Thursday, March 31, 2016

maybe FS will start writing again

31 mar 2016 -- nahhhhhh. not yet, apparently.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Flat Stanley now lives in Moldova as a Volunteer for a capacity-building organization and is thinking about dusting off her old blog

duminica (Sunday) June 9 2013

If you had tried to tell Flat Stanley that one could be awake for 27 consecutive hours, and that those hours would include only two or three incidents of fitful dozing, and that they would include, during the last 10 hours, classes where you were given crucial information while sitting in uncomfortable chairs in a theatre-style classroom, and that this could all be successfully accomplished— Flat Stanley would not have believed you.
And yet. The 27 hours concluded with being bussed to our hosts’ homes in a small bus/van stuffed with luggage crammed in without order, so that we (all women, all in dresses or dress clothes) had to clamber over seats to excavate suitcases (50-60 pounds each), then disembark onto narrow streets in strange neighborhoods where every square inch of yard is dedicated to flowers, fruits and vegetables, where every home is closed in by an imposing fence and guarded by two or three ferociously barking dogs, and where host families speak Russian or Romanian or both, and a rare few know a little—very little English.
The village of Stauceni (STOW-CHEN, rhymes with cow-chen) is an upscale village, and Flat Stanley’s host is about middle class. This means that we have running water and that we can probably drink the water without problem, though we are advised not to. FS’s host mother is a 65 year old woman, Galina, (her birthday was June 6). Her younger sister Paulina lives here too, and together they are renovating the house.
They do not run down to Home Depot or Loews for supplies. Houses here are built block by block by the family without aid of power tools. The blocks are of a crumbly sandstone material mixed by hand. If there were to be an earthquake, FS thinks the entire country would collapse into rubble. The kitchen is an efficiency, with an old-fashioned tiny gas stove, tiny sink, tiny cupboards, tiny counter space, tiny table tucked in corner, tiny four-legged stools on which to sit. We eat food from the garden and everything is drenched in butter or oil made from sunflower seeds. The butter and oil taste strange and FS is probably losing weight while adjusting to the strange flavors.
FS walks to language classes every morning except Sunday. It is about a half or ¾ mile walk along narrow, rutted streets where manhole covers are missing (stolen for the metal), goat droppings lay randomly scattered, a car or three careers at crazy speeds while fog lifts from the vineyards down below and across a narrow valley and every dog warns you to not mess with the property. It is uphill both ways, seriously, because the street crosses down into the valley and back out again to get to class. The wild dogs are generally well-trained enough to leave people alone. Then we board local bus #190 (called a rutiera) to travel to the Peace Corps training site in Chisinau (Kee-See-Now), then back home again.
You know those scenes you see of busses crammed with people and chickens sticking out the windows? We don’t have anything hanging out the windows because Moldovan culture believes that air from a window brings ill health. No animals on the busses here, not sure about elsewhere, and we are happy happy happy that the rutieras have roof vents that are kept open. Jammed busses are prime spots to be pick-pocketed, so our guide warns us loudly in English to BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS once we have boarded.
This coming week we get to do this without our guide. Oh boy.
There is so much new that FS does not know how to convey this experience. FS will say that seeing scenes in a book or a movie is not the same as being part of the scenery. Outlying villages are much poorer than Stauceni and if assigned to one, it is probable that FS will stay with the host family there during the entire service. Here’s why: In smaller villages, families eat from the garden because there are no stores. For a person to live on their own, they would have to grow their own food for the year (and learn how to preserve their vegetables) and manage all the other tasks that come with living without conveniences we in the US take for granted. This would leave little or no time to work on our assigned projects.
Today FS has the house to herself so will indulge in a bucket bath. She’s been taking spit baths all week because she didn’t know how to manage either the bathroom or to ask how. Got to study, study, study the Romanian and FS is already much more accomplished than she thought possible in this time.
Last thing: Is FS homesick? Well, along with several fellow “voluntari in Corpul Pacii, consultant comunitari” (Peace Corps volunteers, community consultants) we ask ourselves first thing each morning, last thing each night, and several times in between just why we did this, And then we each remember, this is what we signed up for—that opportunity to be dumped into something so strange and so new we could not imagine—and the privilege to have the safety net of the Peace Corps providing structure and purpose while we figure things out, And when that's too abstract, FS says, "Hey! FS is gonna be conversant in Romanian!"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

maybe it's time

to drag out the blog again. Flat Stanley's got so many snarky things to say about those dumb-ass, smelly, ignorant, lazy OWS professional whiners and their equally dumb-ass, wealthy, economically clueless supporters that surely it should be recorded, thus ensuring that she can never, ever, ever run for public office down to and including dog catcher.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

