Sunday, June 12, 2011

New photos!

Photos posted from the last 6 months!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Please help fund my project to start a student newspaper/journalism club at my school!!!

The project’s two goals are to train students in basic journalism and computer skills, and to create a bilingual student-run newspaper published through the journalism club. To achieve these goals, the first objective is to hold a series of trainings on “Topics in Journalism” and “Computer Skills” for the students and the teacher supervisor, to be completed by March 2011. Local residents with experience in journalism and photography will conduct the trainings on a volunteer basis. Students in the journalism club will then create and publish the first edition of their newspaper by April 2011. A local English teacher will receive training and supervise the club to ensure sustainability after the volunteer departs. The equipment requested through the Partnership Program is essential to the project in order for the students to create and publish the newspaper. The printer will also aid the financial sustainability of the project by enabling students to produce copies of the newspaper for sale. This project builds the leadership capacity of student participants through their self-management of the journalism club; it transfers valuable skills and knowledge in writing and editing, graphic design and computer skills, as well as critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork; it also encourages changes in attitude and behavior by providing an outlet for active participation in civic society. In the Ukrainian educational system, creativity and individual initiative are not encouraged, and critical thinking and leadership skills are not taught or developed; this project heps address those needs.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation by clicking on the link below. Even $5 will help! The grant is not very large, but it needs to be funded quickly if the project is to be completed this semester. Thank you for your help!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fun stuff:

After the usual marathon GAD meeting at the office in Kiev, Alia, Camille, Lauren, and I sat talking TEFL shop in the apartment for hours, drinking and laughing at our choice of entertainment. Finally we went out and got McDonalds for dinner (I swear, I’ve never eaten more McDonalds in my life!) went to a few bars, and ended up getting sushi at 4 am.

A year into my service, I finally got to attend Arrival Retreat at Desna to greet the new group of TEFL trainees (having missed the first three weeks of training myself, due to my Turkmen Reject status). I was there to represent GAD and talk about secondary projects, so it was nice to meet many of the new arrivals during meals and free time, and try to answer their questions and seem all wise and experienced, teehee.

The next weekend I headed west to Ternopil to celebrate Camille’s birthday with the Bilky/Borova crew and some local volunteers. We got pizza and then camped out in the nice apartment she had rented.

Back again to Kiev, this time to try my hand at flag football for the HIV/AIDS Working Group fundraiser. I pity the poor boys on my team, who had to deny their competitive spirit and accommodate my inability to catch the ball or care about winning. I kept thinking of the “Friends” Thanksgiving episode where Rachel’s job is to “go long.” In the end I actually did catch the ball, once. And made one tackle. Success! I enjoyed myself, but I was more excited for the trail mix than the football pitch. The international school where we played had us all in awe: it looked like AMERICA, shiny and new, with lockers and a real science lab and student projects on the walls and normal bathrooms and people speaking FRENCH!

Fall Break featured Kharkiv Halloween, the infamous, debaucherous, annual PCV extravaganza. It lived up to its name, so we’ll leave it at that. Meghan and I also ventured to another eastern stronghold, Dnipropetrovs’k, to see what all the mafia fuss was about. Downtown is shiny and commercial, like Kiev, flush with new money. We went to see a movie, and got candy, and ate McDonalds, and my consumer heart was happy! We also couchsurfed with a nice girl named Maria, who fed us and showed us around town and stood with us outside at a freezing cold playground drinking non-alcoholic beer with her pregnant friend, and later we watched some ridiculous old Russian comedy about a journalist on a hunting trip and missed our train so we had to take the bus to Kharkiv.

For Katy and Peter’s bon voyage party, a bunch of Vinnytsia volunteers met for a bowling alley extravaganza, featuring sushi (fried and served with ketchup?) and margaritas that cost me a day’s wages. I also saw the new Harry Potter in Ukrainian with Abbey, so it was a pretty fabulous day.

Thanksgiving was celebrated with a Bilky/Borova reunion of our training group at Meghan’s apartment, which impressively had sleeping space for everyone. Camille found a turkey at the Ternopil meat market (I had just baked two chickens for my English club’s celebration), and Meghan’s parents sent cranberry sauce, so we had the works. We also had fun making turkey handprints to decorate the apartment, honed by practice in our English clubs.

