I Don’t Hate it Here.

So tonight I Skyped my sister. Which was great, because I haven’t actually spoken to her since… oh, I left the country. Talking to her is always so great because whenever she’s freaked out about something, I can be like, “I remember that being terrifying! It turned out to be in no way a big deal.” And then, if I’m feeling perspective-havey, I realize that there is some two-years-older me doing exactly the same thing to my own at-the-moment all-consuming problems. Then I calm down.

But anyway, after we chatted about our linguistic failures (me and Wolof, her and Ancient Greek), she said, “You know, [our mutually-shared, fabulous undergrad adviser] reads your blog.” Which I was sort of aware of, but had filed away along with the information that my parents have had sex and that somewhere out there my LiveJournal still exists as best not to think about ever.

“Yeah,” she continued, “She thinks you hate it there.” I spluttered. “Well, except for your tailor.” I stopped spluttering, because once again, my tailor is the greatest, she is correct.* But she is also correct about this blog sounding like I hate it here. And, to be fair, I’m still not sold on this experience as a pleasant one. I am not ashamed to say that my friends and I spent an hour at the weird expat mall this afternoon pointing out that, for a few hundred dollars, we could go home tomorrow. We all kind of wanted to.

The truth is, Dakar is not beautiful. It is not particularly comfortable. Living in a family is hard, and made harder when they’re not yours and you don’t understand half the conversations going on around you. Though I am fully aware that this experience is going to be a valuable one in terms of forcing me to realize that—though I could have left, because I am holy-shit-an-adult now—I didn’t, and that that is a good thing, I make no pretenses about this being a fun experience in the way that studying in Europe probably would have been. (Not to say that Europe can’t be difficult—I have friends there now and have had friends there in the past, and it can certainly be a head trip in a lot of the same ways just because you are far away from home and lonely and also broke.)

But I don’t hate it here. If I really, truly did, I probably would have left by now, because this is not an academically-valuable-enough experience for me to stick it out if I hated it. So, here’s a list of things that I am legitimately tickled with about my time in Dakar.

My host nieces: Today my oldest niece spent ten minutes constructing an elaborate crash scene using a toy boat, a miniature car rapide, and a makeup brush she found in my room. She narrated the whole thing in Frolof. It was adorable. Continue reading

Still Can’t Rent a Car

Yesterday was my 21st birthday. Since I’m abroad, it was pretty anticlimactic. I still have some trouble believing that I can now legally go into a liquor store and purchase myself some of the finest premium sold-in-a-plastic-bottle booze that Georgia has to offer, but my license tells me that this is in fact the case.

Highlights of the evening included a gin fizz that was actually just a glass of gin, realizing that the US has exported unironic appreciation of “Sexy and I Know It,” and having my phone and passport photo copy stolen off me at the club. But other than that last one, it was a fun night! I had tiny cake, and you’d pretty much have to murder a kitten in front of me while I ate it for me not to enjoy tiny cake.

But, outside of tiny cake, I’ve been reading a lot of Yes and Yes over the weekend. One of my favorite things on her site is her recurring feature where, each birthday, she picks a list of things she wants to do over the next year. She picks as many things as she’s turned years. I like the idea, so I shamelessly stole it. Here are my 21 things to accomplish before I quit being 21.

21 Things To Do in the Upcoming Year

  1. Buy/make/have made a perfect navy blue blazer.
  2. Drink a sloe gin fizz in a speakeasy-style bar.
  3. Road trip to the Grand Canyon.
  4. Actually remove things I no longer need from my childhood room.
  5. Get a print magazine piece published. Continue reading

There is no Venn diagram here, because I am broken.

I had this whole amusing thing planned for today, with a Venn diagram of my brokenness. ‘Cause, see, I went on a date this weekend (yay!), and it went well (yay!), which was great because if it hadn’t I would have had to banish this dude from my favorite coffee place, and that’s never fun. But instead I ate a cookie and talked, and those are pretty much my two favorite activities ever so All Was Well.

But the thing I was going to make the Venn diagram about was something I realized halfway through, which is that I am Bad At Date Conversation. I mean, normally this takes the path of me not shutting up while talking about the excitement of freelance writing (it is not exciting), but on this particular day that didn’t happen, because I had the good sense to not talk about work. Which was good! It’s like I’m an AI that learns from its previous social failures, except actually I think that just makes me a person.

So we talked for several hours, which was pretty great. Except that about halfway through I realized that I still have not quite mastered talking, because here are in no particular order the things that this person and I discussed:

  • The failures of Atlanta’s mass transit system, complete with art projects to commemorate them.
  • Thermite.
  • The fact that I know how to make knives out of rocks. (Not well, but still.) Continue reading