Adventure

I Am A Lazy Procrastinator With A TV Addiction…

By Kiki Keane

So… I have been absent for awhile. Again. I think we have established that I am a lazy procrastinator with a TV addiction, so I won’t bore you with excuses. Nothing much has changed since the last couple of posts except that I have traded in forensics for a holiday movie binge. Also, I have a new kitten. Her name is Haniya. She enjoys sleeping on my lap and attacking feet.

Other than the above mentioned, it has been life as usual. “How can that be?” you ask. “You live in a country that has been in the news non-stop for weeks!” you might exclaim. “The man that rules your adopted country is being likened to a Pharaoh by, well, everyone! He made weird, ambiguous comments about Planet of the Apes!” you might argue. To which I can only reply with the following: I am a lazy procrastinator with a TV addiction. I will also add, though I hate admitting it, that awful parasite called Writer’s Block, which took hold of the fiction part of me ten years ago, has spread to the non-fiction part. Maybe I’m trying to hard or not hard enough. I don’t know. I take comfort in the fact that Fran Lebowitz has suffered from it for 30 years.

I decided to try and set weekly goals for myself again. I know what you’re thinking. Why bother? I didn’t finish a single one before, why would this time be different? It might not be, but I have to try something. And yes, I do know what Einstein said about insanity.

Goals for the week of 30 Nov – 7 Dec

1) Finish Fall of Giants

2) Work related writing 1 hour a day

3) Certification work 1-2 hours a day

4) Blog related writing at least 2x a week

5) Fiction related writing 1 hour a day

6) Clean something (you have no idea how hard that is for me)

Categories: Adventure, Books, Elections, Goals, Journalism, Life, Nerd, Procrastination, Work | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Apologies Again, Promises And Some Personal News…

By Kiki Keane

I want to apologize for not writing for almost two months! Egypt has made me more lazy and sleepy than I was back home. Who knew that could be possible? Actually, Rachel and I are going to start blogging on a more steady basis again. We both have had some major changes in our lives and it looks like our futures are going to hold even more exciting changes! We probably won’t have any more joint blogs since she’s back in the US and I am in Cairo. Maybe we will still have our weekly goals post, though.

This will not be a long blog, because I have some professional obligations I need to take care of. I just want to let you all know that I am alive and that this blog will keep going.

Just an FYI before I leave you for now:

You may have noticed that I wrote that I am still in Cairo at the end of the first paragraph. I will be here for awhile for a number of reasons. First, I decided that it is more cost-effective to have a base and Cairo is pretty cheap and less distracting than Hurghada (beaches!). Second, it turns out that flight and hotel/hostel prices are more expensive this time of year, so staying put for a bit seems the cheapest thing to do. Third, I need to learn the language and so I will be taking one of the many intensive month-long Arabic courses offered here. Fourth, I need some extra cash, so I will be trying to make some by tutoring in English. An added benefit to all this is that my boyfriend lives here.

 

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Finally Done With The Packing! Now On To The Panic Attack!

By Kiki Keane

Holy Moly! Rachel and I leave for Cairo in about 30 hours! I am finally packed. Everything. My whole life now fits in a large duffle bag, a much smaller bag, a backpack and a purse. Actually, it is probably entirely to much, but I figure I can dump as I go. Or, if I am really, really, really, really, really lucky, I will soon have an actual paying job and will be able to afford a small apartment or room in which I will be able to store all this stuff. (And accumulate more, of course!)

Anyway, with all the packing and unpacking I’ve been doing, as well as worrying myself to distraction, I haven’t really done much else. I’ve only paid a little attention to the news (how about that 48 minute speech by Bill Clinton?!) and bought a few Kindle books. Here are the few news stories/analysis I’ve noticed in the last week:**

Syria/Arab Spring: Analysis by Richard Engel

Afghanistan: A Suicide bomber kills six at NATO HQ in Kabul. This story includes a video about Prince Harry’s new deployment to the country.

Russia: This is just giggle worthy! Putin is all dressed up to lead some rare birds in flight.

Lebanon: The new smoking ban in enclosed public places has many Lebanese upset.

Mali: Islamists Rebels Seize Control of Douentza

China: Here are a few photos of a an HIV-postive boy in China and his teacher. He was denied admittance into the local school because of the disease.

