Sunday, November 30, 2008

Squash Story

I cooked a spaghetti squash tonight after being inspired by Kath Eats Real Food. The instructions she lists are really as easy as they seem, and the outcome is delicious. It's fun to scrape out the strings, too.

But there's more - and more evidence that food is more than just fuel. When I brought the squash home, Dad said he remembered having that as a kid. Tonight, he topped some squash with some jarred pasta sauce, took a bite, and looked at me. "Lisa, I haven't had this since my dad was alive." Now, my dad is not the most emotionally open person you'll meet; "gruff" is a good word to describe him. The way he said that made me pause - I could tell he enjoyed the squash for more than the taste. I felt really good about that.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Boredom is draining

You get a rush every so often, but for the most part retail is boring as hell. I'm not used to just standing around at work. At Kroger, there's always someone at the deli counter, always markdowns to be done. As my boss was fond of saying, "if you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean." At Sears it's just ... stand around. I would walk through my department making an idiot of myself, saying hello and how are you and can I help you, because I was so goddamn bored. Besides me, there are three boys in my department: two seventeen-year-olds and a sixteen-year-old. The sixteen-year-old is all right, but good lord. I forgot what an alien breed teenage boys are.

I hope I'll have more energy when I get used to the schedule. In the meantime there's a tree to decorate.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Did you find everything you were looking for?

That's a somewhat existential question for a cashier to ask.

Aside from the early start, work wasn't so bad today. Only two people swore at me. The fellow who worked with me for most of the morning said I was doing "really really great." The vast majority of the people that I rang up were indifferent or actually in good spirits.

After the shift, I was tired and more than a little peevish ... and then I got to have lunch with my sister and two of our dearest friends. All I had was salad and chicken noodle soup, but it really hit the spot. Getting to see two wonderful people helped my mood as well. I bought some cheapo and rather ugly jewelry to de- and re-construct. I've been inspired by a fellow blogger to expand beyond the pog earrings.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I felt kind of sick most of today. I ate more than normal, of course, but this wasn't the regular oh-I-ate-a-lot full feeling; it was pain. The food was great - I mean, my grandmother's stuffing really can't be topped - but I think that whole gastric-slowing issue kicked in again. For readers who might not be as familiar with the effects of anorexia: when your body is in starvation mode, it grabs on to any food it gets and doesn't let it ... out. Yet another reason why recovery is so hard.

There were plenty of good things about today - I should focus on those, and not on the leaden-stomach feeling. Animals were a surprisingly significant portion of the conversation. After dinner, we played trivia games - with a buzzer set. My family is such a funny, interesting, and exceedingly good-hearted bunch of people.

My job is among the many things for which I'm thankful. But ... 5 AM? Really? The good thing is I'll be out of there by 1-ish, so I'll have some day to myself.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I feel heavy. My feet, my head, my legs, my arms. And especially my belly. I'm trying so, so hard to get those thoughts out of my head, but I just can't seem to shake them.

I also need to get some motivation and do some of the mountains of work that need doing. If I can't do thesis work at the moment, I can at least work on a final draft of my summer paper. Or that lesson thing.

My sisters are watching one of those wedding shows. I seriously do NOT want a big fancy wedding, whenever that time comes. Walking down the aisle was not something I fantasized about as a kid. Simplicity is the keyword. I want an inexpensive dress that makes me feel pretty, I want my family and close friends there, and I want to have a fun, easygoing reception with a quality open bar and good food. Actually, I'd be okay with eloping, except my mother would be really hurt. I don't want a diamond (unless it's one of those nifty lab-created ones). I do not want a dress that costs more than my classes, I do not want an elaborate sit-down dinner with organic truffle-stuffed figs (my sister is a picky eater), I do not want out-of-season orchids from the mountains of Indonesia. I just want people (including me) to have a good time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gee, thanks, WebMD! Part Deux

Kids, this article is a trigger. Just so you know.

This month's helpful holiday hints: "You Gonna Eat That?" Or, How to be an Exercise Bulimic in Time for the Holidays.

Though I guess I'm being a tad hypocritical. I'm not sorry I relaxed and ate what I wanted, but there's almost always anxiety afterward. Jim told me, explicitly, that I look good. I can't even explain how much that means, because he's seen me through a good portion of my recovery. But try as I might, I can't stop the sneaky thoughts, the fears. I'm literally afraid to weigh myself - even though I know, I fucking fucking know, that it's just a fucking number. Food journal? Considering it.

