Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What happened to April?

Wish I could end the blog posting drought with an onslaught of amusing and insightful posts and stunning photos. Instead, all you get is a quick recap.

On this day in the future:

June 3, 2011- I will return to Chicago!!! With a thesis to write.

May 24, 2011- I will fake 'graduate' from the University for Peace with an MA in Peace Education. Fake because my thesis won't be done yet.

May 21 & 23rd- I will have visitors! My brother John and his wife will be coming for graduation and Chicago friend Lauren Hirte will be here too.

On this day in history:

May 3, 2011- Lookingglass Theatre Company wins the Regional Tony Award!!! I'm so thrilled for the Company and really, really wish I could be in Chicago to celebrate with everyone tonight. And a sense of perspective is fine and all but today would be a good day to be surrounded by who know what a Regional Tony Award is and how exciting it is for us. It's like telling a joke, if you have to explain it too much, its just not the same.

April 30, 2011- The UPEACE women's football team wins 2nd place in the UN sponsored Central American tournament in Honduras! I was not there.

Also, the corpse of the very large dead spider (that might have been a tarantula) in our front hall is finally finished being dismantled by the ants after several days of hard work.

April 21-24- The Romans marched through Orosi. A lot. My friends Laxmi and Rich came to visit during Semana Santa (aka Holy Week, aka Easter) and we went to the lovely little town of Orosi where we got to experience traditional Semana Santa festivities. These include: all the stores and restaurants being closed on Thursday & Friday (except the supermarket run by the Chinese family); 3-5 processions per day; "fireworks" that are all big sound, no actual fire; & crosses on every lawn draped in purple. The processions basically re-enact the major events in Jesus' final days. They deserve a post all their own and will get one, someday. The short version is that 1/2 the town dresses up like Roman soldiers and escort a (statue? mannequin? giant figurine? don't know what to call it) of Jesus surrounded by men dressed as the disciples (with handy name tags- Pedro, Mateo, Simon- seriously name tags like they'd just walked out of a disciples mixer), while the other 1/2 of the town watches. The Romans and Jesus change outfits with each procession. The Romans also play drums and march very, very slowly. Until, that is, the He is Risen! procession. That one, which begins at 4:30AM Sunday morning, is very fast, full of shouting and dancing and includes a band in a truck and a LOT of fireworks. I'll post pictures as soon as Laxmi and Rich send me some.

April 23, 2011- I ride a mountain bike for the first time! On this day I also realize how very, very out of shape I am after 9 months of sitting in hammocks reading. Laxmi and Rich (tri-athlete, century riders) are very patient every time I have to give up on an incline and walk. I exhibit great wisdom in choosing not to have a heart attack.

April 11, 2011- We celebrate Juan Santamaría Day by not having class and not burning any gringos. Someday I'll explain that too.

April 13-20- I work on my thesis and my resumé. The end of days (in Costa Rica) is coming.

April 8, 2011- Peace Ed takes a field trip! We see cows and a house that gets its cooking gas from biodigesting cow manure.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This is what Peace Education looks like

This is us getting ready to have our final group photo taken before ALP students leave. Diana is missing because she's setting the timer on the camera for the REAL photo. Haru, bottom right corner is manifesting our group sadness that our time together is coming to an end soon.
Someone took this picture during class. Our heads are heavy with knowledge. That's why we're propping them up. Not because we are exhausted from 3 weeks of class, plus final project. We're watching a group present a draft version of some of their guidelines and indicators for their project.

Goodbye ALP!

This is Chisato, from Japan, one of the 3 ALP students in Peace Ed. She's flying back to Manilla tomorrow along with Haru (Canada/Japan). Myo (Burma) will join them next week. It's very strange to think of class w/o them. And it reminds us that we've got a lot more goodbyes coming up in just 2 short months. So not ready for that.

3 As hard at work

This was my group for our Cultures and Learning final project. Myo (Burma) and Rosemary (Zambia). During the final week of the course we were meeting for 3 hours/day in addition to our 3 hour class and at least 3 hours of reading & writing. We named ourselves the 3 As because we are from Asia, Africa and (North) America.

