Monday, August 25, 2008

Non-Clay Blog
I just saw this on the nytimes. Every day this website is releasing a page from George Orwell's diary 70 years ago to the day. It even has transcriptions of the newspaper cuttings he pasted to his journal every day; they piqued his interest enough for him to include them just so he'd have them for later on. My grandma used to cut out comics from the funnies, and it's a rare end-of-the-day that the sumtotal of my pockets don't have at least one scrap of paper with an epigram or word or question or date or recipe scribbled down that I know I'll forget, so I think I can relate to George, and I think so can you. I once heard Danny Devito say (not directly but through a radio show) that he still goes to the movies about 5 times a week. When the radio host asked him why, he said, "Because I wouldn't want to miss that." I'm not much for quotes, I kind of think they're lazy, but I love that. The guy has an interest in things around him, not because he's bored or wants to show off or separate himself, but just because he's here and so is it, a thing that, at least partially, fulfills him. Alright, back to The Sopranos and another cool night sleeping out here on the porch. Clay
ps: By the way, Mom, I love your JFK and Eleanor Roosevelt quotes.

The Sopranos

I'm 4 days into Chinese-made Sopranos DVDs. The video quality's iffy, but Tony's anything but. So is his psychiatrist, Melfi. Other than them I can't stand anyone except for his mercedes car dealership short-term girlfriend. Someone just walked by and asked, Hey Clay, have you moved since 1pm? Well, actually, I have. Adlai and I had to carry a table back to our director's house. It was as long as it was heavy, so we sandwiched pillows and carried it on our heads. Also, I woke up this morning to Adlai sitting on my bed taking pictures of his neck beard. A neck beard is when you shave your face but leave the beard on your neck. Yes, it's as disgusting as you think it is. Adlai went to work with it and the Sprite vendor said, non, pas barbe, c'est pas jolie. I just feel stupid with it, he said when we got home. I can't go to work like this. I'm starting to get a cold. How am I supposed to go to the bureau and talk with the medical personnel with this thing? No no no, don't talk like that, I said. Kim, when you see a neck beard, what do you think: beautiful or disgusting? When I see a neck beard, Kim said, I don't think either of those things. I think: why would you have a neck beard? Stop it Kim, it doesn't have to be this way, alright? Adlai, I kept on trying, I have two things to say. A) the neck beard is great, keep it at least until Becca gets here. She needs to see it. B) Of course you look stupid, you're wearing a neck beard. When you were shaving, did you think it would end up any differently? It's great though, keep it. He didn't keep it, it's gone.
Back to The Sopranos. If you were wondering how my last days as a summer English teacher were going, you now have your answer. Oh and I've discovered where Dad and I are going for his first African dish. It's semi-authentic, and clean enough to keep him healthy.
All my best, Clay

Monday, August 18, 2008

Coffee shops in Paris

Does anyone have a recommendation? In Rome I got to go to the BEST coffee shop, according to Frommer's and thenytimes, and I want to do the same thing in Paris. I've been googling in two languages but haven't found anything. I guess it's not life or death, but it is a pretty good part of life. If you have a place dear to you, please pass it on. Clay

Barack Obama,

I wish you'd leave me alone. I mean, I love our relationship, but every time I check my email I have a dozen from you. I keep thinking my friends and family have sent me messages and all I get is your name over and over again; seeing it like that, it's paramount to a laundry list of socks. Socks, socks, socks. Can you imagine the boredom? And it's not just the amount of email, the promises in the titles are a bit hurtful to be honest. The first to know. You can make a difference. We need you. And tonight? It says Backstage. Backstage? I doubt it Barack. I haven't heard or seen the news in about fifteen months. I'm not backstage, I'm in the parking lot behind the theatre scrounging around for breakfast tacos and hot sauce containers to reuse as makeshift swimming goggles in case it ever rains - I've got Phelps fever, what can I say. Listen, I want you to win, honest I do. But like most Americans, I like my democratic process lazy. I want the smooth transitions of power and possibility of an actual say in my life, but I don't want to have to actually say anything. Or read things other people have said. So, even though this hurts, it has to be done: I won't be opening any more of your emails. I hope after a while you'll forgive me and we can go back to how we were. And remember, this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.
Good luck this November, Clay

Phew, that was tough. Okay so today was pretty fun. I filled in for a teacher and taught some English. The kids were great. They sang some two part harmony Bob Marley for today's song competition and most of the words were right on. I stubbed my toe on a brick outside the front door of the volunteer house, so now I have a bandaid and scotch tape wrapped around my foot. Today for lunch I spent 750francs and got a french fry and chopped vegetable lebanese wrap. It was delicious. Then I went to the embassy to watch the Olympics. It started raining and I fell asleep to powerlifting on channel 1 and 3metre diving on channel 2. Talked to a few volunteers today. About four or five people from my group are thinking of extending for a third year. I am not one of those four or five. Today's trouble words for my class: heels, hills, bass (music), bass (fish). We practiced those four words alone for about 30 minutes. Who is this group/person Taken by Trees? I have heard them about twice in the last week from different people back home. Speaking of back home, I was flipping through a Newsweek yesterday and I got to an article about the poverty in Niger. There was a fullpage photo of people walking their donkeys across the desert with plastic water jugs and buckets. And the first thing I thought? Or not even thought. Felt? Home. Am I missing village? I don't think so. But after a year of it, everything was comfortable, if a bit lonely. Although I'm really comfortable here, so I can afford to wax poetic about my village. When I have to confront the 8 hour busride to reach it I probably won't be so romantic. I'm going to the mosque with some of the teachers on Friday. It should be interesting, I've never been to a mosque before. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Take care, Clay
p.s. Mags, I got a text from you at 6:30 this morning. Has the schoolyear started back up yet? You need to be in bed before 2:30 in the morning!!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday afternoon for me late morning for you

The dentist was a beautiful woman with a Parisian accent. It's not good when the dentist is beautiful, you start to worry about all the flying spray from your mouth. I thought I'd learn some good French vocab from her. I understood vas-y since it's the same thing I yell at the kids sitting on my front porch every morning before school. It means Go. Her assistant's name was Suzy, so it rhymed: vas-y Suzy. I have no cavities.

