Friday, October 8, 2010

"You look like one of us!"

If you haven't gathered from the last post, I shaved my head. I now
look like one of those buddhist monks doing tai chi that my parents
used to collect statues of when I was in grade school.

I don't know what i want to talk about today. I feel like so much has
happened since my last post I wouldn't even know where to start.

I went away a week ago to a village on the East side of Botswana
called Maitengwe where my friend lives and where everyone speaks
Kalanga, a language I have trouble remembering the name of, let alone
actually trying to learn. We presented at an OVC Ngo workshop and
celebrated Lucie's 24th birthday. On my way back across the country, I
stopped by Maun and talked to some volunteers about the current sad
state of my village-- drunkenness, rape, children having children, etc
and what we could do about it. I got a lot of advice, mostly being
"take care of yourself!" and I got to connect with my fellow pcv's in
a way I was never able to before. I left feeling completely exhausted
yet lifted up, overwhelmed with the craziness of travel during a
botswana holiday (I spent 4 hours of an 8 hour bus ride with the bus
filled to the brim, no standing room left, and 3 children in my lap!),
happy to return to my site where things were familiar, and strangely
but not-unexpectantly sad that I had to return to my usual silent
existence in New Xade.

Not that I don't like New Xade. But my house still looks like a hybrid
between the last volunteer's existence and mine, the floors are
filthy, the fridge still doesnt work, nothing is in its right place,
and most of my posessions are spread out along every dusty surface in
my house. I'm too tired and perhaps depressed/unmotivated to clean up
and make this place my own, and after seeing how my friends lived in
their homely homes with photos on the walls and stocked
refridgerators, large ipod docks, internet access, and phone service,
I felt even less inclined to settle in here.
I slept at 7PM last night and woke up just in time to be half an hour
late to work, I spent the whole day in various meetings and have ended
up with the impossible tasks to complete in an impossible amount of
time and am so tired, dehydrated, and drained from the sun that I just
want to sleep now, and it's only 5pm. The gates are locked and I fully
intend on leaving this bed only once between now (5pm) and the time I
sleep (soon). Tomorrow is going to be a stressful day, hell, this week
is going to be a stressful week and what kills me is that I arrived
thinking first and foremost-- "I have to take care of MYSELF" which
meant, getting my fridge fixed, getting rid of that weird smell,
buying healthy foods, cleaning, finally organizing my stuff and
unpacking some boxes I have still not unpacked, getting back into an
exercise routine, and making sure that I take off a few hours a day to
I like being here, I do. And when I walked around today and saw how
excited everyone was to see me/my haircut, I was so happy-- yet now,
still, I want to cry. I am tired even though I sleep forever and a
half. I am reluctant, even though I'm super excited for what I'm doing
here and what I want to do here. I am overwhelmed, even though my
plans have clear, small, and plausible steps.

I feel like a million different people at once, the shy, overridden
child I once was, the obnoxious, know-it-all tool I was in high
school, the confused, depressed and bitter college student, the calm
and structured person I had finally become at lawndale, and now this
new person, this person who is all of these things at once, the good
and the bad. The capable, but sometimes overzealous, overconfident
overachiever. A quiet and humble person who doesn't know how to say no
to any request no matter how unappreciated, stupid, or difficult it

Why did I shave my head? I keep thinking about it. Was it a healthy
decision? A practical one? A sign of a nervous breakdown? A semi-last
resort, an oh my god it's so hot and if i'm going to give myself a
fighting chance of surviving here i might as well shave my
head-moment? Do I just not care anymore about my appearance? have I
lost all my pride? Looking back on the pictures documenting this
momentous occasion in my life, all i can think is, "oh my god."

And so, my head is shaven and I look like a buddhist monk but I
couldn't feel anything further from one. But then again, when in my
life have I ever felt at peace? Am I just doomed to spend the rest of
my life so high strung that I can't enjoy it?

Another "long" day consisting of... meeting, reading, and then
sleeping. I called it a half day since it was so damn hot and there
was no one around. Our police is planning a youth alcohol abuse
workshop. I am on the publicity committee, which meant I spent all
yesterday running around between the police, the only working
computer/printer I could find, and a copy machine trying to get a
gazillion invitation letters writtened and addressed to various
commitees, dignitaries, and others. Today, however, we learned that
due to the late submission of quotations, the workshop is thus
postponed to November 11. Which means, all the work I did yesterday
amounted to zilch. Suprisingly, I'm not upset about it, mostly amused.
The way the workshop is being planned is eye opening to me, instead of
inviting youth directly, they are trying to find other ways of meeting
their 200 ppl goal: 100 ppl are going to be invited dignitaries and
the people running the workshop, the other 100 ppl will consist of
youth from various organizations around the community (football clubs,
theater groups, choirs, etc). It is a clever way of doing things,
though someone brought up a good point-- isn't this like preaching to
the choir?

