Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"This Greyhound is Delta bound..."

This Saturday I'm getting on a bus and heading to Ocean Springs, Mississippi for at least two months. I have no idea what I'm doing down there, but I'll be volunteering with a Lutheran Church through Lutheran Episcopal Disaster Relief. It's where I went when I went to Mississippi in February. This is their new disaster relief webpage And I thought I had put dorm life behind me!

I am, in fact, going greyhound, but the above quote is from a song on a mixed CD one of the girls on the last trip made that we listened to in the van. I should say it was THE mixed CD. Katie Luther, if you're reading this, Props to you and thanks for coming to my blog.

And since my ticket is purchased and I let the volunteer coordinator I'd need someone to pick me up at the bus station in Biloxi on Monday - You guessed it!
I was able to schedule my tests last week. Yesterday I had a breast ultrasound - turns out I don't even have a cyst! Here, I thought I'd had a harmless cyst for four years and it turns out it's just a hard spot of tissue. I bet you'd never even notice!

Today I had my psychiatric evaluation and was given a clean bill of mental health. Apparently the doctor thinks I have good coping skills should I get depressed far away from home. Let's hope he's right.

With those reports collected today and faxed to Washington D.C., dare I say, I expect to be accepted into the Peace Corps sometime in the coming months! And when the time comes you, blog readers, will probably be the third or fourth to know!

So the DANGUMIT of the week goes out to my new shoes. I got them online at a New York shoestore that charges no tax and no shipping and they were on clearance for only $49.99! That's $40 off the suggested retail price, and this style is nigh impossible to find in regular shoe shores! The shoes were delievered yesterday, and I should say the only size on clearance was 7.5. Usually I wear an 8 but I purchased a pair of sandals by the same company over the summer (you may remember my agonizing over Can I justify spending this much on sandals once in my life becuase if I ever cross the deserts of India these will be the sandals I will be wearing?) and one woman in a shoestore told me to get a 7.5 only they didn't have a 7.5 so I went to another shoestore in the same mall and bought an 8 and then continually agonized over whether I wasted my money on sandals that were too big.)

Well, that's not the case this time. These shoes pinch something awful! I suppose a lot of women suffer through buying the wrong shoe size for a baragin. I just didn't think I was one of them. But they already feel better than they did yesterday. I actually think I can wear the 7.5 but it would have been better if I'd gotten a 7.5 wide. Don't worry, though, I'm going to stretch them out. I decided today and I already wore them outside once so there will be no returning them.

Just learn from my mistake, people and always be wary of buying shoes without trying them on.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

so...I guess it's Wednesday

Let me tell you a little about my life right now. I would be on my way to the Gulf Coast this week, a willing volunteer ready to do whatever they tell me. My bag is packed. But I need additional medical tests for the Peace Corps. Mind you, I'm not yet accepted to the Peace Corps and my acceptance - and hopefully my departure in February - hinges on these medical tests.
If I don't get them in ASAP - they might not have time to issue me a medical clearance in time, and I might have to wait another year.

But I don't have insurance anymore since my term of service with Americorps ended.

So, here's what I've had to do so far - after much calling the hospital, I found out you need a doctor to order a test. You can't just call up the hospital and schedule it. So I went to the county free clinic and waited four hours with no guarentees that I would see a doctor, to see a doctor who ordered the test (but first I had to see a social worker and explain that I have no money and I want to see a doctor and that's why I was at the free clinic).

Then I went to the Billing Office for paperwork I need to ask the county to help me pay for the test. This paperwork asks for copies of three of my most recent pay stubs ( I have three but their in no particular order) a copy of my 2005 tax return (lucky I filed) and answers to questions about how much debt I'm in, how much savings, investment, retirement blah blah blah, I have. All of this is zero - plus I'm not working right now - no income, living with my mom, no rent, and I'm not looking for a job because I'm planning on going to the Gulf Coast when all this is done.

And then it asks me what I think my monthly payment should be.
I don't know. I just told you I have no income.

