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    5.26.2009 ||>   Memorial Day and beyond

    After a weekend of Memorial Day partying,Tony and I are settled back into his apartment and trying to get errands done before I go to New York. I'm still a bit apprehensive to tell the truth because I still don't know when or how I'm coming to the place I'll be in for the next three months. But I'm also really excited, because I think New York is going to be really fun.

    This last weekend we went to two friends' houses, and they couldn't be more different. The first was with people Tony had grown up with in their beautifully decorated, spotless home. The second was with his college friends in their house that is like Tony's ultimate dream of a fixer upper. I really liked both, and it really shows that it doesn't matter where you live, or how, but the people. And that there is beauty to be found in different living situations.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 8:50:00 PM || Site Feed ||

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    3.11.2009 ||>   Bad Luck

    You know how, in the Southern Hemisphere, water runs in a different direction. I felt as if both water and my luck turned in Chile. It's not Chile's fault, not really, but there was an undeniable string of mishaps that happened to myself and my friends on the whole trip.

    On the first night, my purse was snatched.
    On the second night my friend C sprained her ankle and had to go to the hospital.
    On the third night, my friends and I had a massive fight and I refused to speak to them on the fourth day. (It got resolved).
    On the fifth day, I was stricken down with a massive throat infection. (Which I haven't had since my tonsils were removed as a child.)
    On the sixth day, I was scammed in a taxi on the way to the clinic (which I got out of using a winning combination of guilt and fury). Because of a screw up and some jerkiness on the part of the coordinators, I also had to go alone to the clinic, where there was no English spoken. And HTH set me up with a gastroenterologist for a throat infection. Nice.
    On the seventh day, my other friend E got stricken with the same infection, her insurance had run out and she had just gotten out of the hospital for other throat related complications. That night, we were also scammed again by a couple of taxis.

    So, last Saturday, I gave a rousing speech to my friends and told them that we were changing our tickets and going home. None of this sticking it out nonsense. They cheered and I went to change the tickets. Luckily, we ended up saving money by not staying a week and paying the change fee.

    I am bummed though. I feel like I did the right thing, but that also I failed to give Chile a chance as well. It's confusing.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 11:04:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    3.08.2009 ||>   The watchword is 'vigilance'

    In the Peace Corps Uzbekistan, my safety and security officer was named Alijon. Alijon's key phrase was always 'Be vigilant.' Always know your surroundings and watch the people around you for both guidance and warning signs.

    My first night in Santiago, I totally failed Alijon. I was walking with a group of friends when a boy snatched my purse (attached to my wrist) and ran off with it. I just reacted out of instinct and ran after him shouting, 'Help me' in Spanish. I guess he got nervous, so he threw the purse under a bench and I was able to retrieve it.

    I want to be clear that I don't believe I was any physical danger at any time. What embarasses and angers me is that it was a crime of opportunity. The boy thought it would be safe and easy to take my purse from me. And, in a way, it was. I was with my friends, I was looking at everything around me and I wasn't being vigilant. I didn't notice that almost every woman on the street had a purse with a long strap hanging crosswise down across the body, or that we were in place that was seedy at best, or even that we were being too loud in a group - in English.

    I don't know why that is. Why, after seven years of traveling all over, did I get to be the easy mark? I think it was being a bit cocky and in the moment that did me in. But, I'll tell you on thing: it reaffirmed all the things I do everyday that keep me safe. I'm going back to the long-strapped purses and the base level of paranoia I get in large groups or crowded, public spaces.

    I promise from now on that my new watchword is vigilance.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 10:30:00 PM || Site Feed ||

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    3.01.2009 ||>   I'm here in Santiago, Chile

    I arrived safely, all limbs attached. Got to watch Slumdog Millionaire on the flight, and it was really good. Internet - and everything else - is expensive here, so my time is limited.

    Hope everyone is having a good time. It's 85 degrees and sunny, so you know I am!

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 2:31:00 PM || Site Feed ||

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    2.26.2009 ||>   Going to Santiago

    With the brutality that was Finals Week behind me, I am heading off to my Global Immersion in this program. My destination: Santiago, Chile, where it will hopefully be a sunny 85 degrees for the duration. In the meantime, I can only hope that Pennsylvania gets a bit warmer so it won't be as biting when I get back.

    I still don't have an internship. Leaving the country for two weeks when I would otherwise be ramping up my search again doesn't feel like the best use of my time. Particularly when I have more international experience under my belt than 98% of the people in the program. Since it's required, I have no choice. I should also mention that I am being graded on this trip, and there will be assignments that must be handed in.