I’ve also had a lot of fun this fall with friends in Kozy-town: I went dancing once with Luda from my English club and her friend who studies languages in Kiev, so we spoke Spanish together! I also get to practice my Spanish with “Eduardo” from the center, who debuted his skills with Peter at the summer BBQ. Every so often I go to the center on a Sunday night, when they have gatherings and celebrate birthdays and eat and play charades. Occasionally I’ll have tea with my neighbor, and then there’s the requisite stop-to-chat-with-an-acquaintance-when-you-run-into-each-other-on-the-street phenomenon. I also hang out and chat with my friends after English club, when they switch into heavy Russian surjik and I am content to play Joey and laugh along. When Matt and Anya are in town we go out for a drink. And I’m such a frequent visitor of Kamilia’s apartment that her son Djora sometimes asks her, “De Ketlin?” We cook and bake and eat and watch movies and scheme about grand ideas.

I celebrated the 24th with Kamilia at her mother’s apartment, stuffing a giant fish that baked for 2 hours. I celebrated American Christmas with an epic 3.5 hour skype chat with my family, as a fly on the wall watching them unwrap their presents. Ukrainian Holy Supper was spent with Natasha at her mother’s, and Ukrainian Christmas at Marina’s playing with her adorable three-year-old daughter. Larissa came too, so I got to celebrate with almost all my work colleagues. By celebrate, I mean eat enormous quantities of food.

Transylvanian New Year: A Guide to Successful International Border Crossings During Holiday Weekends, When Public Transport Fails You:

Step 1: Assume Polish identity
Step 2: Keep walking till someone shouts at you, and then present passport (at which point sheepishly drop Polish identity in front of taxi driver who drove you to the border and said you could walk across, P.S. I’m AMERICAN, what?!)
Step 3: Hitchhike with deaf couple who gift guards with ballpoint pens; wonder what they’re talking about as you stare out the winder and wish you remembered more from 3rd grade sign-language club
Step 4: Find way to hostel where you are the only guest, therefore enjoy on the house traditional meatball soup, spicy cabbage rolls, a cake baked by the owner’s neighbor, and a bizarre Christmas film, Romanian man who had lived in Spain and Israel, Ukrainian-Romanian guy
Step 5: Wake up at 6 am the next day for an enchanting 8-hour bus ride through the snowcapped forests covering the somber slopes of the Transylvanian mountains, shrouded in white by the same blizzard that has made you lose feeling in your toes and fear for their survival.
Step 6: Stumble off the bus, starving (because during the lunch break the only things available for purchase were pretzels or chips) with a headache and non-functioning toes, and opt for a taxi instead of trying to figure out where the heck you are. This time, pretend you are Russian. Bask in the warmth and comfort of a private hostel room with TV and shower for the same price as a regular berth, and enjoy the English programs on Vikings and giant snakes showing on the Discovery Channel. Eat microwaveable food, because there is a microwave. Read “In Style” and drool over the pretty clothes.
Step 7: HEATHER AND ADAM ARRIVE, I GIFT THEM WITH GARLIC, AND WE BEGIN OUR OWN TRANSYLVANIAN ADVENTURE! This mostly consists of eating tasty foods and seeing the essential sites, because the poor madrileños aren’t used to the cold, and we’re all quite content to feast our stomachs more than our eyes. We stayed in Brasov and Cluj, and visited Dracula’s castle at Bran (Vlad Tepej never actually lived there, but the real castle is in ruins so this one gets the credit; the interior is actually quite cozy, redecorated by a queen who was gifted the estate for doing something admirable at some time or other of national strife and turmoil). We ate polenta with fried eggs and meat, and garlicky bean soup, and drank palinca (traditional plum brandy), which smelled awful but tasted nice mixed with peach juice. I impressed Adam with my ability to consume pasta at an Italian restaurant, and Heather impressed us with her ability to cook it (we made risotto in the freezing cold kitchen of the hostel, wearing our winter coats). Arpie the hostel reception guy was in love with Heather’s Spanish accent, so he begged us to come to the hostel’s New Year’s party, which consisted of an odd assortment of guests and international students from Columbia and Pakistan, respectively. We went out to the square at midnight for a beautiful fireworks display, and then danced our little hearts out at a club playing fabulous blasts from the past. We had a late brunch and took a short walk to the grocery store before polishing off the risotto, watching Shanghai Noon, and making grilled cheese, ham, and pineapple sandwiches (for which I specifically bought ketchup) before my midnight departure. Overnight trains without beds are decidedly less comfortable, and also I didn’t really like being shut in a compartment with two strangers. I arrived sleepily at Suceava to find that nothing was open, since it was a Sunday and the day after New Years. It’s at times like those that I miss America, where you can always buy something to eat, get from point A to point B, and go pee for free. Since there was no bus, I negotiated a taxi to the border and began my crossing in reverse. This time it was harder to hitch a ride; the first few cars didn’t stop (and some I didn’t hail, because the well-oiled occupants of the shiny black Mercedes looked like they might sell me into slavery), so I just started walking down the highway, and finally the owner of a suitably crappy car picked me up, and we settled on Spanish as he showed his ID cards from all the places he’s lived and worked, including Israel. He wasn’t going to Chernivtsi, so he dropped me off at an intersection and I continued my solitary march till the next car stopped; this Ukrainian-born Romanian drove me all the way to the bus station, and I managed to get a ticket to Vinnytsia and from there another marshrutka home, hours ahead of the overnight train. Success!