Come on. I'm happier now, there's so much that I can do that I couldn't do while I was restricting (like think clearly and understand jokes). This damn tug-of-war is getting old.


To Every Teacher I've Maligned:

I'm sorry. Your job is hella hard.

Okay, I know what I'm doing at the interview isn't really teaching. If I get into Teach for America, I'll have a subject, a grade level, curricula and learning objectives. I'll have stuff to work with (with which to work - forgive me, I'm thinking about grammar lessons). With this assignment, I can do anything I want, for any grade level. It's too much: the First Amendment or the difference between a simile and a metaphor? Subject and predicate agreement, writing concisely or the 1970s oil embargo?

Part of the problem is that I haven't done this in a long time. College classes were such a wonderful change from what I knew - I didn't have to ask before I went to the bathroom! No one was going to give me detention for gum or a travel mug! Now I have to go back to all those memories and try to dig out the good lessons, the ones that stuck and made sense. Oi.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Don't call on me, don't call on me, don't call on me ...

Yep, back in the real world. I have a face-to-face interview with Teach for America - it's December 11 at UC. I have to read a bunch of articles, dress up pretty (read, "conservative suit"), appear intelligent, and oh, yeah, make up a five minute lesson. And then teach it.

That thud you just heard was the reality check heard round the world. What the flying fuck was I thinking when I applied for this? Sometimes I can't coherently create a sentence - how can I teach a child?

At the same time, it's kind of neat. I can teach anything I want, as long as it's capable of being understood within five minutes. I could talk about a poem (not T.S. Eliot, unfortunately). I could talk about a little-known-but-important historical event. Ooh, grammar! People have said that, in my writing, I'm good at taking complicated concepts and making them easier to understand. And I can bring any kinds of materials I want.

So. Within the next three weeks, here are things I need to do:
1. Prepare for interview.
2. Finish "final draft" of my paper from this summer. My mentor told me I was "pretty much done" when the internship ended this summer, so it just needs a final re-drafting. I shouldn't worry. But I do.
3. Re-ignite thesis progress. Everything was going well, and then it all just ... dried up. Ughhghg, thinking about that makes me regret that second helping of soup.
4. Get in touch with my internship director and work out exactly what I'll be doing.

C'mon, Lisa. Make it fucking work.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


My goodness, what a weekend I have had. Just ... two months is a very long time to go without seeing someone you love. I'm so glad I got to visit - I needed this.

Tomorrow morning I have to rejoin the real world. And I can't sleep.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Going to see Jim today! I have icky pre-flight jitters - not about the actual in-the-air portion, but about getting my boarding pass, going through security, successfully boarding the MARC train at BWI, not losing my bags or my head, etc. However, Jim told me his fireplace is now functional (whether he has a couch yet I still don't know), and there's nothing my cold feet love more than a crackling fire.

Maybe I will make roasted veggie soup for us. I am inordinately proud of myself for that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In the kitchen

I actually made something that involved more than steaming vegetables and adding jarred pasta sauce! Last winter Jim and I made roasted vegetable soup for my sister and our friends, and I thought I'd give it a try tonight. I cut up carrots, parsnips, radishes, a little onion, half a squash, and half a red pepper, tossed them in a little olive oil and some spicy seasoning blend, then stuck them in the oven. It was a little haphazard - I guessed and set the oven at 425 degrees, and the veggies took about an hour to get soft. Then I blended them with some chicken broth and reheated everything.

It was so good! Even my parents liked it - Mom said she never would have tried something like that. I'm pretty proud, if I do say so myself. I had seconds.

Yearbooks again

After looking through old yearbooks yesterday, I wondered what had happened to the ones I was actually in. I found my senior yearbook stuffed in the corner of one of our overflowing bookshelves and paged through it. Volleyball, Drama Club, Academic Team (proud captain and Nerd Extraordinaire), the newspaper - you know, it wasn't all terrible. I'm not saying I want to go back, but there were friendships I had there that I'll always treasure. And hey, how many people can say they wore a fur suit in front of the entire student body?

Once I got over the initial nostalgia, though, I came a slightly uncomfortable realization.

I was not fat. Not. Fat.

My parents were right. My English teacher was right, my math teacher was right, the administrative assistant was right. My ex was right. There was not a damn thing wrong with the way I looked. Why had I hated every picture of me? I have a great smile! Four years of orthodontia was money well spent.

