New photos+ writing are on standby.
In the meantime, noteworthy (and not so noteworthy) music/sites/randomness/videos/underground sewerfresh that seems fit to pimp out. (as if they need it!!!)

Dirty men underground London. Can you spot Siologen?

MGMT: Hippie Dancing! Gentlemen, ready your airplane! 😉

Poison & Wine-The Civi Wars

Since I cannot resist steamy dirty drain bois and their photography, yet again another yell for 2 of my favorites-if you haven’t already gotten with it. Groupie applications are being accepted now!



UnderCity with Steve Duncan-that desk job isn’t so appealing now, is it?

Vintage in Saucy Red!

Dirty Little Secrets (an old favorite)

Whimsy&Wonder-sometimes hit/miss but good visuals for graffiti ideas!

Under The City-just started on Blogger: underground rivers/history/iphone app (sweeeeet!)

Brilliant Marketing! At least this baby got a chance at 15 min. of fame, usually plastic dolls (and stuffed animals) are sealed in plastic bags and hang suffocating from random places on bedroom walls-or in the case of my new-ish flat-they make an installation of it, utilizing a gas line to string up Fluffy the Bear and Friends.

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Speaking of things being strung up and out, these unfortunate Faux-People where spotted outside a uniform shop near a metro stop-it seems the owner is a little scared they might dip out when he turns his back-cant blame ‘em though, the clothes are bland enough to bring the clergy to tears.

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I bet that Baku Faux-People were a little jealous of these gems from the Whitechaple Green area in London Town-My sister passed this stand every morning on the way to the tube and had failed to notice it, until I pointed out that it was a kindly reminder of my AZ home-a la crotchless nylons.

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It seems that the Faux-People are not the only ones subject to hideous clothing being forced upon them-the Toy is a lone holdout showcase of bad life choices and animal print refusing to die. This rather shocking ensemble provided over 4 hours of amusement; however I wasn’t able to capture the matching suitcase size purse that threatened to wipe out children whenever she turned around. Thankfully for attendees’ progeny, she left the purse on the table when she got up to dance.

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Even I with mad Nina skillz honed and strengthened from 2 years of avoiding animal print was not safe from the insurmountable challenge of the wonderful (seriously) host mother who is terrified that her American sons and daughters will die from cold feet (sometimes such things happen, apparently.) Anyway, it was a pity that SnowLepordGirl wasn’t around to enjoy the socks with me.

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Not every clothing article given to me is just barely suitable for home wear I received a kicking pair of pants that not only made my legs long and skinny, and my butt 2 sizes smaller, but also gave me BlingInTheLowerFrontalRegion-catapulting me into categories of HardCoreness mostly reserved for Gangsters and two wandering Aussie Photographers. Sometimes its hard to walk upright, so much flash is weighting down

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If I am found to be walking in style, you would notice I prefer to take full advantage of the national obsession with knee/thigh high boots of all colors and prints -no matter how high, slinky, skanky or massively hooker-ish, boots are welcomed in every size, shape, color, quality, and function-too bad the population of most small villages isn’t as accepting of foreigners, people with disabilities and African Americans. Found, and purchased at a metro shop:



Found and snapped, this ridiculous beauty not so innocently dangling from a line in a larger regional city.

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It seems towels are the one canvas upon which horn-ball fantasy computer geeks are let loose to create public art acceptable for purchase and consumption. This towel in particular was a gift from one Azeri English teacher to one American English Teacher, a Ms. NE of AZ5-both women are in their late 50’s-a point I make not because late 50’s is old, but because I’m of the opinion that proper English teachers giving naughty-towels to other proper English teachers is more a cause to assume the world is ending than me running and not eating meat.