These kids I'm working with this summer are a bit different than what I'm used to in village. A student pulled out a new iPod last week, and I asked her if it was the iPhone. She said, No, the iPhone is for a man. If I want to go out and put it in my pocket, I can't. No, I like having them separate. I'm filling in the next two days for a prof who is in Ghana. The new experience'll be fun. I don't want to work with kids the rest of my life (please, please, no), but this has been a good thing getting up in front of people and testing my cliches and confidence over and over again.

I'm going to Eurotex, the fabric store, tomorrow to buy some materials to have pants made for Paris. It's only a month away. I'm thinking black pants and one other color. As far as French goes, here is my level: yesterday Zach had trouble ordering food over the phone. Finally he came up to me and said, here, Clay, talk to them, I can't understand him. Okay:

I want three plates of spaghetti, two steak sandwiches, three fries, and three steak plates. No, not three more steak sandwiches, three steak plates. Steak plates? Yeah, the plate I usually order. It comes not on bread but on a plate with a sauce. Steak sandwich? No, well yes, two of them. But then three additional steak plates where there is no bread, just steak. The pieces of meat are directly on the plate. Instead of the sandwiches? No. In addition to? Yes. I'm still not getting it. Umm. Wait, steak simple? What is simple steak? The stuff on the sandwich but without the bread. Yes, that is what I want, three of them. Did you change the name of it or something? Never mind. Okay, see you in thirty minutes.

We should have a grand time as long as Matt doesn't want a steak plate/steak simple.

I've been watching the Olympics on the TV at the embassy. I haven't seen much since Friday, but we should be winning every sport we enter into. We are such a huge country it's a loss if we don't win everything. Now that I'm kind of thinking about it, I did see some equestrian events. Let the others have them.

I saw Iron Man and The Hulk last week. Both of them are great. I liked The Hulk more, but I can see how people could prefer Iron Man. It's faster-paced and flashy. And The Dude is the villain.

I've been sick this week. I think it's all the smog from living here. Sometimes at a traffic light I'm surrounded by dozens of motos. It could be worse though. I read somewhere that living in Cairo is the same as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, the pollution is so bad. I also read that the doctor in House has a Burger King gold card and can eat at any Burger King in the world for free. What do I have to do to get one.

Okay, time to do some work. Hope everyone is good. Clay

P.S. Happy Early Birthday Katie

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Early August

Ouaga, I'll say once more, is great. I took Mac out today for his birthday. He had a pizza. I ordered a ham and cheese sandwich, creamed spinach, and potatoes. Last night we made mexican food with actual chips and salsa, guacamole, and tortillas. I have hot water, electricity, fans, a mattress, and a computer. I've been able to find out the meanings of epicanthic, sirocco, geodesy, and chthonian. has failed me on desuperpollicate and quincunial, but I have a month to find them elsewhere. I found a journal of poems in my box at the house that must have been there for months. One such says: Hemingway, why do I stay up nights, finding your sadness sweet, while Nabokov, the genius, puts me straight to sleep? John Mayer has new music out; if you don't find the song Say inspirational, i don't know what to tell you. Thanks to friends and family (and the modern postal system) I have 7 bags of coffee on the shelf. Tonight I sat outside and drank coffee while watching the sun steal down into pink rainbruised clouds. At least I did until the mosquitoes found me. The weather here has been gorgeous, I think it's actually hotter in Austin. Adlai, one of my best buds here, is also teaching English this month. It's good seeing him. His girlfriend is from Dublin and has a deadly accent. She and her mates and lads have a good time going to the pub and getting pissed. When it's too bloody hot they sit inside with the air con. Last night I stayed up pretty late with Mac and everyone. Someone built a three story castle of Uno cards, and I was able to place my empty Dr Pepper can on top, a true feat for Clay Shaky Hands LaPoint. On my birthday we were prepping for class, and all of the other Burkinabe teachers sang happy birthday when they found out. A nice way to spend it. Next year I'll either be in Morocco or Austin, TX. If I'm home by then, I hope Mom's not too busy to make poundcake, and Dad not too much to play Butler International. Maggie can drive me around in her car, and Katie....well, I'm leaning on Katie to support me until Maggie is old enough to, so that's enough of a present already. I'll be here until September 1st, and then I'll go back to village for ten days before heading back here to go to Paris for a week with my cousin Matt. Vraiment la vie est chouette. Truly life is...I think chouette means sweet, cool, neato, that type of thing. One time a Belgian girl picked me up on the side of the road and took me to the bus station, and she said ahhh c'est chouette when I was telling her about working in a village. Chouette is a chouette word. I read another McCarthy called Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West (I think that was the title). That guy builds scenes better than almost anyone. It's like a clinic when he gets started. I have to go to the dentist this week for our mid service medical. Not the biggest fan of going to the dentist, I'm pegging my survival rate at 50/50 right now. Alright, that's all for now. Hope you're well, love, Clay