February 03, 2006

Today we had another meeting in the afternoon which carried on into a very fun barbeque dinner in a funky neighbourhood of San Francisco.  Catie and Greg joined us too which was great because they were able to meet some of the people we've been gabbing about over the last couple of days.

I never realised having a baby could take this long.  I feel like I want to call Angie and offer some suggestions like jumping on the trampoline but I think that would result in a nuclear explosion which most likely Harold would have to suffer.  The worst part is that for me it would be a joke, but I know it wouldn't be funny where the action is actually happening.

February 02, 2006

Another day working from home today, and I found myself again getting into that "zone" where you just stare at the computer screen so long that you kind of forget that you do exist in a realm of time and space.  We ordered our business cards in the afternoon, which definitely was exciting.  I also found out that things are moving along in the Auntie Fiona department, so we're waiting for a phonecall.

Jeremy made a nice dinner of penne with vodka sauce (I can't believe Greg, being Russian, didn't have any vodka in the house!) and we had a nice dinner together.  Greg and Catie are such a great time and really fun (and easy) to stay with.  We're going to miss them when we go.

February 01, 2006

As Jeremy had some testing he needed to do on a pc yesterday we didn't go into the office but worked from Catie and Greg's apartment.  We have a lot of reading and brainstorming to do, and Jeremy has a lot of techo type stuff to do, and as we were meeting with some Kiva people in San Francisco in the afternoon it made sense not to spend 3 hours travelling to San Carlos and back. 

We had a great meeting in the afternoon which evolved into seeing some of San Francisco, including the famous City Lights bookstore and the steepest street I have ever driven on in my LIFE!  I wonder that there is not a mandatory annual brake-testing for all cars driven in San Francisco as this place has some steep hills.  Even I was very nervous a few times. 

Jeremy checked out a local cheese shop with 350 cheeses and we did a little bar-hopping in the Mission district.  The more I see of this place the more I love it, the more it reminds me of Melbourne and the more I feel like I could definitely see myself living here.  Everyone is so damn happy.  I keep waiting for the catch, but I'm not quite sure what it is.

Still waiting for Harold and Angie's baby to come along... as we don't know the sex Jeremy says I don't know yet if I'm going to be an aunt or an uncle. 

January 31, 2006

The East Village Opera Company Rocks!

Tonight we saw one of the most amazing performances I've seen in my life!

We had a busy day at the office, starting with a meeting at 9am where we met the other US based staff.  It was great to meet everyone else, and get a clearer picture on the organization's goals and everyone's places within those. 

After work we met Catie and Greg at a little Mexican joint in the city, before heading to the Great American Music Hall, a magnificent venue complete with high ceiling and balcony.  Catie and Greg knew someone who was able to get free tickets to see the East Village Opera Company, and though no-one really knew what we were going to see, we were up for a free show even if we did make jokes about having to have a few drinks beforehand so that the show was bearable.

How wrong we were.  The East Village Opera Company combines opera with, what in hindsight is obviously the only appropriate marriage with opera, rock.  I'm not talking just a couple guitars and a quiet drum set, I'm talking squealing electric guitar solos, thumping bass and dominating drums in the only way leather pants can provide.  And I'm not talking about toned-down opera either.  I mean full-drama, foreign language lyrics with unforgivable demand for vocal range and control.  Together.  Leather pants and Puccini.  Passionate duets and gyrating thumping beats.  A crowd of twenty-somethings through sixty-somethings.  It was amazing.  Uplifting.  Inspiring.  And having seen it, obvious.  Both genres are equally, ridiculously, and over-the-top dramatic expressions.  And the men wear too-tight pants in both.

If you have the opportunity to see the guys, do.  It's really a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  If not, check out their video at: http://www.eastvillageoperacompany.com/video.aspx

January 30, 2006

First Day

We had a great first day today and learned a lot about one of the organizations we will be working with.  We spent the majority of the day at the office, after starting the day off with a visit to the immunization clinic so I could get my final jab (rabies).  I’m finally done, which is a relief, more fiscal than physical.

We have a lot of reading and organizing to do so we’ve spent tonight in front of our computers.  I’m feeling tired, but good.  Learning is always stimulating and always makes me happy.  I’m glad how much I read before we arrived so that I’m familiar with some of the issues.

Tomorrow we meet the other US staff members so it will be a big day for us.  Wish us luck!

January 29, 2006

We Finally Got To Meet Everyone

It was wonderful, and what a relief.

We had a relaxing, yet for me very anxious, morning sitting in Catie and Greg’s apartment catching up on emails, talking and drinking a lot of tea while Greg went bouldering at the climbing gym.  Around two o’clock we went out and got one of the many delicious schwarmas (like a souvlaki) that you can get around here at the middle-eastern take-out shops.  By the time we got back it was time to shower and leave.