Some things that have happened

  • My group finished our giant final project for the class that ended Friday! A day ahead of the official due date, a day behind our self imposed due date. We wanted to have the full 4 day weekend but are settling for 3. Final page count for our complete Cultures and Learning toolkit- 105 pages.
  • We said goodbye to the students from ALP (Asian Leaders Program). They go back to Manilla for some Asia specific classes, then do an internship, then graduate in October. We're going to miss them very much! I will especially miss my roommate Por. The odds of coming home to the delicious smell of Thai food cooking are going to decrease significantly. The good news is she's in Media so she's staying 1 extra week til her current class finishes.
  • I read a lot.
  • The Peace Ed class put together a Brown Bag program for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21st). We did little scenes about discrimination and I played a racist realtor. We sang a South African protest song.
  • There was an earthquake in Japan. There are 7 or 8 (I think) students from Japan as part of ALP and we're all just heartbroken for what is happening in their country. Fortunately, all of their relatives are accounted for and alive, which seems miraculous. Midori, an amazing pianist and vocalist, is from Sendai, one of the coastal cities that basically got washed away by the tsunami. Having seen before and after pictures, I just can't imagine how devastating it must feel to think of your hometown being erased while you were away.
  • Libya is a mess and we talked about it in class.
  • I finished my re-revised thesis proposal! And it got approved!
  • I learned that outside of the US, no one knows who Glen Beck is. And I felt better.
  • I rode a bicycle! Two times! Borrowed from Michele, my landfamily's daughter. Hills. Yeah.
  • Noche Latina-a fantastic party thrown by our classmates from Latin America. So much dancing.
  • Africa Night- a fantastic party thrown by our classmates from Africa. Just so happened to fall on the day that Mubarak stepped down. Our Vice Rector, Amr, is from Egypt and was dressed head to toe in traditional garb, absolutely beaming.
Actually, thrown in a lot more "I read things" and "I wrote things" plus "I slept" and "I ate beans and rice" and that's pretty much everything that has happened.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. Inter-what for who? ask the Americans. Before going to work for Zonta Foundation (dedicated to the advancing the status of women everywhere) a few years ago, I had never heard of this day either. But now I come to find out that in other countries, particularly African countries, it's an actual 'things are closed, no school today' holiday!

At UPEACE we are celebrating the day by wearing red (men and women alike), women are wearing red flowers in their hair and there's an amazing display of art by women in the Atrium. Coincidentally, it's also LGBT Week here at UPEACE (the first one ever!) so there was a fascinating Brown Bag Lunch about the 'origins' of homosexuality. It was one of the most well attended Brown Bags I've seen and I was glad to see some students that I know are challenged by homosexuality in the audience. Some of our students come from countries where homosexuality is illegal and where, in some cases, the death penalty has been suggested as a punishment. In the Q&A session afterwards one student spoke at length about his perspective and his belief that homosexuality is something one is 'indoctrinated' into and not part of God's intent. Afterward I saw this student talking with the guest lecturer, who had identified himself as gay and had made a very cogent presentation about misperceptions and misinterpretations of, for example, the Biblical texts most often offered as proof of God's condemnation of homosexuality. The thing that struck me was that the two were laughing as they spoke and shook hands as they parted. Neither one had changed the other's mind but at the very least, they had a conversation and on the surface at least, were engaging with each other as human beings. I wish I were aware of more conversations like that happening in the US.

But back to International Women's Day. After my recent service with UN Women at UPMUNC, I'm more sensitive than usual to both the accomplishments of women around the world and the far distance we still have to travel towards equity and equality. And I mean in the US as well. For one of my recent classes we watched a documentary about how the media participated in the Bush administrations push for war in Iraq after 9/11. Every single one of the reporters that was interviewed was a white man. Every politician they showed- with the exception of Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell- was a white man. Every expert in the field of intelligence, terrorism, etc.- a white man. As far as we have come, its still possible to study a major US event in relation to 2 powerful institutions (government and media) and not even mention more than 2 women (Judith Miller got some coverage but declined to be interviewed). Sigh.

