Saturday, July 26, 2008

Typical Work Week

This blog is for those (looking in your direction Ms Guy) who keep saying, "i still don't get what you DO. like at work..." Be careful what you wish for, cause i'm about to tell you:


So here are the facts: I go to work from 9:00 until 1:00 then I have a 2 hour lunch and go back to work from 3:00 until 6:00 or 7:00. I share the office with the director (and soul employee) Ludmilla Luft who- the less said the better… She is notorious for being late and leaving early so, you can shave an hour off either side. Our office is in the reserve visitors and research center. I have my own desk and it’s piled with my own crap. Here, the line between “mine” and “ours” is hazy, so while I have “mine desk” and “mine drawers” I come in and find mine sharpies have grown legs in the night, hopped out of mine drawer and have strewn themselves over ludmilla’s desk, or my duck tape has rolled itself right on over to her home repairs for a few days. I’ve taped ecoclub fundraiser money onto the underside of my desk with frowny faces on it so it doesn’t flap its little paper money wings on over to the shop and spend its self on cookies and meat.
Anyway… There is also a museum on our floor and a children’s art center. Upstairs is the conference hall and the monitoring office and the reserve’s ecotourism office. Upstairs from that is the reserve’s head honcho office and the UNDP office. I spend a lot of time in the UNDP office, but I don’t dare move my office up there as much as I may want to and as practical as it would be. I think if I did Ludmilla would combust.
Another reason I don’t write about a typical work week is because probably half of my time is spent putzing around. Whether that is writing blogs and emails (like now), or f’ing tea, or messing around with projects that I know full well will never come to fruition. My Minesweeper record is 247 seconds. That’s on expert. What’s your record time?
When I’m doing actual work it looks like this: Last week I went to Astana and sat in a bank for hours and didn’t get a damn thing done except to move from one line to another then back again. Then two days later I went to the bank again with Azhar from the UNDP. It still took about 3 hours to open an account, but we did it. Then tomorrow we will call the bank for the account number which will no doubt take forever and then on the 31st I will have to go back to Astana to sign for and pick up the bank card which should be an another day of thrills and lines. And in between these times I’m calling Almaty to adjust our grant budget and relaying info so they can transfer funds ASAP. Are you starting to understand why I don’t write long blogs about going to work? Cause reading about work is a lot like going to work. It’s boring. I’m not a peace corps stunt driver.
Maybe once a week or every other week I’m called out to translate on an excursion. That sounds like a lot of fun, but when ludmilla is the tour guide, it quickly goes from fun to making me want to slit my wrists. Even Dina, a professional translator, won’t translate for her because she won’t pause and wait for translations, and she gets huffy when I simply don’t understand something. And as a tour guide she couldn’t care less what clients are interested in, which puts me in an uncomfortable spot. She has her heart set on making tourists love some stupid colony of stupid plain brown birds, the size of stupid tennis balls, as if a geographer and his English teacher wife care. I’ve tried to explain to ludmilla that unless someone has good equipment and has expressed an interest in ornithology, she should focus on birds that weigh more than 10 pounds and/or have bright colors or some freaky fact, like “they mate in flight!” but she won’t have it. So I turn to the tourists mimicking what I remember about the rise and fall of ludmilla’s voice and her hand gestures, and I “translate:” “do you really care about these ‘extremely rare’ brown tennis balls? Cause if you do care I’d be happy to figure out what it was exactly she said about them. [here I mimic the scoopy thing she did with her hands] if not, seeing as how your geologists I’ll be happy to ask if she couldn’t take us to collect salt in the mud flats. [pop pop and my fingers fly away]” Then I turn to ludmilla and say (for the 10th time) “they are not ornithologists. Can we go to the flats and collect salt?”
My favorite days are ecoclub days. We sometimes go out to the club in Shalkar which is a fun bumpy dirt road in the United Nations SUV. Amerzhan, the driver, probably has good karma and deserves to be reborn into the body or a professional race car driver. He drives so fast it rattles my nerves. When I do ecoclub I get to work with Gul’zada who I adore. Gul’zada heads up the Shalkar club because it is so remote that the kids don’t even understand Russian, let alone speak it. Gul’zada speaks beautiful Kazakh with the kids and I answer “vhat iz yoor name?” a million times. Here in Korgalzhyn our kids come here to the reserve and we plan projects or do something outside.
Funny things about work: Google. I find my self googling things I would have never imagined. “innovations in solid waste management” “solid waste management in preservation areas” “how does a glass recycling plant work?” “what is that new stuff that’s just like coal but its made out of compressed cow shit or something?” And I ask for weird donations like Personal Flotation Devices and boards.
Other than that, I work on grants, go to meetings, reply to English language faxes, just office stuff. It’d be a little more satisfying and productive if my direct superior wasn’t a racist, incompetent hag. But isn’t that how work is.
(Except at the BLM of course, where my dad is neither racist nor incompetent. A hag maybe…)

