Disclaimer

The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Parlez vous francais?

"Oh gross another blog by a Peace Corps volunteer? Don't these guys have something better to do with their time? You know, like go out in the community and work with the people that the government is funding them to work with??"

Alright grouch, I get where you're coming from. But to be fair, 1) this was a personal blog long before it starting focusing on Peace Corps themes, 2) it will probably revert back to personal issues at any time without any warning whatsoever, and 3) I'm not actually abroad yet which means I can do whatever I want with my time so SHUTUP.

But guys! Listen! You see how I made the subject something about speaking French? Even though I majored in Spanish and am obsessed with the language and read books in Spanish and tell terrible jokes in Spanish and am even auditing a class right now that I'm not getting any credit for or any benefits at all except more understanding of Spanish?

That's because I'm about to learn French!

On Friday afternoon I had a phone interview with my Peace Corps placement officer. It was a warm and sunny day, I'd just gotten back from a run and was curled up on our funny-smelling leather chair on the porch. She asked me all the usual questions: How are you preparing for your departure? What do your friends and family think of this? What are your concerns? How do you plan to cope with being so far away? etc etc etc.

Some people might feel challenged by these questions, maybe overwhelmed, especially when it's so clear that the answers will have far-reaching implications on their chances of moving forward. Instead I felt relieved, if not excited to tell her everything that has been running through my mind these last few months. It was a 30 minute conversation, and it condensed my ethusiasm and dedication for this into a little nugget of white-hot excitement that's been sitting in my chest ever since. If someone gives me an opening I just vomit my enthusiasm all over them.

About midway through the conversation she asked, "How would you feel about going to French-speaking Africa?" I'll admit, I panicked a little bit. I've wanted to go to Latin America so bad, for so long, that being confronted with the reality of going elsewhere threw me off kilter. Even through the end of the conversation I still felt a little unsure. However, there are 2 applicants for every Latin American post, and none of them leave until 2012. And you know what? I'd rather leave.

Less than fifteen minutes after I hung up the phone I was gung-ho commited to the idea. Think of all the colonial French history I need to learn! I'm going to see lions and zebras and giraffes! I am going to be so sick of eating yams! (That last one is based solely on a highschool reading of Things Fall Apart.)

So I've been nominated for a post in French-speaking Africa. In the next 2 or 3 weeks I'll be receiving a letter with my invitation, which will include the specific country and a departure date for some time in October or November. Of course, in my enthusiasm I've used Wikipedia and the Peace Corps site to cross-reference and narrow it down to about 10 different options. (My money's on Madagascar - how cool would that be?!)

My heart is skipping beats and doing leaps and tumbles and I'm so full of energy and happiness. I'm walking on air! It's finally happening. This dream I've had is finally coming true. A week ago everything looked bleak and I was driving myself crazy feeling trapped. Now the future is wide open in front of me.

(Two years from now, I'm gonna be fluent in FOUR languages. Ha-cha-cha!)

P.S. I've tagged all Peace Corps related posts so you can skip right to those if you find my posts about chocolate covered pretzels and hiking uninteresting. Jerk.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hobbies

I mentioned a while back, in passing, that I stopped using shampoo. I made the decision back in April, based nearly entirely on an article called "How to Quit Shampoo Without Becoming Disgusting". (Oh, Hairpin, your articles are delightful and I adore everything you do!)

At the time I convinced my roommate to do it with me. Hers was a more challenging assignment than mine. While I had already weaned myself off of washing my hair on a daily basis, she struggles with perpetually-greasy hair that must be cleaned religiously, else she'll be wandering around being, as they say, disgusting.

So the project started. We each bought a box of baking soda (so cheap!) and a bottle of apple cider vinegar. And every day we would examine each other's scalps, and comment on greasiness, and talk about dirty hairbrushes and our showering routine and all sorts of other things. Along the way, I "invested" (seriously, it was only $3) in a gigantic box of baking soda. Pretty soon we were each going for the Big Push of not doing the baking soda wash for at least a week.

The roommate surrendered to her greasy genes about a month ago. No matter how slowly she worked up to it, her scalp still defeated her. On the upside, she is down to only cleaning her hair every other day, and still using only baking soda and vinegar.

