this was last week, i am so behind. no more witty titles sorry!

Remember what it was like to have a simple life?  I do, and I am so excited to get back to it.  I mean this is good too, but tiring.  You shall see. I already have planned my simple plans for winter break: watch Modern Family, 30 Rock, House, and whatever other shows I can get my hands on.  Sit on couch.  Eat copious amounts of Taco Bell. Also McDonalds.  Culvers.  So much ICE CREAM.  And some nice restaurants.  Maybe walk a little bit to keep the habit up.  Lie on floor staring at Sasha and have her punch me.  Hang out with parents and sister.  CHRISTMASSSLKGJSLKJGSLKG that is how much I love Christmas.  Cannot wait.  Go shopping.  It will be awesome, it will be my life.

Anyway, now not for the future and for things that are going on here.  It’s hard for me to remember since it’s been a while since I posted!  Well I have either been really crazily doing a lot of stuff for my ISP, or doing none at all, or riding on a ton of tro tros and walking around a lot.  Mostly the tro tros and walking.  I’ve been careening between doing a lot and doing nothing because as you may know, nobody ever helps me no matter what I say and I organize everything on my own.  It’s fine, I’m getting better at it, whatever, but still man it gets tiring!  And I may or may not have cried to Papa Attah on Monday.  Not that that accomplished anything, but whatever it’s good to cry in front of an educational person once a semester.  Actually I can’t remember the last time I did this but I’m sure it’s happened.

Maybe. Wait.  Break in me talking about Africa and try to remember if I’ve cried in front of a teacher.  This seems like such a natural thing that I feel like I must have but I can’t actually remember.  I have made teachers cry (no not because I’m a bad student because I write really emotional essays obviously) and I have cried during math tests (but just on the paper not to a teacher’s face) but yeah I really don’t know if I have cried to a teacher before!  This is so weird!

Anyway…my ISP is going fine but I wish I had more help and I ask for help and no one gives it to me, welcome to Africa.  But anyway the past week or so.

LAST Wednesday and Thursday were both fairly productive.  Friday Cam came down from Krobo Dumase again so we hung out and I went on the internet at school and we went to a bar (the usual.) In the late afternoon I attempted to go back to the Artists Alliance Gallery to look at stuff more and to see if they had any contacts.  Instead, I took a two hour tro tro ride to the area, got in a taxi, rode up and down the street for half an hour because he didn’t know where it was and well clearly I know nothing and couldn’t find it, so then I got out threw money at him and leaned on some cement type of thing while crying on the phone to my mom that A.) I spend a kajillion dollars on transportation and SIT doesn’t support it even though it’s for my project or, you know, give a shit B.) I didn’t even check in with SIT that day so no one would even know if I died C.) my advisor is not helping me get any contacts or really do anything so I end up on wild goose chases around Greater Accra trying unsuccessfully to find things and D.) TAXI DRIVERS DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY ARE GOING!  Okay guys I really try to be culturally sensitive and not get pissed about things but I feel like knowing some basic locations is in the taxi driver job description.  It’s not like I ever ask them to take me to hole in the wall restaurant or the SIT house or a random artists house without calling him.  I ask for big landmarks.  (And yes, considering that there are three art galleries in Accra and we were ON THE STREET THAT IT IS ON, I would say this is a landmark) I ask for interchanges.  And still, half the time the taxi driver tries to get me to direct AND THEN overcharges me.  Shiashie is a TRO TRO STOP.  HOWW can you call yourself a person who takes people places and not know even the tro tro stops?  UGH.  Anyway, taxi rant done.

So that was the beginning of my frustration.  Haha lies but it was the beginning of this current ISProblems frustration.  Saturday was also interesting, and by interesting I mean I tried again to go to this gallery and this time I made it, but this time I also got kicked out of said gallery for taking pictures.  Well technically not kicked out, this attendant just was mean to me until I left.  In my defense, when I was there the first time EVERYONE was taking pictures so they should tell those people instead of yelling at me, and 2. They should have bigger signs!  But anyway, so I went there looked at art but was too scared to ask for a list of the artists they have because all the attendants were talking to important looking people and then when I was loitering innocently in the antique mask room (NOT taking pictures mind you) this guy came in and went on for about 39 years about how I’m being disrespectful and no pictures are allowed (actually I don’t even know if he said disrespectful, he just basically kept repeating that I couldn’t take pictures and I kept saying, over and over I’M SORRY I’LL DELETE THEM I’M SORRY but he just kept shitting on my face and being a jerk) (and don’t say it’s because he didn’t understand me or doesn’t speak English because that is BLATANTLY false) but anyway then I got scared and left.  And was embarrassed and vowed to never set foot in said place again which I will have to devow since everyone wants me to go there to talk to some professor, so obviously I will have to go in disguise.

Anyway then I decided that this was a stressful enough experience that I deserved to go drink on the beach alone and draw.  What a great reward!  Drinking alone and getting harassed!  When I was buying my Sprite and Coke and gin packets at the entrance to the beach is when the harassment started.  Some guy was trying to ‘be my friend’ and get me to buy him alcohol and usually I am respectful but decline in these situations but at this point I was just like NO LEAVE ME ALONE I’M NOT BUYING YOU ANYTHING!  Or something along those lines.  I just get sick of people talking to me every second of every day!  But more on this later.  Much more.