So then I had to go to the Workforce Development office and get a Denial form to send in to the hospital with my paperwork - so the hospital can process my paperwork and call me and tell me it's ok to schedule the test. But to get a denial I have to fill out an application for medicaid after meeting with another social worker. All the same questions as on the Financial Questionaire I already filled out for the hospital except for confusing because everthing is coded (enter your ethnic hertiage - see page five for codes. White - 5, Black- 2, Biracial-6, Who cares- 3). I filled out the application in 15 minutes before thier office closed on Friday, but rather than just pick up a Denial form like whoever it was at the clinic lead me believe I could do like they just had a stack behind the desk - they can take up to a month to process the denial before they send it to me in the mail.

However the woman behind the desk promised me processing mine would be a priority, and my social worker called yesterday and said hopefully I should get it today. But it didn't. So hopefully tomorrow it will come and I'll have a complete set of forms to mail to the hospital for additional processing, so then I can Schedule my test!

All this leaves me in the very awkward position of getting up each day for the sole purpose of checking the mail, and then proceeding to wait until I can check the mail again tomorrow. I've been doing way too much internet shopping (for things I can use in the Peace Corps, but don't necessarily need to buy right now, like a radio with a hand crank - but you can find some good deals on Earth Shoes). Anyway, I'm posting now to put off cleaning the bathrooms, and to distract myself from more internet shopping. (Hey, this t-shirt is organic!)

None of this has to do with the psychiatric evaluation I also found out I need for the Peace Corps, and that I'm just going to have to pay for because the county has sent me back and fourth between the same two offices so many times I don't even want to open that can of worms!

The mail comes again tomorrow morning at 10A.M. Until then my salvation has been reruns of Scrubs every night on Comedy Central for an hour. I'll let you know if I get some new shoes.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Favorite Year
I'm so far behind in this blogging thing, that since I just finished posting the Buffalo Hunt, I still haven't reflected on my year of service with Americorps. It seems weird to be writing about it now that I've been home for so long. When you move so dramatically from one part of your life to the next, the last chapter kind of ends, and you tend not to remember it without concious inention. Does that happen to anyone else?

Well, what I wanted to say - and I know it's what I wanted to say at the time since I was thinking about it even before my fabulous goodbye party in Moorhead - is that, Has anyone seen the musical My Favorite Year? I saw a community theatre production of it once and what made the biggest impression on me was that my choir director cast himself as the lead, and he had to kiss an actress who was a junior! Yeck!

But what made the second biggest impression on me was that the main character begins the show by saying something along the lines of "this is a show about my favorite year. Not the year I had the most success or made the mose money, but my favorite year."

That's how I feel about my time in Moorhead. It was definately the year I met the most people at one time, made the most friends at one time (face it, making friends in college is easy. How many of you guys did I meet because we sat next to each other in class or lived on the same floor?) and made the most interesting connections in an interesting community away from home.

Moving to a new community you know nothing about for a job you know little about to work with no one you know - doesn't work out for everybody. But for me it was a great experience and I learned probably the most I've ever learned - and I can honestly say I'm not exactly the same person I was before.

I'm trying to describe all this by using less than stellar descriptors like "great experience" and "learned a lot" so I don't think I'm doing it justice. If I think of anything else radically intelligent to say, I'm sure I'll post it on here, but I wouldn't expect too much.

Also I haven't kept track of how many postings I've made here, and I know it's probably less than 100 - I haven't yet reached 1 year of blogging but I've noticed some of my early entries HAVE BEEN EATEN BY THE INTERNET! I find this distressing because I thought once something was posted it was - you know- permanent. Or at least it would be archived somewhere somewhat permanently so I could go back and read it in the years to come while I'm in the Peace Corps, to say nothing of showing my grandkids how the Academy Award winning film Brokeback Mountain was so wildly anticipated ... by me. (notice, I had to say Academy Award winning. You like that?)

So I guess this is an entry that is a half reflection on the past, half staying in tune with the present, because once it's over - it's gone, baby. All you have is what you learned and who you choose to be as you are shaped by your experiences. Make the most of it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Laura's Buffalo Hunt - Fin
I believe that's the French word for The End - or Italian, or something like you used to see at the end of art films.
As promised, here's a shot I like better of the "Punk" bison, or Don't Judge a Bison by is' Cover. It is behind bars in the courtyard of that art museum. If you can't see it here, he's got a blue mohawk, a nose ring, and a portrait of an Old Timer waving his fist and shouting "those young ...Punks."

"The aim of art is to present not the outward apperance of things, but their inward significance."
- Aristotle.