Envy and the Beautiful City of Karaghanda

When I first came to Korgalzhyn I was cursed with jealousy. “It’s not fair! Everyone else has nightclubs and sitemates and sidewalk cafйs, American corners in their libraries. I don’t even have a library! Or a bazaar, or internet cafй or train station or…” but I’ve been pulling myself together. After all, I’m the only PCV with a vegetable garden! And one of very few who has a house. Jodi can grow tomatoes in her city apartment, but I’ll tell you what: I used to grow tomatoes in my city apartment too. you do that because you wish you had a garden, not because you wish you had tomatoes. And sitemates? Bless me, I could have ended up with ---, who was sent home technically for sexual harassment but really was just generally a douche, or worse still are the sitemates who SHOULD be sent home but are allowed to stay.
So with enough effort, envy can be converted into a kind of generous smugness. I dodged the bad sitemate bullet, and come fall I will bless Jodi with a basket of winter squash and sun ripened tomatoes to offset her bucket garden losses. But envy waits you out.
I had to go south for an ecology conference and decided instead of going home right afterward, I’d go to Karaghanda for a 3 day weekend. Karaghanda is the second or third largest city in Kazakhstan. It is also the home of one of my favorite KZ friends, Katie. I tried to keep my smug generosity from degenerating immediately into envy. Yes, Katie may live in a city but she lives on the 6th floor. (…and has a great view that bitch!) Yes, Katie has plumbing, but that doesn’t mean she has water. (They turn off the water during the day! Too many small children suckling off the tit of city water I guess.)
The next morning Katie and I picked up Jodi at the train station and had my favorite coronary breakfast of samsa and diet coke. (…can’t get street food or diet cokes in my village…) We had banana oatmeal pancakes with Jodi (I can get neither bananas nor oats in my village), then made our way to the park.
*sigh* The park… for all their communist gravity and poverty, all of these soviet cities seem to have a park like this: there is a giant carnival lights archway and wide boardwalk lined with stalls where you can throw darts at balloons for stuffed animals, toss your kids into a fun bounce, buy a beer and cotton candy, ride the ferris wheel, or rent paddle boats. We laid on a blanket on the manmade beach next to the manmade lake in our underwear and tank tops and watched kids swim. We did not swim. A volunteer from some 6 years ago warned that she went swimming and then had a mysterious rash on her shoulder for the rest of her service. She’s lucky it was isolated on her shoulder. (This was my last attempt at staving off envy. Katie may have fun parks with lakes, but at least I don’t have mysterious rashes… but then again, neither does she…) Then we sat in a cafй in the park and had shish kebobs and cold beers on tap. That is something everyone should do on a Saturday: sleep in the sun and top it off with grilled meat on a stick and beers.
That night Katie prodded us into going to a free outdoors concert. I was convinced it would be like 60 drunk 14 year olds and a punk rock band doing covers of marilyn manson in some abandoned lot behind some dude’s mom’s magazine. How wrong was I… there were thousands of people. There were easily more people under 35 at the show than people of any age in my village. And I felt like a total ignorant foreigner when it turned out that these bands are like Russian super stars and everyone knew all the lyrics but us. On an unrelated note, while 2 dollar beers will cost you 7 dollars at an American concert, a 200 tenge beer will cost you 100 tenge at a Kazakhstan concert.
Oh the city. Village volunteers are jealous of city volunteers, and city volunteers are jealous of other city volunteers, but no one is jealous of a village volunteer. We get the knock on the chin, “you are such a trooper! Hang in there slugger.” (which sounds a lot like “hang in their sucker.”) Or, “you’re getting the real peace corps experience, lucky!” But no one says, “I wish I lived alone in your village and was getting a real Peace Corps experience.”
In November when we meet for thanksgiving, I will have a basket full of my landlords goose eggs and my and sweet sunny squashes and cucumbers. I will sit on my throne and let sun ripened tomato juice run down my chin. And city kids can come to me one at a time, and proclaim: “Jessica, I am so jealous of you! I wish I had a garden. I wish I was getting the real Peace Corps experience. I wish I lived in your village!” And then I will smile sweetly and place a giant warm tomato in their begging hands, and tell them to “hang in their sucker.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

