Thursday, February 19, 2009

Me: Squeaky Wheel

Today I was checking the headlines on the New York Times website, and read about the efforts to find a new Health and Human Services Secretary, and an overwhelming urge to be heard just hit me.

So I googled: "write the president"

And what do you know? The White House has a simple, easy web form where you can send a message to the president! It's right here, go try it! Flex your civic muscles! It feels good.

I won't bore you with the text of my letter (which was a dazzling piece of political wit, naturally), but it was basically about how cancer survivors like me are essentially barred from getting health insurance unless we have an employer generous enough to provide us with it. And then once we do get insurance, it won't cover the cancer, a 'pre-existing condition' for a full year (which is a really long time when you have cancer. Trust me.) Even when we've been healthy for years. It really sucks, OK?

Yes, I know President Obama is not going to personally read my letter. But call me naive, I do believe someone will read it, and then my letter will go into some big database of public opinion, and reports will be made, and I'll be a part of the system then, not just a bystander.

In my mind, I like to picture a little workshop of elves in the basement of the White House. Receiving my letter, a happy elf walks over to a big whiteboard and adds another checkmark to the "Affordable healthcare for all = good thing" column.

Oh, get ready to work, little elves. Pandora's box is open. I am going to wallpaper that White House with letters now! Viva democracy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Slow news week...

When you’re having a slow week in a developing country, you can always count on the newspaper for some good material. So here is what’s been going on in Malawi over the last week:

  • There is a cholera outbreak, and it’s centered in Lilongwe, where we live. So far there have been about 2,500 confirmed cases, and about a hundred deaths. So you parents in the U.S. who worry about germs and ear infections and colds and everything else your kid can get – I SO have you beat.
  • Only 40% of high school seniors passed the graduation exit exam this year. Have I mentioned the education system here is lousy?
  • A man was run over and killed, after he got drunk and decided to go to sleep underneath a truck.
  • In other motor vehicle news: “Police in Blantyre are hunting for a minibus driver and his conductor for seriously injuring a police officer on duty by pushing him out of a speeding minibus and running over him.”
  • The president has apparently “blasted” (the local media’s term, not mine) the British Ambassador, because the ambassador has called for Bingu to comment on the Zimbabwe situation. Bingu says it’s not his place to comment, and that the West shouldn’t pressure Africa. Personally, I think it has more to do with the perks and favors most Southern African presidents have picked up from Mugabe. But you didn’t hear that from me.
  • The president also spontaneously fired a large number of Cabinet ministers. It happens.
  • Here’s a sad story from today’s paper: “Irate villagers in Nkhata Bay beat up and burned to death their 52 year-old village headman on suspicion that he bewitched a woman who rejected his love proposal.” Apparently the man admitted to driving the woman crazy with magic. If I were a witch, I think I would be better at covering up my shenanigans.
  • And in a bizarre and macabre incident, a “97-year-old” man was found dead in a maize field, minus his head, his genitalia, and his intestines (I’m guessing witchcraft is somehow involved). His head was later found, without the eyes. Police in Chiradzulu have not made any arrests, because, and I quote, “Foul play was not suspected.”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Milo pics

OK, I have heard the outcry from family and friends. I finally brought in some pictures of Milo to share. They're totally unedited, but if I wait until I've managed to process my pics, I'll never get them up. Just like I still haven't posted any from our trip to England!

Milo is doing well. He is so cute I want to eat him up like a cupcake. See if you can look at this picture and not have the same reaction:

He likes to go up the stairs. Unfortunately, he also falls down the stairs (as he did two seconds after I took this picture.) Ouch. So now he walks up while we hold his hands. No more crawling on the stairs.

He's got some funny faces he likes to make. In this one, he scrunches up his face and snorts:
And in this one, he sticks his tongue in and out and says "dickledickledickledickle"
He doesn't like to sit still, and walks around holding on to things.
He also enjoys eating dirt.

And even though he has a perverse need to do the opposite of what I want him to (like his mama before him), he's my little sweetheart! (Oh, and here's my new haircut, too).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Well, I am back in Malawi, still coughing, but not so bad that it gives me migraines anymore. The flight home was smooth, albeit long. I was a nosy busy-body and interrupted some poor woman on the flight to Malawi because she was talking about MUAC (Mid-Upper Arm Circumference - used to measure malnutrition). I take it as my personal business now whenever someone in Malawi wants to work on nutrition. I mean, the Minsitry of Health has my back on this, but still, I find an uncontrollable need lately for everyone to nkow that I am a big bwana when it comes to malnutrition. The woman, as it turns out, was very excited to meet me and wants to come to my office to see me. Thereby further inflating my big puffy ego.

I really don't have much to say, but I feel a need to keep blogging...

It is starting to be that time of year when friends move on or go back to the States. We've already had to say goodbye to Cassandra, our dearest friend here, and now we're facing the imminent departures of Christine and Ann. This is desperately sad for me. We have known these people for almost 3 years - a long time in the international expat world - and have shared a lot of good times together. And it's not so much that our friends are going away that is's the knowledge that eventually we're going to have to get out there and make NEW friends! Oh, the horror of small-talk, misunderstood in-jokes and awkward silences...I just want all my friends to stay!

Hmmm. In other news, Jorge is training for another inhumanly long race (50 miles or something similarly ungodly). We went to see an orthopedist a few weeks ago who bamboozled him into getting six shots in his neck (he was expecting one. You should have seen his face when she just kept stabbing him over and over again in the neck with that needle!) She gave him some sort of muscle relaxant that has really been great in relieving his neck pain, so I'm happy for that.

Milo is doing well, and merits his own update sometime soon, once I bring in some recent photos. I promise, I will do that soon!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I think I have consumption. It won't be long before I am pale and weak, coughing blood into a dainty hankerchief while lying fetchingly on a chaise lounge. Wait, that was "La Boheme"... At any rate, I have a nasty cough. It keeps me up at night and my voice is shot. I can't even begin to describe how much it sucks.

Oh, also, I am in Ireland. Hey, surprise! Isn't my life one interesting turn of events after the next? I had an interview today (with the organization I already work for), and they wanted me to interview in person, because it's a pretty high profile job for them. I think I did alright, but do you know that feeling when you leave an interview, and you have no idea what you actually said? It's all sort of a nervy blur. So what do I know, maybe I was a total ass. I guess I'll find out in a few weeks.

It is cold here. This has clearly not helped my tuberculosis. But on the plus side, I have free wireless in my hotel, and I have done a bit of shopping, which is really the important thing. Organic baby toothpaste! Quinoa! Gnocchi! Yay!

Tomorrow I fly back to Malawi, which means I will have spent about 60 hours traveling, and only 44 hours in Dublin. Not a good balance, really.