Happy International Women's Day everyone! Be inclusive! Hug a feminist!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

UPMUNC Day 3: Return of Resolution!

Dearest friends and family, it is a measure of my deep affection for all of you that I'm writing this post before I surrender to the oblivion of sleep. Being a delegate is exhausting!

UN Women was a hive of productivity today, passing 3(!) resolutions and issuing an official statement regarding the tragic, real events in Côte d'Ivoire when security forces fired on a large group of protesters, primarily women, killing 6 of them. The picture you see is of us working on our statement during an unmoderated caucus. Once it was finished I was selected by my peers to read it for the media. It was like a mini-press conference. I read the statement in front of our whole group plus a flock of journalists and 2 cameras and then answered questions for a few minutes. As a new UN body, in addition to responding to the string of incidents involving violence against women we felt it was important to put ourselves and our mission forward, making our mark as the sole UN body dedicated to gender issues. Then we got back to our other work.

We passed two resolutions re: mass rapes in Congo, one addressing immediate short term needs and the other addressing long term strategies. And in the final seconds of the day we passed a resolution re: property rights for women. Our first 3 resolutions were also approved by the Security Council but there wasn't time for them to be presented our final resolution. The day ended with a closing ceremony in which we heard from the Ambassador from the Netherlands, we all got participation certificates and I even got an award for Best Delegate of UN Women. I'm honored, of course, though I thought the delegate from Chile deserved it more. She's done a number of previous MUNs and was very well versed in the rules, procedures and language. We definitely couldn't have accomplished as much as we did without her.

Drinks and dancing, the standard way to close out any UPEACE event, finished up the evening. All the bands the UPMUNC Board got to play at our opening and closing receptions were really terrific- a great sampling of music from around the world with India, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean all represented. I wonder if the real UN ends their sessions with dancing. Maybe later I'll draft a resolution recommending it to them.

Photo taken by Joann Arawayan of the delegates from India, Chile, Haiti, Guatemala and France from left to right.

Friday, March 4, 2011

UPMUNC Day 2: Attack of the Media!

Another hastily scrawled post after a hard day of negotiating.

Day 2 was nothing but committee work, all day long. Committee work constantly interrupted by breaking news from our simulated media. Not wanting to incite a War of the Worlds incident I'll say again, the following "news" is not real. When we arrived this morning we immediately received word that Libya had cluster bombed an opposition held area on its eastern border killing 300 civilians including 200 women. While our committee was drafting a resolution condemning this act and recommending the provision of humanitarian aid we received more updates. The Libyans crossed into Egyptian territory while pursuing fleeing opposition members and bombed an Egyptian highway; Egypt threatened retaliation; it turned out the initial bombing damaged an oil processing facility and oil was spilling into the Mediterranean Sea; 2 female Italian bloggers were kidnapped, apparently by soldiers from the Libyan government and videotape of their torture was released; the Security Council convened an emergency session; there was no end to the madness. With each incident we had to stop, decide whether or not UN Women needed or was empowered to respond, constantly distracting us from the topics at hand. While all of that was happening we were also receiving from journalists and bloggers- through UPMUNC's facebook page- stories and commentaries on what each UN body was and was not doing. The commentator from the Guardian was a particular thorn in everyone's side.

We managed to pass our first resolution- the one condemning Libya's actions- shortly after lunch and after some regrouping were able to get back to the topic of mass rapes in DRC. We decided to impose some structure on our consumption of information from the media, checking in every 1/2 hour. We also got better at issuing our own statements regarding our progress, ending each one with "and we continue monitoring the situation in Libya and Egypt" so that we couldn't be accused of ignoring developments. In the last 2 hours of the day we finally got to roll up our sleeves and dig into the particulars of what we could do to address the problem in both the short and the long term. At one point I had about 10 different windows open on my laptop, each with a different report, resolution or press release from the UN. You really get the sense that everything has been thought of, everything has been spelled out but only fractions have then been funded, implemented or acted upon. Today's 'shake your tiny fist at the absurdity of it all' moment was the realization that MONUSCO has already developed a comprehensive strategy for addressing gender based violence in DRC, which was approved by the government of the DRC in 2009, but 2 years later the strategy has received less than 20% of the $56 million it needs to be implemented.