There is no Moral to this Story

Who wants to hear a story that doesn't entertain and doesn't have a happy ending? Or that ends without an ending, like a batch of half-baked brownies: All the ingredients in the proper order and proportion; the pan, hot; the air, thick with chocolate; and the brownies, firm around the edges but soupy in the middle.

Some stories are like that.

This story begins about five years ago, when Dave came to live with the Stanley clan. It was strictly a temporary arrangement. He was 20 years old and freshly discharged from the military under specifically non-specific circumstances. His family wouldn't let him stay with them, Dave had been a classmate of the youngest Stanley kid, and the house was overflowing with too many people, too many pets, and only one bathroom. What the heck, why not.

Dave was fastidious about his hair and his clothing and he paid a lot of attention to on-line gaming and his appetite. He paid very little attention to cleaning up behind himself, helping out around the house, putting gas in the car when he borrowed it, and looking for a job. But he was pleasant and talked a good game and helped the Band in the Basement line up local gigs and plan its East Coast Summer Tour Debut.

One morning the Stanley sons took Dave to the emergency room because an ear infection and fever left him insensible. In retrospect, there may have been other contributing factors. One night the cops called our house because a Stanley vehicle was seen racing through a local housing development. It turned out that it was Dave who'd been driving. Flat Stanley put Dave on the phone for a good-ol' fashioned chewing out by the police.

After a few months the situation was losing its sense of do-good. Dave's Dad was practically a stalker, calling a couple times a week to explain to us how bad Dave was, what his history was, and why it was important for Dave to be thrown out so he would be forced to take care of himself. And Dave did have a horrifically sad story for his first eight years of life. The best part was being abandoned by his family, becoming a ward of the state and dumped at an orphanage, followed by adoption by the family that first loved him and then came to fear him.

After about six months, Dave stopped looking for a job, stopped pretending that he was looking for a job, and stopped pretending that he even cared that we cared that he look for a job. He stopped pretending that the Stanley residence was anything other than a personal convenience. He's spend all morning in bed, all afternoon and evening playing computer games, and most of the night drifting in and out of the house according to his own unpredictable schedules. He was starting to get scary, and Flat Stanley was starting to get pissed.

Flat Stanley came home for lunch one Tuesday and waved hello to Dave, who was standing out on the sidewalk waiting for a ride. He'd had a choice – get a job or leave the house by noon. He waved back and picked up his duffel bag as a car pulled up. It was Dave's dad. Flat Stanley checked the bedroom to be sure Dave had actually packed.When she looked out the window Dave was gone and it was raining.

Dave hung around the area and began dealing hard drugs. In and out of jail for small-time crimes such as possession and receiving stolen property. Last week he made local headlines for the attempted murder of a high school friend and the friend's mother about two hours after being paroled. They'll be ok. Dave's still not been caught.
Update: Dave taken into custody Dec. 30. He hadn't left the county, much less the zip code.

Gimme Some Pie. Now.

This explains most of life's anxieties, which are mostly self-inflicted:

link to comic

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Saturday Night Scene

Streaming observations from Flat Stanley's spouse from his vantage point Saturday evening sitting outside a bar in the Adams-Morgan district early Saturday evening

6:01 pm— at columbia stattion on sidewalk with jazz trio (guitar, piano an dbass cello) - your kinda volume even though they only 8 ft away - all acoustic

6:03 pm— S'tres bon
Having a perfect manhattan with.
No pickups going on, though :-D

6:05 pm— and i take back pick up remark- restaurant next door has coupl on first date both hot & heavy to impress!

6:21 pm— Btw-i got old couple love, nerdling love, and two eastern europeans with a hooker goin on now!

