Two Red Marys and a Yellow Rose

No, no…it’s Ta-*JEE*-ki-stan
27/12/2010, 14:24
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Dushanbe, Tajikistan, baby!

I am in the process of learning as many fun facts as I can about this fascinating little country tucked among Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  It will be my home for 2 years beginning in February 2011.  So far I have gleaned the following:

** Fabulous fresh fruits and vegetables are available at the market in Dushanbe most months of the year.  Praise Jesus!  This vegan is over-the-moon.

** The unibrow leads a rich and vibrant life.

** Tajikistan is one of the most mountainous countries on earth.  Right.  Post-Christmas I am armed with REI gift certificates and hell-bent on learning to hike…and like it!

**  Um … it is really bloody difficult to reach Dushanbe.  I will soon find out who *really* loves me 😉

** It appears that Dushanbe is not a regular stop on Phoenix’s touring schedule.  Drat.

Among Con Gen training and consumables- and vehicle- and clothes-shopping and packout and departmental consultations and vaccines and hopefully squeezing in one last visit to Austin and and and … I look forward to learning more.  Anybody have any insight?



Why Not French??
01/06/2010, 10:55
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

After another round with the Rosetta Stone, in which each and every one of my virtual Russian teachers is inexplicably traveling to or coming from or living in Paris, I figure I need to work out the answer to the question “Why *not* French, after all?”

Medium French Flag

(And by the way, *ROSETTA* – what the heck??  Presumably one who is seeking to learn Russian is going to have some dealings with the country, and would need to learn to decline the feminine noun “Moskva” rather than masculine “Parizh.”  Or are you saying that as soon as the aforementioned one sets foot in Moskva she will need to know how to say “Please, get me to Parizh as quickly as possible. Thank you.” – ?)

So far all I have come up with is this:

  • French people intimidate me.  Case in point:

Here I am getting an autograph from Laurent Brancowitz of Phoenix at ACL Fest 2009.  I have absolutely nothing to say to him, but the inside of my head sounds something like this:  “I love his shirt!  Why am I dressed like Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory?  Why?  If we get a gust of wind up in here I will look EXACTLY like a blueberry.  And why does my hair look like I had a wicked Jheri curl that decided to crawl away and die a slow death?  Wow.  Laurent has the slimmest hips I’ve ever seen on a human. God really didn’t craft men for child-bearing, did He?  Oh crap, of everything I’ve been thinking, I said that last thing out loud, didn’t I? How do you say ‘Excuse me, I have Tourette’s’ in French?”

  • Non-French people who fancy themselves French-speakers annoy me.  You know who you people are.
  • I will never be in the first category and I don’t want to end up in the second, so Moskva it is…

Why Russian??
29/05/2010, 22:05
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

In preparation for my Foreign Service Institute Russian test (July 22nd and the reason why I’ve been too distracted to write regularly – sorry!!!), my Russian tutor and I were discussing current events in Russia.  After 20 minutes of dissecting the disagreeable state of Russia’s relationship with, well, just about every other country in the world, my tutor expressed her hope that I end up in Paris instead.

Me too.

So then. Why, of all of the languages offered at Rice University (granted, not many because it is primarily an Engineering school), did I toddle in as a freshman 15 years ago and choose Russian?

(Yep, that’s the Russian flag. One of these days I’ll take an artful photo of my stack of Russian study aides, but this post is already sorely overdue, and who knows how much longer I’d procrastinate if finding my camera and arranging a tableau were required.)

Right.  So why Russian?

  • Russia is cold.  Texas is not.  How endearing.
  • I thought Alexei Urmanov was totally cute.  Then I thought Detroit’s Russian 5 was way cuter.
  • Vodka!  Who doesn’t LOVE vodka?!?!