And some “fun” stuff:

What does your bookshelf say about you? — From the Guardian

Mexico City’s Aztec Past Reaches Out to Present — From the New York Times

What is the point of exclamation? (Yes, I am well aware that I abuse the exclamation point!!!!!! I like it, okay?) — From the New York Times

Oh! This made me cringe. Huffington Post published this bit about the books that make you look hot. I would rank most of these titles at the very bottom of the “Makes You Look Hot List.” Actually, I would put them on “Not Even If I Were Desperate” list or the “Not Even If You Were George Clooney And Naked In My Bed” list. I might make an exception if it’s the Chandler, Hemingway or Murakami…maybe.

**Most of the news stories come from NBC.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Journalism, Life, Media, Procrastination, Punctuation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Perils Of Packing, Or Having To Admit To Myself That I Once Listened To The Backstreet Boys And I Want That Way…

By Kiki Keane

Wow! Nearly two weeks since we lasted posted anything. I will admit that, per usual, part of the reason is laziness and/or avoidance. However, I can also say, with much relief, that mostly the absence is due to trip related business. I wish that I could spend the time to write at length and post some links, but I am stretched thin.

I am amazed at how much time it takes to pack 28 years of a person’s life into a large duffle bag, a small briefcase-sized bag and a backpack. I am still not done. I have packed and repacked a dozen times at least. Adjusting, refolding, taking out and putting in. Should I assume that certain necessities are available wherever it is I end up? Are they really even necessities? How can I live without cocoanut Jelly Bellies and Reese’s peanut butter cups? Then there is the question of books. How many do I take? Which one’s should I take? Should I bring my favorites or take a chance on new ones? Uplifting or depressing? Fiction, nonfiction or poetry? Classics or contemporary? Tennyson, Keats or Naruda? Homer, Dickens or Gaiman? And why doesn’t Las Cruces have a copy of Zorba the Greek?

I have to admit that I am excited to embark on this new and adventurous life, but I am also scared shitless. I am not afraid of the physical risks I will be taking once the Egypt leg of the trip is over. I am not worried about where I’ll sleep or if I will have enough to eat. I am a bit freaked about the great potential for complete and total failure. However, today I learned that you will receive what you need when you need it. I received two things today: 1) A gift of great value both literally and symbolically and 2) a bit of wisdom or, if it is not exactly wise than at least something I can cling to when I feel like jumping of cliff when this adventure turns out to be a disaster. It is from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and it goes like this: “But the person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. But perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same, so we must celebrate the changes because as someone once said, “Everything will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright, than trust me, it’s not yet the end.”

We have about a week until we leave for Cairo. Hopefully one or both of us will be able to at least do some short posts before we go.

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Excuses, Excuses, Or Why We Are LAME!!!!!!!

 

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Sorry about the long absence, Ladies and Gents. We have been busy (Yes, even Kiki!), sick and perhaps a bit lazy.

Kiki:

I spent the week writing, tailoring, shopping, buying lots of crappy free ebooks from BookBub to load my Kindle with so that I have something to waste my time with while away and reading (Oh yes I am!). I am reading Odd Apocalypse (don’t judge!) by Dean Koontz to review for Toonari Post and The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes for my book club. Don’t let my productivity fool you. I am still my TV obsessed self. I have watched a whole season of Lost Girl. It’s not really my thing. I mean I don’t really do the whole orphaned-P.I.-Succubus-meets-Wolf-and-human-doctor-while-solving-murders-and-saving-the-Fae-from-war thing. But I just can’t stop watching it.

Anyway. Goals. I think I accomplished half of one goal. I finished my book club book. No word on the Visa, so I think we are going to wing it.

New Goals: 

1) Read a fiction and non-fiction book 2) Watch less TV (I gotta kick the habit!)

Rachel:

I am sick! Sick, sick, sick! I just knocked my water onto the floor dramatically because I was attempting to sweep up crumbs on the table. That is how coherent and smooth I am. So my goals.

I did complete one book: The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins, I sort of solved my credit card issue in a roundabout way, and I did complete moving in. Hurray me! 2.5 out of three!

New goals:

1)Read another book! 2) Get everything sorted for the trip 3) Get healthy.