I had planned to spend the rest of the week until next friday in my
village doing nothing, but due to the postponement of this event, I
have been convinced to try to get my fridge re-installed... which will
hopefully lift my mood quite a bit. I started the day off literally
near tears for no good reason. Then, just when I was beginning to feel
totally crummy for looking like a monk, being fat, and being
completely alone, I got a couple letters from you guys (Suanne and
Christine-- sorry I'm thanking you here, I'm not sure when I'll get a
chance to write you back in non-snail mail form) and I had no excuse
to be miserable anymore. So thank you guys for not forgetting about
me. I'm sure there are more letters in the mail that are still somehow
stuck in the system, but I know I'll get them soon. These things tend
to work out-- so thank you anyway, Caroline Guo, and any other people
who have sent me things I haven't received yet. Today I'm trying to
build my faith in the universe, in God, in all things that they will
work out as I need them. I guess that's one reason to join the Peace
Corps-- to learn how to live life when absolutely nothing is in your

Speaking about control, I woke up at 5 PM after a nap due to the
following dream: I was a muppet being held hostage by an evil witch in
my own bed. I was paralyzed on the right side of my body and blind in
one eye. Next to me was a very eager Fozzy the bear who was helping to
lift me up and out before the evil witch could come back and collect
us. Except Fozzy is an inanimate muppet who can't actally function on
his own strength. What sucked about this dream was that I knew I was
dreaming and I was actually half awake. One eye was open, staring
about the room looking for this evil witch; and since I was blind in
the other eye, naturally, I couldn't see Fozzy. I had to shake my head
a few times before I was able to pull myself out of this crazy
disorienting dream. Oh Fozzy. You meant so well.

And finally, the question of the day: How am I feeling? Itchy. It
looks like a mosquito infested bomb exploded in my lap and I am
covered from head to toe in red welts. It's no wonder I prefer to
spend my time in my mosquito-net covered bed next to my new fan (which
works off of solar energy!!) in the dark. It's 7:25 PM tonight and I'm
going to go to sleep early again.

If anyone is looking to send me anything, Large 3M hooks would be
great. Another PCV couple used them to hang mosquito netting over
their doors and I have a distinct feeling that I'll need to be doing
that soon. There is a leak in my back yard that breeds mosquito's and
I've been stupid enough to leave the window open there to air out the
nasty smelling fridge. Hence: Welts.

Music would be nice too.
Sanity too if people can afford it.
And as usual movies, tv shows....
Am I being greedy?

Just News is Just as nice too! :) and/or pictures. I do like my
pictures. (Thank you Suanne and Christine! My bedroom is now swamped
in pictures of good ole California) and my parents sent me about a
dozen pictures of them on their vacation to Alaska (in the same pose
in every picture). At least now I'll never forget what they look like!
We're expecting cell phone network any day now. Any day now baby!!!

It's 7AM, I'm never up so early. I got up at 5:50 this morning after a
restless sleep that began at 8:30 PM. I guess that's what it's like
here. Sleeping super early, waking up super early. That's what
everyone here does. The place is surprisingly vibrant before the sun
rises. Even now, 30 minutes before the work day begins, people are out
doing chores to the thump thump thump bass beat of house music.
I'm waiting for one of our drivers to come pick up me and my empty gas
tank up to be refilled. I am psyched. Soon I'll have cold water to
drink and the smell will be gone, which means my window can stay shut.
This morning, I entered my kitchen to a large collective buzzzz and
nearly flipped out when I saw 2 dozen mosquitos collected in my
window. I guess they're trying to escape the heat. There's a leak in
my water pipes in my back yard and the resulting huge marshy puddle is
right underneath my kitchen window, a breeding ground for mosquitos.
If there's anything I hate most in this world, aside from you know,
mean horrible nasty people, it's mosquitos. Mosquitos and/or donkeys.

I'm going to try to attach some pictures in today's post. Wish me luck!

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