And now the delegate from Haiti moves for an Unmoderated Caucus lasting 8 hours for the purpose of consulting with Haiti's pillow on important matters of state. Raising a Point of Personal Privilege, the delegate further requests that said consultation be conducted in a quiet room, as Haiti's pillow has a tendency to whisper and therefore be very difficult to hear. As a corollary and to increase the delegate's auditory faculty, Haiti also requests that the room be dark, the inhibition of the sense of sight being commonly held to improve the sense of hearing. The delegate from Haiti thanks the honorable chairs for their consideration and solemnly recommends the other delegates take this opportunity to consult with their pillows as well.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


This is going to be a very hastily (and therefore not carefully) written entry offering highlights and observations of the first day of UPMUNC. That delightful acronym (pronounced up-monk) stands for University for Peace Model United Nations Conference and apparently it's a big deal in the world of MUNs (Model United Nations) because we are the UN mandated University for Peace and so our MUN is sponsored by a number of embassies here in Costa Rica and we get a personal message from the Secretary General. This is my first MUN and thus far the experience is both fascinating and bewildering.

I'm representing Haiti on the newly created UN Women's Commission and we've got mass rapes in DRC and property rights for women on our agenda. We had only a few days to give ourselves a crash course in our countries, the issues and our country's stance on the issues, in addition to finishing up our most recent course. Then we had one day to write a position paper synthesizing all of the above into our recommendation to our committee. Haiti, as you might imagine, is a depressing country to research, rife with conflict, corruption and some of the worst luck in the world with no resources or strategic position to balance the scales. We (for as a delegate I represent Haiti, not myself) are ourselves the subject of a UN peacekeeping mission and with a catastrophic increase in violence against women and girls since the earthquake last year we are also in a unique position to appreciate the situation in the DRC.

Procedure in committee is very formal- special language and phrasing abounds and pages and pages of parliamentary procedure must be adhered to. What's wonderful though is that in spite of all the strictures and structures corsetting discussions, we're all deeply invested in the process and in our roles as delegates. We continue strategizing through coffee breaks and lunch and even the after party, looking for ways to build consensus, advance our positions, sometimes by leaking stories to the press (yeah, we've even got a simulated press core with everything from television news anchors to citizen bloggers).

I've learned so much already about how the UN and UN peacekeeping missions work, including things I find tragic and shocking. For example, the UN has very little recourse when it comes to addressing violations committed by peacekeepers themselves. The nation contributing the troops conducts the investigation into charges against peacekeepers and they are under no obligation to even report their findings. Nations tend not to want to give up sovereignty over their own forces and if the UN were to insist on greater oversight, they fear no country would volunteer its troops. So a country to which peacekeepers have been posted knows, practically speaking, those peacekeepers are not accountable to them OR the UN.

Opening day wrapped up with a great reception and fantastic music from a kirtan band and a local Tica band. Dancing and hobnobbing with ambassadors ensued.

One last note: none of us was allowed to represent the country we're actually from, in order to maximize the learning. I was chatting with Francis at the after party- he's from Uganda and representing the US on the security council. He'd taken off his name/country badge because he was tired of being harassed by all and sundry. It's hard to be the US, he told me. Yeah, I said, when you're surrounded by people from countries you've interfered with, it hard to be from the US.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I'm still camera-less so these all come courtesy friends who took pictures before, during & after the show. Dr. Myo took the cast photo and the one of me giving the post show wrap-up. Nate Tanes took the picture of Notes and Ayo & me to the right. I'm holding the most gorgeous and enormous bouquet of flowers I've ever gotten, a gift from Sarah Blakeslee, my fellow wife of Abraham (there are 4! of us at UPEACE).