School snapshots:

At least one student in each class told me I had a hole in my sweater and should sew it, very concerned for the state of my wardrobe.

7th grade Natasha: “Miss Kathleen, how you say ‘vahitna’ in English?”
Me: “Pregnant.”
Natasha: “Miss Kathleen, you, pregnant?”

Sasha from 8L ran out of class at the bell, I yelled after him because he hadn’t written down the homework; Roma said don’t worry, I’ll pass it on to him, he must run to escaping a beating (this was supposed to ease my mind about the homework).

Paper airplanes and spitballs and phone chargers and curses

I came to school during break wanting to talk to the Vice Principal/my landlady about next semester’s schedule (and how my ungrounded boiler might electrocute me and one wall of my apartment is black with mold and a cabinet in the kitchen is most decidedly not at a 90 degree angle…) but the teachers were nowhere to be found, and I only discovered later that they were in a meeting informing them that the school could not pay their salaries so they must agree to sign affirming they didn’t want to be paid for 2 weeks, or 5 teachers will be let go.

Quarantine right before break, meaning the students were off school nearly a month

Comedy of the absurd staff meetings during which teachers are given minute instructions how to make all the paperwork say what it needs to say (once I very nearly laughed out loud at how pointless it all was, but luckily refrained)

Things I am thankful for:

-Winter sunrises and sunsets on my walks to and from school
-Delicate frost lace on trees and weeds; snow on birch trees
-Shos doe chayoo (something to go with tea)
-Baked goods; measuring the warmth in my apartment by the quantity of baked goods
-A warm bed; staying in a warm bed hours after you’ve woken up, just because you can
-Plotting the romantic entanglement of my students to my advantage
-Red wine, dark chocolate with caramel, frozen pizza with broccoli on top, and all this from a trip to my supermarket, for which I did not have to bother with the formality of pants (a long coat, tall boots, and long underwear sufficed)

“What exactly do you do over there?” Well, I’m glad you asked…a Peace Corps Résumé, Fall 2010:

Environmental Clean-up: taught students project planning, helped them organize and hold disco-fundraiser, secured materials, transport, and volunteers for the cleanup, wrote article for local newspaper
*** School began with the usual flurry of chaos signaled by double-booked rooms, students and teachers with different versions of the schedule, no books or workbooks, etc., but things settled down into somewhat of a routine after the first few weeks. That’s the day job: teaching English for 18 hours a week, plus lesson planning. Everything else is extra. Incredible Ira administered her needs assessment that she had called me in Crimea to ask about, so I taught the basics of project design and management in English club, and the students organized and held a disco-fundraiser to support their environmental project. The actual cleanup was marred by the fact that all my students who had promised to come, save Awesome Ira, failed to show up. This was embarrassing, considering I had sweet-talked the mayor of Komsomolsk into providing a bus to transport 20 people from Kozyatyn, but it ended up being only 8 of my friends. But I still get to tell the story of when I took a marshrutka one Wednesday night to rendez-vous with the mayor of a village 30 minutes away (a man I had never met), near the reservoir that supplies our town’s water. I got to the café where he said to meet, but it was empty. When I asked for Anatoliy Heyorheyovitch, the waiter raised her eyes but told me to go down the hall to a back room. I knocked on the door, reflecting that this was a strange place for a mayor’s office, but it opened to reveal instead a table groaning under the weight of a traditional Ukrainian feast, with 8-9 revelers seated around it, celebrating the mayor’s birthday. They were all the important people in town, and without hesitation, I was entreated to join them. So that is how the meeting with the mayor went. After several more shots of samahon (keep in mind they’d already been celebrating before I arrived), I had regaled them with stories of America, they had informed me of the different industries the village is known for, and the major had agreed to send a bus to transport us and a tractor to remove the trash we collected. A few hours later, he paid for my taxi home. Mission, accomplished. Later I heard that the people of Komsomolsk were asking about the American. With another visit, this time to one of the candidates running for mayor of Kozyatyn (he had also been mayor before), I secured gloves and trash bags for the clean up. Even with only had a handful of volunteers, we still collected a mountain of trash in a few hours, drank some tea, and called it a good day’s work. I really appreciate that my Ukrainian friends came out to support me.