Meanwhile I'm rolling along pretty consistently at only cleaning it once a week. I'm saving tons of money and where I used to sit in the shower for ages and ages, instead I just rinse and run. My hair smells fantastic (though not in that strawberry product, over-scented Herbal Essences sort of way) and just seems all around healthier. ...Although I just reread the article and realized I pretty much skipped Step 2. Am I willing to go a full month (yikes!) of not doing anything, especially when I'm so happy with my current results?

Oh hell, who am I kidding? This is science! So here we go. One month starting now!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Status Update

As anyone who's been unfortunate enough to ask me how I'm doing lately knows, things are pretty stressful these days. The short list: I'm miserable at my job (Oh really? Welcome to the club! Our members are everyone, everywhere. We meet at the bar every day after work. Please Chelsea just shut up about this already.), I'm going to be homeless in a few weeks, and since I have no idea when I'm departing for the Peace Corps I'm hesitant to commit to a new lease or a new job - the only two things that could make this situation any better.

As of right now, I'll be moving back in with my parents come August. This is less than ideal. I'd been so proud of myself for not having to fall back on them after graduation. I had a great job last summer - I made so much money! And then I came back to Bellingham and BAM! another job! But slowly the enthusiasm for taking care of myself has started to wane. To be fair, the job I have isn't really so bad. I love the work, I love interacting with all the people, and while maybe the work isn't as hard as I'd like it to be, is that really a bad thing? The main problem, the overarcing theme to why I can't work up any enthusiasm for it anymore is this: the hours at this job are horrible. Who wants to join me for a movie or a drink after midnight? No one. Who wants to go out for coffee or brunch at 10? Sorry, have to work! And then the weekends are over before I even realize they started. One day of hiking, or a quick jaunt to Seattle, and hey I never caught up on sleep and here we go again! If I quit the job and move back home, I'll have all the free time in the world to take advantage of living in a town where I know no one and have no desire to start a new social life.

(I was down there this weekend for Father's Day and found only two things to look forward to: the community gym is only a mile away, and my parents have all the channels ever on their big screen tv.)

I feel like I'm going in circles and can't find a way to break the cycle. I went up to the career center on campus and talked to an advisor, and all we concluded from the session is that I need to get into the Peace Corps asap. There are so many ideal jobs out there that I'm qualified for and would love to take, except that accepting a position would be cruel to this ideal employer when I resign a few months into the gig.

... And there you have it. That's as far as the thought process gets before I get back around to hating my current job and barely being able to keep myself from crying as I get into my car and start the commute every afternoon. Not thinking about it isn't a solution. The only time of day I'm not miserable is that 45-minute period just after a run/workout when endorphins and adrenaline are running high and I'm feeling good about whatever I've just accomplished.

(Killed Stimpson yesterday. That moment when I crest the last hill and start the downhill portion is like a religious experience. My legs stretch out and my breathing comes back to me, and next I know I'm bounding through the forest like a deer. The forest is so lush and overgrown right now that nettles and sticker bushes are creeping into the path, and my shins are covered in tiny scratches and bumps from the devilish plants. And yet I wouldn't give it up for anything.)

I hate that there's no positive conclusion to this. You've read all this and now find yourself wondering, "What's the point?" There isn't any, I'm sorry. I'm just sitting here on the floor (the roommate took the table when he moved out Saturday), drinking coffee and being miserable. I need a place to put this down, to get it out, and maybe find a little solace by expressing it. Except I know that this tiny little bit of peace I'll find by putting it out there will be lost when it comes back around in a few hours.

Maybe I'll just write about how awful this uncertainty feels again. Maybe this blog will turn into me parroting the same feelings of hopelessness and disappointment over and over again, once a day or more, until some deus ex machina steps in and somehow changes things for me. I'm going through a rough time right now, please, please send some good thoughts my way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Things I Like to Spend $$ On

Nothing.

Are you kidding me?! I am broke as a joke! After gas, groceries, and rent, I'm lucky to think that $2 happy hour whiskey at the bar down the street sounds like a good idea.

Anyone out there want to fund a directionless post-college twentysomething with no real talents or interesting hobbies? I promise your money would be gleefully spent on alcohol and clothes.

