January 31, 2011

Open My Eyes, I See Sky

Just bought tickets to see Joshua Radin the Friday after next!! I can't wait to have him sing to me out of a puzzle...

When I was trying to convince people to come this concert with me, I was surprised at how many people don't know Joshua. This makes me sad. Y'all should probably start listening to him now. I mean, you know he's got to be good if he sings duets with Ingrid and Schuyler...

January 30, 2011

Sunday Six

Quote Love: "Don't undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible." - Edwin Land
Currently Reading: Looking for Alaska, John Green

[...just because it's pretty.] [Source]

Sunday evening: the catchall for homework and readings that have fallen through the cracks of a lazy weekend. Except…of course, that’s not what I’m doing, but rather justifying to myself that I will have time to read the article tomorrow, and that I don’t actually even know if I have the textbook yet (my housemate, Abby, who is in the same class was taking care of that. Has Amazon sent it yet? Who knows. Should I go check?...Only if I want to feel guiltier.) So instead, here I am, falling into the vortex of the interweb once more. Because I didn’t spend enough time online today when I looked for the perfect, on-a-budget brown leather riding boots for an HOUR earlier. Unsuccessfully. (ARE YOU OUT THERE, BOOTS?? By the time I find you I think it will be spring and then there will be no point. Alas.)

ANYway. I’ve had this plan in my head for a Friday Five post on Fridays to write a list of five…anything! each week. (Partly because it’s nicely alliterative, but mostly because I need some structure in my blogging life…) But so far, that idea has yet to make it from my head to the computer. So, to make up for that, I’m giving you a Sunday Six. Get psyched, because this is a once in a lifetime occurrence (because Friday Fives will be happening from now on, of course. Hold me accountable, k?). So, without further ado, and inspired by #1 which I had to deal with yesterday, here are:

Six Things That Are Actually Really Unnecessary In Life
  1. Getting things notarized. WHY? What does that even prove or do? I just don’t understand the concept. All I know is that it means I have to figure out where to go to get something notarized, and then walk to the library, and I just don’t see why it’s necessary.
  2. 3D movies. Umm, does no one else realized that this is just a way for movie companies to make more money? Or that $10 is ALREADY too much to pay to watch a movie, so why should we pay an extra $5 just to get some weird plastic glasses? (Although my cousin, who is in 8th grade and would know these things, told me that all the cool kids poke the lenses out of them and wear them as nerd glasses. So glad I'm in the know.) Mostly, I don't like that now EVERY new movie has to be 3D.
  3. Venti-sized drinks. Or coffee with extra espresso shots added. Really? Just sleep like a normal person, please.
  4. Radio commercials. Or commercials before those Vevo Youtube videos, or when you’re watching TV shows online. Or let's just say any commercials. Can’t you please just give us some peace, advertisers?
  5. This one stop sign that’s just outside church. It really is an absolutely pointless stop sign, and it backs traffic up so you sit in your car for 5-10 minutes just to get out of the church parking lot. My housemate Margaret said that sometimes the elders put a plastic bag over the stop sign on Sundays. I think this is an excellent idea.
  6. Basically any show on TLC. Except, the sad part is, even though I realize how unnecessary they are, that does not stop their addictive powers. I mean, you have to see what dress she ends up getting. Or the new outfit. Or…whatever. Let’s just say that it is probably a very good thing that we don’t have cable…

Please feel free to add if you can think of anything else. It's kind of therapeutic to rant like that, actually...
And on that note (...not), I might actually go try to read something. Wish me luck!

January 29, 2011

Dream a Little Bigger, Darling

Love love love. I want this on my wall. Or something.

Somewhat related side note: Last night, I had such a good dream that I was a little sad when I woke up and realized it wasn't true. Has that ever happened to you?

January 27, 2011

A Life on Facebook

I. Love. This. 

(many thanks to this sweet, sad little video for reminding me of it!)

P.S. I happened to watch The Social Network twice last week. How appropriate.

January 26, 2011

Wintry Mix

Currently Reading: Tracks by Lousie Erdrich. 
Opening Line: '"We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall." (Kind of approp...except in a really morbid way, so never mind.)

