Monthly Archives: March 2009

And here I thought I was keeping my head above water

About a year ago I got mail from the IRS. I wasn’t worried. What could they want from little old me?

I was being audited for my 2005 taxes. That’s what. In 2005 I was still in grad school, living in Belgium and commuting to NYC for work. So my accountant and I claimed an exclusion because I lived abroad. Apparently, they didn’t like that.

But I wasn’t too worried. I sent them all the info they asked for: a copy of my apartment lease and proof that I paid rent in the foreign country, work schedules, a copy of my residence permit, etc etc.

To get to my point, I thought that, Ok, maybe they were going to decide I owed them some money for whatever reason. It wouldn’t be worth fighting; I’d just pay it and be done. It couldn’t be that bad – I mean, after all, I don’t make very much!

So imagine my cranky surprise when my father came to visit this weekend, toting a big fat envelope from the IRS. We were joking, I gave a drum roll to see how much they’d decided I owe (hoping it was $0, of course, assuming at worst it was a number with only two 0’s in it)…and just about choked. Somehow the IRS thinks I owe them over $4000! The most insulting part is, a big chunk of that is a “penalty”. How can they charge you a penalty for not having paid money they never told you you owed?!

I’m not a Conservative. I don’t have a problem with taxes. But, please, just not all at once. This is one of those crappy times when I feel like I just learned what it’s really like to be a grown-up. And I don’t like it. Sigh.



Filed under if I'd known than what I know now, life, work

My Book is out!

I have in the past been accused of “holding out on you”. This is true, although I’m not sure that this counts. No, it’s not any of my writing “pet projects” that I’ve been working on for ages (and will be for many ages more), but officially I am…wait for it…a book author!

That book is my master’s thesis. And although it’s not the first book I thought I’d publish, I am quite happy as it was a long road to get here.

After graduation I thought I was terribly lucky when the first academic journal I submitted to, accepted  it. Although I had to edit it down by half to match the format, of course I was happy to do so.  I completed the work and eagerly awaited publication. And waited. And waited. I received occasional apologies about the “delay”, but still nothing. And then I got “sick” and, well, whatever.

Fast forward a year. I get a email from them saying, “by the way, we need you to make some edits before we can publish.” I’m sorry – what?! After all this…and 3 weeks prior to Christmas (which I was especially looking forward to, having just finished chemo). Basically, I used my best diplomacy skills to ask for a little…more…from them (carefully avoiding the word “professionalism”). I never heard back. I never pursued. Good riddance.

Fast forward another year when, out of the blue, this German academic publisher emailed saying they’d seen a summery of my work and asked to see a full copy for review – if I had interest in allowing them to publish it. Suh-weet! And here we are.

So, for all of you who have just been dying to know all about Cultures of Mobility: New Global Nomadism, Third Culture, and the Influence of Study Abroad, well, your dreams have just come true. I know, you can thank me later.


Filed under this time THIS year

Just…wow (Night work = breast cancer: becoming accepted knowledge?)

The Danish government will be making payouts to women who worked night shifts in state-sector jobs who developed breast cancer.

Read a short article about it here, a more detailed version on the BBC page here.

Note the specific mention in both articles of a Flight Attendant who received a payout. Contrary to the women in these articles, it has occurred to me that my work schedule may have some connection, owing to the research that has come out in the last few years about the effect of nighttime light on breast cancer. (Having an obvious connection with night shifts and circadian rhythm abnormalities…) This as a possible explanation for why breast cancer rates are crazy high compared to non-industrialized countries (not to mention lower rates among the blind) is especially interesting.

Unfortunately, I have no solution to my own work-related concerns. For now I will have to settle for renewing my resolution to unplug hotel clocks and other sources of articifial light when I take my post-arrival nap in layover cities. And should I ever lose my job involuntarily, remind me of this upside.

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Filed under breast cancer, cancer news, work


About 8 years ago I was working a flight home fro Paris. For some reason our flight path took us up to Greenland, and I’ve never seen anything like it. I was kicking myself for not having my camera with me…and thus my habit of taking it everywhere was born.

I figured that one day we’d fly over it again. It has happened a few times, but never on a clear day. Until last week.

Because of some large swaths of turbulence, out pilots took us way north, and when the view opened before them they were kind enough to give us a call and invite us up to the cockpit to see. You’ve never seen so many crewmembers stuffed in that little space, all staring for as long as they could before feeling guilty that the rest of the crew was in the cabin waiting for their turn. Finally, 8 years later, I got my photos.

img_4513 First view from the cockpit.

img_4512 We came to a clearing in the woods clouds.

img_4520 A closer look at some of the (many, many) icebergs.