For the past 6 years, UPEACE has been part of the annual V-Day experience, producing 2 performances of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler's performance art, women's empowerment extravaganza. I directed this year's event and also performed the monologue "The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could" and I must say, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I was overflowing with pride in our fantastic cast and gratitude for all the support we got from our fellow UPEACE students. I'm posting below my director's notes from the program:

The past month, working with our amazing cast of women has been an extraordinary experience for me, not just because I’ve been a privileged witness of unknown talents and unfettered courage but because of the many conversations we’ve all had, conversations that would have remained unspoken without the inspiration of The Vagina Monologues. Talking about vaginas and the taboos attached to talking about vaginas and the experiences that attach to having a vagina is a sensitive, difficult issue for many. There are social, cultural, generational and personal restraints at work. With this production, our aim is not to shock or upset, but to celebrate and challenge our relationships, men and women alike, with vaginas and the people who have them. We want to question our restraints and if it happens that we do shock or upset someone, we hope that can be the beginning of a conversation. For at its heart, The Vagina Monologues is not a series of monologues, but rather a chain of dialogues to which everyone in this room is linked. It’s a dialogue about gender and power and the construction of our identities, a dialogue we are always having, whether we know it or not, a dialogue we cannot escape, even in silence, because we speak with our silences too.

We look forward to sharing this evening with you and to hearing you speak with your laughter, your silence, and your engaged presence.

And here's a link to the V-Day website if you'd like more information: http://www.vday.org/home (ps. on the map, the little V in Costa Rica- that's us!)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nile-Side View of Egypt

I have been (and continue to be) ferociously busy with my current class- Curricular Design for Peace and Conflict Studies. I'm currently working on designing a course for high school seniors called Non-Violence: Practices and Processes. I love this class! (Both the one I'm taking and the one I'm making.) It has been an amazing experience bonding with all the GLP scholars from the Great Lakes region of Africa who design not one but 2 Masters levels courses as their final requirement for graduation. They will then go home and teach the classes they designed at their home universities. I don't have time to gush on and on about all the different reasons this is an incredible program. Really, I just hopped on the blog to say something about what's happening in Egypt.

Our Vice Rector, Amr Abdalla is Egyptian and it so happens he's in Egypt right now, having gone to visit family more than a week ago. We just got an email from him, which you can read online at The Peace and Conflict Monitor. He has a unique perspective to offer and we were also really glad to hear that he's well and hopeful.

I want to encourage everyone to watch the coverage at AlJazeera in English, which Amr points out (and I completely agree) is far superior to the CNN coverage. I've been checking in with AJE pretty regularly since Friday morning and it's both great and somewhat disorienting to get straight, spinless reporting from the streets. Just people telling us what they see and hear. Very few talking heads and the ones they do have are actually Egyptian, not pundits speculating from a thousand miles away. That's the badge of honor I want my news outlets to wear- Pundit Free!

Now back to my curriculum. It's a good thing I can actually use the Egyptian example as a discussion point for one of my lesson plans. I can be distracted and working at the same time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

Yesterday when I got home, a birthday party for José Pablo (turning 2) was in full swing. His brother & sister, cousins, neighbor kids and some of their parents were sitting on our newly (mostly) finished back patio, listening to music, eating arroz con pollo, and watching the toddler of the hour dance. He was kind enough to dance with me when I arrived until a plate of food was prepared for me. Once everyone had eaten, it was time for the piñata. Starting with José Pablo and then passing on from younger to older kids an effigy of Sponge Bob Squarepants was beaten with a broomstick. As the kids got older and the beating more brutal and the shouts of "¡Dura! ¡Dura!" got louder and louder, SBSp's giant smile seemed more and more inappropriate and the exercise verged on the macabre. Finally, José Pablo's dad decided the frenzy had gone on long enough and ripped open the back of the piñata, spilling from its guts a shower of hard candies and peanuts in the shell. The kids scooped goodies into little sacks with impressive speed and when they were finished, it was time for cake. A fine time was had by all and I even got a few candies to take home.

