Monday, August 23, 2010

#8: I May Work In A Cubicle All Day, But...

...when I leave, sometimes I get to see something like this!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

#5-7: Weekends in Washington DC

#5: My neighborhood library-- there is nothing I love more in the world than little public neighborhood libraries, and we have a great one!

#6: Radical, fearless, and sanctified? My kind of church!

#7: Shadya, my adorable 4th roommate

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#3: Green Light for 29

I have a gut feeling that 29 is going to be a good year...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

#2: That's Right (You're Not From Texas)

This will (hopefully) be one of the least photographically interesting pictures I post. However, what is lacks in photographic excellence, it makes up in sentimental value. Tonight I went to see Lyle Lovett at Wolf Trap with a friend from way back in the days of middle and high school. Wolf Trap is a fab DC summer tradition-- you sit WAY out on a hill where you can barely see the stage, but you can bring picnic food and wine! And it doubles as a National Park, so it's a gorgeous place to sit and relax and enjoy the summer. But aside from the classic DC-ness of the night, watching Lyle, a classic Texas favorite, made me want to be dancing at Gruene Hall on a sweaty summer night decked out in cowboy boots and sipping a Shiner. The ironic part is neither my friend nor I fit into the Texas stereotype--we both left Texas about as soon as we could and have spent our adult lives rotating between the East Coast and sub-Saharan Africa. But I guess no matter what, and no matter how cliche it is, you can take the girls out of Texas, but you can't ever fully take Texas out of the girls...

Monday, August 16, 2010

#1: I Heart My 'Hood

365 Photos to 30

Today marks the first day of my final year in my twenties. While this is of somewhat dubious symbolism, somehow to me it seems significant. It also offers me a perfect opportunity to embark upon something I’ve been considering for awhile—the 365 pictures photo-a-day challenge. Basically it works out something like this—take at least one picture of something, anything, every single day for a year. And post them somewhere. I s’pose I could just keep them for myself, but somehow making it (somewhat) public helps me keep a little pressure on myself to actually do it. That said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions (and I’ve had good intentions regarding this blog before), so we’ll see how it actually goes.

But I’m excited—it fulfills a couple of goals:

One, I want to be a better photographer. And what’s the best way to become a better photographer? Take a lot of pictures. This will force me to do that.

Two, the more I move around from city to city, continent to continent, I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend—the more things are ridiculously different in my life, the more I just go with it and stop noticing things. This is probably good in terms of my ability to be flexible and roll with the punches, but it means I miss out on some interesting and beautiful stuff. So I’m hoping this will force me to open my eyes more and take in some things with fresh eyes.

And three, I’m hoping it will also spur my blogging. I really do love writing, and so often I don’t know what to write about or I get lazy. Hopefully posting a picture will make me write something about the photo. Maybe just a caption, and maybe something more substantial, but SOMETHING. And that’s the first step, right?

Now, for some logistics. I’ll likely be using three cameras most frequently. First, probably many of the photos will be taken with my crappy iPhone camera. These pictures won’t be of fantastic quality, but in terms of logistics, it just makes the most sense. I’ll also try to carry my point-and-shoot with me most of the time, so likely some photos will be taken with that. And hopefully I’ll also get some opportunities to use my big new fancy DSLR that my wonderful friend recently sold me. I’ve been meaning to play with it and experiment, so hopefully this will provide some opportunities for that.

I’m also planning to take a photography class at some point. In fact it’s my birthday present to myself. Unfortunately due to a busy travel schedule over the next few months, I’ll have to delay it until I have a little more free time. But I’m hoping that will happen something late Fall.

