Archive for the 'Absurdity' Category

Still No Batteries

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

However, I do have to show you this link.  Funniest thing ever.  I like the stab about Sarah Palin wearing “Tina Fey glasses”.


Sunday, February 17th, 2008

I guess I’d sort of stopped thinking about it.  Surprising, really…

February is the coolest month in Dakar.  Temperatures have been downright tolerable, although after you’ve been out walking around for a while you still get sweaty and tired.  Yeah, I’ve been checking the weather regularly on the internet, but today for the first time since my arrival i actually thought to convert all those lovely little celsius figures to fahrenheit.

Accordingly, temperatures this week are ranging from 84.2 all the way to 96.8.  Just when I thought I was understanding my surroundings…I guess my body is more adjusted than I realized.  Wasn’t I just thinking that things were bordering on cold?  Especially at night, when the temperature drops to the 70s and sometimes even the 60s?

And then the shock hit me with the force of an overpacked Ndiaga Ndiaye.  I’m going to FREEZE when I go back to Michigan.

Unrelatedly, I’ve been “wasting” increasing amounts of time reading the news.  I usually glance briefly at the New York Times headlines, then spend a while digging through BBC.  I suppose it’s a good habit, really, and it leaves me with the urge to do this at the end of every post:





Included for the sake of its strangeness


What’ve you got against cardboard boxes??

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Spontaneous laughter is embarrassing. Unfortunately, it is also a condition of which I am extreme prone. For example, right now in the middle of this crowded cybercafé while I read all the responses to my previous post. At least I’m not laughing at Absolutely Nothing, like I usually am. It’s terribly awkward and unfortunate.

The other day I cracked myself up in my courtyard, and laughed helplessly against the wall for about five minutes before I could explain that I was laughing at my mother’s response to my threat that I might live in a cardboard box outside the library. (For reference, all she did was make a disclaimer that I would NOT, in fact, be living in a box. Funny?? Uhm, not really.) My family already thinks I’m weird enough.

Actually, in a funny contrast to my last post, my family calls me jigéen (girl/woman) fairly frequently. The context of this is that I have good “womanly skills” and/or would “make a good wife”. There are many possible political explanations of this statement, but I’ll leave it at one comment for now.

My family is well-educated, particularly for Sénégal. There are at least three doctors in the family, and everyone gets a higher education. There is a daughter living in the states, and many of the grandchildren aspire to studying there through exchange programs. My mother has hosted students for more than ten years. Through pursuit of education and spending time with students, they have a better understanding of Western culture than many (example: Taxi Driver).

They also have a broader idea of the meaning of “women’s roles”. When my family makes this type of statement they do not mean for a moment that being a “good wife” should be a woman’s only aspiration in life. It is a comment on basic cultural values and an approval of my interest in fiber arts, personal values, and pursuit of education.

Does it send shivers of righteous indignation down my spine just the same?? Uhm, YES. After a Western feminist upbringing, you never *quite* get used to it.