Much love and gratitude to my landfamily for including me in the celebration and once again filling me with food.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Worst Sentence Ever (so far)

"Challenges to development are multiplying, often in dialectical relation to the fragmentary attempts at control inherent in post-Fordist regimes of representation and accumulation." Arturo Escobar, from Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World.

A semester later and Escobar still stands out to me as the worst perpetrator of offenses against clarity in academia. This particular sentence was where I drew the line and chose to stop enabling bad writing. Why on earth do I need to hack my way through the obfuscations of a writer who clearly doesn't care about being understood? This is what I love about being a student as a grown up- having a sense of perspective that allows me to choose not to finish a reading assignment. If you can't hold the attention of a willing and gifted reader such as myself, you clearly don't deserve that attention.

This post in honor of my return to reading assignments. I'm halfway through the reading for tomorrow's first day of class (Curricular Design for Peace and Conflict Studies) and Escobar remains the man to beat.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


The thing is, I'm a cat person. I'm so much a cat person I probably have that cat parasite disease that some suspect is the cause of people really, really liking cats.

Costa Rica, however, is for dog people. People who like small, constantly barking, entirely undisciplined dogs. Most of the dogs I see have no collars and apart from having a tendency to sleep in the same patch of the middle of road don't necessarily seem to belong somewhere. I've been told that my street is somewhat of an anomaly but I've seen plenty of dogs wandering the other streets of CC too. There are also many strays(?), wanderers(?), out for a stroll(?) dogs up at school. They mostly like to hang out on the cafeteria patio, for obvious reasons but there's one in particular (we're told his name is Jorge) who also enjoys attempting to come to class. I think Victor Valle's is my favorite professor response so far. He looks at Jorge, gestures to the door and says, "It is not time yet for dogs to go to school."

Why, why, why are there so many dogs and why does no one seem to care how much or how loudly or how long they bark? My theory is that they are meant to be cheap burglar alarms and that their owners, if they have them, are willing to put up with a lot of crying wolf! (or person! or car! or thing in the street!) on the off chance that one day they'll cry burglar! But I still don't understand how they stand it, especially when it's that small dog, yippy kind of barking. Many times as I've sat trying to study or lain in bed trying to sleep I've had extremely unQuakerly thoughts of smacking some dog on the snout.

And someone must be doing something like that because I've noticed if some well intentioned (usually American- and yes I mean Canadian too) person sees a dog on campus, picks up and throws a stick for him, instead of falling over itself with rapture and running after the stick the dog will instead run away with its tail between its legs and a submissive look over its shoulder that says, "I'm going, I'm going, you don't have to throw that stick at me."

There are cats here too, and on campus. I just don't see them as often or as many of them, probably because of all the stupid yappy dogs.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I get asked this a lot

Here's what's funny to me- when I was a stage manager I met a lot of people who didn't know what a stage manager is, what they do, or that such a job even exists. And now when I say I'm studying peace education, a lot of people tell me they don't know what that means or what a peace educator does.

Here's a video from the Teachers Without Borders website (a UPEACE Ed alum works there) that gives a brief overview:

I Got Mail Today!

Ian & Mele, a thousand thanks for your Christmas wishes and the addition to my room decor. I super swear I'm going to stop being a postal hypocrite and send out the postcards I've been accumulating. I just need to learn the word for stamp.

I was able to pick up my mail because I was back on campus for the first time (while it was open) since classes ended. I was meeting w/some folks from DAA to help out with the Orientation for the new students from American University. All of which means I've reached that crucial turning point in a long break when my perception of said break shifts from, "What a long break stretching out before me. There will be time to do everything I want to do in a relaxed and leisurely fashion" to "I can see the end of this break coming at me like a freight train! I have accomplished nothing! Time to buckle down."

Buckling down has commenced. To Do List spreadsheets have been made. The alarm clock has been reinstated. Helpful Post-it note flags have been purchased (Here's what I asked for at the office supply store- a shy person's nightmare where virtually everything is behind the counter and must be requested, in Spanish- "the small things with many colors, like a 'Post-it', (gesture showing putting a flag in the margin of a book)"). I apologize for that punctuation.