6:22 pm— An embarrassment of eavesdropper riches!

6:23 pm— The nerdlings are AWESOME! Such a classic look - they could be friends with napoleon dynamite!

6:25 pm— $12 bottomless mimosas & bloddy mary's sunday am@ town tavern (next to col. Stn.)

(caps by mistake not yelling)
I love the city :->

6:31 pm— & i can die happy - guy on a bike with dildos tied on string trailing behind like cans on a honeymooc car!
I am fulfilled ??!!??
Woot for adams morgan!

6:33 pm— You can't make this stuff up!

6:39 pm— OMG - nerdlinz are leaving and she has a "hello kitty" hung in a noose made from her hair!!!!

6:42 pm— Lez first date - the "sub" is all googly eyed and ordered "wine" to drink when waiter asked "red or white" she said "yes"

6:59 pm— Family walking past. Daughter (13 yrs?),  "mom, these restaurants scare me."

7:03 pm— It just gets better! guys stumble out of bar, hail cab. Cab pulls over, one guy opens door, other guy pukes on street, cab drives off almost dragging first guy down street. First guy screaming hissy fit@ puking guy.

7:13 pm— I gotta replacement old couple

7:18 pm— There are some awesome looks here that, when deconstruceed, must take a depressing amount of time to look "undone."

7:22 pm— Guy just got off bus carrying a DRUM SET!

7:25 pm— Scoring update: Lesbians going to subs aparment for "more great converstation." I refuse to make tongue wagging jokes.

7:29 pm— Hahahahahaha Fat guy on bike just hit fat lady crossing street.
You CANNOT make this up!

7:30 pm— I feel like i'm at a people watcherz smorgasbord!

7:36 pm— I hate seeing this stuff that's not so funny-guy walking a girl down the street with a grip on her elbow-prettry sure it hurt.

7:43 pm— New use for a bike - girl walking hers up street, guy hits on her & won't let her past, she ram the bike between his legs.
Is this like a special nite for me or just a night in adams morgan?

8:07 pm— Moved on to madams organ

8:09 pm— Guy bside me just went to bathroom and left his satchel hanging at the bar!

8:12 pm— guy just came in w/ entourage - looks like Ben Jealous. Hmmmmm.

Lotta fun stories in the big naked city. This one ends when the narrator realizes he's had enough to drink and heads for home. Until next Saturday night, this is Flat Stanley. Reporting on Real Life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rant: Stinkin' Privileged Fools Have No Idea

The White House Office of Science and Technology Director John P. Holdren went on record this week as standing by his stance to de-develop the US to pre-1973 standards. “A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States,” Holdren wrote along with Paul and Anne H. Ehrlich in the “recommendations” concluding their 1973 book Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions.

Yeah, right. So let's talk about what is was like to live in the northeast during the cold winter of 1973. And let's think about what it might have been like to have been more "pre-industrial."

In 1973, Flat Stanley was starting her senior year of high school. There was a fuel-oil shortage. Flat Stanley and her mother lived in upstate New York in a double-wide, on a hill, that had just been put in that summer. That made the family "new customers." New Customers couldn't get fuel oil deliveries that winter. The closest place to buy fuel oil was in a town 20 miles away. Sales were limited to five gallons per purchase, and only on the days when your license plate ended in odd or even.

Practically speaking, this meant that on the lucky Saturdays when the fuel oil store was open on days that matched the family car's license plate, that FS's mother could spend her Saturday making as many trips over snowy roads to the fuel oil station as time and weather permitted. Unless, of course, the owner was feeling pissy, in which case he would only sell to the mother one or two times instead of three, four or five times that day. And assuming, of course, that the driver could afford the fuel to make the trips.

FS and her mother would haul those precious, smelly, heavy five gallon cans of fuel up an unplowable, undrivaeble, rutted, snow-filled, dirt driveway to stand on a rickety stool, lift the can over our heads, and pour into an empty fuel tank. It was a long, cold, hard winter.

There was no running water in that trailer, and so what if there had been? There wasn't enough heat to keep the pipes thawed. We hauled our sewage out to a pit that had been dug to hold an unconnected septic tank that remained empty while our nightsoil drained into the earth. Or froze, then flowed away with the spring thaw.