in the garden

V a’garodye

Tuesday: I finally received dad’s last package from DC. (I get so nervous about the post office situation and the lady’s penchant for giving my mail to whom ever she suspects might see me that day. Fortunately I had to sign for this particular package…) In it, among other good reads and ranch dressing, was Barbara Kingsolvers Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A year of food life about growing your own food and eating seasonally/locally. That very same day my landlord came to me at lunch and said she has a surprise for me in the garden. In the corner farthest away from the well was a little plot of weeds. It’s my garden.
Wednesday: I bought a couple of cold Baltica Devits and went out back to pull weeds and turn over soil. I am torn between two things, I know it’s wise to tag team this plot this year with Galya and learn her technique. But…I also wanted it to be my garden where I could grow food that I wanted to eat and preserve.
Thursday: I immediately regretted my efforts at being wise, when Galya filled 2/3rds of my little plot with potatoes. I’m so sick of potatoes… I was kind of hoping to put in expensive food that I love and buy cheap foods that I’m indifferent to (like potatoes) at the store. Oh well… I also put in 13 tomatoes about the same number of cukes, 2 eggplants, and I rescued a rouge bell pepper. As soon as they sprout I’ll be putting in “Kabachoke” which I think must be like multi-colored zucchini, pumpkin, miniature watermelon and Brussels sprouts. The Brussels sprouts are a crap shoot, I love them but no one here knows anything about how to grow them. And as for the watermelon and pumpkin, people say that it’s too late for putting in them in but… I’ve got the seeds and a bit of space left so I might as well throw everything in and eat whatever comes up. I wish I had had the garden earlier and I would have filled the entire garden with spinach and lettuce. At night I would have gotten down on all fours and just grazed. To think of all the years I took advantage of my leafy greens…
Next year: Next year I’ll have access to the plot earlier and I’ll be able to plan the season better. I’ll put in all my leafy greens that come up early, eat my self silly, then turn those plots over and put in lousy potatoes and fabulous onions. I’ll put in sweet green vegetables like peas and bell peppers. I’ll keep the cukes and zukes and tomatoes. I’ll put in hardy late season fruits like melons. I’ll put in herbs like cilantro and basil.
This year: But to make the most of it, I’ll learn to pickle cucumbers, tomatoes, and fish with onions (which I love). I’ll learn how to make vareniya (like jam but chunkier). But my big “crazy American” project is to learn to make sun dried tomatoes. I’ll grow as much as I can and preserve as much as I can for the winter, and try my damndest to put this “Americans go on the internet and email the CEO of America and have their groceries faxed to their private chefs,” rumor to rest.

hot tea and sour cream

Two funny food things for you. (It’s not gross, don’t worry- although I have plenty of those stories too. ...if thats what you're into.)

1.
Mom and dad sent me a ton of those ranch packets that you mix with sour cream. (I swear I never liked ranch in the US, but I want it here! I want it!) So the other day I told Ludmilla that I would bring in some veggie sticks and ranch dip. I chip chopped my veggies and brought a packet of the mix and thought I’ll just swing into the store and grab some sour cream on my way to work. I went to Aya. Nope, no sour cream there. Not surprising, they have the barest shelves in town. I went to Azat. Nope. I went to Yergin. Nope. Now that is surprising- Yergin always has everything. So I went to my favorite store Kamilla. Also nope. What the hell? Sour cream is like a dietary staple how could all the magazines be out! The reason I like Kamilla is because they tell me what’s up, whether the produce is old, or if they have bubble water in the freezer getting icy for me.
But this time they looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “girlie, everyone is eating homemade sour cream right now.”
“no butter or milk either?”
“Its all homemade right now.”
“uh…”
“you’ll have to make it yourself.”
“BUT I DON’T HAVE A COW!”
So the magazine lady and one of the ladies who just hangs out conferred in Kazakh for a sec then, “you can buy some from my neighbor.”
“How much will it cost?”
“300 tenge per liter”
“ok”
“where’s your jar?”
“I don’t have a jar. I don’t bring jars to work. Ugh. Never mind.” I thanked her anyway and accepted my sour creamless life until fall… I can’t do anything with a liter of sour cream anyway because we still don’t have a refrigerator. I never thought I’d come to Kazakhstan and find myself preoccupied with such banal things as shopping for a fridge. I did however expect to be sideswiped with original problems like no sour cream if no cow so I don’t know what I’m complaining about.