And whaddyaknow? I found my original Pompeii post! I had somehow accidentally made it a new page. Mysterious.


Filed under breast cancer

2nd Time’s a Charm

Let’s try again…Here are a few photos from my Pompeii visit (hoping the photos are worth all those words they’re rumored to be worth…).

img_4285 A model of the city in the Naples Archeology Museum, just to give you and idea of how big it was – 20,000 people’s worth. I never expected it to be so crazy huge.

img_4301 The museum has a room dedicated to Pompeiian “erotica”. (Keep in mind, however, that for them there was nothing dirty about sex. The phallus was a good luck symbol of prosperity, to the point that many houses had wind chimes depicting the theme and the only sign recovered from one of the bakeries featured a phallus, basically as the logo of the store.) I think this lady’s metal “bikini” is pretty rockin’- I can only think of Princess Leah!

img_4378 From “the Villa of Mysteries” – perhaps the best preserved upper-class home from this time period. It was located in the “suburbs” of Pompeii and has to be seen by anyone with more than a passing interest in this history/archeology. There are gardens, frescos galore and even a couple of recovered bodies (see below).

img_4327 One of the recovered “bodies” of Mt. Vesuvius’ victims. Whenever a cavity was discovered during excavations plaster would be poured in and left to dry, filling the space left by the body as it decayed. Pompeii has few bodies (nearby Herculaneum, a smaller and wealthier town, had many more) since most inhabitants evacuated to the beach, thinking they’d be safer there. In the villa above, a slave was found in one of the downstairs rooms where you could see where his teeth were, as his mouth was open when he died. These “bodies” are a heavy hit of humanism, so rare in archeology sites. It makes the place feel rather intimate.

img_4401 The brothel. Five rooms opened off the ground floor hallway, each containing a stone bed (a mattress would be placed on top). The walls were covered with – ahem – inspirational paintings. There was a 2nd story with several more rooms.

img_4417 A street with many store fronts and some swank houses. The walls are covered with political graffiti (as well as frescos). The raised stones you can see across the road were a pedestrian crosswalk – so the people could cross traffic as well as avoid the flow of water, waste and whatnot that might be gushing down the street.

We spent 4 1/2 hours there and had to hustle in order to just hit the highlights. I would totally go back again – this is a 2-3 dayer. This will tide me over at work for a while. I’m sure to be all smiles for a good bit.


Filed under this time THIS year, work

What the…?

I spent a long itme the other day uploading andposting a few photos of Pompeii. Where’d the post go? I have no idea.

I’m beyond exhausted at the moment (flew down to Sao Paulo, Brazil and back in 30 hours – a 10 hours flight each way…) but I will redo that post once I can joint he living again. Hopefully later today.

Grrr! I’m so annoyed.

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Filed under breast cancer

When it’s bad it’s bad. And when it’s good…it’s really, really good

So I left you practically in mid-sentence. I’d been sitting on my butt for 2 days waiting for work to call. I had volunteered to be “short-called” – which means called with less than 2 hours until departure – and wow did it work out.

I never, ever see the Rome trip. It’s held by F/A’s 20 years and up. One of them was apparently there and ready to go, when she had to pull out. So, with 1hr 45 minutes until take-off, I hustled myself to the airport! And even more serendipitously, it was a 48 hour layover (another rarity)!It was a struggle but I made it in time and was even lucky enough to have a colleague on board equally interested in archeology. It couldn’t have all been more perfect.

I hadn’t been to Rome 13 years. (Wow that hurts to say!) I remember that it was fantastic, but I had forgotten the details of how much so. Sortof like you remember that something hurt but not the actual pain. I go could go to Rome every week and never run out of things to see.

What’s more – I have always wanted to go to Pompeii. So I got on board determined  to do so even though I thought it would be at least 3 hours there. But I was wrong – it is under 2 hours using the fast trains. And my colleague was happy to go with me again since we both have such interest. We were also joined by one of the pilots – a guy who is not so interested in that stuff but is a great sport and good company. We all went to the Naples Archeology Museum, then to Pompeii where my colleague escorted us around to hit the highlights in the time left, since 4 hours is nowhere near enough time in Pompeii for the likes of me.

Hanging out with my two companions was like a time warp – I can’t remember a more satisfying 15 hours day! My legs still hurt terribly but I’m not complaining. And if I ever see the Rome trip again, I’ll go right back.

For the moment I’ll post a few Milan photos that I was going to put up last week, then put a few Rome/Pompeii photos up shortly…


The pretty village of Torno, on Lake Como.

img_3896 img_3894

The flight attendants couldn’t stop taking photos out the window. And you’d think the passengers were the ones who should be impressed.


Filed under life, this time THIS year, work