Face The Sun: Let There Be Light!
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are exclusively those of its author, and are not in any way meant to reflect the opinions or policies of the US Government.

Past Travelogues.

Finland, Estonia, Petersburg

Kirovograd, Ukraine


Tirana, Albania

Macedonia & Romania

Budapest to Bucharest

Balkans and Poland.

Christiania, Copenhagen.

Northern Norway

Northern Finland


Kashgar, briefly

More to come, Inshallah, as I go through old paper travel journals.

The DC experience, archived.

July '05
June '05
December '05
October '04
More to come should interesting things happen to me. Ever.

Blatent Plagiarism

The nation's largest chain bookstore has indicated that, due to lack of consumer interest, it has stopped selling books.
--Frederick Raphael, The Glittering Prizes

I feel this is the equivalent of a surgeon, skipping through a radiology department singing, 'I don't have cancer, I don't have cancer!'
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

Mum is crying with her faced turned away from me, gulping and honking like an injured seal. And I'm rolled up in the back seat wishing the old man would stop the car and make her walk. That or buy her a fish.
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

I love it when well-educated women sweaar -- the words regain their original power and meaning when delivered unexpectedly with so much poise.
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

She lived with her mother, who looked like an old labrador, and an old labrador.
--Will Self, Great Apes

When I was small and would leaf through the Old Testament retold for children and illustrated in engravings by Gustave Dore, I saw the Lord God sitting on a cloud. He was an old man with eyes, nose, and a long beard, and I would say to myself that if He had a mouth, He had to eat. And if He ate, He had intestines. But that thought always gave me a fright, because even though I come from a family that was not particularly religious, I felt the idea of a divine intestine to be sacrilegious.
--Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Quality is merely the distribution aspect of Quantity.
--Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister

...In the frank brilliance of the bright sun, which, as we all know, is the friend of heroes.
--Jose Saramago, All the Names

He stuttered so badly that you could go out and buy yourself a chocolate bar while he was wrestling with an initial p or b; he would never try to bypass the obstacle by switching to a synonym, and when the explosion finally did occur, it convulsed his whole frame and sprayed the interlocutor with triumphant saliva.
--Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister

To Stand on Jericho's Walls and Face the Sun.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

An unexpected development: for the first time in nearly four years in office, George W. Bush actually used the g-word publicly.

Posted by Dakota on 8:19 AM link |
Out of the blue, an email: from Tay-jota, who offered to buy me a beer when I get back to America.  Unexpected? Indeed.

Posted by Dakota on 6:16 AM link |

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

On Naderbret, and Suzanne

All right, all right, enough whining. I speak you this:

Weeks ago, holed up in Zhytomyr, an hour and a half outside of Kiev, studying Russian and generally killing time. Bored. Shot an email to Naderbret: Are you there, god? It's me, Dakota. Quoth he: get on the train tonight. Cat sitting kept me occupied one night further, and then to Kiev, and Kiev to Kherson, hometome of Naderbret.

Train to platform in Kherson: time totalling 13 hours or so, arriving on a brisk but sunny morning at 5 a.m. I had emailed before to say: this is when my train leaves, arriving no doubt ungodly early: I'll sleep in the station till a reasonable hour and then call you.

Exit the train, planning to find a corner to curl up in. Give the taxi touts look of death to imply: don't mess with me, ass face: you know not with whom you deal. And then a voice down the platform: Naderbret. Quoth he: Why the long face?

And next to him, blond bouncing curls and a disposition like sunlight, easy smile set below royal cheekbones and perfect complexion: Suzanne. And I turned to face this Sun. She is, as they say, the ideal yin to his yang: outgoing to his isolationism, anthropophilic to his misanthropism, base to his acidity, sweet to his bitter. Overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming, and touched with an incredible hand when it comes to the complicated processes of making fruit tarts, cobblers, pies and compotes, she seems, for all intents and purposes, perfect. One could say hits all the important W's for dating Naderbret, being warm, welcoming, witty, and wegetarian. Naderbret remains largely the same (and thank god for that; who in this world would want him any other way?), but different in the way that the ace of spades looks when it's standing next to a fistful of other face cards, dressed in black.

On Naderbret's accomodations: unique for Ukraine, in that the establishment is an actual house and not an apartment in a block thereof, set on a plot of land with scores of fruit trees (and an errant outhouse, still patronized by the landlady of whom Bret daily dreads the potential arrival), separated by fence from a lonely and tortured looking dog owned by a family of alcoholics. Enter to long but narrow kitchen setting off three rooms, one bedroom (naderbret's), a second bedroom with two beds (for guests) and a third room reserved by the landlady for her own personal use, filled with a large table, an antique sewing machine, and a final bed (on which I slept, despite landlady's territorial claims). The house is one of the nicest I have seen occupied by a peace corps volunteer, ever.

Consider: Kherson, of Naderbretfestplatz fame, is Ukrainian 'City of Brides,' meaning the ratioof females to males is two to one, even-on. Further add to the fact that Ukraine largely (dare I say entirely, and I consider myself an accurate judge thereof) lacks attractive males, due in part to a little fellows I like to call Stalin, and a little thing I like to call World War II, both of which had drastically disastrous impacts on the male population of Ukraine. The long and short of it is that Ukraine is the number one nation in the world for exporting brides, and Kherson is one if it's Bride Depots.

We: collectively, headed to an expat restaurant in the center of town for some deliciousness. The waiter: looks at Suzanne, and greets her: 'Zdravstvuytye.' And then turns to Naderber: 'Hello.' The other table sitting nearby gave him a dirty look: why, how dare he come and take away the Ukrainian women!

This continued until Suzanne cleared up the misconception. Apparantly is happens constantly.

I feel that I have more to say on this topic, but internet time runs low. More from me as events unfold.

