Tag Archives: Humor

Africa!

28 Nov

The hotel shuttle driver who picked me up from the airport asked if it was my first time in Africa. I had to laugh out loud. I’m African! This will soon change, but as of this moment, I’ve lived longer in Africa than anywhere else.

So, no, this is not my first time on the continent. I know all about the beautiful madness of this place.

I know about perfect strangers that want to question your personal business, like the office driver who wanted a detailed report for why I had been married three years and didn’t have any kids yet. He told me, “that’s unnatural!” (What is it with me and nosy drivers?!)

I know all about hotel bathtubs that are made for giants. You need a step ladder to climb into the tub and often need to kiss the shower wall for the shower head water to reach you. And what’s the deal with the window without curtains right at the level of my bust on the shower side of the bathroom?

I know all about superlative promises that never materialize. “Yes, madam, we have WiFi in every room!” Yeah right! Lol

But I also know about the indefatigable spirit of my people, the joy in simple things and the absolute enjoyment of things I often take for granted in the US: water from a tap, lights that turn on when I flip a switch, ice-cream that isn’t totally melted and recombined straight from the grocery store freezer.

Today is Thanksgiving and I’m in Zambia. I am thankful for this continent that raised me; I am grateful for all that it has taught me and I appreciate the laughs it now gives me.

Coffee shop potty break

28 Aug

How do you go pee at a coffee shop when you’re by yourself? 

I work from home often and I love doing it– my laptop, my mug of chai tea, my sweatpants… and my bathroom nearby… heaven.  Today, though, Comcast was having a systems outage in my area and my internet and phone both died unceremonious as I finished a document that needed to be sent out.  Customer service was predicting another 3 hours before the situation would be fixed, so I needed to find another solution.

I laced up my sneakers and headed out the door, noting that my bladder was a bit full.

Dear blog readers, what do you do with your stuff when you are at a coffee shop by yourself and need to use the restroom?  I’ve faced this conundrum before:  I get all set up– laptop plugged in, notebook out, small snack half eaten, and then I have to pee.  I look around, wait– did I see anyone else in here get up to use the bathroom? What did they do with their stuff?  Everyone in here came in with stuff… (well, except that guy in the corner who only walked in with a newspaper to read and hasn’t budged since).  The rest of us serious working people have computers, and other personal effects.  So what do you do? 

Option A:  Leave your stuff and run to the restroom

     Pro: You get to empty your bladder

     Con: You have to rush your time in the restroom because you’re worried someone might steal your stuff (or take a bite of your granola bar, or something equally as unsavory) 

 

Option B: Ask a kind-looking stranger to watch your stuff while you go to the restroom

     Pro: Again, you get to go handle your business; but this time you feel a bit more at ease, because someone responsible-looking is glancing at your stuff occasionally

    Con: And this has happened to me before– kind-looking stranger has sticky fingers and actually takes something from your computer bag, which you only discover after you’ve gotten home

 

Option C:  Pack all your stuff up and battle with them in the tiny cubicle, which may or may not have a functional hook on the door for you to hang your stuff

    Pro:  Like I’ve been saying, business gets handled and at least you know no one is going to take your stuff

    Con:  Sadly, this, too has happened to me… you might end up slinging your computer bag across your chest, and hanging your purse on the back of your neck so that you can avoid putting either of them on the sticky-from-God-knows-what floor.  All of this while trying to wrestle down your pants, and hover and aim over the toilet.  

Option D:  Don’t work at coffee shops.  

This has no cons, and the pros are obvious.  This is the option I usually go for.  If you have to do it, like I did today:  Empty your bladder, first, and sip that coffee slowly. 

Travelling well

9 Aug

(I recently joined Toastmasters. From time to time I might share some of my material. Here is an irreverent piece from this week). 

I’ve been working in international development for over 10 years and all of my work has involved travelling.  But really, I’ve been traveling almost from the day I was born.  I don’t know how many miles I’ve logged on all of my trips, but I’m proudly a gold status Delta frequent flier, and I’ve been to at least 21 countries on 5 continents.  I’ve earned my wings.

Here are some “tips” that have worked well for me.