Kozyatyn Leadership Camp INCITE Vinnytsia:
27 kids, 8 PCVs, 6 Ukrainian teachers; directed and managed all aspects of two-day camp: food, lodging, transport, budget, materials, supplies, advertising, community contribution, lesson plans, schedule, time and resource management, overall concept and design, evaluation, newspaper article
***Professional highlight of my service to date!!! It was a great success, the kids didn’t want to go home, we had freakishly fabulous weather in mid-November, plus I think they learned something ; ) Lessons were on leadership, teamwork, and project planning, they had activities and games to reinforce the concepts presented, I showed “School of Rock” on Saturday night (with homemade cookies, plus brownies later for the counselors!) and led yoga on Sunday morning; the students had to plan and present a project idea in groups to pull it all together.

Counter-Trafficking project in conjunction with Ukraine-wide effort for December 2nd World Day to Abolish Human Trafficking:
conducted a 3-part training seminar for 5 girls in 10th-11th grade, mentored peer educators through the teaching process as they prepared and then taught their classmates the same lessons
*** Sympathized with the girls as they learned how difficult their classmates are to teach.

10th grade American culture course: designed semester curriculum and created materials
***Earned a standing ovation for my sneak attack and capture of Ruslan’s phone.

Weekly Adult English Club:
helped friend with TOEFL and grad school application; group discussions on everything including feminism, violence, the environment, education, politics, history, culture, and current events
***This also counts as my social hour, since we have tea and cookies and really it’s just a chance to hang out with my friends and have some fun conversation.

Weekly English Clubs for students: topics covered include domestic violence and self-defense, anti-smoking, HIV/AIDS, counter-trafficking, special needs, American holidays and culture, etc.
***Don’t worry, we do fun stuff too, like decorate cookies, play games, and sing songs! Five 10th and 11th grade girls meet on Fridays at my house for the older club; they are the ones I did the CT project with, but we also watch movies and bake or cook American foods.

The GADFly: editor and writer, moved to paperless printing and archiving through, expanded to include Ukrainian contributions and readership, facilitated by discussions with my Adult English Club
***Check it out online! Search for past issues.

PC Collaborative Vinnytska Oblast Facilitator: organize the exchange of skills and information between volunteers at regular meetings; pioneered region-wide weekend camp program based on successful model
***This is just a structured way for volunteers to problem-solve, bounce ideas off each other, and collaborate, hence the name. In September we went camping by a river in a village outside Vinnytsia. It rained, we cooked rice and beans, and we woke up surrounded by cows.

One of the things I’m most proud of and satisfied with is knowing that my friend Kamilia will keep doing awesome work even when I’m gone, fulfilling the dream of any volunteer that her work is sustainable. She wrote a PEPFAR grant for an HIV/AIDS peer educator program involving a two-day training for students from local schools, who will then teach the same lessons to their classmates, which I merely translated into English, and now we are getting ready to implement. She also inspired her 7th graders at the village school to complete a project that raised money through bake sales and donations to buy art supplies and fairy tales for HIV positive orphans in Vinnytsia. They were skeptical that they could have an impact, but she showed them how they could and they did!