(Thank you to Mr. J for modeling the towel he was lucky enough to inherit)

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If the world does indeed end in 2012 as so many of my friends have told me, then at least this poor atomically incorrect Elephant guarding a kiddy pool at a family resort on the Caspian will be put out of its misery. This one is indeed a head puzzler. Since when did female Elephants have chests located in their armpits? And since when was it OK to have that at kiddy pools yet wearing red pants and making eye contact are actions deemed inappropriate enough to send every pious/board person in a 60 km radius into spasms of shock/horror?

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This requires no explanation, other than it was given to me, last winter, with a many a laugh, by a nearly blind old man at a fruit stand near my old flat.

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Explanation would have been helpful when this lovely find of a restaurant did its menu- Freelancers out in the world looking to earn some quick cash; take note-proper translation between languages is a skill in high demand

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Also in high demand are t-shirts sporting naughty English phrases-even IzzyTown was not safe, a student from my school was spotted proudly wearing ‘Eat Me’ across his scrawny chest. Spurned on by several more sightings of disastrously funny t-shirts, EM (my partner in crime for most everything) and I took on the SummieLandClothingBazzar hoping to swipe a few t-shirts for holiday gifts. Finding it nearly impossible to not laugh when asking for ‘Eat Me’ (a phrase which had to be s l o w l y enunciated) I settled for the following: (Be glad I didn’t pick up the long sleeve tee which shamelessly stated: ‘Turn off the lights and take off your clothes.’)


Rendering myself lame for 2 days by smashing my big toe is clearly a result of not consuming enough Ninjalar Candy-complete with super awesome disk throwing watch.


The 2008 !!!

June 6, 2009


Jan-June ’08
Volunteer Youth Group from School #1 with the special needs children; at the HA Park.Peace Corps Insider did a story about the children. This was one of the first big projects I did with youth, and for a fresh n00bie it was a lot to tackle; the kids from school#1 were amazing and really committed a lot of time to help the children at the hospital. Story associated with this project: February 2008: Blue and Failure

The last night in Tbilisi, GA.
March ‘08
(there are no pictures left from this trip since my computer crashed…check out FB)
Spent the afternoon on the private rooftop patio of the presidential suite of a prominent hotel watching the sun set and dangling my feet 90+ feet above traffic. Set out on a wander to find the underground brothel turned restaurant and somehow (due to me) ended up discovering an abandoned metro/tube stop that was connected to a mostly abandoned underground shopping center with a few barely alive strip joints. Unfortunately the rest of the group lacked a sense of adventure/taste for the underground, but was overwhelmingly apt at stating the obvious as evidenced by this little gem uttered at the top of a stairwell: ‘Its dark down here and it smells like pee.’
*slaps forehead with palm of hand*
Resigning myself to a small tantalizing glimpse of GA possibilities, (vowing to return sometime) we carried on and eventually found brothel turned restaurant due to shortcut taken through newly found abandoned metro/tube stop. I spent the remaining evening gawking at the stunning array of fascinating characters collected in the Kinkali House. This place makes it on the list of top places to eat, 7 levels, (6 of which are underground) faux maroon velvet everywhere, floor to ceiling mirrors, the Alco/smokes menu the same length as the food and the waitresses getting high in the restroom!

Feb. BurnOut

Feb. BurnOut

Feb. ‘08
In Baku at the now demolished Absheron, a seminal moment becasue it represents that Donny was out danced by someone (!!!) and was too tired to make it into bed. Found him at 7 am while out the door for a run. Its worthwhile to know that the both of us have been talking about/planning  a biking/hiking adventure (since waaaaay back in ’07) to foreign lands with possible hostile conditions. This is also noteworthy since I rarely talk about my friends, clearly showing that I am, in spite of my protest otherwise, a typical self-centered twenty-something.