I can't go back and keep myself from developing anorexia. It happened, it's still something I struggle with. But damnit, we have got to stop making weight and our bodies a moral issue. Not everybody goes clinical, I know. But enough shit happens in high school without that additional stressor.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Home again

Whew, what a day. I haven't really stopped moving since 9:30, when I turned in my paper. Then I drove home, scarfed lunch, did some quick thesis communication, and went back to the mall for another interview. Ta-da - I got hired! I'll be cashiering in the small appliances section at Sears. So if you're in the market for a stand mixer or a microwave, I'm your girl.

Tomorrow is a free day. My sisters don't have school, so we might do something together. I'll have plenty of time to pack up for Thursday.

In other news, my mom picked up some old yearbooks from the Bethel Historical Society. They're fascinating. This year's book with be the 125th one ever issued! Mom used to complain that she had to put her number on her "jersey" with masking tape, but she never had to wear bloomers like the class of 1923.

She also brought home the school's copy of the 1998-1999 book. Let me just say that I'm so, so glad I'm no longer in high school. Those four years are good for no one.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I'm all a-jumble today:

1. The quarter is just about over. My only sit-down final was at noon, and tomorrow I have to turn in a paper that just needs a conclusion and some editing. Then I zoom back home for another job interview.

2. I'm finally making progress with my thesis. I can't write much more than that, but suffice it to say that "thesis" actually means "big hairy awful life-eating project."

3. At my grandparents' on Sunday, my new healthier/happier self was briefly discussed. And it didn't freak me out, because they know me, it was part of a larger conversation and dangit, they're right. I do look better.

All right, time to get writing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Well, the day certainly didn't begin promisingly. After driving through cold rain to get to my first interview, I was informed that the online system often didn't fully process applications. As a result, there was no one there to conduct my interview. Before I could stop myself I blurted "Are you serious?" like the 14-year-old I am on the inside. I came all the way home this weekend to interview, and this is what happens? I quickly apologized and explained, and the woman I spoke with got me rescheduled for next week.

I made my way to a certain holiday kiosk. I'd spoken with a manager and received an email about open interviews today. The employee I spoke with looked at me like I was from Mars - apparently the email had been sent out by mistake. What's worse - I'd missed the manager by about ten minutes. She gave me his cell number, but said she wasn't sure if he could make it back.

I contemplated chucking it all and going home, but damned if I was leaving without a fair shake. Once I called the guy, my luck started to turn around. He came back and our interview went well - I made him chuckle a few times, and it seemed genuine. I'll know if I have the job in a couple of days. While I was at the mall, I filled out an application for a children's clothing retailer. They're having open interviews on Wednesday.

I made it home and worked on my paper until dinner, then waited anxiously for my Teach for America interview. It went pretty well, I think. My interviewer said that as she typed in my responses, the numbers coming back were "excellent." She said "excellent" a lot, actually; I think it was a verbal tic with her.

So now I just ... wait. But I have next weekend and a trip to D.C. to look forward to. It's been almost two months since I've seen Jim.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Is our children learning?

Yesterday I found out I made it through the first round of applicants for Teach for America. My phone interview is tomorrow night at 8:30.

Honestly, I didn't think I'd make it through. The program is selective and a lot of the applicants come from Ivies. I don't know if my essay and personal statement were all that good. I'd waffled for a while about whether or not to apply, and I wound up submitting the morning of the deadline.

I'm trying to think like an economist (thanks, Jim). There are benefits: I'll have a job with health insurance. I'll get to work with students directly. I'm convinced that good schools positively impact the surrounding community. It's like my work with Zienzele - it's not going to fix the system, but it could help the person who will.

There are costs, too, but they don't seem as tangible. Like it or not, I will be a young, white, privileged college graduate traipsing into a situation I neither know nor understand. No wonder there are reports of resentment among existing faculty. I don't want to be Princess Whitey rescuing poor brown children. After two years, I'm out of there - on to bigger and better things. Is there something wrong with that? And would my talents be put to better use trying to fix the system?

Okay, so that last bit was more anthropologist than economist. I'll keep thinking about it, and tomorrow I'll try to bring it up with my interviewer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This quarter I've been working with a professor in the College of Health and Human Services on something called the Healthy Schools Project. I named it, actually - it was just an amorphous thing we inherited from another prof . Our goal is to help local schools coordinate foodservice staff, parents, administrators, and students in order to improve the nutritional content of school lunches.