When I left for lunch with my friend Lauren, it was kind of dreary and almost rainy out. As we ate lunch (in the most adorable small-town-y deli-hidden-in-a-gas-station EVER, by the way), I watched out the window as the rain came down harder and harder and then began bouncing off the cars. By the time we left lunch, it was a wet, sleety, blustery mess, which has since calmed down into huge, sleepy snowflakes that have been drifting down all afternoon, causing all classes after 3pm to be CANCELLED! (Oh hey, that would be mine. Yussss.) Since then, my cozy spot here on the couch under a blanket, surrounded by various housemates at various times, and enjoying our happy little fire off to the side has been exactly the right place to spend the day. Except for a mid-afternoon foray into the snow for coffee and donuts, of course.

Guys, I love snow. One of my favorite weekends of last year was when we were snowed in and class was cancelled for the first time in like YEARS at this school. In our house, there was much rejoicing, and then there was fort building (inside, duh. Where we read stories and ate and did homework and lived in all weekend.), sledding, midnight traipsing down the middle of the street to salsa parties basketball games, pancakes, improvised church at home, and just good ol’ snow magic.

Hopefully that kind of magic is about to be revived. And fingers crossed my 9:30am Shakespeare class tomorrow is cancelled, too…

P.S. I kind of enjoy the phrase “inclement weather.” Don’t you?

[photo by my wonderful housemate, Madeline Lewis]

January 25, 2011


We may or may not be on a watching-cute-little-kids-on-Ellen run right now in my house.

I mean, just look at this:
(He shows off his dance moves here. You better watch out, Ellen, I'm gonna get you...)

And then there's Lil P-Nut:

And, of course, How To Talk To Girls and Isabella Nataline...

We will probably be doing this all night. Sad but true.

January 24, 2011

Happy Things About Today

Currently NOT reading: Hamlet. I was supposed to for class tomorrow. And I didn't. Whoops.
Quote Love: "There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Let's just be real, today was not too eventful. But you know what? There are happy things even in the midst of that. Such as:
  • Only one class...which lasted only an hour and a half instead of 2 hours and 45 minutes like it's supposed to (added bonus: our teacher told us "Souljaboy has really captured my heart recently.")
  • Birthday cake (which I ate immediately after going to the gym. Counterproductive? ...or just taking advantage of increased metabolism? I vote the latter.)
  • Legitimate dinner (Baked chicken, rice and green beans. Take that, Easy Mac.)
  • Small group. Which took place in a kumbayah circle around popcorn and candles. And sharing our lives and reading Deuteronomy and talking for way. too. long. Per usual.
Here's to finding random happiness in every day. Because happiness is beautiful.

[image via We Heart It]

January 23, 2011

What If

"What if you slept, and what if in your sleep you
dreamed, and what if in your dreams you went to
heaven and there you plucked a strange and
beautiful flower, and what if when you awoke you
had the flower in your hand? Ah, what then?"

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Biographia Literaria (1817) 

[image via We Heart It]

January 22, 2011


Currently Listening To: "Stole My Heart" by Little & Ashley
Quote Love: "The possible's slow fuse is lit by the imagination." - Emily Dickinson

This morning, I tripped up the stairs. While holding a full cup of coffee. Which went everywhere, of course. And the saddest part was that I was completely alone in the house, so there was no one to laugh about it with. (So you can definitely laugh at/with me right now if you'd like...Ready, go.) Here's the mess I made:

And remember how I was completely alone in the house? That's how it's been for the past two days. Two of my housemates have rush obligations, two are camping, and the other went home yesterday and had a service project this morning. All of this a) makes me feel like a lazy bum in comparison and b) is lonely. Luckily Abby came back from home last night so we could go to Kroger just to get ice cream and then come home, curl under 75 million blankets (it was FREEZING yesterday, y'all), watch My Best Friend's Wedding and lament about how lame we were. But you know what? Some nights are just like that. Even in college.

And even more luckily, I get to dance all night tonight. :]

January 20, 2011

The Mocha Club

This is pretty powerful. Actually, this whole project is kind of awesome...check it out! 

(and added bonus: I spy Dave Barnes...)

Also, I think I'm getting sick. Unfortunately.

