Tag Archives: Charlotte


i recently received two emails regarding the current dearth of blogging.

the first said, “things must be going well with the boy… no recent blogging. your fans miss you.”

mmm… you could say that… but, fans?

the second said, “i’m just hoping everything is okay with you. you haven’t been blogging since you got back from your trip after christmas, and i just was ‘motherly’ worried.”

no need to worry. all is well.

anyway, the truth is, i’ve been slow on the blog circuit for a while now… boy or no boy. but i’ll see what i can muster up, given the encouraging nudges here and there.

so here’s a little piece of news. i went skiing with 94 middle school kids and 11 other chaperons last weekend. it was amazing. well, not the skiing… the skiing was typical eastern slush… but the kids were amazing. not one got hurt. not even their feelings got hurt! 94 pubescent kids living in harmony. amazing. ok, one kid did break his arm. but he didn’t find out till he returned, so i’m not sure that counts.

From 2008-09 Winter

pictured are me, sloan, jane and liza… with our carolina blue bandannas and matching carolina blue eyes.

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keep back!

yesterday i went wall climbing, which happens to be a ways out of town, so that provided some driving practice with friends. i did alright, except when i stalled out 3 times at the same traffic light… watching it go from green… to yellow… and red again. when i finally did go, i peeled out a bit. later in the same day i had a solid 3 second peel-out. you could smell it. i was beginning to think i’d made a huge mistake purchasing a 5-speed vehicle.but today was a new day, and i had to get out on the road. i mean, i HAD to. apparently i left my last name off one of the gazillion forms i signed at carmax, so i had to make the long journey back out there… on the crazy expressway… all… by… my… self. i took a deep breath, grabbed my roll of blue masking tape, and put a big sign across the back of my car that reads “KEEP BACK… i’m learning.” i ventured over to the church parking lot for a bit of a warm-up, feeling my way in and out of that tricky first gear, and off i went.

and i made it! without a single stall-out or peel-out! no one got on my back. i watched in my rear-view mirror as one lady died laughing after squinting to see the fine print on my home-made sign. ah, what a day.
then, on the way back to my house, i put the hatchback feature to good use with a trip to home depot. i needed a big piece of wood (2 ft deep, 4 ft long) to finish making my desk before school starts this week. can i please tell you how easy it is to fold down the seats in my groovy mazda3? oooooh so easy. i slid my desk top in, pulled the door shut, and thought, ‘that, missy, is why you have a hatchback.’ it made my day.

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the car

i bought a car today. a mazda3 hatchback with a sunroof. i like it. sure it’s a 5-speed… and sure i didn’t know how to drive a 5-speed (until an hour or two ago)… mere minor details.

the purchase:

i bought the car at carmax, which i have to say, was a pleasant experience. the guy that worked with me was definitely a car salesman, a tad annoying at times, but he was not one bit slimey. he wasn’t clever enough to be slimey, and i mean that in a good way. very what-you-see-is-what-you-get. he’d say things that were very not-smooth, which helped his credibility. it sounds like i’m trashing the guy, but seriously, i liked him. also, carmax is bending over backwards to work with my out-of-state credit union. the credit union lady told me over the phone, “girl, are you lucky. i’ve never known carmax to treat someone this good.” maybe it helped that i brought john (a priest) to test drive the car for me (while wearing his priestly collar). so john test drove it, i bought it, and then my friend aimee drove it home. woohoo!

the lesson:

i had a crash course in driving standard. lat ran to my house, we drove back to his house, did a couple laps around his neighborhood (i stalled maybe 10 times on my first left-hand turn), picked up friends for dinner, drove back to lat’s… and then i was on my own. it’s only a 3-4 mile drive, but it’s not direct. anyway, i made it home without stalling once, thanking God for the lack of traffic. 1st gear is really tricky, but the rest isn’t too bad.

so now i have a car, but i’ll be riding my bike to my morning appointment… maybe driving standard will keep me from driving too much. the bike life has been good.

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rains: then and now

i knew when i walked out the door to work this morning that it was going to rain. i was surprised the skies held back as long as they did, finally unleashing their wet fury as i started the walk back home from the office. i didn’t mind. i had a ridiculous grin on my face as i walked, glad my umbrella would hide my elation from not-so-considerate drivers, sloshing me in their wake.

i think the rain here is funny. i know it will soon be the start of the shorter rainy season in benin, where the rain seems to shoot up from the ground rather than down (or sideways) from the sky. here, the sidewalks and streets create rivers in a matter of moments. in benin, “potholes” the entire width of the dirt (really, sand) road form green filmed pools of various wastes. i don’t mind walking in the rain run-off here. sure, it’s full of harsh chemicals, but i’ve yet to see a man pee on the wall of my home in my nearly 3 months here, so i’ve got that going for me.

since i was reminiscing a bit, i thought i’d look up my journal from this day a year ago in benin. here’s an excerpt on food.

