Sunday, October 17, 2010


by Robert Rauschenberg. No, just kidding. by me.
Instead of talking about how busy I am and what is stressing me out, I am going to talk about going to bed. It's my favorite part of the day. Well, going to bed, sleeping, and getting up are actually my favorite parts of the day. Maybe later I will tell you about getting up for the day, but probably not today, because this hard stool is already making me not want to sit here anymore and my coffee is almost gone. I will not tell you about sleeping because I am assuming you have done it before.
The "Going to Bed" process ideally starts around 9 pm. I love sleeping. Especially now that it is cold. What is the point of doing pretty much anything else? Step one is make tea. I just got chamomile tea in UB when I was there, but I also like peppermint. While the tea cools, I fill up my dipper with the rest of the hot water from the water boiler and poor it into the the reservoir above my sink. The reservoir is basically a small metal bucket with a faucet mounted above the sink. Hey look, running water! I wash my face with my Deep Clean Neutrogena Face Wash that my Aunt Sue sent me with the warm water that is a result of the freezing water left in the reservoir mixing with the boiling water just added.
Then I put the first layer of my pajamas on. They are the silky long underwear that are way to big that m dad gave me before I left. At first I did not know what to do with this 3XL long underwear set and was worried that my father either thought I was a giant or was unfamiliar how long underwear worked and thought perhaps it should go over the snowsuit. But then I realized they were prefect for sleeping. Ideally I would also have a small fire going at this point, probably for the last several hours. This is when I start letting it die (sorry fire, but if I go to bed when it is too warm I don't layer properly and then start to freeze around an hour later) and hang pajamas layer deux on the line next to fire between the two ger poles. Huge Mongolian faux pas, btdubs. Never supposed to have anything between those or hanging off of them. This makes for rapid reorganization if any Mongolian people who might be offended drop by. But by that time they are probably already offended as my door is locked when I am in it and that goes against the spirit of hospitality. Sometimes, not understanding it is locked, people will just pull and pull on my door thinking it is just stuck until I am afraid they are going to pull the whole thing down.
So anyway, with pajama layer one on and tea now a perfect drinking temperature, I read and drink tea while listening to my mellow "reading" playlist of iTunes, which consists of mostly Emmylou, Edith Piaf, Nanci Griffith, Jewel, Thelonius Monk, Sting's more mellower songs, and Belle & Sebastian. This is not the time for Rebel Hearts: Journey within the IRA's Soul, but something light and not at all scary. Currently I am reading the Little House collection that Aunt Casey sent for Book Bridge. Although sometimes they make me mad because Mary is so damned good, and poor Laura thinks she is so naughty. Also because they have things that I don't. Like an oven built in their wood burning stove so Ma can bake cakes. And an ice house. And Pa to chop the wood and build stuff and play the fiddle. *sigh*
By the time the tea is drunk, the ger has started to cool. So I convince myself not to have a 2nd cup of tea because I will regret it around 3 am when I can see my breath, brush my teeth, pee in bucket (don't judge me, it's cold!), check email and go offline on Skype and Facebook, and don pajamas layer deux,which are slightly warm from the fire. Layer deux is flannel pants and my Prairie Home Companion long sleeve tee. (As an aside, cool that I am reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and wearing a PHC tee, right? I miss SD.) I also put on giant man's socks my dad sent me (really, he must think I am a giant) and my grey hoodie, we'll call this pajama layer deux.5. I then carefully move sleeping kitty Babette and get into bed.
My bed is hilarious, I laugh at it every day. Originally it is basically a wooden frame with a piece of fabric over the wood. I can literally knock on it. It reminds me of that super thin carpet on the really hard floors at like a hospital, or a daycare. It resembles a bed only in appearance. So on the back half of the bed is what I actually sleep on. My "mattress" consists of a Mongolian bed pad which is like 1/5 of an American futon, 2 comforters, 3 emergency Peace Corps blankets, 1 wool blanket, camp pad my dad sent me (not giant but normal sized and awesome), and a ripped open sleep sack for a sheet. This creates a sleeping surface that is about 2 1/2 feet wide 6 inches off the "bed". I might be more comfortable with some of the blankets, especially the wool on, on top of me but they are not mine and I have no idea what has happened to them in their life before they met me and they give me the skeeby jeebies.
Ok so I move Babette, and wiggle into my sleeping bag. It is rated for -40F, but that must be just keep you alive at -40 and definitely not comfortable at -40. I move one of my extra pillows (that I made a pillow case for because of the skeeby jeebies) under my head turn on the rechargeable emergency torch the Peace Corps gave me which hangs from the hammock frame behind my bed. I settle in and read until the rechargeable light loses power and goes off, or I get tired, usually around 10:30. The pink microplush blanket gets put over my top half as I zip the sleeping bag up all the way, up over the pink blanket and over my head, and Velcro the top of the zipper together, to prevent accidental skin exposure. Then I have to slink one arm out and pull the top thin blanket up the rest of the way, which is tucked around my "mattress" tightly to hold me on the mattress and prevent the draft that comes through the zipper of the sleeping bag. The other arm replaces the cold one outside the covers to retrieve Burt's bees chapstick from hanging on the light switch directly above my head by it's duct tape holder for one last application. The hoods of both the grey hoodie and the sleeping bag are drawn up. If I am not tired enough or if I am too cold to sleep I pull my book and flashlight in with me and read one last chapter. Babette makes her way into the sleeping bag with me and settles in under my chin. I fall asleep while fighting my conflicting impulses to burrow down to the warmth and keep my nose exposed to breathe fresh air.