January 19, 2011

Books Books Books!

Lyric love: "Last night I dreamt the whole night long / I woke with a head full of songs ...Tonight I'll burn the lyrics, / 'Cause every chorus was your name" - Laundry Room, The Avett Brothers

Y'all, guess what? I get to read Young Adult literature this semester. Twelve books. Of my choice. For class. This is seriously wonderful news.

Today was the first day of classes, but I have a funny schedule (because that's how the Education School works), so my only class, Young Adult Literature (clever name, no?) was at 7pm. And let me just be honest for a second...I'm in the Ed School, and I'm glad I am, but all the classes I've taken for it so far are, well, kind of obvious. And with so much focus on things like types of instruction and adolescent development and methods and whatnot (admittedly, necessary things, but it's all mechanics, if you know what I mean). So, this evening, after a day of puttering/everyone-else-has-gone-back-to-class-but-I-technically-haven't-and-that's-weird, I walked into this class and along the wall there was a long table piled with all these books. And for the first bit of class, we got to pick a few to just flip through, and there were all these books that I recognized, ones that I've loved or owned before, and it was just like...yes. This is what I'm doing. 

I'm just glad I finally get to start delving into the English Education part of "my content area is Secondary English Education." And that I can unashamedly read books that I avoid because I feel like they're too young for my age group (...so that they've become my guilty pleasure. Like Sarah Dessen.) Aaaand that I can have something fun to read to balance my Shakespeare and Contemporary Ethnic Women’s Fiction classes.

So. Any suggestions for what I should read?

[image via We Heart It]

January 18, 2011

I Got Crowns of Words a Woven, Each One a Song to Sing

As if there weren't enough reasons already to love Brooke Fraser, here is another, taken straight from her blog:

"Portland is like that person in your life who has casual swagger and effortless cool whilst at the same time being kind, genuine, thoughtful, a whiz in the kitchen and a bloody amazing barista. You want to borrow their jacket and sniff their hair when they’re not looking."

Now I have a really strong desire to
1. Plagiarize (...kidding?)
2. Go to Portland
3. Listen to Flags on repeat
4. BE Brooke Fraser.
The end.

In the mean time, while I'm still here being me, things are a-flurry with day-before-back-to-classes preparations. (Actually, I'm just assuming they are, because I have hardly left my room this morning...only to go downstairs to get some coffee and put some laundry in.) But I know I have a list of things to get done, such as buy books and get groceries and meet someone for coffee at 3, I'm assuming everyone else does too, given what an over-achieving place this is. However, I cannot do any of this until my laundry is done because I have no jeans. Ha. 

But here's to the last day of Christmas break! 
...and Brooke really is one of my favorite artists.

January 16, 2011

This Is My City

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

These pictures are form this past summer, when I spent two weeks in Ethiopia. But it looked just the same when I was there the day before yesterday. (The day before yesterday?! crazy.)

This is my city.

[all pictures except the fourth taken by me, edited by Abby Lunsford]

January 15, 2011


Well. We said kwaheri to Kenya and then set off for our forty hours in Addis Ababa. It was familiar, busy, a rush, stressful, nostalgic, home but now removed. It's hard going to back to a home where there is no longer the connection of family binding you there, but at the same time it is lovely to be recognized and known by so many people who know and share that life.

Anyway, seventeen hours worth of last night were spent on one plane -- we left Addis at 12am and arrived at Dulles at 9:30am...but about eight extra hours of time change was somehow shoved in there. Then a two hour drive through cold scenery and broad, dappled winter skies, and here I am, back at school. And I had told myself I would stay up til 10, and I have succeeded...barely. So I must say good night for now, but I promise I'll show you more of Addis tomorrow!

p.s. some winter songs to help me readjust to the cold... :]

[image via We Heart It]

January 12, 2011

I will get no sleep tonight.

