a gathering place for the words, images and momentos of the world of adventures i've adventured, the stories i've wandered through. curriculum bella vita...a resume, of sorts, of the good life.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thoughts on Home as a Professional Wanderer

It seems as though I'm a year late to the party, but I've got a new favorite song du jour aswirl in my head, and pretty often on my lips. Maybe it resonates so much because diplomats, ala frolicking hippies, might need to settle on home not as a place, but as an idea. Hopefully one, of course, shared with someone else.

A long string of "home" themed songs that have been quick to mean more than most. Old:

And new alike:

Cheers to that.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

german class five-year reunion

Aww, how nice is it to get a blogged shout-out from a former student? Thanks Ana. Good luck with the new job. :-)

They're slowly but surely moving into the real world. I couldn't be more proud. Their status by the numbers?

children: 3

fond du lac county's most wanted: 1

german majors: 0

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dog Days

The dog days of summer are here. DC's hot and a bit stagnant. Guess that's what you get for building a capitol city on a swamp...

Even worse, though, an entirely predictable problem: All my diplomatesque friends are leaving for exotic adventures. The photo albums streaming through my facebook newsfeed are dishearteningly more exotic than my day-after-day plodding progression through Telugu verb tenses. Friends, once a bountiful commodity, are dwindling as departure dates come and go; as we say farewell to even goodbye parties.

The most telling moment was birthday week. In one moment, Kaitlin, Richa and Barrett, three fantastic friends -- all within walking distance -- checked out of Foggy Bottom for South America and China. All within two days of each other.

I'm trying a few different strategies to cope. Chief among them, strangely enough, is utilizing my newfound purchasing power.

an iPod Touch, ostentatiously for Telugu flashcard purposes. But it also allows neat features...like checking out the forecast in Hyderabad. A year from now it'll be monsoon season. A welcome reprieve from the heat of April, May and June. But awfully wet:

And another splurge? A trip to REI...to become a big boy! Finally getting my own membership -- and requisite backcountry gear -- after years of mooching off my dad. A new backpack, super light under 3 pounds, stove, cookset, etc. All the little things you need to dash off into the woods, which is what i desperately need after being couped up in this sweltering city too long.

Look out trails. Here i come! With or without friends...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day Birthday Bonanza XXX

it started as a wednesday night trip to the french-maid-dress-race, but it devolved instead into just a wonderful evening with the perfect kalaidoscope of friends.

rj the father-to-be from the hometown, from the freshman year of college.

childhood friend amy and her bridesmaid demetra

Thanksgiving Elli, still alive after Hungarian/Romanian adventures

Four Winds Amelia, a Washington Stater turned Washington Districter

Lilly, Melanie and Lara, Wisconsin Law ladies

diplomats Richa, Alison, and Anne dropped by, not an unreasonable turnout as our numbers slowly dwindle

and of course Andhra Andrew and Goppadi Gloria

Thanks friends. :-)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


turning 30’ss kind of a big deal. As proof, see, for example, these arguments:

1. it’s a round number.
2. it starts with a 3.
3. in telugu it’s pronounced “muppai,” which is way sweater than “irravaithommidi.”
4. your free-wheeling twenties are over.
5. I’m eligible to run for the United States Senate.

Maybe that number four is the most important. A number as some sort of transition point between a decade of wandering/growing/exploring/learning/developing/discovering/experimenting/etc toward a decade better steered toward

In that spirit, a few years back, a young lady by the name of Rachel threw down a gauntlet. She thought it was funny, as a bright eyed undergraduate, to be living with a man just a few years from 30. So she set forth a challenge. By my 30th birthday, she expected at least one big-boy accomplishment. Something to prove I was headed in the right direction. Something to suggest that the best darn decade of my life hadn’t been a solely self-indulgent sojourn. She was kind enough, though, to give me a choice in the matter. Achieve ONE of the FIVE following:

1. Own a home.
2. Get married and/or propose the same.
3. Have a child.
4. In lieu of a child, have a pet with four legs and fur.
5. Get a real career.
At first I was a bit intimidated by the abrupt reality of the challenge. Just a few years to do something big. I tried my darndest to expand the list, to sneak something easily achievable for a guy with my inclinations on the list. Something like: 6. Earn a professional degree or 7. Publish a book or 8. Buy a shiny car or even 9. Sign my own two-year cellphone contract. No dice. Rachel held firm.

So I’m proud to report, on the eve of my 30th birthday, success. Huge wild success. I have accomplished one of the five.

Progress Report:

1. No. Headed down the diplomacy path, there’s at least a marginal chance that I might never own a home in my life. A bit of a strangely sad thought.

2. No. And not really all that close, either.

3. No. (Applause.)

4. No. (Thank you.)

5. Check.

Monday, July 12, 2010

one book two book blue book red book!

