1. are you afraid of what it will be like to come back after your trip to Guatemala?
Yes and no. The whole trip is scary and intimidating and exciting, so in a lot of ways, I'm so totally focussed on THAT that I haven't given a lot of thought, beyond logistics, to my return. I have hopes that the job market will be well into recovery, that no one I love will have moved away, etc. And it's hard not to wonder, of course, how everything here will look when I get back, not only in terms of what shifts might have taken place, but also in terms of seeing my life through a different lens. But overall, I don't think I'm afraid of it all -- just very very thoughtful :)
2. pick one reality show to be on: Real World, or Survivor. why?
Hmm. On the one hand, Survivor happens in cool places. On the other hand, you don't get voted out of Real World. Can I have Real World in the tropics? I never got into either of these shows in a big way (although I did watch a Real World all-day marathon once, so I suppose I got a good dose of it then ;) but of them, I find Real World more interesting because it's at least a little less contrived than Survivor. I mean, there aren't those crazy immunity challenges, and the whole voting people off thing is kinda whacky. I'm not very physically adept at a lot of the things they use for challenges on Survivor, so I bet I wouldn't last long. Maybe if they had a GeekSurvivor ;)
3. do you have a material possession that you can't live without? what is it?
Well, setting aside the basics of clothing, housing, etc, I think I'd say my laptop/net connection. This is how I connect with the world, and although I can go for a while without getting online, I get antsy if I CAN'T. This doesn't apply, interestingly, when I'm on vacation.
Actually, I have to take all of that back. I can't live without my sunglasses, because my eyes are pretty sensitive to sunlight, and after even a short while in full sunlight without them, my eyes start to water, I can't focus on anything, and soon after that, I get a headache.
4. are there any books that have changed your life?
Her Wits About Her: Self-Defense Success Stories by Women edited by Denise Caignon and Gail Grove:
this is a collection of stories by women who were attacked and survived the attack, some unscathed, some after having been hurt or raped. It had some really wonderful self-defense suggestions (ie, run, kick knees instead of testicles because men don't expect a kick in the knees, yell specific names instead of just "help!") but even more than that, it had these stories that all said, in essense, "If you get away, you're a survivor, and that's a GOOD thing." None of this, "Oh, I'm a rape victim, how awful for me," stuff, which, while totally valid, is really limiting. Before reading this book, a friend and I had a serious conversation about whether we'd rather be raped or murdered, and we really went back and forth. After reading it, there's no question -- it really took away my unconscious sense of shame about the "what if?" I've never been attacked (knock wood), but if I do, this book will be the first thing I read afterwards.
The Plague by Albert Camus:
This is an allegorical novel where the plague is equivalent to social evil (specifically, I believe it was written in reference to naziism). Unusually, I haven't really gotten into any of the other things Camus has written, but this one really crystallized a lot of my life-views by putting them into words.
Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver:
This novel is much lighter than The Plague but it similarly impacted my view on the world, together with a couple of Kingsolver's short stories that I read around the same time.
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison clued me in to the fact that there are racial differences in world perception in the US. This book is the reason I got into a major portion of the work I did in college and the direction I see one of my career passions going. Not to mention that it's an incredibly profound and nuanced read. It also taught me the lesson that great literature is great not just because it's well written but because it can change the reader.
5. what one place in the city (city being the greater boston area) will you miss most while you're gone?
Hmm, this is a hard one. I don't really have places where I'm a regular or that I go specifically for that place. I love crossing the Charles in the morning and evening for work, but I haven't been doing that this year since I live and work on the same side of the river, and I don't think I'd miss it even if I HAD been doing it because I'll be in such a beautiful place. I think I'll probably miss the library, actually, where I also haven't been for a while, since I've been borrowing books from friends, but I do love the BPL.