A Typical Taxi Ride in the Streets of Dakar

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008


Originally uploaded by mouse.courtois

M: Asalaa Maalekuum – Hello
TD: Maalekuum Salaam – Hello
M: Na nga def? – How are you?
TD: Man ngiy fii. – I am here.
M: Man ngiy dem Point E; Piscine Olympique – I’m going to Point E, to the Olympic swimming pool.
*insert bargaining here*
TD: Fan nga jog̩? РWhere do you come from?
M: Amerik la jogé. Man ngiy jàng ci Universite Cheick Anta Diop. Yàgg naa fii juroomi weer. – The U.S. I study at the University here. I’ve been here for five months.
TD: Amerik wàlla Sénégal lan moo gen? – Which country is better?
M: J’aime les deux!! – I like them both!! (Notice the lapse in my Wolof. It was bound to come soon…at this point he continues in Wolof, and although I understood what he said I do not know how to say it myself. I continue mainly in French.)
TD: That’s not what I said. I said gen!!
M: Gen?? As in sortir (to go out)? Or as in preference?? What is gen?
TD repeats himself, but changes the sentence.
M: I said I like them both.
TD: If you’re going to speak Wolof you should understand what’s being said.
M: And how will I learn if I don’t practice what I know? Tell me what you said.
TD: I said *same thing*
M: Dégguma. – I don’t understand.
TD: Well then you should ask me what I said!!
M: I did!!
TD: Don’t you want to know what I said?
M: Fine. What did you say?
TD: It’s a body part.
M: Oh. (I think I see where this is going…)
TD: You know, like arm, or head, or ear, or eye…
M: *pause*
TD: Only men have it.
M: You’re not polite, so I’m changing the subject. How was your day?
TD: Are you married?
M: (switching back to Wolof) Yes I am, my husband lives in the states.
TD: Is he Sénégalese?
M: No.
TD: You need a Sénégalese husband. Marry me.
M: One husband is more than enough.
TD: No, you should have two husbands. It’s better that way.
M: No, I don’t think so. My husband pleases me.
TD: Do you have children?
M: No. Not yet.
TD: Why not?
M: (back to French) We’re students. We need to finish school.
TD: Has your husband not had relations with you?
M: You’re very rude.
TD: I’m not rude, I’m trying to help you learn Wolof. Has he? I could please you sexually.
M: No, you couldn’t please me if you tried. My husband is better than you. You watch too many telenovelas (soap operas with white people eating each others faces on beaches/other public places), and those are not life. You need to learn to respect women. You cannot speak to us like this, what would your mother say?
TD: *giggle giggle*
M: Yeah, okay fine. Have a nice day. RESPECT WOMEN.

So, what do you think?? Believe it or not, the whole thing happened in surprisingly good spirits. I would like to proudly call attention to my personal growth in the last five months that I was able to have a civilized discussion with this man, to hopefully teach him something (which I hope I did, although it does not turn up in this conversation) and to leave without wanting to hang myself in the shower.

Dead Things*

Thursday, January 31st, 2008
What’s the most interesting dead thing you’ve seen lately?
Because I’ve been seeing a lot of dead things.
Every time I see a dead thing I think about the states, and how dogs and cats are pets. And then I lie to myself about how we clean up our roadkill and other Dead Things, which for the most part we don’t.  It sort of depends on the size of the thing.
Every once in a while a dog gets hit (or dies on its own because of god-knows-what kind of insect-born infection) and the lies in the road partition for a week or two while everyone ignores it. I can always feel my face wrinkling as I concentrate on trying not to look, smell, or otherwise acknowledge the rotting masses.  And also not to step in them, which can be more difficult than it sounds.  After a while they flatten a bit and turn the color of dust like everything else.
What do we do with our roadkill when we *do* dispose of it? The other month I saw a recently-hit dead cat lying in the road, noting with morbid interest that it was probably a new addition to the road’s decor.  The next day, walking past the same stretch of road, I saw that it had disappeared-only to realize a moment later that the corpse, having fully passed into the state of rigor mortis and beginning to bloat, was sticking haphazardly out of a trash can.  Interesting.
I routinely step on a sheep jawbone in front of tailor boutique, and the other day a leg fell out of the freezer (causing my mother to shout “it’s a leg!!”).  The bones and fur of a particularly gross dead cat decorate my morning route to the university, along with a trail of intestine that reaches into the street.
Just, you know, a point of interest.  Something to think about while I sulk because it’s already getting hot again.
p.s. I have a new friend and skin parasite.  His name is Albert, and he’s been renting living space on my back.  We’re not getting along very well; he doesn’t like to clean and he’s making me itch.  He never signed a contract either, making him a squatter. When I noticed him I thought he might be in the process of moving out, but then he decided that he has the liberty to take over more space which is definitely not true. Ringworm is so pretentious. Now I’ve got his fungus-y number and he’ll be out withing the week, Inchallah.
p.p.s. Dearest, most darling mother, see how I’ve grown??  Far from sleeping with my bedroom door open because I’m afraid to think about things decomposing, I step in rotten cats and on jawbones in the street.
*The previously mentioned letter, posted in it’s entirety on the repeated request of Moom.  Sheesh!!  Also, Albert is disappearing.  In case anyone was curious…

How efficient!!

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

(Before the actual post though, the man next to me in the cybercafé is singing loudly and smacking his lips with obnoxious frequency. It may not sound like much, but I’m about ready to turn around and cuff him about the head and shoulders until he stops. At least he’s not watching porn. Okay, onward.)

