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.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I believe the term you're looking for is cannon fodder.

Islamabad. August, 2005.

Posted by Dakota on 4:01 PM link |

Sunday, October 10, 2004

It has occured to me that any regular readership of my blog has no doubt been lost by the three week hiatus in blogging. What hurts more than the burning slap of one's friends turning their backs on one's broadcast to the world is that despite three weeks (dare I say one month) spent blogless, I still have absolutely nothing to say.

Short declarative sentences will perhaps serve me best here: It is Sunday morning. I am hungover. This is nothing new.

Last night I attended a wedding at a Unitarian Universalist church and can now say on good authority: that's a weird damn religion. The service opened with the preistess (I believe she preferred the term "reverend" but her wishes not withstanding, she was assuredly a priestess) announcing: "In the name of love, Amen. You may be seated." I appreciated her cessation of communal standing, but couldn't help but take "in the name of love, amen" and mental flip it into "Oh, for the love, amen." It deserved a chuckle, but as a dignified "diplomat" (a job title I still can't take seriously), I resigned myself to tittering back and forth while repressing the urge to heckle.

Self control was maintained throughout the wedding, despite the fact the UUists, despite a lack of a cohesive belief system (outside of respect for the dignity of all human beings, a proposition that, while admirable, is nonetheless ridiculously bland and honestly could be expected of just about anyone, dictators and employees of Martin's Tavern in Georgetown notwithstanding), are apparantly all about downers in their union ceremonies. Specifically, the priestess kept bringing up sorrow, death, fighting, and the imminent possibility of divorce. Here's to the wedding: don't hold your breath.

But downers or otherwise, the wedding, as all good weddings should, featured large amounts of wine that can only be described as pink. Say what you will about the Zinfindel (or, if you prefer, about my inherent lack of class): you toss in a splash of seven-up (or, preferably, brand-name-free generic lemon-lime carbonated beverage) and you're off to the proverbial races.

In unrelated news: as I drag deeply on the cigarette which is compounding my intense hangover (one that has grown exponentially as the morning has progressed), I am mentally formulating a list of "Lifestyle Changes" that I fully plan to implement once the United States Government (hereafter USG) feels fit to inform me of my ultimate destination for the next one to two years. High on that list is quitting smoking. Higher is learning how to ride the bicycle I purchased yesterday.

On Dionysus:

1. For those not in the know, Dionysus is the shiny new bicycle I purchased yesterday for far more money than I had available.

2. Dionysus is a fixed-gear track bike, and despite the adage recounted at least 27 times in the bike store yesterday and then repeated by me dozens more times before the end of my evening at 3:31 a.m., it is NOT, in fact, like riding a bicycle. For example: I had to pay extra to have a brake installed. Call me old school if you will, but I consider a brake to be an integral part of bicycle, and not a feature that I'm wiling to be without. ("There's no brake? How do you stop?" "Well... you just kind of stop pedaling.")

3. Stopping pedaling is not an option on Dionysus. The back wheel is affixed permanently and irrevocably to the only gear, and the only gear is linked, unsurprisingly, to the pedals. The old notion of "coasting" is a habit that's surpringly hard to break one's self of. Wheels, gear, pedals: so long as there's forward momentum, the pedals will be turning. Attempting to stand while going downhill results in awkward up and down motion of the body with one's anatomical seat jouncing wildly on the less corporeal seat of the bicycle. Passersby chuckle. It's not ok.

4. My ass hurts. A lot.

5. Apparantly a near terminal lack of exercise (not true: I walk nearly five blocks twice daily in order to get from my bedroom to the metro and back, and as I am invariably running late, I have no choice but to sprint up the incalculably large number of stairs in the Rosslyn metro in order to catch my shuttle) means that getting a new-exercise intense piece of commuting equipment will result in sore muscles. I again find myself in the bizarre position of trying to explain to myself why my neck hurts. Not the back of the neck that connects the head to the shoulder muscles, as would be normal and explainable, but rather the front of my neck (a part of the body I've taken to referring to, lovingly, as my turkey-fat), which modern medical science informs me has no muscle to actually be strained. Say what you will. It hurts.

As mentioned, on Tuesday the USG wil be casually informing me of my fate. This much I know: I will assuredly be sent to one of the 25 places I asked for; otherwise they would've told me on Friday (early informing of random global placement is a cunning strategy which the USG refers to as "tears avoidance;" while one is expected to cry on being informed of a random posting to Bujumbura (Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, is State code for "horrific posting in the middle of nowhere"), one is expected to do it in the privacy of one's own home before continuing on to put on a happy face for one's coworkers).

I had a point when I started that last paragraph. I have long since forgotten it.

At this point, since it's the nicest day in the history of days, I feel compelled to take Dionysus out for a spin, perhaps as far as the office. Since I can stop this ridiculous practice of wearing a suit to work every day starting on the 22nd of October, I will be commuting to work via bicycle; that said, the more I stare at the map, the more biking to work seems like the worst idea I've ever had. Ever.

My ass still hurts. The best of days.

Posted by Dakota on 12:20 PM 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).

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