  I gotta tell you, even I almost feel for him at this point.

 What he has voiced, HOWEVER, is his utter disdain for my ability to tell him how to get places.  Apparently, former marines do not understand my obviously superior direction giving abilities such as:

Okay, you leave our house and you can go right or left, I usually go right- because if you go left, there is this big pile of trash that smells like ass at the end, and if you get stuck there making a left, your car will tend to smell like ass for the rest of the trip - ass smell tends to linger you know - so I go right, but then you have to go left again when you get to that one fruit stand that has the guy that wears the dirty man-dress, or, it's just brown colored.  I'm not  really sure -- anyway, go left there, but then you have to go right just past that one building that I think might be a bank or a car dealership - or, it might be an office - I don't know, but it has a green strip along the side and you know if you've gone too far if you hit the pile of tires that are all stacked up by the mooley-liki sign, well, I'm not really sure what the name is of that place, but there is a sign that I think says mooley-liki in Arabic, but I don't really speak Arabic, so I might have made that up.  Then you drive and drive until you get to the next road that is paved, but not the first paved one, the second paved one - I call it "little palm tree road" because it has little wee palm trees in the middle, like babies, you know, or midgets...well little palm trees, I think they like to be called little now, not midgets because that's rude.   Anyway, you go, left...well, maybe left..yeah,'s right.  Go right, the store is right there. You can't miss it.

Seriously, how easy is that??

But he keeps asking blatently silly questions like - "Do I go North or South?"  WTF!?  How the hell would I know!?  There is no way of knowing.  It's unknowable.

So then he gets all extra-patient like, and speaks slower and enunciates all clearly as if English were a second language and says, "If you were looking at the map, are you heading toward the top or the bottom of it?"  Which is such a stupid question because everybody knows you have to turn the map to face it which ever direction you are currently going because how the hell would you know which way you are supposed to turn if you don't??

Anyway, who uses a map?? I just know how to get places.  I usually get lost, stop and ask for directions (which never work) but it usually gets me to somewhere I think I know where I am, and then I just keep driving until you hit the Nile (or Chad) and then viola, you can find your way home.


So, my point is, it's going to be a bit of an adjustment (for Josh).  I wish him the best of luck.  It has to be hard, living with a selfless saint, such as myself.

He'll settle.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why It's Important toTalk to your Internet Pharmacist!

Okay, so it has come to my attention that perhaps it is not the best idea to base your demands for prescription drugs from commercials.  Although I fully realize that this totally sounds like crazy talk,I am here to (once again) perform my public service by educating you guys on shit I do wrong so that you don't have to face the same humiliation that I do on a daily basis.  

Is it just me, or does it seem like I'm CONSTANTLY learning yet another valuable lesson about something or other?? I'm frankly not really sure what it was that my parents actually taught me when I was a child  -- although to be fair, most of time, I wasn't really listening.  Perhaps I should have paid more attention.  Like when they went over the whole metric system thing when I was in the 6th grade... Do you remember that?? We had some big scare about how the USA was going to have to switch to the metric system because all the cool kids in Europe were doing it, so we tried for about a week or so until everyone realized it was just too hard and involved a lotta math, so we went back to our own shit and called it a day.  ALTHOUGH, it would be nice if I could figure out how fast I'm going when I'm driving around town here or what the temperature is outside...I just always assume it's 152 degrees.  Seems about right.

ANYWAY, my point was...I was chatting with my Internet Pharmacist  -- who has a great blog, even though she no longer does Pharmacy Friday because apparently, she was worried someone was going to sue her (although it might be because I told her I was going to sue her unless she sends me a box of unmarked adderall), and she pointed out that perhaps I should not create my list of Rx drugs I want based upon how happy the people look in the commercials.  (Which I frankly thought was a great plan.  I want THAT kinda happy!)   Then she proceeded to EXPLAIN to me that Levitra is similar to Viagra and maybe I didn't want to be announcing to the world that I wanted some Adderall, a smigeon of Ambien, and a side of Levitra (you know, just to take the edge off).  SO NOW APPARENTLY, I am supposed to LOOK UP what these drugs DO before I demand someone give me some. 