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New Flat

Old houses, New Houses :Most of Spring, Summer and Fall of ’08
Was chased out of first house by crazy yelling xanim who wanted more money.
Ran for it and deposited myself in new yard house where life seemed better until the Landlady climbed up on the roof at 7am (To dry berries. Seriously.) and peaking in my window caught me doing yoga…in a sports bra and boy shorts. (At least her spying was rewarded)
Was kicked out of yard house by yelling Landlady and son, much to the amusement and general shock of 7 small children, 5 xanims, 4 old men, 3 housewives, and 2 taxi drivers who had gathered to watch the show once Landlady and Co. started yelling and my possessions appeared in a messy heap in the middle of Side Street 4.
Finding these types of things hysterical, I couldn’t help waving and blowing kisses to the audience as I drove away in a taxi.      Was officially kicked out the night before leaving on holiday, unsure if I’d have a place to live when returning, I was a bit keen on keeping my clothing… This was not only a stupid choice but also an embarrassing choice as the result was dragging around a Awful Bloody Hell Huge pack for 2 weeks in eastern countries and then 6 weeks of meetings after…then I gave up and threw away most of my clothes. Sometimes I’m a Low Slerner. (However, due to a great climbing buddy from MN, my clothing supply will soon be replenished to a PC level of excess.) With extra space/midget beds/pillows/blankets this means the flat has become the central hotel of ISM with a revolving door of scruffy PCV’s randomly showing up. This also means I expect a few of my more adventurous friends from outside the ‘Baijan to visit in the ‘09 before I leave. Make your reservations now.


The summer photography class. L-R Back to Front: Salguk, Torgul, Farqu, Gunel, Titi, Lili, Narmine
What an introduction to inside lives of youth in ISM. It started as a photography class, but turned into something akin to The OC: ‘Summer in the ‘Baijan Edition. The essays were sharp (the youngest in the class was 15) and at times difficult to read due to subject matter. I’m not sure what’s more surprising, that the youth really threw themselves into the project (I had doubts if they would actually be interested in participating) or that they started to really talk to me about their lives. (And the lives of everyone else in ISM.) The teens in ISM have the same issues as the teens in America, they just manifest/deal in a different way. Shocking, huh? The summer ended in a bit of sadness, with half the class leaving for university in Baku and the other half reluctantly returning to secondary school classes.


Istanbul, Turkey
June ‘08

Sitting on the edge of the Bospherus drinking Effs Dark with Rob, talking, laughing and just being; then hookah and an in-depth discussion of old boyfriends/old girlfriends…Talking shit to the confused hostel owner at 3 am, pissing him off and then not apologizing, of course (somehow I see a trend here…)  Rob and I share a talent for finding bad fashion, being inappropriate at the worst/best times, being mistaken for movie stars, being really really good looking and having a love/hate relationship with members of the opposite sex. I had not expected to miss my family; was surprised when I cried myself to sleep after saying goodbye at 3 am.



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July ‘08

A hyper mix of Azeri/American girls for one week at camp.  It could have been a recipe for disaster, but instead was a wonderful time of teaching teen girls how to be strong/independent/adventurous/caring/passionate leaders.  This project took up an enormous chunk of time and the efforts of around 20 PCV’s (just to acquire funding) which is entirely worth while when the girls, ages 14-17, learn new life skills.  For most Azeri girls, this is the first time they have been away from home with out their families and introduced to new concepts of ‘self worth’ and ‘individual abilities.’



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Aug. ’08 

L-R: Aching, Jody, Unkonown,Rikki, Sara,Kat, Jason, Colleen

In Laich, the day I rescued London Mark from the Clutches of  Wretched Sleeping Arrangements, Overpaying, and Language Innocence (by inviting him back to ISM and then spending 2 hours on the bus trying to teach him all the Azeri insults I knew.)  Unfortunately, we both left for adventures elsewhere in distant countries soon after his one night in ISM with 10 inebriated PCV’s, several sour bubbly 33’s and one smelly squat.