15 years later, I understand more about Russia’s dynamic and fascinating role in the international arena, but at the basest level, I question my decision…

  • Russia is cold.  Texas is not.  I’ve lived in Berlin now.  I’ve lived in DC.  I HATE the frigging cold.
  • Um.  My taste in men and entertainment has changed.  (Although, maybe not.  I’m sure any one of these guys could rock the puffy sleeves or a hockey jersey if he really wanted to.  This is Phoenix, by the way.  Christian is my favorite today.  He’s on the far right.  I think I’d look like him if I were a dude…only with a bigger butt.)
  • Please drown my vodka in olive juice.  Preferably, give me red wine.

So I guess my next question is – why the hell not French?

I Think I’m Cheating on Duran Duran
02/05/2010, 17:25
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Every so often you discover a sound, an artist, a band … some purveyor of music that does exactly what you need done in your life at that moment.  For the past 26 years of my life, that has been Duran Duran (with an interlude during the squeaking awkward junior high/Catholic school years when it was Poison).  Now I think they might have to share the role with Phoenix, or even relinquish it for a little while.  I wish I could say I was a real badass and saw Phoenix when they came through Austin in 2005, but I was studying for the bar exam at that time and completely unaware of life outside of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure and torts and the rule against perpetuities and and and… (I passed!)  So I admit that I didn’t see them live until their huge ACL performance in October 2009, but that sealed it.  It was the best day EVER: 

I don’t feel the need to explain exactly what it is about Phoenix; I imagine I’ll be compelled to babble at length before too long (Christian Mazzalai wears suits that FIT; I’m dying to learn how to do that!  Their guitars remind me of the summers  that *should* be but *aren’t*  in 100 degree cracked Texas…).  For now, suffice it to say that when I hear them I know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  Thanks, y’all!

(There *will* come a day when I write a post that does not mention Phoenix.  Today is not that day.)

On-Line Language Learning is a Deceitful Wench
29/04/2010, 10:23
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I am trying to relearn Russian in the hopes of improving my standing on the Foreign Service Consular Register. No doubt I’ll say more about that later, but for today I am compelled to issue the following warning: BERLITZ ON-LINE LANGUAGE LEARNING CLASSES ARE NOT COMPATIBLE WITH MACS. They do not tell you this until after you have given them ungodly painful amounts of money, at which time they say, “You DO have a PC, right?” Bloody hell, people, it’s not like it’s 1987 and I can’t understand why their videocassettes don’t work in my Betamax machine. People own Macs, Berlitz! Pbbbbbblitz on you.

Tonight is the Phoenix concert, so hopefully that will improve my mood…I just want to beseech you, aforementioned hair-rending, sobbing dudes, please be nice to me tonight.  Do not push me, step on my feet, bar the way back to my spot after I’ve left to go to the bathroom, or elbow me in the face in your attempts to get closer to the little Frenchmen on stage.  If you do, I will have no choice but to unleash the wrath of Wayne…

Roger Taylor is Eligible for AARP and I’m Hungry
26/04/2010, 20:15
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Roger Taylor of Duran Duran turned 50 today and I’m indulging in an obscene amount of grapefruit-tarragon sorbet.  I don’t know that these 2 facts are necessarily related, but tucking away and getting lost in music and food are two of my defining elements, so why not blog about them?

I’ve loved Duran Duran for as long as I can remember.  “Nick Rhodes” was the first string of letters I learned to scrawl in my third grade cursive lessons, which didn’t come a moment too soon.  Prior to this, I had revered the members of Duran Duran to such an extent that I dared not speak their names.

Fortunately I’ve spent the past 25 years collecting plenty of things to say about them.

Today the music continues.  Later this week I’m going to see Phoenix at Stubb’s here in Austin.  At their La Zona Rosa gig in December I was almost trampled by a mob of sobbing, hair-rending dudes throwing themselves into Laurent Brancowitz’s line of sight, so I’ve got to plan a strategy this time ’round.  Helmet and brass knuckles?  Or just give up and hide in the back with a martini?

Ach, decisions.

God bless you, Roger!  I’m hungry.