Anyway, went to the community bike shop the other day and they quoted me $70 to get my bike all spruced up and tip-top, including new wiring for my rusted-out brakes that are probably going to give out any day now. Definitely worth it, but I don't even have the $15 for a new headlight for my van, and I drive that thing every day and have been pulled over about it 4 times now.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mooch

Also a guest totally bought me a bacon and guacamole hamburger from Bob's today. I'll never not love free food!

Social Butterflies

Strange how Facebook makes it possible for us to see patterns in our lives that wouldn't have been available before. Two random encounters that would have barely merited a comment are suddenly grabbing my interest. Two summers ago a friend and I got daydrunk in Alaska, and sat in someone's hotel window talking to the two TD's trying to nap inside. The following spring I ran into one of the TD's in a lifeguard challenge course put on by my work. We spent about 30 minutes trying to figure out how we knew each other before remembering that sunny drunken afternoon, then laughed about the coincidence and wrote it off, curiosity satisfied.

Never would have thought of it again, except that this person keeps showing up in the background of friends' photos in Facebook. It makes you wonder just how many people are on the peripheral of your circle without ever quite getting close enough for notice. The center of one person's life is just an insignificant blip on someone else's.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It just continues!

(A quick side note before we get to the meat of the matter. Since I stopped shampooing my hair in April, I've had to get more creative with hairstyles on high-grease days. I can whip out a french braid in seconds flat, and today nearly every lady-guest and coworker commented on how nice my hair looked. Oh ladies, if only you knew why!)

Another hike done and down!



Fourth of July Pass. 10 miles round trip, with only about 2,500 elevation gain. Celebrated with a delicious victory beer at that one brewery out on Highway 20. You know, the one with all the beer schwag, delicious brats, and absolutely no french fries!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Murder!

The mosquitos this time of year are fat and bloated. They drift drunkenly through the air, heavy with the pint of blood they can store in their distended bellies. With the bedroom window open non-stop now, they come in at night and feast while I sleep.

Before turning in, I do what I can to fight them off. If it's within arms reach, that sucker is dead. The problem is that they rarely stay stuck to my hands - instead the body drops as I pull my hands apart to be sure I caught him, and the thing gets lost on my bed.

I'm estimating there are at least 4 dead mosquitos in bed with me right now. Gross, yes. But at least they're dead and not sucking my blood!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cooking Tips

Many thanks to the guests who gave me a free salmon dinner tonight. I look forward to enjoying the free meal! However, there's one thing we need to talk about: BBQ sauce?! On salmon?! Who taught you how to cook salmon like that because they clearly have NO IDEA what they're doing. Lemon juice, butter, maybe some mayonaise. Dill sauce if you're getting fancy! But the natural flavors in salmon are so delicious that really, anything beyond the lightest addition is just stupid.

Still going to eat it though. Thanks again!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Oh, and!

I suppose I should share the newest Peace Corps info!

In the last week or so I was contacted by the DC placement officer asking for an updated resume. Fortunately I was still under the impression I'd be here through January and I'd just been re-working the whole thing in hopes of getting a better job. So, off it went! And within a few days I got a response: my file has been approved, and now someone (someone specific! She has a name and everything, and I can contact her with questions pertaining specifically to me!) is analyzing the whole thing and trying to find a place for me. Chances are looking slim that it will be in my area of interest, but I think I could resign myself to it. (But oh, please, please let me still serve in Latin America. It's really what I want.)

It looks like it's just a matter of weeks before I'll get a new nomination/ actual invitation to serve. Isn't this exciting?! Who knows, this time next month I could be planning a packing list!

Who am I kidding? I've been planning the packing list for months now. Here's what I have so far:

1 bottle apple cider vinegar
1 (big) bottle Dr. Bronners soap
hiking shoes
Chacos
tent
sleeping bag
hiking backpack
GPS
...pretty much everything I've ever bought from REI actually
other stuff!

Aunt Irma

My Period Takes Me Shopping

"Within 15 minutes, my period and I walked out of the store with the stretchy, sequin-y minidress and a set of heavy silver arm bangles. I never wear bracelets, but there you have it. My period told me I needed them, because it likes shiny crap. In that respect, it’s actually a lot like a raccoon. (See also: garbage-eating.)"

Yup, that's pretty much exactly what it's like.