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Monday, May 16, 2011

Moonlight Joyridin'

Hey Bellingham, what's going on? This is the third time since the New Year that your cops have pulled me over. They don't give me tickets. They just like to check my papers, comment on one thing or another, mostly make sure I'm not drunk, and then they send me on my way.

Look, don't get me wrong. I'm not unappreciative. Believe me, I am extraordinarily appreciative that they haven't ticketed me yet. But how about we cut out the song and dance? Let's agree that yes, midnight is an odd hour to be driving around but really I just work shitty hours, and yes, my large white van and tendency to drive 7 over the speed limit is mildly suspicious so maybe I should slow down.

Or at least stop cracking the same joke about how it's a bit late to be driving buses. I swear I'm going to give up my CDL just to make them stop.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

So much for that

Between breaking an egg on the kitchen floor and sleeping in until 10, I spent a bit of time this morning on the phone with the Peace Corps placement office in DC. We talked about my situation and compared it to the goings-on in the whole organization. Turns out Peace Corps got shafted when congress was doling out money this year, and they're struggling to find places for current nominees. All the positions for June are filled. Where do I fit into this? Well, my medical documents are still being processed. That puts me pretty low on the rung. The most likely scenario has me departing in January.

Yeah, you read that right.


As in 2012.

I'm not too thrilled about this, as you can imagine. But Peace Corps is still my priority - and hey, an upside is that I do get to enjoy an idyllic Bellingham summer! And over the course of the day I've started to adapt to the idea. Hopefully when my lease runs out in August I'll have a departure date, and then I can rent a cheap room somewhere either month-to-month or take over a sublet from a student studying abroad.

Sure, it means being in this less-than-thrilling job for another six months. It also means watching my friends take off for more exciting locations. It means more time sitting around being tempted to buy new clothes, dream about a new car, and make other commitments that would lose all meaning when the departure date finally comes around.

But the upside is that... well... No, there's not really a huge upside to being around that long. Hopefully something will come up before then.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thinking about the future is scary

A friend of mine got me reading Anathem, by Neal Stephenson. It's been a great read, and one of my motivations for plowing through it was to get to his beguiling sticky note halfway through the book that simply says "Amazing quote". Last night I made it! And damn. I definitely wouldn't have needed a sticky note to make me sit up and take notice. Here it is for you:

"Thousands of years ago, the work that people did had been broken down into jobs that were the same every day, in organizations where people were interchangeable parts. All of the story had been bled out of their lives. That was how it had to be; it was how you got a productive economy. But it would be easy to see a will at work behind this: not exactly an evil will, but a selfish will. The people who'd made the system thus were jealous, not of money and not of power but of story. If their employees came home at days end with interesting stories to tell, it meant that something had gone wrong: a blackout, a strike, a spree killing. The Powers That Be would not suffer others to be in stories of their own unless they were fake stores that had been made up to motivate them. People who couldn't live without stories had been driven [into the fringes]. All others had to look somewhere outside of work for a feeling that they were part of a story, which I guessed was why [they] were so concerned with sports, and with religion. How else could you see yourself as part of an adventure? Something with a beginning, middle, and end in which you played a significant part?"

Oof. Chills.

That's my intro to tell you about my progress with the Peace Corps. I need yet another update to my medical info. Here it is the beginning of May, and I've been nominated for a departure in the beginning of June. I'm going into the doctor tomorrow, and all the info can be faxed directly to the Peace Corps office in DC. With any luck, they'll be able to process it and accept it all sometime early next week.

Early on I received a letter that said nominees would get a minimum of 6 weeks heads up before given a departure date. However, last week I spoke with the regional director of my area and was told (in a roundabout way, in which I wasn't given a conclusive answer to any of my questions) that if I miss this date, it might be a while before another opportunity comes along. Peace Corps has lots of people, but not a lot of money - placement is hard to come by. The only conclusive advice I got was to contact the DC office as soon as my medical papers were approved and tell them I'm still interested.

So there's the Big Issue. Fight for a departure date that leaves in just a few weeks and miss out on the idyllic summer plans I've been crafting, or let it slide and still be waiting for placement, probably in a different region than I'd hoped, come October? (Or worse, never get into the Peace Corps at all?)

This is my adventure. This is the big one that I've dreamed of since high school. Attending that summer school in Peru was an eye-opener that only made me want to travel more; studying abroad in Mexico was an unforgettably wonderful and endless struggle to adjust to a culture not my own, and working in Alaska rounded it all out by giving me the expectation to do something constructive while I'm abroad. Even the cruise I just got back from reaffirmed this notion: ten days of nothing but lying around and vacationing nearly killed me with inactivity.

So I guess the answer is a no-brainer. I'm going to fight for it. I'm going to do everything in my power to get this June departure date. I'll leave behind a long list of people whose company will be sorely missed and mini-adventures aborted in their planning stages. But it will be infinitely better than watching those same people depart for their own adventures, to have the lease run out and move back to the family home, and eventually consign myself to giving up on this years-long dream of mine.