    For real, graded on traveling and meeting business leaders? If I don't get an A on this just by existing, then there is something wrong.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 3:47:00 PM || Site Feed ||

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    7.26.2008 ||>   A vacation... in Hel

    On every road trip we go to, the return trip is always taken in a different direction than how we begin. That way, we get a different adventure both times. The weekend of the 4th, Tony had the idea to go to Centralia, PA, which is an old mining town that was evacuated and demolished in the 80s because of a coal mine fire that is set to burn under the town for 250 years.

    You might be more familiar with it than you think if you watched the movie Silent Hill. The fictional town was based n Centralia.

    It was pretty eerie, and I've been to ghost towns before on field trips in school. It was like we were entering the beginning of a horror movie, where the kids go on a trip for some kicks and get dismembered by the guy in the mask. Of course, since we didn't do any drugs or have sex there, we survived.

    There was this part of the highway that had been so ruined by the fire that it had to be closed down and another highway was created in its place. So, of course, Tony wanted to find the old highway and walk down it. It was pretty cool, and obviously lots of kids used it, as was indicated by the spray paint all over the old asphalt (Look Here if UR GAY!!! or "Welcum to Hel"). The part where the street was ruined was very hot, and sort of reminded me of the post-apocalyptic movies where people walk down the now abandoned roads in the faint hope they will find more survivors. (Anyone else going to Boulder, CO if that happens?)

    Then we saw a Black Bear and booked it out of there before we all got eaten.

    But over all, it was a great trip. We all had headaches for days. Because the fire was burning up coal without a filter, we were inhaling mercury and arsenic as well as the soot. I don't know how the people who live there (Population: 11) do it.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 6:38:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    7.07.2008 ||>   Tony liked the pig roast part

    When I am going on a trip, I usually try to bring my camera this weekend. This weekend was a perfect example of why I like to do that, so of course I forgot the damn thing and have no pictures.

    On Friday Tony and I took a road trip into central-eastern Pennsylvania, which is incredibly rural. Like, cue the dueling banjos rural. His old college friend was having a wedding reception/4th of July celebration/pig roast at his... compound. I really don't know how else to describe it. It was in the middle of nowhere. It took us one country highway, then an off road dirt path. Then, we had to park in a field and go by foot down another dirt path to get there. Then, as soon as we did, it was like... the most beautiful lodge ever. Next to a lake, there was this beautiful log building, fire pits and abundant greenery everywhere.

    I don't know how they got all the food there, but there was wine, sangria, margarita machines, a beer wagon. For food, I was not interested in the pig roast, but there was table upon table stacked with food. I gorged myself on spaghetti, brownies, chocolate-covered strawberries, rice pilaf, and salad.

    We were there for about 7 and a half hours total, beginning around lunch time and ending at 11 pm after the private firework show. I have to say that it was the most amazing thing I've seen in a long time. We were about 15 feet from where the fireworks went off and it lasted about 45 minutes, with about four finales. Tony estimated that they probably spent about ten thousand dollars on the fireworks.

    It was the nicest 4th of July I've spent in a long time and it just kept getting better. We left the party still going, and called a hotel that night. It was like nothing could go wrong that day, and it was amazing.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 6:18:00 PM || Site Feed ||

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    6.22.2008 ||>   Relaxed!

    Last Friday - Last day at work! I got totally shit faced at a happy hour and botched about my abusive boss. I finally got it off my chest: she was not as hot as she thought, as no one with a waddle can be classified as "hot" in my humble opinion.

    Last Saturday - Nursed hangover. Oh, it was bad. I pissed Tony off while drunk, but we worked it out.

    Last Sunday - Sat around and watched movies.

    Monday - Sat around some more.

    Tuesday - Started playing an old DOS computer game that I bought in the 90's.

    Wednesday - Added RAM to my computer and got further in the computer game.

    Thursday - Won the computer game!

    Friday - Cleaned up a bit. Hung out with Tony. He's been super stressed at work, so I wanted to focus on him.

    Saturday - Road trip! With shopping! But not for me....

    Sunday - More shopping! We bought Lina a kitty leash. As anticipated, she hates it. But she will learn to love it.

    I feel so much better...

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 7:38:00 PM || Site Feed ||

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    12.24.2007 ||>   Flying home

    I flew back home last week at this time. It was a 20 hour flight in which I went backwards in time and saw two sunrises.

    I am getting all my pictures rounded up and I will have some funny stories to tell. In the meantime, have a happy holiday season. I am working today, have tomorrow off, and will be working the rest of the week after that. I actually have 3 hours of paid time off left, but I guess that's all gone now.

    Last week was the company's annual Holiday Party, and I don't say much about work here, but I will say that the party was full of wacky fun. Like when a Director of Sales pole danced. She's about as old as my mom, and couldn't even say she was drunk! But there she was, hugging that pole for all it's worth while the company laughed. I hope that the pictures I have will secure my job for some time...