Then I sat on the beach for three hours drinking and drawing.  It was nice.  My drawing of the beach sucks because everything was moving and all of the men in the world continually harassed me, but it was okay.  I only got really annoyed when one of the guys was asking me ‘why I was so reserved’ and he was implying rude and I was like LISTEN.  I’M DRAWING. THIS IS FOR SCHOOL.  I’M NOT TELLING YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE, I’M LETTING YOU TALK TO ME, SO PLEASE DON’T BE A DICK AND INSULT ME.  Obviously I did not say that.  But I did say something along those lines.  One of the guys I talked to was actually really nice and not obnoxious and I got a semi okay informal interview out of him.  But really sometimes you just want to sit and not have anyone talk to you.  Here, there is no such option.

A couple hours later I left to go meet Cam and Emily, as well as Annie, who had arrived earlier that day, in Osu.  They got there a lot later than me so this is what I did in the intervening time:

  1. Wander around the Koala grocery store, being happy.  I love grocery shopping (Laura Young) so even though I wasn’t buying anything I was still happy just to look at it all.  I especially enjoyed the frozen meat section, the microwaveable food section, the juice section, the cheese section, and the produce.  I also took this opportunity to look at some magazines and peruse the DVDs.  Then I left and went on to my next activity.  These may come out of order since this was last Saturday and now it is Thursday.
  2. Wandering up and down the street.  I enjoy doing this in Ghana because I always feel safe; anybody who talks to me is enquiring after my well being (or trying to sell me something) rather than freaking me out.  There are always things to look at and nobody questions me so it is nice.
  3. Next I stopped in a casino bar (only in Osu) called Hemingway’s (cute) where there were about three people and a bar and slot machines and two roulette tables.  (Only in Ghana are there fancy seeming places like this and then you go in and realize that they are populated by three people.) Anyway this guy tried to teach me how to play roulette.  I did not understand even though he explained it at least four times.  I just pressed numbers of things I like (12 mostly, TNT!) and was pleasantly confused.  Then I left and did some more walking.
  4. Really what I wanted was a bar but unfortunately on this one block stretch that I was traversing back and forth there were no only bars, they were also all restaurants.  So further down the street I found…
  5. Another casino.  But this one was just a casino.  It had a doorman and everything and only business casual attire allowed.  Luckily since I am an obroni my Le Sac dress that I’d been wearing for three days straight and my giant backpack counted as business casual attire.  They didn’t mind my confusion and inability to know how much money was acceptable for things.  I played a slot machine and won nine cedi!  Look at me go!  I was really excited about this and the guy next to me laughed.  I decided to take my nine cedi and run with it so then…
  6. I went to one of the stands that was still open and bought some nice wooden souviener GOD DAMMIT sovigner sovegner sovigner HOW DO YOU SPELL THIS WORD souvenir keychains for my friends with my winnings.
  7. At this point I wasn’t sure what to do because I’d walked up and down the street a LOT so I found an alcohol store and found a nice drink called KISSMIX that was a cranberry and vodka (but let’s be honest mostly cranberry) type of thing in a can.  The lady cashier was watching Sex and the City so it felt nice and familiar.
  8. Then I walked up and down the street with my drink until I ran into my friends.

We ate at some random chicken fast food ish place that no one will have heard of.  It was very delicious especially since we discovered some awesome sauce that just tastes good.  I may go back and purchase some.

Then we attempted to go out but mostly got sick (I did not get sick no worries my immune system is still soldiering through) and took a lot of taxi rides.  We also got some free rides but then had to pay more in taxis to come back from a club with no people (Ghana.)  It was a good adventure though and we had fun.

On Sunday I was absolutely unproductive.  But it was awesome.  Cam and Annie and I went to this awesome expensive obroni restaurant and I had 178 (no not 178, 18) dollar pasta (its hard to press the number keys sometimes) and to everyone that said money can’t buy happiness, they clearly have never had expensive pasta in Ghana.  Then we came back to the apartment and watched a few episodes of Modern Family (my new obsession) and then maybe did other things but I don’t really remember.  But lazy Sundays are happy days because I don’t have to feel bad about doing nothing.

I shall end this now for all of you who do not like to read long things and continue with this week in my next entry.


Summer Project #1: reading the formerly scariest/now worst books ever

So you may be wondering what I spend my summers doing here in good old Wisconsin.  Well, there was the whole camp thing.  That is a story for another day.  Or stories for several other days, if we’re including previous summers.  07 in particular was a doozy.  But after camp ended, I needed some things to fill up my days.   One of my lesser known pastimes that I have developed this summer is finding books at used book stores, book sales, and/or Savers that I read the backs of when I was younger and was terrified by so I was afraid for months, and reading them.

