Happy Thanksgiving and so on

I have fallen off of the proverbial horse. It’s been one, if not two days since my last blog post, I haven’t been exercising, I had too much coffee one day and a little too much alcohol a few others, and my what a mess. Here are today’s stats. The water is very estimated but I’ve had a lot. I’d say if I erred, it was in the conservative direction:

Sleep Water Exercise Coffee Alcohol
8 h 3.5 L 0 min 3 cup(s) 0 drink(s)

I was pressured by my mother into having three cups of coffee this morning — apparently I made the wrong kind and she wanted to empty the pot. I’m back here with my bike, so I’ll probably try to take that for a spin tomorrow rather than running. It’s been months.

The Thanksgiving Stuff

Mom made a delicious dinner of chicken in a bag (it keeps in the moisture), green beans, rice, and gravy, and there was pumpkin pie with ice cream for dessert.

Now comes the part about what I’m thankful for, and I’ll warn you, it’s going to be a bit stream-of-consciousness, so hold on to your hats. I’ve been acquiring things to be thankful for since July.

I’m thankful that I have running water. That I can drink it right out of the tap and not have to worry that it’s filled with parasites. I’m thankful that I grew up and live in a country where I can think what I want, and not be stoned to death, disowned, or something equally unsavory for disagreeing with convention. I’m thankful that as a kid, I didn’t have to go three miles out into fields under the unbearably hot sun and find weeds for livestock to eat. I’m thankful that even the most ramshackle buildings and sheds around me are built to some kind of standard, that the roofs aren’t mud, that my house isn’t made from a mixture of mud, sand, water, manure, and other various organic materials. I’m thankful that even some of the cheaper hotels here have decent sheets and working bathrooms. I’m thankul that busses here generally have four seats to a row and not five, that people generally drive down the correct side of the road, that one doesn’t have to haggle every time one wants a taxi, that food here is typically well-refrigerated, safely prepared, and not full of sand and grit (except that time I didn’t wash spinach well enough for a quiche). I have a greater appreciation for living in a country where I speak the language. Trying to dig up what little French I’ve been exposed to in order to thank the flight attendant for food was new and interesting. “Bouef, si vous plez (sp?)” I’m thankful that the air jets, seats, headphone jacks, and so on in planes on American carriers generally work. I’m thankful that I have access to my own car, and that gas is affordable, even when it’s more than $2 a gallon. I’m thankful that most American planes seem to actually have life vests under the seats. I’m thankful that I can live better than hand-to-mouth. That a plague of locusts isn’t likely to destroy my ability to eat. I’m thankful that the very dust in the air around me isn’t pathogenic. I’m thankful that I was able to afford medicine when I got amoebas in Niger because the dust in the air is pathogenic. I’m thankful that American mosquitos don’t carry malaria, that we don’t have Guinea worm.

I’m thankful that even though my apartment was flooded and most of my possessions destroyed, that some things were spared. That I was able to recover my grandmother’s paintings, and that my photo albums and a few other things floated safely around my room in a rubbermaid container. I’m thankful that I survived, and that I wasn’t stranded in New Orleans for days or even weeks as all hell broke loose. I’m thankful for the support of my family after I lost nearly everything, for the unknown benefactors who donated beds and desks for Katrina victims in St.Louis, and for the guy who begrudgingly helped us take them from the warehouse. I’m thankful to a ton of people at Washington University in St.Louis. To the people that took us in, gave us office space, internet access, a place to put our server. The librarians who worked around the system so that we could have access to books, to journal articles, to interlibrary loan. I’m thankful to my fellow graduate students, who’ve made sharing living accomodations generally pleasant, and certainly less troublesome than I feared. I’m thankful to the people that have been cleaning up and securing New Orleans, for the National Guard who came to make sure my car wasn’t being stolen when Amanda set off the alarm. I’m thankful that my poor fish survived the hurricane, that Hermenegild brought him up to St.Louis, and that I was able to nurse him back to health, even though he’s now dying. I’m thankful that during the evacuation I had places to stay — with family in Texas, on my uncles’ boat in Wisconsin, at Larsmont near Two Harbors, MN. I’m thankful that I got to see a lot of family during the whole fiasco, and that Amanda was able to come with me for much of it. I’m thankful that I will have a place to live next semester, that I won’t have to live in a trailer or on a cruise ship. I’m thankful that I had funding this semester, that I should have it next semester, that my research is computer-based and wasn’t destroyed by lack of care or refrigeration like so many labs in our building. I’m thankful that I have been able to visit Amanda, that she’s probably coming back next semester, and even if she isn’t that she’ll only be about five hours’ drive away.

There’s so much more. I’m sure I missed a ton, but this post is pretty long already. Past thanksgivings, I often felt like I had nothing to be thankful for — nothing special anyway. Oh sure, there’s always the obligatory, “Food over my head, stuff to eat, clothes, blah blah,” but for the first Thanksgiving ever, I have really seen what it can mean to be without these things, and it’s a radically different perspective.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.