The whole going to sleep operation takes about 2 hours. 2 hours going to bed, 9 hours sleeping, 2 hours getting up and getting ready leaves only 11 hours to do other things. -3 hours for cooking/eating. -2 hours walking to and from my ger and any other place. -3 hours on the Internet. My useful day is basically 3 hours long.
Books I've recently read:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot ****
Although a little too scientific at times for my taste, it was broken up by the adventures of the author in search for the truth alternatively aided and hindered by the Lacks family. I generally liked it and felt smarter just carrying it around. Loaned to me by Amy, our wonderful Peace Corps Medical Officer.
Popism: The Warhol Sixties by Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett **
A strange string of anecdotes that makes everyone look shallow and crazy, especially Warhol, who seems to think he is superior because he is the only one not strung out. Funny a moments but left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Bridget Jones 1 and 2 **
Funny at times, but once i looked up what a stone was and realized that most of the book was her complaining about her weight without justification, I was just annoyed.
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins *****
I love Tom Robbins. This one and Another Roadside Attraction alternate being my favorite depending on which one i most recently read. Did anyone else hear him on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Perfect.

love, C

PS The capris you left me mom are so flippin' comfortable I refuse to stop wearing them because it is winter. The boots you sent cover the part of the leg the pants don't anway.

PPS Sorry I made fun if the giant clothes you gave me dad. I really do appreciate them and I think you are swell!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Sitemate Joyce and I hanging out at VSO volunteer Ihab's birthday party.
Friday I went with sitemate Jo to the monastery across the street from my hashaa (yard where my ger is set up) to honor her daughter, Victoria, who died in a car crash four years ago. She gave money and matches to the monks, while our friend and monk Bataar explained. The monks were chanting and a few were playing some instruments. It was exactly music; Jo described it more of a "joyful noise unto the Lord." It was really nice, peaceful and beautiful, and I am glad Jo let me be with her. We spent the rest of the day just chatting and eating and baking a cake for the evening.

Saturday, an American Buddhist monk was visiting Arvaikheer, so we all went to his lecture at the theatre. Sitemates Jo, Babila, and Allison and myself got to speak with a few minutes prior to the talk. All during his guided meditation people's cell phones were going off. Turning off cell phones or even not talking while something is happening on stage, whether it be a monk's lecture, musical performance, or competition, is just not one of the social norms here.

Yesterday I had a laundry marathon. Jo has a Korean washing machine and has been nice enough to offer its use to me. It's so nice to not have to wring out bigger items, so I took her up on the offer Sunda afternoon. Sunday morning I did the light laundry by hand and then around noon took a sweatshirt, my pajamas, 2 duffel bags that have cat spray (not from my cat, she's a girl!) on them, as well as the two micro fleece blankets my dad sent me forever ago and have never been washed (ew)! You should have seen the water that was coming out of the machine. Pretty frickin gross. Jo has an apartment with running water of course, but laundry is still a bit of an effort. First you have to fill up the machine with water by filling a dipper of water and pouring the dipper into the machine about 40 times. Then the clothes and the soap. It takes about 40 minutes to do a full cycle, alternating between slight agitation and soaking. Then you have drain the machine into a tumpen (shallow large basin) my lifting the drain hose back and down repeatedly and stopping to dump the soiled water down the drain befrore it gets too heavy to lift. .Then you fill up the tumpen with clean water and rince the clothes one of the time before putting them, again one at a time, into the spinner. After hanging all the clothes, you must again drain the machine. Better than hand washing perhaps, but it uses far more water and of course I have to haul the clothes back and forth to Jo's place, a good 10 minute walk. I was so appalled by the water coming out of the machine, I can't believe I have been sleeping with those blanklets. They smell amazing now!

Tonight is another meeting if the Harry Potter Book Club! I can't wait! I also got 2 (TWO!) packages today from my wonderful Aunt Casey (Maureen to her grown-up friends). I so appreciate the People Magazine, the books, the food, and especially the SHAM-WOW!s HAHAHA!

It's been really warm the past few days, which is exciting, but it makes me slightly apprehensive. Like the calm before the storm. Winter is coming! However, my favorite store just got peach yogurt, so I am hoping they keep getting it throughout the winter, so I can eat frozen yogurt. Plus I will make ice. And make huge fires and drink iced coffee.

love, C

PS. There is a recipe for a Healthy Cobb Salad. I spent a good couple of minute laughing after I read it and realized the only ingredients I have access to are black pepper and water. Pepper water sounds pretty good! hahaha!