This has, at times, made me uncomfortable. Apparently the childhood obesity epidemic is the scariest thing since nuclear winter. Unfortunately, a lot of the literature I've read is along the lines of "OMG the kids are fatties here give them celery all better." I'm exaggerating a little, but the effect is similar. I agree that some cafeteria foods are crap. The so-called "pizza boat" that was available in my high school consisted of a giant slice of greasy pizza and a large sack of fries. Most people ate this with a packet of ranch dressing. They weren't obese or even overweight (most of my friends were slender), but that ain't good for anybody's arteries.

Unfortunately, the nutrition literature sometimes skims over the link between poverty and obesity. Foodservice and management writers get it - schools without much tax or state revenue sell "competitive foods" - the pizza, the Doritos, the Little Debbies. There's lots of other things mixed in, too - competitive foods have higher prestige, they're quicker to eat, they taste familiar and good. So the problem isn't necessarily going to be solved by cutting competitive foods and force-feeding kids celery sticks.

One project we're working on is posting nutritional information in cafeteria lines. I'm ... I'm not sure how I feel about this. There's the infamous NYC law that's caused a flurry all across the blogosphere. On the one hand, information is important. On the other hand, calories aren't everything (I tell myself that every day). I spoke up at a meeting last week and said I feel uncomfortable posting straight calorie counts. I don't think elementary and middle schoolers understand how to work that into a daily dietary plan - if kids are even thinking about that at all. Post information about fiber content, calcium, vitamins and minerals. Help kids choose foods that are going to nourish them - even if they have more calories! An eleven-year-old is going to do better with a turkey sandwich with cheese, tomato, lettuce, and mustard on whole wheat - which has protein, fiber, calcium, fat, and vitamins - than a side salad that might have fewer calories, but doesn't have all the other good stuff.

And I'm really trying not to let all this be a trigger.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bustin out all over

Recovery from anorexia is a lot like puberty. You're moody, you fight with your parents, and your body starts doing bewilderingly strange things. Like this morning, when I stepped out of the shower, looked down ... and my chest just seemed to announce itself. We're BAA-AAACK, my bosom said. And, like when I was fourteen and this happened for the first time, I felt happy and scared and weird all at once. But I wasn't imagining it. There's definitely more jiggle there than there used to be.

And sure, it makes me nervous. I was never really comfortable with my body before I developed anorexia, and I was eighteen. It must be even harder for people who developed ED at thirteen or fourteen. My body was this strange, uncooperative thing that bulged in all the wrong places. It wasn’t - I wasn't - small enough to tuck myself next to a boy, or huddle with a group of girls under a blanket at a football game. I was clumsy, both physically and socially. I still trip over myself frequently, but I feel much more at ease with people. And usually social grace trumps physical grace. And hopefully I'll be able to learn how to manage these ta-tas. This time around, I'm much more sure of who I am.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday - here we go

Wash your hands, but try not to create superbugs while you're at it.

"Census of Marine Life"
is a neat as it sounds.


Facebook: not just for posting party pictures anymore.

And note to self - clothing purchased while underweight doesn't usually fit once a healthy weight is attained. HEALTHY weight, Lisa. Remember, you can give blood now. You can get new clothes (or Goodwill clothes).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Game Plan


  • Prep for survey distribution
  • Turn in thesis prospectus
  • 12:00 PM - group meeting and presentation run-through
  • 1:00 PM - Presentation 1
  • 3:00 PM - Presentation 2
  • More prep for survey distribution


  • Distribute 800+ surveys to local schools. Local, out here, means 20 miles away
  • Buy roommate lunch/dinner for being my chauffer
  • Prepare poster for presentation 3


  • 10:00 AM: Presentation 3


  • Pick up surveys
  • Ride back to Bethel, collapse


  • 10:00 AM - Job interview 1 (Sears)
  • ???? - Job interview 2 (Hickory Farms ... yeah, I'm going to sell sausage all Christmas)

Other things I hope to accomplish: exercise, meet with Zienzele point person, do thesis work, find out if I qualify for a Teach for America interview, write final for Anthro, study for Epi final, fix computer. No sweat.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Oi vey

Lovely readers, I am exhausted. My main computer is still on the fritz - I've run the virus-scanner/deleter CD three times, and it still keeps finding new icky things to delete. How did this happen so quickly? The pop ups started just a few days ago. And though I've never tried to buy a car, going to computer services gives me a foretaste of how absolutely stupid I will feel.