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Life, Nerd, Procrastination, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lot Of Nothing In The Name Of Procrastination And The News…

By Kiki Keane

Rachel is still MIA. She has moved into her new place, but is without internet until tomorrow. I have been busy shopping for the trip and trying not to die in this terrible heat. I am sitting in my Papasan trying to protect my cup of coffee from my caffeine loving cat, Alia Atreides (Alia or Ollie for short) and studiously avoiding reading my book club book, Istanbul Passage. I want to read it. I do. I just … I’m a champion procrastinator. And lazy. (I think we have more than established that fact on this blog.) In fact, I am writing this post not because I have anything to say, but because I am avoiding the 133 pages I have to read today. If the procrastination goes as planned, I will have 266 pages to read tomorrow or the entirety of the book to read on Saturday.

I finished my orientation, or onboarding as the folks at Toonari call it, on Tuesday, which means that I can/should start turning out stories. I might try to get that War Tax piece we mentioned a few months back published on Toonari before I go. No one else seems particularly interested in it.

Besides shopping and studiously avoiding the things I should be doing, I have also seriously considered and decided to get rid of my Facebook account. I really love social media. I love being able to connect with all kinds of people all over the world. However, Facebook has been making me claustrophobic lately. Also, it’s a time suck. I sometimes feel that way about Twitter, but Twitter has been more useful than Facebook. Twitter has allowed me to connect with journalists, activists and others around the world, most of whom seem willing to help each other with their various pursuits. That does not mean that I won’t be purging some accounts that I follow. I will be sticking to a few friends, the news, activists and journos. That may only get rid of 100 or so accounts, but probably a 1000 or more tweets a day. I love Scott Baio, but I don’t care about his, or any of his fans, junk drawers.

And the news:

1) Herehere and here are Richard Engel’s latest on Syria. And here is a piece by CNN’s Ben Wedeman. Also, Assad has picked a new PM. This article is from NBC News (formerly MSNBC) and includes a few other pieces on Syria. And Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi is expected to replace Kofi Annan as the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria.

2) Libya has picked Magarief to be president.

3) The murder trial of Gu Kailai started and ended today.

4) Here you will find the hottest places on Earth.

5) In Mali militias train to oust Islamists.

6) This isn’t news, but it’s an interesting article written by Douglas Preston about the time he spent in Italy trying to solve a string of 14 murders committed by a serial killer dubbed “The Monster of Florence.” He wrote a book about it called The Monster of Florence.

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Life, Media, Nerd, Procrastination, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Are Back! No, Really! We Are! Promise!

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Okay. We have been really, really, really bad at this whole blog thing as of late. Rachel is still in the process of moving into her new place and I have been busy reducing my life into a backpack and medium sized duffle bag and watching a truly terrible show called Femme Fatale. It’s like driving by a car wreak; you know it’s wrong to look, but you do it anyway.

Also, I would like to share some happy news. I will be working for Toonari Post. It is unpaid and I still have to go through orientation, but I least I will have a place to publish and an extra set of news credentials. Yay!

For our first collective blog in weeks we are going to share our new goals. I don’t remember what mine were, but it’s a safe bet that I didn’t do them. I swear I’m going to get better at this whole followthrough thing.

New Goals:

Kiki:

1) Read a fiction book 2) Finish one of the trip related books 3) Make a Visa decision (they still aren’t answering the phone or responding to email)

Rachel

I do not remember my previous goals either but it is a fairly safe assumption that I have completed few to none of them.  Here are my new goals:

1) Complete a book either fiction or non-fiction 2) Work on my credit card issue (the issue is I don’t have one!) 3) Complete the moving process 4)Relax a little bit

Moving is really no fun, I can only console myself with the fact that soon I will be in a new home. There are 5 or 6, no joke, FOR RENT signs up in front of my house so at least once a day somebody comes by poking their head into the windows and asking me 5o questions about the place. Couple that with the fact that the tiny widow air conditioner is so completely ineffective that I cannot sleep  more than a few hours a night due to the stifling heat and you have a very cranky Rachel indeed. Yesterday I rode the bus for an hour simply because it was air conditioned.

In Other News:

I (Kiki) thought I would have to avoid the news for the duration of the Olympics, but thankfully news organizations have been good about putting other news on their websites. So, I have been able to avoid that jock-fueled, Nationalist weirdness as I read/watch the news. Although, I haven’t been able to filter out the Olympics completely. As it turns out this is the first time that all nations taking part in the games have women on their teams and there are two Saudi Arabia women able to participate.

Here are some stories I’ve been following:

1) Syrian rebels finally got a couple of missiles and Assad is rallying the troops. Also, Foreign policy experts urge US to get involved in Syria.