For showers that year, Flat Stanley walked about a mile to a bar that had an unlit bathroom facility in an unlocked basement for summer campers. Yes, Virginia, wet, frozen hair does break on the walk home.

De-develop? How romantic -- and naive -- can a person get? Roughing it on a camping weekend, my friends, is not the same as a lifestyle.

Sure, the US as a whole can become more energy conscious. But before we go about dictating or legislating simpler lifestyles, let's think about what that really means. As hard as it was, Flat Stanley and her mother were fortunate to have had the income to be able to haul that fuel oil; we were fortunate to have had the strength to drag it through the snow, lift it to the tank, and pour it in. We were fortunate to have been healthy enough to endure the cold (hurray for work and school!).

The Flat Stanley moral of the story is, until it's you who's cold, until it's you who can't get the same basic necessities as your neighbors, until it's you who goes without, your nonsensical ideas about returning to a "simpler" time are nothing more than hot air.

Take it from Flat Stanley: There is a place for hot air, and life-changing policy ain't the place.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Big City Morning Commute

The thing Flat Stanley likes most about living and working in DC is the morning commute. No, silly reader, it's not because the rest of the day is that bad. It's because Flat Stanley lands in the middle of the city while its feet are still in slippers, before it's had its first cup of coffee, before it's brushed its teeth, combed its hair and dressed for the day.

By afternoon the city's in full swing and all these little pieces are lost in the busyness of busy.

At the bus stop a homeless man talks about his plans for the day: Go to the shelter, get a shower, then sell socks from a large duffel bag. He hopes to start a community center to provide counsel for other homeless. Flat Stanley's schedule changes for a week or two, and when she next catches that bus, the man has moved on and she doesn't see him again.

A well-dressed bag lady asks the bus driver every single day for a week if he stops at Quinn. "It's between Scott and Ridley." Another passenger, an elegant older woman, always wears huge, Hollywood-style sunglasses. One morning she boards without her glasses, and FS sees the remnants of a big ugly bruise high on her cheek.

The metro (subway to my pre-city readers) stops within a block of FS's place of work, but the chance to greet the rising sun as laborers hose the urine from the sidewalks and the homeless take up their collection stations under a cool morning breeze and red lights not yet holding up traffic — it's too tempting.

At 7:15 on the corner of F and Ninth, a black man dressed in an oversized basketball-style tank and shorts practices fancy foot-work, running in place and throwing jabs, his head bopping to the sound in his earphones and filling the entire intersection with grunts that impress even this former Marine. The porters at the Marriott gather to watch and laugh as FS tells them about her efforts to catch the guy on her cell phone camera. Passersby make a point of crossing the street anywhere but at the corner where the Richard Simmons-wannabe gets it on.

At the Ultra Bar, housed in an old bank building, the sidewalk is never scrubbed. Neatly stacked on the granite wall is a black leatherette mini-jacket and barely-worn stiletto-heeled velvet boots. They're gone that afternoon...FS makes a point of checking.

Lenny Fineman and the Troll perform their amazing violin and guitar duo at the next metro exit. They were gone for a few weeks. Vacation, probably.

The Chinese immigrant, the one FS by-passed a few months to put a buck in the Troll's open guitar case, is a case-study in brilliance, or insanity, or schizophrenia, or maybe all three. She sits on a low wall, her left elbow propped on her knee, and takes a relaxed drag on her cigarette. At the same time, she jabs a pissed-off middle-finger salute to an invisible person and shrieks a curse in gibberish. Or maybe it's Chinese.

One morning an empty old woman who reeks of stale urine drags a white tee shirt while looking in all the trash cans. Looking for something, but she does not know what, and she'll never find it. It's a horrible, heat-record-breaking day. She's still there that afternoon, exhausted and smellier, still lost, still looking, her tee-shirt now gray and ragged.

Today, FS got a laptop at work. Under the bookmarks was a tag "all dudes-gay male porn." Oopsie. Somebody's going to be in trouble.

Tomorrow, FS plans to walk down G Street. Someone scratched an interesting comment about a nearby church into the cement of a freshly poured curb, and FS wants to write it down.