I will warn you that I may not post every day—my plan is to take photos every day, but just being realistic, it is likely that I may have to post several days worth of photos at a time on some occasion. I’m sure given my woeful record as a blogger, anyone still following this blog will give me some leeway on this one J. Anyway, here it is, the challenge is official. I hope you, dear reader (if you’re still out there) also get something out of this. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


So, big news! But I'll warn you, it's exciting, sad, AND terrifying (though maybe more to me than you). Anyway, after 18 months of application process ups and downs, I’ve been offered and accepted a position as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development. More specifically, I'll be a Program Analysis and Project Development Officer (PDO) in the Development Leadership Initiative (DLI) program, which seeks to replenish the aging foreign service ranks with young, promising new leaders. Yes, you heard that correctly, I'm young and promising. Sort of. :)

Anyway, I’ll start training in Washington DC on June 7, 2010. I’m incredibly sad to leave my current job with Water For People after such a short period of time, but I’m convinced that this is the right career move for me at this time. When I complete my training, I'll have the opportunity to gain tenure in the foreign service, which trust me, is a pretty sweet gig. It allows me to give into my wanderlust and development-sector ADD, but with much more stability. I'm also incredibly disappointed to miss the World Cup in South Africa, which I was planning to attend with my dear friend Danielle, but I guess there will be more World Cups. Though not in SA. BOO! But careers are more important. Sort of. :)

And then there is the sadness associated with leaving Uganda, a place that has become my home for the last year and a half. And the place where some of best friends live. My eyes start watering even thinking about it, so that'll have to be a subject I'll need to tackle later. But it's sad. REALLY sad.

Anyway, as you might expect, this move opens a lot of doors and even more questions. Here’s what I DO know:

1) I’ll move back to DC sometime in early June and start training on June 7, 2010.

And here’s what I DON'T know (and now you’ll see where the terrifying descriptor comes in):

1) How long I’ll be in DC—as far as I can tell it could be between 2 months and 2 years. I suspect it will be on the longer side as I’ll have to do language training, but I really don’t know, nor do I know WHEN I’ll know.

2) Where I will be posted following my training. Basically I have no choice in the matter. I could be sent to Uganda or Pakistan or Guatemala, or really anywhere in between. My first post is decided by higher ups and I have little to no say over it. I think I will find out my post at the end of training, but I’ve heard that not everyone gets a post right away, so again… unclear. However, you can visit here ( to see all the possibilities. Your guess is as good as mine!

3) I don’t know what language I’ll be learning. As part as my training, and a requirement for tenure in the agency, I’ll be required to learn a language and pass a competency test. I’m going to push for French (it makes sense given my regional interest in sub-Saharan Africa), but I’m not sure I’ll have any say. So if they say “you’re learning Farsi,” Farsi it is. Again, your guess is as good as mine.

4) Where I will be living in DC. I’ll have to figure this out upon arrival, but my hope is that it’s cheap (ish), near the metro, and in the district. DC-ites, any advice or ideas are MORE THAN WELCOME!

So as you can see, there are many unanswered questions, which is terrifying. But the truth is it is also incredibly exciting, and just another contribution to this adventure we call life. So I'm trying to focus on that and not the unknowns. But no worries, I'll keep you all updated!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Easter in Zanzibar!

So as I have stated MANY times, my life is really not that different from yours. I work, I play, I read, I run annoying errands, I consistently set goals for myself that I ignore three hours later (Eat better! Work out more! Watch less TV! Get more sleep!) I just do these things in deepest darkest Africa. However, the one aspect of my life that clearly stands apart from most is my ability to go on exotic vacations. You may spend the weekend at the Jersey Shore (and hey, that’s exotic in its own right!), but I get to go for a weekend to ZANZIBAR! I’m not trying to brag, I’m just for once admitting that my life does have its perks. And Zanzibar is DEFINITELY one of them…

So to set the stage, in East Africa, Easter is a four day weekend, which seemed like a perfect opportunity to get away. So several of my friends and I decided to jet over to the Swahili Coast of Tanzania and visit the tropical and exotic island of Zanzibar. For those of you history buffs (Dad), Zanzibar is an semi-autonomous archipelago that for centuries has been a stopping-over point for traders from Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. The traders from all over the world have left their marks, and it has resulted in a hodgepodge of culture, food, religion, and language. The island also happens to have the whitest sand and bluest water I’ve ever seen. Oh, and delicious spicy seafood, which is a treat when you live in Uganda, the land of no flavor and tilapia.

