Tuesday, Apr 22 2008
View LYNNABEL's food & exercise for this day
No loss this week. Discouraging, but not entirely unexpected - I just didn't think there would be a loss. My body, as it generally does during the last 10 pounds, is very reluctant to shed weight. Keep on keeping on, though.
I am going to start getting up 1/2 hour earlier in the mornings. Hopefully this will give me some more personal time, and make me a bit happier and less likely to lose patience with the kids and Steve. Granted, I'll miss the sleep, but perhaps I can go to a 3x week approach if necessary.
I had a eureka moment at work yesterday. I took my job description and listed out the items I'm accomplished under each duty, the questions I have about that duty, and my future goals for that duty. (Ha - I said 'duty'). I then scheduled a two-month meeting with my SVP to review. Its becoming obvious to me that even for a such a small office, very little is known about what each person does, and my role probably wasn't as clearly defined to the other team members as it should have been. I am going to ask my SVP to start doing some of that clarifying to the entire team, so that I don't get put in a position where I'm doing something that offends someone else without knowing it. Or knowing it too late. It felt good to realize that. I've been so worried about making a difference immediately to prove that I was worth the hire that I've been doing things that probably aren't the best for me take on long term (like organization their paper filing system. Its a bit clerical for my role. I don't mind in the short term as its a learning exercise, but long term they're paying me way too much to be doing that).
I've been thinking about people who are feeling the effects of the recession. I feel blessed that I have a steady job with benefits. We feel the gas and food increases, but we can absorb the higher prices. Many can't. I think I would like to look for a volunteer activity that Will and I could do together. Any ideas?
From my sister in her travels:
Liberia – April 2008
I arrived in Monrovia on the evening of April 2nd (Wednesday), and welcomed the heat and humidity as a contrast to the damp chill in New York. It's hot like Haiti was in June – so hot that you really can't do anything about it except wipe away sweat. So far, things have not been stressful or too hectic but this also makes me anxious that I am not doing everything that I should be doing. I have yet however, to get a sense of what is really achievable in the next two weeks, and what exactly it is that the office needs from me.
I am staying with Signe (former country programme manager for the Uganda office) who is heading the office here in Liberia. Her two kids are also here, so it has been nice to hang out with some little ones as well.
First impressions (very superficial):
The road to Monrovia from the airport is long but very smooth (thanks to the Chinese);
There are several extra-large concrete buildings that look more like abandoned bunkers than public spaces;
The Temple of Justice is newly renovated to say "Justice for All" instead of "Justice for All Men";
The Security Sector training facilities have images of men and women prominently featured on the wall;
I have to plan showers and toilet flushing very well to coincide with the times that there is water and power (both are on and off throughout the day and then go off at midnight until morning);
The ocean view from the apartment balcony is nice, but not as stunning as the one from the apartment in Haiti.
Friday evening I went to the gym run by UNMIL (UN Mission in Liberia), and enjoyed being able to work out. After coming back to the apartment and showering, I went out with the young Icelandic woman who is working in the UNIFEM office here. We had sushi at the Mamba Point Hotel (extremely nice and tasty food), then went dancing at a club/café on the other side of town. Are all of these places caricatures of ex-pat stereotypes? We were among a handful of young white women, sweaty and not too stylish. The rest of the scene was dominated by non-Liberian men and Liberian prostitutes. It made my skin crawl to see American men (a platoon trainer and a marine) acting like fools and clearly loving the game of picking a woman from the crowd. What makes me cringe isn't the prostitution, but the complete lack of class exhibited by these men. Their behavior and lack of public decorum would have been inexcusable under any circumstances, but particularly in a setting where their behavior is even more despicable. I am sure they all lined up proudly when Bush came to town and took all the credit possible for their contribution to "peacebuilding". There were other men there – a few Indians, a German, and two Brits – but as far as I could tell it was mostly the Americans that were really into the whole scene.
Saturday I went with Signe and her two kids to the launch of a women farmers' cooperative at the University of Liberia's College of Agriculture. They had a very nice ceremony next to the fields under a temporary cover of palm branches. Throughout the ceremony the women farming students served fresh watermelon and roasted corn on the cob. Afterwards, we walked through the fields of okra, cucumber, watermelon and corn and bought some to take home with us. There were several local politicians who spoke about the need to invest in local agriculture and to reduce dependence on imported rice. UNIFEM is already supporting a women's cooperative in Nimba county on enhanced planting and harvesting techniques, and have supported them to purchase a processing mill to make it easier and more profitable to transport the crops to market. The idea is to now build a connection between this cooperative and the College so that trained agriculturalists work directly with women in farming communities. The general belief is that farmers come from a lower class, and efforts have been made to reduce this stigma in order to build greater demand for crops that are grown nationally.
The heat in the field was unimaginable. I can't fathom working in the sun for hours at a time, sweating and getting pricked by thorns and sticks. By the time we left, the four of us were exhausted and all we had done was walk. Saturday night I fought a horrible headache, the fourth since I arrived. I don't know if it's the heat or dehydration, but I am just thankful that I brought along all kinds of pain relievers.
I went to the office early on Sunday morning to check email and do some work but the server seemed to be down. My fancy cell phone from the US can't even communicate with the cell phone towers here to check my email that way. I guess this is a good lesson in not being tethered to the internet. The only downside is that I spent the rest of the afternoon on Sunday reading, and finished the only novel that I brought with me. I am now trying to figure out what else to read in addition to work related papers. The whole family slept for most of the day, and it must have been contagious because I also ended up napping for a while and it was still only 4pm, so I played cards with Rebecca, Signe's daughter who is 9.
I went to bed early to savor a few hours of AC and bedtime reading before the power goes out. Today is full of meetings (objective of which I am not clear on) with the Ministry of Justice, an association of women lawyers and the women's legislative caucus.