I chose to end with this bison because we're back in Moorhead now, but it should be no surprise to most of you that I'm posting from Wisconsin - where I've been for about two weeks. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed the buffalo hunt and got to see some of these two amazing towns that have been my home for the last year.

If you really liked the bison, you should check out You can see more bison there. These are only the ones I shot and there are actually 74 of them!

Laura's Buffalo Hunt- Part Seven, I think

This picture looks like one of those where you have to find hidden objects in the picture. See if you can find the Buffalo tiltled Home on the Range hidden among the scorched July grass. Then see if you can find a) my bike, and b) the other side of the Energy Buffalo that looks like it's on fire.
Tiaglo - This is on the Fargo side of the Main Ave bridge. This shot is a recreation of the orignial shot I took on Memorial Day. I took it while sitting on a bench because I shot 20 bison in one day while walking everywhere in Fargo and Moorhead and was extremely tired. In fact I walked so much I was sore for two days afterward and for some reason the buffalo's face didn't show up in the picture so I had to come back and shoot it again. Maple Leaf Bison - on a different day, after work, I went exploring to try and find this bison in Lindenwood Park, and after an hour or so I found it but the bison wasn't there! THey moved it and it showed up later in the month here in front of the Civic Center.
This guy reminds me of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He's really realistic looking from one side, and pure metal on the the other. I hope for his sake Magento doesn't show up!
This Beach Buff - buffalo lives next to the Fargo pool in Island Park. The detail on his towel and shorts are amazing. I love his flippers and rubber duck inner tube too!
'cept he appears to have some kind of wacky comb-over. Why, I'm not sure!
The natural side of Industrial Bison, from before.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Laura's Buffalo Hunt -Part Six
There wouldn't have to be so many parts if it would just let me post all the pictures I want at once.

This picture is bad because of the shadow, but this is Mica Star Boy outside of the NDSU's equivalent to the Performing Arts' Center, and the design on him in white is actually little triangles of something glued down to his painted body.
Surprise! These are some of the middle school students of the Linking Up Summer Leadership Program outside the stadium where we went to see a RedHawks minor league baseball game. This bison stands alone, further down. It's a mosaic decorated bison.
This buffalo titled A Foot in the Past, and Eye to the future is prominently displayed on NDSU's campus. It might be feeling a little schitzophrentic though because if you look closely at it's feet you can tell that...

this is the other side of it: flip flops, cell phone, an earing. I don't know what's up with the shorts, they appear to be made of burlap... makes me nostalgic for college though. Just looking at him makes me want to run out for Ben & Jerry's at quarter to twelve.
Laura's Buffalo Hunt part five - "Fargoside Story continued"

Look what it did! It put two pictures next to each other. Weird. I didn't ask it to do that. But now I can't type under these two. - !
This beautiful bison, featuring a Buffalo Head Nickel on her flank is Heart of the Prairie, pictured here in her original location outside the historic Fargo Theater which has a real organ and someone plays it before a movie! You can barely see Heart of the Prairie in the first picture although I was standing in the middle of Broadway to take it, because I was trying to get in the entire marquee, so I took another picture before they moved her due to vandalism, even though I almost ran over a woman on my bike on my way to take that picture. (Like how was I supposed to know she was going to walk out of a shop at that instant. I said Excuse me. It's not like she was paying attention.)

This sunflower Bison has Starry Starry Nights on the other side and a portrait of Van Gogh for a face. It's cleverly titled Gogh Bison GO! Did you ever hear the Art Garfunkle song about Vincent Van Gogh? I like that song.
This colorful and cartoonish bison is named Heartbeat of the RedRiver Valley and is at the base of my favorite street in Fargo - you guessed it! Broadway! Where everything is, including Bab's coffee shop's new location, around the corner from this bison!
This peice of artwork is called Spirits of the Prairie (are you sensing a theme?) and she's right up broadway from Heartbeat who is across the street from the one about the Fargo Fire. (I can draw you a map.) I'm just trying to give you an idea of how many bison one sees in a day.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Laura's Buffalo Hunt - Part Four "the Fargo side of the bridge"

(Grumpily: in no kind of order) This shiny bison, commemorating the Pony Express stands on Broadway in Fargo near Dempsy's Public House - my favorite Irish Pub in Fargo - and the only bar in Fargo it can be said I "frequent." Anyway, I like the Pony Express bison.