Aug. ‘08  (pictures on the way…)

Kiev/Moscow/Drains/WanderingAtNight/Hookah/Vodka-IronBru/HawtMen/Partical Colliders/VastIindustrialWastLand/Dirt/Gime/RedSquare/Happiness/JumpingFreightTrains/

DodegyUndergroundStructures/Best2Weeks/Metro/Indipendence Square/Nassssty/Dsankt/Siologen/Quantum-X    



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Sept. ’08

 Jason and I give Toy posing our best effort on his last night in the ‘Bajian before returning to Americastan.  Jody and I keep it hard core reprezenting the 4’s and 5’s!!  ‘I kess’es you, miss for you’ 

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WinterPhotoClass 002Fall/Winter Photography Class

 (a few of the kid’s photos) 

These kids are from the Russian sector of School #1.  Most of the first 2 weeks of ‘class’ wasDec08 001all of us figuring out how to communicate, eventually, we recruited Lili to translate, the boys stopped being scared, the girls stopped giggling and the group started snapping amazing pictures.













Current Location

The view out my kitchen window makes waking up worthwhile…if I actually fall asleep.

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131Summie WasteLand

Oct. ‘08(this is for you Steve, though apologizes; the picture is pathetic, yelling fat man wouldn’t let us get closer. I’m sure you remember this chyxana?)

Met up with a guy who had the paper, stamp of approval, signature, get out of jail free, VIP, Leet Ninja, hard hitting pass, approved by no less than an Azeri Government Branch allowing him free reign to go above/under/around/through Baku taking pictures.  Fortunately we were able to swap stories/tales/tips and spend 2 days photographing before he left for somewhere outside the ‘Baijan.153




























Oct. ‘08Kiev 238

The nails

The n00bs













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Ninja the Kitten as a centerfoldjan09 018


I like small helpless animals. I do not however like feral crazy animals.  While Ninja made a good show, he is, at the time of this post….Gone.  While he did boost my popularity with certain male volunteers (!!), he was kicked out recently (last Feb.’09) due to complications with HouseTraining. (There is a follow up story to this involving my mostly toothless landlady)





FreshMeat   Dec. ‘08    (pictures on the way…)The addition of 2 hot new site mates has boosted my ISM social calander by at least 90%.  The AZ6’s hold promise, Marina has perfected her ‘I’m Disinterested, Hot and Board as Hell’ Toy Photo Smile and I have already trained Tim in the “Maxium Obatinium of Free Food from Individuals Helpless to Rresist your Good Looks” skill. 

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Christmas Joy


In the SouthRegion of Lankeron with the lovely Katie, Nate, Jane, Tor, Whitney, G-Strap and Rache.   Mimosa and the gift from Jane of a sock animal to give me someone to talk to when she is not around .


New Years! (none of the pictures are blog safe. trust me.)

Madness, of course.  It started with a French Man, stumbling over train tracks, a package, hair dye, and climbing over a fence, it ended with a Belgian Pilot, counting down to New Years 7 times, a Blizzard, a coffee shop, 2 nights on the PCLounge Floor and dressing like Xanims from the clothing stash on the bathroom floor.



I am perhaps the world’s worst liar, when I try and lie, you know it. Take an already painfully awkward girl, times by 10, add in all the classic give aways of lying and there I am. I can’t do it.  I blush, laugh, act more awkward, shift eyes, knot hands, look to the left (or is it right?) shift feet, basically I do everything possible to let the person(s) I’m talking to know that I’m attempting a lie for some god only knows reason and that I feel rather bad/embarrassed about the whole thing.  (My childhood dream of being a spy has obviously been trashed)  This dramatically changed when I landed in the AZ and spoke none of the language; lying became frighteningly easy.  At first there were twinges of guilt (ok, huge piles of guilt) accompanied by all the afore mentioned signs.  I was sure in the first 9 months of AZ life someone would call me out on my ridiculous behavior.  No such luck, what I attribute to bad lying was covered by loads of cultural awkwardness and a language barrier that assuaged my icky feelings associated with lying about various personal life details. 