So in planning our tropical getaway, my friend Becca, who is far more adventurous than me, somehow convinced me that scuba diving was a good idea. And it WAS a good idea—until I found myself 12 meters down (40 feet Mer-cans) unable to see because my goggles were as foggy as San Francisco in summer, unable to control my buoyancy, and completely unsure of why I had thought this was a good idea. But it got better. And better. And next thing you know I was actually enjoying myself amongst the sea turtles and nudibranch (look that up, you won’t be sorry!) and dolphins and tropical fish of every shape and color and size. And yes, I did find Nemo. And I became a certified PADI diver in the process, in spite of my best efforts to completely panic and resign myself to snorkeling for the rest of my life.

Outside of the scuba training, I greatly enjoyed lying on the beach, enjoying my friends, eating as much seafood as possible, reading, sleeping, kayaking, and generally chillaxing. And while I was sad to tear myself away from the tropical paradise that was Kendwa, the time came to see some of the rest of the island, and I wasn’t disappointed. We spent a day exploring Stone Town, a labyrinth of winding alleyways, mosques, intricately carved wooden doorways, colorful markets, and extravagant coral buildings built with detailed Swahili touches. We also gave in to our inner tourists and took a spice tour, which while informative and fun, was pretty much a tourist trap. We also filled ourselves to the gills with delicious Swahili food at Foradhani Gardens in Stone Town and shopped for kangas (brightly colored raps favored by Tanzanian women) until we dropped.

Overall it was a fantastic holiday and I can’t wait to go back! But in the meantime, I have fond memories and many great pictures…

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mood Lighting

I spend a lot of time trying to explain to friends and family in the states that my life isn’t so different from theirs. I wake up in the morning, take a shower, make some coffee, go to work, try to make myself engage in some sort of physical activity (often unsuccessfully), go home, go to bed. On the weekends I go out with my friends—have dinner, drinks, see live music, dance, etc. None of this is all that different from my life in the states. But then there are times when I’m reminded just how different my life can be—like tonight when I was forced to get ready for a dinner out with friends in the dark due to load shedding, or scheduled power outages because the country simply doesn’t create enough power to keep everyone lit all the time. The candlelit shower was sort of relaxing, but the make-up by headlamp left a little to be desired, and it’s entirely possible I went out looking like Tammy Faye Bakker.

36 Hours in Kenya

So back in December en route to Malawi, I made a quick stop in Nairobi to attend grad school friend Jackie's wedding! See some pics below (some from me, others from the fantastic Arlene as I stupidly forgot my camera for parts of the ceremony)...

Jackie's parents walk her down the aisle

Great to catch up with grad school friends, including
Jason who came with Arlene all the way from NYC!

Jackie and Fred arrive at the reception

Jackie and Fred break it down at the post party!


Once again, I have been totally and completely unreliable as a blogger. And the truth is, I don’t really have an excuse. But here’s my attempt to start again, and to catch you up on life since my last post. My trip to Malawi was fairly uneventful and to be completely honest, I left the country knowing only a bit more than I came with. I spent my whole time in Blantyre working, sleeping, or transporting between work and my hotel. However, I did manage to develop a taste for Nali, the BEST hot sauce I’ve ever had (and I’m a Texan who has lived in Africa for years, so this is HIGH PRAISE), and get my hands on an “Adopt Me” t-shirt in my size, which may be my new favorite possession.

The view from my hotel in Blantyre Malawi

After returning to Kampala from Malawi, I had a lovely holiday season—I traveled with some friends to Lake Bunyonyi, easily one of my favorite spots in East Africa and something out of a Tolkien novel. While it is always hard to be away from family, its nice to know that no matter where you end up, a little festiveness can be found.

Christmas comes to the Equator

Dave, falling or flying (?) at Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi

Other than that, life has been pretty uneventful, and I mean that in the best possible way. I’m enjoying my job and life and everything really, so I guess I’m one of those boring content people. However, I really am committed to spending some time on this blog in the future, so please bother me endlessly if you don’t see new posts coming from me. That is if you haven’t completely given up on me and are still reading…