2) Is Mali a haven for Al Queda?

3) Clinton will be making her first visit to South Sudan.

4) The situation is deteriorating in eastern Congo.

5) Violence nearly at two-year peak in Iraq.

6) Netanyahu told Panetta that time for a peaceful solution to the Iran nuclear dispute is running out.

This isn’t news, but I love this article (the book is about to come out). It’s a wonderfully articulate article (with lots of examples) about why some of the most touted “literary” writers are actually bad writers. He makes a very valid point: just because you don’t understand what the heck they’re saying, doesn’t mean they’re literary or that your stupid. Actually, it most likely means they are actually bad writers.

 

Categories: Adventure, Books, Goals, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Apologies But Life Avoidance Was Necessary, Or Why Are Women’s Sneakers So Annoyingly Colorful?

By Kiki Keane

I apologize for the long absence. Rachel has been busy getting ready to move into her new apartment and I have been very distracted by Blossom and Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place. I had no idea they had been put on DVD. I became obsessed. It was real ugly there for awhile.

The daily 90s sitcom marathons were no doubt an exercise in avoidance. Between dancing along with Blossom and Six and swooning over Nathan Fillion and Ryan Reynolds (together!) I had little time to freakout over the Visa situation (no one answers phones or emails), the lack of decently colored women’s sneakers (Why is everything white or neon and pastel? Whatever happened to just plain black?), the lack of “modest” but attractive dresses (Why are the only options skintight and Daisy Duke short or grandma?), the lack of real jeans options (again, skintight or mom or grandma), the fact that my Amazon purchases for the trip have been delivered but have not actually been delivered (they supposedly arrived a week ago) and I am six weeks away from the biggest life change I have ever had (and I have had a few) and I have no idea what I am doing. I’m not someone who “wings it.” I am planner and worrier and a freaker-outer (silently) and there is just no way to plan this kind of thing. Not really. Not in any kind of detail.

Okay. Enough of the drama. How about some actual important drama? Forgive me if these stories are out of date.

Here is the latest on Syria: Richard Engel is in Syria and here are his reports for Nightly News on Tuesday and Thursday and on Today. Richard Engel’s analysis of the situation and on the Shabiha and the rebel’s justice. Al Jeezera’s latest on Aleppo. CNN’s latest on Damascus and Aleppo. Here is the latest from NBCNews. This one is a bit old, but just in case you haven’t seen it: Richard Engel’s Rock Center report on his last trip to Syria a few weeks ago.

Here is a bit about Iraq: There were a 103 people killed in Tuesday’s blasts and according to CNN, suspected Al Qaeda militants clashed with security forces on Thursday.

Here is some news out of Egypt: Morsy appointed a new Prime Minister on Tuesday.

Here is a domestic story:  A short NBCNews story on the massive synthetic drug bust that happened recently. I put it here only because one of the stores that was raided is a local one. I always find it amusing and annoying that the only time New Mexico makes the national news is for something bad.

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A Trip to the ABQ, Haiku, Tarantulas, Age Related Vision Problems AND The News

By Kiki Keane and Rachel Womek

Pardon our absence, but we have been busy social bees the last few days. Yesterday was filled with adventure (a trip to Albuquerque) and pain (Kiki had to get her Yellow Fever, Tetanus and Meningitis shots). We also ate more than any human being should be allowed consume. We went to an amazing restaurant called The Elephant Bar and had quantities of ultra delicious food that it surely had crack mixed into it. (Kiki wishes to state that the food was good, but would not go so far drug-laced.)  We also visited the mall, a great bookstore called Page One and Trader Joe’s, which we don’t have in our corner of New Mexico. We drove and drove. We passed the Very Large Array, which I (Rachel) very much wanted to see but alas it was too late in the day and we did not have the time.

Light filtering through

Blue-white cirrus clouds above.

Rio Grande gleaming.

I (Rachel) was very excited to find on my porch today a package of much anticipated tarantulas. Two Poecilotheria subfusca spiderlings which are, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful off all tarantula species. These guys are not for beginners though, they have precise temperature requirements and they possess a medically significant bite. I also got a freebie Phormictopus cancerides. For the sake of Kiki we will imagine I received a box of three precious kitties.

My (Kiki) day was not nearly as exciting. I got a new pair of glasses and then had to buy some reading glasses to use  when I wear my contacts. This is what happens when you age. Not only does your distance vision worsen, but have to correct the part of your vision that was perfect before.