2.
This little thought goes out to mom and dad, and comes at the expense of grampa.
So, tea is big in my family too, not quite the event that it is here but… My mom has a beautiful collection of tea pots and cozies and we/they have a cup of tea after dinner especially if people are over for dinner. If not, mom can always be found with a mug of it late at night. But when July and August roll around what’s to be done. No one wants hot tea when its 100 degrees out. …no one but grampa. “It’s a thousand degrees out and your grampa wants a pot of hot tea!”
Well grampa you’re in good company. I have found your people, and they are called Central Asians. You have to have a good excuse not to have hot tea 100 times a day here, and, “it’s 40 degrees (104F) and I’m slow roasting in the sun,” is no excuse.
It’s awful.

25 shaberkova street

25 SHABERKOVA STREET

I moved in during the last few days of April. There was some debate over whether Dina would live there too or not. She wouldn’t because Dina is Kazakh and my landlord is Ukrainian. She would because she had no where else to go. Turns out homelessness beat out a half century of ethnic tension (…this time…), and Dina moved in a few days later.
Going home: When I leave my office I walk around the back of the building and stop in at Kamilla’s, my favorite shop where they’ll tell me the truth about how old the carrots are and they’ll goat me on and ‘hurrah!’ when I throw out a few Kazakh words. I get an ice cream cone and walk through the field between the office and the first row of houses. The prettiest house in town is owned by a man named Orlan. He has one of those permanent tracheotomies, so I have to focus REALLY hard on what he’s saying. …and he has a lot to say. He gives me wet kisses on the cheek and hooks his arm with mine and walks me around his property while I eat my ice cream. He keeps me up to date on the progress of his veg garden and potatoes and rose bushes and little apple trees and tiny little nut tree, and reminds me every single time of his three little pine trees. They are like a million years old and barely come up to my thighs. Then I make an excuse and walk through the field behind his house.
From there you can see my house, which looks exactly like the two houses on either side of it. Soviet era architecture. From there you also have a window out to pure steppe. In the morning and in the evening there is constant livestock traffic. Sheep, cattle, and goats going out to the steppe and coming home at night. My favorites are the cattle in the evening because there is usually a woman in a bathrobe and flip flops with a stick and 4 year old on a tricycle involved. There is also a big puddle where geese ducks flop around. I give it a wide berth because the geese have their fuzzy yellow babies and are particularly ferocious. I skirt around the best fence in the world, made out of old beds, car doors, rusted out buckets, metal things off of tanks, anything and everything metal tightly tangled together. To keep the tomatoes from escaping I guess. And then I’m home. There are almost always a couple babushkas at the gate with their scarves and slippers. The babushkas here are perhaps the most masculine people in town, heaving dirt and 100 pound buckets of water around. Also our neighbor is one of the sustainable fishers so he almost always has his nets draped over our clothes lines untangling them picking on leaves and bumping Kazakh pop from his Lada car stereo. So I duck under the nets, endure the babushkas and slip through the fence.
25 Shaberkova street: Our house doesn’t have running water. I have a giant metal “flyaga” that I cart across the street and fill at the well. It lasts me a few days if I don’t have to wash the floors, my clothes, my body and my hair all on the same day. I genuinely don’t mind the situation, but I certainly don’t envy people with large families, no plumbing and far away wells. So no plumbing means what? No toilet. There is a Turkish squat in the “sarai” where the birds are kept. A Turkish squat is just a hold in the ground with a few boards over and you hunker down and keep a tight grip on your keys and cell phone. I don’t mind it during the day. But at night… I don’t want to ask my land lord for the key so I can fight off geese in the dark only to miss the hole because I can’t see it end up peeing all over my jeans. This happens. In real life. So instead, I just scoot around the side of the house and pee in the street. Not sure how that feels more civilized, but it does.
Our gas range has three burners and an oven. One burner only leaks gas and the oven works better as a cupboard. We buy giant balloons of gas for 1,200 tenge. They last a month. We also have what I affectionately refer to as the Soviet Era Easy Bake Oven. It has two temperatures- “on” and “unplugged.” It’s soviet gray, and is about the size of an easy bake oven. I’ve had surprising success with it making cinnamon rolls and carrot bread. I love it.
Our beds are… truly awful. Think of a hammock. Make it smaller and make it out of curly metal. Then put a thin mat on top. I need to solve this problem. Maybe a few more mats are in order. But I have a fluffy goose down comforter and that’s nice.
Our neighbor and landlord Tyotya Galya (Auntie Galina) brings us goose and chicken eggs and half living fish and half dead flowers, bricks of animal fat. (Bits of string and rocks that look like Richard Nixon…) She’s one of the tough breeds of babushka. She thoroughly enjoyed Colin when the boys and Katie came down for a few days. Enjoyed him enough to offer up the garden house if he found a local girl he wanted to bring in. Yeah… but who doesn’t love Colin.
That’s a weird note to end on.
The end.