Posted by Dakota on 4:49 AM link |

Friday, July 23, 2004


Well, so much for all that.  All that being finding a job in Turkey or flying to China to get work there. 

This just in from the dept. of State:

Hi Mark, This is your lucky week.  One of the candidates I was waiting on declined the offer.  Please read the statement below:

Your name has been reached and  I would  like to extend an offer for the September 7th hiring class for the Foreign Service.  

By accepting this offer you will begin a 7 week Orientation on September 7th.  After orientation you will begin several types of training courses that could last up to 9 months.  Please provide a current address where a confirmation packet and letter can be sent.  If this address is where you want the Dept of State to issue travel orders from, please indicate that as well.

Posted by Dakota on 4:50 AM link |

Thursday, July 22, 2004

And while we're at it: if any of you are in a celebrating mood, I hereby give you an excuse to do so: As of 10 July 2004, Diplomatic Security has given me a Security Clearance. As of 17 July 2004, the Department of State has given me 'Final Suitability Clearance,' meaning the only thing standing between me and a job is a few months.

And there's still a possibility of making September. my State contact is waiting to hear from 2 people; if either of them decline the class or don't get back to her, I get to take their place. The long and short of it: I'll know tomorrow whether I'm coming home in January or in a few weeks.

Posted by Dakota on 11:28 AM link |
For those who worry: I'm still in Ukraine, alive and well.

Have no fear: in a few days, I'll assuredly be giving you the grand update on Monsieur Naderbret and the lovely (dare I say wonderful) (No, fantastic) (fantastic isn't strong enough) (perhaps you get my point) Suzanne.

Indeed. More from me shortly. Ish. Should you wonder: I am currently holed up in central Ukraine ('Kirovograd', if you're studying a map), living on the couch of a peace corps volunteer (whom I met three weeks ago) and studying Russian with a tutor. I'll probably be here for another week or two. We'll see.

Posted by Dakota on 11:13 AM link |

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Physical Fitness Regime: already a bust after 2 days. I remain corpulent and unmotivated.

Tomorrow night: Kherson ('Naderbretfestplatz')ward.

Posted by Dakota on 9:51 AM link |

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

So then, what's the single most difficult thing in the universe?

That would be yoga.

Go on, give it a shot. It'll kick your ass six ways from Sunday. And by that I mean: by the time we finished the warm-up, I was breathing heavily and could barely raise my arms above my head. Meanwhile, the videotaped instructor was going on and on about 'now, deep, controlled breaths, in... and out.'

By the end I was talking to the television. She: 'We're going to do three more of these, so...' I: 'Maybe YOU'RE doing three more of these. Bitch.'

In related news, I am SO karmically aligned right now.

Posted by Dakota on 9:02 AM link |
In an unexpected turn of events, I am now holed up in a small city an hour and a half outside of Kiev, Ukraine.

It goes like this (the fourth, the fifth): I'm still planning on going to Turkey and biking to Damascus-ish. In order to do so, I've got to get my tail in shape.

Zhytomyr, Ukraine, has now become HQ for intensive physical fitness training, as well as intensive Russian Refresher and Intensive Intro to Turkish, and Intensive Detox efforts as well.

Lots of intensity. We'll see how this goes.

I'm thinking: miserable failure. Also, I probably get bored in a week and call it all quits. But until then, we'll just have to see.

Posted by Dakota on 6:03 AM link |

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Ukrainian Wedding: check.

Nadedrbret: late arrival, with girlfriend Suzanne. I: hiding in the corner until he sat down.

He sits.

Quoth I: 'About time your late ass got here.' Quoth he: 'Holy shit!'

Mission accomplished.

Posted by Dakota on 4:43 AM link |
Current Location:
The People's Republic of China.

Stop by any time: everyone's welcome.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem to Be Born

Comments and requests for dates should be directed to email.

And here I am.

And for all you random folks out there whom I don't know, for the love of god, email me. I'm abroad, know no one, and look forward to hearing from you. I'm especially looking at YOU, whomever YOU are who's Facing The Sun all the way from Kenya. And Sweden. And Canada. And whatnot.

Books Tackled, 2006:

1. Jarhead, Anthony Swofford
2. Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia, Dennis Covington
3. A Brief History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
4. A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City, Anonymous
5. Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism, Dawn Prince-Hughes

This year's movies, in chronological order:

1. Kung Fu Hustle
2. A Wrinkle in Time
3. Pi: Faith in Chaos
4. My Big Fat Independent Movie
5. The Winter Guest
6. Voices in Wartime
7. What Dreams May Come
8. Farewell My Concubine
9. The Ring
10. Like Water for Chocolate
11. Sahara

Foreign Service Officers by day, Bloggers by day as well.

The Diplodocus
(Islamabad, Pakistan).

The Permanent Mission of Joshie
(Zagreb; Libyaward).

Prince Roy
(Chennai; Taiwanward).

Sue and not You
(Tbilisi, Georgia).

Life on the Mekong
(Vientiane, Laos).

FSO Globe Trotter
(Lahore, Pakistan).

Vice Consul: Diplomatically Transformed
(New Delhi, India).

Adventures in Good Countries

Our Man in Tirana
(Tirana, Albania).

Anne's Blog
(Kazakhstan; Greeceward).

(Bogota, Colombia).

Furnish Worldwide

Tasman's World
(Dhaka, Bangladesh).

(Lome, Togo).

World Adventurers
(Seoul, Korea).

Aaron Martz

A for Adventure
(Chennai, India).

The Excellent Adventures of Nickie P
(Paris, France).

Permanently Disco
(Dhaka, Bangladesh).

Consul At Arms
(Kingston, Jamaica).

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com
Five Random DC bloggers. Asterix indicates recently updated.