I’m getting better about eating meat off bones and using my hands. Farhan would be proud. I don’t know if I was eating pork or goat tonight… it was tough enough to be goat. It was good though. Meals basically consist of some form of meat (whole fish, pork, chicken, goat, or “bush meat”) and a cheap simple starch. The starch could be couscous or rice, or more likely pounded yam or maize, which looks gross and gelatinous when first served, but then settles and changes to a consistency similar to powdered mashed potatoes. It’s actually pretty tasty. I had fish for lunch, and I tried tasting one of the egg sacs in the fish. It actually tasted kinda like pate, but I couldn’t eat the whole thing just because of what it was. The only thing not eaten here are bones. When you eat fish, that means the brains, eye balls, and everything. I always give Josue the head to eat. Bleh. They serve a whole lot of starch at every meal so you fill up fast and then get hungry later. I don’t always clean my plate, at which point I think of the expression, “There are starving children in Africa.” I know! But a girl can only eat so much rice! Sometimes we have beans, which are called “azingoqui” in Fon. At the camp, the beans came with a side of bugs. I didn’t mind when I found one bug in my food. It had been boiled. No biggie. I showed it to Augustin and he asked, “what is his name?” and I laughed it off. But after finding 4 more (in the same plate of beans, mind you) I decided I’d had enough azingoqui and friends for the day. Every meal, I pray in my head, “God, may this food make me strong and not sick, please. Amen.” So far, so good.

sometimes i miss life in the developing world. maybe you know what i mean.

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new wheels

no, not a car.

i gotta say, for having lived here only 2.5 months, i have some pretty awesome friends. one of which called the owner of “my” local bike shop today (who happens to train some of my triathlon friends) and filled him in on my situation. when i arrived with my poor bike (which is maybe 15 years old), mr. bike man hooked me up with a free (used) wheel and free (used) tires too. i told him i’d been considering moving over to a lighter tread tire, being that i was on sidewalks more than mountain trails, hoping to make my rides through town a bit faster and easier. my bike looks hilarious now, like a drag-racer, says mr. bike man. skinny tire on front, thicker tire on back, but it’s a good combination for my needs. when all was said and done, he waved me out of the store with a smile, telling me to come back when i’m ready to buy a road bike… and start training… hmmm… train?

i’m suffering a bit of delayed shoulder pain today, i guess from bracing myself at impact, which i’m hoping is extremely temporary.

other than that, i’m back on the road tomorrow. score.

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lauren splats… almost

so much for not blogging…

i got hit by a car tonight on my way to the gym. i was riding my bike on the sidewalk (i’m told this is not illegal and much safer than riding on the road), going against traffic (again, i’m told this is safer), when i came to an intersection. i slowed down, noted the stopped car, checked the green light and the pedestrian crossing, and continued forward into the intersection. i saw the stopped car start into a right turn, realized what was about to happen, swerved, and CRASH. they clipped my back tire, knocking me over, but i caught myself and the bike. i have a few minor cuts and bruises, but nothing major. sadly, my bike will need a little TLC before i’ll be able to ride again (slight problem when it’s your primary means of transportation), but still nothing major. the lexus that hit me will have to get a new bumper, though… yikes. i didn’t get the driver’s contact information since 10% of me was scared i didn’t have the right of way. i can’t afford a lexus bumper. the couple that hit me was more concerned about my ability to walk than anything. i think the little lady in the passenger seat was more shaken up than i was.

anywho… my dad thinks i should get a car.

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perfect score

north carolinians everywhere might as well roll out the welcome mat to their newest resident; yours truly just got her license.

this is a big deal for 2 reasons… a) it’s symbolic of the fact that i’m putting down roots here (though i confess my heart is still mostly in maryland), and b) in order to get a NC license, you must first pass a driver’s test. the test is full of obscure questions like, “what percentage of driving accidents are due to drunk driving?” is it really necessary that i know the exact percentage to be a good driver? isn’t it enough to know not to drink and drive?

lucky for me, someone in my office mentioned that one could find a “study guide” (i refuse to call it a cheat sheet) online. thus, this little lady got a perfect score… booyah!

(really, what ever happened to people saying booyah?!?)

when i got back to my job, at the church, i was amazed to find kids moon-bouncing inside. yep, you can fit two moon-bouncers in our “multi purpose” space (which happens to be used for our contemporary services). who knew? and when can i bounce?

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google hearts walkers

i use google maps a lot… mostly because i’m new to town. i love how when getting directions, you can use your mouse to drag your route onto smaller (less trafficky) roads. great for bikers. but NOW there’s an additional option! when getting directions, you can click “by car” or “walking.” not only does it automatically move your route to roads less traveled, but it also estimates your walking time! i think this change denotes some serious behavior changes in the US. i’m so proud.

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