This little guy lives in front of the Fargo Civic Center. (yes, those are the Ten Comandments in the background.) I believe his painting was sponsored by Excel energy - or some energy company because one side is an illustration of Wind Power - very important in North Dakota, and the other side - what looks to me like a picture of Hell - is an illustration of Coal Power. I also appreciate the portrait of Earth he wears on his forehead.

This Bison stands at one end of Broadway. One side of him commemorates the Fargo Fire of 1893. The other side the Red River flood of 1997.

This Texas-Hold'em playing Bison with the shades stands outside the very large and impressive Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre building which is in my favorite park, Island Park. It took me a while to find this one even though the map said there were two bison in Island Park. It's a big park. The sign should be advertising the summer production of Anything Goes but for some reason that didn't show up in the picture although I tried to get in in there. Maybe it blinked or something.

And why not, after all put this bison next to the Welcome to Fargo sign last? I don't know his title, but he's got a beach scene with two little kids painted on one side of him which reminds me of the innocence and venture of childhood summers. Isn't it sweet?

Laura's Buffalo Hunt-Part Three "Now that Buffalo's Gone"

We're coming up on the last of the Moorhead Bison, but I've tried to save the very best for last. This is "Now that the Buffalo's Gone" by Timothy Ray.

This buffalo features four versus of a song by artist Buffy Sainte-Marie, who I am very interested in learning more about since being introduced to her poetry by this fine bison. More information on Buffy Sainte-Marie can be found at

Can you remember the times
When you have held your head high
And told all your friends of your Indian claim
Proud good lady and proud good man
Your great-great grandfather from Indian blood sprang
And you feel in your heart for these ones

When a war between nations is lost
The loser we know pays the cost.
But even when Germany fell to your hand
Consider dear lady, consider dear man
You left them their pride and you left them their land
And what have you done to these ones?

Has a change come about Uncle Sam?
Or are you still taking our lands
A treaty forever George Washington signed
He did dear lady, he did dear man
But the treaty’s being broken by Kinzua Dam
And what will you do for these ones?

Oh it’s all in the past you can say
But its still going on here today
The government now wants the Iroquois land
That of the Inuit & the Cheyenne
It’s here and it’s now you must help us dear man
Now that the buffalo’s gone

Copyright Gypsy Boy Music 1965

I love this majestic Bison where it stands in Moorhead overlooking this bland stretch of road rather close to bar watching the cars pass by and reminding us of the lost prairie. And as I was admiring it, a train happened to pass. (well, actually I came back and waited 20 minutes for a train so I could take this picture.) But is haunting.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Laura's Buffalo Hunt - Summer '06 Part Two

If this is how this is going to go, you're going to have to scroll down and read part one first. It's taken me a long time to create these posts, because it will only let me post three pictures at a time - or at least thus far. But stay tuned to the results of my Fargo/Moorhead Buffalo Hunt and my ongoing battle with posting pics on Blogger.

Ok, not the order I would have them in, but apparently I have no say-
This one is called Wacapi Wanagi (Ghost Dance) and is designed and painted by Laura Youngbird. The webpage says Laura used a process called acrylic transfer, incorporating historical images. The images are related to the Ghost Dance, the slaughter and the near extinction of the American Bison, the massacre at Wounded Knee (mostly women and children), due to the fear of the religious movement (the Ghost Dance). The premise of the Ghost Dance is that if you prayed, sang the songs and danced (which is also praying), lived a good life, the suffering would end, the oppressors would leave and the buffalo would return. It is one of my favorite Bison and it's very powerful up close. In Moorhead this bison stands in front of the Hjemkomst Heritage Interpretive Center.

Bi-Sun, is the title this colorful Bison stands outside the Moorhead Center Mall and looking at it reminds me of the hottest days of summer when it got up to 104!

This one looks the most like a natural bison, from the front and he's got a nice scene with the American flag down his side. Stood in the middle of busy main avenue to get this picture.

This guy is called Sam. No idea why. No clue what's up with the Christmas lights either, but it was nice to see some blue in the Main Avenue area. It's not a color you usually see unless you're looking up at the sky... You can see the main avenue bridge and the railroad bridge that lets you know we get a lot of trains coming through...quite often.