SGA Elections and the Solar Plexus

February 21, 2005

So. Friday the 18th, after the last class, all 25 students running for SGA (Student Government Association) were given 30 seconds to introduce themselves and state their cases. We get one rep for every 35 students, so 10 or 11 will be chosen depending on how they count our class. I was third to last and watched as everyone before me was cut off by the infamous stopwatch. Well, I had been practicing.

Here’s what I said:

For those who don’t know me, let’s get aquainted:

I was the guy in Anatomy Lab
that got scalpel happy and cut out a slab
going through muscle that I swore was flab
and ended at ribs, less a cut than a stab.

And you may have heard there’s this guy at Grand Anse
who throws up a tightrope at his every chance
hops up onto it and then strikes the stance
of some crazy epileptic circus dance

Well that guy is me. I’m running with Jester.
Some call me “T.O.E.F.L.”, Meg call me “Toaster”
So please when you’re thinking,”Who should I vote for?”
Go find my name and cast your vote for Topher.

I then held the mic at arms length and let it fall to the floor, affecting the machismo of today’s current rappers (thinking of you, Corabi). As it bounced, the timer started beeping: exactly 30 seconds.

So, two things: first, the crowd didn’t get that it was a poem until the second stanza. This turned into a compliment later. Second, the other candidates were shocked (the other speeches didn’t ryhme) and everyone applauded.

For the inside jokes of that poem, here goes. So in my last letter when I wrote about wanting the scalpel, well they gave it to me and I cut deeply. I ended up cutting the origins for the superficial back muscles (which didn’t matter as we would do that in two days). The professor had some fun at my expense next lecture, so our entire class knew about the incident but not who was responsible. Jester and Meg are good friends of mine that are also running. The TOEFL is the Test Of English as a Foreign Language. In fact, some thought was given to making shirts that said “Vote for TOEFL, he speaks English”. It died in committee. Election results in next issue.

Other news: I’m beet red again and for good cause. When Ivan blasted the island, it did a number on the beaches, so Grand Anse beach is thirty feet shorter than normal and the cline is steeper than you’d expect. Today, two of my friends felt something hard underneath their blankets. It turned out to be some type of mosaic. They did some digging and discovered that it was enourmous and deeply buried. So we got to work uncovering this huge thing. It is 30′ in diameter and underneath .5′-2.5′ of sand from front to back. First by hand, then trash can, then shovel and finally by make-shift wheelbarrel (a grocery cart with a trashbag-lined bottom) we uncovered over half of the disk. The locals had forgotten it was there. So imagine alternating pie-cuts of green and white mosiac radiating from a red-shell center to affect the sun. It was and is again a dancefloor for beach parties.

Our work was cut short when our makeshift wheelbarrel collapsed under the load of sand. We said a few words and then took showers. Returning for lunch, we noticed a construction crew a few meters away with a sump pump. They were pulling saltwater away from their site and sending it back out to sea, to waste. With their permission, we pulled the nose over to our project and washed the floor clean. There remains a third of work left in the back and it will be very hard to finish, but we hope to have it licked by the end of next week. Celebrations will be had, pictures taken.

Never coming back, topher.

P.S. Some white crab came into my room through the porch and I freaked out like a schoolgirl. In case it ever happens to any of you, here’s what you do.

1) Tell no one. They will joke that you have crabs. Learned this the hard way.
2) Chase it into a corner and cluster bomb it with three tshirts.
3) Throw kit and kaboodle outside.
4) Brag to girls about how you handled the crab problem or, alternately, follow step one.


Classes in Swing

February 15, 2005

Warning: if you are squeamish or Anna, don’t read this paragraph. So I am the only boy in my Anatomy dissection group, and it is infuriating. Should we cut that? It looks like it could be muscle. Can we ask the TA? What if it’s muscle?! I think we should wait. Are you sure that’s the trapezius? Is that the right direction? GIVE ME THE DAMN SCALPEL!

Anna, this is to make up fo that last paragraph. So I’ve met this girl Nana from Ghana (don’t laugh, everyone is called Nana in Ghana). I told her all of the stories that I could remember you telling me (mimicing mannerisms and all), she laughed a lot, and I have parlayed it into a friendship with her. Jealous? She’s great, absolutely statuesque, and is already being affected by the “thin model” image that all the American girls on the island have. Oh by the way, the girls here look like models. Jealous?