In further news on the learning Spanish front, traveling w/Rebecca to Monteverde and La Fortuna provided great opportunities to practice. Before I've always traveled with someone who spoke Spanish much better than I do. This time, I was the go-to Spanish speaker. I think we did all right. In the four days we were traveling, only twice did a Spanish speaker give up on me and switch to English. I still struggle mightily, a lot because I want to have my vocabulary, to say things the way I would say them but instead am trapped in the vocabulary of a 5 year old. A five year old with pronoun agreement problems. (Sigh, I just said, "They want to walk" when I meant "We want to walk.")

Monday, January 3, 2011

RIP, Canon Coolpix 2000

(Christmas 2002-December 2010)

I would like to say a few words.
Coolpix 2K was my first digital camera. If memory serves, the first picture I took with it was of my dad, sitting at the desk in my apartment on Glenwood, loading the drivers for my new camera onto my computer. It traveled with me across the US- Maine, NYC, MN, Colorado, Joshua Tree, San Francisco and Seattle to name just a few. It has been to England, Scotland, Burundi and Costa Rica. With it, I have taken photos I deemed worthy of color printing and taping to the walls of tour apartments.

Subject to an indifferent owner, its full potential was never realized; many of its settings including Party Favor and Snowman, were never used and it was often forgotten, left hanging in its case on the closet door handle while Meaningful Events went unrecorded except by memory.

In its final months it suffered the indignity of taunts from other photographers, because in our ever slendering Age of Planned Obsolescence, it was more than 3 years old and did not fit in my pocket. We may never know if the humid climate here in Costa Rica hastened its end or if its time had simply come. Over the last two months there were a few warning signs that all was not well- the occasional striped, pixelated view screen, an error message, a few photos unable to be read after importation. Finally, in the middle of a hanging bridge in the cloud forests of Monteverde, it was used to take it's last photo.

It is survived by a carrying case, four batteries and two memory cards, which may or may not contain retrievable data.

To honor its passing, I post a few of my favorite photos, not previously published on this blog.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Having just celebrated the New Year Costa Rican style, I wanted to take a moment to say to my friends and family all over the world: Happy New Year! I hope your 2011 is wonderful, adventurous, fulfilling and, of course, peaceful.

I had a splendid evening. I popped in to the party my landlord's family was having in the newly finished barbecue area behind the house and then walked over to Diana's house where she was entertaining her newly arrived friend Trish. On the way I passed dozens of other houses , spilling party lights and sounds out of windows and patios. At Diana's we had homemade sushi and chocolate ice cream and then went for a stroll in time to hear Ciudad Colón wishing each other "Feliz Año Nuevo!" with cheers and fireworks. Some of the house parties moved into the streets to light or watch fireworks and we paused here and there to watch too. It's a lovely, mild and clear evening and it reminded me of walking back to my house after watching the Foster Beach fireworks for the 4th of July, scouting the individual fireworks lit from backyards. I can hear tons of kids are still up and why not? It's the beginning of their 'summer'- no school again until February.

Thinking back on my New Year's declarations from last year, I feel mostly satisfied. I only had three:
  1. Start grad school. Check.
  2. Write a play. I'm giving myself a 1/2 check for this one. I wrote 2 drafts of an adaptation of a play.
  3. Bike 100 miles in a day. 3/5 check- I think 60 miles was the most I managed in a day before leaving for Costa Rica.
For 2011, I'll go w/three again.
  1. Finish grad school.
  2. Get a job. Preferable one that involves peace and education.
  3. Write a play. But this time the one I was actually thinking of when I made declaration #2 last year.
And sure it would be great to reach my 100 mile biking goal and my fluency in Spanish goal and my take a picture of a monkey pretending to be me while I pretend to be a monkey for Griffin goal, but I think focus is helpful.

Love & Peace to all and sundry on this beautiful New Year's Day.