    We were also kicked out of the bar and the place shut down early because we "broke the law." Which was pretty stupid, but I had a feeling that something was going to come to a head earlier that night when the bartender tried to refuse us shots at an open bar. The reason why it's open is because we are paying for it!

    I don't get drunk or out of control except on rare occasions, so I was stone cold sober the whole time. So the next day when everyone came in hungover and wanting to either die or eat the greasiest food imaginable, there I was, plugging away efficiently. It was like a free day, with no one able to keep track! Excellent.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 9:03:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    12.03.2007 ||>   In Kuala Lumpur

    Or "KL" as everyone calls it. These past two days have been very exciting. I left Philly on the 30th, and proceeded on a 20 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur. It was pretty uneventful for the most part. There was the scramble in Seoul to do a flight transfer in an hour. Honestly, I thought America had the most annoying airports, but since the Incheon Airport in Seoul makes you re-do the security checks a second time during a transfer, I would have to say that they are actually far more annoying. Tip: when tranfering in Seoul - make sure your layover is 2 hours at a minimum. It will keep you from running from the check-in to the gate.

    I got in at 12:05 AM, and had the hotel travel office pick me up and take me to the hotel. The first night was a little rough - I am really accustomed now to American hotels and forgot what hotels were like in other countries. It didn't take me long to adjust - by the morning it seemed great!

    Yesterday was the best. Dara and Leo took me out and were the perfect hosts. I did most of my Christmas shopping, and everything at the shops was very cool. In fact, it was hard to choose1 Should I pick this very cool thing, or that one? Decisions, decisions. For myself, I purchased black laquer shoes with a mother-of-pearl inlay.

    I also had lunch at a banana leaf cafe, where - obviously - you eat your meal on a banana leaf. Many people use their fingers to eat (and there are facilities to wash up before you do), but we all opted for utensils. As Leo said, everyone is multiracial, so no one cares if you eat the way you're "supposed" to.

    Later, we saw the movie Enchanted which was seriously hilarious. I was a little iffy on it at first, but Dara seemed to really love it, so I gave it a chance. It was incredibly funny.

    Before I went home, I also ate some durian. Durian isn't allowed in the hotel because of its stench, so we ate it off the back of a fruit cart around midnight when it's the cheapest. I have never had a fruit before that was creamy, and it was delicious. I did not breathe through my nose though, and couldn't eat too much of it at first.

    Today I had a business meeting and explored Chinatown. I'm thinking about buying a Louis Vuiton knockoff purse. Although the Chanel knockoffs are pretty cool too.


    Sepra was livin' easy on 2:03:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    6.29.2007 ||>   Malaysia - Simply Asia

    The above title of a commercial for Malay tourism that I saw anytime I had a hotel with CNN International while I was in the Peace Corps. I think it's time to go there and find out if it lives up to its reputation.

    The reason though, is that one of my most favorite people in the universe is getting married in Malaysia during December and I want, nay, need to go support her. It's been a long time since we've tripped the night fantastic with her red beret and lipstick. I would love to meet the man that she would marry, because he has to be most fantastic of people. No one else would do for my Dirty D.

    Anyway, if she is reading this, I am so happy for her, and I am definitely saving the date!


    Sepra was livin' easy on 8:28:00 PM || Site Feed ||

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    2.26.2007 ||>   Arizona

    I am going to be in Arizona between March 22-26, depending on rice of airfare. Unfortunately none of my family or friends can meet my boyfriend, as his work would not let him take 2 god damned days off because it's "spring planting." Like, flowers couldn't wait 2 days.

    It's snowing outside right now and I am determined to go somewhere warm as soon as possible. It's a pity I waited so long: I could be in AZ right now while everyone else has a "high in the low 30s."

    I've got to get my shit together soon though and let everyone know I'm coming, so if they can take time off to entertain me, it won't be a problem.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 7:22:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    1.02.2007 ||>   Resolutions

    #1: Save money and reduce spending
    #2: Blog more often - every day if I can
    #3: Be healthier - especially dentally.
    #4: Keep in better touch with friends and family.

    Of course, I don't have the best start on these. I didn't blog the New Year. I haven't called anyone to wish them a Happy New Year. It doesn't give anyone momentum when their boyfriend's mother is in town, and she's fascinating. Or when my body decided last Friday to come down with a head cold that felt like all the veins in my head were bursting one by one.

    So, I suck. But I'll try. In the meantime: a picture of where the bf's mom works. Wouldn't you be in thrall to her stories as well?


