Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bands to start listening to

Every once in a while, I experience moments that make me truly love my life. Last night at the Capitol Hill Block Party, standing in a crowd of a few hundred people, hugging close to Becky and John, craning my neck to see Vampire Weekend perform, I felt truly grateful for my life. This is the life, I thought to myself. Two music festivals in two weeks=awesome. I got to thinking of all the other concerts and festivals I've been to in the last two years (mostly thanks to Sara). Music is...good. I like it. Yeah.

First, photos of the Sub Pop SP20 Festival two weekends ago. Emily bought tickets for Sara and I for our respective birthdays, so we could see Flight of the Conchords (woooooot!) In the end, Emily was not able to attend :-( so we invited Sara's friend, Addie.

Me (clearly, this cutout was made for
people with bigger heads than mine)

Sara and Addie


FOTC again

Huge thanks to Emily for the tix!!

Sub Pop bands I'd like to get to know better:
  1. Eric's Trip
  2. The Helio Sequence
  3. Fleet Foxes (very pretty harmonies)
  4. Iron and Wine (gorgeous songs!)

Then the Capitol Hill Block Party:

Becky enjoying Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend (I promise it's them)

Block Party bands to get to know better:
  1. Vampire Weekend (need their album)
  2. The Dodos
Uh, yeah. That's it, I guess. Fun fun fun!

Friday, July 25, 2008



I'd like to reiterate my last statement: Ow.

My mouth feels the same as when the orthodontist would tighten my braces. It's not unbearable, but it isn't fun.

Also, not to gross anyone out, but I think the doctor stitched my gums to my cheeks. Yeah, I know. Ew.

This morning, my breath was smelling awful, so I (gently) brushed my teeth and did a salt-water rinse. A watermelon seed came out. I ate watermelon two days ago. A seed had been stuck in my tooth socket for nigh on two days. Double "ew."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Good news!!

Just got this today:

Dear [Kusems],

I have attached your unconditional offer of admission letter.
I have also posted the hard copy.
Kind Regards,

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


I had my wisdom teeth out yesterday afternoon. Well, two wisdom teeth and two (degraded) molars. Everything appears to have gone well. I don't feel any numbness or pain (yet). That could be because the steroids haven't worn off yet, but I'm hoping it'll be no big deal. I haven't had to take any Percocet yet.

When I checked in, the receptionist asked me to pay the original, out of pocket price quoted for four wisdom teeth, of $1110. I explained that I was only getting two wisdom teeth cracked and removed, and having two molars pulled. When she came back with the new calculation, it was for $306 out of pocket! Sweet! I can totally afford that! I'm still not sure why it was so much lower, so I'm paranoid that I'll have to pay more, but probably not much more. Still manageable, I'm sure.

They didn't ask me any questions as they were putting me under, so I don't have a funny story of saying anything weird, but apparently, when Becky was driving me home, I told her two different times that I couldn't feel my lower lip when I touched it with my finger. Hyuck hyuck hyuck! I sure am a crazy one!

Anyway, so I'm in a pretty good mood. I get to stay home and knit and watch movies! Yay! And someday soon, I get to apply for a visa to study in the UK! Funny story in regards to that: Before the government will approve my Grad PLUS loan application, I have to do online entrance counseling (they tell me I have to pay my loans back, then ask me questions like, "Do you have to pay your loan back?") At the end of the counseling, they help you calculate what kind of salary you need to make in order to pay back X amount of loan in 10 years at fixed 8.5% interest. My full loan package will be about $57,000 (though part of that may be at a lower interest rate.) Anyway, I only have to make $106,000 per year for the next 10 years in order to pay it all back on time! Easy peasy, right?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Free hugs from Christians

Hm, I had an interesting evening.