To toot my horn just a little more, but really to explain what else I do besides teach English, I will be the Gender and Development Council’s Camp GLOW 2011 director for a Ukraine-wide girls’ leadership camp, which means I am personally responsible for the smooth sailing of this year’s girls’ camp in Kolomiya, but will write the grant for all three camps that GAD will host this year (look for it online soon, or check out last year’s camps at )!

I also recently started work as a SPA coach and reviewer, which means I read and peer-edit PCV applications for USAID Small Project Assistance grants, and then meet in Kiev with the group to make funding decisions.

Finally, I am writing a grant to start a journalism club and student newspaper at my school, and all the details will soon be posted online, but I would like to ask in advance that anyone who can contribute, please support this project. It’s something that’s never be done before at my school, and the students are really excited to participate.

PS Some of my students are now pen pals with my cousin Katie, brother Jack, and their friends, so I can add fostering cross-cultural understanding through student correspondence to my list! Ivanna asked for an American boy, and I said I knew just the one—now Jack is a celebrity!

Friday, September 3, 2010

IST, Crimea, and First Bell

In-Service Training was the usual combination of inspirational and daunting, to hear volunteers talk about their successful projects and brainstorm how I might achieve similar results. The two PCV facilitators both started “volunteerism schools” at their sites, with students creating and implementing their own service-learning projects and taking ownership of every step in the process. They had different approaches—one got the kids inspired with a successful project and then backtracked to help them see what they had learned, whereas the other started from a more formal training model, with students learning the theory first and then putting it into practice with their own ideas. I really want to start something like this at site, to teach my students about leadership, volunteerism, problem solving, creative thinking, and civic responsibility. The student I took to Camp IKNOW is all excited to work on an environmental project, and even called me while I was in Yalta to ask about the needs assessment questionnaire she was writing (I broke into uncontrollable laughter with my friends over the realization of how differently we all speak with our students, when I said “the Nature is very dirty,” with an exaggerated British accent to her on the phone). But, naturally, I am very excited to harness her enthusiasm, and then rope other students in too. Wish me luck. The conference was good, though it started on my birthday and I didn’t know anyone there (besides my counterpart Lena). It was mostly 38ers (newbies), so I got to meet a lot of people and we went out for drinks at a local bar after the day’s sessions. It was nice to meet the new group of Youth and Community Development volunteers, because they have the education and work experience that I want, so it’s always great to hear their stories. I asked Lena what was the most useful thing she got out of the conference and she said the English practice, but she also said that she understands a little more about Project Design and Management, and where I’m coming from when I talk about what I want to do at school (not just teach English). So I consider that worth it. At the conference I also met some girls from my group who I’ve never seen before (it happens a lot). One lives in Simferopol and offered us her apartment, so I’m glad I decided not to book any accommodations, and opted instead for flexibility in our trip to Crimea.

