Mongols and Public Services (It’s Good to Be Home)

I will miss these guys, though. (Just kidding. They’re terrifying.)

I had big plans for my first week back in the US. I was going to eat Mexican (and Indian and Ethiopian) food. I was going to drink a mint julep in a porch in some alternative universe where I wear jean shorts and like NASCAR.

What have I done since coming back? A lot of tedious things, it turns out. Today, for example, I submitted an apartment lease application (woo hoo!). I also cleaned my bathroom drain using a drain volcano and, when I was feeling fiesty, called my bank about giving me back my freaking debit card (and opened a bank account with a new, less-terrible bank).

It’s been a pretty exciting eight days, I tell you.

However, there’s been stuff that I’ve done that has been unexpectedly fun. Atlanta in the summer is a good place to be. Why is that?

Art festivals: The day after I got back, I headed out to the Decatur Arts Festival. This festival is not normally a highlight of my own personal summer festival calendar, but it was unexpectedly wonderful to wander over there and be greeted by life constants: the “veggie” corn dogs, my familiar artisanal popsicle cart*. Plus, as I was wandering through the boutiques on the backend of my local square, I happened upon one that was having a PBR-themed art exhibit. Upshot of that? They were offering free PBRs and oatmeal cream pies. Y’all, nothing says “welcome back to the south” like the diabeticly sweet embrace of free hipster beer and Little Debbie. Corn syrup and lard, I have missed you.

Big screen movies: Yesterday, I finally got it together with a friend from high school and headed to the theater to see the Avengers flick. Because it was Joss Whedon, there was beloved secondary character death and hilarious throw-away dialogue. Because it was a super hero film, there was also the Hulk grabbing villan-Loki by the throat mid-monologue and slamming him into the ground repeatedly whilst Iron Man played fireworks music in the background. USA! USA!

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Fiber Optic Umbilical Cords

Me in a fly dress.

My tailor is magic!

But the other weird flipside of that is that people expect you to be able to be fairly immersed in your at-home life while you are abroad. This happens on both a social (“why haven’t you uploaded Facebook photos yet?”) and academic (“you need to register for classes/apply to the honors program/find your summer internship”) level.This has been a weirdly America-focused week for me. When people talk about the dangers of technology while going abroad, they seem to be focused on you withdrawing—staying on Facebook (or blogging, ahem) rather than engaging with wherever you are. This happens, of course, and I’m guiltier of it than most.

After a minor existential crisis earlier this week, I decided to pursue an honor’s thesis for the coming year. Because you’re required to file all of that paperwork before April, this has meant that I’ve spent a lot of this week writing in English, to other English-speakers, about things I’ll be doing when I’m back at home. Ditto with the very weirdly terrifying experience of asking someone whose work I really like if I could maybe possibly work for them this summer—which requires me being able to email them. Continue reading

What I Found Today (2/23/11)

Laughing Historically: How America was Founded on Drinking : A podcast covering my favorite genres–funny dudes, talking about drunk history, on a couch. Also, holy crap the founding fathers drank a hefty amount. Good to know that everyone who wrote the Constitution was probably hungover when they started it. Ah, history.

Why We All Need Planned Parenthood: My apologies for the new Gawker layout. But, this post–on Jezebel, from a woman who has been using Planned Parent for her main health care provider because she’s poor–is well worth a read in light of the recent cuts to the service.

Baen Free Library: Baen is a fantasy publisher that I read buckets and buckets of as a child. They published Mercedes Lackey’s books, and she was fabulous for both writing about gryphons (I was eight) and being from my stomping grounds of Tulsa, OK. The Free Library provides eBooks for tons of the authors Baen carries, with the authors’ consent and through the publisher. Very cool!

Homemade Flour Tortillas: In honor of my Spring Break trip to Texas (skulking around SXSWi with my internet coworks–here’s hoping I don’t wind up in a dumpster!), a recipe for homemade flour tortillas from the Homesick Texan. I want good tortillas so badly, you guys. Mmmm. (Dorm food Wednesday!) The article came via the fabulous folks at CRAFT, which publishes links to interesting crafts, delicious-looking food, and strange cocktails. Huzzah, the good life!