Like I have that kinda time to be looking up what drugs do before I take them

Frankly, I should be suing those damn pharmaceutical companies who make those commercials!  Now, not only am I humiliated because now the rest of the Embassy likely assumes I have some kind of erectile dysfunction, but I'm also emotionally traumatized  because I thought those old people were just happy because that old guy didn't DIE from something....So of course, I wanted something that would make me not DIE! (I mean, who wouldn't?!?!?)    But now, I'm forced to think about OLD PEOPLE doing the dirty dirty when they can barely walk anymore, and that guy might actually die of something, but we'll never know because he's all happy and I'm too embarrassed to even look at him anymore, let alone try to diagnose his symptoms with my primary care physician, WebMD.....

Now,  thanks to that stupid commercial, I can't even look the old people here in Khartoum in the eye anymore, on the off chance that they might be smiling because they have some Levitra in their mandress pocket!   I get all flustered, so I end up throwing a handful of business cards at them, then I yell, "LIAR!" and I run away.

Dear Internet Pharmacist,

I need some Vallium.

I am almost 32% positive that is what I need.  But math is hard, so I defer to you to set my appropriate percentage.

Desperately Seeking to Avoid Old People

Monday, November 2, 2009

US Government- Backed Conspiracy Theories....Or, Why I Scoff at your Nonsense...

Honestly, I really feel I have to address this topic publicly in my blog, because it sorta makes my head explode when I hear people (whom I assumed were educated, rational adults or, as I like to call them, non-foreigners) spout their nonsense about some kind of secret government conspiracy aimed at doing one thing or the other.  Usually, the theory starts in some email that someone forwards me  -- Although, to be fair most of my emails come from my dad, but I totally forgive him because he is not really a "typer," he's more of a "fwd'er" and likely doesn't really read what he sends me, because he kinda takes after me (or would that be the other way around?? One can never really know) and is likely too lazy to read to the end where it says that the US government is plotting to steal your babies and feed them to the stray dingos in Sudan - but only if your babies are those unfortunate babies who fall into the lower tax brackets, but also have carrot-red hair and freckles because dingos prefer tender freckled babies.

However, I say to the people who buy into these theories who are NOT my dad:


Have you ever actually MET a government worker??  Have you ever been inside a government building? Have you read this blog?? I'm pretty much the cream of the crop of the mediocrity that is government service.  Then, when you start talking about this big secret plot, have you actually thought it all the way through? PUH-LEASE!

Have you seen how many forms you have to fill out to get GSO to come over to fix something that was not on your form and then they realize that they didn't bring your form, so they just wander around your house and move something around to make it look like they were there doing GSO-ey stuff??  Have you seen how hard it is just to get a shitty pen made by blind people that will only write for about 2 lines? So difficult that you finally just bring a pen from home!  (Wait! that actually may be a secret government plot to prevent its workers from stealing pens and saving money on buying new pens....I'm going to look into it FIRST THING!)

The Finance people would make us get three bids from the evil plotters,  and then we'd end up going with the lowest bidder who probably wasn't really "evil" so much as just kinda cranky and unattractive...

Methinks we're just not that competent. Believe me, I've met me.  I'm not that good.

I was in Pakistan from 1999.  During that time, someone started a rumor that if you were physically in the USA when the ball dropped in 2000,  you would automatically be granted citizenship.  Ridiculous, right? I mean, did they think the USG was going to hire a bunch of of the old bell ringers from Christmas to go around handing out green cards in Times Square? Why the hell would anyone believe this?

We had to close the Consular section in Islamabad because we were mobbed with visa applicants.

SO, unless you want me to start lumping  you in with the masses of unwashed visa applicants, stop with the conspiracy theories!! If I have learned one thing in my wasted years of USG service:  The Government may actually WANT to pull off all these evil plots, but it's frankly not competent enough, we're too lazy to fill out all the required memos and forms, and a conspiracy would be leaked to the press within 4 minutes of someone cooking it up.

Besides, everyone knows that ANY EVIL PLOT is the work of Canada.   Now we just need to figure out how to prove it!

Some(One Else's) Random Thoughts...

So I received this at work today from someone who sent it to me and asked if I had written them....WTF!?  Where on earth do people come up with their theories?  This is sooo, not anything I would say!  However, kudos goes to whomever came up with it!

-- I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

-- More often than not, when someone is telling me a story, all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story, that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.

-- Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

-- I don't understand the purpose of the phrase, "I don't need to drink to have fun."  Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they've invented the lighter??

-- Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you're going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the vicinity thinks you're crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

-- There is a great need for sarcasm font.

