Thursday, June 13, 2013

Countdown Time

            I deserve an award at this point.  I’m thinking maybe it could be a cone with a crown-sized diameter?  Maybe big black letters could spell DUNCE vertically up its seam?  And I can wear my award while I sit on a too-short stool in the corner.  And maybe I can snivel a little.
            I am a thoroughly horrible blogger.  Or at least I have been this term.  I look back at my blog and shake my head woefully.  I am just the worst, especially for those family members who are not linked in to networking sites like Facebook.  At least I answer messages on Facebook.  At least I let my family and friends back home know that I am still existing somewhere tropical and occasionally partaking in ridiculously fun activities.  For anyone whose news of me and Ivan is strictly limited to this blog, I hope you’ll forgive me and have, during my intermittent absence, learned of our wellbeing through word-of-mouth.  Now enough of this; I am the blog dunce and it’s time to move on.

            I see that my last post was from the beginning of May.  So I’ll try to take up from there.  First, second and fifth term medical and all vet students had their finals around the middle of May.  (Keep in mind that third and fourth terms are paired together since third term is only about a month and a half long.)  So it was about that time that we said goodbye to a lot of people, some of which we won’t be seeing again for a long time and some we won’t be seeing again ever.  This, of course, is when I become most grateful for the limitless applications of the Internet and its promise that distant friends will be more than just memories.
            While other students were knocking out their finals, Ivan and his fellow fourth term students were taking their second pathology midterm, CPD midterm and microbiology final.  After the pathology midterm, Ivan came home uncharacteristically dejected and, after a quick walk around campus, we found he was hardly alone in his disappointment.  Medical school is a far cry from the undergraduate experience.  It is considerably more taxing, physically, emotionally and monetarily (there’s no point in leaving out the cost—it adds to the stress and expectations these students already manage).  So it’s not really all that uncommon to see students cracking under the pressure—even just a little.  When we walked past the throngs of fourth termers exiting the path exam, I could barely hear a breath being taken in between the cursing.
            Needless to say, we were pleased when the grades were released and Ivan did better than expected.
            He has since completed his nutrition class and is now just taking pathology and CPD.  He spends roughly twelve to thirteen hours a day on those two classes and still runs the risk of falling behind.

This moth has nothing to do with exams, but how cute!

            On May 26th, Ivan and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary.  I’d say something along the lines of “It feels like we were married just yesterday” except that I have the wedding pictures and am consistently reminded by them that we are aging.  If they are of any indication of time, we most certainly were not married just yesterday.  Beside the pathos of mortality, though, it’s actually sort of romantic how long we’ve been together.  Were it not for us enrolling in separate elementary schools in the same town, we may have known each other since we were five.  Instead, we met in junior high school, at the age of thirteen.  And then we went to prom together.  And then we got married.  And I think that about sums up our relationship thus far.
Senior Prom, in all of its awkward glory
            To celebrate this year, Ivan took some time away from his notes and we spent the day together.  We walked the length of the Grand Anse beach (breathtakingly gorgeous, as always).  From the beach we walked through the Grenada Grand resort (where my parents will be staying in September, yay!) and crossed the street to get an ice cream cone at Rick’s Café.  I don’t remember what flavor we got, maybe nutmeg, or rum raisin, or mint chocolate, or maple pecan.  I’ve had them all and have yet to regret a single cone!

Beautiful day for a walk on Grand Anse beach
            For dinner, Ivan made reservations at the Beach House restaurant.  We each had swordfish (his blackened and mine sea salted) and ate outside on the shore.  Before our food was brought out, though, the hostess appeared with a bouquet of birds-of-paradise, fern leaves, orchids and other vivid flowers.  When he set up the reservation, Ivan also apparently requested that a floral arrangement be delivered to me.  Of course I got pretty weepy at that point, especially when our waitress used flower petals to create a heart in the middle of our table.  Our meals were perfect and we saved room for the best dessert ever: Grand Etang Mud Pie (a coffee and chocolate ice cream cake).  Before we were given the chance to order it, though, our waitress emerged with a slice already dished out and a lit sparkler stuck in the pie.  Heavy whipped cream spelled out sentiments on our black plate for the special occasion.