A new girl started at work about a month ago. She's super friendly, and we chat when we bump into each other at work. This evening, I bumped into her as I was heading out the door to catch the bus, and she offered to drive me home (she lives on Cap Hill, too). The drive took an hour and we chatted about all sorts of different things. As we were getting closer to my place, she asked what I was doing for the rest of the evening. I whined about how Jacque totally ditched me (I'm pretty sure Jacque won't read this, but just in case she does: "Humph!") and she said, "Well, at 7:30 we're having a little spiritual, Bible-study thing at the park. Do you wanna come?"

Now, I haven't been to church in months, and I haven't really "spent any time in the Word" as cheesy Christians say (i.e. Pops), in quite a while, either. I've mentioned to a few loved ones that I'm having a teensy bit of a crisis of faith at the mo'. While I consider myself a Christian, and I seek God's path for my life and want to spend my life serving Him by caring for the poor, the widows, and the orphans, I've become extremely cynical about most all things Christian. When Becky told me she interviewed at a Christian school and they opened the interview with a prayer, I cringed and scoffed. So I wasn't exactly jumping at the opportunity to attend a "spiritual, Bible-study thing" with an unspecified number of total strangers. My coworker, of course, knew nothing of my faith at all. I could have been a raging atheist, for all she knew. But of course, that never stopped a good, Word-spreading Christian before. So, because I can't say "no," and I felt totally put on the spot, I agreed.

And guess what? I didn't die of awkwardness. I wasn't kidnapped and forced to attend nightly Bible studies, or weekly services. They didn't even try to open or close the meeting with prayer; instead, we started off by throwing a frisbee around. There were only three total strangers to reckon with, so I didn't even feel intimidated. It was just a laid-back, half-hour long discussion of what it meant to live a full life. I even, dare I say it? enjoyed myself. At a Bible study! With strangers! Can you believe it? It was a nice evening, hanging out in the sun at the park.

But then one of the guys, whom I had only met an hour earlier, hugged me. I knew there was a reason I didn't trust Christians.

Perhaps I should start letting John hug me, so it'll come as less of a shock to the system when other people try to hug me. There you go, John: you have my permission to bring it on!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Housing woes

I didn't get into the residence hall I applied to. Poo. Well, I wasn't that thrilled about living in a charmless shoebox, anyway, without an oven or freezer. Perhaps now I'll be able to find someplace more charming and convenient (though as far as location, the halls would have been ideally convenient). I'd still love to live around Russell Square (it's basically the only part of London I'm even remotely familiar with, from when Jody and I stayed there for five days). Maybe I'll just move into the Generator youth hostel. I won't have a kitchen at my disposal, or my own space, but I'll get to PARTY EVERY NIGHT, YEAH!

Or not.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Experimenting with dinner

PMS, lack of energy, and perhaps a tad bit of laziness conspired against me tonight when it came time to figure out what to eat for dinner. I was at a loss. I didn't want to make pasta again, but I didn't have any instant meals like Top Ramen or Mac N' Cheese. A glance in my pathetic freezer, and I came out with frozen corn, and frozen medallions of mashed potatoes (just add water and heat!)

Brain: "Hm, mashed potatoes with corn? Could work. But! What if I fried the mashed potatoes and corn? What if I shaped them into patties and fried them, like my dear old (also cooking-challenged) Pop used to do? Oh yes...I like how you think."

I was a little nervous that this would fail miserably, but how can you fail when you have potatoes, cooking oil, and a heat source? No, my friends, this is one recipe that even I can't screw up (except by burning the bottoms just a teensy bit).

Verdict: Delicious. Oh, so delicious.

Today, I discovered something that made me very happy. I noticed long ago that the page for London is...lacking. People there apparently don't know about it. Under the "free stuff" category, there is but one item per day! How am I supposed to furnish my apartment for free with other people's discarded detritus?

And then I found it. It's called Gumtree, and it's a beautiful, beautiful thing, possibly even more beautiful than Craigslist (prettier color scheme, at least). Now I can get all the free toilets and top soil that I need! All is right with the world. Nothing else matters much.