I've spent the past two days selling baskets for The Zienzele Foundation. I'm hopefully going to be doing an internship for this group next quarter, so stay tuned for more about them. For now, just check out the link. Spending seven hours out in the cold takes the mickey out of you, but I feel great about how much we accomplished in a couple of days.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Quirk #7

Computer issues have the unique ability to turn me into a frustrated, angry, tantrum-throwing child. Seriously. I can't stand it. A problem that remains unresolved caused me to MISS THE OFFICE, and now my roommates are watching something and I can't watch 30 Rock. SUCK MY BALLS, MCAFEE.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

0 for 3

Stocks are down and so am I. Here's why:

1. I almost fainted/puked while working out this morning. I was mimicking Denise Austin like the good little monkey I am and suddenly I didn't feel like an "a-the-lete" (that's how she says it) any more. I felt hot and cold and sickish all at once. I sat down, ate a few crackers, and after my shower I felt better. But not a good start.

2. The Bethel school levy failed. Oldewhig, I know we talked about this and I've thought about it a lot. But in the end, my sisters, my cousins, and my family are going to get screwed - whatever the underlying reason. They're going to miss out on things that I was lucky to get, things that improved the quality of my education. And that makes me sad - I can't help it, I can't change it. I'm just sad about it.

3. I missed my meeting with my thesis advisor this morning. It was so stupid - I was doing my laundry, I was talking to Jim, I was working - and it completely slipped my mind. I guess this makes us even for the time she double-booked me with another student, but - guh. It makes me cringe - I hate being so irresponsible.


There is still hope that this day will not be entirely craptastic. I have a meeting with a school wellness committee at 4:00. Hopefully I'll make some connections and we can develop some projects - I might even get a chance to help write a grant. I have a group meeting at 8:00 - not fun, but I think we just need to work on a couple more things. Then, at 10:00, I'm going to a benefit concert set up by one of my classmates. The proceeds go to a civil-rights group working in Burma. Ten points of extra credit goes to me. Here's hoping I'm home by 11:30 with a cider in my belly. Oh lord, a tall frosty Woodchuck would be indescribable right now.

**Update*** The meeting went well, so now I'm 1 for 4. However, my advisor has not yet replied to my fervent email and voicemail apologies. Keep in mind, this woman and I have exchanged emails literally minutes apart. Is she angry? Out of town? Passive-aggressively trying to make me feel bad? In all likelihood she has more important things to do than respond to her neurotic, forgetful advisee. But in any case, here's a link to Passive-Aggressive Notes!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Celebrating weight gain

Since I voted early and couldn't get a sticker today, I decided to do something I haven't done in a while - give blood. I happened upon a volunteer directing people to the room in the student center and made a spur-of-the-moment decision.

In the 20 minutes or so I waited, I realized this is one very clear, very good thing about gaining weight. The nurse told me I "just squeaked by" at my current weight, which is NOT true. But regardless, I hadn't been able to donate blood for a long time. It felt like something to celebrate.

How do you celebrate being at a healthy weight?

Seriously, folks

The election excitement in my college town has reached epic proportions. Cynicism notwithstanding, I voted late last week. The only thing I'll reveal is that I voted FOR the Bethel-Tate schools operating levy. For the maybe two Bethel-area people who read this - please, please vote yes tomorrow ... actually today. Bethel's been rated "excellent" for several years now and spends less per student than most schools in our region. If the levy doesn't pass, the school will almost certainly have to cut all extracurriculars and possibly even bus service. I'm really concerned about the latter - attendance could drop so significantly that we'll lose our rating. It's a shitty time to ask for more money, but your local schools are worth it.

Enough stumping. For everyone else, please vote. If nothing else, you get a sticker. If you want to go the extra mile, help each other vote: carpool, watch somebody's kids while they go to the polls. And for the love of Cheez its, take your ID!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm It!

Yay for memes! I got tagged by Gaining Back My Life, and here are the rules of the game:

1.Link to the person who tagged you
2.Mention the rules on your blog
3.Tell 6 unspectacular quirks about you
4.Tag 6 following bloggers by linking to them
5.Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger's blogs letting them know they've been tagged.

I've been reading this on a million different blogs, so I don't know who I'll tag ... Anwho:

1. If I'm not wearing earrings, I feel naked. I didn't get my ears pierced until I was sixteen, and I figured I needed to make up for lost time. There's no pair too big, too weird, or too dangly! My collection ranges from stuff found at 10-for-$5 sales to the absolutely gorgeous sapphires Jim got me for my birthday. I've got ones from England, Ghana, India and Peru.