That choice served us well. We stayed for two nights at Adrianne’s (for the first night she wasn’t even there—she let another group of PCVs hand off her spare key to us!) We had a late, leisurely lunch, and then decided to spend the early evening in Sevastopol on the coast, to see the water and jump-start our vacation. We rode in the front of the bus, where the people without tickets go (Alia had to wait around the corner until the driver passed the check point). Sevastopol was as I had imagined—clean and white, a city on the sea. We strolled the boardwalk and had a glass of wine and some Tatar street food before heading back to Simferopol. The next day we ventured to Bakchysaray, to see the cave monasteries dug out of the cliff-side (reminded me of Mesa Verde), and then the Khan’s Palace. A local PCV and his Ukrainian friend were our guides, so we made sure to get the Tatar food they recommended at this great restaurant, where we lounged on pillows, eating soup with homemade noodles and a dish of giant, steamed meat dumplings. That night we shared a few bottles of wine with Adrianne and her friend, and traveled with them the next day to Stary Krym to see another volunteer for her birthday. The plan was to do some hiking, but we got there too late to do anything serious, so we just took a walk in the hills outside town and then hopped on the first bus we could—it took us to Koktebel, so there we went. I had written down numbers for apartments, but no one wanted to rent to us for less than 5 days, so we were heading somewhat dejectedly to check out the cheapest hotel when a guy offered us a place to stay, and he drove us there to check it out! He was embarrassed when he found out we were Americans, because there was an outhouse and summer shower, but we liked the rustic atmosphere and decided to stay for two nights. Our living/dining room was open-air with a view of the mountains, so it would have been awesome if the Ukrainian girls also staying there didn’t host a big party both nights—and use our space! The first night I asked them to move to their own space because we wanted to go to bed early, so they took our table up to their patio and didn’t return it till after we had breakfast, which was kind of annoying (as was the fact that the next night they just had their party on our patio, right outside my bedroom). They only spoke Russian, so there were several things lost in translation. I am going to miss being able to talk about people right in front of them though. It’s quite satisfying and convenient. The first night we had a picnic dinner on the beach and then walked along the boardwalk, gorging on giant slices of delicious cake. The next day we bought more food and wine for the beach, and went a little outside of town to find a nice spot—some people had built rock circles in the water for lounging, so we drank our wine there! It felt quite luxurious. Dinner was ridiculously overpriced, and I’m pretty sure the fatty, questionably cooked chicken made me sick to my stomach, because I was ill for the rest of the trip. We all got sick though (so maybe it wasn’t the chicken?), and kept vying for the title of “temporarily worst off.” Re-hydration salts taste nasty, I don’t care what Alia and Meagan say! Despite feeling like crap, we departed for Sudak to visit its really well preserved Genoese fortress, and proceeded on to Novy Svit to camp out on the beach. Our prospects were looking grim and night was falling, when we finally stumbled upon the other backpackers and staked out a pebbly section of our own. It was the first time I’ve ever slept under the stars without a tent, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect night: calm and warm, with a full moon and no wind. Of course, my bowels could have cooperated, but at least the weather was nice. I will tell you though that a night on the beach and 16 hours on the train with stomach problems is not much fun (especially when they lock the toilet near bigger stops). Our next stop was Yalta. We sprung for a nice apartment—Shower! Toilet! Hot water!—and it was only a 5-minute walk to the water. It was also a treat to just relax and watch television, even though they dubbed Gossip Girls in Russian. We had McDonalds for breakfast on the main square near the Lenin statue (he stares down the golden arches, creating perhaps the most ironic architectural juxtaposition ever), and I brought my own ketchup because they charge almost as much for a packet as for a hamburger. I had bought ketchup for our homemade Mac ‘n cheese, and was inspired to bring it to breakfast. We visited Livadia Palace, where the Yalta Conference was held, and saw several other palaces and beautiful gardens. They next day we got stranded at a poor excuse for a waterfall, and a harrowing taxi-ride later we were whizzing up a cable car to the top of Ay-Petri, with gorgeous views and obnoxious vendors (the whole trip it got progressively worse, till we couldn’t stand them any more). Meagan and Alia had an earlier train home, so I slept in and went to the beach by myself in Yalta before heading back to Simferopol. When I got back to Kozyatyn, it was 45 degrees colder than when I had left! WTF?!!

First Bell marks the Day of Knowledge on September 1st, and operates the same as Last Bell, so classes didn’t start till the 2nd. Of course, the schedule isn’t finalized, and there are no books or program for the 10th form, so it seems like institutionalized chaos will be standard for the next week or two. I was at Natasha’s to do my volunteer reporting form (it’s not Mac-compatible—boo), and we had an enlightening conversation about the need for educational reform in Ukraine. She helped me realize that the root of the problem lies in a lack of accountability or consequences. Students aren’t responsible for their own education (if a teacher fails a student, she must tutor him without pay all summer, and it is her fault if he receives bad marks—in theory therefore a student can complete his schooling without ever having absorbed a scrap of knowledge—a scary thought when the societal implications of such a future workforce are considered) or behavior (detention doesn’t exist); teachers are required to spend more time and effort filling out the official journal with detailed lesson plans (regardless of whether they are ever implemented, since more emphasis is given to the color of the pen and the quality of penmanship) than teaching their students. Demo lessons are rehearsed and answers memorized. Cheating is rampant and goes unpunished. These things she knows, but what can she do? She reasons that under communism, people learned to expect the state to give them things: education, a job, food. The idea that people themselves are responsible for their own well-being, and in turn that of their society, is what I hope to teach my kids. I think it will be much more useful than mastering the Present Perfect Continuous Tense.

In other news, I have already resorted to wool blankets; the days of sweating in my underwear seem so long ago. The Lone Mosquito still plagues me at night, however, buzzing brazenly in my ear, despite my entreaties to just bite me and be done with it.