Ron Dayne's got it exactly right. It's hard to be humble when you're from Wisconsin. So maybe I'll just settle for appreciative. :-)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

what does a telugu student want for his birthday?

What does a telugu student want for his birthay? nothing more or less than a brand new telugu-english english-telugu dictionary! the grand prize of a friday field trip to the indian book store out in the suburbs. a measly thirty-five bucks to learn such juicy tidbits as "ఉడుం, uDuM n. iguana; a lizard-like animal known for its strong grip; this animal is reported to have been used to help scale the fortifications in medieval India." Bonus.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

eyes in the cupboard

It has taken me 29.98 years to learn that you CANNOT store potatoes in a cabinet longterm... Maybe this time the lesson will stick?

Temperature today? Rumors of 102.

Number of pool visits in the past five days: 3.

Currently Reading: In Light of India, Octavio Paz. What happens when you cross a Nobel Prize-winning poet with Mexico’s mid-1960’s ambassador to India? Hopefully a good read.

Five most recently completed homework assignments:

నా ప్రియమైన భోజనం (My Favorite Food)

నా ప్రియమైన నాయకుడు (My Favorite Leader)

నాలుగువ జులై (The Fourth of July)

నా హోమేతౌన్ (My Hometown)

నా ప్రియమైన సినిమా (My Favorite Movie)

Most recently learned awesome thing: Transliteration in gmail!

Gmail offers an automatic transliteration option that converts Roman characters to the characters used in...Telugu... This feature lets you type these languages phonetically in English letters, but they'll appear in their correct alphabet. Keep in mind that transliteration is different from translation; the sound of the words is converted from one alphabet to the other, not the meaning.

To enable transliteration, follow these steps:

1. Click the Settings link in Gmail.

2. On the General tab, select the checkbox next to 'Enable Transliteration.' If you don't see this option, click the Show all language options link first.

3. Select the language you'd like your messages to be written in from the drop-down menu.

4. Click Save Changes.

Now, when you compose a message, you should see a new button on the left side of your Gmail toolbar, and you'll be ready to start typing your message.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What good does an old bike do

For the first time ever, I just bought a bike.

Sure, I got a bright orange bike for my 13th birthday, but that doesn’t really count. It was an awkward half-kid, half-adult brute, although 8th graders deserve little better. Every other bike that I’ve owned has been a parental hand-me-down. The latest, two-wheeling the last few years of law school in Madison, was my mom’s 1960s gitan. About three parts on it worked after all these years. Two wheels and one brake.

Kickball league with the law ladies is a difficult distance away. It’s walkable, but it takes 12 phone calls on the return trip to get from the park home, just a bit longer than my attention span. There’s no subway between here and there, so I turned to the bus system. It shaved a few minutes off, but wasn’t too reliable, and cost $3 bucks a round. So I set out, as I tend to do when I set out, to look on Craigslist.

Turns out Craigslist is good for a ride. I found ‘er on my first try. $50, all mine. I had to ride out to Silver Spring, Maryland to take a look at the White Whisper, but I bought her on the spot. I rode 15 miles down the Rock Creek Parkway, smiling the whole way, to get her back home. She’s got a bit of a squeak, but she rolls just fine on nearly bald tires.

Finally, it felt like summer. A new way to transport and recreate. But turns out its good for more than that. As I was locking (new kryptonite u-lock? $55.) her up after one kickball game (a loss), a saw an unfamiliar face, opening the upstairs door, eyeing my bike enviously. We took to chatting, and he admitted he’d considered Craigslisting a bike, too, during his two weeks in DC to visit his wife, my upstairs neighbor. I offered my key, with a warning that I didn’t have a helmet yet, but he gladly accepted the offer.

The next day, he came back down to my seldom-used door and invited me to dinner, to join his wife and him Saturday. I was quick to accept.

Five and a half hours later, I was aglow with the warmth of meeting new interesting people. They’d invited another couple – I was the fifth wheel – and way enjoyed bottle after bottle of wine and topic after topic of conversation. A Fiji-raised Indian. A Trinidad-born P.O.I. American. A Vietnamese-American. A small town Illinois girl. And me, content to be labeled "interesting...really really good type of interesting." As diplomaticesque an evening as can be, practice of sorts for evenings ahead.

I smiled all evening long. I particularly liked one moment in time, late in the evening, smiling to be surrounded by two contented couples. Both ladies, sundressed and barefooted, had kicked their barefeet onto their respective manfolk’s lap. Laying a claim of peaceful ownership, comfortable in the contentment of belly and self and another, just enough subtle contact to heighten the savoring of a conversation and an evening delightful.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


శుక్రవారము త్వరగ రాగలదా?!