...I know this because I am flying out of Nairobi tonight to Addis Ababa at 3:30am. And last summer I had a similar flight from Nairobi to Addis (although I believe it was at 2am…Ethiopian Air had a special over the summer where the middle of the night flights were half price. And being the missionaries that we are, guess who took advantage of that? I don’t really know what the excuse for tonight is though…)

Anyway, last summer, the flight went a little like this:
  • Leave for the airport at 11pm
  •  Check-in at midnight
  •  Kill lots and lots of time in the Jomo Kenyatta Airport. Which, as an airport, is weirdly long and kind of grotty. But there is a Java House (and their Malinid Macchiatos are my fave, remember?). And sometimes random nice ladies give you their copy of Hello magazine, which is nice.
  •  Decide to meander over to the gate at 1:15am-ish. (Sidenote: these gates are like rooms and you go through security to get in them. So once you’re in, you’re in.)
  •  At 2:15am (past the scheduled departure time, mind you) the plane we will be on arrives.
  •  Begin boarding at about 2:45. (Don’t forget I’ve been in a stuffy room for an hour and a half, sleepy and debating if I will ever leave this country)
  • Take off! And FINALLY they turn off all the lights, and FINALLY I can attempt to go to sleep.
  • 30 minutes later…lights come back on. They announce that we will soon be landing in Kilimanjaro. (This is not alarming, because I know the flight is meant to stop somewhere. Except I had thought it was stopping in Entebbe...)
  •  Land. Sit on the ground for 45 minutes while new passengers board. The whole time the lights are blaring, and there is the normal commotion of people boarding an aircraft. I am very tired. And annoyed.
  •  Take off! Again! FINALLY they turn off all the lights again, and FINALLY I can attempt to go to sleep again. And this time we fly for almost 2 hours – what bliss! Sleep! Yes! …Except for when they woke me in the middle of that to try and give me a meal. Because that is exactly what I want at 4 in the morning when I am trying to sleep.
  •  Land in Addis (early! …which makes ZERO sense.) at 6am. Abby picks me up and we go to HQ. And then I then I get to sleep in a real bed for 2 hours before getting up for church. Which was magical.
So. I am obviously really overjoyed to repeat this process. Especially because I am already exhausted from a visit we made a school in the Huruma Slums of Nairobi which took alllll dayyy (4 matatus and 2 ½ hours to get home. Excruciating.) (And I will probably tell you about that school some other time…when I am back in America and have little else to write about…ha).

But in all honesty, I am excited to be able to have an unexpected visit to Addis, aka my home. I am going to eat injera b’wet and visit my old school and get my hair cut by my old hairdresser and taxi hop and buy some scarves (it’s an addiction. I can’t help it.) and drink macchiatos in random little cafes. It will be great. Also, given that Ethiopian internet can be a bit dodgy, I probably won’t be posting again til I get to America on Saturday. So see you then!

p.s. I ordered my Toms. Silver sparkly :]

[picture taken by my sister]

January 11, 2011

Amani Ya Juu

There’s this project in Nairobi called Amani Ya Juu (which means ‘higher peace’ in Swahili) that teaches and trains marginalized women in sewing, crafts and marketing. What’s especially neat, though, is that these women come from conflict areas all over Africa (Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, etc.) and from a variety of people groups that would often be in conflict with each other but they all train and work together. The website says “the women involved in the project are learning to work together through faith in God who provides a higher peace that transcends ethnic differences.”

We went to their store here in Nairobi today, and it was seriously beautiful. What they sell here is beyond all the typical Africa-y trinkets you can find anywhere. Their products are intended to be sold to Westerners, so they really take into consideration those styles, which = bags, home goods, clothes, jewelry and children’s toys that are both uniquely African and things I seriously want to own.


[all images via their website. But they almost don’t even do it justice.]

They have these bedspreads that are all piecey and beautiful colors and Anthropolgie-esque (no, really. But not quite as expensive and supporting an amazing project. Sooo buy it here instead.) and I told my mom that’s what I want for my next birthday. But then she told me that that would be a better present for my first year out of college. And I was sad, because that seems kind of far away.

And then they have a charming little café, and I got a “Mexikenya Salad” – the likes of which I have never before seen in Nairobi. It was HUGE. (And it looked way prettier before I squished the guac. Whoops.)

So. If you ever are in Nairobi, go here. And I think they have a shop in DC, too. So…check it out!

It's Always Something.