I’m new at housing searches. I’m just starting to figure out prices and different types of units and Obnoxious Realtors and all that good stuff. My latest discovery, which is sort of embarrassing because I probably should have known about it before, is that there are “efficiency” units available. Studio/efficiency…it just never occurred to me.

The word “efficiency” makes me giggle a little bit. I was digging through my pictures and thinking about housing and it occured to me that nothing could be more minimalist-and efficient-than a power line. It’s too bad I don’t have wings and can’t live off eating worms.

Unless you count flying bugs with day-long lifecycles, because they don’t need houses at all.

Unless…has anyone got a spare refrigerator box?? I could set it up outside the library and buy a little charcoal stove!! Someone bring me back to earth, please!

Don’t you wish your office looked like this??

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

My life looks like that, with a little less organization. ;D

For lack of anything better to say, at least until I find time to take pictures of the FINISHED Africa Socks and another guilty i’m-sick-of-giant-pink-shawls project, here is an excerpt from my latest e-mail to my family:

“I have a new friend and skin parasite. His name is Albert, and he’s been renting living space on my back. We’re not getting along very well; he doesn’t like to clean and he’s making me itch. He never signed a contract either, making him a squatter. When I noticed him I thought he might be in the process of moving out, but then he decided that he has the liberty to take over more space which is definitely not true. Ringworm is so pretentious. Now I’ve got his fungus-y number and he’ll be out withing the week, Inchallah.”

Is anyone else amused that I’ve sunk to the level of skin parasites for blog fodder??

Happy December!!

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

The weather did cool down after my little outburst, although mostly at night.  I’ve pulled out the long pajama pants and a sheet, and I close all of my windows.  I even wore jeans when we went out last night!!  Despite that, it’s pretty hot today.

This morning when I left my house, my friend followed me down the street for about ten yards.  It was pretty funny.  I was relieved to see him because the other day, there was a dog chasing a chicken with much squawking and fluttering.  I was fearful that it was my ruffled friend, but he’s just fine.

Also, I took some fabric to the tailor last week.  I am waiting for a dress made from this fabric, and a two-piece outfit made from a solid, bright blue cotton.  The shawl is commencing, and I have found someone who is going to show me how to upload photos at the cybercafé!!

I forgot to take pictures of the pictures I drew for the tailor, but I should have them back around the 14th.  Things are a little backed up because the muslim holiday Tabaski is approaching along with Christmas, and everyone is going to the tailor.  If only I had a machine here…

It’s still 85 degrees. Don’t lie to me.

Monday, November 26th, 2007

People keep telling me that it’s going to get cold here.  And I believe them.  I really really do.  I’ve even been cold once or twice, although only at night.

The problem is that my nose and scalp do not believe this whole “cold” scandal.  They’re still feeling all that sun.  My nose is a rather obnoxious shade of pink, making me resemble The Sneak.  ( ;D )

My head doesn’t believe it either.  I’m feeling just as tired and lazy as ever.  Walking five blocks makes me exhausted because it’s “too hot”.  I almost fell asleep in class about seven times today, although if I’m honest that probably has as much to do with our professor as it does with the environment.

We do have methods of counteracting the heat and exhaustion.  We either go to the pool, or to the ocean where we tread water.  We usually go with the former, particularly as my friend stepped on a sea urchin yesterday.  Not fun.

Still, I’m ready for the temperature to drop…down to 75.  Ish.  Have I mentioned that I miss snow??

In other news, I still knit.  Really-really.  I still don’t have pictures, but I do knit.  In face last week I started a shawl made from gift yarn.  Thanks to Anne!!  I’m not sure I managed to post about it before I left the states.  The yarn is a fuschia laceweight, and I am using the Azalea pattern from The Second Book of Modern Lace Knitting.

I’m pretty sure it’s a lot easier to transfer pictures than I think it is, but on the other hand I don’t have incentive to sit in cybercafés with creepy men all day.  Just imagine it for now.

I’m going to bed early tonight, and tomorrow I’m making a trip to the tailor for..uh…my new fabr-I mean-what’s that?? What are you talking about!! I would never buy “fabric”.  Get your head on straight…