The lie of the fiancée, that stared as a knee-jerk reaction to being accused (within a week of arriving in ISM) of being a lose women (a mild term for what they really called me) has now grown into a monster.  At first I just told people I was engaged. But then as my language improved I couldn’t just say ‘I don’t understand’ everyone knows I reached a certain lever of competence with the Azeri language; they don’t let me slide anymore.  At first I developed a strategy of calling the FauxDude by random names that were, for lack of a better term, pulled out the arse at the moment.  This worked swimmingly until, in typical form I’d be asked by the same person what the fiancée’s name was and I’d forget and stumble around looking for a guys’ name that had lots of nicknames. (FYI Bob, Tony, Mike, Matt, Chris, Dan, have been reused favorites)  Picking an occupation was easy, there are really only a few professions that I can remember and actually say something about; these are limited to the following: Doctor, Engineer, Teacher, Computer ProgrammerDesigner, Photographer, Economist.  Problem is I’m too stupid to remember which profession he currently is engaged in, producing comic conversations that start with ‘Oh I thought Bob was a teacher?’ ‘Who is Dan?’  Once it’s established that Dan is in fact an Economist, the follow up question is naturally, ‘Where does Dan the Economist live?’  Originally my plan was to pick a state I’ve visited (NY, PA, S.Dak., Mich, Ill etc) and expound on that, which proved more difficult since the next logical question was ‘Why didn’t you get married before you came to AZ?’  (Canceling the whole point of lying and putting me back in the category of ‘lose woman’ since no proper man living in the states would let his woman travel to AZ alone)  Then I hit upon a brilliant solution, if FauxDude works in another country it’s the fail safe excuse for why we haven’t married yet, don’t have a date, and don’t really see each other.  (At all.)  I’d choose a country, at least 3 time zones away that I’d visited and knew a far amount about (i.e.; South Korea, Ireland, England, France) plunk FauxDude down in say, Seoul and then describe the country; a stunningly smooth diversion taking the spotlight off FauxDude.  The most difficult country to describe proved to be Ireland, which when pronounced in my wonky America/Midwest accent sounds like the way Azeri’s pronounce Iran-this resulted in one too many heated political conversations and near arguments, so I moved FauxDude to London, where to my knowledge he is now living a very happy life as an Engineer and misses me something fierce. 


If this sounds beyond ridiculous, it is. 


Since I’ve been building up this lie for over a year in hopes of being accepted and protecting my reputation, there really is no way of backing down now. Breaking up with FauxDude is even more scandalous than me clearly being a blithering idiot to 90% of the ISM population. Thankfully, no one has seriously called me out…yet.  What is most frustrating is that, at this point, I’m comfortable enough with my work/ reputation/language/people to just say that I’m not/never will/don’t want to be engaged/married/in a relationship/life partner.  The temptation is to just level with my close friends; admit that I’ve been lying for the past year and then eat crow.  Of course nothing is ever simple, and on top of the FauxDude there are a few other lies that make a nicely tangled knot of stupidity.  I haven’t decided what to do.


Anyway, lets face it, if your only interaction with/knowledge of American women was the shocking chicks of MTV music videos and  previous volunteers who made Mrs. Beaver look like a skank, and then suddenly, a 25 year old single woman, clearly not tall or blond, shows up in your town with a nose piercing and a 14g stainless steel bar punched through her ear, sporting trimmed eyebrows/trousers/skull shirts, and saying she is here to help your kids become better citizens…you’d jump away in fear and run for hills while tisking, but you’d be damm glad that some upstanding man somewhere was willing to bite the bullet and do society a favor by marrying her and protecting the rest of the population from her obvious ability to corrupt all males within a 10 ft. radius.

“Personally, I dislike lies” he said.  “I find that if you act them out long enough, you begin believing them.  You’ll find that lies are natural for people here.  Having a façade is normal, because being honest is such a hassle.  You have to decide what bothers you most-lying all the time, or the consequences of openness.”
 Lipstick Jihad Azadeh Moaveni
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