Currently listening to: NEW BRITNEY!
Currently (re)reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Remember this debacle? Here's the visual that goes along with it...

I'm pretty sure I was talking to bff Abby Lunsford on the phone in this picture. Because when you're stranded at the airport with no way to get yourself anywhere and waiting on the mercy of your cousins, why not spend that time talking to your best friend?

Anyway, the Black family may be encountering these kinds of travel issues again. My Dad left last night to fly to the States because his mom, my Grandma Donna, is very sick and probably does not have much longer to live. However, he is supposed to fly into Atlanta, and with this situation happening there...who knows. You can def be praying for my Dad as he travels, as well as my Grandma Donna, though. Gracias.

January 10, 2011

Life Plan Possibility #1

I have decided that a wonderful possibility for my future would be to marry into a third generation British settler family in Kenya and live on a tea farm. Even though the majority of the farm has been sold off, I would still be able to live in a lovely, old settler house like this:

with this porch:

and this view:

and acres of vibrant tea bushes just beyond:

...and people would come to visit as part of their tour group, and I would tell them the family history – about how Grandfather came over in the early 1900s and established this land and grew this tea and had four daughters and built this house for them, and how the daughter who then carried on the farm married the local policeman, Mr. Mitchell, and the crush-roll-I-forget way of processing the tea leaves – and then the guests would go off on a walk with the forester and learn about medicinal trees and such, and when they returned we would all have lunch together, and I would get to meet all sorts of interesting people every day.

Actually, what would be even better would be to live there fifty years ago at the height of the tea farm and be the daughter of a pioneering British settler, growing up living in that house with that porch and that view and running through acres and acres of tea bushes beneath the equatorial sun. And then I would marry Mr. Mitchell, the local policeman.

…Now I have a really strong desire to watch Out of Africa. And be Karen Blixen. That is all.

[Thank you, Kiambethu Tea Farm for inspiring my imagination today...]

January 9, 2011

Ode to Coke in a Glass Bottle

You are the way Coke is meant to be drunk: no tinny taste left in the mouth, or too-large plastic bottles, but just right – a cool, sturdy glass maintaining its fullness and pure, untainted sweetness.

You are Africa’s drink: found everywhere, your logo plastered across billboards and small shops that crowd the road, welcoming everyone to open happiness for just 3 birr or 20 shillings. Even if I drive two dusty days away, I can still find you in a dim, bare café that probably could not even give me water.

I have one of the posters, dirt-covered and its lamination cracking. Live on the Coke side of life, it says, showing your silhouette exploding with brightly colored fun. On the day I moved away from Ethiopia, I asked a shopkeeper on our street if I could buy it off his wall. “I will get you another from the factory,” he said. “But I am going to America today,” I told him, and he gave it to me, not accepting any money. “Take it and be happy.”

Those cans of sodas and fancy flavors in the States are all well and good, but compared to you they just lack character. Instead, give me a dusty, worn glass bottle of Coke, please. Kazkaza. Because that is home.

January 8, 2011


Currently Reading: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Quote Love: "I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream." - Van Gogh

Since yesterday,

a) William, my sister’s fiancé, missed his flight back to the States last night because we all assumed he was leaving tonight*

b) my father was baptized into Orthodoxy**

c) we ate crocodile, camel and ostrich for dinner

d) I watched 9 episodes of Bones

or e) All of the above.

Conclusion: life is insanity.

p.s. a family friend visiting from Ethiopia reminded me of this song tonight. 1:57 is where it starts getting super appropriate to my life.
We had Christmas down in Africa :]

*They were up all night finding new flight for this morning. He should be in the middle of his 16 hour layover at Heathrow right now…poor guy.

**Here’s one post (of many discussing Orthodoxy) from my dad’s blog. Also, what my dad just said to our friend about leaving for church tomorrow: "It's nice to get there a bit early because you can venerate the gospels." I’m so glad we’re related.

[image via We Heart It]

January 6, 2011

How To Go On Safari [On A Budget]

Because I'm basically an expert now, I'd thought I'd let you in on how it's done...

 1. Rent your own safari van. (Ignore the fact that every other pop-top van you will be seeing will be marked with a company logo and driven by a Kenyan guide while your driver is Safari Bill, aka your father. Accept that safari ‘brand names’ are irrelevant to the actual safari experience.)

