Monday, April 21, 2014


Dear Aunt Rose,

I always liked you. Ok, maybe that's way too strong a statement. I never minded your visits as much as my sisters did and do.
     I've always seen you as a fact I have to deal with and cursing you seems futile. Your visits are always short and never come at unexpected times. You arrive and leave with little pomp and circumstance and I always appreciated that. So thank you.
     However, now that I am in Ethiopia, your visits are starting to become cumbersome. I would appreciate if you could just take a vacation, a little breather. Go to some tropical island and sip on a bloody Mary. You'll love it, I promise. It's just your style.

Thanks a bunch,

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Peace Corps Baby

Dear friends and family,

I have been in Ethiopia for a little over nine months now and I've come to realize something, Peace Corps is a lot like being pregnant. (As I've gathered from listening to other people tell me what it's like to be pregnant.)

In Peace Corps there is a lot of vomiting. Weird foreign agents grow inside one's intestines and really mess with one's pee and poop schedule. (You never know when it's going to blow.)

I myself, have craved food I never liked before and have eaten the weirdest combinations of things.

I'm sleeping a lot and my back and feet ache constantly.

It's strange, full of bouts of explainable depression, and you find yourself counting down the days until this horror will end.

Despite all this, it feels rewarding, beautiful and you find pride in the miracle you are a part of.

The only difference is that, instead of being pregnant for only nine months I'm 'pregnant' for 27 (18 more to go guys) and what I'm gestating is not a whiny mini-me that poops a lot. It's a fully grown new-me (that quite frankly poops a lot.) We just have to wait a little longer to see what exactly this new iteration will be.

Love, Julia

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Spider Chronicles, A Spider Victory

As my war rages with the arachnids I have always stayed ahead. I have, at times, been impressed by their tenacity and creative endeavors to claim my home as their territory but, as the superior opponent I have earned victory in all our encounters. But all goliaths will fall. Last night's battle proved a victory for the enemy.
            They waited months for my guard to go down and then attacked as I was cleaning up my modest meal of the evening. It scurried fast, sticky legs hugging the wall as it raced along the slightly uneven surface. I let out a startled cry and swiftly backed away from my counter. Suds and water dripped from my fingers as I braced myself for a fight. It must have scouted the perfect location for this attack. It positioned itself by my food so I couldn't use my bug spray for the risk of poisoning my rations and it was safe behind large, bulky water buckets so I couldn't get a good angle with a shoe. I decided I had to try anyway.
            Yet the spider countered every move I made. I took one step towards my shoes, it scurried a little closer. I took another step and it scurried closer. I lunged for my shoes and it dropped out of sight. I let out another shriek. At this second shriek I heard the cries of my anxious neighbors. I beat a retreat from my home. The spiders had won.
            I was saddened and ashamed at my loss. It was a dark night.

            The spider was not victorious for long. Reinforcements soon came and evicted the disgusting creature in only a matter of minutes. Zed forced the spider from under the table with a volley of bug spray and quickly smashed it with a shoe, sweeping it out of sight and into a rain ditch. My ally was strong and fearless when coming to my aid. I thank him and send this blog as a tribute to his strength.

The spider from the first installment of this saga was twice as big.

Monday, March 31, 2014

An Observation in the Wrong Frame of Mind

It was such a delicate touch.
Barely a soft caress.
Like a lover flirting with a kiss
Softly brushing an eyelash.
Are you a lover?
A magnificent black and tan beast,
The oil on your hide shining in the sun.

You stand larger than the shops lining the street.
Your flat nose bent down
Sniffing at something.

The not yet sun-bleached skull
Of one of your fellows
A small patch of hide
Still fastened between the horns.

Do you recognize the smell?
Is it a friend?
Or a vague memory of a friend.

Maybe it was a brother
And the smell of what's left
Of him evokes memories.
Sad and beautiful in their pain.

Or is it a stranger? Someone you never knew,
Never loved
And you are merely exploring the morbidity of your own death when

Your skull will join his in that ditch.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Importance of Soft.

Dear Past Me,

Thank you so much. I am extremely grateful that you had the foresight to hide little pieces of toilet paper in random pockets of our backpack. As we all know, I can be a little forgetful at times to bring my soft with me. When I was struck with the need to use the facilities today I had what I needed, all because of you. You truly are a lifesaver.
            I will try to remember to replace what I used so future us will not be without (we both know she's an airhead).


            Present Us.

Monday, March 17, 2014

YeWubalem Megibet (Wubalem's Restaurant)

This is from my favorite restaurant in town. They always present coffee on a little tray. It has all the fixings for a proper buna ceremony. There's even an adorable little mini-stove for the incense (itan, I like it better than sandal). I can pour as many cups as I want in my own time and put as much sugar as I want. No more, when I say "sikwar yellem" (no sugar) will I get looks that plainly say "are you crazy?!"

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Students Are Awesome

Here is a traditional Ethiopian dance from the Amhara region as described by a few of my students.