Herro everybody.  I haven’t been writing anything in my journal lately, so below I have typed in my entries from last month — like you even care.

It may interest you to know that the boy from the last entry — the one who thinks it’s funny to do the pole-in-the-hole gesture at me, which, I mean, it is obviously hilarious, but also how dare he, am I right — is currently standing next to me and trying to make nice.  He is doing this by softly singing Shakira’s World Cup song to me, and also by “Hi”-ing me.  I am rebuffing him at every turn, like this:

KID
waka waka eh eh

ME
(silence)

KID
waka waka eh eh?

ME
(silence)

KID
This time Africa…

ME
(silence)

KID
Hi

ME
You are a real stinker.

Also, please enjoy dis view:

Hope everybody is well, and everything.  I had my first real vomit-and-poop-fest this weekend (AND WHAT A FEST IT WAS), and if you are reading this I probably thought of you fondly during my 24 hours of sweaty, stinky bedrest.

June 3, 2010, 7:08 a.m.

We’re going to land in Chicago in a half hour.  I have the window seat. We’ve been saying goodbye to people for so long and now we’re finished — we’re like two little particles hurtling through space.

There’s a documentary about fire, or explosions, or possibly lightning, on the airplane TV right now.   Mongolians really don’t like lightning, apparently.  Hopefully this isn’t some kind of ominous portent?

10:30 a.m., en route to San Francisco

It’s taking just about all my willpower to not put on a pair of United headphones and watch ‘Valentine’s Day’ right now.

I’ve been trying to read David Foster Wallace’s ‘E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction,’ see, but it’s not as breezy a read as I thought it would be, and I’m tired and I don’t want to think and look at all these stupid silly actors!  There’s Taylor whatserface and the were-boy from Twilight, all making out and whatever.  Aren’t they dating in real life? Couldn’t this maybe, possibly, be almost entertaining to watch?

Under different circumstances I would probs let myself zone out in front of this self-referential piece of trash, but this DFW essay is all about
a) our collective zombification in front of the boob tube
b) the way ‘mass commercial culture’ supports post-modernism via Americans’ ‘exposure to mass images’ and ‘our guilty indulgent psychology with respect to that exposure’
c) the way pop references work so well in fiction, because

  1. ‘we all recognize such a reference, and
  2. we’re all a little uneasy about how we all recognize such a reference’

d) how ‘irony and ridicule,’ while entertaining and effective, are also ‘agents of a great despair and stasis in U.S. culture.’

So basically, I can’t read all that and then go, oh my gah, the girl from the Devil Wears Prada is having dinner with the guy from That 70s Show*, let me sit here for two hours and smirk at this dumb piece of shit movie.

*Obviously I am only pretending that I don’t know their names (Anne Hathaway, Topher Grace).

All the women in this movie have the most horrifying biceps.

God we’ve just been talking about and talking about and talking about this and now it’s finally here, almost here, we land in San Francisco in I-have-no-idea-when and then we drag our 1,000 lbs. of luggage onto a shuttle and we take that to the hotel and then we stand in line and fill out forms and then presumably we go sit down in a conference room where I, at least, will have to resist the impulse to burrow under the carpet.  I can’t wait to meet 70 new people, all at once, most of whom I’ve mildly stalked on Facebook for the last couple of months!   Moreover, I can’t wait to try to act like a normal person while I do these things!  Also, I’m so glad that I got two hours of sleep last night.

(The mountains we’re flying over have SNOW on them!  How is this even possible)

Yeah, I think the sleep deprivation is mostly what’s messing with me right now.  And the hunger.  I swing back and forth: This is so exciting!  This is so horrifying!  This is going to be great, but awful, but awesome, but probably mostly awful, oh god nobody will like me and I’ll be bad at everything.

June 5, sometime at night, waiting on a bus in Ulaanbaatar

Notable things:

1. Korea (more accurately the airport in Incheon) was mildly exciting, but I was kind of bushed and carrying way too much weight around and this dampened things a little.  We ordered chamchikimbap and the guy at the register understood me; that was nice.   Also, I purchased a tube of toothpaste at the airport pharmacy, and the crusty old pharmacist a) ooh-ed when I told him where I was going, and b) assured me that the toothpaste would whiten my teeth very quickly.   Then he said ‘kuh-reddit kah-duh’ was an acceptable form of payment.  Kamsa hamnida, friend.

2. I want to remember the safety briefing, or whatever you call it, when we were onboard our flight to Mongolia.  There were no TVs, which meant that we had to watch the flight attendants buckle seatbelts and inflate lifejackets in the flesh, not on a screen.   I’ve always liked it better that way — every flight attendant has a different style, and every time I get kind of hypnotized, watching them tighten straps and whatnot.

Usually I’m the only passenger ogling the flight attendants like this.  But today was different: The plane was maybe 90% Peace Corps volunteers, and the announcer was reading the safety instructions in Mongolian, and the flight attendants were Mongolian, too, and by god this was probably, for most of us, our very first encounter with real-life Mongolian and real-life Mongolians.  There was actual shushing on the plane today as the demonstration started.  All 70+ of us put down our books and ceased our conversations and watched and listened, riveted, and the next two minutes were kind of sweet and terrifying and desperate.  All of our fears and anxieties and hopes were focused like lasers on the attendant as she pretended to blow air into her life vest, like if we only listened hard enough, we would be able to understand.

June 7, I think? Monday, anyway. 7:30 a.m. in the trainee dormitory in Zuunmod.

Woke up at 5.  Squeaked my way down from the top of our metal bunk beds and then rustled around in my plastic-bag-riddled luggage for approximately fifteen thousand minutes, which must have thrilled our roommates.  Finally located running gear, put it on, walked downstairs, left the dorm, pointed myself in the direction of the hills and started to run.   Felt like the world’s biggest badass until, three minutes in, I doubled over and started wheezing. Altitude?   Maybe I’m just fat?  Whatever.

Lunch with the ambassador today!

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