Posted by: sean | February 11, 2009

A Quality Worth Licking

Liberia is hot, shaded with palm trees, and has breathtaking beaches. If ever there was a place meant to be ground zero for ice cream consumption, Liberia would be it. Liberians should be hapless, obese diabetics, waddling hourly to the corner ice cream stand, wheezing and gesturing at a picture to indicate how many scoops they want to tower on their next cone. Alas, this is not the case. A handful of restaurants catering to foreigners or the Liberian middle-class serve frozen soft serve or a gloppy substance resembling play dough. On the streets one company dominates the Liberian ice cream market, Quench Your Thirst International. Vendors roam the streets with wooden wheelbarrows selling ice cream that is cheap, but not very creamful. Foreigners have maybe one or two experiences with Quench Your Thirst International, then shrug and write off Liberian ice cream. Read More…

Posted by: sean | January 21, 2009

The Most Miserable Girl in the World

I decided to choose my own for a bit and headed to Europe, a journey with maps, for a month. I took hot showers, partook in no stadium riots, saw no Tercels, it was fantastic – the hot shower part at least. I traveled by rail with my backpack. At an art museum in Berlin I bought a poster to decorate my house back in Liberia, which, until now, has been decorated in what I call the Silent Post-Expressionist Style (Don’t look at what I’m hanging, look at what I’m NOT hanging. It’s a deep movement; also cheap). They put the poster in a laughably large prism-shaped box. And then I traveled by rail with my backpack and a giant Tolberone bar. I saw old friends, lots of euro-mullets, and even made some new friends. But, this post is not about any of that. Not at all. This post is about the Most Miserable Girl in the World. Read More…

Posted by: sean | November 15, 2008

The Beautiful Game

After surviving the Akonalypse you tend to think that you have a certain prowess, a deft ability to navigate poorly managed mass events. 


Hey Sean, we’re buying tickets for the Liberia-Gambia game. Want us to pick you up one?


Sure. How much?


We’re going to buy the $20 VIP seats.


Oooooooo. Weeeeellll. You see, I was thinking about getting the cheap $3 dollar seats.


Really?  We’ve heard that those seats are pretty dangerous….


Yeah, well, you know….  The Akonalypse was pretty dangerous, but I have a certain prowess, a deft ability to navigate poorly managed mass events. You wouldn’t understand…


Ok. Well, we’ll pick one up for you just in case you change your mind.

  Read More…

Posted by: sean | September 22, 2008


My house has a ten foot wall around it. Topped with snarled coils of barbed wire. Four guards patrol the grounds with clubs. How tough would it be to sneak into chez Sean? One day, I drove up to my house in a big, white Carter Center SUV. I smiled at the guards. Hello! They smiled back and told me that Sean wasn’t there and that I couldn’t enter. They refused me entry to my own house on the basis that there was no one (i.e. ME) home to welcome me. They had beautiful logic. This is how tough it is to sneak into my house. I thought. Read More…

Posted by: sean | August 19, 2008

My New Squeeze

There comes a time in a man’s life when he decides to buy a juice extractor.  My time came last week.  At around 10 a.m.  I was sitting in my office, working diligently, but something wasn’t quite right.  I looked out of my window, trees swayed in the breeze, branches bulged with citrusy delectables.  I looked back at my computer screen, began to type a few words, and then paused again.  It was time.  I pushed my chair back with resolve.  In the hallway, I saw Tim.  Tim is a graduate anthropology student at George Washington University working for the Carter Center and the United States Institute for Peace this summer.  Tim, I’m going to buy a juice extractor, want to come?

Moments later we were walking with purpose and steely gazes towards what I fondly refer to as the Carter Car.  Zinnah, our driver, was listening to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings on the radio.  This was no time for national catharsis.  This was a time for impulsive consumerism.

Hey Zinnah.  We have a mission!  Juice extractor!  To the Carter Car! Read More…

One of the things that I’ve been struck by in Liberia is the overt nationalism of the UN Peacekeepers. I used to think that once a soldier put on a blue UN Peacekeeper helmet the transformation would be akin to that of Bob, the hapless deli employee who at night dons makeup, becomes the uninhibited Chiquita, and serenades drunk business men at the bar – in other words, complete and utter. No longer would the soldiers be tools of the nation state, but rather faceless cogs of the UN, ready to go anywhere and stay just long enough to be fired upon before being withdrawn. Sadly, I was wrong. Turns out that giving a person a blue helmet just amplifies their nationalism. Read More…

Posted by: sean | July 2, 2008

Roughing it in Liberia

Dear Uncle Ken,

I was in the forest, far from the hustle and bustle of Monrovia with its tin shacks, gnarled barb wire, free-flowing street sewage, and rampant armed robbery. The oppressive heat, even now, at mid-morning, suggested that the sun had saddled up next to Venus overnight. Sweat poured down my face. I pressed through the knee-deep brush, taking care not to betray my position with a careless step on a land mine. The dense forest densified with each step.

They were somewhere behind me, nearer now. Read More…

Posted by: sean | June 7, 2008

The World Moves Sideways

Unless you have been hiding under a Tercel, you are aware of China’s growing presence on the world stage. If you are particularly informed, you might have heard that by mid-century we will all be playing lots of Mah Jong, speaking Mandarin, and writing poor English subtitles for Bollywood films. 不是!you may say, but you’re wrong. While these are all true, it’s hard for the average person to feel Chinese economic, political, and social encroachment in their daily lives…unless you live in Liberia. Read More…

Posted by: sean | May 19, 2008

Showerers Anonymous

My name is Sean and I have a showering problem.

I take long showers.

God, it feels so good to get this out in the open. Cathartic, even. You don’t understand what it’s been like, all these years… It is not uncommon for my showers to be interrupted by impatient knocks at the door or for me to find roommates waiting patiently outside, twiddling their thumbs. I often come to in the morning and realize that I am in the shower, my fingers pruned. How long have I been there? I have no idea. I’m a monster. Read More…

Posted by: sean | May 8, 2008

Franco. Phone.

The jungle strangled the dusty road. Plompington asked the driver to stop so she could ask for directions from a Liberian half-immersed in the foliage. Excuse me, is this the road to Guinea? The Liberian nodded slowly as though to say, “Yes…and this is really the only road around here, so you should probably know where you are headed by now…” In the backseat I giggled and tried to infuse the situation with some context. Plompington, I hope you realized that you just nonchalantly asked that man how to drive to Guinea – when will you ever do that again?! She blushed, the driver kicked it into first gear and we bumped forward. Read More…

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