Literally, months.  I was so afraid of What Happened to Nancy (wondering? don’t worry.  you’ll hear about it soon.) that name Nancy sent chills down my spine and I had trepidation about talking to men named Collin until last year late middle school.  Needless to say, I was an easily scared child.  But my philosophy has advanced: face your fear.  You have a fear of heights?  You go to the top of the building.  You’re afraid of bugs?  You, get a bug, right?  Jump off the high dive, stare down the barrel of a gun, PEE INTO THE WIND!

Or, in my case, you read the books with creepy topics like rape, AIDS, and cabin trip/virginity pacts gone wrong.

The two books that I have stared into the barrel of their topic or peed into their wind or…owned their bug, are Speak Softly, she Can Hear by Pam Lewis, and It Happened to Nancy by…Nancy.  Or an anonymous teenager.  Or Beatrice Sparks, the women who claims that she ‘edited’ the diary of one of the troubled teenagers she counseled because ‘Nancy’ wanted the world to hear her story.   This book is centered around a teenage girl, Nancy, a fourteen year old who keeps a diary.  She lives with her real estate agent mother, and although her parents are divorced, she has a great relationship with her father, a businessman with a beautiful house in Arizona.  She has a joyful group of friends she calls ‘the gaggle,’ a nice boy who may eventually become more than just a friend named Lev, and a bird called Levictant (or something else equally obscure and no-sense-making.)  Nancy spends her free time having picnics, seeing movies, and going to Garth Brooks concerts.  In addition, she meets a boy named Collin, they immediately fall for each other and go on beautiful dates, and THEN HE RAPES HER AND GIVES HER HIV.  WHICH PROGRESSES INTO AIDS IN A COMPLETELY UNREALISTIC LESS THAN ONE YEAR SPAN.

Congratulations young reader, here a book where you get to hear all about your worst fears: rapists, diseases, and dying.   When I read the back of this book at Borders when I was I don’t know, NINE, I was, as I said, scared for a really really really long time.  I can’t think of much to illustrate it, but I remembered the title of this book until, well, until I saw it in the used pile at Saver’s yesterday and bought it.

The other book, Speak Softly, She Can Hear, was actually, you know, written in a legitimate and honest way and for adults.  This book didn’t inspire as much terror in me when I was young, but whenever I saw it at used book sales (WHICH WAS WAY TOO FREQUENTLY) my thought process was always “Wow, that book looks creepy, and sometimes I like creepy books, but this one might be a little too much.”  Want to know why?  Well, the premise of this little gem is that two friends, Carole and Naomi, decide to make a pact to lose their virginity to skeevy Upper East side Eddie on the same night in a cabin in the woods in upstate New York.  Clearly, this one is setting itself up to be a classic.  Anyway, as the back of the book tells you, SOMETHING TERRIBLE GOES WRONG and the incident follows Carole for years.

Now I’m going to bring up a cardinal difference between the two books.  I was terrified of IHTN for years, then read it and was amazed at the terrible writing and how this Sparks lady EVER thought she could masquerade as a 14  year old writing a diary.  To be fair, I’ve also had health class, seen Rent, and written a 20 page research paper about AIDS since I was nine and am now far less afraid of the topics in this book.  Basically, I was very underwhelmed by the scary level of IHTN.  SSSCH on the other hand, completely surpassed what I thought I would find in its pages.  We’re lucky that I’ve now read every Mary Higgins Clark book (test me) and that I am just in general not one to dwell on scary things anymore, because or else this book would have kept me up for weeks.   Because, the thing is, IHTN was pretty straightforward.  You find out on the back that she gets raped and gets AIDS, and it sucks, but there are no surprises.  There’s a lot of mood swings (warranted), depressing thoughts (also warranted) and cheesy unrealistic-as-in-a-fourteen-year-old-would-never-say-this-shit senteces (unwarranted), but you get what you expect with good old IHTN.  SSSCH on the other hand, tells you that a secret incident happens.  Okay, how bad can it be?  You think you’ve read a lot of books, so you can probably imagine what the secret incident is.

Unless you were thinking that the secret incident was Eddie inviting a hooker into the room after him and Carole have sex and she stands on the bed watching them and then everything gets crazy and the hooker dies and Eddie claims that Carole broke her neck and then Naomi appears and the three of them have to hide the body in the snow in the woods and for the next thirty years Eddie stalks Carole trying to get money out of her in exchange for him not telling ‘their secret’…you would be wrong. Way worse than I was expecting, but bravo to good old Pam Lewis because that was a twist that none of us (us being me and the other people that frequent the monthly used book sales at Westgate mall) suspected.

Luckily, neither of these books actually scared me upon reading them as much as I would have imagined when reading their summarires or whatever you call those damn paragraphs on the back are so many years ago.  They certainly would have when I was nine, or twelve, or even fifteen.  Apparently those 55 or howevermany Mary Higgins Clark books paid off (after A Cry in the Night I was never going to be the same) and now I can fearlessly tackle the creepy books from my youth with ease.  Next on the list is Ruth Rendell’s The Tree of Hands.  You’d think the title wouldn’t be self explanatory.  Nope, it is.  I will update again soon with more of my summer pastimes.  You can look forward to entries on categorizing stationary, microwaveable snacks, and why I did NOT purchase an Easy Bake Oven last Wednesday.