-- How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

-- I would rather try to carry 10 plastic bags full of groceries in each hand, than take 2 trips to bring them in from the car.

-- I think part of my BFF's job should be to immediately clear your computer history, and erase your iPod and Kindle if you die.

-- Was learning cursive really necessary??

-- I have a hard time deciphering that fine line between boredom and hunger.

-- Answering the same letter more than three times in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely terrifying.

-- Whenever someone says, "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart," all I hear is, "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart."

-- How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod your head and smile because you STILL didn't hear what they said??

-- I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jackass from cutting in at the front!  Stay strong, brothers!!

-- Mapquest really needs to start their directions at #5.  I am pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

-- Bad decisions make good stories.

-- Why is it during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get all nervous and freaked out?  Like, I know my name, I know where I am from....this shouldn't be a problem!

-- You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

-- Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs?  I don't want to have to restart another collection.

-- I hate leaving my house confident and looking good, and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day.  What a waste.

-- Sometimes I will look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and STILL not know what time it is.

-- I disagree with Kay Jewelers.  I would bet that on any given Friday or Saturday night, more kisses begin with Bud Light than Kay.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Define "Serving".....

Well, I'd just like to state for the record, that if the schedule I'm currently working here in Sudan keeps up like this, I'm going to have to start redefining my definition of a "serving" of red wine to be more in keeping with my definition of a "serving" of coffee (i.e. one pot equals one serving) so that I can fill out my health questionnaire accordingly (and when I say "accordingly" I mean so they don't send someone they call a "trained medical professional"  out to escort me home).  

Apparently, I don't know when to keep my big mouth shut and I spouted off to everyone I know about how great my new "cake diplomacy" is working here in Sudan.  As it turns out, anyone who draws attention to themselves in Sudan gets to "take the lead" and pursue progress.  Pursue progress....WTF does that mean??  As a rule of thumb, I don't pursue anything!  I figure, if it is meant to be, it will happen, and by "happen" i mean, happen to someone else so that I can continue my quest to only pretend to work and not actually under-take any work per se. 

Do you see my dilemma??

So now I'm being forced to talk to foreigners AND listen to what it is they have to say, even though I am not really interested in their blather and almost all of it has literally NOTHING to do with me!  Believe me, I've totally tried bringing the conversation back to interesting topics such as me, my friends, or my situation.  But they KEEP talking about US/Sudan relations and how the Government of Sudan wants something and are willing to do something else, but then I noticed this really big spider in the corner and sorta freaked out because it seemed to be jogging (yes, it was waay more than walking, although it didn't really have any special shoes, or a camelback for hydration, so MAYBE it was trotting) in my general direction.  Naturally, I didn't want to overreact and cause panic in the meeting, so I tried to discretely lift both my legs up off of the floor and climb up into the chair Indian Style (yes, I can say that. I'm part American Indian - unless you're all offended that I was claiming it was South Asian Indian style, but I'm not even sure what that style would be, so rest assured I was going for the feather, not dot style). 

But then the spider stopped.  He initiated what I assumed was a Sudanese Standoff (which I assume is much like a Mexican Standoff, but only with a Sudanese flair, like maybe it would get out its turban and then drive on the wrong side of the road - I just don't know as it was my first Sudanese Standoff).  So I slowly put my legs down again....and I waited...

And then again I noticed that these people NEVER stop talking. Can't they read the signs of my abject terror?!  That I was just seconds away from being killed where I sat?? (I can only assume Sudanese spiders are also Godless killing machines like the African Snakes.  Rivaled only by zombies.)

So then the spider stood his ground for about another minute (or maybe an hour, I can't really be sure) and then he turned around and sauntered into a corner under a bookshelf.  Although I managed to make it out of there alive (This time!), I have vowed that I will NEVER return.  Therefore, I am intend to use Josh's arrival in Khartoum as the reason I cannot go back to that office, and hopefully, they'll forget about me.  OR, in the alternative, I will simply demand to meet in a neutral location, free from the Sudanese Spider Menace.

SO ANYWAY, that explains why I am now drinking red wine in bottle-sized servings.  Therefore, I would appreciate it if you would be a lamb, and redefine a "serving" of alcohol to reflect one shot of liquor, one bottle of beer, and one bottle of wine is equal to one serving. 

You will have my deepest appreciation.