2. Borrow tents from your more camping-oriented/outdoorsy neighbors.

3. Make sure all members of your party are fully recovered from any fevers they may have had the night before and pile your tents, food, water and selves into the van. Head out of Nairobi.

4. Feel free to stop in towns along the way, especially ones with intriguing names like Sultanhamud. Because you are camping and driving your own van, you can probably afford to spend a few shillings on a blackcurrant Fanta and some peanuts, especially because even though it was supposed to be a 3½ hour drive you have already been driving for 2½ hours and are only halfway there. (Don’t be alarmed – you are, after all, operating on Africa Time).

5. Arrive at the game park. As you are in a budget-conscientious mindset, the entry fee may seem large. But remember that you are camping and driving your own van, so it is ok. Also, as you wait at the gate, there will be Maasai women at your van window, trying to get you to buy all sorts of brightly beaded things. Luckily, you have no money, so you will not be tempted to buy such things.

  Optional fun activity: in the absence of money, you could try and barter 
your watch for a Maasai’s beaded stick thing. Good luck.

6. Arrive at your campsite. Note that it is actually currently a construction site and no one else is there. Also note that the construction is still in progress, so while in a few weeks there will be a nice concrete building for restrooms, right now there is still just a tin construction housing drop toilets. Yayy. (You can also think about how much time the lack of showers will save you in the morning. Begin to get used to the feeling of being coated in several layers of dust.)

7.  Have your children set up your tents. Reward them with sandwiches you made before leaving the house.

8. Go on a game drive! If you happen to be in Amboseli, you will probably see an extreme overabundance of elephants. As in enough elephants that you never have to see another one in your lifetime. Also, Mount Kilimanjaro is there, I promise. You just need to wait until dusk for the clouds to dissipate. (This information comes from the guidebook and as it is a fun word, be forewarned that it will probably be repeated often in your van.)

Optional fun activity: award Safari Points for seeing animals first. However, 
this game may be slightly disadvantageous to members of your party who 
have poor eyesight, especially if they have older sisters who inherited 
their grandfather’s pilot vision.

9.  Remember that random experiences cost you nothing. For example, if two Maasai men (complete with dangling ear lobes and dressed in red cloths) happen to stop you and ask you to bring a jug of petrol to another Maasai man who is apparently waiting by a broken down blue car several minutes down the road, go ahead and do so.

10. When the sun has set, return to your campsite. Build a fire and cook the food you brought from home. Luckily, the food will probably be good – for example, it could be grilled pork chops, smashed potatoes, Greek salad, and grilled pineapple (Props to Madre and Safari Bill). Take a moment and look at the stars, because they are beautiful.

11. Go to sleep. Due to the fact that you are camping and not in an actual building, you might wake up in the middle of the night convinced that there are wild animals snuffling around your tent. You will probably be able to persuade yourself that it is just the wind knocking your tent around and go back to sleep.

12. Wake up at 5:45 (aka before sunrise). Make sure you are on the road for your morning game drive by 6. Prepare for more elephants. Bonus points for getting a cliché picture of said elephants in front of Kilimanjaro in the dawn lighting.

13. Return to your campsite. Light a fire for breakfast. You will probably have time to collapse back into your tent and take a quick recovery nap before the coals are hot enough to cook breakfast over.

14. Eat scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast. Yum.

15.  Dismantle the camp and repack everything into your safari van.

16. On your way out of the game park, swing by the lodge (aka freaking RESORT) that you didn’t stay on. (Note: only do this on the way out, so you do not spend your night in your tent full of bitterness). Take a moment to admire the beautifully decorated lounge and restaurant and swimming pool. Use their nice bathrooms. If you feel like splurging, stay for a bit to swim and have a coffee.

Optional fun activity: forget to close the pop-top on your safari van. 
This way you will return to find that monkeys have gotten in your van 
and discovered your packed lunch. Such excitement.

17. Drive home. Congratulations, you survived.

...A few more safari pictures:

 p.s. Sorry this post is so insanely long. I just kind of got on a roll... :]
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