It took a long time to get to San Carlos, we had to take the inner-city subway to the end of the line, and then change to what you might call the outer-suburbs rail system.  We actually thought we were really early but it turned out we had no time for dallying at all, so I’m glad that we did leave “early”.  When we arrived at San Carlos we were met at the train station by Brian, who took us back to his house.  As we stepped inside we saw some other people hanging about, who we instantly recognized from the Kiva website as the founders of that organization!  It was such a surreal moment, we recognized them from their website and they instantly recognized us from Jeremy’s “Turn that shit Up”.  So there were a number of people who we met, including one guy who is moving to Uganda in a few weeks, so we plan to be seeing him there.

We had a wonderful, wonderful evening talking about how we’d all met, what we’d been doing, how we’d come to this point.  It really felt like a meeting of positive energy, young intelligent minds, lives of different backgrounds meeting around a dinner table in San Carlos to figure out how we can help to make things better for those who don’t have a dinner table to sit around.  It felt empowering and I definitely felt some destiny in play, like I had been looking for that dinner table for the last year and a half.  We talked and exchanged ideas and I felt stimulated and excited.  It was wonderful.

Unfortunately our getting home was a little more difficult, as the “last train” wasn’t running on Sundays so we had to get a taxi to the inner-city subway just in time for the last train.  We got home pretty late but tomorrow we are starting in the office, so it will be up early for us.  We feel very welcomed, which is very reassuring after such a long, anxious wait to this moment.

January 28, 2006



Today Catie, Greg, Jeremy and I all walked down to Chinatown after a nice relaxing morning sitting around drinking tea and catching up.  We had lunch at Nanking Restaurant, which was recommended to us by a good friend of ours, and it was great - yummy chicken with yams, scallops and mushrooms and dumplings.  After lunch we walked downtown to look around, but it started raining and Catie and Greg had studying to do so they bailed on us.  Jeremy and I carried on and checked out a huge camping and outdoor sports store out here, REI.  We still haven’t settled on the luggage equipment we are going to take with us to Africa, and probably won’t really decide until we’ve learnt more of the logistics of our trip, but it was good to get an idea of what is available.

We walked back to Catie and Greg’s house, in the rain, and are now absolutely exhausted.  Walking around all day, combined with all the jabs we got yesterday has been too much.  Tomorrow we get to meet Brian finally, and I’m really excited about that.  Hopefully my headache will go away soon.

January 27, 2006

Crack Would Be Cheaper

We made it.

And already I must say I love this city.  After only 4 hours sleep last night we were up bright and early, well it wasn't bright actually it was very dark, and arrived at Bradley International Airport at a crisp 6:10am.  Our flight left right on time and we changed at Chicago before continuing on to Oakland International just outside of San Francisco city. 

Even in the airport you could tell things were different.  People were smiling at me, for no reson.  I asked Jeremy if I had a huge goober hanging out of my nose and he said that I didn't.  While we were waiting for our luggage  we listened to a bird singing inside the building, it had flown through the automatic doors and was flying around near the ceiling.  People waited patiently for their luggage.  We went to catch the bus to the train station and the driver helpfully told us where we could buy our tickets and get change, as he had no change to give us.  We hadn't even asked him yet!  As I was standing there I heard someone say something about it being a lovely day.  What is wrong with these people! 

Once we made it into the city we lunched at a middle-eastern take-out which reminded me a lot of the many kebab shops on Brunswick street.  There were a lot of asian people about and it really felt like Melbourne.  We followed our map to the vaccination clinic and walked past the city hall, where only a few months ago same-sex couples had lined up to marry during a short utopian period of SF history.  I began to wonder about this gay city, everyone had a smile on their face, maybe gay was catching?  Maybe all the anti-gayers don't hate homosexuality, they just hate all the happiness?

We arrived at the vaccination clinic and spent the next two hours and a half hours discussing the pros and cons of needing a human immuglobin product in a third world country, survival rates of meningitis and possible psychotic effects (not in a good way) of some anti-malarials.  We were very lucky to be advised by a nurse who spent two years in Zambia with the PeaceCorps.  She gave us a lot of great first-hand advice, and further convinced us that we had done the right thing by not choosing to volunteer with PeaceCorps. 

After two and a half hours I began to feel as though I actually was getting sick, just as it was time to lay down and submit to the needle.  I was stuck five times, Jeremy six, and we now are chemical concoctions ready to fight off Tetanus, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio, Tyhoid, Rabies, Meningitis and Yellow Fever.

$1,200 dollars later, and we're still not even done with all of the necessary vaccinations, and I'm still trying to convince myself that it's cheaper than dying out there.  But I can't help feeling that I should have at least got a good time for my $600 worth.  All I got was the feeling that Hell-Boy punched me in each arm thrice before sitting on my head for a while.  Drugs these days, they're not what they used to be. 

For now I'm exhausted.  We had to walk over a mile to Catie and Greg's with our luggage - the nurses were a little afraid we mightn't make it considering the long day we'd had and made us lie down a little before we left the clinic.  Oh, and the real kicker was, after looking at my travel vaccinations booklet and seeing what I have had in the past, they discovered that I actually might have rabies now as I was given the wrong injection after my monkey bite in India in 2001.  Maybe that explains that drooling problem I've been having lately.

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