camping trip

I knew that Tony was coming with his buddy from Germany for a long time. Katie wanted a break and asked if she could get in on the trip. I’d never say no to Katie. That goes double for Jody who also wanted to come but scheduling screwed her at the last minute. And when the train rolled through the south, Tony and his buddy grabbed Collin. So my quiet camping trip for three turned into campstravaganza.
Wednesday May 7th
I went to meet Tony, his buddy, Collin, and Katie in Astana. Even in the shutie ride between Astana and my village, I could see the difference between village life and city life. One of my (unnamed) guests immediately laid into people on the shutie about how much he hated Astana. Uh huh. Nope. You don’t come to this oblast’ (or even this country) and tell people how their brand new capital is ugly and lacks character and is just plain awful. …even though we all know its true. Nope. If we were in a city, that would be one thing, he would just be insulting random strangers. But in a small community the person he happened to single out was one of the potential host families I rejected who also happens to be a guest house operator. But it could have just as easily been the magazine lady who I frequent or anyone else who knows me, where I live, work and shop. I was really disappointed. And embarrassed. But never mind… it’s just a thing that happened.
That night we waited while a herd of sheep crossed on the way to my house. We got water at the well. We stoke the coal oven for heat and cooking. I got the awed reaction I was basically hoping for. I need to be shored up occasionally, reassured that I get my hands dirty, where most others have taxis and central heating and indoor plumbing.
Thursday May 8th
The next day we toured the reserve center, and they were all thoroughly impressed even though it is still largely under construction. We went on the loop around town to the mosque, post office, magazines, banya, then back home to pack up. I think that they weren’t so much interested in it all except for buddy who had a camera with a high price tag and an eye for photos he’d seen in National Geographic- kids with dirt on the cheeks and concrete slabs where soviet apartment blocks used to be.
That night we went in two shifts to the camping site. First Tony and Collin with the equipment, then me, Katie and buddy. The UNDP has many initiatives in the land around the reserve, and one of them is sustainable distant pasture grazing. So we were on the property of a man named Kaierbek who was a UNDP grant recipient and has a substantial parcel of land along the river Nura where he tends a herd of cattle, a herd of horses, and a flock of sheep. He has a small white and blue concrete house in a place… it’s hard to explain. In any direction there is nothing but the curve of the earth and a dark patch of animals. Remote. Our camp was about a 30 minute walk from this place.
I lied. The one thing penetrating the sky line was a decrepit Kazakh cemetery, used between the 1920’s and 1940’s. The largest mausoleum was for someone born in 1886 and buried in 1936. The marker was in Arabic and barely legible anyway. It was built out of handmade mud and straw bricks. The dome had partly fallen in and now birds pulled straw from the bricks and the tiniest little irises grew over where there must be a body underfoot. When buddy (who was full of complaints) declared “it’s not even that old. The big one is only 1936,” I had to bite my tongue. Who ever that person was probably saw the height of the Russian empire, just like he saw the fall of the Emperor and the rise of communism. He saw his people move from yurts and to houses. That fact alone, of their nomadic lives before the 1920’s, means that this would be among the earliest of cemeteries for ordinary people. He would have just begun to witness the building and occupation of the gulags in Malinevka (not far from there) where intelligentsia, writers and artists were held. Then he died. So no. I’m sure living in Europe buddy sees graves from 400 years ago. But it’s all relative. This old cemetery is noteworthy, and the people buried in it are not insignificant. Our camp was right next to this place.
Friday, May 9th
When we woke Tony had already been out for an hour and a half eating fresh butter and fishing with Kaierbek. He lost our lure so that was the end of fishing. But we still had the boat. Collin couldn’t be helped. He’s built like Michael Jordan and it was a tiny little rubber dingy. He kept yelling “I don’t know how to get my knees out of the way!” But the german know-it-all-engineer and Tony the outdoorsman? I’m not sure what their excuse was. After a lot giggling and mockery, it turned out that the ladies were the best boatmen- and not by a small margin either. So we took our bottle of vodka and a cucumber and went off for DIRTY BIRDIES LADIES LUNCH- which we made a huge deal about with British accents and everything. While boating wasn’t a problem, getting in and out of the boat was a pain in the ass. There banks of the river involved mud and clay up your knees for at least a meter. There was nothing to be done except wade through it and remind ourselves that when Astana was a Russian fort they used to come to these banks for the ‘therapeutic and medicinal mud.’
We came back and fell asleep in the sun.
After lunch Kaierbek rode over on his horse and let us all go for a ride up and down the river bank. When I had my turn I asked all the right questions about his herds and his family, and came up with this information: Kaierbek has a wife who is a teacher in the district (presumably Korgalzhyn village) and together they have two daughters the oldest being 30 and they just had a son who is 2. This is his summer house, during the winter they live in the district together. He has something like 60 cows, 30 or 40 horses, and a substantial flock of sheep. For a horse in just slaughter products he can get $2,400 (weird he quoted in USD). (We later found that if I were to be married off my husband’s family would give a dowry to my family, and I’d be worth a few good horses at least.) There were some other things I missed but somehow inflation affected the price of metal and things are hard now. I know I’m missing a piece in there, but I can’t figure out what it is.
When everyone had had their turn on the horse (except Katie who didn’t want to) he invited us to come and have tea with him later. So just before sunset we walked from our camp to his house where he had the samovar heating water. We went in and had tea around the dasterhan (low round table). I don’t know how to explain it. I’ve known generous people and been the recipient of a lot of generosity and hospitality. But this man had 4 things to offer- butter he had made by hand the day before, bread, black tea and sugar. He apologized saying that he had only just arrived to set up the place a few days earlier and didn’t have the garden put in so didn’t have jams or milk, and was still waiting for produce to come in from the city until then. But all he had he shared. The butter was delicious, and the tea was relief from filtered river water and vodka. We talked for a long time about cattle prices and bride prices. We talked about how to make kumis (fermented mares milk) and I was invited back next week when the kumis will be ready. Mostly we talked a lot about how to get me married. He told me that the statue outside of Korgalzhyn is a statue commemorating the first interracial marriage in the district between a Russian and Kazakh. The statue commemorates that woman. So he has a few men in mind for me too look at and then were going to find a place to put my statue commemorating American love of Kazakh men. Yep… it always come back to that…

