Monday, May 6, 2013

Malaria Complex

            I have not written a blog post in almost a month.  And I have no good excuse.  So now I run into the dilemma of having so much to update, I’m guaranteed to write yet another excruciatingly long post.  Which means you’re going to take one long, scrolling look at this column of toppling words, read the last sentence and, as long as it doesn’t say I’m dying of malaria, close the post altogether.  I’m not dying of malaria.  But I might say that I am.  At the very end.  Just to entice you to read this ridiculous update.
            Where do I start?  Oh, who cares, right?  I’m going to start somewhere in the middle because I can’t remember in what order anything happens these days and it doesn’t really matter, anyhow.
            I went to the GSPCA to volunteer with Ivan and a friend.  And now cute pictures of dogs.

            Caleeco has become more brash these days.  She has settled in, very firmly, to our general area, adopting the married housing apartments and the super-dorm across the drive as her territory.  If any of the other campus feral cats come into her territory, she will end them.  Loudly.  In the middle of the night.  So the numerous dishes and cans of cat food that materialize outside of doorways throughout the day are hers and hers only.  If any dare to forget to offer up their edible token of appreciation for her constant protection and vigilance, she responds with off-key, non-stop mewing.  Whether or not she’s actually hungry or willing to eat is unimportant to the demand for food.

            I have still been knitting.  I can now add to my collection a hat—not flawless, but still my first—and two critters that were meant to be cute bunnies but became something else entirely.

            I have also been painting and crafting.

            I had a wonderful photo shoot with a fifth term student recently.
            Ivan and I have been working out six days a week.  Three of those days we lift weights in the gym.  I’ve never really been one for weights, opting instead for cardio only.  But last summer I hurt my back badly and was severely limited in my mobility for six weeks.  Over the winter break, I hurt my shoulder and wasn’t able to function normally because of the pain.  Without insurance, I didn’t exactly have the freedom to visit my doctor.  This term we’ve been focusing on building muscle and endurance, especially in those areas I recently hurt.  The thought was that my lack of muscle was making me more prone to injury.  Whether or not that’s true, I’m happy to say that neither my back nor shoulder is bothering me anymore!
            Next week, Ivan’s second set of midterms take place.  The rest of our friends (those in first, second and fifth terms) will be taking their finals.  In about two weeks, many of our friends will be leaving Grenada, either for a summer break or to move on to their third year of medical school, in clinical rotations.  Frankly, I can’t believe the end of the term has come for so many!  So far this term has been flying by.
            A week ago… two weeks ago?  Some time ago Ivan and I joined a group of students and SOs on a trip to the northern coast of the island.  At around 6pm on a Friday night, over sixty of us boarded the buses that made the hour-and-a-half trip up the eastern coast to Levera beach, nesting spot for the critically endangered leatherback sea turtles.  The drive (always harrowing) was a shaky, weaving, nauseating trip (speaking of which, one of the buses actually had to pull over because a passenger needed to vomit).  Though we finally made it to our destination, where we found the breakneck speeds getting us there were entirely unnecessary.
            For hours we sat on the beach.  Over sixty people, warned to keep all lights turned off (as a precaution to the turtles) and voices at a minimum, settled into the smothering darkness and salty air.  The evening was overcast, clouds blotting out the otherwise brilliant moon.  All I could really make out were different degrees of darkness, like inky silhouettes against smoky shadows.  And the only color I could discern was a curious redness in the sky to the south.  Everything and everyone else was a shifting mass of desaturated obscurity.
Taken at around 10:30pm with a long shutter speed
            I knew there was a cutoff time.  At some point, our guides would tell us that the turtles were not coming and we would be asked to leave.  I thought for sure we were at that point.  Then, at around 11:45 that evening, four hours after we had arrived, we were divided into three groups and led a quarter mile down the beach where the leatherbacks had emerged from the sea.
            We were told ahead of time how large the sea turtles were—upwards of one ton each.  But one ton is as easy to say as it is difficult to imagine.  The sea turtles are simply enormous.  They were described as prehistoric in presence and I fully support that description.

            Our guide shined a red light on the turtle (red light does not disturb them) as she finished laying her eggs and we formed a half-circle around her, admiring her presence and astonished at her mass.  She used her back flippers to cover the eggs and tamp the sand over them.  For a full half-hour, she wove back and forth, beating her flippers and creating great trenches in the sand.  She cried out a couple of times—a dull roar pushed out lazily—and, all of a sudden, she was in the water and washing away.

            We got back to school sometime after 2 in the morning and, for once, I shut our alarm clock off and we let ourselves sleep in.
            I have been entirely preoccupied with my hobbies lately—something I’m not ashamed of at all.  Apart from the painting and crafting and knitting, I’ve been experimenting more and more with indoor photography and different subjects.  I am completely fixated on contrast, key and color.  As I should have expected all along, I’m beginning to notice the subtle nuances of surrealism and expansion (gosh, let’s be honest, insanity) I inject into my other artistic hobbies taking hold on my photography.  I’ve done a number of indoor shots, testing the effects of lighting, color, background, etc.  And, more recently, self-portraits with high-contrast makeup and hair.  Luckily, I’ve got a beat on a model for next term, so I can branch out a little more.

            Also, SGU had a successful Boston marathon memorial run, which I was able to photograph.  I photographed a diabetes and hypertension awareness run recently.  I will be continuing my position on the Photography Club’s executive board next term.  The PC club had a super fun workshop about lighting where we got to experiment with studio lighting.  We also had a leisurely trip to BBC beach for some sunset pictures.  And I’m pretty sure if I didn’t have pictures of all of this, I would completely forget what I did since my last update!
            And the malaria… oh the malaria…

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