So I’m studying every day for about seven hours. It isn’t that the material is too hard, just that you only get that one day to learn it, so every day feels like studying for a test. I am not yet working as hard as the all the graduate students back home, but I’m told it gets worse. I absolutely love Anatomy and go into the lab to work by myself for hours just cleaning things up. Then when lab proper rolls around, there is little left to do and I can study while the girls in my group second guess their third guesses. Incidently, I am told that I am overstudying and overworking most of the material.

My hands are falling apart. It is quite depressing. I try to squeeze my pencil really hard to preserve the callouses, but alas. I’ve tried to give the beach an hour every other day, and am know a third degree brown belt (difference between brown and blinding white at belt). Kudos, by the way, to everyone who admitted not getting the YMOTANA joke, all ten of you.

Some of you asked about my teachers and why I thought they were so great. One of them was a Noble Prize nominee in Biology a few years back. Another, Dr. TVN Persaud wrote an Embryology book that is used by 60% of US med students, is in its fourth edition and translated into 13 languages. He also wrote six other medical texts for Indian Med students and is treated as a celebrity there (people routinely have him sign their books and have their pictures taken with him). The entire Anatomy faculty sits for every Anatomist’s lecture so that they can get better as a group. And almost all of them are British, just making it more fun to listen to them.

Favorite word so far: toss up between descending branch of transverse cervical artery and DiPhosphotidylglycerol. Still working on the pictures.

All is well, topher.


February 11, 2005

Some clarifications.

The green flash happens at the equator when the sun sets. You’ll never see it if you are too north or south. They do have cups in Grenada, but juice is sometimes poured into bags and then twisted off at the top. You then take a straw (cut in half at an angle) and stab into the bag to drink. Pretty sure Capri copied this idea.

YMOTANA is a joke. My ANATOMY book left its print on my desk because it is so hot here (my brother didn’t get it).

Update on ICSA: I joined and ran for a position on this platform: I want to have many brown babies. I didn’t win, but made some friends who think I’m silly now. Joke’s on them though. All of my white friends are forming the splinter group WICSA for Windians and then staging a coup. Give us about two terms.

All for now, topher.

Hello from Grenada

February 10, 2005

I don’t know how to describe Grenada (grenEHda not grenAHda). I live on the beach, have my slackline set up, and every day I eat homemade Indian food and drink mango juice from a plastic sandwich bag. It’s beautiful here. I am in class all day during the week, getting out just in time for sunset. We’re so close to the equator that you can see the green flash. I have been on a black-sand beach (didn’t know those existed). All the beer is made on the island, everyone stuffs themself five across into bus benches that would fit three Americans. It’s so hot all the time and people have sunscreen in hip holsters. You never see anyone’s eyes until night, everybody in sunglasses. All the students are so busy that we don’t have time to eat always, and a few minutes after we do sit for a meal, we’re hungry again. Instead, everyone just deals with feeling hungry all the time. It’s amazing how much food is always around back home, even when you’re out. If you leave your book on a desk for too long, you have to peel it off. My desk says YMOTANA. Everyone brought towels and no one uses them. THREE MINUTES after you get out of the ocean, you can’t tell that you went into it. The entire campus is wireless and people have their laptops open in class taking notes or IMing each other. I have never had teachers this good. They are charming, dry (read British), and intelligent in a way that just dwarfs my previous instructors.

All of the buildings are painted like Easter eggs. Birds routinely fly from horizon to horizon without flapping their wings. There is always a breeze. Store owners ask your name the second time they see you and remember it everytime after that. We have a lot of climbers, Ghanans, Nigerians, Russians, Canadians, Trinidad people?, and Indians. Oh wow the Indians! They outnumber everyone else. My friends are making me join ICSA (Indian Culture Student Association) once I get tan enough.

I am one of 350 students in my class. With some luck, I could get into student government. “Topher” is a popular name here. “Tightrope guy” also works well. And yes, I have an insufferable accent now. I expect no one from home will want to talk to me again.

burning because he is an idiot, topher.

P.S. The mosquitos are lazy here. You can almost pet them.