On a less happy note: The News

1) Today is the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica

2) Women protested the public shooting of a woman in Afghanistan

3) Photographer and Richard Engel remember Marie Colvin

4) More on Syria

Categories: Adventure, Books, Journalism, Life, Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chaotic Thoughts, Enduring Friendships, Change, Unlocking The Shackles Of Home, Spies And The News, Or Happiness Found…

By Kiki Keane

My thoughts have been chaotic lately. I fly from one lame thought to another, never staying long enough to get comfortable, which is kind of how I live my life and is a core part of who I am. You could probably call me a quitter. I mean how many novels and stories have I left unfinished, movies half watched, books unread? How many colleges and universities did I attend and how many majors did I have? How many friends have I happily let drift away because to keep them was to much work? How many places have I left because to stay was to be shackled? Why shouldn’t my brain work the same way? That is a long-winded way of letting you know that the following post will be about whatever things my brain chooses to vomit. You have been warned.

I was talking to my oldest friend about a week ago. We have known each other for ten years, which is no small feat considering my commitment phobia and that my longest previous friendship lasted maybe two years. One reason our friendship has endured is because I feel no real pressure to keep it going. For example, I know that I could (though I wouldn’t want to) go for a year or more without speaking to her and it would be no big deal. And if we should see each other again we would treat each other the same. Time and distance is nothing, really. Anyway, we were talking about how much we’ve changed over the years. She has seen me turn from a shy, rainbow scarf wearing, romantic, heart-on-my-sleave idealist complete with rose-colored glasses and a penchant for falling into one unrequited “relationship” after another and into the somewhat jaded, snarky, emotionally unavailable, relatively assertive, decidedly unromantic, eye-rolling, soon to be adventurer that is before you. And she’s changed just as dramatically. So, I guess it’s change that I’ve been thinking about. Not just how we change or that we change, but how we don’t. I’m still an idealist, I just understand moral ambiguity and grayness and impossible choices now. I still want a grand romance, I just don’t need it. I’m still nice, but I’ll be damned if I let you dismiss me.

We also talked about our nomadic lives. Neither of us can stay in one place long without experiencing depression, anxiety and, at least for me, physical pain. We even experience a kind of claustrophobia on behalf of others who have never experienced the freedom and happiness that comes from leaving behind “the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of Routine, the cloak of many cares and the Slavery of Home” (Richard F. Burton). Don’t get me wrong. I envy those who are content in their lives, those who don’t feel shackled and enslaved by obligations, family, friends and their local physical boundaries. I envy those who have never wondered what it would be like to ride a camel through the Sahara, or never needed to touch the Pyramids for themselves, or experience first hand the wars we see on TV and all that comes with it, or require nothing more than a picture or a travelers words to experience the greater world, or those who do not need to know for themselves why the wonders of the world are so…wonderful. I like to pretend that a nomadic life style is one of true freedom, but the truth is that every nomad is slave to the wind. Whenever it blows we are compelled to follow it to wherever it may lead us.

On a different note, I have also been thinking great deal about spies. Why? Because they are fascinating people and because I could never be one. I prefer fictional spies though, especially the outlandish ones, like 007. Of course, 007 may have been based on a real person. Geoffrey Gorden-Creed claimed to be the inspiration for Ian Flemings, James Bond. If he is to believed, I would say that my previous statement was wrong, or at least not entirely informed, as Gorden-Creed was perhaps more fascinating than his fictional counterpart, certainly a less discriminating seducer (if what he said is true than he would make Casanova look chaste). Here is The Daily Mail‘s article on him. Here is Alan Furst’s @Google talk. Lastly, here is Jennet Conant’s C-Span talk/reading about Julia and Paul Childs time in the OSS.

And not to disappoint, here are some news stories I’ve been keeping an eye on.

1) Richard Engel just got back from a trip to Syria and shared what it’s like there at the moment and also some analysis of what Clinton’s criticism of Russia means if anything.

2) Some DRC news

3) Libyans vote

4) New commitment to Afghanistan 

5) I may have shared this and this before, but the destruction of historical sites really angers me. I especially have a fondness for Timbuktu and grieve for the destruction that it has suffered the last few weeks.

Categories: Adventure, Books, Elections, Journalism, Life, Media, Nerd, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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