Monthly Archives: October 2011

I am a grown up lady

Here is some proof.

1. Getting my shit tailor made

Like some kind of rich person, or French person, or person on What Not To Wear.

I started fretting over my lack of Mongolian clothing a while ago, maybe around April.  I had a jacket that my host mom and host sister picked out for me last summer in Ulaanbaatar, but it was off-the-rack, unlined, and kinda ill-fitting.  Gaze upon it, and the dread Boob Gapping:

Man, that day trip to UB with Eej and Otgoo. It was at the very end of training, and it was the first time anybody in my family had taken me out of the house to go anywhere, ever.  I had very strong suspicions about why Eej was finally going on a field trip with her American (we’d had our community picnic a few days before, and some of the other host families had spent the afternoon one-upping each other by publicly showering their trainees with gifts of Mongolian clothes), but I got some pizza and a shirt out of the deal, so I don’t know why I’m being such a B about things.  It was a nice Girls’ Day Out.  I fondly remember Eej tugging an endless series of too-small jackets across my bustline, and it was kind of cute when Otgoo and Eej had a “Ugh, Mom, why red?  Red is ugly,”  “Well I think it’s nice” kind of spat in the middle of the market.

So, back to this year.  I wanted to have something made for myself, and I wanted to have it finished in time to wear it to the various Peace Corps training ceremonies this summer, and I wanted it to be something that I could possibly pull off back home.

I achieved the first two of these goals?

Please enjoy this photo of me, my fellow trainer Khaliunaa, and my Mongol From The Future jacket.  It sure fits me real nice!  And once I wear it for next year’s Tsagaan Sar, it will hang in my closet until:

a) the end of time, or

b) I grow a serious pair of personal style balls, or

c) I become one of those ex-expats who wear their foreign garb because they need everybody around them to know they lived abroad, or

d) “Asian-y Space Age” becomes a thing, like a fashion thing?

Whichever comes first.

2.  Not adopting any fucking animals no matter how much the universe wants us to

Here is an interesting fact: The doormat outside our neighbor’s apartment is magical.  Every six months, it sprouts a baby animal.  I mean we all remember this guy, don’t we, who showed up back in March?

And then last month, lo, this guy:

I can’t wait to see what shows up next spring!  Fingers crossed for a baby yak.

3.  Carrying some g.d. candy in my purse

This makes me more of a grown up grandma than a grown up lady, but I’m including it anyway.

My mom, the Captain of Care Packages, always sticks in a bag of Starbursts or Hershey’s Kisses or whatever along with the essentials (New Yorkers, moisturizer, turkey jerky).  We used to just parcel the candy out, slowly, into our candy bowl at home (i.e. eat it ourselves), and sometimes I would take it to school and put it in the bowl in my office (i.e. eat it myself, with the cleaning lady).

But I’ve abandoned my office this year.  I used to meet with my teachers there, do my own lesson planning and materials creation there, have “office hours” there (HA and HA and HA AGAIN)(that didn’t work out).  This year I’m never there, unless I’m having some Me Time, which usually entails locking myself in for 15 minutes so I can shove takeout vegetarian dumplings into my mouth while reading stuff on my iPhone (and here I feel it would be appropriate to insert one of those “Peace Corps: How Far Will You Go?” posters…

…ah yes very nice).

So I’ve moved my operations upstairs to the Teachers’ Room, which is a much more fun and lively and enjoyable place, especially now that people have mostly stopped bugging me about tutoring their children.  And I keep a shitload of candy in my purse, so as to slowly curry favor with the staff, chocolate by chocolate.

It’s really weird that I didn’t spend more time in the Teachers’ Room last year.  Or, I mean, I did, but I had to build myself up to it, and it drained me pretty fast, sitting there at the table and feeling awkward and not understanding anything.  I don’t quite know why it’s easier to sit in there all day long this year — obviously it’s a combination of slightly better language, slightly better relationships, and candy.  But I also think something about myself has changed.   The farther I get from last year, the more I realize how anxious and nervy I used to be at work last fall.  Everything was a trial, you know?  Everything taxed my mental reserves.  I was so busy maintaining the crazy-person Everything’s Fine And I Am Just Happy To Be Here Smile that I never even cracked a joke, or goofed around, or talked even the tiniest bit of shit, or gave anybody a piece of g.d. candy.


We will end here with a picture of Ryan in the park on a lovely fall day, eating a hot dog:

He thought it tasted fine, but that thing set off my Mutton-Dar, and how.



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It’s pumpkinninny!*


Gosh it’s been a long time since we had ourselves a nice food blog.  I considered sharing our We Sure Have Spent All Our Money Potato Soup with you, but it wasn’t that exciting.  Butter, potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, bouillon cube, water, cream, dill.  Mash it, hot sauce it, eat it.  Do you have zero dollars and a sack of free root vegetables courtesy of your sitemates?  Will you shamelessly eat what is essentially a bowl of mashed potatoes for your dinner?  For a week?  Then I heartily recommend it.

What I do want to share with you, however, is this exciting new addition to the Erdenet produce scene:

Look at it.  Magnificent!  So colorful, so round, so novel.  I’ve never been interested in pumpkins before (I actually kind of hate all forms of squash, in much the same way that I hate all forms of melon), but there’s something about A New Thing At The Market that makes Peace Corps volunteers go a little loopy.  Even pampered ones like us (see: the bunch of fresh cilantro in the bowl).

As a for instance: One day last spring, I stopped by my trusty Vegetable Lady on the way home from school and found bunches and bunches of fresh celery.  My god!  Beautiful little baby stalks of celery, in Erdenet, Mongolia!  In March!  I snatched some up like a crazed rodent and then scurried home, chattering wildly to myself.  I chopped up the whole mess of it and used the last of my precious lentils to make a soup.  We ate it for dinner that night, and it really wasn’t until the first spoonful that I remembered: Celery Is Disgusting And I Hate It.

Ugh, wasted lentils.  Why.

But Mr. Pumpkin hasn’t let me down.  I think I don’t actually hate all kinds of squash.  It’s just that I don’t like the flavors that usually go with them: Cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar.  Bleh.  GIVE ME SODIUM.

And so I recommend these things to you: Pumpkin congee and beans ‘n’ rice with roasted pumpkin. These two dishes are excellent examples of the type of meal I most like to make, which is Stuff Piled On Top Of Other Stuff.

Also I would like you to note how I am poaching eggs and making my own tortillas these days, just like a real adult person.

Thank you.



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