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    Sepra was livin' easy on 3:32:00 PM || Site Feed ||

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    7.12.2004 ||>  

    While Kelly and I were in Germany, we came upon the "Smart" car, which, as you can see, is possibly the smallest car ever. It seems to scream "fuel efficiency" and only fits two people. I don't like cars, and I don't drive, but I have to say that even I was overwhelmed with how cute they were. If only America would get over its SUV addiction and start driving these babies, maybe the gas crisis would be less severe. And the world would be a cuter place.

    In any case, I hope you enjoy the new layout.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 6:56:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    6.25.2004 ||>  

    So I have not been able to write about a couple of places I went to recently, so I will try to make up for that.

    We went to some pretty memorable places around Central Bohemia in the Czech Republic, but the place that stood out for both of us was Kutna Hora. When visiting this picturesque town, one word of caution: don't go on Mondays and travel by train. We didn't heed this advice and everything was closed. Of course, it was printed in the Lonely Planet guide, if I had bothered to look. But what we did see was nice, and the souvenirs were cheaper than in Prague. Then we missed the bus. After copious whining by me (I think I could have shattered glass with one or two of those "Kellleeeeyyy!"s) Kelly took control of the navigating and we got on the train home. Then we got off at the wrong stop. It seems that the power that comes with navigating corrupts. (Although I'm sure he'll shy away from culpability) Anyway, it was a funny memory and a town that will live in infamy.

    The second place that will live in infamy for me is Istanbul. So, at the time, I didn't want to come back to Uzbekistan. (Can you blame me? Does this make me a bad person?) I'd been feeling a bit foul-mooded (is this even a adjective?) for a day or so because everything in me had been telling me to not go back. Then I had the Layover That Would Not End. It seemed that events conspired to make me even more unhappy.

    The first event was that not only did Czech Airlines not serve vegetarian meals, but treated me like a pariah because of my lack of meatiness and I had to yell to even get a crust of bread (Imagine me as a poor orphan in Oliver: "Please sir, can I have some more?" only more pitiful). Not to mention that the people in the Turkish airport have no sense of humor (and let's leave that one as that, shall we?).

    Finally, during the Layover of Eternity, I missed all the tours of Istanbul and, as it was raining, spent the time watching CNN and MTV. But then I was rescued at the airport at the duty free stores where I drowned my sorrows in shopping and Burger King. After all, no one likes a complainer, so what is there to do but eat Western food and shop?

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 1:26:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    6.18.2004 ||>  

    So Prague was everything I'd hoped and now I'm in Munich basking in the Bavarian sunlight. Except that it looks like rain. I'm already getting antsy and not wanting to go back home to Tashkent. I knew it would happen, but I'm trying to be Buddhist about it all and accept that everything in life changes and this vacation cannot last forever. A good selling point to this trip is that I almost want to go back to America now, since I really like living in the first world.

    First World things I've accomplished include:
    - Eating a Big Mac
    - Eating bagels. (yes Dave, mmmm... bagels)
    - Seeing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    - Drinking very good beer.

    Basically it's going to be diet time when I get back to Tashkent. I can see my friends now: "Oh, you look so happy, but it looks as if you gained a couple kilos." Well, it hasn't gotten to the "couple" stage yet, but any more buttery croissants and I'm done for. Not that something like that ever stopped me.

    There was a job posting for a web design position I think I would be good for over at Human Rights Watch. But it pays a little less than 30,000 USD a year and I would have to live in New York. The money isn't that big a deal to me (I'm a volunteer for god's sake), and it would be valuable experience for a good cause, but is that enough to even live in New York?

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 9:32:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    6.15.2004 ||>  

    So I've been bumming around Prague for the past week or so. I've got some pretty neat stories so far. But here's the one right out of the airport:

    So I'm flying into Prague from Istanbul and The stewardess says something to me. Since I make an effort not to look too "American" usually, I think she's speaking to me in Turkish. I tell her, in English, that I don't speak Turkish. She gets angry at me and says something in Turkish even louder. I say very slowly, "I speak English." She says slowly and angrily, "So do I. Do you want the chicken or the pasta?" With egg on my face, I blushingly say, "I ordered the vegetarian meal." She almost throws it at me.

    But hey, not my fault her pronunciation is bad. I'm pretty good with thick accents, so I think that tells you something.

    I think the biggest difference between here and Tashkent is well.... everything. But what do I notice the most? The size of everyone. In the 'Stan, I am daily surrounded by people that could give Twiggy a run for her money. Here there are women with hips and breasts and tummies. The men are tall and solid-looking. These people are more like me. And you know what? It looks good. I know it's the Hollywood stereotype that to look good men and women need to be thin, but really everyone here for the most part looks so healthy and much nicer than the people in Tashkent. Back there they look like they're starving (which they probably are), but here everyone looks delightfully different.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 7:27:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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