Monday, July 07, 2008


I chose my airplane seat for my flight! Yippee! I didn't know I could do that until the other day, when I logged on to the airline's website. Anyway, with help from, I chose lucky number 13J. Okay, maybe 13 isn't so lucky, but it's not like we'll have a plane crash and only row 13 will die, right? Right?

Seat J is a window seat, and I chose row 13 cuz the view won't be blocked by the wing. It's gonna be great! Except for the video equipment restricting my leg room (the only seats I was allowed to choose from all had that). But hey, it's only a 10-hour flight, with no stops. No problem!

Also, I just finished applying for a Grad PLUS loan. I delayed so long because I didn't know how much money to ask for. Really, I didn't know which pound-to-dollar exchange rate to use in order to calculate how much money to ask for. The school doesn't provide this information, so I emailed them two weeks ago. I have yet to receive any response, which really hasn't built up my waning confidence in the school's administration processes. So I picked a high exchange rate to cover my ass in case the dollar drops pitifully in the next year. Hope I don't get screwed!

Fourth of July was fun, even though Becky and John totally bailed on me. Losers. Anyway, Sara and Emily and I watched the Elliot Bay and Lake Union fireworks from the (totally rickety and sagging) balcony on the back of my building. Both good shows, though they will never compare to the New Year's Space Needle fireworks that wouldn't go off and had to be hand-lit. The Elliot Bay/Fourth of Jul-Ivars one was almost quaint, with only very traditional fireworks. None of those new-fangled smiley faces or hearts or cubes available at the WaMu Family Fourth. My favorites will always be the ones that look like pixie dust.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

News from the healthcare world

Reading some health headlines lately, I've felt like I need to talk about them. You should probably expect to see more posts like this once I start school. I'm gonna be all shades of boring!

I receive regular emails from regarding the current situation of the world's poor, and what I can do to help. As you may know, the Group of Eight or G8 summit is coming up this month, and the Financial Times ran an article headlined:

"Leaders of the Group of Eight rich nations are set to backtrack on their landmark pledge at the Gleneagles summit in 2005 to increase development aid to Africa to $25bn a year."
As Josh Peck, the writer of the email regarding this issue, so eloquently states:

"It is astonishing that there is even debate within the G8 as to whether or not they should keep their promises."
Seriously! I mean, they only made those promises three years ago! Why bother making promises you're not even gonna try to keep three measly years later? Grrrr...

But this cheers me up. A report from Partners in Health (PIH; sadly, no hyperlink) about creating jobs for a few HIV-positive women in Malawi.

MALAWI: Let them eat cake
The smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls and banana nut muffins recently began to waft through the small open-air market in Malawi’s rural district of Neno. These tasty confections are part of a new program launched by APZU (PIH’s partner organization in Malawi) to help supply job skills and employment to patients living in poverty. Currently, three HIV patients are working with a struggling local restaurant owned by another patient. APZU hopes that the new bakery program will help these women earn an income to support themselves and their families. If their first batch is any indication, they are well on their way—when APZU staff visited the market to sample the goodies, the women had already sold out.

So simple, yet it could make such a difference to those women and their families.

And while we're on the subject of simple solutions, there's another news brief from PIH. Now, I hate Crocs as much as the next person, but this is fascinating!

Going barefoot in the rocky hills and muddy valleys of Haiti isn’t just uncomfortable. It leads to a major public health problem – an epidemic of tungiasis, an infestation of sand fleas that can cause pain, itching, swelling, open sores and, if left untreated, sepsis, tetanus or gangrene.

So when they learned that 40,000 pairs of Crocs were available, Zanmi Lasante (ZL, PIH’s partner organization in Haiti) and the Haitian Ministry of Health jumped at the offer. The donation included not only the value of the shoes contributed by Crocs Footwear but all the costs of shipping them from the factory in China to the docks in Port-au-Prince.
Amazing, huh? Tacky, hideous Crocs shoes as a health care tool! Brilliant.