2. I enjoy doing laundry - when I don't have to pay for it! It's so darn soothing. The only thing about it I don't like is matching socks, mostly because they never come out even.

3. I miss my old job like nothing else. I worked for my professor inputting historic intake data from prisons around Ohio. I helped finish a database of over 37,000 prisoners from the Ohio Penitentiary and started one for the Boy's Industrial School. It was glorified data entry, but oh, what data! Names, crimes, ages - did you know they sent 5-year-olds to the School for "incorrigibility?" I loved talking with Dr. T about patterns I saw and avenues for research. Alas, funding for my position is no more.

4. I can't play video games. Well, not quite - I enjoy Wii games and Rock Band. But if you hand me a traditional controller, chances are you'll get it thrown back at you within ten minutes. And don't stand over me and tell me "turn left! Now go straight! Left again!" because I'll make you eat the controller.

5. The most frightening sound in the world is the sound of tornado sirens. When I was about ten I developed a huge fear of severe weather and tornadoes - I would shake like a leaf and more often than not get sick. In southern Ohio they're not all that common, but we get our fair share of well THAT'S an ugly cloud moments. There's just something about that sound that makes my stomach drop, even after spending the summer learning about disasters and writing a paper on communication during warnings.

6. I do an inordinate amount of crosswords. Yesterday I was disappointed by how easy the Washington Post's "Sunday Challenge" puzzle seemed to me. When I go home on the occasional weekend, Mom makes a copy of the Sunday crossword in the Cincinnati Enquirer for me to do on the ride back to Athens.

All right, I'm tagging:
The sister
Ai Lu

And I'll have to think of a couple others later.

Oh, btw - belated pic from Halloween:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Property value?

This article describes the community of Pella, South Africa, and the townspeople's rejection of a proposed film studio construction project. The village is surrounded by what, to our eyes, appears to be lots of dry, empty land punctuated by the occasional hill or ridge. A similar studio was built in Morrocco a few years ago. The company, Desert Star Studios, sent a 102-page proposal to the local government outlining their plans. The villagers of Pella would be provided a 74,000 acre location 50 miles away in which to build a new town.

Desert Star, however, went to the wrong people:
The Rev. Cyril Smith, whose cathedral would have been made into a Mexican village film set, says the consortium miscalculated the level of opposition and the legal status of the land. "They should have consulted the residents first but they didn't, which made them very angry," he says. "The government, as trustees, aren't allowed to sell this land without their consent, so the film studios will not happen."
The land is sacred to the people of Pella (note to CSM: putting quote marks around that word is inappropriate. Nobody calls it "holy" Communion). Rudolf Markgraaf, one of the first producers to line up a film at the yet-unbuilt facilities, seems amazed that the villagers would turn it down:
"This area is desperately poor with 70 percent unemployment, high rates of AIDS, and limited facilities like hospitals and schools ...
"We had letters of support from the [African National Congress] Youth League, the ANC Women's League, and another group begging us to make it happen," Markgraaff says. "They're not doing anything with this land."

"You only have to look at Quarzazate in Morocco to see the potential," says Markgraaff. "There was nothing there before they built production facilities – now they've produced 42 films in the past 10 years attracting investment of $1.2 billion."

Lack of property values and security are sometimes cited as reasons for Africa's current last-place standing in the global economy. Here's an apparent victory: the people who own their land got to hang onto it. But is it really a victory? At first I thought: but the studio would be such a step forward! They could build a school, more jobs would come in, the town could really grow.

But I was applying my own values to the situation, even after all my profs' attempts to beat the ethnocentrism out of me. Mr. Margraaf, Desert Star and I don't understand the connection the people of Pella have to their land. What looks like "not doing anything" to our eyes could really be something entirely different. And as for the success of the Morrocco studios, what were the on-the-ground effects? Are the massive profits and investments really making a positive difference? When weighing the costs and benefits of the construction project, the villagers decided that land tenue surpassed any other concern.

Part of me is still struggling to figure it out. I know that in one way or another, the village is going to become incorporated into the regional economy whether it wants to or not. Frustrated here, Desert Star will probably find another village in northern South Africa and build there; the increased activity will no doubt affect Pella. I might think I know what's best for the villagers, but those opinions come from within my own cultural framework. To say that I know what's best for them is paternalism. The people of Pella got what they wanted - to keep their land. We'll have to see what happens next.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hometown pride

You can take the girl out of Cincinnati ... The Ohio Republican County that Could Tip the Election.

It might be more interesting if they profiled the next county over. Clermont, I think, has even more issues.