Sunday, March 2, 2008

we have a wiener

If I had to rank my best moments in KZ I officially have a new winner. (Or shall I say I have a new wiener.)
Pop pop is making his own dictionary with lyrics from his favorite songs and every day phrases like “give me ---, please” “I really like ---.” Today he set himself to body parts. Hair. Eyes. Ears. Neck. Then we got south of the neck. Pop pop has a dirty but silly sexual streak in him. I played coy and giggled that, “I don’t think English has a word for those.” (Breasts, boobs, chest, tits…) I fought my instinct with every bone in my body, but it was too late. I was on a path. In fact I warned him that I was going to tell him things that weren’t true. But he persisted. “I’m not telling you the slang! But the medical word is “wiener”.” I could hardly contain myself when he diligently wrote “wiener” in his little hand-made dictionary next to the Kazakh word for boobs. He copped this triumphant little smirk like, “I have won this battle.” He then turned to our neighbor and declared, “Give me wiener please! More black wiener please!” This turned out to be too much and I shot tea out my nose and choked on my own hysteria. I was so happy I was drooling. (FYI: Why would he specifically say “black wiener?” He knows my phrase “more black tea please”.)
I’d like to think these are the things JFK had in mind when he formed the Peace Corps and said “ask what you can do for your country.” America. I have done this for you. You can thank me later.