            With a great majority of the students gone, campus is unusually deserted and quiet.  While I can’t say it’s an unwelcome change (no midnight shrieks and whoops from the playing field), there are drawbacks.  The bus schedule has changed to reflect the number of students left on the island and travel has become somewhat complicated because of it.  Most of the other SOs are gone, so there are fewer people to spend downtime with.  Not many students around means the few of us that are left (I realize I’m not a student, but I look like one [white]) are targeted more often by taxis, local buses, vendors, and, most unfortunately, creeps.  So I am not as comfortable leaving campus by myself.
            The drawbacks, I realize, make the time seem miserable.  On the contrary, despite those few issues, I am keeping very busy and enjoying myself.  We are now truly in the wet season.  The rain comes daily and the sky is almost always cloudy.  Going outside without an umbrella is a very risky move considering the strength of some of these storms.  Poor Ivan has to trek to and from class multiple times a day and has been caught in the rain on more than one occasion.
            Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying a virtually uninterrupted span of personal time.  I’m spending it, as anyone would guess, painting, knitting and photographing.  Here and there I’m also baking and struggling to use up some of the excess food stuffs we have around the kitchen.  For instance, I made “junk bread” the other day.  I call it junk bread because I just added a bunch of extra ingredients that I had on hand in the hopes of depleting my unnecessary stock.  I ended up with banana-coconut-chocolate chip-butterscotch bread.  It’s easier to just call it junk bread.  And it tasted pretty good.
            As far as knitting is concerned: I knitted another hat and it turned out awful, so I unraveled it and knitted a different one.  I knitted another critter and named her Madge.  Then I knitted an octopus, but wanted him to be unique, so I only knitted seven tentacles (which technically makes him a septopus) and named him Gherkin.

            I have been painting a little here and there, as always in watercolor.

I had been meaning to paint this for a while and the amount of detail ended up dragging it out for a couple days. Totally worth it.
Skull underneath is in pencil.
Just a social issue message.
A paper-art tribute to a friend who has gone above and beyond to always support my art and photography and endeavors.
            Before most of the school left the island, I did a little photo shoot with a lovely friend.  And I’m looking forward to another shoot with some other friends before we leave the island.
Photo shoot fave. (told you she was lovely)
            Ivan and I gave in to the social rave and finally decided to watch an episode of Game of Thrones.  Two days later we finished all but the final two episodes of season three that had not yet been released (both of which we have since watched).  And I am finished with book one and on to book two.  I’m only moderately concerned that Martin looks closer to the grave than the final two books are to printing (books rumored to be upwards of 1,500 pages each?).  Hopefully he gets around to writing them at some point, or we’ll all be slaves to HBO for the undoubtedly grisly outcome.
Memes are appropriate when dealing with George R.R. Martin
             Here’s a little bit of “Holy Cow!” for you: we’re flying back home in less than three weeks.  On Tuesday, July 2nd, we will be leaving Grenada for a little more than a month.  For every term that we are here, time seems to move faster.  I swear this term felt shorter than our first; yet it’s two months longer.  Now we’re almost ready to move on to our last term in Grenada!
            I am, understandably, looking forward to a break.  In many ways Grenada tries to match the development of the States and mirror the consumerist lifestyle.  But the glaring differences end up spoiling the attempt.  All over Grand Anse and True Blue, there are convenience food stops (the equivalent of fast food joints), but their food handling practices don’t seem to be monitored as they are in the States.  Open up a newspaper in the U.S. and you know what restaurants to avoid because of the published health inspector findings.  Just down the road from SGU, the popular Shawarma King has had eight confirmed cases of salmonella (information that is disseminated by students, then advised by administration).  And they just keep on serving to students.  Bugs have been an ongoing issue for the restaurants on campus, but they bring in so much money, they would never be shut down.  The Subway on campus is a curious twin of its popular sibling back home.  Next to the sign that advises employees to smile or go home, you may or may not see a scowling worker waiting for your order.  You may or may not be aware of the toppings that cost extra (olives, jalapenos, etc.) or the sauces that cost extra (basically everything except mayo).  When you go to Le Papillion for breakfast, you should not expect your mug of coffee to come with free refills.  Expired products are not discarded.  Ivan and I have been enjoying instant cappuccino at half price from IGA because it expired three months ago.  And a few months back, we did the same with expired couscous.
            I could go on and on about the peculiarities and discomforts I don’t mind leaving behind (the sidewalks that are used for parking cars, the maintenance men that unlock and open my front door without my consent, the catcalling and leering when I’m out for a run, the lack of quality me-and-Ivan time), but then I’d be leaving out what I am loathe to leave behind.  Have you seen the beaches here?  So much of this island is beyond beautiful.  There are places I’ve been that I don’t think will ever be equaled in my future travels.  I’ve met people from all over the world and made friends with people I would have never had the opportunity to meet.  When I look out my window, I see the Caribbean Sea.  That is a view I will miss.  I don’t know that I ever would have tried plantains if I never came to Grenada and I really like plantains.  It’s sort of nice to not own a car and know that pretty much everything I need is within walking distance.  I’m really going to miss my fruit guy (aka Fireman, Rasta, or Murvin).
            I’m not looking forward to having to pack up all over again, but I think the vacation back home will be well worth it.  We’re already planning out our first weeks.  Hopefully it will be a little more relaxed than our break over the holidays.  Either way, it will be so nice to be able to spend time with Ivan again.  He needs a break from school.  And we could both use a little visit back in the States.
            I’m guessing my next blog update might not happen before we leave.  If that is the case, see you again in August.

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