  •  Don’t get distracted.  Seriously, this is an important tip—have you noticed that airports just attract the most interesting people and situations.  It’s so easy to get carried away weaving a sad story of doomed summer love for that young couple that run back for hugs and kisses six times before one of them finally peels away to go tearfully through the security line.  You could lose hours just watching the couple with four children under the age of four trying to wrangle car seats, strollers, backpacks, leashes, baby carriers and the babies themselves through the airport— little children discovering an escalator is a fascinating and slightly scary thing to watch!  But you have to keep your eye on the ball— you’ve got places to go, and people to see.  Locate your terminal and boarding gate quickly and get there early.
  • Keep track of your belongings.  This one seems like a no-brainer, with all the “report unattended bags to the authorities” messages we keep hearing these days.  But you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget something laying around when you’re tired, disoriented because of the time difference, or at your fourth airport in a 24-hour time span.  I’ve left my passport on a chair in a New York airport terminal; glasses in an airplane seat back pocket, and I left a belt that I really needed to keep my pants up in a security line tray once. Actually, it’s really easy to lose track of your things in security lines.  Make it easy on yourself by keeping your pockets empty to begin with, and putting as many things as possible into your carry-on, so they are not lying around loose in your tray.  Also, if possible, take your whole tray with you when you move away from the conveyor belts—that way you’re not grabbing all your things and trying to put your shoes, belt and jewelry back on at the same time.
  • Pack smart. I’m a recovering over-packer.  It used to be that when I got ready to go on a trip, my husband would ask if I was finally leaving him because the size of my luggage never matched how long I said I’ll be gone for.  But, seriously knowing what to pack, and where to put it is an art form.  I make my packing list days before my trip— and I write everything down—even obvious things.  I have gone on a trip only to find that I packed no undies, so I leave nothing off my list.  I’ve become an expert at rolling clothes to keep them compact enough for small spaces, but wrinkle free so they are ready to wear.   And always, always pack at least a change of clothes in your carry on– luggage goes missing more than you think.
  • Minimize the time you have to spend waiting around.  Yes, things happen, and waiting around is inevitable in travelling, but you can do things to cut your wait times.  Check in online and print or download your boarding pass.  Streamline your carryon to get through security lines faster.  Once you’ve landed at your final destination, though, minimizing wait times get a little less straightforward.  If you’re serious about not waiting around for long, especially if you’ve just arrived at a developing country on a full flight, you’re going to have to get a bit scrappy.  First, push and shove whoever you need to so that you’re first off the plane.   While you’re in an arrival terminal, though, don’t shove anyone as you might be denied entry into the country.  Once you’ve respectfully made it through immigration, start throwing elbows and jockeying for prime real estate at the luggage carousel.  Your position at the carousel has huge implications for how long you’ll be stuck at the airport.  Too close to the opening where the bags come out and you’ll be chasing your bags around the carousel because you weren’t able to confirm which was your bag before it snaked past you.  Too far from the opening and you’ll have to yell at people who think your bag is theirs and remove it from the belt to check the tags before it gets to you.  Once you’ve find the perfect spot, you’ll have to defend your turf ferociously, but trust me—the more time saved, the closer you are to a bed and sleeping horizontally for the first time since you left home.

Seasoned travelers, other tips you want to share?  Send me a comment. 

My brain doesn’t want me to lose weight!

11 Jun

I was going to write about something completely different today, but this blog post got me thinking about something that’s been going on with me lately. I’ve been sick and in and out of the hospital for the past three months. I’m basically all good now, but I’ve lost about 25 pounds in that timeframe. Everyone has been commenting about how good I look, and I’m happy to be back at what I weighed when I first met my husband. But in the past week since I’ve been fully back on my feet, I’ve felt as though my brain were sabotaging my efforts to keep the weight off. I’m constantly craving more carbs, more sweets, just more food than I have ever eaten, even when I was heavier. This article seems to confirm for me what I am starting to realize– my brain hates when I’m hot. Le sigh.

TED Blog

Standing on the TED stage looking stunning in a blue dress, neuroscientist and author Sandra Aamodt  reveals that three and a half years ago on New Year’s Eve, she made a decision: She gave worrying about her weight. Instead, she learned to eat mindfully — and lost 10 pounds. For Aamodt, who had been dieting unsuccessfully for 30 years, this was a major life change. She started her first diet at age 13, and found that the weight always came back.

As a neuroscientist, she wondered what made losing weight so hard. Turns out the brain is an incredibly efficient regulator of body weight. Isn’t weight loss about how much you eat versus how much energy you burn? Nope, it’s not that simple an equation: it turns out that hunger and energy use are controlled by the brain, mostly behind the scenes, and this unconscious force is stronger than mere…

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Gee, thanks! How do you REALLY feel?

6 Jun

Hubby says, “You’re not the best wife in the world!”

Oh yeah?  What about all the meals I cook you? The laundry that you come home to find washed and pressed in your closet?  The secretarial duties I perform to help keep you organized in your life?  All your lame jokes I laugh at?!

I think I’m a pretty darn good wife, thank you very much!

I would marry me!

Before I can get all those words out, along with a few good jabs to his ribs, the man continues, “You’re the best wife… for me!”

Well, then… since I’m only married to you, I guess that will do! 🙂 Image